Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

To my baby sister on her way to college today -

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.” 
― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You'll Go!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

A Secret Wish

A Secret Wish tells the stories of three different women, each of whom make a wish on their birthdays. Liz wishes for love, Carole for her family back and Angela to start a family. As the novel progresses, each woman has the chance to re-examine her life and find what they are looking for.

Liz is getting over a long term relationship and spending a quiet minute on the hospital rooftop where she works as a nurse. She’s having a birthday cupcake when she is interrupted by a handsome stranger. He calls himself John and although he is aloof and Liz can tell he’s holding in his own issues, he and Liz spend a whirlwind night together and along the way, John helps Liz face some difficult issues.

Carole is spending her fortieth birthday at a big event thrown by her husband. As she is blowing out her candles, she realizes she hardly knows anyone there. She wishes for her family back. Her journey leads her to her childhood home and the mother she abandoned years ago and her high school sweetheat. Together they make Carole see the woman she used to be and the woman she wants to be.

Angela has been trying to have a baby for eight long years. She only wants a quiet night with her husband where she plans on discussing another round of IVF. Instead she walks into a surprise party thrown by her overbearing family. Angela walks out after her husband tells her he can’t continue to try and watch her suffer any longer. As Angela is wandering aimlessly, she seeks out the one place she has avoided for years, church. There she talks to her childhood best friend turned priest and blurts out her problem. She is lost but as the priest tells her God loves a challenge.
A Secret Wish (Wish, #1)
Each woman spends the night of their birthday on a journey of self-discovery and although they may not end up with what they thought they needed, they end up with something maybe even better.

This was the first novel I’ve read by Barbara Freethy and although it is not what I expected, I did enjoy it. It’s a short book, more like a novella and it’s a light, quick read.

The characters are somewhat predictable and their journeys aren’t surprising. I loved Liz and John and would have liked more of their story (perhaps a full novel). The other two started out un-interesting for me but on reflection I think it was because I was wrapped up in Liz’s story. I did grow to like Carole and I was happy with the path her choices led her. Angie just never connected with me.

Freethy’s writing style is light and she tells a good story but I would have liked to see more development in the relationship’s each woman formed on her birthday. Especially Liz and John, they have the potential to be really great characters.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a review. Overall, it was an ok read but not one I would read again. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

“If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.” 
― Marilyn Monroe


In Charles Frazier’s latest novel, he takes us to a small town in North Carolina where Luce, a loner and caretaker of an old lodge is forced to care for her niece and nephew after her sister’s murder.

Luce is used to being on her own. She’s lived quietly by the lake for a few years now and her only real companion is Maddie, a neighbor and the lush landscapes that surround her. She now faces the reality of two psychologically scarred children and helping them find their way again.

NightwoodsNightwoods isn’t a book you can read quickly. It’s a book to read at a slower pace, to enjoy and savor Frazier’s writing style. He writes in the present tense and incorporates the land in the novel making Nightwoods a richly evocative and deeply engrossing novel.

Frazier’s prose draws on the stark landscape of the Appalachians and intertwines the beauty and harshness of nature with the beauty and harshness of humanity. Frazier is brutally honest in his writing, there are no happily ever afters and warm embraces, his storytelling is stripped down and honest.

I connected with Luce immediately, although she is a hard character and some may not like her. There’s no artifice to Luce, what you see is what you get. She’s a victim of a horrible crime and her choosing to live alone away from modern day civilization can be perceived as giving up and running away – and in its own way, that’s what it is, I found Luce to be a fighter. After what happened to her, she stripped herself of all of the materialism and wants and found herself. When Dolores and Frank came to live with her she didn’t balk at their handicaps, she accepted them and did her best to help them.

The novel is set in the 1960s but it feels like another century as you are reading. Luce has forgone materialism and lives off of the land. Even Bud, the murderer of Luce’s sister, seems a product of another era, when gun slinging, falsely macho men ruled the quiet landscapes and preyed on the innocents.

Frazier’s novel is on the outside about a woman trying to survive with two orphans, to escape her past and fight a villain for her future.  But read closely, Frazier’s words are never simplistic, it’s also about the evils of capitalism and the unembellished laws of nature – of its beauty and its harshness.

 If you have read Charles Frazier’s work in the past, give Nightwoods a try, it’s worth it. If you’ve never read Frazier before be patient, he’s not the average writer but his words are fraught with depth and emotion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quote of the Day

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” 
― Albert Einstein

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted here, which spotlights new books we are anticipating. 

