Friday, May 30, 2008

And The Winner Is...

...blessedheart! Please e-mail me at novelreads at gmail dot com with your snail mail addy and I'll get the book out to you Monday. If I don't hear from the winner by Friday, June, 6th a second name will be drawn. Congrats! And thank you to everyone for checking out Novel Reads. If you didn't win this time, check back in often, because I plan on many more contests.

Also, don't forget my Summer Reading Challenge. You can click the link in the sidebar or here for the details!

Take Care

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Charlaine Harris Contest Ends Tomorrow!

Well, we did it, reached and surpassed 10 entries for the signed copy of From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris. If you haven't had a chance to enter, act fast because at 3 p.m. central time tomorrow, the contest ends and I'll draw a winner. Click Here to learn how to enter!

Also don't forget my Summer Reading Challenge - grab a great book or ten million and join in! I'm off to the ball field now!

Take Care

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

House Of Whispers by Margaret Lucke

I've thought a lot lately about putting some sort of rating or grade on the books I discuss here on the blog, especially since I've asked participants in the Reading Challenge to do exactly that (for details on the challenge scroll down to the previous post or click here). The problems I encounter, however, when I mull this over, always stop me. First of all, a teacher I am not, so I don't feel I would do a very good job at grading. If I were to go with a rating, what would it be? Stars? How many? 1-5? Or, should I go with thumbs up or down? I just can't decide. Would you like to see grades or ratings? Would it make it easier? I'll think more on it, but give me your thoughts! And now without further ado...

House of Whispers by Margaret Lucke

Book One Of The Supernatural Properties

Claire Scanlan is launching a new life and a new career in real estate. She has a chance to sell a spectacular house - but as the site of a mass murder, the property is not attracting buyers. When Ben Grant, the handsome brother of one of the murder victims, shows her the empty house, Claire experiences strange sensations that are both fascinating and repellent. She's also fascinated, and not at all repelled, by Ben Grant. But if Claire accepts her new-found paranormal power as real, she must also accept the responsibility for solving a bloody crime - even though Ben seems to be a prime suspect...

This is one of those books that I would find myself having trouble grading. For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of the tale, but in the end, there were also several things that did not sit well with me.

As the BCC states, Claire is starting her life anew. After being dumped by her husband for a younger woman, Claire packs up and moves to California to move in with her best friend while she finishes up her real estate classes and starts her new career.

On her first day of work as a Realtor, Claire is late. She'd had another one of her nightmares that have plagued her since childhood. She can never remember them and they wake her screaming. Usually, Claire gets these in times of great stress. Since Claire was late to the meeting, a house that should have been her first as the main agent almost gets given to the other new girl in the office, Avery. But when Claire shows up, the boss decides to give it to her. That is until Avery objects.

You see, the house is none other than the personal home of the famed architect, Stefan LeGrande. And while the house should be an easy sale with a huge commission, Stefan, his wife, and three of his children died there. Not just died, but his oldest son killed them and then himself. Since two other real estate companies had had the house previously, this one could be a toughie, and Avery wants it so very badly to prove how great she is. So, as a way to appease both Claire and Avery, their boss sends them both to the house to meet with the seller and let him choose which one he wants as the agent.

Both Claire and Avery feel an attraction for Ben. But only Claire has an unusual experience in the home and it is the clincher that has Ben choosing her to be his agent. It doesn't hurt that Ben is also attracted to Claire. But Avery isn't so willing to give up her shot at greatness and Claire soon finds out that the house has many secrets, secrets that it wants to share with her.

In order to bag the sale and rest easy about Ben and her growing attraction for him, Claire must deal with her intense nightmares that she's actually starting to remember, and the fact that they obviously are not just dreams but visions of what has happened or will happen, and solve the mystery of the LeGrande murders, before time runs out - for all involved.

The mystery of this book was wonderful. I actually thought I had it all figured out and found myself feeling almost disappointed that the author had made it so easy. But then a twist would be thrown in and I was doubting myself until all was revealed and I was stunned. Lucke managed to not only keep my on the edge of my seat, but she surprised the heck out of me with her ending. I LOVE to be surprised, and Lucke clearly knows her mystery. I love a good page turner, especially one with the paranormal involved, and Lucke most definitely delivered that and more with the bit of Romance thrown in.

