Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eclipse in Real Life

I'm sooooo jealous my SIL went to Forks last week! (Well, she went to visit family up in that general vicinity and while she was up in that corner of the US she had to go to Forks!) I pestered her until she have me some Forks scoop and pics - here for your enjoyment:

So yeh, not bragging or anything, but I went to Forks, Washington.

Yes, my sole purpose for visiting is ‘coz I’m a Twilight-aholic.

And it was fucking awesome.

Not just ‘coz of the whole Twilight mania complete with tours, shops, signage and the like. The area (Forks, La Push, Port Angeles) is some of the most gorgeous countryside I have ever seen.

The [supposed to take] 2 hour trip turned into a 4 hour trip (one way!!). One reason is that everyone in that region drives about 10 miles UNDER the speed limit. UNDER PEOPLE. You pull that shit in Houston and you gonna get shot. In the face.
Second reason is ‘coz of all the damned wildlife. We almost crashed no less than 10 times. The brakes on that rental car gonna need some changing. Soon.

Elk. Deer. Ravens. Cougars (no, not that kind, even though it was in Twilight land, and expected, it was the real deal kind with jacked up tails).

The lakes and mountains were so peaceful that it felt claustrophobic. It was somehow suffocating to let go of the hustle and bustle. To relax into going UNDER the speed limit. To enjoy slowing down for the numerous forms of wildlife. To actually be quiet long enough to hear waterfalls cascading down the mountain cliffs.

Edward and Jacob visit my dirty thoughts frequently. Most times together.  Wait, so where was I?

Michael was so good and made sure that I stood still long enough to take a picture in front of everything. (fyi, Michael is my brother - her husband)

There was a line forming to take pictures in front of the Forks sign but guess who was first? I’ll give you ONE guess.

Now, I didn’t take the Twilight Tour but I enjoyed perpetrating like I did.

Then I just had to get a shot with Bella’s truck.

La Push was beyond words. Breathtakingly storybook is as close as I can come.

The beach actually had people running about. AND people surfing. In wet suits of course ‘coz, again, in case I have not been clear, it was cold.

Look real close. See that moon?

This goes in the Alzheimer’s album to remind us when we’re 80 the places we’ve visited.

This I thought was Twilight inspired but, nope, been there for years.

The cutest thing in La Push though was the treaty line.

Port Angeles:

Bella Italia with my friend Amy. She was my running buddy back in the days of orange hair and red attitude.

The coast went on and on just as beautiful as this for miles it seemed.

The water was clear and crystal but a bit greenish (which lets you know it is COLD water my friends, don’t go in there!).

I can understand and appreciate why people live there, even knowing it never got over 53 degrees the entirety of our stay (in June) … I understand it. Serene, relaxed culture surrounded by some of the greenest lands in America.

All I can say at this point is neener-neener, I went to Twilight land and it was all I had hoped it would be!

And then I pestered Hannah with questions('cause I'm going next summer if it kills me!):

So, Forks was cold and overcast, even in June?

Well, cold to me. There were many people (locals) in shorts/t-shirts but the high temperature the day we visited was a whopping 53 degrees. The sky was overcast until we made it to La Push. And I don't mean just that one day ... our week-long visit was plagued with cloud cover.

Is the town as tiny as they say?
Tiny doesn't even cover it. When people joke about one stoplight towns, this is the town they are speaking of. Only one light and if you blinked, you would miss the town entirely. Which, to be fair, was more than La Push had. They got no stoplight at'all.

Were the townies friendly? Were there a lot of tourists?The locals were extremely friendly. Southern hospitality could take a lessons from these people. The shops were overflowing with tourists. Well, I assume they were tourists as they were all female and most under the age of 20 (complete with giggles over who is more "TeamEdward" or "Team Jacob"). The town is racking in bountiful Twilight profits and the locals were eager to show their appreciation.

What spots were obviously movie-related?
Most every spot had a dusting of Twilight paraphernalia of one sort of another. Heck, even the Chamber of Commerce has a Twilight poster in the door. Forks did have more movie related shops while La Push is more nonchalant about it but, I must say, when you have scenery as gorgeous as they do, you don't need any add on materials.

What were the shops like? Any places to eat?Shops and restaurants all closed at 6:00 so we were not able to stop and eat anywhere due to the time constraints. We did, however, eat at Bella Italia and it was delicious. There was a poster in the window signed by Stephanie Meyer when she visited in 2009. The staff mostly enjoyed the business and the tourists but you could tell some of the younger folks were, well, over it.

How far was it from Forks to LaPush?
Heading from Port Angeles to Forks, you actually drive past the road heading to La Push. When we headed it back it took approximately 1/2 hour. The path into La Push was a narrow one with beach stops named one, two and three along the way. We headed to the last one, number 3, and were able to drive right onto the beach. Driftwood was abound in all directions and the rock climbers (as the locals call them) were awe inspiring. The rock climbers were created by earth plates crashing together and forcing the rock straight into the air. Accessible by only by boat it is a place for young kids and, presumably, Natural Light cans.

You went to Port Angeles too – how was that ride?
Port Angeles almost sneaks up on you. You seem to be driving in a forever land of Douglas firs and BAM, you are in downtown Port Angeles. Again, small town but the air smelled like my dreams when Edward visits. Salty and tangy with a bite of wind chill.

Did you try to change the radio and touch Michael’s cold, cold hand and acknowledge that he’s a vampire?
Let me tell you a secret. Satellite devices do not do well in Port Angeles, Forks or La Push. The [almost] constant cloud cover leaves you without satellite radio, functioning cellphone or GPS. If not for my friend Amy, we would have never found the area (or our way back!).

Oh, wait…got a little carried away there! Was the restaurant nice – was it full of tourists or locals? Did Port Angeles acknowledge Twilight in any way?
Port Angeles did not have Twilight mania as did Forks but there were drips and drabs showing the connection. Port Angeles seemed to be more of a locals only joint. Although Port Angeles delivered delicious food and breathtaking water scenes, and while Forks is home to my Bella and her many adventures, La Push is the place that stole my heart. And not just 'coz I'm team Jacob.

Thanks for sharing, Hannah - it looks like you had a great time!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review: Jude in Chains by KZ Snow

(This book falls into my M/M Reading Challenge)

Awhile back, Kris over at Kris-n-Good Books held a contest, and offered a copy of several books. I won Jude in Chains. At first, I wasn't sure about this one, the premise seemed like kind of a downer...but as is becoming all too familiar - I was wrong! I tore through this book in less than a day!

From Dreamspinner Press:
Hoping further to expose the fallacy of "reparative therapy" for non-heterosexuals, writer Misha Tzerko enrolls in a weeklong program at the Stronger Wings Camp and Conference Center. He's already lost a long-term boyfriend to the ex-gay movement—Robbie abandoned him for a straight life complete with wife—and for his own closure as well as his job at Options magazine, Misha intends to get an inside look at the ministry established by C. Everett Hammer III.

Misha is shocked and dismayed to find someone else from his past at Stronger Wings, a man with whom he shared two brief but captivating encounters. He knows he can’t save everyone in the program, but he's determined to save Jude Stone... no matter what it takes.


Misha is a gay reporter whose last serious lover left him to persue a relationship with a woman. He's getting ready to head out to a "reconditioning program*" to make gay men straight. He's going to pose as a straight reporter so that the founder will allow him to stay and interact with the clients. Right after he signs in, he runs into Jude, whom he'd met two years earlier at a wedding - it had been instant attraction but he never saw Jude again, until they meet at the program.

Jude had parental issues at the time of the wedding, and apparently they'd gotten worse. He's at Stronger Wings because he doesn't want to be gay anymore, he doesn't want his parents to be disgusted by him anymore.

