Thursday, June 30, 2011

Virtual Blog Tour & Guest Blog- Time Well Spent

Author Bella Marie is with us today for a guest post and to promote her collection of adult erotic stories, Time Well Spent. My thoughts on the collection can be found below.

Bella Writes:

My inspiration and where it comes from….

In my first series Time Well Spent – The Complete Collection, I took inspiration from many different places. Each story had an origin of course, why they were in the setting that I put them in, the people in the stories as well as the types of stories that they became. My inspiration comes from a collection of things really such as “Forever Love,” it was my first story that I had written for anyone and it was written for me first and foremost.

I was dreaming of what I wanted more than anything, the type of relationship that I wanted. The perfect man, who loved me unconditionally, and it was set in the perfect scene for me, at the ocean. One thing readers notice about my stories is a lot of them are set near or in water. Water for me is calming and so very peaceful. I can go and sit at the river for instance and be riddled with one problem or another and within just a few short minutes the water feels as though it is taking each and every problem away, where they don’t matter anymore.

I was in a bad place in my life when I wrote this story that put me on the road of where I am today. One of my favorite lines in the story is “They walk to the shore, hand in hand stopping frequently to touch and kiss. It is as if they would die if they don’t touch frequently their love is so great.” Touch is very important especially in an erotic story as you can guess. This particular description meant a whole lot to me at the time especially. It seemed like the most wonderful thing in the world to me. Something dreams were made of, you know, those dreams that people dare to dream but dare not to wish can come true.

Readers notice this story is somewhat different from my other stories in the sense that it is more romantic, tamer in some ways then the other stories in the collection. I struggled with rather to include it in this book because it is more of a quick dream type of story to be honest. It isn’t as “Hot” as some have said about it but I decided it had its place in the book too so I put it as the last story in the collection. It may have been my first story to launch me into writing erotica, but it put me on the path that I am on today. It is still a dream that has a place in my heart.

Happy Reading!
Bella Marie

And now my review:

Synopsis: How about some exciting explicit adult erotica for the nights by the fire, or maybe in the bathtub with a glass of wine? Alone or with a friend, spouse, or lover, this almost 31,000 word, 15 total short stories are sure to warm you up even if you don’t have a fireplace! With no names in the stories it is easy to imagine yourself in the adventures, enjoying right along in the fun.

This little collection is chock full of romance and steamy fantasies. There is something for everyone in this anthology. While one story might not be to your taste, there is surely another one in here that will be. The stories, with the exception of maybe one, in Time Well Spent are written without names. The thought is that the reader will inject themselves into the story. I'm not so sure this totally worked for me. I like to have names to go along with my stories. But I did enjoy it overall. "The New Beach House" was my favorite of them all.

While I did enjoy the collection, I wouldn't suggest reading it in one sitting like I did. I found that the stories got a little repetitive after a while. I think I would have enjoyed them more had I spread them out over a few days. The tales are well written and tastefully done. I definitely recommend giving this one a try!


Thanks to Bella Marie for visiting our blog!

*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.*

Throwback Thursday - This Side of Heaven

Author: Beverly Barton
First Published September 1992

DANGEROUS PASSION. Hot. Demanding. Inescapable. The power of destiny had joined Nate Hodges and Cyn Porter together, but the savagery of man seemed fated to tear them apart.

A warrior who walked alone, Nate could never mean anything but danger for any woman who dared to love him. Yet Cyn, touched by tragedy herself, realized this soul-scarred soldier needed her strength.

Though stalked by a madman bent on revenge, Nate succumbed to the pull of a passion older than time. Cyn, the brown-eyed beauty of his dreams - his impossible love - brought him peace. She was his very soul. But he knew with heart-shattering certainty that he could be her death...

This is an early work by Beverly Barton. It is the first in the Protector series. While I liked the overall book, I'm not sure I liked the relationship between Cyn and Nate. He was a real jerk to her and I couldn't see why she would want to get to know him after the way he treats her in the beginning. But I guess lust makes you want to keep coming back for more? In the end, they both find what they are looking for which is someone to love. There is a slight supernatural element to the book. If you are a fan of Ms. Barton this is worth looking up.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blog-a-versary!!!! Giveaway celebration!!!

From the TBR Pile is a year old today!

Join us in celebrating our 1 year BLOG-A-VERSARY by entering your name into our giveaway. The rules are simple, leave a comment with a valid e-mail address and your preference of set (if you have one). For an extra chance, post this contest on Twitter, Facebook, etc and leave a comment with the link. This is open to US residents (sorry international people, some of these books are heavy!). The contest will run until July 5, 2011. For 5 lucky winners, we have the following sets up for grabs:

Set #1:
ARC of Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (her upcoming adult book) and 1 ARC of When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Set #2:
1 signed copy of Scars by Cheryl Rainfield and 1 ARC of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (this was a hot hot hot one at ALA!!)
Set #3
1 ARC of Ashfall by Mike Mullin and 1 ARC of The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

Set #4:
ARC of Sacrifice by Laura Burns & Melinda Metz with a Swag Bag filled with goodies from ALA

Set #5:
1 copy of Starless Sky by Paige Agnew and 1 signed copy of Easter's Lily by Judy Serrano

Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gideon's Sword

Authors: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Publisher: Hachette Book Group (Grand Central Publishing imprint) February 2011

Gideon Crew has a lot on his mind. His mother has died, but only after revealing on her deathbed the true story of his father's murder. Reeling and thirsting for revenge, this talented operative must confront an even more pressing matter: He was been enlisted to steal plans for a Chinese mega-weapon from a defecting scientist.

