Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Reads of 2012

Here are my favorite reads of 2012.

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


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

 The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

At Last by Jill Shalvis

 Bared to You by Sylvia Day

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

 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

 The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 All Summer Long by Susan Mallery

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Outlander Challenge 2013

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

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

Some guidelines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Best of 2012

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

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

1. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

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

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

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

3. Indie Authors

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

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

Happy Reading !

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

I have the Fever

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

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

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

Happy Reading everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Under the Mistletoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

All I want for Christmas...

Photo: ;))

Quote of the Day

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

Monday, December 3, 2012

Coffee and Conversation

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading!