Monday, September 30, 2013

Review & Interview: It Takes Two to Tangle by Theresa Romain

Please welcome author Theresa Romain.  She is joining us for an interview as she promotes her book, It Takes Two to Tangle.  Enjoy it after my thoughts about the book!

Author: Theresa Romain
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date of publication: September 2013

Wooing the Wrong Woman...
Henry Middlebrook is back from fighting Napoleon, ready to re-enter London society where he left it. Wounded and battle weary, he decides that the right wife is all he needs. Selecting the most desirable lady in the ton, Henry turns to her best friend and companion to help him with his suit...

Is a Terrible Mistake...

Young and beautiful, war widow Frances Whittier is no stranger to social intrigue. She finds Henry Middlebrook courageous and manly, unlike the foppish aristocrats she is used to, and is inspired to exercise her considerable wit on his behalf. But she may be too clever for her own good, and Frances discovers that she has set in motion a complicated train of events that's only going to break her own heart...

My thoughts:

As I have said on this blog before, I always love a flawed hero.  Henry is such a dear man. I really loved his character.  He genuinely loves his family and wants to see them happy.  The touching scene between him and his friend Bart at the end was very endearing.   Having been injured in the war, he is back and trying to get back into society.  Not an easy thing to do when he only has one functioning arm.  He finds an ally in Frances and recruits her to get on the good side of her cousin, Caroline. Of course, the two start to fall for each other instead.  Their love story was wonderful.  Frances sees beyond the injury to the man that Henry really is inside.  Mis-communication and a bit of deceit cause a lot of angst between the two, so I was rooting for them through the end.  The book also features some great side characters.  I loved Bart and Caroline.  It looked like there might be a hint of romance between them. maybe?  I hope they show up in the next book.

Kari& Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Theresa: My earliest inspiration was my family. Both of my parents have written books, so as a kid, I knew being a writer was possible. I’ve always loved to imagine stories; my sister and I used to make animals and people out of modeling clay and conjure up elaborate tales for them. I never wrote anything down until I was in college, though. First I started messing around with journaling, then I decided writing about other people was more interesting than writing about myself!

Kari& Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Theresa: Some grain of the story usually comes from a tidbit of history or a work of literature. From there, writing the story is a bunch of, “What if…” and “Then what?” For my newest historical romance, IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE, I wanted to write about the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the transition to peacetime. What if there was an ex-soldier who was wounded, and he didn’t get better? What if there was a war widow who had truly loved her late husband? How would they react to peacetime? How would they admit they were falling for each other? I love the Cyrano story, and having my stubborn hero and heroine work out their feelings through secret letters seemed like a natural fit.

Kari& Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Theresa: IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE is the first book in the Matchmaker trilogy. The second, TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS, will be out next May. That was such a fun story to write, because the heroine is the rakish character!

But before then, my third holiday historical romance will be released. SEASON FOR SCANDAL is out next week. It’s a marriage of convenience story with a nice-guy hero (with secrets!) and a heroine who won’t be satisfied with anything less than his whole heart.

Kari& Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Theresa:  Can I only pick one? Ack, I can’t pick only one! I admire Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple for the way she quickly understands character and sees parallels between situations. Agatha Christie was such a master at quickly sketching out a character and building plots. I also love Elizabeth Bennet for her wit, honesty, and willingness to (eventually) admit when she’s wrong. And among modern romance characters, I adore Julia Quinn’s Bridgertons. I come from a big, loud, silly family, and all those Bridgerton siblings ring true to me.

Kari& Autumn: Just for fun, if you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Theresa:  How about a parrot? I could fly, I could learn to talk, I could eat almost any kind of food. I’d miss being able to read, though. If I could be a magical reading parrot, that would be best of all.  

About the author:

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest and is working on more Regency romances.
Please visit for more information.
* Author photo courtesy of Britt Bradely

To Purchase It Takes Two to Tangle:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weak at the Knees by Jo Kessel

There is a tour wide giveaway of a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape! 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a gloriously rich (and expensive) red wine produced in the Rhone wine region in southeastern France. It is a wine that should be drunk to celebrate a special occasion. It's velvety, full-bodied and divine and features very strongly in Weak at the Knees by Jo Kessel. Must be a resident of the US or Canada and be 21 yrs of age or older to enter. One entry per household. Winner will be randomly selected on Monday, Oct. 26, 2013 and will be notified by email.

