Wednesday, March 31, 2010

giveaway: love in mid air

Thanks to Hachette, I have one copy of Kim Wright's Love in Mid Air to giveaway as part of the tour for the book!

Here's the link to my review. This is what Publishers Weekly said:
"Wright hits it out of the park in her debut, an engaging account of a woman contemplating divorce. Despite finally getting her husband, Phil, to attend counseling sessions with her, Elyse Bearden realizes her marriage is dead in the water. Though Phil's a doting father and a decent man, he's also the occasional jerk who snickers at his wife in lingerie and is generally indifferent to her. Elyse already knows she's going to leave her husband when she meets Gerry Kincaid and soon begins an affair that allows her to escape from the crushing banality of her suburban life. Serving as Elyse's foil is her beautiful best friend, Kelly, now married to an older, wealthy man. While the idea of housewives complaining about their husbands over lunch may strike some as a conventional hen-lit trope, Wright conveys friendships and the blasé everyday with authenticity and telling detail, while passages depicting Elyse's inner life are rife with the same wit and insight that infuse the dialogue. Though this story is one that readers may have seen many times before, Wright delivers fresh perspective and sympathetic characters few writers can match."

The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on April 10. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from Hachette the winners must have mailing addresses in the US or Canada; no PO Boxes.

review and tour: love in mid air by kim wright

Toward the beginning of Love in Mid Air, one of the characters comments during a book club discussion that the difference between real life and novels is that in real life women stay in their unhappy marriages, but run off with a lover in novels. Although the statement clearly isn’t true (the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high if it was), it does set up what this novel will be about: Will Elyse stay with husband Phil or run off with Gerry, a man she had a chance encounter with on an airplane? That question kept me reading even as I hated some of the things Elyse did and didn’t always understand why she was so unhappy. The true downside to Love in Mid Air is the ending, which I obviously can’t discuss too much without spoiling it. A misunderstanding leads to violence that I never saw coming nor did I wish to have the author go down that road with so few pages left. It seemed a cheap way out.
ARC Review
Review copy provided by the publisher, Grand Central Publishing.

There's a giveaway with this tour. Also check out the other sites:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

giveaway winners: how to never look fat again

Congratulations to couponmom and Tiffany who have won How to Never Look Fat Again. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

giveaway: the river kings' road

As part of the tour for The River Kings' Road, Gallery Books is allowing me to giveaway one copy.

My review is linked here. This is the review from Publishers Weekly:
"Choices are at the heart of this impressive epic fantasy debut. Brys Tarnell, recently knighted, must decide whether to take on a company of murdering warriors or run and survive a massacre. When Brys tells Odosse of Willowfield that her village has just been razed, she must decide whether to travel with him, far from all she knows. Kelland, a holy knight of Cailan, and his companion, Bitharn, are given the choice of helping to foil an impending war or keeping vows of neutrality. Leferic the Mouse has already made a choice and now must deal with entirely unexpected consequences. Mercial has constructed an inspired new world where unexpected plot twists bedevil strong, clearly visualized characters, in a story that glints with intelligence and hums with life."

The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on April 10. Winner will be selected at random. Since this is from Gallery Books the winner must have mailing addresses in the US; no PO Boxes.

review and tour: the river kings' road by liane merciel

The River Kings’ Road begins with an ambush that leaves most of the village of Willowfield dead; however, the action primarily takes place in the distance away from the page as the author chooses to focus on Brys Tarnell, who has the good fortune to exit the church before the ambush occurs. Throughout the book, Liane Merciel continues to make choices like that, which means there’s a lot of “telling” rather than “showing.” A good portion of it is quite boring; yet there are sections that brought me back into the story and kept me intrigued. I frequently wanted to skim scenes, especially when Brys was without Odosse; on the other hand, I enjoyed reading about Odosse. She was forced to make hard decisions quickly and without the chance to mourn her dead relatives. In caring for her child and the sick heir who barely survived the attack that left his parents dead, Odosse proved herself an admirable woman, unlike the majority of the other characters who thought only of themselves. Although Leferic’s act of vengeance and his motivations were clichéd, I did find him an interesting character. I’m certain The River Kings’ Road would be more entertaining if it focused on two or three characters rather than constantly jumping to the various perspectives.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