Lisa Kleypas is a recently discovered author for me. In a short time, I've devoured most of her historical romances and I love them. She creates unforgettable characters and doesn't always do what's expected with them. Dream Lake is the third in the Friday Harbor saga. 

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Dream Lake (Friday Harbor, #3)
Dream Lake takes readers once again to the exquisite setting of Friday Harbor, and tells the story of Zoӫ Hoffman, an innkeeper who has all but given up on love. She’s a gentle, romantic soul, but has been so hurt in the past that she dare not trust her heart with anyone. Especially not Alex Nolan. Alex is the most haunted of all the Nolan brothers.

He drinks to keep his demons at bay and not only has he given up on love, he has never, ever believed in it. Zoӫ and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow.

But sometimes, it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark. Dream Lake is classic Lisa Kleypas: romantic, powerful, emotional, and magical

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

Until this point, I have resisted the lure of the e-book. Don't get me wrong, I think it's awesome to be able to get a book in seconds and I love that has opened a door for independent authors and allows them to easily get their work out there. But, a big but, I've always been a hardback girl. I love everything about a book, the smell, the weight of it in your hands, the anticipation of cracking it open  and discovering what is inside. I have collected books for years and like I always said I would, I have a library where all of the bookcases are filled and books overflow on the remaining shelf space. Going to author signings and readings is a particular thrill, it's a great joy to meet an author you love and have them sign your precious book.

I can see all of this slipping away as I have since the introduction of the e-reader. We are all about convenience and what is more convenient than a book you can pull up on your phone, not having to rush out to the bookstore, stand in line etc.  It makes me sad. Going to the bookstore for me has always been Christmas and my birthday all wrapped up and now I love taking my son with me and watching him discover the beauty of books.

E-book sales continue to rise and print is continually down. Independent book stores are becoming distant memories and only one chain book store remains, Barnes and Noble. Many people believe traditional printed books are on their way out but there are still some that hold out hope for the printed book to survive. I'm one of those people.

It seems I have come to a stand-off in my ban of the e-book and I will have to embrace it. It won't be with loving arms but resignation. I want to get into early reviews and reading/reviewing ARCs and so I must resign myself to the e-reader in order to accomplish that.Luckily I have an Iphone and will be able to use as my e-reader.  I will never give up my love of the printed book and it will still be where the bulk of my books come, I will still be championing printed books long into the future. A future that sometimes makes me think of Fahrenheit 451, in which all of the great lovers of books keep them recorded in their heads to pass down as oral history.The e-reader it seems is stealing into my life and I am about to embark on my first e-book experience. If you see me after at the book store gorging on hardbacks don't be alarmed, just point me in the direction of the fiction section.

Quote of the Day

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” 
― George Bernard Shaw

Monday, June 25, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

I just have to say WOW. This weekend has been an incredible one for my blog. I joined Book Blogs in order to network my blog and meet other bloggers. What a result! I now have a ton of new followers and I have found a bunch of great blogs this weekend. I hope this will lead to new friendships as well.

Even more exciting than that is I've had a couple of authors ask me to read their books in exchange for reviews. I've already received a novel by M.C.V. Egan, The Bridge of Deaths. I'm really excited to read it, it sounds like a great book. Here is the synopsis from Ms. Egan's site, which you can visit here:

The Bridge of Deaths
What happens in the moments leading up to disaster? "The Bridge of Deaths" follows the story of a true life event of a plane crash shortly before World War II of an international meeting of many individuals. Compiling a work of intrigue based on those who lost their lives and what they may have been seeking.

Join Bill and Maggie in 2010 London as through their love and curiosity they unravel the secrets from known and little known events in the 1930s. Journey to Denmark on August 15th 1939, at the brink of World War II where a British Airways LTD airplane crashed and sunk. Five deaths were reported: two Standard Oil of New Jersey employees, a German Corporate Lawyer, an English member of Parliament, and a crew member for the airline. The reader walks away with his/her ultimate conclusions. "The Bridge of Deaths' is an unusual yet much recommended read.

I also received a very nice note from another author here. Dick Hannah wrote Toe the Line, a mystery/thriller focused on racing and triathalons and has asked me to read/review his novel. You can check Dick's blog here for more info. on his book and other good stuff. Here is Dick's synopsis:

In Toe the Line, small business owner and triathlete, Wynn Johnston, finds his ordered, predictable life thrown into turmoil when his training and business partner, Wheeler, is murdered in the seemingly safe confines of the Seattle airport. As Wynn begins to dig into Wheeler’s past he finds out that his best friend was involved in a racing conspiracy that puts Wynn’s business and his life in danger. Wheeler’s murder forces Wynn to confront deceptive fellow racers, the potential bankruptcy of his business, and past loves he thought long dead, all while avoiding the murderer who is hunting him across Seattle.

