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Friday, March 30, 2012

Bloggiesta!

Another year, same messy blog, same Bloggiesta coming to save my lazy ass.

I have drafted a list (a probably futile one) of bloggy tasks that I need to accomplish before the weekend is through. Be prepared to be amazed/frightened.

  • Find a new template. Something colorful and bright. Something to do with books as well. If anyone knows where to find a good free one (I’m low on funds) or is willing to help me build one for myself, let me know.
  • Announce giveaway winners. Totally forgot in the hazy daze that was March.
  • Sign up for all year long challenges.
  • Add books from 2011 and 2012 to applicable challenges.
  • Create Author Index including website, blog, Twitter, Goodreads.
  • Draft reviews for all undrafted books. And schedule into May.
  • Tweak the layout. Get rid of unnecessary widgets. Add Avon Addicts badge.
  • Tag all read books on Goodreads with descriptive tags.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: True Highland Spirit by Amanda Forester

True Highland Spirit (Highlander #3)Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca   
ISBN:1402253079 
Pages:416 pages
Genre: Romance/Historical/Highlander 
Series: The Night Riders-1,2
Challenges-TK
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Summary from publisher:

A HEATED RIVALRY...

Morrigan McNab is a Highland lady, robbed of her birthright and with no choice but to fight alongside her brothers to protect their impoverished clan. When she encounters Sir Jacques Dragonet, she discovers her fiercest opponent...

IS GETTING EVEN HOTTER...

Sir Jacques Dragonet will give his life to defend Scotland from the English. He can't stop himself from admiring the beautiful Highland lass who wields her weapons as skillfully as he does, and endangers his heart even more than his life...

My Review: 

Amanda Forester is one of my favorite Highlander romance writers out there. I was really excited for this one—I saved it for last. I do that with all the books that I have high expectations of.

Morrigan was an amazing heroine. She was a warrior. I love it when heroines are actually kickass in an actual kickass kind of way. She was also quite smart. She was the smartest person in her family by a mile and was willing to do whatever she need to do to help them survive. Dragonet was a knight and get ready for this…a monk. Yes, a monk. I was so curious to see how that would work out with the fact that this is a romance novel and monks do take a vow of celibacy. It did not seem convenient at all but Forester really made it work.

I loved how Forester managed the whole monk situation because that was one of my major concerns about this book at the start. How would that be resolved? I was pleasantly surprised when it was done in a very neat and clever way. I thought Morrigan and Dragonet had a very lovely chemistry. I do wish that Dragonet had told Morrigan of his situation much earlier. I also loved all the action as well. This girl loves a good action sequence just as much as a good love scene. At first, I didn’t appreciate all of the religious undertones. I am not the most religious person on the planet. But after I got into the book and saw how religion tied into the plot, I totally got it. I also read the Author’s Note at the end which clarified it for me.


Rating:

*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, March 27, 2012

Review: Texas Pride by Leigh Greenwood

Texas Pride: Night RidersPublisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca   
ISBN:1402263961 
Pages:384 pages
Genre: Romance/Western/Historical 
Series: The Night Riders-1,2,3,4,5
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb




Summary from publisher:
A PRINCE AMONG MEN
Carla Reece had never met anyone more infuriating in her life. The blond giant who swaggered up to her door had no right to take over half her ranch - no matter how stupid her brother had been gambling it away in a high-stakes poker game. Her new foreman claimed to be some foreign royalty who promised to leave in a year. Still, a year was way too long to spend with a man who made her madder than a wet hen and weak in the knees all at the same time.
A HELLION AMONG WOMEN
Ivan may have charmed everyone in town into thinking he was the perfect gentleman, but Carla knew better. There had to be a chink in his armor-a red-hot passion under that calm, cool gaze. But once she finds it, she may be in for more than she ever bargained for...


