Thursday, July 29, 2010

review: and one last thing... by molly harper

Molly Harper was once a humor columnist and it shows; And One Last Thing… is uproariously funny. There are so many great lines and references in this book (many of them to Stephen King books, which Lacey discovers she likes during her first days at the cabin; that is, she likes “post-apocalyptic, metaphorical Stephen King”). Of course, that’s not all that makes great this book about a woman who dumps her cheating husband in a very public way. Lacey and Monroe (who she meets in a hilarious bottom-baring way up at the cabin) are simply lovable, relatable characters. Having their families show up provided a lot of insight into who they were.

In short, I adored every second of Molly Harper’s venture into chick lit. Lacey doesn’t have many friends thanks to being a housewife with no kids, but I’d definitely want to be one. And I really want Lacey’s Ugly Cake (“Chocolate cake swirled with a cream cheese and dark chocolate filling.”) recipe. It sounds delicious!
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Monday, July 26, 2010

author article: dorothy howell

I prefer shoes to handbags, but I can still relate to the interest Haley has in Shoulder Bags and Handbags. From Dorothy Howell, here's some advice on getting a handbag for less.

Great Places to Score a Discount Designer Handbag

You don't have to dress less-than-glam during these hard economic times -- not when shopping centers and Internet sites are flush with places to snag a genuine designer handbag at a deeply discounted price.

Stores selling discounted handbags range from small, intimate vintage and consignment shops to large department stores, and even larger outlet malls. Internet sites offer a wide range of styles, colors, and designer names.

The Premium Outlets and the Tanger Outlets far and away have the largest concentration of discounted designer merchandise. Along with handbag stores such as Coach, Judith Leiber, Kate Spade and Dooney & Bourke, you'll find a fantastic array of designer stores. Michael Kors, Liz Clairborne, Prada, DKNY, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Burberry, along with many others, carry everything from clothing to shoes, and a sampling of their handbag lines.

The Premium Outlets have over 40 locations nationwide, along with malls in Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, and Mexico. Tanger Outlet has over 30 locations in the U.S. Both offer AAA and AARP member discounts. Join their VIP Club and visit their Web sites for coupons and special offers. Check out their seasonal sales weekends and national promotions for extra savings in addition to everyday discounts.

First, and in some cases, second quality merchandise is available. You'll have to bring along a magnifying glass to find flaws, though. Most are detectable only to the factory-trained eye.
These outlet stores are great places to shop. There's no digging through clearance bins or blowing the dust off of merchandise that's been sitting around for months. The stores are immaculate, the shelves are orderly and well stocked. The staffs are knowledgeable and helpful, the same as you'll find in their retail stores. Many times, after making your selection, the clerk can bring you a "fresh" bag from the stock room. Care is taken to wrap your treasure in the store's signature tissue paper, and deposit it into their trademark shopping bag.

Discounts typically run 20% to 40% off the MSRP, with deeper cuts of up to 65% off of sale and clearance items. Many of these stores offer a full guarantee on their products, plus a money back return policy. But, as with any store, ask before you buy. Keep in mind that these outlet malls are huge, so wear comfortable shoes and plan for a full day of shopping.

Great bargains can be found in retail giants such as Macy's and Dillard's Department Stores. These discounts are usually offered seasonally so you'll have to watch for them. The selection of these bags will be limited, but you can expect to pay from 20% to 30% off their retail prices.
Leading discount department stores such as Ross Dress For Less, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls offer designer handbags. The selection varies. You might find a Diane von Furstenberg, Betsy Johnson or a Fossil bag mixed in with their non-designer bags. Merchandise varies from location to location. These are no-frills stores. If you don't mind digging for a good deal, you can expect to save 20% to 60% off of department store prices.

Some of the most sought-after designer brands are offered at Websites such as Rue LaLa and Gilt Group. These sites offer members-only pricing on luxury brands, usually for a limited time. Shop early. Expect to pay sales prices of up to 70% off retail.

