Monday, April 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?” 
― John Lennon

Bad Boys Do

Olivia Bishop is a cardigan wearing, buttoned up instructor at the local University. Jamie Donovan is the bad boy brother of brewery owning Donovan family. When they meet at the brewery (for Olivia’s book club) sparks don’t exactly fly, but they are intrigued by each other. When their paths cross again, they strike a deal to help each other out. Jamie is going to help Olivia have fun and Olivia will help Jamie with his dream of expanding the brewery into something bigger.
Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl
Bad Boys Do is the second book in the Donovan family trilogy by Victoria Dahl. I love a good love story and what makes this so good are the honest emotions and feelings. Dahl does a great job connecting her readers to the characters; she makes them human, which isn’t always the case in romance novels.

I loved Jamie when he was introduced in Good Girls Don’t and I did like Olivia as well. I could have done with a little less of her “older woman” bit; she was only six years older than Jamie. She was really buttoned up and a tad prudish but she really grew as a character for me. She was able to take control of her life and move forward in a positive way.

At the heart of the book are real people dealing with real issues and emotions. What makes this book good in my opinion is its honesty and its roots firmly planted in reality. There is no cheesy storyline (maybe a slimy ex), the story is simply two people trying to make something of their lives and finally realize and make their dreams come true. Falling in love along the way is just an added bonus.

I liked that Jamie was vulnerable in this book. It’s not often the hero gets to be vulnerable and I don’t think it took anything away from his masculinity, in fact it made it hotter. Olivia is divorced and struggling with her own issues but she doesn’t shrink from them, she stands up for herself and takes charge of what she wants out of life. I think Jamie and Olivia are similar in that way, they are sick of being everyone’s idea of who they should be and they are finally living for themselves.

These are the first books I’ve read by Victoria Dahl and the sex scenes? Make sure you have a glass of water handy – they are hot. Yet they manage to be fun and playful at the same time. (Not all the time). I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, every man should own a kilt.

I love a family trilogy and this book is focused more on an emotional storyline and you get to see more of the Donovan dynamics in this book. Although I really disliked Eric in this book and I’m a little torn about his book, but I think it’s going to wind up pleasantly surprising me. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the patience not to strangle my mother-in-law, chop her into little pieces, and dump them down a sewer.” 
― Jennifer WeinerLittle Earthquakes

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” 
― William GoldmanThe Princess Bride

Come Home

Come Home is the new emotional thriller from Lisa Scottoline and my first book club pick.

Come HomeJill Farrow is a doctor and mother. Engaged to be married, Jill is home one night with her fiancée when her ex-step-daughter shows up drunk. Abby tells her William, her ex-husband is dead and Abby doesn’t believe it was suicide – although the police have ruled it as such. Abby insists Jill can help prove William was murdered and begs for her help.

Jill is faced with some hard choices and she has to examine what it means to be an ex-step-mother, is there such a thing? What lengths do you go to for those you love – and at what personal cost?
I really enjoyed the emotional aspects of the book and the question of do you ever stop being a mother? I thought the book was fast paced for the first half and I was flying through it. I liked Jill and Sam immensely but I didn’t connect with Abby or Victoria at all.

At first I could agree with Jill’s decision to help Abby, she wasn’t doing it because of left-over feelings for her ex, William, she was doing it because she still loved Abby. So I could understand her initial “investigation” even if I didn’t agree with it, to ease Abby’s mind and help her start the grieving process.

Then it started to stretch my powers of belief. Jill is a suburban doctor, with a loving fiancée and a daughter at home, so when Jill starts to throw herself into crazy, getting herself hurt Alias type situations I thought enough is enough.  It was no longer a question of helping her ex-step-daughter; it became more of a personal quest for Jill to find out what really happened to her ex, all the while jeopardizing herself, her daughter and her relationship with Sam.

I love that Scottoline asks vital, sustainable questions in her books and this is relatable not only to mothers but to anyone who has ever cared for another person. Do you ever stop loving someone and to what lengths would you go to help those you love?

It’s well researched and accurate; I think the author does a great job of making sure she has the correct police procedures which help the legal side of the story to be believable and even makes Jill’s involvement in the mystery plausible.

What I love about Lisa Scottoline books are the characters, she has a penchant for really strong, well-rounded characters. Take Sam for example. I liked Sam immediately and while others may have thought him harsh and too abrupt in his reaction to Abby and Jill’s involvement, I thought it raised some really good questions and it also gives you another point of view to examine.

Come Home raises good questions that would be perfect for a book club discussion and it’s a fast paced read, but for me, I just didn’t connect with it as much as I wanted to.

