Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Reads of 2012

Here are my favorite reads of 2012.

It's hard to pick a top five or ten without leaving some out so I will do my best to make the list as concise as possible.


Hands down my favorite book of 2012 is Stephen King's 11/22/63. I read this back in January and it set the bar. Although I've read a lot of really great books this year, nothing was able to de-throne 11/22/63. 
There's a little something for everyone in it. History, mystery, conspiracy, time travel but what I loved most was the love story and the ode to the '50s and '60s - a time I wasn't around to witness and makes me sorry I wasn't.

 The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

At Last by Jill Shalvis

 Bared to You by Sylvia Day

 Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran

 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

 The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 All Summer Long by Susan Mallery

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Outlander Challenge 2013

I know it's a little late to be posting a challenge but I haven't seen anyone else hosting an Outlander challenge and I would really love to do it!

2013 will see the release of Book Eight in the Outlander series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Die hard fans like me are sure to be re-reading all of the past books in anticipation of the new release (no date yet, expected Fall 2013). Hopefully there will be many more readers who discover and fall in love with the series for the first time as well.

Some guidelines:

* Challenge runs from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013

* Goal is to read all of the Outlander novels as well as the Lord John Grey novels.

* All book formats are accepted: Bound, e-Book, Audio.

* Anyone is welcome to participate, you do not need a blog to sign up. Those without a blog can post reviews to Goodreads, Amazon etc.

* Each month simply link up your name and review(s) to Mister Linky I will post every month. **Please link directly to the review, not your blog**

Level 1: 1-4 books
Level2: 5-8 books
Level 3:9-11 books
Level 4: All 12 books

Outlander Books include: Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes and An Echo in the Bone. * Written in My Own Heart's Blood is being included**

Lord John Grey books include: Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade and The Scottish Prisoner. 

*To join the challenge write a post about it, grab the badge and sign up with Mr. Linky with a link to your post. If you don't have a blog, just sign up with your name or leave a comment.

The Best of 2012

2012 was an exceptional year for me in terms of books. I started this blog back in March and have made so many new friends and bloggers as a result. I discovered new writers and some pretty great books.

These are my favorite new (for me) discoveries of 2012.

1. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

Faefever (Fever, #3)
I could have listed KMM as her own discovery since I only started reading her this year when I picked up her Highlander romances back in January. I fell in love with KMM's writing and her sweeping tales of Highland love but what I was most intrigued by was the element of fantasy wrapped up in the form of the Tuatha de Danaan, an immortal race of Fae and their involvement in the books. Touched on in the Highlander series, this world KMM created is the focus of the Fever series. While intrigued, it's not something I would normally pick up so I pushed them off, only picking up DarkFever on a whim. That whim turned out to be one of the smartest reading choices I made all year. The Fever series turned into an addiction and even a week after finishing, I still can't stop thinking about them. KMM has built a new world into this series. The world is dark and scary but filled with glimpses of light here and there. The focus of the series is the search for an ancient book filled with evil. Everyone is a player in the search and each have their own motivations for finding the book first. The characters are alive and unforgettable. The heroine is pure gold and Jericho Barrons is sex on a stick. I will keep coming back to these books again and again, they're just that good.

A Drink Before the War (Kenzie & Gennaro, #1)2. Dennis Lehane

Unlike KMM, DL stands alone in this list. While he does have a PI series and I have read half of those, he has a lot of stand alone's as well. I've had Mystic River on my TBR wishlist forever and I still haven't gotten around to reading it. Lehane popped up on my radar around the time Live By Night was being released. Always up for a good mafia/gangster book, this one caught my eye and I decided to give Lehane a shot by reading the first book in the trilogy, The Given Day (Live by Night is the second in the slated trilogy). I immediately fell for Lehane's prose. He captures the streets of Boston and brings them to life for fans, never shying away from the nitty gritty, in fact he gets right down to it. I moved on to his PI series and fell deeper. The Kenzie and Gennaro series is badass, edge of your seat thriller. I love every page of Lehane's books and savor each one for the gem it is.

3. Indie Authors

Starting a blog not only gave me an outlet to write and discuss with other book lovers my passion for reading but opened me up to the world of Independent authors. I was lucky enough to have read some pretty good books this year I might otherwise have missed without my blog. I've had the chance to come in contact with authors and been offered the chance to review their work and in some small way, hopefully help their books gain the recognition they deserve. I'm looking forward to the new year and new Indies.

Just a few of my new discoveries this year. I'll have my favorite books up this week as well. I'm looking for 2013 Reading Challenges too, anyone have a good one? I was thinking about hosting an Outlander  book challenge to pump everyone up for the release of Book 8, Written in my own Heart's Blood in the fall. I haven't seen another Outlander challenge for 2013 and I'm not sure how it works, can I host a BC if someone else is hosting a similar one?

Happy Reading !

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing. ~Robert Ingersoll


Darkfever (Fever, #1)MacKayla Lane’s life was normal. At twenty-two, she was dabbling in college, working as a bartender and soaking up the summer sun in her hometown in Georgia. Until the phone call that changed her life.

Now she is in Ireland, hunting for clues to her sister’s murder, attempting to track down her killer and discovering there is much more to the world she thought she knew. Mac discover she is a sidhe-seer capable of seeing the Fae or Fairies and after she receives a cryptic message from her sister, she is on the hunt for the Sinsar Dubh an ancient book of evil that everyone she comes in contact with is also hunting.

I should preface my review by stating this is the first book in a series. Most of the book is setting up and expanding on the world Moning started in her Highlander series. It’s a dark world where monsters and things that go bump in the night exist.  Most questions do not get answered. I was ok with this because Moning is a very capable storyteller and is really great at character building. I’m fascinated enough to have ordered the next book in the series before finishing this one.

If I had to choose my favorite part of this book, I would have to say the narrator, Mac is my favorite. From the first page, I was engaged with her. Moning has done a fantastic job with her lead heroine. At first Mac can be easily blown off as a blonde, carefree, naive, twenty-something - unless you are paying attention. Mac may come across as all of those things and maybe to an extent she is but Mac is also determined and loyal with a backbone of steel.

Jericho Barrons is the owner of Barrons Books and Baubles and claims to be a sidhe-seer, just as Mac but he is deeply mysterious and Mac only chips at his surface in DarkFever. The chemistry between Mac and Jericho leaps off the page from their first encounter and I expect it may get even hotter as the series continues.

One thing that annoyed me and is very definitely a personal dislike that may not affect other readers is the way Mac and Jericho call each other Ms. Lane and Barrons. They never use each other’s first names and it leaves a very nasty fifty shades of crap in my mouth. Plus, Jericho is a much sexier name than Barrons.  As I said, it’s personal.

Labeled as urban fantasy, DarkFever is a departure from what I normally tend to read. Intrigued by the world of Fae in Moning’s previous books but worried it would be too out there for me, I hesitated to pick it up for months but finally capitulated after seeing so many positive things about it. I’m so glad I did, I am addicted after one book.

Yes, it’s out there but not as much as I thought. In the world recently opened to MacKayla Lane, faeries and vampires exist, dark shadows steal life from humans and things we only dream about it nightmares are real but I myself think it’s kind of intriguing. I’ve read in more than one book that fairy tales have some basis in reality. It can be a scary thought but also an interesting one. Can it be true?

DarkFever is the first in the Fever series a MacKayla Lane novel in which she hunts her sister’s killer and searches for the mysterious and sinister Sinsar Dubh, the ancient and powerful book of Fae. If you enjoy a good mystery and don’t mind a little paranormal, read this, it won’t disappoint.                 

Monday, December 10, 2012

I have the Fever

I haven't been on in days, I've been too engrossed in reading to do anything else. I started the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning last week and I have been zipping through them. There are five in the series and I'm starting the fifth as soon as I post this.

I haven't been this swept away by a series since I discovered the Outlander series. Seriously, all I want to do is read, read and read. I pop up in the morning and all I can think of is picking up whichever book I'm reading. Cleaning is being neglected ( I haven't gone so far as to neglect the kids, but it's tempting :)  I have to know what happens, the suspense is killing me. I can't imagine reading these books as they came out, I would have been crawling out of my skin until the next installment.

I started the first book at the end of last week and was foolish enough to not have the second book (or the rest) right at hand. Two trips to the bookstore later, I have them all. I can't wait to finish and get all of the answers. I don't want it to end because what am I going to do without Mac and Jericho?

I posted about these books before questioning whether to read them or not. They are labeled urban fantasy/paranormal - not my usual choice so I hesitated. I can't imagine never discovering these books.
I must return to Dublin and Mac and Jericho, answers await.
Anybody else out there read the Fever series? Thoughts??

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

I did it! When I signed up for the 100 books in a year challenge, I didn't think I would finish it but I figured it would challenge me to read more (not that I don't read voraciously). I never gauged how many books I read before but wasn't surprised, although it really doesn't feel like I read that many books. What about you, how many books do you read in a year, month etc? I've seen some challenges where people are signing up for 200+ books which blows my mind but impresses the heck out of me.

I started reading Wolf Hall this week and I'm interested and engaged but I've only been able to read a few chapters all week. As much as I hate to do it, I'm thinking about shelving it until after the holidays. This time of year is really hard to devote serious reading time to between shopping, wrapping, shopping, baking and well you get my drift. I have the second book in the Fever series, BloodFever, that I think I might switch to as I focus on for now.

Happy Reading everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe (Lucky Harbor, #6.5)JUST ONE MORE KISS

There's no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.
(Synopsis from Goodreads)

Mia is Tara and Ford’s daughter whom we met in The Sweetest Thing as she was instantly lovable. I really enjoyed seeing her story and loved the fact that it is set five years after the original stories take place. When The Sweetest Thing ended, Mia was in love with Carlos, who urged her to go to college and ended things with her to allow her to live her life but still loved her. Part of me believed they would still end up together. So at first I was disappointed Mia and Carlos didn’t make it but I loved the closure Shalvis gave to their shared first love. In the end, it felt right.

