Monday, August 2, 2010

Sweet Magnolias The Next Generation by Sherryl Woods

Find the review here. I'm sorry, but keeping both sites going is too much for me, so from now on, I'll only be posting over at the WordPress site. I hope you'll continue to read with me there!

Take Care

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vicki Lewis Thompson - A Babes On Brooms Series Look

I just heart Vicki Lewis Thompson. I first fell in love with her "Nerds" books and gobbled them up as quickly as I possibly could. When she came out with her Hex series I was double excited. I do loves me some Paranormal Romance. Unfortunately, they were okay books, well worth my read for a lazy day, but not books that were "Must Buy" for me. With that thought in mind, when I saw Blonde With A Wand on the store shelf I couldn't help myself from grabbing it up. It was after all a VLT book! I really enjoyed the book, where the matchmaking witch and wizard from the Hex books played minor roles. I was most excited to see that there would be a second book, Chick With A Charm and now that I've had a chance to read both, I thought I'd do a double post.

Blonde With A Wand by Vicki Lewis Thompson

From the Author's Website:

Sexy witch Anica Revere has one absolutely unwavering rule: never, under any circumstances, get involved with a man before telling him she’s a witch. Still, what’s one silly rule? Especially when the guy in question is as cute as Jasper Danes. But when Anica and Jasper have a spat, she breaks an even bigger rule of witchcraft and turns him into a cat. Bad news for him. Worse for her.

With Anica stripped of her powers for the witchy infraction, it’s up to Jasper to undo the hex—but he never expected the hardest part of the bargain would be resisting Anica. The stakes are high, and the chemistry is off the charts. But what’ll happen if Anica and Jasper both fall under the strongest spell of all—love?

Anica is what most would call a control freak. The oldest of two sisters, owner of her own coffee shop, Wicked Brew, and witch extraordinare, Anica likes to keep things under control, trying very hard to never act impulsively. That is, until she meets Jasper Danes. Jasper has been coming into Anica's coffee shop and there have definitely been sparks. After Jasper comes in devastated over a break-up with his latest girlfriend, he and Anica begin to connect and make a date for dinner. But, while at dinner Jasper is mortified to see his ex-girlfriend walk through the door. While Jasper hopes that her arrival is strictly a coincidence, when Anica goes to the restroom and she follows he really starts to sweat.

Anica talks with the ex only to find out that perhaps Jasper hadn't told her the truth. You see, Jasper wasn't dumped, quite the opposite--he broke up with the woman. What's worse, Anica finds out that he had given the ex the same story about being dumped by his previous girlfriend. Anica doesn't like to be played and when Jasper doesn't exactly come clean she leaves the date. Only Jasper isn't going to let her get away that easily and follows. A move he and Anica both end up regretting, becasue in her anger, Anica does the one thing she never thought she would--she transforms Jasper into a cat.

The thing is, magic of this sort is strictly forbidden, and Anica soon realizes that she's lost all ability to do magic. In her hour of need, not wanting to get her parents or the Wizard Council involved, Anica turns to her care-free, not entirely reliable sister, Lily for help. But when even Lily seems to have problems transforming Jasper back, the sisters turn to Dorcas and Ambrose Lowell, the quirky matchmaking witch and wizard, also a part of the Wizard Council, but it can't be helped, Anica has to find a way to turn Jasper back into a man, before the guilt and lack of magic do her in.

I have to say, I enjoyed BWAW much more than I did any of the other Hex books. I found that Jasper as a cat, using his paws to painfully type out notes to Anica was endearing, and the "cure" for the spell made it all feel real and believable. I also enjoyed the fact that the spell wasn't reversed immediately but Jasper did get to revert back to his human form for short spurts.

Chick With A Charm

From the Author's website:

Lily Revere is free-spirited and fun loving—two dangerous qualities in a witch. Especially while planning her sister Anica’s engagement party, and she needs a date! She’s determined to bring hot Griffin Taylor, but he’s a divorce lawyer who claims his job has warned him off romance. He may pretend he's just not into her, but she knows better—he only needs a nudge in the right direction.

Slipping a love elixir into Griffin’s drink may not be the noble thing to do—but it sure works! Lily’s dreamboat drops all defenses and the two discover they’re perfectly matched—in every way. There’s just one problem: Are Griffin’s feelings the result of some truly good witchcraft—or is he really in love?

In CWAC Thompson gives readers a dose of Anica's sister Lily. I truly enjoyed Lily in BWAW, I liked that she was a quirky bartender in a wizard owned bar, and I liked that when she did magic she got hopped up like she'd just downed five Red Bulls. In short, Lily was fun and the type of sister I think most of us love to hate.

Since Anica is now getting married, Lily finds herself in the awkward position of being dateless for the wedding. What's worse, is her parents, who she loves dearly, will be in town and Lily was really hoping to be able to impress them with how much she's grown up by having a lovely and stable man for them to meet. Griffin Taylor, divorce lawyer, would be the perfect man.

Griffin and his work buddies have been coming into The Bubbling Cauldron, for happy hour for several weeks now. There is some definite chemistry between him and Lily, but Lily was not the type of girl Griffin always envisioned ending up with. Since his parents had married with little more in common than great sex, and then divorced, Griffin knew exactly what he wanted from a woman--goal oriented and down to earth--Lily is the exact opposite, so while Griffin may be attracted, he's not stupid enough to get involved with her.

When Lily decides Griffin needs a push, like yesterday, in her direction, she mixes an adoration elixir using her newly acquired dog and the adoration she has for Lily as the focus point, she drops the potion in his drink and waits for the sparks to fly. And fly they do, with some steamy scenes that are sure to have beach goers heading to the water for a dip in the water to cool down.

But as the feelings Lily has for Griffin begin to deepen, along with his dependence on her, she'll never be sure if it's the spell or if Griffin's feelings are as real as hers. What's worse, Griffin and his friends seem to have figured out that he's under a spell. What will happen when/if they break it, is the ultimate question both Lily and Griffin have. The feelings of love seem so real but are they strong enough to hold?

Chick was such a good book! I fell in love with Lily and Griffin. And while Lily ocassionally irritated me with her selfish behavior, I can honestly say I could understand. Filled with scenes sure to leave a reader panting, and an ending that had me crying-twice-once from heartache and once for joy, Chick is one book you don't want to miss.

If you're heading to the beach, lake, or even just a lazy day in the backyard by the pool, you'll for sure want to have these two books with you, they're a must buy for any fan of Thompson or any Romance Reader.

Take Care

Friday, May 7, 2010

Embers by Laura Bickle


Embers by Laura Bickle

(BCC)

Truth burns.

Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya--who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern--suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil's Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya--with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team --can stop it.

Anya's accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she's risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she's ever faced.

* This review is done from a book Novel Reads received from the publisher.

Anya Kalinczyk, as the BCC says is a Fire Investigator by day and spends her nights for DAGR, the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers. Lately, Anya's been trying to figure out who has been starting several fires around town and leaving no clues behind. When DAGR calls her in on a particularly bad haunting. The group generally only calls Anya when they have to choosing to reserve her for the cases that are simply to hard for them to handle themselves. You see, Anya is a Lantern. A very rare type of medium that can devour ghosts. It's hard on Anya to do this not just physically but emotionally, as well so she is a last resort. When Anya finally traps the spirit and gets ready to devour her, the ghost whispers, "Sirrush is coming."

Anya knows little of Sirrush, just that he was once revered as a god of fire but after this experience with the ghost, who turns out to be that of a young girl, the name Sirrush and the fact that he is coming seems to be just about all the spirits can talk about. What's worse, is it seems the fires could in fact be related to Sirrush and his return. What's more, it would seem that perhaps Anya isn't the only Lantern out there--she just be the only Lantern out there with the desire to stop Sirrush from rising.

Embers takes the reader on a fast paced, page turning adventure, as Anya, Sparky, and DAGR race to save Detroit--and Anya herself--from demons and ancient gods. Bickle has written a fantastically believable world that a reader can get lost in. Embers, is hands down, bar none, the best Urban Fantasy written by a debut author, hell, written by anyone, that I have read in a very long time. I look forward to reading more about Anya and Sparky and the mishmash of others that complete DAGR in Bickle's next release Sparks.