There were problems with the book though. I won't lie. Written in Third Person Limited there are three POV's (point of views) and none of them are Ben's. Since he is a major character in the book, it would have been better, in this readers opinion, if he would have had turn. There was Claire of course. Avery, whose every scene made her seem childish and petty, in fact, Avery was the typical antagonist.

Then there was the ghost of the house. The ghost actually is the first POV we get, and it reads as a Prologue far better than it reads as a Chapter One, and well, you know how I feel about those. And while I did glean some information from those scenes, I think the book would have been fine without it.

There were copy editing mistakes a plenty in this as well, and after a while that got tiresome. However, on the whole, the book worked for me and I'm very excited about the next installment. Lucke created a believable character in Claire, one that was greatly flawed, but I found myself routing for anyway. I can't wait to see where the series will go, and have no doubt that Lucke will continue to keep me guessing in what promises to be a very intense, exciting and pleasurable series.

Take Care

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Reading Challenge

Reading is a big part of our household. We all love to read. With a dyslexic child and a beginner reader, you can imagine that we read a lot of children's books. The kids will read silently while I read one of my books and we read together as a family on the bigger books like THE UNDERLAND CHRONICLES . It's a fun game in our home for the kids to see how many pages they can read compared to how many mommy reads in our quiet reading time moments.

It is this love of reading with our children that gave The Hubs and I the idea for a Reading Challenge. OK, that's a BIG part of it, but also, when I explained to The Hubs how the RIF program was in jeopardy, he wanted to find a small way to help.

Since I'm not all that familiar with Reading Challenges, this one will be very loose. All you have to do to be included in the challenge is read with your children. Every time you finish a book, come back here to the site and leave a comment (you will be able to click the link at the top of the sidebar to get to this post) letting us know what book you read, the author and a grade for the book (A-F). Please include two grades, yours and that of your child. We would love it if you would give a short reason behind the grade you chose, but you don't have to.

The books you read do not have to be Chapter Books. You can read Dr. Suess, because he is a HUGE family favorite here. We recommend picking this book up if you don't yet have it. But we highly recommend trying to find a couple of books that are longer to share with your child.

If you do not have a child of your own, but would still like to participate, that isn't a problem either! You can visit your local library and ask the librarian to pair you with a child. You wouldn't even need to meet the child, simply leave a list and have the child do the same, of books you would be interested in reading, and you can both pass notes through the librarian (have the librarian clear this with the parent of the child first though!).

All of this can also be done with nieces and nephews that live out of town, the invention of the internet is a wonderful thing! And of course, if you just want to try and earn some cash for your local school's library, you can take it upon yourself to read Children's and YA books all by yourself. We hope that you can help spark the love of reading in a child, but if it just isn't feasible, we understand!

If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comments here or e-mail them to me at novelreads at gmail dot com. Ya know, without spaces and with the symbols. At the end of July, the readers with the most books logged will receive a $35 donation to the school library (or local children's library) of their choice and adult and child will each receive a $15 e-certificate to the bookseller of their choice. We wish it could be more, but at present this is all we can afford. Maybe we'll get enough participants, and I can entice some donations of books too. Ya just never know!

If you have a blog and will be participating in the Challenge, just let me know so I can make sure to run the link in the sidebar!

Happy Reading and Take Care

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Filler Post

Sometimes when I'm not reading, The Hubs and I actually go out. Here are some pics from our last outing a couple of weeks ago. We had a blast. I would post on one of the many books I still need to discuss, but I'm too tired. We bought and put up a pool today and had a BBQ for Miss Beautiful's Birthday. So, I thought I'd just share some of our fun~ Take Care

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reading Challenge! Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

My contest for a signed copy of From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris is supposed to end tomorrow. I need 3 more entries to reach 10. If, I do not have 10 by that time, I will extend the contest a few more days. I really want to give away this book! And, well, I'm so darn proud of myself for keeping up my end of the blogging deal!

Before I start today's blog post, I want to explain how the book I'm getting ready to talk about and my son, Bear, has given me the idea for a Summer Reading Challenge. You see, my son aka Bear, is dyslexic. After a long, drawn out battle with the school district last year that netted us zero results, we took it into our own hands and had him tested. When the results came back that yes, he was dyslexic, we hired a private tutor and worked endlessly with our boy. You see, he's always loved a good story. LOVED to have books read to him. He could read sight words well, but put a sentence in front of him and he was lost. Add to that a teacher with no sympathy and we had a nearly broken boy by the end of school.

