Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gift Ideas for readers

I'm sure most of you have friends and family that love to read. I've made up a list of some fun and unique gift ideas for those readers on your Christmas lists. Make sure to check out the last one *wink wink*

Personal Library
Cost: $16
I think this is an adorable library set! I don't loan out books too often because I read a lot of ebooks, but it's a great gift for people who still buy paper backs.
 

Book shaped plates and serving platters
Cost: $6 - $18
When I first saw these, I thought they would be perfect for ladies who hosted a book club. Even if you don't go all the way with plates and everything, the platters and coffee sets are super cute.
 
 
Cost: $25

I love this pillow. I have a rubber "spider" that I received as a gift that holds up my phone. I've loved it, but some of the legs have broken. This pillow would be the perfect replacement. And I think if you give this, you should give two, because I can totally see my husband stealing this from me!

 
 
Cost: $13.95
There are a ton of reader type charm necklaces on sites like etsy.com. I like the simplicity of this one. Although, I think I'd prefer a different chain. But for $14, I could get it and swap out the chain with a nicer one.
 
Famous author dolls
Cost: $43
Just kidding! Crreeepy!
 
And last but certainly not least:
A book gift basket.
Cost: $30
This basket comes with a "Reading is Sexy" coffee mug, a bag of gourmet coffee beans or tea (your choice), a bag of godiva chocolates and a digital copy of Lucky for Him. The basket comes with instructions on how the recipient can download their gifted copy of the book. They can download it onto any reading device! There's also a coin just like in the book tied to the basket.
 
 
You can also purchase this basket. The only difference is the mug says "Shhhh I'm reading."
 
If you're interested in purchasing a gift basket for yourself or as a gift, email me at { tinleyd @ hotmail dot com }.
 
I hope this lists helps with your holiday shopping!
 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Review: Dark Witch by Nora Roberts


ISBN-13: 9780425259856
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date: 10/29/2013

Synopsis:

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
Ireland.
County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…


If you've read my blog, you know that I used to love Nora Roberts. But then, as I read more and more romance and romantic suspense authors, I started to get irritated with her books.

The last few books have been difficult for me to even get through mostly because of the stilted dialogue. I know she writes characters from a different part of the country, but her overwhelming lack of pronoun usage in her characters speech throws me for a loop. Instead of getting lost in the story, I want to scream "People don't talk like that!!"

BUT, this newest release, the Dark Witch, is more like the Nora Roberts I used to love to read. She's developing a three part series, her usual, with a magical suspense plot winding us through the romance. While some of the dialogue was still lacking in pronouns, I found I could still believe it because several of the characters are from Ireland. I don't know why that helps me, but it does.

The characters are very well developed, with unique personalities like in all her books. The romance plots for future books is set up nicely in this first of the series. This is where Roberts shines. I am hooked on the future characters. I really want to know what's going to happen with them!! So I will wade through the unrealistic conversations just to see the couples all get together. I'm a sap like that.

So, while this isn't the best book I've ever read by this author, it was a throwback to the books that propelled me into the romance genre. I look forward to the rest of the series.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Book Review: Nora Robert's Land by Ava Miles

 
ISBN-13: 9781490527512
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication date: 6/24/2013
 
Synopsis:
 
Journalist Meredith Hale's ex-husband claimed her Nora Roberts addiction gave her unrealistic expectations about marriage, and she believed him. All dreams of happily ever after or Nora Roberts Land as her mother calls it-went up in smoke. But when her family asks her to temporarily help their Dare Valley, Colorado newspaper, she decides it's time to change her life and prove her ex wrong. She's determined to find her own small-town Nora Roberts hero, prove that true love exists, and publish a story about her quest.
War correspondent Tanner McBride has just returned stateside to work for a major newspaper, and the last thing he expects is blackmail. Yet, before he can even unpack, he's headed to Colorado. His assignment? Make his boss's ex-wife fall for him and then break her heart. Her article about discovering love à la Nora might air dirty laundry about her marriage to the media mogul, threatening his senate run. The mogul wants Meredith stopped, and he makes sure Tanner has no choice in the matter.
When the two meet, the sparks between them are undeniable. Meredith, who vowed never to date another journalist, begins to succumb. Could Tanner be her Nora Roberts hero? As they work together to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death, the depth of their feelings unfolds and both realize they've kept their secrets for far too long. But before the truth can be revealed, their investigation takes a deadly turn, one that might make Meredith's personal Nora Roberts Land go up in flames. 
 
 
 
Guest Reviewer: Kathy Westerfield
I was excited to begin this book for the simple fact that it is about a woman who is a huge Nora Roberts fan. The concept of this book is what drew me in! I could totally relate to the heroine's way of thinking by the particular Nora book she referred to in each section. It was fun to see her hero take shape through the book and I know he looked just like Roarke!
 