The times Misha spends with Jude during the week, just talking about themselves and their pasts are so tender and sweet. As Jude fights his attraction to Misha, Misha falls harder for Jude. The interactions between Misha and the other camp "residents" are pretty funny. I especially liked Ash and Samuel. Hammer made a great bad guy - I have my doubts about him :)

Misha had a great sense of humor. Near the end of the story, Misha decides to dance, and chooses his dance partner thusly:

"She'd been eyeing me, so I figured she was an ace in the hole. Not my hole, of course, but whatever hole aces went into."

The ending was a bit fantastic, but oh, so funny. And hopeful. It was a bit open-ended but I think there's an HEA there.

I give Jude in Chains 4 out of 5 stars! Thank you so much Kris for introducing me to KZ Snow's books, I will definitely be going back for more!

*I have to add that the name of the facility - Stronger Wings - kept making me think of the Big Brother-type organization in the movie Role Models - Sturdy Wings (my adolescent sense of humor loves this movie!).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell

From the author's website:
Alice, a former New Yorker, struggles to feel at home in the bizarre world of the San Fernando Valley -- all while holding a job and caring for her young daughter and senile mother. When her attorney husband lands a trophy client - box office queen Rose Maris - things begin to look up.

Then Alex starts working late - a lot. He crunches his paunch into a six pack and trades his Gap ensembles for Armani everything.

Soon, Alex and Rose's affair blazes in the tabloids and Alice is plunged into trash-gossip hell. Her life crumbles around her as she navigates her newly single life through suburban L.A. -- a place rife with porn stars, psycho soccer moms and nutty neighbors obsessed with creating a winter wonderland despite the scorching desert heat.

Is there a chance to wrest Alex from the Sexiest Woman Alive? And if so, would Alice want him back? And what about George, her college sweetheart? Or Johnny, a walking charm-bomb paparazzo? As Alice inventories the rubble of her life, she desperately searches for her bearings and is forced to ask herself what she really wants from life, love and herself.

. . . . . . .

Irene Zutell really has a gift for words. If anyone else had told this story I probably would have put it down and walked away. The storyline itself is sad: Woman is married and has a young child, husband leaves her for a younger/richer/famous client. As if that wasn't enough, her mother has Alzheimer's and is thrown out of her elder care home. Depressing, right? In Ms. Zutell's hands, not so much.

Don't get me wrong, this book was not a barrel of laughs, but Ms. Zutell found humor in almost every part of the story. Okay, the husband is an ass, I'll give you that. But all the craziness made this book a you-can't-cry-because-you're-too-busy-laughing story:

Alice Hirsh's husband has left her for a client - a famous movie-star client - right after Alice almost died. She's left in the house they just bought, hiding with her five-year-old daughter, Gabby, from the paparazzi camped out in her front yard.

Right from the get-go the humor in this book is evident. She's staying inside the house hiding from the paparazzi, running out of food in the house and then the elder care home calls to tell her she's got to bring adult diapers for her mother:

I've got to get it together.
One person's needs depend on me. Another person needs Depends.

The cast of characters in this book is eclectic: A former pron star turned doctor's wife, a psychic, a Winnie-the-Pooh sweatshirt-wearing soccer mom/bar owner, the wacky neighborhood association president, the movie star and the ex-husband(I said they were eclectic, not that I liked them all!), her mother's nurse, and Gabby.

The house on the hill next door is used for filming pron. And Alice's five-year-old daughter thinks all the moaning and groaning they can hear coming from the house is a princess in need of rescue.

The elder care home refuses to keep her mother because she keeps swearing, even though they know she has Alzheimers. After she brings her mother home, at one point she thinks her mother is dying and her mother is trying to speak:

Please mom, please don't say cocksucker, I pray. Please don't let that be your last word. Please, please, please.

Alice's internal monologue was great. This book actually made me feel less paranoid about my own internal monologue :)

This was not a typical hero/heroine story; I don't think there really was a hero. Yes, there was a love interest, but it stayed kind of vague as far as HEA. I didn't like the fact that all the men in this book were less-than-honorable.

I think if you enjoy Women's Fiction you will really enjoy this book. Ms. Zutell addresses real issues women face today - divorce, parenthood/pregnancy, and caring for elderly parents - with a touch of humor; this story was touchingly funny.

I give Pieces of Happily Ever After 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Thanks to BookSparks PR, I have one copy of Pieces of Happily Ever After to give away. Leave a comment telling me you'd like to read this book - ends July 12. Must be a follower, US only.

This book was provided to me free of charge by BookSparks PR in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 25, 2010

June Wrap Up

Wow, June was a great reading month! I discovered a few new-to-me authors I'm currently stalking ;) Here's the rundown:

1. Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (5 stars!)
2. The Hell You Say by Josh Lanyon (4 stars)
3. The Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare (4 stars)
4. Masked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon (2 stars)
5. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (5 stars!)
6. Necking by Chris Salvatore (4 stars)
7. Skin Game by Ava Gray (3 stars)
8. Fortunate Harbor by Emile Richards (3 1/2 stars)
9. Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine (3 stars)
10. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (5 stars!)
11. The Beast in Him by Shelley Laurenston (3 stars)
12. The Mane Squeeze by Shelley Laurenston (4 stars)
13. Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell (3 1/2 stars)
14. Jude in Chains by KZ Snow (4 stars!)
15. When He Was Bad by Shelly Laurenston/Cynthia Eden (3 stars)
16. Knight of Passion by Margaret Mallory (3 1/2 stars)

AND True Blood started again! Woo Hoo!! I'm so thrilled, although Vampire Bill is already getting on my nerves....

Also in June I traveled to Lake Charles to meet 3 other bloggers (my SIL Hannah, Cecile from All I Want and More, and Hell Kat from Paranormal Fantasies). We had a great time and I'm looking forward to seeing Cecile and Hannah again over Labor Day weekend for the Writers for New Orleans event - I contacted the New Orleans area bloggers I'm aware of, but if anyone else lives near New Orleans - think about going!!

Lastly, I received a couple of awards this month:

Julie over at Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks gave me an award - and a very cool award it is:

1. As with any other blog award, you should post it and mention who presented it to you along with a link to their blog. 2. You must then award it to 2 to 5 other bloggers that you have been following for some time and that you find inspirational to your blog. You may want to mention why you chose them, but it’s not necessary. (Feel free to award it to someone who has already won it. They should know how many people are inspired by their work. If you’ve won it before, you don’t have to pass it on again, but you should still mention who gave it to you.) 3. Contact these 2 to 5 bloggers and let them know that you have granted them the “You’re My Inspiration blog award”. (There may even be tears of joy involved…okay, maybe not.)
Who are my inspirational bloggers? There are so many but here are a few:

1. Blodeuedd - she reads such a varied selection of books, her reviews are interesting and she's always so friendly.
2. Cecile - Cecile has got to be the friendliest Book Blogger I've ever met! I don't think there's anyone in the community that doesn't smile when they hear her name.
3. ALPHA Reader - I'm not going to say anything about her because I think at this point I'm a borderline stalker. Okay, I will admit I wish I could write reviews like this chick - she's very, very good.
4. Parajunkee - Parajunkee is a NOLA blogger, so she's got that going for her, but aside from that she's very friendly and I love her helpful posts - I've made several improvements to my blog that I would not have been able to figure out without her.
5. Lea - Lea's got a great blog and I like her reviews. She's friendly with everyone, and Tori is adorable!


And Christine over at The Happily Ever After Blog gave me this award:

The Award Criteria: This award is awarded to those bloggers who: 1~post almost every day, if not every 2~reply to every comment that's posted 3~just down right LOVE blogging! The Award Rules: Share one extraordinary thing that's happened to you then pass this award to 5 Xxtraordinarly bloggers.

One extraordinary thing that's happened to me, hmmm...that's harder than it sounds! Okay, meeting my husband and having my wonderful children is a given. I'm going to go with something else and say - meeting all you wonderful Book Bloggers! I have a very reserved personality, and am therefore very shy, but being able to "meet" you all online - and talk about books, no less - is something I never would have imagined happening. It's very special to me.