Thankfully though, there are such great authors out there. Authors like R.L. LaFevers and her Lowther Blade Trilogy. Authors like Jodi Lynn Anderson and her May Bird books. And authors like the one of this book, Suzanne Collins, that fanned the tiny spark that was once Bears love of books and turned it into an inferno. There is something about a good book that reaches deep into a child's imagination and reaches them like nothing else can. And it is in the spirit of these great authors and their work, and in celebration of the last day of school today that I'm instituting a Summer Reading Challenge. Read through to the end of the blog post for details. There will be a prize. And so I can get to the Challenge details, let me get to the blog...

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

When eleven-year-old Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New Your apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rates - but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.

Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. He just wants to find his way home. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland's uncertain future, he realizes it might be the only way to solve the biggest mystery of his life. Little does he know his quest will change him - and the Underland - forever.

Gregor lives with his mom, grandmother, and two sisters in a small apartment in New York City. A little over two years prior, Gregor's father, a science teacher mysteriously disappers. Gregor, at the tender age of 11 has found himself with a lot of responsibility, and handles it with such amazing strength.

One day, after his mother goes into work, Gregor takes his 2 year old sister Boots with him to the laundry room to do the family wash, and he and Boots end up falling down, down, down through a vent.

What they find there is terrifying. Giant cockroaches. Fortunately for Gregor and Boots, the roaches take a liking to Boots and take them to the city of Regalia where Gregor meets pale-haired, violet eyed humans who ride giant, talking bats. But not just any people, he meets Royalty. Luxa is also 11, but is the queen of Regalia since her parents were killed by the rats - we're talking giant talking rats here. And these humans seem to think that Gregor is some kind of warrior sent to fulfill the Prophecy of Gray.

You see, these humans are down below the City because of a man named Barthlolomew of Sandwich, and Sandwich had visions he would write down, that are now the prophecies to which the Underland await.

But Gregor doesn't want to be a warrior, he just wants to go home. But no matter how bad he wants that, he wants what may lie at the end of the prophecy, so he sets off with a group of Underlanders to fulfill the Prophecy.

Gregor the Overlander is one fantastic thrill ride for readers of any age. I have re-typed about twenty synopsis' of the book by this point in the post, and no matter how hard I try I simply cannot do the book justice. The suspense is fabulous for young readers and had this adult glued to the pages as well.

About three weeks ago, the school had it's spring Book Fair. As you can imagine, this event is huge in our home. The kids get to go every day and buy a book or two on their own, and I take them twice to buy books with them. We heart books here. But this book, this book was one Bear picked out all on his own on the recommendation of the school librarian. The night he brought it home, he sat down with The Hubs and they started reading. They read up to Chapter 6. They were so hooked. The only reason they stopped there was because it was bedtime. The next night, they read to Chapter 13. It was that night that The Hubs asked me to catch up to them the next day while he was at work and then we could take turns reading (his throat was starting to get sore by the time they quit each night). There was only one condition - I could, under no circumstances, read past them. I had to stop until he got home from work and then we could start up as a family.

Well, I started the book, read the 13 chapters and cursed the condition. I didn't want to stop! I wanted to keep going. Gregor was such an amazing kid. The Underland was such an intriguing place, and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next! But I was a good girl and waited until The Hubs got home, and then we sat down as a family and read the rest of the book in one sitting. And after those 14 chapters, we couldn't wait to delve back into the Underland. Unfortunately, we have no bookstore in town, and the closest one was out of stock. So we ordered it. It arrived three days later and we finished it in less than three days. We are now on book 3 and already have the last two books on the shelves waiting for us to read. What a wonderful treat for summer!

And so, it is because of our love of these books. The love of these books our son has and the love of reading they have continued to inspire in him that The Hubs and I are going to donate, at the end of summer $35 to the school library or children's organization of my Summer Reading Challenge winner's choice. Not only that, but we will also give the winner a $15 gift certificate to the on-line book retailer of their choice.

So, to participate in the challenge, come back tomorrow for the details (and a bit of talk about Book 2 of this series) we are continuing to iron out. Who knows, maybe we'll get enough interest and the prize package will grow!

