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Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: The Mistress' House by Leigh Michaels

The Mistress' House
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402241356
Pages: 320 pgs
Genre: Romance/Regency
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011
 Rating:  
 Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound



Summary from publisher:
Three beautifully intertwined love stories...
The rules are made to be broken...
When the handsome, rakish Earl of Hawthorne buys the charming house across the back garden from his town home, he never expects the lovely lady he installs there to ensnare him completely...
Again...
After Lady Keighley marries the earl, it seems a shame to leave the house empty, so she offers it to her childhood friend Felicity Mercer, who discovers that the earl's gorgeous cousin is precisely the man she's been waiting for...
and again...
Finally, feisty Georgiana Baxter moves into the house to escape an arranged marriage, and encounters the earl's friend Major Julian Hampton late one night in the back garden. The handsome soldier is more than willing to give her the lessons she asks for...
There is plenty of gossip, scandal, and torrid speculations surrounding the "mistress' house", but behind closed doors, passions blaze...

My Review:

I normally don’t like short stories at all. I prefer epically long novels. It’s probably a remnant of the torture of reading those school-time short stories for reading class. They were terrible. I thought I was going to have a difficult time with this one because it was three novellas in one book but I was completely wrong.

Anne and the Earl of Hawthorne was the first couple to appear. They had such great chemistry and passion between them. I also liked how strong and self-possessed Anne was. The Earl was admittedly not my favorite type of hero. I prefer when the rakes are actually rakes but I liked him just the same. The next story focused on Felicity and Richard. I liked their story the best.  Their story was so heartbreaking. They had the best chemistry of all three couples. Their story was the only one that I wished was a full length novel. The final story was Georgiana and Julian’s. Georgiana was quite different from the other heroines. She was na├»ve and lacking in the confidence of the other two. I did love her romance with Julian though because Julian was the most rakish among the three heroes and the contrast between them was amazing.

I usually don’t like short stories or novellas because there usually isn’t much continuity between stories. I need that. I loved that each of these stories were related and each one flowed into the other. It worked really well. Although, I did miss watching the slow development of the relationship. It did seem a bit rushed at times but never so rushed that I could not enjoy the development of each story. I did catch myself wishing that each couple had their own full length novel at times. I will definitely be reading more from Leigh Michaels because if I like a series of novellas by an author I will definitely like anything else they write.

*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.

Review: Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain

Moonstruck Madness
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402242433
Pages: 384 pgs
Genre: Romance/Historical
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Rating:
Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound  




Summary from publisher:
She's one thing by day, something else altogether by night...

After  escaping the slaughter of her clan at a young age, Scottish noblewoman  Sabrina Verrick provides for her siblings by living a double life, until  the night she encounters the Duke, and her secret and all she holds  dear is threatened...

He's so disillusioned, he's completely vulnerable...

With  his inheritance at stake, Lucien, Duke of Camareigh, sets a trap for  the Scottish beauty with the piercing violet eyes, never imagining what  will happen when the trap is sprung...

As their lives become  irreversibly entangled, Lucien and Sabrina become each other's biggest  threat, as well as their only salvation...


My Review:
I read an older edition of Moonstruck Madness when I was younger (younger than I should admit). I absolutely love this type of romance novel. The hero is often far more brutish than he is rakish, the heroine is often strong-willed, and it is usually full of conflict. Call me crazy but I love it.

Sabrina is the only female Robin Hood type character that I have ever come across that did it so convincingly. She sometimes was a bit obnoxious, presumptuous, self-centered and stubborn but I couldn't help but like her. She carried the responsibility of her family's well-being on her shoulders and took care of them the best way she knew how. Lucien, on the other hand, was quite the rake. At times he seemed quite irredeemable and could be quite brutal to Sabrina. Still somehow, I found him to be one of the more interesting heroes that I have come across lately-the perfect mixture of good and bad.

