I love reading books about food, particularly books about baked goods. And when a fictitious book about food also contains recipes I’m pleased as punch to add it to be to-be-read list.
The Icing on the Cupcake is a tale of family, friends, heartache, mistakes, revenge, love, humor, and cupcakes. Each chapter ends with a different and intriguing cupcake recipe that really sends your appetite into overdrive.
With lovable and loathsome characters, vastly different settings, and recipe after recipe, Jennifer Ross not only paints a candid picture of the New York lifestyle but the Texas lifestyle as well.
Ansley is beside herself with grief. The love of her life, Parish, broke off their engagement because he claimed that she was too mean to like. Her dreams of becoming a Texas housewife have been shattered and she is left confused and in search for a new path to take in life. Her grandmother abandoned her mother and grandfather decades ago to move to New York, leaving Ansley’s mother broken and fragile. But Ansley decides to give her grandmother and New York a chance, hoping to discover a new way of life for herself and ultimately happiness.
Ansley befriends a southern belle named Dot and decides to use her life savings to open a cupcake bakery. Meanwhile, after the death of her husband, Ansley’s grandmother, Vivian, is in the middle of an IRS audit that not only reveals a sinister revenge plot against her but also the feelings that she is developing for Agent #1432 in the process. Can Ansley get her business up and running, save her grandmother from tax evasion charges, forget about Parish, and bring her mother and grandmother back together?
The Icing on the Cupcake is a cute read. Many of the characters are likable and the villains are loathsome. Jennifer Ross paints a quaint picture of Texas and a glitzy picture of New York through her writing. Each of the two settings brought something different and endearing to the novel.
With several recipes included and numerous mentions of food, The Icing on the Cupcake is sure to strike up an appetite for readers. Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses a change for the better in each of the main characters, bringing overall satisfaction to the reader by the end of the book. The plot was typical of its genre, but overall fun to read. (less)
Melissa McGuire’s a hard working news producer whose job seems to consist of keeping the cute, perky, nightly news anchor on time and out of hot water. Since her last job ended after a nasty breakup with the station manager in Los Angeles, she tells herself she’s satisfied with her current status. She might be happy, but her grandmother Nelly isn’t.
Nelly knows she doesn’t have much time left on this earth so she plans to make sure Melissa falls in love with a good man—someone who’ll look out for her once Nelly’s gone. And the best place to find a good man? A charity auction where the hunky, single firemen are auctioned off to the highest bidder. (Who among us hasn’t dreamed of the gorgeous men who grace calendars everywhere?) But after being burned by the last man she dared to love, Melissa isn’t about to fall into that trap.
Compared to other genres, I don’t read an inordinate amount of contemporary romance, but when I do, I want the story to grab me, the characters to live and breathe. The Fireman Who Loved Me does these things and does them well. I loved Nelly, the meddling grandmother, and the other firemen were great, too, but watching the antagonistic relationship between Melissa and Brody evolve was what made it all worthwhile. This is the stuff of daydreams.
Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without an ex-wife hovering in the wings, an old flame showing up, or other catastrophes dangling overhead ready to drop without notice. And just like in real life, Melissa and Brody almost let love slip away because of stubborn pride. Overall, a cozy, steamy, feel-good story you won’t want to miss.(less)
Full disclosure! #1 – I tend to love books set in the South and most especially in South Carolina. #2 – I luvs me some ghost hunting! #3 – I am a big fan of Southern Gothic writing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern...
Amelia Grey, “The Cemetary Queen”, has been hired by The Daughters of Our Valiant Heroes to restore Thorngate Cemetery in the town of Asher Falls, SC. The Thorngate project gives Amelia the chance to leave behind her beloved Charleston and the memories of a recent break-up and haunting that have left her heart broken & insecure. A remote town located in the Upstate, Asher Falls is full of folklore and local secrets – the kind that no one wants to talk about. Before her project ends, Amelia will learn more about herself, the townsfolk, and just how far someone will go to preserve their legacy.
I am having a full on love/hate relationship with this book.
What I love:
THE KINGDOM is set in the Carolina Upstate. The premise that Amelia Grey can see ghosts. A creepy town full of locals who are mysterious and secretive. Several intriguing story lines that build in a really suspenseful way.
What I don’t love:
An un-believable premise about how the town came to ruin. An anti-climactic ending. Ghosts who don’t do much of anything.
Stevens has a gift for building suspense. She takes great care in creating detailed imagery and palpable tension in her scenes. In this series, her character, Amelia, can see ghosts and is deathly afraid of attracting them for fear of a creating a psychic bond which would leave her – drained? It seems as if the first book in the series actually gives one a more specific account of what happens if a ghost becomes interested in you but in The Kingdom my impression is that a ghost need only say “Boo” and our heroine would fall apart.
The Kingdom harkens back to great Southern writers like Faulkner especially ABSALOM, ABSALOM - whether by design or coincidence – I really do not know. In both cases a family patriarch, Pell Asher in THE KINGDOM, is willing to do anything to protect the family legacy. Asher has sold off a portion of the town to the government to build a reservoir and in the process cut the town off from the highway. Wait! What? This is so unlikely. No business person would ever agree to a deal like this. This became the second strike against the credibility of this story.
The reservoir is constructed by flooding a cemetery. Creepy! But the most we get out of this wonderful premise is a bunch of bell tolling. :-(
Much like ABSOLOM,ABSOLOM Asher’s sons find themselves trapped in their father’s dream of glory and part of its demise. As Asher’s personal fortune dwindles because of his terrible business decisions, his lust for heirs grows out of control.
Before the book is over, the reader will be introduced to troubled teens, psychics, shape changers, witches and mountain magic – oh – and a dog. Our fragile heroine spends most of the time telling us how wonderful she feels inside a cemetery, as long as it is on hallowed ground, because the ghosties can’t reach her there. Which is weird because I would expect to see ghosts in a cemetery not just randomly around town. This really threw me for a loop. When she is not in the cemetery, or hiding from ghosts, Amelia is trying to solve the mystery of a young woman who died under mysteries circumstances at Asher Falls.
I did not read book 1, THE RESTORER, and after speaking with other readers, my recommendation would be to read this series in order as the events in book 2 seem to build upon book 1. This might explain why I felt lost at times as to the significance of certain references. Most of all, I felt underwhelmed by the book. In an era where the paranormal is incredibly popular in mass culture and you can find a paranormal investigator or ghost whisperer on every cable channel, this book failed to deliver a real reason to be afraid of the dead. Instead – Stevens gives you many more reasons for being afraid of the living.
This book immediately made me think that Amelia Grey is a heroine from another era. I could easily see this book being set in the sixties or seventies and Amelia would easily fit in an Ira Levin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary... or David Seltzer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Omen type novel. She is part of that class of paranormal heroines who laid the way for the kick butt ultra empowered heroines of today’s PNR/UF novels.(less)
I have to admit it took me a couple times to get into this book, but I blame since I’ve been on a Cat and Bones marathon and it was quite the switch from one genre to another. The final time I picked up this book I couldn’t remember why I had put it down in the first place. I thoroughly enjoyed Cowboy Crazy.
The characters for me were full of what real people are: love, laughter, and contradictions. I love complex characters but I’m also drawn to people who know their minds. I liked Lane because he knew what he wanted straight away and poor Sarah who maybe, just maybe had enough baggage to keep her from finally letting go and loving someone. Stubborn women and the alpha cowboys who love them, I’ve always been a fan.
The backdrop of Cowboy Crazy isn’t something I’m overly familiar with but the way Kennedy made the town of Two Shot it’s own characters is a plus in my book. It gives the reader a complex landscape to explore as the characters interact and discover what they want out of life and love. Lane’s brother Eric Carrigan had me laughing, lusting, and scratching my head. I would love to see him get his own story where it’s get knocked down a peg or two by a cowgirl.
I’m not going to come out and say this is my favorite book of the year but I am glad I read it. There was chemistry between the Lane and Sarah and darn it if my husband didn’t find me squirming and completely enthralled more than once. I have to recommend a book that makes me laugh, groan, and talk out loud to the characters and Kennedy got me to do all three! In the end I kept myself up late so I could see how Lane and Sarah finally figured out how to be together and I’m not sorry I did. ;)(less)
Since this is a short novella, there’s not a lot of time for character development, and some of you may find that detrimental. But if you’re looking for something different and hot, this might interest you. It’s definitely for those of you who like some spice in your books, but don’t have a lot of time to read.
FAIR GAME is the third book in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. This series includes characters and th...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
FAIR GAME is the third book in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. This series includes characters and themes from Briggs’ popular Mercy Thompson series.
In FAIR GAME, the werewolf population in the USA is coming to terms with the fall out from having publicly revealed their existence to the human race. Bran Cornick, The Marrrok, head of all werewolves in the USA, and his enforcer Charles, his son, have been overwhelmed managing their werewolf brethren under the increased scrutiny of the media. The stress has weighed heavily on Charles and Anna, his wife, begins to fear for his emotional and mental well being.
Anna is a rare form of werewolf, an Omega wolf, able to calm those around her and intuit emotional disturbances in those around her, as well. Concerned for her husband, Anna approaches The Marrok and begs for his release from his enforcer duties but faced with an outbreak of werewolf attacks in Boston there is no chance of Charles being relieved of duties. Instead, Bran assigns Anna to go to Boston with Charles to assist the FBI in investigating the grisly string of attacks. Before long, they will uncover a larger plot that will bring the balance between the fae world and the human world into a collision course.
I enjoy Briggs’ work – it’s clean, well plotted and low on hystrionics. She uses a light touch even with difficult scenes and generally is known for not being too sexy. Briggs’ work is full of fae references and folklore, FAIR GAME is no exception and that is perhaps my concern with this novel. In her past novels, Briggs’ shines when creating tension among her characters usually because the characters are so at odds. In FAIR GAME, the differences between Charles and Anna are almost two dimensional and cartoonish. Charles is stoic to the point of catatonic while Anna is so emotionally wound up she could win an Emmy for best actress in a soap opera.
Briggs over indulges in writing the angst between Anna and Charles. Charles’ tortured psyche is literally under attack by the ghosts from his past and unfortunately – I never really bought into this. His reluctance to find any way to communicate his plight with Anna for fear that she would also be haunted didn’t work well for me because I couldn’t embrace that there really was a threat.
Briggs has written a truly disturbing series of crimes perpetrated by a group of villains displaying a complete lack of moral fiber. The crimes were distasteful and could make it difficult for some readers to make it through the book or the ending.
I found the judicial trial at the end of the book and its outcome hard to fathom. And I readily volunteer that I am clueless as to how Briggs will choose develop the fae schism in her next books.
The final scenes in the book have a direct effect on the Marcy Thompson series so be forewarned.(less)
A Blood Seduction hooked me right from the start with a different twist on the whole vampire trope, and I couldn’t put it down.
The protagonist, Quinn Lennox, knows she’s different, but after her mother dies and her father remarries she suddenly becomes an outsider in her own home.
When her baby brother comes along, she’s supposed to stay away from him so of course, she makes him the focus of all her love and attention. Years later when his girlfriend vanishes, Quinn is determined to help him find her, and in the process, the two of them embark on a terrifying journey through a strange dimension filled with vampires.
I’m fascinated by the different breed of vamps that populate the pages, especially Arturo, but I doubt he can be trusted. He appears to develop real feelings for Quinn, but then does or says something that negates them, and I’m right back to square one. Do I trust him or not?