The website e-bay, along with many other online sites, offers designer handbags at considerable savings. The selection is wide and varied. New as well as used purses are available. You'll have to pay shipping costs, in most cases, so take that into consideration when looking at their prices.
Consignment stores and vintage shops are also good places to find a handbag at a low price. Keep in mind these purses are gently used. Designer names and selection will vary widely. Inventory fluctuates so it's good to check back often. Savings can be considerable.

No matter where you choose to shop for your designer handbag, it's important that you can distinguish a genuine bag from a knock-off. Read product descriptions carefully. Do your homework. Know the tell-tale signs of a counterfeit bag. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
There's no need to deny yourself the joy of sporting a designer handbag when so many places offer great merchandise and outstanding discounts to the everyday fashionista. Get out and see what's available. Shopping for your new bag is half the fun!
© 2010 Dorothy Howell, author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery

Dorothy Howell, author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery, was inspired to write Handbags and Homicide by her crazed obsession with designer purses. She lives in Southern California, where there is, thankfully, no rehab program for handbag addiction, and is hard at work on her next Haley Randolph mystery. Visit her Website at www.DorothyHowellNovels.com.
Follow the author on Facebook.

review: shoulder bags and shootings by dorothy howell

Haley is 24 and a bit scattered. She’s in college, but doesn’t enjoy her classes; she works a minimum wage job at a department store she’d never actually purchase from (and this girl lives to shop); and her “official” boyfriend hasn’t really gotten in touch since their vacation. Regardless, Haley has her mind on only one thing—obtaining the new Sinful handbag. That’s what prompts her to “borrow” her boyfriend’s grandma’s Mercedes (so much nicer than her Honda) and that’s what leads to her once again stumbling upon a murder. As usual things don’t look good for Haley; this time the victim is someone whose purse party business was far more successful than Haley’s. But the cops quickly discover the victim had connections to someone far more likely than Haley to want her dead. Even though she’s been cleared, Haley can’t help but try to investigate on her own while still pursuing the elusive Sinful bag.

Shoulder Bags and Shootings is a cute, quick read. Although dealing with murder, Haley remains quite comedic from her first nearly launching herself out of her airplane seat at glimpsing the Sinful bag in Elle to the final pages setting up a potentially tumultuous future. However, Haley can also be a bit annoying at times. It’s one thing to be fashion-obsessed; it’s another to pursue fashion above all else, including paying the rent and figuring out what you really want to do with your life.
4/5
Review copy provided by FSB Associates.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

review: forget you by jennifer echols

Zoey, a high school senior, had what seemed to be an incredible life; not anymore now that herself-absorbed father has impregnated Ashley, the 24 year old human resources manager at his water slide park. At the start of Forget You, Zoey’s dad has already moved Ashley into the waterfront house while Zoey and her mother live in a cramped apartment. The change in circumstances is difficult for Zoey’s mother, who swallows a bottle of pills. So right before jetting off to Hawaii to marry Ashley, Zoey’s dad must take her in. And Zoey, of course, starts acting out. The once good girl pursues a relationship with playboy Brandon after losing her virginity to him in an impulsive moment. It’s all done so Zoey can keep up the façade of perfection her family has created. But things come crashing (literally) when Zoey’s in a car accident and can’t remember the details. All she knows is that Brandon is hanging out with his neighbor Stephanie and bad boy Doug is acting more like her boyfriend. Zoey feels she can’t reveal her amnesia, so she tries to piece things together on her own and alienates the ones who care the most in the process.

Forget You is intense. The ending is particularly emotional. There were some things I just didn’t see coming. I’m impressed by the way Jennifer Echols crafted the story and created characters that reminded me of high school. I completely understood Zoey’s every move while also recognizing the huge mistakes she made. Forget You is wonderfully authentic and touching.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, MTV Books.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

review: unfinished business by lee kravitz

For many years Lee Kravitz was too busy living his life to take care of what he now refers to as his “unfinished business.” It’s a very relatable subject. So often our everyday business prevents us from doing some of what we intended. For Kravitz, the unfinished business was quite varied, ranging from a small debt that nagged at him to a quest to uncover some of his family history and reunite some estranged members. Kravitz wasn’t motivated to take care of any of it until he lost his job and suddenly had quite a bit of time to spare. He covers his journey swiftly, but also thoughtfully and sincerely.

