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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline


Bird in Hand: A NovelPublisher: Harper Paperbacks 
ISBN: 0060798904
Pages: 288 pgs
Genre: Drama
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
Rating: 





    Summary (from Publisher):

    The accident was just that -- an accident. It was dark, it was raining, ALISON had two drinks in her, and the other car ran the stop sign. She just didn′t get out of the way fast enough. But now a little boy -- not her own -- is dead, and Alison finds herself trapped under the twin burdens of grief and guilt, and feeling increasingly estranged from her husband . . .

    CHARLIE, who has his own burdens. He′s in a job he doesn′t love so that Alison can stay home with the kids (and why isn′t she more grateful for that?); he has a house in the suburbs and a long commute to and from the city each day. And the only thing can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with . . .

    CLAIRE, Alison′s best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved; vibrant where Alison is demure, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly-veiled retelling of her childhood in South Carolina (which is also Alison′s, in a sense). But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can′t stop wondering if she should leave her husband . . .

    BEN, an architect who is thoughtful, kind, and patient. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two -- in fact, exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison have . . .

    Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: everything is about to change.

    My Review:

    I was looking forward to Bird in Hand. The cover is attractive and I thought, based on the summary, that this would be something that would interest me. And it did…sort of.

    From the first pages, this book put me into a rage state. I was flummoxed as to why Alison thought the accident was her fault. Yes, she was drinking and driving and yes, it’s wrong and should never happen. But I thought the child’s parents were so much more culpable. They blew the stop sign and, even worse, the mother was holding the boy is her lap because he was cold and afraid of the dark. I’m sorry but being cold and afraid of the dark is much better than being thrown through a windshield. That was the first red flag that this book was going to anger me.

    Another red flag was that I hated most of the characters. Alison has absolutely no love or affection for her children, or at least she doesn’t exhibit any. She seems to care more about the fate of the boy in the accident than her own children. She foists them on a nanny any chance she gets. Charlie, Alison’s husband, is just a plain old schmuck. Why marry someone when you are clearly in love with someone else? Especially if that person is your wife’s best friend. And why stay in that marriage? Put on your big girl panties and leave. Get divorced. Don’t stay and make it that much worse. Claire was as self-absorbed and obnoxious as a person can be without being a completely unlikeable. She had such a good husband in Ben and threw him over for Charlie, “the epic waste of space”. Sleeping with your best friend’s husband is a huge “no no” in even the most evil of women. Ben was the only character that I had any form of sympathy for. The poor guy did not have any idea what was going to hit him. But he was a schmuck, too. He let Claire lead him around by the nose hairs. He was so weak. He walked around with his head in the clouds.

    Even through my dislike of the characters, I couldn’t help but like this book and, usually, if I hate the characters, I hate the book. I thought Bird in Hand was very well-written and interesting even if the characters made me want to rip my hair out. I also enjoyed the way they story shifted between past and present. The one thing I really did love about Bird in Hand is the ending. Ben and Alison got their fresh start while Charlie and Claire lost everything important and will likely be in the same place in a few years. Overall, I thought Bird in Hand was good but I just wish the characters had been more likeable.

    *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, July 27, 2010

    To Conquer a Highlander by Mary Wine

    To Conquer a Highlander

    Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
    ISBN: 1402237375
    Pages: 352 pgs
    Genre: Romance-Historical, Highlander
    Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
    Rating: 





      Summary (from Publisher):

      A fierce Highland laird ready to kill for king and country...

      When Torin McLeren discovers his neighbor's plot against his king, he takes their daughter as his prisoner, thereby stopping her father's plot from going forward. But that leaves him with a woman under his roof whom he can't ignore, and not just because she's his enemy's daughter...

      A woman who's as much trouble as she is temptation...

      Shannon McBoyd decides to use her captor to experience passion for the first time, and then to destroy him. But her plan goes awry because once she has lured Torin into her bed, she no longer wants to hurt the one man who seems to value and understand her...

      Even if her father will kill him-and her-when he discovers what they've done...



      My Review:

      Kidnapping is one of my favorite romance plots. Stockholm Syndrome is not a good thing in real life but in a romance novel, it is ideal. There is almost always great tension between the characters and lots of action and drama. That was no different with this one. There was plenty of drama, action and romance to be had in To Conquer a Highlander.

      Torin was one of the most interesting Highlander characters I have ever come across. He was such a nice guy. He was funny with a bit of a scampy sense of humor. I am used to more warrior-like Highlander characters. He was definitely different. He was still tough but had that sweet and funny side to him that I really liked. Shannon, on the other hand, got on my nerves a bit. I always have trouble liking characters that remind me of myself---stubborn, bull-headed and with a bit of a temper. I did like her because  and the moments where she annoyed me were outweighed by the moments where I really liked her.  I also really loved the tension and banter between Shannon and Torin.

