Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Joint Review: Red Rain by RL Stine

by:  R.L. Stine
published by:  Touchstone
publish date:  October 9, 2012

Travel writer Lea Sutter finds herself on a small island off the coast of South Carolina, the wrong place at the wrong time. A merciless, unanticipated hurricane cuts a path of destruction and Lea barely escapes with her life. In the storm’s aftermath, she discovers orphaned twin boys and impulsively decides to adopt them. The boys, Samuel and Daniel, seem amiable and immensely grateful; Lea’s family back on Long Island—husband Mark and their two children, Ira and Elena—aren’t quite so pleased. But even they can’t anticipate the twins’ true nature—or predict that, within a few weeks’ time, Mark will wind up implicated in two brutal murders, with the police narrowing in.

First up, what's up with all these writers who do perfectly well in their little corner of the writing world moving from YA to Adult or vice-versa?  It confuses people.  I can just see a kid at the library with an unsuspecting parent getting all excited for Red Rain because it's by R.L. Stine or The Casual Vacancy because it's by J.K. Rowling, only to bring it home and it's a grown up book.

In the case of this book, I stand by my thoughts on The Casual Vacancy.  You're a successful YA/MG writer for a reason.  Stick with what you're good at!  Red Rain had a few adult themes going on in the book, but primarily it read like a YA book. 

The story itself was ok.  It was interesting enough that I was able to finish it, so it had that going for it.  It was a little bit gory here and there, but it was never totally creepy.  There was one good twist at the end.  I have to give RL credit for that because I wasn't expecting it. 

I really didn't care for this book.  I found myself skimming it and then, finally, I skipped to the end to see what happens.  I, too, thought it had a YA feel.  But, I also thought it was poorly written.  The idea that a travel writer would go to a secluded island when  hurricane is days away was just not believable   That would never happen.

I also felt like the book was all over that place   It didn't flow well for me.  The  boys' dialogue was uncomfortable.  I didn't really like any of the characters.  I'm disappointed because I love this author.  His Goosebumps series is really good.  Maybe he should just stick to that.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Books We Didn't Finish October edition

The Uninvited.  Normally I will not comment on the state a review copy is in, because it's a rough draft basically.  However, this book was nearly unreadable.  I don't know was going on but there were words that were missing half their letters and this was happening 3-4 times a page.  It was very annoying and the story wasn't holding my interest enough to tough it out.  It sounds like it could be a really good book though and hopefully the kinks will be worked out before final production.

I was hoping to use The Lake as a Throwback Thursday post. Sadly, I didn't make it past the first disc. This book was just bad. Within the time span of the first disc, the mother (Leigh) and daughter (Deana) each had 3 nightmares and the word "breast" or "boob" was used in practically every other paragraph.  It was just too weird for me. Deana is 18 and instead of going to the movies, she decides to go have sex with her boyfriend in the woods.  Really?  What about a motel at least?  This was planned after all, not a spontaneous event.  The boyfriend is killed by a psycho in said woods. (Of course!)  After a few nightmare sequences, I was done.  It probably also didn't help that the narrator's voice was annoying and she couldn't act.  Yes, I do expect my narrators to be able to act.  That is partly why audiobooks appeal to me so much.

Apparently, The Lake was published after the author died in 2001.  I have only read 1 other book by Richard Laymon (The Traveling Vampire Show) and since I enjoyed it, I figured I'd try this one out. I think this book would have benefited from a ghost writer to clean up the story line and make the book flow a little better.  It's too bad because it had the potential to be a great horror story.

I probably shouldn't have tried The Next Best Thing after not liking Good in Bed by the same author.  But, I am always willing to give an author another try.  I wanted to like this book.  I even gave it 1and a half discs.  I just was so bored, I couldn't continue anymore.  I didn't care about the characters or about what was going on. The book felt very disjointed to me.  The main character starts telling us about her big break and how she was going to be running a sitcom.  Then she launches into her parents' car accident and her grueling recovery as a child.  What did that have to do with anything?  I got that she loved TV after watching The Golden Girls in the hospital, but did I really need all of that background to get the point? Not really.  It just seemed to ramble on and on. It looks like this one has gotten mixed reviews, so try it out for yourself. I, for one, think I'm done with this author.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

Author: Julie Garwood
Publisher: Penguin
Date of publication: August 2012

Attorney and IRS agent Olivia Mackenzie is the kind of tough, wise-cracking, powerful woman fans expect from a Garwood protagonist—but this time she has outdone herself. Olivia is not just any woman, she is every woman; flawed in the familiar ways so many of us are. 

When she meets FBI Agent Grayson Kincaid there is an immediate and obvious attraction, palpable on both sides. Together they make an excellent team to fight corruption but Olivia is also fighting the immediate and intense attraction she feels for Agent Kincaid, and that may be a battle she is bound to lose.

I'm a fan of Ms. Garwood's books.  I was really looking forward to Sweet Talk.  While it wasn't the best of her books that I have read, it was still enjoyable.  I think what I enjoyed the most was the romance.  Grayson and Olivia were great together.  I loved how he just barrels his way into Olivia's life and won't take no for an answer.  Especially when she is so reluctant to commit.  

The mystery wasn't that exciting.  It really wasn't too hard to figure out who is trying to kill Olivia.  The secondary mystery was a little more surprising.  I didn't see that solution coming.  I liked the addition of the Pips.  I hope that future books feature the other three friends.  Maybe Collins will be next?  I think fans will enjoy this book.  The audio book was well done.  I always enjoy a book read by Angela Dawes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

Author: Graham Joyce
Publisher: Doubleday
Date of publication: July 2012

For twenty years after Tara Martin disappeared from her small English town, her parents and her brother, Peter, have lived in denial of the grim fact that she was gone for good. And then suddenly, on Christmas Day, the doorbell rings at her parents' home and there, disheveled and slightly peculiar looking, Tara stands. It's a miracle, but alarm bells are ringing for Peter. Tara's story just does not add up. And, incredibly, she barely looks a day older than when she vanished.

I had to take a few days to think about this book before I could decide if I liked it or not.  Some Kind of Fairy Tale was an interesting book.  Tara Martin disappeared 20 years ago and has now returned.  She thinks she has only been gone for 6 months.  She even looks like she is still 15.  The story she tells her family is unbelievable.

For the most part, the book was pretty good.  I liked the interaction between Peter and his family.  While all of this chaos with Tara is going on, real family moments keep happening. It added some comic relief to the story.  The overall story of what happens to Tara and the aftermath when she returns was well written.  The question of whether or not you can ever go back is explored.  Do we ever stay the same?

There were a few things that I didn't  like about the book. The passages where the psychiatrist analyses Tara's story were very dull.  I found myself spacing out as I was listening to them.  They really added nothing to the story and made the book too long.  I also thought the fairy land was pretty disgusting.  I'm not a prude, but I don't think I would want to go to a place where people were having public sex all the time.  I really didn't find anything appealing in that at all.

For the most part, Some Kind of Fairy Tale was enjoyable.  I think it is worth a read.  The audio book was entertaining.  John Lee did an excellent job narrating.   

Saturday, October 27, 2012

YA Week: The Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

by:  Kendare Blake
published by:  Tor Teen
publish date:  August 7, 2012

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.  Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.  Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.
Girl of Nightmares is the 2nd book in the Anna Dressed in Blood series.  I really enjoyed the first book, but this book just wasn't quite there for me. 

Cas is trying to resume his ghosthunting job, but he's having a hard time with it.  The ghost killing knife that he uses is tainted with the knowledge that it may or may not be strengthening the dark entity that killed his father.  He's also seeing Anna everywhere.   There's something wrong with Anna, it's as if she's being tortured.  In an effort to understand what happened to Anna and what he can do to help her, he travels to England to get in touch with a secret society that he hopes will have the answers he's looking for.