At the end of his tale, Kravitz implores everyone to take care of that unfinished business. Referencing Martin Buber (and reminding me of when I took Rhetorical Criticism in college), Kravitz says, “Think of yourself as a Thou and not an It and you will make the time and expend the energy to do the right thing on an ongoing basis, keeping your unfinished business to a minimum.”
4/5
Review copy provided by Planned Television Arts.

new releases: july


Monday, July 19, 2010

giveaway: sand in my eyes

Now that you've read the interview with Christine Lemmon and my review of Sand in My Eyes, you just might want to check out the book for yourself. Guess what? Thanks to BookSparks PR you can do just that! Three will win.

Here's the description of Sand in My Eyes:
"Twenty years ago, Anna Hott thought she could control everything -- her crumbling marriage, her demanding children, her hectic life -- by quitting her high-placed job in New York City and moving her family to tranquil Sanibel Island, Florida. But she brought her untamed emotions, her rage toward her cheating husband, and her yearning to write a novel with her. When her husband and children left the house for a week, Anna thought at last she would get her household, her novel, and her mind in order. Instead, her elderly neighbor Fedelina Aurelio knocked on her door bearing flowers and homespun wisdom, and when Fedelina's recently divorced son arrived, Anna had a test of passions and a test of truth. Now, at 56 with an empty nest, Anna Holt pulls out the incomplete manuscript she started that memorable week and -- to find closure for her life and a conclusion for her novel -- travels to Indiana to visit Fedelina who lives in a nursing home. A novel framed within a novel, Sand In My Eyes is both a story about the tension between motherhood and personal dreams as well as a story about women across generations inspiring one another to let beauty persist despite ugly circumstances."

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 August 7. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from BookSparks PR, the winners must have mailing addresses in the US.

author interview: christine lemmon

Christine Lemmon, the author of Sand in My Eyes and a number of other titles, stopped by to answer a couple of questions. Also, check out the giveaway for your chance to win Sand in My Eyes!

You once lived in a house attached to your family's ice cream shot. What was that like? And what's your recommendation for an ice cream treat on a hot summer day?

It was a dream-come-true for a young girl when all I had to do was run through our kitchen, then through a bathroom and there I was in this pink kingdom of sorts with fifty flavors and a pop machine, too! It had me believing at a young age that anything in life is possible and even at the start of my novel, Portion of the Sea, I wrote: “There is a time in every woman’s life when pink is her favorite color, when anything is believable and the lines separating the possible and the impossible are blurred.” The ice-cream shop was in Saugatuck, Michigan, a thriving resort town. There were lines out our door until midnight and I worked side-by-side with my family scooping ice-cream. When I needed a break, I would sit in the sugar cone closet and write in my diary all about the adventures I was having and the characters I was encountering.

My sister and I would make ourselves a cone with as many flavors as we could fit on it before it began to tilt (pink bubblegum and blue moon were two of my favorites early on). I haven’t let my own children try this at home. I do, however, have them scoop their own ice-cream and they use the silver scooper I grabbed when my parents sold the shop. I let them make a mess and never get upset. Ice-cream was too good of an experience for me as a kid so I want it to be fun for my kids, too.

Flowers play a central theme in Sand in My Eyes. What's your favorite flower?

Because I went to school in Holland, Michigan, and was a Dutch Dancer in the annual Tulip Time Festival, the sight of tulips make me want to dance and scrub streets with buckets of cold water and old-fashioned brooms, and sometimes makes me homesick. But roses—-the kind that look picked from the backyard—-are my favorite. I live on an island filled with tropical flowers, and oddly, there happens to be a large rose bush thriving alongside my house. Sitting on my porch and looking out at its pink blooms is what inspired me one day to write in Sand in My Eyes that women, like roses need rest—-periods of non-productivity—-in order to prepare for their next bloom.

In addition to writing novels, you've worked for newspapers, radio, and TV. How have your experiences there influenced your books?