      The descriptiveness was one of the best parts of To Love a Highlander. Everything is so detailed and researched. My favorite was the detailed description of the dungeon. It was so gruesome and realistic (not that I would know). The battle scenes were also amazing. It is a very rare romance novel that can pull off a good battle scene and Mary Wine did in To Conquer a Highlander.

      If you like Highlander romances, I highly recommend that you pick this one up if for nothing else but the amazing descriptions (and Torin is kinda pretty too).

      *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.
      mysig

      Monday, July 26, 2010

      Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

      Waking the Witch (Women of the Otherworld, Book 11)

      Publisher: Dutton Adult
      ISBN: 0525951784
      Pages: 320 pgs
      Genre: Paranormal Suspense
      Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
      Rating: 





        Summary (from Publisher):

        At twenty-one, Savannah Levine-orphaned daughter of a notorious dark witch and an equally notorious cutthroat sorcerer-considers herself a full-fledged member of the otherworld. The once rebellious teen has grown into a six-foot-tall, motorcycle-riding jaw-dropper, with an impressive knowledge of and ability to perform spells. The only problem is, she's having a hard time convincing her adoptive parents, Paige and Lucas, to take her seriously as an adult. She's working as the research assistant at the detective agency they founded, and when they take off on a romantic vacation alone, leaving her in charge, Savannah finds herself itching for a case to call her own. (She's also itching for Adam, her longtime friend and colleague, to see her as more than just a little girl, but that's another matter.)

        Suddenly, Savannah gets the chance she's been waiting for: Recruited by another supernatural detective, she travels to Columbus, Washington, a small, dying town. Two troubled young women have been found in an abandoned warehouse, murdered. Now a third woman's dead, and on closer inspection small details point to darker forces at play. Savannah feels certain she can handle the case, but with signs of supernatural activity appearing at every turn, things quickly become more serious- and far more dangerous-than she realizes.

        My Review:

        I was a bit wary of this one. It is a part of a huge series and I was worried that I could not catch up. Usually, I am okay with jumping in at the third or fourth book but the eleventh made me quite nervous. It still does in reviewing this book because I am not quite sure if I am going to get everything right.

        I must first start out by saying that from the moment I started, I was sucked into the story. The mystery was so engrossing that I could overlook the moments of “Huh?” that comes with reading the eleventh book in a series without reading the previous ten. I thought that the mystery was very well-developed and interesting. I enjoyed watching Savannah solve the case. Even though, who the bad guy was in relation to the rest of the series is still rather hazy.

        I probably would not have liked this book if Savannah had been less awesome (for lack of a better word). She was independent and intelligent. I liked traits in her that I would have found obnoxious in any other female character. She was headstrong and bull-headed…usually huge minuses in my book…but, overall, she was very likeable. I was hoping, in the beginning, for a romance with Jesse but it turns out there really wasn’t any romance at all in Waking the Witch (although there is hope for Adam and Savannah). I found the lack of romance refreshing because I have been inundated with romances lately and it is nice to have a break.

        I really loved Waking the Witch. I am wondering why I have never heard of this series before because it seems like I should have. I am going to order all of the other books from Amazon because I loved this book and want to reread without the confusion.

        *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.
        mysig

        Sunday, July 25, 2010

        Sea Escape by Lynne Griffin

        Sea Escape: A Novel Publisher: Simon & Schuster
        ISBN: 1439180601
        Pages: 304 pgs
        Genre: Romance-Women’s Fiction, Family Drama
        Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
        Rating: 






          Summary (from Publisher):
          Acclaimed novelist and nationally recognized family expert Lynne Griffin returns with Sea Escape—an emotional, beautifully imagined story inspired by the author’s family letters about the ties that bind mothers and daughters. 

          Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to her two young children when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in after the death of her beloved husband, Joseph. There, Laura hunts for the legendary love letters her father wrote to her mother when he served as a reporter for the Associated Press during wartime Vietnam. 

          Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words will have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother, a woman who once spoke the language of fabric—of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage—but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, she becomes increasingly determined to save her mother. As each letter reveals a patchwork detail of her parents’ marriage, she discovers a common thread: a secret that mother and daughter unknowingly share. 

          Weaving back and forth from Laura’s story to her mother’s, beginning in the idyllic 1950s with Helen’s love affair with Joseph through the tumultuous Vietnam War period on to the present, Sea Escape takes a gratifying look at what women face in their everyday lives—the balancing act of raising capable and happy children and being accomplished and steadfast wives while still being gracious and good daughters. It is a story that opens the door to family secrets so gripping, you won’t be able to put this book down until each is revealed. 


          My Review:
          I was not expecting to like Sea Change. I have not been  in the mood for drama lately and this seemed to be exactly the type of book I was avoiding. It turns out that my reading moods are often wrong. 

          I love books about the homefront during wartime. It may be a flashback fascination from my History major thesis but the way that women manage their lives and make life go on as normal is nothing short of amazing to me. The letters from Joseph to Helen were so lovely and full of love that it was difficult not to feel a strong connection to their relationship. I found myself amazed at myself because of my attachment to Helen and Joseph because Joseph was mostly absent and Helen mostly in denial. It should have annoyed me but it didn’t. 

          I also loved Laura, Helen and Joseph’s daughter. She had to deal with so much with her mother’s stroke, her children and her brother. I had so much sympathy for her. She was clearly a gardener in a family full of flowers (to quote my lovely mother).  I wanted to give her a piece of pound cake and a nice cup of tea (the solution to any problem) and just let her vent because she clearly needed to.

          Sea Change is a beautifully written novel. I will come back to this one again someday. There is a huge shocker at the for anyone enamored with Joseph and Helen. It shocked and saddened me and that is all that this reviewer will say because I don’t want to spoil.
          *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.

          Thursday, July 22, 2010

          Captured by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon

          Captured by Moonlight

          Publisher: Pocket
          ISBN: 1439149658
          Pages: 368 pgs
          Genre: Romance-Comtemporary/Paranormal/Suspense
          Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
          Rating: 







          Summary (from Publisher):
          IN THIS DARK THRILLER FROM NANCY GIDEON’S SULTRY NEW SERIES, SEXY NEW ORLEANS COP CHARLOTTE CAISSIE GOES HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH THE LAST NEMESIS SHE EVER EXPECTED: HER SUPERNATURAL BOYFRIEND.THEIR LOVE IS JUST BEGINNING.

          Detective Charlotte Caissie is growing used to the secrets that come with loving the mysterious leader of a shape-shifter clan. But that doesn’t mean she has to like it. She’s avoided complications of the heart all her life, but when it comes to irresistible Max Savoie, she’ll force the truth out of him if she has to.

          HIS TIME IS ALMOST UP.

          Hunted by the deadly trackers his nefarious father warned him about, Max is transforming into a preternatural force he can’t explain and Cee Cee will never understand. He’s tempting the dangerous limits of their love, but it’s her curiosity that could get them both killed. 

          WILL THEY EVER REALLY BE TOGETHER? 
           
          When Max discovers the enemy’s true target is someone far more vulnerable than he, he must do the unthinkable to save his own flesh and blood. But he can’t fight this battle alone, and Cee Cee faces the ultimate test of loyalty: the man she’d sacrifice everything for . . . or the laws she swore her life to protect. 

          My Review:
          Usually when I walk into a series with the third book, I end up muddling through the book, hating the whole not knowing thing and eventually abandoning my quest to finish the book and gain some sort of understanding. I am the type of person that reads a series in order or I don’t read the series at all. Captured by Moonlight was much the same but only for the first couple of chapters. I ended up loving this book. Shows what I know about me and my reading habits. 

          I love my broody shapeshifters and I have been looking for another broody shapeshifter series while I am waiting for Lydia Dare’s next book. I was very lucky when I stumbled onto this series because Max is the perfect broody shapeshifter. He is broody but not emo, he is strong but not frightening (I promise that is my last broody of the day). As I said, perfect. Charlotte was a great heroine. She was never weak or wimpy and she never lapsed into that annoying place that some heroines do. The main attraction to Captured by Moonlight is the constant struggle between Max’s unwillingness to allow Charlotte to love the more aggressive, animalistic side of him. The chemistry and love between them was so intense but so was the conflict and I love that. 

          Even though there were quite large portions of the character’s stories that I was missing, I did find it very easy to fall in love with this book. It sort of reminded me of the Southern Vampire Mysteries (without the pesky vampires) and Lydia Dare’s series (without the ye olden-ness). I mean that in an entirely complementary way—those are two of my favorite series. The characters were interesting and the writing was very good. I am going to go back and buy the rest of the series because I want to know what I am missing. 

          *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.
          mysig

          Wednesday, July 21, 2010

          The Wild Irish Sea by Loucinda McGary

          The Wild Irish Sea: A windswept tale of love and magic

          Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
          ISBN: 1402226713
          Pages: 320 pgs
          Genre: Romance-Comtemporary/Paranormal/Suspense
          Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
          Rating: 







          Summary (from Publisher):

          Drawn to a force he can't resist...
          Former police officer Kevin Hennessey is running from his past-choosing to battle smugglers instead of dealing with his personal demons. When a desperate, rain-drenched American woman appears on his doorstep with wild tales of danger, Kevin is drawn to helping her, despite his reservations...


          She never saw him coming...
          Amber O'Neill knew without a doubt that her brother was in mortal danger. Rushing heedlessly to the rocky shores of Ireland, Amber was stunned to find her rescue mission derailed by a gorgeous, but deeply flawed Irishman...


          The tumultuous sea, the intertwined fates of the coastal villagers, and unearthly tales of a hidden selkie prince bring Kevin and Amber together in a connection of mind, body, and soul that neither can deny...

          My Review:

          I am not quite sure what to think of this one even three days after finishing it. I usually have a clearer opinion of a book after the two day debriefing period that I usually give myself after finishing a book but with this one, I am just more muddled. There was so much I did love about this book that I know that I liked it but I am just not sure how much.

          Amber comes to Ireland in search of her brother, Parker. Through their telepathic connection, Amber knows that Parker is in peril. She seeks out the help of Kevin, the reclusive local investigator. I loved both Kevin and Amber. Kevin was particularly interesting. I couldn’t help but feel bad for him after losing his wife and child in one fell swoop. We all know that I love my broody heroes but I just wanted to give Kevin a cuddle. I also liked Amber quite a bit. She was the type of heroine that one rarely sees. She was intelligent, self-reliant and strong. I did annoyed with her at times but not often.

          It took me a while to get into the paranormal aspect of this book and, to be honest, I think that is why I am a bit unsure about my opinion. I loved that Amber had a telepathic connection with Parker and Kevin. It showed the connection with both of the men in her life and added to the story quite a bit. I liked it but I think I would have enjoyed the book a but more if the paranormal element had been less of a focus. I just loved the characters so much that I wanted to see more of them and more of the development of their relationship.

          I liked this book quite a bit. I probably will look up Loucinda McGary’s other books simply because her characters in this one were so amazing.

          *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.
          mysig

          Wednesday, July 14, 2010

          Review: The Fire Lord’s Lover by Kathryne Kennedy

          Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
          ISBN: 1402236522
          Pages: 384 pgs
          Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Romance
          Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
          Rating:

             

             
            If his powers are discovered, his father will destroy him...

            In a magical land ruled by ruthless Elven lords, the Fire Lord's son Dominic Raikes plays a deadly game to conceal his growing might from his malevolent father-until his arranged bride awakens in him passions he thought he had buried forever...

            Unless his fiancée kills him first...

            Lady Cassandra has been raised in outward purity and innocence, while secretly being trained as an assassin. Her mission is to bring down the Elven Lord and his champion son. But when she gets to court she discovers that nothing is what it seems, least of all the man she married...

            Then Dominic and Cassandra together uncover an unspeakable evil, one that threatens the destruction of the magical realm they would give their souls to save...



            My Review:

            So, I am back with the romances after a slight sojourn into fiction and YA. I have reviewed Kathryne Kennedy’s My Unfair Lady before and I was looking forward to reading something new of hers. I was a bit unsure because of the whole elves thing. I am familiar with almost every other form of paranormal romance but elves…not so much. Vampires, werewolves, fairies, shapeshifters are all well and good with me but I had to adjust to the elves. Usually when I think of elves it’s either the cookie making variety,  the Santa Claus seasonal ones or the semi-sexy but kinda overly pretty  Tolkien elves. I was very happy that the elves in Kathryne Kennedy’s world were more like the Tolkien elves although a bit tougher, more surly and less pretty (although still pretty).

            The characters in The Fire Lord’s Lover were pretty awesome. Dominic, in spite of his prettiness, was quite gruff and stoic. I loved that he was not the typical “sweep off of feet” type of hero, he was more of the  “annoy till heroine wants to strangle” type. Cassandra was the real highlight of the book. She was active, witty and strong. She was believable and sympathetic. I mean, you had to sympathize with her. Her elven putz of a husband dances with his mistress at their wedding and constantly flaunts the hag in front of her. I also liked that she was never a weak or simpering damsel but an assassin with the task of killing Dominic's power-hungry, insane and sadistic father.

            Usually, for me, the fantasy element plays second fiddle to the romance. That is not to say that I am not a fan of fantasy but I definitely gravitate more towards the romance. However, with The Fire Lord’s Lover, I enjoyed both the romance and fantasy elements equally. Kennedy created a fantasy world and a mythology that kept me completely engrossed throughout. The only fantasy world that I got even half as interested in is J.K. Rowling’s. I only have a very minor sort of criticism about this book and it is very minor. There is a huge plot development towards the end that felt like it was almost part of a different book. Perhaps it serves as a segue into the next book in the series. I did find it to be a very interesting plot development and I can’t wait to see what happens in the rest of the series.

            I am really looking forward to the rest of the series because it looks like it is going to be an amazing ride. I will be trolling the next book like a rabid fangirl.

            *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.
             

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