Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Scorpio Races

by:  Maggie Stiefvater
published by:  Scholastic Press
publish date:  October 18th, 2011

The only synopsis I find anywhere is this:  "With her trademark lyricism, Maggie Stiefvater turns to a new world, where a pair are swept up in a daring, dangerous race across a cliff--with more than just their lives at stake should they lose."

That's all you need to know.  That's what the book is about.  It's about a horse race...a WATER horse race.  It's dark, it's tense, it's violent, it's utterly unique and it's AWESOME!

I wasn't a huge fan of Maggie Stiefvater after the Shiver/Linger Werewolves books.  I really didn't like them much at all.  She's completely redeemed herself in my eyes with this book.   It might be the best book I've read so far this year.  It's definitely right up there in the top 3 for sure. 

The story is about these violent man-eating water horses that come out of the ocean and the riders capture the horses and train them to be raced in November when the Scorpio Races are held.  Sean Kendrick is the best trainer and rider on the island.  He's won 4 of the last 6 years.  He's signed up to race on his favorite water horse Corr.  Kate "Puck" Connelly is a young woman who has signed up to race to save her home.  Problem is, no woman has ever raced before, but there's no rule against it.  She's also riding on her "regular" horse Dove, which is also not against the rules.  There's a lot of opposition to her presence in the traditionally all-male all-water horse race. 

I won't tell you anymore because I know you'll be dying to read it!  Run out and get yourself a copy when it comes out.  Pre-order one right now!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

3 Surprise Favorites of 2011

These three books weren't started with the expectation that I was going to love them, or even like them.  The fact that they are most likely on my Top Ten Favorites of 2011 came as a surprise to me. 

First off is:

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn't share his brother's appetite for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. But their prey isn't an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm's gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.

I listened to the audiobook for this one.  It was very well done.  I would highly recommend it.  The story behind this one was great.  At first I was kinda hesitant.  I didn't really get it, but I stuck with it and I'm so glad. 

Eli was an awesome character.  I loved his newfound delight in brushing his teeth. That was so endearing.  The book takes place in the 1850s so not too many people were do that at the time. 

This book is a classic western, which I didn't think was really my cup of tea, but don't let that deter you, because the story is a lot more than that.  I will say however, there are parts that are violent, and there were parts that had me going "ewww" and "ick" and "oh my god". 

Read this book and see if it doesn't stir up some gold lust in you!  And isn't the cover art fantastic??

Second, completely switching gears:

A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

Again, I listened to the audiobook for this one.  Again, it was very well done.  Even though there were shifts in the what time period the story was taking place, I had no trouble following along. 

I found this book to be reminiscent of The Island by Elin Hildebrand.  I think her fans would also enjoy this one.  There is an element of romance, but the mystery of the writer of the diary, is really what makes this book so compelling to read. 

My only criticism of this book is that I didn't really find Jack and Emily's love to be believable.  It just seemed like they met and liked each other and then next thing they were in love with each other without any reason.  Considering their pasts, it seemed like they would need a lot more to push them together.  I did believe the relationship between Esther and Elliot though, so the writer does have the ability to write a genuine love.  I was just skeptical I guess.

Check it out, maybe you'll think I'm way off base.

Speaking of being off base.  My third choice, was completely ON base.  I heard a lot of buzz about this book following BEA.  I got a copy at ALA.  I finally picked it up last week.  Now I know what the big deal is.  I think this one is easily top one or two favorite of the year.

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.

I don't know what to say about this book that would properly express how much I liked it.  I lingered over this book because I hated for it to end.  I left it at home and I looked forward to getting home just to be able to read a few more pages and find out what was going to go on in the life of Henry Skrimshander.

I have a feeling that this book might be huge.  It has universal appeal.  It has the sports aspect and male camaraderie that would appeal to the traditional male reader, but it has the drama and love that the chick-lit crowd looks for.  Sorry if I'm pigeon-holing, but y'all know what I'm getting at here.  I think it can also cross YA and Adult lines.  It's an Adult Literature book, but the youth of the characters and the college campus setting might help it trend in the YA direction.

I've been telling everyone about this one.  I definitely recommend it.  I was so sad when I finished it, it was like 5 friends moved away.  It comes out early September...perfect read for a crisp Fall day.

Without Tess

by:  Marcella Pixley
published by:  Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
publish date:  October 11, 2011

Tess and Lizzie are sisters, sisters as close as can be, who share a secret world filled with selkies, flying horses, and a girl who can transform into a wolf in the middle of the night. But when Lizzie is ready to grow up, Tess clings to their fantasies. As Tess sinks deeper and deeper into her delusions, she decides that she can’t live in the real world any longer and leaves Lizzie and her family forever. Now, years later, Lizzie is in high school and struggling to understand what happened to her sister. With the help of a school psychologist and Tess’s battered journal, Lizzie searches for a way to finally let Tess go.

When I was at the ALA convention one of the questions that I asked publishers was "What are you pushing that I haven't heard of yet?"  This is one of the books that I got.  The rep told me that initial reports were coming back that this book was too dark and depressing, but they all loved the book.  My first reaction to the book was that it IS a sad book, but it's a really beautiful book too.  It's definitely worth the read.

Both of the characters of Tess and Lizzie are very well written, they were very real.  I felt like their parents were also believable.  I don't know exactly how I, as a parent, would react to everything that had happened to their family, but it all felt lifelike to me. 