Gideon's Sword is the first in a new series by the writing team of Preston and Child. I have long been a fan of these guys. Relic is my favorite book by them.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The beginning is a bit slow as he enacts revenge on those who killed his father, but it soon takes off running and doesn't stop. Gideon Crew is a master at lying and changing his appearance. His character is very likeable because while he is good looking, he has his flaws and is pretty green in the espionage arena. It was fun to see how he navigated his first case which is filled with many twists and turns. One of which I definitely didn't see coming. This is definitely pure thriller, no romance in this one.

I think fans will like this latest by Preston and Child. The book's ending gives a hint as to the the next adventure in Gideon's life. I can't wait to see what the team has next in store for Gideon!


I also read a good majority of this book.  Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are easily my favorite writing team.  Whenever something new comes out by them  I AM ON IT!  I was really excited to get a chance to read this book.  I was a little bit disappointed with this.  It wasn't bad.  It just wasn't Aloysius Pendergast.  I guess that's what I was hoping for, something sort of like that, but different, and it just wasn't.  If you're a fan of Vince Flynn or Clive Cussler or Brad Meltzer, you'd probably like this. 


* note: I read an complimentary copy of Gideon's Sword supplied courtesy of Hachette Book Group . 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.*

Monday, June 27, 2011


Author: Amanda Quick
Publisher: Penguin Group (audio version by Brilliance Audio) April 2011

Virginia Dean wakes at midnight beside a dead body, with a bloody knife in her hand and no memory of the evening's events. Dark energy, emanating from the mirrors lining the room, overpowers her senses. With no apparent way in or out, she is rescued by a man she has met only once before, but won't soon forget.

Owen Sweetwater inherited his family's talent for hunting the psychical monsters who prey on London's women and children, and his investigation into the deaths of two glass-readers has led him here. The high-society types of the exclusive Arcane Society would consider Virginia an illusionist, a charlatan, even a criminal, but Owen knows better. Virginia's powers are real-and they just might be the key to solving this challenging case.

I really wanted to enjoy the latest in the Arcane series, but I thought it was just OK. I think I am getting a little bored with the series. Ms. Quick (AKA Jayne Anne Krentz) follows her basic formula to a "T" here. I'd like to see her mix things up a little and maybe write something not related to the Arcane society for a change. I felt like the killer came out of nowhere. The characters weren't all that exciting and I didn't really feel the connection between Owen and Virginia. In past Arcane books, I felt the connection went beyond physical attraction. Not so much here. The secondary romance was barely there and was almost like an after thought. It didn't really enhance the story in anyway. I recommend this one if you have been reading this series from the start. If you haven't, you won't be missing much by skipping it.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Day Before

by:  Lisa Schroeder
published by:  SimonPulse
publish date:  June 28, 2011

Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself. Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets. The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

Books written in verse are really starting to grow on me.  I used to completely shun them, but I finally gave in and read one about a month ago and it surprised me that I liked it.  The premise of this book sounded promising and the fact that it was written in verse didn't scare me off this time.  I'm really glad, this story was very good.

I can't say too much about the story without giving away the surprises.  I will say that they were jaw-dropping surprises.  Both Amber and Cade have a big secret that they aren't telling each other at first, the reader doesn't know it either until they reveal it to each other.  I thought I had guessed Cade's, but I was completely wrong there.  I like being wrong about things like that.  Amber's  Made for a great story.

The writer does a fantastic job of telling the present day story, but filling in the back story through letters interspersed throughout the book.  The letters help to explain Amber's backstory and where she is emotionally.  The last one ties up the story in a nice little bow so the reader isn't left wondering, thank you for that!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mr. Toppit

by: Charles Elton
published by: Other Press
publish date: November 2010

When Arthur Hayman, an unsuccessful screenwriter turned children’s book author, is accidentally hit by a cement truck in London, his dying moments are spent with a passing American tourist, Laurie Clow, who is fated to bring posthumous fame to his obscure series, The Hayseed Chronicles, and the enigmatic and sinister Mr. Toppit who is at the center of the books. While Arthur doesn’t live to reap the benefits of his books’ success, his legacy falls to his widow, Martha, and their children—the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalized as the fictional Luke Hayseed, hero of his father’s series. But others want their share of the Hayseed phenomenon, particularly Laurie, who has a mysterious agenda of her own that changes all of their lives as Martha, Rachel, and Luke begin to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance.

