Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Release Announcement: On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes

Today On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes is released.  I haven't read this book yet, but I did read Untraceable and thought it was quite good.  This one looks to be an amusing YA read.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven.

Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help.

Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.

1222 by Anne Holt

by:  Anne Holt
published by:  Scribner
publish date:  December 27, 2011

1222 metres above sea level, train 601 from Oslo to Bergen careens off iced rails as the worst snowstorm in Norwegian history gathers force around it. Marooned in the high mountains with night falling and the temperature plummeting, its 269 passengers are forced to abandon their snowbound train and decamp to a centuries-old mountain hotel. They ought to be safe from the storm here, but as dawn breaks one of them will be found dead, murdered. With the storm showing no sign of abating, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is asked to investigate. But Hanne has no wish to get involved. She has learned the hard way that truth comes at a price and sometimes that price just isn’t worth paying. Her pursuit of truth and justice has cost her the love of her life, her career in the Oslo Police Department and her mobility: she is paralysed from the waist down by a bullet lodged in her spine. Trapped in a wheelchair, trapped by the killer within, trapped by the deadly storm outside, Hanne’s growing unease is shared by everyone in the hotel. Should she investigate, or should she just wait for help to arrive? And all the time rumours swirl about a secret cargo carried by train 601. Why was the last carriage sealed? Why is the top floor of the hotel locked down? Who or what is being concealed? And, of course, what if the killer strikes again?

Anne Holt is bestselling Scandinavian author.  The Hanne Wilhelmsen series is really popular there.  I originally thought 1222 was the first book in the series, then I learned it was the second book, but it was the first one released in the United States.  THEN I looked on Goodreads and found out it's the 8th book in the series.  Thankfully I learned that AFTER I read it.  I'm neurotic about reading books in order because I don't want to feel like I missed anything.  That was not the case with 1222.

1222 contains enough of Hanne Wilhelmsen's story to make you like her even though she probably wouldn't want you to.  She's definitely not your stereotypical suspense thriller detective.  In the beginning of this book she's on her way to see a specialist about her spinal injury when the train wrecks.  In the hotel, she's antisocial, terse, and uninterested in getting involved with the mystery at hand.  She's also a lesbian although that doesn't play much of a role in this book.

I really enjoyed this book.  It was a great murder mystery.  The setting was wonderful.  I loved the idea of being so snowed in a hotel.  I can't wait to read the next Anne Holt book!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Blog: Sallie Lundy-Frommer

Today we welcome author Sallie Lundy-Frommer who is promoting her book, Yesterday's Daughter.
Welcome Sallie!

Publisher: CreateSpace
Date of Publication: January 24, 2011

An emotionally laden paranormal vampire romance novel woven with layers of betrayal, love and loss.

Grace Stone, who later learns her true identity is Sapphira, is a loner who survives abuse in the foster care system after being abandoned as a child. A brilliant student, she escapes from her brutal foster parents as a teenager and creates a life for herself. But, her life is little more than existence; plagued with questions about what she really is, a family that she has never known and the never-ending need to keep her differences hidden.

She is alone and lonely, believing it will always remain so until Malachi appears in her life. Malachi, a Guardian of the vampire communities, has searched for his life mate, Sapphira, for decades. He refuses to cease searching for Sapphira even though she is believed dead by all. Conflict arises over the decades between Malachi and his family because of his refusals to accept another mate. But his very soul drives him on to continue his search, knowing that he could not exist if Sapphira were not in the world, somewhere.

Sallie writes:

Inspiration – Motivation, I look at these words and question what moved me to write Yesterday’s Daughter.  One would think that it’s an easy question to answer.  In truth, for me, there hasn’t been an overwhelmingly clear answer.  I can’t make claims to having aspired to be a writer since childhood, of always keeping a diary of ideas, or having an experience that acted as a catalyst.  I feel somewhat at a deficit because I don’t have a clear cut answer.

For me, writing Yesterday’s Daughter became a compulsion that crept up on me.  The analogy I use is that of a person who becomes an addict after being prescribed medication for pain.  They start out following the directions exactly, taking the medication at the prescribed intervals.  Then at some point, they can’t function without the pills and don’t know how they reached that point.  

Writing has become my addiction, slowly creeping out of the depths of my subconscious, my dreams.  I’ve never written a book before and had never given any thought to writing one until a couple of years ago when I finally started to put pen to paper, although the seed was planted before then.