To enter fill out the google form here: :

Author: Jo Kessel
Date of Publication: September 2013

“We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”

Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning. 

The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one. Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible. Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.
Let me start by saying that the writing isn't bad in this book.  For the most part, it was well written.  Unfortunately, I didn't like the story.  

The tag line of the book is “We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.” The thing is, I'm not sure I ever really got around to understanding what Danni's dreams were supposed to be. She wasn't a likable character. She was whiny, dishonest and a hypocrite. I did have to commend her for walking away from Hugh and being honest about not being happy with him. That was about the only thing she was honest about.  She says she has never had a great sex life.  Well, whose fault is that?  If you don't like it, say something to your partner.  If you never speak up, how is he supposed to know?  She berates her roommate for having an affair with a married man and then very next day gets involved with Olivier...a married man.

I think I need to stay away from books with this subject because I never end up respecting the characters.  Nothing justifies cheating.  If you aren't happy, walk away first. I had no respect for Olivier, especially when he sleeps with Danni in his and his wife's bed.  The one thing that irked me in the end is the conversation Danni has with her friend's mother.  Danni wonders if Amber would be upset if she knew about the affair.  Her mother assures her that Amber would just want her to be happy.  I find that hard to believe since Amber, just before she died, made her promise to never get involved with a married man.

I think this is just one that most readers will have to try out for themselves.  Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean you won't.  Here's the tour list to see what others are saying:

Monday, September 23rd:  Truth, Beauty, Freedom, & Books
Wednesday, September 25th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Friday, September 27th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, September 30th:  From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, October 2nd:  Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, October 3rd:  All Grown Up?
Monday, October 7th:  The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Wednesday, October 9th:  Books a la Mode
Thursday, October 10th:  From L.A. to LA
Monday, October 14th:  Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, October 16th:  Traveling with T

About the author:

Jo is a qualified lawyer turned journalist. She worked for the BBC before reporting and presenting for ITV on holiday, consumer and current affairs programmes. She writes for several national newspapers in the UK including the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and the Express and was the anonymous author for the Independent's hit column: Diary of a Primary School Mum. Jo is married with three children and lives in London. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Joint Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Author: Marisha Pessl
Publisher: Random House
Date of publication: August 2013

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

Let me start by saying that the audiobook was very well done.  I loved listening to narrator, Jake Weber. He is the husband from the TV show Medium.  I hope he narrates more books in the future.  I found his voice very soothing. 

That being said, Night Film ended up being a disappointment for me.  It's a long book with not enough payoff in the end to be wowed by the story.  I was engrossed through the first half of the book.  The mystery was engaging with lots of twists.  I liked the characters.  Hopper and Nora added some comic relief to Scott's pursuit of the truth about Ashley Cordova. I liked Scott's character.  He was intelligent, funny and determined.  

So why the disappointment?  The book has one of those open to interpretation endings.  You know, where the reader has to decide where the truth lies.  I hate that type of ending.  I feel like if I am going to invest so much time in a book, I want a clean ending.  I should have seen it coming though as there was enough foreshadowing in the constant discussions of the Cordova movie endings.  

Kari and I listened to this audiobook at the same time, so we had a lot of back and forth about Night Film.  I agree with Kari that Jake Weber did a great job with the narration.  I particularly liked when he did Hopper's voice.

Marisha Pessl made me wish Stanislas Cordova was a real person so I could seek out his movies.  Although, in today's world I don't think finding a movie would be as hard as it seemed in the book.  You can find anything posted somewhere on the internet.  I did like a lot of the interplay between the characters and some of the witchcraft and voodoo aspects that were brought into the story.

However, like Kari, ultimately, I was disappointed in the open ending.  Night Film is really long and I felt like I had invested a lot of time in a big question mark.  I don't like that.  Some people do, but I'm not that person, I want the answer so I'm wondering what the heck I just read.