Girl of Nightmares was just so-so.  I did enjoy revisiting the world that Cas lives in.  However, his feelings for Anna in this book didn't seem quite realistic.  Maybe it was because it's been awhile since I read the first book, but I just wasn't feeling what Cas didn't make sense that he would be pining over a dead ghost.  Perhaps, if some of the first book had been replayed reminding the reader of what their relationship had been like, it would have given the situation a little more depth.

There's another book coming in this series.  I'm sure I'll read it, but I doubt it'll be a high priority.  Girl of Nightmares didn't thrill me like the first book did, but I'm curious to see where the story goes.  Other than being scary and violent, this book isn't too bad in terms of need any parental warning.  I'm sure most kids that would be reading this have watched a scary movie or two.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista

by:  Paul Batista
published by:  Astor + Blue Editions
publish date:  October 1, 2012

When Ali Hussein, suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda, is finally transported from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, a pre-eminent lawyer and son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers to represent him. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.

Ali Hussein immigrated from Syria to the United States looking for a better life.  He became an accountant and started a family.  Then on a trip to Germany he was captured by the US Government, suspected of being a money handler for Al Qaeda.  He was held for over 9 years without charges being filed.  In that time he was tortured and questioned endlessly.

When he was brought to trial, Byron Johnson volunteers to represent him.  This is just the beginning of troubles that Byron never imagined.  The Prosecution for the United States begins to infiltrate Bryon's life at every level possible. 

There were a couple of issues that I had with this book.  One had to do with Ali Hussein.  I never really understood if he was a terrorist or not.   I guess it doesn't really matter, your lawyer's job isn't to question your guilt or innocence.  Also there was a question whether or not Ali was using Byron to pass account information along to his Imam via Koran passages.   I was confused as to whether or not this was true or it was just an accusation.  I was also not particularly pleased with Bryon and his woman hopping.  He went from falling all over Christina to sleeping with Helen like it was nothing. 

Overall it was a pretty good book.  It was better than I was expecting.  The topic of rendition is a pretty terrifying one, so it's interesting to explore it from a safe distance.

About the Author:  Paul Batista, novelist and television personality, is one of the most widely known trial lawyers in the country. As a trial attorney, he specializes in federal criminal litigation. As a media figure, he is known for his regular appearances as guest legal commentator on a variety of television shows on Court TV, CNN, HLN, and WNBC. He also appeared in the HBO movie, You Don't Know Jack, starring Al Pacino. A prolific writer, he authored the leading treatise on the primary federal antiracketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the National Law Journal. His debut novel, Death's Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He's proud to have served in the United States Army.

YA Week- On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming

Author: Candace Fleming
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Date of Publication: July 2012

 Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic possession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.

Were you a fan of Goosebumps or the Twilight Zone?  Then On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave is the book for you.   I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book.  I was kind of expecting something really morbid.  I mean the stories are about the day these teens died.  But, it was surprisingly not morbid.  The book begins with Michael, who is driving too fast on a lonely country road.  He encounters Carol Anne who asks for a ride home.  After dropping her off, he notices her shoes are still in the car.  When he tries to return them to her, it is revealed that Carol Anne has been dead for 55 years.  On the advice of Carol Anne's mother, he finds the cemetery where she is buried.  There he meets a group of ghosts who are eager to tell their stories. What is their purpose and will he make it home alive?  You'll have to read to find out!

I thought each story was interesting.  The author has taken some urban legends and ghost stories and put a new twist on them. For example, Lilly's story is a take on W.W. Jacob's The Monkey's Paw.  There is also a tribute the Charlotte Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper.  Most of the stories are creepy and one is a bit hokey.  But all of them are enjoyable.  They all carry with them a lesson. Definitely read the author's notes at the end.  I enjoyed reading how she came up with the idea behind each story.