The book started off really funny. The author had a great way of describing things, and giving us inner dialogue that showed her sense of humor. But about half way through, the book lost most of its humor and kind of fell flat.
I wanted to like this book way more than I actually did.
 
On the down side, there are a LOT of F- bombs dropped which I thought were for the most part needless and crass and made me uncomfortable-so much so that I sent the author an email stating exactly that. Probably wont change anything but if you are F-bomb sensitive, you might want to skip this one.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lucky for Him {Chapter 1 Teaser}

I'm so excited for Lucky for Him to be available on Amazon.com in the next few days! If you're as impatient as I am, then this post is for you. Here's a chapter teaser. I hope you enjoy!


Chapter 1

Wichita, Kansas. Early August 2013.

Austin Sanders pulled his black pickup into the parking space closest to the front gate of the Wichita Star Amusement Park. Three teenage boys walked between his truck and the car parked next to him. They all laughed. One kid barely squirmed out of being shoved into his side mirror. Austin grabbed the faded blue ball cap off the passenger seat. The once bright white “KC” logo was now a dusty cream. It was the first thing the owner of the Royals had ever given him. He’d gotten it the day he signed his contract. He shoved the hat into his bag before slinging it over his shoulder and stepping out of the truck. The sky was cloudless and the sun bright and warm. He tipped his head back slightly, letting the sun warm his face. The thought “It’s good to be home” flashed through his mind, but even he wasn’t convinced. He slipped on his sunglasses and made his way to the ticket counter.

For over twelve years he had been practicing at the best facilities that any college, then any professional league, could possibly offer. Now he was buying time at the batting cages from a teenage girl in a red polo shirt who barely looked up from her phone when she handed him his change.

“Bats are around the corner next to the golf clubs.” Her thumbs never hesitated on her keys.

He hiked his bag with his own bat and gear higher on his shoulder. He was halfway to the cages when a boy stepped in front on him.

“Are you Austin Sanders?”

Austin didn’t blink at the question. People had been stopping him, asking for autographs or pictures, his entire adult life. He was always happy to do it, especially when it was young kids. They were the future of baseball, and he wanted them to see athletes as people who gave back to the fans. “That’s me.” He waited a second for the kid to pull out a pen and paper.

“I think you’re awesome! My dad took me to four of your home games last year. I shouted extra loud when you were at the plate.”

“I appreciate that. What’s your name?”

“Blake.”

“You play baseball, Blake?”

“Uh-huh. I play first base, just like you.”

Austin saw the boy’s dad standing a few steps away and nodded. The dad stepped forward with a pen.

“Thanks.” Austin looked around for a slip of paper but didn’t see any.

“You can sign my shirt, or my arm, or . . . anything.”

“Wait a sec.” Austin rifled through his bag before pulling out the blue ball cap. He uncapped the pen and scribbled a message on the bill. “You get good grades, Blake?”

Blake’s face twisted and Austin could tell he wasn’t as sure about his answer to this question. “I try.”

“Keep trying. And keep practicing.” He slipped the cap on the boy’s head and handed the pen back to his dad. “Ya’ll have a good day.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sanders. Wait till I tell my brother. He’s never gonna believe this. Will he, Dad?”

Austin raised his hand, waving a good-bye, as the father and son walked away. Austin remembered feeling that way about baseball. Hell, he still felt that way about it. He loved it. Had loved it. He lost sight of the blue cap as the duo pushed through the line of people waiting for the bumper cars. The hat doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Austin walked to the cages, opened the door, loaded the pitching machine with balls, and flipped it on. He grabbed his helmet and bat out of his bag and took his place at the plate.

He took his first few swings and guessed that these balls were coming in at about fifty to sixty miles an hour. More like batting practice before a game than the indoor cages he was used to. He kept swinging and sending the balls careening towards the net. He relaxed his shoulders. He swung. Thwack.

He didn’t want to think about his lost career. He had a new goal now: to open this sporting goods store. Everyone told him that after he retired he would need something to keep him motivated, keep him engaged in life. Too many times he had seen teammates slip into depressions after leaving the game. Whether from the sudden lack of serotonin-producing activity, or the thrust out of the spotlight, he wasn’t sure. The ones who were forced out by injury had even harder times than the ones who chose to quit. They struggled to find their place among the rest of the world.

Austin had tried hard to figure out what he wanted to do as he recovered from his last shoulder surgery. A teammate had joked with him and said he had a face that could land him a sports-casting job. But Austin hadn’t liked the idea of being even more in the public eye. His physical therapist had run through a list of possible second careers and the idea of a sporting goods store came up. As soon as the idea surfaced, he had known it was the right thing to do; the coin hanging from the chain around his neck had once again given him the affirmation he had grown to depend on, like his heart was pumping warm champagne through his veins instead of blood. The heat and vibration always guided him in the right direction. Well, the right direction for making money, anyway.