Shalvis manages to toss readers a bone with a quicky sex scene and not only does it fit, it’s not rushed (for a quicky). She develops characters in a short amount of time and manages to make you fall in love with them.
Being that this was just a short Christmas novella and they are both still in their early twenties, I think Mia and Nick’s story ended perfectly for them. It wasn’t rushed, it was just a snippet of their love story but it was beautifully done.

I love the Lucky Harbor series and the first trilogy was my absolute favorite so I loved seeing my favorite characters from beloved books five years later. Maddie and Jax are still the most perfect couple; their small interactions had me grinning like a fool.

“You’re it for me Mad. For always. And I love your yoga pants.” – Jax.  Damn that Jax, it made me want to pull out Simply Irresistible and re-read yet again Maddie and Jax’s story.

Christmas novellas are hard to get into. As novellas, there is not the usual amount of pages in order to develop the characters and their relationship and they usually feel rushed and cheesy. I went in to this with low expectations because of that but I have to give it to Jill Shalvis, she can take an eight chapter novella and write an exquisite story and leave you feeling happy and satisfied that the characters ended just the way they are supposed to.

If you’re in the market for a short Christmas themed romance, I would make Under the Mistletoe your choice. If you’re a Lucky Harbor fan like myself, this is a must read. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

All I want for Christmas...

Photo: ;))

Quote of the Day

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

A big Thank you goes to Carole @ Carole's Chatter for picking Home is Where the Book is for her featured   book blogs of December!

Carole hosts a great feature on her blog every month: Books you loved. Simple and easy, you just post the review link of a book you loved during the feature month. It's a great way to meet fellow bloggers and also to find the next great read.

I won't be posting a Book Club pick this month. I plan to devote a few posts to re-capping my favorite reads this year. I'm leaning towards breaking it down by top five, top romance and best new discoveries this year. That could still change. I'm still working it out in my head.

I will be posting the review of November's book club pick Live By Night sometime this week.

I have to get back to my new reading addiction, the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. I finished the first book last night and I may have to start immediately on the second. More on this later.

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Time is priceless, but it’s Free. You can't own it, you can use it. You can spend it. But you can't keep it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.” 
― Audrey NiffeneggerThe Time Traveler's Wife

The Perfect Hope

The Perfect Hope (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, #3)

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out—with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro…

As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be—except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.

While the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome—and embarrassing—appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him…

The Perfect Hope is the perfect title for this book because that’s exactly what it was. I have been eagerly waiting Hope and Ryder’s story since reading the first book in this trilogy The Next Always. I knew this was going to be my favorite and I was right, (although I loved all of the books) Hope and Ryder just captivated me from the moment they met.

Ryder was standoffish towards Hope from the first time they met even though you can feel the attraction simmering in the air between them. I was pleasantly surprised with how Nora chose to get these two together, I thought it was going to be predictable and not at all like the characters. I should never have underestimated her though, she knows these characters and their relationship takes off exactly how it should have.

I love that Nora can show the evolution of a relationship without using the clichés of the genre. When Hope’s ex comes calling with a proposition, the story could have taken the long, tedious road of miscommunication and distrust but Hope and Ryder’s story overcomes these clichés.

I was enthralled with Lizzie’s story since book one and I loved seeing the conclusion to her story. It added a nice air of mystery and love-lost love - found to the mix and never took away from the main story but complimented each of the characters and the re-habbing of the Inn.

My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more of Hope and Ryder as a couple. I always love seeing beloved characters from previous novels and how their love is flourishing, but not at the cost of the current couple. There were a lot of situations that were family oriented and while I did enjoy, I would have liked to see Hope and Ryder one on one.

I’m simultaneously thrilled with the last book and disappointed the trilogy is over. This trilogy has been Nora at her best and I can definitely say one of my all-time favorites. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us devoted readers next.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

It feels like I haven't been on here in ages - and apparently I haven't. I've been so busy the last few weeks between personal stuff and getting ready for the holidays that I've neglected my blog.

I realized on Monday that I hadn't read a book in five days - not even a page! That's just wrong and completely unlike me. I always manage to squeeze in at least a few minutes here and there but again, swamped with Thanksgiving cooking and then Christmas decorating and shopping, reading took a back seat.
Last night I finally started Live by Night and I'm really into it so far.

While I was away, the new Stephanie Plum, Notorious Nineteen hit shelves. I managed to snag my copy while Black Friday shopping (along with a few more).

I finally picked up Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. I'm really excited to read these, I've always been interested in English history and Henry VIII's reign is a very bloody, malicious time in their history. These will be perfect reads for cold winter nights.

