Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” 
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Club Pick - August

The Book Thief

I'm ashamed to say I have not read this much talked about novel by Markus Zusak. It has been on my TBR list for so long and I've been looking for a book that will blow me away. I think I'm making the right choice with The Book Thief. I've read some of the reviews and it sounds like a perfect choice for a book club pick.

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Quote of the Day

“There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.” 
― Audrey NiffeneggerThe Time Traveler's Wife

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.” 
― Stephen KingThe Stand

Summer Sundays

That Thing Called Love
That Thing Called Love is Susan Andersen’s latest release and the first in her new Razor Bay trilogy.

Jake Bradshaw left Razor Bay when he was eighteen and set off for college. Now he’s a globe-trotting photo journalist. He never liked small town living and never looked back, even though he left his infant son in the care of his maternal grandparents. He’s back now and wants to rectify his past mistakes.

Jenny Salazar knows heartbreak. A father involved in Ponzi schemes, a mother who could never get over the embarrassment; Jenny has been taking care of herself since she was sixteen. Jenny was also taken in by Austin’s grandparents and now is like a sister to him.  

When Jake comes back to Razor Bay to make up for past mistakes and become a part of his life, Jake is not the only one who will have to come to terms with under the surface wounds of the past. And if he feels a little something for the cute Jenny, well, he can stay away from her, can’t he?

I haven’t read much of Susan Andersen. I’ve liked a couple of her books but this one just didn’t work for me and I had a lot of issues with the characters that ultimately made my enjoyment non-existent.

I didn’t connect with the characters; I had a hard time getting past Jake abandoning Austin. I know he was just a kid himself when he left, but at some point, didn’t he have to grow up and realize he made a mistake. He could have made some kind of commitment to his son and now he’s coming back makes me think if Austin’s grandparents had lived forever, he never would have come back. Jake didn’t come back of his own free will, he came back because Austin’s grandparents died. It puts a shadow over his sincerity for me.

I didn’t feel any chemistry between Jenny and Jake. The sex scenes were just that, there was no romance. I don’t need the whole wine and candles bit, but I enjoy a little depth to the more amorous scenes and I like the build-up, how the relationship progresses. I didn’t get that here. I felt it was disjointed and nothing more than sex. Jenny herself is knocking at Jake’s door for a booty call.

I did really like Austin and I think Andersen did a great job capturing a thirteen year olds point of view.  He was realistic and loveable. I loved his story and his relationship with Nolan and Bailey. I actually loved to see his relationship with Bailey blossoming and probably enjoyed it more than Jenny and Jake’s story.

Overall, That Thing Called Love missed the mark for me, the characters were forgettable and the storyline was hard to come to terms with. Not something I would recommend to readers.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you secruity and friendship and didn't ask for anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly. ” 
― Cornelia FunkeInkheart

Friday, July 27, 2012


TumbleweedsTumbleweeds follows the lives of three friends, Cathy Benson, orphaned at eleven; John Caldwell, his mom died when he was young and was neglected by his father; and Trey Don Hall, abandoned by both of his parents at a young age. Their lives become entwined when Cathy comes to the small Texas town of Kersey to live with her grandmother and from that point on, they are inseparable.

Both men are in love with Cathy, but only one can have her heart. The saga follows the trio through their young adulthood well into their adulthood, when choices and events spiral and will have far reaching consequences for the trio.

The novel picks back up when they are well into adulthood, where the past still touches them. Can the wrongs of the past ever be fixed?

The events that occurred when Cathy, Jim and Trey were eighteen were selfish and carried the burden of long reaching sorrow for the main characters. All of the drama could have been resolved if not for a complete and utter lack of humanity on the part of Trey. What an abhorable person and the fact that Cathy and Jim could still have feelings for him made me dislike them a little bit.

I never liked Trey; he was a shallow and unsympathetic character. Whatever injustice he felt was done to him was ridiculous in light of his own “indiscretions”.  He never grew as a character, he was just flat. I liked John and Cathy but I wasn’t happy with their character arcs and I thought John’s decision was led by guilt and not so much his heart. It seemed a waste of two people with the potential to be something better.