Some of the horrendous acts performed on the humans were hard to read, but since the vamps feed on pain or fear, the acts fuel the progression of Quinn’s attachment to Arturo. By the last chapter, I was convinced Arturo really loved her only to have that certainty blasted out of the water. Now I’m on the fence and don’t know which way to turn.
The world building is wonderful, and I could visualize it as I read. The vamp hierarchy is interesting and contributed to my on/off appreciation of Arturo. Since few truly care for her, Quinn is fiercely protective of those she loves, and that could end up becoming her strength or her weakness. I’m curious to see how that plays out.
Yes, it was a bloody, violent, emotional book—that’s what made the vampire world so horrifying to imagine. It also gave Quinn a reason to fight back, and I can see where her ability to discover and hone her own talents will make or break future events.
Minor spoilers, possible... I've actually searched the internet on how best to describe Pamela Palmer's A Blood Seduction. Some refer to it as a paranormal romance, others as urban fantasy romance, others still as dark urban fantasy romance, but let me make this clear: A Blood Seduction is not a romance. Far from it, in fact. I personally think it would be best described as a horror.
Quinn Lennox, along with her half-brother Zack, fall down the "rabbit hole" into a parallel universe of Washington, D.C. circa 1870, aptly named Washington, V.C. or Vamp City. Everything in this alternate reality is exactly as it would have been back then except in disrepair... and filled with blood thirsty fiends. Though, it's not just neglect ripping this city apart, the magic holding it together is breaking down and letting the human world seep through its cracks bringing with it sunlight to brighten a world in perpetual darkness. After Quinn gets captured by Arturo shortly after her arrival, he soon discovers a secret about her that he hopes will save his world from being destroyed.
I have to hand it to Ms. Palmer, from the very first page, I was sucked into her world, compelled to keep reading even though every part of me was screaming for me to stop. Her world is harsh, violent, sickening and terrifying. I don't think I ever enjoyed one moment. Her vampires are the epitome of terror. Not only do they feed on blood, but the majority feed on pain, fear, and pleasure. After years of honing their skill, most take just as much delight in the chilling acts that they perform as the release given to them by it.
To feed, the vampires make slaves of the poor souls that they stole before their magic started failing or ones unlucky enough to fall through one of the many wholes between the two worlds that have now started popping up all over Vamp City. These humans are nothing more than cattle, no, lower if that's possible, rats to them. They think because they glamour them, nothing they can do will affect them, but most of what we see through Quinn's eyes.. you just can't come back from that. I found in some places it was hard to keep the nausea from rolling up at the things being described - This is definitely not one for the faint of heart.
It’s hard when reading a book not to look for that ray of light. That small glimmer of hope. You want, or need, a reason to fight, but in Vamp City, it isn’t just crushed, it’s obliterated. The vamps are so strong and adept that it magnifies how powerless the naïve and directionless Quinn is throughout the whole book, how she fumbles her way through, never making plans, and always relying on others to save her. To make matters worse, I found myself silently screaming at her repeatedly for making the same mistakes over and over and over and over – like with Arturo.
Normally, I root for the anti-hero. He has always been my favorite. Is he good or bad? Can he be saved? Never before have I ever wished so much for a heroine to grow a pair and kill the hero. This is a first for me. Arturo has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Every time Quinn starts to trust him, he shows her another reason why she shouldn’t have. He’s a snake, a liar, playing on Quinn’s vulnerably and loneliness. The crux is she knows this! But lets him continue to get close to her so he can do it again all because of the burning desire that rears up every time she gets close to him! Sex? Or survival? Sex? Or survival? Hmmm… I pick survival, but that’s just me.
A friend of ours described A Blood Seduction perfect for me – it polarizes the reader. On one hand, this book will have you ranting and raving, shocked and appalled, or just plain irritated by the shear helplessness. On the other, Ms. Palmer seduced me, kept me reading, and fighting for Quinn. Her world building was fantastic and her writing keeps you in abject horror, but you’ll continue to read until that very last page. I think fans of Laurell K. Hamilton will find it to be a perfect fit, especially those intrigued by Queen Andais like myself. I’ll be reading the next in Pamela Palmer’s Vamp City series.(less)
Noa: I have to admit before beginning this review that I did not read the first book in the new Smythe-Smith quartet series. I do know who the Smythe-Smith’s are… I loved reading about the annual musicales in the Bridgerton series, and I always felt awful for those poor girls with their lack of musical talent, I was really looking forward to reading a series that focused on them. Sadly, I think my growing TBR pile made me miss out on Just Like Heaven. So I’m really happy I got a chance to review A Night Like This…
Kitt, I know you are a major Bridgerton fan, did you read Just Like Heaven, were you looking forward to the next installment?
Kitt: Like you, I totally missed its debut! I had no idea that Just Like Heaven even existed. I don’t know what happened, because like you mentioned, I’m a huge Bridgerton fan (you can read my review of the series here) and was really looking forward to a series from the Smythe-Smith family point-of-view.
It’s unfortunate that we both failed to read Just Like Heaven, though, because it appears we missed out on quite a bit. Apparently when A Night Like This starts, it’s in the midst of Just Like Heaven’s ending and we’re seeing a major scene from two new, different points-of-view.
Noa: True Kitt, but I do have to add, while the first chapter does involve scenes from Just Like Heaven – the rest of the book does stand on its own. Do you agree?
Kitt: Oh totally! Besides feeling a little pang of regret for not reading the first – you know how obsessive I am about reading a series in order – I had no trouble following the characters or the story.
Noa: So, what do we have in A Night Like This? One governess for the Pleinsworth cousins of the Smythe-Smith family, one prodigal son returning after years abroad, an awful musicale and almost immediate attraction… Kitt, what do you think of the book’s main characters?
