Thursday, January 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Bayou Heat by Donna Kauffman

Author: Donna Kaufman
First published in 1996 by Loveswept.
Reissued by Loveswept in 2012

Dr. Erin McClure needs a guide who knows every inch of Cajun voodoo country. Enter Teague Comeaux—wild, reckless, with a sharp tracking sense that doesn’t quit. As he leads Erin deep into the steamy reaches of places she never knew existed, she surrenders to the primal longing unleashed by his seductive heat, losing herself in a world of danger, desire, and spirit magic.
Teague might be a renegade with a past built on trouble, but this Louisiana native and bar owner understands the land and the lore better than anybody. He just didn’t plan on falling so hard for Erin. Now he’ll go to desperate lengths to keep her safe—and to allow the power of love to rescue a loner’s heart.

I haven't read many of Donna Kauffman's early books, so I was glad to see that Loveswept has reissued some of them.  Bayou Heat is a quick and enjoyable read.  It is one story that I wish was longer.  I would have loved to get to know Erin and Teague a bit more in-depth.  Their relationship sizzles off the pages from the first chapter.  It's quick, passionate and really hot! 

There is a little intrigue, but nothing ultra exciting. I think it would have been better had it been longer.  The reveal at the end was pretty easy to figure out.  If you are a fan of her more recent books, you can see that she has come along way in her writing.  If you are looking for a quick steamy romance, definitely give this one a try!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Books We Didn't Finish - January Edition

I can sum up Abdication in one word...Boring!  After listening to the first disc, I was ready to fall asleep.  The story just didn't interest me at all.  I know this book has been recommended to those who love Downtown Abbey.  I personally have not watched the TV show, but if it is anything like this book, I will have to pass.  The characters were flat and just didn't interest me enough to finish.

The Red House was a random pick from my library's audiobook site.  The storyline made the book sound very interesting and I was looking forward to listening to it. I got about 1 disc in and I still can't tell you what the book was about.  The book was just confusing. The point of view often changed with no clear indication that it was now a different character.  It was almost like the author submitted his free-writing exercise to the publisher and they didn't bother to edit it.  
Fever by Mary Beth Keane (coming out March, 2013) ended up as a DNF for me.  I like Historical Fictional that is based on actual events.  I like when I'm learning.   I can't really fault the book, it was well written.  The story was told in a way that was easy to read and not like a history text book.  The book is about Mary, Typhoid Mary, and she was a very unlikable person.  I got to where I didn't care to read about her.  Her manner and her actions were so distasteful that I didn't care what happened to her.  That might me just as bad as her, but she was knowingly making people sick and didn't seem to care.

Origin was one of those books that I really, really wanted to read so bad.  Then when I got it I couldn't really remember why.  I started reading it and it was ok.  Maybe I built it up too much in my head?  All my excitement fizzled out and then my interest in the book fizzled out too.  I got about halfway through and decided it wasn't really all that and a bag of chips and threw in the towel.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Faking 19 by Alyson Noel

by:  Alyson Noel
published by:  St. Martin's Griffin
publish date:  March 1, 2005

On the surface, 17-year-old Alex has it made; she is beautiful and smart. Plus, she's best friends with M., the absolute most popular girl in school. Feeling bored with their fancy Orange County suburban town, Alex and M. decide to check out L.A.'s glitzy nightlife scene.

This is Alyson Noel's first published book.  I haven't read all of her other books, but I can safely say it's not her best.  I really didn't care for Faking 19 and that's ok, because it was just the the characters I didn't care for.  Alyson Noel has gone on to do great things so I can't say this one book has done her any harm.

Faking 19 is about Alex who spent the beginning of her high school career being an overachieving A-Lister.   Now she's at the end of her senior year and she's in danger of not graduating due to slacking off and spending her days and nights partying in Los Angeles.   Over time she starts to realize that maybe her best friend M isn't really her friend at all and maybe she needs to get her act together and try to graduate high school.

Alex was spoiled and selfish and self centered.  It was really frustrating to read about her downward spiral.  Her faith in her friends was misplaced and it was equally annoying seeing how she let them dictate her actions.  She does redeem herself somewhat in the end.