I've noticed that opinions of this book seem to fall distinctly one way or the other. I think it might be the British humor, maybe it doesn't appeal so much to American readers? However, I think if you've read the Harry Potter series as an adult and been exposed to all the crazy hype, you'd probably have a little bit more appreciation for this book.

I listened to the audiobook and I have to say the narrator, Simon Vance, did an amazing job. He really brought the whole story to another level that made it so colorful. There was one scene, when the family is meeting with the producer and the actor starring in the TV show for the first time, that he did so perfectly. I thought I was going to drive off the road laughing. The joke Luke plays on one of his school mates was hilarious too.

So I'd say read it with the understanding that it isn't an "American" book. It's more like watching a British "drama-dy" on PBS. If that's your cup of tea, than you're in for a treat!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Dragon Forsaken ( The Enchanted Island Series)

Author: Krystal McLaughlin
Publisher: Self (March 2011)

In a world of mystery and magic, Daphne is unique.

Unlike her friends, who have awakened to the magic inside of them, Daphne was born with it. Daphne was born a Dragon.

When her past begins to resurface, forcing her into a web of lies and deception, she is forced to accept unexpected alliances and risk everything for the sake of love. Something that she swore she would never let into her life.

As the newest installment of The Enchanted Island Series unfolds, she'll learn that nothing is ever what it seems, and when webs get this tangled, everyone's fate hangs in the balance, and nothing is coincidence.

A Dragon Forsaken is the second in The Enchanted Island Series. I wrote a review of the first one, The Witches Lottery, here. This one picks up pretty much where the first one left off. Daphne is on a search for her adopted sister, Anna. She is also a dragon, or at least has some of the characteristics of a dragon. I liked Daphne's character. She has had a tough life, without much love and acceptance and has always felt she was incapable of being loved. Through her search for her sister, she learns a lot about her past and about herself. In the end, I agree with the choice she makes. It was the right one.

Just like the first book, this is a good, well written, YA read. I felt it was a little more serious than the first one, but still very enjoyable. I definitely recommend this one. I look forward to the next book in the series!


* note: I read an complimentary copy of A Dragon Forsaken 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.*

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blog Tour: Love, Always

by:  Harriet Evans
published by:  Simon and Schuster
publish date:  June 21, 2011

When Natasha Kapoor returns to her grandparents’ idyllic coastal home for her beloved grandmother’s funeral, her life is at a turning point. She thought by now she’d be a successful jewelry designer in London with a perfect marriage. Instead, she’s got mounting bills and a soon-to-be ex.

After the funeral, Natasha’s grandfather gives her the long-lost diary of her aunt Cecily. No one in her large and complicated family has ever discussed the tragic accident that took Cecily’s life as a teenager, and within the diary’s pages, Natasha finds a gripping and shocking tale of forbidden love, rivalry, and heartbreak.

Nearly fifty years later, will Cecily’s diary finally explain her family’s dark past and the terrible secret her aunt left behind? Is it possible it’s just the inspiration Natasha needs to take a fresh look at her future, and maybe even give love a second chance?

This was a really lovely contemporary not really romance, not really mystery, but a little of both.  The first few pages of the book set the stage for the mystery aspect of the story.  It drew me right in wondering how that was going to play in to the rest of the story.  The writer did a superb job of weaving the story of the past in with what was going on in the present day.

I found myself much preferring the story that was set in the past.  I don't know if that was the intent of the writer, I doubt it.  I didn't particularly care for Natasha, I understand she was being a completely normal person but I felt like she was wishy-washy in her decisions.   The story of Cecily and Miranda 50 years ago was a lot more compelling to me.  I wanted to know more about Archie, was he really a pervert or was Louisa being overly dramatic?  What was Miranda and Archie's relationship like?  Why did everyone think they were weird?

The questions I had at the end were mostly irrelevent to the story, and in the end the big questions were answered, so I guess that's all that really matters.  I did enjoy the story.  This would be a great beach read...perfect timing!  

Throwback Thursday - Temptation's Kiss

Author: Sandra Brown
First Published in 1983 by Jove Books

Megan Lambert can deal with her high pressure job as sales manager for an Atlanta radio station. She just can't handle her antagonism toward Josh Bennett, a major advertiser. Now he wants a meeting with her, and she doesn't know why. Josh is many things . . . powerful, handsome, and arrogant...but predictable isn't one of them. Suddenly, Josh makes a demand that puts Megan's career on the line and sets the emotional stakes so high they send her reeling. She's about to enter a world of limos and luxury, deception and false hope...and games of passion that can break a woman's heart when the wild card is love...

Temptation's Kiss is another early book by Sandra Brown. I did enjoy this one. I liked Josh's character better than Megan's. I thought she was a bit wimpy for the "tough" business woman that she was trying to make herself into. I also thought she was a bit naive when it came to her late husband. This may be be the result of the time in which it was written. I liked Josh's pursuit of Megan. It's always nice to see the man know what he wants when it comes to love; none of this, "do I or don't I. This is a nice little romance and I think it's worth picking it up. I picked up the audio version because I couldn't find a paperback copy of it.
You may have to peruse the used books stores for this one if your library doesn't have it.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


published by: Katherine Tegen Books
publish date:  May 2011

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Whenever I do my top 10 of 2011 this book will be firmly at the top.  I'm quite sure of it.  I'm a huge fan of dystopian and I LOVED this book.  This book is the very definition of action packed.  I half listened to the audiobook and finished it by reading the actual book, weird huh?  The audiobook reader, Emma Galvin, was a great choice.  There were times I didn't want to get out of the car and go inside because so much was going on, I didn't want to stop listening to it.   

Veronica Roth, for those of you who don't know, is in her early twenties.  What an accomplishment to have written such a fantastic book at such a young age.  I would say I'm jealous, but I'm not, I'm in awe and hats off to such talent.  I'm really excited that she's going to be at ALA in New Orleans this year because I'm going and I'm going to make sure I get my ARC of Divergent signed!

I will definitely be looking forward to more from Ms. Roth and reading the rest of the Divergent books.  I have expressed my distaste for the YA trilogies in the past, but I'm making an exception for this one  :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


by:  Lili Wilkinson
published by:  HarperCollins
publish date:  February 2011

Ava has a secret. She is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She's ready to try something new—she's even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

Transferring to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence is the perfect chance to try on a new identity. But just in case things don't work out, Ava is hiding her new interests from her parents, and especially from her old girlfriend.

Secrets have a way of being hard to keep, though, and Ava finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.

Ever since it came out I've been in love with the cover of this book.  I don't know what it is, but I adore it! 

I thought the book was...ok.  It started off rather slow for me and I was kinda like "eh" through a good majority of the book, but towards the end I did start enjoying it.  Once I was done, I couldn't decide why I felt kind of down on it in the beginning because overall I thought it was well written and sent a good message to kids. 

I think one of my issues with it was the 90210 kind of thing going on, those kids were supposed to be in high school, but they were like 30 years old LOL  This book was kind of the same, the kids seemed far too mature for high school kids, some of them anyway.  Because of that, I would NOT recommend this book for younger teens.  It's definitely geared more for older teens, in my opinion.

All of that said, I did think the book had an important message about knowing who you are.  I felt bad for Ava because her parents sort of pigeon holed in the ultra radical emo-goth persona without really giving her a chance at anything else she might want to be and questioned every change she made.  Her girlfriend, however constrained she thought she was, really had far more freedom consider the fact that she came from a really conservative family but they seemed to allowed her to be who she wanted to be.

So, pretty good book YA book, but keep it to the older YAs!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Betty White's If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't)

by:  Betty White
published by:  Penguin Group
publish date:  May 2011

Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White's wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven- decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty's candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen ("I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out") to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already.  Featuring all-new material, with a focus on the past fifteen years of her life, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and to the point-just like Betty White.

When I was browsing the audiobook downloads at the library I saw this and I grabbed it.  I was really delighted to see that Betty White herself narrated it.  It wasn't a majorly ground breaking book full of deep dark Betty White secrets, but it was a really cute, light hearted book.  I was happy listening to it.  I laughed out loud at parts.  It's only a 2 hour audiobook so I'd definitely recommend giving it a listen if you can find it free somewhere, like at your library.  I probably wouldn't recommend buying the audio version since they're so expensive and this one is so short.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2 Novellas in 1 - Chantilly's Cowboy and Journeyman's Ride

Author: Debra Kayn
Publisher: Carina Press (June 2011)

All Chantilly McDougal wants is to run her daddy's ranch. The only one of five sisters content to stay on the McDougal spread, Chantilly loves the land and knows the workings of the ranch better than anyone. So when Stuart McDougal hires Jack Grady as his new foreman without even consulting her, Chantilly is furious. She doesn't need the help of any cowboy, no matter what feelings the man arouses in her!
Jack Grady can understand Tilly's frustrations over working with him, but he needs the job to put his nephew through law school. Besides, he's made a promise to Stuart, and everyone knows a cowboy never goes back on his word. But when he finds himself falling for the boss's daughter, Jack is torn between being honest with Tilly, and keeping her father's secret.

This was a great story. Chantilly is one of 5 sisters who are all named after a different kind of lace. Apparently their mother was an avid sewer. All are strong-willed women raised by their father. He wants them all to be settled and happy. You can see that there is potential for future stories with the remaining sisters. I loved both Chantilly and Jack. While the attraction in the beginning was definitely physical, you can see how their relationship grows as they get to know each other. While this is a novella, there was enough background laid out for me to feel like I knew the characters. I look forward to reading more about this family in the future. I definitely recommend this one!

Author: Marie Harte
Publisher: Carina Press (April 2011)

Miranda is duty-bound to journey across the Damned Plains to rescue the Princess of York from ruination. Her selfish cousin doesn't deserve her help, but the mission offers an opportunity to escape the smothering confines of life as an indentured companion to a spoiled princess.

