Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Spooktacular Winner

I was delighted to participate in Romance Book Junkies Halloween Spooktacular this year. In addition to a guest post that appeared on October 19th, I was giving away a copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. A big thank you is extended to Danielle at Romance Book Junkies for affording me the opportunity to provide a guest post and for hosting the giveaway on her blog.

Well the giveaway has ended and the winner is: Yadira Alonzo. Congratulations Yadira! The winner has been contacted and the book ordered from The Book Depository.

Have you had the opportunity to read A Discovery of Witches? If so, what are your thoughts on this book? Did you like it, love it, or what? I'm interested in learning your thoughts on this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am anxiously awaiting the next installment, Shadow of Night, scheduled to be released in 2012. If you haven't read the book and interested in learning more, read the excerpt available by the author here: http://deborahharkness.com/excerpt/





Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bookish Ramblings

I'm sorry to say I missed both the Books by the Banks festival in Cincinnati, Ohio AND the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston WV last weekend. Yes it was another series of migraine headaches, and yes I'm pretty bummed about missing both events. I'm especially disappointed in missing the West Virginia Book Festival after reading the following blog entry about Lee Child and his Jack Reacher novels: 
Thanks to Ms. Maguire I'll be adding the Jack Reacher series to my mountainous TBR list. (BTW, Ms. Maguire is one of the leaders of the CTC Mall Book Group with Ms. Blessing. Both are employees of the Kanawha County Public Library and have done a wonderful job at the last two book club meetings.) Have you read any Jack Reacher novels? If so, what are your thoughts?



Today was the second meeting of the Charleston Town Center (CTC) Mall Book Group. This group meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 11:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M. in the Community Room at Panera in the mall. We just discussed Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (an excellent book; if you haven't read it then get it, read it or at least add it to your TBR list). Although the book deals with some harrowing and distressing historical events, it is done so in a respectful manner that ends with a sense of hopefulness despite our history of cruelty and intolerance toward one another. Of course I've had to also add all of Ms. de Rosnay's books (or at least those books available in English) to my TBR list . . . I think the online list is over 300 books long. I'm sad to say that not all of Ms. de Rosnay's books are available in English. (I knew I should have worked harder at studying French in high school and college all those years ago.)


Next month's CTC Mall Book Group meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 23rd. The book we'll be discussing is A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House. If you're interested and work in or near Charleston WV, please join us.


Since the migraine headaches appear to have eased a bit (diminished but not gone), I've got to get back to reading.






Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book 226: IN CLOSE Review

Imagine that your biological father abandons your family when you are just a toddler. Fortunately your mother remarries and your stepfather adopts you and your younger sister. Then when you are sixteen, your mother vanishes without a trace. If that's not bad enough, fast forward fifteen years and you are now a widow since your husband was accidentally killed while hunting. This is the life of Claire O'Toole and she has decided to uncover the mystery surrounding her mother's disappearance in the latest addition to the Bulletproof series by Brenda Novak, In Close.

Claire knows that there is more to her mother's disappearance than she has been told. She has backed off of investigating or having the disappearance investigated because of the emotional reaction by her younger sister and stepfather. In an effort to feel closer to her artistic mother, she returns to the cabin her mother used for painting. The cabin is in good shape but has become a storage unit for the family's castoffs. Fortunately Claire discovers a police file that contains unseen documentation and now she has more questions than answers. Unfortunately, there's someone watching Claire at the cabin and she winds up suffering a concussion. Again, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), a former lover, Isaac Morgan, lives close by and heard her scream. He comes running and ends up carrying Claire back to his house, Claire's former family home, before calling the police.

What follows is a series of unfortunate and suspicious events and Claire begins to question her need for answers as well as her sister and stepfather's insistence to leave everything in the past. Claire refuses to back down and the only ally she has is Isaac. If she continues, she will uncover a variety of small-town secrets that many feel should be kept hidden. Was her mother actually having an affair and did she run away? Were her stepfather and stepmother having an affair and did they have anything to do with her mother's disappearance? Why was her younger sister taken out of school and subsequently returned on the day their mother disappeared? And finally, was the hunting accident involving her husband truly an accident or something more nefarious?