This was one of those YA books that I don't know if it was appropriate for younger YAs.   There was a lot of partying in Los Angeles with older people so there was sex and drugs prevalent in this book.  So this one should probably be restricted to the older YAs.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black

by:  Elizabeth Black
published by:  Nan A. Talese
publish date:  Jan. 15, 2013

Photographer Clare Porterfield's once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn't seen for ten years.

I've been hearing about this book FOREVER.  Seems like forever anyway.  It was one of those things when I saw that it had been published, I was thinking to myself "hasn't that been out?"  It's been on all the lists that come out at the end of the year, like Books to Look Out for in 2013 and Fantastic New Authors You Have To Read.  Those kinds of lists.  I approach book from these kinds of lists warily, either the book is good and YAY everything is right with the world or the book is horrible and I'm left wondering what is wrong with the list maker or what is wrong with me for not getting it.

The Drowning House is about Clare Porterfield trying to cope after the death of her daughter.   In order to get away from her house filled with memories and her stressful marriage, she takes a job in her home town of Galveston, Texas.  She hasn't been back to Galveston since she left under a cloud of controversy when she was fourteen years old.  The rebuilding of this controversy and coming to terms with the relationship between her family and the island's most powerful family is primarily what The Drowning House is about.

I was disappointed in this book.  I expected something else out of it.  There was much hinting about hurricanes and the history Galveston has with hurricanes.  I was expecting a hurricane in the book or something on that magnitude.  Also, I never understood what the theme of the exhibit was supposed to be therefore I never really understood why Clare was poking into some aspects of Galveston history and ignoring others.   There were some interesting bits of the book here and there and the overall story of her family and the Carraday family was intriguing although, there were some points I would have liked fleshed out a little more.

Would I recommend this book?  Eh maybe.  Texans might like it more than the rest of America.  People that live along hurricane prone areas might be a little more interested in it given the historical bits about the great hurricane.

I guess this book qualifies as my first disappointment in 2013.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Death in a Wine Dark Sea by Lisa King

Author: Lisa King
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Date of Publication: June 2012
Audiobook: Blackstone Audio

Though she despises the groom, Jean Applequist boards an elegant yacht in San Francisco Bay for the wedding of her good friend Diane and wealthy real estate developer Martin Wingo. But things go terribly wrong: the evening ends in tragedy, not celebration when, after exchanging vows, Wingo disappears into the bay.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the overall mystery of Death in a Wine Dark Sea.  There are several suspects, more than one bad guy and a few twists that kept me guessing.   The book is well written and the plot was well thought out.  There is a lot of action and suspense.

While the book has some great characters, I didn't care too much for the main character.  Jean is a writer for a wine magazine as she is an expert in all things relating to wine.  I wanted to like her.  She seemed to be likable in the beginning.  However, I hated her lack of scruples and her promiscuous nature.  I don't deny anyone their love of sex, but please, one person at a time.  It's clear that she sleeps around, a lot.  Often having more than one lover at a time.  While most of her lovers know this going in, it really just left a bad taste in my mouth and knocked my opinion of her down quite a few notches. I'm not sure if this will be a new series or not.  I liked this one enough to continue on if it does have a sequel.  I can only hope that Jean changes her tune in further books as her callous attitude toward fidelity could become tiresome.

The audioversion was just OK for me this time around. Normally, I have no issues with Blackstone Audio books.  I wasn't sure if it was the recording that I had or if it was the narrator that made me frustrated with the book.  There were odd pauses during dialogue that made the flow of the book awkward and slow.  I haven't heard this narrator before, so I hope it was just the recording.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Author; Karen Robards
Publisher: Ballantine
Date of Publication: August 2012
Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not.

A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.