Kitt: I completely adored them both! Daniel Smythe-Smith is the eldest son, Earl of Winstead, Viscount Streathermore, Baron Touchton of Stoke – my word, the names! – and he has just returned home to England after three years of forced exile do to a drunken night between friends wherein he accidentally shot a Marquess son. When we first meet him, he seems young and frivolous, but the years abroad change him. His focus has found new avenues, family means more to him, and he’s taking his responsibilities more seriously now. The way he goes about catching Miss Wynter is completely swoon worthy. From the very first moment he lays eyes on her, he has to have her and what made me the happiest is that he never strays away or falters in his determination.
Miss Anne Wynter has a huge secret that keeps her at arm’s length even more so than the average governess. Her past is truly heart-wrenching, but it’s made her stronger and more resilient for it. I like her playful and witty attitude along with how she fights instead acting like a swooning debutante. It did surprise me, though, that she wasn’t more wary of Daniel’s intentions when she finds herself once again in a similar predicament regardless of his perseverance. What did you think of the Earl of Winstead and Miss Wynter?
Noa: I really liked Ms. Wynter, like you said, she fights back and doesn’t just lie down and take things. I also like that Julia Quinn put her in a happy household rather than many books where the stories have a Cinderella feel. Though, I guess she did have her share of bad positions, both as companion and governess in previous homes she worked in.
As for Daniel, I thought he was lovely – a perfectly upstanding young man who is a good brother, a loving son and cousin and who, like you said, realizes he has responsibilities.
So, what was the problem you might ask? It did reach a point where I felt Daniel was acting less than honorable. She’s a governess…he has to realize the problems. His cousin warns him, his aunt warns him…and what does he do? Ignore them. I really found myself disliking him at one point in the book. Especially knowing what we come to learn about Ms Wynter. And like you Kitt, I felt Ms. Wynter should have been a bit more wary of Daniel. I guess what I’m saying is – I needed a bit more story in order to believe that the romance was real and not just a member of the aristocracy trying to seduce the help.
Kitt: I’m totally going to have to agree with you, I’m not the hugest fan of cross-class coupling myself. It seems highly unfair to the poor party – which is usually the woman – that the gentry has even more power over them – which is almost always the man. Not to mention, I really don’t see this as something that would have actually taken place. I will give Miss Anne Wynter some credit though. She’s a governess which holds a significant higher position than the maid.
Noa: I agree, though there have been books where I really enjoyed it, I just felt that in this case their meeting and everything that followed was a bit rushed. I needed “more” to happen between them for it to be believable. What do you think?
Kitt: Actually, I didn’t get the feeling of it being rushed at all, but yet I do still see what you mean. I think it would have helped considerably to see just a little more intimacy between the two of them in some form or another – and not just in the smexing department.
Noa: Lol! The smexing was nice ;) I think Julia Quinn excels at writing a humorous love story, and A Night Like This delivered in that department. It just needed that extra “something”.
Kitt: The smexing was nice. But it seems to me, though, that I enjoyed A Night Like This a smidgeon more than you did. Overall, I thought it was a good showing from Ms. Quinn. I like her style and the humor she adds to each of her stories. She continues to demonstrate why readers flock to her books. I ended up reading A Night Like This in one afternoon and it has me eagerly rushing to find out what I missed in Just Like Heaven.
Noa: Oh, I did enjoy it Kitt, and like you, I really wanted to find out what I missed in Just Like Heaven, but I can’t say this was my favorite Julia Quinn book. She writes such fantastic heroes (and heroines) and Daniel just had a tough act to follow. Of course, I’m now dying to know what happens next… who will the next Smythe-Smith heroine be? ;)(less)
I requested Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal completely on a whim. I was looking for something light hearted and f...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I requested Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal completely on a whim. I was looking for something light hearted and fun after all the heavier reads I’ve been devouring lately. As the second in Grace Burrowes The Duke’s Daughters series (or the fifth in her long running Windham series) about the Duke of Morland’s daughters, Ms. Burrowes drew me in from the very first page.
Lady Maggie Windham is the illegitimate, but much loved eldest daughter of His Grace, Percy Windham. She’s a strong, clever, and self-reliant woman, but riddled with self-doubt due to her by-blow and marital status.
Mr. Benjamin Hazlit is in the business of secrets and shadows. An investigator of sorts for the ton finding all things lost or missed placed and ferreting out information. However, that very same skill set has him kept at arm’s length from his own clientele for fear of what he may find out about them.
Ms. Windham and Mr. Hazlit share something in common, though – they both have a secret life. Their paths cross often at Maggie’s father home, but it isn’t until something precious goes missing do these two really have more of a chance to get to know one another when Maggie seeks Ben out for his services.
Sadly, I haven’t read any of the previous books in these series and I really wish I had. There is so much back-story not told or alluded to, that I feel I missed out by not going in order. Those interested, I suggest that you start with “The Heir”. One thing that is truly fabulous – and that I absolutely love – is that Ms. Burrowes has interwoven her whole series with minor characters that will have you longing to learn more.
There was one main major hiccup for me, however, something I just couldn’t wrap my head around – the story of Ben’s secret life. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but he is more than the face he shows high society and I just don’t understand how someone of his status and station could have hidden it for very long, if at all, from the likes of the ton – people who have nothing to do, but be in each others business. Not to mention, that he has sisters. Sisters that surely had to have a come out at some point since they are both married. In fact, his sisters situations puzzled me even more. Either I missed what happened from previous books or it isn’t explained very well at all. I’m thinking more the latter than the former.
Overall, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal is a light, delightfully told unconventional love story between two passionate and family oriented characters. Both Maggie and Ben are relatable in their insecurities as well as their longings. I found it to be both an emotionally driven and humorous read that not only satisfied my craving for romance, but did it without being too sugary.(less)
In this debut post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel from the incredibly talented actress/screenwriter/lyricist/si...moreOriginally posted at Paperback Dolls.com
In this debut post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel from the incredibly talented actress/screenwriter/lyricist/singer/author, Emmy Laybourne, we are introduced to a group of kids and teenagers (ages 5-18) who are trapped in a superstore while civilization collapses outside the gates. Despite the fact that they have a fairly decent shelter that provides basic needs, they soon discover that the thing they need and desire more than anything else is their parents and comfortable homes.