Claire and Isaac seem to have a love-hate relationship. They speak at cross-purposes and it takes awhile before they realize that their attraction to one another is much more than a physical attraction. Claire's younger sister Leanne is disabled due to a sledding accident and a selfish spoiled brat. Leanne also feels that Claire is being disloyal to their adoptive father by continuing her investigation. The more answers Claire receives in the course of her investigation the more questions arise. Claire definitely has more invested in obtaining the truth than the police department on this cold case file, and perhaps it is this personal investment that won't allow her to stop even when her safety is endangered.

In Close is a fast-paced, romantic suspense read. The characters are well-developed and realistic. I enjoyed reading In Close, as I've enjoyed reading many of Ms. Novak's novels. This is a great read for a lazy fall afternoon.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Monday, October 24, 2011

Book 225: LUCIDITY Review

Grace Moran is a widow and an agoraphobic. Her only desire is to leave the hospital and return home. This isn't possible because she has a brain tumor, appears to have suffered a seizure and blacked out and requires medical treatment. Grace isn't sure what is going on at the hospital, but she knows she may not make it out alive. Drs. Eve Warden and Jonas Helman appear to only want to help, and feel that their new drug protocol is exactly what Grace needs for her surgery to be a success. There's more going on behind the scenes and Grace has no desire to stay and find out what in Lucidity by C. J. Lyons.

Grace wants to return home because her deceased husband is still alive for her there and she feels that she'll lose him if she has the surgery. Her memories are all she has left or are they? As Grace tries to hide, she sees Jimmy at the hospital and he is much more than a figment of her imagination. As Grace continues to hide from Drs. Warden and Helman, she comes across two pediatric patients that are also in dire straits. Kat is suffering from a virus that is literally eating her brain. Surgery is a must, but Kat wants to wait until after her birthday. She also fears that the surgery may leave her paralyzed or worse. Alex has spent all of his life in the hospital and wants nothing more to be allowed to die. He knows that his condition is worsening and he's tired of the continued treatments that prolong his suffering. Grace, Alex and Kat aren't exactly an impressive trio but they protect each other. Now that Jimmy has "come back to life," he tries to protect them as well.

Jimmy was older than Grace, but they loved one another deeply and fiercely. Sadly Jimmy was murdered on the day they returned home from their honeymoon. Grace also suffered serious injuries during the attack and left her career as an ER physician to stay at home. The murderer, Lukas Redding, is the son of a powerful congress woman and was found not guilty by reason of mental defect. Unbeknownst to Grace, Lukas is at the hospital undergoing treatment for his delusional fantasies involving her and her husband. In Lukas's mind Grace was his wife and Jimmy was a drunk driver responsible for the car accident that killed Grace. In a fit of rage Lukas retaliated and killed Jimmy. Is Lukas crazy or evil? Can Jimmy keep Grace from entering the new wing that houses Lukas? Can Grace protect Kat and Alex while protecting herself? 

Lucidity is much more than a romance or ghost story. Ms. Lyons has crafted a intriguing tale involving mythology, history, and the paranormal (ghosts) in a medical setting. Most of the action seems to take place over the span of a few days, but it is packed with action and suspense. Kat and Alex may only be children, but they have a crucial part in the story line. They are both highly creative and inventive while remaining sympathetic characters. Because they are children, the hospital staff has a tendency to underestimate them. Jimmy is definitely Grace's love interest, even after his death. He lives on in her memories and perhaps these strong memories that allow him to return. Lucidity may not be a traditional ghost story or romance, but it works. If you're seeking something a little different that combines romance, the paranormal, along with a little medical suspense, then this is the book for you.


Book 224: THE PIRATE QUEEN Review

Saphora Warren is a wife, mother and grandmother. She is an asset to her physician husband and has been a devoted wife for the years they've been married. But Saphora has had enough. At the end of a Southern Living lawn party (a party her husband wanted even though he didn't show up for it), she is planning on leaving her beautiful house and philandering husband to regroup and decide what she wants from life. At least that was the plan until her husband arrives home before she can leave and announces he has cancer and is dying. Saphora must now decide whether she stays to help her husband or goes off on her on in The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman.

To say that Saphora is downtrodden is being kind. She seems to do whatever her husband Bender wants and puts up with years of neglect and verbal abuse in the form of snide and belittling remarks. The worst part is that her husband doesn't even seem to know that he's being neglectful or abusive. At least he didn't until he received his death sentence. 