But that may have been Meacham’s point. Life is filled with decisions and actions that have far-reaching consequences and change the course of lives, not always for the better. But, a big But, the actions of these characters stretches my belief and the novel is pulled in a multitude of different directions and never settles on one.

For one, John and Trey’s secret and what they did with it I thought was outrageous and did not fit in with the setting or the lovey dovey tone of the novel and I felt it was thrown in for shock value. The accidental pregnancy and the way it which it happened, was just absurd. I’m sure it can happen, but combined with all the other incidents that left me stretching my belief, this was the topper.

Finally, the murder at the end, completely senseless and did nothing to the story. The drama could have and would have been much better resolved in another matter.

Tumbleweeds left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. The whole plot and everything that happened from the end of part one to the conclusion was just pointless and filled with unnecessary sadness. I had a hard time getting into the book and found the dialogue stiff and the conversation between characters, more so when they are eleven, hard to buy. In the end, I was disappointed by Tumbleweeds. I placed high expectations on Leila Meacham after reading her debut novel Roses and loving it. This one falls far from the mark.

Quote of the Day

“Everything you can imagine is real.” 
― Pablo Picasso

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court

I fell in love with Michelle Moran's writing in Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution. Now she is back with another historical that I am eagerly anticipating, The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court is at the top of my wishlist.

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

National bestselling author Michelle Moran returns to Paris, this time under the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as he casts aside his beautiful wife to marry a Hapsburg princess he hopes will bear him a royal heir

After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Jos├ęphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.

As Pauline's insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline's jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire's peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.

Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.

Quote of the Day

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” 
― John Lennon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

All Summer Long

All Summer Long (Fool's Gold, #9)

Charlie Dixon is a firefighter in Fools Gold. She discovered the small town on vacation and fell in love with the beautiful, welcoming town and stayed for good. Charlie carries demons from her past and she is finally ready to confront them and heal so she can move forward towards her dream of having a family.

Clay Stryker is a retired model. He’s come home and plans to stay for good. He has a dream to enrich his and his family’s way of life by putting his own mark on his family’s rich involvement with the Fools Gold community. He wants to give back and one way is to dedicate his time as a volunteer firefighter, but first he will have to pass Charlie’s rigorous training. Clay is also still carrying scars on his heart.

Clay has always been misjudged and valued for his looks alone. Charlie knows the feeling and is drawn to Clay, as a friend, from his arrival in town. The two can relate and appreciate each other’s personalities. When Charlie bares her soul to him and asks him to help heal her, he agrees but will they be able to heal each other’s broken hearts or will they do more damage to each other?

Let me count the ways in which I loved All Summer Long. I was immediately drawn into Charlie and Clay’s story. They are both rich, multi-layered characters and easily lovable. Aside from the stark masculinity of Clay, he is also vulnerable and isn’t afraid to let Charlie see what he perceives as his weaknesses.

Charlie had a bad experience in her youth that damaged her for a long time but she is now ready to face her fears and she opens herself up to Clay, trusts him with more than herself and although she is scared, Clay is patient and takes his time healing her. The dedication and desire he showed Charlie from the beginning was so incredibly sweet and endearing. I loved Charlie, she was scared of being hurt but she was determined and when she decided to stop running from her fears, she gave herself whole-heartedly. She was tough, sweet, loyal and courageous.

The chemistry between Charlie and Clay jumps off the page and springs to life, both of them open themselves up to intimacy that leaves nothing left to hide and both are strong enough to revel in it instead of hiding from it.

There are also family issues when Charlie’s estranged mother, Dominique comes to Fools Gold, hoping to forge a closer relationship with her daughter. Dominique was a really hard character to like, she was the most selfish and self-centered character I have had the displeasure of reading in a long time. But though she makes tons of mistakes, by the end of the book, she had grown on me. Mallery did a brilliant job when she created that character, as she was able to write a hugely flawed, egotistical character and develop her well enough to eventually be a semi-redeemable character. I imagine with more time spent in Fools Gold, she may turn into a decent character.

