Sunday, December 31, 2006
Our readers have spoken, and they should be heard. As you all know, we held our last contest of 2006 recently. The contest was quite simple, really. We told you our Top Three Picks of 2006, and we asked you to tell us yours. Many of you were kind enough to respond, and we've compiled a list, based on what YOU liked best this past year. Without further ado, we present YOUR picks for the Best of the Best of 2006. This list is in no particular order, it's just a complilation of your choices. We've deleted your comments, for the sake of space and time. However, if you're interested to know about a particular title on the list, zap us an e-mail and we'll be happy to share what other readers had to say. No, we won't tell you who picked what, but here you go...
The Marriage Spell by Mary Jo Putney
Intuition by Allegra Goodman
All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Single in Suburbia by Wendy Wax
Email to the Front by Alesia Holiday*** (2003)
Welcome to Temptation by Jenny Crusie***
Faking It by Jenny Crusie***
Confessions of a Super Mom by Melanie Lynne Hauser
Total Waste of Make-Up by Kim Gruenenfelder
She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
Heat by Bill Buford
The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Witness by Dee Henderson
Beach Road by James Patterson
Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn
The Comeback Kiss** by Lani Diane Rich (chosen twice)
Hex and the Single Girl by Valerie Frankel
Too Big to Miss by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Specials by Scott Westerfeld
Bleed by Laurie Ann Stolarz
Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
12 Sharp * ** by Janet Evanovich (chosen twice)
Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris***
Body Movers by Stephanie Bond
Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris***
Just for Kicks* by Susan Andersen
Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli
Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury
The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout
Triangle by Catherine Weber
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Sold by Patricia McCormick
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Dear John* by Nicholas Sparks
Testing Kate*# by Whitney Gaskell
Tenth Circle** by Jodi Picoult (chosen twice)
Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie*** and Bob Mayer
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion Blondes Have More Felons* by Alesia Holiday***
Werewolf Rising*# by R.L. LaFevers
The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Poison Study by Maria V Snyder
* This book was reviewed by us in 2006
** This book was chosen by more than one reader as a Top Pick
***This author was chosen by more than one reader
#This book was one of the six chosen by us as Best of the Best 2006
What's the list tell us? Well, two of your Top Picks were also two of ours. We reviewed more than a few of the books on your list, and read (but didn't review) at least a few others. And, of course, it tells us that you like a very wide range of books, just like we do. Thanks for taking the time to let us know what moved you most, what you like best, and of course, for tuning in to see what we've been reading. If you have a book you'd like us to review, we're always open for suggestions. Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org , or leave us a comment. That's what we're here for! And, as always...
Take Care and Keep turning those pages!
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Well now, that's not your normal and expected type of book for me to review, is it? Yeah, get over it. I needed to do a review. I was actually supposed to have one up yesterday, but I got lazy. I spent the day watching The Godfather with my hubs, then had to make him spaghetti. Who says tv isn't influential? Not his stomach, that's for sure.
So why am I doing a review of a YA book that's been out for over a year? Because I can. And also because it's a darn good book. The fact that the 4th book in the series is coming out soon has nothing to do with it. At all. Ok, maybe a little bit. The fact that it will be released January 9th, and I will be there waiting at Borders that morning, with my oldest daughter, and that we will argue all the way home about who gets to read it first is irrelevant, ok? Oh, and just so you know... I will win, because I am bigger. Also, because I have the Visa that will purchase the book. She won't complain too much though. Again, because I have the Visa. Also, because I'm a very fast reader, and she'll have the book before dinner, I'm sure. But that's that book, and this review is about this one. So here goes...
I was introduced to the Traveling Pants books a few years back by my daughter. She found the first one and wanted to read it. Like any mom wanting her daughter to love books, I bought it. However, unlike some moms, I read it first. That was the rule in our house. She could pick any book she wanted, but I got to read it first, just to be sure. It wasn't that I didn't trust her, it was just that I wanted to know what she was reading. Now the rule is that she can pick any book, but she understands that I can read it at any time. And if there is anything in it that I might get squicky about, she has to tell me before I find out on my own. I have to admit, she reads some darn good books. This series is proof to me that there are some really great YA authors out there!
Book 3, Girls In Pants, centers around The Third Summer of the Sisterhood. Basically, for those unfamiliar with the premise, four best friends found this magical pair of pants that fits them all to utter perfection. They are all just as different on the outside as they are on the inside, but The Pants don't seem to know that. Through two summers, The Pants have worked their magic in the lives of these young ladies, being there through joy and heartache. This summer though, these four might just need more than pants to make it through.
Bridget is heading off to coach soccer camp in Pennsylvania. She's the youngest coach there, only a few years older than her team. But even more than that, can she come face to face with The Boy from her past and walk away unscathed?
Lena wants more than anything to put thoughts of her old flame, Kostos, behind her. Immersing herself in an art project in order to win a much-meeded scholarship might be just the thing she needs to heal her broken heart.
Carmen meets the perfect guy, but is tortured about it. He seems to see her only at her best, and she knows there is more to her than what he's seeing. Does she bare her real self to him, or let him go on believing that she's really "Good Carmen"?
Tibby hates change. She doesn't want summer to start, because then it will end. When it ends, everyone is leaving, going off to college, starting new lives. If she could just keep things the same, everything would be fine. Why does the world keep moving forward when all she wants is for it to Pause for a while?