Friday, September 27, 2013

BlogFest 2013

We're really excited about Blog Fest 2013!!  We want to celebrate with our readers!

You can find the Full List of Participating Blogs HERE.  Make sure to check out these blogs:

Wicked Readings by Tawania 
Cherie Colyer
Illustrious Illusions
Kiru Taye Writes

We are giving away 2 prize packs this year! (Open to US Residents ONLY) Just fill out the rafflecopter below to enter!

Prize Pack #1
ARC of Wait for You by Jennifer L. Armentrout & Taking Chances by Molly McAdams

Prize Pack #2:
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan & The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon

Also Don't forget about the Blogfest giveaway: That's right!  This is for anyone using the Tracking Site.  For every blog you visit and mark off, this will give you one entry into the Grand Giveaway. 

The winner of the Grand Giveaway will be notified via the email they used to register for the Tracking Site (see, that's why it needs to be valid).  After BlogFest, every email in that database will be promptly deleted. 

What is this Tracking Site?

This is a site designed by A Journey of Books and developed by her live-in IT guru at  You simply need to register with a valid email (more about why it needs to be valid in a moment) and then start tracking your progress.  You can click through to blogs from this site and once you've visited a site, you can come back and check off that you've visited the blog.  Want to compete with your friends?  When you register, click the option to make your list public and everyone will get to see how many blogs your display name has visited. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

by:  Josin L. McQuein
published by:  Greenwillow Books
publish date:  April 23, 2013

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. 

So once again I am reading a YA dystopian and it's got some of the typical characteristics of the genre.  Female protagonist about 16, kinda bumbling around clueless about what's going on, but she's about to get a serious education.  The whole world is destroyed except for the little bit of land that they live in and the big baddies are closing in and they have to do everything in their power to protect themselves from everything out there.  But things are never what they seem...correct?

Arclight was a little different.  The Fades were actually pretty interesting.  The idea behind them was pretty cool.  Merina, ended up being a bit different than I expected.  Throughout most of the book she has amnesia and doesn't remember most of her life except for the previous couple of months when she arrived at the Arclight.  When her memories come back, her life prior to the Arclight was not what I was expecting.  

Overall, Josin McQuein's entry into the YA dystopian genre was a little more entertaining than most.  I would recommend it if you're a fan of that type of book.  However, I would have liked to have seen this story wrapped up in one book instead of the series it's going to be.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Bride of the Wind by Heather Graham

Author: Heather Graham writing as Shannon Drake
First published in 1992 by Avon
Re-issued by Open Road Media in June 2012

The daughter of a wealthy Virginia planter, Lady Rose Woodbine curses fate for leading her to the court of the British King Charles—and into an unwanted marriage with the handsome and dangerous Lord Pierce DeForte. His desire for Rose blinded Pierce to the dangerous machinations of his enemies. Banished from England, he lives the life of a pirate—seeking vengeance on those who betrayed him, including the woman he once called his wife. Pierce, now feared as the notorious pirate Dragonslayer, captures a ship carrying Rose. Once his bride, now his prisoner, she’s determined to escape from him once and for all. 

I haven't read many of Heather Graham's romances written under the pen name Shannon Drake.  If you like "bodice-ripper romances" you will definitely like Bride of the Wind.  I will admit to almost putting this book down.  I didn't like Pierce in the beginning.  His behavior toward Rose is atrocious. I detested the scene where he forces himself on her when he thinks she has betrayed him.  I know you have to take the time period in which this book was written, but forcing your spouse to have sex with you is rape.  

I did stick with the book though.  If I ignored that one scene, I ended up liking the story.  I felt like Pierce redeemed himself and his feelings for Rose were genuine.  There are a few exciting scenes on the high seas. There are also a few amusing scenes with Pierre and his "pirate crew".   In all, it's not a bad throwback to try out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Author: Emily Murdoch
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date of publication:  March 2013

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

 I started out listening to the audiobook for If You Find Me.  But about halfway through, I found that I didn't like the narrator's accents or voices for the characters.  So, instead, I finished by reading the book. That being said, I did enjoy the book immensely.  It is a sad and haunting story of the aftermath of parental kidnapping.  Carey's mother stole her when she was five and has been raised in the woods in a camper with not much contact with the real world.  It is a very backwards life in just trying to survive with a drug addicted, and often absent, mother and a baby sister who she has a strong urge to protect.  Her father finally, after 10 years, finds her in the woods and brings her and Jenessa home with him.  