In Portion of the Sea, I write of two women (Ava and Lydia) living almost a century apart but bonded as if they are friends by a journal that Ava writes and Lydia reads. They arrive on the same island, enter womanhood, fall in love, and leave the island behind to follow their dreams and pursue careers and they do all of this side-by-side as if they are friends. Having worked in news, I enjoy researching, and in writing this story I gained a fresh appreciation of the rights we women have today. Ava pursues a writing career in New York for a magazine at a time when women were supposed to focus only on being ladies and she was pressured to only write about fashion. Lydia pursues a career in journalism in Chicago when society had women thinking the only reason they should go to college is so they might talk more intelligently with their husbands.

I also researched the history of Sanibel Island, where I live and where my stories take place. I had fun incorporating the interesting facts such as in the late 1800s people from all over the country were arriving to the island because they believed it to be a ‘healing paradise.’ And women were walking around wearing hats made of pink roseate spoonbill feathers (no wonder the birds shortly after became endangered for a time). And the school house here on the island blew over in a strong wind (my kids loved hearing that fact).

Which of your books has had the most impact on your life?

The writing of Sand in My Eyes helped me through a specific stage when my children were small and my house a mess and my greatest accomplishment was getting us all dressed and out the door each day. I remember going into my kitchen, forgetting why I had gone in there in the first place, spinning like a top, responding to the demands of three little ones, and feeling more like a chicken with its head cut off than the logical, upbeat, ambitious, organized woman I once was.

I used to beg and plead with the sun to go down so my house would be quiet and I could think my own thoughts, and write! It was during this time that I created the characters of Fedelina and Cora and had them saying all this stuff, like one day your house will be perfectly clean and quiet but your children will be grown and gone and you would do anything if you could to have that messy house and your children back. My characters pulled me through and gave me insight to see beauty right here and now in the midst of the chaos.

In addition, during the writing of Sand in My Eyes, my mom was diagnosed with a horrible cancer. I found myself waking in the middle of the night stricken with worry-filled insomnia. My character Cora came up with an idea to try when unable to sleep at night and crazy as it sounds, because I wrote it, I then tried it, and it truly did work. I did as she said and handed it all over to God in the middle of the night.

In a way, I feel like the writing of Sand in My Eyes was the older me talking to the present me, telling me it all will pass—that the stages a woman goes through in her life are brief and once we go through them our lives are over, so why hurry? Why allow ourselves to live in constant states of stress? It’s as if we’re walking around with sand in our eyes, unable to see all the beauty around us.

What's up next for you?

I have been at a fork in the road with ideas coming at me for two different novels. One is more comfortable and the other more challenging. It confused me to be getting ideas for two stories because typically, I am quite focused, working on one at a time. I stood at this fork, praying and discerning which way to go and have since taken steps in the direction of the more challenging story. My youngest will be starting preschool a few mornings a week come fall so I may decide to try writing during daylight hours for the very first time. Usually I only write from nine to eleven at night, or five to seven in the morning when my children are sleeping.

I will continue writing blogs, keeping in touch with readers via my website (www.christinelemmon.com) and also writing my newspaper column (Long Story Short) which appears in the Island Sun.

Friday, July 16, 2010

giveaway: tempted by a warrior

If you've been waiting to find out what happened to Fiona from Amanda Scott's Dunwythie trilogy, now's your chance to win one of three copies! Many thanks to Hachette for making this giveaway possible.

This is the link to my review. Here's the publisher description:
"Lady Fiona, wed in haste, has never known marital peace. When last she'd seen her cruel husband Will, he'd struck her - and she has no memory of what she did next - only that she woke later alone in her bedchamber. Will has gone missing, and Fiona fears that in her rage and terror she might somehow have killed him. When her husband's cousin Sir Richard comes to search for Will, Fiona is touched by his warm nature. A knight and warrior, Richard is drawn to Fiona's brave manner, quickly seeing in her an equal measure of inner courage."

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 August 7. 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: tempted by a warrior by amanda scott

Tempted By a Warrior reveals what happened after Fiona ran off with Will during Seduced By a Rogue. Turns out Fiona didn’t have such a great life with Will who turned abusive when her father changed the terms of his will so that she didn’t inherit nearly as much as was expected. Now Fiona is suspected of murdering Will, who has mysteriously disappeared. As Fiona is pregnant and Will’s father is likely to die soon, Will’s cousin Dickon is brought in as trustee. Initially Fiona believes Dickon to be just as cruel as his relatives, but later discovers he’s a different sort (although I would argue he’s a little too much like the Jardines for my taste—he spanked Fiona!).