While Cyber Monday perusing the internet, I happened to see Sylvia Day has a new book out today, Ask For It. It's actually a re-print of a historical originally published in 2006. I'm curious to see if anyone has read it and get your thoughts. Is it worth the read?

What about you, how were your holidays? Anyone manage to get new reading done or buy any new books?

Quote of the Day

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.” 
― Betty SmithA Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Quote of the Day

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” 
― Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” 
― Douglas AdamsThe Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

A Drink Before the War

A Drink Before the War (Kenzie & Gennaro, #1)Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are private detectives hired to find missing documents for a Senator. The case seems pretty clear cut and an easy payday for the team but once they find the missing cleaning lady, Jenna Angeline, all hell breaks loose and the case doesn’t seem clear cut anymore.

Friends since childhood, Patrick and Angie are most definitely battling feelings for each other but tough as nails Angie is married to an abusive man that some part of her still loves.

I decided to give Lehane’s detective series a try after falling all over the place about The Given Day. Before I finished A Drink Before the War, I was rushing to the bookstore to grab up the second book in the series. I should have grabbed the third too because it’s not going to last long.

It’s hard not to love Patrick and Angie. Both are flawed and suffer both physical and mental scars from their past. They are both bad ass, dedicated to their jobs and have a mutual dislike for bad guys.

The case seems to be going in pretty straight forward and Patrick and Angie have little trouble finding Jenna, but once they do, they discover this case is deeper than either of them imagined and their sense of justice, of righteousness, is put to the test.

The plot develops the characters of Patrick and Angie and they battle demons of their past and present. They are humanized and both of their feelings are always bubbling at the surface.  I loved the dialogue and the chemistry between the two. Their chemistry adds not only to the plot but to the sexual tension bubbling between them.

The story was fast-paced and filled with the right amount of twists and turns to keep the story interesting. In addition to Patrick and Angie, there is Bubba, their sociopathic, heavily armed friend; and the city of Boston, portrayed in a dark and gritty light, becomes a character in itself.

Lehane’s writing is sharp, filled with dark humor and old time noir. I loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading more by Lehane in the future.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Walk in the Park

A Walk in the Park

Lara Carson has just returned home to Bath after being away for eighteen years and she has a big secret.
Evie is thrilled Lara is back, they were best friends years ago and Lara is just in time to see Evie get married. But will Evie marry Joel?

Flynn Erksine was Lara’s long-ago boyfriend and he has never forgotten her. Will he be able to forgive her when her secret is revealed?

A Walk in the Park is Jill Mansell’s latest and focuses on second chances. As always in a Mansell novel, it is filled with a wonderful cast of supporting characters.

The book focuses on Lara, home to Bath after eighteen years, the secret she’s been keeping and her relationship with Flynn.

At first I thought Lara is so self-righteous, when she reveals her secret to Flynn and tries to turn the tables and be angry at him. I felt he had every right to feel and say what he did. She does eventually grow on me, but it took me some time to get past what I thought of as her un-justified anger.

I always love the secondary characters in Mansell’s books and A Walk in the Park was no exception. I just loved Evie and her story.  Evie is open and honest, what you see is what you get.  After her disastrous almost wedding, I loved the evolution of her character, she wasn’t what I expected and she did things I didn’t expect. I really liked Evie and I loved how her story played out.

The problem I usually find in Mansell’s books is the cast of secondary characters takes away from the main characters and their story. I loved all of these characters and their stories but I feel Lara and Flynn’s story was left wanting. They have a shared history and eighteen years to catch up on. I am willing to believe they never got over each other and they have something that connects them now but they needed more time to re-connect.

Overall, I did really enjoy A Walk in the Park and any Mansell fan will appreciate this latest. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Club Pick

I've been on a Dennis Lehane kick for awhile now and I've spent time devouring his books and loving them so much so what better book to choose for November than Lehane's latest.

Live by Night is the second in a slated trilogy, the first book being Any Given Day, which I loved to pieces. This second novel focuses on Joe Coughlin, the youngest brother.
Live by Night
Synopsis from Goodreads:
BOSTON, 1926. The '20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one—neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover—can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue

Quote of the Day

“I love books, by the way, way more than movies. Movies tell you what to think. A good book lets you choose a few thoughts for yourself. Movies show you the pink house. A good book tells you there's a pink house and lets you paint some of the finishing touches, maybe choose the roof style,park your own car out front. ” 
― Karen Marie MoningDarkfever

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Exciting News

What a day. I was already on a book high with two exciting new releases out today (can't wait for a late night trip to the book store!) and now I just read even more exciting news - Starz has signed the deal to make the Outlander series a TV show!

If you read my blog you know Outlander is my all-time favorite series. I am obsessed with these books so I am thrilled I will be able to watch Jamie and Claire's story unfold on my tv (and make my husband watch as well!).

It's still a long way from being made and I hope the writer does justice to this amazing story not to mention I believe casting is crucial to making this work for the millions of fans out there with definite ideas on Jamie and Claire's appearance. My fingers are crossed but I am super excited.

