Tuesday, May 31, 2011

giveaway winner: deadly promises

Congratulations to Donna! She's won Deadly Promises.

Friday, May 27, 2011

review: the goodbye quilt by susan wiggs

The timeline of The Goodbye Quilt is short—the entire book (minus the epilogue) takes place during the road trip Linda and her daughter Molly make to get Molly to her first day of college. It is a big deal for Linda (who never finished college) that her very accomplished daughter got a scholarship for an excellent private university. But there are two mini-conflicts: Molly sort of wants to stay in Wyoming with her boyfriend and Linda has no idea what to do with herself now that her only child is leaving home. Linda likens this loss to death, which seems a little over the top, but it is true that Linda believes she’ll have no purpose once Molly is gone. For now, Linda’s thrown herself into making a quilt with patches representing things from Molly’s childhood.

The relationship between Linda and Molly was unrealistic at times. They were very accepting of each other’s opinions and remarks even when Linda made critical statements to Molly. Even more unbelievable was when Molly wavered on going away to college; Linda just accepted that maybe it wouldn’t happen and assured Molly things would be fine either way. The story is cute, but there’s no real substance.
3/5
Review copy provided by Planned Television Arts.

giveaway: treasures from the attic

Thanks to Doubleday, two people will win Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family by Mirjam Pressler.

Here's the publisher description:
"The story is one that is envisioned by many: a relative, an old woman who has lived in the same home for a lifetime, passes away, her death prompting the inevitable task of sorting through her effects by her surviving family. But in the attic in this particular house, a treasure trove of historic importance is found. Rarely does this become an actuality, but when Helene Elias died, no one could put a price on what she left behind.

Helene Elias was born Helene Frank, sister to Otto Frank, and therefore aunt to Anne Frank. Ensconced upstairs in the house she inherited from her mother, and eventually passed on to her son, Buddy Elias, Anne’s cousin and childhood playmate, was the documented legacy of the Frank family: a vast collection of photos, letters, drawings, poems, and postcards preserved throughout decades—a cache of over 6,000 documents in all.

Chronicled by Buddy’s wife, Gertrude, and renowned German author Mirjam Pressler, these findings weave an indelible, engaging, and endearing portrait of the family that shaped Anne Frank. They wrote to one another voluminously; recounted summer holidays, and wrote about love and hardships. They reassured one another during the terrible years and waited anxiously for news after the war had ended. Through these letters, they rejoiced in new life, and honored the memories of those they lost.

Anne’s family believed themselves to ordinary members of Germany’s bourgeoisie. That they were wrong is part of history, and we celebrate them here with this extraordinary account."

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 June 18. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from Doubleday the winners must have a mailing addresses in the US; no PO Boxes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

review: the gap year by sarah bird

The Gap Year spans a year in the lives of Cam and her teenage daughter Aubrey. But it is not a linear year; The Gap Year alternates between Cam's perspective in August 2010 and Aubrey's in August 2009. This is a significant span for them as it is Aubrey's senior year. It is also the year Aubrey rebels by quitting band and befriending (later dating) one of the most popular boys in school. One might think a mother would be thrilled that her daughter was dating a football player, but Cam is not that kind of mother. She prides herself on being a nonconformist and is hostile towards almost everyone in the well-to-do suburb she elected to live in because of the excellent schools there.

I enjoyed finding out how they got to their estrangement in 2010 through the alternating chapters, but it was also incredibly frustrating to keep discovering how absolutely clueless Cam was about her daughter's life. Actually just about everything regarding Cam was frustrating. She seemed to be a drama queen who enjoyed complaining. Furthermore, she completely wrote off the opinions of anyone who disagreed with her, including her daughter and ex-husband (who joined a religious sect that Cam terms a cult and is dismissive of). Aubrey, who goes through a number of normal teenage things like fitting in, dating, and making future plans, was very relatable and made The Gap Year a pleasure to read.
4/5
ARC Review
Review copy provided by Amazon Vine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