The more time that passes as the kids are waiting to be rescued inside the store the more things begin to change outside. When a chemical is released into the air, people’s personalities begin to change based on their specific blood type. Things escalate in a heartbreaking scene that pins brother against brother and children are hurt by the hands of other children.
MONUMENT 14 is an emotional book that examines various personality traits in a survival situation. Think LORD OF THE FLIES meets LOST only set inside a Wal-mart style supercenter that provides essentials and shelter and then add some science-fiction elements and you’ll get a good idea of how the story flows. I admit, this wasn’t what I expected and that being said, I’m not sure now what exactly I had been anticipating, but I liked the book and couldn’t stop reading it despite the few slow moments and times that I knew what was coming next. I think Laybourne’s history as an actress and screenwriter helped her character development and aided in creating a story that seemed to play like scenes from a film in my head.
Emmy Laybourne has written a new series that is entertaining but definitely not for those sensitive to obscene language (blasphemy), sexual situations, and violence or opposed to cliffhanger endings.
Imaginative world building, unlikely allies, and the hint of a love story keep this novel moving at a brisk pac...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
Imaginative world building, unlikely allies, and the hint of a love story keep this novel moving at a brisk pace. Sydney’s rough around the edges and hovers just outside of respectability, and her on again-off again lover, Zared, makes the reader wonder if he’s to be trusted.
Arrested for stealing from a Guild official, she’s sentenced to hang, but at the last minute, she’s taken to the edge of the forest and tied to the Wizard Tree where, in years past, scores of Tuatha were put to death. She’s rescued by a wizard named Oryn and taken to his castle to meet his granddaughter Vadnae, a knight named Gregor, and Brother Erik, the monk.
This unlikely foursome sets out to defeat the Guild and bring Willem, the bastard heir apparent, to the throne. But the Guild has a terrifying enforcer named Schrammig who is determined to see Sydney hang, and cuts a swath of destruction everywhere he goes.
As they elude Schrammig, a connection between Sydney and Willem develops and grows. She can help him in ways the others cannot, and it’s up to her to get him safely through the underground tunnels in order to fulfill his destiny.
While I enjoyed the story, there were times it needed a little more tension. Sydney’s showdown with Shrammig needed a smidge more intensity, because during that final confrontation, I wondered how she subdued him with a few well-placed kicks to the body. All in all, it was an entertaining read, and I feel that as Ms. Young-Turner pushes past her comfort zone her writing will sparkle. On the plus side for many of you….it didn’t end with a cliffhanger.(less)
This is the sort of book I keep in reserve for when I’m burned out and need a break. I know there will be romance and an HEA, and somewhere in there will be the doubt and conflict needed to keep it interesting.
When I downloaded The Cowboy Takes a Bride, I’d just finished back-to-back-to back PNRs. Needless to say, my vampire meter was warped and needed rest. I figured a contemporary romance was just the thing. I settled in and read it in one evening, and it did the trick….total mental palate cleanser.
While I enjoyed Mariah and Joe, he aggravated me by ignoring the fact that his late wife’s sister, Ila, had the hots for him. Most men seem to have built-in radar for that sort of thing, and I got annoyed more than once when he treated her like one of the guys—oblivious of her attraction to him. He also tended to put his late wife Becca on a pedestal when she was far from perfect.
Mariah’s father had deserted her and her mom for the cutting horse scene when she was very young, and because of this, she has a hard time believing Joe could really be a family man.
Both Mariah and Joe seemed to indulge in an unusual amount of angsty internal dialogue, but they’d both accumulated more than their fair share of emotional scars, so I guess they were entitled. At times, I feared they would completely talk themselves out of falling in love, but in the end true love won out.
Overall, it was a pleasant diversion, and gave me a chance to recharge my mental batteries. After all, a girl can’t live on dark, wicked supernatural beings alone.(less)
I have a confession to make. I’m really on the fence about this book and I hate that. On one hand, it had all the right ingredients for a topnotch historical romance, but on the other, it missed the mark.
The characters were sometimes mere shadows of themselves, while the protagonist, Emily, often seemed bi-polar. I looked for more depth in the former romantic relationship as well as in Emily’s sisters, but it kept slipping away, never quite taking shape. Francis was a man tormented, yet it never seemed quite real.
The story is set in England in 1811, still a somewhat prudish time; however, at one point the author has Emily and Francis waltzing close together, which we all know simply wasn’t done. Not only that, but while she’s attending a ball, Emily’s white knuckles are mentioned…when it’s generally accepted that women didn’t appear in public at that time with bare hands. Another point that bothered me was the author’s reference to Francis turning off the light as opposed to extinguishing the lamp or candle. In my mind, I kept seeing this man in breeches flipping a light switch. Needless to say, it totally pulled me out of the story.
Emily would have been better served by eliminating half the inner dialogue and sharpening the prose. The reader is smart enough to complete some actions on their own without detailing everything. For instance, if, during a conversation about someone named Dave, I were to say, “He is the noblest man I know,” you could correctly assume I meant Dave. Such was not the case in this book. References were detailed to the point they became annoying and I wanted to shout, “Yes, I get it!” And unless the color of a ribbon has some bearing on the story, I don’t give a flip about it the first time much less the other dozen or so that it’s mentioned.
Anyone who’s read my previous reviews knows that I love books of all kinds, and I can usually find something redeeming in nearly everything I read. I’m sorry to say this was the proverbial straw for me. I truly believe Ms. Barnes has great potential as evidenced by the imaginative premise of the story, but unfortunately, she’s not there yet. Even more disturbing is the fact that the editor let the story ramble and thereby risked alienating future readers. (less)
The Night Strangers is very much in the same tradition as such revered horror stories as Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. Chip Linton is an airline pilot trying to rebuild his life after an emergency landing kills almost all his passengers and crew. His wife Emily decides a move to the bucolic town of Bethel in New England will be just the thing for rebuilding their little family and his battered psyche. Upon arrival The Linton’s are welcomed by the local community but most especially by a group of ardent gardeners who adopt them and the couple’s twins.
Nestling into their new home Emily is quickly able to find work with a local law firm while Chip takes on the duties of a stay at home dad. But it’s not long before Chip begins to feel that the Lintons are not alone in their new home. Emily begins to notice that all their new gardening friends are easily identified by the fact that they all have first names that belong to herbs and their passion for gardening is bordering on obsession. Before long, Emily realizes that Bethel is divided into two groups – The Herbalists and the rest of the town. And the rest of the town is in fear for their lives.
As Chip embarks on remodeling their new home, he is struck by the discovery of a door in the basement with 39 bolts. There were exactly 39 deaths related to his plane crash. Day by day, Chip becomes increasingly disturbed and we follow him on a journey through madness. It isn’t long before The Lintons are fearing for their survival and looking for an escape.
Bojalian’s story is somewhat timeless – it could be set in almost any decade. Young disenfranchised family suffers though a tragedy and tries to leave the past behind by settling down in a new place only to find that things in their new community may not be as wholesome as they seem. The story has that wonderful quality where everyone is in on the joke except for The Lintons. And while the premise is intriguing the pace occasionally lags during the moments where Chip is lost in his reveries. Bojalian plants several sub stories throughout the novel that are never fully explored and serve to add little to the story in fact they are distractions. I won’t go into details because I don’t wish to spoil the story for anyone. But most of all – I suppose I wasn’t fully convinced of the ease with which the nefarious Herbalist plot unfolds and that feeling nagged me throughout my reading.
Nonetheless, The Night Strangers, is a page turner and could easily be adapted for the big screen. Before long everyone will be saying, “Eat them – they’re vegan.”(less)
500 blind dates. Yup, 500. 31 years old and 500 blind dates. So you see, I usually don’t like books that tell me about dating. I mean, I may not be an expert at relationships, but after the number of dates I’ve been on, dating – I know. Well, so do the Garter Brides.
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl and Tish Rabe all found love when they already had a life, all over 35 and all share their amazing stories in this book. It’s self help without being self help but more than that, it’s a big ‘ole book of hope.
After over ten years in the dating world a girl gets tired of being told “yours will come along”, “you’re too picky” and my favorite: “it’s not him, it’s you.” It’s disheartening, depressing and at some point, gets you a bit bitter. You really do feel like “I’m Mr. Lonely” is the soundtrack to your life.
Then you read about these incredibly successful and wonderful women who found love – some in places they least expected it and it just gives you that small glimmer of hope. Well, it gave me that small glimmer of hope.
Now, if you think this book is just for singletons – you’d be wrong. Love for Grownups takes a look at dating, building relationships, creating a new family when you already have a family, and even weddings and everything that comes with them. Through the Garter Brides stories and the stories of other women who also shared the “grownup relationship” experience.
The book was filled with humor, tales of romance and nice dose of sensible advice. Perfect for anyone looking for love yet it also has a great deal to offer those who have love in their life.
Thanks to the Garter Brides, I’m not giving up quite yet…I just hope it won’t take 500 more dates!!!(less)
I am a fan of Lisa Klaypas. When people hear this statement they automatically assume I mean her historical romances. I haven’t read them. What hooked my on Lisa’s writing were the Travis family.
A trilogy set in Texas, it is chalk full of of alpha males and strong female roles. Lisa Kleypas has a way of pulling you into a story from the first sentence and when you inhale her words a need to start from the beginning one more time. I was really hoping after waiting for months I would get the same quality read with Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. Ms. Kleypas did not disappoint.
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is an introduction to the long awaited contemporary romance series from Lisa. Set on the island of San Juan in Washington state the book opens the door to the town of Friday Harbor and the Nolan Family. Now before I go throwing spoilers all around let me tell you what I thought…. Oh wait that’s right I don’t spoil. :)
I genuinely enjoyed this book. I had some pretty high expectations for Friday Harbor and Ms. Kleypas delivered. I was a little surprised when I downloaded it to find it was more a novella length then novel but each page is packed with good solid writing.
True emotion flows through this book. I laughed and I admit I choked up once… or thrice. Lisa Kleypas captured a snapshot of a couple falling in love amidst the pain of loves lost and prior commitments. The only thing this book was lacking was about 100 pages of more really well scripted scenes.
As much as I loved this book it left me hungry for a more in depth look into the romance of Mark and Maggie. If I was giving this book a start rating it would be 4 out of 5 for the story telling. I think to sum up this book I would say it was poignant, funny, along with a little push and pull angst along with some great well written dialogue. I think that is one thing about a Kleypas book we can all rely on.(less)
Kitt: When Suz found out that I got an ARC to Jenn Bennett’s second in her Arcadia Bel...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
Kitt: 3 Stars Suz: 3 Stars
Kitt: When Suz found out that I got an ARC to Jenn Bennett’s second in her Arcadia Bell series, Summoning the Night, she down right viciously attacked me to get her grubby little hands on my precious. Of course, being the fabulous, golden heart creature that I am, I couldn’t just let her pout in the corner could I? That’s right; I couldn’t, because no one puts Suz in the corner.