It was about five years ago that I started having dreams about Malachi and Sapphira that progressed to the point that I was hearing conversations between them when awake.  The dreams and conversations came in snippets and brief glances.  At first, I ignored the dreams but eventually began to consider what it could mean for me creatively.  And when the characters began to encroach on my waking hours to the point where they couldn’t be ignored; I began writing. That was a couple of years ago. 

I’ve enjoyed writing this book and the response from fans.  But it’s mostly the characters that motivate me to continuing writing, to continue their story.  I know this is a roundabout way of answering the question, but it’s the best answer I have to give.  I didn’t know there was a storyteller inside me, in my dreams, but she’s awake now and wants to explore. 

About the Author:

I can’t remember a time when vampires have gotten more attention. With shows like True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and Being Human and popular books like the Twilight and Dark Series, it’s seems like they’re everywhere. Vampires have always been my favorite supernatural characters. But why? Why am I fascinated with these fantasy beings? Why are you? My interest drove me to write a book, Yesterday’s Daughter. But I could have written about anything, werewolves, cat people or some other paranormal beings, but I chose vampires. Why, I wrote about vampires? I’m not sure I can fully explain why. Maybe I chose vampires because they exude prowess and majesty. But, that would be an all too simple answer. And when I think about it, I know it’s not a complete answer. But it’s a start. What do you think? Why are so many people so interested in these mythical creatures.

As for me, I was born on a farm in the rural South to a family of migrant farm workers. At an early age,my family moved to the urban North-East. Now I live in the suburban North-East with my husband and a large assortment of plants. I hold bachelors and masters degrees in Human Resource Management and currently work in the health care industry. 

Books We Didn't Finish

I had a really hard time getting into Once Upon a Time, There was you.  I tried to reading the actual book and when that didn't work, I got the audio.  Sometimes, I find that having the story read to me will change my mind about a book.  Unfortunately, I didn't get past the first disc.  The story just moved too slowly for me and I could not bring myself to care about the characters.  I see that is got mixed reviews on Goodreads.  To each his own I guess.

Rooms got such great reviews and my mother loved the book.  We often like the same things, so I gave it a try.  I just couldn't finish it.  I'm not opposed to Christian Lit and have enjoyed and reviewed a couple on this blog.  Rooms was a little too preachy for me.  I turned it off during the second disc.  I couldn't see where the book was going and really had no inclination to make it to the end.  Maybe I wasn't in the mood for a life lesson?  (Autumn didn't finish this book either!!)

I started Good in Bed in hopes to review it for a Throwback Thursday post.  I gave up about 3 chapters into it.  I just couldn't connect with the main character.  Her ex-boyfriend writes an article which basically tears her apart and instead of getting mad, she gets depressed.  I'd be slapping his behind with a lawsuit.  I didn't find any humor in her situation.  Definitely not a book for me.

I was really disappointed in The Future of Us.  I read 13 Reasons Why and cried like a little baby.  Then stalked Jay Asher at ALA like a freak show to make sure he signed my copy of 13RW.  He was very gracious by the way.  The Future of Us just didn't do it for me.  I didn't care for the characters.  Initially, I thought the idea of the story was interesting, but once I got into it, it just seemed kinda...dumb for lack of a better word.

Queens of All the Earth was another one I just couldn't get into.  It starts off with a mental breakdown.  I wasn't convinced.  The reasoning behind the breakdown, the pressure of leaving for college, didn't seem logical.  The actions of her family seemed bizarre.  She couldn't handle the pressure of leaving for college so they decide to pack her up and take her on a European vacation.  Who does that?
I mostly finished Sisters of Glass.  What does that mean??  It's a really short MG book and I read about three-quarters of it.  I got the main idea of it.  It wasn't a terrible book, but I didn't find it particularly specatular either.  If you've seen the movie Dangerous Beauty, it really reminded me of a kid version of that for some reason.  I don't know why, they aren't courtesans, but I guess the same flavor or something.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Joint Review: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

by:  Kate Alcott
published by:  Doubleday
publish date:  February 21, 2012

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.

Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky.

On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  If you've been wondering why all the Titanic documentaries are suddenly all over the History Channel.  That's why.  There seems to be a few books coming out with a Titanic theme and The Dressmaker is one of them.  Kari and I were both really interested in reading this book.  We both got ARCs so yay!  Joint Review!

