Monday, March 31, 2014

Blog Tour: Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

Author:Tessa Hadley
Publisher: Harper
Date of publication: March 2014

All the qualities that readers praised in The London Train are present in Clever Girl, Tessa Hadley's brilliant new novel. It follows the story of Stella, from her childhood as the daughter of a single mother in a Bristol bedsit in the 1960s into the mysterious shallows of her middle age. The story is full of drama - violent deaths, an abrupt end to Stella's schooldays, two sons by different fathers who aren't around to see the boys grow up - but as ever it is her observation of ordinary lives, of the way men and women think and feel and relate to one another, that dazzles. Yes, you think. This is how it is.

It always makes me sad when I read a book for a blog tour and I end up not liking it. I was looking forward to reading Clever GirlThe synopsis made it sound very interesting.  But, I'm not sure the book I read was the one I was thinking I was going to get.  It read like a really boring autobiography.   In general, I'm not a fan of biographies in any form, so that is probably why I had a hard time connecting with this book.  

It's never a good sign for me when I am easily distracted by other things when I am reading.  I found myself putting this book down to do anything but read it.  I got about halfway through and just didn't care enough to keep going.  I couldn't relate to Stella at all. Maybe it was the time period or maybe it was Stella herself.  It's hard to pick.  I also was not a fan of the formatting of the book.  There was none of the usual punctuation to indicate that a person was speaking.  I found that made it harder for me to follow what was happening.

The book has gotten some very good feedback, so I encourage you to check out what others on the tour are saying.  It just wasn't for me.

About the author:
Tessa Hadley is the author of four highly praised novels: Accidents in the Home, which was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award; Everything Will Be All RightThe Master Bedroom; and The London Train, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is also the author of two short-story collections, Sunstroke and Married Love, both of which were New York Times Notable Books as well. Her stories appear regularly in the New Yorker. She lives in London.

Tessa’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, March 4th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, March 5th: BookNAround
Saturday, March 8th: Books in the Burbs
Monday, March 10th: missris
Tuesday, March 11th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Wednesday, March 12th: She’s Got Books On Her Mind
Thursday, March 13th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, March 14th: Write Meg
Monday, March 17th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, March 18th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, March 19th: A Novel Review
Monday, March 24th: Between the Covers
Tuesday, March 25th: Bibliotica
Thursday, March 27th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, March 31st: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, April 1st: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Wednesday, April 2nd: Sweet Tea and Lollipops
Friday, April 4th: A Chick Who Reads

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Books We Didn't Finish March Edition

We haven't had one of these since the end of December, so I guess this makes it a 1st Quarter DNF.

Dies the Fire-really promising premise.  I was hoping it would be something along the lines of the TV show Jericho or the book One Second After.  It was really trying to get there, but I was having a hard time figuring out the writer's choice of words at times.  It took place in the US, but words like "trainers" were used for shoes and "course" was used in a place when most people would say class.  It was throwing me off.  Then there was overuse of words, I know I do it too, but I'm not being paid to write.  I also don't have editors that are supposed to pick out these things.  One last little rant about this, I listened to the audiobook and the reader kept mispronouncing words.  This is your job, look up how to pronounce a word, or call somebody, how long does that take??

Mercy Snow-I got about a third of the way through this book and kept waiting for something to happen and  it just wasn't.  I also might have read it at the wrong time of year, it was freezing  cold here at the time and I just wasn't interested in reading about another freezing cold place.

Perfect-I loved the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry so I was hoping this book would hold the same magic.  While it had the same lovely lyrical language, the story just wasn't as interesting.  I also couldn't stand the mother in this book.  She was so self-deprecating I guess would be the word.  I suppose it was her husband's fault, maybe just a sign of the times, I don't know, but I didn't like it and didn't want to continue reading it.

Deeper-Romance just isn't my thing.  I try on occasion to understand it, so I make attempts and NO.

I didn't really care for Elite, the first one.  So it is no surprise that I couldn't finish Elect. I felt like the writing just wasn't fluid.  I still don't get the college that is set up like a high school boarding school with uniforms. There was too much love triangle angst and the whole mob thing was just got  too unbelievable for me to stick with it.

I was really looking forward to Ripper.  I like Isabelle Allende and enjoyed Maya's NotebookRipper is supposed to be her first foray int o the Thriller genre.  Well, it never got thrilling for me.  I was bored to tears and by the middle of the book, I decided it was never going to get better.  There wasn't enough of the mystery.  Just when things were starting to look good, the storyline would move into someone's back story or would explore things that seemed irrelevant.  I also felt at times that it was a political commentary on the injustices of war or illegal immigration.  It's too bad because the idea for the story was a good one.  The execution, not so much.

I was kind of on the fence about Starters, but I figured I would give Enders a go anyway.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I just couldn't get into it.  Maybe it is because so much time had passed since reading the first one.  I was confused and had no idea what was going on. I couldn't remember what happened in Starters enough to pick up the story-line again. But, I found myself not caring enough to stick with it.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Prodigy by Marie Lu

published by: Putnam Juvenile
publish date:  January 2013

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

The last book in this trilogy, Legend, ends with June and Day escaping Day's execution.  The Republic isn't fooled by their stunt of switching out Day for his brother, so they catch on pretty quick that Day is still alive.  June and Day have nowhere to go except to the Patriots for help.  Their plan is to send June right back to the Republic.  Once she's back, she's become torn as to who is real enemy the Republic or the Patriots and how can she let Day know of her suspicions without putting them both endanger.

I thought this book was just mediocre.  It illuminated the reason why I don't like trilogies.  I really like the first book.  To paraphrase Tommy Boy, I get all excited like Joe-Joe the idiot circus boy about the first book, then the second book is just kind blah, then I care nothing about reading the third book.  Be more ruthless with the edits, condense it down, make one big book.  I know that equals less sales, but I think it would make for better books.

Anyway, so yeah, just kinda ok for me.  Which was kind of a bummer, because I really liked Legend and I hoped I'd get jazzed up for this trilogy and change my mind about them, but no.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Blog Tour: Fog City Strangler by Greg Messel

Author: Greg Messel
Publisher: Sunbreaks
Date of publication: December 2013

As 1958 nears an end San Francisco is being terrorized by a man who calls himself the “Fog City Strangler,” who preys on pretty young blonde women.  The strangler announces each murder by sending a note and piece of cloth from the victim’s dresses to the local newspapers.

Private eye Sam Slater is worried that the Fog City Strangler may be eyeing his beautiful blonde wife, stewardess Amelia Ryan. Sam’s angst mounts as the strangler continues to claim more victims. His anxiety is further fueled when TWA launches an advertising campaign with Amelia’s picture on a series of billboards plastered all over the city. Sam fears the billboards may attract too much attention--the wrong kind of attention.

Meanwhile, Sam and Amelia are hired to try to find the missing daughter of a wealthy dowager who fears she has lost her only child. The missing woman went for a walk with her dog on Stinson Beach, near San Francisco, and seemingly vanished into thin air. The woman’s husband arrived at their beach house and found the dog running loose but there was no trace of his wife. The police are stumped in their investigation.

As Sam and Amelia look into the disappearance of the woman on the beach they discover that nothing is as it seems at first glance. On a stormy night a shadowy figure sets fire to the beach house where the couple is staying--hoping to stop their investigation.

Fog City Strangler is the 4th book in the Sam Slater mystery series.  The series takes place on the late 1950s in San Fransisco.  I have really been enjoying this series.  The latest installment is a welcome addition.  I always feel like I'm visiting good friends when I read an adventure with Sam and Amelia.  It has been fun to watch their relationship progress as the series has gone on.  Now married, they make an even better detective team.  I just want to know when Amelia will quit her TWA job so that can spend more time solving crimes with Sam!