The Last Victim is the first book in a new series by Karen Robards.  It features Dr. Charlotte (Charlie) Stone, a forensic psychiatrist who specializes in serial killers.  She was witness to and the only survivor of a brutal murder years before.  This experience is what helped her to choose her path in life.  Now it seems that the killer is back and the FBI wants her to help them find him.
For the most part, I enjoyed the story.  I liked Charlie.  She is smart and strong and isn't afraid to psychoanalyze herself. She has an interesting gift. She can see dead people for a little while after they have met with a violent end. This comes in handy when searching for a killer.  The mystery was intriguing.  I liked the twists, especially at the end.  I didn't see it coming at all.  And despite the fact that he was a convicted serial killer in life, I actually kind of liked Michael Garland.  He grew on me and I almost wonder if we will find out in later books if he really did do the crimes of which he was convicted. I suspect that, deep down, Charlie doesn't really believe it either.
My complaint with the book was that there were parts of it that were long and drawn out.  I have read a lot of this author's books and she isn't usually this long winded.  It was almost like she was trying to fill up pages to expand the book.  One dream sequence took 3 chapters when it probably could have been reduced to one. The romance in this book was a little unconventional and may be a bit off putting to some readers. You'll have to judge for yourself. 

The next Charlie Stone book, The Last Kiss Goodbye, comes out in August of this year.  I look forward to reading it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review & interview: Master of Love by Catherine LaRoche

Welcome to author, Catherine LaRoche.  She is promoting her debut novel, Master of Love.  Check out our interview with her after my thoughts on the book.

Publisher: Pocket Star
Date of Publication: December 2012

Dominick Avery, Viscount Rexton, has a brilliant mind, yet is so intoxicatingly handsome no one ever takes his intellect seriously. He cultivates a wicked reputation as Lord Adonis, Master of Love, until his uncle sends him an irresistible bequest of books, on the condition he accept also the prim librarian who comes with them.

My thoughts:

Master of Love is the debut novel by Ms. LaRoche.  I really enjoyed the book   It's well written with wonderful characters.  Dominick and Callista are the perfect match for each other.  Callista wants the world to see her for who she really is; a smart and capable business woman.  Dominick wishes he could be himself instead of the flighty playboy that most people believe him to be.  I felt really bad for Dominick as he struggled to find the courage to shed his loverboy image and learned to be true to himself.   They find in each other true friendship and love.  I loved them together.  I also loved how their relationship takes its time to grow before they become lovers.  

The secondary characters really added a lot to the story.  Along with the main relationship  there are a couple of side flirtations that were just as endearing.  I especially loved Celeste, Dominick's mother.  Her little schemes to hook up the various couples were amusing.  If you like historical romances with great characters and very steamy loves scenes, this is the book for you.  I definitely look forward to Ms. LeRoche's next book!

Kari& Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Catherine: As a professor of culture and gender studies, I’ve been a writer for a long time.  I publish academic books and articles on gendered fantasy spaces in American popular culture.  I wanted to become a writer of romance novels as well, in order to have another way to think about this set of ideas.  Fiction allows me to learn a whole new aspect of the writing craft—dialogue! character arc! point of view!—while giving me room to explore issues of women’s sexuality, the conundrums of romantic and erotic love, and gender dynamics in a world that traditionally favors male power.  The overall question that drives me in all this writing is the function of the romance narrative in popular culture: the notion of find your one true love and live happily ever after.  I feel very lucky that I get to write romance novels inspired by this question, at the same time that I’m writing an in-process academic book about it (Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture).

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

Catherine: The answer to this question is rather mysterious to me.  The larger themes at the heart of the novels come from my academic work in culture and gender studies.  But I don’t really know where the ideas for the characters and the plots come from.  They just seem to appear in my head.  As I write historical romance, my readings about 19th century England and Europe do provide inspiration.  I find that a historical setting makes more acute—and therefore more conflicted and interesting—women’s vulnerability in life and in love.  So I’m drawn to heroines who are strong, but constrained by the limits placed on women at the time.  From there, ideas somehow pop up, such as a woman book-dealer with a head for business and clients who refuse to take her seriously, simply because she’s a woman.

Kari& Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Catherine: I’m almost finished with Knight of Love, the next book in “The Society of Love” historical romance quartet that opened with my first novel Master of Love.  Knight involves a runaway bride who throws daggers and a hopelessly romantic giant of a knight who believes in love at first sight (as well as voting rights for women).  The book is set in Germany and England, amidst the upheaval of the revolutions of 1848, much like the ongoing “Arab Spring” today.