He hit a ball high and long.

“Nice hit.”

Austin nodded at the guy in the cage next to him. It wasn’t exactly the shouts and applause of thousands of hyped-up fans, but he’d take what he could get. “Thanks.”

He took off his helmet and wiped his forehead on his shoulder. He turned off the machine and packed up his stuff, shoving it into his athletic bag. No matter how much he focused on his new adventure—his new life—he missed baseball and could never really get that last time on the field out of his mind.

 

He had been standing on home plate of Kauffman Stadium, the Kansas City Royals’ baseball field and his sanctuary for the previous eight years. With his hands on his hips, he had breathed in the smell of freshly cut grass and wet dirt. The stands were empty, as was the field, but Austin could still hear the excitement of the crowd, the crack of a bat meeting the ball, and the chatter of the guy he was keeping on first base. One thousand one hundred forty-six games played, 4,158 times at bat, 239 homeruns . . . A hand had clamped down on his shoulder. “Shit,” Austin breathed. “You scared the crap outta me, Bill.”

“Well, that’s what managers are supposed to do, right?” Bill had said with a small chuckle. He patted Austin’s shoulder a few times, folded his arms over his chest, and looked out over the field. “Never gets old, does it? That’s a beautiful sight.”

“Yeah.” Austin nodded and unconsciously rubbed his right shoulder. “I’m going to miss it.” Austin felt Bill’s gaze drift from the field to his hunched shoulders.

“Every memory up till this point was your past. Every experience you pursue is your future.”

He appraised his manager for a quiet moment. “I never figured you for the philosophical type.”

“Hell, I’m not. That’s just what my fortune cookie said at lunch today.”

The corners of Austin’s mouth turned up in a slight grin. He sighed and ran a hand over his face. “I only made it eight years. I’m thirty-one years old. I wasn’t supposed to leave baseball until I was an old man.” Austin paused. “You know, like you.”

“I have a cure for pity parties: it’s called running poles.”

“Pity party,” Austin scoffed. “I’m not cryin’ in my beer, here. I’m just saying, what do I do now?”

“Shit happens; go find something else to make you happy.” Uncomfortable with too much sentiment, Bill had slapped Austin on the back one more time and walked away.

Go find something else to make you happy. If only it were that easy.

****Here's another fun post if you're interested in what my character inspiration was.****

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

 
 
ISBN-13: 9780373778195
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 10/29/2013
 
Synopsis:

What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise? Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there…or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn't easier said than done. Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind. In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn't easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love….

The Perfect Match was a very cute story. It took me a minute to get reacquainted with some of the family members, but when it all came flooding back, I was happy to be in Manningsport.

Higgins does a great job of developing her characters. Honor was a fun character to watch, without her going over to the cheesy side, which I think this author can sometimes do.

The other strength of this author is her ability to show you through physical motion, the way her characters are feeling. Too many times in romance novels, authors tend to have go-to phrases for emotions such as, she bit her bottom lip, or he tilted his head to the side. Yes we get that she's nervous or that he's confused. (For more of my romance pet peeves, see this post.) But Higgins offers real life examples such as:

"So." He reached up and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. It was all the encouragement she needed.
"You know what I thought the other day?" she asked. Her toes curled, but she kept her voice casual.
"What?"
"I was thinking we should get married."

I can totally picture her toes curling in her shoes as she struggles to stay calm. In fact my toes curled when I read it. (I tend to mimic some of the movements I read. It's weird, but I KNOW for a fact I'm not the only one who does it!) But my point is, she keeps her descriptions fresh.

I really liked both main characters in this book. I liked that I read the male lead with an accent the whole time even though she didn't force it down my throat with crazy spellings. He was a really great character. And even though Droog had some funky words, they were just enough to get me totally into his character and his accent.

Higgins signature behind-closed-doors love scenes where well written and there was definitely sexual tension.

Overall this was a really fun book to read. I read a lot of suspense, some historical and some young adult. It's a really nice change of pace to through in some contemporary (and humorous) lighter reading.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lucky for Him ARC Give-a-way!

Today is my anniversary and I thought the best way to celebrate is to do a give-a-way! I'm in a lovey-dovey mood and what better way to spread the love, than to raffle off a romance novel.
You can get up to 14 entries, so check out the form below! Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: The Cheesemaker's House by Jane Cable {Guest Review}



Synopsis:
“Just think, Alice, right now Owen could be putting a hex on you!”

When Alice Hart’s husband runs off with his secretary, she runs off with his dog to lick her wounds in a North Yorkshire village. Funny, feisty and just a little bit lonely, she soon meets her neighbours including the drop dead gorgeous builder, Richard Wainwright and the kindly yet reticent café owner, Owen Maltby.

As Alice employs Richard to start renovating the barn next to her house, all is not what it seems. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Is it the amount of gin she’s drinking or some other reason? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from? And if Owen is the village charmer, what exactly does that mean?

Guest Reviewer: Kathy W.

This book is written by a Brittish author (her first) and I
can say I enjoyed the book overall,  although usually I do not like to read
in first person tense.  The story line was a tad slow in the beginning and
not being familiar with Brittish terminology (except for the movie
NottingHill), there were some words and description of places I tripped over
trying to figure out their meaning. Such as a "snug" being a "hearth room".


That being said, the overall story was
mysterious and tragic enough to keep me reading. The sexy portion of the
book was definitely G rated (which is ok with me). The romance wasn't boring, but I'm not a huge fan of wishy-washy romance plots. The back and forth of the romance was a little tedious.


The ghost portion of this book is really what held my interest. If you like the paranormal, you will enjoy this
book.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Tracer Series by Laura Griffin


Tracer Series by Laura Griffin

Synopsis of Exposed (Book 7)

Every picture tells a story. But not all of them have happy endings.
As a forensic photographer at the Delphi Center crime lab, Maddie Callahan is used to seeing violence up close, but she’s never before been the target of it. When a freelance photo shoot goes awry, she realizes she may have seen, and perhaps photographed, the kidnapping of a key witness in a federal probe. And although her camera was stolen, Maddie knows she has something that could be even more valuable to investigators.
FBI agent Brian Beckman has spent months investigating a vicious criminal known as the Doctor, only to have a key witness abducted on his watch. Worse, he’s falling for the woman who may be the Doctor’s next target. Maddie’s aloof facade hides a world of hurt that he wants to heal, no matter how much she keeps him at bay. But first he has to protect her from the danger that’s just out of focus, drawing close enough to shoot . . . and kill.

Guest Review by: Kathy W.

These books were to me a perfect mix of plot-suspense-and romance.  The in depth forensic science details and intricate technology were woven into the books so smoothly that I didn't realize how much I actually was learning about each field without even wanting to! I felt like I could actually see through the lens of the microscope or see the tiny markings on a bone and was actually looking over the characters' shoulder seeing what he or she saw. Likewise the chase scenes! Laura Griffin made it easy to picture everything in my head and not be confused with places or timing. And the romance was so  artfully and tastefully done in just the right moments!
 
The best part of the series for me, though, was the comfort I felt as I progressed through the series to find the main characters from the previous books still  having an important part in solving the current crime. A lot of series give honorable mention to past characters, but don't pull them in to help catch the bad guy. Their areas of expertise were used in each book and by the end of book seven, I felt I was actually a part of the whole forensic/task force family. Great read!! Sad the journey is over.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: Crash and Burn by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin


Publisher: Socal Press LLC
Publication date: 9/2/2013
Series: Moreno & Hart , #1

Synopsis:

TRIAL BY FIRE
Three years ago LAPD Detective Scarlet Moreno and rookie cop Krista Hart were nearly killed during a botched sting operation. Now, they’re best friends and partners in the Orange County private investigation firm of Moreno & Hart. But their routine assignments are anything but safe …

CRASH
Scarlet Moreno has her hands full with a cheating spouse case when the bartender at her favorite pub becomes a murder suspect. Worse, the detective in charge of the investigation threatens to arrest Scarlet for obstruction—even when she tries to give him valuable information. Scarlet risks her PI license and her life to find out the truth, absolve her friend, and track down a killer—with or without the help of the arrogant, mysterious Detective Alex Bishop.

AND BURN
Krista Hart is burned out on catching deadbeat dads and philandering husbands when a big-time criminal defense attorney hires her for a choice assignment: find the sole witness to murder the day before the trial. The case could be a boon for Moreno & Hart, but the witness is in hiding, someone is following Krista, and her own client is withholding information. The last person she wants help from is sexy investigator R.J. Flynn, but he claims he’s willing to share intel—for a price. If she can solve this case, it’ll elevate Moreno & Hart above being divorce voyeurs, but first she has to survive, with her life and heart intact.

If you like romantic suspense, you will like this short story combo from Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin.
In this book, they introduce a new private investigative team Moreno and Hart. Both characters have strong interesting personalities that I think will be fun to watch in this new series.

The romance came in a distant second to the suspense plots in both books. But that didn't bother me since this in an introduction to these characters.

I'm not usually a huge fan of series that concentrate on one character over several books. I like to have a romantic happy ending in each book I read. But, I pretty much like anything that Laura Griffin writes and I am happy I've been introduced to Allison Brennan as well. In fact, since reading this, I've downloaded three of Brennan's earlier releases and have really enjoyed them!

I would have given this book 5 out of 5 stories if they had been full length as I'm not a novella fan. But these are definitely worth reading!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review: Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner

 
 
ISBN-13: 9780525953074
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date: 2/5/2013
 
Synopsis:

This is my family:  Vanished without a trace…
Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by friends and family.  A perfect life.
 