That was about the end of the happiness.  Disappointment is the word I would use to sum up this book.  I understand the book is supposed to be about what happened after the Titanic sank, but the sinking was minimal in its telling.  I understand that it would be hard to write about and capture the emotion and the tragedy, but I felt that it deserved a bit more focus than was given in the book.

The rest of the story, particularly the interaction between Tess and Lady Duff Gordon just seemed uninteresting to me.  I thought Lady Duff aka "Madame" was ridiculous.  Could a person really be so horrible?  Of course they could, but be so horrible and still navigate uppity society?

One positive I will give this book is that it does appear to be well researched.  Props to Kate Alcott for that.

While it didn't make my most anticipated list, I had been looking forward to trying this book out.  The reviews looked pretty good.  In the end, I was disappointed.  I usually give a book at least 50 pages to draw me in before I give up on it.  I gave this one 48.  For some reason, I just couldn't get interested in it.  

I've never really been a huge fan of taking historical events and weaving fictitious characters into them.  For this reason alone, I've never seen the movie Titanic.  But, I am always willing to broaden my horizons when it comes to reading. So, I gave it a shot.  

I didn't find the characters compelling or really care enough about them to want to read more about them.  I also found the book dull and not something I was compelled to finish.  Fans of the history of Titanic may like this book and should probably give it a try.  It just wasn't for me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blog Tour : Immortalis series by Katie Salidas

Author: Katie Salidas
Publisher: Rising Sun Books
Date of Publication: March 2010
Bleeding to death after brutal mugging on the campus of UNLV, Twenty-five year old Alyssa, is rescued by the cold and aloof, vampire, Lysander. Taking pity on her, he shares the gift-and curse-of immortality. She awakens as a vampire and is soon devastated by harsh realities of her new way of life: An unyielding thirst for blood as well as the loss of her friends, her independence, and her humanity.
As if having her humanity stripped away was not enough to make life interesting, Alyssa finds out her "turning", did not go unnoticed by the rest of undead society. Old enemies; an ancient sect of vampire hunters, known as the Acta Sanctorum, as well as a powerful Vampire mistress, each set plans in motion to destroy both Alyssa and Lysander.
Only by accepting her new-found immortality, seizing the night, will Alyssa hope to survive. She and Lysander must fight together against two sets of enemies bent on destroying them both.
I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Immortalis: Carpe Noctem is a fresh take on the vampire genre.  I think this is the first story that I have read in a while where the vampires actually kill their prey to feed.  Changed without her permission, Alyssa must leave her old life and adapt to becoming a creature of the night.  Not only does she have to adjust to a whole new way of living, she must wary of people who are trying to kill her for what she has become.  I really felt for Alyssa as she learns to become a vampire.  The only thing that bothered me about the story was the relationship between Alyssa and Lysander.  I didn't really feel their connection. Despite that, I look forward to following their relationship in future books.  

I had planned on reading all 3 books in this series before the tour date, but sadly real life had other plans for me.  I do plan to read plan to read books 2 and 3 in the near future and I hope you will as well. 

Here they are:

Publisher: Rising Sun Books
Date of Publication: December 2010
The exciting sequel to Immortalis Carpe Noctem. 

Rule number one: humans and vampires don't co-exist. One is the hunter and one is the prey. Simple, right? Not for newly-turned vampire Alyssa. A surprise confrontation with Santino Vitale, the Acta Sanctorum's most fearsome hunter, sends her fleeing back to the world she once knew, and Fallon, the human friend she's missed more than anything. Now she has some explaining to do. However, that will have to wait. With the Acta Sanctorum hot on their heels, staying alive is more important than educating a human on the finer points of bloodlust.

Publisher: Rising Sun Books
Date of Publication: June 2011

After a few months as a vampire, Alyssa thought she'd learned all she needed to know about the supernatural world. But her confidence is shattered by the delivery of a mysterious package - a Pandora's Box. Seemingly innocuous, the box is in reality an ancient prison, generated by a magic more powerful than anyone in her clan has ever known. But what manner of evil could need such force to contain it? When the box is opened, the sinister creature within is released, and only supernatural blood will satiate its thirst. The clan soon learns how it feels when the hunter becomes the hunted. Powerless against the ancient evil, the clan flees Las Vegas for Boston, with only a slim hope for salvation. Could Lysander's old journals hold the key? And what if they don't? And how welcome will they be in a city run by a whole different kind of supernatural being? Werewolves...