review: here, home, hope by kaira rouda

The premise of Here, Home, Hope is promising. While her two sons are at summer camp, stay at home mom Kelly decides to go back to work. She's a bit jealous of her friends, Charlotte and Kathryn, who both have successful careers. But Kelly soon finds out that her friends' lives are less than perfect. Kathryn actually ends up asking Kelly to look after her daughter who's struggling with anorexia. The plot is
good, but the execution leaves something to be desired. First, there's the constant use of past or present participle. People just don't talk like that. And then there was the now clichéd rival SAHM trying to sabotage Kelly. Since Kelly easily sidestepped Rachel's interference, the character really added nothing to the plot. She was just another character with unclear motives.
3/5
Review copy provided by BookSparks PR.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

giveaway: katie lane books

Want to win both of Katie Lane's new books? Thanks to Hachette, you can! Two people will win copies of both Going Cowboy Crazy and Make Mine a Bad Boy.

My reviews can be found here and here. The publisher descriptions are below:
Going Cowboy Crazy: "DOUBLE TROUBLE
Faith Aldridge wants answers. Bramble, Texas is the only place she can find them . . . as well as Hope, the identical twin sister she never knew she had. But the townsfolk reckon that shy city-girl Faith is really her long-lost sister Hope, back in Bramble at last. And they're fixin' to do whatever it takes to heat things up between her and Hope's long-time flame, Slate Calhoun. If that means rustling her car, spreading rumors like wildfire, and reining in some explosive secrets, well, there's no way like the Lone Star way . . .

But Slate's no fool. The woman in his truck may look like Hope, yet the way she feels in his arms is altogether new. He's determined to keep this twin in his bed and out of his heart. Trouble is, the real Hope is headed home, and she's got her own designs on Slate. If Faith wants to avoid heartbreak, she'll have to show a certain ruggedly handsome cowboy that this crazy-impossible love is worth fighting for."

Make Mine a Bad Boy: "THERE'S A NEW BRIDE IN TOWN!
Hope Scroggs is finally ready to get hitched. After years of sowing her wild oats, the former head cheerleader and homecoming queen has returned to Bramble, Texas, to marry her high school flame. But her perfect wedding plans are stomped to smithereens when her adoring cowboy two-steps down the aisle with someone else. Now Hope is stuck with the one man from her past she can't shake: Colt Lomax, an irresistible bad boy whose sultry kisses are hotter than the Panhandle in August . . .

Colt lives for freedom and the open road; he never gets attached, never looks back. Still, he can't forget the night of passion he once shared with Bramble's sweetheart--a night he wouldn't mind repeating. So, he piles on the Texas charm to tease the feisty beauty back into his bed, while she tries her darnedest to resist. But something unexpected is about to tie their fates together . . . and oh, baby, will it 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 (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 June 11. Winner will be selected at random. Since this is from Hachette the winners must have a mailing addresses in the US or Canada; no PO Boxes.

review: make mine a bad boy by katie lane

When the citizens of Bramble, TX get an idea in their collective heads, it sticks. First they decided (in Going Cowboy Crazy) that “Hope” and Slate needed to get married, then the rumor took hold that the real Hope was pregnant. And as Make Mine a Bad Boy gets started, just about the entire town still believes Hope is with child despite her adamant denials. But we’ve all heard about protesting too much…

As the townsfolk gossip, Hope begins secretly hooking up with bad boy Colt, who’s also the older brother of Hope’s best friend Shirlene. This time the romance was much more believable than what Katie Lane created in Going Cowboy Crazy. Hope was also a more interesting lead than her twin; she had more spunk and (of course) more emotional ties to the community.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Forever.

review: going cowboy crazy by katie lane

On her deathbed, Faith’s mother confessed that Faith was adopted and had an identical twin in Texas. So Faith packed up and drove from Chicago to an incredibly small town in Texas where she was immediately mistaken for her sister, Hope. But Hope no longer lives there; she headed to Hollywood years ago. Faith would’ve been off to California immediately, but is stranded in Texas when some well-meaning townsfolk steal her car in order to get “Hope” back together with Slate. Slate knows Faith isn’t Hope, but finds himself attracted to her…and that’s when the complications begin.