This is what I know:  Pain has a flavor…
When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer.  The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind.  No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive.  Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.
 
This is what I fear:  The worst is yet to come…
Tessa knows better than anyone that even the most perfect façades can hide the darkest secrets.  Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices.  Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family?  And how far would such a person be willing to go?
 
This is the truth:  Love, safety, family…it is all touch and go.


Normally when I write a review, I like to write it as soon after reading the book as I can. That way it’s all fresh in my mind.

However, I’ve waited a couple days to write this review because I wanted to let it all sink in. And really, I’m disturbed. Not because I didn’t like the book. I did, very much. But this book was definitely more suspense than romance. And by definition, romance novels have a happily ever after. And I can’t say that this one did, which is why I am disturbed, and why this book received 4 1/2 stars instead of 5.

I hate blog posts with spoilers, so I hate to even say that much about the book. But I want you to know what to expect if you pick up a copy.

This story is about the kidnapping of an entire family. Part of the book is told in third person, and part in first person. It was an interesting mix. The author basically takes us through the dissolution of a family structure and shows us what happens when an already unstable unit gets put through the ringer.

There were parts of this book that made my chest hurt because I felt such empathy for the character. Of course I have never been through what she was going through. But I found myself thinking that if I were going through that, that is exactly how I would feel. The author uses simple, non-dramatic language that allows the emotions of the characters make a direct hit. And I was never bored, the plot kept me reading till the wee hours of the morning.

Again, I want to talk about what happened, but I don’t want to ruin it for you! I did guess who the “bad person” was, but not until very late in the story. And even then, the author had laid enough ground work with other possibilities that I wasn’t entirely sure. Ahhhhh, I wish I could say more. But I won’t. All I will say is, if you like a good suspense story, go buy this book!
If you are looking for something to read this weekend, check it out here:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: The Last Kiss Goodbye by Karen Robards

 

ISBN-13: 9780345535825
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 8/13/2013

Synopsis:

Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone has dedicated her career as a psychiatrist to exploring the darkest territory of all: the hearts and minds of serial killers. It’s a job she’s uniquely suited for, thanks to the secret talent that gives her an uncanny edge—Charlie can see dead people, whose tormented spirits cry out to her for the justice only she can provide. This blessing—or curse—gives Charlie the power to hunt down and catch madmen and murderers. It’s also turned her love life upside down by drawing her into a hopelessly passionate relationship with the lingering ghost of charismatic bad boy Michael Garland.

But there’s little time for romance with her supernatural suitor when murder comes pounding at Charlie’s door in the form of a terrified young woman fleeing a homicidal maniac. Saving her life places Charlie squarely in the cross-hairs of a sadistic predator nicknamed “the Gingerbread Man,” notorious for manipulating his victims like pawns in a deadly chess game. And now the queen this psychopath’s bent on capturing is Charlie. Refusal to play will only put more innocent lives in danger. Matching wits with this cunningly twisted opponent will require all of Charlie’s training and expert skills. But even with her devilish “guardian angel”—not to mention her favorite flesh-and-blood Fed, Tony Bartoli—watching her beautiful back, the Gingerbread Man’s horrifying grin might be the last thing Charlie ever sees.

So if you've read my blog at all, you probably know that I loved the first book in this series, The Last Victim.  And I was waiting not so patiently for the next book to be released.  Finally I have read it and am able to share my thoughts.

First, I liked this book very much.  Not as much as the first book, but it was still good.  The serial killer plot was very interesting.  Robards is good at coming up with unique stuff for sure.  I think that's what I like most about these books, it's not just the same old, same old. 

I love the characters.  I think Michael's personality was a little weaker in this book than the last, but I still loved reading about him. 

Throughout the whole book, I kept thinking, this romance is impossible.  Where is she going to go with this??  Most romance novels have conflict, but you know in the end it's going to work out.  Not with this book.  I have NO IDEA what's going to happen.  Which leaves me hungry for more story. 

This book didn't leave me pulling my hair out wondering what would be next, like the last book.  But it was an enjoyable read.

There were a few things that I didn't care for though.  First, the romance scenes between Charlie and Michael felt off.  I love the sexual tension between them, but the actual physical part wasn't my favorite.  I didn't really understand how it all worked with him being solid, then not solid, etc.

Also, I felt there were parts that were redundant.  We know how Charlie feels, but it's repeated quite a bit as inner struggle. 

And since I've read the advanced readers copy, I'm not sure if this will change in editing, but I thought all the parenthesis were distracting. (If they don't change it, you'll see what I mean.)

Overall though, good book and I will definitely be waiting for the third and final book in this series to see how Robards brings this all to a conclusion.

Pre-order your copy of The Last Kiss Goodbye here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Upcoming Books for Fall 2013

I was looking around on Barnes and Noble's website (a very time consuming habit of mine).  And I started seeing a bunch of books that I'm excited to read this fall.  I thought I would make a list of a few of them.  This is by no means all inclusive.  And the selections are in no particular order.  If I had to pick, I would say I'm most excited for Allegiant in October!! 

And if you've read my blog, you know I have a love/hate relationship with Nora Robert's books.  But this one looks like it's a throwback to her earlier work.  I'm really excited to see how this series starts out.  I really don't want to be disappointed with another one of her books.

I'm sure there are a ton of books that I want to read that I didn't think to include in this list.  If I think of them, I'll just make another list to post:)

Are there any books you are looking forward to reading this fall?  If so, I'ld love to hear what they are!  Add your favorites in the comments below.

Run to you

Rachel Gibson

September 24, 2013
 
Blue by You

Rachel Gibson

September 3, 2013
 
Three little words

Susan Mallery

August 1, 2013
 
Rumor Has It

Jill Shalvis

November 5, 2013

Hunted

Karen Robards

December 31, 2013
 
The Sum of All Kisses

Julia Quinn

October 29, 2013


Allegiant

Veronica Roth

October 22, 2013

No good duke goes unpunished

Sarah Maclean

November 26, 2013

Dark Witch

Nora Roberts

October 29, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Elite by Rachel Van Dyken


ISBN-13: 9781455554164
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 7/9/2013
Series: Eagle Elite

Synopsis:
                                                                                                          
 When I won the annual Eagle Elite College Scholarship lottery, I was thrilled. After all, my grandma had just died and I wanted to take care of my aging grandpa -- he couldn't be a farmer in Wyoming forever. And graduating from Eagle Elite meant opportunity.
But I wasn't counting on meeting Nixon.

 Nor was I counting on the rules of the Elect.

1. Do not touch The Elect.

2. Do not look at The Elect.

3. Do not speak to The Elect.

And worst of all? Don't discover the secret they hide, because in the end, you may just realize... it's about you.

Okay, I stayed up till 2 am reading this book. And the later it got, the better it got. So I'm not sure if the late hour and a sluggish brain made this book seem better than it really was, or if I really did like it.

I am hesitant to read too many of the newly categorized "New Adult" books. They are usually teenage characters that have a lot of overly emotional sex. And I don't care for that. This book wasn't like that. The characters are in college, but it's a fairly tame book for this new category.

The best way to summarize this book is this: Twilight with the mafia instead of vampires.

Seriously, after reading it, I think the author used Twilight as a plot guide for this book.  The main difference between the two books (if you subtract the vampire vs. mob thing) is that the characters in twilight were much more developed.

Very rarely do I think an author should have written more. And I'm not referring to the ending, as it is set up to have a sequel. I'm referring to the development of the characters and the emotional state of the relationships. I wish the author would have taken a little more time to show us specifically what these characters were feeling. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book and I would have downloaded the sequel immediately if it were published. But there were several times throughout the book where I thought, give me more.  I want to know more about them. Make me care about them just a little bit more.

The whole mafia thing isn't one I've read a lot about, so it was something new and interesting. But I got the connection of the main character immediately. It was kind of annoying that the main character herself didn't see it. At one point I thought, okay this girl is kinda stupid.

But for the most part, it was an interesting read that left me wanting to know what happens next in this series. I will for sure get the next one when it comes out, especially since they are only priced at $2.99.

Overall:
* Interesting characters
* Interesting love plot
* Predictable suspense plot
* Almost exactly like Twilight except that the Twilight author took five books to tell the story and this author rushes through enough that it should NOT take five books to tell the story.
* I will read the sequel
* Somewhat violent, but not overly sexual

This book was an advanced readers copy provided by NetGalley.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guest Blogger Book Review: True Love by Jude Deveraux

True Love
 
 
Author: Jude Deveraux

ISBN-13: 9780345541796

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 7/9/2013

GUEST REVIEWER: Kathy W.

 
GoodRead's Synopsis:
Just as Alix Madsen is finishing up architectural school, Adelaide Kingsley dies and wills her, for one year, the use of a charming nineteenth-century Nantucket house. The elderly woman’s relationship to the Madsen family is a mystery to the spirited Alix—fresh from a romantic breakup—but for reasons of her own Alix accepts the quirky bequest, in part because it gives her time to plan her best friend’s storybook wedding.

But unseen forces move behind the scenes, creaking Kingsley House’s ancient floorboards. It seems that Adelaide Kingsley had a rather specific task for Alix: to solve the strange disappearance of one of the Kingsley women, Valentina, more than two hundred years ago. If that wasn’t troubling enough, Alix must deal with the arrogant (and extremely good-looking) architect Jared Montgomery, who is living in the property’s guesthouse.