Danner is a journeyman, a traveler with an extraordinary gift: the ability to withstand the deadly lightning bolts sent by moody gods. Drawn by her lush beauty, he agrees to guide Miranda across the Plains if she'll let him explore her body each night.

They face danger—blood ravens, cannibals, mechanical spyders—but Danner never anticipated that the bigger risk would be from Miranda and the things she makes him feel. A journeyman's life doesn't lend itself to commitment, but if they can rescue the princess and make it out of the Plains without getting zapped or eaten, Danner might have to make an exception for one amazing woman. If she'll have him.

I'm not sure I liked this one as much. I felt like I do when I miss the first half of the movie. It took too long to figure out what was going on and by the time I did, the story was over. This would have worked much better as a full novel. I thought there should be a little more explanation of the "world" into which I was dropped. There was just too much sci-fi, steam-punk, and Greek mythology all packed into one little story. On the erotica front, it was pretty well written. I did like the characters, but I didn't feel like I got to know them or their relationship well enough to care for their HEA. The ending was rushed and I'm not even sure what happened with the princess and her captor.


* note: I read an complimentary copy of both novellas 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.*

Saturday, June 18, 2011

10th Anniversay (Women's Murder Mystery Club #10)

Author(s): James PAtterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Audiobooks (March 2011)

For every secret
Detective Lindsay Boxer's long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals--but that the victim may be keeping secrets as well.

For every lie
At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life--a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki's career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct?

There's a different way to die
Lindsay's every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she'll ever be able to start a family.

This latest in the series was pretty uneventful. It was pleasent, but there was no real suspense. Most of the book was taken up by Yuki's trial and that was a tad boring. I really didn't care who did it by the end. For once Lindsey isn't put in grave danger and doesn't have any turmoil over her relationship with Joe. Cindy is the only one who seems to come close to any danger. I liked the series better when the 4 girls got together on the same mystery. They were barely together in this one. I felt like the book went into too many directions. The ending was sweet and makes me wonder where he will take the series from here.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Giveaway: The Astral by Kate Christensen

The Astral is a huge rose-colored old pile of an apart­ment building in the gentrifying neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. For decades it was the happy home (or so he thought) of the poet Harry Quirk and his wife, Luz, a nurse, and of their two children: Karina, now a fer­vent freegan, and Hector, now in the clutches of a cultish Christian community. But Luz has found (and destroyed) some poems of Harry’s that ignite her long-simmering sus­picions of infidelity, and he’s been summarily kicked out. He now has to reckon with the consequence of his literary, marital, financial, and parental failures (and perhaps oth­ers) and find his way forward—and back into Luz’s good graces.

Harry Quirk is, in short, a loser, living small and low in the water. But touched by Kate Christensen’s novelistic grace and acute perception, his floundering attempts to reach higher ground and forge a new life for himself become funny, bittersweet, and terrifically moving. She knows what secrets lurk in the hearts of men—and she turns them into literary art of the highest order.

This book is getting so much buzz!  I'm really excited to be a part of this giveaway.   I keep seeing it mentioned in newspapers and being added to those lists of books that you must read for the summer.  It also made it on Oprah's Summer Reading List.  I have my copy firmly in hand, now here's a chance for you to win a copy. 

The wonderful people at Doubleday have made this possible so we're going to follow their rules:  US addresses only, no P.O. Boxes. 

Just leave a comment below telling me one book on your summer reading list, make sure your email address is in your comment.  If you would like an additional entry, you can spread the word about this contest on your blog, twitter, facebook, etc.  Just leave the link in a separate comment.  I will randomly pick winners on June 24.

Salem Witches Week: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

by:  Katherine Howe
published by:  HarperCollins
publish date:  May 2009

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.

I read this book about a year ago.  It's one of those books I still think about from time to time.  That's always a sign of a really good book.  The writing in this book was particularly good.  The author easily intertwined the past with the present day in a new and interesting way.  I really enjoyed this book and I thought it was an intriguing mystery type book, but I thought it had a little too much supernatural to go along with it.  That was just my one little negative about it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Throwback Thursday: Salem Witches Week Edition

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Author: Elizabeth George Speare
First published in 1958

Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives' stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit's friendship with the "witch" is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!

In honor of our Salem Witches Week, I chose The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare for the Throwback Thursday selection. This wonderful book was first published in 1958. I remember reading it as a pre-teen. I know at the time I had no idea how old the book was and had I realized it I might have skipped it. I'm so glad I didn't. It has been a long favorite book of mine. When I was planning on reading it for this week's review, I was curious as to how I would like it now that I am well past my pre-teen years. Well, I still love this book!

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is so well written. It not only is an entertaining story about a girl who finds a home, it is a good history lesson. The reader is immersed on Puritan culture of New England before the revolutionary war. I loved all of the characters in this book. Kit is a free-spirited girl who has been raised with very different views from those of her family in Connecticut. I enjoyed seeing the changes that Kit brings about in all of those she encounters, especially her uncle. The ending is just perfect. This story is one of growth, change and learning to be true to yourself.