Although Tempted By a Warrior doesn’t have nearly the intrigue that the first book in the trilogy (Tamed By a Laird) had, there’s more excitement to be found than in the second book. Curiously, the circumstances that caused Will’s absence for the birth of his son aren’t of much concern once Old Jardine is dead. Dickon believes Fiona to be innocent given the unlikelihood of a woman close to giving birth being able to kill a man twice her size. The focus shifts away from, “Where is Will?” (though it comes up a few times to cause some drama for Fiona) and moves to the tension between Dickon and Fiona. As a result, the middle drags a bit, but the pace picks up substantially when Hod (a servant who was asked to leave after Old Jardine died) returns to cause trouble.

It was a nice end to the trilogy, featuring appearances by characters from the previous two books and updating the lives of the three girls from Dunwythie Hall.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Forever.

I have a giveaway with this tour! Also, check out the following sites for reviews, giveaways, and guest posts from the author:
bibliophile23.wordpress.com
maryinhb.blogspot.com
masoncanyon.blogspot.com
amomentwithmystee.blogspot.com
mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com
justanothernewblog.blogspot.com
amusingreviews.blogspot.com
ajourneyofbooks.halfzero.net
momofboyswithtoys.blogspot.com
tweezlereads.blogspot.com
mgpblog.com
rundpinne.com
mom2mycrazy2.blogspot.com
thedmlibrary.com
martasmeanderings.blogspot.com
detweilermom.blogspot.com
justjenniferreading.blogspot.com
thethriftythings.blogspot.com
brokenteepee.blogspot.com
paranormalromanticsuspensereviews.blogspot.com
marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com
triciareads.blogspot.com
myfoolishwisdom.blogspot.com
booksoulmates.com
inthehammockblog.blogspot.com
rexrobotreviews.com
thisbookforfree.com
fallingofftheshelf.blogspot.com
candidclevercosteffective.com
mommyreadstoomuch.blogspot.com
thefictionenthusiast.blogspot.com
renees-reads.blogspot.com
booksandneedepoint.blogspot.com
dkay401-challenges.blogspot.com
simplystacie.net
libslibrary.blogspot.com
startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com
tarmyblogspot.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

review: city of dreams by william martin

In a word, City of Dreams by William Martin is excellent. I loved how Martin told the story of the Revolutionary Wars bonds, the curse placed on them, and all the people who get involved from the time of their issue to the present day economic crisis (which plays heavily into the plot, making this a very timely read). It is a thriller with a bit of a love story that uses much of America’s history to create an intriguing plot. Without giving too much away, City of Dreams centers upon the race to find the war bonds that could completely bankrupt the US if they can be redeemed with compound interest. As the story shifts between times, I rushed onward because I needed to know how the pieces would come together and what would happen next in each time period.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Forge Books.

giveaway: the particular sadness of lemon cake

Now this is a title that caught my attention: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I love lemon cake. Every time I go to the bookstore, I attempt to buy this book even though I already have a copy of it. Now, thanks to Doubleday, you have the chance to win one of two copies!

From Publishers Weekly:
"Taking her very personal brand of pessimistic magical realism to new heights (or depths), Bender's second novel (following An Invisible Sign of My Own) careens splendidly through an obstacle course of pathological, fantastical neuroses. Bender's narrator is young, needy Rose Edelstein, who can literally taste the emotions of whoever prepares her food, giving her unwanted insight into other people's secret emotional lives—including her mother's, whose lemon cake betrays a deep dissatisfaction. Rose's father and brother also possess odd gifts, the implications of which Bender explores with a loving and detailed eye while following Rose from third grade through adulthood. Bender has been called a fabulist, but emerges as more a spelunker of the human soul; carefully burrowing through her characters' layered disorders and abilities, Bender plumbs an emotionally crippled family with power and authenticity. Though Rose's gift can seem superfluous at times, and Bender's gustative insights don't have the sensual potency readers might crave, this coming-of-age story makes a bittersweet dish, brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent."

