Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Review of What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista D. Ball

Publisher: Tyche Books
Format Read: epub and PDF
Release Date: November 1, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon   Tyche Press   Barnes & Noble

Book Blurb (from goodreads):
A Fantasy Lover's Food Guide
Equal parts writer’s guide, comedy, and historical cookbook, fantasy author Krista D. Ball takes readers on a journey into the depths of epic fantasy’s obsession with rabbit stew and teaches them how to catch the blasted creatures, how to move armies across enemy territories without anyone starving to death, and what a medieval pantry should look like when your heroine is seducing the hero.

Learn how long to cook a salted cow tongue, how best to serve salt fish, what a “brewis” is (hint: it isn’t beer), how an airship captain would make breakfast, how to preserve just about anything, and why those dairy maids all have ample hips.

What Kings Ate will give writers of historical and fantastical genres the tools to create new conflicts in their stories, as well as add authenticity to their worlds, all the while giving food history lovers a taste of the past with original recipes and historical notes.
 
Quote:
If time is of the essence, your hero will not have time to field dress a dear, locate water (unless he's following an uncontaminated stream or river), fish, or club a baby seal and make a fur coat. Yet, how many of us have read fantasy books where the heroes have done all this and still had enough time to seduce the assassin traveling with them?

My eighty-three-year old father has been hunting most of his life and he offers this advice to the hero wanting to hunt rabbits while being chased by orcs: go hungry.
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

Ball has a wicked sense of humor and it shines through in this book. This is not a formal textbook or treatise but a conversational look at common myths and mistakes in historical and fantasy books concerning food and eating. She points out common errors but doesn’t cite books or authors, letting them stay anonymous. She limits her scope to Northern Europe in the early Middle Ages, and freely admits that her bachelor’s degree in history doesn’t make her an expert. She did a lot of research for the book and it shows. I enjoyed it tremendously and will be looking with a closer eye now when I’m reading historical books or fantasies.
 
In societies where wood stoves were used, apples could be sliced and hung on strings over the stove, the warmest and dries part of the house. Mushrooms, likewise, can be threaded with a needle and twine, and hung over the hearth or stove. (You won’t want to do this in a Steampunk story or  any urban-based story with coal. Coal stoves eventually coat everything in black soot that tastes really foul. Follow the advice of Mrs. Beeton (a Victorian cookery guru) and put the drying goodies in the wooden cupboards near the stove, where spices and salt were stored. Still warm, but less soot.) These small details can be twisted and massaged into making a lovely setting.

My one gripe about the book and the reason it’s four stars instead of five is the copy editing. There are numerous errors, all of them sloppy. It hasn’t been a problem with her other books so I assume the publisher is responsible for not catching and fixing them.
 
…the hot desert sun was prefect for laying fish out on the roofs of houses to dry.
Smoking and salting is the most common methods…
If potatoes were not in the diet, than bread and beer would…
I quickly became aware that it was so more complex than dealing with…
Never in my life have I felt more in line with the Romans, the original Borg from Star Trek,…

Apart from the numerous proofreading and copy editing errors, I found the book to be fun, enjoyable, useful and easy to use. I recommend it for anyone who writes historical books or fantasies or to readers who are curious. Just be sure to have your red pen ready.
 
I received the Epub and PDF from the author. I’ve also ordered the print copy.

This review first appeared at BookTrib

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wrap Up of Just for Fun Reading Challenge 2012 & 2013 Sign up


One of my goals this year was to read more for fun this year so I joined in this challenge. With all of the reading I do for the blog and for editing, it was a real challenge but I did it! I managed at least one book for fun every month and this month I managed even more. I am so pleased and it was so rewarding that I signed up for the 2013 challenge also. :) I know it will be a challenge, a real challenge, but it's a reward to read just for fun so it's worth doing.

Sunday Book Share #17





I'm participating in Feed My Reader Friday hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A WriterThe Sunday Post, hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, and Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews. The  memes allow book bloggers the chance to share print and digital books they've received and different posts and events at their blog.

So, as it turns out, I did not drive down to my parents house for Christmas. My asthma, which has been mild this fall, decided to flare up. I've spent the past week curled up on the couch, coughing, sneezing and sucking on my nebulizer. The plus to this has been I've done lots of reading and that led to lots of reviews, both here and on goodreads (I put up about another half dozen or so on there).


News/Info:  Merry Christmas!


BOOKS

Review - Print


I'll be doing a giveaway of the first two books in this series sometime in January.

Won - ePub


I won this from the author in a Twitter giveaway.

Bought - Kindle & Print

Yes, I indulged and bought both the ebook and the print editions. Kelley is one of my fave authors so it was a no-brainer.

Kindle Freebies



I also received three Amazon gift cards from the kids and families at school. So far, I only bought the Kindle version of Forbidden. 

I hope you all had a good Christmas or a good day, whichever is relevant, and Happy New Year!