What I’ve discovered and love about Susan Mallery is her ability to deliver not only complex and well-drawn characters, but to give the readers a story with heart and soul. The book is character driven, but the issues are relatable and realistic, making the book that much more enjoyable.

I just started reading Susan Mallery with her last release, Summer Nights and I loved that as well. I’m late to the scene as the Fools Gold series is now up to the ninth book with the release of All Summer Long, but I think Mallery has a new lifelong fan in me. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next, I don’t know if she will be able to top Charlie and Clay, who are now up there in my favorites, but I do hope she tries.

Quote of the Day

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

Monday, July 23, 2012

Outlander Series FAQ

Outlander fans all over are abuzz with the news that the beloved series is possibly being taken to the small screen. Last week it was announced Sony pictures has optioned the Outlander series for a possible tv series or movie.

Diana Gabaldon has posted an Outlander movie/mini-series FAQ on her website. Click here for the details. 

So what do you think, would you like to see Outlander as a movie or tv series? Which one, or none?

Personally, I never liked the idea of a movie, there is way too much information to pack into a two hour movie and the essence of the book would be lost (in my opinion) but I like the idea of a tv series, I think it could work. Of course, casting is crucial to making it work. Let's hope somewhere out there, the perfect Jamie Fraser is waiting for his breakout role. (Gerard Butler need not apply).

Quote of the Day

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” ― John KeatsBright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Sundays

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey

**An ARC copy was provided by NetGalley**

Anna Steal (aka Bella Swan, aka Ana Steele) is still a ditzy college student in this parody of Fifty Shades of Grey/Twilight and fanfic in general. Instead of the obnoxious eye-rolling, Ana picks her nose and instead of her inner-goddess, she has an inner guidette.

Anna meets Earl Grey (aka Edward Cullen, aka Christian Grey) when she is sent in her best friend, Katheleen Kraven’s place. Kathleen is thirty-eight, has a weird obsession with 16 and Pregnant and likes to do Nyquil and Red Bull bombs. Anna is interviewing Earl Grey for Boardroom Hotties magazine.

Grey is still a corporate mogul and he is still into BDSM, (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery and Magick) and doesn’t date, instead he prefers LARPers (live-action role playing).

In this parody, Merkin pokes fun at the fan fic turned million dollar sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey and its predecessor and knockoff (I mean inspiration) Twilight. The book follows the basic storyline of Grey and pokes fun at all of the  most annoying parts and manages to get some digs at Twilight as well.

The first sex scene will leave you with tears streaming down your face and stiches in your side. But it gets better, the infamous tampon scene will leave you breathless with hysterics.

Some of Earl’s fifty shames include shopping at Walmart, Nickelback, Olive Garden , a Tom Cruise obsession and his Dorm Room of Doom.

From the cover of the book, to the final hilarious page, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, is a book worth checking out whether or not you liked Fifty Shades of Grey or not. I laughed throughout and continued to do so as I thought about a few memorable scenes after I was done reading.

And here are some of my favorite quotes:

Holy Mother Effing Sparkly vampires is he hot. (pg 7)

After Anna leads him to the tape aisle at Walmart: “He picks up the most expensive brand , which runs $3.99 a roll. This guy is a total baller.( 26-27)

Kathleen would call him a Trent Reznor, since he has a nine inch nail. (pg 83)

Quote of the Day

Holy Mother Effing Sparkly vampires is he hot.
- Fanny Merkin (aka Andrew Shaffer), Fifty Shames of Earl Grey 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I love you, a nighean donn. I have loved ye from the moment I saw ye, I will love ye 'til time itself is done, and so long as you are by my side, I am well pleased wi' the world."
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross 

Friday, July 20, 2012

First Chapter of The Descent

For fans of Alma Katsu's phenomenal Taker trilogy, she posted some exciting news yesterday. She's released the first chapter of the last novel in the trilogy, The Descent. You can find it on her site here.

The Reckoning (The Taker, #2)Alma Katsu’s debut novel The Taker is the story of Lanore McIlvrae and her eternal love for Jonathan St. Andrew.  It’s a story of obsession, possession and everything in between. Part historical, part paranormal, part romance it is a heart-wrenching amalgam of a young woman’s desire and the choices she makes and the consequences of those choices.