In addition to all of that ( I know I can't believe there is more either), I joined NetGalley, which gives me the opportunity to sign up to receive galleys (or advanced readers copies) of books before they hit stores in order to read and review. I have already received two electronic novels by romance author Barbara Freethy, Just a Wish Away and A Secret Wish.

I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for the wonderful new connections I've made this weekend and the authors who have asked me to write reviews of their novels. I am beyond thrilled and looking forward to reading new authors, discovering wonderful new books and making new friends along the way. Thank you all and happy reading!

Quote of the Day

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
― Mark Twain

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Sundays - Nadia Knows Best

Nadia Kinsella gets stuck in a snowstorm with Jay Tiernan and she’s tempted. Who wouldn’t be, Jay is sexy and smart, not to mention he rescued her from a snowstorm. But Nadia is in love with her boyfriend Laurie. They’ve been together for years. Laurie is currently modeling in the States and sees Nadia only sporadically.

 When Laurie returns to Bristol, Nadia knows something is wrong and she’s right. Laurie breaks up with her, he wants to explore other options and enjoy his career. Fast forward fifteen months. Nadia has a chance encounter with Jay Tiernan, he rehabs houses for profit – and once he finds out Nadia is a gardener, hires her to fix up his new buy.

Nadia and Jay are still attracted to each other, but just when things start heating up, Laurie returns, professing his undying love for Nadia and claiming he made a mistake. Nadia is torn and can’t make up her mind which guy she wants.

Nadia Knows BestAnother Mansell book that I really enjoyed, Nadia knows best is a fun, light read that will sink its teeth in from page one and having you flipping pages at warp speed. Nadia’s love life isn’t the only star of this book, but the rest of the Kinsella clan as well. From Nadia’s eccentric grandmother, Miriam (who’s keeping her own secrets) to her dad James and sisters Clare and Tilly it’s not just a book about picking the right guy but about family – even if they drive you mad.

I loved the cast of characters and the antics of the Kinsella family. They were fiercely close and loyal to a fault. I didn’t get on with Clare, Nadia’s sister. She was a selfish cow (wow look at me being British) and too bratty for her age. Nadia’s younger sister Tilly, at age thirteen was more mature than Clare.

As I was reading this novel, I was thinking about British chic lit and how much I really enjoy Jill Mansell’s writing. It’s light and quick to read, but the story is always a good one. They are not just about finding mister right, they are also about family and both books I have read so far touched on more serious issues. In Nadia Knows Best, the stronger issues are a neglectful mother and the effects on a young daughter.

I really admire the British women depicted in Mansell’s books, they are strong and independent. They say what’s on their minds (not always a good thing re: Clare) and they aren’t afraid to eat- even around men. They are comfortable in their own skin (even size 12 – the horror). It’s really refreshing to read these types of books.

Overall, I think this is a good choice for summer reading. It’s light, fun and a quick read. There weren’t as many British-isms as the first Mansell book I read – rumour has it but it had a sprinkling. I leave you with another new favorite line:  “What a mess, what a complete and utter balls-up.” (pg. 96). 

Quote of the Day

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” 
― Émile Zola

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Art of Fielding

On the outside, it is a book about baseball, but at the heart is a book about surviving. Surviving college, life, love and relationships of taking chances and living life in the moment, of making mistakes and picking yourself back up, dusting yourself off and getting back in the game.

The Art of FieldingI don’t think you have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book, but I think it does help. The main plot revolves around Henry Skrimshander and his dream of playing baseball. From the time he was a little kid, Henry has wanted to be a shortstop like his idol, Aparicio Rodriguez. He carries around a copy of Aparicio’s book The Art of Fielding with him everywhere.
The novel revolves around five people whose lives become inter-twined at Westish College -Henry Skrimshander, Mike Schwartz, Pella Affenlight, Owen Dunne and Guert Affenlight. As the baseball season progresses, a bad throw by Henry brings these five people closer together and changes each of them.

I had mixed feelings before reading this book, it was given so much hype – which isn’t always a good thing, but I’m glad I read it. I really liked it a lot. I loved Henry but Mike Schwartz was my favorite character. Not only was he dedicated to his teammates and gave each his unfailing loyalty but his personality and the fact that he was really just a good guy trying to be someone.