I have always preferred 70’s and 80’s era romances over modern ones. I don’t know why. I like the angst and  the conflict. Some people think I’m strange for loving them but they were so popular because they were so good. As I said, I read this previously when I was much younger-my mother would be so upset if she knew how young-and I loved it then. I remember being more shocked by it then. Perhaps because of how young I was or maybe some of it was toned down in the editing process but either way it still worked for me.

I absolutely loved this book to the point where I stretched out the reading experience to make it last longer. We don’t get many of those and we must cherish those that we do get. Now don’t get me wrong, this one is not for everyone. The hero is not often sweet and gentle and you may want to suffocate the heroine with a fluffy pillow but you will not find a couple more exciting to read about and a romance so full of plot. I’m definitely going to rebuy all of Laurie McBain’s books. I’ve lost them all at some point.

*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, February 23, 2011

Review: Afterlives of the Rich and Famous by Sylvia Browne

Afterlives of the Rich and FamousPublisher: HarperOne
ISBN: 0061966797
Pages: 288 pgs
Genre: Non-Fiction
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge,
 Rating:  
 Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound

 






Summary from Publisher:
Get an All-Access Pass to the Other Side

For decades—on television, in consultations, and in packed auditoriums across the country— renowned psychic Sylvia Browne has been asked one question again and again: “What is my favorite celebrity doing on the Other Side?” Now, for the first time, you can follow the red carpet into the heart of the spirit world. Browne reveals intimate details of how some of our most cherished actors, musicians, and public figures have fared since their deaths, giving us one more glimpse into the personalities we loved and lost. Both moving and rollicking, this is one book that’s truly impossible to put down!

Afterlives of the Rich and Famous features intimate afterlife accounts of Princess Diana, John Lennon, Heath Ledger, Marilyn Monroe, and other charismatic celebrities. By channeling her longtime spirit guide, Francine, Browne gained unrestricted access to a dimension most of us can only imagine, one in which telepathic communication is the norm and everyone occupies their healthy, thirty-year-old beautiful body. In candid reports, these stars reveal fascinating details about their new lives and the work they’re doing on the Other Side, many even sharing whether and where they intend to reincarnate.

With accounts written entirely in a trance state, Afterlives of the Rich and Famous offers an unprecedented look at life on the Other Side. You’ll find detailed descriptions as Browne brings the spirit world vividly to life and explains how we get there, from what transpires at the moment of death to the extraordinary welcome spirits receive. Afterlives of the Rich and Famous is a book that no one else could have written and a must-read for every fan of this extraordinary assembly of celebrities.
 

My Review:
I’m a huge skeptic. I’m ruled by logic and all that is orderly and tangible. It is very difficult for me to believe in anything supernatural because I can’t see it myself. However, sometimes I go on these tangents where I read about psychics and hauntings just to prove to myself that it is possible. This was one of those times. I have to admit that I started reading the minute I opened received this book in the mail. That never happens to me.

I did not initially think that I would be very interested in reading about the afterlives of celebrities because, usually, I don’t care very much for them. But I found myself so interested in their afterlives even more than their actual lives. Especially since some of my favorite celebrities were featured—Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Grace Kelly, James Dean. I do have to say that Bela Lugosi creeped the heck out of me.

I also must say that I loved Sylvia Browne’s vision of the afterlife. It’s pleasant and most emphatically not the black space of nothing that I worry that it is. I don’t want to go as far as to say I completely believe it. I’m a skeptic. An open-minded one—but still a skeptic. I can definitely see myself reading a never-ending pile of books, baking cupcakes for my fantasy bakery and living in a Pemberley look-alike on the other side. It’s a pleasant thought.

I started reading this book and could not put it down. My opinion about psychics and the paranormal hasn’t changed much but I am definitely a more willing to believe type of skeptic after reading this book.