If you are interested in using for your book club, check here for discussion questions.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 
― William ShakespeareTwelfth Night

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Stephanie Plum: Do you have your stun gun and pepper spray?
Lula: Does a chicken have a pecker? I could invade Bulgaria with the shit I've got in my handbag.” 
― Janet Evanovich

Book Club Pick for May

My next Book Club pick is titled The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani. It's a sweeping tale of love that span continents and war. I've had my eye on this book for awhile and I'm really excited to read it and so I thought I would share with you.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Shoemaker's Wife: A NovelThe majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso. 

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. 

Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.

This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

I will post a review after I've read it along with discussion questions. If there is enough interest, I will host an online discussion. I will be putting put my review of this month's pick, Come Home at the end of the week along with discussion questions. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” 
― Audrey Hepburn

Fifty Shades Darker

  Fifty Shades Darker is the second book in the E L James Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. In this book, Ana and Christian have separated because of Ana’s aversion to Christian’s lifestyle. Christian proposes a new arrangement in which he basically gives up the darker sides of his sexuality and together they explore a new relationship, hold the canes and whips.

This book is much more focused on the evolution of the relationship between Ana and Christian and explores why Christian is the way he is as he slowly begins to trust in Ana and their relationship and opens up to her more and more.

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)The first time I picked up Fifty Shades Darker, I stopped somewhere around the point of Ana and Christian’s first meeting since their breakup and he threatened to put her over his knee because she wasn’t eating and at the same time he was telling her he was going to change.

I decided maybe I have an inner goddess, except mine isn’t an inner goddess and she’s not a whory, annoying nympho when I picked it up a couple of days later and Christian utters this gem : “I’ll see you shortly. Sooners rather than laters, baby.” The voice in my head was telling me don’t do it fool, stop reading now. I still have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.

And yet. 

And yet I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I was going to and definitely not as I did Fifty Shades of Grey. I still don’t care for Ana, she’s still annoying as hell and that Inner Goddess crap scrapes my nerves, but taking out the demeaning, submissive relationship went a long way in improving my mind set.

I still have some of the same problems, it’s not very well written, the characters only have two facial expressions between them – smirking and grinning. And let’s not forget the eye rolling. How many grown adults roll their eyes on a daily basis? Apparently everyone in Seattle does according to the author. If they talk at all, they repeat the same things to each other and nothing really happens, they fight, they have sex the end.

I’m still trying to make up my mind as I type this, like I said my initial reaction is didn’t love it but didn’t hate it either. Here are some of my additional problems. By the end of this second book Ana and Christian have known each other for about a month, maybe a few days more.  They fight pretty much every other breath and then bang out their frustrations.  They never have heart to hearts and just talk, there’s always so much drama. Is a relationship that fraught with drama sustainable? I feel like they are just in lust and not love.

I really liked Christian though. Exploring a “vanilla” relationship with Ana opens him up to facing some of his demons and he shows a lot of growth in this book. I’m still coming to terms with him going from a closed off sadist to an open, loving non-sadist. Maybe I am jaded to believe it takes longer than one month to start trusting and opening up lifelong wounds.

I still don’t like Ana, although she was much more tolerable in this book. What I absolutely could not stand was the whole reason she left in Fifty Shades of Grey was because she was repulsed by the submission and the beating. Yet throughout this book, even though Christian has made it clear he will not take her in the “Red Room” again because he lost her the last time he did, Ana pesters him constantly to take her in there. It was head -spinning and did nothing to improve my opinions of her. Why would you taunt the monster?

We do find out Christian’s secret that he thought would have Ana running. I don’t really think it was a shock nor do I think it was as big of a deal as she made it out to be. I mean she should have been clued in by that point. Idiot.

Overall, it was ok, I liked some of the evolution of their relationship and once I stopped wanting it to be a good book and just took it for what it is, I was able to enjoy it more. I don’t really think they need to be five hundred pages though, since half of the book is a day by day, hour by hour playbook of every single day together. Take it for what it is and maybe you will get some enjoyment out of it – or not.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Maybe I'm dreaming you. Maybe you're dreaming me; maybe we only exist in each other's dreams and every morning when we wake up we forget all about each other.” 
― Audrey NiffeneggerThe Time Traveler's Wife

Coffee and Conversation

Some people have comfort food and clothes etc. I have comfort books. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, those select few books you can turn to at any time and they are guaranteed to lift your spirits.
Today is a chilly, rainy day and I've been thinking about my comfort books, curling up with a blanket, a hot cup of coffee and one of my favorites. Here are some of my all-time when it doubt, read this books. (This list is not definitive).

Outlander (Outlander, #1)  As far as I'm concerned, there is never a bad time to pick up any one of the Outlander series and get lost in the epic love story of Jamie and Claire. These books also fall under my favorite series of all time but more of that another time. It's a story of a love so strong, it knows no bounds of time.
It's 1945, Scotland. Claire Beauchamp Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank when she walks through an ancient stone circle and is transported to 1743 Scotland. 
Claire must struggle through intrigues and chaos that may put her life at risk. And she meets James Fraser, a young Scots warrior who will forever change her life. 
I am getting nostalgic for Jamie as I type this. Outlander is the chocolate of comfort books or for any mood. I cannot praise it any higher. If you haven't read these books, get yourself to a book store immediately and read them. Your life will never be the same.

To Kill a Mockingbird  My all-time favorite book. How can you not love Scout and Jem Finch. I have read this book so many times and always look forward to the next time I pick it up to get lost in Scout and Jem as  they struggle with growing up and trying to catch a glimpse of Boo Radley.
A classic novel of youth, growing up, and the human condition. Set in a small southern town that is rocked by a murder, the town struggles with racial lines of love and hate, innocence, kindness and cruelty.

The Time Traveler's Wife Another time travel book. But again, I've read this book so many times and it never gets old. I am at heart a sucker for a love story. There is nothing like it and this is one of my favorites.
 When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight, she is twenty. Clare has known Henry since she was six years old, Henry has never met Clare. Henry is a time traveler, here one minute, gone the next, sometimes to his past, sometimes his future. 
A story of fate, hope, and of a love so powerful it crosses the bounds of time.

Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor, #1) This is a recent addition to my list as I was only introduced to Jill Shalvis last year. But what a year. The Lucky Harbor books (this is the first in the series) are now on my top favorite romances along with some of her other books.
Maddie's life is in the crapper. She's lost her job, and she's out of a place to live. Plus, she's running low on chips. Jax is a contractor who will help Maddie restore the beautiful Inn her mother left her and her two sisters. Maddie struggles to find herself amid her sisters bickering and her relationship with Jax.

What are your favorite rainy day books? Whatever it is, day is the perfect day to snuggle up with a warm cup of something hot and a favorite book. Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Then let amourous kisses dwell
On our lips, begin and tell
A Thousand and a Hundred score
A Hundred and a Thousand more” 
― Diana GabaldonDragonfly in Amber

How to Eat a Cupcake

How to Eat a Cupcake
Annie Quintana and Julia St. Clair are as different as night and day, yet they are connected to each other in ways only sisters can be. Annie grew up in the St. Clair household, the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper. Best friends from childhood, until events in high school drew them apart and led to a betrayal that ruined their friendship.

Ten years later Annie is a fabulous baker and her cupcakes are to die for. She finally gives in to Mrs. St. Clair’s many requests to bake cupcakes for one of her social events. There she runs into Julia, who still seems to have it all together yet holds a heartbreaking secret that has the potential to shatter everything she loves.

Julia falls in love with Annie’s cupcakes and proposes they go into business together. Initially hesitant, Annie finally agrees to let Julia help make her dream come true. Working together at the cupcakery, the once best friends slowly restore a bond they thought was gone forever.
Told in a split narrative, Meg Donohue’s debut novel explores the power of friendship and family, wrapped mouth-watering cupcakes. 

Initially I didn’t like Julia at all, I thought she was the quintessential spoiled rich girl, right down to her snide thoughts. I really didn’t think she was going to be able to redeem herself, she was just a born snob. I was pleasantly surprised when halfway through, I started sympathizing with and really loving Julia. She’s complex, she’s a snob but she’s also just a woman trying to deal with her past and come to terms with the person she’s become. When she finally opens herself up and embraces the change, it’s honest and a little heart wrenching.

I loved Annie from the beginning, she’s strong and funny and she makes some pretty delicious cupcakes.  Her past still haunts her and she is gripped with grief over losing her mother at such a young age and the events that came right before that.

The mystery in the book is pretty obvious as is Julia’s secret but it doesn’t take away any of my enjoyment. The book is about something bigger than those mysteries, it’s about best friends, about how things in high school can shape the person you become, about forgiveness and the power of a really excellent cupcake.

The book is filled with many wonderful supporting characters as well. Wes doesn’t get enough air time for my liking but he is a girl’s dream guy. Ogden (what a wacko name) is a quirky guy to say the least, but he will grow on you. And how can you not love someone named Lolly?

I loved this book and I think it is a good read for anyone that likes women’s fiction. This was Meg Donohue’s first novel and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her books in the future.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

So, I've noticed a lot of traffic on the blog checking out my review of Fifty Shades of Grey and against my better judgement, this week I picked up the next book in the trilogy Fifty Shades Darker. I      had to put it down around page fifty because I was already shaking my head and yelling at the characters. Oh and when Christian utters this gem: "I'll see you shortly. Sooners rather than laters, baby." I could not stop myself from laughing out loud, so much so that tears were running down my cheeks. I'm still laughing as I type.

