Monday, May 31, 2010

giveaway: the secret speech

Happy Memorial Day! Thanks to Hachette I have one giveaway copy of The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith.

Here's the link to the Reading Group Guide. Also, check out what Publishers Weekly had to say:
"Set in 1956, bestseller Smith's edgy second thriller to feature Leo Demidov (after Child 44) depicts the paranoia and instability of the Soviet Union after the newly installed Khrushchev regime leaks a secret speech laying out Stalin's brutal abuses. Now working as a homicide detective, Leo has long since repudiated his days as an MGB officer, but his former colleagues, fearful of reprisals from their victims, have begun taking their own lives. Leo himself becomes the target of Fraera, the wife of a priest he imprisoned. Now the leader of a violent criminal gang, Fraera kidnaps Leo's daughter, Zoya, and threatens to kill Zoya if Leo doesn't liberate her husband from his gulag prison. Shifting from Moscow to Siberia and to a Hungary convulsed by revolution, this fast-paced novel is packed with too many incidents for Smith to dwell on any in great depth. Though its drama often lacks emotional resonance, this story paints a memorable portrait of post-Stalinist Russia at its dawn."

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 June 12. 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: private by james patterson (and maxine paetro)

As one of the top private investigators in California, Jack Morgan and the members of his firm are often called upon by private citizens and the police to investigate crimes and civil matters. As the first book in this new James Patterson series opens, Jack is asked by a friend to investigate the murder of his friend’s wife. Jack is closely tied to both his friend (who the police suspect) and the victim (who Jack used to date) and can’t imagine who would want Shelby dead; that is until the investigation uncovers Shelby’s secret life. But that’s not Jack’s only case. His uncle, a NFL team owner, has asked him to look into score fixing for a number of games deemed suspicious. Jack and his team are also working on a serial murder case that has a twist—the victims don’t appear to have been killed by the same person. Does the killer have multiple personalities as one of the investigators suggests?

Each of the three investigations held my interest, but the serial killer was definitely the one that sucked me in especially when the motivation (which is completely off the wall, yet still imaginable) started to be revealed. Although Private follows Patterson’s typical formula, I did enjoy the way certain aspects of the story tied into each other. I further appreciated that although this is a series, Private can also be read as a standalone title.
4/5
ARC Review
Review copy provided by the publisher, Little, Brown and Company.

giveaway winners: the cradle

Congratulations to Jo, Virginia C, and Marilu who each win a copy of The Cradle.

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

giveaway: the devlin diary

Thanks to Simon and Schuster, I have the opportunity to giveaway one copy of The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips.

Here's my review while the one from Publishers Weekly is below.
"Fans of historical romance and traditional whodunits alike will welcome Phillips's second novel, which like her debut, The Rossetti Letter (2007), alternates between past and present. In the present, historian Clare Donovan, who delved into 17th-century Venetian intrigue with handsome Cambridge fellow Andrew Kent in The Rossetti Letter, is now a temporary lecturer at Cambridge's Trinity College, packed with scheming academics roiling in a hotbed of nearly every human frailty imaginable. When dashing and venal Professor Derek Goodman is found slain clutching a page of a coded diary by 17th-century physician Hannah Devlin, Clare and Andrew get on the trails of vicious killers from different centuries. The mysterious death of Charles II's sister, Princess Henriette-Anne, wife of Louis XIV's dissolute brother, propels the main historical narrative. Phillips's command of period detail and her sure touch with emotional relationships help make this a stand-out. "

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 June 5. Winner will be selected at random. Since this is from Simon and Schuster the winner must have a mailing address in the US; no PO Boxes.

review and tour: the devlin diary by christi phillips

There are two stories inside The Devlin Diary: Hannah, a widow practicing physick, in 1672 and Claire, a visiting professor at Trinity College, in 2008. The stories come together when Claire finds Hannah’s coded diary in the library. Unfortunately, Claire trusts the wrong person with that information and he steals her research idea. But then he ends up murdered, so to solve the murder and get back the diary, Claire works with the man who recommended her for the job. Both of the stories are incredibly interesting with their respective murder mysteries, but Hannah’s is fleshed out the best. Both also kept me guessing as to who the murderer would be, but again Hannah’s has a far better resolution. In fact, the reveal of the murderer in the 2008 story was quite disappointing.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

There's a giveaway for this tour! Also, check out the other participating sites:
rundpinne.blogspot.com
frugalplus.com
tableforseven-julie.blogspot.com
bibliophilicbookblog.com
ajourneyofbooks.halfzero.net
mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com
justanothernewblog.blogspot.com
thebookgirl.net
tweezlereads.blogspot.com
booktumbling.com
maryinhb.blogspot.com
renees-reads.blogspot.com
takingtimeformommy.blogspot.com
startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com
starshadowblog.com
writeforareader.blogspot.com
bibliophilesretreat.com
jeannesramblings.com
blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com
tarmyblogspot.blogspot.com
booksandmakeup.blogspot.com
luckyrosiescreations.blogspot.com
celticladysreviews.blogspot.com
bibliophile23.wordpress.com
detweilermom.blogspot.com
chrissysworldofbooks.blogspot.com
dkay401-challenges.blogspot.com
amusingreviews.blogspot.com
bridget3420.blogspot.com
juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com
thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com
reading-extensively.blogspot.com
jewelknits.blogspot.com
thriftyandfrugalliving.com
seemichelleread.blogspot.com
tilwereadagain.blogspot.com
reminderlist.blogspot.com
lovingheartmommy.com
hip2bhomeschooling.blogspot.com
thebooktree.blogspot.com
thestuffyouneedtoknow.blogspot.com
twilightsdance.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

giveaway winners: the host, forbidden passion, and stay a little longer

Congratulations to the winners of the following books:
The Host: Ladydoor, GMR, and holdenj
Forbidden Passion: nfmgirl, booklover0226, and Virginia C
Stay a Little Longer: Karen B, k_sunshine1977, and Teresa

Thursday, May 20, 2010

giveaway: prospect park west

With thanks to Simon and Schuster I have one copy of Amy Sohn's Prospect Park West to offer up to a lucky winner!

My review is here. This is what Publishers Weekly said:
"Former New York magazine 'Mating' columnist Sohn zeroes in on the more-fertile-than-thou crowd in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood in her vinegary latest (after My Old Man). Like a Grand Hotel for the yuppie set, the lives of moody, angry, dissatisfied mommies intersect on the playgrounds and co-ops of their overpriced hood. Among them, Lizzie, whose lesbian proclivities mask her loneliness; Rebecca, whose libidoless spouse prefers his role as dad over husband; Karen, a social-climbing conniver; and Melora, a former Manhattanite whose psychiatric maladies are as pathetic as they are numerous. The gals in this comedy of bad manners are burned out, bitchy and beyond salvation as they maneuver to be noticed and loved. Meanwhile, there's more name-dropping than in an edition of Page Six, and while Sohn is obviously intent on skewering the annoying urban mommy stereotype, 400 pages is a stretch for material that's been blogged to death. There are moments of brutal honesty, but they're far too few to allow readers to muster an ounce of sympathy for a crew of caricatures so broadly drawn and sadly conceived."

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 June 5. Winner will be selected at random. Since this is from Simon and Schuster the winner must have a mailing address in the US; no PO Boxes.

review and tour: prospect park west by amy sohn

I enjoyed Prospect Park West, but these women were absolutely crazy! Each of the four has some sort of issue with both husband and child. Rebecca is jealous of the attention her husband pays to their daughter, especially since he no longer shows interest in her sexually. Rebecca seeks sexual gratification in a variety of ways--there's a kiss with a woman and sex with another woman's husband. Rebecca's sort of friend Lizzie finds it difficult caring for her son alone when her musician husband is always on the road. Her husband encourages her to rely on his mom for help, but Lizzie is uncomfortable with her mother-in-law given the racial tension between the two--Lizzie is white, her husband is black. Then there's Karen who desperately wants to two things: to live in Rebecca's building and conceive a second child. Unfortunately, her husband isn't quite on board with either idea. Rounding out the unhappy group is celebrity Melora, who doesn't really like the child she adopted, has a rocky marriage, and is developing quite the problem with prescription pills. All four are connected in some way or another which makes the separate stories flow nicely. I enjoyed Rebecca's story the most (I could probably read a book that focused solely on her) while finding Karen the least interesting of the group (Karen was an unsympathetic social-climber).
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Downtown Press.