I ended up listening to the audiobook.  It was narrated by multiple people.  I actually like that aspect of the audiobook.  It helped distinguish each separate story.  The books it pretty short, so can be read in an afternoon.  There really wasn't anything objectionable in the book, so I would say it's probably OK for the over 14 crowd.  With Halloween just around the corner, why not pick this one up and give yourself a good scare?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

YA Week: TT edition: The Twisted Window by Lois Duncan

Author: Lois Duncan
First published in 1987 by Bantam Dell
Re-issued and updated in 2012 by Open Road Media

Tracy, a high school junior, becomes embroiled in the problems of a strange boy, who asks her assistance in "snatching" his half-sister from her father who has allegedly kidnapped her.

I was a fan of Lois Duncan when I was in high school.  My favorite book by her is Summer of Fear.  I remember being so creeped out by that book.  When I saw that The Twisted Window was being re-issued with updates, I was curious to see if Ms. Duncan's books still held appeal for me.  

The Twisted Window was a pretty good book. Brad is desperate to get his little sister back and he convinces Tracy to help him get her back.  At first Tracy is reluctant to help, but she is having issues of her own, and is easily drawn into his scheme.  Tracy has moved to the town to live with her aunt and uncle.  Her mother has died and she is feeling abandoned by her father.  She makes an easy target for Brad.  Tracy starts to become suspicious when things Brad says and does just aren't adding up.

The book has a couple of surprises that were a little shocking.  One of them I was able to figure out pretty quickly as there are a lot of clues leading up to it.  Still, the ending was pretty surprising and heartbreaking at the same time.  I only wish it had some sort of epilogue to see the aftermath.  

As much as I liked the book, I was disappointed to see that an attempt to "update" the book had been made.  Parts of the book so obviously point to the fact that it was written in the 80s.  I don't mind that and would have preferred it had been kept that way.  The problem was that in references to cell phones and CDs were thrown in throughout the book and seemed out of place.  Especially since they still use pay phones throughout the book.  I can't remember the last time I saw a payphone.  At any rate, I am not a fan of "updating" a book for the times.  If you aren't as well, I would suggest trying to get your hands on an original copy.  I think it would hold up just fine and be just as enjoyable.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

YA Week: Partials by Dan Wells

Author: Dan Wells
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Date of publication: February 2012

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials--engineered organic beings identical to humans--has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Partials focuses on Kiera, a 16yo medic who decides she has had enough of watching babies die and takes up the cause to find a cure for the RM virus.  This sets off a string of events that bring her to learn everyone is keeping secrets.  She was 5 when most of the world's population died.  She has grown up in a seemingly hopeless world.   Because of The Hope Act, any woman age 17 and up must be pregnant as often as possible.  Kiera is quickly approaching this age and is desperate to change things.

Partials was a compelling book in many ways. I ultimately did enjoy it, but the book took me on an emotional ride.  Throughout the book, I felt for the survivors and the hopelessness of their future.  No baby can survive past 3 days of life due to the virus.  The youngest child is 14.  The Human Race will die out eventually.  I also felt frustrated reading the book because the actions of some of the leaders seemed to make no sense.  In eleven years, no one has come up with the same idea as Kiera?  Their only idea is to keep having babies and study the newborns as they die.  That was just disturbing and I was surprised there wouldn't be more depressed women walking around.  When Kiera approaches her superiors with an idea, they immediately reject it because they still hate the Partials.  Seriously, if the human race is in the balance, why wouldn't you give it a shot?

Kiera is a strong and tough female character but she does have the capacity to show emotion and compassion.  I was happy to see that there was no love triangle. Even with Samm in the picture, I didn't feel there was a real potential for one.  I hope it stays that way.   I really did like Marcus.   He was such a sweet guy who loves Kiera immensely and just wants to keep her safe.  I really felt for him as he realizes he has to let her do her thing.  There is a whole cast of characters who round out the story nicely.