If you haven't had the chance yet, give it a shot. If you loved it like I do, share it with a young reader who hasn't discovered this wonderful story yet. I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to enjoy it!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Salem Witches Week: YA Fiction

This is quite a popular subject in YA Fiction.  I worked my way through three of the Young Adult offerings that featured the Salem Witches.

by:  Celia Rees
published by:  Candlewick
publish date:  April 2002

Mary's grandmother is executed for witchcraft, and Mary is forced to leave her home to avoid the same fate. At first she flees to the English countryside, but when the atmosphere of superstition and suspicion becomes all consuming she leaves on a boat for America in the hope that she can start over and forget her past. But during the journey, she realizes that the past is not so easy to escape.

by:  Anna Myers
published by:  Walker Books
publish date:  September 2009
An orphan named Drucilla has finally has a place to call home with the Putnam family in Salem. Although her adopted mother is strange—haunted by a troubled past—Dru feels drawn to her as the mother she never had. When a new reverend and his family move into town with their servant Tituba, life takes a strange turn as young girls begin to fall ill and accusations of witchcraft begin to swirl. Reluctant to turn her back on the Putnams or her peers and overwhelmed by the power of groupthink among the other girls in town, Dru becomes one of the accusers herself. But when her best friend Gabe is accused, she must find a way to end the hysteria, or risk losing him forever.

by:  Kathryn Lasky
published by:  Scholastic
publish date:  1996

When, in the winter of 1691, accusations of witchcraft surface in her small New England village, twelve-year-old Mary Chase fights to save her mother from execution.

Can't get anymore succinct than that, can you??
Of these three books, Time of the Witches was probably my favorite.  I felt like it gave the most information while at the same time was the most enjoyable to read.  I also felt like it really emphasized the mass hysteria aspect of the whole tragedy. 
Witch Child was my second favorite of the three.  I liked the natural remedy aspects and how healer women were unnecessarily persecuted. 
Beyond the Burning Time wasn't a bad book by any means.  I just couldn't get into it for some reason.  Maybe I was on overload by the time I got to it or something?  It was similar to Time of the Witches, but it didn't read quite as well to me.  I wouldn't say you shouldn't read it because it was in the required reading section of the library and it got there for a reason.  It just wasn't my particular cup of tea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Salem Witches Week: The Writings of Kathleen Kent

Today we're spotlighting the books of Kathleen Kent. 

by:  Kathleen Kent
published by:  Little Brown and Co.
publish date:   September 2008

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

by:  Kathleen Kent
published by:  Reagan Arthur Books
publish date:  November 2010

In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Wolves of Andover confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of family from colonial history.
I absolutely adored both of these stories.  I actually read/listened to The Wolves of Andover first and thought it was wonderful.  It was the book that somewhat inspired the whole idea of the Salem Witches Week.  It got me more interested in learning more about what happened. 
Both of these books are extremely well researched.  Kathleen Kent is a 10th generation descendant of Martha Carrier and knows her history well.  She has a deep love and respect for her ancestry and it shows in her writings.

Tomorrow we're spotlighting YA book, there are several!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Salem Witches Week: Introduction

This week we're going to do something a little different.  We are going to spotlight fiction books that feature or relate to the Salem Witches.  319 years ago, on June 10, the first woman was hanged as a witch.  18 more men and women would follow, including Giles Corey who was crushed to death.  It was a terrible time in American history and there are a lot of books that discuss the events that became known as the Salem Witch Trials.

For this first day I'm going to have to do something a little unusual for a book blogger.  There were a few books that I wanted to read, but I just didn't have time to get to them before this came up in the schedule.  I'm going to point them out and maybe you'll have some time to read them!

by:  Rose Earhart
published by:  Pendleton Books
publish date:  April 2000

Dorcas Good, the four year old daughter of Sarah Good, who was hanged as a witch in Salem, MA, is arrested and taken to prison, herself being accused of being a witch. Mistreated by her cruel father and others in Salem, she learns to endure physical, emotional and sexual abuses. Befriended by the pirate Jack Quelch, Dorcas is finally rescued from the dark dank prison, but not before suffering permanent emotiional damage.

The novel, written in diary form, allows the reader to experience the flavor of life in 1692 Salem, and finally tell the real stoiry of the savagery and terror of the Salem Witch Trials. It is probably the first recorded case of child abuse in this country.

This book was fairly difficult to track down.  My local libraries didn't have it and it wasn't in the interlibrary loan system.  I managed to get it from the main library in the next city over.  It's a very large book and I still have it, I just haven't gotten a chance to read it.

by:  Brunonia Barry
published by:  Flap Jacket Press
publish date:  July 2007

Look into the lace . . . When the eyes begin to fill with tears and the patience is long exhausted, there will appear a glimpse of something not quite seen... In this moment, an image will begin to form . . . in the space between what is real and what is only imagined.