Kari& Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Catherine: You know, I don’t think I have a favorite literary character.  I could say someone like Princess Leia, because she’s smart and tough and works her will in the world around scoundrels like Han Solo.  But really, I don’t so much believe in the notion of “favorite” characters—or favorite books, movies, or foods, for that matter.  I find that fictional characters and books speak to me in different ways, at different points of my life.  If I’m reading a book, it’s because the characters in that book have become my favorites at that moment in time.  That’s what I love about reading in general: the engrossment and deep engagement in the world of the book, so that its characters are with you and become part of you.

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

Catherine: I’d be a cat.  I love cats.  They teach an important life lesson, I think: how to tend to your own pleasure.  A cat knows the value of being warm and cozy, of a soft nest to curl up in, of frequent naps, of not getting too stressed out about life.  They are beautiful and sensual creatures who project great wisdom.  I’m not surprised the ancient Egyptians worshiped Bastet, the cat goddess!

About the author:

Catherine LaRoche is the romance pen name of Catherine Roach, who is a professor of cultural studies and gender studies in New College at the University of Alabama. Catherine won the Romance Writers of America Academic Research Grant in 2009 and is writing a book on how the story of romance—“find your one true love and live happily ever after”—is the most powerful narrative in popular culture. 

A lifelong reader of romance novels, she combines fiction writing of historical romance with academic writing about the romance genre for the best of best worlds. When not writing, reading, or teaching about romance, she enjoys hiking, cooking for friends, and spending family summers at a lake in her native Canada, where her loon call is known to sometimes fool the local loons.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Words of Silk by Sandra Brown

Author: Sandra Brown
First published in 1984 by Harlequin

Laney McLeod's life changes the minute she finds herself stuck in a high-rise elevator in Manhattan. Fighting her rising panic, she relies on a handsome stranger to help overcome her claustrophobia. The man, Deke Sargent, is just as attracted to this beautiful and vulnerable woman as she is to him. 

When the power comes back on, Deke and Laney find themselves in a passionate embrace that soon leads to a night of love in his apartment. Shocked at her own brazenness, Laney disappears the next morning. Months later, she receives an even greater shock: Deke shows up with an astounding announcement. 

Words of Silk is a fairly decent early offering by Sandra Brown.  It was originally published under her pseudonym, Erin St. Claire  It is a bit dated in its attitudes toward unwed pregnant mothers. I know it was the times, but it was still.  Nowadays, if a kindergarten teacher became pregnant while unmarried, she wouldn't fear losing her job over it. The love scenes were steamy, yet the terminology is laughable. My advice? Just remember the year it was written and go with it.

I was prepared to hate Deke.  It seems that he took liberties with a drunk Laney, but as the story progresses, you find out that she remembers everything that happened that night and she was a willing participant.   I actually liked Deke.  Yes, he does bulldoze his way into Laney's life, but he recognizes that he needs to do that in order to break down her steel walls that she has around her.  I was rooting for him and loved the way he wooed her.  

This throwback is a quick read.  I listened to the audio and it's only 5 hours long. Not a huge investment of time.  Why not give it a shot?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Falling Off the Wind by Richard Meibers

Author: Richard Meibers
Publisher: Martin and Lawrence Press
Date of Publication: November 2012

Clement Scheutz finds himself stranded on a small Caribbean island with no money, the woman he loves has left him, his boat has been smashed on the rocks by a hurricane, and he has been accused of killing a local Puerto Rican. He gets a job helping rebuild a local restaurant while trying to put the boat and his life back together. In the process he helps the restaurant owner cope with her teenage daughter and find out who killed her uncle. 

 Falling Off the Wind is a well written book by author Richard Meibers.  He is a new to me author.  The book is about a man who has been sailing around the coast of Puerto Rico for 7 years and seems lost. His relationship with his girlfriend is petering out.  He has no money and no real home. To me, it seemed like he was in an extended mid-life crisis, with no idea how to get out.  