There's a giveaway with this tour! Also, check out the other sites:
frugalplus.com
countrybookshelf.blogspot.com
justanothernewblog.blogspot.com
booktumbling.com
maryinhb.blogspot.com
renees-reads.blogspot.com
startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com
starshadowblog.com
jeannesramblings.com
tarmyblogspot.blogspot.com
bibliophile23.wordpress.com
bridget3420.blogspot.com
juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com
jewelknits.blogspot.com
ziarias.blogspot.com
detweilermom.blogspot.com
booksiesblog.blogspot.com
bookswithcoffee.wordpress.com
booksnyc.blogspot.com
teresasreadingcorner.blogspot.com
reminderlist.blogspot.com
lovingheartmommy.com
tetheredmommy.com
wiseowlbookreviews.com
thebooktree.blogspot.com
thestuffyouneedtoknow.blogspot.com
twilightsdance.blogspot.com

giveaway: alex cross's trial

If you enjoy James Patterson's Alex Cross series, you'll want to enter this giveaway. It's Patterson's (with Richard DiLallo) Alex Cross's Trial. Thanks to Hachette there'll be two winners.

From Publishers Weekly:
"Fans of Patterson's serial-killer hunting detective, Alex Cross, expecting another cat-and-mouse thriller based on this book's title, will find Cross's appearance limited to a two-page preface in which the fictional character explains why he's written a book called Trial. Abraham Cross, a relative who lived in Eudora, Miss., at the beginning of the 20th century, helps liberal lawyer Ben Corbett to expose the truth about a wave of lynchings near that town, an assignment undertaken at the request of Corbett's friend, President Theodore Roosevelt. When Corbett arrives in Eudora, where he was born and raised, he receives a frosty reception from many unhappy with his record of representing African-Americans accused of murder, including a cold shoulder from his father, a judge. Soon, Corbett finds evidence that racism is alive and well, and that brutal murders of blacks, often for the most trivial of reasons, are endemic. Some may be disappointed that Abraham plays a relatively minor role, given the jacket line that 'the Cross family had more than one hero.'"

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 June 5. 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.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

character guest post: nancy carrington-chambers

In Nancy's Theory of Style, Nancy gets a lot of parking tickets. It's a bit of a running theme. I asked Nancy (and her creator, Grace Coopersmith) to address the topic of parking.

Nancy’s Theory on Parking

One of my dearest friends moved to one of those states that begins with a vowel, Ohio, Idaho, Oregano, one of those places, and she was constantly getting speeding citations as she raced to whatever it is they do in places like that. It was all because she was worried that she wouldn’t find parking, but she told me in a long phone call, “Nancy, you wouldn’t believe it. There’s parking downtown. All over! Streets and streets of parking!”

Then the officer in charge of her witness protection program made her hang up before she gave me all the details of the letterpress social cards she wanted me to order for her. Her new name, Bethany Wilson, is less amusing than her real name, Melinda Darlington Wigglesworth, but much easier to fit on a business card. She assured me that she only dated Franklin “Frankie the Painkiller” Farmington because she thought he said he was a drugstore kingpin.

I haven’t heard from Melinda since that conversation even though I posted on all her social sites and wrote to Franklin at San Quentin. He was quite rude and didn’t want to discuss the San Quentin’s fabulous views across the bay toward San Francisco and Marin. Now that’s prime waterfront real estate if only one could persuade the inmates to leave.

Back to Melinda’s waxing effusive about parking. Sometimes I think that she was using too much product, if you know what I mean, and I’m not referring to hair product, because if you choose an excellent salon line, you can layer innumerable conditioners, shine and curl enhancers, frizz neutralizers, and shape stabilizers and still look fantastic. I’m fascinated about the idea of parking spaces on every street, because I’ve long believed that San Francisco is doing parking entirely wrong.

The problem is not that there is no parking. The problem is that there are too many of the wrong, wrong cars.

If I were commissioner of parking, the very first thing I’d do after redecorating my office (in an authoritative yet chic ecru scheme with black accents) would be to dramatically increase parking. All cars that don’t meet strict aesthetic standards would be banned. No longer would we have to suffer the horror of seeing a chrome yellow Aztek or a horrific Hummer in front of our favorite boutique. Scion? SciNO-WAY! Those dreadful hippie vans would be limited to the Haight-Ashbury. Anything dented, dirty, or otherwise déclassé would be banished.

This simple act would immediately improve parking and the quality of life for all concerned.

In the meanwhile, I feel it is my public duty to park in the space closest to my destination. After all, my activities are surely more important than those of people loafing around a hospital, or getting on a bus. You only need look at their tacky ensembles to tell that they aren’t doing anything special. Honestly, why do people think that it’s acceptable to wear pajamas as daywear when they go to the Emergency Room? The horror, the horror!

I ask all of you to truly consider if you need to drive to neighborhoods that I may want to visit. In a truly civilized society, we look out for one another. I know I’ll be looking out for a convenient parking space, and it’s only polite that you should look out for my very important needs.


review: nancy's theory of style by grace coopersmith

Nancy’s Theory of Style opens with newlywed Nancy hosting a party at the site where she and her husband will soon break ground for their new home. Nancy smugly believes her life is perfect. But then her husband alters the plans for their home without her consent. It doesn’t take Nancy long to flee to the apartment her family still keeps for her. She claims that it’s temporary—just so she can work on her new business venture of planning parties—but it soon becomes clear Nancy is far happier without a husband. She focuses on her business and raising Eugenia, runs into some disasters regarding both of those aspects of her life, and finally proves herself to all.

Nancy’s interactions with Eugenia (her cousin’s daughter) and Derek (her longed for gay British assistant) made this book. These bits were absolutely awesome as they revealed who Nancy really could be once she got away from all the trappings of her socialite status. Further impressing me was the way Grace Coopersmith made me suspicious of Derek, then made me trust him only to reveal that my suspicions were dead on. It was a truly delicious revelation.

With a name like Nancy Edith Carrington-Chambers, I knew I was in for a crazy ride with Nancy. (I mean, really, how often do you know a character’s middle name?) Although I didn't like Nancy initially, I fell in love once little Eugenia was dropped into her life. The spoiled Nancy quickly took responsibility for the little girl no one else was willing to take in. That she would go all out making capes showed how much she truly cared.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

author interview: meredith duran

I'm very pleased to share this interview with an author accomplished at both popular fiction and scholarly works. Many thanks to Meredith Duran for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

You’re a doctoral student in anthropology! Is it difficult to balance academic writing with novel writing?

The formal demands of the two genres are quite different, of course. Whenever I switch from an academic paper to fiction writing, I think enviously of Susan Johnson’s old practice of including footnotes in her novels. I get very excited about the primary sources I dig up when researching my historicals, and it seems a shame that I don’t get to share them in a bibliography at the end of the book!

That said, good writing transcends genres, and academics appreciate clear and engaging writing as much as romance readers do. In fact, if you look at the works of the most famous anthropologists of the last fifty years (Clifford Geertz, say, or Jean and John Comaroff), you’ll find that many of them have only one thing in common: namely, they’re excellent writers, able to render their arguments in a clear and engaging way.