About the author: (From Goodreads)

Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, She can get the munchkin off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons. She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write. 

And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale… 

Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment. 

Find out more about Katie by visiting 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag

Author: Tami Hoag
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Date of Publication: December 2011

Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect Santa Barbara life. The world has given her daughter up for dead. Her husband ended his own life in the aftermath. Even Lauren's younger daughter is desperate to find what's left of the childhood she hasn't been allowed to have.

Lauren knows exactly who took her oldest child, but there is not a shred of evidence against the man. Even as he stalks her family, Lauren is powerless to stop him. The Santa Barbara police are handcuffed by the very laws they are sworn to uphold. Looking for a fresh start in a town with no memories, Lauren and her younger daughter Leah move to idyllic Oak Knoll. But when Lauren's suspect turns up in the same city, it feels to all the world that history is about to repeat itself. Leah Lawton will soon turn sixteen, and Oak Knoll has a cunning predator on the hunt.

Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez and his team begin to close in on the suspected killer, desperate to keep the young women of their picturesque town safe. But as the investigators sift through the murky circumstances of an increasingly disturbing case, a stunning question changes everything they thought they knew.

Down the Darkest Road is the third book in the Oak Knoll series. I have enjoyed the series so far and this one was no exception.  While you basically know who the "killer" is from the start, the journey to catching him is very exciting.  Ms. Hoag throws in a few twists that had me surprised.  The reader also gets glimpses of past characters, which is always nice to see.  The book is set in the early 90s when technology isn't up to today's level.  It was refreshing to see them solve the mystery without the use of high tech equipment and super fast computers.

While I enjoyed this one, I really felt the loss of the romantic element in the book.  There is really no love interest for Tony, just the smallest hint of one.  I would have liked to see him find someone in this book. Maybe in the next one?  I listened to the audio version and it was very good.  While it is the 3rd in a series, I do feel that it could be a stand alone novel.  There is enough background presented that the reader doesn't feel lost.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blog Tour: Review and Interview Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell

Today, we welcome author Heather Wardell, who is promoting her latest novel, Blank Slate Kate

Author: Heather Wardell
Publisher: Self
Date of Publication: November 2011

Waking up with a strange man is scary. Realizing you lost fifteen years of your life overnight? That's terrifying. With her memories from seventeen to thirty-two gone, Kate has no idea who she is and where she belongs. As she begins to fall for the man who found her, she wonders if she forgot those years for a reason. Should she keep trying to retrieve her original self, or start a new life?

Heather Wardell is quickly becoming a favorite indie author of mine. 
Every book I have read by her has managed to suck me right in so that I am compelled to keep reading until I finish it.  Blank Slate Kate was no exception.  What would you do if you woke up and the last 15 years of your life was just gone?  That is what happens to Kate.  I was drawn right into the story as I struggled to figure out what had happened to Kate right along with her.  The story is so well written that the reader finds out the solution to the mysteries right along with Kate.  I say mysteries, because there is more than one thing that Kate needs to discover about herself.  The story is heart wrenching at times, yet is also a story of the power of love and forgiveness.  To say much more, would give too much away.  I definitely recommend this one.  It is definitely going into the keeper pile! 

Heather was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.  Thanks Heather!

Kari: What inspired you to become a writer?

Heather: In May 2005, my husband went away for a one-month business trip. On a whim, I decided to do my own version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, officially held in November) to give myself something to do. I LOVED writing what eventually became my free-to-download book "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo", and from then on I've just kept writing!
Kari: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Heather: They usually start with a concept or issue I feel like exploring. "Go Small or Go Home", for example, involves the question of whether art should be a hobby or a career, and I worked out some of my own feelings about that while writing the book. (I do NOT use my books to try to persuade people to feel the same way I do, but I do think that having some sort of strong issue or question at the heart of a book leads to better and more enjoyable fiction.)
Kari: What is your favorite part of Blank Slate Kate?

Heather: I love the beginning because poor Kate is so confused and I like that the reader gets to work through that with her. I think my absolute favorite part, though, is a scene about halfway through at a restaurant where Kate and a man end up walking out with their hands full of garlic bread. It makes me laugh and cry at once.
Kari: What is your favorite book (of the ones you have written) so far?

Heather: That's such a hard question: I love them all! "Life, Love, and a Polar Tattoo" was my first book and I had such a blast writing it, so I think I have to pick it even though I think my writing is better in my later books. Of my later books, I think "Blank Slate Kate" is my favorite because it incorporates something of a mystery and I'd never done that before.