I have to admit, I had a hard time getting into the book. I really know nothing about boats or sailing.  Normally, this wouldn't deter me from a story, but the first couple of chapters were so heavy with terminology that the book dragged for me.  I did keep reading, and overall liked the story.  I felt like Clement learned a lot about himself during his time helping Migdala rebuild her restaurant.  I was happy with the decision he makes in the end.  However, I wasn't left with a confident feeling that he was ultimately happy with the decision.  Right up until the end, he was still plotting his way out should he get restless. I also questioned whether he traded one relationship problem for another in choosing Migdala.

That being said, I would recommend giving this one a shot.  I think anyone who is into sailing and likes a bit of mystery will enjoy this book. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog Tour: Secretly Smitten by Coble, Billerbeck, Hunt & Hunter

Authors: Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter
Publisher:Thomas Nelson
Date of Publication: January 2013

Summer, fall, winter, spring--Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!

There's a secret in Grandma Rose's attic--a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

The mystery intrigues Rose's three granddaughters--Tess, Clare, and Zoe--and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?

Secretly Smitten is a collaborative novel by four authors who happen to be friends in real life. Each author has written a novella with a central story arc. The story takes place over a year and deals with three sisters and their mother.  Each one finds new love as they try to find out what happened to Grandma Rose's first love, David.  I have to give the authors a lot of credit because they did an excellent job with each story and the transition between stories was flawless.  Their writing was very similar, so it was hard to pick which one was my favorite. 

While I loved all of the couples, I think that Anna's was the one I loved the most, with Tess being a close second.  Anna and Michael were so cute together.  I loved the scene in the barn.  Even though the couple is older, they acted like 2 young teens finding love for first time.  Tess's story was the easiest in which to relate.  I think we all have moments of self doubt, especially when it comes to body image.  It was refreshing to read about a woman who isn't physically perfect and about the man who sees nothing but a beautifully genuine and smart woman he can love.

I won't spoil the story and tell you what happens in the search for David.  It would ruin the overall story arc.  I definitely recommend Secretly Smitten.  It is a very clean and heart warming romance novel.  I didn't realize going into it that it is the sequel to Smitten, which came out in 2011.  I never felt like I was missing anything as the book really focuses on this family.  There are some mentions about other couples, but that only made me want to go back and read the first book. 

About the authors:

RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including “Tidewater Inn”, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.

Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include “A Billion Reasons Why” and “What a Girl Wants.”

Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including “A Cowboy’s Touch” and “Sweetwater Gap.” She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana. 

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate.

The "gals" are celebrating the release of Secretly Smitten with a fun Live Webcast on February 5th. They'll be debuting the *NEW* animated Smitten trailer, giving away tons of prizes, dishing on the book and their friendship. They'll also be wrapping up the Secretly Smitten blog tour, answering audience questions and testing your trivia skills. Don't miss the fun and bring your friends. Click here to RSVP and set up a reminder.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

Author: Darynda Jones
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of Publication: October 2012

Ten years ago, Lorelei's parents disappeared without a trace.  Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home.  For Lorelei, life goes on.

High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be.  Until the day the school's designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it,  standing outside her house in the dark, night after night.  Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school. 

This book was a random audio pick from my library.  I hadn't heard of the author before, but it looked interesting, so I gave it a shot.  Let me just give a big "YAY" for the lack of love triangle in the book!  I think that made me love it all the more.  Imagine, a YA novel with no angsty love triangle.  If you are a regular to this blog, you know how I feel about YA love triangles...

Death and the Girl Next Door was a pretty fun book.  The characters were fun and believable.  They are teens who acted and actually spoke like teens.  The dialogue seemed very genuine and comfortable.  I loved the relationship that Lorelei has with her two best friends, Brooklyn and Glitch.  The banter between them was fun and had me laughing at times.  Jared is mysterious, brooding and sexy. Cameron is the outcast, loner who seems to hate him and is always trying to protect Lorelei.