You can read the full story here courtesy of Deadline.

New Releases

There is nothing better than a Tuesday of new book releases to a book lover and today is an exciting day for me. Two of my favorite romance authors are releasing the final book in their trilogies:

The Perfect Hope is the third book in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy by Nora Roberts and a book I've been waiting to get my hands on for months. I have a feeling Hope and Ryder's story is going to be the best in the trilogy. 

The Perfect Hope (Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, #3)Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother are breathing new life into the town of Boonsboro, Maryland, by restoring its historic hotel. And they’re finding their own lives revamped by love. This is Ryder’s story... Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out — with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro. And though the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome — and embarrassing — appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him..

Rescue My Heart is the final book in the Animal Magnetism trilogy by Jill Shalvis. The first two books were great and I expect nothing less from Adam's story.

Rescue My Heart (Animal Magnetism, #3)Synopsis from Goodreads:
After a tragic stint in the National Guards, Adam Connelly returns to Idaho and to Belle Haven, the animal shelter he owns with his brothers. All Adam wants is to be alone. Then he opens the door to the past—the woman whose heart he once broke. Still gorgeous, still tough-as-nails, but this time, unusually vulnerable.

Holly Reid learned the hard way to never depend on a man for anything. Now, of all men, it’s the last one she wants to see, and the only one she needs. Her father has gone missing in the Bitterroot Mountains and she could use someone with tracking skills to help find him.

For Holly and Adam, each with their ghosts, a trek this desperate, this unpredictable, and this intimate, will have its share of risks—including opening their hearts one more time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Witness

The Witness

Elizabeth Fitch’s life has been designed and laid out for her since she was a child. She’s been a model daughter and student, never straying from her mother’s aspirations for her- until a moment of teenage rebellion that will have devastating consequences for Elizabeth and change her life forever.

Twelve years later Abigail Lowery lives a quiet, solitary life in a small town in the Ozarks. She is a freelance computer programmer and security designer and she keeps her own house a fortress, backed up by an arsenal and her dog.

Brooks Gleason loves puzzles and Abigail is a puzzle that intrigues him. He figures she’s running from something and he’s determined to find out her secrets and get to know the quiet beauty.

The Witness started slow for me and took me a little while to get into but eventually it picked up the pace and I was hooked. I loved Abigail from the beginning. She is a socially awkward genius and handles conversations and situations quite literally. She reminded me of the character Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory. She was endearing and sweet with a quiet determination and a big heart.

Brooks was the typical hero; Abigail catches his eye and he is snared. He wants to know more and once she opens her door to him, he falls the rest of the way. He is patient and caring with Abigail and he makes it clear he knows she’s running from something but he gives her the time and space she needs to trust him with her secrets. Brooks is loyal and fiercely protective of those he loves and when he figures out he loves Abigail, there is no stopping him until she is safe again.

The Witness is a romantic suspense and while the beginning of the novel and the break at part one is suspenseful, I spent the rest of the book waiting for the standoff with the bad guys and in the end it wasn’t much of a climax. It was suspenseful in a way but Abigail was so prepared for every eventuality, but there were a few turns I didn’t expect.

I really enjoyed The Witness. I think Nora has created one of her most original characters with Abigail and I loved her slow descent into love and normalcy. Brooks was a genre mainstay and while I liked him, I think Abigail overshadowed him.  But there’s a reason Nora is a romance superstar, The Witness was her 200th book. Any Nora fan will love this latest.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Quote of the Day

“When the day shall come that we do part," he said softly, and turned to look at me, "if my last words are not 'I love you'-ye'll ken it was because I didna have time.” 
― Diana Gabaldon

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Nobody likes a clown at midnight” 
― Stephen King


It is the story of the small town of Derry, Maine and the shape shifting demon that lives under Derry and preys on children. It’s a story of growing up and facing your fears, of bullying and what shapes us as children.

ItIt is the story of seven children, The Loser’s club and their fight in 1958 against the town bully and the town demon and twenty seven years later, struggling to remember their childhood so they can fight the demon when it returns to prey on the town’s children once more.

First things first, I was not scared by It at all. I spent months thinking I wasn’t going to be able to finish this because I would be too scared. I remember reading The Shining in my twenties and being so freaked out I would stop reading in broad daylight so when I talked to family and friends about It, the general impression I got was I was going to be even more scared, not so much though.

What I do love about Stephen King is that he is a storyteller and a great one at that. When I open a King book, I feel like I’m sitting there while he tells me a story, filling in all the details, giving me the visuals I need etc. and I think It is a good story, just not great. I love coming of age books and this has a lot of that.

Who doesn’t get freaked out by clowns? That clown is downright creepy but it’s not just a creepy clown terrorizing the children of Derry but a demon (right word?) that takes the shape of your biggest fear. Adults can’t see It because they no longer believe in such things as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and monsters under your bed, or in this case, in your drain. It preys on the fears of children.