Going Cowboy Crazy is a cute story filled with drama, but the romance was a bit unbelievable (and slightly creepy given the twin element). I found myself skimming the romantic scenes, but thoroughly enjoyed Faith’s interactions with Shirlene (a friend of Hope’s) and Austin (a teen who is new in town).
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Forever.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

giveaway: deadly promises

May is short story month, so how about a giveaway for Deadly Promises, a collection of three stories from Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love; Cindy Gerard; and Laura Griffin. Thanks to Simon & Schuster one person will win a copy.

Here's the publisher description:
"THESE HEROES ARE 100 PERCENT RAW, DANGEROUS, AND...UNDENIABLY SEXY.

New York Times bestselling authors Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, and Cindy Gerard and rising romance star Laura Griffin mix seduction and suspense in three irresistible romantic adventures. From sultry international jungles to the rugged terrain of the American Southwest, join the larger-than-life, scorching-hot alpha heroes of the Bureau of American Defense, Black Ops, Inc., and the U.S. Navy SEALs for all the pulse-pounding, heart-racing, toe-curling excitement. They're cool under pressure, steamy under the sheets, and when the enemy strikes, there's not a lethal mission these gorgeous men can't handle..."

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 May 28. Winner will be selected at random. Since this is from Simon & Schuster the winner must have a mailing address in the US; no PO Boxes.

giveaway winners: death of a chimney sweep

Charleydog and Wanda are the winners of Death of a Chimney Sweep. Enjoy the book!

Friday, May 13, 2011

review: chocolate & vicodin by jennette fulda

A permanent headache shouldn’t be funny, right? Yet Jennette Fulda succeeds in making her agonizing pain amusing in Chocolate & Vicodin (which are just two of the many things she tried as treatment for the headache). Fulda is fairly explicit with what she went through while seeking treatment for her never-ending headache, but she injects humor into each step which keeps the tone light even when the subject is serious.

Although I’m pretty sure I would’ve been annoyed if Fulda had been a coworker (she definitely overshares her ailments with her coworkers and is absent far too often for a new employee), I did feel sympathy for her plight. Each doctor believed he or she could cure Fulda’s headache, but the treatments never worked; and each treatment created yet another medical bill that depleted Fulda’s savings. But there were also a few times when Fulda was a little too snarky about the people who genuinely wanted to help; she sometimes came across as self-absorbed and ungrateful as a result.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

giveaway winners: roxanne st. claire books

Congratulations to Virgina C, I ♥ Book Gossip, and Carol M who each win Shiver of Fear and Face of Danger by Roxanne St. Claire.

Friday, May 6, 2011

review: the violets of march by sarah jio

Suffering from writer’s block at the same time she receives an invitation to the wedding of the man she’d only just divorced that day, Emily decides to take a trip at the behest of a friend. Emily immediately knows she must visit Great Aunt Bee, who lives outside Seattle on Bainbridge Island. Emily and her sister used to stay with Bee every summer, but Emily has neglected to visit in her adult life. The island proves to hold a number of secrets, including some about Emily’s family, which she discovers as she reads a diary found in the room she’s staying in at Aunt Bee’s. As Emily uncovers the truth about the woman who kept the diary, she also reconnects with an old crush and finds herself attracted to a secretive man in a story that parallels the one found in the diary.

This novel is set on Bainbridge Island, which is not far from where I live. Very frequently I’m turned off by books that attempt a Pacific Northwest setting despite the author knowing nothing more than the clichéd Seattle rain. As Sarah Jio grew up in a town (Poulsbo, if you’re curious) right by Bainbridge Island, she had no problem nailing the differences between the city and the towns surrounding Seattle. Only a local could easily throw in the off-hand comment about a McDonald’s on the island.

The Violets of March is so amazingly good that there’s really not an adjective to describe how completely I loved this debut from Sarah Jio. Some books are so amazing they beg to be raced through; The Violets of March is the kind of book that’s so wonderful that I kept stopping so I could analyze the plot and prolong my time with Emily. I was very much caught up in the mystery and trying to figure out the true identities of the people from the diary. Each second spent with The Violets of March was a pleasure.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Plume.