Marcella Pixley took a very tragic and emotional story and wrote it in such a graceful and beautiful way that I devoured the book in about a day.  I was reading at the pool with tons of people around me and I was crying all over the place behind my sunglasses.  It's an amazing book, thanks to the people at FSG for letting me know about it!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blog Tour - Count Down to Love

Author: Julie N. Ford
Publisher: Cedar Fort - Bonneville Books (July 2011)

Abandoned at the altar, Kelly Grace Pickens finds herself left holding not only the bouquet, but also the exorbitant bill for an A-list wedding. Homeless, a once-promising singing career floundering, and her life bearing an uncanny resemblance to one of her country music ballads, she reluctantly accepts a last-minute offer to appear on a reality TV show akin to The Bachelor. Pitted against silicon-enhanced supermodels in four-inch heels, Kelly feels confident that she will be among the first would-be fiancées to be excused. Only, when the mysterious bachelor from New York City, Dillon Black, invites her to stay, Kelly finds herself thrust into the vortex of a game she doesn’t have the first idea how to play. Nursing her hopelessly broken heart while avoiding the foils of her fellow contestants, Kelly is oblivious to Dillon’s affections as she wades through hurt and betrayal to discover, in the end, that she has landed firmly on both feet.

I'll admit, I have never seen The Bachelor or any of the other reality TV shows like it. But I was intrigued when I read the synopsis for Count Down to Love. I am happy I read it. I really enjoyed reading it!

Kelly Grace is is left at the alter by her slime-ball of a fiance. He has also left her with tons of debt and a lot of self doubt. To make some money, she agrees to help out her cousin who is a producer and goes on a Bachelor type show called Count Down to Love. Kelly has basically lived her whole life with people telling her who she is supposed to be. Her mother is constantly telling her she isn't good enough. Her ex- fiance led her away from her true passion in nursing to try to be a super star. Even her cousin makes her into a bimbo model type to be on the show. The only one that wants to see her for herself is Dillon.

I liked Dillon a lot. I think he was the only one who really saw through to the heart of who Kelly was inside. Their relationship was fun to watch. I thought they were great together and really brought out the best in each other. Over the course of the competition, Kelly really matures and grows into herself. Dillon learns a little something about himself along the way as well. I won't give away the end, but I thought it was just perfect.

I definitely recommend Count Down to Love. It was a really great and clean little romance that just makes you sigh with contentment when it is over.


About the Author:

Julie has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and a minor in English Literature from San Diego State University. In addition, she earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. Professionally, she has worked in teaching, childbirth education and family therapy. Along with Who I Am, she is the author of two other Women?s Fiction novels due for release in March and November of 2011. Currently, she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two daughters and one very feisty fish.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

2 in 1 Novellas: Dark Magic and Hunting Kat

It's time for another edition of "2 in 1 novellas". Today I have 2 more from Carina Press.

First up is Dark Magic:

Author: Rebecca York
Publisher: Carina Press ( August 2011)

Marrying her father's barbaric enemy for political gain is not the future that Princess Devon imagines for herself. She prefers escaping into the world of magic and legend described in books—books that suggest just how a princess could take the safety of a kingdom into her own hands.

When Devon awakens one night to find the mysterious Galladar in her chamber, the lines between myth and reality begin to blur. Before he disappears into the night, the two share an intimate encounter that leaves her determined to follow her heart.

Devon leaves the castle on a quest to find the mythical dragon who can free her kingdom forever and release her from her father's plan. She's prepared to do whatever it takes to make her future her own. However, when she finds Galladar again, will she be forced to choose between her kingdom and her happiness?

Dark magic is a great fantasy novella. I'm not normally into reading dragon stories, but this one had a nice twist. Devon is a compassionate princess and really cares for the people of her kingdom. She decides to sacrifice herself to the resident dragon in hopes that he will bring peace to the land. Before leaving, she meets Galladar who ignites a passion in her that she never knew existed. On her quest, she discovers the truth of just who the mysterious stranger is and what he wants from her. I liked the dragon mythology in this one. The dragon is almost vampire-like which is something I haven't read before. It is a very quick and satisfying read. I definitely recommend it.

Next up is Hunting Kat:

Author:PJ Schynder
Publisher: Carina Press (July 2011)

As a mercenary, Kat Darah doesn't have to pass for a normal human. On the edge of the solar system, she's just another biped. Most of the time.

Nearing the end of his military tour, Lt. Christopher Rygard debates the idea of hanging up his uniform for good. Looking for answers at the bottom of a glass of scotch, he meets Kat. One shared night of mutual desire seems harmless. But when their tryst is interrupted by attackers hunting Rygard, Kat must reveal her other form, the predator beneath the human façade.

Together they embark on a dangerous mission—a race against time to meet the enemy's demands, while trying to deny the passion between them. Rygard is faced with a terrible choice in the face of duty: Report the existence of a human turned shape-shifter. Or forget he ever met her.

I enjoyed Hunting Kat. Both Kat and Rygard are likable characters. Their sex scenes are very steamy. I liked that Kat was tough but showed a vulnerable side as well. The only thing that I had a little hard time believing is that after going through all that Kat went through, she wold allow herself to have sex with a complete stranger. I was really happy with the ending as it was totally believable. While not exactly a HEA, it was satisfying. I hope the author follows up with a sequel!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Blog Tour: Missing in Mexico

by:  Stuart Gustafson
published by:  ebook

"Missing in Mexico" is Stuart Gustafson's debut mystery tourism novel. Private Investigator Stan W. is hired to find a college freshman who’s missing after a family vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico. Even with local help and some promising leads, he’s unable to find her and returns home to inform the hurting parents. Months later he receives a mysterious letter and jumps on the next plane to Los Cabos. Will this be the break that he needs to find her? Or will she remain missing – Missing in Mexico?

