Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Favorite Things

Picture Oprah's booming voice saying My Favoriteeee Things. Except I'm not a billionaire and I'm not giving this stuff away!

Happy Saturday! I am in the process of adding an additional page to the blog where you can check out some of my favorite Bookish sites. As I add these sites, I am going to showcase them in a Favorite Things post.

My first showcase features jewelry inspired by my absolutely favorite series, Outlander. If you have an Outlander lover in your life, this jewelry is simply stunning.

On Etsy, check these beauties out, little Outlander key chains (I'm going to use mine as a necklace):

OUTLANDER Gabaldon Bookmark Keychain (Interchangeable)

Check out Faith's Etsy page, she hand-makes this and other book inspired jewelry. She's also on Facebook. Check out her page and like Book Beads.

Over at The Author's Attic, they are making gorgeous pieces of silver jewelry inspired by Outlander, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. This is my personal favorite, Brianna's bangle bracelet from Drums of Autumn:

They also have some wonderful pieces featuring Claire's wedding ring in the  Da Mi Basia Mille (give me a thousand kisses) collection.

Decisions, decisions. It's hard to choose which is more beautiful. I know what I want for Mother's Day though!

In addition, these are a couple of great sites to discuss Outlander (can you tell I love these books yet?).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

I have heard positive things about The Hunger Games movie, although I have yet to see it myself. It did make me think of other books that have been turned into movies. In most cases, I think the book is better than the movie. I have read all of these books and in most cases, still think the book is better, even if I loved the movie. Here are some of my favorite books-turned-movies:

6. The Godfather - Michael Corleone is the ultimate gangster. Both the first and second movies are up there in my top flicks. The third should be burned.

5. The Shining - This book scared the pants off of me in my twenties, and I definitely think the book is better, but it's still a great movie. Shelley Duvall is enough to scare the crap out of you.

4. The Outsiders - Stellar cast and just an excellent coming of age movie.

3. Stand by Me - Come on Verno, how could you not love this movie. It's River Phoenix at his best.

2. Beaches - I wore this movie out years ago and still love it. A tear-jerker for sure.

1. The Princess Bride - Best Movie EVER! I could do a whole post just about the great lines in this movie.
A little less Fred Savage could have gone a long way is my only beef. My favorite movie of all time. It would be inconceivable otherwise.

Quote of the Day

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” 
― Emily BrontëWuthering Heights

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” 
― Robert Frost

Quote of the Day

"You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit." 
— Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

About that Night

   About That Night (FBI, # 3)

Nine years ago, Rylann Pierce was celebrating the completion of her first year of law school when she met billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes. Kyle walks Rylann home and sets up a date with her for the next night, but circumstances prevent him from ever making the date.

Fast forward nine years. Rylann is an up and coming Assistant U.S. Attorney and she has just transferred to Chicago from San Francisco. Kyle is still a billionaire heir and still a computer genius now known as “The Twitter Terrorist” for the druken incident he pulled over an ex-girlfriend.

They are thrown into each other’s orbit again when Rylann needs Kyle’s help with a case. All of these years later, the sparks are still there between them and neither has forgotten the other. But can an Assistant U.S. Attorney find happiness with an ex-con?

Julie James is a romance sensation. She has written some of my favorite characters and stories in recent years. She creates these really strong, independent women and couples them with these smoking hot guys and the results are electric. The plots are original and well-researched; you’re not getting just another plot device with her.

The characters of Rylann and Kyle are perfection. I love Rylann’s snarky quips and Kyle – seriously, the guy shut down Twitter for two days and then was man enough to own up to it. Not to mention he looks like Sawyer from Lost. Hmm yes please.  
The wordplay between Rylann and Kyle is fun and sweet at times but sexy and not a little steamy too. It’s not often I find myself laughing out loud while reading a romance unless it’s so over the top cheesy I can’t help it. James gives these characters unique voices and you can’t help laughing out loud at some of the happenings. Kyle takes a lot of heat for his resemblance to Sawyer, so there are all of these wisecracks from his friends and those are laugh out loud moments. Such as this one:

When they are relating the story of “Meth Lab Rylann”, Jack describes the hole she has to climb through as a “three-foot-wide hole in the ground that’s covered by a metal door – kind of like a submarine hatch”. And Dex replies “Sounds like something out of Lost”. But you don’t have to be a fan of Lost to appreciate the humor in the book. Kyle is the Twitter Terrorist - that in itself is bound to inspire quirky comments.

The only glitch I found was that I read the book too fast and now I have to wait a whole year for another Julie James book. Maybe I will get lucky and she will hear my plea and write another one faster. One can hope. If you love romance, check this one out, you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.
- The Alchemist

Coffee and Conversation

In the book I just finished, About That Night, the guy, Kyle is supposed to look like Sawyer from Lost so there are a bunch of references (which are hysterical to a once Lost obsessed fan such as me). Anyway, it made me start thinking about the show again and then I thought, if I were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one character, which would I bring. It's actually really hard and I've been thinking about this for a while.