Take Care

Monday, May 19, 2008

Personal Demons by Stacia Kane

I'm sunburned today, and I don't mean just a little bit pink. NOOOOOOO, we spent the day at the lake yesterday and I toasted myself. It's insane. I do this every year now, burn really bad once and then tan over, but dayum, I don't think I've ever had a burn this bad before. The good news is that I now have the burn out of the way and won't have to deal with it again this year. The bad news is I have to survive the pain from this one. So, if you have any recommendations besides aloe (because it doesn't seem to be helping) for a burn I'm all ears!

Before I start let me just remind you about the contest I'm running right now. Click here for details. Also, you may have noticed I've changed the look of the blog, and I still don't like it much, so don't be surprised if you see many more changes. Don't worry, the content will stay the same, it's only the layout that will be changing. And now on with it...

Personal Demons by Stacia Kane

Megan promises listeners to her new radio call-in show that she'll "slay their personal demons," and they believe her. So do the personal demons. Although she doesn't know it, Megan is the only human without a personal demon on her shoulder. This, coupled with her psychic abilities, makes her a valuable weapon for any demon "family" that can gain her allegiance. It also makes her a serious threat - not just to the personal demons, but to a soul-sucker known as The Accuser who has an old score to settle.

Megan and her allies - a demon lover who both protects and seduces her with devilish intensity, a witch with poor social skills, and three cockney guard demons - have to deal not only with The Accuser, the personal demons, and the ghosts of Megan's past, but with a reporter who threatens to destroy Megan's career.

I actually like this BCC. If I were to pick this book off a shelf and read it, it would have the desired effect - I would buy the book. Although the last little bit of the copy makes it sound as if the book is almost light and slapstick - y, in fact, I don't think I really even smirked throughout my entire reading of the book.

Megan is a therapist who also happens to be psychic (and is it just me or does that word look funky?), To tell you the truth, I couldn't really understand what exactly her psychic power allowed her to do. I know that when she discussed problems with clients, it was like she was living what they were talking about, and she could see their lives somewhat - like friends, work, etc. - I think what she was most specifically was perhaps a mind reader? I know that's a lame term, but I can't think of any word better than that, and I'm too lazy to use Google at the moment.

Anyway, she agrees to do a call in radio show "Personal Demons" where she attempts to help callers and the catch phrase suggests she is slaying the demons. Well, the demon world stands up and takes notice and after the first night on the air Megan is visited by a demon, Dante. Of course, she first thinks he's a lawyer.

Soon, Megan finds out that the real personal demons feel threatened by her and feel that she really is trying to slay them, and that a really big bad is out to get her as well. If that's not enough, Megan has some demons of her own to deal with - her past.

With the help of Dante, Megan tries to focus her power, avoid the demons, and flat out stay alive. At the same time, she has to deal with a reporter for a tabloid that is doing a feature on her as publicity for the radio show. All while being extremely attracted to Dante.

To tell you the truth, I liked the book - but I didn't. There was no real flow at all to the course of events. I didn't feel the attraction between Megan and Dante, and that made it seem incredibly forced. The events leading up to the "big bad" just seemed to take up too much space, and the ending seemed rushed to the extreme.

The cockney demons sent by Dante to protect Megan did endear themselves to me, and I can't wait to see those characters again. And while I did have trouble with all of the bits that make the whole, I did enjoy the whole. I actually found myself liking Megan and Dante and routing for them. I like the concept of the book, and look forward to seeing what happens next with the characters (this is the first in a series). However, this will not be an auto-buy for me. Not yet anyway.

The premise is intriguing, if not as well executed as I had hoped. There was humor, suspense, paranormal, and a bit o' horror, but they weren't quite blended together seamlessly. I can only hope that in the future that is remedied, because I can see this turning into a really phenomenal series.

Take Care

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena

As I've stated, any book talk on this site is long over-due, most especially though, is book talk on this book. You see, I had planned to talk about his book a few days before I officially left d&D, but that just didn't work out as planned, and then I planned on writing it up over here, and well, I went brain dead with work. So, I thought it only fitting that this be the first book I discussed. As a quick reminder before hand though, don't forget I've got a contest going on right now, just click here for the details.

Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena

In twelfth century France, King Henry II of England has just finished quashing a rebellion by his power-hungry sons and now seeks to tame the lawless barons who supported them in this corner of this "Angevin empire." To this end, the king has sent the Earl of Gunthar as his royal representative to ensure that Prince Richard and his former cohorts faithfully adhere to the terms of the peace treaty.