This turned out to be a really great book.  I've learned with ebooks of the self-published varieties it's, as Forrest Gump says, like a box of that someone already ate all the good ones out of and you're left with the ones you don't really like.  This book was like finding your favorite candy the devilish chocolate eater skipped over.

The story was excellent.  The pacing was laid out well.  The reader could figure out fairly easily where she was, but not why she was there.  At least I couldn't. What I wanted to know is what the heck happend to Carmelita?  One minute Stan's all happy with her and then he's got another chick telling her there are no other women?  What??  Is Stan going to be a womanizer?

I was very pleased with the quality of writing.  However, I did notice a few (very few) spelling errors.  This is one of the reasons why I always suggest to writers (when they ask...), self-published and otherwise, to please invest in the services of a copy editor.  Even just hiring a college English major can do a world of good.  Don't rely on spell check.  It doesn't pick up on things like road/rode or dry/try errors. 

Right now, this book is a great bargain on Amazon for the Kindle users.  I'd definitely recommend it!  It looks like this is the start of a series and I look forward to seeing where it goes.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Throwback Thursday - The Getaway Groom

Author: Milly Liholm
First published in 1998 by Harlequin Books


Happy Endings Guaranteed!

Need a wedding planned in only two weeks? Groom has cold feet? Bridal consultant Emma Delaney could solve any kind of wedding crisis, because she passionately believed in love and romance. She wanted every bride to have a happy ending. For Emma knew firsthand what it was like to have your wedding day turn out to be a disaster. Eight years ago Emma's groom, Max—her perfect sexy lover—had abandoned her at the altar.

Megan Cooper's nuptials were just another assignment, another chance to create a romantic, spectacular wedding. Until Emma met Meg's perfect sexy groom…and got the shock of her life! Max! Could she plan a second walk down the aisle for the man who'd once broken her heart?

I didn't care for this one. I'm not a big fan of infidelity tales and that is what this book is all about. Emma and Max were set to be married 8 years before when he left her at the altar. Now, Emma has been asked to plan her friend Megan's wedding to Max. Gee, wonder where this story is leading? I should have known.

I didn't like either Emma or Max. I was really turned off by their handling of the whole situation. They keep saying they don't want to hurt Megan, yet they continually fool around and eventually sleep together. All the while lying to their friend and fiance. I would have liked the book better had they been upfront with her from the start and then resumed their relationship. Honestly, I also thought it was a bit tacky that they end up getting married using Megan's dress and wedding plans. There is a little mystery running throughout the book, but it wasn't enough to enhance the story for me.

If you are looking for throwback to read, you can probably skip this one. You aren't missing much.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011


by:  Will Lavendar
published by:  Simon & Schuster

Fifteen years earlier. Jasper College is buzzing with the news that famed literature professor Richard Aldiss will be teaching a special night class called Unraveling a Literary Mystery—from a video feed in his prison cell. In 1982, Aldiss was convicted of the murders of two female grad students; the women were killed with axe blows and their bodies decorated with the novels of notoriously reclusive author Paul Fallows. Even the most obsessive Fallows scholars have never seen him. He is like a ghost. Aldiss entreats the students of his night class to solve the Fallows riddle once and for all. The author’s two published novels, The Coil and The Golden Silence, are considered maps to finding Fallows’s true identity. And the only way in is to master them through a game called the Procedure. You may not know when the game has begun, but when you receive an invitation to play, it is an invitation to join the elite ranks of Fallows scholars. Failure, in these circles, is a fate worse than death. Soon, members of the night class will be invited to play along . . .

Present day. Harvard professor Alex Shipley made her name as a member of Aldiss’s night class. She not only exposed the truth of Paul Fallows’s identity, but in the process uncovered information that acquitted Aldiss of the heinous 1982 crimes. But when one of her fellow night class alums is murdered— the body chopped up with an axe and surrounded by Fallows novels—can she use what she knows about Fallows and the Procedure to stop a killer before each of her former classmates is picked off, one by one?

I found this book to be extremely complicated.  For that reason, I'm finding it hard to come up with a review for it.  On one hand I liked the mystery aspect of it.  However, the switching back and forth from present day to 15 years ago got a little confusing at times for me.  I would lose track of where I was.  This was one of those times where a movie would have made more sense because clothing and hairstyles, etc. would give more visual cues to help with that sort of thing.

This whole idea of "The Procedure" was really bizarre to me.  I couldn't imagine anybody I know ever doing that.  The only example of it I could think of would be like the people who dress up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but even that didn't seem to be as extreme as the characters in this book.  That aspect of the book, I just didn't get.

I thought the whole idea of a convicted killer teaching a class from prison was really cool.  I wondered if it had ever been done?  It seemed kinda Hannibal Lecter-ish.  Using the students as little detectives to free him from prison was ingenious.  However, I had trouble tying in the past story and the present day story AND The Procedure all together.  Maybe it was all totally over my head and I was being kinda dense.

I would say give it a go for the mystery lovers, because the central question of the identity of Paul Fallows was an interesting one and kept me reading to the end to find out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2 in 1 Novellas: Stroke of Midnight and Almost an Outlaw

I have 2 novellas by Carina Press today. First up is:

Stroke of Midnight

Author: Bonnie Edwards
Publisher: Carina Press (01/24/2011)

An unlikely Cinderella...