Suz: You sound a little bit like Johnny from Dirty Dancing, Kitt. “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” “Oh, Kitt!” ;) But seriously, Kitt – I really loved the first Arcadia Bell book and when I heard that you had an ARC of the second I found myself squeeing like a fangirl. It was a bit embarrassing, really. But I really enjoyed the first one. The world Jenn Bennett has created around Arcadia Bell is pretty compelling and draws me in. I wanted to go back there and see what was cooking.
Kitt: You squeeing like a fangirl? I almost don’t believe it. Almost. Because I know where you’re coming from and think I’d have to agree. Ms. Bennett’s world truly is a fantastic, fresh new angle on magic. Arcadia Bell is a magician who can kindle Heka through electricity, and after Kindling the Moon, we now know about her Moon Child powers too. But it isn’t just her world is it? Her charming characters have this way of completely stealing the show. Who would of thought that a thirteen year old motor mouth could be so entertaining?
Suz: Isn’t that the truth? You know I’m not a big fan of the kiddies, Kitt. It’s not that I dislike kids; I’m just one of those people who does better when I can “awww” from afar and carry on with my day. Even so, it’s the kid’s show in this book, for sure. I don’t mean to take anything away from the rest of the characters, they all reached out and grabbed me one way or another, but that kid redefined “endearing brat.”
Kitt: I know what you mean! But oh we’re skipping ahead, aren’t we? Summoning the Night begins only two months after Cady’s tragic brush with reality. Everything is going swimmingly with her job and her new found relationship with Earthbound demon, rare book collector and rich photographer, Lon Butler. That is until the head of the Hellfire Club, Ambrose Dare, asks them both to look into the case of missing teens and a cold case serial killer, the Snatcher, from the early 80s.
Suz: I gotta tell you, Kitt, I really don’t like that guy, Ambrose. In the first book he was just alluded to as the power behind the throne, so to speak, of the Hellfire Club, and the person who would fix the ills the club had been up to. Turns out he’s a real piece of work in his own right and I’m thinking I’m going to get plenty of opportunity to love to hate him in the future, too. Just a hunch.
But Lon, I think, is a new kind of dreamy that we don’t see very often in romantic leads. He’s not super hunky, but more of a later-hippy-throw-back who kept his decent looks. You’re a bit younger than me, Kitt, so that might not be up your alley, but it brings back memories for me! *eye wiggle* Combine that with his other, supernatural characteristics and his near infinite patience and it’s a pretty attractive package to me in an unconventional way. Although, I could probably do without the mustache.
Kitt: No, I get the appeal – he’s rich, charming with all the right amounts of laid back that some heroes seem to have an allergy to, but I have to admit, he’s not really my type. There’s something about him that didn’t quite resonate with me at first. Also, the mustache! Throws me every time and I have no idea why. Though, the more I see him on the page the more I’m warming to him.
I have to admit that this story brought on a complete state of confusion for me. I understand Cady’s power, but I don’t understand why she would be asked to help find these missing kids. Ok, well maybe not why she was asked, but more like feelings that maybe this story was brought on too soon in the series. Nothing about her seems like the appropriate person to ask and her skills rank somewhere near junior league detectives. Before Kindling the Moon, she was just magician fugitive bartender, and now in Summoning the Night, she still is. Not to mention, that Cady seems to be moving backwards from the self-assured women we saw in the first in the series. What did you think of the plot, Suz?
Suz: I agree there seemed to be holes in the plot and you’ve mentioned one of them that was confusing. I half expect to find out in a later book that Ambrose has some inside information from Cady’s magic society that we haven’t been privy to yet, but I suppose that’s just me trying to fill in the blanks.
For me, however, her moving backwards as you suggest, was the most frustrating. I could have dealt with it had it been a personal growth arc that was book length, but it’s looking like it’s going to be her cross to bear in the long haul and I find that pretty infuriating. She’s acquired tons of magic she’s afraid to use just because she prefers to “not think about it right now” and she puts herself and everyone around her at risk because of it. Again, this is something that when it first appeared in this book I frustratingly thought it had to be a book length personal growth arc but when we reached the end of the book and it was not only unresolved but perhaps in worse shape I have to admit I was disappointed.
Kitt: Same here. Seeing Cady continue down the path of ignorance is just going to make things worse in the end, not only for her new found family, but for readers as well. Summoning the Night started out well enough. And it does have all the action, mystery with a smidgeon of romance that I look forward to in my urban fantasy’s, but I honestly was hoping for more than I was given. Maybe we’ll see a little more personal growth from Cady in the short story, Leashing the Tempest, when it release’s this December.
Suz: Oh! See, I didn’t know there was a short coming out in the same year. That’s a bit of salve on my confusion and helps me lean more to wait-and-see. Bottom line for me is that I loved the first one, was so torn with duality about the second one that it ended up feeling unfinished, even though it’s not, so I could only give it a middlin’ rating. However, the world is so original, the way the magic works and the characters interact is so interesting and genuine, and Cady started out with such a bang that I’m going to continue to follow this series and see where it goes, hoping that Cady finds her figurative cojones soon. I’m chalking this one up to a sophomore slump because I think the foundation is essentially still pretty solid. (less)
Greg Novak is the Pack Alpha in Detroit and heir to the pack council leader. Fianna Meadows is an exile from the Seelie Court and Greg’s responsibility. Someone is murdering werewolves in the Detroit area and the Novaks are next on the list.
Greg, his brother George, and his cousin Lana had formed their own pack upon reaching adulthood. They inherited a bar in Detroit, The New Moon, and have been quietly running their business while trying to stay out of werewolf politics. Fianna Meadows has been exiled from the Seelie Court after inadvertently taking part in a revolt against the Seelie queen. Stripped of her fairy powers, Fianna is sentenced to work and live as a human under Greg’s care. The last thing that Greg expected was to become attracted to Fianna and he is awash with guilt for having feelings for someone entrusted to his care. As the days pass and the attacks become personal, Greg and Fianna can no longer deny the passion between them.