One thing that really bothered me was near the end of the book, when the Loser’s club is in the sewers near the end of the 1958 scenes. There is a pretty disturbing sex scene involving the six boys and one girl. I can’t see any relevance to the story, the motivation offered by Beverly is completely unrealistic to me and it doesn’t enhance the story at all. It should have been cut.

There were parts that were slow and didn’t help move the story along like the Derry Interludes. There were four of them in which about twenty pages are spent in each one recapping past murders and other atrocities in Derry. I think anyone reading It knows Derry is a creepy town where evil breeds.

It is one of Stephen King’s most well-known novels, but for me it wasn’t what I was looking for. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Immortal Highlander

Adam Black is a full-blooded faery. Through the thousands of years of his existence, one of his favorite pastimes is spying on humans (and sometimes meddling). He has finally pushed his queen too far and is punished by becoming mortal. Only humans can’t see him and he can’t see faeries. Until he comes across Gabrielle O’Callaghan, a beautiful law student cursed with the gift of being able to see faeries.
The Immortal Highlander (Highlander, #6)Gabrielle was taught from her earliest memories to avoid all contact with faeries, that if they knew she could see them, they would hunt her as they did her ancestors in years long past. Her family has kept tons of volumes on fairy encounters. When she sees breathtakingly gorgeous Adam Black, she knew she made her first mistake when she couldn’t peel her eyes away.

Adam needs Gabby’s help to get the attention of the queen and regain his immortality and his powers. He plans on seducing beautiful Gabby from the first, but he doesn’t count on the human feelings he will experience and the need for her.

Gabby has always been told to avoid faeries but she has always been drawn to their beauty and has harbored a secret fantasy about a faery prince who would fall in love with her. Adam is the epitome of faery with his drop-dead gorgeous looks and bad ass attitude. Can she put her prejudices aside and live in the now?

Adam has appeared in other books in this series, usually in the guise of trying to screw things up for the main characters. My feelings for him before The Immortal Highlander verged on loathe. He was cocky and manipulative, deceptive and cunning and did I mention vain? He was shallow and self-centered, well you get the gist. I didn’t think his good looks could save him from being a jackass but Moning humanized Adam and as the book progressed, Adam started actually being a human and caring about others, especially Gabby, I just had to love him.

Gabby, like all of Moning’s heroine’s, is a tough twenty first century woman with a fiery temperament to match Adam’s cool demeanor. She holds her own even when she fears the outcome. Brave, beautiful and strong, she’s Adam’s match. It was easy to love her from the first page.

Karen Marie Moning has done two outstanding things in this series and primarily this book. First she gives us these incredibly hot Highlander male leads and pairs them with fiercely strong, take no crap female leads and tells us a great love story. Second, she has created a whole new world with her books. A world where Druids and Faeries exist and co-mingle – and it’s a detailed world, with secrets and enchantments, bad guys and your run of the mill, everyday faery politics.

Filled with humor, passion, sexy as hell Highlanders and a compelling story, this may now be my favorite in the series. I haven’t read any other Highlander romance novels so I have nothing to compare this with, but for romance in general, these are great reads. 

Quote of the Day

“Romance novels are birthday cake and life is often peanut butter and jelly. I think everyone should have lots of delicious romance novels lying around for those times when the peanut butter of life gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.” 
― Janet Evanovich

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

It's good to be back! My laptop was hijacked for the last few days and I wasn't able to get online. I finally have it back.

I finished IT this week, I'll have the review posted next week but overall I didn't think it was scary. I scared myself more thinking about reading it than it actually was.

I spent a lovely few days in the Highlands courtesy of Karen Marie Moning and her Highlander series, finishing two more books. With only one left in the series, I'm thinking about trying her Fever series. I don't think they are strictly romance, but focus on the Fae world she created in her Highlander series. I am really intrigued by the world of Faery and I'm wondering if anyone has read this series and what they think. All of the books are rated highly on Goodreads. Please share your thoughts if you've read them!

Now to the reviews. I have four reviews to be written, hopefully I can knock out a few today!

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Jazz Cage

Prohibition-era mobsters collide with Underground Railroad abolitionists in The Jazz Cage.

The Jazz Cage
It is 1924—sixty years after the South’s victory in the Civil War.

Frank McCluey, bounty hunter for the mob, is sent to help out a wealthy Virginian bootlegger. Frank’s job: track down two female slaves who’ve run away from the millionaire.

But the mob has made a bad choice. Instead of capturing the women, Frank decides to help them escape to Canada, his mission now aided by the pint-sized but steel-willed runaway Della and the outlawed Underground Railroad.

Soon Della and Frank become the target of slave catchers, cops, gangsters, and most chilling of all, a Confederate agent nicknamed the Hound for his ability to always sniff out and kill his prey.