This time around, there are three separate mysteries going on at the same time.  There is a serial killer targeting young blonde women in the city.  There is a missing woman and an ailing mother who is desperate to find her.  Finally, there is a neighbor who seems to be in an abusive marriage and whose husband gives Amelia the creeps.  I liked how the mysteries progressed.  While I was able to figure out one of them pretty easily, the other two kept me guessing.  The story was well plotted out.  Even though the book was long, I was sucked in and couldn't put it down.  As always, the author has sprinkled photos of life in the 50s.  I love that about these books because it really gives the reader something to picture in their mind as they read about the locations.  The next book comes out later this year.  I can't wait to read it!

About the author:

Greg Messel grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound with his wife, Carol.  Fog City Strangler is his seventh novel and is the fourth in a new series of Sam Slater mystery novels. Greg has lived in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Utah and has always loved writing, including stints as a reporter, columnist and news editor for a daily newspaper.
Follow news about Messel’s writings and books at
Connect & Socialize with Greg!

Purchase your copy:


Greg Messel is giving away a 3 book set of his Sam Slater Mystery Series (Last of the Seals, Deadly Plunge and San Francisco Secrets AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the 3 book set and $25 Amazon Gift Card.
  • This giveaway begins February 3 and ends on March 28.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, March 31, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries...What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck

Author: Erma Bombeck
First published in 1978 by McGraw- HIll
Reissued as ebook by Open Road Media in  January 2013

Erma Bombeck’s timelessly witty look at the hidden side of married life
Ever since she was a child, Erma Bombeck has been an expert worrier, and married life has only honed that skill. She gets anxious about running out of ball bearings; about snakes sneaking in through the pipes; about making meaningful conversation on New Year’s Eve. Married life, she realizes, is an unpredictable saga even when you know exactly how loud your husband snores every night—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. In this crisp collection of essays, Bombeck shows off the irresistible style that made her one of America’s favorite humorists for more than three decades. When she sharpens her wit, no family member is sacred and no self-help fad is safe. 

I remember reading this book a long time ago, probably in college.  Having reread the book, I'm not sure I was able to full appreciate the book back then.  Now, reading it as a wife and mother, I loved it.  Even though Ms. Bombeck wrote this back in the 70s, I found that about 90% of it is still relevant today. Husbands still snore, kids and families still drive us crazy and the debate over working mom vs. stay at home mom still goes on 30+ years later.  I found myself laughing and nodding my head through out most of the book as I have experienced many of the things that she brings up. 

While mostly funny, there are a few places where she gets serious and her points really hit home. Specifically her section on when the child becomes the parent and vice versa.  It makes you take a hard look at the cycle of life and how fast it revolves.  I know that my favorite part of the book was the poem " I Loved you Enough" (see below). I may just have to print that out and save it for my kids when they are older. I definitely recommend this throwback!

From If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?
Some day, when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them:
I loved you enough, to ask where you are going, with whom, and what time you would be home.
I loved you enough, to insist that you save your money and buy a bike for yourself even though we could afford to buy one for you.
I loved you enough, to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep.
I loved you enough, to make you take a Milky Way back to the drugstore (with a bite out of it) and tell the clerk, "I stole this yesterday and want to pay for it."
I loved you enough, to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes.
I loved you enough, to let you see anger, disappointment and tears in my eyes.  Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect.
I loved you enough, to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.
But most of all,
I loved you enough, to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.
Those were the most difficult battles of all.
I'm glad I won them because, in the end, you won too.
- Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Interview & Review & Giveaway: Desperately Seeking Suzanna by Elizabeth Michels

Please welcome author Elizabeth Michels as she promotes her latest book, Desperately Seeking Suzanna. Enjoy her interview after my thoughts on the book

Giveaway Details: The publisher has generously offered one copy of Desperately Seeking Suzanna for a giveaway.  To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter below. (US and Canada only, please)  Good luck!

Author: Elizabeth Michels
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date of publication: March 2014

Her Cinderella Moment…
Sue Green just wanted one night to be the pretty one. But a few glasses of champagne and one wild disguise later, she's in some serious trouble. Who knew the devastatingly handsome face of Lord Holden Ellis would get in the way of her foot? And how exactly did all that high-kick dancing start in the first place? At least she blamed it on her new persona—Suzanna—so Society's most eligible bachelor will never find out the truth.