The Reckoning, just released last month, picks up where The Taker left off.

Quote of the Day

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” 
― Langston Hughes

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night picks up right where A Discovery of Witches ended with Diana and Matthew traveling to Elizabethan England in 1590.

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)Determined to find the missing Ashmole 782 and find Diana a tutor to teach her essentially how to be a witch and learn her own powers, the couple are thrust into a world of intrigue and deception.

Shadow of Night is a fantastic follow-up to Discovery. It is again rich in historical details and the dynamics of inter-creature relations. As Diana and Matthew weave their way through 1590 and the mystery of the Ashmole manuscript deepens, their relationship grows. They begin to learn each other’s idiosyncrasies and their love begins to blossom into something deeper.

Shadow of Night brings an assortment of new and unforgettable characters into the fold, from the infamous School of Night, including prominent historical figures such as Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh to Matthew’s own family tree. I loved the new additions to Matthew’s family and to see the family relationships he has forged over his fifteen hundred years.

With Deborah Harkness at the reins, Shadow of Night leaps off the page. The characters come to life, the sights and sounds of Elizabethan London leave you with the lingering sense that you have been there before. Harkness’ ability to blend history and fiction are superb and the story reflects her thoroughly detailed research from the size of coins to the smells of the city.

Diana and Matthew’s love continues to grow and flourish throughout the book and as they peel back layers of each other and themselves, we are able to discover new facets of these wonderful characters we have grown to love. Seeing Matthew in the past, surrounded by friends and foes, gives the reader more insight into who Matthew is and it’s fascinating to discover more about the man.

Diana is able to find a group of witches to help her with her magic and as she learns more about who she is, she comes into herself and finally begins to understand who she is and what she is capable of.

 While the mystery of Ashmole deepens, some questions do get answered but we are left with a few more at the conclusion of the book. Such as, what effects will Diana and Matthew’s time walking have on the future? I don’t want to share any more than that and give the plot away to those that have not read Shadow yet.

I was thrilled with Shadow of Night and wish I read a little slower so I could still savor it. There is definitely action and suspense throughout the book but it’s also building up to the third novel where I just have the feeling it’s going to be action packed when we learn everything Ashmole 782 contains within and Diana and Matthew face a showdown of epic proportions. 

Quote of the Day

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” 
― Robert FulghumAll I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Outlander - A cable series?

I only discovered the Outlander series last year and in about a month, read all seven very long books. I have  been obsessed with them ever since and have already re-read them again. There is so much to say it's hard to formulate exactly what I want to say.

Hands down, this is the best series I have ever read. The characters of Claire and Jamie are two of my favorites (if not my favorites). It's hard to describe the books as they do not fit neatly into one genre. There is romance, history, time travel - the list goes on.

Diana Gabaldon is a fantastic writer. She has not only written some of the best characters (not only Jamie and Claire, the books are loaded with unforgettable characters), she weaves an intricate plot line into the books that sometimes carry over to the next book. Instead of being bored or losing interest, it's a heart pounding read and I found myself staying up until the wee hours on many a night to find out what happens.
Loaded with historical detail they are well-researched and filled with little gems.

Anyway, yesterday Diana posted an article on to her Facebook page announcing Sony Pictures has acquired the rights to the Outlander series to turn them into a cable tv show (think HBO, Showtime etc). Not just Outlander, but the entire series of books.

I am really excited with this news. There has been talk of an Outlander movie in the past but I was always skeptical. I'm not a big fan of movies adapted from books, I think most of the time the book gets butchered, although there are a few exceptions.

Anyway, the contracts still have to be signed but it sounds like a deal! I think this is fantastic and could really work, although casting will be absolutely crucial. It is going to be really tough to find the perfect Jamie Fraser out there, not to mention all of the other characters. I look at shows like True Blood, Game of Thrones and Dexter, all adapted from best-selling books and their popularity and I have high hopes for Outlander. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. Stay tuned for more details.

You can read the full story here.

Quote of the Day

“He hands me his shopping list and I lead him through the store in search of the items. Duct tape? Plastic wrap? A hacksaw? Who is this guy, Dexter?” 
― Andrew ShafferFifty Shames of Earl Grey: A Parody

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Signing - Deborah Harkness

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for Shadow of Night, second book in the All Souls Trilogy (and July's book club pick) by Deborah Harkness. I love attending book signings to begin with, it's such a rush to have a beloved book inscribed by a favorite author but it's doubly thrilling when you have an author willing to interact with the readers, answer some questions and even give us a little insight into the characters, the writing process and even the little details. Deborah Harkness is one of those authors.

We were treated to two readings from the just released Shadow of Night and Ms. Harkness gave us the background of A Discovery of Witches, how she created this unique world of creatures (it all started with a question) and she discussed her background as an historian. Ms. Harkness if a professor of history and specializes in the time period Shadow is set which helped her with the details, but not as much as she expected.

When she opened up the floor to questions, she was gracious and answered all of the questions with sincerity. Her passion for what she does and what she has created glowed through with every question asked and answered. There were some interesting tidbits such as the character of Matthew Clairmont was created with the shadowy and elusive figure of Matthew Roydon, the infamous School of Night's least known member, in mind. The All Souls trilogy was originally meant to be only one book broken into three parts and certain characters were never intended but crept into the story and decided to stay.

I had a great night as a result and am now the proud owner of a signed copy of Shadow of Night. Look for a Summer Giveaway in August when I will be giving away the other signed copy of Shadow of Night  to one of my lovely readers!

Quote of the Day

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” 
― Oscar WildeThe Importance of Being Earnest

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

“A person walks into a room and says hello, and your life takes a course for which you are not prepared. It's a tiny moment (almost-but not quite-unremarkable), the beginning of a hundred thousand tiny moments and some larger ones.” 
― Anita ShreveEden Close

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Sundays- Summer Nights

Summer Nights (Fool's Gold, #8)

I’ve never read Susan Mallery before so when I had a chance to read Summer Nights through NetGalley’s ARC program, I wanted to give her a try. Wow, I am so glad I did. I loved Summer Nights and all of the wonderful characters in Fools Gold. I am kicking myself for never reading her before, a situation that will shortly be remedied as I plan on devouring the rest of the Fools Gold series.

In Summer Nights Annabelle Weiss and Shane Stryker have both been burned by past relationship and they are still carrying the scars to prove it. When Annabelle seeks out Shane’s help in teaching her how to ride for a festival to raise money for her Bookmobile program, Shane warily agrees. Shane is looking for safe and comfortable and he’s seen the fiery red-head dance and knows she isn’t it.

As they begin to train, a friendship blossoms, but neither can fight the attraction they feel for each other. When they finally give it to the passion that is evident between them, Shane thinks he’s finally gotten Annabelle out of his system but he’s not prepared for the feelings he has for her. Can they heal the scars of the past and find a love that lasts – together?

In Summer Nights (Fools Gold #8), Mallery gives the reader two fantastic characters in Annabelle and Shane. They are both trying to move on from their pasts and forge a new future. She lets the attraction simmer and brings it to a slow boil, but when it finally starts roiling, it’s impossible to let go.

There is also an array of secondary characters that I fell in love with, all from previous books or soon-to-be books. It makes me want to go back and read all of their stories. Whenever I read a series or a trilogy, I love seeing past characters. I fell in love with in little glimpses of their lives together that Mallery delivers with a flourish. She has created a perfect town in Fools Gold and an amazing cast of characters.

Nothing takes away from Annabelle and Shane’s relationship. Mallery has done a fantastic job in developing these characters and giving their love story an honest portrayal.

Susan Mallery has a new fan in me. I can’t wait to read Charlie and Clay’s story in the next installment of the Fools Gold series, All Summer Long.  I’ve been lucky enough to receive an ARC and will be ripping through it in no time. 

Quote of the Day

“Sometimes, it is not the kings and queen who make for the most fascinating history but the shadowy souls who happen to be in the right place at the right time.” 
― Michelle MoranMadame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

Madame Tussaud is an historical fiction novel set during the tumultuous French Revolution. The novel follows Marie Grosholtz (maiden name), also known as Madame Tussaud. Marie was trained in wax modeling by her uncle and together they ran a successful Salon in Paris. At the onset of the revolution, the Salon hosted such notorious figures as Robiespierre, Marat and the Duc d’Orleans.

After Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette visit the salon, Marie is asked to tutor Louis’ sister, Madame Elisabeth in the art of wax modeling. As the first stirrings of the revolution are sweeping Paris, Marie must walk a delicate line between the royal family and the patriots while keeping the Salon afloat.

 As the revolution begins to take a deadly turn, Marie is forced to appease the patriots. To do so, she must rid the Salon of the royal family and update it to include the prominent men and the scenes from the daily bloody fight for liberty. She is asked to create death masks from the fall of the Bastille and from there she is forced to hunt through the Madeleine cemetery at night to make the gruesome masks of those that felt the cut of the guillotine.

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French RevolutionThroughout the political double stepping, Marie is in love with her neighbor Henri Charles, a scientist working on meteorology and the hope of flying a hydrogen balloon. Henri has waited for Marie, dedicated to her salon, for years and will continue to do so forever. When events start becoming more horrific and innocent people are slaughtered at the hand of Robespierre and Marat, Henri begs Marie to flee to England, but can Marie leave her family and everything she has worked for or will she choose love?

I was captivated with Michelle Moran’s writing from the first page. She is able to relate history and the facts in an intriguing and appealing account without the feel of reading a boring monotone history book.
Marie Grosholtz was a fascinating person and her story is remarkable in so many ways. During a time of extreme terror, Marie was intent on surviving and did what she had to do to ensure her family’s continued safety. To read about a woman of that time period being independent is rare and Madame Tussaud was a rare woman of her time.

I always love to read about history and the history of the French Revolution is an interesting and horrifying time. What started as a bid for liberty turned into a blood-bath with thousands of citizens dying at the hands of the new government they put in place. To hear individual stories of this time, like Marie’s is utterly mesmerizing.

Moran’s research is apparent, although she changes some details to suit the story. Yet none of these variations detract from the story. The utter disregard Louis had for his safety and his lack of personal well-being are horrifyingly clear. It really makes you wonder what would have happened if the royal family had made their escape instead of being caught in Varennes.  Moran re-counts the preparation the royals took before their escape attempt, Marie Antoinette’s ordering dozens of dresses for her wardrobe, Louis insisting they all go in one carriage, stopping for a meal on the way. It makes you shake your head in frustration.

I loved the story of Marie and her true love Henri. Their love story, set to the backdrop of the revolution was touching and poignant. That two people could find love in the midst of turmoil gives heart to this story.

Hands down I loved this book; I had a hard time putting it down and devoured it in a short time. If you are interested in historical fiction, this is a book worth reading. I plan on checking out more of Michelle Moran’s work.

Quote of the Day

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,it was the season of light,it was the season of darkness,it was the spring of hope,it was the winter of despair.” 
― Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities

Friday, July 13, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Wow, I am so thrilled to have been nominated by two fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you Nette @  http://nettesbookshelf.blogspot.com/ and Soma @ http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/ . 
There are a few rules one one must follow before accepting the award and they are as follows:
  1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers who are relatively new to blogging.
  2. Let the nominated bloggers know that they have been nominated for this award.
  3. Share 7 random facts about yourself. 
  4. Thank the blogger who has nominated you. 
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post.   
7 Random facts about me: 
1. I am the proud Mommy of the most wonderful almost three yr. old son, Charlie
2.I am addicted to buying shoes
3. I just started listening to country music, and like it.
4. I love HGTV
5.My favorite show of all time is Seinfeld.
6. I love to sing when I cook.
7. I am obsessed with playing Mahjong on my phone.

And the nominees for Versatile Blogger Award goes too.... 

  1. Cameo Renae
  2. This Girl Reads
  3. Cafe Reads
  4. Chrissy's Chatter
  5. Incurable Romantic
  6. Literary Love Affair
  7. Ramblings of a Book Junkie
  8. Three Cats and a Girl
  9. The Book Shelf
  10. Queen of Teen Fiction
  11. S.I.K. Book Reviews
  12. Read and Caffeinated
  13. Living Loving and Writing
  14. Kick Back Moments
  15. Head Stuck in a Book

Quote of the Day

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” 
― Stephen King11/22/63

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Toe the Line

** A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.**

Wynn Johnston and his partner, Brian Wheeler are returning home from Seattle where they have just competed in a triathlon when Wheeler is stabbed and murdered in the Sea-Tac airport. Wynn is held in Seattle while the police launch an investigation and Wynn is forced to call his almost father-in-law, an attorney, for help.

Although Wynn is shocked at his friend’s murder, he is determined to get home to Austin, TX where he runs a small business that caters to triathlon participants. Until his death, Wheeler was his partner and now Wynn is left with a business that desperately needs his attention.

Staying in Seattle, Wynn is confronted by his old flame and the ultimately questionable occurrences in Wheeler’s behavior before his death. Together with the help of former flame Madison Michaelson, they begin to look into the potential causes of Wheeler’s death and when the killer takes an interest in seeing them dead, they have to fight to stay one step ahead.

I was engrossed from the first line ”Go to Hell Wheeler” and the more I read, the more I wanted to know what happened to Wheeler, what would happen to Wynn and Madison and ultimately Who Dunnit.

Dick Hannah has a remarkable voice as an author. He was able to write a character, Wynn, who was kind of a well, jerk and as the reader I was still engrossed in his story, I still wanted to find out what happened to him. Yes, I think there was a level of indifference to Wheeler’s murder, especially for someone who claims to be his best friend but I am also willing to give Wynn the benefit of the doubt. He just lost his friend, he has a business on the brink, and everything he knows and loves is thrown into a tailspin. That might make anyone a little hard to handle.

The secondary characters of Harvey and Madison were well-written and both compliment Wynn’s sometimes apathetic attitude. I absolutely loved Madison, she was feisty and determined, didn’t take no for an answer and went above and beyond for Wynn. Madison’s personality softens Wynn’s attitude as well and together they complement each other and make a perfect duo.

The suspense builds throughout the novel and there are twists and turns along the way that leave the reader to guess at what comes next. I admit, I did not see the ending coming but when I saw and read, I loved it. I thought it was well done and suspenseful.

Hannah does a fantastic job creating the scenery and setting. Through the narrative voice, you feel as though you are part of the story.  The writing flows along with the story and before you know it you are flipping page after page, engrossed and in the same race to find out what happened as Wynn and Madison.

Bottom line, Toe the Line is a book worth reading. Find it on Amazon,or just out Dick Hannah's Blog for more info but put it on your TBR list.

Quote of the Day

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” 
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Release Day Tuesday

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)

I'm sure I've talked about this enough to drive people crazy but Shadow of Night hit bookstores today. I've already got my copy and I can't wait to start reading it. I'm currently reading a fabulous book, Madame Tussaud A Novel of the French Revolution and as soon as I'm done this, I'm diving right into Shadow.
I hope this new release makes you as excited as it has made me.

Happy Reading everyone!

Quote of the Day

“It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.” 
― Deborah HarknessA Discovery of Witches

Monday, July 9, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I am thrilled to have been awarded the Liebster Blog Award
 by Cameo @ http://cameorenae.blogspot.com/.
She has a fantastic blog so I feel doubly lucky
she chose my blog!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers
 who have less than 200 followers and Liebster is a German 
word which means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest,
 beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, 
endearing and welcome. Awww....that's so adorable.

Here are the rules:
1) Each person must post 11 facts about themselves.
2) Answer 11 questions the awarder has given you, and give 11 questions for the people you've awarded. 
3) Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Tell them you've awarded them. 
5. Remember, no tag backs. 

11 Facts About Me:
1. I love Paris. My husband took me there for my dream vacation and proposed on the Eiffel Tower.
2. I don't feel human until I've had two cups of coffee in the morning.
3. My all-time favorite movie is The Princess Bride.
4. I love watching re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210, it's a secret pleasure.
5. I hate bridges.
6. I love Baking.
7. I don't own a Kindle, Nook etc.
8. Pearl Jam is my ultimate favorite band. I've seen them 10 times in concert. ( not nearly enough)
9. The Summer and Fall are my favorite times of the year.
10. I love the smell of rain.
11.  Christmas is my favorite holiday.

11 people I have given the Liebster Blog Award to: <3

My questions from Cameo:
1) What's your favorite color? Red
2) Do you have pets?Yes, a Yellow Lab.
3) What's your astrological sign? Scorpio
4) What is your favorite genre to read? Wow, hard one. I read a lot of different genres but I'll go with General Fiction
5) How many books do you read a month? Depends on size etc. I'm going with 10. 
6) Are you a writer? If yes, what genre do you write?No, but it has always been my dream.
7) Who's your favorite author(s)? Diana Gabaldon, Jill Shalvis, John Sandford to name a few.
8) What's your favorite movie? The Princess Bride
9) If you could be in any movie, which one would you choose? If they ever make an Outlander movie, I'd like to be in that.
10) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Paris
11) What is your favorite movie snack? Popcorn

Questions for my winners:
1. Kindle or Book?
2. Favorite Book?
3. How long have you been blogging?
4. Favorite Author?
5. Birthday or Christmas?
6. Favorite Season
7. What author living or dead would you like to meet?
8. Hardback or paperback
9. Favorite song?
10. Favorite genre to read?
11. Favorite TV show?

Quote of the Day

“Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.'
You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.” 
― E.B. WhiteCharlotte's Web

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Sundays - I Couldn't Love You More

I Couldn't Love You MoreEliot Gordon is raising her three daughters with her partner, Grant Delaney. Two of the girls, Charlotte and Gail are Grant’s from a previous marriage. Although they have been together for five years, Eliot hasn’t made the leap to marriage.

Everything is their life is perfect, until Eliot’s college boyfriend, whom she has never forgotten and still carries unresolved feelings for, unexpectedly returns to her life, sending her ordinary life into a tailspin. Finn’s return will prompt choices and actions that will forever change Eliot and her family’s life.

I Couldn’t Love You More is a novel that touches on a parenting, step-parenting, sisters, first love, marriage and family. Can a mistake, once made ever really be forgiven? It’s a well written and thought-provoking read.

Eliot is a working mom and struggles to maintain a balance between her work and her girls. Although Charlotte and Gail are technically her step-daughters, Eliot devotes as much love and attention to her relationship with them as she does to her own daughter Hailey.

Eliot’s relationship with her two sisters, Sylvia and Maggie is juxtaposed with the relationship of Eliot’s girls. Although she is close to both sisters, the relationship comes with the trials of sisterhood, although I found Sylvia hard to take and thought she was overly dramatic but she had her moments. What I loved about the relationship was what is true of anyone who has a sister, although you fight and drive each other insane, you do anything for each other even at detriment to yourself and Mendoff zones in on this truth and shows just how far sisters will go to protect each other.

Eliot met Finn Montgomery in college. He was her best-friend, her first boyfriend and her first lover. After graduation, Finn left abruptly and never looked back. It took Eliot years to get over him. When Eliot runs into him again, old feelings resurrect and she finds herself facing long forgotten feelings.

I never thought Finn was the perfectly wonderful man Eliot did. But that’s the thing about first loves or the ones that got away, our memories don’t always mesh with the real person, they get distorted and shaped over time to create an unrealistic memory. Eliot clung to this idolized vision of Finn and couldn’t move on with her life in some ways because of him and I just didn’t think he deserved her time and love. I don’t think their love story was all that great but again back to my last comment on first loves.

I read the last quarter of this book with a sense of dread in my belly and couldn’t put it down as I raced to find out what happened - what consequences would Eliot and her family suffer for a split second mistake.  

I enjoyed reading I Couldn’t Love You More. It was a thought-provoking, insightful novel into the heart of family. This would be a great book for Book Club, there is so much to discuss.