These are just a few of the dilemmas the young ladies must face during their last summer at home. With summer nearing its end, the world as they know it is almost over. How will they make it through all that this final summer has in store for them? Well, in The Pants, of course. And more importantly - Together.
Ms. Brashares is just freakin' brilliant, that's all I can say. She has managed to create this world where things like dead moms, and crazy grandmas, and boys that do you wrong, and girls that die, and friends that help you through it all, well, this world is right there, in your hands, as you turn the pages. I've read the first two books in the series and they are beautiful, but this one is beyond that. This one... oh, man, it's good!
This is a YA book I'm talking about, ok? But still, it put me right back there, into that very same summer that she's describing. I had three friends too, and we were a lot like the Septembers (so named because their moms were all friends during pregnancy and all gave birth in September). There was a smart one and a brash one and a beautiful one and a serious one. Just like this book though, we each got to be different things at different times. That's the beauty of friendship. You get to be all, and sometimes nothing, and that's ok. They'll still love you when the day is through, or even when the summer is over.
Each of the girls has a different passion, and Ms. Brashares is almost intimate with each of the things that define these young ladies. For Bridget, or Bee, it's sports. She breathes soccer, and running, and anything athletic. I know what she means when Bee talks about a natural high during a run, and I can almost feel my muscles straining with her. Carmen is so full of life that it oozes out of every pore. I get caught up in her exuberance. Lena is an artist, and seeing her family as she draws their portraits almost makes me think I could be proficient with some charcoal and a sketch pad (NOT!). And Tibby, the one who wants most for things to stay exactly the same, embraces life, in the most basic sense of the word, with such courage and bravery that it had tears streaming down my face.
I loved this book. Let me tell you that again, ok? I LOVED THIS BOOK. If you have a daughter that is anywhere between 13 and 20, you should buy her this book. If you are a young lady between 15 and 25, you should buy this book for yourself. If you are a woman, betwen 20 and 90, you should treat yourself to this fantastic read. Are you getting the idea that I'm going to read the next one first, and it has nothing to do with making sure it's ok for my daughter to read? I'm going to read it because I love this series, because I love getting sucked in to this world Ms. Brashares has created, where girls grow up and move on and learn to love and learn to let go, and still, through it all, cling tight to that wonderful gift they have been given. Yes, those magical pants are great. But the magic is not in what the Pants do for them. The magic is in what the Pants help them see, about each other, and about themselves.
Just do yourself a favor and read this book. Read the whole series. And then call up those friends of yours and tell them just how much they mean. Because you know, summer was over a few months ago, and things won't ever be the same again. But maybe, with a little luck and some magic Pants, you can feel that way again.
Keep turning those pages,
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Sleeping With The Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson
A FISH OUT OF WATER
Fred is a mermaid, But stop right there. Whatever image you're thinking of right now, forget it. Fred is not blonde. She's not buxom. And she's definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn't help matters that her hair is ocean-colored.
Being a mermaid does help Fred when she works at the New England Aquarium. But, needless to say, it's there that she gets involved in something fishy. Weird levels of toxins have been found in the local water. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her mer-person ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things. Think again...
As far as this BCC goes, I can't really say too much, because there really isn't much there, is there? And that isn't actually a bad thing. It gives an idea of who the heroine is, and a rundown of her obstacle. All-in-all, if more pubs went with the idea of less is more, well, I'd be without fodder, but fewer books would get put back on shelves because of the nonsense written there.
Dr. Fredrika Bimm is a hybrid mermaid with attitude. Just like the BCC says, if when you hear "mermaid" you think Ariel , with Fred, you have another think coming. In true Davidson style, Fred is a no-nonsense female, who shoots it straight and just a bit harsh, loves her friends, but tends to focus more on herself and her own problems. And when Dr. Thomas Pearson, hunky water fellow and romance novelist, shows up at the NEA to investigate the source of toxins in the harbor, Fred's problems get even bigger than walking in on her parents getting down and dirty and the fish in her care being on a hunger strike because she won't play Pet Shop Boys for them.
Soon after Dr. Thomas arrives and announces the toxins, Prince Artur of the Black Sea also arrives to do a bit of investigating himself. Since Fred is a mermaid, he informs her that she is his subject and will help him solve the problem. Did I mention the prince is also very hunky? And did I mention that both he and Pearson have a thing for Fred? Oh yeah, Fred's life is about to get very interesting.
When I sat down to do this review, I was really very torn. On one hand, MJD is a must buy for me, and always will be, and when I review one of my must buy's I generally do the whole Fan Girl Squee Fest thing. On the other hand, Fishes just isn't FGSF worthy. I did like the book, but to be honest it's probably because I like Davidson and her humor.
Since we ended up with a blizzard on release date, I was unable to get out of town to buy it right away so I had a chance to read a few reviews. Many of those reviews were not happy ones. There were a lot of complaints about the length and the price of the paperback. I'm not gonna complain about either because I did like the book, and I simply don't mind paying the cash for a book that was worth my time to read. Especially from one of my favorite authors.
The book is short. A mere 268 pages and double spaced at that, and Davidson address just that by saying "Well, I can write fast or I can write long, but I can't do both." in a letter to her readers at the end of the book (true she's addressing the Undead books, but still). Even with the short length, Fishes has all of the elements that make me love Davidson. Like I said, her brash females are always a plus, and there is always a best friend that would do anything for them. A real sense of community about her books, and Fishes had all of that. There was a nice Romance sub-plot, actually two, and some very funny pages with a lovable cast of characters. I also liked the pollution problem they were investigating. Whether intentional or not, Davidson made some very good points about the way we treat our environment, hint-we don't treat it well. And I liked that even while making it funny to read, it brought some awareness to this reader.
Where Fishes was a disappointment for me actually had to do with those two nice Romantic subplots. This is supposed to be the first book in a series, and the way the book ended all nice and tidy didn't really leave room, that I could see, for the Pearson vs Artur triangle to continue, and neither man was chosen at the end. The book is classified as EROTICA, and there was only one scene in which sex actually took place. And guess what? It wasn't even Fred getting some. Now, I didn't buy this book for the erotica label, but I happen to know from reading her other books, that Davidson is a master at really HOT sex scenes. But the one scene we did get, was stilted and since the characters involved in the actual act weren't a major focus of the story, it just felt off. Nothing steamy at all, and that's probably because I just didn't feel invested in the two involved in the act.
If you, like me, are a HUGE Davidson fan, then you'll enjoy this book. BUT, if you are wanting to get some one hooked on Davidson and her style, this isn't the book to give them. I have hopes that the next installment will get better, and feel more natural, we'll just have to wait and see.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
How come every time I start a new review, I feel like it's confession time? And I'm not even Catholic! Well, here ya go... Nicholas Sparks is another of my guilty pleasures.
He's one of those authors that I reach for when I need a really good cry. Every single one of his books that I've ever read has been a guaranteed tear-jerker. Now don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that I think they're all beautifully moving, or incredibly written, or fresh and innovative, or surprising, or anything like that. Almost without exception, his books are fairly predictable, at least to me. I can generally tell what's going to happen, who will fall in love, who will be heartbroken, who will die, and who should be cast when the book gets made into a movie. Still though, I'm drawn to these books like the proverbial moth to flame. I can't stay away from them. Sometimes, I can't get enough of them. Always, they are what I reach for when I just need a darn good cry. So of course, at Christmas, I find myself reading a LOT of Sparks. This year, he even made my gift list. And since I have one of those husbands that is totally determined that I will get what I want, I got this book yesterday. Yeah me!
Dear John is the story of John Tyree and Savannah Lynn Curtis. John and Savannah are both from North Carolina. He's from Wilmington on the coast, she's from Lenoir in the mountains. He's a reformed rebel, she's almost a saint. He's home from Germany on leave from the Army, she's on summer break from college building houses for Habitat for Humanity. They meet on Wrightsville Beach, when he jumps off the pier to rescue her purse. Neither of them are ever the same again.
During the few short days they have together before John must return to Germany, he and Savannah discover that they seem to complete each other. No, this is not some Jerry McGuire ripoff. Their love is real, and so is the heartache they feel when John gets on the plane. During their first year apart, they write and call often, and re-live their days together during the first night of each full moon. Their love seems to grow stronger and deeper, and they are convinced that they will end up together forever. After they are re-united a year later, their love only seems to strengthen. Counting down the days until John is discharged from the army, they make plans to marry. Along with the rest of the world, neither one can foresee how the events of September 11th will impact their lives and their plans for the future.
Well, that's takes you most of the way through the book. Yes, you can still read it and get lots out of it. Trust me, you get more info than I've given you just be reading the book flap. So don't think I blew all the good parts, ok?
What didn't I like? As I mentioned, I thought it was pretty obvious what would happen. I could see some of those plot turns a mile away. But then again, that's also part of why I like Sparks' books, as they are comfortable reads, nothing over the top happens. I wasn't too crazy about the way John seemed to use being in the army as an excuse to break his promise to Savannah. To me, that was not in keeping with the passion and devotion that John so often expressed. It seemed out of character. Also, the whole point of John and Savannah being apart seemed contrived to me, since I did 10 years in the Navy and know how easy it usually is for spouses to join servicemembers overseas. I still can't figure out why, if they were so much in love, Savannah didn't pack her bags and head over to Germany. Well, I guess there wouldn't have been much of a book if she'd done that, right?
What did I like? Well, it was sweet. Go ahead, gag if you must, but it's the truth. The story is told from John's POV. He expresses his love in glorious twenty-something detail. He chronicles his life with his father, a probable sufferer of Asperger's Syndrome. He details what it's like in a war zone. Basically, it's a different POV than I'm used to, and I really liked that.
- There's just something about reading a Southern author that fills me up to the brim. I loved the way John could tell that Savannah was from the mountains, because of her accent. This is something that people not from the South probably don't understand. To Yanks, we all sound the same, right? But to us, there is a very discernible difference between Charlotte and Charleston, Atlanta and Augusta, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Yanks label our speech as "Southern twang" or "Southern drawl". Only another Southerner understands the subtle nuances that differentiate between coastal and mountain, city and farm. Sparks shows that better than most, and I love it in all of his books.