Take Care

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Novel Chats: Series Catch Up

If you're a fairly new reader to the blog let me take a quick moment to explain the Novel Chat posts (one day I'll get that pesky FAQ page set up and not have to bother everyone with this stuff). I'm busy. Most days I'm lucky to remember to eat let alone find time to blog and so Novel Chats was born. I take two to three books I've read in my blogging silence and sum up my thoughts on them in as short a fashion as I can. Sometimes, the books have been out for quite a spell, and in that case, I really try to keep my rambling to a minimum. I grade the books I Chat because it's just easier than going into long details. Since I've been so busy lately, I have more than a few books sitting on my "Need To Blog" shelf, so there may be more of these posts in the coming days.

Real Vampires Don't Diet by Gerry Bartlett

From the Author's Website:
First Glory's stood up on New Year's Eve by her long time main squeeze Jeremy Blade. Then a moonlight boat ride on Austin's Lake Travis with newly turned vampire, rock star Israel Caine (Ray) goes horribly wrong. Who knew there was a Siren lurking in the lake just waiting for her chance to lure unsuspecting vampires into a trap? Now Glory and Ray are racing against time to find vampire sacrifices or they're doomed.

With the storm of the century threatening to wash out her new home and an old enemy taking aim at her, things don't look good for Glory.

As for her relationship with Blade? Well, Glory wonders if maybe it's time to cut her longtime lover loose.



Valdez is at her side as usual, along with her friends who won't let Glory go down without a fight. Surely all this action is bound to help our curvy vamp lose a pound or two. You think?

I've liked Glory since I first started the series with book two, Real Vampires Live Large. There's something about an overweight vampire, with a great vintage clothing store, a self depreciating sense of humor, great friends, and a shifter for a body guard. However, for some unknown reason, I've never added Real Vampires to my must buy list, and I never seem to know when a new one has been released. For that very reason, it wasn't until recently when I ordered the latest two books in the series. It took me quite a while to really get into Live Large, and I still don't know what I think.

What I do know is that I'm fairly sick of the back and forth relationship Glory has with Blade and her role as mentor to the newly made vampire Israel Caine is starting to annoy me, since Glory can't seem to pick which man she wants. I'm a firm believer in shit or get off the potty and Glory's interaction with the men in her life left me extremely cold with this last one. So much so that I haven't even cracked the spine on Real Vampire's Hate Their Thighs. I've no doubt I'll read it--eventually--but I think I need a breather for a while.

I have to give this one a C. I just didn't feel it as much as I did the others, but Bartlett's excellent and funny writing make it worth a read.

Sucker For Love by Kimberly Raye

(BCC)

Divalicious darling of the undead Lil Marchette is this close to finding her own happily-ever-after with hunky live-in bounty hunter Ty Bonner. Unfortunately, reality is biting back in a big way. Lil’s got mounting bills to pay and clients to keep happily hooked up courtesy of Dead End Dating, the ultimate meet-and-greet for New York’s fanged, furry, and fabulous. But leave it to a drop-dead gorgeous eight-hundred-year-old warlock with a big-girl fetish to take the biggest chomp out of Lil’s happiness by kidnapping Esther Crutch, one of Lil’s plus-size clients, now stamped as Grade-A Ritual Meat.

Leaving Ty warming the bed, Lil races to rescue Esther’s curvy behind before she’s turned into a Mayan sacrifice. The trail leads to Texas–hell by any other name–and as if dust, demons, and hopelessly outdated fashion weren’t bad enough, fate gives Lil an unexpected partner: her mom, who is on a mission to meddle (as usual) and grab a little mother-daughter time. Will Lil remain calm in the face of smotherly love and save Esther–or will her client bite the dust?

Sigh. I'm about to make you think I disliked all the books I've read in my long silences, but really, that's not true. What is true is that I didn't really feel this one either. Perhaps I'm growing tired of the sameness that is this particular brand of female vampire. You know, the I'm really nice, hate blood, can kick ass if I need too, but really hate too, and I'm really just a sucker for true love. It was a nice break for a while, and perhaps when the state of current affairs was cleaner, there was a place in my heart for such books. Now though, I find myself wanting more from the heroines of the books I read. I want grit. I don't want fashion and boys to be the top priority.

In truth, I enjoyed this latest adventure of Lil much more than the others and I liked it enough to read the next one, whenever it may be released. I've never been a large fan of this series to begin with so my expectations were low, giving me the freedom to give this one a B-.

I'm out of blogging time for today, hopefully I'll be back tomorrow.
Take Care

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni and Winners Announced (FINALLY!)

I've been silent for a little over a week, and at the end of the post I'll give a quick rundown of why. For now, let me announce the winners of the two contest currently up and running - CONGRATS to Ryan Collins winner of WILD RIDE by Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer. CONGRATS to Mimi Goh winner of ANGELOLOGY by Danielle Trussoni. Please e-mail me at novelreads at gmail dot com with your snail mail address so we can get the books right out to you.

For those of you that check this blogger site, you can click here to see the Updated Author Promotion Page at Novel Reads and read a letter to readers from author Laura Bickle about her upcoming release Embers.

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

JCC

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.
Genesis 6:5


Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

*This review is done from a copy of the book supplied to Novel Reads from the publisher.

Sister Evangeline loves her life at Saint Rose Convent. She takes great comfort in the daily routine of prayer and her work in the convent library. Since Evangeline lost her mother and her father brought her to New York to live, she's thought of the sisters as her family. But one day, a letter arrives from a V.A. Verlaine requesting information from the convent about some letters that Abigail Rockefeller may have exchanged with the Mother Superior of the convent of that time. Something stops Evangeline from dismissing the letter in the usual way the sisters are to handle them, and when Verlaine shows up at the convent, Evangeline becomes disturbed by the affect he has on her and the mystery as to why these letters are so important and why the sisters want very badly to keep them hidden.

As Evangeline and Verlaine begin digging, it becomes clear that the man who hired Verlaine may not be simply interested in art history as he claimed. Soon, Evangeline and Verlaine are thrust into a world both know very little about and are fighting not only for their lives but the fate of the world. For it's the Nephilim that want the letters, they have gone from powerful giants of old to a dying race, infected by a horrible disease that could ruin them for all time.

Evangeline soon finds out that Sister Celestine, a nun that came to convent the same time the letters stopped, knows more about Evangeline, her grandmother, and Angelology than she ever could have guessed. Now an old, frail woman on her deathbed, Celestine is the only hope Evangeline and Verlaine have at unraveling the mystery of what past Angelolgist uncovered and the Nephilim would do anything to retrieve.

Written in two view points, Third Person to take us on the present journey and First Person to take us on Celestine's journey, Angelology takes the reader on a journey like no other. It took me a while to finish the book, but I closed the pages and literally looked at The Hubs and said, "Wow!"

There is something about a book filled with angels and giants, biblical references and myth that captures me like no other book can. It didn't hurt either that Trussoni has a voice so distinct and her "pen" writes beautiful lines such as, "The mind and spirit become ripe in their own fashion and at their own pace. Beautiful music plays, but not everyone with ears can hear it."

Angelology is a book filled with danger, intrigue and mystery. A book so riveting it will stay with you for a long, long time. If you've not had the pleasure of reading it, I strongly suggest you find time.

Take Care

*Where I've been: I've mentioned before that Bear was having problems with Bullies at school. Well, it's getting worse. Not only is he having problems, but many 4th Graders are. I have been working on putting together a Student Advisory Program at our school that will empower the kids and help (hopefully) to put a stop to the horrible bullying that is getting out of hand at our school.

I've also been busy wrapping up the Spring Fundraiser for the PTO and writing a "How to Write a Story" book for my daughter's 2nd Grade class.

My part in all of this is winding down now, though, so I should be back more!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Win WILD RIDE by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Before I begin with my post let me say CONGRATS to Chirstina Collins. Miss Beautiful drew your name and you've won your choice of TWO Kristan Higgins books. Please e-mail me at novelreads at gmail dot com with your choice of books and the address to send them!

Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Crusie/Mayer joint site

(JCC)

Mary Alice Brannigan doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Nor does she expect to find that Dreamland, the decaying amusement park she’s been hired to restore, is a prison for the five Untouchables, the most powerful demons in the history of the world. Plus, there’s a guy she’s falling hard for, and there’s something about him that’s not quite right.

But rocky romances and demented demons aren’t the only problems in Dreamland: Mab’s also coping with a crooked politician, a supernatural raven, a secret government agency, an inexperienced sorceress, an unsettling inheritance, and some mind-boggling revelations from her past. As her personal demons wreck her newfound relationship and real demons wreck the park, Mab faces down immortal evil and discovers what everybody who’s ever been to an amusement park knows: The end of the ride is always the wildest.

This isn't going to be a typical review (in fact, it's not going to really be a review at all), and if you've read this blog you'll know it's because that's not how I roll (if I ever get my FAQ's up and running I'll explain that). So let me start by saying I'm a HUGE Crusie fan. BET ME brought me back to reading after a long hiatus and I'll always, always love her for that. Yep, she's just one of the authors that I totally crush on. So, when Crusie joined forces with Mayer it was a no brainer that their books would be first on a TBB list. I loved their first release Don't Look Down and I fell even harder for Agnes and the Hitman. I think I've read AATH almost as many times as I've read Bet Me and I've loaned it out just as many. Hell, my father-in-law is now hooked on not only Mayer but Crusie because of me. At first, he was a bit embarrassed to check out Crusie books from the library, and figured he could he would just say it's for me, but at 75 years of age, he decided he could read anything he damn well pleased and the librarians could judge all they wanted. So, again, you get it right? Fan Girl alert coming right up.

I knew going into the book that this was not going to be the typical Crusie/Mayer, just like going into DLD I knew it would not be a typical Crusie, and that was just fine with me. Seriously, my favorite tag team doing Paranormal? SQUEE! And I was right, this wasn't the type of book we normally see from the two partners--it was better.

Dreamland Amusement Park is actually a holding place for the five Untouchables- demons that cannot be killed only contained. The Untouchables are kept in chalices, locked away in certain rides or attractions throughout the park. The Untouchables are kept in these chalices by the Guardia. Five people chosen and given special gifts to capture and hold the Untouchables as they escape.

Mab has been brought back to her home town by her uncle to restore the park and get it ready for the big Halloween event. Mab hated living near Dreamland as a child. Never allowed to go, she was part of the Batty Brannigan family, her mother always picketing the park and trying to get it shut down. Mab loses herself in her work. Never fitting in as a child has left her with no desire to connect with people. Two weeks left on the job and she's out of there.

Ethan has returned to his home at Dreamland after a bullet lodges itself near his heart and cannot be removed without killing him. It's only a matter of time, of course, before the bullet does move and penetrate his heart, but until then he has come home to drink away his sorrows and wait for death.

But when the demons start to escape and the old Guardia begin to die, new Guardia must be chosen and it's suddenly up to Ethan and Mab to bring them together and defeat the Untouchables before they break free of their chalices and destroy the human race. But, it's not just the demons Ethan and Mab have to deal with, a secret government agency has been staking out the park and Ethan and Mab will either find a way to bring them to their side or get rid of them.

When the Guardia are betrayed all hell breaks loose, not only are the demons going to get out, but Mab and Ethan find themselves fighting personal demons that will either bring them all together or tear them all apart.

WILD RIDE delivers exactly what the title promises, a fast paced page turner. And while this book is not the typical book readers of Crusie and Mayer have come to expect, it still has all the traits that this reader has come to love--family, wit, action, and an ending that left me smiling and hungry for more from two of my favorite authors. You can read the prequel to Wild Ride - Wild Night by clicking here.

And so, since I was a bad, bad reader and bought WILD RIDE before the actual release date of today, and I still want to do my part in the whole first week or two of sales I am going to give away a copy of the book. That's right, one lucky reader will have the chance to win a copy of WILD RIDE. Winners choice of Hardcover or eBook. Already own it? That's okay, you can give it as a gift and share the love.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. You can earn extra entries by spreading the word. FaceBook, Yahoo! Groups, your own blog, MySpace, Twitter, you name it, just let me know where you've posted and for each place you do, you name will be thrown in the hat. You can also friend me Novel Reads on FaceBook and let me know it's because you wanted an extra entry and I'll make sure that is counted as well.

Now, go forth and enter, you have until Saturday, March 20 to enter.

Take Care

Don't forget to also enter for a chance to win a Hardcover Copy of Angelology by Danielle Trussoni while you're here. Click on the Current Contest link at the top for the details.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Angelology Contest Kick Off

Whew! Spring Break starts tomorrow for the kiddos and between Parent/Teacher Conferences, finishing up the Spring Fundraiser, and all the other things I've had on my plate, I'm flat wore out! Both kiddos did great this semester. Bear started State Assessment testing and the Reading part is complete. He scored Exceeds Expectations, but this was not enough for him! NO! The boy wanted Exemplary. We've explained that getting the Exceeds is awesome, not only for a dyslexic kid reading on a computer screen and then answering questions but for anyone! Plus, he was only 4 points from Exemplary, but still not good enough for him. Miss Beautiful was all "A's" and a top reading level. I'm so proud of those two. Now, if we could just get the bullies to leave Bear alone, I think we'd be completely happy with their school experience this year! In fact, the bullying is starting to get out of hand. His markers have been stolen, along will all of his pencils and a kid took his ruler and bent it until it was no longer usable. Sigh. We'll be stocking him up with new school supplies for this last 9 weeks. Anyone have tips to help us help him deal with bullies? Anyway, you didn't come here to read all about my kiddos, did ya?

The winner of the Kristan Higgins books will be drawn by Miss Beautiful tomorrow morning and I will post as soon as we get that done. Thanks to all of you for entering! But today, I have a new contest to run. Thanks to Viking/Penguin, one lucky winner will receive a free copy of Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. This book is excellent, and a review will be posted tomorrow. In the meantime, check out my Author Promotion page and read and excerpt.

Ways to Enter:

Leave me a comment here telling me you want to win. (Or on my WordPress site, which is also where you will find the excerpt).

Read the Excerpt and tell why you'd like to continue reading.

Spread the word. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, your personal blog, GoodReads, or Shelfari. Get the word out and for everyone that stops by to enter and says you sent them, you'll get extra entries.

Every one of the above will get you an entry to the contest. The more you do, the more chances you have to win. The winner will receive the book direct from the publisher. Many thanks to Viking/Penguin and Danielle Trussoni for this great contest!

Take Care and Good Luck!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cooking Up Murder by Miranda Bliss

Cooking Up Murder by Miranda Bliss

(BCC)

Annie and Eve are life-long friends who have absolutely nothing in common-except a lack of skill in the kitchen. So when they sign up for a cooking class at the local gourmet shop, they figure the only things at risk are a few innocent fruits and vegetables. But when murder spices up the stew, they find out just how dangerous good food can be...

Cooking and love. Too bad Annie Capshaw stinks at both. Once she almost burnt the house down--boiling a pot of water. And a year ago, her husband ran off with the dry cleaner. Since then, Annie's put love on the back burner and leftover Chinese takeout on the front. Until her bubbly best friend Eve signs them both up for cooking lessons.

On the first night, Annie and Eve see their fellow student Beyla arguing with a man--a man who later turns up dead in the parking lot. Now, with the police bungling the investigation and Beyla acting more suspicious every day, the friends feel bound to uncover whatever secrets she's hiding before someone else's goose, perhaps one of their own, gets cooked.

Sorry there is no clickable link on the author's name. I couldn't find where Bliss has a website, and that almost stopped me from typing up this post. I wonder, why, in this day and age does an author not have a website? It kinda makes me nervous that I've started a new to me series, and maybe, just maybe the author isn't writing anymore? Anyone have any idea? Anyway...

Annie Capshaw has been divorced for a year now, but it's the little things that keep popping up, such as the fact she has no potholders, that keep reminding her of the hurt and betrayal all over again. An organized and logical bank teller, Annie just can't quite figure out how her ex-husband Peter could have been so cruel in leaving her. When her best friend Eve comes over one night and smells something metallic in the air only to discover that Annie has once again burned boiling water, Eve announces that she has enrolled them in a ten day cooking class. Eve figures it's time for Annie to get back out there and try new things and this class seems just the way to do it.

Although Annie has no desire to take the class, she nevertheless shops for the supplies and heads to class with Eve. But when they get there and are almost ran over by a rather large and angry man and the owner of the store the class is being held at is nervous Annie's nerves aren't so much about cooking as they are so much about the weird behavior of those involved. When Eve forgets her watch, a gift from a current boyfriend who she has a lunch date with the next day, the women head back to the school to retrieve it. In the parking lot, they overhear Beyla, an exotic beauty from class arguing and threatening the same large man that had rushed out the door nearly knocking them over before class. When they come back form retrieving the watch and find the man dying in the parking lot.

At first, the death seems to be nothing more than a heart attack. Unfortunately, the police woman that shows up is now the significant other of Tyler, the only man that ever broke Eve's heart, the ladies fudge the truth of the encounter and the few words spoken with the now dead man. When Tyler shows up at cooking class the next day, and informs the class that the man did not simply die of a heart attack but was murdered, then proceeds to tell Eve and Annie they are now lying to him just so Eve can make Tyler look like a fool, the ladies set out to prove, once and for all that they are not liars and they are every bit, if no so much more, smarter than the man that broke Eve's heart.

But being an amateur detective isn't nearly as easy as they first thought, and soon the women find themselves in way over their heads. Exploding stoves, poisoned tomato sauce, and threatening letters soon have the women rushing against the clock to find the killer and save their own hides.

With an extremely good looking cooking instructor making Annie feel something she hasn't felt in a long time and an ever growing list of questions, Annie and Eve have their work cut out for them, in this wonderful first book of the Cooking Class Mystery series.

In my search for more cozy mysteries to read, I came across this series during a B&N search. I loved the cover, it's something about these cartoon covers that I just can't resist, and decided I must give it a go. I am ever so glad I did, and the next book, Murder on the Menu is already in my shopping cart waiting for the next order to go in. Bliss has a way of writing quirky and lovable characters, fast paced dialogue and a mystery with twists and turns that has the reader guessing from start to finish. Cooking is a great addition to any cozy mystery fans library and may even cause a few new readers to the cozy mystery to be hooked as well.

Take Care

Friday, March 5, 2010

Author Promotion Page At Novel Reads Word Press

I've had Novel Reads over on Word Press for quite some time now and I simply put the same post on each site. However, Word Press allows several pages and Blogger does not. I will continue to update both sites when talking about books I've read and any other posts such as my Reader Expectation series but, I wanted to let you know that if you go to the Word Press site I've added a page specifically for Author Promotion. For the most part, any posts on that page will be author or publisher backed. Unless a book is reviewed by me on the home page, I cannot endorse the work.

So, if you are an author or publisher visiting this site and would like to promote your new book or author, click here to see where it will go. Send any promotion or contest information that you would like to run to novelreads at gmail dot com (you know the drill) and I will add it to the site as I receive it or on a date you specify.

If you're simply a reader, be sure to check the page for new books.

Take Care

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bound By Sin by Jenna Maclaine



Her story spans the ages, across centuries and continents. Her powers are immortal, her struggles eternal, her battles legendary. She is the vampire warrior Cin Craven, and this is her story--a breathtaking saga of blood, magic, and desire that is bound to live forever...

Bound By Sin by Jenna Maclaine

(BCC)

As the Civil War rages among mortal men, Cin Craven is locked in an epic battle of her own—fighting the renegade vampires whose unquenchable appetites she knows all too well. At her side are the immortal warriors of The Righteous- among them her husband, her lover, her soul-mate Michael. With a passion bordering on possession, Cin’s love for Michael knows no bounds. But when a ruthless plantation owner kidnaps Cin’s cousin the most terrifying battle of all awaits. Cin is drawn to the irresistible lure of dark magic to stop their enemies, while Michael staunchly opposes it- putting their love and loyalty to the ultimate test.

I know I complain a lot about not having a book store in town but it's just so infuriating, not just because I can't get some of the books I want faster, but also because I find that when I actually make it to a book store and am browsing around I find some really great reads. The first book in this series, Wages of Sin was one such book I found by browsing a book store. The cover drew my attention and so did the fact that it was a new author. I didn't read the BCC, I just grabbed and am so very glad I did.

Cin Craven is a witch turned vampire. But Cin isn't just any witch, she is one of the Macgregor witches, a long and proud line of very gifted witches. In order to save herself and the ones left in her life she loves, Cin must give up her mortal life and become vampire. However, Cin doesn't just become any vampire, she becomes the Red Witch of the Righteous. The Righteous are a small group of vampires, before Cin joined them there were only three. Devlin and his wife Justine and Michael. They are the boogeymen of the boogeymen. Whenever vampires get out of hand The Righteous deal out justice and keep them in line.

Fifty years has passed since Cin became a vampire. After a summoning spell returns Cin to her old home Ravenworth, Cin finds that the last ties she had to her mortal life are gone. All but the children of her dearest friends remain. Cin had been expecting this day to come she just had no idea it would hurt so bad. But she was summoned to Ravenworth for a reason. Her cousin, the current Macgregor witch needs her. It seems that Claire, Cin's cousin has been abducted. The mother does not know exactly why only the who and the fact that he seemed mighty interested in an urn that had been given to Claire.

Claire has been taken to America, somewhere in Savannah, Georgia where the Civil War is in full force. What Cin and Michael find when they arrive is that the man, Adrien Boucher, who has taken Claire is an evil man. He knows what is in that urn and he wants it so that he can win the war for the South. So out to Devil's Island Cin and Michael head. The island has on it a large plantation. One that Boucher married to procure and one that he cannot maintain. The island is also heavily dosed in Black Magic. Cin is no stranger to Black Magic, ever since drinking from a user of those arts she has had it in herself. She fights constantly to keep it at bay, but this island, and one slave Pandora, in particular, calls to that magic hidden deep within her and she fears she may never survive the struggle to keep it hidden.

When Boucher refuses to let them take Claire, Michael and Cin buy the island, which has been heavily mortgaged and kick Boucher out. But Pandora, heavily into the dark arts, is loyal to Boucher, and though she does not leave with him, can they trust that she will not harm Claire in his absence? Also, to Cin's great horror, she realizes she is now the not so proud owner of slaves, and simply setting them free will not be an option that helps anyone.

Bound is a fast paced story, filled with struggles, both internal and external that threaten to tear Cin and the life she has come to love apart at the seams. Maclaine has built a world so incredibly rich and real with people a reader can route for. The struggles they face are common in the most pleasantly uncommon of ways and the way they face them will have readers on the edge of their seats with bated breath.

Vampires, witches, and gods, Oh My! Run, don't walk to your nearest bookseller and pick up a copy today!

Bound by Sin is the third novel in the Cin Craven series, and while it stands alone just fine, trust me, if you haven't yet read the other two you are missing out and once you read Bound, you'll be rushing to get your hands on them.

Take Care

Please don't forget my contest for Kristan Higgins books. Click here for the WordPress post or here for the Blogger one.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the next best thing by Kristan Higgins and Contest


the next best thing by Kristan Higgins

(BCC)

Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks...

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbeque, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important... someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart...or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges" and hello to a man she can marry.


Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?


Click here to see the book trailer.


I have, numerous times over, confessed my complete and utter fan girl status as far as Higgins is concerned. I LOVE her books. I mean, if I ever, ever get caught some place where I can only take one book (oh the horror!), you can bet your bottom dollar it'll be a Higgins. It was Millie in Fools Rush In that started my love of the newfound author and that sort of love is lasting. So, today as I stared at my already read when the hell are you going to talk about me books and became overwhelmed, I went to Facebook (talk about procrastinator Heaven!) and saw that Higgins posted this little bit - "Oh, happy day! Too Good To Be True is #2 on the Barnes & Noble best-selling e-books, and Just One of the Guys is #10!" and I realized I never did talk about tnbt and that is just wrong. I don't even have my copy here at the house, I've loaned it out to my sister, but I could not believe I was lax in posting about this wonderful book! My sister got a nook for Valentine's Day as did a few friends (and no, that's not a little jealousy you read here, that's a LOT of jealousy!) and then when asked for recommendations, this book was my first one quickly followed by Just One of the Guys. So you get it, right? That I'm total fan girl and that this post is nothing more than a great big gush of gooey fan girl love for Higgins?