The Jazz Cage is a tale of what ifs. What if the South won the Civil War? What if slavery still existed? What if the Underground Railroad still existed? What if Arnold Rothstein and not his Italian counterparts created the mafia organization known as the syndicate? All of these what ifs are thrown in and mixed together to create an intriguing tale.

It’s a very well-written novel and the pace flows between characters and the tension builds to the expected climax. There are bad guys chasing Frank and the girls at every turn; from the Hound, a crooked, evil agent for the Fugitive Slave Agency to members of Arnold Rothstein’s organization to local  authorities, Frank must stay one step ahead of the bad guys at all times.

Some parts would be hard to swallow, such as Della being an amazing shot but Chen does a good job of showing Della’s and Cece’s desperation - that they are literally fighting for their lives and so the unbelievable becomes believable as the two women, with the help of Frank, make their way north and to freedom with a host of bad guys on their trail.

Chen shifts the point of view from Frank to Delia to the Hound to Cece and they flow one into the other giving the characters more depth and background, each playing a pivotal role in the final showdown. Background stories are not overdone or drawn out, it is just a glimpse to understand the character better. Of course, the Hound is still despicable, just a purely evil person and I couldn’t wait til he got his.

I love reading about the mafia and old time gangsters, particularly Lucky Luciano, so it was really cool seeing figures such as Luciano and Arnold Rothstein in all their bad-ass glory. Although I had a hard time believing Frank could get the best of Lucky, but that is my own personal bias.

I really enjoyed The Jazz Cage. It was a well written, suspenseful and entertaining read. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction and mystery and suspense may find this book as enjoyable as I did. Thank you to Ray Chen Smith for my free copy of your wonderful novel. 

Quote of the Day

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cheat Reading: Do you skip ahead to the last page?

Yesterday I had a conversation with a family member who shall remain anonymous about "cheat reading". This person is reading Gone Girl and  wants to read the end of the book. I am completely against reading the end of any book before you reach the natural end. My sister agrees with me. A debate ensued. 

Her side is she wants to know what happens at the end of a book so she can decide whether or not she wants to continue reading or stop wasting her time.

My side is probably a bit long winded because I got on my high horse about this but basically reading the end of the book ruins the rest of it, you are losing potentially quality material by cheating not to mention you may not fully understand the ending when you skip over a few hundred pages. Any suspense or twists the author had intended may be ruined and thus the book doesn't have the same effect on a cheat reader as it does on a reader who reads the whole book straight through. 

If a book doesn't grab you after a few chapters (or whatever your timeline), I don't see how reading the end of the book makes you want to continue slugging along when you are not invested in the story. If you really like the book, (as this person likes Gone Girl) why in the world would you do such a thing? Ok, I can understand if you really like the book, getting that feeling of needing to know because it has happened to me, but for me it's a rush of blood and heart pounding excitement to find out what happened. I don't get the urge to flip to the last page, that is part of the thrill of reading a book and the mark of a good writer. 

So what are your thoughts on cheat reading. Have you done it or not? If you have, why?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Bridge

Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge is a novel about love, redemption, faith and second chances.

The Bridge: A Novel

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Howard Books for providing an Advanced Reader’s copy.

The Bridge is the bookstore in Franklin, Tennessee run by Charlie Barton and his wife Donna. Housing old and new books, it is the haven for the residents of Franklin and has been for years. One particular couple has always stuck out to Charlie and his wife, Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly.

Molly and Ryan met in college and their friendship blossomed through spending all of their free time at The Bridge for the first two years of college. Both were struggling with their parent’s expectations and recognized in each other their talents and pushed each other to pursue their own dreams.

After their second year in Franklin, Molly unexpectedly leaves to return home to the west coast. Now seven years later, both have fulfilling careers but neither has forgotten the other. They are bound to each other through The Bridge and they both have a special place for the bookstore that brought them so many happy memories.

When The Bridge is flooded leaving all of the stock in ruins, Charlie and Donna find themselves facing horrible truths. The insurance won’t cover the damage and the bank won’t give them a loan. Charlie isn’t ready to let go of his dream but there aren’t other alternatives. Charlie contemplates suicide but in the end, can’t take his life.

When tragedy strikes, those who love The Bridge will come together and try to turn a tragedy into a second chance.

What I loved about The Bridge was the real struggle of a small town bookstore fighting to stay open. In the age of digital everything, it’s a real tragedy that happens all of the time. Book lovers everywhere can relate to having that one special bookstore where you can browse for new gems and old favorites, the smell and feel of the books evoking special feelings in us. E-readers can never take the place of feeling the weight of a book in your hands.

I thought The Bridge was a good book but it wasn’t something I would normally read. The message was one of hope and second chances but it was dripping with saccharine sweetness. Everything was wrapped up in a perfect bow with happy endings across the board. I love a happy ending as much as the next person but I need more depth to the story and in the case of Molly and Ryan, it wasn’t there for me.