My Review: 
Leigh Greenwood has long been one of my favorite western romance writers. I have read all of his Cowboy series multiple times (even though I have lost my copy of Jake long ago and still miss it). I do a reread once in a while and recently reread Texas Homecoming. I had no idea this was a sequel so it was quite the fortuitous accident---and Ivan was my favorite character in that one.

I do have to admit to having a bit of trouble with our heroine, Carla. She is the epitome of “Too Stupid To Live.” She was one of those heroines that  is so determined to show her strength and independence but continuously goes about it in the wrongest of ways. I liked her but I had many moments when I wondered about her sense. Ivan was my favorite character from Texas Homecoming and I was delighted to see him as the hero in this one. He was so sweet and kind. In fact, he may have been a little too perfect. I like my heroes to have a bit of an edge to them and Ivan came across as a bit milquetoast at times.

Leigh Greenwood always writes an amazing western. Always. His books are amazing reads with or without the romance aspect. Of course, I prefer with but that’s just me. He captures the environment and the time period perfectly. I do wish that the romance had been a little bit more of a focus in this one rather than the cattle rustling and such. I thought this was an excellent continuation of an older series.  I wish other authors would revisit their older series ever so often because I am always so frustrated when authors leave plotlines hanging in their series.

Texas Pride is perhaps not the best for a new Leigh Greenwood reader (start with Jake and the Cowboys) but a very good read nonetheless. Highly recommended to fans of western romance.

Rating:

*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, March 20, 2012

Guest Post and Excerpt: M.J. Rose, author of The Book of Lost Fragrances

What Inspired The Book of Lost Fragrances?

I was reading Cleopatra (69 BCE to 30BCE), who was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, and found she was fascinated with and some say obsessed by scent. Marc The Book of Lost Fragrances (Reincarnationist #4)Anthony built her a fragrance factory where he planted now extinct flora and fauna including groves of balsam trees  (important in the creation of perfume at the time) confiscated from Herod.

In the 1980s a team of Italian and Israeli archaeologists believe they unearthed the factory at the south end of the Dead Sea, 30 km from Ein Gedi. Residues of ancient perfumes along with seats where customers received beauty treatments were found there.

Cleopatra was said to have kept a recipe book for her perfumes, entitled Cleopatra gynaeciarum libri. The book has been described in writings by historians Dioscorides, Homer and Pliny the Elder. No known copy of the book exists today.

When I read about that book, I knew I had the idea for a new novel.

Excerpt

Of an everlasting covenant ripe with possibility. Of lost souls reunited.

Tears sprang to the perfumer’s eyes as he inhaled again. This was the kind of scent he’d always imagined capturing. He was smelling liquid emotion. Giles L’Etoile was smelling love.

The perfumer was desperate. What gave this fragrance its complexity? Why was it so elusive? Why couldn’t he recognize it? He’d smelled and memorized over five hundred different ingredients. What was in this composition?

If only there were a machine that would be able to take in the air and separate out the components it contained. Long ago, he’d spoken to his father about such a thing. Jean-Louis had scoffed, as he did at most of his son’s inventions and imaginings, chastising him for wasting time on impractical ideas, for indulging in foolish romanticism.

Next stop on the Scavenger Hunt: Bea’s Book Nook

Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

The Book of Lost FragrancesPublisher: Atria Books    
ISBN:1451621302 
Pages:384 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Challenges: TK
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Summary from publisher:

A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra—and lost for 2,000 years.
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances—and of her mother’s suicide—she moves to America, leaving the company in the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.
Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac discovers a secret the House of L’Etoile has been hiding since 1799: a scent that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.


My Review: 

I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. I picked it up and did not want to put it down until I finished. It was that good.

I have been obsessed with fragrances and scents for quite a long time. Really. I buy perfume almost as frequently as I buy books. Not in such great a number but I buy them and try to figure out the scent combination. It’s a strange hobby. But that is why I was looking forward to this book so much. It touched on one of my weirder obsessions. I also love that it touched on scent memory. Certain smells can bring you back to your past. The smell of drying paint always brings me back to the nerves of the first day of school, honeysuckle always reminds me of my Grandma, the perfume Opium reminds me of my Mom and the smell of library—I can’t even define it—reminds me of Tuesdays with my Mom at the library. I loved how the idea of scent memory was utilized in The Book of Lost Fragrances.