The BCC does, as most of Higgins do, a great job at describing the book inside the pages. What we miss here though is that Ethan is not just a "friend with benefits" he is also Lucy's brother in law. There is what would seem a curse on Lucy's family and every woman, her mother included seems to lose her husband, the love of their lives, very early on. Lucy was no exception, and when she lost her Jimmy, her life was shattered (I can so totally see that, too, I mean if anything ever happened to The Hubs, I would be a complete mess, for all of eternity).

As a trained pastry chef, Lucy now works in her families bakery, only she's not the head of pastry, she's the head of bread. While it's still work baking, she feels stifled that she's not making the decadent desserts she was trained for. It's not like she can actually do anything about it either, considering she works with her mother and aunts, The Black Widows and they have far more stock in the Bakery than she. Her late husband was also in the business of cooking, he was a chef at his family restaurant a place Lucy still supplies with bread.

When Lucy's younger sister has a baby though, Lucy decides it's time to move on. She wants to get married again. Have kids of her own. She just doesn't want to love the guy too much. She doesn't want him to do anything dangerous, like jump off cliffs or ride a motorcycle. She doesn't want him to be too funny, too kind, or too charming. She just wants him to be a normal if not a tad dull man that can give her a decent life. In other words, she wants him to be the exact opposite of Ethan, her former brother-in-law turned friend with benefits. In an effort to find said man, she tells Ethan they need to stop sleeping together. Only when things start to change with the friendship and Ethan starts hanging around a woman Lucy cannot stand Lucy starts missing Ethan more than she ever realized possible.

But Lucy can't be with Ethan. Loving him and losing him, like was bound to happen, would be the final nail in her coffin. She would never overcome that loss, and she's not entirely sure she'd ever be able to put Jimmy in the past enough to give Ethan everything he deserves.

the next best thing was so much more than I could have hoped for. I never thought it possible that Chastity and Trevor's story could be matched, but Higgins has once again outdone herself. Filled with heart, heart break, family, loss and love, Higgins shows women of all ages yet again, that life, love and happiness have to be gained from within before we can truly appreciate them.

To truly smile with your whole heart and fall in love all over again, grab a book by Higgins, you will not be disappointed. And, since I've been in a giving kind of mood lately, I'm going to run yet another contest. This one for two of Higgins books. If you already have them all then, if you're the winner, just choose two books by Kristan's fellow Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills pals, and I'll send those to you.

Ways to Enter:

* Comment here or on my WordPress post letting me know you'd like to enter and why you'd love to read one of Higgins books.

* "Friend" me on Facebook and make sure I know you want to have an entry in the contest.

* "Friend" Kristan Higgins on Facebook and then let me know you've done it.

* Spread the word so that I can spread the word about Higgins and the wonderfulness that is her work and let me know where you posted. Each different place will earn you an entry.

It's as simple as that. The contest will run through March 10, one week from today.

Take Care

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reader Expectations: Author and Genre Part 1 Paranormal and Winner Announced

I'm the type of reader that reads across the board, I love YA, Paranormal, Women's Fiction, Romance, Historical, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, you name it, and I’ll read it. I may not read it fast, and I may be known to set it aside and read something else, especially if I find it hard to get into, but I'm a Reader, as almost everyone that visits this blog is, and I'll always, almost always find my way back to the book and finish it.

My love of reading proclamation out of the way though, let me make it clear that I am a Reader of the genre fiction variety. I’ll read the occasional memoir, self-help book, or literary masterpiece (aka, whatever Oprah thinks is good), but my reading tends to be all genre fiction. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. BUT, I hate the genre labels. There are far too many out there and it’s tough to keep up.

When a book has a genre label attached, I find my expectations are different for the book and I tend to compare that author’s work with that of other authors, but not just any authors, my crème de la crème authors. The ones that write books I can’t put down and read a million times over simply because I love them. This is a habit that I cannot—for the life of me—overcome. It can be stifling to the TBR pile and it can—and I’m sure, has—leave me out in the cold when it comes to finding new authors. It’s also left me with the question of whether or not I’m the only one who does this, so I thought that I’d do a series of posts, using different genres, and pose a few questions and share some of my expectations and comparisons.

Paranormal: I use this term loosely, because as far as I’m concerned, if the book has anything to do with "other", regardless of how it is portrayed, I call it Paranormal. It may, in fact, be Urban Fantasy or Sci-Fi, I still stick it with the label Paranormal. My first (well, since I started reading again, I used to read a lot Stephen King and Anne Rice) foray into the Para genre was Laurell K. Hamilton. What an introduction huh? Since I soon became bored with her work, I went on to discover, Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kim Harrison, Richelle Mead, Gerry Bartlett, Jenna Maclaine the list goes on and on.

Expectations: There will be vampires, witches, weres, mediums, psychics, mythology, angels, demons, something, that is not within societal norms. The protagonist will be strong, both mentally and physically by the end. They don’t necessarily have to start out strong, but they must find a hidden strength or talent that pushes them to do or become something they would never have dreamed of before.

What I Love: I think the thing that keeps me coming back to the Paranormal genre is that other-worldly fantasy. The thought that these different creatures not only exist but co-exist with us and could possibly live in our very neighborhood. The ultimate fight of good versus evil. The idea that an average, every day person finds within themselves or their bloodlines, something that they never knew existed and that struggle to make it all work.

I also very much so, enjoy the erotic feel to many of the books. The sexual connection that is made between the two characters. This is just a side perk to what is normally a very, very well crafted story, but I love it nonetheless. It isn’t a necessity, and I certainly don’t like it when it’s there simply to fill pages (I’ll get to that bit in a second).

What I Hate: I absolutely cannot stand some of the sex for the sake of sex in these books. It’s not just the Paranormal genre this is a problem in, but it sure seems to be a big issue with this genre. I don’t want your forced seduction scenes because your hero is big alpha male that’s had sex with millions of girls and knows what the woman wants better than she does. I don’t want your sex acts that cannot, under any circumstances happen with your average every day human gal, no matter how experienced and limber her partner may be. You cheapen your writing and the genre with these types of scenes and it just absolutely infuriates me.

I don’t want long drawn out self dialogue about some internal conflict your protagonist is having because she may or may not be moral in being or being with one of these “others.” Show me but, for the love of all that is holy, STOP telling me. Fancy prose is okay, but you darn well better move it along. I’m tired of reading twelve pages about the sparkly essence that is your characters sex floating around their head as they perform a magical act. That isn’t to say excessive sex turns me off (hehehe) a book either, there are quite a few books that the sex is a major plot device and when used in that manner and one that makes sense, I don’t mind at all.

In the same way I don’t need sex to make the book enjoyable, I don’t need your blood, gore and violence explicitly laid before me unless it relates to the story and makes a difference. The violence needs to have meaning, it needs to move the story forward—either by taking your protag back a few steps to ultimately move them forward—and not in there simply for the shock factor. You can show me violence but if you’re going to go into graphic detail, there damn well better be a reason.



Where Expectations Bite Me On The Ass: Or the author, take your pick. I’ve named a few favorite authors up there and the problem I find anymore in the Paranormal/UF genres is the comparison factor. Let’s face it, this is a booming genre, and has been for some time. This is a good and bad thing for readers. Good because it guarantees we’ll continue to get new books bad because there are too many books out there and not all of them good. It seems that for a while and possibly still, publishers were in such a hurry to capitalize on the booming genre that they’ve put out an overload of books, and quite frankly, a lot of them are crap.

Now, what I may consider crap, though, is some one elses gold and that’s where I screw myself with comparisons. For instance, if I would pick up a book that is about witches, from page one I would be comparing it to Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan, another series I’ve been with since book one and absolutely adore. In the first couple of chapters this comparison is either going to dissolve away and I’ll be in a new world or the book will fall miserably short. But, every so often, a book will sneak past my preconceived notions and find it’s way to my keeper shelf, such as Jenna Maclaine’s Cin Craven novels and Linda Robertson’s Circle books.

The books that ultimately do make it past my preconceived notions do so because one of a few things happens: Great cover. Great BCC. Fabulous on-line promotion where the book is highly recommended from bloggers I trust. Or even a book gets sent to me to be reviewed and more than once, this has happened and the author gained further sales form me because I bought up their back list.