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 July 31. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from Doubleday, the winners must have mailing addresses in the US; no PO Boxes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

review: sand in my eyes by christine lemmon

Sand in My Eyes left me with varied thoughts primarily because I could not like the main character. I nearly laughed when I read at the end of the book, “…And in the very little selfish time that I had through the years, I wrote,” because Anna struck me as incredibly selfish. As the book begins, a menopausal Anna is traveling to see her former neighbor. Anna isn’t being a good friend; she’s going to get permission from a woman she’s ignored for years regarding the book Anna now wants to publish about her life. As Anna tells her story, I couldn’t garner a shred of sympathy for her as she raged about the difficulties of being a stay at home mom to three young children and the affair her husband once had although I had the impression I was supposed to feel she’d sacrificed a lot to make her children happy.

I enjoyed the concept of Sand in My Eyes, though often felt it would work better as a movie because the act of Anna telling Fedelina her story meant that there was a lot of exactly that--telling rather than showing. I would’ve liked to have more action. Here’s an example of where there could’ve been some descriptive action instead of flat-out telling:
Then one child had to use the bathroom. Another fell down and scraped her knee. And the last, I saw from the corner of my eye, was pocketing large landscape rocks. From the corner of my other eye I saw that the first child had peed in his shorts. My daughter was screaming bloody murder over the sight of her hurt knee. And my remaining son had clenched his fists and was grunting at me in an ill-tempered fit when I told him to empty the rocks out of his pocket. It was all making me think that I had a hundred children, not three!
Just think how much better that scene would’ve been if all that action had been brought to the present!

In the end, what I really enjoyed were the letters Fedelina’s mother, Cora, wrote to daughter, especially the one she wrote when Fedelina was still just a baby. Cora seemed like someone I might actually want to meet.
2/5
Review copy provided by the author’s publicist.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

giveaway: private [audiobook]

Thanks to Hachette I can offer two copies of the audiobook version of James Patterson's Private!

Here's my review. Below is the publisher's description:
"The police can't help you

Former CIA agent Jack Morgan runs Private, a renowned investigation company with branches around the globe. It is where you go when you need maximum force and maximum discretion. The secrets of the most influential men and women on the planet come to Jack daily--and his staff of investigators uses the world's most advanced forensic tools to make and break their cases.

The press will destroy you

Jack is already deep into the investigation of a multi-million dollar NFL gambling scandal and the unsolved slayings of 18 schoolgirls when he learns of a horrific murder close to home: his best friend's wife, Jack's former lover, has been killed. It nearly pushes him over the edge. Instead, Jack pushes back and devotes all of Private's resources to tracking down her killer.

Only one place to turn: Private

But Jack doesn't have to play by the rules. As he closes in on the killer and chooses between revenge and justice, Morgan has to navigate a workplace love affair that threatens to blow the roof off his plans. With a plot that moves at death-defying speeds, Private is James Patterson sleekest, most exciting thriller ever."

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. Gain yet another entry by following my blog's Twitter! The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on July 31. 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: backseat saints [audio] and $25 gift card

Jennifer and janetfaye are the winners of Backseat Saints [audiobook].

The very lucky winner of the $25 Barnes and Noble gift card from author Laura Griffin is...Scorpio M.!!!

Congratulations!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

review: the icing on the cupcake by jennifer ross

So I kind of happen to love cupcakes (actually, I love quite a few baked goods), which means a book with cupcakes at the forefront is going to be just about perfect for me. Every chapter of The Icing on the Cupcake ends with a yummy cupcake recipe appropriate for the events of the chapter. In some cases, the recipe is for the cupcakes that either Ansley or her grandmother made during the chapter. I absolutely adored the recipes and baking tips. It was also great to see how baking brought the generations together.