I have picked it up and started reading again but it's not getting any better. I already have two paragraphs of review written from the first hundred pages though and I'm on the lookout for more priceless gems like the one above.

Stay tuned for more vomit or laugh worthy updates.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quote of the Day

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” 
― Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Gods of Gotham

The Gods of Gotham

The year is 1845, a year in which two remarkable events coincide in New York. The first police force, the Copper Stars is created and a potato famine in Ireland causes scores of Immigrants to flood the docks at New York’s harbors.

Timothy Wilde is a native New Yorker tending bar in downtown Manhattan and squirreling away money for a new life and the hopes of marrying the love of his life. All of Timothy’s dreams are shattered in a deadly fire that ravages the city and leaves him scarred and penniless.

Timothy is forced to accept a position on the newly appointed copper stars squad courtesy of his brother Valentine, a big man in the Democratic Party. When making rounds, Timothy literally walks into a girl covered in blood. Having been an orphan himself, Timothy is loath to deposit her at the House of Refuge and instead brings her home with him. When she starts spinning stories of a burial ground and dead children, Timothy becomes caught up in a struggle for the truth. A struggle that may cost him everything he knows and loves as he races to uncover the mystery amid anti-Irish hatred that may leave the city he loves shattered.

Lyndsay Faye does an extraordinary job with this novel. She brings New York and 1845 alive to the reader. You can smell the squalor and the fear, the hope and the redemption. She weaves an accurate picture of New York during the time period, from the tentements to the Democratic Party and their iron fist, to the flash talk (slang talk) to the undiluted Irish hatred.

The book was hard to put down from page one. Not only are the characters and their histories engrossing, the mystery is well formed and takes the reader on a harrowing journey fraught with twists and turns.

I have to admit I had a crush on Timothy from the word go, scarred and all. I just thought he was a powerful, strong character. He jumped right off the page and came to life for me. I lived through what he did, saw what he saw and rooted for him the entire time.

I loved the dynamics of Timothy’s and Valentine’s relationship and the familial struggles between them. While Valentine was severely flawed he was also unquestionably redeemable. On the other hand, I didn’t care for Mercy (Timothy’s love interest) so much and never clicked with her character.

Overall, I think this is a great read. It’s fascinating to read about that time period and the history, and the plot is fast paced and fully engrossing. There are plenty of twists and turns that it will leave you guessing. Even if you do figure it out, I think the story is open to that and it doesn’t leave you disappointed.

I’ve read in a few places that a sequel is already in the works and I can only hope this is true. I highly recommend reading if you have a love of New York City history or mystery.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.” 
― Eleanor RooseveltYou Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

New Release Tuesday

Today's new releases only finds me interested in one book, The Witness by Nora Roberts. This makes me sad, I love a week when at least a few books I have been anticipating are released. But I shouldn't complain, it has been a good month for new books and May is looking the same. While I was perusing around some sites, I did find these books that have me excited:

 I absolutely loved The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End and although I haven't read Fall of Giants (it's on the TBR list),which follows the lives of five inter-related families through the First World War. I am really excited to see Book 2, which follows the same families through World World Two, coming to print in September.

The House of Velvet and Glass Loved Howe's first novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and this looks just as intriguing. Set in Boston 1915, Sibyl is still recovering from losing her mother and sister on the Titanic when her brother is mysteriously kicked out of Harvard.  The circumstances cause her seek help from her professor and Sibyl will be torn between loss and love.

And my Mom just introduced me to an author I've never read. She has a bunch of books published and here are a few that look really good:

Dream When You're Feeling Blue Follows the lives of three Irish sisters and the men they love during WWII.
Durable GoodsKatie is an army brat spending her summer waiting for boobs and boys and together with her sister Diane, struggle with a distant and abusive father.
 The Year of Pleasures A widow sets out to start fresh and start enjoying life's little pleasures.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Dressmaker

Tess Collins was born to be something greater than a servant and she knew it. On a fateful day in April, 1912, Tess walks out of the employ of a wealthy woman and into an uncertain future. But Tess is determined to make something of herself, she knows her worth and knows she is an excellent seamstress.

The Dressmaker: A NovelTess makes her way to the docks, where she has heard the famous Titanic is hiring companions and servants for the voyage. It is there that Tess meets Lady Lucile Duff Gordon, a famous designer. In a moment of chance, Tess is hired by Lucile to act as her servant for the trip.

During the trip, Tess tentatively bonds with Lucile, who promises to hire her in her shop upon arriving in New York.  Tess also makes the acquaintance of Jack Bremerton, a wealthy Chicago businessman and Jim Bonney a sailor with bigger dreams in his future.