All Holden wants is the truth. Who was that vixen who seduced him so thoroughly, then disappeared? The only one who seems to have any answers about Suzanna is Miss Sue Green. She's promised to help him find his mystery woman, but she's not being all that helpful. And the more time Holden spends with Sue—witty, pretty, and disarmingly honest—the more he realizes he may have found exactly what he's been looking for all along...

My thoughts:

Desperately Seeking Suzanna is the second in the "Tricks of the Ton" series by Elizabeth Michels.  I reviewed the first book, Must Love Dukes last month.  The sequel is a fun book and I definitely enjoyed it.   We met Holden briefly during the first book and there were references made to him trying to find a mystery woman.  This is his story.  Holden and Sue's story-line runs at the same time at Lily and Devon's. Normally, I'm not too much of a fan of that as some of the scenes are repeated and that can get boring. But, while there were a few shared scenes between the characters, no ground was recovered in this case.  In fact, you probably could read both as stand alone books and not feel lost.   I really felt badly for Sue.  Her mother was a real piece of work, as was Holden's.  At least they had that in common.  I liked the chemistry between the two and loved watching them fall in love.  This is a great series.  The next book features Katie Moore, who we had a glimpse of in this book.  I'm looking forward to reading it in July!

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

Elizabeth: Reading books, lots and lots of books.  I’ve always been an avid reader of historical romance.  But, it wasn’t until I was put on bed rest while I was pregnant with my little boy that I considered writing these books I enjoyed so much.  That was when my husband noticed for the first time how many books I was consuming, mostly because I was stuck on my left side and he had to hand them to me.  He suggested I write one, after all I loved reading them, so why not write one?  I hate to admit when he’s right, but he was right.  I started writing during baby nap times, and now 5 years later, I’m here on this fabulous blog celebrating the release of the second book in the Tricks of the Ton series, Desperately Seeking Suzanna. Telling stories is the best! I love it!

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

Elizabeth:I always begin with the characters.  In Desperately Seeking Suzanna, Holden came to life about a month before Sue jumped onto the scene and began talking too much.  I got the idea for Holden from a comment a friend made over coffee one day.  And Sue actually came from my prolonged childhood disappointment that my maiden name only had one syllable.  If you’ve ever had a John Doe sort of name, then you understand the lack of glamour in one syllable.  *grins* Only Cher can make one syllable work, but I digress. 

I began with Sue’s name, simple, average in every way, Sue Green.  And, the plot unfolded from there.  The plots for my books always spiral out of who the characters are and what they would do in a given situation.  What would an ordinary, one-syllable-name-bearing girl desire?  To become the exotic Suzanna, even if it’s just for one night.  Of course, that one night turns her life upside down and marks the beginning of Holden’s quest to find Suzanna—a quest that always brings him back to Sue.   Let’s just hope he isn’t too late by the time he puts the pieces together.

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

Elizabeth: Funny you should ask… Until last week I was working on what I thought to be book 4 in the Tricks of the Ton series—Evangeline Green’s story.  I had everything organized, cross referenced, and filed away under what E. Michels is writing next.  But, then my advance reading copies of How to Lose a Lord in 10 Days or Less came in the mail and everything changed. 

My family stole one copy as soon as they spotted the box of books on the kitchen counter and began passing it around.  A few days later they had an intervention with me over takeout boxes of Chinese food.  They begged me to write the story that you see glimpses of in the third book—they asked for Roselyn Grey’s story.  You may know her older brother better since he’s Devon Grey, Mad Duke of Thornwood and the hero of Must Love Dukes.  I whined to my family.  I’m a planner of all things in life, so of course I complained over the change of plans, which was why they caught me with my mouth full of fried rice for this discussion. 