What I didn’t adore was that spoiled sorority girl Ansley doesn’t experience much growth; by the end she still believes she will eventually turn over the business she worked so hard for to whatever man she ends up marrying. I guess I just expected that in addition to becoming a better person (Ansley is wretched at the beginning and that’s what causes her fiancé to dump her which then causes her to flee to New York), Ansley would also realize that she has the wherewithal to make it on her own. Although she used inherited money, Ansley built her cupcake shop with little assistance while also helping her grandma sort out her IRS problems. In fact, she actually succeeded despite someone trying to sabotage her. But since Ansley was able to start caring about people other than herself and make use of some of her talents, I suppose she could grow up even more if there’s ever a sequel.
4/5
Review copy provided by the author’s publicist.

Monday, July 5, 2010

review: untraceable by laura griffin

Untraceable is a stunning thriller that keeps the reader guessing as PI Alex tries to locate a missing client whose life is likely in danger. Months ago Alex helped Melanie start a new life in order to escape her abusive law enforcement husband; but now it appears Melanie has stopped following the rules Alex set and is back in danger. Along with an ex-boyfriend who’s on the board of a private DNA processing center as well as a cop Alex is starting to get romantically involved with, Alex finds herself in the middle of an investigation that will have huge ramifications for the city of Austin.

The first in Laura Griffin’s Tracers series had me immediately hooked. Each surprising twist was believable given what had been established about the characters (and speaking of characters, each is well done with a distinct personality). Untraceable includes just the right amounts of drama and romance to make this remarkable story a must read.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Star Books.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

giveaway winners: the impostor's daughter and what not to wear for the rest of your life

Happy Independence Day!! And congratulations to the following giveaway winners:
The Impostor’s Daughter: Busy Working Mama, Darcie K., holdenj, Simply Stacie, and Cheryl F.
What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Robin

Thursday, July 1, 2010

review: one season of sunshine by julia london

One Season of Sunshine finds schoolteacher Jane Aaron spending her summer break searching for her birth mother. Hers was a closed adoption in 1980 and the lawyer who arranged it has passed away. Since her birth mother isn’t listed in an adoption registry, Jane’s only clue is that she has born in a Cedar Springs, TX hospital. Unfortunately, Jane’s boyfriend and some family members aren’t exactly supportive of her decision to move to Cedar Springs for the summer. The typical distance conflicts arise between Jane and her boyfriend, who proposed to Jane before she left; Jane has yet to give him an answer when she leaves.

Because of the economy, there aren’t many jobs in Cedar Springs; Jane accepts a nanny position against her better judgment. Jane intended to have a job with little responsibility so she’d have time to search for her birth mother and write her thesis. Instead she ends up with the huge responsibility of caring for two children (one an angst-filled teen, one a young boy with some anger) who have lost their mother and have a workaholic father. Once the father becomes more involved in his children’s lives things get even more complicated for Jane as the two start connecting romantically.

I completely adored One Season of Sunshine; Jane was so relatable even though I don’t have much in common with her (definitely none of the big things). Although I wished that her birth mother search had been a little easier (it seemed that someone in such a small town should’ve remembered a woman putting a baby up for adoption), I liked that her answers didn’t come immediately and that she struggled with how much she wanted to know.

And for those who wondered what happened with Macy from Summer of Two Wishes, there is a little update as this book takes place in the same town.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.

review: mr. rosenblum dreams in english by natasha solomons

Jack Rosenblum is obsessed with presenting himself as a true Englishman after escaping Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. His wife, on the other hand, wants to hang on to her German heritage, especially since the rest of her family was lost in the war. There is a constant primarily unspoken conflict between the two, so it’s no wonder their daughter escapes to university and changes her identity.

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English doesn’t really take off until Jack leaves his carpet manufacturing company in the city to create a golf course in the country. Why is Jack starting his own golf course when he has a successful business and has never played a round of golf in his life? He believes he needs to belong to a golf club to be fully English; but as a German Jew, Jack’s applications are constantly rejected. So with only the briefest understanding of the game and the hope that the legendary Bobby Jones will provide some assistance, Jack embarks upon yet another new life with his very reluctant wife.

I found all the character dynamics interesting and well done. Natasha Solomons did a great job making clear through Jack’s behavior just how fanatical he was with all things English.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Reagan Arthur Books.
ARC Review