My heart really hurt for Carey. She has suffered disgusting abuse from her mother for years. She is suddenly thrust into a new life with modern conveniences that she hasn't seen since she was five years old. She is living with a man who she thought was abusive. Her memory of most things from before the woods is sketchy at best. As the weeks pass, nothing about what her mother told her is adding up. She also carries the burden of a big secret about why Jenessa has stop speaking. The only thing that seems to give her any comfort is her violin and two friends she has made at school.

I thought the book was pretty realistic in how different people in this situation would react.  I thought the step-sister was a spoiled brat.  She was horrible to Carey at first, but later on you kind of get a sense of what her behavior is really about.  I ended up kind of feeling badly for her. 

The thing I liked most about the story was the ending.  While not everything was wrapped up in a nice neat package, I had the sense of hope for Carey and Jenessa down the road. I would probably keep this to the over 16 crowd as there are a few subjects (rape) that may be disturbing to the younger crowd. I definitely recommend this debut novel!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lowcountry Bombshell by Susan M. Boyer

Author: Susan M. Boyer
Publisher:Henery Press
Date of publication: September 2013

Private Investigator Liz Talbot thinks she’s seen another ghost when she meets Calista McQueen. She’s the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. Born precisely fifty years after the ill-fated star, Calista’s life has eerily mirrored the late starlet’s—and she fears the looming anniversary of Marilyn’s death will also be hers. 

Before Liz can open a case file, Calista’s life coach is executed. Suspicious characters swarm around Calista like mosquitoes on a sultry lowcountry evening: her certifiable mother, a fake aunt, her control-freak psychoanalyst, a private yoga instructor, her peculiar housekeeper, and an obsessed ex-husband. Liz digs in to find a motive for murder, but she’s besieged with distractions. Her ex has marriage and babies on his mind. Her too-sexy partner engages in a campaign of repeat seduction. Mamma needs help with Daddy’s devotion to bad habits. And a gang of wild hogs is running loose on Stella Maris. 

Lowcounry Bombshell is the second in the Liz Talbot Mystery series.  I felt like this was a pretty good stand alone.  I haven't read the first one, but I think I was able to get the gist of the characters and their history.  I liked the characters, Liz and Nate especially.  I loved their relationship both as business partners and lovers.  Nate is someone I would want as a partner in anything!

The book is well written with a good solid mystery.  The quirky cast of suspects kept me laughing and guessing.  I liked Colleen, the spirit guide and the way she helps Liz out.  Very inventive! I thought the story was well laid out and the reveal at the end was a surprise.  I wouldn't necessarily call this a cozy mystery...maybe a cozy mystery with a lot of spice in it. I'll be looking for the first book, Lowcountry Boil, to tide me over until the next Liz Talbot adventure.
About the author:
Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on
business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit.
Susan’s debut novel, LOWCOUNTRY BOIL (a Liz Talbot Mystery) is an Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient, and a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL, the next book in the Liz Talbot series, will be released September 3, 2013.
Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine ReviewSpinetingler Magazine, and Relief Journal, among others.
website, Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest board, or Goodreads page

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Billionaire Boys Club series 1-3 by Jessica Clare

Today, I have the first 3 books in the Billionaire Boys Club series by Jessica Clare.I'm really enjoying this series!  I can't wait for book #4!

From Goodreads: "The Billionaire Boys Club is a secret society of six men who have vowed success – at any cost. Not all of them are old money, but all of them are incredibly wealthy. They’re just not always as successful when it comes to love…" 

Stranded with a Billionaire (Penguin Group, April 2013) starts off this series. Logan Hawkings (one of the Billionaire's) finds himself stranded at his new resort during a surprise hurricane.  Bronte Dawson was on a free vacation when she gets stuck there as well. At first, Bronte mistakes Logan for the manager, not the rich owner. When they are rescued, she finds out he isn't the man he portrayed himself to be.  Scared, she runs home to the midwest.