There is a genuine mystery as to who Jared and Cameron are and the role they play in Lorelei's life.  I liked that the reader finds out right along with Lorelei. The tendency to keep things from Lorelei did get a bit frustrating at times. But in the end, I could see why things were kept from her.  There are a few twists toward the end that should prove to make the next book interesting.  Death, Doom and Detention comes out in March. I look forward to reading it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray

published by: Little Brown and Co for Young Readers
publish date:  September 18, 2012

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."  When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

I'm not going to go in depth about this book because its got a ton of reviews on various websites.  Overall, I liked it.  My biggest problem with it was that it was overly long.  It seemed like it was going on forever.  There were a lot of things in the book that took up a lot of time and I didn't understand the relevance they had to the story.  I think there was probably a lot of world building and setting up for future books in the series.

That said, it was a breath of fresh air.  I liked the characters and the setting was interesting.  There are a lot of YA books set in the 20s out right now, but they usually have more to do with the flappers and this book delved more into the what regular people were living like.

I'm not sure if this is a series I would keep up with or not, because paranormal isn't high on my priority list.  Libba Bray is a great writer, though that might be enough to keep me reading.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Foreman

by:  Gayle Foreman
published by:  Dutton Juvenile
publish date:  January 8, 2013

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

So I was a big fan of If I Stay that made me really interested in reading Just One Day.  However, it sounds suspiciously like a YA Contemporary Romance.   While I read one every now and then, they aren't really my favorite.

I decided to go ahead and give it ago, because I liked Gayle Forman's writing so much before.  I'm glad I did.  It was a good book.  I liked the idea of the story and it was well told.

The characters though weren't my favorites.  I never really cared for Allyson.  All her angst and private drama was driving me crazy.  It wasn't until she became friends with Dee that I started to like her a little bit more.  I didn't particularly like Willem either.  I didn't understand their attraction.  I guess maybe you have to have a relationship like that in the past to be able to relate to it maybe.  Or it could just be me. 

This book is the first part of a 2 part series.  The second book, Just One Year, expected to be out some time later this year, will tell Willem's story.  I'm pretty sure I'll read this book.  I'm curious to know his story and what happened with him and what he was doing.  I think both of these books will be very popular this year.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

Author: Samantha Young
Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL
Date of Publication: August 2012

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

On Dublin Street is yet another example of great erotica. It's a well written, often heart-wrenching book.  I was pulled into the story right away and immediately loved the characters.  I really liked Joss's character.  She is so scarred from her life experience.  I really felt for her.  It was nice to watch her walls slowly come down as she lets in new friends.  Her and Braden's attraction is there from the start, but she is reluctant to do anything about it.  Braden is a bit of an alpha male, but I honestly didn't think he was anything too overbearing.  You can genuinely see that he cares for Joss and is willing to do whatever it takes to win her heart and trust.  I was definitely in his corner throughout the entire book.

The book is filled with great characters and very steamy love scenes.  For her first venture into adult fiction, Ms. Young has done one heck of a job.  This book isn't all angst, although there is plenty of it.  There are some big laugh out loud moments. I also loved that the ending is wrapped up nicely with a satisfying HEA.  It looks like there is a sequel to the book coming out in May.  On London Road will feature Jo, Joss's friend from the bar.  I look forward to reading it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review & Interview: The Reluctant Countess by Wendy Vella

Please welcome author, Wendy Vella.  She is promoting her debut book, The Reluctant Countess.  Make sure to check out our interview with her after my thoughts on the book.

Publisher: Loveswept
Date of Publication: January 14, 2013

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn't add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

My thoughts:

Oh, Loveswept..what would I do without you?  I know I can always count on you to give me a great and well written book!  I devoured this book. The Reluctant Countess is the debut offering for Ms. Vella.  I can see a bright future ahead for her. 

This is a neat take on the Cinderella story. Once you find out what secret Sophie holds, you have to admire her for doing what she did, especially when it helped to protect Timmy and her sister-in-law.  Sophie and Patrick are a couple that you find yourself rooting for from the beginning.  Despite believing that Sophie is up to no good, Patrick finds himself attracted to her.  Once he gets to know her, the attraction quickly turns into a deep caring and a fierce need to protect. Sophie doesn't feel that they can ever have a HEA, so she avoids him at all cost.  This makes for some amusing scenes.  I loved them together. 