If you love Alphas who are tall, dark and protective – then you will love Greg Novak. His shaggy bad boy rock star looks are at odds with his paternalistic code of honor for his friends and family. Fianna Meadows may be over 100 years old but she is completely out of her comfort zone in the human world and it is fun to watch her struggle with even the most mundane of tasks. Fianna’s blasse acceptance of sex as a natural part of life are a perfect match for Greg’s libido. Smexy shifter sex galore.
There are a few twists and turns as the mystery unfolds. But overall, the story is not subtle. Be ready for a few startling scenes towards the end of the book. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Motor City Wolf is a perfect choice for all those readers who love strong Alpha males and hot smexy love scenes.(less)
P.O. Box Love was an interesting read. Even after two day I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not sure what I expected after reading the blurb we got from the author. It sounded interesting, and the story was. I just never fell in love with it. It needed more emotion.
P.O. Box Love is written as love letters and a story. Meaning part of the time you’re reading love letters between two characters and the other time you’re reading the story from the main female’s POV. The main characters are Emma and Federico. Emma’s a fifty something bookshop from living in Milan and Federico is a fifty something successful architect, working in New York City. Emma is divorced and has been for many years. She has a son, Mattie, whose graduating high school and about to attend University. Federico on the other hand is married and has been for twenty some odd years. He and his wife have a daughter, Sarah, who’s also a teenager.
Emma and Federico, in their youth, had been boyfriend/girlfriend and something happens to break them up. Now after all this time, Federico finds Emma in her bookshop, Dreams & Desires. Dreams & Desires is a bookshop designed and furnished for romantics. All Emma sells are romance novels, it doesn’t matter the size or shape. This is the part that confuses me, Emma is such a romantic, yet I didn’t get much feeling from her. She can remember just about every book she’s ever read, yet she forgets her personal history. She does this on purpose, which doesn’t make sense to me. I would’ve thought she’d care about her memories, since romantics usually do. (At least romantic writers that is, their memories give inspiration.)
When Emma and Federico decide to start corresponding with each other they do so by writing letters. These, hand written, letters are the only line of communication they have, because Emma has decided technology is a bad thing. She doesn’t own a cell phone and she dislikes the internet and computers. Needless to say she doesn’t touch either. So the story starts with former high school sweethearts becoming “pin-pals.” It’s truly a twist on You’ve Got Mail, without the technology. Emma and Federico us a P.O. Box to send, receive and store their letters so no one will find out. Their affair including the correspondence spans over six years during which Federico opens up to Emma about his life and emotions. Things he can’t share with his family. Emma begins to look at life a little different too as she adds architecture to her life. What I mean by this is that she starts looking at the beauty of buildings, whereas she’d never done that before. She seems to like hearing about Federico’s work on the Morgan and she tells him about different bookshops around New York City. They also talk about their lives but not too much. Federico stops in the stores she tells him about and he starts to enjoy the peace the stores and parks give him as he writes to her.
This affair isn’t just the letters that these two former sweethearts share. They actually do become lovers ad meet once a year on an island. The island fits their “prefect” affair since it doesn’t get any service for phones or internet. In these short encounters we get the most “emotion,” still I expected more. Don’t expect the details of their sex life, it’s not there, what we get is how they fit into each other’s life. That they enjoy each other’s company and the outside world means nothing. We the reader know this relationship is doomed even Emma knows it. She tells us so. Yet when Federico talks about his wife and his actions Emma basically says she’s okay with the status quo. She seems to like being a mistress. This is something else I don’t understand, because I don’t know why she’d want to be the other woman.
As the relationship heads to a close the book seems to skip or loss something. You find more spelling errors and sentences that don’t completely make sense. This also goes along with Emma somewhat losing herself. Plus we have the end of Federico’s letters which doesn’t seem like the right spot, especially when Emma references it within her letters. She states it’s been two weeks when it’s been two months almost to the day. Still she doesn’t make any call to see if everything is okay. There’s also a point when Federico asked to see her about a month or so before his last letter and we see nothing of that encounter. We don’t know if it happened or not, Emma doesn’t even respond to the invite if she could make it or not. Both of these events confused me. But I’d say the ending is what really through me and how we got there we don’t know. There needed to be more so that this ending made sense and could flow. As it stands you have an ending and something like an afterthought. The first would have been fine, the reader could’ve thought of their own “true ending”. What we get falls flat, and doesn’t seem to fit what had been going on.(less)
When I started reading I had a solid connection with the characters and the different take on vampires. Plus I got into the whole courier aspect since I’ve seen so many while working at the courthouse. It worked well and I could picture everything, especially when Sydney moves to Maui. It remind me of my three trips over to the island from Oahu and how much faint had. But this cliffhanger for me didn’t work and that’s a first.
In Clark’s fresh debut novel, THE EDUMACATION OF JAY BAKER, readers are introduced to a wonderfully awkward character that will seem quite familiar to both male and female fans.
This modern coming of age book deals with relevant issues that plague today’s generation. From parental separation (and the sordid behavior of said parents) to the normal hormonal dramas with friends, school and love interest that every teenager deals with to some degree…THE EDUMACTION OF JAY BAKER touches on all of the above and does so with self deprecating humor that will feel right at home with it’s audience.
Being a teenager is tough and Clark illustrated perfectly the roller-coaster of emotions that normal teens go through on a daily basis. At times his hero felt wise beyond his years and overly mature, then there where moments (particularly when Jay Baker was home with his little sister) where we see that despite his height (and seemingly adult vocabulary) he is still just a boy going through that incredibly awkward stage – who still needs his parents and the reassurance that things will get better.
THE EDUMACTION OF JAY BAKER is an enjoyable read that will pull both boys and girls into the journey of Jay Baker giving them a hero they can laugh with, get embarrassed for and totally relate to one hundred percent!(less)