You can win this book! Also, check out the other sites participating in the tour:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

review: white cat by holly black

At the center of White Cat are Cassel and a white cat that keeps appearing in his life. Cassel knows something strange is going on and that it might be connected to the cat, but he can’t begin to unravel what’s happening until he’s forced to live with his curse worker family after being kicked out of the school dorms for sleepwalking.

Initially I was a little lost as Holly Black doesn’t explain upfront what the deal is with curse workers; she writes White Cat as if curse workers are part of “the real world.” As more of the story unfolded and curse workers were organically explained, I grew to appreciate that Black didn’t go into a long setup. Besides, how could I not love a book starring a white cat? Though I am now eyeing my white cat a bit suspiciously wondering just what she might be plotting. The cat and all involving her (especially the plot to get her out of the shelter) kept me entertained. I also loved how Black repurposed history (such as the colonization of Australia) to fall in line with White Cat’s reality.
ARC Review
Review copy provided by the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

author interview: gwyn cready

This post contains affiliate links.

Gwyn Cready, the author of the hot new book Flirting with Forever, was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few questions.

Did you do much research on the 17th century for Flirting with Forever?

Hi, Nicole. Let me start by saying thank you for having me over to your blog today. I do do quite a bit of research--nothing by academic standards, of course--but probably a decent amount for fiction. I've always been a bit of a Britophile and I'd studied a lot of England's history in high school and college. I was an English lit major and my area was 19th century British fiction like Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins and George Eliot. I've traveled extensively in England and Scotland, and let's not forget the countless hours of movies and TV mini-series I've watched that take place in England in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries (note the winces on the faces of real researchers at this point.) Throw in the hundreds and hundreds of popular novels I've read set in England and Scotland like those of Dorothy L.Sayers, Patrick O'Brian, Ian Rankin, Elizabeth George, John Le Carre and Colin Dexter among others, and you end up with a pretty decent background in all things British.

The book that changed everything for me was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I'd never read a romance before Outlander, and let me tell you, that's a darned fine one to start with. After Outlander, I found myself (unsurprisingly) fascinated with the early 18th century and that's where I decided to set my first manuscript, which was a sweeping historical set in the borderlands of England and Scotland. You haven't seen it. It's never been published, but it scored me my agent Claudia Cross. When that one didn't sell, she encouraged me to write a second. Knowing I wanted to write something faster, I switched to a contemporary setting, but not wanting to lose all that fine research I'd done, I decided my heroine should time travel.

I love the idea of “fictographies” of famous artists. How’d you come up with the idea?

Reading Tracy Chevalier's wonderful Girl with a Pearl Earring. Chevalier made no bones about the fact that very little is known about Vermeer's life and she was essentially making up the story of how that painting came to be. I could just imagine Vermeer up in heaven, sitting in the bathtub with a copy of the book in his hand saying, "What the...?" The idea amused me, so from there, it was an easy jump to Sir Peter Lely storming down from the Great Beyond to stop Cam Stratford from exposing his secrets in her sexy, tell-all "fictography." Watch out, Tracy. Vermeer may be on his way.

Shoes played a big role in your first book (Tumbling Through Time) and all your book covers feature great pairs. Who’s your favorite shoe designer?

On a day-to-day, I'm more of a comfort gal, but I do keep a nice supply of, well, there is an impolite name for them but perhaps I'll just say, "Admire-me" shoes. They are generally reserved for sitting (or lying) down, however. I like suede, ruffles and architectural details, so I'm fond of Nine West, Steve Madden, and Elizabeth and James, and I don't discount the design power of Payless, either. In fact, I just got two pairs of slouch sandals there that are too cool for school. I hope to debut them during the Flirting with Forever Beetle-Mania Tour in April. My absolute favorite pair of dressy shoes, however, are hot pink suede wedge sling-back, peep-toe sandals made by a company called Bronx. They're the ones I wore when I won the RITA Award :)

What book (your own or someone else’s) has had the most impact on your life?

I've loved many, many books, but there have been only two that I could truthfully say changed my life: Outlander made me want to become a writer, and Motherless Daughters helped me understand how the experience of losing my mother at age 11 made me who I am.

What’s up next for you?

Well, I just turned in book #4, Aching for Always, which comes out in the fall, and I'm hard at work on book #5, which is a contemporary but not a time travel. I'll give you a hint. It involves a book snob who thinks romances are the literary equivalent of Word Search puzzles--until she picks up a romance about a time-traveling woman who ends up in the arms of the most honorable and heroic Highland warrior who ever lived and discovers there's a romance addict in all of us. Ha!

Speaking of shoes, I encourage your readers to come to before April 8 to enter the best shoe contest ever. One lucky entrant will win a pair of Michael Kors zebra-striped shoes ($165 value), very close to the ones on the cover of Flirting with Forever.

Thank you, Nicole!

review: flirting with forever by gwyn cready

Considering Cam’s life, how could she not find the 17th century art world a better option? Her ex-fiancé, who cheated with the woman who made Cam’s engagement ring, wants her to move to London so they can try again; her snotty older sister is competing with her for a promotion; and she’s struggling to publish (which she needs to do to seal the promotion) her biography of Anthony Van Dyck because it isn’t sexy enough. So when she selects the browse inside option on Amazon and is instead transported to the studio of artist Peter Lely, who can provide information on Van Dyck, it’s actually a good thing. What she doesn’t realize is that The Executive Guild has instructed Lely to feed Cam misinformation to stop her from publishing a book the Guild has deemed embarrassing.

Cready does an excellent job placing Cam in both current time and the 17th century. Later on, she brings two characters from the past (including, of course, Cam’s crush Peter) into the present with great comedy (and there's a few hilarious bits from Cam in the 17th century as well). Imagine the uptight Time-jump Accountant in a Rage Against the Machine shirt. I actually feel like I learned a little something about art through the beautiful descriptions; Cready also had Peter explain to Cam a technique he used, which I found as interesting as Cam did. I just wish Flirting with Forever had started with Cam’s problems rather than the rather dry Mertons explaining the situation to Peter. It took a bit more time to get into the book than it otherwise would have because of that slow start.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.

giveaway winners: the swan thieves [audio] and laura rider's masterpiece

Congratulations to the winners!

The Swan Thieves [audiobook]: Kathy (mommysreading) and Barb

Laura Rider's Masterpiece: sharon54220 and angie

Thursday, March 18, 2010

review: first daughter by eric van lustbader

This post contains affiliate links.

The Inauguration Day prologue of First Daughter sucked me right in. I particularly loved the last sentence of the prologue, “And like the contents of Pandora’s box, out would come death in amber waves of grain.” So I raced through the book as the mystery of who kidnapped the president-elect’s daughter unfolded. Impressively, I was kept guessing as to who all the players were right up until the final pages when nearly all is revealed. There remains one little bit of an “I wonder if…” for me, but perhaps that is to be addressed in the sequel (the recently released Last Snow, which I’ll be reading very soon). Even with that shred of mystery remaining, the conclusion is quite satisfying. The “kidnapper reveals the story” section was well done; since that’s a part where many fail, I was glad for the believable confession. My only criticism of First Daughter is that I had a hard time believing Jack McClure’s backstory: he talks back to his father even though he’s abused daily, then he just decides to leave on a day that doesn’t really seem any different from the others.
Review copy provided by The Book Report Network.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

giveaway winners: undress me in the temple of heaven

Congrats to the winners: Swedish, angie, Barb, Jennifer L., and etriv. Each will receive Susan Jane Gilman's latest (which I completely loved).

fourth gh

I was really surprised by one thing this week. When Sonny asked Luke to talk to Lulu for him, I was sure that Luke would say, "Oh, and speaking of daughters, your underage one was hanging out at my casino tonight." But of course, this sets up everyone believing Ethan is the one to beat up Kristina. Sigh. There'll be a big misunderstanding and Ethan will get hurt.