And five bloggers I'm passing this on to:
1. Pattepoilue at One Book Away From Heaven
2. Sullivan McPig at Pearls Cast Before A McPig (I'll admit I'm a lurker but love the posts!)
3. Larissa at Welcome to Larissa's Bookish Life
4. Monroe at Monroe with a Twist5. Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews (she's always got something going on!)

Oh - how could I forget? June 13 was my one year blogiversary! I've done a few giveaways - the last one is ending today - and will announce those winners next week!

So, my June was awesome - how was yours?

Review: Crazy for Love by Victoria Dahl

I should state up front I am a Victoria Dahl fangirl. I loved Lead Me On and Start Me Up. When I saw she had a new book, Crazy for Love, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed!

Chloe Turner is was a typical bride-to-be... until her fiancee faked his death to avoid marrying her. When the story opens, it's getting close to his court date to face charges involved in his crashing a plane to fake his death. Chloe's best friend Jess has taken her to White Rock Island to get away from the paparazzi, who have dubbed her "Bridezilla". Her fame-whore niece has been feeding all kinds of fake stories to the press about what an awful bride Chloe was.

Meet Max and Elliot Sullivan: Max is a treasure hunter/diving supervisor and his brother Elliot is a doctor who works for the CDC. Elliot has just gone through a divorce and bought a boat to try to relax. Max is using his off time from work to teach Elliot how to sail. They are staying in the cabin next door to Chloe and Jess.

Max has successfully sworn off women for the last nine months, and Chloe is trying to get over the devistation and humiliation thrust upon her by her ex-fiancee's actions. Max doesn't know that Chloe is the infamous Bridezilla - he's been treasure hunting the last several weeks. Their flirting together is engaging and sweet; I really like them as a couple. Max has a secret that he ends up sharing with Chloe early on, and she "gets" him. She sees through his facade to the great guy underneath.

She shifted and tried to cross her arms, but the fishing rod and life vest interfered, so she just edged away from him. "'re sending mixed signals here. Flirting with me and then telling me you're celibate."

"But I'm going to have sex with you," he insisted, just before the roar in his ears warned him that this was getting very bad, very fast. His pulse pounded, pushing a headache to life behind his eyes.

"Really?" Chloe drawled

"Oh, Jesus."

"Am I going to like it?"

He ran a hand through his hair, aware of the drop of sweat snaking down his neck. "I meant that I really wanted to, even though I told myself it was a bad idea, and I couldn't stop thinking about you and that red bikini. And your eyes!" he added belatedly. "And you're such a normal girl. You're not glamorous or....Um."

"I'm starting to believe you really aren't a player, because this is the worst seduction ever."

Max is constantly putting his foot in his mouth around Chloe and it's very sweet. He did have one very big personality issue that was part of the storyline, and I must admit I found myself wondering several times why he didn't just seek out help for it, as it was affecting his life. Once Max did find out who Chloe was, the story got a bit darker. The attraction was still there but now each of their issues are getting in the way and muddying the waters, so to speak.

And guess what, folks - this book is a 2-fer!!! Not only do we get Chloe and Max's story, we also get Jess and Elliot's story: *cha-ching!*. Jess and Elliot are attracted to each other, but between Elliot's divorce and the dysfunctional example set by Jess' parents, their story is much more delicate and tentative and is left a bit open-ended. Maybe a second book in the series?

The "runaway groom" storyline kept me me saying "No!...Yes?...No way!...Maybe?" I found I kept this part of the story running through the back of my mind while I was reading and I was constantly flipping back and forth between possible scenarios.

Ms. Dahl writes characters that are endearing and easy to root for. I really enjoyed this book and gobbled it up in a day. I give Crazy for Love 4 stars!

Crazy for Love is available for purchase July 1, 2010.

This book was provided to me by NetGalley free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta and my attempt to be an Aussie for a day!

Saving Francesca is a book I normally would not have looked at twice - a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl whose mother is acutely depressed. Neither of those subjects is really my *thing*. But, I remembered when I went to Maggie Stiefvater's book signing that she mentioned that it was one of her favorite YA books (here's a great review she did over at YA Reads).

Then, Danielle sent me her copy, and I put it on my TBR shelf. And it stayed there - mocking me. I was afraid I wasn't going to like it as much as she did. As usual, I was wrong and she was right (well, not about the vegemite; more on that later :D) - I loved this book. I tore through it in an afternoon.


From the back cover:

St. Sebastian's: Pretends it's a coed school by giving the girls their own toilet.
The Psycho Girls: The only female companions to be found at st. Sebastian's: Tara Finke, ultra-feminist; Siobhan Sullivan, former "Slut of St. Stella's Academy"; and Justine Kalinsky, impossibly dorky accordion player.
The Sebastian Boys: Thomas Mackee, specializes in musical burping, probably dropped on his head a few times as a baby; Will Trombal, Perpetually frowning, smug moron with no personality; now, if only Francesca could stop daydreaming about him...
MIA: The Queen of the Limitation Placers - Francesca's vivacious mother. Thinks she knows what's best for Francesca and makes her attend the hateful all-boys school - until the day she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is.

My Thoughts:

Did I mention I loved this book? 'Cause I did. It was touching, sad, funny, angsty, and an all-around excellent read. As the story opens, Francesca sort of defines herself as the opposite of her mother. You see how she has opinions but doesn't act on them, giving off a sort of non-commital, disinterested vibe, when really what she's been doing is sort of "squashing" her personality as she fights becoming her mother.

Suddenly, one morning her mother doesn't get out of bed. And again the next day, and the next. As her mother goes through her illness, Francesca is forced to look into herself and figure out who she is; defining herself as more than "not my mother".

Ms. Marchetta created characters that grew on me as the story progressed - the boys who started off as aloof, obnoxious and crude but by the end of the book as were a wonderful support system (and still crude and funny). Francesca's views of and interactions with her female friends was a bit off-putting at first, but those interactions were also part of her journey to find herself. Some of the adults in the story were awful enough to be borderline moronic, like the "aunt" who suggested Francesca's father might start to look elsewhere if her mother's illness continued, but I know, sadly, that those kinds of people do exist out here in the real world. Francesca's relationship with her father was complex and frustrating, but in the end, loving.

This was another book that made me laugh and cry. The writing was excellent - I connected with Francesca, and also, maybe a bit scarily, with her mother (although, I think that once you get to a certain age maybe that's not so surprising). I definitely want to read the next book, The Piper's Son, which is about Francesca's friend Thomas.

If you hadn't figured it out by now, I give Saving Francesca 5/5 stars!


When Danielle sent this book, she also sent a cute little koala bear and a tube of Vegemite. Now, the only thing I know about Vegemite is that Men at Work sing about it. So, I decided that since I was reading a this book sent to me by an Australian friend and written by an Australian author this would be a good day to try the Vegemite. I also had a package of TimTams (thanks Limecello) that I ate after I finished the book, so I was feeling very Australian today. :) (trying to remember if I used my Aussie shampoo this morning...) Back to the was not what I expected (although I really don't know what I was expecting), it was very strong and tasted like beef bullion. Is this really a breakfast food? I would think it would be more suited to lunch. It was fun to try though (the whole family gave it a go and had about the same reaction as I did :O).

Thank you Danielle for the excellent read and the chance to sample Vegemite since I've always wondered exactly what it was (Holy cow - I just realized that song is almost 30 years old!!!). And don't worry about the koala - he's keeping my Edward Cullen doll company on my keeper shelf :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Torn over whether to let my son read JR Ward

So, back in October, my son surprised me by asking if he could read Dark Lover. Apparently his girlfriend recommended it. I automatically said no.

But now I'm rethinking my position. He's going to be 17 next month. He watches R-rated movies that are full of sex and violence. He's read the Sookie Stackhouse books, which I was hesitant about at first (thank you Shower Scene in Book 4), but we didn't let him watch True Blood until this season.