-Sparks can paint a picture with words like no other. In describing their relationship, John muses, "Our relationship, I felt with a heaviness in my chest, was beginning to feel like the spinning movement of a child's top. When we were together, we had the power to keep it spinning, and the result was beauty and magic and an almost childlike sense of wonder; when we separated, the spinning began inevitably to slow. We became wobbly and unstable, and I knew I had to find a way to keep us from toppling over." Can you see that picture in your head? Can you feel John's uneasiness, the way he senses that he needs to work hard to keep what he has? This is what Sparks does so well; he creates these incredibly vivid emotional pictures that you can't help but identify with. You get sucked right into John's struggle to keep that top spinning, to find a way to hold on to his ideal and perfect love with Savannah.
How does it end? Well, duh! I'm not telling. Some of you already have this book. One of you even named it as one of your Top Three of 2006. It doesn't make my Top Three list, but it's not bad at all. It did exactly what I needed it to do. It drew me out of my own life for most of the day, helped me escape into someone else's struggles for a while, and of course, brought those tension-relieving tears that are the reason I reach for a Sparks book in the first place. It was a decent story, with decent characters, and I enjoyed it. Would I buy it in hardback? No, because I got it as a gift. Would I suggest you get it in hardback? If you're a hardcore Sparks fan, you won't be disappointed. I know I wasn't. If you're not hardcore, put your name of the library list or wait for the paperback. It's NOT a bad buy, but I'm pretty firmly against paying $25 for any book. That's just me, though.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a comment and tell me why. And by all means...
Keep turning those pages!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Besides, this is the perfect time for me to announce the winner of the December contest... and the winner is...
Congratulations, Joan! Please send us an e-mail with "I'm the December contest winner" in the subject line, and be sure to include your mailing address.
Joan had this to say about her Top Three picks of 2006...
As the winner, Joan will get copies of all six of our picks, plus a copy of Blondes Have More Felons by Alesia Holliday. How's that for spreading Christmas joy?
Thanks to all that entered this contest!
And remember, we're only going to be HERE for a few more days. On January 1st, you'll have to check us out in our new home, over here. PLEASE bookmark the new place and plan on stopping by often. We're still going to be doing reviews all the time, and contests every month, plus we have some really cool new things planned as well. We'll be starting something called the Fabulous Author/Book Pick of the month (FAB Pick), where we will spotlight a fabulous book or author for a week. If we're spotlighting an author, we'll have an interview as well. Plus, to tie everything together, that FAB Pick will be included in the contest goodies for that month. Isn't that just the coolest?
So remember to check us out in our new home, send some congrats to Joan, be ready for Charity's announcement for the other two winners of Alesia's book, and, as always...
Keep turning those pages!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
If you don't enter, you can't win. If you don't win, then how are you going to start out the new year with new books?
We're ending the December contest at midnight 24 December, 2006. Your entries or e-mails need to be posted by that day, or they won't count. Remember, all you have to do for this contest is send us an e-mail, or make a comment, telling us YOUR Top Three Picks of 2006 ( can you hear the rhyme in that one? I worked on that for, like, 3 hours!).
And here's a BONUS! Remember how I said that the six books that you'll be getting wouldn't be signed? Well, I was wrong. Some of the fabulous authors of some of those amazing six books actually contacted us... and said that they would be happy to sign a book for the contest winner. Can you believe that? It just blew me away. Now, not all of the authors are able to do this, but some of them are, so we're actually very lucky. And can I just tell you that we didn't ask them to do this? They volunteered to do it, because they are even more wonderful that we thought they were already! YAY YAY YAY!!
And another thing... remember how I said that we were giving away our six favorite books, three of mine and three of Charity's? Well..... Charity just mentioned that she would have picked "Blondes Have More Felons" by Alesia Holliday, if she would have read it before she did her picks. Well, Alesia said that she would send us THREE SIGNED BOOKS to give away to you wonderful people! Can you believe that? I know, it's like Christmas around here or something! So the winner will get not six, but SEVEN books! And two other lucky blog readers will each get a copy of Alesia's fan-tab-u-lous books as well!
So ENTER THE CONTEST!
And a Merry Christmas to all!!
Friday, December 15, 2006
Blondes Have More Felons by Alesia Holliday
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE DECEMBER IN FLORIDA...
December Vaughn is tired of her roots. Not the ones in her hair-she's a real blonde after all - but her life in Ohio as a corporate attorney. She's used to Turing heads, but now it's time to turn her life around. And what better way to prove all those dumb-blonde jokes wrong than by opening up her own practice in Florida? She's going to take the Sunshine State by storm...
Soon, she's hired by a man whose wife died because of defective insulin. Now, the drug company and its ruthless lawyers are doing anything in their power to derail the case - and December. It's enough to give a girl split ends.
Luckily her over-the-top office manager, a card-sharp housewife, and a drop-dead gorgeous P.I. are on her side. Because December Vaughn may have parted ways with her old life, but she's not about to give up her new one without a fight...
I actually like this BCC, too. What is wrong with the world these days that I can't even get crappy BCC to tear apart? Maybe I'm just reading the wrong books? Maybe not, 'cause I really liked this book, and if good BCC is the price I have to pay for that - then so be it.
December Vaughn may look like the ideal dumb-blonde, but she is far from. Graduating summa cum laude (sounds kinda dirty huh?) from law school, she immediately takes a job at a top law firm "...Specializing in the defense of products liability cases, with a concentration on pharmaceuticals." Good thing too, since three weeks into her new life as owner of her own general practice law firm, her aunt sends her a doozy of a case. Charlie Deaver lost his wife due to bad insulin, and when his current lawyer decides to retire, December's Aunt Celia sends him to her.