Don't forget to leave a link to your post so I can stop by and comment.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review of Holiday Sparks by Taryn Elliott

Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Format Read: Kindle
Release Date: December 20, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon   Ellora's Cave   AllRomance

Book Blurb (from goodreads): 
Darcy Tucker hates Christmas. Being lead supervisor at a department store shows her the very worst of humanity. When her holiday display is demolished, she turns to the least likely person she knows—her hot, tattooed tenant who seems to get off on the very idea of Christmas. Maybe she can get him to decorate the store and stop decorating her house.
Tattoo artist Ben Hartley may not look the part, but Christmas is his favorite holiday. When Darcy gets in a jam and reveals her vulnerable side, he finally gets to learn more about the sexy woman behind the cool façade.
 
Thrown in close quarters to fix her store, Ben and Darcy realize the only chilly thing between them is the temperature outside. One supremely hot kiss leads to a night full of passionate surprises. Now Ben has to show her that there’s more to life than work, and that the season of hope is full of sexy possibilities with or without a Christmas tree.
 
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

I don't hate Christmas but I spent 2/3 of my life working in retail, either part-time or full-time, and I can empathize with Darcy. Working in retail definitely kills some of the Christmas joy. I've enjoyed Christmas more since leaving retail. Ben was also relatable. While I don't have tattoos myself, many of my friends do, so I enjoyed getting an inside peek at how and what a tattoo artist does.

Darcy and Ben make for a nice couple. They have misunderstandings and emotional issues to work through and feel very real, like the couple next door. The storyline with Ben's brother was predictable and the resolution anticlimactic. I also didn't think it was necessary, as Darcy had enough emotional issues to drive the story; but, the incident with Ben's brother is what brings them together.

There's a sweet and steamy kissing scene between Ben and Darcy at the store when they're decorating the new tree. Elliott hit it spot on and it nicely defines both of them. Elliott's experience with graphic design really shows in this book as she exquisitely describes certain scenes; she's a very visual author. I often have a hard time visualizing things, whether it's a new furniture arrangement or a scene in a book, so I appreciate this quality. This is a sweet romance with some steamy love scenes and is an enjoyable read. 

A couple favorite quotes:
Salaried in retail was tantamount to slave labor.
"What? You think the bedding department hasn't been violated six ways to Sunday? Please."

I received this from the author for review.

 
If you like how the book sounds, go here to enter to win a copy.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review of Collared by L.A. Kornetsky

Publisher: Gallery Books
Series: Gin & Tonic #1
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads)
They rely on animal instincts…

Meet “Gin” and “Tonic.” She’s a dog person. He’s a cat person. But when these two friendly rivals team up to solve a mystery, you can bet their pets aren’t the only ones getting collared…
Ginny Mallard and her shar-pei, Georgie, are about to run out of kibble and cash, unless she digs up another client for her private concierge business. So she heads to her neighborhood Seattle bar, Mary’s, to sniff out an opportunity. Or a gimlet or two. The bartender, Teddy Tonica, is usually good for a round of challenging banter, and Georgie is oddly fond of his bar cat, Mistress Penny.

Before she can say “bottoms up,” Ginny lands a job tracking down some important business papers that have gone missing—along with the customer’s uncle. If Ginny hopes to track him down, she’ll need more than her research skills: she’ll need a partner with people skills—like Tonica.

This is one dangerous case that’s about to go to the dogs—unless man, woman, cat, and canine can work together as one very unconventional crime-solving team.


Quote:
Ginny was good at making lists. That was what she had done when she went home last night: put together the list of people she thought might be useful, adding and subtracting based on nothing more than gut instinct. She'd ended up with five people, and a sense of satisfaction in a job well done.
And then, at three in the morning, with Georgie snoring at the end of the bed, it had hit her, waking her up with one of those unsettling stomach-turning epiphanies. She had been treating it like just another job-meet the client's needs, rearrange the world so that they are not inconvenienced or delayed. Only this wasn't a party, or a vacation, or even ferrying people to and from the hospital, which she'd done once for an elderly woman facing surgery. This was someone's life she was trying to manage. More than manage-potentially undercut. And it was the life of someone who was neither her client nor an underage dependent of her client. Someone who might have very good reasons to not want to be found.

Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

L.A. Kornetsky is an alias for Laura Anne Gilman, who writes urban fantasies and under the name of Anna Leonard writes paranormal romances. I love her urban fantasies and I love mysteries so I was excited to hear about this book and have been waiting for it impatiently.

The cover makes it look like a cozy mystery but it's not nor is it cutesy. The latter was a possibility given the addition of the animals as part of the investigative team. Kornetsky plays it straight, not endowing the animals with human characteristics or special powers.

The relationship between the main humans, Ginny "Gin" Mallard and Teddy "Tonic" Tonica is complicated and until now, casual. She plays on a trivia team in the trivia competitions at the bar where Teddy works. When she takes on a job looking for a missing person, which is really stretching her role as a personal concierge, she enlists Teddy to help her, knowing that his people skills are better than hers.

The story is tightly written, the characterization deft and skillful and the story intriguing. Having read her urban fantasies, which all contain mysteries as part of their plots, I had no doubt of Kornetsky's ability to write a straight-up mystery and she didn't disappoint. I got tired at times of the constant sniping Teddy and Ginny engage in and I also questioned Teddy's willingness to help Ginny. Yes, she appealed to his competitive side but it seemed unlikely. Despite those issues, I enjoyed the story and I'll definitely read the next one.

I borrowed this from my local library.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review of Bah, Humbug! A Romantic Comedy Novella by Heather Horrocks

Publisher: Word Garden Press
Format Read: Kindle
Release Date: November 9, 2011
Buying Links:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble 

Book Blurb (from goodreads):
Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block--until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman's body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

Do you like marshmallows? Looking for a easy read where you can let go of reality and float along? Give this story a read. If you're in a critical mood, pick another book. :D

That seems harsh, I know. It's a cute, sweet fluffy tale of a whirlwind romance that has little to no tension and what tension there is seemed unrealistic. The heroine's children get along perfectly, they behave all the time (despite a huge upheaval in their lives), there's a predictable, by-the-numbers misunderstanding between the hero and heroine at the beginning, and in within a week, they meet, fall in love and get engaged. I just didn't find it realistic. 

The hero doesn't like Christmas, for understandable reasons, but it's both convenient and manipulative. (Without going into spoilers, my family and I have had the same sort of event occur at two different holidays. I resent an author so blatantly manipulating my feelings instead of putting time and effort into story and character development.)


Huh, the more I write, the less I like the story. As I read it, I rolled my eyes a lot and was critical but I also laughed and teared up. "Bah, Humbug!" is a quick read, cute and sugary sweet. If you want depth and believability, this isn't the book for you. Also, for a story of this length, there were too many typos and copy editing errors. I know, one or two are almost inevitable, but the proofing seemed rushed on this one.

I own this ebook.

Review of Dick Francis's Bloodline by Felix Francis

Publisher: Putnam
Format Read: Hardcover
Release Date: October 2nd
Buying Links:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

When race caller and television presenter Mark Shillingford calls a race in which his twin sister, Clare, an accomplished and successful jockey, comes in second when she could have won, he believes the worst: that she lost on purpose, and the race was fixed. That night, Mark confronts Clare with his suspicions, she storms off after an argument—and it’s the last time Mark sees her alive. Hours later, Clare jumps to her death from the balcony of a London hotel . . . or so it seems.

Devastated and guilty over her death, Mark goes in search of answers. What had led Clare to take her own life? Or was it not suicide at all?

Quote:
"She didn't say good-bye," he said suddenly.
"What?"
"Clare. She never said good-bye to me."
"Dad, she was hardly likely to ring you up to say good-bye before she killed herself."
"No, not that," he said, now openly crying. "I mean, she never said good-bye to me when she left here that evening. We had argued. We always seem to, these days. I can't even remember what it was about. Something about the house, or the garden. She kept telling me I was getting too old to look after it. Anyway, it doesn't matter what we argued about-suffice to say, we did. And I told her that she was an insufferable spoiled brat who should know better than to speak to her parent like that."
I could imagine the exchange. I'd had them myself with the old git.
"She just walked out without another word," he said miserably. "She didn't even say good-bye to your mother. I followed her outside, telling her not to be so bloody stupid, but she didn't reply. She didn't even look at me. She got in her car and drove away without a backward glance." He sobbed again. "I feel so guilty."
Join the club, I thought.
Reviewed By: Bea


Bea's Thoughts:


I grew up reading Dick Francis's books, they were favorites of both my mom and dad, and I gobbled them up and continued to gobble them over the years. He went through a slump or two but always pulled out of them. When Dick and his son Felix started writing together, the books were okay but not great. Now Felix has taken over, writing the same style of racing mysteries that his father did. To be honest, I'd like to see him move away from his father's franchise and write his own material; I think he could be interesting on his own.

At the start of the book, it seemed as if he was trying too hard to channel his father but slowly the story smoothed out and I got caught up in it. Felix stayed true to his father's formula, there's little that's original. There are a few differences: his women characters aren't as strong and he killed off someone I didn't expect and that I think his father wouldn't have. But otherwise it's a tried and true Francis story.

I didn't find Mark's career to be all that fascinating but then the few times I watch a sports game on TV, I often hit the mute button. Mark himself is interesting and matures as the story progresses; like most Francis heroes he's a bit emotionally stunted at the start of the story. His parents felt a bit stereotyped and I would have liked more actual horse time. The blackmail twist was a good one, very clever. I figured out who blackmailer #1 was early on but not blackmailer #2. As for his sister's death, there were some surprise elements there, including the reason for her death. The killer was a complete surprise and not in a good way but more like Francis himself wasn't sure who the killer was and randomly picked a character. Francis did tie the killer into another element of the story (and it made me go "eeeeew") but I do wish that there's been some hint, some buildup, to the killer's identity.

It's not bad, it's a decent story and one I enjoyed after the rough start. I admit, I still miss Dick Francis.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review of Cathedral Windows by Clare O'Donohue

Publisher: Plume
Series: Someday Quilts Mysteries #4.5
Format Read: eGalley
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   OmniLit

Book Blurb (from goodreads):
Christmas is just around the corner in the Hudson Valley. Nell and her friends at the Someday Quilts shop should be making eggnog and finishing up the stitching on their last homemade gifts, but when an arsonist strikes and a beloved teacher becomes a suspect, the ladies rally behind him to clear his good name. Will they succeed in time for him to spend Christmas among loved ones or will this be a chilly winter for the town of Archers Rest?
Quote:
There was no answer from Charlie, none that I could hear anyway, and despite every instinct to interfere, as well as a reputation for being the town's Nancy Drew, it wasn't my business. 
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

I had no trouble reading this story as a stand-alone despite it's being the fifth entry in the series and is a good introduction. It was quick, sweet and tugged all of the heart-strings.

"Cathedral Windows" is a quilting pattern and all that Charlie, a beloved teacher, has left when his house burns down. Although a hometown boy, he was away for awhile serving overseas in Afghanistan. He returns home, the last of his family, and different from the boy the town knew. He has trouble fitting back in and when he becomes the suspect in his house fire, the town is prepared to believe in his guilt. Nell isn't so sure and she sets out trying to help him.

The story is tightly written, without any wasted details. I did guess who the arsonist was but not until almost the end of the story. Things get sugary-sweet as Nell rouses support for Charlie but then, it is a Christmas story. O'Donohue does a nice job with characterization given the length constraints and the story never feels rushed. Overall, I liked it but didn't love it. I might get some of other books from the library but I'm not in a rush. I gave the story 3 stars on goodreads.

I received an eGalley from the publisher for review.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review of Mistletoe Mischief by Stacey Joy Netzel

Publisher: Stacey Joy Netzel
Series: Romancing Wisconsin #1
Format Read: Kindle
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon  AllRomance  Barnes & Noble

Book Blurb (from goodreads):
Christmas in July at the zoo is the last place single parents Eric Riley and Marissa Wilder expect to find love. Thanks to some mistletoe mischief in the form of their two young daughters and Santa, they discover mistletoe rules were not made to be broken.
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

This was a cute little short story about two divorced parents who meet via their daughters and are instantly attracted to each other. Misunderstandings rapidly ensue, which last more than halfway through the story. It's not my favorite trope but Netzel manages it well. All of the characters are enjoyable and the story moves along quickly. Too quickly for me, I didn't like how fast things went and I'd have liked the story better without the epilogue. The story doesn't actually occur in December; the outing where Eric and Marissa meet has a July in December theme. It's a cute story, no real conflict despite the misunderstandings but it's a short, sweet read that won't make your teeth ache.

I own this ebook.

Merry Christmas!


May you have a peaceful day filled with the people and things that you love. 

Dusty Reads Link Up


Dusty Reads is a meme started by Giselle at Xpresso Reads featuring a book that has been sitting unread on your shelf for some time. Books don't have to be 'x' years old. If you've had the book for a few months without reading it, it's dusty! :D You can post on any day but Giselle and I usually post or put up a linky on Tuesdays. If you don't use the button, try to link back to this post or Giselle's so others will know how/where to link up. You can use the above button, the one below or create your own if you prefer. 


Monday, December 24, 2012

Review of Origin by Jessica Khoury

Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Format Read: Hardcover
Buying Links: Amazon    Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.


Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.


Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.
 
Reviewed By: Bea


Bea's Thoughts:

I read a sample of this over the summer  and was intrigued. I was happy to see that my library had it and requested it. I stayed up late finishing it but I was a bit disappointed in it. A lot of the buzz around this book was about how original it is, but sadly it's not. A flower that holds the key to a medical miracle has been done before as has the secretive, egomaniacal quest for immortality. I was hoping Khoury could bring something new to these story lines but there's little that is fresh. (I've been going nuts trying to remember the name of a book I read. It was years ago but this book reminded me very much of "Origin" even though the it was not YA, but more of a medical thriller. It also involved a flower, secret research, a young girl, two actually, murder and mayhem). The natives in the book are cliched, being the stereotypical honorable, salt of the earth, keeper of wisdom aboriginals seen in countless books and movies (though it was better than the savage, ignorant aboriginals also popular in books and movies). The fable about the flower and the race of immortals was new to me but also a bit confusing. 

There were some plot holes, such as the absolute zero tolerance policy on books, magazines, maps, etc about the world outside of the compound; the reason given made no sense to me but it did allow for Pia to be ridiculously ignorant of certain matters and it did help her with her odd sense of morals. That, to me, was the main reason that a strict control of media and arts was enforced - it kept Pia ignorant and made it easier for the scientists to train her to be a sociopath. She knew there was a wider world but all she knew about it was that it existed. Any information she learned was what was fed to her, pablum style. Still, the ban was extreme and just doesn't really make sense overall except to allow Khoury to indulge in actions that serve the story but don't make sense. The love between Pia and Eio is sudden and never feels real; his village is much too quick to accept Pia both as a person and as a savior; and why in the world does Pia call everyone in the compound Aunt and Uncle? I do mean everyone, right down to the truck drivers and janitorial staff. Maybe to reinforce her loyalty to the mission and everyone involved? And it's never clear what happens to the staff who leave the compound when they retire; it's hinted that they don't survive but are killed off, yet that's never addressed. And the coincidences in this book, oy. Of course, Eio's little sister (sort of but not really) conveniently comes along just when evil scientists need a victim. *eye roll* Of course a new, rabble rousing scientist comes to the compound just when Pia is starting to get rebellious and needs an ally, etc.