This is not my usual type of book even though it had a bit of romance in it but there was just so much I loved about it. I loved how detailed it was about the process of making and mixing fragrances. The language was so detailed that you almost felt that if you concentrated hard enough you could smell the scents. If that make any sense at all. I am such a big fan of complex storylines and this one definitely was. There were so many interwoven storylines from different historical periods. I was amazed at how beautifully M.J. Rose took such vastly different time periods and turned them into such a cohesive story.

This book was gorgeous. I loved every bit of it. I am dying to smell this perfume. I am a fragrance addict and I now have a near obsession with smelling the perfume inspired by this book.

Rating:

*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: A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing by Terry Spear

A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing (Heart of the Wolf, #9)Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca   
ISBN:1402258909 
Pages:326 pages
Genre: Romance/Paranormal/Shapeshifters 
Series: Heart of the Wolf-1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb



Summary from publisher:
Her instincts tell her he's dangerous...

While her overprotective brother's away, Meara Greymere's planning to play—and it wouldn't hurt to find herself a mate in the process. The last thing she needs is one of his SEAL buddies spoiling her fun, even if the guy is the hottest one she's ever seen...

His powers of persuasion are impossible to resist...

Finn Emerson is a battle-hardened Navy SEAL and alpha wolf. He's a little overqualified for baby-sitting, but feisty Meara is attracting trouble like a magnet...

As the only responsible alpha male in the vicinity, Finn is going to have to protect this intriguing woman from a horde of questionable men, and definitely from himself...


My Review: 

I’ve read a few books in this series and I’ve liked what I’ve read. This one is much the same. It was a good read. Maybe not on my favorites list but I did enjoy it.

First of all, I love the heroine’s name. Maera has long been one of my favorite names ever. I know this is strange but if I think the heroine/hero’s name is ridiculous, I often think the book is ridiculous as well. But aside from her name, I also loved Maera. She was strong and capable. She was headstrong but not in the stupid way but in the smart, not getting herself into massive amounts of trouble way. I did want her to tell her brother to take a hike. I tend to take issue with over-protective brothers—probably because I don’t have any so I don’t get it. I loved Finn. I did want to smack him at some points but, generally, I really liked him. He was an easygoing yet uber-protective hero.

I really did like this book. It came as a bit of a surprise because they last book, Dreaming of the Wolf, was a bit of a letdown for me. I loved the chemistry between Maera and Finn. They had this great push and pull. I also liked how Maera was the active one in the relationship. Maera was the one searching for a mate and Finn was reluctant. That’s definitely something unique. I did know who the bad guy was from the start but I usually do.

Rating:

*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.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2)Publisher: Avon    
ISBN:0062049879 
Pages:384 pages
Genre: Romance/Historical/Regency 
Series: Spindle Cove-1 
Challenges: TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb



Summary from publisher:

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin…Time is not on their side.
Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.
Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be…anywhere but Spindle Cove.
These unlikely partners have one week
- to fake an elopement
- to convince family and friends they’re in “love”
- to outrun armed robbers
- to survive their worst nightmares
- to travel four hundred miles without killing each other
All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.
What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.
Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble.
And maybe…just maybe…love.


My Review: 

I hate to admit it but Tessa Dare is one of those authors that seems to be on my eternal TBR. I keep putting her books off. I want to read them very badly but I never get around to it. This one may not have been the best place to start given that it is Book 2 in a series but I figure that somewhere is better than nowhere. Right?