I’m curious though. Do you have preconceived notions about the Paranormal Genre. Does it hold you back or enable you to more freely explore? If you’re an author what sort of thought do you give some of the things I’ve discussed when writing?

I’ll continue my discussion on genre in a few days with Cozy Mysteries as my target.

Take Care

WINNER ANNOUNCED: Beverly G


Please e-mail me at novelreads at gmail dot com so that I can get the books sent to you ASAP.

Friday, February 26, 2010

truly, madly by Heather Webber and Contest Reminder

truly, madly by Heather Webber

(BCC)

Lucy Valentine is as smart as can be, as single as you can get, and so not qualified to run a matchmaking service. But, when her parents temporarily step down from the family business, Valentine, Inc., it's Lucy's turn to stop up and help out -- in the name of love. Plus, her rent is due.

Here's the problem: Lucy doesn't have the knack for matchmaking. According to family legend, every Valentine has been blessed by Cupid with the ability to read "auras" and pair up perfect couples. But not Lucy. Her skills were zapped away years ago in an electrical surge, and now all she can do is find lost objects. What good is that in the matchmaking world? You'd be surprised. In a city like Boston, everyone's looking for something. So when Lucy locates a missing wedding ring--on a dead body--she asks the sexy private eye who lives upstairs to help her solve the perfect crime. And who knows? Maybe she'll find the perfect love while she's at it...

* This post may include what some would consider spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Sorry for the spoiler alert, and in truth, there may be no true "spoilers" in this post, but just in case, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Lucy Valentine comes from a long line of matchmakers. Like the BCC says, her family believes that they have been given a gift by none other than Cupid himself, and they can see the auras of others and this allows them to match people with their true love. However, it seems that Cupid didn't give the gift free of charge, no not at all, it was accompanied by a curse as well, and for generations, no Valentine has been able to sustain a loving relationship with those of the opposite sex. When her father, the current head of Valentine, Inc. is caught, quite literally, with his pants down with a mistress on the beach when he has a heart attack, her parents decide that it would be best for him to step down for a while and for them both to get out of town while the media circus dies down.

Lucy is a bit reluctant to take charge though, but since she long ago decided not to use her trust fund or accept any financial help from her family, she really has no choice. She's between jobs and she's behind on her rent (she rents from her grandmother, who would never throw her out, but it still bothers her that she's behind). So it is with crazy nerves that she steps in and begins her first day on the job at Valentine, Inc. Thank goodness Suzannah, her father's secretary and all around office manager, is there to help get her going, because Lucy is sure if it weren't for the other woman's help that the business would surly go up in flames.

But matchmaking isn't the only thing happening on Lucy's first day. A little boy has gone missing and with the cold winter temps it is very critical he be found before too long. Lucy's upset that her "gift" at finding lost objects can't help the boy - or can it?

When Lucy meets with a client that her dad has not yet seen, therefore has no aura color swatch to help guide her, she listens to his story of why he hasn't found anyone since losing his long ago girlfriend and first love, Jennifer, the story tugs at her heart and she decides that she will try and find Jennifer and maybe, just maybe once she finds out the true story of long ago events, she will be willing to meet back with Lucy's client. But when saying goodbye to her new client Lucy shakes his hand, she immediately sees the engagement ring that he had given her - it's on the ring of a skeleton, buried in a shallow grave. Lucy immediately knows that this is going to be way over her head, and decides to enlist the help of the P.I. that rents the office space above Valentine, Inc. Only when she arrives, she finds out he's gone and his brother, ex-fire fighter Sean is helping out. What's worse, is that when Lucy shakes his hand, she doesn't get an image of what he's lost, but an image of the two of them - in bed together. Is Lucy seeing the future or simply going crazy? Will she and Sean be able to figure out why the engagement ring is on that of a dead girl and will Lucy be able to keep her secret safe from Sean and the world at large?

truly, madly was a mixed bag for me. I loved the author's voice. I loved how the book was filled with humor and quirky dialogue. The characters were real for me and the mystery was great. I enjoyed getting to know Lucy and her eccentric family - those related and those not.

That said, I really didn't enjoy the way Sean and Lucy come together. The attraction seemed forced to me. Yes, I understand that she had this totally erotic vision of the two of them together but - they had just met and BAM they are talking trust. Trust to me is something earned and not to be given lightly. I also didn't enjoy the sexual nature and relationship-esque manner in which Sean and Lucy spoke to one another. I simply didn't buy any of it. Maybe I'm just a cynic but I simply did not like the relationship between the two. I also couldn't seem to get over wanting to throw the book against the wall whenever Lucy cites the family "curse" as a reason not to get involved with some one. We get it, your family thinks they are cursed.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the book. It's a fast read with tons of humor, a great cast of characters, and a mystery that had me guessing to the end. And WHOA, what an ending, I was blindsided with it and that is one of the best things about the book. I can only hope that the next book answers a few questions for me, such as why the hell did Lucy "see" the future when shaking Sean's hand, but never with anyone else. I will definitely continue to follow this series, as Webber left me wanting more of the quirky Valentine's.

Heather Webber is also a Cozy Chick, so don't forget my contest and this could be one of the books you choose! Since Miss Beautiful was very sick this week and I haven't had a chance to blog very much, I'm extending the contest until Monday.

Take Care

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Firespell by Chloe Neill


Before I start I wanted to let you know that Novel Reads is on FaceBook now. Click here to add me as a friend (I can't embed it for some reason), I'll be doing some contests over there that are specific to the page.

Firespell by Chloe Neill ( A Dark Elite Novel: Book 1)

(BCC)

As the new girl at St. Sophia's Boarding School, Lily Parker thinks her classmates are the most monstrous things she'll have to face - but oh, how wrong she is.

When Lily's parents decide to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she is not happy. Lily's classmates are the ultrarich brat-pack type - and if that isn't enough, she's hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophia's creepy campus.

The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout's a little weird - she keeps disappearing late at night. When a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout, who's running from a real-life monster. Scout is part of a splinter group of rebel teens who protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and the gone-to-the-dark-side magic users called Reapers. She lets Lily in on her secret, even though Lily has no powers of her own...or at least none she's discovered yet.

* This review is done from a copy supplied to Novel Reads by the publisher.

I've made it clear that I have no love for YA books about spoiled poor me rich girls away at a fancy schamncy boarding school. So when this book came I was more than a tad reluctant. What got me though, is my love of YA/Paranormal, the really cool cover, and the fact that I'd never read this author before. Things I very much love in a book.

Lily Parker, not quite sixteen year old, finds out just after her sophomore year that her parents, philosophy professors, will be going to Germany for a two year academic sabbatical, and she will be leaving her New York town for Chicago where she will go to school at St. Sophia's Boarding School. To say the least, Lily is not happy. She'd much rather stay with her friends and her comfort zone. But when St. Sophia's accepts her into the school, her future is set.

Lily hates St. Sophia's. There are the typical cliques and she's just not fitting in. Thankfully, one of her new roommates, Scout, is most definitely nice and true friend material. But, as the BCC says, Scout keeps skipping out late at night, and she seems more than a little tired after these outings. What Lily doesn't know about Scout and her secrets really piques her curiosity and she begins to follow her one night, that is after all, what a new BFF would do. But it isn't until Lily is on the receiving end of a fairly nasty prank that Lily truly finds out what Scout's been up to.

But Scout's mystery isn't the only one Lily is faced with - could it be her parent's had lied to her all of her life? Made a whole identity to cover up what they were really working on? As clues begin coming Lily's way about this, and evil magic users attempting to suck the souls of young magic users start to attack the school, Lily realizes she just may be in over her head. Or, does she have a bit of latent magic of her own?

Firespell is a refreshing addition to a YA Paranormal genre that is quickly filling up with shifters and vamps. Neill's writing is spot on, with great dialogue and the action packed scenes have the reader turning the pages and spellbound from the get go. I'm eager to read more from Neill and have added her Chicagoland Vampires Series to my wish list.