There wasn't a lot of character development. Mom hates dad, he's too weak (ie he won't murder  innocent people or animals), she's in love with a man she can't have; scientists are cold, unemotional, sociopaths who care only about research and not people; the aboriginals are ye standard noble savages and so on.

Where the book did shine was in showing Pia's teenage rebellion, her growth emotionally and morally and also in the moral and philosophical questions - does the end ever justify the means, what is an acceptable price for research, do cultures not our own have value, what do we gain by being mortal and what, if anything, do we lose by giving up our mortality. While there could have been more depth in those discussions, what there is works in the story and never comes across as preachy.


"Origins" isn't great, isn't anything new or different but it is an enjoyable read and it did grab me from the get to. If you're willing and able to suspend belief, give it a try. But get it fro the library or borrow it from a friend.

I borrowed this book from my local library.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Review of Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Subterranean Press
Series: Women of the Otherworld Novella
Format Read: Kindle
Release Date: November 30, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble  Kobo

Book Blurb (from goodreads):
I don’t run from ghosts.”
His voice, right at my ear. “You will.”


Jaime Vegas—spiritualist, entertainer and, unbeknownst to her audience, real-life necromancer—swore she’d never do another reality ghost show after the last fiasco. But when she’s railroaded into a charity gig, she finds herself back on the set, this time with a cast of photogenic college kids, an up-and¬-coming Russian spiritualist, and a tale of missing girls and murder in New England. It’s cheesy, but that’s show business. With her werewolf Alpha lover, Jeremy Danvers, along to keep her nights interesting, it’s not so bad really. Until the bloody ghosts show up. J
aime has never faced spirits like these, and no matter how hard she tries, they won’t be ignored.

Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

I like Jaime and Jeremy so very much. I had hesitations about Jaime when she was first introduced but I like her more with each appearance. Unlike some readers, I've never hated Jaime. She is in many respects a normal person: she rarely uses her necromancer talent and never for money, she struggles with career choices and family issues, she deals with disapproval from her boyfriend's family, etc. She's not the most powerful supernatural out there although more than she once realized. In all, being a plan vanilla human myself, I find her relatable.

So it probably comes as no surprise that my favorite parts of the story were the interactions between Jaime and Jeremy. Loved, loved, LOVED them and a couple of hawt scenes. The mystery part was okay; some of it I guessed, some of it I didn't and there were a couple of real twists. The "problems" Jaime had with the production were predictable and I rolled my eyes a few times.

Overall, a good entry in the series but not the best.

I own this eBook.

Sunday Book Share #16




I'm participating in Feed My Reader Friday hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A WriterThe Sunday Post, hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, and Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews. The  memes allow book bloggers the chance to share print and digital books they've received and different posts and events at their blog.

As you read this, I am driving down the eastern seaboard, leaving Massachusetts and driving toward Virginia. The car is packed and gassed up, I am caffeinated and medicated (it's Christmas, therefore I am sick. It's my own personal tradition), the cat has been left in the care of a friend, and the blog has several reviews (yes, reviews! Can you believe it? :D)  scheduled during the upcoming week. 

Merry Christmas!








BOOKS

Another light week, which I rather enjoyed. 

Gifted - Kindle


I've known Cara for years, before she was even published. She's a sweet, sweet person. 


This is an anthology and one of the authors, Maire Claremont, kindly gave me a copy.  

Review - Kindle/PDF


If all goes well, I'll have the review for this up towards the end of this week.


And now for a completely different genre :D This is for a blog tour next month. 

And that is it for me. I am not sure I'll get around to many blogs this week but I'll try. One of my goals for next year is to be more involved in the book blogging community and part of that is more frequent visiting and commenting. 

In the meantime, happy holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Giveaway & Excerpt: Holiday Sparks by Taryn Elliott

Taryn Elliott and I have  little holiday gift for you - an excerpt from her hot new erotic romance, "Holiday Sparks". It was released Thursday, December 20th by Ellora's Cave.

Book Blurb (from Taryn):
Darcy Tucker hates Christmas. Being lead supervisor at a department store shows her the very worst of humanity. When her holiday display is demolished, she turns to the least likely person she knows—her hot, tattooed tenant who seems to get off on the very idea of Christmas. Maybe she can get him to decorate the store and stop decorating her house.
Tattoo artist Ben Hartley may not look the part, but Christmas is his favorite holiday. When Darcy gets in a jam and reveals her vulnerable side, he finally gets to learn more about the sexy woman behind the cool façade.
Thrown in close quarters to fix her store, Ben and Darcy realize the only chilly thing between them is the temperature outside. One supremely hot kiss leads to a night full of passionate surprises. Now Ben has to show her that there’s more to life than work, and that the season of hope is full of sexy possibilities with or without a Christmas tree.
Now, get comfy, grab a drink and enjoy.

*******************************************************************************

Excerpt

“Four, five, si—” Ben paused as the Christmas song fizzled out. “Shit.” He pushed up the last two reps then dumped his weight bar back onto the rack and rolled off his bench. He thought he’d worked all the kinks out of the program he’d written for the house.
 
He hurried down the steps and came to an abrupt halt. The lights on the porch were out. “Dammit.” He swung open the door and frowned. His landlady’s spectacular ass lined up perfectly with his face. Stunned for a moment, he simply stared before asking, “What are you doing?”

Their doors were side by side in the setup of the duplex. She had a pair of pliers in her hand and each of the clear clips he’d painstakingly tacked around the arched window were sprinkled across their shared deck. “I’m taking,” she grunted, “down these lights.”

The glow from the lights on the bushes highlighted the khaki material that hugged her ass a little too perfectly. He frowned and returned his focus to the window above. “Why?”

“Because,” she snarled and pulled, “I,” another clip fell and the string of lights sagged against her shoulder, “hate Christmas.”

“How can you hate Christmas?” Even his cranky old Grandpa Radley loved Christmas. “Hey, stop.”

“This is my house. And I will not have We Wish You a Merry Christmas blaring from some ridiculous speaker as lights sparkle and flash and cause seizures!”

He reached up and took the pliers from her, stuffing down a laugh. “Honestly, stop.”

She looked down at him, her eyes definitely on death ray instead of stun.

He cleared his throat. Nope, laughing would not be smart. “You’re the one tearing up the siding. I tacked them in so that there wouldn’t be any structural damage.”

“Fine. Then take them down yourself.”

“How about I just take them down on your side of the house?”

“No, take them all down. This is my house and this is my rule.”

His eyebrows shot up. The librarian tone zinged him in places it shouldn’t. “That wasn’t in the lease agreement,” he said amiably. The little pulse in the side of her neck was fluttering and her eyes were just a little too bright. She stood a few inches taller than him thanks to the stepladder. And he was pretty sure she was a minute away from a true meltdown.

“No structural changes to the house covers that, Mr. Hartley.”

“Well, Miss Tucker, I hardly think a few Christmas lights could be considered structural changes.”

“Oh no? There’s a freaking,” she widened her arms, gasping for breath, “sleigh in the yard with all—and I do mean all—the reindeer. Oh, and my house looks like a demonic jukebox!”

He wasn’t sure why her rant made him want to grin like an idiot, but it did. “I like Christmas. The kids get a kick out of it and it’s…well, it’s cheery.”

She turned on the stepladder and the whole thing tipped. Ben grabbed the first thing he could—a handful of curvy hip. She slapped her hand onto the siding for balance and stared down at him with disdain.
He cleared his throat and stepped back. Laughing would only tick her off more. The little voice in the back of his head wanted to keep going and see if she’d pull a Linda Blair. This was probably more words than they’d shared since she’d showed him the house over the summer.

He crossed his arms, digging his fingers into his quickly cooling muscles. It was a warm night, but not exactly muscle-shirt weather. “Look, it’s getting dark. I’ll take them down first thing in the morning, how’s that?”

A little muscle twitched in her cheek. He could tell that she wanted to argue with him, but she finally nodded and stepped down. “Tomorrow,” her chin tipped up, “please.”

Now this was the Darcy he was used to. The polite, almost icy woman he bumped into at the mailbox. She was usually rolling up the driveway as he was heading to his shop. Perversely, he liked the one that had flipped out a moment ago.

“Sorry you don’t like the display.” She almost met him eye to eye even off the ladder. It was odd for him to be around a woman nearly as tall as he was. The porch light illuminated her just enough to see her gaze drop to his arm. His voice gentled. “I’m even sorrier that you hate Christmas.”

 “I didn’t know I had to make myself clear on the subject.” Her gaze tripped to the tattoos that sleeved his right arm. The sweat had faded in the coolness of the night but his muscles were still tight from his workout. “You don’t seem the caroling, Christmas-is-my-secret-hobby type.”

He swiped his hand down his biceps and tightened it under her obvious perusal. He was proud of his ink. He turned until the evergreen in the middle of the flames of the dragon was in her line of sight. It wrapped most of his upper arm. Most people only saw the dragon. They didn’t notice that in the midst of the fire, a Christmas tree glowed bright with lights and a blue flame star at the top.

With all the crap he’d seen on this earth, one thing remained. He loved the hope of Christmas. It wasn’t the religion part for him, just the hope of it. Wars had yielded one night of peace, people smiled at strangers and children reminded everyone what it was like to have a bit of simple pleasure.

“And who would be the Christmas type?”

“Carly.”

He laughed. “Carly is definitely a Christmas mom, but kids have that effect whether you’re the type or not.”

“Christmas is ill-mannered people, impatient lines and the screams of overtired children that have been dragged to eight stores in three hours.” Darcy Tucker’s eyes were pinched and her mouth was now a grim line.

He swiped his thumb down the tree in his tattoo. “Christmas is alive and well no matter how awful things get.” Her dark-green eyes softened and she opened her mouth to say something but he lifted his hand. As she said, it was her place. “I’ll have them down tomorrow. Do you mind if I enjoy them tonight?”

She nodded slowly. “One night.”

“Sorry to inconvenience you.”

She snapped her stepladder shut, averting her eyes. “Thank you,” she said softly and slipped inside.
Ben collected the clips off the deck and stuffed them into his pocket. It had been an unusually bitter month on the all-around. His niece was wrapped up tight with a shoulder harness thanks to a bad fall from her bike. So instead of the art lessons he usually used to keep her occupied, she was moping around his shop, Luna Hart. With any luck she’d get the sling off before Christmas.

His brother was working extra hours to pay for her medical bills, which made Brittany even more bratty. And he’d just dented his savings to buy updated equipment for his shop.

Putting up a bit of Christmas cheer had calmed him. He’d just have to bring the lights over to the shop instead. It didn’t exactly suit the tattoo parlor. Cesar would just have to deal with a carnival of lights outside.

And maybe he could finally get Brittany to smile. She liked to order him around, and getting her involved in the decorating would distract her.

He gathered the white lights that sagged from the awning and took them down because now they just looked stupid. He worked quickly. Thanks to his height and Darcy Tucker’s rampage there were only a few left. He wasn’t sure why she’d taken them down on his side first. He shook his head. Now the house looked as though it was winking. He made a mental note to add that into his programming ideas.

It was too bad Darcy Tucker was so unhappy with the idea of Christmas.

She sure was pretty under the twinkle lights.

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Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Release Date: December 20, 2012
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
ISBN: 9781419943904

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Taryn and the publisher, Ellora's Cave, have kindly offered one copy of "Holiday Sparks" to a reader. To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. Please read my Giveaway Policy. You Must Be 18 Years Old to Enter.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review of The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Series: Deborah Knott Mystery #18
Format Read: Hardcover
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble  The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads):
New York Times bestselling author Margaret Maron returns with a thrilling new Deborah Knott mystery . . .

THE BUZZARD TABLE

Judge Deborah Knott and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, are back home in Colleton County amid family and old friends. But the winter winds have blown in several new faces as well. Lt. Sigrid Harald and her mother, Anne, a well-known photographer, are down from New York to visit Mrs. Lattimore, Anne's dying mother. When the group gathers for dinner at Mrs. Lattimore's Victorian home, they meet the enigmatic Martin Crawford, an ornithologist researching a book on Southern vultures. He's also Mrs. Lattimore's long-lost nephew. With her health in decline, Mrs. Lattimore wants to make amends with her family-a desire Deborah can understand, as she, too, works to strengthen her relationship with her young stepson, Cal.

Anne is charmed by her mysterious cousin, but she cannot shake the feeling that there is something familiar about Martin . . . something he doesn't want her or anyone else to discover. When a string of suspicious murders sets Colleton County on edge, Deborah, Dwight, and Sigrid once again work together to catch a killer, uncovering long-buried family secrets along the way.
Quote:
As I drove west out of Dobbs, it seemed to me that the days were getting noticeably longer. Time was passing much too quickly, though. Turn around twice and it would soon be summer-sandals, cotton slacks, and sleeveless dresses. What with the growth spurt Cal had taken this winter, I doubted if there was much he could still wear from last summer. Unfortunately, he likes to shop for clothes just about as much as Dwight does, but maybe I could issue a bench warrant for the two of them anf haul them both out to one of the Raleigh malls this spring.
They say time is relative, and to prove it, Einstein supposedly compared a minute of sitting on a red-hot stove to a minute of kissing your lover. Driving into the sunset past pine thickets, and dormant fields, I wondered how Sigrid, Anne, and Mrs. Lattimore were experiencing time these days. Was it zipping past or dragging?
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:


Okay, this is the second crossover in a row with Maron's Sigrid Harald books; I'm ready for a 100% Deborah Knott book now. I enjoyed it but didn't love it. This crossover worked better for me than the first one did. Actually Sigrid has a much smaller part in this book than that one, it's her mother Anne who gets the attention. Well, Anne and her long-lost cousin Martin, a man of mystery, who may or may not be a murderer. After two books, I still am not entranced with Sigrid as a character so I was glad she has a small role in this book, but I'd still like to see a return to each character staying in their own series.

Deborah's husband Dwight also has a larger part this time around but I wish his actions and emotions concerning Martin had been explored in more depth; they felt tacked on. I imagine the consequences will be felt in future books; I certainly hope so. The subplot with Cal, Dwight's son, was touching but a little out of the blue. Although, I only read these books once, I don't re-read them so it's possible I may be forgetting something from previous books.

The book meshes together fairly well and as always I enjoyed the family bits, they are one of my favorite things about this series. I didn't find the murders to be all that interesting but Martin's plot was engaging. Overall, it was an okay entry into the series. If you are new to the series, do not start with this one but start at the beginning.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What happens when you lose a bet

No, not me. I don't bet unless you count the occasional raffle ticket. No, this was author Krista D Ball. She's a regular on the blog, between guest posts and my reviews of her books. Earlier this year Krista was tipsy, or even flat-out drunk and fellow author Debora Geary took advantage of her tipsy state and made a bet with Krista about her most recent book, "What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank". Krista must have been very tipsy, as she bet against herself. If the book sold X number of copies in the first month, Krista would make a video of herself singing "You Are My Sunshine" and post it on YouTube. The book sold and earlier today Krista posted the video. So, if you want a laugh, check it out.


Three Things Vampires Don't Want You To Know: Guest Post & Giveaway by Helen Keeble


Today I have author Helen Keeble sharing some secrets about vampires. Helen is not, and never has been, a vampire. She has however been a teenager. She grew up partly in America and partly in England, which has left her with an unidentifiable accent and a fondness for peanut butter crackers washed down with a nice cup of tea. She now lives in West Sussex, England, with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a variable number of fish. To the best of her knowledge, none of the fish are undead.

Author Links:

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Vampires aren't real. If they were, they couldn't stay hidden for long, right? Thanks to the endless books, films, and TV shows filled with vampiric lore, we all know how to recognise a bloodsucker. And we all know their weaknesses - sunlight, beheading, fire, stakes, athletic teenage girls, holy water, garlic…

Or maybe that's just what the vampires want you to think are their weaknesses.

Delve a little deeper into traditional vampiric folklore, and there are a lot of weird things that don't appear in our modern vampire fiction. Things that maybe the vampires want to keep quiet…

1) They're just like unicorns

No, not because vampires are also beautiful and sparkly. Because, like unicorns, vampires are terrified of virgins. In fact, while unicorns are irresistibly drawn to virgins, according to Romanian folklore virgins are irresistibly drawn to vampires.

Actually, this is true in a lot of paranormal romances too, now that I come to think of it.

Anyway, all you have to do is stick a virgin on a white (or possibly black - sources vary) horse, and they'll be able to lead you straight to the grave of the nearest vampire. And if you use a woman older than 25, she’ll even be able to kill the vampire for you as well. Just get her to whip the vampire's grave with a hazel twig, and the bloodsucker will never be able to rise again.

Basically, older female virgins are homing missiles of mass vampire destruction. No wonder literature is full of vampires desperately trying to romance young girls. They have to neutralize them!

2) They float

"Big deal," I hear you say, rolling your eyes. "Ducks float. Boats float. What's so special about vampires floating?"

Because, according to our friend Romanian folklore again, vampires always float. They literally can't sink.

Folklore boringly suggests using this trait to determine if someone is a vampire by tossing them in a river, but just think of the many other uses for this peculiar property...

"This is the captain speaking. Unfortunately we have hit an iceberg and water is now pouring through the hull, but there is no need to be alarmed! The vampires strapped under the Titanic's hull make this ship literally unsinkable. While we repair the hole, please enjoy complimentary cocktails on the aft deck, and ignore the muffled screams of the tormented undead underneath your feet."

Vampires would definitely want to keep this one quiet. No bloodsucker wants to spend eternity stuffed under an airplane chair as an emergency floatation device.

3) You're probably always carrying the means to defeat one

Check your pockets or purse. Got some spare change? Maybe a half-eaten packet of breath mints? A tissue?

Congratulations! You can stop a charging vampire in his tracks.

All you have to do is fling a handful of small objects at him, and he'll be compelled to stop in order to count them all. No, really. The technical term for this behaviour is arithmomania, and it crops up everywhere in vampire folklore, all around the globe.   Poland, Romania, China, India, pretty much everywhere has legends about obsessive-compulsive vampires. Though curiously, it seems to have fallen out of favour in modern vampire fiction. (Jeri Smith-Ready's vamps are also OCD ~ Bea)

Apart, of course, from one famous case:



There you go. Incontrovertible proof that Sesame Street is written by vampire hunters, who are determined to make sure children everywhere know vampires' real weakness.

And now you do too.

P.S. Yes, I really do use one of these pieces of vampire folklore in my novel FANG GIRL. And no, I'm not going to tell you which one…

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Author: Helen Keeble
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Humor
Format: paperback, ebook
Length: 352 pages, 463 KB
Buying Links:  Amazon   The Book Depository   Barnes & Noble

Book Blurb (from author): 

Things That Are Destroying Jane Greene’s Undead Social Life Before It Can Even Begin:

1) A twelve-year-old brother who’s convinced she’s a zombie.
2) Parents who are begging her to turn them into vampires.
3) The pet goldfish she accidentally turns instead.
4) Weird superpowers that let her rip the heads off of every other vampire she meets.(Sounds cool, but it doesn’t win you many friends.)
5) A pyschotic vampire creator who’s using her to carry out a plan for world domination.

And finally:
6) A seriously ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make out with her. Not sure which.

Being an undead, eternally pasty fifteen-year-old isn’t quite the sexy, brooding, angst-fest Jane always imagined....

Helen Keeble’s riotous debut novel combines the humor of Vladimir Tod with Ally Carter’s spot-on teen voice. With a one-of-a-kind vampire mythology and an irresistibly relatable undead heroine, this uproarious page-turner will leave readers bloodthirsty for more.