I have this irrational love for brainiac heroines. There is just something extra special about an uber-smart heroine who can put the hero in his place with her intellect. It just appeals to me. Minerva is definitely one of those heroines. She is an archaeologist who made a huge dinosaur-sized discovery so she was definitely a smartypants. At first, she kind of reminded me of a female Sheldon Cooper (although she had more social graces). She also has a massive inferiority complex caused by the neglect of her mother who was truly awful. Initially, she is a bit of a tough nut to crack but she truly grew in both likeability and depth throughout the book. I loved Colin. He is currently number 8 on my Hero Crush list. He has a bit of the broken boy complex which I love very much. He is a bit of a rake and a scamp but he is genuinely one of the most generous and kind-hearted heroes I have ever come across. Colin has the tendency to break my heart a little and be so adorably sweet at the same time. It is very strange to say that about a rake but it’s true.

I need to read Tessa Dare’s books immediately. This one was one of my reading highlights of the last couple of months. I loved just about everything about it. I loved the journey aspect of it. I love it when my main couple travel together. It always leads to interesting situations and this one definitely did. I also like the science and considering I was a perpetual epic failure in all things science related that is saying something. But what I loved the most was the honest and very sweet development of the relationship between Minerva and Colin. Initially, I really couldn’t see how a pairing between the “plain jane” Minerva and the rake Colin would work even though this is  something you see all the time in romances. With Minerva and Colin, I just didn’t sense any real chemistry to start until they set out on the journey to Edinburgh and then the chemistry between them just sizzled.

Rating:

*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, March 14, 2012

Review: The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting MenPublisher: Sourcebooks Landmark   
ISBN:1402259735 
Pages:384 pages
Genre: Jane Austen Adaptation 
Challenges-TK
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Summary from publisher:

Love reigns supreme for our three brave colonels at the start of this epic tale. Colonels Fitzwilliam, Buford, and Brandon are enjoying their courtships and their early married lives with three beloved Jane Austen heroines. The couples lead tranquil lives - until Napoleon escapes from exile. While the military men set out to meet their destiny on the fields of Waterloo, Anne, Caroline, and Marianne defend their hearts against the fear of losing their loved ones.


My Review: 

I loved Pemberley Ranch. It was one of my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations from last year. I was looking forward to reading this one from the minute it arrived in my mailbox. I was expecting awesome battle scenes and I was super excited that the focus on this one wasn’t on Darcy.

This one focused on three couples—none of which were Lizzy and Darcy. The first being Marianne and Colonel Brandon. I loved that Caldwell used Christopher as Brandon’s first name. It’s not actually canon but it reminds me of the 1995 Sense and Sensibility movie and Alan Rickman. Both are good things. There are not many books about Marianne and Colonel Brandon but I love it when I find one because they are such an amazing couple.

Anne de Bourgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam are our second pairing. They were so cute. I usually pair Colonel Fitzwilliam with Georgiana but I may have to change my mind because he worked so well with Anne. I loved watching Anne come into her own and tell her mother off. I think that is what every fan of Pride and Prejudice wants to see. It’s what Anne deserves because she has the potential to be such an awesome character.

My favorite couple, however, was Caroline Bingley and Sir John, an original character. I have to admit that Caroline is sometimes my favorite Pride and Prejudice character. I waver between hating her and feeling that she was simply the victim of her circumstances. She is a big bitch but she kind of has to be. I loved her and John. I wasn’t exactly a love match to start with but that’s my favorite kind. But---he cheated on her. Yes, he was drunk and yes he felt guilty but he never told her. He instead decided to confess to a priest. I wanted to see him express his sorrow to the wife he betrayed not a clergyman. Whenever I encounter infidelity in romance novels, the heroine finds out and they have a chance to get past it as a couple. Every wife that has been cheated on has the God-given right to make her cheating husband want to bury himself in the nearest ditch. Caroline never got that chance. It was a bit of a letdown but other than that, they were my favorite.