Take Care

Don't forget about the current contest I'm running, scroll down to yesterday's post or click here to see the details.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sleeping With Anemone by Kate Collins


I always love it when it's time for a new Flower Shop Mystery. I've been with the series since book one Mum's The Word and my love for these books just seems to (pardon the pun) grow with each new release! Click here for the posts on Kate's books I did while at deeanddee and click here and here for the posts I've done on them since starting Novel Reads. You'll see what I mean when I say I adore Abby Knight and the entire cast of characters that make up her world.

Sleeping With Anemone by Kate Collins

Click here to see the book trailer (I couldn't get it to embed correctly).

Maybe Abby Knight shouldn't have chosen a home and garden show sponsored by Uniworld Food as the venue for her protest against the corporation's harmful farming practices. But being bodily removed from the event won't stop her campaign. Nor will a burning brick thrown through her flower shop's window.

After she narrowly escapes being kidnapped three times, Abby calls in the big guns-her ex-Ranger boyfriend Marco and her friends and family. And then the stakes are raised by murder...

*This review is done from an ARC sent to Novel Reads by the author.

So, if you've clicked my links and read, you'll see I am an all out FAN GIRL over Kate Collins and her wonderful Flower Shop Mysteries. Kate took me from the occasional cozy reader to this stack (if you could see it you'd understand) of cozies sitting at the side of my desk. It's been a wonderful ride, reading Abby from the start. Each book gets better and better, and I absolutely love watching the characters grow and become more real with each book.

In Anemone love is in the air as Valentine's Day quickly approaches. Abby promises her niece that she and Marco will escort her and her boyfriend to a concert, Marco's family and Abby's are pressuring them to get engaged, and Abby has set her sights on Uniworld, a dairy farm that is moving into town and uses hormones to enhance the milk production of the cows.

Then there is Abby's cousin Jillian (constant - again, pardon the pun - thorn in Abby's side), who sees Abby wearing a broach, and just has to have one, so Abby's mom takes up yet a new form of "artwork" and that is making broaches (and homemade candy - loads of laughs on this). When the broaches continue to be stolen, yet another problem must be solved. But, when the threats that Uniworld is making against Abby and her business, Bloomers, turn to kidnapping, Abby and her friends feel the pressure to prove that Uniworld is to blame - but can they do it and still have everyone come out with their lives? Will the engagement to Marco ever happen or will the plus column of her Marco list be overcome with minuses?

Anemone is by far, the best book yet in the series. The laughs are stronger, the suspense and danger greater, and the heart and love that we get to see between Abby and her family is so touching, a few tears could easily be shared as well. You don't want to miss this action-packed, hilarious, and touching book.

Already love Kate and Abby but haven't had a chance to score Anemone yet? Leave a comment and at the end of the week, one winner will receive the latest in the series and one other book from a fellow Cozy Chicks author (winner's choice of book).

Never read Kate but want to? Leave a comment, and instead of this latest installment, I'll send you the first two books in The Flower Shop Mysteries.

Read all the series? No problem, leave a comment, and if you're chosen, I'll send you two books of your choice by any of Kate's fellow Cozy Chicks.

Take Care

I want to take a quick minute to THANK YOU all for the e-mails and comments I received after the wreck. I ended up with some cracked ribs as did my best friend. Miss Beautiful, thank God, was unhurt. It took a while, but we've finally replaced the van, and are still fighting with insurance, but at least I have a car again! Hopefully, one day soon, I'll be able to drive at night again or out of town by myself. Baby steps.

Monday, January 18, 2010

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell


* I started this post on Friday. We had company stop by and I didn't get a chance to get back to it. Saturday was spent running errands. Saturday night I was in a bad car wreck. Just a reminder, PLEASE, PLEASE always wear your seatbelts. They save lives. No doubt they saved the lives of not only myself, but my daughter and dear friend.

Sorry for the delay in another post. My school dreams were dashed about three days in when the finance office called me in to tell me that the FASFA aid would only happen if I underwent an amazingly long financial review(apparently, our income caused the expected family contribution to be more than the course would actual cost for a semester). That was fine, except some of the paperwork they needed would have to be sent off for and I wouldn't have it in time to finalize and all payments or aid had to be in place before I could continue with school, and the time delay was too long and we simply don't have the monies right now to pay for it ourselves. I also can't really justify taking out a student loan. So, next semester it is then. Unfortunately, I took my disappointment out on my poor kitchen and have been cleaning out drawers, cabinets and installing shelves for the past week. Almost done in that room and off to the next. It helps. Anyway, since I'm unable to go to school right now, I should have time for more posting (once I have all my manic cleaning done anyway :).

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell *Click on the author's name to be taken to her site and a chance to enter a contest.

(BCC) *This review is done from a book sent to Novel Reads from the publisher.

Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dynasty, Juliet ha a wild, romantic imagination thta takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony.

Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable once he dtermines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars.

When I first opened this book I was sure it would be one I would not read. I mean, the cover is beautiful but the potential for disaster in the re-telling of Romeo and Juliet is colossal. Plus, it's an Historical. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the Historical genre, but it's not one I generally search for (there is no clear reason for that, but there it is). So on my computer desk this book set for a couple of days. I kept looking at that gorgeous cover. I kept flipping it over to read the BCC. Finally, I decided to give it a go—I didn't want to put it down.

You all probably know the story of Romeo and Juliet well. What Eighth Grader hasn't read it? But as the front cover of this book says, "Their love was the stuff of legend. But the legend is only half the story." And Maxwell takes the reader on a journey like no other.

Juliet Capelletti's family has known great loss. All of the Capelletti sons have died and without them there is need for a partner for her father's silk business, and plans begin to be made for Juliet to wed Jacopo Strozzi. Storzzi's family is in the wool business and also very wealthy. Though Jacopo is not the first son, so this partnership serves to offer him a great deal. And though Juliet loathes Jacopo, "I cringed at the thought of him. The occasions we had met at my father's house had been grating in every way. His pinched mouth and furrowed forehead bespoke a constipated soul." She knows she has no choice but to wed this man for her families sake, though she desperately wants to marry for love. You see, Juliet is a woman very rare for her time. In love with the works of Dante and poet herself, Juliet longs to find the life for herself that is filled with love and poetry.

Romeo Monticecco is home from years spent with his uncles in Verona. His family has also known loss, as his sisters and brothers have also been lost to fever. Upon his return, Romeo wishes to make peace with the Capelletti, a family that has been feuding with his since the time of his grandfather. Romeo, also loves the works of Dante and dearly loves poetry and writing verse, the same as Juliet.

When Romeo goes to, what I guess would be considered an engagement party, for Juliet's friend Lucrezia in the hopes of seeking out Lucrezia's soon to be father in law, Don Cosimo, a man held in the highest regard of all those in the area, he goes with the intent of getting Cosimo to help him forge a peace between his family and the Capelletti. But it is here that Romeo meets Juliet. The two are instantly smitten. Only it turns out that not only is there an age old feud between the two families that feud was recently reignited when the Monticecco family, unbeknown to Romeo, had sank one of the Capelletti's cargo ships. But, after meeting Juliet, "This woman, this earthly angel-perhaps "Goddess" suited her more, for an angel is merely sweet and gentle, and Juliet was fierce - she inspired me..." Romeo more than ever wants to restore a peace between the families.

Just as it seems peace will be restored, the unthinkable happens. Sabotage at the Capelletti silk factory. Orchestrated by someone they trust, "Jacopo was clever and was now provoked to action by the one emotion whose strength rivaled that of love - jealousy." Romeo is framed for murder of Juliet's beloved cousin and has to flee the country yet again. I think we all know how this story ends.

I'll admit, I had serious doubts before reading this book. The re-telling of a famous love story is always a tricky thing, but Maxwell wove a tale so engaging, made Romeo and Juliet so real, that the story was new again. The tale of two lovers that lived long ago touched me deeply. In Maxwell's O, Juilet, I get to know and love Romeo and Juliet, in a way I had not before. This story of loss and love is one I highly recommend to any love of Romance.

Take Care

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Miss Beautiful and I sing this song quite often. She's not so good with the lyrics, but she can sing the hell outta, "But baby it's cold outside!" after whatever it may be I sing. "I really can't stay." "But baby it's cold outside," "I hafta go away," "But baby it's cold outside!" "This evening has been..." "But baby it's cold outside!" "So very nice," "But baby it's cold outside!" You get the picture. And in case not - BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE! So cold in fact, that our pipes froze! That's right! The negative temps froze our pipes! We are, quite literally a walk away from the South and the temps haven't reached above freezing in days!