But, it seems that some big-time local attorneys, including the one for the defense, don't like Charlie's decision to use December, and soon they are trying to get her to hand the case over. When December doesn't give up the case, some very personal attacks start to take place and soon it isn't just the fate of her new firm on the line, but possibly her new life.
Add to the tough new case, missing furniture, a new employee, Mr. Ellison, who just happens to be old enough to remember the first automobile, an incredibly good looking P.I., Jake, that may or may not be working for the opposite side and seems to be utterly smitten with her, a beautiful but crazy woman, Gina, that wants said P.I. and thinks December is in the way, her office manager and best friend, Max, who seems to have lost her sense of taste in clothing, her new neighbor and High Stakes Poker Player, Emily, her loving but wacky Aunt Celia and Uncle Nathan, a mystery writer who likes to plot at the most inconvenient of times, and you have the best cast of characters a book can have.Written in First Person, I didn't quite expect to get the sense of community and knowledge of the other characters, it just doesn't happen that way in First, but by the last page, I felt like I knew each and every person and they were all apart of my life as well. Curious as to how she managed such a feat writing in only one POV, I asked, "...I'm very comfortable in first person. I've written several books that way. This is my first book with such a sense of community, though. I really wanted the reader to have a sense of who December's friends and family are." And boy, did she ever do more than give a sense of who those friends and family are, you truly care for these characters as if they were in your own life.
Now, if you were to ask me what genre Blondes is, I would say RoCoMy (my own word for Romantic/Comedy/Mystery). It's like one great big book of some of my most favoritist genres. But since you won't find a RoCoMy shelf at your local bookstore, you'll be able to find it in the Mystery section. And while the mystery aspect is stellar, it is the mixture of all three that made me say Blondes would have been one of my Top 3 Picks for this months contest.
Since I've already touched on the Mystery part of the book, shall we talk Romance? Jake Brody, ex-Navy Seal and now very hot P.I.. I'm talking mega-fantasy guy. He has this whole man of mystery thing down, and he seems to always be there when December needs him most. Then, there's Matt Falcon, super hot attorney. We meet Matt as December prepares to argue her first criminal case, and is he ever yummy. And although we don't see much of Matt in this book, there is some definite vibage between him and December. The ever curious (okay, impatient) reader that I am, I asked Alesia if we would see more of Matt in future books, "Oh, yes. Matt will be back. If Jake is the alpha bad boy who's really a good guy, Matt is the bad boy who really IS bad. The kind of man who's fun to play with but not necessarily keep around for the long term . . ." Ahhh, I think we all should have a Matt in our lives.
And then there is the comedy. The first line of the book is, "Nobody ever tried to stab me when I did corporate work." And throughout the book, we see several variations on this. I have to tell you, it was so much fun to read the book and try to guess where the next one would come up. The Hubs thought I was a total fruitcake while I read this book, I would say the line I thought would be coming and then laugh hysterically when it came up. So warning - Do NOT Read This Book In Public if you want to appear sane. There are also some situations December gets herself into because of her big heart that are just too funny. For instance, that first line up there? The person trying to stab her is Mr. Ellison, the older man that soon becomes her new employee. "In writing humor, I generally have a few riffs that play throughout the book. In the series, the ongoing riff throughout the books is that December is a soft touch for lost causes - anybody with a hard luck story who walks through the door is going to wind up with a job at her law firm. It's going to make for an interesting employment situation! You already know Mr. Ellison, retired bus driver. Stay tuned for an out-of-work psychic astrologer in BLONDE JUSTICE!" (Nobody ever tried to read my mind when I did corporate work. Not a line from the book, I'm just playing around here.)
And of course, no review of Blondes would be complete without the disclaimer - OFFICIAL DECEMBER VAUGHN MYSTERIES DISCLAIMER: NO DOGS DIE IN THE MAKING OF THESE BOOKS!!! When I saw this on her site, I HAD to know what was up. I mean, it's a BOOK! People are killed in fiction constantly, so was it a very big deal if a dog did? "Yes!!! YES!!! Oh. My. Goodness! I had one person call me from an AIRPLANE to yell at me! My editor called me mid-book at that scene to tell me I couldn't kill a dog! I said, of COURSE I wouldn't kill a dog! Especially a pug named after my darling pug, Daisy! Sheesh. :)" I can tell you right now, that Daisy is alive and well and spoiled at the end of this book. No worries!
For a laugh out loud, fast-paced, and just all around feel good read, pick up Blondes Have More Felons you will not be disappointed. What's that you say? You'd like to have a chance to win it? Oh well, OKAY! Alesia has graciously offered to give THREE of our readers a signed copy of Blondes. One copy will go to the winner of this months contest and for your chance to win one of the two remaining, simply leave a comment or send an e-mail to email@example.com with the words, "Daisy didn't die so I'll give it a try!" and you'll be entered to win. I'll draw two names from a hat from all the entries and announce the winner in one week. That's right. You have until 8:45 a.m. on Wed, Dec. 27, 2006 to comment or e-mail and you'll be entered!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
So, did you hear? We are running a FABULOUS contest this month, and you, YES! YOU, dear reader have the chance to win SIX books. And although I thought this was a great idea when Dee e-mailed me, I didn't realize, that Dee, same as Dr. Seuss , is a sadist. How the heck am I supposed to pick just 3 books? So. Not. Fair! But, for better or worse, my top Three picks for 2006 (as reviewed by me).