My favorite part of this book had to be the battle scenes. I am a history geek of the epic variety. I love battle scenes whenever I can get them and an author that can write a good one is forever on my Good People list. Jack Caldwell writes one heck of an amazing battle scene. They were extremely detailed and vivid in imagery. I also loved how Caldwell managed to combine all of the Jane Austen novels. There was literally something from every single one of them. There were cameos and mentions all over the place—it was like a Jane Austen Muppets movie. I’ve seen some other authors attempt to bring characters from other Jane Austen novels into their novel but none have succeeded so well and on such a grand scale. 

Rating:

*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, March 12, 2012

Review: A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware

A Light on the VerandaPublisher: Sourcebooks Landmark   
ISBN:1402222734 
Pages:480 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb



Summary from publisher:

Years after leaving the South, Daphne Duvallon returns to Natchez, Mississippi, for her brother's wedding. But she has a rendezvous with destiny, meeting Simon Hopkins, a nature photographer with a dark side of his own. Daphne finally knows what she wants--until the shadows from another life threaten to destroy her only real chance at happiness.


My Review: 

Ciji Ware is one of my favorites. She is my benchmark for historical fiction. I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this one from the moment I got it.

I loved Daphne simply because there was something so intrinsically normal and relatable about her. Yes, she was an uber-talented harpist but she also had a crazy family, a crazier ex, and an inferiority complex to deal with. Simon frustrated me a bit. He was so hot and cold with Daphne. There were just sometimes where I wanted to hit him with a souvenir mini-bat. If I was Daphne, I would have killed him when he bailed for a week to get “closure” with this ex-wife. It does not take a week to get closure. Simon should have given Daphne some warning about his intentions to seek closure. It would have been the gentlemanly thing to do. 

As always, Ciji Ware delivers on the amazing historical fiction with the perfect mix of romance and history. I always love how balanced both the historical and contemporary time frames are. I usually pick one that I like more but both are quite interesting. In this one, I definitely felt more of a connection to the contemporary characters. It’s not that the historical parts weren’t good or that I didn’t like them but I got really into the relationship between Simon and Daphne.

Rating:

*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: Confessions Of A Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by JB Lynn

Confessions Of A Slightly Neurotic HitwomanPublisher: Avon Impulse   
ISBN:0062134639 
Pages:400 pages
Genre: Fiction/Humor 
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb



Summary from publisher:

Maggie Lee is not your average hitwoman. For one thing, she's never killed anyone. For another, after hitting her head in the car accident that killed her sister, her new best friend is a talking lizard—a picky eater, obsessed withWheel of Fortune, that only Maggie can hear.

Maggie, who can barely take care of herself, is desperate to help her injured and orphaned niece get the best medical care possible, so she reluctantly accepts a mobster's lucrative job offer: major cash to kill his monstrous son-in-law.

Paired with Patrick Mulligan, a charming murder mentor (who happens to moonlight as a police detective), Maggie stumbles down her new career path, contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, a semi-psychic friend predicting her doom, and a day job she hates. Oh, and let's not forget about Paul Kowalski, the sexy beat cop who could throw her ass in jail if he finds out what she's up to.

Training has never been so complicated! And, this time, Maggie has to get the job done. Because if she doesn't . . . she's the mob's next target.


My Review: 

I had no idea what I was getting into then I started reading this book. I knew I would be laughing but, honestly, I didn’t know if I would be laughing for good or for bad reasons. But I am happy to report that I laughed for the best reason possible—this book was hilarious. Roll on the floor hilarious.

Maggie was awesome. I have never come across a heroine so funny that should induced honest hysterical laughter from me. She was like a combination of Lucille Ball, Thelma and Louise, and Laverne and Shirley. That’s the only way I can think to describe her. She was hilarious. She tended to trip and fall into the right answers. She talks to animals (specifically a lizard named God and a dog named Doomsday). But she was also a legitimate hitwoman and got the job done when she had to. There is just something so everywoman about her that you will be cheering for her by the end in spite of her job.