Saphora is left to try and pick up the pieces of their life while dealing with a remorseful and introspective Bender. It's rather strange that she could take the years of possible philandering but has problems dealing with her husband as he becomes aware of his faults. In addition to dealing with a husband dying of brain cancer, she must contend with her grandson for most of the summer. Her eldest son has to work, as does his ex-wife and the baby-sitter quit so Eddie goes to the beach house with his grandparents. While at the beach, Eddie, Saphora and Bender befriend a young boy with AIDS. Tobias was born with AIDS and adopted but is dearly loved by his adoptive mother. Regrettably, although this appears to be taking place in the present, there's a lot of prejudice and misconception about AIDS and Tobias is persona non grata at most facilities and functions around town.

Saphora, her children and grandchildren, are all forced to watch Bender as he slowly fades away from their lives. Fortunately Saphora has become a woman with a backbone and isn't willing to take crap from anyone any longer. There's plenty of high drama and grief in The Pirate Queen. Most of the drama is centered on AIDS and the reaction Tobias receives from a variety of people, including Saphora's son and daughter-in-law, as well as Bender's penchant toward selfishness. One example of such selfishness is his desire to have their housekeeper drop everything and come to the beach even though her young son has the measles and obviously needs and wants his mother. 

I wanted to like The Pirate Queen. Saphora ends up being a likeable and admirable character, but she starts off somewhat spacey and comes across as just flaky and a pushover. The friendship between Eddie and Tobias, as well as Tobias and Bender is heart-warming. Eddie accepts Tobias for what he is, another kid and a playmate. Bender and Tobias accept one another for what they are, two people battling potentially deadly illnesses. It was rather uplifting to see that Bender sought atonement for his actions and spiritual guidance toward the end of his life. I don't know if that can make up for years of neglect, but Saphora seems willing to overlook it. In addition, Saphora's children are all adults but come across as spoiled and selfish children at times. 

There are redeeming qualities about this book, especially in Tobias's story. Although this does have an uplifting ending, beware there are plenty of tear-jerker scenes toward the end. As I stated previously, I wanted to like The Pirate Queen but for me it was nothing more than an okay read, in part because of the spacey qualities of Saphora's character for the first half of the book and also because the dialogue was a little hard to follow at times. The Pirate Queen isn't a bad read, but it simply didn't do it for me.  

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from Waterbrook Multnomah/Blogging for Books. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Book 223: DEFENSIVE WOUNDS Review

Theresa MacLean is a forensic investigator. She is also an overprotective mother to a teenage daughter. She thought her daughter would be safe working for the summer at a downtown hotel until there's a murder on the premises. It doesn't help that the murder victim is a defense attorney that the local police department loved to hate. Why this hotel? Why this attorney? Why no defensive wounds? These questions are asked and answered in the latest suspense novel by Lisa Black, Defensive Wounds.

Being a single mom can be exasperating, and Theresa understands that she has a tendency to go overboard at times. Her daughter was nowhere near the murder site but she's still overly cautious and wary. It doesn't help that she knows nothing about Rachel's new love interest. Theresa's interest is further peaked when her friend, another defense attorney, has a suspicious and curious reaction to the teenager. Theresa then asks her cousin, a police detective, to check into the boy's background. Isn't that what family connections are for?

Theresa must still continue her forensic investigation but trying to find evidence in a hotel room is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack blindfolded. Just when she thinks she's the original hovering mother, there are two more murders. By now, Theresa is frustrated because of the mounds of forensic evidence to be looked at from the hotel. If there's a ton of evidence from the hotel, there's also a ton of suspects to be considered. One suspect is a former police officer that is currently working as the head of security at the hotel. 

On the personal front, Theresa must field interest from one of the investigating detectives. She also learns that Rachel's prospective boyfriend has a record . . . for murder. He was found not guilty and said that he doesn't remember that night, but what really happened? He doesn't know and the dead girl cannot speak for herself? The evidence points to him, or does it? What follows is an investigation that keeps the reader on tenterhooks. The investigation is like a roller-coaster ride in the dark, the twists and turns kept me on edge because I never saw what was coming next.

I enjoyed reading Defensive Wounds and completely understood that Theresa is the primary character, but since I have family on the police department I also know that forensic investigators don't generally play such a primary role in investigations and interrogations. Removing that little problem from the equation, Defensive Wounds is a great suspense read. I found myself feeling for Theresa as she worried about Rachel and sympathetic when she mourned the loss of her friend. (I also rather enjoyed the possible play on words as "defensive wounds" may refer to the lack of defensive wounds on the murder victims as well as the wounds they inflicted on victim families as defense attorneys.) If you're looking for a procedural suspense to read with a strong female character and an emphasis on evidence, then look no further.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from Library Thing's Early Reviewers Program. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."




Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Ramblings 6

This week has been marred by another series of severe migraine headaches. The biggest inconvenience to having a migraine is not being able to read. (Okay, one of the biggest inconveniences next to an increased sensitivity to light, noise, scent and sound and extreme nausea.) Fortunately, I was able to get in some reading over the course of the week. Reviews will be posting soon for Defensive Wounds by Lisa Black, The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman, and Lucidity by C. J. Lyons. 

This is the weekend I've been waiting for...book festival weekend. As many of you may recall I had a dilemma choosing which festival to attend: Books By The Banks in Cincinnati Ohio for the day or the West Virginia Book Festival here in Charleston WV for the weekend. Sadly this decision has become moot as a severe migraine currently has me grounded (nothing quite like typing in the dark). At the moment there is no way I can handle a 7-hour round-trip drive to Ohio nor I can tolerate the lights and noise at the local book festival here in Charleston. I remain hopeful that I'll have the current migraine knocked into submission and downgraded from severe to moderate or mild within the next 2-4 hours. If this happens, then I'll be off to the WV Book Festival for the remainder of the day.

If you're in the southern Ohio area, stop by the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati for the Books by the Banks Book Festival. This festival will be playing host to a number of authors, including Dennis Lehane, Chris Bohjalian, J. T. Ellison and Judy Clemens. Presenters include Martha Southgate - A Taste of Salt and Paula McLain - The Paris Wife.



For those of you in West Virginia, head down to the Charleston Civic Center for the two day West Virginia Book Festival. This year's WV Book Festival will feature: Lee Child, Jerry West, Jaimy Gordon and Dave Pelzer; and don't forget the library's used book sale and marketplace. I hope that when I get back up this migraine will be bearable and if so, I'm off to the WV Book Festival. Hope to see you there!




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Winner...

The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop has ended. First I want to thank everyone that stopped by and entered this giveaway. I also want to thank Judith at Leeswammes' Blog for hosting the giveaway blog hop.


The winner of The Bronte Collection is: Michelle Foong. Congratulations Michelle! Hope you enjoy reading these books by the Bronte sisters.

The winner was chosen using Random.org. To verify your entry into this giveaway, please visit: http://www.random.org/draws/details/?draw=7896 and enter the email address used for this giveaway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another Giveaway Offer







I'm pleased to announce another giveaway...yay! This giveaway is being offered at Romance Book Junkies' Halloween Spooktacular and the prize is a copy of A Discovery of Witches via The Book Depository. To enter this giveaway, you must visit Romance Book Junkies' blogDon't delay because this offer vanishes on October 25th.


After you stop by Romance Book Junkies, don't forget to thank Danielle at Romance Book Junkies and Donna at Book Lover's Hideaway for co-hosting a great month of giveaways. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book 219: VIRTUOSITY Review

Carmen Bianchi is not a typical teenager. She is a virtuoso violinist and her entire life revolves around the violin. She is preparing to compete in the most prestigious violin competition in the world. But at age seventeen, Carmen has always been a "good girl" and done exactly as told, until now. At the top there is nowhere to go but down. Will Carmen crash and burn? Will she find herself and uncover love in the most unlikely person? These questions are asked and answered in Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez.

Carmen's mother used to sing opera before a botched surgery scarred her vocal cords. She now functions as Carmen's manager. Carmen has never known her father other than an occasional phone call or birthday/holiday card and gift. Her father's parents are also mysteriously absent from her life until she becomes a violin virtuoso. Her grandparents then invest in her future by purchasing a Stradivarius violin for her to use. Carmen feels pulled and torn. She loves music and the violin but she has also become anxious about performing, especially after her disastrous performance in Japan. Of course her mother has the solution and promptly takes Carmen to a doctor for a prescription for pills to help with performance anxiety. The pills work, but Carmen finds herself taking more than one to ease her anxiety. The doctor says they aren't addictive but she thinks he may be wrong. 