Unbeknown to Alix, Jared has been charged with looking after her while she lives on the island—an easy task for him, considering the undeniable chemistry between the two. But Jared harbors secrets of his own, which, if revealed, may drive a wedge between the pair.

With a glorious Nantucket wedding on the horizon, sparks fly, and the ghosts of the past begin to reveal themselves—some of them literally. Finding their lives inextricably entwined with the turbulent fortunes of their ancestors, Alix and Jared discover that only by righting the wrongs of the past can they hope to be together.
 
This book was a fun book to read.  The author introduces the characters with wit and charm and from the very beginning you know it is going to be light and entertaining. In a story where everyone is a cousin, aunt, or uncle to the main character, I was worried I would have to keep too many names and connections straight, but the author did a good job by not having too many relatives and friends be a meaningful part of the story.
 
There was a point in the story going through all the romance that I felt the mystery was going to be left behind. The quest for "ghost" answers was almost forgotten. However, reading further into the book, I was not disappointed at all. The author pulled me into the mystery of the past and there were just enough twists between past and present characters that I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. Usually ghosts are depicted as scary, however, I fell in love with the Captain with everyone else. I was truly sad about his circumstances and lost love, and truly happy there was a happy ending for him. I was a little disappointed that he did not get to keep his good looks. I had picutred him in my mind as a "Captain Jack Sparrow" kind of man and he ended up feeling kind of short, dumpy, and bald in my head.
 
Overall, I liked that there were not a lot of detailed love scenes that I would have skipped over anyway, and the book left me with a smile on my face!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay


Author: Katja Millay
ISBN-13: 9781476730943
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 6/4/2013

Synopsis:

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.
Josh’s story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

I recently read this book on our drive to Mount Rushmore.  My poor husband had to drive the entire way in silence, because I would not put this book down!

It is a story about tragedy and healing.  About how our scars affect us in irrational ways, but given time and the right company, we can find our way back to ourselves even if we aren't what we once were.

The first part of this book was what captured my attention and wouldn't let go.  From the beginning, you know something bad happened, but you don't know what.  And you want to know!

I'm not going to spoil anything, but about a quarter of the way through the author exposes something about the main character and it's one of those...Wait..What?!!? kind of moments. 

For me the middle dragged a bit, but never enough to make me want to put the book down.  I wanted more to happen, I was waiting and waiting for them to get together.  So I was impatient.  But looking back, this story builds exactly how it needed to given the history and personalities of the two main characters.  I like stories where the characters do things for each other without realizing they are showing their attraction.  Not everything in romance has to be about sex.  In fact it's usually better reading when the story centers on the building emotional attraction.

This was a refreshing break from all the over-sexed "new adult" books that are on the shelves today. 

If you are looking for a relaxing beach read, I can't say that this is the book you'll want to pick up.  But I highly recommend adding this to your reading list.

You can get your copy here:
Sea of Tranquility - Barnes and Noble
Sea of Tranquility - Amazon


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review: Ready to Die by Lisa Jackson

 
ISBN-13: 9780758287519
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 7/30/2013 (nook) Hardcover available now

Synopsis:

Nothing
His blood quickens as he stares at the photographs. Six faces, all guilty—and detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez are at the top of his list. One by one, he'll stalk them, then he'll squeeze the trigger, savoring the way each lifeless body crumples to the reddening snow. One down already. And then there were five. . .
Can Prepare You
Sheriff Dan Grayson lies near death after a shooting, and the police department of Grizzly Falls, Montana, is in shock. Alvarez, torn between a new relationship and her loyalty to Grayson, works with Pescoli to whittle down the list of suspects. The deeper they go, the more personal and dangerous the case becomes. Then a prominent judge's body is found and the killer sends a sinister warning to the press: "Who's Next?"
To Face A Killer
Pescoli isn't waiting to find out. Headstrong and eager for justice, she'll track the scant clues on her own if she has to. But her search leads her straight to a monster who has had her in his sights all along. And when hunter meets prey, both must be willing to kill—and ready to die. . .

The good:

The suspense is this book wasn't nail-biting, but it had a good plot and didn't reveal the who-dun-it till the very end (although I suspected it from the beginning, so you probably will too.)

The characters were unique and flawed and interesting.  I cared about what happened to each of them, so that kept me reading as much as the crime/mystery plot.

The bad:

I felt like I came into this book behind the curve (which I did).  This is the latest in a series of books about these two detectives.  The beginning of the book tried to push in a lot of backstory.  It wasn't boring, it did give insight into the characters, but I felt like so much had happened to them that I had missed out on.

This was not a romantic suspense.  Even if it's labeled that way, I disagree because I think a romantic suspense by definition should have a happily ever after.  This was a mystery book with relationship subplots.  If you are looking for a love story, this is not your book.  I'm thinking that the "couples" that are developing in this story will play out in other books, but since this series has been going a while, who knows when that pay out will be.

Overall, I liked the book.  It kept me interested and again, I liked the characters.  Had I known there wasn't a guy and girl who end up with a happily every after, I might not have picked it up, but it was a good read all the same.

I will probably read the next book in the series if it comes out soon, but I won't be picking up any of the past books in this series. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Guestroom Redo

I have wanted to make this head board for a while now, but I had to wait on my husband to do some cutting for me.  I can use a few power tools, but some (like the jigsaw and circular saw) are best left in the hands of the more experienced.
 
I'm sure I could figure it out, and maybe one day I will, but for now, I'm happy to have my husbands help.
 
So, I found the shape I wanted on pinterest and had a piece of OSB cut down to size for a full bed. (about 56 inches.  I wanted it to go a few inches past the bed on each side.) They did this at Home Depot for free.
 
Cost of OSB and 2 2x4's: $15
 
 
I was originally going to put foam in the middle of this and create a border with nail head trim around the "puffy middle".  But I decided to go a different route after looking online at some other designs.  But, I still needed the extra depth the 2x4's gave me on the sides so that I would have something to hammer the nail heads into.  The OSB wasn't thick enough for that.  I like how thick this is with the 2x4's, but you could use 1" dimensional lumber as well.

 
I covered the 'new' front with batting.  I got the batting at Joann's.  It was a queen size batting roll.  I had thought about double layering, so I wanted to have enough.  I went with one layer instead.  Two layers would have been too thick for my staples after the fabric was added.  And I was concerned that two layers would make my corners less sharp-looking.
 
Cost of batting: $14 (I downloaded the Joann's app while waiting in line at register and got a 40% off coupon)

 
After stapling the bejesus out of the batting, I laid out the fabric face down and aligned my board on top.  I recruited the help of my ten year old for the remainder of this project.  It was just too much for one set of hands.
 
I stood it up to staple the fabic.  That's why I needed help holding it up so I could staple.  The fabric wouldn't have been as smooth looking if I had kept it lying down.
 
This fabric is actually a curtain that I found at World Market.  I new I wanted dark green velvet, but I couldn't find it at any fabric stores, and when I saw these, I knew they were perfect.  But, there was only one left!
 
Cost of fabric: $17

 
The fabric was like 1 inch too short to wrap around the edge of the 2x4.  I know, you would think that I would measure the fabric first and then cut my board, but that's not how I do things.  I rarely do things in the correct order, I just get too excited. 
 
And, asking my husband to cut down the board another inch was soooo not happening.
 
So I took my seam ripper and undid the seam.  Then it fit perfectly.  Thank God for seam rippers!! They are my favorite tool, especially since I tend to make this stuff up as I go, therefore making a lot of mistakes along the way:)

 
I got too involved in the next few steps and didn't take enough pics, but basically I stapled and stapled and stapled till my hand cramped.
 
Getting the fabric flat around the curve was difficult work.  I think I may have thrown out a couple of inappropriate words.  At least that's what my ten year old said.  I don't remember, I was too busy tugging and stapling and sweating and tugging to pay attention.

 
After getting the edges as smooth as I could get them, taking a minute to cool down and apologizing for my scaring my child, I added nail head trim to the edge. 
 
I read several blogs that said using individual nail heads was much nicer than the trim. (which is like a metal rope of nail heads that you only have to hammer in every fifth head)  I agree that it would be more consistent to use individual heads.  The color of the nail head that you hammer in is just a tad bit different from the rest.  And if I weren't so lazy and impatient, I would have purchased individuals.  But I am impatient, and I wanted to do this as inexpensively as possible.
 
So, I used the trim instead.  It was the easiest part of the whole project.  In fact, I had several feet left over and walked around my house looking for something else that needed nail head trim.
 
Several little things ended up with trim, whether they needed it or not, just because I could.  :)
 
Cost of trim: $8 (again, because I had the app coupon)

 
And here it is all put together.  I made the bed skirt and four of the pillows.  I'm having my mom bring up another curtain that she found at her local World Market for the real bed skirt.  This is just some fabric that I had to use in the interim.  I used the cut-offs of the curtain for the edges of the skirt.
 
 
 
Sorry the pics aren't great.  I used my iphone.  Not a great photographer here!  That is definitely on my to do list, take photography class.  

 
Right now the head board isn't attached to the wall.  It's sitting on a couple of 4 inch boxes that I had lying around.  I had wanted it taller, but hubby has yet to get around to that.  He seems to think it looks fine as it is, go figure.  But, I eventually would like it to sit up a bit taller. 
 
So total cost of head board: $54  
 
Yay!  And it's exactly what I wanted.  Hope this was helpful, it's my first blog project.  Next time, I'll take more pictures.
 
I'ld love to hear what you think and if you have any projects you're working on!!