Kari: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Heather: I usually have two books on the go at one time, along with another awaiting its turn. To avoid getting myself confused, each book gets a codename because I usually don't find their titles until they're nearly ready to be released. (I explain this because the codenames are... weird. :)

Flying Squirrel is currently in second draft, and it's about a doormat of a woman who develops inner and outer strength via the marathon. Gemstone, finished in first draft and awaiting its turn to be edited, features an Internet columnist who's assigned a project to be "good to herself" for thirty days and quickly realizes she has no idea how to do that. In Hippo, currently in first draft, a woman arrives on what's to be her wedding cruise only to realize she's dated both her fiance's brothers and still has feelings for them both. It's my intent to release all three of these books in 2012. Here's hoping!

Kari: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Heather: I have to say Harry Potter. He's real, with hopes and dreams and weaknesses. I think that's a big part of why the books were such a success, and I try to make my own characters as rich and real as J.K. Rowling did with hers.
Kari: Just for fun, if you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Heather: A polar bear, no doubt. I've always loved them, and in honor of my first book each of my others has the words "polar bear" somewhere in the text! I think they're my favorite animal because they're not crazy fast but they get where they need to go, and they're solitary beasts but can work with others when they need to. (Plus they're adorable and have great white hair. :)

Thanks so much for your great questions! I'm happy to answer any reader questions or comments, and I'll pop back in throughout the next few days to check in.

About the author:

Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go, nearly all in e-book form on my Kindle.
I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.

This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.

I succeeded, and the first draft of "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo" was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven't looked back since!

In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet (I am on Ravelry and would be happy to add you as a friend!), take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Trinity, and play drums and clarinet. Generally not all at once.

Visit Heather's Website

Throwback Thursday- The Trouble with JJ by Tami Hoag

Author: Tami Hoag
First published in 1988 by Bantam Books

Just what Genna Hastings needed, a conceited creep of a new neighbor with rippling muscles, mile-wide shoulders, and a wicked Jack Nicholson smile that could melt stone! It wasn't often that women resisted star quarterback J.J. Hennessy, but he was ready to trade all the cover girls he'd dated for the adorable lady next door. With his summer sky eyes and kisses that stole her sanity and her willpower, J.J. was impossibly charismatic, magnificently male -- and a bachelor father who was in danger of losing custody of his little girl... unless he could persuade Genna to help change his fast-lane image in time! She was tempted by his offer, and by him -- but she couldn't be head over heels in love with a wildman football player... could she? J.J. insisted that opposites attracted, just like magnets, but Genna wanted security, a man who'd always be there. Could he make her believe he was her man for all seasons?

From what I can tell, this was Tami Hoag's first book.  Like a lot of romantic suspense and mystery writers, she got her start writing contemporary romance.  She has come a long way from this first book!  While I did enjoy The Trouble with J.J., I didn't love it.  The one thing that I didn't really care for was Genna.  She was too wimpy for me.  JJ was such a great character and so obviously head over heels for Genna, but she just can't see it.  Instead of confronting JJ about his feelings, she becomes withdrawn and sulky.  That drove me nuts.  I was also frustrated with the end.  It was dragged out WAAAAAAY too long with no epilogue.  What a let down.

The one redeeming quality of this book was JJ.  He is just too cute. I loved the scenes between him and his daughter. I also loved the peripheral characters.  They are really what kept me engaged.  The aunt was hysterical!  I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a wonderful job.  It's a quick read and worth it for any fan of Ms. Hoag!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Drowing Instinct by Ilsa Bick

by:  Ilsa Bick
published by:  Lerner Publishing Group
publish date:  January 28, 2012

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord's first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain...magnetism.

And there are stories where it's hard to be sure who's a prince and who's a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

Drowning Instinct is a very provocative story.  I can see that it might be a controversial book in some places.  Ultimately it is a cautionary tale about why young girls shouldn't have affairs with their married teachers.  In that regard, I would say it should be read, however it deals with a lot of grown up subject matter so I think it needs to be limited to the older YA group. 

I was surprised by this book because it seemed to be such a departure for Ilsa Bick.  It was YA, but it wasn't like her science fiction type writing.  She did a good job.  It was a believable story.