Now, it’s a week later, I’ve calmed down, and I’m so excited about this new addition to the series!  So, my 6 book Tricks of the Ton series just turned into a 7 book series and I’m furiously writing Roselyn’s book with Evangeline waiting for her turn.  I’m pretty sure she’s tapping her toe and giving me the evil eye right now, but she, Isabelle, and Victoria will have their time in the sun soon enough.

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

Elizabeth: I’m completely in love with The Great Gatsby.  Gatsby has pulled himself up from a meager background with hard work and a cunning mind to the point of possessing ultimate wealth.  He’s charismatic, has style, and everything he does, he does for love.  I only wish I could rewrite the ending of his story so he gets to live happily-ever-after, throwing parties with Daisy at his side. *dreamy sighs*

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

Elizabeth: I would love to be a giraffe.  They always look so elegant as they stretch up to eat leaves from the tree tops.  And, because they can see long distances with that long neck of theirs, they seem wise to me.  Or perhaps, that’s just this 5’-2” girl dreaming of height.  Either way, they’re adorable.

Thank you for hosting me here on the TBR Pile! This has been so much fun! Now, let’s talk books.  How tall has your TBR pile gotten? What’s your favorite book? What are you looking forward to reading?  Let’s chat.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Elizabeth Michels grew up on a Christmas tree farm in rural South Carolina. After tip-toeing her way through school with her focus on ballet steps and her nose in a book, she met a boy and followed him a thousand miles away from home to Kansas City, Missouri, before settling down in North Carolina. She attended Park University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Interior Design. Elizabeth is a lover of happily-ever-afters; she invites you to read her stories, get lost, and enjoy. 

For more information, please visit

To Purchase Desperately Seeking Suzanna:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

published by:  Reagan Arthur Books
publish date:  July 2010

Idyllic but remote, the Greek island of Thiminos seems untouched and untroubled by the modern world. So when the battered body of a young woman is discovered at the foot of a cliff, the local police - governed more by archaic rules of honor than by the law - are quick to close the case, dismissing her death as an accident.  Then a stranger arrives, uninvited, from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further into the crime he believes has been committed. Refusing to accept the woman's death as an accident or suicide, Hermes Diaktoros sets out to uncover the truths that skulk beneath this small community's exterior.

The Messenger of Athens tells the story of this tiny little Greek island where a woman gone over a cliff.  The question is whether she jumped or she was pushed, furthermore why?  The local police have been paid off to close their investigation and leave it as an accident.  However, when Hermes Diaktoros shows up in their tiny town, he starts asking questions and stirs up a hornet's nest of gossip that the town is not used to.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.   I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, and in particular Hermes.  This book reminded me a lot of the BBC television show Doc Marten.  The small town distrust of outsiders and how the littlest thing can set the tongues wagging.  I'm still confused about what exactly Hermes was doing there.  I'm still not clear about who exactly he is, but maybe that will be explained in future books.  This book is just the first in a series.  I definitely plan on reading more of Anne Zouroudi's books.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Joint Review: Always Watching by Chevy Stevens

Author: Chevy Stevens
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of publication: June 2013

In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.

When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. 

Always Watching was a pretty intriguing book.  I did think it was a little long, but overall I enjoyed it.  I liked Nadine's character.  She isn't perfect and has seen her share of heartache.  She is a widow and her daughter is an addict who lives on the streets.  But she is a good psychiatrist.  When she gets a new patient who tried to commit suicide, she realizes that the woman was a part of a cult that seems familiar to Nadine. 

Through flashbacks, we learn about Nadine's time living on a commune with her mother and brother.  I thought those parts were creepy and disturbing. As Nadine begins to remember parts of that time that she blocked out, things get more and more disturbing.  There were a few twists that I liked and didn't figure out.  I also liked the ending.  The only part that I thought could have been left out was the whole romance with Paul.  It was kind of anti-climactic.  This is the first book by this author that I have read and I'm intrigued enough to go back and read more of her earlier books.