Can you read your future in a piece of lace? All of the Whitney women can. But the last time Towner read, it killed her sister and nearly robbed Towner of her own sanity. Vowing never to read lace again, her resolve is tested when faced with the mysterious, unsolvable disappearance of her beloved Great Aunt Eva, Salem's original Lace Reader. Told from opposing and often unreliable perspectives, the story engages the reader's own beliefs. Should we listen to Towner, who may be losing her mind for the second time? Or should we believe John Rafferty, a no nonsense New York detective, who ran away from the city to a simpler place only to find himself inextricably involved in a psychic tug of war with all three generations of Whitney women? Does either have the whole story? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the swirling pattern of the lace? 
Obviously, this one is not directly related to the Salem Witches.  It supposedly has something to do with their descendants living in modern day Salem.  This one was much easier to find.  I located it in most libraries.  It looked like a fairly interesting read and I hope to get to it one day.

by:  Ann Rinaldi
published by:  Gulliver Books
publish date:  September 1992

Susanna English desperately wants to join the circle of girls who meet every week at the parsonage, but she doesn’t realize the leader of the group, the malicious Ann Putnam, is about to set off a torrent of false accusations that will lead to the imprisonment and execution of countless innocent people-victims of a witch-hunt panic.

This one is a YA book, and we will be featuring YA books on Wednesday.  This one looks to be fairly similar to Time of the Witches as that one focuses a lot on Ann Putnam as well.    I do have this book at home so it'll be interesting to see how the two book compare. 

Of course, there's also The Crucible and who didn't have to have to read that in high school?  I know I did, but I need to reread it.  I hope you'll stick with us the rest of the week to see what else we have going on.  Tomorrow will be the writings of Kathleen Kent.  Make sure to check back!

ALA New Orleans

From June 23-28 the American Library Association will be hosting their annual convention in New Orleans.  Since I live only about 45 minutes north of New Orleans I will be attending this year!  I'm not the only one from the Book Blogging Community going.  The following blogs will be represented:

It's not too late to join in the fun!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Daughter of Darkness

by:  V.C. Andrews
published by:  Pocket Star
publish date:  October 2010

One night, with the sound of a young man’s scream, high school senior Lorelei discovers that her stern but loving father, who adopted Lorelei and her sisters as infants, is no ordinary man. He has raised his beautiful girls for one purpose: to lure young men into their world of shadows. Like her sisters, Lorelei has been trained in the art of seduction and warned never to fall in love. But when she meets a handsome and charming classmate, she boldly defies her family and follows her heart—even if love is a poison. . . .Dangerously enticing and deliriously intoxicating.

This book was in a word, BAD.  I listened to the audiobook, and that narrator I swear made it worse, laughably worse.  Have you seen the movie "Romancing the Stone", when Kathleen Turner is doing the voice over parts to her romance novel?  She's being all overly dramatic?  That's what it made me think of. 

I remember reading tons of VC Andrews when I was a teenager and loving them.  I don't remember them being so bad.  I guess those were written by the "real" VC Andrews?  Now, it's a ghost writer and I guess the publisher doesn't care about content too much and just wants to slap a money making name on anything they can get. 

This book was also a little bit skeevy with the constant incestuous overtone.  What's a VC Andrews book with out it?  But this was really blatant and constant with these girls obsession with their Daddy.  It was just kinda icky.

P.S.  And their last name is PATIO?  Come on!!  They're wealthy vampires and their last name is Patio??  Seems like they would have something a lot more elegant and/or powerful than what I put my lawnchairs and tomato plants on.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2 Novellas in 1 day! - Lessons in Indiscretion & Healing Hearts

Lessons in Indiscretion
Author: Karen Erickson
Publisher: Carina Press June 20, 2011

Widowed Lady Julia Renwick is still young enough to crave a man's touch; but she's too old to think that the Earl of Bedingfield could see her as anything more than a family friend. Garrett Walker is handsome, charming and only 26 years old-the perfect catch for any one of this year's debutantes.

Garrett has no interest in the maidens vying for his attentions. He wants only Julia. With just two weeks left in the season, he makes a bold move by asking her to dance. When she counters with a shocking request of her own, Garrett eagerly agrees.

Soon, they are stealing away for passionate encounters at every society event they attend. Garrett introduces Julia to excitements she never knew existed, and her newfound confidence quickly attracts other eligible men. It's not long before Garrett realizes he must find a way to keep the lady all to himself...

Lessons in Indiscretion is the first of the Merry Widows series put out by Carina Press. This one is a very quick read, coming in at about 18,000 words. Sometimes I don't know why I torture myself reading novellas. I always want to know more about the characters. I enjoyed Julia and Garrett's story. They were great characters. This one had a nice twist, Julia is the "older woman" by 5 years. Back in their time, what a scandal that would have made. I recommend this one if you want a quick escape. The story is well written with steamy and sensual love scenes. I loved how Garret declares his feelings for Julia in the end. Such a sweet, yet scandalous scene, but perfect for their HEA!