Far from being welcomed with open arms. Gunthar no sooner steps foot in the county of Poitou than he is greeted by a series of assassination attempts. All appear to be linked to the former rebellious prince through the agents of the family and friends of young Helene de Laurant. A clever, intrepid young woman, she realizes that the only way to prove her loved ones' innocence is by exposing the true assassin. Helene races against time - and dark secrets of the past - to unmask the killer before the kingdom plunges back into war.

Fierce determination gives way to mutual attraction as Helene and Gunthar spar over the identity of the traitor. But their blinding magnetism almost causes them to overlook an even deadlier threat from an entirely unexpected direction.

I have to say, that for the most part this BCC does a great job. There is actually a bit more Romance within the pages than the BCC leads a person to think, and while that's not a big leave-out, it may just miss a few sales because that aspect is not targeted.

Since the BCC does such a stellar job of letting you know about the main conflict in the book, let me talk a bit about the Romance. Gunthar comes to Helene's family estate on the King's orders to see that all of his post-war demands are being met. Also, the King figures a marriage between Gunthar and Helene's older sister, Clothilde, will be just the thing to keep this part of the country in line. However, it is Helene herself that catches Gunthar's eye. But duty before love is Gunthar's motto, and his plan is to carry out his King's wishes and marry Clothilde. But it seems Clothilde is about as interested in Gunthar as he is her. With a fierce mother that will stop at nothing (and has proven exactly that) to see her families good name restored, Helene and Gunthar have more than just an assassin to worry about. Suddenly their hearts are every bit as on the lines as their lives.

Let me tell ya a little something I'm not too proud of - I almost didn't read this book. I had liked the way the author described it when sending it to me and was really looking forward to reading it, and then I got the book and saw that it was self-published. I'll admit, hearing self-pubbed had always given me an immediate negative feeling. I'm ashamed of this, especially when I started the book and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I was hooked!

The pacing of this book is wonderful. The mixing of genres expertly done. I was amazed that such a book was self published. With only a few parts giving me pause (and in all honesty, I have read many a big house book that falls way short of the quality of this one), I have to say that Loyalty's Web has given me a new appreciation for the self-published and has added one mighty good author to my Watch List.

Apparently, I'm not the only person that saw the wonderfulness of this book, because DiPastena has signed with a publisher and LW will be re-released with a new cover. Congrats, Joyce! What a true Cinderella of publishing story!

To learn more about Joyce and enter fun contests, visit her web site and head on over to Author Island for more great contests!

Take Care

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kicking It All Off (?) With A CONTEST! FREE SIGNED BOOK!!!

Well, I'm not quite sure what's happening with this site, are you? No? Hell, that makes two of us then! So let me tell ya what I do know...

1 - I miss talking books.
2 - I've been a reading fiend.
3 - I've missed talking books.
4 - I missed giving away great books even more!
5 - I've missed talking books.

Get the theme? Anyway, I've stayed fairly silent throughout all of the blog-o-sphere lately, and I realized, that even if I don't blog on my personal blogs anymore, I want to blog on my reading blog (oh hush, I MEANT this to be a reading blog) and things have worked out in my personal life that I'll have the evenings to do just that! So, in an effort to get myself in gear, I'm kicking off a contest.

However, I must have at least 10 entries, or it's a no go on the give-a-way. I vow, right here and now, that I will post every other day, for the duration of one week. If in that time, we have accumulated 10 entries, and I feel like I've got some interest in the new blog, I'll not only send some one a free copy of this great book but I'll keep on the blogging train.

If you're new to my style of reader blog, let me just enlighten you. I don't review. Well, maybe "technically" I review, but not really. Basically, all you'll get from me is how I felt about the book. That's it. For some insight into my past book talking you can search the archives here for anything signed "Take Care."

I have a ton of books that I've read in my silence, and in my way of thinking, well, better late than never. SO, let's get me motivated and give away a book in the process.

Notice that video at the top? That's me at the first ever signing I went to. That's me at the first ever signing I went to making a total fool of myself.

That's right. Me, Chari-Dee got to go to a book signing of the one and only Charlaine Harris! I bought THREE copies of her latest release FROM DEAD TO WORSE and one of them I had signed generic, for the sole purpose of giving it away on here.

So, all you have to do to be entered is tell me in the comments why you want to read this book. OR, if you already have read the book but just want a signed copy, tell me the reason for that as well.

Get to the entering, because in one week from today, contest ends.

Take Care