I've read Chevy Stevens' other books and I liked them better than this book.  The previous books had a much darker, gritter ambiance that this one seemed to be lacking.  Also with this book, I kept having the feeling that I had already read it or had seen a movie like it.  I could never pinpoint what book or movie it was, so it was just a feeling. 

While I liked the general storyline, I didn't care for Nadine herself.  There was a point where her brother says that she pushes too hard and I think that's what I didn't like about her.  I felt like she was smothering her daughter everytime she found her.  I didn't like the way that she would interact with some of the characters.  I thought sometimes the way she dealt with thing was less than tactful and the outcomes would have been more in her favor if she would have just backed off.

I won't hold this book against Chevy Stevens.  I can't like everything by the authors I like.  I'll be looking forward to her next book.  Looks like That Night will be coming out later this year.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A March Bride by Rachel Huack

Author: Rachel Huack
Publisher: Zondervan
Date of publication: February 2014

Susanna has found her true prince, and their happily ever after is just around the corner. But when Nate asks her to give up something precious to her, Susanna can’t help but wonder if it’s a sign that their love is not meant to be.

A March Bride is the fourth in the "Year of Weddings" novella series.  It's a cute story and a good addition to the series.  When I started the story, I felt like there was some back story that I was missing.  I was right.  This novella is the continuation of Susanna and Nate's story from the book, Once Upon a Prince.  I didn't end up feeling like I was missing anything too important, so I don't think it is necessary to read the book before this one.  Although, I am curios now to see how Nate and Susanna fell in love.  

This short story deals with a lot of issues.  What defines us and what is our true calling?  Susanna finds out that in order to marry Nate she must give up her US citizenship.  While I did understand her initial freak out over the issue, I thought she over reacted a little bit.  But then, I guess cold feet can do that to a person.  I thought Nate's solution was very heart warming and a real confirmation of his commitment to the relationship.  
My only complaint with the story was I did think it was a bit heavy on the preaching.  But, I think that is just my personal preference when I read Christian literature.  I like my stories a bit more toned down.  Overall, it's an enjoyable read and one I do recommend.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

Over the next few months, I will be reviewing 6 new novellas from the Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series.  It is a series of 6 clean novellas by 6 different authors.

“Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love.”

Author: Julie N. Ford
Publisher: self
Date of publication: March 2014

According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can’t even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She’s confident that her destiny is finally within reach.
When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.
Home Matters is the first novella in this series.  It was a quick read and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Olivia has lived her life with her mother telling her she is destined to be a star.  When she finally gets her big break, she realizes that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. Reality TV isn't all that real and sometimes what you think you want in life isn't what will really make you happy.  Pete is the one person that sees more potential in Olivia than she seems to see in herself.  Personally, I was rooting for Olivia to realize how great Pete was because that star of the show was a a royal jerk.  I was also hoping that Olivia would follow her true heart and talent.  I loved Pete and his chemistry with Olivia.    What he did for her in the end was really cool. I definitely recommend this first on in the series.  I look forward to the next book in the series, Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin.  Be sure to come back on April 5th  to see what I thought!
Make sure to check out the tour page for Home Matters to see others are saying and make sure enter the great give away below!
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Inspired Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED

About the author:
Julie is a forty-something, dangerously close to becoming a fifty-something, graduate from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama, which has only made her better able to recognize the unhealthy, codependent relationship she has with writing. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a marriage and family counselor. She is the author of four women’s fiction novels, including Count Down to Love, a 2011 Whitney Award finalist. When she’s not writing, she entertains delusions of being a master gardener, that is, when she’s not killing the unsuspecting plants in her yard with her good intentions. She lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, two daughters, a Betta named Bob, and a Scottish fold kitten, Ardweal.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

published by:
publish date:

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations? 

Laila and her family has to adjust from being Middle Eastern royalty to being middle class Americans.  The change is abrupt and unwelcome for their family, however Laila is trying hard to make the best of it.   Her mother is conniving to regain their power and get revenge on the people who killed her husband.  

I read a lot of political thrillers and they're always full of spies and double agents.  I think I was expecting more in this book.  Yeah, it was a little bit of a political thriller, but it was more of just a YA coming of age type book, but with wildly different circumstances.  I kept thinking to myself that different characters were spies in disguise, but then they wouldn't be, and I was disappointed.  This book was more realistic than most spy books I'm sure.  

I really liked it.  I would highly recommend it to teenagers to give them a better perspective on what it might be like for middle eastern immigrants living in the United States.  This book illustrated what it's like for both ends of the spectrum, the rich and the poor.  Definitely worth the read for kids and adults alike.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Author: Kate Atkinson
First published in 2004 by Doubleday

Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night.

Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack.

Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .

I really wanted to like this book.  The synopsis intrigued me.  I was looking forward to seeing how the three cases connected.  What I got instead was a snooze fest.  I only lasted about 4 discs into the audio-book before I gave up. There were too many characters to keep straight. I kept forgetting who was who.  The characters spent way too much time in their heads and tended to go off on tangents that did nothing to further the story.  It really slowed down the flow of the book.  I think that sometimes too many points of view can muddle up a story.  There were definitely too many points of view in this book.  I could go on and on.   I can't recommend it, unless you need something to put you to sleep.

Romance at Random Sponsored Hop: Turned by Virna DePaul

To celebrate Virna DePaul’s upcoming release of TURNED, (4/1/2014) Romance at Random is hopping and giving away free books — see the great prizes below! 

Make sure to visit each site to increase your chances to win! 20 great giveaways in all!

Prizes (must be 18 or older with a US mailing address to participate):

  • 10 Preview copy winners of TURNED by Virna DePaul
  • 5 Preview Copy winners of WANTED by J Kenner
  • 2 Preview eBook copy winners of A Vampire’s Salvation by Virna DePaul
  • 2 Preview eBook copy winners of Arrested by Love by Virna DePaul
  • Grand Prize of $20 Gift Certificate to eRetailer of choice!!

  • Enter to win here – Good Luck! — thanks for blogging with us!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    And visit these participating sites to enter and win more! Have fun –

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Elly Griffiths 2 for 1: A Room Full of Bone & A Dying Fall

    Ellie Griffith's 6th book is coming out this month and I thought to myself, "Wait, what?? When did books 4 and 5 come out??"  I've reviewed books 1-3 here on this blog, because I rather like her books here are the links in order:  1. The Crossing Places 2. The Janus Stone 3. The House at Sea's End.

    I read these two books back to back and here are some observations.  There's a scene that can almost be taken word for word from one book right out of the other.  They both talk about how Ruth is trying to leave the house, but her home phone is ringing.  Her home phone never rings since all her friends and family all have her "mobile" number, but something tells her to answer it anyway.  I thought I had mistakenly started reading the wrong book, the two passages were so similar.  Secondly, I don't think Ruth eats anything other than pasta.  She's always cooking pasta, eating pasta, serving pasta.  She's always complaining about being overweight, maybe try laying off the pasta.
     Mix it up a bit Ruth, try a salad.  Go crazy and eat a hamburger, just as long as there's no pasta involved.

    About the books individually, A Room Full of Bones tells the story of the discovery of the body of a medieval Bishop.  The people involved with the discovery seem to be dying off at an alarming rate.  Does it have something to do with the Bishop or does it have something to do with the museum hoarding the bones of Aborigines.  A group called the Elginists are becoming increasingly threatening about getting the bones of their people back to their homeland and are wanting Ruth to help them with their quest.

    A Dying Fall is all about King Arthur and the possibility that his bones may have been discovered by a colleague of Ruth's.  However, he was killed shortly after his discovery, but not before he could get a message out to Ruth asking for her help.  It seems he came across some revelations about King Arthur that would completely rewrite the history books and the local hate groups shut him down before he could make his findings known.

    Despite my observations, I love Elly Griffiths' books.  Ruth is one of my favorite literary characters.  She's kind of like the Indiana Jones for middle aged working moms.  The next book, The Outcast Dead, is out and I will definitely be reading it for sure!!