Jenna's story was sad and heartbreaking.  It's one you won't soon forget.  For sure this will be one of the more unique YA reads of the year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

by:  Marcus Sakey
published by:  Dutton Adult
publish date:  June 9, 2011

A man wakes up naked and cold, half-drowned on an abandoned beach. The only sign of life for miles is an empty BMW. Inside the expensive car he finds clothes that fit perfectly, shoes for his tattered feet, a Rolex, and a bank envelope stuffed with cash and an auto registration in the name of Daniel Hayes, resident of Malibu, California.  None of it is familiar.

What is he doing here? How did he get into the ocean? Is he Daniel Hayes, and if so, why doesn't he remember? While he searches for answers, the world searches for him-beginning with the police that kick in the door of his dingy motel, with guns drawn. Lost, alone, and on the run, the man who might be Daniel Hayes flees into the night.

All he remembers is a woman's face, so he sets off for the only place he might find her. The fantasy of her becomes his home, his world, his hope. And maybe, just maybe, the way back to himself.

But that raises the most chilling question of all: What will he find when he gets there?

I had never heard of Marcus Sakey before the show Hidden City started coming on.  My husband and I both really enjoy it so I figured if the show was good, I needed to check out one of his books.  The library had this one on audiobook available so I grabbed it.

I was extremely impressed with the quality of writing in The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes.   Marcus Sakey has a great way of describing everyday things in a unique way.  His way of describing things is something that really stood out and set him apart from other thriller writers for me.

The story itself was pretty cool.  I liked the idea of a man waking up in the ocean with no clue of who he is and how he got there.  His journey to figuring out who he is was difficult and scary.  There were a few little plot turns that seemed a little far fetched to me, but it was ok, it could suspend my disbelief enough for the sake of the story.

All in all I was pleased with this book and I look forward to reading more from Marcus Sakey in the future and hope Hidden City stays on TV for a few more seasons.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2 For 1: Jo Nesbo ....again!!

So you might have noticed by now that I'm a total fan of Jo Nesbo.  My new year got started off right with not one but two new audiobooks by Jo Nesbo.  First was The Leopard

Two young women are found murdered in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches fever pitch: Could this be the work of a serial killer?

The crime scenes offer no coherent clues, the police investigation is stalled, and the one man who might be able to help doesn’t want to be found. Traumatized by his last case, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong’s opium dens. Yet when he is compelled, at last, to return to Norway—his father is dying—Harry’s buried instincts begin to take over. After a female MP is discovered brutally murdered, nothing can keep him from the investigation.

There is little to go on: a piece of rope, a scrap of wool, a bit of gravel, an unexpected connection between the victims. And Harry will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath for whom “insanity is a vital retreat,” someone who will put him to the test—in both his professional and personal lives—as never before.

I was a tad bit disappointed in The Snowman, but The Leopard made up for it.  It starts off with Harry a complete mess in Hong Kong after dealing with The Snowman.  He returns to Norway to deal with yet another person killing a bunch of people in Norway and his dying father. 

The Leopard impressed me because I thought I had this one in the bag.  I thought for sure I knew who the killer was, but I was wrong.  The ending and the killer became this huge reveal and it was like putting the last few pieces together of a big puzzle.  This book was very well written in terms of giving a little away here and there, but not too much.

This book is a follow up of The Snowman, I would say that one has to be read first in order for this one to make sense.  The Snowman does make an appearance in this book.  Rakel does as well...I'm starting to think she's the WORST thing that ever happened to Harry.

Once again Robin Sachs does an awesome job with the audiobook.  I highly recommend these audiobooks.  They are fantastic!

Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting that’s been lost since World War II—and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting. And Clas Greve may turn out to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to Roger Brown.

Headhunters is a completely different book.  It's a stand alone novel.  I often find that when I'm really into a series by a particular author I don't like their stand alone books, but that was not the case here.  I didn't love it like I love the Harry Hole books, but it was a interesting departure from the norm.

Mr. Nesbo must be a really fascinating person.  He has got to have one of the most twisted minds.  There is one scene in this book that completely and utterly grossed me out.  I was driving down the road talking to the audiobook saying "OMG That is so gross" and "That's just disgusting" and "Seriously, this is getting even worse?"  For those of you that have read this book or will read it I'm referring to the outhouse scene. 

It's not so much about corporate headhunting, it's suspense thriller with all the twist and turns and violence we expect from Jo Nesbo.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Shattering by Karen Healey

by:  Karen Healey
published by:  Little Brown Books for Young Readers
publish date:  September 2011

Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn't prepared for her brother's suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna's brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.

As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year's Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?

This book took a huge turn that I wasn't expecting.   I expected it to be a straight up murder mystery and it wasn't.  It ended up having a paranormal twist about halfway through.  The other thing that threw me was the location.   It takes place in the Southern Hemisphere on New Year's.  The fact that it was Summer was messing with this Northern Hemisphere girl.

Despite that, I thought it was a good book.  I enjoyed the story.  I liked the progression of the mystery and how the 3 teens solved it.  I thought the characters were interesting and well developed.  I was pleased with the diversity of the main characters, the complexities of their interactions added an extra element to the story.

Bottomline, good YA murder mystery with some paranormal spice thrown in.  Due to language and sex though, I would probably keep this one to the older YAs.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Guest Blog: Clarissa Yip

Once again, we welcome author Clarissa Yip who is on tour promoting her latest novellas: Tempting a Prince, Silent Night's Seduction, and Once Chance.  Welcome Clarissa!

Clarissa Writes:

One of my writing quirks…

BICHOK- Butt in Chair. Hands on Keyboard.

I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase often enough if you’re a writer. Well, if you’re a reader, then you just learned something new!

BICHOK isn’t a phrase that I take easily. It’s really hard for me to focus on things, especially when I have a million things to do. You should seriously see my to-do list. It’s quite scary. Without it, I would be confused, disoriented, and even more scattered without my day planner.

I have a calendar on every device you could possibly think of, and it all has to sync. Color-coded. But before I can actually start writing and doing my BICHOK thing, I have to have paper…and color pens. If they have sparkles and glitter, even better! I love making lists. I love plotting on paper the old fashioned way. I know I could type it all up and save it in nifty folders on my computer, but I find that I enjoy writing out ideas with colorful pens then stuffing the colorful sheets of papers in their correct folders, so I don’t lose anything.

Each of my heroes and heroines are assigned a color then they go into the correct color folder also. So any notes that are made, has to have the right color. Or I would have to write it over in the right color later.  

Even my folders and calendars on my computers are color-labeled. Everything gets assigned a color label. If they were colored wrong, I would be confused.

So when I’m actually writing a story, it gets assigned a specific color that coordinates with the color of the pub that I’m aiming for it to go to. Just so I don’t get confused.

My character/GMC white boards are all color-coded. Have I told you I love color markers? With glitter?

I guess I shouldn’t talk about my color-coded spreadsheets then, huh? So before I can do anything BICHOK, my colors have to be in the right place. My notes have to have been color labeled and written in the correct color before I can actually start writing. Think I’m weird? I’m sure there are crazier people out there than me!

So, what about you? What are your writing quirks?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Author Interview: Clarissa Yip

Today we have an interview with  author, Clarissa Yip, who is promoting her 3 latest books: 
Tempting a Prince, Once Chance & Silent Night's Seduction.
(You can read my thoughts on each here)
Welcome Clarissa!

Kari: What inspired you to become a writer?

Clarissa: Well, I've been writing since I was a kid, but I never knew I really wanted to become a writer until I decided to make a change in my life. Five years ago, I quit my job as a manager at a spa, packed up all my stuff, got on a plane, and moved to Hawaii from New York. Jobless, with nothing to do but hangout at the beach, walk the harbor, go shopping and sightseeing, all I did was catch up on the reading I never had time for when I was working. And I started going through my old stories, and actually decided to make something of it. Since then, I've been chasing my dreams that I never knew I had. So I can't say I was born a writer. It just kind of came to me, and I love it! 

Kari: Where do you come up with the idea for your books?

Clarissa:They're usually from everything. I could be watching a show on cooking or even HSN, the shopping channel, and ideas would come to me. I used to love sitting on the beach and staring at the blue waves and just brainstorming. Now that I've moved back to the mainland, my muse has been having a fit.

Kari: What is your favorite book so far?

ClarissaThere are too many to choose from! I'm a big JR Ward fan, but I love historicals and suspense stories. I also love rereading older books by Julie Garwood, and even Terry Goodkind, so my tastes vary depending on my mood.