There is so much packed into this book that I could go on forever.  I know this book will keep me thinking for a long time.  The next book, Fragments, comes out in February 2013.  Since Partials ends on a cliffhanger, I am eager to read what happens next.  If you are looking for a great YA novel with a mix of Sci-fi, dystopia, and lots of action, give this one a shot.  There are no language or sexual situations, so I say it probably would be OK for the over 14 crowd.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Spooktacular Giveaway hop!
You are at stop # 167   

There are over 400 blogs participating.  For the full list go here.  
Make sure to check out the other blogs to see what fun prizes they have to offer! 

We will be giving away 3 prizes!  US Shipping addresses only please.  Please fill out the Rafflecopter Form below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YA Week: Dare Me by Megan Abbott

by:  Megan Abbott
published by:  Reagan Arthur Books
publish date:  July 31, 2012

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they're seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls -- until the young new coach arrives.

I'm not quite sure if Dare Me is classified as YA or not.  It seems like it would be one of those crossover books or one of those books that would be in that "New Adult" genre we've started hearing about.  I don't know if I like that term, but it does help kinda draw that line.  There are few YA books that I don't think should be in the hands of kids younger than like driving age, so I guess if there was a different classification other than YA, it allows writers to take more liberties without threat of harming impressionable young minds (says the mother that let her 8 year olds watch The Walking

Anyway, Dare Me is all about the world of cheerleading.  Beth and Addy have been best friends for ever.  Beth has always been Cheer Captain and Addy her Lieutenant.  Then Coach Fish retires and Coach French comes in and shakes up the status quo.  She takes the squad and breaks them down and turns them into a whole new team.

Coach French also brings turmoil and drama to the team.  Beth loses her position as Team Captain and she is out for revenge.  Coach French also starts having an affair with the Army Recruiter at the school and turns her marriage upside down.  Worse still, she turns Beth and Addy against each other.

I found Dare Me to be creepy and disturbing.  When I first started it, the name of the author Megan Abbott sounded familiar, but it wasn't ringing a bell.  She wrote the End of Everything, which I read last summer.  If you haven't read that, it's another "New Adult" young girl book that's incredibly disturbing.  Dare Me has a lot of bad language and "adult situations" in it, but on the other hand it has a lot of messages in it that I think are important to young teen girls.  So, I would definitely recommend it to teen girls, but with a lot of parental warnings to go along with it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

YA Week: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Teen
Date of Publication: January 2012

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

As with a lot of second books in a YA trilogies that I have read, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by Hallowed. I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy,  Unearthly (my review), and I was happy to say that I liked Hallowed just as much.  Clara is dealing with the aftermath of not fulfilling her purpose.  She is also now having a new vision and it isn't looking like she will be happy with what it is going to reveal.  

I still like Clara.  I think she matures a lot in this book.  She is faced with some tough challenges and decisions, but those only make her stronger.  She also learns some shocking news about herself and her family.  There were a couple of twists in the book that I didn't predict.  I also had to give her props for  the decision she makes in the end.  I think it was the right choice. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the last book.  

Hallowed still contains a love triangle, but I will admit that it didn't annoy me as much as I thought it would.  Probably because Clara isn't gaga over both boys.  She fights tooth and nail to hold on to Tucker as long as she can. After reading Hallowed though, I have definitely changed over to Team Christian.  As much as I love Tucker, I just think Team Christian is the place to be right now.  I may change over in the next book.  Who knows?

I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, because I don't want to spoil anything.   Hallowed is well written and didn't disappoint.  I ended up listening to the audiobook and I loved

Naughty & Nice Holiday Hop

Romance at Random is hosting a big giveaway in honor of its upcoming publication

Naughty & Nice!