When hardworking single mom Jaye Sinns meets younger playboy Alexander Carmichael, the sexual chemistry between them is undeniable. So Jaye gives in to temptation and allows him to whisk her away for her first-ever vacation. Two glorious weeks of no inhibitions, no strings and no responsibilities.

A charming prince of a guy...

Life with Alex is every woman's fantasy-sizzling sex in the back of a limo, on a private plane, in exotic settings. But it's not enough to fulfill a woman like Jaye for long. No matter how hot the sex is.

A happy ending?

Alex is soon craving more than Jaye's body: he wants her love and admiration, too. For the first time in his life, he can't buy the thing he desires most; and now he must decide if he's willing to work at being the kind of man that Jaye needs, and give her the happily-ever-after she deserves.

Stroke of Midnight is modern day Cinderella story. Alex sees Jaye at a convention and whisks her off for 2 weeks of luxury and of course, sex. While the attraction was instant, I liked their relationship. There was definitely enough of a back story so that I had a sense of where both Alex and Jaye were coming from. Both guard their hearts closely, but love is inevitable. In the end, they both grow and learn that they can have it all. Alex was so cute as he kept trying to find ways to make Jaye stay with him longer than the agreed time. I was very satisfied with the ending. This was a great novella, perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Next is Almost an Outlaw:

Author: Patricia Preston
Publisher: Carina Press (01/10/2011)

Rancher Austin Cade rides into Liberty looking for his old comrades, the James-Younger gang. He needs their help tracking down the horse thief who's stolen his prized mare. In town, the former gunfighter is reunited with Darcy, the first girl he ever kissed-and never forgot.

Young widow Darcy Branson owns a shop full of fashionable ladies' attire, but continues to wear mourning black so she won't forget her role in her husband's death. Austin stirs a passion inside her that has long been dormant, but can Darcy learn to believe in Austin-and love-enough to let go of her tragic past?

Time is rapidly running out... As a cousin to Jesse James, Darcy has attracted unwanted attention, thanks to her rumored association with the gang. Soon Austin and Darcy are faced with confronting not only their growing desire, but danger in the form of a deadly bounty hunter...

Almost an Outlaw was quick, but so well written that I felt like I had read a full novel. Ms. Preston did a great job of making feel like I knew the back story and the characters. Darcy and Austin share a past, but guilt over the death of her late husband prevents her from moving on. I was cheering Austin on for not settling for anything less than love. That was a nice twist. You don't often see the man saying he wants all or nothing. The little mystery was of the killer was a nice added bonus and enhanced the story.

I definitely recommend both novellas! You won't be sorry.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Lost Voices

Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 2011)

When fourteen-year-old Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch.

Let me say right away, I did not finish this book. I have no idea how it ends nor do I really care to. But, I feel that I listened to enough of it to form an opinion and therefore give a partial review. I have read a lot of reviews on this book and most people seemed to like it. I just couldn't bring myself to finish it.

What I liked: The writing style and the concept. I thought the author's writing style was great and beautifully descriptive. It just wasn't enough to sustain the story for me. I also liked the concept of lost souls turning into mermaids. I just didn't like the kind of mermaids they turn into. I have always thought of them as "Ariel" types who help lost sailors find their way home. In Lost Voices, mermaids are more like sirens luring sailors to their death using their voices.

Why I stopped reading: Luce is a 14YO who has no parents, no friends, and is abused by her uncle. After he almost rapes her, she falls off a cliff and decides death is better. She is then turned into a mermaid. It turns out that this is how mermaids come into being. Abused girls who die turn into mermaids. OK, I can stretch my imagination to believe that works. What I found disturbing is the mermaids range in age from 5-17. I could not make myself believe that 5 year old abused child would become a vicious, revenge-seeking mermaid who lures people, even children, to their deaths. That just seemed wrong to me and was something I couldn't get past.

There were also too many contradictions in the story. For example, the mermaids live by a code that says they cannot physically harm another mermaid and that they must help one in distress. However, this apparently does not extend to what they call "larvae". Larvae are apparently toddlers who have turned into mermaids, but aren't fully developed. Instead of helping them and taking care of them, they allow them to flounder and die in the ocean. (There is one gross scene where they are eaten by an orca.) Also, they have no sympathy to any children who may drown on one of the downed ships because they will only turn into adults who abuse. I finally had to turn it off after the other mermaids keep being mean to Luce when she makes a mistake, yet they don't take the time to explain everything being a mermaid entails. She says she has found a home, but they are all so mean to her that I can't see why she would want to live with them at all. It seems she has traded one lonely abusive life for another.

I could go on with other things that didn't appeal to me, but I think I have presented enough to show you why I couldn't finish it. This is supposed to be a YA novel and I would recommend that parents limit it to older YAs. Personally, I thought the content was a bit mature and violent for under 16. But, I always say, ' To each his own!" Read it and judge for yourself.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Darkness Dawns

Author:Dianne Duvall
Publisher: Zebra (February 2011)

Once, Sarah Bingham's biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she's handed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control...In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible - when it means forfeiting the world she's always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.

Did I like this one? Yep, I loved it! I loved everything about it. I had my reservations, since I have never heard of this author. I am so happy that I picked up this debut work by Ms. Duvall. I liked her twist on the vampire genre where a virus affects turned individuals differently. You either become a crazy, blood thirsty vampire or you become an immortal. I think Roland does a great job of explaining the difference in the book.