“I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other General Hospital branded items to facilitate my review.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

review: succubi like it hot by jill myles

This post contains affiliate links.

With Succubi Like It Hot, Jill Myles continues the story of newly turned succubus Jackie. All the elements of her excellent debut novel are here, but Jackie now reads a bit annoying. She still hasn't caught on to her new world, which means she's continuing to make rookie mistakes. Jackie and her new friends are still dealing with the consequences of her last major mistake (in Gentlemen Prefer Succubi)--Remy is possessed by the evil Joachim. When a curse is placed on Jackie, she makes the situation worse by foolishly following the instructions of a demon and then trusting a stranger because he has a sexy accent and she's got a curse-intensified Itch. It's still a good plot; it just needs that little something extra from Jackie's development. The introduction of Delilah is a good move. She's an intriguing character with lots of history, so I hope her story is continued in the next book of the series.
4/5 Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Star Books.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

giveaway: how to never look fat again

Well, you know what I think of Charla Krupp's latest book, but perhaps you'd like to check it out yourself. Thanks to Hachette, two of you can!

The publisher description:
"The new groundbreaking style-guide from bestseller author Charla Krupp on how to look 10 pounds lighter, 10 years younger and 10 times sexier every day, all year--in summer, winter, at the gym, even in a swimsuit!

You'll never get dressed the same way again once you discover:
*smart, easy ways to hide arm flap, a big bust, a muffin top, back fat, Buddha belly, a big booty, wide hips, thunder thighs, and heavy calves-and that's only half the book.
*which fabrics, colors, and styles make women look fat
*absolutely the best shades, shapes, and brilliant buys to make the pounds invisible
*clever solutions for special fashion situations--workout gear, evening wear, and even swimsuits!
*which products, fashions, and services you shouldn't waste your money on
*the top ten tips that will make you look thinner by tonight!

So, if you've ever put on a piece of clothing and asked "Does this make me look fat?" Finally, here is the book that will answer your question."

The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on March 27. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from Hachette the winners must have mailing addresses in the US or Canada; no PO Boxes.

review: how to never look fat again by charla krupp

I didn't realize I wasn't in the target audience when I requested How to Never Look Fat Again for review. I assumed it would be written in more general terms, kind of a book version of TLC's What Not to Wear (which I love). But it is very specifically targeted at middle age women who most definitely are carrying a few extra pounds; so my assessment may not be exactly fair. That said, I do believe the book is a little wordy; a fashion book should include loads of pictures to clearly illustrate what the author is referencing. I expected far more before/after shots so that one could actually see the difference the clothes make. On the plus side, the book is divided into clear categories making it easy to read only the sections that apply. I also enjoyed Krupp's advice on weeding out your closet. Maybe one of these days I actually undertake it! I already have the clothing rack that Krupp recommends.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Springboard.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

giveaway: laura rider's masterpiece

Two copies of Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton courtesy of Hachette for two lucky people!

Here's the Reading Group Guide. From Publishers Weekly:
"Oprah-anointed Hamilton once again takes readers to the Midwest, this time lacing her narrative with winning humor. Laura Rider and her husband, Charlie, live in Hartley, Wis., where they own and run Prairie Wind Farm. After 12 years of marriage, Laura decides to stop sleeping with Charlie, and although lovemaking is his one superb talent, she's convinced she's used up her quota. Also, Laura has a secret fantasy: to be an author. After she meets local public radio host Jenna Faroli, Laura decides to write a romance and encourages a flirtation between Charlie and Jenna, an experiment that she thinks will help her write her book. Their flirtation quickly slides into an affair, with Laura's sly interference. Laura, at once jealous and pleased, benefits from the inevitable chain of events, while Jenna isn't so lucky. Though the plotting is a bit predictable, the female characters are sharply observed and delineated, and the humorous tone will be an appealing surprise to Hamilton's readers."

The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on March 20. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from Hachette the winners must have mailing addresses in the US or Canada; no PO Boxes.

giveaway winners: the crazy school and first daughter/last snow

The winners of The Crazy School are dlhaley and Jennifer L. Sue is the lucky winner of both First Daughter and Last Snow.

Friday, March 5, 2010

third gh

You know, I never thought I'd want to discourage a child from reading, but Molly on GH is that girl (good thing she's fictional!). It was one thing when her notions of romance (that she's derived solely from books) had her working on her mom and Mac or Sam and Jason, but now that she's trying to convince Kristina to stay with the abusive Kiefer because he's so "passionate," I want to smack her. I suppose she doesn't know Kiefer is hitting her sister, but still, Molly should know a little something about the way things work in the world before she starts spouting off about Kristina being mean to Kiefer.

“I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other General Hospital branded items to facilitate my review.”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

review: before i fall by lauren oliver

This post contains affiliate links.

After another typical Cupid Day (February 12) at school, Sam and her friends attend a party at the home of someone Sam used to be friends with—she dropped him when the popular group accepted her. Sam’s life from this point forward will be anything but typical; she’s killed in a car crash as the girls leave the party. But then Sam wakes up in the morning to discover it’s still Cupid Day. She makes some changes, but the end result is the same. The cycle repeats again in the morning. Is Sam doomed to continually relive the day she dies or will she finally figure out what changes she must make in order to finally rest in peace?

Although Sam begins as one of the so-called high school mean girls, I loved her straightaway; I knew she was different. Her friend Lindsay is another story; that girl is downright mean. Even so, Lindsay has some redemptive qualities (though they are very few). Her family history also lends some sympathy to the character. The other two friends aren’t as well-developed, but they also aren’t as important to the story which focuses on Sam, how she became friends with Lindsay’s group, and the consequences of their antics. Even when I hated the girls, I loved every second of the book. Lauren Oliver’s debut is incredible.
ARC Review
Review copy provided as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look program.

review: rich again by anna maxted

This post contains affiliate links.

Despite their wealth, or more likely, because of it, the Kents are a very unhappy clan. The Kent girls have been raised in luxury, but without love so their behavior, particularly Emily’s, is hardly a surprise. Their parents are truly two people who never should’ve had children. As younger daughter Emily enters her teen years, their opulent world starts to collapse because of Jack’s foolish decision to become one of Lloyd’s Names. Further devastation comes when someone who knows family secrets decides to seek revenge.

Diabolical characters fill the pages of Anna Maxted’s Rich Again (originally published pseudonymously in Great Britain). At the beginning, it is nearly impossible to feel sympathy for any of the characters; but Maxted does an incredible job of making at least the Kent daughters somewhat likable as the family’s past is explored. Furthermore, the characters are clearly not meant to be rooted for; instead one feels some of the horrors that befall them are much deserved. Another area where Maxted excels in Rich Again is in the way she drops little hints that leave the reader thinking a horrified, “Oh my god,” as the pieces begin to fall together.

Review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin.

giveaway: the swan thieves [audiobook]

Hachette has provided two copies of the audiobook version of The Swan Thieves (unabridged) by Elizabeth Kostova.

You can listen to an excerpt of the book here. Below is a description of the book:
"Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life--solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. In response, Marlowe finds himself going beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this genius, a journey that will lead him into the lives of the women closest to Robert Oliver and toward a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.
Ranging from American museums to the coast of Normandy, from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth, from young love to last love, The Swan Thieves is a story of obsession, the losses of history, and the power of art to preserve human hope."

The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on March 20. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from Hachette the winners must have mailing addresses in the US or Canada; no PO Boxes.