This was a fun story.    I loved how Logan kept buying businesses to try to get close to Bronte.  That lead to some very amusing scenes. The thing that I liked about the book was that Bronte is wary of falling for Logan.  She takes awhile to realize that Logan is the man for her. She isn't willing to compromise her beliefs for a life of leisure.   She and Logan are very opposite people.  It's a steamy and fun romance and one I highly recommend.

Beauty and the Billionaire ( Penguin Group, July 2013) is currently
my favorite out of the first three.  I loved this story.  I always love a flawed hero and Hunter Buchanan is as flawed as they come.  A childhood accident has left him very scarred.  As a result, he has become something of a recluse.  In a scene in the previous book, he glimpses Gretchen Petty and knows he wants her. Making up a fake ghost writing job, he hires Gretchen to live at his mansion in an attempt to get to know her.  

As I said, I loved this one. It's a nice twist on the Beauty and the Beast story.  I was so rooting for Hunter and Gretchen.  He is so in need of someone to just love him for himself despite his looks. He was vulnerable and has hardened himself. Gretchen is able to melt his heart.  Hunter  gives Gretchen something she wants as well... a real shot at love.  What he does for her in the end was very sweet and a real show of his love for her.  If you read any of them read this one!

The third book, The Wrong Billionaire's Bed (Penguin Group, coming October 2013)  was probably my least favorite out of the three.  Audrey Petty (Gretchen's sister and Logan's assistant) has been in love with Cade Archer forever.  The problem is that he thinks of her as a sister.  He is also in love with Audrey's twin, Daphne.  Yes, a little soap operi-ish.  Audrey takes Daphne to Cade's cabin to try to help Daphne kick her drug habit once and for all.  There, she runs into Reese Durham.  

While I did ultimately enjoy the book, I felt like the relationship between Reese and Audrey was a little forced.  The attraction was instant, but it just moved a little fast for me.  I did like that Reese, who is the biggest playboy, fell hard and fast for Audrey.  They did have a nice HEA in the end, but overall, I wasn't in love with them together.  I did have to commend Audrey for finally giving her sister some very tough love in the end.  If anyone needed a kick in the pants, it was Daphne.  I felt bad for Cade because he gets used by her in the end.  I just hope he sees that he deserves more.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Banned Books Blog Hop

Once again this year we are participating in the Banned Books Week Blog Hop.  We are listed at #35 at last check.  You can find the full list of participating blog HERE.

We here at From the TBR Pile support the ALA's Banned Books Week.  You can find out more information at the American Library Association's website.  There are extensive lists of books that have been banned, where and why.  Take some time this week and celebrate the right to read whatever you want.

As part of the Giveaway Hop we have two packages.  Open to US Residents ONLY.  Please fill out Rafflecopter below.

YA Package:  Signed Copy of Scars by Cheryl Rainfield  and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Erotica Package:  Tremble and Quiver by Tobsha Lerner

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The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Author: Page Morgan
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers 
Date of publication: May 2013

After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

The Beautiful and the Cursed intrigued me because it was so different. Who wouldn't think that gargoyles would be a great premise and change from vampires and witches?  I really wanted to like this book.  Sadly, it fell short.  It was in one word, boring.  Not a lot happens until the last 1/4 of the book.  I'm still not 100% sure I get the world in which the story takes place.  That frustrated me.  It seems like the gargoyles guard the people who live in their houses.  Anyone unlucky enough not to live in a house with a gargoyle is vulnerable to demons.  Especially one that keeps killing women.  So, it's really luck of the draw.  

The characters were pretty dull.  Ingrid and her sister Gabby don't seem shocked too much to find out about the gargoyles and the demon hunters.  They seem to take it all in stride.  Of course, Ingrid falls for the untouchable Luc.  But it wouldn't be complete without a love triangle, would it?  Luc is a gargoyle and any type of relations with a human is a no-no.  HE is dark and brooding.  Vander on the other hand is the opposite.  I think if I had to choose a team, it would be team Vander.  The only character I really liked was Gabby.  She was seriously kick-ass and ready to jump into the fray.  Her "romance" with Nolan did disturb me though.  She is 15.  He is much older.  Blech.

This is the first in a series.  I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'll read the next one.  Maybe I'll just stick with vampires and witches.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: June 2013

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Let me start by saying that I think to properly experience The Ocean at the End of the Lane, you should listen to the audio version.  It is narrated by the author himself and he does a fantastic job of pulling you into the magic of the tale.  

That being said, I wanted something more out of the story.  Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it.  It would make a cool movie.  At the surface, the story is about a man who returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral.  While he is there, he visits the home of his childhood friend, Lettie.  He begins to remember the summer that changed his life. It's a fantastical tale told through the eyes of an avid reader. Witches, black magic, and spells make such  an unbelievable story that you have to wonder if it was all a child's dream. 

I was left with questions in the end.  Was it real or fantasy?  But, isn't that the funny thing about childhood memories as seen through the eyes of an adult?  How much of what we remember happened that way it actually did?  The book is really short so it can be read or listened to in a couple of hours.  I think fans of Mr. Gaiman will enjoy this one.  My favorite is still Neverwhere, but this one would be in my top 5 of his.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Throwback Thursday: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks

Author: Kerrelyn Sparks
First published in 2005  by Avon

Roman Draganesti is charming, handsome, rich...he's also a vampire. But this vampire just lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn't have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop-sided eater for all eternity.

Things aren't going well for Shanna Whelan, either. After witnessing a gruesome murder, she's next on the mob's hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral, because she's afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she's found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman's fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her?

I was excited to try out an older vampire series for Throwback Thursday.  I've never read anything by this author and it seemed to get decent reviews.  I am sad to say that this book ended up being a DNF for me. The book was amusing at times, but the humor just didn't hold up the story for me.  I felt like certain scenes went on for way too long.  For instance, Roman needs his tooth fixed by sunrise, yet it took FOREVER for them to get to the dentist office to fix it.  It was almost like it wasn't that important.  I also didn't buy Shanna finding Roman dead and not being shocked when at sundown he was suddenly alive.  She was a bit clueless.  I got as far as Shanna meeting his harem and I just had to shut it off.  It was getting a little too ridiculous for me.  I also found the book very repetitive.  If Roman said "God's Blood" one more time, I think I was going to scream.  As I said a lot of people liked this one.  I'm just not one of them.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blog Tour: Against the ropes by Sarah Castille

Author: Sarah Castille
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of publication: September 2013

He scared me. He thrilled me. And after one touch, all I could think about was getting more…

Makayla never thought she’d set foot in an underground mixed-martial arts club. But if anyone needs a medic on hand, it’s these guys. Trouble is, at her first sight of the club’s owner she’s the one feeling breathless.

All sleek muscle and restrained power, the man they call Torment plays to win at any cost. Whether it’s in the ring or in the bedroom, he knows exactly when to use a soft touch and when to launch a full-on assault. He always knows just how far he can push. And he’s about to tempt Makayla in ways she never imagined…

Against the Ropes is a new twist on the rich guy/ broke girl genre that seems to be dominating the world of books lately. In this one, the rich guy had an alternate lifestyle as an underground MMA fighter. For the most part, I enjoyed the book.  Makayla and Max/Torment were good for each other.  Both of them definitely have issues stemming from childhood.  Makayla has a real aversion to violence.  She gets physically ill at the sight.  This kind of works against her when she takes a job as an EMT in Max's gym.  Max has the deep need to protect the people he cares about and this causes a lot of control issues between the two.  I liked Makayla, although I thought she did have some TSTL moments.  The situation she gets in with her friend toward the end of the book is proof of that.  I kind of didn't blame Max for walking away.  I was rooting for this couple to make it.  I really felt like they had a shot of working through their issues.