Molly and Ryan were friends in college but neither has ever been able to forget the other and each carries a torch that the other doesn’t know about. There are misunderstandings and misinformation. Again, I can get behind a lost love but it’s been seven years and the feeling I got was that neither has dated in the time they’ve been apart. Seven years in which neither of them had a serious relationship or any relationship for that matter, it’s just not realistic to me.

Charlie Barton was the shining star in this book. His emotions bounce off of the page. His heartfelt dedication not just to the books he loves but to the customers is genuine and his struggle is realistic and authentic.
If you are looking for a heart-warming holiday read this may be the book for you. If you like more depth and background, I don’t recommend. 

Quote of the Day

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

“We're all unique, just never in the ways we imagine.” 
― Kate MortonThe Forgotten Garden

The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Simon and Schuster for providing an Advanced Reader’s copy.

The Secret Keeper is the newest novel by Kate Morton.

The novel begins in 1959 when sixteen year old Laurel is playing in her family’s yard when she spies a man walking up the driveway to her home. Then she witnesses a crime.

Fast forward to 2011, Laurel is a successful actress but has returned home due to the ill health of her mother. The events of that long ago day in 1959 re-surface and Laurel begins a quest to find out who the man was and how he was connected to her mother. Her first clue is an old photograph, recently discovered, of her mother and a friend from during World War II, Vivien.

The plot shifts between the present day as Laurel digs into the past and 1938-1941 London and the life of Dorothy Smitham, Laurel’s mother. Dorothy works as a companion to an elderly woman and volunteers for the war. Her story involves her boyfriend Jimmy and Vivien Jenkins, the woman from the picture.

Kate Morton always delivers a wonderful mystery filled with enchanting characters, family skeletons and plenty of twists and turns. She doesn’t disappoint in The Secret Keeper. As Laurel begins to dig into her mother Dorothy’s past, we are swept away to war-torn London, to the blitz and ghosts of the past.

Morton has the uncanny ability to make you want to flip pages as fast as you can to get to the bottom of the mystery and also slow down and savor every word of her exquisite prose. She writes as if you are reading a fairy tale, but a delicious, mysterious fairy tale bound to leave you melancholy with what if’s and of possibilities lost and found.

Reading a Kate Morton novel gives you a new appreciation for detective work and as she throws you the tiny crumbs that will eventually lead to the final reveal, you the reader play mini-detective and try to piece all of the parts together, discarding possibilities, altering theories and expanding on ideas.
I had a few theories that changed as I read it but surprisingly I suspected the final big reveal, although there were a few loose ends that I needed filling in. Regardless, it took nothing away from my enjoyment; I loved every heart-pounding moment.

The characters, as always, are sympathetic yet humanized, coming to life with every flip of the page. I particularly loved Laurel and Jimmy. Laurel especially gives voice to the doubts and theories that ran through my head. Jimmy is the quintessential good guy, you can’t help but love him.

Kate Morton does with aplomb what would be far-fetched and unbelievable with other authors. Her tales are full of mystery and twists and turns and she can leave you guessing until the final reveal. The Secret Keeper is available Today, October 16. Grab your copy, you won’t be disappointed. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Tour : A Stop in the Park


Touching, romantic, and deeply provocative, A Stop in the Park, follows the story of a man and a woman who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream.

Novel Description:

PictureMichael Stolis, a DC attorney, is frustrated by twelve hour work days, tightly scheduled weekends and his family's chaotic habits. He explodes over minor irritations like being stuck in traffic, and his tantrums need to stop. His disillusioned wife, Jamie, is sick of his anger outbursts, and wants him out of her life. Michael longs to reignite the passionate love they once felt for each other. Jamie prefers to spend her time fostering illicit Internet relationships. Michael had simply followed his Greek father's instructions for a successful life, but something went terribly wrong. A lucrative career, a Georgetown brownstone and a BMW coupe didn't deliver happiness as promised.
When his family is about to implode, Michael finds hope through Rufus, an astute retired bus driver he meets over a game of blitz chess in Dupont Circle. Michael is intrigued by Rufus's prescription for fulfillment, but is it too late to change a life, chase a dream, revive a marriage? Michael must decide how much he is prepared to lose if he embarks on a quest so very different from the world he created. Touching, romantic, and deeply provocative, A Stop in the Park, follows the story of a man and a woman who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream.

    Author Info:

Peggy 6 (2).jpg
 Peggy Strack writes popular fiction about challenges people face in the fast-paced and daunting contemporary world. She is excited to launch her debut novel, A Stop in the Park, the story of Michael and Jaime Stolis, a disillusioned married couple who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream. Peggy hosts the award winning blog, "Kick Back Moments," for the Saratogian Newspaper. She studied fiction at Skidmore College, The New York State Writers Institute and East Line Books and Literary Center. She is a speech-language pathologist living in Saratoga Springs, NY with her husband, Keith. Peggy has two adults sons enjoys an active lifestyle that includes hiking, kayaking, and skiing.

Click here for an excerpt: A Stop in the Park

Places to buy the book:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.” 
― Benjamin Franklin