Now, I’m sure someone reading this is thinking, “Ha – what is Duran talking about? I’ve tried to read some of those academic articles and they’re completely opaque.” Indeed, my main frustration with academic writing comes from my position as a reader. Often we’re encouraged to set aside the quality of a scholar’s writing when assessing the value of the arguments therein. The argument goes something like this: the concepts and paradigms we deal with, and specialized jargon developed to describe them, inevitably produce writing that seems opaque, and that’s okay. We’re specialists, after all.

In fact, I think that attitude is a mistake. If the academy wants to remain in conversation with the broader world that we study, we need to make our writing accessible to that world. And so I believe that the time I invest in writing fiction actually proves quite helpful for my academic writing. My diction might be different depending on the genre in which I’m writing, but the basics of effective communication – the rhythm and precision of sentences; the use of effective imagery and fluid, logical transitions – remain constant, no matter the genre.

Have you incorporated anything you’ve come across in your doctoral studies into your books?

I wrote The Duke of Shadows before entering my doctoral program, but certainly, during the rewrite, I tried to incorporate my new understanding of the complex relationship between the British colonies and the metropole (England). In fact, the many, many books I’ve read by scholars of postcolonialism have left me wary of writing Victorian-set romances that do not at least allude to the wider operation of the British empire in the world, and the impact of empire on how British citizens of that time understood themselves.

Do you have plans to revisit any of the characters you’ve created with a sequel or spin-off?


Yes, I fully intend to write Lockwood’s story (Julian’s closest friend in The Duke of Shadows). However, I keep postponing it because I tell myself I need to do more research on Australian penal colonies in the nineteenth century. Usually my stories are a bit like wilting flowers; they tend to wither away if I don’t immediately shower them with attention. But this one of those rare books that continues to develop in my head as I work on other stories. When I finally sit down and write it, I suspect that the conclusion will leave me feeling quite bereft!

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

Within the romance genre, the three books that have had the most impact on me are Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale, Bliss by Judith Ivory, and To Have and To Hold by Patricia Gaffney. Not only are these books spectacular in and of themselves, but they also illustrate very dramatically the scope that the genre affords its writers. If you can write a brilliant love story about a suicidal ether addict in Belle Époque France, a wheelchair-bound stroke victim and his Quaker lover, or a former convict and a viscount who initially appears to be bordering on sociopathy – well, then, I’m convinced that the so-called “rules of the genre” are only as restrictive as a writer perceives them to be.

What’s up next for you?

Three more historicals for Pocket! Stay tuned for details.

review: wicked becomes you by meredith duran

While in Paris, Alex thinks regarding Gwen, “You think what you’ve done is wicked? It was child’s play, sweetheart. This is not freedom. This is simply the sort of lark available to a woman with three million pounds.” My thoughts on Gwen were similar. With a title like Wicked Become You, I kept waiting for Gwen to do something wicked. Apparently for her, wicked means giving into lust and being with a man you have feelings for rather than marrying one deemed appropriate but who really only wants your money. You see, Gwen was twice supposed to marry men who were after her money though each time something or someone intervened (Gwen doesn’t find out the reasons why until the end of the book). The last time was particularly devastating since they actually made it to the vows. Before the debacle Gwen had given her fiancé her deceased brother’s ring, so now she wants it back. This starts her off on her supposedly wicked adventure that leads to Gwen finally finding love with a man she’s known her entire life—her deceased brother’s best friend.

Wicked Becomes You has nearly every necessary element to make a fantastic romance; unfortunately, it lacks that something that sucks the reader in making it impossible to put the book down. The pacing was a little slow for my liking and I never really connected with Gwen. She really was just an heiress escaping the gossip by pretending to have some great adventure. I was disappointed that she never really got wicked.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