Enter Carmen's only true competition, a teenage male violin virtuoso. Jeremy King appears to be everything that Carmen isn't, self-assured and totally independent. Jeremy and Carmen begin as enemies and become friends. Can they ever be more than friends? Needless to say Carmen's mother feels that Jeremy is out to sabotage Carmen's chances in the competition. It is a cruel thing for her to say but is it possible she's right? And what is going on with the secretive phone calls in the middle of the night? Carmen knows that there is more going on than meets the eye with her mother. When she uncovers the truth, will she be able to take a stance for what is right? Is it possible that Jeremy only wants to throw her off-guard so he can win the competition? 

Carmen goes through a lot of self-discovery in a very short period of time. This isn't a story of typical teenage rebellion, nor is a typical coming-of-age story, although these are components to Virtuosity. Ms. Martinez has provided a heartfelt story about doing what is right no matter what and standing up for yourself despite the consequences. Carmen doesn't want to disappoint her mother, her stepfather, her grandparents or her violin teacher, but she ultimately must not disappoint herself and stay true to her sense of integrity. Although Virtuosity is classified as a YA book, I feel it can be read and appreciated by readers of all ages. 

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Book 218: JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT Review

Jane Austen and her books have been the inspiration for a wide variety of books over the years as sequels, adaptations or inspired stories. All have kept Miss Austen and her characters alive in a myriad of forms. Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart edited by Laurel Nattress is new to the Austen inspired works and is an anthology of twenty short stories.

It is rather difficult choosing favorites from these original stories, but some did stand out more than others.  "Jane Austen's Nightmare" by Syrie James features Jane Austen being confronted by her characters during a walk around Bath. Some characters are pleased with their attributes and others find fault with Miss Austen's characterization. "A Night at Northanger" by Lauren Willig is a modern day ghost hunter tale set at Northanger Abbey. "The Ghostwriter" by Elizabeth Aston features a frustrated writer who encounters the ghost of Jane Austen."What Would Austen Do?" by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway is a tale about a modern teenage boy. He is forced to participate in summer activities at the local library/community center, takes a dance class, and winds up reading Jane Austen which changes his dress, manners and life.

Ms. Nattress has provided an Austen-inspired fiesta with Jane Austen Made Me Do It. As with most of the Austen inspired works, there are some that use Austen characters and others that prominently feature Miss Austen as the focal point. Rather than read one story after another, I read one story at a time with breaks spanning a few hours. I found that this allowed me time to enjoy each story before reading the next. If you love Jane Austen then it will not matter if you read this in one setting or take a few days, you will find enjoyment. Some of these stories may be more pleasing than others but I find this to be true about Miss Austen's original works as well. 


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."





Sunday, October 16, 2011

Giveaway Offer

Please pardon the delay in posting this link, but I've been indisposed over the past few days with a series of severe migraine headaches. 






I am pleased to announce a giveaway for The Bronte Collection through The Book Depository






To enter, please visit my giveaways page and complete the entry form: http://thebookdivasreads.blogspot.com/p/giveaways.html. This giveaway is part of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop being hosted by Leeswammes' Blog. The winner of this giveaway will be announced on October 20th.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book 217: LOVE LIES BLEEDING Review

A random mugging turns violent and results in Samantha Moore becoming comatose and suffering brain trauma and other physical problems. She awakes embittered toward life, tormented by pain and dreams of her attack. In an effort to facilitate her recovery, her fiancé and parents reserve a cabin by the lake and a physical therapist as a caretaker. Is this the hoped for new beginning for Samantha or another step in her downward spiral? The answers lie in Love Lies Bleeding by Jess McConkey.

Prior to the mugging and vicious beating, Samantha Moore was a serious business woman and an asset to her father's firm. She was also an asset to her fiancé, Dr. Jackson Van Horn. Now she experiences severe mood swings, is in constant pain from the damage to her leg and head trauma, and worse has to deal with the profound side effects from the medications supposed to be helping her. Jackson and her parents feel that the best thing for her is to get away from it all, so they set up a "retreat" in the country beside a lake. Jackson had spent part of his youth there and has fond memories of summers at the lake. Unbeknownst to Samantha, her family has also arranged a caretaker. 

Samantha doesn't have anything against Anne Weaver, the physical therapy assistant, that has been hired but she doesn't want a care taker. She's tired of people telling her what to do and how to feel. She's tired of taking medications that are supposed to help and wind up causing more problems due to their side effects. She's just tired. 