Harbach has brought new life to the age old story of the American pastime. When he describes the scenes on the field, it’s like you are standing there with Skrim and Schwartzy, you can smell the worn leather and sweat.

It can be at times a little pretentious and there are some big words thrown in that made me think they were just put in there to showy but overall, I think Harbach’s writing is clean and tight.

What I really disliked was Guert and his lust driven relationship. I don’t want to ruin anything and throw spoilers in there but it was really creepy and I didn’t enjoy his chapters. I think Harbach was trying to give Guert a sympathetic edge but I just couldn’t accept it. And although I liked Owen, even though he was a bit over the top and I can’t see any college age kid speaking the way he does, I didn’t really see the point of him having as big a part as he does.

Parts of the novel were tedious (Guert/Owen) and some were unbelievable. Mike’s devastation and depression, Owen’s love, Mike’s forgiveness of Henry and Pella and do these characters ever sleep? Obviously not, Henry and Mike are at the stadium running as early as four a.m., not to mention spending ridiculous amounts of time in the gym, yet they still manage to go to all of their classes and be top performing students – on no sleep.

The ending was surprising and I thought it was going a different way but I’m glad it ended the way it did, to have it end any other way I would have been unhappy with it.

Overall, I think it was an incredibly well-written first novel. The characters are great, the names alone are unique – Skrimshander, Pella Affenlight, Aparicio but it’s probably not something I would read again.

Quote of the Day

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Friday, June 22, 2012

Re-post A Discovery of Witches

Here is my review of A Discovery of Witches piggy-backing off of yesterday's post for July's Book Club pick, which is the second book in the All Souls Trilogy. I just re-read this review before posting and I have to say months later, after reflecting on the  book, I appreciate it more than it seems I did when I wrote that review. I really loved the story line of Ashmole 782, it's intriguing and suspenseful and keeps you guessing.
Yes, Matthew is a stoic vampire and over-protective as hell, but he is a very likable character, as is Diana.
The family connections of both are humorous and enjoyable and the plotting of the four different creatures walking the earth are wonderfully intriguing. All in all, A Discovery of Witches was an engrossing book and one I couldn't put down.Yes, there were Twilight similarities and I've written about them but I think it's time I stopped looking for them, otherwise I'll never be able to enjoy another vampire book again. Stephanie Meyer doesn't own the market on vampire behavior, vampires have been written about for centuries, it's only natural some works are similar in their descriptions as others. So here it is, my original review of 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.

Quote of the Day

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” 
― Mark Twain

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Club Pick

I'm really excited about July's Book Club pick. I read the first book in this trilogy back in January and have had to live with the anticipation for almost six long months. Finally the wait will be over next month. Shadow of Night is my Book Club pick for July. It's the second in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness and will be released on July 10.

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) The books focus on Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire and the search for an ancient manuscript, Ashmole 782. Although Diana and Matthew are programmed to loathe each other - creatures are only supposed to socialize with their own kind, Diana and Matthew flaunt their rule breaking and eventually fall in love. The mystery of Ashmole 782 increases and as A Discovery of Witches builds up to the final cliffhanger, everyone is searching for Diana and Matthew in hopes of getting their hands on Ashmole. and unlocking its secrets. Matthew and Diana realize they cannot fight this battle when Diana doesn't know how to use any of her powers. They decide to go back in time to find a witch tutor for Diana, so when the fight for Ashmole does come, they are prepared.

Here is the Shadow of Night synopsis from Goodreads:

"Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown"—the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches

Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel,A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending,Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

I'm counting down the days until Shadow is released. This is a book that you will need to read the first book, A Discovery of Witches before diving into Shadow of Night. It's worth it, the book was a great read. I've already written a review of Discovery, but I will re-post.
Happy Reading!

Quote of the Day

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” 
― Mae West

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quote of the Day

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours” 
― Alan BennettThe History Boys: The Film

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted here, which spotlights new books we are anticipating.  

Forever and a Day (Lucky Harbor, #6)I love Jill Shalvis, she is one of those authors who's books I always rush to grab and she never disappoints. Her newest trilogy, set in the fictional town of Lucky Harbor, focuses on three women, who by chance of a snowstorm, become fast friends and the men they fall in love with. I have already read Lucky in Love (review to follow soon) and I grabbed up At Last when it came out last week. The last in the trilogy  is titled Forever and a Day and focuses on Grace and Josh.
It's due out at the end of July but I'm hoping for an early release.