review: the last song by nicholas sparks

I haven't seen the movie, but I couldn't get out of my head that The Last Song was first written as a screenplay specifically for Miley Cyrus. So much of the book read like a movie. For example, "Already planning his trip, [Marcus] barely noticed as Blaze soaked several cloth balls in lighter fluid directly above the shirt she would later wear in the show." That's a great scene for a movie because I'll see the action and think, "uh-oh." Reading it on the other hand wasn't so great; I just groaned, "And now I know exactly how this is going to play out." Based on what I read in the book, the screenplay is likely pretty good and the movie might be great if acted and directed well; the book was merely average. Besides reading like a movie, there were other things that detracted from my overall enjoyment. For example, Ronnie's father is asleep when she returns from the wedding. Circumstances arose that had Ronnie driven home by Will's father, but her father was supposed to pick her up, so why was he asleep? And even if she called to say she had a ride, surely he would've wanted to hear about the evening. I also found it hard to believe that so much about Scott having money for college rested on a beach volleyball tournament. I'll admit to not having thoroughly researched it, but the information I found indicates beach volleyball is a college sport for women that was only just recently approved.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Grand Central Publishing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

review: indivisible by kristen heitzmann

This one gets a bit gruesome, particularly if you’re an animal lover, but Kristen Heitzmann does a fantastic job weaving together the dark mystery of Indivisible. The focus is on the chief of police, a recovering alcoholic, who has a few secrets—one about his father, another regarding a past love. In the course of his police work, Jonah comes across some mutilated animals while also investigating meth manufacturing in the small town. The other characters and plots all get tied together in one way or another; I loved the way Jonah was kept at the center even though he was only associated with some characters (Piper, for example) by his relationship with someone else. In a town where everyone thinks they know each other’s business, there are quite a few secrets. Heitzmann’s slow reveal of each secret took me on an enjoyable trip of trying to piece it all together.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, WaterBrook Press.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

giveaway: the cradle

Now that you've read my review of The Cradle, I'm sure you want to read it! :) Thanks to Hachette, you have the chance to win one of three copies.

Here's the Reading Group Guide and what Publishers Weekly had to say just in case you want another opinion:
"An elusive heirloom cradle symbolizes childhood's pains and possibilities in Somerville's spare, elegant first novel (after a story collection, Trouble). Marissa, pregnant with her first child, becomes obsessed with tracking down the antique cradle her mother took when she abandoned the family a decade earlier. Marissa's husband, Matt, is sure he's been dispatched on a fool's errand, but his journey soon connects him to Marissa's family and his own history of abandonment, neglect and abuse amid a string of foster homes and orphanages. Matt's quest through four states is interwoven with another drama that takes place 11 years later, in 2008, in which poet and children's author Renee Owen is haunted by memories of war and a lost love as she prepares to send her son off to fight in Iraq. Again, long-buried secrets come to the surface, one of which poignantly links the two story lines. Though the connection will not shock, Somerville's themes of a broader sense of interconnectivity and the resultant miracles of everyday existence retain their strength and affirm the value of forming and keeping families."

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 May 29. 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: the cradle by patrick somerville

I adored the story Patrick Somerville told with The Cradle. It all begins when Matthew’s pregnant wife decides she needs their baby to sleep in the same cradle she slept. That wouldn’t be too difficult if it weren’t for the fact that Marissa’s mom took off and the cradle was stolen from the house shortly after that. Marissa believes her mom was behind the theft, but she has no idea where her mom is. Matthew eventually agrees to track down the cradle, which is made a little easier when his father-in-law offers up some contact information for his ex-wife’s family. His search leads to a surprising discovery that causes Matthew to revisit painful memories of his time in foster care.

Alternating with Matthew’s story is Renee’s story, which takes place years later. With her son fighting in Iraq, Renee finally breaks down and confesses a secret--one she's kept since the Vietnam War--to her husband. Although I had to keep reminding myself, it’s not hard to put together how Matthew and Renee are connected. How the revelation is made to Renee, however, did come as a surprise. Every paragraph of this book made me want to read the next.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Back Bay Books.

giveaway winners: admission

Congratulations to etirv and Elise, who have won Admission!

Friday, May 7, 2010

giveaway: stay a little longer

Another book giveaway from Hachette! This time it's Stay a Little Longer by Dorothy Garlock. Three people will win.