As Samantha gradually gives in to her surroundings and befriends Anne, she also begins to experience some bizarre dreams. But these dreams aren't about her. These dreams seem to be rooted in the past, the past of the woman that disappeared from the cabin more than 25 years ago. To make matters worse, she also imagines that she sees this woman on the dock and periodically smells her perfume and cigarettes.

Anne is experiencing her own set of issues. Her teenage son is insistent that he wants to become a musician. Anne's dreams of becoming a model were dashed when she left home and traveled to New York. She doesn't want her son's dreams to become broken or for him to suffer the same disappointments she had in her youth. Can Anne recognize that she can't control her son's life forever before she pushes him too far away?

To say that everyone has issues in Love Lies Bleeding is putting it mildly. Jackson is suffering from abandonment issues corresponding to his mother's death and behavior prior to her death. Samantha's father is a control freak and presumes that he has the right to tell Samantha, a thirty-five-year-old woman, what to do, how to do it and when it should be done. Anne also has control issues when it comes to her expectations for her son. Samantha has medical and physical problems but those can be gradually overcome, her most pressing issues relate to her fiancé and family. Can she discover what she wants and how to achieve it before it’s too late? Can Samantha and Anne discover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance from the past?

I rather enjoyed Love Lies Bleeding until the end. Samantha and Anne were fully developed characters, with personality to spare and likeable even when they were unpleasant. The story line was believable enough and the action and tension build until the end where everything just petered out. There's resolution to the story but it felt weak and flat after all of the prior tension. Love Lies Bleeding is a decent read, although it does seem to get bogged down with minutiae from time to time.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from BookTrib. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book 216: THE NIGHT STRANGERS Review

Chip Linton is a professional airline pilot. He has been fortunate in that he's never really had to face danger until the day birds fly into his engine. His water landing doesn't have a happy story and thirty-nine lives are lost. In an effort to start anew in a small town, he and his wife buy a home in New Hampshire. The new house has a basement with a door . . . a door sealed with thirty-nine bolts. Is this a new beginning for Chris, Emily and their daughters or will this be their end? Chris Bohjalian provides a great modern gothic tale in The Night Strangers.

It has been less than a year since the unfortunate plane crash resulting in the thirty-nine deaths, but at times it seems like yesterday. Chip was not found at fault and in fact he did everything right, but no one could have foreseen the wave caused by the wake of a boat that would result in so many lives lost. Chip knows that he did the right thing but he is haunted by that day. He's retired from the airlines and has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Chip is also haunted by much more. Is he simply allowing his subconscious mind to create these hauntingly real delusions of dead passengers or is he being visited by ghosts? Chip keeps these visitations secret from his family but they know that he hasn't been the same since that fatal day and things seem to be getting worse.

As Emily and her twin daughters try to rebuild their lives in this small New England town, they are also struck by bizarre coincidences. Many of the homes feature greenhouses, including their own. This isn't necessarily strange but many of the women, including Emily's law partner's wife and their real estate agent, bear the names of plants: Reseda, Anise, Celandine, Clary, Ginger, Holly, Sage, Valerian, Tansy and Yarrow. They want to include Emily, Hallie and Garnet into their little group and even give them botanical nicknames: Verbena, Calandrinia or Cali, and Rosemary. This little town seems to be split between those that belong to the herbal practitioners' group and everyone else. Because of their involvement with these "herbal witches," Hallie and Garnet are more or less ostracized by the other kids and their families. With nowhere else to go, the girls wind up spending more and more time with the herb ladies. 

As Chip becomes more obsessed with the door in the basement and the history of the house, and Emily becomes more involved with work, the girls become more involved with the herb ladies. Emily and Garnet are both aware that there is something a bit off but they aren't quite sure what. Emily and Chip know that their house has a sad and morbid history but that was years in the past. But is it possible the past is coming back to haunt them all? 

Mr. Bohjalian has provided a fantastic paranormal tale of mystery, psychological horror and woe in The Night Strangers. The horror is, at time physical, but often more psychological and slowly builds to create a feeling of dread. I'm not generally a fan of horror but this story pulled me in from the beginning. The feeling of dread and horror while reading was so profound that at one point I actually felt the need to verify that my house didn't have a coal chute (it doesn't but hey this is West Virginia so it was possible). As you read you're never quite sure what is going to happen and when you realize what is going to happen you actually begin to hope that it doesn't play out as you expect and it doesn't. The Night Strangers is part gothic mystery, part paranormal ghost tale, part horror and 100 percent worth reading.  

