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Thursday, September 30, 2010

For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick

For the King's FavorPublisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402244495
Pages: 544 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Summary from Publisher:
A Bittersweet Tale of Love, Loss, and the Power of Royalty

When Roger Bigod arrives at King Henry II's court to settle a bitter inheritance dispute, he becomes enchanted with Ida de Tosney, young mistress to the powerful king. A victim of Henry's seduction and the mother of his son, Ida sees in Roger a chance to begin a new life. But Ida pays an agonizing price when she leaves the king, and as Roger's importance grows and he gains an earldom, their marriage comes under increasing strain. Based on the true story of a royal mistress and the young lord she chose to marry, For the King's Favor is Elizabeth Chadwick at her best.

My Review:
I love big and bulky historical fiction novels. It's the history major in me that loved to buy huge history textbooks for fun. I was really looking forward to this one. I have heard many great things about Elizabeth Chadwick's books and could not wait to get started with this one. I was not disappointed.

I knew next to nothing about Roger Bigod and Ida de Tosney before I read this book. I knew that I had passed over their names in a history book once upon a time but didn't actually know anything about them.  I loved reading about both Roger and Ida. They were so well developed and interesting. I thought they had terrific chemistry together as characters. I am interested in doing more research about them.

It is a very rare historical fiction novel where I think that the characters and time period are portrayed perfectly. This is one of them. This is not one of my favorite historical periods but I really loved all of the little details that Chadwick included about the food, the clothing and the lifestyle of the 1100s. It really helped you feel that you were a part of that time period. I also loved that the language was not straight out of a history textbook. It was conversational and engaging. I can't stand historical fiction novels that sound too clinical or factoid vomit.

I loved this book. It brought to life historical people that I knew nothing about and created an almost obsession for me. I can't wait to pick up the rest of Elizabeth Chadwick's books.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Fine Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy

One Fine CowboyPublisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402236700
Pages: 416 pgs
Genre: Romance/Western/Comtemporary
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Summary from Publisher:
 He's got a way with horses...and with women...

His heart is as wild as the horses he trained...
Nate Shawcross is perfectly content to spend his days training wild horses. So when a beautiful greenhorn unexpectedly shows up for a seminar from the famous "Horse Whisperer" of Wyoming, all Nate wants to do is send her packing...

The last thing she expects is a lesson in romance...
Graduate student Charlie Banks came to the ranch to learn about horse communication, but when she meets the ruggedly handsome cowboy, she starts to fantasize about another connection entirely...
Nate needs to stay focused if he's going to save his ranch from foreclosure, but he can't help being distracted by the brainy and breathtakingly sexy Charlie. Could it be that after all this time Nate has finally found the one woman who can tame his wild heart?

My Review:
I love westerns. I prefer historicals but westerns come a very close second. A good cowboy is almost as good as a good rake in a pinch.

I loved Charlie. I identified with her. She was ambitious, intelligent and had a strong voice. I loved her connection with the horses especially Junior and Trouble. The scenes with Junior brought tears to my eyes. I have always been a huge sap for horses. I can't even watch Flicka or Barbaro without going through some emotional trauma.  I usually don't like nice guy heroes (they bore me) but I loved Nate. It completely befuddled me how such a nice guy could even consider a relationship with a woman like Sandi.

I am struggling to find something that I didn't like about One Fine Cowboy. I loved the focus on horses and animals in general most of all. There is nothing that can kick me in the emotional caboose more that a novel about animals (Black Beauty is still off limits). It is a very rare novel that can feature animals and not become mushy but One Fine Cowboy managed it very well with excellent writing and character development.

I loved One Fine Cowboy. It was one of my favorite reads from the Readathon. I can't wait for more from Joanne Kennedy.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

The Recipe Club: A Novel About Food and Friendship Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
ISBN: 0061992291
Pages: 352 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

 Summary from Publisher:

Loyalty, loss, and the ties that bind: These are the ingredients of The Recipe Club, a "novel cookbook" that combines an authentic story of friendship with more than eighty delicious recipes.

Lifelong friends Lilly and Val are united as much by their differences as by their similarities. In childhood, "LillyPad" and "ValPal" form an exclusive two-person club, writing intimate letters in which they share hopes, fears, deepest secrets . . . and recipes—from Lilly's "Lovelorn Lasagna" to Valerie's "Forgiveness Tapenade." The Recipe Club sustains Lilly and Val's bond across the decades: through the challenges of independence, the joys and heartbreaks of first love, and the emotional complexities of family relationships, identity, mortality, and goals deferred—until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.

 My Review:

I am a sucker for food books. Not necessarily cook books (unless it's a cupcake book) but books about food. Sometimes it leads me in strange directions...sometimes in a really good way and others this obsession leads me to read absolutely horrible literature. I was happy that this one was so good.

I loved both Val and Lilly. They were such great characters and I loved seeing their friendship develop through their letters. They each had such distinctive voices and both of their stories were so compelling. I loved watching them grow and mature both in their friendship and individually. I do have to admit that I spent the majority of the early chapters jealous of Lilly on Val's behalf. It always seemed like she was getting all the attention.

I loved the recipes. I have not gotten a chance to try any of them but I have marked some of them to try on family (I always test on those poor people first). I loved how the recipes were such a big part of the girls' friendship and life stories. They were scattered throughout the book and weaved their way into the correspondence between Lilly and Val. They were as much a part of the story as the letters that were telling the story. I also found that letters were a very effective way of storytelling. It usually doesn't work for me but it worked really well and only aided me in loving these two characters all the more.

I really loved this book. It was quite the charming read and I can't wait to try some of the recipes. 

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bad Heir Day by Wendy Holden

Bad Heir Day: A Comedy of High Class and Dire StraitsPublisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402240619
Pages: 352 pgs
Genre: Romance/Humor/Comtemporary
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Summary from Publisher:
Anna's boyfriend is impossibly handsome, impossibly rich, and generally just impossible. When he inevitably dumps her, she vows to give up men and throws herself into her career as an aspiring novelist. Which is how she ends up working for Cassandra.

The social climber from hell, Cassandra has a huge mansion, a philandering rock star husband, Satan for a son, and a bestselling writing career that has massively stalled.

So when dashing Jamie, charming heir to a castle in Scotland, offers Anna an escape beyond her wildest dreams, she can't believe her luck. And she probably shouldn't...

My Review:
I was really looking forward to this one when I pulled it up on my Sony Reader. It looked like just the type of book I love.  British humor with a touch of romance. But there was something missing from this one. I liked it and couldn't put it down while reading but there were just some things that didn't work so well for me.

I have never met a book where the main characters annoyed me as much as in Bad Heir Day. Anna was a doormat. Always getting abused by her moron, Mummy's boy boyfriend and then by her narcissistic and overbearing boss. I hoped that she would gain a backbone and tell everyone off but she never did. Cassandra, Anna's boss, was perhaps the most evil and self-serving character I have ever come across--even on the level of Voldemort, Cruella Deville and Ursula from the Little Mermaid. She was loud, obnoxious, and selfish. She is also neglectful of her husband and son and treats those around her life trash. I never thought I would say this but I can understand why her husband sleeps with the nannies. However, I did find her interactions with Anna to be quite hilarious because Anna is normal, almost too normal, and Cassandra is a psychopath in the Joan Crawford "Mommie Dearest" kinda way. Now I must get to the real reason for my disappointment with this book...Jaime. I was expecting a dashing, debonair laird but I got a doddering and dimwitted man with more mummy issues (Nanny issues really) than her previous boyfriend. It really shocked me because I was expecting him to be the hero of this book because it seemed from the start that he would be. The real hero is even more of a shocker but spoilers are bad.

I was expecting this book to make me chuckle and it did...a lot. Anna had me cowering in embarrassment in a way that only Bridget Jones had succeeded before, Jaime was just a pathetic piece of inept man and Cassandra had rage episodes that had me in full blown laughter.   I also love the British type of self-effacing and sarcastic humor. It really is the only stuff that can make me really laugh. I was not expecting to be shocked and flabbergasted by Bad Heir Day. In my romance novel world, there is one hero and one heroine and when the hero whisks his heroine to his Highland castle it is not for any other reason other than he wants to marry her and have lots of kilted babies with her and if it is an "arrangement", it is not one for very long. But contrary to my norm, I was so happy when the romance with Jaime did not happen. Anna deserved so much better than that wussy, whimpy specimen of genetic fail.

Overall, this was one great read. Not because it does what you expect it to do but because it is surprising and hilarious. It also causes some extremely responses. If you don't have a strong reaction to the characters, I wonder about you.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest Blog: Michelle Picard, Author of Surviving Eden

Surviving Eden
First, my thanks go to Books Like Breathing for hosting me today. I’m merrily making my way around our virtual book addict world to announce my newest release, Surviving Eden, the second in my Eden’s Court fantasy romance series. Although I’ll post my blurb and contact necessaries below, first I wanted to talk about a subject near and dear to almost every author—the origins of our story ideas.

I’ve written about this before, describing how my story and character ideas pop out of songs with vibrant potency as I listen to the newest release on the radio. Entire scenes or unique plot twists descend on me on a treadmill or bicycle, amazing me that they came from the same brain which had been struggling just that morning completely stuck. My mind has spun over the countless books I’ve read, synthesizing the magic and subconsciously sifting through elements that attracted or repelled me. I know these stories influenced me and the direction of my writing, authors inspiring me to recreate not their particular style, but the sense of emotional impact their words created yet in my own unique way. My fascinations with certain symbols (gateways for instance), philosophical ideas or spiritual orientations to the world (an attraction to reincarnation) also influence my ideas and creep into my work. In addition, current events and the urgency behind crises such as global warming or the decay of urban areas have woven themselves into my plot lines. And, I must admit, elements of my own experiences, my personal struggles, creep into my writing and influence my characters.

All of these factors make story creation an organic process, some affecting one manuscript more than another. Organic is the best word because this is not a linear process. It erupts into a unique blend with every new novel. I watched a fantastic podcast on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert ( author of Eat, Pray, Love, where she discusses the ancient Greek and Roman idea of the artist as channeling the gods, i.e. creativity as a divine attendant spirit. A muse. Today people mostly believe creativity comes from the self, from the individual talent of the artist. And while a spectacular review of one of my stories may make my chest swell with pride and eagerly reach for sole credit for the masterpiece, I see a lot of truth in acknowledging the outside influences, whether we call them spirits or the collective unconscious, or just the impact our crazy, complex world has upon us. Creativity defies linear thinking, even for us poor authors who carefully plot and outline stories. It is magic and I think we have to honor its nature as such. Maybe that’s why I am a fantasy writer and am attracted to the concept of magic. It touches my life on a daily basis through my work. It feels right to buy creativity as a divine attendant spirit. I kind of like that idea. Where do you fall on this subject? What do you believe about creative inspiration?

Okay, enough rambling. I’ve promised a look at the Surviving Eden blurb. If you visit my website, you’ll get linked to an excerpt from this story as well as the details about and an excerpt of its predecessor, Ruling Eden, a 2010 PRISM award finalist. My website also provides links to purchase my stories (in both e-format and print format).

Now, as promised, the blurb:

Rachel Rieh wields enough magic to make a goddess jealous, or so she learned three weeks ago when she thought she was an ordinary, reclusive, and short-tempered gal from Boston. In this second story of Eden’s Court, Rachel, now the new ruler of the Kesayim, (angels, demons, dragons, faeries, vampires, shapeshifters and witches¾the goddess-created protectors of mortalkind) finds herself faced with the task of stopping vampire hunters from annihilating the vampire race. Her lover, Gabriel, half-angel, half-demon, stands by her side to help if she can escape her obsession with protecting him at all cost.

Earth is already on the verge of destruction within six months because magic is out of balance. The new threat to the vampires destabilizes the situation more. In her race to save the vampires, Rachel meets Lillith, goddess, creator of all Kesayim and humans, and the one with all the answers to Rachel’s problems. But is the cold-hearted goddess intent on changing Rachel into her image the greater threat to Rachel and everyone she loves?
If you’ve liked what you read and want to learn more about Rachel, Gabriel and the world of Eden’s Court, visit me at or my blogs at and I can also be contacted at if you care to send me a message.

Be well and stay magical.


 Now for the serious part-The blog host with the most comments and a randomly drawn commenter will win a special gardening set consisting of a hummingbird feeder, nectar concentrate food for the feeder, and several packets of garden flowers. Sounds awesome, huh? So comment!...Please :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Catch-Up Readathon Final Update

Title of book(s) read since last update: Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery, She's So Dead To Us by Keiran Scott, All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins, Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel,One Fine Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy, Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn, For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick
Number of books read since you started: Finished 7
Pages read since last update: 1248
Running total of pages read since you started: 3280
Running total of time spent reading since you started: - 30 hours

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Wild Light by Marjorie M. Liu

A Wild Light (Hunter Kiss, Book 3)Publisher: Ace
ISBN: 0441019013
Pages: 320 pgs
Genre: Romance/Paranormal/Demons
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Summary from Publisher:
For too long Maxine Kiss has felt an inexplicable darkness inside her-a force she channels into hunting the demons bent on destroying the human race. But when she finds herself covered in blood and crouched beside her grandfather's dead body with no memory of what happened, Maxine begins to fear that the darkness has finally consumed her.

My Review:
I am not completely opposed to jumping into a series at the middle or end. It just depends on how well it is done and if I can significantly figure out what has gone before and the relationships between the characters. It is different from series to series. Sometimes I can jump in and sometimes I can't. This was one of those that I couldn't.

I did like the the book. I thought the characters were engaging. I liked Maxine but I never felt that I made any sort of connection with her even though I wanted to. I thought she was interesting but I never felt that I got to know her on any deep level. I also liked the rest of the characters and want to get to know them better. I also loved Liu's writing style and storytelling. 

I felt that I was missing something important throughout the whole novel and because of that I could not get into the novel. I found myself trudging through it, trying to figure out what was going on. There was enough rehash of the previous books to catch me up but the rehash wasn't done in a manner that I found engaging. It wasn't necessarily boring but there was just so much of it that I became a bit disinterested after a while.

This was one of those books that I am on the fence about. I have the books on reserve at my library and will probably redo this review once I read them because I have a feeling that I will like this book much more.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wishful Wednesday (September 22nd)

Wishful Wednesday hosted by The Bluestocking Guide

I am reluctant to admit to any book desires given the state of my bookshelves. You'll see picks of that travesty in a later post.

Most of my wish list this week comes from a lovely publishing company called Omnific Publishing. All of the books sound so good and I have spent the majority of my week debating with myself on whether or not to splurge.

1. Stitches and ScarsStitches and Scars by Elizabeth A. Vincent
After a move out of the big city to escape heartbreak, photographer Katherine Thomas embraces life in a new town. With her two best friends by her side, she's ready to start over and not look back. During her first major exhibition at a legitimate art gallery, Kate expects the inevitable nerves, but what she doesn't anticipate is meeting someone who with one glance leaves her breathless. What happens when the charming mystery man disappears, leaving Kate wanting more? Without even knowing his name, the odds of finding him again are stacked against her. Will fate intervene, and if it does, will her old wounds prevent her from acting on the undeniable connection she feels? 

2.Trust in AdvertisingTrust in Advertising by Victoria Michaels
Lexi White finds herself at a crossroads. After putting everything on hold to care for her ailing father, it's finally time for her to start living her life again. An exciting new job holds the promise of a fresh start, until she comes face to face with someone from her past who has always stopped her dead in her tracks, and who evidently still has the power to make her forget her own name. This time around, Lexi's a grown woman who refuses to back away from her dreams, even if it requires working with her old high school crush. Side by side. Every day. Will he end up being her downfall or exactly what she needs? Vincent doesn't even remember Lexi from high school, but he begins to take notice when the fiery young woman is hired as his new assistant. Quickly, Lexi turns his world upside down and becomes an invaluable addition not only to his team, but to his life. Having learned a few hard lessons about trust in the past, Vincent is reluctant to let down his guard, especially when it appears that someone is out to sabotage his family's advertising agency. Professionally, they are dynamite together, but when sparks fly between them personally, will Vincent let lies and jealousy ruin everything between them, or will he finally learn not only how to love, but ultimately advertising? Victoria Michaels once again delivers a can't-put-it-down novel loaded with engaging characters, cheeky dialogue, and powerful emotions. Trust in Advertising is a cleverly woven tale about two people getting to know each other and ultimately themselves. 
 3. Boycotts & BarfliesBoycotts & Barflies by Victoria Michaels
After an endless string of bad dates and a generally pathetic love life, Grace Park and her friends decide to boycott men for six weeks. With a fantastic pair of shoes on the line for the woman who makes it to the end without breaking any rules, the competition gets fierce. Sparks fly a few days into the bet when Grace and her friends cross paths with a sexy bartender named Michael Andris who happens to have a little bet of his own going with his friends.... 

In this hilarious debut novel, Victoria Michaels brings us a colorful and relatable cast of characters. She sends them on a sweet and sexy escapade as they sidestep one booby trap after another, manage the best of misguided intentions, and exert a whole lot of willpower and self control as they race down the path to true love. Winning isn't everything...or is it? 
 4. Take the CakeTake the Cake by Sandra White
Sometimes you just have to take life one cupcake at a time. Kate Shannon is happy with the way things are. Granted she lost her parents at a young age, but she has made a good life for herself which includes a legacy of misheard song lyrics and a malfunctioning gaydar. Kate doesn't have a Mr. Right, or even a Mr. Right Now, but what she does have is a thriving bakery in Greenwich Village called Take The Cake, and that's just the way she likes it. Better still is the competition with her barista as they try to outsmart each other every morning with their cupcake/quote war. Firing shots like Woodstock Afterburn and Vegan Rehab is enough to keep her on her toes. Who has time for dating? Across town, Michael Forrester has gone from enjoying the thrill of success to wallowing in the depths of despair. With a collection of critically acclaimed novels in his wake, Michael now spends his days battling writer's block, avoiding his publisher's calls whenever possible. With nowhere to go and nothing to write, Michael's just in time to find exactly what he didn't know he was looking for. What happens next is what you get when you combine friendship, cupcakes, and good coffee with a substance called 'the eternal breath,' all mixed up in a city like New York. Forget what you know about love, and take the cake. 
5. With Good BehaviorWith Good Behavior by Jennifer Lane
In a world gripped by organized crime, family dysfunction, and dim hopes of redemption, can true love persevere? For Sophie Taylor, a beautiful psychologist who lost everything when she violated an ethical boundary, and Grant Madsen, a handsome naval officer who sacrificed everything to protect a loved one, finding that love may carry an unbearable cost. Starting their lives over in Chicago, both are fighting influences from their family and running as fast as they can to escape the past. When their paths cross outside the parole officer's door, the attraction is instantaneous. But a hidden connection may not only shatter their fledgling love, but prove deadly to them both. 
6.Passion FishPassion Fish by Alison Oburia and Jessica McQuinn
With $3 million for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on the line, curator Eve Carwyn hardly has time to focus on the state of her love life. Struggling to escape the clutches of a creepy ex and looking to add some adventure to her personal life, Eve is off on a much needed escape, and a business trip to Boston. But before she goes, her pack of dedicated girlfriends plan a send-off party that includes mind-bending kisses from not one, but two, sensational -- yet anonymous partners. Will a chance encounter and a searing kiss somehow end in a love match? Will her career take off or lie in ruins when the grant results are in? Join Eve on her whirlwind journey through intrigue and ingenuity, terror and true love. Once the passion fishing starts, her life will never be the same.

Passion Fish is one part romance and one part heart pounding thriller. An innocent game of sexy distraction ignites a spark of love and a dangerous obsession in this exciting debut novel from Alison Oburia and Jessica McQuinn. Oburia and McQuinn offer an intriguing, suspenseful spin on the games people play when it comes to love, and the surprising lengths to which they ll go to earn it... and to keep it.  


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