Pick #3 - Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
I picked this book for a couple of reasons. 1 - I LOVE Harris and her books. After reading her Sookie Stackhouse books, I hunted up every other series she had done and read them all. 2 - The Grave series is nothing like Sookie's. It takes a very talented author to create such different characters and write them so well. And, 3 - Harper and Tolliver are just plain endearing. No other way for me to put it.
Pick #2 - Jennifer Scales and The Messenger of Light by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi
I loved, loved, loved this book. Jennifer Scales is written in true-to-life teen. Not that I've been a teen in a while, mind you, but reading these books helps me to remember just a bit the young person I once was. As I said in the review - I love a book that touches me in all the right emotional places, and well, this one did. The writing was rock solid and left me wanting moremoreMORE!!! I cannot wait to get the next book in the series, and I know, if you haven't read these books yet, once you do - you'll be hooked too. (Great, I'm turning into some kind of pusher.)
And, Dum-Da-Da-DUMMMMMM!!!!!!! My #1 pick!
Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins
If you have not yet read this book, you are missing out! There are very few authors that can pen a debut novel that grabs your heart and won't let go, Higgins is - without a doubt - such an author. Millie's story is one of the best told in contemporary fiction. You will laugh with Millie and you will cry with Millie and you will most definitely cheer for Millie. Every insecurity a woman can have is wrapped up in this amazing woman and her life - a GREAT life - but like most of us, Millie has much to learn about herself before she can see it. Higgins helped me to see my inner Canada Goose, and I will forever be thankful. There are times when a feel good read is what we all need, and this, my dear lovelies, is most definitely a feel good read. Higgins reached deep into every woman's soul and showed some heavy truths in a fantastically funny and touching tale. This book is on my keeper shelf and will remain there for eternity. It will be re-read and loved for years to come.
So, there you have it! My Top 3 Books Reviewed in 2006. There is one book I have just recently read but not had the time to review, and that is a shame, because Alesia Holliday's book Blondes Have More Felons would definitely have made the top 3. I still may have to give that one out anyway.
Now, what are you waiting for? Enter the contest now and win you some great books!!!!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Ugh! I can't even believe I suggested this contest. How the heck am I supposed to choose only three books? Well, here you go, love 'em or not (and I strongly suggest you LOVE them, because, well - *I* do!) (Note: Click on the title to take you to my review. Click on the author's name to visit the author's own site)
Dee's Number Three Pick:
Werewolf Rising, by R. L. LaFevers
This was actually one of our prizes for a contest. It was also reviewed by my son Michael, and by Rebecca, our contest winner. I can't tell you how much I loved this book without gushing all over the place, and that's not always attractive, now is it? But I really loved this book! It had action. It had adventure. It had a young lad with a BIG problem. And of course, you got to see change in this book. By that, not only do I mean that the main character grew some, but he actually changed, as in - he became a wolf! What's not to love? It's supposedly geared for the 9-14 boy crowd, but my 5 year old daughter LOVED this book, and so did I. This would make the perfect gift for any young person on your gift list this season (hint hint!). Pick it up, you won't be disappointed!!
Dee's Number Two Pick:
Testing Kate, by Whitney Gaskell
Oh man, did I really dig this book. You can tell, can't you? I searched for it and had to special order it, and was worried that it wouldn't live up to my own hype. Well, I was soooo wrong! It was all that, AND a bag of chips! (That's pretty high praise, since I really love chips, ok?) This book is about a woman at a crossroads in her life, really. I mean, she's 30ish when she trades in her routine world to try Law School. She deals with a meaner than the devil professor, an eccentric boss, a group of half crazy friends, and a way-too-sexy neighbor. What's a girl to do? Well, pick up this book and find out. Again, I can't see how you won't love this one!
Dee's Number One Pick:
Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson
Did you know I was going to pick this book? How could you not have guessed it? It was the first book that we BOTH reviewed! Plus, I drove seven hours to meet the author and get her to sign my copy (and I even got to have lunch with her!). This book totally rocked my world. I don't even know how many times I've re-read this, but I'm sure I'm well into the double digits by now. It's all about Nonny, born a Crabtree but raised a Frett. The two families couldn't be more different if they tried, and Nonny has to reconcile her blood with her upbringing during the course of this amazing tale. You meet Nonny before she enters the world, and you see her struggle to gain her own voice throughout the story. It has so many layers, it's like eating a light and fluffy French pastry. I laughed until I had tears in my eyes. I cried until I ran out of Kleenex. The relationship between Nonny and the mom that raised her, Stacia, is so touching that you'll want to call up your own momma just to tell her how much you care. The supporting characters are so mulit-faceted that they can barely be called supporting. This book is a winner, and trust me, it will be on my 'favorite shelf' for a very long time to come.
Yes folks, it's that time again. We're having another contest! Are you excited yet? Well, you should be, because YOU could be the winner of some FABULOUS BOOKS that WE already love.
Here's the deal:
This week, Charity and I are going to each tell you what our TOP THREE REVIEWED BOOKS of 2006 are. This is not easy for us, you understand. If you are a regular around here, you already know how much we love to read. And you know how much we appreciate every single book that we read. You know that we try our darndest to always be totally honest, but never cruel. If we don't like a book, we will tell you exactly why we don't like it, but we encourage you to make up your own minds. But sometimes, a book really stands out for us, and we can't stop singing it's praises. That's the deal with this contest.