Now, in this one, there was not really any love interest. I know what you’re thinking. Grace is reading a book without a romance plot? Well, yes she is. But there were two legitimate contenders for Maggie’s love interest. Contestant number 1 is Patrick. He’s her mentor on the murder side of things who also happens to be a detective. He was mysterious and I spent the whole book debating whether he was a legitimate crooked cop or undercover. I am leaning towards undercover simply because I liked him so much. Contestant number 2 is Paul. He’s the cop that Maggie goes on a couple of dates with. He also was a bit of a mystery because he had a weird fascination with jewels and robbers. I am leaning towards Patrick because I have a thing for gingers.

My favorite parts of this book had nothing to do with what pairing I liked best. My favorite part of this book was God. As in Godzilla, the lizard with the voice of Alan Rickman, a love for TV game shows and the personality of a haughty Englishman. He was Maggie’s internal voice of logic. I could have read a book just about him. Doomsday was also great. She was a dog with the voice of Anna Nicole Smith and with a Yoda-like sentence structure. Both were clearly novelties but so indispensible to the plot. I kind of need the next book right now. I am prepared to beg for one. I need to know what happens, who Maggie ends up with, and, most of all, I need more of the awesome dynamic between Maggie, God and Doomsday. Fan of Janet Evanovich will definitely want to pick this one up.

By the way and totally off topic, those shoes in that cover are epic.

Rating:

*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, March 6, 2012

Guest Post: N.K. Smith, author of My Only

In my novel, My Only, the two main characters, Adam and Olivia, are complete opposites at first glance. Adam is a tidy, serious bookworm, and Olivia is a messy, fun-loving young woman who has little concern for school.
They say opposites attract, but in reality, they aren’t all that different. Depending on your perspective, Olivia may seem like the most troubled of the pair, but with a slight flip of how you look at it, the troubled one is Adam. While Adam doesn’t know which college he wishes to attend, Olivia plans on not attending. Adam dwells on the passing of his mother and what that means to his family, but Olivia has accepted that her mother was taken from her. Olivia has a solid philosophy on life, but Adam seems to be struggling when it comes to even the most basic questions of life – questions of self and his place in the world.
My OnlyOlivia may have more “problems,” but it is Adam who has more “issues.”
This is what makes them perfect for each other. While she’s troubled, she’s had the experiences necessary to help Adam find his way. Likewise, Adam is stable enough to show Olivia another perspective. They have a symbiotic relationship of give and take.
This is the making of the best friendships. Both characters are strong in their own way, and they’re both in need of help in others. They are a perfect circle, filling in the holes for each other until they are solid. Olivia shares philosophy she’s gained along the way, and Adam lends her his balanced outlook on responsibility and duty.
At first glance, Adam is the shy hero and Olivia is the troubled heroine. It is a classic set-up. Intellectual “nerd” meets partying socialite. But Adam is only an unpopular geek in his mind. He has many friends within his own social circle, and while his brother Aaron may be more popular in another circle, Adam is popular within his. He has plenty of social activities, but Adam thinks they are less worthy than that of his brother.
Similarly, Olivia is a vibrant popular young woman in Adam’s mind, but in reality, we don’t see her connect with many people. While we see her go to a dance with Aaron and to concerts with Adam, we know social situations like those take a lot of energy out of Olivia.
Adam’s perspective is almost a third character. It is through his point of view that we see everything. He tints his world with his own prejudices and pre-existing thoughts. It would be easy to peg Adam and Olivia as shy and outgoing based on his account of life, it’s best to draw our own conclusions. Mine define both Adam and Olivia as strong individuals, with Adam being more popular than Olivia. Olivia possesses the strength of her personal philosophy, making her more confident than Adam.
The most powerful relationships are like that of Adam and Olivia, in which all voids are filled by the strengths of the pair to form a perfect circle.