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book 215: SEERS Review

Kate Bennet has been having a terrible year. A traumatic car accident resulted in both of her parents dying and the injuries she suffered causes her to see auras. She isn't quite sure what is going on but she knows it probably isn't good. Heather Frost explores Kate's new abilities in Seers.

If being a teenager isn't bad enough, now Kate must deal with the notion that she truly isn't like everyone else. She also knows that the changes to her are making her relationship with her boyfriend Aaron worse. Aaron doesn't understand why she's so distant and she can't really explain it to him. Enter a new kid at school, Patrick. Kate knows he's different because his aura isn't like anyone else. She's also strangely attracted to him. Patrick just seems to understand her on so many levels. When he reveals that he's a "Guardian," basically a guardian angel, and that he's been sent to protect and guide her things start to make a little more sense. Patrick even warns her of the demons that want to use her abilities for nefarious means. 

Kate is torn between being loyal to Aaron and being true to herself. Kate is still coming to grips with the loss of her parents but Aaron seems to feel she has had months so her grief should be over. Kate knows that she no longer has romantic feelings for Aaron but isn’t quite sure how to break things off. In addition, she and Patrick must also deal with the onslaught of demons in the area. Can Kate and Patrick save Kate's family and the town from the ongoing evil? Can they ever be more than friends? Why are the demons so interested in her abilities?

Seers is fast-paced YA paranormal romance. Patrick and his friends aren't typical guardian angels, and it is perhaps this that makes for such an interesting read. Kate's family isn't perfect but they do appear to be rather normal in their abnormality. Kate's grandparents have moved in to raise Kate and her sisters. This scenario seems to follow along with modern society as family is no longer just parents raising children but might be grandparents raising grandchildren or aunts/uncles raising nieces and nephews, etc. Seers appears to be the first in a series so look for more from Kate and Patrick in the future.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book 214: ATTRACTED TO FIRE Review

Only the best in the Secret Service apparently make it to the Presidential detail team, and that is what Meghan Connor dreams about. She was fortunate to be on the Vice-President's detail once and even thwarted an assassination attempt. Now she has been asked by the Vice President to join the team guarding his daughter. Not necessarily a problem but the leader of the daughter's team, Ash Zinders, hates female agents. Sparks fly, literally and figuratively, when Ash and Meghan must join forces in Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills.

Meghan is young, beautiful and an adept agent. She has proven herself when on the Vice President's detail team and stopping an assassination attempt. Her dream to join the Presidential detail seems to be just out of her grasp until she is dangled a carrot. If she joins the team guarding the Vice President's daughter, she'll be considered for the opening on the Presidential team. Meghan knows that this is going to be extremely difficult, not just because the daughter, Lindsey, is an addict (drugs and alcohol) but also because her life has been threatened. After Lindsey attempts suicide, it is decided that she needs to be taken far away from the public spotlight and given the chance to detoxify and quit her addictive lifestyle once and for all. 

Meghan and Ash clash in their initial attempts to work together but eventually they both come to respect one another as agents. Their burgeoning friendship is put to the test when Lindsey arrives and is adamantly opposed to rehabilitation. To make matters worse, after the resignation of the current President due to health reasons, Lindsey's father is now forced to step-up and become President. No one is to know where Lindsey is while she rehabilitates but the threats continue against her and her family. But after one agent is murdered on the remote Texas ranch where Lindsey is sequestered, more questions than answers are raised. Is it possible there is a conspiracy against Lindsey's father? Can Ash and Meghan uncover the truth before more lives are lost and the country is imperiled?

Although Meghan and Ash are the primary characters in Attracted to Fire, I found Lindsey's story to be more compelling. Lindsey is not only a rebellious young woman that has taken the wrong path, but she isn't sure how to set herself free. She's afraid to trust anyone because her trust has been abused so many times in the past, especially by some that have close ties to her family. Meghan, Ash and Lindsey all overcome their preconceived notions and grow to like and respect each other. Meghan's faith isn't "in your face" but makes a nice adjunct to the overall story. Attracted to Fire is a well-written romantic suspense read, perfect for a lazy afternoon or weekend. 

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book 213: BLOOD PERSUASION Review

Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany is the second in the "Immortal Jane Austen" series. This story takes place approximately thirteen years after the action in Jane and the Damned and we learn that Jane did take the water cure. For the past thirteen years she has been living quietly with her family and continuing to write. 

Jane's father has died but she continues to live with her mother and sister Cassandra. Jane's niece has been sent to stay with them because of her scandalous and flirtatious behavior. What could be worse punishment that being banished to the countryside with her widowed grandmother and spinster aunts? But things in the countryside are not quite as bland as one might think, especially when two warring factions of "The Damned" move in. Vampires are no longer wholly accepted in polite society, thus the retreat to the country. Having "the Damned" as neighbors is bad enough but Jane's Creator as well as her former vampire master and lover have taken up residence nearby. Their visit coincides with several mutilations and attacks on the village. The higher class vampires are at odds with the lower class vampires termed le Sale. These lower class vampires have often been banished and hunt without regard for alliances or allegiances. Jane's creator is attempting to diplomatically stop Les Sales from their wayward behaviors. Of course Jane and her family are stuck in the middle. Jane's niece is enthralled with the leader of Les Sales, and even her own mother and sister can't seem to understand why Jane wishes to restrict their friendship to them despite her warnings. Jane must battle her inner demons as it appears she was not cured in Bath, while caught in the middle of the battle between the vampire groups. She must also deal with her attraction to her creator and his brother, as well her dormant feelings toward her former lover.

Blood Persuasion was slightly more credible for me than Jane and the Damned, but I still found it problematic. For basically thirteen years Jane has lived a quiet life free from vampirism but as soon as the vampires return to the countryside her desires for blood return. This behavioral change along with the idea that she actually pondered making one of her characters in Mansfield Park a vampire, basing the relationship of Mary and Henry Crawford loosely on that of her former lover and his sister, wasn't very believable to me. It did tie the notion of her vampirism and experiences as a vampire in with her writing but it seemed to be rather gratuitously thrown into the mix. The characters and the action in Blood Persuasion are slightly more developed and more in keeping with 19th century society. Blood Persuasion isn't a bad read, all things considered, but it just wasn't the right fit for me.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book 212: JANE AND THE DAMNED Review

I enjoy reading the fictional works by Jane Austen as well as fiction and nonfiction about Jane Austen, so I was intrigued when I received an ARC of Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany. Of course since that is the second book in the "Immortal Jane Austen" series by this author I purchased and read the first in this series Jane and the Damned. I had previously read and enjoyed the "Jane Fairfax" series by Michael Thomas Ford, but that series was set in modern times and Ms. Mullany's series is set during the lifetime of Jane Austen . . . big difference.


Jane and the Damned begins when Jane is 21 and home with her family in Steventon. It is strange that this is set in the late 18th century with strict societal rules and morals, yet vampires are supposedly known to and moderately well-received by society albeit known as “The Damned.” The initial problem I had was that there doesn't appear to be any reason for the vampire to "convert" Ms. Austen other than a case of boredom during a country party. Jane knows very little about vampires and vampire etiquette but realizes that she doesn't want to be one. She confides in her father and the family takes off to Bath for Jane to partake of the waters in effort to cure her of vampirism. What follows are a wild few weeks while Jane hesitates to accept the cure, is befriended by the local visiting vampire community and receives a new vampire master to teach her vampire etiquette and acceptable behavior. Jane discovers that her artistic talents for writing and enjoying music have dimmed. (Can you even imagine a world without Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibilities?) 


Jane begins to live a double life, one where she mingles with the vampires at night and the other where she tries to be the genteel daughter and sister her family expects. When the French invade Bath, Jane and the other vampires fight alongside the English to overthrow the French. Of course the English prevail, but Jane has become enamored with her new vampire master. She loves her family and finds it difficult to decide whether or not she should stay a vampire or take the cure. Will she take the cure, return home with her family and writing or will she stay a vampire with her new love?


Again, I found the premise of Jane Austen as a vampire rather interesting. However, Jane and the Damned seemed to stretch credulity. Yes I know this is fiction but even paranormal-fantasy and science fiction make a certain amount of sense. The romance between Jane and her new master is the only part that made sense and rang true. The remainder of the story just didn't do it for me.