I will give you a list of my Top Three Books of 2006. I'll tell you why each of those three books is special to me.
Charity will give you a list of her Top Three Books of 2006. She'll tell you why those books meant something to her.
YOU can win a copy of EACH OF THOSE SIX BOOKS. Yes, I said that the single winner will get a total of SIX books. Now unlike some other months, these books will not be signed by the authors, unless those authors see this blog and contact us and just simply insist that they sign your books. Hey, it could happen, right?
What do you have to do to win? That's easy. All you have to do is make a COMMENT, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us YOUR Top Three Books of 2006, and WHY you picked those books. We want to know which books really flipped your lid, and we want to know what set them apart from the other books you read. You do NOT have to pick only books that were reviewed here. You can pick any book out there that was released this year. It can be fiction or non, biography, or any other book that held your interest, sparked a lil' something in your heart, brought you to tears or laughter. Just tell us what books you loved. We'll pick one winner at random. That's it. Simple, huh?
Our Top Three Picks will be in the next post. You can post your comments there, or go ahead an e-mail them to us now. Your choice. Just enter this contest. You can't win those six books if you don't enter!
Keep turning those pages!!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye
BITING IS SO LAST SEASON.
A vivacious vampire with a flair for accessorizing, Lil Marchette is unlike most of her kind. She prefers lively shades of pink to dismal black (so not her color), plus she's a hopeless romantic. In need of a steady paycheck to support a compulsive cosmetics habit, Lil starts Dead End Dating (DED), a Manhattan-based matchmaking service that helps smart, sophisticated singles like herself find eternity mates-and may even help her stake a claim to her very own Count Right!
When Lil meets geeky vampire Francis Deville, she knows he's the perfect first client. If she can hook up Francis-after a little revamping, of course-she will prove her skills to the vampire community and turn DED into the hottest dating service in the Big Apple. But just as her business takes off, Lil meets the (literally) drop-dead bounty hunter Ty Bonner, who is hot on the chase of a serial killer. Instantly drawn to the luscious vamp stud, Lil really wants a taste. But as a made vampire, Ty can't procreate-and Lil will settle for nothing less. Luckily, between "vampifying" Francis and helping Ty solve his murder mystery, Lil has no time for silly romantic entanglements...even if Ty is all that and a Bloody Mary chaser!
All in all, not a bad BCC. I really have no complaints, which bothers me a bit, but I'll live.
Countess Liliana Arabella Guinevere du Marchetter, aka Lil, will do anything to avoid working at Midnight Moe's, her father's copy and printing business. The clothes are awful and she just can't stand the thought of spending all night behind a counter, even if it would keep her in expensive make-up for the rest of her life. Her latest venture is Dead End Dating, a matchmaking service for anyone, though she specializes in helping Born Vamps find an eternity mate. Problem is, business is slow. What she needs is a big match that will get the vampire communities attention and send them flocking to her door. It's just sheer luck that she comes across Francis, the black sheep of the very rich Deville family. Francis is a total geek and not a very strong vamp, so if Lil can help him access his inner vampire and find him an eternity mate, she'll be set! Unfortunately, Francis is going to need a lot of work.
Ty Bonner, a made vampire, is a bounty hunter searching for a kidnapper who finds his victims through classified ads. Only now it appears the kidnapper is changing his MO and is starting to use matchmaking services. He goes to Lil to explain what is happening and ask her to use her vampire skills to "read" her human male clients thoughts, and in doing so, help him find the bad guy.
When Ty walks into DED the sparks fly between him and Lil. But Ty is made and Lil is born, they could never be together because just like the BCC says Ty can't procreate. It doesn't stop Lil from fantasizing about trying it, though.
In Lil's world, there are two kinds of vampires, those that are made and those that are born. The born vamps view themselves as highly superior, the ability to have children being just one of the perks. The born vamps smell like dessert and they find their eternity mates by orgasm quotient and fertility ratings. Lil has two best friends, both named Nina, and a family that's a canine tooth short of normal.
Francis is a handful of a client, and adds a bit of fun to the story and the "dates" her mother and father constantly hook her up with for their Sunday Hunt is rather amusing. The sexual tension with Ty adds a nice romance plot and the search for the kidnapper adds just a bit of mystery.
When I first started reading the book, I had mixed feelings. For one, I liked the premise of the book. It sounded fun and interesting and I really wanted it to be. But, within the first few pages it felt like Raye was trying far to hard to be funny. Vampire-Lite is a huge seller right now, and I got the impression that Raye was writing a story that wasn't her own, but writing to the market. Now, that isn't an absolute BAD thing, but it can have a few drawbacks. The main one with this book being it took a while for the writing to warm up and feel natural.
But it does warm up and the forced humor starts to fade and I actually found myself smirking at a few parts. I enjoyed Raye's take on vampires, I like the idea of born vamps, I LOVE the idea of born vamps in Kim Harrison's books, and Raye did a good job of taking that idea and twisting it into one of her own.
In fact, I would say that DED is Betsy the Vampire Queen meets Ivy . If your in the mood for a little vampire romp but don't want tons of gore, I suggest you pick this up. It's worth the time and you just may find a new series to look forward to.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Knight of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor
Welcome to the darkest side of Camelot...