Check out these prizes that R@R is giving away (must be 18 or older to participate):

·  15 Net Galley Preview copy winners of Naughty & Nice +
·  5 ABOUT LAST NIGHT paper giveaways (US only) +
·  Grand Prize of $15 Gift Certificate to eRetailer of choice!!

The hop runs from 10/22 - 10/29/  Enter using the rafflecopter below or click on the photo above for more details. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other participating blogs:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

YA Week: Joint Review: Starters by Lissa Price

by:  Lissa Price
published by:  Delacourte Books for Young Readers
publish date:  March 13, 2012

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

I've had this one in my TBR pile for a while and when the audio became available I decided it was time to listen.  When I asked Autumn what she thought of it, as she had read it first, she said it was your typical YA dystopian.  I have to agree.  I was a little underwhelmed by Starters.  I thought the beginning was a little slow.  I also felt like there wasn't enough explanation as to why the "middle" generation was gone.

I did like the characters in the book, especially Callie.  The Old Man was very creepy and every time he was mentioned I cringed a little.  The term "dirty old man" comes very much into play here.  The book ends with the potential for the dreaded YA love triangle.  (Authors, can we stop with those, please?) The next book, Enders, comes out some time next year.  Will I read it?  Probably.  But I won't rush out to get it.

I was also underwhelmed by this book.  It had so much hype, I was expecting great things.  It ended up being just a fairly average YA dystopian.  Female protagonist, no parents, having to take care of a younger sibling, government conspiracy, love triangle.  How much more could have been thrown into this book??

I thought Callie was an ok character.  I though all the old people were really just kinda gross and mean.  I thought the Old Man was totally creepy and his actions in the book were just disgusting.  By the end, I was completely icked out by him.

Will I read Enders when it comes out?  Probably not, unless that's the last book in this series.  I'll wait until the series is over and read them back to back because I want to know were it goes, but I don't want to drag it out.   I'm really really over these trilogies and short series.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blog Tour: The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachel Anderson

Make sure to check out the author's giveaway at the end of the post!!

Author: Rachel Anderson
Publisher: HEA Publishing
Date of publication:

Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go.

Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

The Reluctant Bachelorette is a very well written and very sweet book. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down.  I was immediately drawn into the story and had to see how it all played out.  Taycee Emerson has gotten herself roped into doing an Internet reality show in an attempt to raise money for the town.  To add to her discomfort at the thought of meeting 20 potentials dates, she finds out her old crush is back in town and he is now bachelor #21.  What's a girl to do?

I love stories that feature lost loves.  Taycee and Luke have been friends forever, but Luke left her broken-hearted 10 years before.  Now that he is back, he starts to see Taycee in a whole new light.  I loved watching them fall into love with each other.  Their HEA was just perfect.  

If you are a follower of this blog, you know that I am the romance reader of the blog team.  Autumn usually passes them onto me.  You also know that I read a lot of steamy romances.  While that is usually my "go to" within the romance genre, sometimes I find myself in the mood for a sweet and clean romance.  The Reluctant Bachelorette was the perfect fit.  I definitely recommend this one to any romance reader.  You won't be disappointed!
About the author:
Rachael Anderson is the author of four contemporary romances: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She's the mother of four, can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

FB fan page:
Amazon author page:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hell or High Water by Joy Castro