Kari: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Clarissa I'm actually working on a series for Entangled right now. The first book, my editor has, and I hope she likes it. *fingers crossed* I do have a new release coming soon on February 2nd, called True Connections, which will be released along with Entangled's Valentine's Anthology. It's about Lia, who has returned to her hometown to open a matchmaking company, and with grandmothers who dapple in everything, they try to hook her up with her nemesis by having Lia find Max a date to the Valentine's party. You never know when love is going to bite you. 

Kari: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

ClarissaI love watching Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie just comes off as the girl that I want to be. Courageous, brave, and always speaking her mind. And the way she finds love...*sigh*. Oh, Mr. Darcy.

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

ClarissaI would LOVE to be a panda bear. Well, one, they're my favorite. Two, bamboo is probably good for you. And it's pretty. Three...wait, panda's aren't skinny, are they? 

Thank you so much for having me here!


About the author:

Contemporary romance author, Clarissa Yip, leads a life of adventure and mischief. Constantly on the run, she’s always hanging out with her muse, plotting the next best story, and looking for anything that will fuel her imagination. Besides being an avid reader and writer, Clarissa enjoys scrapbooking, video games, immersing herself in addictive TV shows, and engaging in anything that will challenge her mind. A lover of food and languages, she also loves to try new things. Her dreams involve finding the ultimate way of sharing her world with yours. From the Hawaiian island of Oahu to the beautiful season-changing New York, you never know where she’ll be.

Please join her as she ventures to the unknown as she wields her stories, escape to exciting adventures across the country, and shares the view of the world through the eyes of a writer. Her website:

Three Novellas by Clarissa Yip

Once Chance
Author: Clarissa Yip
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Date of Publication: November 2011

Shy tomboy, Jenna Faulkner has been in love her whole life—with her best friend. Except he’s marrying the wrong woman, and he doesn’t know it yet. But she’s determined to save him…

Instead of the normal bachelor party, Jenna decides to throw a different type of gathering…with just her. Alone. Will Cade finally come to his senses and see Jenna for more than a friend or has she ruined their friendship, once and for all?

One Chance is a great story about 2 people who secretly love each other, but have been so afraid to do anything because they don't want to lose their close friendship. Jenna decides that she has one shot to make sure that Cade doesn't make a huge mistake by marrying the wrong woman.  I was totally rooting for Jenna the entire story.  This is a great erotic novella.  The chemistry between Cade and Jenna sizzles of the pages!  I definitely recommend it.

Tempting a Prince
Author: Clarissa Yip
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Date of Publication: December 2011

Sarah Westfall is on a mission. Living the mundane life of a near spinster school teacher and sick of her parents throwing eligible men at her, she is determined to get over her crush on her best friend’s brother. She wants a prince and wouldn’t settle for less. What better way than a 1Night Stand? 

Evan Hunt needs to figure out his enemy’s game plan. Chasing his nemesis to Las Vegas and signing up for Madame Eve’s service and masquerade, he never expected the woman he’s desired for years to appear before him…as his princess. 

When their attraction fires the night, the inevitable happens. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’s hoped, but he does save her from trouble. Would he be willing to fulfill her fantasies also?

I really enjoyed this take on the prince and princess tale.  Sarah wants to have one fantasy night to try to get over her crush.  When she finds out that she has been set up with said crush, will she have a chance at her own Happily Ever After?  I loved Sarah and Evan together.  I loved when Evan finally realizes that Sarah isn't a little kid anymore.  Miss Yip has a talent for producing well written  and very erotic scenes.  You won't want to miss this one

Silent Night's Seduction
Author: Clarissa Yip
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Date of Publication: November 2011

Stubborn and proud cowgirl, Lily McCormick, is finally coming to terms with her quiet life on her parent’s ranch, until her older brother, as payback, signs her up for 1NightStand. Kidnapped and forced onto a plane to a foreign location, she faces the dreaded cold and an unwanted tryst, until her ex-husband appears before her…as her date.
New York City District Attorney, Rafe Martinez, would do anything to get his ex-wife back, even if it meant taking drastic measures to pretend he was there for another woman. When jealousy and rage surfaces and Lily’s tough demeanor wanes, desire and lust sparks their once powerful connection as truths unfold. Will Rafe convince her to return to him or push her further away from giving their love a second chance?

This is such a sweet story of second chances.  Who hasn't looked back and wished they could make things right.  I loved the scheme that Rafe cooks up with Lily's brother to try to get his ex-wife back.  I think I liked this one so much because the characters have a history together that once held a lot of love. It made their reunion so believable.  Once again, Ms. Yip has written a great erotic love story!