Healing Hearts
Author: Taryn Kincaid
Publisher: Carina Press (Feb 2011)

As a girl, Emma Whiteside asked Adam Caldwell, Viscount Riverton, to wait for her to be of marriageable age. Now, twelve years later, Emma hates Adam as much as she once loved him, holding the former army major responsible for the death of her brother on the battlefield.

Adam already blames himself for the loss of the men under his command. But the fiery young woman Emma's become sparks his arousal, as well as emotions Adam thought long dead. The passion between them makes him want to reclaim the man he was before the war.

Though she tries to hold on to her hatred, Emma's longing for Adam is undeniable, especially after the two share a smoldering kiss. Still, Adam is certain no woman would want a man so damaged. Can Emma prove him wrong?

Healing Hearts is another quick read from Carina Press. It comes in at 23,800 words, slightly longer than the one above. I enjoyed Healing Hearts. It's a classic story of two broken people who find life and happiness in loving one another. Adam has been wounded not just physically, but emotionally by the war in Spain. Emma still loves Adam even though he might have led he brother to his death. I think I liked this one so much because the hero is flawed. I can empathize better with the character that way. The epilogue was very amusing and a great way to end the story.

I definitely recommend both of the novellas reviewed here. Either one is a great way to escape for a couple of hours. I have not read anything by either author before, but I know I will be seeking out other works by them!


* note: I read an complimentary copy of both novellas 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, June 10, 2011

Virtual Book Tour - Recovery

Author: Alexandrea Weiss
Publisher: Self

A killer is lurking among the ruins of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.

A killer she knows.

Still devastated two years after the mysterious murder of her beloved David Alexander, Nicci Beauvoir surprises everyone in the Big Easy by returning to her hometown with a new admirer: the cool and contentious Dallas August. But the attractive stranger is asking a lot of questions about David’s death, making Nicci’s family and friends speculate about his true intentions. Only Nicci knows that Dallas, a high-priced corporate spy, has come to New Orleans to flush out David Alexander’s killer. Playing the part of her lover, Dallas escorts Nicci around town hoping to get closer to his possible suspects. But hiding amid the city’s elite is a jealous maniac waiting to make Nicci suffer. As the days pass and the danger grows, Nicci’s relationship with the handsome spy turns from adversarial to amorous. Desperate to unearth the identity of David’s murderer, Nicci and Dallas decide to lure the killer out of the city for one final showdown. It is a deadly decision that could cost Nicci everything. But it may be her only chance for… Recovery

Recovery is a great, well written book filled with wonderful characters, intense emotion and suspense. Nicci is slowly trying to find her way back to herself after losing her lover, David. She meets Dallas, a friend and co-worker of David’s, and is soon plunged into an unexpected adventure of revenge and justice. Dallas and Nicci are very similar. They are both rediscovering themselves. Dallas has been working in his profession for so long that he doesn’t know who is anymore. At first, his coldness toward Nicci put me off and I wondered how she could ever have feelings for him. But as I read the novel, I realized that, in a way, they really needed each other to heal. One of the best parts of the book is Nicci’s family. I just loved the banter between her father and her uncle Lance. Some of those scenes really cracked me up and provided some comic relief when things were getting intense. I really liked the comparison between Nicci’s recovery and the recovery of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Recovery is the second in a series about Nicci Beauvoir. I did not know this going into this book. The author did a nice job of catching me up to speed, so I never felt like I was missing something. I will probably seek out the first one because I hate to miss any part of a series. I definitely recommend this one and look forward to the next Nicci Beauvoir adventure.


* note: I read a complimentary copy of Recovery 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.*

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Throwback Thursday: The Golden Valkyrie

Author: Iris Johansen
First Published in 1984 by Bantam Books

When P.I. Honey Winston is hired to steal incriminating letters from visiting dignitary Prince Rubinoff, she’s prepared for a dangerous mission that could end her career. But when she blows her cover, she finds that the amused prince is everything the media have made him out to be: part Adonis, part playboy—and irresistibly charismatic. The problem is, the feeling is mutual. Intrigued, the prince is determined to keep his gorgeous young trespasser by his side as long as possible.

For he’s never met anyone quite as daring, or breathtaking, as Honey. With the tables turned, Prince Rubinoff has Honey appointed his personal bodyguard. The official reason is an assassination plot. The truth is far more dangerous…

The Golden Valkyrie is an early work by Iris Johansen. This one is a little hard to swallow. Honey is a PI who gets caught breaking into a prince's hotel room. He is so enamored with her that he has her appointed his bodyguard saying there is a threat on his life. He flies her to his private island where he sets about seducing her, only to find out that she is a virgin (big surprise!) Honey annoyed me throughout the whole book. She was whiny and, well, annoying. She seemed too naive for someone in her profession. I did like Lance's character, but I wasn't sure how he could fall for Honey. Despite my dislike of Honey, the story isn't all bad. The peripheral characters do make it interesting. Their HEA ending is cute.

The book was re-issued a couple of years back, so it should be easy to find. As always, pick it up and give it a try. You might like it.