by:  Joy Castro
published by:  Thomas Dunne Books
published date:  July 17, 2012

Nola C├ęspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, finally catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length feature. While investigating her story, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past and is confronted with the question: In the aftermath of devastation, who is responsible for rebuilding what's been broken?
Hell or High Water is a book I ended up having a lot of mixed feelings about.  On one hand, it was a pretty decent mystery.  On the other, there were way too many political messages forced upon the reader.  I also never particularly cared for the main character.
In Hell or High Water, Nola is working at the Times-Picayune.  She gets tasked with finding out what happened with all the sexual predators that never were never heard from again after Hurricane Katrina.  She ties this assignment with the search for a missing woman.  She spends most of the book interviewing sexual offenders and a doctor dealing with PTSD and hanging out with her girlfriends.
Nola is very left-wing.  The book is full of accusations regarding Katrina, during, after and years later.  I'm always wary of Katrina books, because I live in Louisiana and the issue of Katrina and the aftermath always makes people crazy.  The book is asking who is responsible for rebuilding.  I think most people have dealt with it and have moved on.  These kinds of books just bring all those feelings back for people.  If writers could deal with just Katrina and not bring their politics into the story, it would make for a much better story.
Nola was also a psychological mess.  Because of her past, a past she hasn't dealt with, she's acting out in ways that most people wouldn't really approve of.  She engages in sex with strangers frequently.  She's always drinking and hung over.  Nola wasn't a character that was very pleasant to read about.
I read the book all the way through mainly because I wanted to know who the killer was.  Other than the mystery, there wasn't much else that interested me about the book.  I might pass on a recommendation for this book for someone that wants to read about New Orleans and Katrina, but would be able to see past the political platform.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Throwback Thursday: One Touch of Topaz & Tender Savage by Iris Johansen

 These two books are loosely related. While second one has a character from the first book, I think they could both be read as stand alone books.

The first in the older series is One Touch of Topaz (Loveswept, July 1988).  I'm not sure I liked this one all that much.  I didn't care for Samantha (Topaz). She was just too self sacrificing for me.  I'm not sure that a 15YO who witnessed the murder of her father and who had fought in a revolution for so long would be wiling to give up so much of herself for the sake of others.  It kind of got annoying after a while. 

I liked Fletcher a lot more.  He is an honorable man and can clearly see that Samantha needs to be rescued.  He fights his pull to her for so long only to realize her can't live without her.  I was happy to see that Samantha realizes in the end that she can deserves to be happy and is able to reach for what she wants.

Tender Savage (Loveswept, September 1990) was a better book.  I liked it a lot more than the first book.   Laura was a great character.  She was a strong person and had a lot of guts.  Any woman who is willing to go through what she did just to rescue a man from imprisonment would have to be,.  I thought the characters were a bit more realistic and more mature. 

Laura and Ricardo have a great chemistry together.  I was so frustrated with Ricardo and his insistence that he couldn't be president of his country and have happiness as well.  I was rooting for their HEA.

I listened to the audio  versions of both books.  They were well done and I was able to listen to both in an afternoon.  If you have to pick on over the other, I recommend Tender Savage.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Author Interview: Amazon by Vanessa North

Today we are pleased to have an interview with author Vanessa North.  She is promoting her book, Amazon (The Ushers, Book One).  Welcome Vanessa!

Make sure to check out her giveaway at the end of the post!

Title: Amazon (The Ushers, Book One)
Author: Vanessa North
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Length: 54,000 words
Genre(s): Erotic Paranormal Romance (Action, F/F/M)
Heat Level: Sizzling

Available at:
Coming Oct 12 from Musa Publishing


Jack's routine investigation of rogue wolf sightings threatens to uncover both Bianca's secrets and her passionate nature. Can she trust him enough to make the sacrifice her destiny demands?

Born albino, Bianca was spared death in infancy when her mother found safe haven among the ghosts and misfits of Amazon Pack. As Guardian of Amazon, she protects the hidden pack with a ferocity that belies her delicate appearance.

Kari: What inspired you to become a writer?

Vanessa: I have always loved writing and reading, and just thought I'd give it a try! Being a stay at home mom, I had the kind of flexible schedule that made "a little writing every day" easy-ish to accomplish, and it all just rolled from there! There were a couple of false starts that make me cringe to read them now, but I kept working at it and the rest is history.

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

Vanessa: Usually I have something I want to write about in some way, a larger concept theme, and then I wait until the characters show up in my imagination that suit the story I had in mind. Other times, I can be inspired by a place or a person.

Kari: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Vanessa: The sequel to Amazon, of course, United, is due out December 21st, and I also have some other projects coming out in the meant time: a novella for Musa Publishing's shared world series "The Wiccan Haus" called Shifter's Dance coming in November, and a science fiction courtroom drama (with pirates! and boxing!)called "Fight or Flight" for Liquid Silver Books coming out December 10.

Kari: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Vanessa: Oh, I have so many! It's so hard to pick one. Since it's October, and men all over are growing out their Octobeards, I'm going to choose Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. She's funny and smart and provides some awesome quotables: "He who hath a beard is more than a youth. He who hath no beard is less than a man. He who is more than a youth is not for me. He who is less than a man? I am not for him." Shakespeare had the makings of a great romance heroine in her. (for the record, I'm a full-blown pogonophile, I love beards!)

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

Vanessa: Let's see, looking around my house right now there are dogs sleeping on my favorite couch and on the bed, only disturbed for food, play, and cuddles. I wouldn't mind that life!

Thanks Vanessa!

About the author:

Vanessa North was born in New England but moved to the South as a teenager, where she learned to appreciate biscuits and gravy, bluegrass, and that most welcome of greetings: “Hey y’all!” She has a degree in Mass Communication but has long since abandoned journalism in favor of writing romance. Instead of telling the news, V would rather tell stories.

Vanessa has a voracious appetite for books and loves all kinds. She writes obsessively: every day brings new ideas and stories to tell. When she’s not buried in a book—hers or someone else’s—you can find her taking thousands of photographs of the people she loves.

She lives in Northwest Georgia with her handsome husband, not-quite-civilized twin boy-children, and a pack of dogs.

Contact Vanessa at:

The rest of her tour stops can be found here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Because of You & Until There Was You by Jessica Scott

The first in Jessica Scott's Coming Home series, Because of You was released last November (Loveswept, November 2011).  It has been in my TBR pile for a while and when the second one was due to be released earlier this month, I decided it was time to move it to the front of the pile.  I loved Because of You.  Not only is it well written, it has a sweet romance.  It's a wonderful story filled with emotion.  I found myself getting choked up more than once while I read it.

Jen and Shane are just so right together.  I loved watching their fall into love. Both of them are dealing with changes not only to their physical selves, but to their identities. Jen is just the right person to help Shane through his healing from his injuries. Shane is able to help Jen open up and trust again.  While the romance was a wonderful part of the story, at the heart is the reality of war and its aftermath.  The book deals with the very real issue that coming home from war isn't always a happy thing.  I thought the author did a wonderful job in showing the real emotional and psychological turmoil that wounded soldiers face upon returning home.  How they often have a hard time reconciling why they returned and their fellow soldiers didn't.  I read that Ms. Scott has a military background, so I'm sure her experiences allowed her to make the situation as realistic as possible.  I definitely recommend this one!

Because I loved the first book, I dove right into Until There Was You (Loveswept, October 2012).  While I liked it, I didn't like it as much as the first book.  I think it may be the timeline for the book.  It takes place over a much shorter time period than the first one (about a week).  Even though Claire and Evan have known each other from working together for a number of years, I didn't feel the connection as much.  I felt Evan was more invested in the relationship than Claire was.  She just came across as a bit cold to me.   I was able to warm up to her in the end. 

The rest of the story was well written.  I liked the glimpse into the war readiness training.  I felt like it was pretty realistic given the author's background.  I was bothered at the number of people who looked the other way on  Reza's clear alcoholism. While I understand their loyalty to a war hero, they weren't doing him or fellow soldiers any favors by allowing him to be so self destructive. I was happy to see him man up and do the right thing in the end.

Because of You ended in a sort of cliffhanger, so I was a little disappointed to see that Until There Was You didn't have the same characters in it.  Nor did it address some of the unanswered questions from the first book. Given that, both books can be read as stand alone novels.  I'm hoping she will wrap some of the loose ends up in the third book, Back to You, scheduled to come out next year.