Review: My Only by N.K. Smith

My OnlyPublisher: The Writer’s Coffee Shop
ISBN:978-1-61213-096-5
Genre: Young Adult 
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: The Writer’s Coffee Shop



Summary from publisher:
Adam James’s life is far from perfect. A talented drummer from a small suburb of Chicago, he keeps to himself, downplaying his abilities, thinking that he is less than all those around him, including his popular twin brother, Aaron..
When a free-spirited new girl with a troubled past moves in across the street, Adam's eyes are opened to a new world of possibilities. Olivia Cartwright’s philosophies on life give her a deeper understanding of the world. An instant connection between Adam and Olivia draws them closer, but he wonders why anyone would choose him when a better version exists, particularly when Aaron also takes an interest in her.
Will the friendship with Olivia change Adam, or will he continue to close himself off in his own world?
Adam has a choice to make: risk his friendship with Olivia or fight for something more.
It seems Adam has a lot to learn about love....and life.


My Review: 
There are not many books that can say without fail that it will make you cry. This is one of those rare ones. Books like this should come with a warning. 
My Only tells the story of Adam, our introverted and kinda geeky protagonist, and his popular and outgoing twin brother, Aaron. I loved how despite their differences, they were close despite the underlying competition. It’s all made much more complicated when they both develop crushes on Olivia, the neighbor girl. I loved Olivia. She reminded me so much of myself in high school—free-spirited, energetic and a little off kilter. I really loved how well-paced the development of Adam and Olivia’s relationship was. It had its ups and downs like all relationships do but it was all really realistic.
I have to admit that Adam and Olivia have become one of my favorite couples. They were perfect. They balanced each other out in ways that surprised me. I fell in love with them first as individuals and then as a couple. I think that is why I like them so much. This book is not, however, a simple book about two people falling in love. Well it is. But the emotions go so much deeper and are quite intense. I love how Duane didn’t pull any punches with this one and didn’t try to make it all shiny and sparkly and pretty. Every emotion was there in its raw form and that is why I loved it so much.
This book does not come with a tissue warning so I am issuing one: Forgo the box and get a roll of toilet paper. Seriously.
Rating:

*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, March 5, 2012

Review: The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

The Baker's DaughterPublisher: Crown Publishing Group   
ISBN:0307460207 
Pages:304 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/WWII 
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb



Summary from publisher:

In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naïve teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. But in the waning days of the Nazi empire, with food scarce and fears of sedition mounting, even the private yearnings of teenage girls were subject to suspicion and suppression. Elsie’s courtship by Josef Hub, a rising star in the Army of the Third Reich, has insulated her and her family from the terror and desperation overtaking her country. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door puts all she loves in danger.
Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is a rolling stone, perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a full-time fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba knows that in every good story, lines will be blurred.
Reba's latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie's German Bakery is no easy subject. Elsie keeps turning the tables on Reba, and Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba's questions have been a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki's lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.


My Review: 

I knew I would like this book the minute I started reading. The writing style just clicked for me immediately.

This one tells the story of Reba, a modern woman working as a journalist and living in El Paso, and Elsie, the teenage daughter of a baker living in WWII Germany. I have to admit the minute I saw that one of the characters was named Reba, I cringed a little and prepared myself for Southern clichés but I was so happy to find that there weren’t any. I loved reading both women’s stories. Both were equally interesting and entertaining. I did become a little more engrossed in the Elsie’s story simply because it taught me something new about WWII. I had no idea what the Lebensborn Program was but I’m now just a little bit fascinated by it.

I have read many novels where the author tries to manage two separate timelines and storylines. Sometimes they manage it well and sometimes it’s a disaster but it’s never perfect. This is one of the few times where I can say that it was as close to perfect as you can get. I was equally engaged in both Reba and Elsie’s stories because they were both written with equal skill, researched well and balanced beautifully. I loved how both Reba and Elsie’s stories intertwined. I also love a good epistolary novel and I love the sections of letters. And thank you from the bottom of my baker’s heart for including the recipes. I will be trying out a few—eh, who am I kidding…probably all of them.

This one is definitely on my keeper shelf. I am not ashamed to say that it made me tear up a little.

Rating:

*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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