*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.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Author Interview: Marie Force

Please tell us a bit about you and your book, Everyone Loves a Hero.
MF: I’m a mom to two kids, a daughter, 15, and a son, 12, as well as a one-year-old puppy named Brandy who is as naughty as naughty gets! She keeps us entertained. Everyone Loves a Hero was inspired by a brief moment I witnessed in an airport in which an arriving pilot was greeted by a woman rushing into his arms. That’s all it took to inspire the idea for a book about a pilot who meets a woman in the airport and they change each other’s lives.
You created quite the ladies’ man with a hero complex in Cole. What do you think women find so attractive in men like him?
MF: He’s so darned handsome for one thing! And what’s not to love about a gorgeous man in uniform? He’s famous and engaging and adorable—if I do say so myself!
What authors (romance or not) have influenced you the most?
MF: I always have such trouble answering this question. There are so many authors I enjoy: Nora Roberts and Lisa Kleypas are two of my all-time favorites. I can’t say I’ve been “influenced” by anyone so much as inspired by all the great romances I’ve had the privilege to read over the years.
 What’s up next for you?
MF: I’m looking forward to the release of the next two books in my Fatal Series, book 3: Fatal Consequences is out July 18, and the Fatal wedding novella, Fatal Destiny, is free to readers on Sept. 5. Book 4, Fatal Flaw, will be out in February 2012. Right now I’m running a promotion on my blog to give readers the chance to plan the characters’ wedding: http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com.
I also recently sold my contemporary, Georgia on My Mind, to Carina Press, but don’t yet have a release date. I LOVE that book and can’t wait to get it out to readers.
 
“Lightning Round”
  •  Favorite Book: MF: Love Story
  • What book would you never read again even if was the only book left in existence: MF: No comment.
  • Favorite Movie: MF: Pretty Woman
  • Actor and Actress I would cast as Cole and Olivia: MF: Ryan Reynolds and Mandy Moore
  • Favorite word: MF: I can’t say it here. I assume this is a family show? J
  • Place I would most like to visit: MF: Ireland and Australia (tie)
  • If a genie granted me three wishes, I would wish for: MF: Continued good health for my family and friends. The opportunity to continue to connect with readers through my books. Successful and productive lives for my children. (Bonus: that my puppy Brandy might start behaving one of these days!)
  • My ideal cupcake would consist of these two flavors (Totally selfish question as I am obsessed with baking and I am running out of ideas): MF: Chocolate—is there any other flavor?
EVERYONE LOVES A HERO BY MARIE FORCE – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2011
Fame has its perks…
Reluctantly famous, First Officer Cole Langston finds being in the spotlight has its advantages—until he meets Olivia. Having women throw themselves at him everywhere he goes becomes a serious problem when he's trying to convince her she's the one…
And its price…
Olivia has trouble trusting a guy like Cole, and everywhere she turns she sees reasons to run. But he's the only man who's ever seemed to understand her as an artist and as a woman…
Cole is working overtime to prove to Olivia that he's serious, but her deep seated mistrust and his entourage 
 of unwelcomed fans may be more than they can overcome…
Marie Force Photo 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie Force is a communications director and editor-in-chief as well as the author of Line of Scrimmage, Love at First Flight, Fatal Affair and Fatal Justice, as well as True North and The Fall (available as ebooks through Amazon.com). She is a member of RWA’s New England, From the Heart and Published Authors Special Interest Chapters. Marie lives in Portsmouth, Rhode Island with her husband, two children and their feisty dog named Brandy. To find out more information about Marie’s upcoming releases, please visit www.mariesullivanforce.com.

Review: Everyone Loves A Hero by Marie Force

Everyone Loves a Hero: ...and that's the problem Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402245742
Pages:  416 pgs
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge,
2011 Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge
Rating:
Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound






Summary from Publisher:
Fame has its perks...
Reluctantly famous, First Officer Cole Langston finds being in the spotlight has its advantages-until he meets Olivia. Having women throw themselves at him everywhere he goes becomes a serious problem when he's trying to convince her she's the one...

And its price...
Olivia has trouble trusting a guy like Cole, and everywhere she turns she sees reasons to run. But he's the only man who's ever seemed to understand her as an artist and as a woman...

Cole is working overtime to prove to Olivia that he's serious, but her deep seated mistrust and his entourage of unwelcomed fans may be more than they can overcome...
 

My Review:
There are books—very few of them---that I read at a snail’s pace just so they last longer because I am a speed reader. This was one of them. I was looking forward to this one like crazy and now that I’ve finished it, I know why. It’s one of my favorite books that I have picked up this year. Prepare yourself for a gushy review.

I loved Olivia from the first page. Any woman could relate to Olivia. She was intelligent, thoughtful and a little insecure. I was cheering for her throughout the whole book especially with her art. Cole was also amazing. He had every reason to come off cocky and arrogant with a savior complex but he had this sweetness about him. He was one of the most tender and gentlemanly heroes I have come across in a while despite his harem of women.

My favorite part of the book was the constant push/pull relationship between Olivia and Cole. She was constantly worried about his faithfulness versus his playboy status and he was always trying to reassure her as to his love for her. With a lesser writer that would get annoying very quickly but with Marie Force’s writing and these amazing characters, it just worked. The conflict was my favorite type-- well-placed and painful for a time but over quickly.

Needless to say, this goes in my “Highly Recommended” pile. I am looking forward to reading the other Marie Force book that I have stashed on my iPad.

*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, February 17, 2011

Review: Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier Publisher: Penguin Press HC
ISBN: 159420277X
Pages: 352 pgs
Genre: Non-Fiction
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge,
 Rating:  
 Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound








Summary from Publisher:
In 2009, for the first time in history, more than half the world's population lived in cities. In a time when family, friends and co-workers are a call, text, or email away, 3.3 billion people on this planet still choose to crowd together in skyscrapers, high-rises, subways and buses. Not too long ago, it looked like our cities were dying, but in fact they boldly threw themselves into the information age, adapting and evolving to become the gateways to a globalized and interconnected world. Now more than ever, the well-being of human society depends upon our knowledge of how the city lives and breathes. Understanding the modern city and the powerful forces within it is the life's work of Harvard urban economist Edward Glaeser, who at forty is hailed as one of the world's most exciting urban thinkers. Travelling from city to city, speaking to planners and politicians across the world, he uncovers questions large and small whose answers are both counterintuitive and deeply significant. Should New Orleans be rebuilt? Why can't my nephew afford an apartment in New York? Is London the new financial capital of the world? Is my job headed to Bangalore? In "Triumph of Cities", Glaeser takes us around the world and into the mind of the modern city - from Mumbai to Paris to Rio to Detroit to Shanghai, and to any number of points in between - to reveal how cities think, why they behave in the manners that they do, and what wisdom they share with the people who inhabit them.

My Review:
Pardon my lateness with this review. It’s been a bit of a kerfluffle. My computer had a bit of an episode this morning and refused to connect to the internet. It also did not save the review that I had finished for this book. So I had to rewrite the darn thing and fix the connection. It’s been a day.

This book is way out of my comfort zone but my comfort zone has become rather small in recent months. This seemed like a book that would really be interesting and in some respects I was completely right.

I’m a New York City girl who lives in the suburbs. Not because I don’t like the city but because it is way too expensive and uneconomical to live in the city. I agree with many of his points. Mainly his ideas about congestion in the city and education. I’m from New York City and I have experienced bad traffic to point where I contemplated abandoning my car and taking a train home. It would be so much easier if everything was accessible by train or bus. I did not agree with his views about historic preservation. I’m a historian and a librarian and destroying remnants of our past for the sake of urban development makes no sense to me at all. But we need not agree on everything.

This book had the potential to be really dry and dense but Glaeser made it very interesting and vibrant. He wavered between travelogue, history and policy to make his point. It worked well for the most part. I found myself agreeing with most of his points (aside from his ideas about historic preservation—I just can’t). His writing style also created a lively and interesting discussion. I entered the book quite skeptical but I finished quite interested and buying into almost every point.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in urban development and policy.


*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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