We are also treated to a cute side romance. My only regret is that Amelia and Stephen didn't get their own book.  I would have loved to see more of their story.  I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical romance.  It has adventure, humor and a sigh-worthy and very steamy romance.  Who could ask for more?

Welcome, Wendy!
Kari& Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Wendy: I was raised in a family that loved to read and talk, coincidentally both things I now excel at! My husband said if the latter was an Olympic sport I would be a triple gold medalist. I read from as early as I can remember and moved from Jill’s pony club manuals into Mills & Boons and then my first Regency. I remember it was Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades, and from the opening page I was in love. The Regency Era intrigued me from the start, the nuances that make up polite society, the scandals and intrigue. So if I had to say one thing in particular I would say Georgette Heyer motivated me to start writing and my love of books kept that going.

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

Wendy: Actually characters come to me first. They just appear in my head demanding to have a story told about them and then I spend ages finding them the right names. Once I’ve got the hero and heroine worked out I then move on to the story. I usually start with some kind of conflict for one of the characters, something that determines the path their life is taking or will make a monumental change in their lives. The rest of the story evolves from there.

Kari& Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Wendy: I’m working on a series about three sisters at the moment. It’s interesting writing a series because each book has to tie them together in some way and there has to be a uniformity to the characters which keeps the consistency. I’ve always just been someone who sits down and writes but now I have to make notes as I go along to make sure I’m not getting any of the details wrong. Hopefully the end result works out ok.

Kari& Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Wendy: James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser from the Outlander series written by Diana Gabaldon is my favourite literary character. I loved watching him grow into the man he became. He always had integrity, strength and a bone deep honesty that he never compromised. He was sometimes shy and had a naiveté that I would say was rare considering the times he lived in and challenges he faced. His love for Claire was a wonderful thing to experience, (sigh) and let’s not get away from the main point that he was a seriously handsome man in a kilt!

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

Wendy: I’d be a Cheetah because I have never been considered sleek or fast in my life! I would love to fly across prairies and leap over things and out run everyone who annoyed me.

About the author:

Wendy Vella is a lover of all things romantic. She started reading her first Georgette Heyer book at a young age and instantly fell in love with the Regency era. Writing is something she has always found time for; she penned her first novel at eighteen though she says it will never make an appearance further than the closet in which it currently resides.

After having her two children Wendy then joined RWNZ and started honing her chosen craft by entering competitions with some success and attending conferences. Her Clendon and Readers Choice award-winning historical romance The Reluctant Countess will debut in Jan 2013 with Random House in their Loveswept line.

Visit my website:

Throwback Thursday: Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

Author: Kathy Reichs
First published in 1997 by Scribner

Dr. Temperance "Tempe" Brennan spends her days in the autopsy suite, the courtroom, the crime lab, with cops, and at exhumation sites. Often her long days turn into harrowing nights.

It's June in Montreal, and Tempe, who has left a shaky marriage back home in North Carolina to take on the challenging assignment of director of forensic anthropology for the province of Quebec, looks forward to a relaxing weekend.

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of the TV show Bones.  I have watched the show from the beginning, but had never picked up one of the books that inspired the series.  After reading some reviews, I decided to give it a shot.  I knew going in that the television character and book character are vastly different.  I think that knowing this helped me to enjoy the book much more.  I wasn't expecting "Bones" Brennan from the TV show.

That being said, Deja Dead was a pretty enjoyable read.  I almost liked this Dr. Brennan better.  She seemed more human and real to me.  She is middle aged with a college aged doctor.  She is divorcing her husband and there are hints that she may, at one time, had issues with alcohol.  I like flawed characters because I find that I can connect with them more.  I enjoyed the mystery and didn't have any idea who the killer was until the end.    My only complaint about the book as all of the french terms and names. It was a little hard to keep track of them while listening to the audiobook.

I definitely liked this book enough to continue with the series. I am intrigued by Dr. Temperance Brennan and look forward to finding out more about her.