I thought of some funny ones such as Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride.  You never know if there are going to be any Rodents of unusual size on an island, and he's hell with a sword.

I considered Eric from Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, but after all of the sex, he would probably just drain me. Then I thought of Bubba from the same series. I wouldn't have to worry about being drained, since he prefers cats blood and since he is really Elvis (in the morgue, a huge vampire fan of Elvis' turned him, but because of all of the drugs in his system, it didn't turn out very well), he could entertain me with song. And once he was done sucking the blood out of the animals, I have my dinner. 

Holden Caulfield and Atticus Fitch were briefly considered and discarded. Actually Scout would be pretty fun to have along on a deserted island though.

Of course I considered some of my favorites from Romance. Phin from Welcome to Temptation would be a good choice. He loves to read so we would have plenty to talk about. But although he was most definitely a Boy Scout, he would really hate to get those khaki's dirty.

Jax from Simply Irresistible was a contender. Who cares about being hungry when you can stare at Jax all day? Not to mention he's a carpenter of sorts so he could probably build us a sweet fort. 

But ultimately I had to choose Jaime Fraser from the Outlander series. He just has everything a girl could want. He's a highlander and he wears a kilt. He is used to living rough and can hunt and build shelter. Plus, he's smart, so we would find things to talk about. Oh and he's a highlander in a kilt. When I got sick of listening to him talk Scottish and Gaelic, which would be never, he could fish with his bare hands and take down an animal with his dirk. Build shelter? No problem for Jaime, he's built houses out of trees before.  Jaime makes being stuck on a deserted island look not so bad.

Post a comment below and add your choices.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rainshadow Road

Rainshadow Road

He’s a cynic when it comes to love.  She’s been burned one too many times. Together Sam and Lucy have the chance to find something really wonderful, if they can open themselves to the magic of love. Lisa Kleypas’ new novel Rainshadow Road is a romance everyone should pass an afternoon (or night) with.

Lucy has been obsessed with glass since she was a child and is now a glass artist living in Friday Harbor. When she finds out her live-in boyfriend has been cheating on her with her sister she is shocked. As she is beginning to start the healing process, Lucy meets Sam. Sam is the kind of guy that can break her heart, and she wants to avoid that at all costs. Sam grew up with alcoholic parents and as a result as sworn off marriage and commitment. When circumstances bring them together, they discover more about each other, but Sam can’t give Lucy what she wants and Lucy is afraid of getting her heart hurt yet again.

What I love about Lisa Kleypas is that she can take a story that has been told before and breathe new life into it. Kleypas doesn’t take the oft told route that has been trampled on so many times before. There are moments when you suspect a cliché is about to unfold, and you wind up being pleasantly surprised with the direction we are taken instead. Take for example Kevin (the slimy ex now shacking up with Lucy’s overindulged bitch sister). When he asks Sam to take Lucy on a date to take the heat off of him, Sam could have kept that tidbit to himself. What could have turned into a predictable story - after spending time together, falling for each other etc. Lucy finds out Sam “lied” to her and it would have wound up being the ridiculous straw that broke the relationship. Not so for these two, Sam is straight with Lucy from the get go and damn if he isn’t hotter for it.

Kleypas has a penchant for superb characters and is shows in the way she takes the time and nurtures each one. We can see their growth and development and what you get in return is a real honest romance.  Just as the characters are nurtured, so is the relationship between Lucy and Sam. It’s realistic and sincere. It doesn’t happen overnight, their relationship grows over time. Lucy was just burned by her sister and Sam is afraid of commitment.  Instead of the unrealistic turnaround time of a month or so to get over their relationship issues and fall in love and live happily ever after, the time is invested and it happens over the course of a more natural time frame.

There were a couple of instances that stretched my belief, but I am enough of a romantic to want to believe. I want to believe in the magic Lucy can create with her glass and Sam can with the vines he grows that I gladly overlooked the occurrences. And on the whole, they aren’t anything serious, just two minor instances that I thought twice about.  Other than that, I think it was a well-written, well-done love story.

I will gladly snatch up anything Kleypas writes and I am thrilled she is writing more contemporaries.  I am highly anticipating the next installment of the Lucky Harbor series which is due out in August and looks just as promising. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quote of the Day

“See, people come into your life for a reason. They might not know it themselves, why. You might not know it. But there's a reason. There has to be” 
― Joyce Carol OatesAfter the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!”
-Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games

Friday, March 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

I looked on childrearing not only as a work of love and duty
but as a profession that was fully interesting and challenging
as any honorable profession in the world
and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.
-Rose Kennedy

Defending Jacob


What length would you go to protect your child? This is just one question that is raised in William Landay’s new book, Defending Jacob.