For centuries, I've been the assassin for the infamous Merlin, even though the woman who birthed me sits at the right hand of our enemy, Morgen leFey. Now both my mother and Morgen have decided that its time I take my place on their side of this conflict.
Normally, telling them no wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that the good guys I protect think that I'm an even worse demon than the ones we fight. Hmmm, maybe their right. I have to say that I do enjoy maiming anyone who gets in my way.
At least until my mother gives me a simple choice: Join Morgen's circle of the Damned or see an innocent woman die. I'm all for saving the innocent, but Merewyn isn't as innocent as she seems. And she's none to fond of the fact that her fate is in my dubious hands. Personally I'm all for taking the easy way out, but leaving her to Morgen is rough, even for me. Now the only way to save both our lives is to face the evilist forces know - my mother and Morgen. And two people who know nothing of trust must learn to rely on each other or die: provided we don't kill each other first.
Okay, about the BCC. As you can see, it is a "letter" written by the hero of the book. When I first started reading this author, it was to read her Dark Hunter books (written under the name Sherrilyn Kenyon), and I kinda dug the whole thing. Now, well, I think I've grown tired. Plus, it isn't all that great. He talks about his mother giving him a choice, actually, his mother never gives that choice, he comes to that conclusion all on his own. I don't know, this BCC just doesn't do it for me. Misleading but not really. They walked a fine line here.
Varian duFey is, just as suggested, an assassin for Merlin. He has never had any qualms about killing those that cross the knights of Avalon and their cause. The son of Lancelot and the Adoni Narishka. Born to a mother that hates him, and dropped at the doorstep of a father and step-mother that feel the same, Varian has never known what it is liked to be loved. To be touched with comfort instead of hate. His magick makes him lethal and he is feared not only in Avalon but in the depths of Camelot, a place where cruelty is the norm.
Merewyn of Mercia was once the most beautiful woman anywhere. Tired of the men that saw only her beauty and angry that her father picked a husband for her that was less than pleasing, Merewyn had an Adoni summoned. In exchange for her beauty, Merewyn would serve the Adoni until the end of one moon-cycle, and then she would be free. But the Adoni Merewyn made her deal with was the evil Narishka, and little did Merewyn know, but there is no light in Camelot, therefore, no moon cycle. Merewyn has been doomed to live life as an ugly hag, with looks so hideous, no one would ever look at her again unless it was in disgust.
When a Grail Knight is murdered on the orders of Morgen, Merlin sends Varian to investigate. The only of her Knights that can walk both Camelot and Avalon, Varian leaves to investigate and this is exactly what his mother and Morgen want. When Varian refuses to join them, Narishka puts a spell bracelet on him that dampens his powers and turns to torture. When nothing else works, Narishka exploits Varian's weakness of pity and transforms Merewyn back to the beauty she once was. In order to keep her looks, Merewyn has three weeks to turn Varian to Morgen's side, or spend the rest of her eternity in hag form being punished for the failure.
But Varian is a smart man. He sees the plan and although he enjoys the kindness Merewyn shows him while he is beaten, he will not jeopardize the grail and all that Arthur had tried to accomplish. "Here, let me guess at how all of this has played out. She told you to come in here and be nice to me...Show me mercy so that I will be bonded to you and grow to like you...But it won't work...Then she's going to give me a choice-join her and Morgen or watch you die by her hand...When that moment comes, I won't save you...Better you should die than those who protect the grail from Morgen. Just as I'm willing to die for my conviction, I'm willing to see you dead for it, too. That is a promise."
It is after this exchange that Merewyn offers to free Varian if her will protect her from the Adoni and take him with her. Enlisting the help of Blaise the mandrake, and one of the only persons to ever be kind to her in Camelot, Merewyn frees Varian, and they flee the castle in search of Avalon. But without his powers, Varian is almost as vulnerable as Merewyn, and they must learn to trust each other and Blaise if they are to survive.
Setting off to the Valley of No Return, the trio hopes to escape Morgen's army and find a way back to Avalon. In the Valley, they meet up with Merrick, Derrick and Erik, triplet, cast off lovers of Morgen. I think these guys were supposed to be comic relief, but I just didn't feel it. In the Valley there are many strange things and I think most of them are supposed to be comic relief. The Pit of Despair, for one, Merewyn falls in and starts droning on and on about her pathetic existence. Not very funny. I think it could have been, I just didn't like the way it was written.
I liked this book, don't get me wrong. MacGregor has an imagination that is rivaled by very few. The world she has created for this series is fabulous, her take on what happened after Arthur fell is nothing short of genius. The problem for me, I think, is that even though this is only the second book in the series, I'm already growing tired of the formula. Bad boy Knight with a heart of stone, meets seemingly innocent beauty, they fall in love and the bad boy is redeemed. I know that books in a series tend to follow the same formula, but I can't help but want different from time to time. I'll continue to follow the series, because I love getting lost in this particular fantasy world. Plus, I do love the HEA with a twist. And of course, there are the fantastic sex scenes MacGregor/Kenyon pens, those don't hurt one bit.
If you are fan of fantasy novels, you won't be disappointed. And if fantasy really isn't your cuppa, but you have always enjoyed the tales of The Round Table, I recommend these books. They are a fun time in a world and time far from ours. And though the ending is predictable, they will have a place in my re-read pile.