I'd like to think we've raised him right so far, and I remind him A LOT that the relationships he sees on TV and the movies are not necessarily true-to-life and I expect him to respect women and not view them as sex objects.

And, from what I read in the blogosphere, many of you started reading romance in your teens (I only started less than two years ago), so am I pulling a double-standard because he 's a boy? I know it sounds weird, but I don't want him to view Dark Lover as a sex manual, if that makes sense.

I know there was some sort of kerfluffle recently about a teen reviewing an erotic book for a site, but I think that was mainly over the fact that he wasn't presented as a teen when he did the review? Or that it wasn't his parents that gave him the book?

I've decided to let him read it, but I'm curious about what other romance readers think or what you've done if your teen expresses interest in reading romance. And, is it different because he's a boy, or is it just different because for me it's not a hypothetical kid?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Fortunate Harbor by Emilie Richards

Fortunate Harbor is the 2nd book in the Happiness Key series (the first book is Happiness Key). I don't usually like to start a series by skipping books, but I had no problems at all following the characters and events in this book.

There are several storylines going on in this book, and for the most part I enjoyed them.
The four main female characters in this series are: Tracy Deloche - a former "trophy wife" who's ex husband is in prison for real estate scams, she owns the five cottages on Happiness Key; Wanda Gray - a waitress who's married to a cop; Alice Brooks - a grandmother caring for her granddaughter, Olivia; and Janya Kapur - a newlywed who's mother frequently reminds her she wants grandchildren.

Tracy's ex-husband is out of jail and working his way back into her life; he claims he's turned over a new leaf and wants to make sure she's okay. Then, her boyfriend's ex-wife is getting in between Tracy and the boyfriend. Her job is getting stressful and she's having a hard time with her weight.

Wanda is let go from her job because she doesn't fit the "new, young look" the new restaurant owners are going for. She's well-known for her pies, and decides to start a pie shop but the bakery down the street is sabotaging her.

Janya and her husband, Rishi, have decided to start a family but so far haven't succeeded. Rishi starts staying late at work and their sex life is nonexistent, and Janya doesn't know why.

One of Wanda's co-workers, Dana Turner, has been living on the run, going from place to place and job to job with her almost-teenage daughter, Lizzie. Since they have a vacant rental cottage, the ladies invite Dana and Lizzie over for dinner and Tracy ends up offering to rent them the small cottage. Dana is very mistrustful of strangers and the other ladies want to find out why.

My Thoughts:
I have mixed feelings about this book.

I found Rishi's story a bit unbelievable, but at the same time I like how Janya grew from a timid wallflower to a stronger personality.

I also thought Dana's story was a bit far-fetched, but it definitely pulled at the heartstrings and I like how it all worked out.

Here's my real issue with this book: I think this is the part of the review wherein I disclose that I am a plus-sized woman, just so that's all up front. Throughout the book, various people tease Tracy about her weight, and you get the impression that she's carrying around a few extra pounds. One of the side stories involved weight loss, and Tracy's nutritionist told her she should lose 10-15 pounds. Just a few pages later, we learn *poor* Tracy has *ballooned* from a size 3 to a size 5!!! Really? A size 5? And we're supposed to sympathise with her? A size 5 is not even grown-up sizes, that's junior clothes. I was very unhappy with this part of the storyline. She's a size 5 and a 10-15 lb weight loss would be healthy? How tall is she, 4'3"?

Other than the weight thing, it was an enjoyable story. I enjoyed the mystery and getting to know the ladies. Even though they were from different backgrounds they were good friends and supported each other. I wish women in real life had these kinds of supportive friendships. I'd be interested to go back and read Happiness Key to see how they all met and read their previous adventures together.

I give Fortunate Harbor 3.5/5 stars.


Thanks to Alexandra at Planned Television Arts I have an ARC of Fortunate Harbor to give away. Leave a comment telling me you'd like to read this book - ends July 5. Must be a follower, US only.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hey Chicago!

I can't really complain, as we've had some great authors come to the New Orleans area lately, but I must confess to a little of the green-eyed monster towards you Chicagoans ----> Rachel Vincent will be there June 25, 26, & 27th! If you miss her at one location you may be able to catch her at another locale :)

She'll be there with Carla Neggers, Gina Showalter, Susan Mallory, and Emilie Richards - what a fabulous group of authors! Here's the schedule:

I wonder how long it would take to drive from New Orleans to Chicago? I'd have to be back at work on Monday....that sounds like another speeding ticket waiting to happen. Oh, well.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blogiversary Day 5: Giveaway - SIGNED copy of Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

About a month ago, I had the great fortune to send my kids off to Houston for a weekend with my parents. The first night they were gone, Sherrilyn Kenyon was in New Orleans for a book signing, so I was able to go! She was so, so sweet, and I love that she loves New Orleans! I am a big Dark Hunter/Were Hunter fan, and although I confess I haven't read this book YET, I am planning to do so soon. While I was at the book signing I picked up an extra copy of Infinity and had her sign it for my Blogiversary celebration!

From the author's site:
At 14, Nick Gautier is an average kid who runs with the wrong crowd. But on the night he decides to go straight and refuses to mug an innocent tourist, his crew turns on him and just as he thinks his life is over... a new one begins.

Kyrian of Thrace isn't just a vampire slayer, he's a Dark-Hunter and he introduces Nick to a world that he never imagined.

With new enemies who make his old ones look like wimps, Nick must either measure up or get sized for a body bag. It's kill or be killed and this kid who was born on the wrong side finds a strength inside him that he never knew existed.

Now if he can only find someone to help battle the demons that don't reside inside him.

**Note to Dark-Hunter fans
The Chronicles of Nick *is* Nick’s real and true past. There is a huge surprise (several actually) in the book that I don’t want to spoil, but when you read the book, everything you think is an inconsistency will make perfect sense to you. More than that, you will understand exactly why Nick is the way he is and why he continues to hate Acheron the way he does. But you have to be patient. All will be clear on May 25, 2010.

Nick’s series will run until it intersects with Night Pleasures and then Nick will have his own novel in the Dark-Hunter world.


Want to win a SIGNED copy of Infinity?

Here's the deets:
Open to all but you MUST follow this blog.

Answer this question: If you were a vampire, what city would you chose to live in and why?

+1 tweet (leave link)
+1 post or sidebar mention (leave link)
+3 put my button on your blog (It's cute!)

Ends July 2 at midnight central time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blogiversary Day 4: Fangirl squees and a SIGNED copy of Crux by Moira Rogers

I think you all know I have a weakness for shapeshifters and books set in New Orleans. When I stumbled across Moira Rogers' Crux, Book 1 of their Southern Arcana series, I was thrilled - this book had both! I read it (devoured it is probably more accurate) and have been hooked on Moira Rogers' books ever since. I also love their Red Rock Pass series, and read two of their unrelated short stories -Last Call-Kamikazee and Under the Magnolia - both were great. Something about their wolves draws me in, and their Southern Arcana wolves especially appeal to me. Maybe the fact that they live in New Orleans makes them seem a bit more "real". Do I imagine running into them during the course of my day? I'll never tell. These hot, sexy wolves are interesting to read and it's so easy to get lost in their magical world.

When I heard Crux was going to be available in print version, I was thrilled! I confess I don't usually re-read books on my kindle - I don't know why. Crux is a book I want to re-read, and now I have a copy on my shelf next to my bed :)

From the Author's website:
Jackson Holt makes a decent living as a private investigator in New Orleans, home of one of the largest underground supernatural populations in the United States. He and his partners have never met a case they couldn't crack...until a local bar owner asks him to do a little digging on her newest hire.

New Orleans is the fourth destination in as many months for Mackenzie Brooks, a woman on the run from a deranged stalker. After all, any man who shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her destined lover has more than a few screws loose. But crazy doesn't explain why he always finds her no matter how far she runs.