Andy Barber is an Assistant District Attorney in the county prosecutor’s office. When a fourteen year old boy is murdered, Andy takes the case. Until his son is accused of the murder and arrested.
The novel is framed with the new ADA questioning a witness (Andy) in front of the grand jury. As the questions are posed, Andy takes us through the events that transpired in his little town, to his little family and the courtroom fades into the background.

This book was never really about the courtroom for me and I don’t think it is meant to be. It poses some very difficult questions for any parent to have to face and is more emotional in its scope.  Can you ever believe your child is guilty of a crime, of murder? What length would you go to protect your child? Do you ever give up fighting for him?

It’s almost brutal in its truthfulness. Accused of murder in a small community, everything you know and value shattered in the blink of an eye. Your life ripped apart and knowing it will never be the same, you will never overcome the stink of a murder accusation. You will never be able to repair friendships; they are irrevocably withdrawn almost immediately.

Is Andy a reliable narrator? Can we trust him to tell us all of the facts- after all it is his son accused of murder? There are instances when Andy comes across as unreliable in his personal life. How does it fit in to the narrative he is relating to us? It is left to the reader whether you trust Andy.

An interesting defense strategy is introduced and examined. Are you pre-disposed to murder? Can you inherit a gene that makes you more likely to kill?  I think Landay does a good job of introducing this theory. It makes you wonder if this is going to become the latest trend in actual court cases – or maybe it has.

For me this book packed an emotional punch, from the images of Jacob as a baby to seeing him on trial. It begs you to answer the question what type of parent are you? Are you an Andy – your belief in your child unimpeachable or Laurie –who seems from the start to have doubts. Whether or not you are an Andy or a Laurie, does there ever come a time when you stop fighting for your child?

My only issue with the novel was some of the technical aspects. Was Facebook popular in middle schools in 2007? Was bullying the issue it is today? It is easy to overlook these inaccuracies. Otherwise, Landay does a fantastic job weaving this story. He keeps you on your toes and poses difficult questions. It’s hard to see the end coming.

Overall, I think it was a fast-paced, emotional read. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend reading this. Great book club selection, there is much to discuss. Keep your tissues handy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

When I was in college, I had an English professor who told us he never reads a book without a pen and paper right next to him. I scoffed at the idea when I heard it and until a few weeks ago, continued to do so. I always read for the pleasure of it, (except college reading, I did take notes) and I thought stopping and writing thoughts, questions, etc. would take away from that somehow.  Since I started writing this blog, I have begun taking notes on the books I am reading with the help of a trusty little app. It doesn’t take away anything from my enjoyment, in fact it helps me gather my thoughts and remember a detail I may have otherwise forgotten. So Thank you Dr. O, you are still teaching me all these years later.

On that note, I also want to get a little sappy for a moment. I just want to say that this last month has been awesome. For those of you that know me, you know how important reading is to me; it’s like a religion. I have always felt I was meant to write and I always held myself back. I feel like I unleashed something wonderful the moment I sat down and wrote about The Winter Sea. For all of my self-doubt, there have always been those who believed in me and saw something in me that I couldn’t see and I just want to take a moment to thank some of you whose words have always stuck out, you mean the world to me.

My parents - for instilling in me at a young age the power of reading. For taking the time to read to me when I was young, and for supporting me through out EVERYTHING. I love you all.
Mom – I love talking to you about books and you are always my first reader. Thank you for everything.
Dad- You made me believe it is never too late to be what you want to be. You are an inspiration.
John – From counting pennies until now, you read what I write even if you haven’t read the book. Thank you for believing in me. I’m going to write something that will make you go to the bookstore one day.
Susie – You respect my books and for that you have access to my library. You have always been willing to listen to me and have been willing to try new books because I told you to read them.
Mom Mom – You bought me my first Nancy Drew book and that day a reader was born.  I love you and miss you every day.
Kelli – I will never forget when you told me when I die you are going to play Wind Beneath my Wings at my funeral. I understand the sentiment and I love you.
Tommy – I take credit for getting you to read books. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments.
Allison – If there is such a thing as a reading soul mate, you would be mine.  You are my favorite person to discuss books with and you will willingly read a book I recommend. Our stories will always hold a place of honor in my heart. One day you will get your wish.
Uncle Will – At my college graduation party you pulled me aside and told me I had a gift and not to waste it. I never forgot that and it meant (and still does) so much to me. I hope I am starting to live up to it. Also to you and Cioci – for sitting and listening to my first story re-capping freshman year – and laughing at the right places.
Uncle Kevin – You have always said I should be a teacher, that I have such a passion for reading, I could inspire others. You see something in me that I was too afraid to see in myself. I will never forget your belief in me.
And Megan – One day you will read a book, and love it. I hope I’m there to see it.

Please don’t feel hurt or angry if your name is not on this list. It wasn’t my intention and it doesn’t mean you are not special to me. If we have read the same book or had a discussion about books or you send me recommendations you are special to me. 

Quote of the Day

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quote of the Day

“The dog ran into the kitchen, stuck his nose in Grandma's crotch, and snuffled. 
Dang," Grandma said. "Guess my new perfume really works. I'm gonna have to try it out at the seniors meeting.” 
― Janet EvanovichHot Six

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring is in the Air

Spring is a time of hope, of new beginnings, of life and growth, of rejuvenation. Winter's gloom has passed us by and in its wake new possibilities bloom. I've been thinking of books that have these themes of new beginnings,of hope and of redemption. Here are some of my favorites, I've probably left out some:

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith - One of my all-time favorite novels. This book will make you laugh, cry, feel pity and anger, but most importantly it will make you believe. Believe in the power of a good book, of a better future for those we love and of our past not holding us back but pushing us forward to grasp what we most want.
2. The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard - Jody and Collin are both haunted by their troubled past - a past they share. Can they overcome it and hope for a better future? Can love conquer all?
3. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb - An epic tale of Dolores Price and her struggle to lay her childhood demons to rest. It's a long struggle and we are taken through her dark journey but well worth the effort. Dolores is a wounded, tragic heroine who finds love and redemption where she least expects it.
4. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - If you have not read any of Allen's books, you should. Her novels are filled with a magic and whimsy and make you believe anything is possible. Or maybe it's Claire's cooking.

Quote of the Day

"Buttercups and daisies,
Oh, the pretty flowers;
Coming ere the spring time,
To tell of sunny hours.
When the trees are leafless;
When the fields are bare;
Buttercups and daisies
Spring up here and there."
- Mary Howitt

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I will find you," he whispered in my ear. "I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you - then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest." 

His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me. 

Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.” 
― Diana GabaldonDragonfly in Amber

A Place Of Secrets


Jude is an appraiser in a London auction house. She has a chance conversation with Robert Wickham and soon after sets off for the countryside to begin examining the eighteenth century manuscripts and astronomical artifacts of Robert’s ancestor, Anthony Wickham.

The countryside which houses Starbrough Hall is also home to the childhood home of Jude’s Gran and close by is her sister Claire’s house.  Upon arriving at Starbrough, Jude realizes her niece, Summer is suffering from the same sort of dreams that she herself had as a young girl. As Jude delves deeper into the manuscripts, the mystery of what happened so long ago becomes even more complex.

There are times when I pick up a book and know before I start reading that it is special. A Place of Secrets was one of those books. When I first started reading it, I kept trying to compare it to The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton but this holds up on its own. Maybe there is just something about a good British novel. It’s haunting in its prose, well-crafted, intriguing and it keeps you on your toes.

 I loved Jude; I thought she was a smart, genuine character. Claire, who I loved to be annoyed at, was well-written. We were supposed to have mixed feelings about her and she is well done. All of the characters are beautifully developed and each contributes to the plot nicely.

The love story was top notch and while I’ve seen this scenario (widowed, coming to terms with grief) in books before, I think Hore’s take on it is one of the best I’ve read.  The love story isn’t the primary focus of the novel and it never tries to be, it weaves its way in naturally and the development is realistic and spot on.

Every time you think you have the mystery figured out and you know what is going to happen, the characters come to the same logical conclusions as you do so you are always kept guessing and it never becomes predictable. I love that. I find it irritating when the clues are so obvious and the characters are basically too dumb to figure it out.

The only weak part I found in the plot was the dreams. It was kind of dropped when the mystery was figured out but it was never explained why some (Jude, Summer) had the dreams but others (Claire, Valerie, Gran) did not, although all had been to the folly.

Overall, I think it should be on everyone’s spring reading lists. It would make a good book club selection as well. (Look for it in the future as a Book Club pick). You might even be speaking British after reading it like I am.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coffee and Controversy with Kristen

Product Details
Apparently I have had my head in the sand as I am just recently discovering the controversy surrounding E.L.  James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (Thanks Patty).
Originally dubbed Master of the Universe and posted on a fan fiction site, the author re-wrote the story and it was published in 2011 by a small publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop.  It has already sold more than 250,000 copies, both paperback and e-book versions.  The rights to the trilogy were recently purchased by U.S. publisher Vantage Press and will be released in the U.S. in April. E-book versions are already available.

There are two controversial points associated with this book. One is the explicit portrayal of the bondage/domination lifestyle that has some claiming it is “Mommy Porn” and the other is profiting from what was originally fan fiction. I have not read the books yet so I can’t speak to the sexual explicitness which is largely the more popular controversy. Click here to see the Today show segment.

The U.S. publishers of Fifty Shades are standing by the work:

“It is widely known that E.L James began to capture a following as a writer shortly after she posted her second fan fiction story,” Vintage said in a statement. “She subsequently took that story and re-wrote the work, with new characters and situations. That was the beginning of the ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy. The great majority of readers, including fan fiction aficionados, have found ‘Fifty Shades’ deeply immersive and incredibly satisfying.”  - Washington Post

Fan fiction is essentially taking a character or setting from an original work of another author and creating an alternate story. It is an internet phenomenon with sites such as immensely popular. Some authors such as J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer encourage fan fiction while there are other authors opposed to these stories.

I tend to think the idea of fan fiction is a good thing, is there a better form of flattery for an author? But, I think fans should respect each author’s feelings on fan fiction, if an author supports these writings, go for it. If a writer is opposed, their wishes should be respected.

In recent years there has been a hugely successful market on Jane Austen – with portrayals of vampires and zombies, not to mention the books written on Darcy alone.  Granted, some works such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies give credit to Austen as a Co-author but other works such as Jane Bites Back and Death at Pemberely do not. Some of these books are labeled as Historical Fiction, but most are not. There is a definite argument that these are fan fiction novels yet they hardly cause the uproar that Fifty Shades has.

What makes these books different from Fifty Shades?

Just as Fifty Shades started as Bella and Edward re-imagined, these authors take Pride and Prejudice or another Austen work or character and create their own spin or setting. I haven’t seen any of these books labeled as fan fiction, yet they clearly are, just as the authors are clearly profiting and Jane Austen is long dead to collect any royalties.  

So why is it that the Fifty Shades books are creating such a fire storm of controversy? Vantage Press claims James re-wrote the novels and Bella/Edward similarities have been taken out. Not the case for Austen fiction. The characters have the same names, same characteristics etc. Clearly works of fan fiction yet no controversy. If we want to take umbrage with fan fiction profiteering, shouldn’t we take it with the whole market and not just one individual author? When is it ok to profit from another author’s work and label it your own? 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

Come back 'round so you can catch me, I'll give you a dance as long as you please. But circle back soon, my red-haired lovely, for it's only you I'm wanting to tease. Now kiss me quick and say that you'll love me from now till ever birds sing in the trees. - Nora Roberts Tears of the Moon

Friday, March 16, 2012

Home is where the Book is Book Club

I'm excited to announce a new addition to my blog - my monthly Book Club Pick! Every month I will choose a book (new, classic, personal favorite, trending etc.) and post a blurb about the book. I would like to have this up around the 15th of the prior month to give everyone a chance to pick up the book etc. I will post a review and a list of discussion questions at the end of the month and we can head over to Home's Facebook page (or another suitable media outlet) for a live discussion. The Book Club is open to everyone. To join, please comment on the post, Facebook or email:

That said, I'm happy to announce my first pick - Lisa Scottoline's new novel Come Home.

                       Come Home

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Jill Farrow is a typical suburban mom who has finally gotten her and her daughter's lives back on track after a divorce. She is about to remarry, her job as a pediatrician fulfills her---though it is stressful---and her daughter, Megan, is a happily over-scheduled thirteen-year-old juggling homework and the swim team. 
But Jill’s life is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep late one night and delivers shocking news: Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer. Jill reluctantly agrees to make a few inquiries and discovers that things don’t add up. As she digs deeper, her actions threaten to rip apart her new family, destroy their hard-earned happiness, and even endanger her own life. Yet Jill can’t turn her back on a child she loves and once called her own.
Come Home reads with the breakneck pacing of a thriller while also exploring the definition of motherhood, asking the questions: Do you ever stop being a mother? Can you ever have an ex-child? What are the limits to love of family?

Lisa Scottoline hosts a Book Club party at her home every October. For book clubs to qualify, all you have to do is take a picture of the members and their copy of the book. I will be enrolling Home is where the book is. To join me, please have your copy of the book purchased by April 30. There may be a waiting list due to popular demand, so I would like to get a picture sent in sooner than later.

In addition, Lisa is touring and signing books.  Check here for more details and times/locations.

I hope everyone is as excited as I am about the Home is where the Book is Book Club! Happy Reading!

Quote of the Day

There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic. 
― Diane SetterfieldThe Thirteenth Tale

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kiss of the Highlander


Gwen Cassidy is a physicist on a vacation in the Highlands of Scotland. Drustan MacKeltar is an ancient Druid enchanted by a spell. They meet when Gwen stumbles down a ravine and lands on the slumbering Scot. Gwen unwittingly breaks the spell and Drustan awakens five centuries after he vanished from his own.Gwen is thrust into a complex web of mystery and intrigue as she is forced to help Drustan make his way back to his own time.

What I enjoyed about this book was that it was a departure from the classic romance storylines I’m used to reading. I loved the plot and thought it was well-written and original. The author has devised an original and thoroughly enchanting world filled with ancient druids, standing stones and spells.  

The characters are well-written and Gwen is a strong female in her own right. Instead of Gwen relying on big, bad Drustan, the opposite is true and Drustan is forced to rely on Gwen to set his world to rights again. And who doesn’t want their very own Scottish warrior for their own.