Tess survives the disaster along with the Duff Gordons – although they were not on the same lifeboat. After being rescued, the survivors are taken to New York where an inquiry into the sinking is being led by a U.S. Senator . Amid rumors of scandalous behavior by the Duff Gordons, Tess must choose between friendship and loyalty, truth and deception in the quest to find out what really happened on Lifeboat One on that fateful night.

The central theme in The Dressmaker is choices. We’ve all read or watched something about the tragedy of the Titanic; we know the story, the horror. But how much do we know about what came after of the guilt and the condemnation? Of the survivors trying to move on, to deal with what happened, to grieve for those lost at sea. It’s easy to sit in the comfort of our warm homes and debate the choices made that fateful night, to vilify and cast judgment, but we can never truly know the horrors seen and heard that night. Would we be a hero or a coward if put in the position of so many that night. We do know from history that only one boat went back – One Boat, after the cries of the drowning and freezing began to subside. It is enough to bring you to tears.

While the novel is fiction, the events surrounding it are historical. There was a Lady and Cosmo Gordon who survived in a lifeboat with ten other people, they did oppose going back for survivors and they did bribe seamen. In reality, they were not the only ones.

I think there is something about the name Tess in literature, it denotes a strong woman, a woman willingly to defy conventions in a time when it is not fashionable to do so. Tess Collins knew what she was worth and she wasn’t willing to compromise her values to get her where she wanted to be. She’s willing to prove herself, to make sacrifices.

There wasn’t much I didn’t find appealing in the book, it was a fast read, well researched and deeply moving. What I loved best was the idea of choices, to look at the sinking of the Titanic from a different perspective and to see your own life through Tess’. If given the choice, do you stand up for what you believe no matter what the personal cost, or do you turn your back to those you love?

The Dressmaker is a powerful story that will leave you thinking long after you have finished reading it. Not only does it put the Titanic into a new perspective but friendship and love as well. Put this book on your to be read lists, it’s well worth it.

Quote of the Day

"I still think about the 'might have beens' about the Titanic, that's what stirs me more then anything else. Things that happened that wouldn't have happened if only one thing had gone better for her. If only, so many if onlys. If only she had enough lifeboats. If only the watertight compartments had been higher. If only she had paid attention to the ice that night. If only the Californian did come. The 'if only' kept coming up again and again and that makes the ship more then the experience of studying a disaster. It becomes a haunting experience to me, it's the haunting experience of 'if only'." 
-Walter Lord, Titanic historian and author

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

Here is something sweet to enjoy with your coffee this morning (make sure you're not drinking while reading, you will spit it out).

Whether or not you are like me and found 50 Shades of Grey a little (or a lot) over the top, you will get a kick out of 50 Shames of Earl Grey. Andrew Shaffer is a book blogger and author. On his site,, he started a parody of 50 Shades of Grey, titled, you got it 50 Shames of Earl Grey. You can check out the first couple of chapters here. Andrew has signed a book deal and we can look forward to seeing 50 Shames in print this summer. Until then, here is another parody of the phenomenon sweeping bookstores and Nook stores :

(Via Evil Reads)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” 
― Robert Frost

Good Girls Don't

Good Girls Don’t is the first book in the Donovan family trilogy by Victoria Dahl. The books focus on the Donovan siblings, Tessa and her brothers Eric and Jamie. Together they run Donovan Brothers Brewery, a small business started by their father.

Good Girls Don't (Donovan Brothers Brewery, #1) Tessa meets Luke Asher when he is assigned to investigate a robbery at the brewery. Focused on the robbery and his personal issues, including his pregnant partner (whom everyone thinks he knocked up), Luke only notices Tessa’s girl next door looks in passing. But Tessa notices Luke and sets out to pursue him.

This was my first introduction to Victoria Dahl, and if what they say about first impressions is true, consider me a new fan. I loved this contemporary romance; the author does a fantastic job. I didn’t get a lot of that romance cliché and formula crap. I connected with the characters, they are complex yet real. They are dealing with emotions and situations that are relatable to readers.

Tessa is willful and stubborn and she’s not afraid to go after what she wants. Tessa knew she wanted Luke and wasn’t afraid to pursue him. She was a strong female character and she wasn’t intimidated by the men in her life.

It was funny, I found myself laughing out loud. which in my book is a plus in a romance. When the author has the ability to make us laugh, tear up and steam up it’s a rare treat. From Tessa’s twittering and cursing to Jamie’s kilt, there was some laugh worthy moments.

Aren’t the best sex scenes the ones that manage to be hot but still leave you grinning? I think so. Tessa and Luke have a lot of chemistry but they have fun too. And the White Orchid, let’s just say I can’t wait to read Beth’s story…

Good Girls Don’t is definitely a good choice for a contemporary romance and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into Jamie and Eric too (their stories jeez). Victoria Dahl has a new fan in me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.” 
― Marilyn Monroe

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
― Mark Twain

Author Love

If you have ever been fortunate enough to be at a Lisa Scottoline appearance, you know what I'm talking about. She's a phenomenon. If you have been to a signing before, she will most likely remember you. If it's your first time, she will warmly welcome you, and give you a Tastycake.

She's not afraid to poke fun at herself and share stories of Mother Mary and other family. She's warm and honest and funny. What I love best about Lisa is how genuine she is. She loves her fans and she loves writing. What she does matters. Treat yourself and go out and meet her, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Release Tuesday

Today is a book lover's favorite day of the week - new release day! Lisa Scottoline's, Come Home, is being released today and as a reminder, it is the Book Club pick this month.

Here is the post detailing the club and a synopsis of the book:

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 it 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!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)
Synopsis from GoodReads:
When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time. 

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms. 

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny. 

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

The first night I sat down to read it I thought ehh it’s ok, but I flew through it pretty quickly. My first impression of Christian was that he was kind of douchy and I just wasn’t that into him, he talked like he was a hundred years old (possibly a 100 year old vampire?) but I did find him hot and I loved him in the emails. I actually disliked Ana more than Christian.  

Ana’s naivety is mind-numbing. At twenty-one years old, having just spent four years living at college, to have only been kissed twice and never attracted to anyone? Her shock at Kate dancing with Elliott when she just met him, come on. I just think she’s a little over the top naïve and annoying.

How many times does Tess of the D’Urbervilles need to be mentioned? Even for those who haven’t read it, it’s way over the top. Yes, I get it; you are comparing Anastasia to Tess. Tess was an innocent woman who is corrupted by Alex D’Urberville and in turn becomes a Fallen Woman. Throw in the virginity, pigtails and the fact that Ana is twenty one and can’t say vagina and  the author is practically shaking a copy of Tess in front of me saying look I know how to use Allusion and Motif!

I just find it really hard to believe that Ana, a no relationships in the past virgin, would seriously consider Christian’s contract. I can understand wanting to explore her sexuality and maybe the kinkier sides of the relationship, consenting to the abuse, the demeaning, demanding aspects is tough to believe. Yes, she may not sign anything but that’s just a technicality.

Let’s not forget Ana’s split personality. Her “Inner Goddess” just wants to screw, who cares if she may have to get smacked first. I hope she stomps on the bitch because I can’t take another two books with her talking about how horny her Inner Goddess is. If I had to read once more about her “Inner Goddess or “Oh My” I would have liked to show her my red hand of pain.

Half of the things that come out of both their mouths are said in whispers and everything Ana does elicits gasps from Christian, Mr. oh so sexual is gasping because Ana’s wearing his underwear, oh no, shocking. I chalked it up to the awful (if at all) editing job.  And are they British or American? Can the author clear that up, because there are definitely too many British-isms.

What makes the book enjoyable for me are the email exchanges between them. They are playful and fun. Christian is looser and let’s his humor shine through more during these witty exchanges. It is during these back and forth conversations that we see the lighter side of Christian. I prefer to think of it as the real Christian.

I just don’t understand all of the hype this book is receiving. While I don’t read BDSM specific books, I do read a lot of romance novels so I didn’t think the sex scenes qualified as porn per say, although there were a few scenes that were a bit kinkier than I’m used to. I wonder if the people hyping this have never read a romance before, because there are definitely better books out there that deserve more hype than this is getting. Yet, I hate leaving anything unfinished and this ended in a cliff hanger so I will be forced to read the next two installments (eye roll).

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Favorite Things

Happy Saturday! This favorite things post focuses on some of my favorite Independent bookstores.
I love Indies, and I want to see them sticking around for years to come. Too many bookshops have closed in recent years so if you have a favorite Indie bookstore, stop in and shop!

The Poisoned Pen is a specialty bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ. They focus primarily on mystery's and thrillers but stock a variety of other books. They also carry many signed first editions. (My favorite part!). In addition, certain authors that frequent the shop or live nearby, their books (in all  forms usually) are kept signed and in stock including Diana Gabaldon for all of you Outlander fans. You can order my email, online or phone. The staff are extremely nice and helpful.
Check them out here:

 Barefoot Books is a great Independent bookstore for children's books. Barefoot Books started as a way for two moms with a love of reading and a desire to stay at home with their children to find a creative way to have a career focused on what they love most. Today, Barefoot is an Indie publisher and prints truly beautiful children's books. They are filled with magic, whimsy, singing and dancing. Focused on tapping into your child's imagination and promoting a love of reading.
Live Barefoot:

Logo Indie Bound is a great resource to help you find a local Independent Bookstore new you.

Abe Books is another online resource for finding books. This site consists of a community of online retailers (many with brick and mortar stores). You can search for books my author, title or seller. They have a vast community and an even larger selection.

Quote of the Day

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
― Dr. SeussI Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Paris, My Sweet

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

Paris, My Sweet is Amy Thomas’ memoir of her two years living and working in Paris. It is an ode to her love affair with sweets as much as it is to Paris and New York.

In 2008, Amy Thomas, a copywriter, blogger and columnist is asked if she would like to move to Paris and work as a copywriter for Louis Vuitton. Amy jumps at the chance to move to her fated city and leaves New York behind for the City of Light.

Each chapter focuses on a delicious sweet and we are taken on a decadent journey to find the best of the best found in either Paris or New York (or both) as Amy describes her move to Paris, what it is like to explore a new city, to be an expat in a foreign city, her struggles with language barriers and her sense of displacement. As Amy is having a love affair with the city of light, New York and Paris are having a mutual love affair with each other.

I admire Amy, she is living a dream, splitting time between two of the best cities in the world, working for a famous designer, stuffing her face with sweets and still looking fabulous. For all of her doubts, I think what she did is courageous. She packs up and moves to a new city where she barely knows anyone and in her free time, takes trips to other cities or countries. Not something just anyone can do.

There are times when Amy waxes on about missing New York and feeling as if she doesn’t belong in either city or she gets a little bit snobby (a sign she is adapting to the Frenchie culture) when returning to NYC for a visit. Once I got over my insane jealousy and itch to scream, you are living the dream, take a stroll down the rue Montorgueil and grab a sweet and stop bitching, I applauded her. She calls herself out for whining and snobbery. But she has a point too, of course it’s a dream job in a dream city but she’s also an American living in Paris, it’s not all wine and roses all the time.

As Amy immerses herself in her new city, you are treated to glimpses of her wit. From learning French slang, to her forays into the dating scene to Parisian doctors, Amy is honest about her missteps and her experiences. Whether funny, sad, or saccharine, Amy opens herself to the reader and doesn’t glamourize every detail.

Interspersed with her immense knowledge of all things chocolate, Amy is a devoted Francophile and it’s a treat reading about her explorations in Paris.

At the end of each chapter is a blurb giving the reader access to Amy’s favorite spots to find the sweet highlighted in the chapter in both Paris and New York. Included in the back of the book is a list of Amy’s favorite bakeries in both cities, a great reference to have if you are visiting either city.

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Paris a few years ago and I still miss it. It was a fabulous trip. Reading Paris, My Sweet leaves me feeling melancholy for my time spent there and yearning to go back again and instead of site seeing, taking in the culture. I agree with Amy, you can never spend enough time in Paris; there is so much to see and do. I can taste the Pain au Chocolats and the Crepes as if it were yesterday and I can imagine biting into the new deliciousness Amy opened my eye to in the book.

Overall, I think this was a great read, it was fast-paced and fun. The reader is able to indulge in a tantalizing mix of chocolate and Paris. If you have a love of Paris, and all things French (as I do), or a love of sweets, (or both), you will love this book. If you don’t, you will after reading Amy’s story. There’s a reason Amy writes Sweet Freak, the woman knows her sweets. 

Quote of the Day

“I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.” 
― Amy ThomasParis, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote of the Day

Two Quotes today:

"You are my courage, as I am your conscience,"he whispered. "You are my heart - and I your compassion. We are neither of us whole, alone."

"And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire - I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you."

- Jaime, Drums of Autumn (Both from Chapter 16: The First law of Thermodynamics)

The Alchemist

The Alchemist
Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of finding treasure near the Pyramids in Egypt. After speaking to a Gypsy woman and an old king who both encourage Santiago to pursue his dream, he sets off for the deserts of Egypt. Along the way he faces obstacles and diversions in his quest to find his “Personal Legend”. 
The Alchemist is a fable of the human condition that is universally translatable. It is a story of one young boy’s journey to find himself, to overcome his fears and doubts and to trust in his heart while seeking out his destiny.

The Alchemist sucked me in from the Introduction. Part of the reason is that the author, Paulo Coehlo spoke about callings and how as humans we feel guilt and self-doubt and other obstacles on the way to achieving our dream. It just resonated with me on so many levels.

It’s a very small book, only one hundred and sixty-six pages, but it packs a powerful punch. What makes this book so beautiful, so heart-felt is the truth of it and its simplicity. Every page is filled with great quotes and some universal truth so that you find yourself stopping literally at every page, to reflect on what you’ve just read.

“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” One of the truths the book is conveying is the capacity in each of us to accomplish something great and at the same time nothing at all. It’s our choice.

It definitely has an undertone of self-help and I don’t usually like these types of books and there were parts that could have been sped along but if you read the introduction by the author, he lays it out pretty simply what he is trying to accomplish within the pages of the novel. I think he does a great job of getting the point across in such a simplistic style and he hits home with the message he is delivering, it’s up to us as the reader whether we choose to listen or not.

I took away so much from such a small book. Always listen to your heart. You are never too old to learn, or too young.  If we truly love and are loved, we can accomplish anything. Follow your dreams and though you may be tested, you will also be greatly rewarded. And sometimes we find what we were searching for in the place we least suspect.

I don’t know if I will always like this book the way I do now. I know for me it was just the right time to be reading this as about a month ago I took a leap and started writing, not caring anymore whether I was good or bad, just needing to finally do it. The message impacted me and made me feel I was on the right path, but it may not affect another the same way. Take from the book what you can – or not. The choice is yours.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Release Tuesday!

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)

Every Tuesday, readers across America who have been eagerly anticipating a new book are rewarded for their patience when the book they have been waiting months for is finally stocked and waiting on a bookstore shelf. Unless the book you are anticipating is Fifty Shades of Grey.

I went to my local bookstore today to pick up my copy of the much talked about book, only to find the book was not in stock yet. I was told it would be sometime this week. I was a little surprised and not a little disappointed, I can't wait to see if it lives up to the hype.

Nevertheless, that was not the only book I was waiting for today. I'm really excited about this book, The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani. I've never read this author before but the beautiful cover art caught my eye as I was trolling for new books to read (as I often do). The synopsis made it even more clear that I had to read this book. Here's a little nugget from GoodReads:

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.
The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel
Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso. 

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. 

Whatever book you have been anticipating, get out there, pick it up and get reading!

Outlander Jewelry

Check out the beautiful pieces made especially for me!
Head over to MaryFaithPeace on Etsy and check these and many more fabulous designs out, maybe even
snag a couple for yourself!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Clan of the Cave Bear


The Clan of the Cave Bear is the first book in Jean Auel’s saga about an orphan, Ayla, who is “other” (modern human) and the Neanderthals that adopt her into their clan. The novel is set in Ice Age Europe about 25,000 years ago, on the brink of the extinction of the Neanderthals.

Ayla is orphaned during an Earthquake and sometime later is found by a clan of Neanderthals trekking across the land in search of a new cave to dwell in. A woman takes pity on Ayla and saves her. Ayla is eventually welcomed into the clan but there are those who still dislike her for her otherness. Ayla must relinquish the behaviors that come natural to her as she tries to conform to the clan’s way of life and be accepted by them.

I really wanted to like this book, and I gave it my best effort, but it just never clicked for me. I think the concept is unique and there is great potential here but Auel spends much of the book focusing on longwinded descriptions of anything and everything Neanderthal that the story gets lost for me. Every time I would start to get into the plot, Auel would insert a tedious description of the scenery or animals or the creation of their tools. It was interesting at first, but the flow of the plot was constantly interrupted.

There was so much repetition. Ayla is different, Ayla is smart, and she can grasp new concepts better than the clan. Ayla and Broud hate each other. I kept waiting for something to happen, for it to come to a boil but all I gained was another detailed account of how much Ayla and Broud despised each other for most of the book. When something finally happens and I already had it figured out because it was foreshadowed for four hundred pages.

I did find parts of it very interesting such as the Neanderthal’s capacity for memory. Their brains were much larger than humans and much of their learning was inherited through genetic memory and the assertion is it prevented them from storing new memories and thus adapting to the ever changing world, leading to their extinction.

The medicine woman was very intriguing and for me this was one part that made me appreciate the wonders of the human race. The ability to survive and to learn the healing arts through the use of plants and other herbals is just incredible. That we have endured for hundreds of thousands of years through our adaptability and our basic instinct for survival is astounding when you look at it from the point of a Neanderthal.

There are parts of the book that practically scream sequel to me. It could also be that I’m reading it over twenty years after it was first published, but maybe not. Ayla constantly defies the clan by teaching herself to hunt and make weapons and I know Auel is demonstrating Ayla’s differentness and her lack of conformity, but I also feel like she is preparing her for life on her own, and giving her the survival skills to make it for another book.

I feel like this could have been a really great book, but Auel’s research weighs the story down and it falls short for me. I think the author does a great job on the research and it shows she knows what she is talking about but its fiction, not a history text. Granted, it’s historical fiction, but I’m not a caveman, don’t beat me over the head with the research.

Quote of the Day

“There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.” 
― Alice HoffmanPractical Magic