Sarah and Roland are just great characters. Their fall into love is effortless and just fun to watch. They have some pretty sensual love scenes that were well written. Both are pretty much loners and not very trusting, but from the first they experience a pull that can only move them toward each other. While there are serious moments, there are also some very funny moments in the book.

The peripheral characters and the mystery of who is trying to kill Roland round out the story very nicely. The end leaves lots of room for the sequel which comes out in December, I believe. I can't wait to read that one. I want to know more about Ami!

I definitely recommend this debut novel. I listened to the audio book and the narrator did a great job. If you like the vampire genre, you won't be sorry.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back to the Stacks Giveaway

Welcome to the 11 am giveaway!

We have two prizes to give away to two different winners. 

Firstly we have a hardcover copy of Marysvale.  Kari reviewed it here last week.

Secondly, an ARC of Hooked.

This is open to US participants.  Please leave a comment stating which book you would prefer with a valid email address.  A winner will be picked first thing Monday morning.  Good luck!

Make sure to check out the Noon giveaway!

2 for 1 Novellas: When Tony Met Adam & Scent of Attraction

I have 2 m/m romance novellas for you today.

First up is When Tony met Adam by Suzanne Brockman:

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group (June 6th 2011)

Tony Vlachic, a ruggedly handsome Navy SEAL, has kept his sexuality a secret for years under the threat of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That is, until he meets Adam Wyndham, a charismatic yet troubled film star. Tony knows that by approaching Adam in front of his teammates he’s jeopardizing his military career. And Adam, nursing a broken heart, has no interest in a relationship. Still, neither man can deny their instant attraction.

Tony didn’t become a SEAL by accepting rejection, and his pursuit of Adam leads to one unforgettable night. But the next morning, Tony is ordered to ship out to Afghanistan, and he’s forced to leave Adam with too much left unsaid. As Tony enters a dangerous war zone, Adam, back in Los Angeles, struggles with the demons of his past, while dealing with the very real possibility that Tony could be killed in action. Half a world apart, both men must face their feelings for each other—and decide if what they’ve found is worth risking everything in the name of love.

This was an OK novella for me. I love Suzanne Brockmann's books and I usually believe the relationships in her books. I just didn't in this one. They met, they had sex and then they are ready for a HEA? It felt forced to me and the whole story felt rushed. There wasn't time to get to know either character. Adam was a total jerk and I can't see anyone liking him at all. I liked Tony, but as he related to his team not Adam. I thought that the reactions of the team after Tony came out were pretty real.

What I did like about it was her touching on the issue of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military. That was a nice change of pace, especially with its repeal earlier this year. I did some research and I think it comes in after book 12 of the Troubleshooter series, so there might be some back story that I am missing for the characters. I might like it more if I go back and read the stories that come before this.

Second is Scent of Attraction by new author Pender Mackie:

Author: Pender Mackie
Publisher: Silver Publishing (April 2011)

When Shawn takes a job at a cologne counter in a busy department store he hopes it’s the beginning of a successful career in the health and beauty industry.
But almost two years later Shawn is frustrated with his job and his love life. He's still working the cologne counter, still single and still spending every night alone.

His job allows him to meet plenty of good-looking men but most of them are straight, and even when they aren't, Shawn is shy. He gets nervous and tongue-tied when he's around a hot guy and the thought of going on a date with a complete stranger makes his stomach churn nervously.

When he meets friendly and outgoing Graham the attraction on both sides is intense and immediate.

Shawn might be willing to step out of his comfort zone this time but there's just one problem. Graham's with someone else.

It looks like their relationship is over before they even share a kiss. . .

This was a super cute romance. I really enjoyed it. It was well written and sucked me in from the beginning. Shawn is just adorable and I can totally picture his shy face behind the fragrance counter. I loved Shawn and Graham together. What I liked about this story is that the main characters took their time before jumping into bed with each other. I did beleive this HEA. I definitely recommend this quick read.

I know this is the first story published by Ms. Mackie. I see a bright future for her.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blog Tour: What Happens in Vegas

by:  Natasha Deen
published by:  ebook

It’s not that Binda Morningstar’s an idiot—the girl’s got more degrees than a thermometer—but there’s something about a crisis that makes her lose her mind…and accidently injure anyone within a ten foot radius. But if she’s going to rescue her boss from a cursed jewel, she’s going to have to keep it together. Unfortunately for her, the cop on the case, Corin Hawthorne, has her losing her mind and her heart…and if he gets anymore drool worthy, she’s going to lose her inhibitions, too. To save her boss and win her man, she’s got to outrun a mobster, outwit the YIFFS at a sex fetish convention, and outthink an ex-wife—and she’s got to do it all without breaking an arm or inadvertently hitting anyone with pepper spray…it’s all got Binda hoping that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

If you're in the mood for a sexy, light hearted read, this is the book you need to get.  This had to be one of the funniest books that I've read in quite awhile.  Not stupid funny either, it was snappy, quick-witted humor.  I really enjoyed the character of Binda Morningstar.  If you've ever seen any of The Thin Man movies, Corin and Binda sorta reminded me of a modern day makeover of Nick and Nora.

I didn't think I would EVER see yiffing (if you don't know what that is look it up in the privacy of your own home) in a book.  The only time I had ever seen anything about it was that one episode of CSI (also in Las Vegas, what is it with Las Vegas and people with that fetish??) and that was really enough.  That whole scene in the book was hysterical. 