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:


Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s loveable mutt to caring for his rambunctious kids. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family–until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner.” Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day…

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” 
― William GoldmanThe Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure: The "Good Parts" Version, Abridged

Coffee and Conversation

Yesterday I was scanning my wish list and realized most of the pre-orders have now been released or will be in the next few weeks. I'm really excited for a few of these books such as the new Victoria Dahl trilogy (Talk Me Down, Start Me Up and Lead Me On) Tumbleweeds came out today as well as the second book in The Taker trilogy The Reckoning. I still have to read The Taker, it's been in my TBR since Mother's day. I think I'm going to make that my next read.

So I'm in this happy booky euphoric state. There are so many good books coming out and so many in my TBR pile, I don't know where to start. I just want to sit in my library and read them all.

I also came across a new book by author Sylvia Day, whom I had never read. The book is called Bared to You and is the first in a trilogy.

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Our journey began in fire...

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness—beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily...

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private wounds... and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart..

I am curious about this book and also some of the chatter I've read on other sites. Can this be the Fifty Shades for those of us that enjoy a well-written romance and hold the BDSM? I've really wanted to find a book somewhat similar but without the condescension and bad writing that is rampant in 50, if I've found it, I'll be sure to share.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

It's good to be back. I was offline for over two days spending a beautiful weekend with my family. I enjoyed no phones and internet, it didn't drive me crazy like I thought. I did however almost start getting the shakes as I didn't pick up a book the entire weekend. I came home with 50 pages read. I picked my book up as soon as everything was unpacked and my son was in bed. It was wonderful!

Before I left on Thursday, my sassy mailman delivered me a package I wasn't expecting. I opened it to discover I had won another giveaway!

NightwoodsThis time, I won Nightwoods by Charles Frazier. I'm really excited about this one. I loved Cold Mountain. Inman and Ada were two exceptional characters and I have always loved their story and the story of Inman and his struggles after the Civil War. I am really excited to read Charles Frazier's latest! 

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The extraordinary author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons returns with a dazzling new novel of suspense and love set in small-town North Carolina in the early 1960s.
Charles Frazier puts his remarkable gifts in the service of a lean, taut narrative while losing none of the transcendent prose, virtuosic storytelling, and insight into human nature that have made him one of the most beloved and celebrated authors in the world. Now, with his brilliant portrait of Luce, a young woman who inherits her murdered sister’s troubled twins, Frazier has created his most memorable heroine. 
Before the children, Luce was content with the reimbursements of the rich Appalachian landscape, choosing to live apart from the small community around her. But the coming of the children changes everything, cracking open her solitary life in difficult, hopeful, dangerous ways. 
Charles Frazier is known for his historical literary odysseys, and for making figures in the past come vividly to life. Set in the twentieth century, Nightwoods resonates with the timelessness of a great work of art

Quote of the Day

Happy Belated Father's Day to all of the wonderful fathers in my life especially my Dad, Husband and Step-dad!

Any man can be a father.  It takes someone special to be a dad.  ~Author Unknown

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rescue Me

 Rescue Me (Lovett, Texas, #3)
Synopsis from Goodreads:

She’s 33, unmarried, and stuffed into a Bubble Yum pink bridesmaid dress. And the whole town wants to fix her up with anyone with a dental plan… Who’s going to rescue Sadie Hollowell now? Everyone in Lovett, Texas knows Sadie has always been a ‘notional’ kind of gal. She got a notion to leave town asap , and never visit her daddy (bless his heart). Now, she’s back and got the notion to invite a good-looking, hard-muscled, total stranger to her cousin’s wedding. Better a stranger than some of the losers she’s dated. Vince Haven got his muscles the hard way—as a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan. He’s staying in Lovett to visit his crazy aunt—the proprietor of the local Gas N Go. Before he can get the heck back out of the small town, his aunt makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Maybe he’ll stick around Lovett for a while. Maybe he’ll make a ‘go’ of the Gas N Go. Maybe he’ll rescue Sadie out of that pink dress.

For the entire book, Sadie and Vince are strictly friends with benefits, yes he is there for her when she needs it but he is also missing for a significant moment. Only in the last pages do they each realize they are in love with one another. I just didn’t buy it. There was no romance; the buildup wasn’t cutting it for me. I never fell for their love story because I didn’t really think it was there.

I thought Sadie was a really good character. I liked her immediately and the more I got to know her, the better I liked her. Vince on the other hand, well Vince is a badass SEAL and although he’s smokin’ hot and he’s struggling with some of his own issues, he doesn’t cut it for me. The feelings he had for his future brother-in-law carried over from another book, Any Man of Mine and instead of an over-protective brother, he comes across as irritating and irksome.

The heart of Sadie’s struggle is her relationship with her Dad, never feeling connected to him or to her hometown of Lovett, Texas. Sadie and her Dad have never really talked or connected with each other. There is a moment when I hoped things were going to turn around, but it flat lined and never recovered to what I’d hoped. Sadie’s resolution comes internally, not vocally where it should have.

Gibson is able to hop right in and douse the reader in southern charm and a drawl that will have you snickering throughout. She creates these off the wall characters that never fail to crack you up, Rescue Me has a few of these characters. Of course there are some cheesy lines as well. Here’s a personal favorite -“he was an insertion specialist” (pg. 188). I’m still laughing from the ridiculousness.

My final verdict is, I’ve read better Gibson books and this is a miss for me. Rescue Me fell flat and I was left disappointed. If you want to try Rachel Gibson, check out her Chinooks hockey series. There are some really good reads including See Jane Score, Any Man of Mine and True Love and Other Disasters.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Sundays

Summer Sundays is a new feature I'm going to showcase this summer. My plan is to post reviews, suggestions and discussions of books featured in my Summer reading post, with a focus on romance and beachy reads.
Rescue Me (Lovett, Texas, #3)This Sunday will be my first review/post and I'm going to have a review of Rachel Gibson's new book, Rescue Me.
I hope everyone will like the new feature and I'm really looking forward to it. Happy Reading!

Quote of the Day

“Atticus said to Jem one day, "I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. "Your father’s right," she said. "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

“You were made perfectly to be loved and surely I have loved you in the idea of you my whole life long. ” 
― Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted here, which spotlights new books we are anticipating.  

The Secret KeeperThis week, in the pre-orders section of a favorite site, I found Kate Morton's fourth novel, The Secret Keeper. I have been in love with Morton's novels since first discovering The Forgotten Garden. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical and she can spin an intriguing tale that always leaves me so happy. I can't wait to get my hands on her next novel, although I'll have a long wait since it's not due out until October. If you haven't read Morton before, do yourself a favor and pick up one of her books, you won't regret it.

Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.
Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.
The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.

The Stand

Let me start by saying I think The Stand should come with a badge or a pin that you can carry around triumphantly once you have completed. Nothing fancy, just a simple I finished The Stand and survived or something otherwise catchy. At a whopping 1152 pages, a badge is in order.

Originally published in 1978, the novel was cut by the publishers by about four hundred pages in order to market better. In 1990, King added the previously cut pages while updating the original text, leaving the readers with a mega novel of over eleven hundred pages.

The StandThe Stand is a post-apocalyptic novel in which the world as we know it ends in the blink of an eye. A virus, Captain Tripps as it is called in the novel, wreaks havoc on the world in the split second it takes an army worker to escape base and make a run for it. Though the army tries to contain the virus, it spreads too rapidly to contain and in a matter of weeks, the world’s population is left in tatters.

What’s left of the people of the United States, as they emerge from the wreckage and realize the magnitude of death and destruction begin to have dreams; they dream of an old woman who brings comfort and a dark man who brings terror. Those left begin to emerge from houses and towns and make pilgrimage; they find other souls and head towards the light or the dark.

When I used to think of Stephen King, I thought scary horror novels, and while I would still say that is true, the essence of The Stand is human nature, the powers of good and evil and man’s ever lustful need to play god and while not a horror novel per say, what makes The Stand so bone chilling is the knowledge that it’s not so unrealistic. A super flu that knocks out 99% of the United States’ population, a man-made flu created as a biological weapon to use against enemy forces.

There are parts that will revolt you but then you realize that what is at the core of The Stand is a yearning to survive. It’s human nature at its worst and human nature at its best. But there are clear-cut sides to this. In The Stand those that are weak in spirit are shelved off to the dark side with no chance of redemption. The God in The Stand is the God of the Old-Testament, he is a harsh God that expects sacrifice and loyalty at all times.

What King excels at in his novels is the characterization. King is able to create a wonderful array of characters, from evil villains to average joe’s to somewhere in between and give all of them life. Life filled with detailed pasts and colorful futures to say the least.