Of course the book is not without its issues. Drustan is a Scottish Highlander, so of course it’s natural for him to have a brogue. Also understandable is that the character is not going to speak to the readers in said brogue. BUT – the author has taken a few Scottish pronunciations and run away with them. If I heard one more mayhap, I was mayhap going to scream.  There was one instance in the middle of the book when Drustan is having an internal debate with himself. He mayhaped himself over half a page! Obnoxious. I get it, he’s Scottish, and he speaks differently. There’s no need to shove it down my throat. At that point I had a hard time picturing him as anything but a bumbling idiot.

What romance would be complete without the clichéd love scenes? This one wasn’t. I won’t spoil it, but needless to say he’s hung – to the point where you have to wonder how he walks around comfortably. Naturally Gwen’s a virgin who is driven to the bounds of ecstasy her first time (after spending five minutes pushing in all the way because in case you forgot he’s huge). And you get the picture. A bit over the top, but I’ve read worse clichés.

Overall, I did really enjoy the book and a few others in the series. I loved the Druid/Fairy storyline, it was captivating and it was an engrossing, fast paced read. 

Quote of the Day

Who is it in the press that calls on me?...
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quote of the Day

Books became her friends, and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. -  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Spring is in the air

Spring is right around the corner (feels like it's already here)! Are there any books you are looking forward to this spring? Here are some I can't wait to get my hands on:

A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore
The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
A Good American by Alex George
Stolen Prey by John Sandford
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
About that Night by Julie James
How to eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue

These are just a few of the books I'm looking forward to, I know there will be many more to add to the list. Hope you find at least one on here you are interested in. Feel free to post some of your Spring Must Haves below. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.
Scout Finch - To Kill a Mockingbird

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

“If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples. I'll love your face no matter what is looks like. Because it's yours” 
― Stephen King11/22/63


A combination of curiosity, and a watershed moment led Jake Epping through a rabbit hole and into 1958 in the gripping new novel by Stephen King.

Jake Epping is a high school English and GED teacher. When he asks students to write about an event that changed their lives, he never thought it would change his. Jake’s watershed moment occurs when he reads Henry Dunning’s essay about the night his father came home and killed his mother, his sister and his brothers with a sledgehammer.

Two years later Jake is summoned to a diner owned by his friend Al Templeton. Al, who looks as if he has aged 20 years overnight, explains the secrets of the diner’s pantry to Jake. It is a portal into a particular day in 1958. You always go to the same date and time and no matter how long you are gone, only two minutes has elapsed in the present time. You will still age though, so if you spend two years in the past you will age two years (hence Al’s appearance). Al is unable to continue what he has made his life’s mission so he recruits Jake for the job - to go back to 1958 and stop Lee Harvey Oswald from firing the fatal shots that changed our world forever.

I thought this book was going to be about a man trying to prevent John F. Kennedy’s assassination and what the world would be like if he succeeded. I was wrong. It was so much more. I loved every page of this book, from the first line. While the meat of the novel is Jake’s mission, the heart of the novel is the love story. It’s about a time when life was simpler, people were more trusting, the air smells better and the food tastes better.

Jake and Sadie are two phenomenal characters, both strong and well-written. They will go down in my own personal hall of fame. The supporting cast is just as good and the time period becomes a character in itself. It is clear how well researched this novel was. The history of that time, of Lee Harvey Oswald and JFK is fascinating.

11/22/63 has been hailed as King’s Tour de Force.  King does a phenomenal job of bringing the late 50’s and early 60’s to life. I also think it is his love letter to that era. I could envision myself in a full skirted dress doing the Lindy Hop and the Madison right along with Jake and Sadie. And isn’t that a mark of a great writer, to be so engrossed in the story we feel we are right there with the characters?

While I would have preferred a different ending, I know it is the only reasonable way this novel could have ended. But if time is elastic and different threads are being pulled at all times, maybe somewhere, somehow things are different, simpler. If you haven’t read this novel, do it. It was one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Read the alternate ending here and ball your eyes out all over again, I did. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
- Dr. Seuss The Lorax

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Romance Favorites

Today I'm thinking about love and romance. So I thought I would make a list of a few of my favorite romances with a great love story. These are strictly romance novels, I will post another list of greatest love stories at another time.
Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie One of the first romances I read, and one I constantly come back to. Phin is the standard I hold other leading men to.  The story is light and easy, the romance is steaming.
2. Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis My favorite new romance author. First in a trilogy, the characters of Maddie and Jax are a refreshing break from the cliched contemporaries. It's so much fun to watch them fall in love. Their struggles are internal, no big bad antagonist pulling them apart. 
3. Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts Set in Ireland, this is also part of a trilogy. What I love about this is the Irish fairy tale weaved into the plot. It gives the story a magical feel. And Sean's accent - hello. 
4. Paradise by Judith McNaught Sweeping saga of Meredith and Matthew. They fall in love as teenagers and circumstances pull them apart. When they meet as adults, neither is the same. They have to overcome the past to be happy in the future. 
5. Someone like you by Julie James - Julie James has knocked it out of the park for me with her novels. Jack is FBI, Cameron is an Assistant District Attorney. Both are strong, well-written characters. Watching them fight is almost as good as watching them fall in love.