The book takes place in the world of underground MMA fights.  I don't know much about the sport, but I thought the author gave me enough to details to feel comfortable with the subject.  I'm not sure I could watch any of the fights either. I did have to wonder at Makayla's decision to work there as an EMT, since no doctor would risk their license by working in a place that had underground fighting.  If they wouldn't then why would she want to risk her EMT certification to do it?  Anyway, it's a good romance with fun characters.  I hope some of the other fighters have their own stories.  They seem like a great bunch of guys.

About the author:

Recovering lawyer, karate practitioner, and caffeine addict, Sarah Castille worked and traveled abroad before trading her briefcase and stilettos for a handful of magic beans and a home near the Canadian Rockies. Her steamy, contemporary romantic tales feature blazingly hot alpha heroes tormented or tattooed for your reading pleasure.

Twitter: sarah_castille

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: True Love by Jude Deveraux

Author: Jude Deveraux
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Random house)
Date of publication: July 2013

Unbeknown to Alix, Jared has been charged with looking after her while she lives on the island—an easy task for him, considering the undeniable chemistry between the two. But Jared harbors secrets of his own, which, if revealed, may drive a wedge between the pair.

With a glorious Nantucket wedding on the horizon, sparks fly, and the ghosts of the past begin to reveal themselves—some of them literally. Finding their lives inextricably entwined with the turbulent fortunes of their ancestors, Alix and Jared discover that only by righting the wrongs of the past can they hope to be together

True Love is the first book that I have read by this author.  If her others are like this one, I think I have found another romance writer that will soon become a favorite. I adored this book. Despite its length, I was able to fly through the story.  This is supposed to be a new series in the Montgomery-Taggert saga. Even though I haven't read any of those book, I didn't feel like I was missing anything.  Some of those characters show up toward the end, but I didn't feel lost.

I loved Alix and Jared together. Their personalities meshed so well together. I was happy that the angst didn't last for too long.   Alix comes to Nantucket island to live in Jared's house after his aunt dies.  While there, she learns more about the secrets that her mother and father have been keeping from he all of her life.  I'm not sure I still understood why they did that as it didn't really seem to serve any purpose.  I thought they were kind of selfish. Despite that, the romance is very sweet.  Jared is very sigh worthy.  I loved their HEA.

True Love isn't just a romance, there is also a ghost and a hidden treasure.  There are a few surprises featuring both.  I won't tell, it would ruin it.  The author has also given us some wonderful peripheral characters that I hope are featured in the next book.  I look forward to more of the series.  While I wait, I think I'll hunt up some of her early books to keep happy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blog Tour: Her Dear and Loving Husband by Meredith Allard

Author: Meredith Allard
Publisher Copperfield PressDate of publication: April 1, 2011
James Wentworth has a secret. He lives quietly in Salem, Massachusetts, making few ties with anyone. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife, Elizabeth. Though it has been years since Elizabeth’s death, James cannot move on.
Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail. Despite the obstacles of their secrets, James and Sarah fall in love. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. Soon James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to protect Sarah and prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again?
Her Dear and Loving Husband was a pretty quick read.  The story flows easily while slowly revealing everyone's secrets.  Although, there are enough hints in the first part of the book that the secrets aren't too surprising.  For the most part, I enjoyed the book.  I thought the love story between James and Sarah was very sweet, yet passionate.  I would have liked to know more about James and how he became what he was.  Perhaps in the next book?  
Taking place in Salem, MA, the story includes a lot of the history about the Salem witch trials. I actually found these parts of the story very interesting.  They were woven into the story seamlessly and didn't take away from the overall flow of the book. This book is the first in a trilogy.  I'll be tracking down the other two to see how James and Sarah's story continues.  Although, I was very happy with the ending in this one and felt it could be a stand alone.
About the author:
Meredith Allard has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction workshops at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. Her short fiction and articles have appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, Wild Mind, Moondance, Muse Apprentice Guild, The Maxwell Digest, CarbLite, Writer’s Weekly, and ViewsHound. She is the author of the Loving Husband Trilogy, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle (Copperfield Press). She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit Meredith online at
Buy Her Dear and Loving Husband: