Monday, January 31, 2011

review: the debutante by kathleen tessaro

When Cate finds a shoebox hidden away in the house whose contents she’s supposed to being valuing for her aunt’s auction house, she should list it with all the other items found; instead, she keeps it for herself. Cate is enthralled by the story of the Blythe sisters, particularly “Baby,” who mysteriously disappeared. Like Cate, I became very caught up in what had happened to Baby; I actually preferred that story to the one of Cate and her messed up love life. I loved putting together Baby’s story through the pieces of the story that Cate discovered and the letters that appeared throughout The Debutante. And yet, the letters threw me off a bit. I kept thinking that Cate was reading the letters, so I frequently wondered what was going on when Cate didn’t know something a letter had revealed. Although I had little interest in any kind of romantic storyline for Cate, I enjoyed Cate’s pursuit of the mystery and the romantic entanglements of the Blythe sisters.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Avon.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

giveaway winner: the journey home

Judy H is the lucky winner of The Journey Home! Congrats!

Friday, January 28, 2011

giveaway: how sweet it is

This post contains affiliate links.

Hachette has provided three giveaway copies of How Sweet It Is for the tour!

Read my review, then see the publisher description below:
"Single mom Lizzie Bea Carpenter learned long ago that no white knight was coming to save her. A hardworking waitress at the local diner, she's raising her daughter to be like the independent women in her "Enemy Club"--high school rivals turned best friends, promising to always tell each other the whole truth and nothing but!

Yet part of Lizzie wishes she did have a man's help, just for small stuff, like fixing up the house. Her fairy godmother must have been listening, because Dante "Tay" Giovanni soon appears. He's sexy, kind, and offering assistance--no strings attached.

Slowly, steadily, Lizzie's heart opens. But the grip of the past is fierce, and nothing in life is ever really free. Tay has his own tragedies to overcome, but if he can, he'll fix more than Lizzie's home. He'll show her just how sweet it is to be loved by him."

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 (one extra each for the blog and Twitter) or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on February 19. 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: how sweet it is by sophie gunn

This post contains affiliate links.

The male and female protagonists of How Sweet It Is are both dealing with some weighty issues, but Sophie Gunn keeps things fairly light . Lizzie, a waitress, is the mother of a 14 year old who has never met her father. Tay, who has just arrived in town, is haunted by the fact that a car accident he caused took the life of a woman with a college-aged daughter. Tay tries to make things right for the young woman by offering her all the money he has in the world. But Candy doesn’t want the money, so she throws it off a bridge. When Tay finds out, he stays in town to look for the money and ends up finding love with Lizzie, who had sworn off men.

Despite Tay’s trauma and Lizzie’s hurt, their romance is pretty cute. How Sweet It Is does get a little bogged down with some of the subplots (Lizzie’s sister’s jealousy, Lizzie’s daughter’s sudden embrace of a father who fled) and I could’ve used some explanations up front (it takes far too long to find out why the paternal grandparents aren’t helping), but those things don’t detract too much from the sweetness of these two unlikely people finding love.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Forever.
ARC Review

Check out the giveaway! The following are also participating in the tour:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

author interview: jill myles

This post contains affiliate links.

I love The Succubus Diaries series from Jill Myles. So how excited was I when she agreed to answer some questions!!

What inspired you to write The Succubus Diaries? Did you intend to make it a series?

I'd written a few books in varying genres before writing GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI but nothing was clicking. I wanted to write something modern, sexy and fun. I'd had an idea to write something with fallen angels but it wasn't clicking, and I couldn't figure out why. I was at lunch with my sister and she was talking about a vampire book she'd read and made a comment about the vampire being blood starved. I then cracked a joke about it also being sex starved, and BOOM. The idea for a succubus that had to have sex to 'feed' sort of landed in my head. It took me a little bit longer to figure out what a succubus would be doing with vampires and angels, but once it all came together, it was like everything in my head just clicked at once. :) That was a good day!

Of all the vampire and fallen angel books I’ve read (quite a few!), yours stand out for a number of reasons including being both sexy and funny. How much research went into the mythology before you created your succubus, vampire, and fallen angel characters?

I'd done some research on fallen angels (I've always had a thing for angels and the Book of Enoch) and knew the basics about vampires and succubi. More research into succubi was intimidating, though - it wasn't the direction I wanted to take my characters. I ended up creating my own mythology and just running with it and I've been really happy with the results. As for being funny...well, I am rarely, rarely serious in person! So it made sense to tell a slightly off-beat sort of story. :)

Delilah is one of my favorite characters. Any chance that she’ll get a “Delilah’s Tale” short story the way Zane did?

The 'tales' that I've done so far came up because I had a scene that I wanted to 'tell' but couldn't because the stories are written in Jackie's very specific POV. Foreplay was Jackie's POV as well, but it was something she'd forgotten so I couldn't exactly have her share it! But there will be more 'tales' coming this year, I think. I have Noah's brewing in my head and have more up my sleeve. Nothing for Delilah yet, but never say never! I know her origins but I'm not sure if it's a fully fleshed short story yet. :)

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

Oh jeez. That is a tough one! I'd guess I'd have to say Bulfinch's Mythology. I was mythology obsessed as a child. Still am, years and years later. It opened up a really fascinating world with new rules.

What’s up next for you?

I'm currently working on edits for my next book! It's not in the Succubus Diaries but is a new series that stars a human woman that works at a paranormal dating agency and gets mixed up with one of the clients.

review: my fair succubi by jill myles

This post contains affiliate links.

Before Jackie was turned into a sexpot succubus by fallen angel Noah and vampire Zane, she was fairly plain. She had plenty else going for her, but what would make two immortals she’d never met want to turn her? Jackie hasn’t had time to contemplate that question as the first two books of The Succubus Diaries series have given her plenty else to focus on—most pressing has been her own survival after having been kidnapped and tortured. Jackie turned the tables on her kidnapper, but now she must face the consequences of those actions as she and Noah are forced to appear before the Serim Council, who want her dead. There are some tense moments before Jackie escapes (after making a deal with a serim…doesn’t she ever learn?), but in doing so, she stumbles upon an ancient painting of someone who looks exactly as she did before she was turned. Now Jackie pursues to answer to who is in that painting along with a new task put upon her by the serim.

Although Jackie was firmly entrenched with Noah at the start of My Fair Succubi, the mission she embarks upon for the serim leads her right to Zane. After so much time apart, these two have an incredibly hot reunion. Once again Jill Myles makes sure to pack the book with sex at every turn. And while Jackie shows how deeply she cares for both Noah and Zane, she also keeps up the comedy and the fun teasing of her two immortal lovers. Fans of the series will not be disappointed.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Star Books.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

giveaway: how to marry a duke

As part of the How to Marry a Duke tour, I have three giveaway copies of Vicky Dreiling's debut! Thanks to Hachette for sponsoring the tour.

You can read my review of this humorous romance here. Publishers Weekly said the following:
"In Dreiling's whimsical debut, matchmaker Tessa Mansfield meets her greatest challenge yet in Tristan James Gatewick, the duke of Shelbourne. Under pressure to find a wife, Tristan employs Tess, who comes up with an alarming and unconventional proposition: she presents him with two dozen single young ladies, from whom he must select a single candidate. Despite the implausibility of Regency speed-dating, the book works well when dealing with the candidates and the wealth of subplots arising from their friendships, alliances, and rivalries. Less rewarding is the heavy-handed attraction between Tessa and Tristan, with a conclusion even more foregone than usual. The usual villain from the past makes an appearance, but might have been better left out in order to spend more time with the potential brides."

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 (one extra each for the blog and Twitter) or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on February 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 and tour: how to marry a duke by vicky dreiling

Duke Tristan is in need of a wife. As a handsome, wealthy duke, he really shouldn’t have a problem finding a suitable bride, but Vicky Dreiling’s amusing debut finds him seeking the help of a spinster matchmaker. Tessa, the matchmaker, finds him 24 potential mates in a setup reminiscent of The Bachelor. But here there are unexpected sparks between bachelor and host! Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story if Tristan and Tessa immediately acknowledged their feelings for each other. So they keep up with Tristan’s elimination of girls while bucking societal norms to meet privately. Scandal!! What Tristan doesn’t know is that Tessa is no stranger to scandal. She has a secret, which threatens to come out with the sudden return of someone from her past. How to Marry a Duke is an entertaining mix of comedy, romance, and intrigue.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Forever.

You can win a copy of How to Marry a Duke! Also, check out the other tour sites:

review: tandem by tracey bateman

The small town of Abbey Hills was devastated by some horrific murders six months ago; now, the killings have started again even though the residents believed the culprit died in a fire. A newcomer to the town claims the deaths are the work of vampires. While the residents write her off as a crackpot, two other new arrivals know she speaks the truth.

I loved Tandem’s plot and pacing. Each chapter gives three pieces of the story: Lauryn’s past, a trapped vampire, and the main story of what’s currently happening in Abbey Hills. This is really an atypical vampire tale as the focus is more on Lauryn, who struggles to take care of her ailing father while keeping the family’s auction business afloat and trying to have her own life. Even when Amede’s (the new vampire in town) tale is told, the focus is actually on her quest to find her long-lost half-sister, Eden, who Amede believes to be in Abbey Hills after receiving some family letters from Lauryn, who discovered them while cataloging an estate up for auction.

The theme of redemption is ever-present, but Tandem doesn’t lack in shocking twists as the vampires and the truth of the slayings are revealed.
Review copy provided by the publisher, WaterBrook Press.

Monday, January 17, 2011

giveaway: the journey home

Thanks to The Story Plant, one person will win The Journey Home by Michael Baron!

Here's the publisher description:
"Joseph, a man in his late thirties, awakens disoriented and uneasy in a place he doesn't recognize. Several people are near him when he opens his eyes, all strangers. All of them seem perfectly friendly, but none of them can explain to him how he got there. They offer him a delicious meal and pleasant conversation in a beautifully decorated room. This would be a very nice experience if not for one thing: Joseph doesn't know where he is and he has no way to contact his wife, who he is sure is worried sick over him. Thanking the people for their hospitality, he leaves to make his way back home. The only problem is that whatever happened to him has stripped him of most of his memories. He knows he needs to get back to his wife, but he doesn't know how to find her. He sets out on a journey to find his home with no sense of where he's going and only the precious, indelible vision of the woman he loves to guide him.

Antoinette is an elderly woman in an assisted living facility. She’s spent the last six years there since her husband died, and most of those years have been happy. She enjoys the company of others in her situation and her son comes to visit often. But in recent months, she’s had a tougher and tougher time leaving her room. Her friends seem different to her and the world seems increasingly confusing. She spends an escalating amount of time on a journey inside her head. There, her body and mind haven’t betrayed her. There, she’s a young newlywed with a husband who dotes on her and an entire life of dreams to live. There, she is truly home.

Warren, Antoinette’s son, is a man in his early forties going through the toughest year of his life. His marriage ended, he lost his job, and in the past few months, his mother has gone from hale to increasingly hazy. Having trouble finding work, he spends more and more time by his mother’s bedside. But her lack of lucidity both frustrates and frightens him. With far too much time on his hands, he decides to try to recreate his memories of home by attempting to cook his mother’s greatest dishes using the rudimentary appliances available in her room. He finds the challenge surprisingly rewarding, especially because the only time he feels his mother is truly with him anymore is when she is eating the meals he prepares for her.

Joseph, Antoinette, and Warren are three people on different searches for home. How they find it, and how they connect with one another at this critical stage in each of their lives, is the foundation for a profound and deeply moving story."

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 (one extra each for the blog and Twitter) or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on January 29. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from The Story Plant the winners must have mailing addresses in the US.

giveaway winner: brooklyn story

Congratulations to the winner of Brooklyn Story: lewalk!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

review: room by emma donoghue

Note: I tried very hard to write this review without spoilers, but found that I couldn't explain why I eventually enjoyed the book without including one from the middle of the book.

Initially, I was turned off by the child narrator of Room. Although the only world he’s ever known is inside the room where his kidnapped mother gave birth to him, Jack is very much a bratty five year old. His constant whining and obnoxiousness made me put the book down on a number of occasions. I think what annoyed me most was how Jack spoke/thought. Even though he hears his mother speak normally and watches TV (which he believes to be some sort of fake universe even when watching the news), his speech patterns are hard to take. This is how Jack describes breakfast: “I count one hundred cereal and waterfall the milk that’s nearly the same white as the bowls, no splashing, we thank Baby Jesus.” Ugh. Everything is like that.

Thankfully (and this is where spoilers start to come in) the situation changes about midway through the book. That’s when Ma finally gets motivated to escape. Once more characters came into play, Jack came in smaller doses and I found him easier to stomach. Emma Donoghue redeemed the wretched start of the book by crafting a very interesting tale of Jack learning about the world outside captivity, Ma getting reacquainted with it, and how their family, their caretakers, and all the strangers they encounter react.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Little, Brown.

giveaway winner: a christmas carol: a pop-up book

Congratulations to the winner of the pop-up version of A Christmas Carol, misusedinnocence!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

review: the radleys by matt haig

Matt Haig’s The Radleys isn’t the typical vampire novel. Being vampires is really just the thing that sets up the Radley family for being different; it could’ve just as easily been race, religion, or economic status. Yet those are things parents wouldn’t be able to keep from their children whereas the Radley parents had kept their teenage children in the dark about being vampires. The children simply believed they had some condition that caused sun sensitivity and an aversion to garlic. How can they not notice a need for blood? Well, that’s because Haig has created a different vampire mythology. Here, vampires are able to abstain, which the Radleys do. But when Clara turns vegan and then is assaulted by a schoolmate, her natural tendency comes out and the truth is revealed.

Beyond the vampire secret, there are more kept by the Radley parents. All are easily predicted. There are some good lines (my favorite is something Uncle Will says to Rowan: “’Vampire? Such a provocative word, wrapped in too many clich├ęs and girly novels. But, yes, afraid I am. A fully functioning vampire.”’) and funny scenes, but little else sets this book apart from any other of the numerous family dramas that have come before it.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Free Press.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

review: bright young things by anna godbersen

While the idea of the new series by Anna Godbersen intrigued me, I wasn’t that impressed by the storyline put forth in Bright Young Things. It definitely started slow, which caused my interest to be delayed. Once that happens, I frequently find it hard to get into a book. Once Cordelia and Letty finally left their small town for New York, things picked up a little as the adventure started. But then Cordelia revealed that she wasn’t there solely to help Letty with her dreams of a becoming a famous singer; no, Cordelia is there to find her father. This causes a fight, which results in the girls going their separate ways. I found the fight to be a bit contrived; certainly Letty would’ve suspected that her best friend had a reason of her own (other than a forced marriage back in Ohio) for making the trip. After the separation there were quite a few more contrivances with both girls immediately finding their way without the slightest bit of a struggle. Overall, it’s a decent read that did entertain, but I’m undecided as to whether I’ll pick up the sequel.
Review copy provided by the publisher, HarperCollins.