If you want some fun, check it out!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Isn't it Romantic? (Precious Gem Romance # 254)

Author: Shannon McKenna (writing as Shannon Anderson)
First published in 2000 by Zebra Books (Kensington Publishing Corp)

A GAME OF HEARTS — Pretty graduate student Nell Bradley has just gotten a big break -- a chance to stop waiting tables and add a little magic to a new computer game. But she can't believe her new boss is the regular customer she's smitten with, the one who scarcely notices her... or has he? — Computer whiz Duncan Burke has a thriving company, movie-star good looks, and a staggering lack of imagination. If his new fantasy game is going to be a success, he needs to throw away logic and take a chance on romance. Reprogramming Duncan's guarded heart won't be easy, but Nell is romantic enough for two....

I'm a big fan of Shannon McKenna and have read her entire McCloud Brothers series. This throwback is written under her pseudonym, Shannon Anderson. I thought it was really cute. Duncan is kind of a stick in the mud, but adorable at the same time. I just love clueless male characters like him. It was fun to watch his transformation after he finally notices Nell. Nell knows there is a feeling man behind his rigid life. She is willing to risk her own heart to break down his barriers. The ending was incredibly sweet and one no woman could resist! Definitely a must read for Shannon McKenna fans.


Blog Tour - Shades of Blood

Author:Martin C. Sharlow
Publisher: Self

Melissa, Michael and Debbie's evening of celebration and victory ends with a chilling realization: something out there is still taking people off of the quiet streets of Hazel Dell.

While searching for answers, Melissa's other friend, Sarah, is dragged into the mess with them. and soon Melissa must divide her time between solving the mystery of the disappearances, figuring out what it means to have a vampire boyfriend, and finding a way to protect both of her friends from the new and unknown dangers of Portland's nightlife. But even if Melissa can muster the strength and resolve to try, can she really protect the people she cares about from vampires and the monsters that still lurk in Hazel Dell Park, when even Michael is keeping dangerous secrets from her?

Melissa must discover the answers to all of these questions herself, or even her vampire protector might not be able to save her and her friends from the dangers that stalk through the shadows of Hazel Dell.

Melissa and Michael were first introduced in Shades of Twilight where they battled an unknown stalker who was snatching women off the street. This time around, women are still going missing and there seems to be a strange group of monks thrown into the mix. I have to say, I did enjoy this one more than the first. I felt like I got to know both Melissa and Michael a little more. Also, Michael reveals more about the vampire mythology and more about himself. The vampire world that the author has created is interesting and unique. My biggest complaint is that I felt the story was way too short. It read more like a novella for me with a big cliff hanger. Who are the mysterious men in robes and what are they after? Also, what is Michael really trying to do to Melissa by having her drink all of his blood. I was left with too many unanswered questions. Hopefully, they will be answered in the next installment.


About the author:

I'm a single dad with three children all of them above the age of 18. I've been writing on and off for years, but I didn't start to actually write seriously until the summer of 2009. My air conditioner wasn't working to well on a very hot day, so i went out to a McDonald's to cool off. I brought an old story i had been playing around with to pass the time while I waited for things to cool. I cant remember if I completed a chapter or not, but it felt so calming to write that I came back the next day and did again, and so it went till Storytellers was done.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Devil All the Time

by:  Donald Ray Pollock
published by:  Doubleday Publishing
publish date:  July 12, 2011

Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrifi­cial blood he pours on his “prayer log.” There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial kill­ers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.

Donald Ray Pollock braids his plotlines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. With his first novel, he proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.

Hands down the best written book I've read so far this year.  This book was awesome.  It was graphically violent and some parts were pretty disturbing.  It was like a train wreck though, I couldn't stop reading.  I'd be reading with my mouth hanging open, screeching "oh my god", peeking between my fingers because I kept covering my eyes.  Read this one during the day.

I found Pollock's writing style to be somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King's.  The both have a really great way of introducing a character, telling a backstory that may or may not matter in the grander scale of the story, but it made you care about and love (or hate) the character.  This writer had an excellent ability to tie all his stories together, to intertwine all the characters' lives, and bring everything to a satisfying conclusion.

I've been telling everybody about this book.  I highly recommend this one.   It's dark and violent, so if that's not your cup of tea, skip it, otherwise read it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All These Things I've Done

by:  Gabrielle Zevin
published by:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
publish date:  September 6, 2011

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight—at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Cute little story about this book.  In order to get this book at ALA, you had to get in line to get a coffee and a piece of chocolate first.  I thought that was fun since the book was about a future where coffee and chocolate were illegal.

I liked this book overall.  I thought it was an interesting concept.  I think this is going to be a really popular book once it comes out.  There's a lot of buzz about it already.  It was recently featured in Teen Vogue's Top Summer Reads

One of the things I didn't understand was why has this future occurred?  We're talking 70 years from now and there was no paper, little water, the Statue of Liberty had been scrapped, and all their clothes had been recycled.  There wasn't any explanation, just this is the way things are.  This is the beginning of a series (it's YA of course it is!!) so perhaps it'll be explained in later books.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

by:  Ransom Riggs
published by:  Quirk Books
publish date:  June 7th, 2011

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

I listened to the audiobook for this one which I've noticed most places is an enhanced audiobook so you get the pictures associated with the book.  The narrator is Jesse Bernstein, who is also the narrator for the Percy Jackson audiobooks, so that may or may not have played a role in my feelings on this book. 

I think there's been some debate as to whether or not this is a YA book.  I don't think it was published as a YA book.  At ALA it was not in the YA section.  It was in the adult section.  However, you get a 16 year old main character and a bunch of little kids and it kinda becomes a YA book anyway. 