I loved the characters I was supposed to love, Frannie and Stu being my favorite but Nick, Tom and Glen were closely followed. I hated Trashcan Man and The Kid, I was going to scream if I heard one more “how do you like that happy crappy”, so I felt no great loss at The Kid’s departure. Although Larry was supposed to be redeemable and he was, I just never connected to him and didn’t care about his story as much as others.

Parts of the novel droned on and I sluggishly plowed on, determined to finish at times. I actually put this aside for a few months and just picked it up again recently. I really hated the Trashcan Man’s trek to Las Vegas and couldn’t get through it fast enough. Other parts, such as Stu’s trek were longwinded and a little tedious.

The novel builds up to a final stand between the forces of good and evil after the superflu. I expected more of a showdown and what actually happened was anti-climactic and left me very disappointed.

While I enjoyed The Stand and I feel it’s a book that should be read at least once, there are others I have enjoyed more. 11/22/63 will always stand out as the best King book I’ve read followed by The Shining. If you decide to give The Stand a try, don’t be intimidated by its massive size, most of the book flies by, just opt for the paperback, the hardback may break your wrist.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12)Sookie is summoned to Eric’s house to greet Felipe, King of Louisiana (among others). There she discovers Eric feeding off another woman, who shortly ends up on Eric’s front lawn, dead. The police have already been summoned and the whole situation is suspicious.

Sookie helps Bill Compton investigate the murder and find out the truth of why someone would want to frame Eric. In the meantime, Sookie is dealing with a horde of fairies and the secret fairy charm given to her Gran by Fintan, now entrusted to Sookie. The underworld has found out Sookie possess the charm and everyone wants it.

I hate to say this but I think this series has run its course and is now dying a slow death. I loved the first handful of books in this series but the last couple has been bad. Deadlocked was no exception.  For most of the book, nothing happens. Pages are spent with detailed descriptions of Sookie’s day and nothing happens. There are whole conversations which do nothing to move the plot along. The plotline was convoluted and pulled at a bunch of threads that are finally pulled haphazardly together.

There were no real Eric and Sookie moments and those we do see are disappointing and unfinished, obviously a cliffhanger with the intention of keeping us coming back for more. Their relationship also seems to be in shambles and would have been better to kill it off.  The scenes Eric are in (only a few) he spends in angsty contemplation of the situation his maker has left him, to marry Freyda or stay with Sookie, but big bad Eric cannot seem to make a decision.

There was only a glimpse of Pam in this book and you can always count on Pam’s snarkiness for a few good laughs but the scenes (two) she was in were flat. Ditto for Bill, we get you are in love with Sookie but can’t Charlaine give this character anything else to talk about? Apparently not. It’s starting to feel like a teen angsty series instead of the really great urban fantasy this series started out as.

Besides Sookie’s day to day life (working at Merlotte’s, getting the mail and taking an awful lot of naps), the secondary characters who were always that, get more air time than the original characters. JB du Rone has a bigger cameo than Eric, Bill and Pam.

I was really disappointed with this book but if I’m honest with myself I wasn’t expecting much after the last two. I will read the last book in the series (due out next May) but only because I’ve read all of the other books and I need to see it through to the bloody end, but I am not anticipating it. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quote of the Day

“When I was five I learned to read. Books were a miracle to me - white pages, 
black ink, and new worlds and different friends in each one. To this day, I relish the 
feeling of cracking a binding for the first time, the anticipation of where I'll go 
and whom I'll meet inside.” 
― Jennifer WeinerGood in Bed

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Remembering Ray Bradbury

Yesterday, the world lost a beloved author. Today we remember and mourn the great Ray Bradbury. Whether you read his works in high school or college or at your own leisure, his books touched so many.

Mr. Bradbury will be remembered by me for one of my favorite novels, Fahrenheit 451, a science fiction novel in which firefighters don't put out fires, they create fires - to burn books. It's a society in which books are seen as objects of opposition and television is revered. A premise that isn't so off base anymore.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes by Ray Bradbury:

Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” 
― Ray Bradbury

“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” 
― Ray Bradbury

“If we listened to our intellect we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go in business because we'd be cynical: "It's gonna go wrong." Or "She's going to hurt me." Or,"I've had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . ." Well, that's nonsense. You're going to miss life. You've got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.” 
― Ray Bradbury

Exclusively Yours

Keri Daniels is a star reporter for a Los Angeles based tabloid magazine. When Keri’s boss finds out Keri has intimate knowledge of reclusive author Joe Kowalski, she sends Keri to get an exclusive interview against Keri’s very strong objections.
Keri and Joe were high school sweethearts and when Keri left to pursue her career, she left Joe with a broken heart. So when Keri re-appears in town looking for Joe, his initial ploy to get her to leave backfires and he finds himself caught up in Keri once again. He invites her along on his family’s vacation and for every day spent participating in good old fashioned family fun, Keri gets to ask Joe one question.

Exclusively YoursAs the vacation progresses, both Keri and Joe realize they both still have feelings for each other.  But Keri is leaving once the two weeks are up. Can they make their relationship work this time around or is Keri going to leave Joe with a broken heart all over again?

I liked Joe, who wouldn’t love a hot writer who still pines for the one who got away. I needed more from Keri. She came across as a little shallow in the beginning and throughout the book she never reaches her full potential, she stays shallow for me.

Keri and Joe’s romance wasn’t a new one, but it was a familiar one. Neither of them ever forgot the other and their time spent together is spent reacquainting with each other. They were high school sweethearts and both have loved each other for years, but they loved each other with a burning passion for twenty years? Joe killed her off wickedly in his first novel (funny, but obviously no closure there) but he turns into an alcoholic after she leaves. It just seems a little silly to me. I understand great love but to turn into an alcoholic at eighteen because you lost your sweetheart just seems a bit over the top.

In addition to Joe and Keri’s re-developing love story, there are flashes of the marital discord between Joe’s twin Terry and her husband Evan as well as Joe’s brother Mike and his wife Lisa. While I like a touch of another love story in a romance, two is a bit much. I liked Mike and Lisa but I didn’t really care for Terry. She just came across as a bitch the whole story until the end.

I did like the premise of the family vacation and Joe does have a really great family. They are super close and would do anything for each other. Although Terry, who claims she is just looking out for her brother, takes it to a new level of bitchiness. Terry’s rocky relationship is tangled up in the plot and while I am inclined to leave her labeled as such (a bitch), the author tries to redeem her at the very end but it was a little too late for me.

There was humor throughout the book which I love in a romance and both Keri and Joe, as well as other family members (namely Kevin) are good for a few laughs. Kevin’s story is the next novel in the trilogy and I will give it a try and hope it’s better than the first.

All in all, I think it was an ok read. It wasn’t exceptional, but not many are. I’m not jumping up to read the rest of the trilogy but I may give them a try over time, I hate to leave a trilogy unfinished. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quote of the Day

For my sister, a new graduate today!

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!” 
― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You'll Go!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted here, which spotlights new books we are anticipating. 

I'm waiting on the new trilogy by Victoria Dahl this week. The new series, which starts off with Talk Me Down releases on June 26. The next two, Start Me Up and Lead Me On release on the same day. I read the first Donovan Family Trilogy by Dahl and really liked them. I hope this trilogy is as good as the first I read.

Here are the synopsis' from Goodreads:

Talk Me Down

Talk Me Down (Tumble Creek, #1)Molly Jennings has one naughty little secret: her job as a bestselling erotic fiction author. Until her inspiration runs dry—thanks to a creepy ex—and it's time to skip town and move back to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.
One look at former high school hunk chief of police Ben Lawson and Molly is back in business. The town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse still, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bag about her chosen profession, and straitlaced Ben will definitely not approve.…
Start Me Up (via barnes and Noble)
Start Me Up (Tumble Creek, #2)Lori had always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto body shop, she'd stayed. Now, according to her crazy best friend, Molly, what Lori needs is some excitement, in the form of hot, no-strings-attached sex…and lots of it.
Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain—not love and romance. A serious architect, he's delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocols and head straight for the sheets. And aided by the steamy books on Lori's bedside table, he's busy indulging both of their wildest fantasies. But when life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, Quinn's protective instincts kick in.
Suddenly he cares. More than either of them ever expected…

Lead Me On
Lead Me On (Tumble Creek, #3)Raw, animal magnetism... a big red flag to prim and proper office manager Jane Morgan. After a rough childhood with a mother who liked her men in prison-jumpsuit orange, Jane changed her name, her look and her taste for bad boys. So why is she lusting for William Chase with his tattoo-covered biceps and steel-toed boots? The man blows things up for a living
She gives herself one explosive, fantasy-filled night with Chase. The next day it's back to plain Jane and safe men.
But when her beloved brother becomes a murder suspect, it's Chase who comes to her rescue. And Jane discovers that a man who's been around the block knows a thing or two about uncovering the truth....