When her well-meaning boss puts a PI on her case, Mackenzie comes face to face with the incredible truth: magic is real, and whatever spell has kept her hidden and separate from the paranormal world is rapidly deteriorating.

With time running out, she has no choice but to trust Jackson as he struggles to uncover the truth of her past-and her destiny.


Want to win a SIGNED copy of Crux, Book 1 in the Southern Arcana Series?

Here's the deets:
Open to all but you MUST follow this blog.

Answer this question/statement: Name an author you "discovered" through blogging!

+1 tweet (leave link)
+1 post or sidebar mention (leave link)
+3 put my button on your blog (It's cute!)

Ends July 1 at midnight central time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blogiversary Day 3: Win a SIGNED copy of Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

From the author's website:
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…

*Spoilery Spoilers Ahead*

Oh. Mah. Gawd. Loved it, loved it, loved it! I had such high expectations for this book and it was everything I thought it would be and more. I have seen a ton of reviews for this book already, so I'm just going to go into my thoughts...

Ilona and Gordon are brilliant! I was afraid this would end up being a book I had waited and waited for only to be met with disappointment because I had built it up so much in anticipation. I really should have known better.

This book was heavy on the mythology and had not just one bad guy but 7 (or really, 8). Kate went through the ringer physically and emotionally in this book; she saw a lot of her friends/acquantainces die and learned more than she ever wanted to know about her family. Ilona Andrews did not pull any punches in this book.

For some warped reason I loved the scene with the head in the fridge and her conversation with Ghastek (although Magic Bleeds was light on the vamps they were still there).

Also love how the dog adopted Kate :)

Of course, I cannot forget the sexin'. Seriously, the sexin'. I loved when Kate decided to take the plunge and show Curran she was interested. Not only did it show emotional growth on her part by taking the risk, but it also showed how the other characters feel about her by giving her assistance. As they say down South, "she's good people". (And the "slut hut", OMG - I spit diet coke all over my desk at lunch!)

We got some great peeks into Kate's head in this book, from Kate talking to Andrea about her first friendship and first relationship to Kate's revelation to Curran about her father. I love how her character has developed over the course of the series so far.

I could not have asked for a better ending. This book definitely gets 5/5 stars!

And while some storylines were (very) nicely wrapped up, there are some questions I have: Is Andrea still her friend? Will Curran let her interact with Siaman in the future? What was up with the writing on her skin when she said the power word? Why did Hugo set a bodyguard on Kate? Is Roland melancholy because he wants her back or because he wants to kill her? When is the next book coming out - I need these answers!!!

Oh, just wondering: Does Ilona Andrews pick her power words from Blogger w/v?


The Giveaway:

I purchased a signed copy of Magic Bleeds from Powell's Books
to give away to one lucky follower.

Here's the deets:

Open to all but you MUST follow this blog.
Answer this question:
What do you do when you've got a much-anticipated book in your hands -
read it quickly or make it last?

+1 tweet (leave link)
+1 post or sidebar mention (leave link)
+3 put my button on your blog ('cause I don't want to be that kid on the side of the playground in the funny clothes who brings an onion for lunch every day)

Ends June 30 at midnight central time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blogiversary Day 2: Interview and Giveaway with Gini Koch!

(Cover art copyright Daniel Dos Santos)

So, I recently read and LOVED Gini Koch's Touched by an Alien (my review here). I liked it so much I decided I had to give away a copy for my 1 year blogiversary celebration. When I asked Gini for some of her "free stuff" to give away, she also kindly agreed to do an interview!

Book Addict: Where did you get the idea for a race of super-hot guys? (And I love that the women are not impressed!) Anyone in particular you used for “inspiration”?

Gini: This book was very organic for me -- it felt like it wrote itself. Therefore, I wrote down what the characters told me. And, really, it’s my world, my rules. Why NOT have them be super-gorgeous to Earthlings? I’d rather spend time with a whole lot of gorgeous than not and figure most readers are going to agree.

Also, remember that, to the female A-Cs, the men just look ordinary. The A-C women are brains, not looks, focused, and they’re all gorgeous, men and women alike, so it’s not any big thing to them. Which is, you know, lucky for Earth folk everywhere.

In a lot of cases I do use good looking actors as models, but not for this book. Kitty looks like Kitty, Jeff looks like Jeff, Christopher like Christopher, etc., in my mind. They don’t look like anyone else out there. While there are people who could play them in a movie or on TV, it would still be an impersonation, not “them”.

Book Addict: I also love that the hero, Jeff Martini, is a super nice guy right from the beginning and not some jerk who treats Kitty badly and has to be redeemed. Speaking of Jeff (rowr!), did you chose his name for the irony or did it just sound good at the time? If you don’t want to give anything away, just check Y or N:

_____Y _______N

(just like in grade school, right?)

Gini: ROFL. His name is Jeff Martini because that’s what he told me his name was. I’m not kidding, the characters are in full control. I’m merely reporting. ;-D (I didn’t know his middle name until Terry, channeling through Kitty, said it, either. Welcome to the party that is my mind!) So, no irony consciously intended.

I’m really glad that there’s so much love for Martini. Because I fully expected to get a lot of complaints that Kitty didn’t end up with Christopher. But Martini’s the right guy for her, and I’m glad that came through and the readers seem to have embraced it.

And, I’m not a fan of the idea that the guy who treats you like dirt is, somehow, the right guy for you and that you should, therefore, kick the nice guy to the curb for the awful crime of treating you well and caring about you. There’s brooding and then there’s being a dick. I can take some brooding, but really, the dicks don’t get my chicks, at least not permanently.

Book Addict: Which leads us to Christopher – will we get to see a romantic storyline for him? All in all I did like him (and if Kitty’s mom likes him he must be an okay guy, right?)

Gini: Yes, but not immediately. I’m not going to say when, where, or how, but Christopher will score some action.

I like Christopher, too. He’s a great guy, a hero, just not the right guy for Kitty, in part because of how he acts when he realizes he likes her. In this world, there are three “right guys” for her, essentially, but Christopher isn’t one of them.

Book Addict: Is this a tease? 3 guys that are right for her? Have we met them yet? You’re killing me!

Gini: LOL, yes, it IS a teaser. All will be revealed (well, at least somewhat) in “Alien Tango”. And, technically, you have all the clues for who these three are in “Touched by an Alien”… *evil snicker*

And, yes, Angela does like Christopher very much. And she was pushing Kitty towards him, but more so that Kitty might possibly become aware that Christopher was interested in more than exchanging insults. Angela has a lot of experience with Kitty’s density, and Christopher is indeed more of what Kitty’s physical ‘type’ used to be.

Book Addict: With that in mind, will we see some side romance for the other characters? I like Reader and Gower, and a lot of romance readers enjoy a bit of m/m with their romance – will we see more of their relationship?

Gini: In terms of seeing more of Reader and Gower in the books, absolutely, and you’ll see more of them, and since they are a couple, you’ll see their interactions as Kitty sees them. But while I adore Reader and Gower, they’re an established couple, and this series is in first person POV, so you’re not going to see them in any intimate way.

I’m willing to do what I call a one-off, something that’s not “part” of the official series (like Janet Evanovich’s “between the numbers” books) but the series has to become very big before things like that are allowed.

But, you never know. If there’s enough interest from fans, I might do something special for fans only. We’ll just have to see. (Yes, I *am* being vague. It’s part of my mysterious charm. ;-D)

Book Addict: This is your first book – how did you score Daniel Dos Santos to do the cover? Do you have an amazing agent or did you just get lucky?

Gini: DAW likes me, they really, really like me! That’s the reason -- my editor rocks, and so forth. My agent IS amazing, but she didn’t affect the cover, that was my editor who is, admittedly, totally awesome.