I don't know what my expectations were for this book, but they weren't met.  I felt like the story line was immature...maybe?  That's possibly why it's falling into the YA category in people's eyes.  Maybe I feel that way because I listened to the audiobooks and immediately associated it with Percy Jackson? 

It is a beautiful book and hats off to Ransom Riggs for doing something interesting and creative with the pictures.  I did like some aspects of the story.  If it becomes a series or there's a sequel I would read it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ruth Galloway Mysteries: The Crossing Places & The Janus Stone

This is a new series of mysteries by Elly Griffiths.  They feature forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.  The first book The Crossing Places came out in 2009.

Description:  When a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls Galloway for help. Nelson thinks he has found the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing ten years ago. Since her disappearance he has been receiving bizarre letters about her, letters with references to ritual and sacrifice.

The bones actually turn out to be two thousand years old, but Ruth is soon drawn into the Lucy Downey case and into the mind of the letter writer, who seems to have both archaeological knowledge and eerie psychic powers. Then another child goes missing and the hunt is on to find her. As the letter writer moves closer and the windswept Norfolk landscape exerts its power, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory – and in serious danger.

It was followed up this year with The Janus Stone

Description: It’s been only a few months since archaeologist Ruth Galloway found herself entangled in a missing persons case, barely escaping with her life. But when construction workers demolishing a large old house in Norwich uncover the bones of a child beneath a doorway—minus its skull—Ruth is once again called upon to investigate. Is it a Roman-era ritual sacrifice, or is the killer closer at hand?

Ruth and Detective Harry Nelson would like to find out—and fast. When they realize the house was once a children’s home, they track down the Catholic priest who served as its operator. Father Hennessey reports that two children did go missing from the home forty years before—a boy and a girl. They were never found. When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case. But as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is trying very hard to put her off the trail by frightening her, and her unborn child, half to death.

I listened to both of these on audiobook.  I thought they were excellent.  I had been on the waiting list for The Crossing Places at the library for months...which is strange for a book that had been out for over a year.  When I was at ALA, they had The Crossing Places and I mentioned to the representative there that I had been on the waiting list for that book.  She said that was the sort of thing they love to hear.  Right after that, I found an audio copy of it at another library so I was pretty happy. 

If you're a fan of mysteries I'd definitely recommend checking these out.  I thought they were both well written and well planned.  The whodunnit was kind of a surprise both times.  I really loved Ruth Galloway.   She's a great main character to build a series around.  Harry Nelson, is another fun character.  After reading the second book I'm very keen to read the next book to see how things are going to turn out for Harry. 

My one little criticism with the books came with the topic of religion.  I'm not a big bible thumper or anything like that, but these books seemed very anti-religion.  No, not anti-religion necessarily, but there's a great deal of discussion about religion so pro and some con.  Personally, I'm Catholic and there was a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment particularly in The Janus Stone.  At times it was a little off putting, but it was educational at the same time.  I had never heard the term "Left Footer" before and had to go find out what it meant.

That was something else I liked about these books as well, they taught you something as you were reading.  There was so much about archaeology and history crammed into these books.  If that's something you like, these books will be perfect for you.

The third book in this series, The House at Sea's End, will be out early next year in the US.   It looks like it's already out in the UK, so kindle readers *may* be able to get it.  I just looked on Amazon and it appears to be available.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Author: Lisa Jackson
Publisher: Kensington April 2011 (Audio book by Brilliance Audio)

The crime scene at St. Marguerite’s cathedral in New Orleans is shocking, even to seasoned detectives like Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya. A novice nun named Sister Camille has been found dressed in a yellowed bridal gown and viciously garroted, her body covered with an altar cloth.

Valerie Houston is devastated by her sister’s death. For weeks, she’d begged Camille to leave St. Marguerite’s, where she seemed determined to live as some kind of martyr. But Camille had a knack for making bad choices — she joined the convent in part because she’d fallen for Val’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Slade.

Convinced the police aren’t doing enough, Val begins to investigate. Slade, on a mission to repair their marriage, is determined to help her. But the deeper Val’s inquiries go, the more twisted the case becomes. St. Marguerite’s is far from the tranquil retreat many believe, and everyone, from handsome Father Frank O’Toole to the mysterious Mother Superior, has their own agenda. Despite their closeness, even Camille had a hidden life Val never suspected. But someone knew about Camille’s past — and Val’s, too. Now she has no choice but to catch a devious, depraved killer intent on purging St. Marguerite’s of all its sins — before she becomes the next victim…

Devious is the latest "Bentz & Montoya" romantic suspense that came out in the spring. I am a big fan of this series, so I was happy when I was finally able to get the audio of this one from the library. I loved it! Despite the length of the book, it went rather quickly and I was never bored with it. The killer was hard to pin down and I was a bit surprised in the end.
The epilogue leaves the reader hanging with a sort of cliffhanger. I hope it is resolved in the next book.

Val and Slade were great together. It was refreshing to have a couple that actually has a past together find their way back to each other. Ms. Jackson also gives us glimpses of both Montoya's and Bentz's marriages. I always love follow-ups with past characters to see how their HEA's are holding up. My only complaint was that I wanted more of Cruz Montoya and Lucia. I felt like I was given a tiny taste of how they could be together. Hopefully, we will see them again in the future!

I definitely recommend this one, especially if you have been reading the series from the start. The audio is read by Joyce Bean, another of my favorite narrators. Pick it up, you won't be sorry!


Friday, August 12, 2011


by:  Ilsa Bick
published by:  Egmont USA
publish date:  September 6, 2011

It could happen tomorrow...

A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."

Can one teen really survive on her own?

An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...

Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.

This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive.

I got the opportunity to meet Ilsa Bick at ALA this year and she is a super nice lady.  I got a signed copy of this book so I was a happy girl. 

The book started off great.  I was all into it and it was going strong.  Somewhere about halfway, it just kinda lost it's appeal.  I can't really put my finger on what exactly it was.  About that point Alex loses Tom and Ellie and moves in with a different group of people and I think that's about when I didn't care anymore.

BUT, I made myself pick it back up, and I'm glad I did.  I slogged through the rest of it and the last couple of pages, while a bit confusing made it worthwhile.  The last page made me sit up and drop my jaw and flip the rest of the pages looking for more of the book.  It made me curse YA trilogies/series all over again.  Although, if this was a stand alone book and it just ended the way it did, that would be pretty cool too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Throwback Thursday: Secret of the Stone

Author: Barbara Delinsky
First published in 1995 by Mira Books

Paige Matheson is reputed to be as beautiful as the alabaster sculptures she creates--and just as cold. An intensely private person, she is perfectly happy living by herself, her only passion her work. That is, until drifter Jesse Dallas walks into her life.

I have always enjoyed a book by Barbara Delinsky. This earlier work by her is no exception. Secret of the Stone was interesting because the woman is the stronger of the two. Paige has had a great life growing up and is very comfortable in her skin. Jesse doesn't believe in love or happy ever after. I enjoyed watching Jesse learn how to come to terms with his love for Paige. Their story is very sweet. I was really rooting for them in the end.

The only thing that I didn't agree with was the decision Paige made on the night before Jesse leaves. I thought it was selfish and I didn't blame him for being angry when he find out. Despite all that, I liked how it all worked out in the end. A great early work by Ms. Delinsky!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blog Tour: White Sleeper

by: David R. Fett and Stephen Langford
published by: Synergy Books
publish date: April 12, 2011

When Arkansas experiences a wave of rare fatal diseases, the CDC sends disgraced doctor Dave Richards to investigate, and he knows this is the case that could save his career. When he teams up with FBI agent Paula Mushari, Richards thinks he may have found the person who can help him find the answers. But as they dig deeper, they begin to get a sinister glimpse into what they are dealing with-a vengeful sect, led by the son of a late white supremacist, intent on destroying a nation. As Richards fights to save his job, he and Mushari must race against the clock to prevent a plague of catastrophic proportions.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book since I hadn't heard of either of these authors before. I ended up really liking this book. So much so that I read the entire thing in one sitting.

It's a fast paced medical mystery thriller. It was very well written. It had to be for me to blow through it so quickly. It read like watching a movie. Speaking of which, the authors have the screenplay written out. It'd make a great movie.

Fett and Langford make a great writing team. I enjoy reading medical thrillers and they are a welcome addition to the club.

Blog Tour - Marysvale

Author: Jared Southwick
Publisher:Brigham Distributing (October 2010)

John Casey was ten years old when his mother was murdered…and ten when his father hid the truth from him. Without that knowledge, he has no idea of the enemies that lie in wait.

Now grown up, John lives a solitary life, in a world enslaved by ignorance and superstition, at a time when anyone unusual is treated with distrust and even killed…and John has some very unusual gifts. When he is accused of witchcraft, John does the only thing he’s ever done—Run! That is, until he meets Jane, who lives in the bleak, imprisoned town of Marysvale. Life outside the safety of the town walls means certain death from the brutal monsters that hunt there. However, life inside, under the rule of a tyrannical leader, means no life at all.

As the love between John and Jane grows, the dangers of Marysvale unfold; and for the first time in his life, John discovers that there is something worth dying for.

A fun, clean, action-packed story filled with monsters and tyrants, heroes and heroines.

Marysvale is definitely good clean a monsters want to eat you kind of way. John Casey has no memory of his past. He only knows that he has a unique gift that many people see as evil. He can see into the souls of living things. After being accused of being a warlock, he runs and this leads him to a place where he can begin to find answers about his past. Along the way, he also finds something to live for.

Marysvale did start out a bit slow for me, but it quickly picked up the pace. I enjoyed reading it. This book has everything that a good adventure needs: mystery, damsels in distress, and monsters. I enjoyed all of the characters, especially Jane. I love a strong female lead. Jane and John's relationship is very sweet. The monsters, called the Brean, are truly creepy beings. I wouldn't want to meet one of these things walking through the woods!

While I enjoyed the book, I felt like I was left with a lot of unanswered questions in the end. I wanted to know more about the monsters and why they attack humans from the surrounding towns. As this is the first book in a series, I think it is a good foundation book, but I want more. There is a second book, Alyth, coming out soon and I look forward to reading it to get some answers.

I definitely recommend this book. I think it would be good as a YA, maybe even upper MG read.


About the Author:

Jared Southwick enjoys traveling and experiencing different cultures, cuisines, and associated foodborne illnesses. He once went night diving in the Pacific Ocean where, although he didn’t actually see it, he’s sure that a great white shark almost ate him. Jared petted an alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp, and a wild, heavily sedated black bear in her den. He explored the islands of West Africa, where his foot was attacked by a very ferocious, tiny octopus. However, he has never encountered a Brean…

He and his wife live in a quiet, friendly city, in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains, where strange monster sightings are uncommon.