Thankfully, The Hubs is THE MAN, and after I made a trip to Wally World and shelled out a few bucks, our water is now flowing again, and no pipes burst. WHEW! Thank goodness for such an awesome hubby. Also, thank goodness that the temps are supposed to hit above freezing on Wednesday! I can't wait! We've been out of school since Thursday because the temps have been too low. I'm so ready for the kiddos to go back.

Anyway, I've been whiling my time away on FaceBook. Do ya'll have Facebook? Are you as addicted as I am? For instance, I'm "friends" with the likes of Nia (who has a contest ending tonight, go forth and enter!), Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Lani Diane Rich, Joshilyn Jackson, Mari Mancussi, Richelle Mead, and R.L. LaFevers (current contest running, go forth and enter!), just to name a few! I mean, I rub some serious elbow over on Facebook (which would explain the extreme chappedness of said elbows).

I just love a good name drop!

Take Care

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Winners Announced

Hi all, I want to start by saying thank you for all for the words of support. I'm not completely "there" yet - wherever there may be - but I'm getting closer! I also want to thank you for the warm welcome back. I cannot express how your kindness has helped ease some of my worries and fears.

And now, the winners of the two $10 gift card to the book seller of winners choice (as long as I can send it electronically are - Brandy from the blogger account and Donna (Fantasy Dreamer) from the Wordpress account. All names were thrown into a hat and Miss Beautiful picked them. Congrats! Shoot me an e-mail to novelreads at gmail dot com (you know the drill) with choice of retailer and the e-mail to send it to. I will have them in your inbox by the end of the week.

I started school today, so far so good. It's going to take some getting used to, but I think I'll be fine. I can even do a lot of the work from home, so that's nice. Hopefully, another review will be up tonight.

Take Care

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bad Blood by Mari Mancusi


BAD BLOOD by Mari Mancusi

BCC:

Sunny McDonald is in the ultimate forbidden relationship. Her boyfriend, Magnus, is a vampire—and the leader of the Blood Coven. Their differences have never been an issue, until now…

When the Blood Coven decides that Magnus needs a mate to be his co-ruler, Sunny’s humanity puts her out of the running. The chosen candidate is Jane Johnson, an Oxford University graduate, who just happens to look like a vampiric supermodel.

Sunny is suspicious of a Rhodes scholar who can’t answer the most basic poli-sci questions, but Magnus brushes it off as petty jealousy. Still, when the Blood Coven goes to Las Vegas for a vampire convention—where Magnus and Jane’s bonding ceremony will be the main event—Sunny and her twin sister, Rayne, secretly tag along. And Sunny’s not going home before she learns the truth about Jane. Because not everything stays in Vegas—especially bad blood…

*This review is done from a book sent to Novel Reads by the publisher.

I’d never read Mari Mancusi before this book showed up at my door, and I’ll admit I was a tad bit reluctant to read this one. Not because it’s YA, but because it’s book four in an already established series. You see, I have this thing about series books. I don’t like to pick one up in the middle of a series, because I’m always afraid I’ll be lost and not able to follow along. You’d think I’d’ve learned my lesson by now, but alas, I haven’t and I’m always so pleasantly surprised when I find myself not only able to follow along but so engrossed in the story that I can’t put the book down.

The BCC does a very good job at explaining the basics of the plot but the actual story is so much more than the Sunny trying to prove Jane is an imposter bit. First of all, the girls estranged father lives in Vegas, so the little trip stands to be a twofer. Snoop around about Jane (the soon to be blood mate) and spend some time with their dad. Only dad isn’t there and the step family proves to be a bit more complicated than the girls could possibly imagine.

When Rayne, Sunny’s twin takes some major news about their new family badly and all but bails on Sunny, it’s up to Sunny to do all the detective work herself. But, when dealing with vampires (evil ones at that), it would be nice to have a girl’s sister around; especially when said sister is an actual vampire and a vampire slayer.

Bad Blood had me hooked from page one. The plot was fast paced and the writing solid. Sunny was a character I could get behind and bond with immediately. Told from a First Person perspective, I found myself turning the pages faster and faster, unwilling to say goodbye at the end.

I did have a few issues though, but they can only be a testament to a well written protagonist. First of all, Magnus just pissed me off. I understand that he’s a thousand year old vampire, but his condescending attitude when it came to Sunny and her suspicions of Jane made me simply want to stake him myself. I also wasn’t very impressed with Rayne and the way she completely ignored her sister when she needed her most. But I adored Sunny and her complete unwillingness to let down the people she loved and especially loved the end when she realized that things had to change if she and Magnus would be able to have a relationship.

The cliffhanger ending was a bit much, but sets it up nicely for a next book, and I’m more than a little excited to get my hands on it. I’ve also added the first three books in the series to my online book order, and can’t wait to read them. After some reading on the author’s site, I see that the books alternate protagonists between Rayne and Sunny, and I hope that this will help me understand Rayne a bit more, because as it stands, I’m really not a fan.

All in all, the Blood Coven Vampire Novel’s have been added to my must read list. Mancusi writes with a wicked sense of humor and keeps readers turning the pages eager for more.

Take Care

You can still enter for one of two $10 egift certificate to the online book seller of your choice, just leave a comment here or here. Winners will be drawn tomorrow, January 3.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year. Contest. I'm SORRY!

I need to start this post with an apology. An apology to Angie Fox and an apology to all those that read and entered to win the contest I had up. I screwed the pooch and don’t I know it! I'll explain that in a minute, but to try and make amends, let me offer two readers a $10 e-gift card to the book seller of your choice. Just leave a comment here and I'll draw the winners on Sunday, January 3.


Now, for a short explanation: About the time the posts for the Angie Fox contest went live, my life fell apart. It was a long time coming — don't get me wrong — and it was entirely a mess of my own doing, but believe me when I tell you— that made it all the more worse. Only a handful of people know what we went through (my family and my old blogging partner dee to be exact), mainly because I was ashamed. I did everything I could to disguise the pain I was in and I think I did a fairly good job of it. Unfortunately, I could not blog anymore. I barely did any reading and I certainly ceased all writing. I had lost the desire to do much of anything. It took just about everything I had just to get up and get dressed in the morning and continue to be a good mom and wife to the wonderful family I was so (undeservingly) blessed with. It also took a lot of energy to hide it all from everyone else.


I ended up back at work, and that helped. We got a huge break in the fact that I have awesome parents that love me no matter how badly I fuck up, and we’ve slowly but surely gotten back on solid ground. It hasn’t been easy, but my husband is a muffin dressed up as a doughnut, and we made it through.


Fast forward to the present and I’m not working anymore. I will however, start school on the 5th. I’m terrified by this, as I graduated high school in 1994 and haven’t sat at a desk since. I’m also extremely excited and optimistic. I’m reading again, I’m smiling more, and life, well, it may be bumpy at times, but I see nothing but good times ahead.


I do hope to start blogging again. One of the things that has held me back from blogging has been my deep (and by deep, I mean you could throw a boulder off the edge of it and listen for a century and still not hear it hit bottom) shame at the way I just up and quit. I wish that I hadn’t done that. But it’s done and I can only hope you can forgive me. I need this blog. I need to write again, read again, and find my way back to what I love.

I lost myself. Plain and simple. I let the dark times and depression take me away from who I was at a base level. I am a decent wife. I am a decent mother. I am a reader. I am a writer. And I had forgotten that.

There may be a few changes though. I’m reading more YA and Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. I still love a good Romance, but I’m finding it harder and harder to find one of those. I’m also finding myself more and more in love with the Cozy Mystery genre. I’ve always enjoyed it, how could I not with authors like Kate Collins out there?! But the author that shall not be named took a huge chunk of love for it away (and, I’ll admit played a huge part in my depression).


So basically, there will be more Cozy reviews. Less Romance reviews (though please, if you find a good one, let me know! I’m re-reading all my Crusie’s just so I don’t lose the love). About the same (maybe more) YA and Para/UF. It’s a tough market for book bloggers. There are so many good ones out there. I’m not sure there is a place for me in reader’s hearts but I think I’ll blog anyway.


Take Care