From Publishers Weekly:
"The prolific Garlock (The Moon Looked Down) returns to a familiar setting—a smalltown boarding house run by a struggling young woman—in her true-to-form latest. In Carlson, Minn., circa 1926, Rachel Watkins ekes out a living overseeing an inn owned by her mother and her likable drunk uncle. She's also a part-time midwife, just as her mother was before Rachel's sister, Alice, died while giving birth to her daughter, Charlotte. Eight years have passed since Mason Tucker, Alice's husband, was presumed dead in WWI, and now Mason's greedy brother, Zachary, wants to force Rachel's family to sell the boarding house. But when Charlotte discovers a shell-shocked hobo with a familiar voice living in a decrepit cabin nearby, she begins to think that he's Mason. As Rachel and her family try to outwit Zachary, love blooms in heartwarming, predictable Garlock fashion. If you've read Garlock before, you'll know what to expect."

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 May 22. 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.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

review: the opposite of me by sarah pekkanen

Since my days of reading Sweet Valley books, I’ve loved the idea of twins and their differences. The Opposite of Me brings the tale of fraternal twins Lindsey and Alex from Lindsey’s perspective. Lindsey has always been the smart one while Alex is the drop-dead gorgeous one. An unfortunate turn at work finds Lindsey moving back home where she must again deal with Alex head-on. At the center of The Opposite of Me is a very interesting question: Are we who we are because of what we’ve been told about ourselves and who the others around us are? Lindsey always believed she was the smart one and pursued it to set herself apart from her twin who Lindsey felt was the pretty one. But is any of that true?

I absolutely fell in love with Lindsey; I related to her so much, especially at the beginning when she was still in her full-on pursuit of a promotion. The relationship between Lindsey and Alex was very realistic and the parents were well done too. I enjoyed every page. Although it’s a small part of the book since Lindsey is the focus, I loved the little bits about Alex’s work in television. Before it was over, I cried for Lindsey, then I cried for Alex, then I rejoiced when each twin found her own happiness. It’s a stunning debut; I’ll be looking out for Sarah Pekkanen’s next book.
5/5
Review copy provided by the author's publicist.

review: freefall by ariela anhalt

Ariela Anhalt’s debut makes use of a clichéd plot. Two high school boys (one a newcomer, of course) are rivals both on the fencing team and for the love of a girl named Nicole. Add in the initiation ritual that leaves one boy dead and the other accused of murder and you've got the typical cheesy made-for-TV movie. Anhalt even throws in some drug abuse for good measure. I will give Ahhalt credit for good exposition and pacing, but the dialogue is atrocious. I don't for one second believe Luke's bank manager mother would speak as she does. Luke's favorite phrase is "I don't know." While that may be how a high school student would answer questions about a death he witnessed, it comes across as lazy writing that does nothing to move the plot forward.
2/5
Review copy provided by BookDivas.

giveaway: forbidden passion

Thanks to Hachette, I can offer up three copies of the third book in Rita Herron's Demonborn series! I can't wait to start reading my copy of Forbidden Passion.

Below is the publisher description:
"SHE SEES HIM IN HER DREAMS...

Fueled by her family's murder years ago, Dr. Marlena Bender has devoted her life to understanding violent criminals. But when a serial killer in this small Southern town starts taking the lives of women in diabolical ways--leaving trophies of his kills on Marlena's doorstep--it all hits too close to home. Terrified, Marlena turns to the only man she can trust...the man who saved her life.

BUT HIS SECRET IS HER WORST NIGHTMARE.

Sheriff Dante Valtrez would move heaven and earth to keep Marlena safe, but he's not the savior she thinks he is. A dark legacy runs through his blood and a dangerous secret lies within him. Now a fierce, hot, ruthless desire draws Dante and Marlena together--as a demonic force from his past threatens to rip them apart, destroying everything they hold dear."

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 May 22. 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.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

giveaway winners: the swimming pool and dark deceptions

Congratulations to the winners!

The Swimming Pool: kelly at keeping up with kelly and Bethie
Dark Deceptions: Judylynn, booklover0226, and Cheryl F.