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    The Fault in our Stars by John Green

    published by:  Dutton Books
    publish date:  January 2012

    I've been thinking a lot about this book because so many people are so in love with it.  There are a lot of people talking about what a remarkably profound book it is and how wonderful it is.  I didn't really get that feeling from it.  So, I've been wondering why I didn't feel that way about it.  Much like Fifty Shades of Gray, I feel like this is a bandwagon book.  It gets a lot of word of mouth talking up from non-readers, so it becomes this big thing.  Then the "experienced readers" kind of sit around bewildered by the response because either they already knew about this thing and have been sitting on the bandwagon for ages or they know it's not really worth getting on the bandwagon because there are way better things out there.  In terms of this book, I fall in the second category.

    I'll say what I liked first.  I expected it to be super sad all the time, like read it with a tissue box kind of sad.  It wasn't really.  There were some great bits of humor throughout the book.  Parents were present in this YA book.  Cancer/dying/illness wasn't glamorized in this book.  It was hard and lingering and unpleasant.  There was a realistic portraying.  It wasn't romanticized.

    I didn't like the way the characters interacted with each other.  I didn't like the way they talked to each other.  It was cute for the sake of the book, but it wasn't realistic.  How many people talk to each other that way?  Highly educated adults don't speak to each other that way, I doubt high school children are going to. 

    Anyway, that's my two bits about this book.  What did you think?

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Blog Tour: Her Summer with the Marine by Susan Meier

    Author: Susan Meier
    Publisher: Entangled Bliss
    Date of publication:  March 2014

    The last person Ellie McDermott wanted to run into after returning to her hometown is Finn Donovan, her high school nemesis and the guy she crossed the line from enemies to lovers with one night years ago. Now ex-military, tattooed, and still sexy as hell, Finn is a complication Ellie doesn’t need—she needs to concentrate on saving her family business.

    Finn’s entire life, Ellie was there, going head-to-head with him in every class, bee, and test. So it’s no surprise she’d show up just as he was about to take over her father's struggling business. It is a surprise, though, that his attraction to her is even more explosive than it had been. Acting on their attraction is one thing, but Finn has to turn a profit to save his own family, and nothing—not even love—will get in his way. 

    Her Summer with the Marine was not like I was expecting.  It ended up being just an OK read for me.  It felt like it took a while to get going. Ellie is back in her home town because her father's Alzheimer's has gotten worse.  She decides she needs to keep the family business running in order to pay for his nursing home fees.  Finn runs the competition.  He wants to buy her out in order to save his own business.  They have  been in competition with each other ever since grade school. The attraction between the two is probably the better part of the book.  Although, it did feel a bit forced to me at times.

    Normally, I probably wouldn't have had a problem with a little friendly competition.  It can make for some great tension.  But when I found out the businesses in question were funeral homes, I was a bit disturbed.  The one up-man-ship that these two displayed when promoting their business was kind of creepy and distasteful.  I didn't like that part at all. Who goes trolling for business at a funeral?  

    I also had to question some of the decisions that Ellie makes in the book. She knows nothing about running a funeral home or accounting.  She has a full time job in advertising.  Yet, she decides to keep the business open because it would mean spending more time with her father.  A father who doesn't remember her half the time.  Why not sell the business and move him to a facility closer to her apartment? She doesn't even like funerals or anything that goes along with them.

    The book has gotten some good reviews, so I'll just have to chalk this one up as a not for me book.  Give it a try and see what you think. Check out what others on the tour are saying here
    About the author:

    A one-time legal secretary and director of a charitable foundation, Susan Meier found her own personal
    ‘bliss’ when she became a full-time novelist. She’s visited ski lodges and candy factories for “research” and works in her pajamas.
    But the real joy of her job is creating stories about women for women. In her sixty published novels, she’s tackled issues like infertility, losing a child and becoming widowed. Her favorite stories are those that inspire laughter through tears.
    Susan lives in western Pennsylvania with her own hero, their son and two fabulous felines, Sophia Maria Lolita Conchita Chiquita Banana and Fluffy.