Book Addict: I see you've been contracted for 4 books - will that be it? Do you have a set point to end the series or are you just going to run with it until you run out of ideas? Which leads to: are you a pantster or plotter?

Gini: No, 4 isn’t it, and I don’t have a set ending point. I can, and hope to, write these characters’ stories for a long time to come. I look at it this way -- I’m not the same person I was at 20 (and thank God, really), but I’m still interesting, and still have interesting things happening to me. I resent the idea that someone would think I’d always keep Kitty 27. She’s going to age and grow, just like everyone else, and just like everyone else in the series. And I think what you do when you’re 27 and single versus 30 and married with children is different, but still interesting. Plus, I’ll put a mini-van up against a sports car in terms of weapons toting and ramming effectiveness any day.

I don’t really run out of ideas. I don’t have writer’s block. I have the opposite -- more ideas than I may get to in my lifetime (and my family lives a long time). But, once I begin the writing process, I’m very much a linear writer (or pantster) -- I start with the title, then the first line, then write until the end. And I know when it’s the end. It makes it hard on my agent, because I literally need to finish a book before I can tell her what’s going to happen and how it’s going to end. But hey, it’s working for me.

You know, it dawned on me while writing this that I can’t stand the terms “plotter” and “pantster -- because the insinuation I take away from those is that a linear writer doesn’t plot and an outline writer never goes off course, and I know both of those to be false. (This qualifies as a deep insight out of me right now, btw, so take it for whatever that’s worth.)

Book Addict: What did you do to pay the bills before becoming an author? Or are you still working a day job and writing in your off time?

Gini: I worked in Corporate America in marketing. And, like many others, as of last year, I don’t work in Corporate America any more. It worked out -- writing’s been my real life for a long time now, and promotion’s a full time job once your book comes out. Plus, there are those other books to get finished. Oh, and the bills get paid by the hubs who is still one with Corporate America. No, I’m nowhere close to being able to live off my writing income. (Um, there IS income with this, right? Just checking…)

Book Addict: One of the recurring themes in this book is tolerance, and you address it without being “preachy”. Did you intend to include that theme as you were writing or did it just happen that way?

Gini: I’m glad it doesn’t come across as preachy, because I don’t want it to be. But intolerance, prejudice and bigotry exist in the world, and a whole lot of evil is done because of them. So they make for interesting themes to me, because they’re always going to be relatable in some way.

I was raised as a Quaker (Ben Franklin/Quaker Oats, not the Puritans) and found out as an adult that I’m actually Jewish. Quakers believe in tolerance and acceptance for all people and anti-Semitism’s been around for thousands of years. Both sides are an integral part of me as a person, so they’re an integral part of me as an author, too. It wasn’t a conscious thing, it’s just a part of the overall story the characters told me.

Book Addict: You’ve got a lot of great music interspersed throughout the book – just out of curiosity, how many Aerosmith concerts have you been to? (Or concerts in general, if you’d prefer)

Gini: Hmmm…well, not as many as I’d like. LOL. I think I’ve only seen Aerosmith 5 times live (and, yeah, I consider 5 times to be “only”…I could see Aerosmith every week and not feel like I’d had enough). I’ve been to a lot of concerts…at least 100 in the last 10 years. I love going to concerts and I have the same wide musical tastes as Kitty does, meaning I’ll go to almost anything. In one year I went to Steely Dan and Iron Maiden, and hit everything in between, too. That was a GREAT year, concerts-wise. As I think of it, that was also the year I sold “Touched by an Alien” and “Alien Tango”. Hmmm…I need to hit more concerts this year…

Book Addict: Any bits of yourself written into the book? Do you have any strange writing habits?

Gini: LOL. I love this question -- someone has asked me that at least once a year ever since I started writing -- and every other day since “Touched by an Alien” came out. I honestly don’t know how any author could answer any other way than, “Yes, of course I’m in the book.” The stories come from my head, I’m the god, I’m in there. I’m in Kitty, yes. But I’m also in Mephistopheles and all the other villains. And every other character and thing in the book.

All your experiences, thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc., join together to help you create. Some authors bleed ink, some, like me, love the process, but all of us put all of ourselves into what we write. The trick is doing it in a way that still leaves you, the author, separate from your creation. Otherwise, you’re writing an autobiography.

I don’t think any of my writing habits are strange, though the hubs did, until he discovered that for any habit I have there are at least a third of the writing population doing the same thing. I’m lucky, I can and do write in chaos. I need music more than anything else, though pictures of “the hunk du jour” always help, too. (Oh, and my current Hunk du Jour is Nathan Fillion, but he’s certainly not alone…my Hunks List is a very, very long list.) But music is the most important.

Otherwise, I don’t think I do anything massively out of the ordinary. I find silence very hard to work in, and I’m not one of those “lock myself away in a cabin with nothing but me and the laptop” kind of writers. You lock me up in some cabin with no distractions, no music, no nothing but “the work and the silence” and I won’t come out with a book -- I’ll come out with a straightjacket.

Book Addict: You mention in the book Jeff and Christopher “swap” personalities – will this be important in later books?

Gini: To clarify, you’re talking about how the mutual trauma they went through as young boys caused them to flip personalities, in that sense. It’s important more in that it helps you see how each of them reacted to it because it helped shape the characters into who they are today.

Honestly, if Christopher’s personality was what it had been as a boy, he’d indeed have landed Kitty. But, such is not the way of the world, and he’s been how he “is” for 20 years versus 10, so it’s pretty set in stone. However, will there be flashes of the “old” Christopher and Jeff? Sure, but at this time they’re not huge plot points, more like character moments.

Book Addict: Any chance TBAA will be made into a movie?

Gini: Always a chance, girlfriend. I got immediate Hollywood interest when we sold “Touched by an Alien” and “Alien Tango” two years ago, but they wanted male-driven, not female-driven. (Yeah, I know, apparently every successful female-driven movie is an anomaly to those who run Hollywood. But I digress…) At this time, there’s none that I know of, but you never can tell what’s right around the corner.

Book Addict: Kirk or Picard?
Gini: Oh, this is a trick question…because there is Old Kirk (William Shatner) and New Kirk (Chris Pine).

Between Old Kirk and Picard, I take Picard. Between Old Kirk, Picard, and New Kirk, I take New Kirk. (But my grandmother would have taken William Shatner in a New York Minute. Shatner was to her as Ben Affleck and Chris Evans are to me -- total hotness.)

Book Addict: Movie Adaptions of Comics – yea or nay?
Gini: For the most part yea. They don’t all work, but when they do, they’re awesome. And I think I like more of the ones that supposedly didn’t work than most, too. (Gives the LOVE to “Daredevil” and “Fantastic Four”…Affleck was DA BOMB in “Daredevil” and Chris Evans IS Johnny Storm! And, now, apparently, also Captain America. Which, yes, of COURSE I’m going to see. Yes, yes, you rightly sense a trend. They aren’t the only two Hollywood hotties I love, but they’re in my top 10.)

Book Addict: Edward or Jacob? (sorry, had to squeeze that one in there, LOL!)
Gini: Jacob. Give me the hottie fur boy over the fanged brooder any time.

AND, yesterday the official cover was revealed for the next book - Alien Tango (release date Dec 7!)! Isn't it gorgeous? I cannot wait to read this book!

(Cover art copyright Daniel Dos Santos)

Thanks so much Gini for being my first interview - it was a lot of fun!!!

If you'd like to learn more about Gini or her books, check out her website here!



I have one copy of Touched by an Alien, along with a signed bookplate, signed cover flat, and Alien collective magnets to give away!

Here's the deets:

Open to all but you MUST follow this blog. Because Touched by an Alien has such a rockin' soundtrack - leave a comment and tell me your favorite band or a concert you've been to! Or, if you have a question for Gini, ask away!

+1 tweet (leave link)
+1 post or sidebar mention (leave link)
+3 put my button on your blog (so I don't feel like that kid on the side of the playground in the funny clothes who brings an onion for lunch every day)

Ends June 29 at midnight central time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

From the author's website:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.


I picked up this book when Ms. Stiefvater came to New Orleans for a book signing. I hadn't read Shiver yet, but planned to, "eventually". Why, oh why, did I wait so long to read this book?!?

When Grace was a small child, she was dragged off her backyard swing by wolves and almost killed. One wolf stopped the pack from killing her, and since then Grace has felt a special bond with "her wolf". She looks forward to seeing her wolf every winter, when the pack comes to the woods behind her house.

Sam has watched Grace ever since he kept the rest of his pack from killing her 6 years ago. He watches her from afar, thinking about her, wishing their lives weren't worlds apart.

After a wolf attack on a fellow student, the town decides to kill the wolves. As she arrives home after trying to stop the hunters, she spies a wolf on her porch - he'd been shot. Then, suddenly, not a wolf, a boy - Sam.

The love story between Sam and Grace is epic. You wouldn't think a story between teenagers could be, but the obstacles between them seem insurmountable. As they fight the end - Sam's eventual final change into wolf, they know that the time they have together is stolen from fate. Grace is very practical and pragmatic, Sam is a dreamer. He views his experiences as song lyrics, finding the beauty in everything. Together they fit together like pieces of a puzzle, each giving the other what they need to be complete. As they work through trying to experience a whole relationship in a matter of weeks, they are also trying to find a "rogue" wolf, a former classmate who was thought to be dead. The wolves in Ms. Stiefvater's world change according to the temperature. They're human in the warm months and wolf when it's cold. Her use of temperature at each chapter heading sets the urgency of the scenes.

The one thing I didn't care for was that there didn't seem to be any positive parenting influences. With the exception of Sam's pack leader, Beck, who had a few issues of his own, the parents of the teens were self-absorbed, absent, and/or clueless.

This book is like a painting; a work of art - the beauty is in the words. Can I use the word "beautiful" to describe Ms. Stiefvater's writing? (It's my blog, I vote yes.) When I think about this book I picture a painting in my head - stark white with splotches of color - bits of red dotted randomly around the canvas representing Grace's mother, light brown for her father. Sam is huge swaths of earthy green cutting across the canvas, and Grace is ice blue, like sunshine on snow. Add some black for Sam's pack and warm yellow for Grace's friends, and the painting is complete.

This book drew me in from the first few pages and I didn't want to put it down. I bawled like a baby during pages 341-344, and then again at the end for completely different reasons. As soon as I finish this review I'm going to read it again.

I give Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater 5/5 stars - a definite keeper! I cannot wait to read the next book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series - Linger, which comes out July 20.

I know I've posted the Linger trailer before, but it really is a cool trailer:


Thanks to Scholastic, I have one copy of Shiver to give away! Want to win it? Leave a comment below telling me whether or not a book has ever made you cry.

This book giveaway is open to participants with a United States mailing address only (international readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prizes by mail.) Contest ends at midnight central time on Monday, June 28.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quick Update and Happy Blogiversary to Me!!

Hannah, Courtney, Kristie, Me, Cecile

Had a great weekend meeting other bloggers! Yes, I did fall face first into a speed trap ---> anyone who travels the Atchafalaya Basin watch your speed - they're meanie heads! Other than that it was a perfect weekend.

Cecile, Courtney (Hell Kat) and Kristie got there around 10:00 and Hannah and I didn't get there until 11 (thanks cop). Cecile and I recognized each other at the same time and we immediately fell into conversation. The five of us sat at the Books a Million for about 3 or so hours just chatting about books and life. We left and had lunch at a local sports bar (it was surprisingly good!) and chatted some more. Then Cecile, Courtney and Kristie got back on the road and Hannah and I headed for our hotel. I'm looking forward to seeing Cecile again on Labor Day weekend for the Writers for New Orleans event!

And how awesome was True Blood?!? I want a t-shirt that says:

Conscience Down
Dick Up
Everything will be alright


And - tomorrow starts my weeklong Blogiversary celebration - make sure to come by!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend plans and WATCH THIS SPACE!!!

I am sooooo looking forward to this weekend! I am getting up early and driving to Lake Charles to meet Cecile and one or two other bloggers! My sister-in-law from Houston is coming, so we are going to make it a girls' weekend and stay the night in Lake Charles, tear up the town, and head home Sunday - we'll make it home in time for the season premiere of True Blood!

So, let's recap:
~No work.
~No kids.
~Blog friends.
~Sister in law.
~Shopping and drinking.
~True Blood.

A good time is guaranteed!!!



Keep your eyes open and watch for some fun stuff here next week - my 1 year Blogiversary is Sunday, so I'm celebrating all next week! Watch for signed books, author swag, and my very first interview!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Oh, Richelle Mead, how you delight and torture me! This is my favorite YA series: I read the first four Vampire Academy books in a few days, then waited for what seemed like forever for Spirit Bound; you made it worth the wait.

(This spoiler-free review is based on the assumption that you've read the previous 4 books)

As the book opens, Rose is getting ready to take her Guardian Trials, which also means graduation. As Rose and Lissa head to Court to begin their adult lives, they end up taking a "field trip" - a very dangerous (and illegal) one. This field trip leads to pieces of information that will change lives well into the next book.

Ms. Mead infuses the wonderful humor I've come to expect and enjoy in her writing - she really "gets" teens and their sometimes ridiculous thought processes:

Mia looked determined when we reached her, though, and I felt encouraged by her attitude - and that she was wearing all black. True, it wouldn't do much in sunlight, but it made this all feel more legitimate.

And yet, the visual images she creates are so real I can imagine myself as a bystander, witnessing events as they happen, my hands clenched and my heart in my throat:

Her face, even marred with the fire's terrible damage, was radiant and filled with compassion. SPOILER had called me an avenging angel, but she was an angel of mercy as she gazed down at him and crooned soothing, nonsense words.

I can't go into much of the plot without spoilers, but here's my thoughts on some of the players:

Tatiana, the queen Moroi was as nasty as I thought she was...or was she?

Rose's dad, Abe, is really growing on me. I think he's growing on Rose, too. We got to see Rose's mother in the beginning of the book, but I felt like she was conspicuously absent in the last half of the book. I don't know why she wasn't there.

We get to meet Adrian's parents! (Rose and Mrs. Ivashkov had a very interesting conversation at that first meeting...)

Christian is a pretty decent guy. I liked him in the previous books and he did not disappoint as a character I can count on to do the right thing.

Lissa: I actually liked Lissa in this book. In previous books she comes off as dainty and selfish. In Spirit Bound, she was pretty kick-ass. Don't get me wrong, there were some scenes were I was like, "Damn, Lissa - what about Rose?", but definitely a big improvement from previous books. I guess Rose isn't the only character who's done some growing up!

I really, really like Dimitri - even though he broke my heart in this book. I have much love for Dimitri and high hopes for him in the next book.

And Adrian, oh Adrian! When Adrian was first introduced into the series I liked him as a character but not as a love interest for Rose. With this book, I fall more in love with Adrian: at one point, I did a mental *fist pump* and thought "yay!" - and then Rose surprised me. Here's the thing - unlike other Moroi/dhampir relationships, I don't see Adrian leaving Rose eventually; he could be The One, if she'd let him. I'm torn - Dimitri or Adrian? I'd be happy and at the same time heartbroken either way.

We also briefly visit a few characters from the last few books: Jill, Mia, Ambrose, and Ambrose's Aunt Rhonda to name a few. And yes, Rose does get another tarot reading :)

And, if the cliffhanger ending wasn't enough, right before we close the pages Rose gets information that could potentially change Lissa's life, AND the lives of current and future dhampirs. Oh, Ms. Mead, how you tease me! The last book in this series, Last Sacrifice, is due out December 7. I've never wanted December to get here so badly!

Spirit Bound gets 5/5 stars - definitely a keeper!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review: Masked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon

As soon as I heard there was a werewolf book set in New Orleans I knew I had to read it! I had such high hopes for this book and to be honest, it left me feeling frustrated.

Charlotte (CeeCee) Caissie is a New Orleans detective - tough and sexy. Max Savoie is enforcer to the most powerful mobster in New Orleans. Through a series of murders, they are thrown together and can't fight their attraction to each other. They both know it will never work, but they can't seem to stay away from each other...

The premise of the story was good - A good cop in love with a mobster; I just couldn't "buy" it. The characters were inconsistent. CeeCee is supposed to be a tough ball-breaking cop, yet she cries several times through the book and I felt like her interactions with Max were hot and cold with no in-between. Max is at times portrayed as brilliant yet in the next scene he seems childlike and dull-witted. It felt like the characters were written to fit the storyline, if that makes any sense. Their relationship kind of followed the same pattern -they'd get together and say they loved each other, then jerk away and hurt each other while hiding behind their cop/mobster roles. I had a hard time liking CeeCee, even with her painful past. She was just not very likeable. Strangely enough, I liked Max when he was with CeeCee, but not when he wasn't.

I also thought the murder storyline was weak and sort of pushed aside for most of the book and brought back at the end to tie things up.

I do plan to read the 2nd book in the series, Chased by Moonlight, before I give the series a "yea" or "nay". I'm giving Masked by Moonlight 2.5/5 stars.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Has anyone tried Bookswim?

A co-worker was admiring my kindle, and we got to talking about books. She mentioned she uses Bookswim. It's like Netflix for books. They have a couple of different tiers, you can do three books at a time or more depending on how much you want to pay per month. She said she likes it because our library doesn't stock a lot of what she reads (I didn't ask but once I started thinking about it it made me curious). She said she likes it because she's not buying tons of books and having to worry about what to do with them once she's done.

I looked at their selections and they seem to have a lot of popular authors. I think it would be money saving, but if I ran across a "keeper" then I'd have to go buy it anyway. I'd have to figure out what I spend a month on books and how fast I read, I guess...

Has anyone else heard of this? Have you tried it?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quickie Review: Losing my Josh Lanyon virginity with Adrien English Books 1 & 2

This book falls into my M/M Reading Challenge.

I have heard so much about the Adrien English series I thought I knew what it was all about but these books were not what I expected at all. I guess I didn't expect the stories to focus mainly on the mystery and not so much on Adrien's love life. Don't get me wrong, there was a bit of the sexin' going on, but it wasn't the focus of the stories. I liked them.

Adrien English is an independent bookstore owner who also happens to be gay. He's got a bad heart as the result of a childhood illness, and because of it has a tendancy to pass out when he's excited, surprised, or anxious. He had a bad breakup with a significant other, but apparently that's been over for a while and hasn't had anyone special in his life for a while. The first book, Fatal Shadows, focused on a serial killer. As the book opens, he learns his employee/high-school friend has been murdered. Of course he ends up a suspect, and things aren't looking good when someone else he knows turns up dead. Poor Adrien stumbles around getting more and more involved in the case, and as the clues come together he realizes his life is in danger.

The second book, A Dangerous Thing, has Adrien involved with one of the officers, Jake Riordan, who worked on the case in the first book. Apparently things aren't going well and Adrien spontaneously decides to take a short vacation at the ranch his grandmother left him when she died many years ago. The first thing he runs into, almost literally, is a dead body! He calls the local Sheriff, and when they go back to investigate the body is gone. There's a missing caretaker, a huge field of pot plants, an anthropology group digging on his land with forged approval documents, and to top it all off Riordan shows up! After several attempts on his life and a refusal by the local law to accept Adrien's insistence that his life is in danger, he and Riordan work together (using that term loosely) to solve the mystery. This one kept me guessing until the very end, and I also think I like the turn Adrien and Riordan's romance seems to be taking. (IF Riordan can get over some self-identity issues he needs to address). *

Completely off topic - I don't know why but I keep imagining Adrien as a wiry older guy, (maybe like Hugh Laurie), even though I think he's supposed to be about 32? Riordan I think I'm imagining right, but for some reason my brain refuses to picture Adrien as a younger guy. Oh - and I'm never going to look at a bottle of suntan lotion the same way ever again!

Anyhoo, I thought Fatal Shadows was pretty good, and A Dangerous Thing was great, so I give this compilation 4 stars.

*(Finished book 3, The Hell You Say) this weekend - definitely do NOT like the turn their romance is taking!!!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

May Round-Up

This is the 2nd month in a row I've noticed I'm reading fewer books...I'm not sure where my mojo has gone - my TBR pile is growing!! Here are my May reads:

1. Lover Mine by JR Ward (Vampire Reading Challenge) - 4 stars
2. Last Call- Kamikazee by Moira Rogersh - 4 stars
3. Sanctuary's Price by Moira Rogers - 4 stars
4. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris (Vampire Reading Challenge) - 5 stars
5. Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis - 4 stars
6. Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare (New Author Challenge) - 5 stars
7. A Touch of Scandal by Jennifer Haymore - 3 1/2 stars
8. Deception by Diana Palmer - DNF
9. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead (Vampire Reading Challenge) - 5 stars
10. The Master and The Muses by Amanda McIntyre - 4 1/2 stars
11. Sanctuary Unbound by Moira Rogers - 4 1/2 stars
12. Fatal Shadows by Adrien English (M/M Reading Challenge) 3 1/2 stars
13. A Dangerous Thing by Adrien English (M/M Reading Challenge) 4 1/2 stars
14. Ravished by a Highlander by Paula Quinn - 3 1/2 stars
15. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews - 5 stars

All in all a pretty good month, one DNF but several 4 and 5 star reads!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

5 stars to a book I didn't want to read!

I was first made aware of this book by Danielle at ALPHA Reader. She gave it such a good review, I thought, "I don't usually like stuff with aliens but I'll put in on my TBR." Then, for my birthday, my son bought it for me, and then I HAD to read it :) But I kept putting it off - I'm not really a big fan of alien stories.

This book is made of awesome! I want to stand in front of the bookstore in my tinfoil hat and tell people "Buy this book!" I loved it! (This always happens to me,btw, I put off reading a book and end up loving it.)

Katherine "Kitty" Katt, is leaving jury duty when she witnesses an accident and the resulting argument. Suddenly though, things take a turn for the weird when the man turns into a horrible monster and kills the other driver (his wife) and starts attacking the courthouse! Instead of running, Kitty grabs her Mont Blanc pen and ends up killing him with it.

When the police show up, so does Jeffery "Jeff" Martini (love that last name). He's a hottie, and Kitty is definitely attracted! He's giving off a "Men in Black" vibe, and Kitty ends up going to meet his superiors, where she learns there's much more to Jeff and his crew than meets the eye!

This book has it all - witty, sometimes campy dialogue, smokin' hot sex, international and interplanetary intrigue, and maybe even a lesson to learn. If I had to pick a quote, I'd probably put in half the book; I really loved Jeff and Kitty's repartee. The secondary characters were engaging and I probably developed feelings for half of Kitty's team; especially Jeff's cousin Christopher. I adored her larger than life parents and their menagerie. We heard a lot about but didn't actually meet Kitty's three best friends; I'm hoping we'll meet Best Friend Chuckie in the next book - Alien Tango.

There were some parts I felt like could have been pushed through a little - technical stuff that I would have accepted as part of the world building without a lengthy explanation, but even that was interesting to read the whys and whereofs of different abilities and gadgets.

I've officially got a new fictional boyfriend (check my list on the left sidebar) and Gini Koch has a new stalker! In case you hadn't figured it out yet, I'm giving this book 6/5 stars - (Officially it's 5/5 but my son said since he bought it for me I had to give it an extra star) This book is going on my keeper shelf and I know I will reread it many times! Thanks Danielle and Ian!!!