We're on Facebook!

Hey Everyone -

Home is where the book is is officially on Facebook! Check out my page and feel free to like! I'll be posting clips of reviews, book blurbs, recommendations and much more. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go to Sleep
Every time Christine goes to sleep, her memory is wiped clean. She wakes each morning next to her husband, but each day for Christine starts off with confusion. While she slept, all of her memories were forgotten. She doesn’t know the man she is sleeping next to is her husband, sometimes she thinks she is still a child, other times she is in her twenties. Each day she must relearn her past – only to lose it again when she sleeps.

I had so many problems with this book. It started being predictable almost immediately and I was able to figure out what was going to happen. Christine is a weak protagonist. After what seems like a very short time each morning where she expresses confusion and disbelief, (which starts to feel contrived) she just accepts her condition. There are no emotional outbursts or why me’s-reasonable in her position.  She spends her day reading her journal (how does she have time for anything else?). She asks no real questions and shows no real fear for her situation. Apparently not just the reader is being pulled along by their nose as Christine does a nice job of being led around herself.

The antagonist is the quintessential cliché. The secondary characters are just awful. I can’t summon an ounce of sympathy for any of them. In my harshest moments, I think they are poor human beings. How they ultimately helped Christine arrive at her current position - outrageous.  

To get the story where he wants it, the author manipulates the plot so often and so badly it becomes more and more unrealistic. Christine starts having flashbacks and memories designed to get the plot from here to there.  It is the author’s responsibility to tell the story and they know where they want it to go but when you rely on cheap plot devices and you tell the reader what to believe instead of letting the story speak for itself, you lose the readers belief in you and the story.

I can’t see how the ending can be called a twist or thrilling. It was predictable and the denouement was over the top gag inducing. Everything is tied up quite nicely and they live happily ever after. Christine never evolves.

I did not pick this book up for a long time after it was published. I thought the flap copy was intriguing but something always stopped me. I started seeing more and more blurbs about it and its rating among the top books of 2011 and I finally gave in. I should have known better. Just because it’s hyped, doesn’t mean it’s a good book. And this was not.   

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Discovery of Witches

She is witch royalty. He is a fifteen hundred year old vampire. Meet Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont, the protagonists of Deborah Harkness’s debut novel A Discovery of Witches.
Diana Bishop is a witch whose family can trace their lineage to Bridget Bishop, infamous witch of the Salem Witch Trials. For years she has denied and buried her natural witchy abilities while others have long believed her to be a prodigy. She is an historian of science studying alchemical manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian library when she encounters a manuscript that has been enchanted by a spell, Ashmole 782. The discovery of the Ashmole manuscript brings a horde of creatures (the world is made up of four creatures – Witches, Vampires, Daemons and Humans) into Diana’s life and into the Bodleian, among them the vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.
Mystery surrounds the Ashmole manuscript and there are varying ideas on what is contained within the enchanted book.  One thing is clear, the creatures want the manuscript and they believe Diana is the link to it. Matthew becomes her protector of sorts while also wanting possession of Ashmole 782 for his research.
Diana and Matthew are thrust into a complex adventure as they try to unearth Ashmole 782’s secrets, break through the social barriers forbidding inter-creature relationships and fall in love.
 Let me start by saying I had mixed feelings when I read this and I still do. While I am inclined to recommend this book, and I already have to a few people, parts of this book bother me.
I found the premise original - a witch historian studying alchemical texts meets vampire geneticist intent on discovering secrets of text for lifelong research.  My difficulties with the book lie in plausibility and similarities I found to the Twilight novels.  As a reader, I’m willing to believe a lot, but it is the author’s responsibility to make me believe, and I have a hard time buying some of what is being fed.
Diana is a witch by birth, essentially witch royalty, as her family can trace their heritage to Salem. Matthew is a fifteen hundred year old vampire. By nature and law, these creatures should not interact. While Matthew is more mature (natural for his age) and willing to overlook natural prejudices, Diana has been taught all of her life vampires are evil. While I don’t agree with the overt creature preconceptions and I am happy Diana overcomes them, I feel like there was no doubt at all on Diana’s part, no real hesitancy to trust this vampire and go against all she has grown up being taught.  Before I knew it, she was madly in love. (Hello Bella!)
While I was reading, I kept thinking there were so many similarities to Twilight (the almost at first sight love, the sappiness, the forbidden love, Matthew as the stoic vampire not quite lover) and at times it annoyed me and at others I was willing to accept it. I feel like it was a cross between Twilight for the over the top love story and The Historian by Elisabeth Kostova for the research and journey to uncover ancient secrets aspect.
Yet, for all of my annoyance (which wasn’t all that much), I really did enjoy it. The book moved along steadily, I liked the characters and the quirks (the Bishop house) and I thought the secondary characters were believable and well written. Also, I’m a sucker for a love story, throw in a hunky vampire and even though it has overtones of other works, in the end, it still sucked me in.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea weaves together the past and the present and Susanna Kearsley has done an exceptional job of bringing the two storylines together. Not only are her characters beautifully well written, but Scotland and the historic era of the Jacobites as well.

 Novelist Carrie McClelland is working on her latest novel involving the 1708 plot to bring James Stuart back to the throne of Scotland when she stumbles upon the ruins of Castle Slains on the Scottish coast close to Aberdeen. She becomes enthralled with the ruins and soon she is settled in a cottage not far from the castle.

The novel alternates between past and present – Carrie in the present and the novel she is writing in the past. As Carrie delves into the history of Slains castle, her novel begins to flow out of her. The castle and its inhabitants are at the heart of the second storyline. These characters are embroiled in a plot to bring King James back to the throne of Scotland. And Sophia, a character Carrie only intended as secondary to her novel emerges as the primary voice. Susanna Kearsley explores the theme of genetic memory as ideas and events Carrie believes are products of her creativity turn out to be historically accurate.

In both storylines there is a love story, and while I loved both, I would have liked to see a little more of Carrie and Graham. While I think it is a little harsh to say Carrie took a back-seat to Sophia, I do believe Carrie’s own love story did. I felt throughout that Carrie and Graham were meant to be a modern version of Sophia and Moray of sorts, but I still would have liked to see their romance a little more developed.

I loved the characters and did not want each character’s story to end at the end of the chapter.  Both Carrie and Sophia have a strong will and deep-seated strength. I’m a sucker for a Scottish male character and Moray and Graham fit the bill nicely.  The novel was filled with an assortment of wonderful supporting characters as well- the Countess in the 1708 storyline, and Jimmy Keith in the present day.

I was also interested in the historical aspect of the novel. The Jacobites are a sad and curious part of Scotland’s history. I have read other historical fiction involving two more well-known risings culminating in the infamous Battle of Culloden in 1746, so I enjoyed reading about the lesser known plot of 1708.  I imagined Carrie takes a lot of her research skills from Susanna Kearsley and her well-honed ability.

The novel builds up to an emotional climax. We know the plot of 1708 does not succeed, but what does that mean for Moray and for Sophia? I found myself alternating between dread and anxiousness as I raced to finish. The ending was emotional and heart wrenching and I loved every second of it. After I was finished, I mentally put Sophia/Moray and Carrie/Graham into my imaginary happily ever after where all great characters go once I’ve finished with them. They are doing wonderfully.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mammoth Book Challenge

Darlene's Book Nook is hosting another Reading Challenge. 

Here are the details:
1. This challenge will run from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.
2. You can join the challenge at any time. All books read in 2012 count for the challenge, regardless of when you sign up.
3. This challenge can cross-over to your other reading challenges.
4. You do not need a blog to participate! If you are not a blogger, you can post your reviews at Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing and link them up here.
5. All formats of books are acceptable: Bound copies, e-books, and audiobooks as long as they meet the guidelines of Point #6 below!
6. IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT E-BOOKS AND AUDIOBOOKS: If you are using an e-book or audiobook for the challenge, the bound format equivalent must be a minimum of 450 pages. Only unabridged audiobooks will count!
7. Both adult and children’s literature are allowed: As long as it meets the minimum page count of 450 pages.
8. About LARGE-PRINT BOOKS: Same rules apply as noted in Point #6. As long as the regular-bound format equivalent is a minimum of 450 pages, this format will count.
9. No anthologies, short story collections, or poetry: Just novels.
10. There are four levels for the challenge:
a. Level 1: Read 2 mammoth-sized books.
b. Level 2: Read 4 mammoth-sized books.
c. Level 3: Read 6 mammoth-sized books.
d. Level 4: Read 8 or more mammoth-sized books.
11. When you write your sign-up post, you must choose your level. You can go up, but you cannot go down!
12. There will be link-ups for your reviews on a quarterly basis, which will be posted on THIS page.
13. There will be a link for your wrap-up post at the end of the year.
14. Create a sign-up post and link back to this post. Sign up with Mister Linky below! Be sure to use the direct url to your sign-up post and not the url to your blog.
15. Grab the challenge button and post it in your sidebar.
  Click Here to register

I'm daring to go with Level 4. I will update as I read these books and attach reviews as they are completed.

1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 
2. Under the Dome by Stephen King
3. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
5. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
6. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James
7. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James
8. The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
9. The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
10. The Stand by Stephen King
11. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
12. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
13. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
14. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
15. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
16. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
17. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
18. The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
19. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
20. IT by Stephen King