Sunday, November 24, 2013
I just love that line* from the 80's movie, St. Elmo's Fire. Although my situation is not nearly as dire as the subject line may suggest, I do have a collision of sorts.
I recently went back to work (after having off four luscious months to read) so naturally my reading time has been cut back, and just at the time of year when the holidays are upon me too. No matter how much I vow to make the holidays simpler and less time consuming each year, it somehow never pans out. And the third piece of my collision is a cold that has been an invader in my body for the last 10 days and shows no signs of vacating soon. So not conducive for reading!
So while I really want to go on providing three books reviews each week, it is not going to happen, at least for a while. I will miss those halcyon days of having several weeks worth of reviews in the queue ready to be published on their assigned day, but I won't say it will never happen again. In the meantime I'll still publish each time I have a new book review and before I end this post I would like to do something I did last year, and that is in honor of the holidays to suggest some food themed or titled books. Happy Reading to you!!
Flavia de Luce 11 is an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. In the summer of 1950, a series of inexplicable events strikes her home, Buckshaw, a decaying English mansion. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.
To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is jailed for murder. He tells Flavia an astounding story of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, a stolen priceless object, and a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school tower thirty years before. Flavia ties tie two distant deaths together, examines new suspects, and follows the search to the King of England himself.
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
In 2003, Kathleen Flinn, a thirty-six-year-old American living and working in London, returned from vacation to find that her corporate job had been eliminated. Ignoring her mother’s advice that she get another job immediately or “never get hired anywhere ever again,” Flinn instead cleared out her savings and moved to Paris to pursue a dream-a diploma from the famed Le Cordon Bleu.
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is the touching and remarkably funny account of Flinn’s transformation as she moves through the school’s intense program and falls deeply in love along the way. Flinn interweaves more than two dozen recipes with a unique look inside Le Cordon Bleu amid battles with demanding chefs, competitive classmates, and her “wretchedly inadequate” French. Flinn offers a vibrant portrait of Paris, one in which the sights and sounds of the city’s street markets and purveyors come alive in rich detail.
The ultimate wish fulfillment book, her story is a true testament to pursuing a dream. Fans of Julie & Julia, My Life in France, and Eat, Pray, Love will be amused, inspired, and richly rewarded by this seductive tale of romance, Paris, and French food.
“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.
Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.
The number one bestseller in Mexico and America for almost two years, and subsequently a bestseller around the world, "Like Water For Chocolate" is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit - and recipes.
A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.
A dear friend suggested this one for my assortment:
When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud denounces her as a serious danger to his flock - especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial. War is declared as the priest denounces the newcomer's wares as the ultimate sin.
Suddenly Vianne's shop-cum-café means that there is somewhere for secrets to be whispered, grievances to be aired, dreams to be tested. But Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community in a conflict that escalates into a 'Church not Chocolate' battle. As mouths water in anticipation, can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate éclair?
For the first time here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance. Rich, clever and mischievous, Chocolat is a literary feast for all senses.
And now my shameless promotion...
While this book does not have food either in the title or as a theme (it does talk about food at points) I still think it is a great book and now that the winter is nearly upon those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and because I think of this as an ideal time to dive into a substantial read, I give you;
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Side Note: This first book in the series is currently being filmed to air on the Starz cable network in serial form in 2014.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Scandalous 2 by H.M. Ward
Abby never thought she’d find her soul mate, but she has and it's changed her life forever. Jack is everything she needs and more. There’s a connection between the two of them that transcends logic and rational thought. It’s like they were made for each other. Nothing can keep them apart.
After the honeymoon ends, Jack has the most important show of his career. The centerpiece is the scandal painting of Abby. It’s Jack’s defining piece, the start of a new era. But when Jack and Abby return home, something isn’t right. Jack becomes distant as his deepest fears manifest before his eyes.
Jack has been verbally attacked for his art in the past. It’s no secret; but what Abby doesn't realize is that a hate group has also targeted him. They hold Jack personally responsible for the moral decay in society. Not only is this corruption seen in Jack’s art, but also in his life and love. Seducing Abby made Jack a prime target.
It isn’t enough to ruin Jack’s career—these activists want to end his life.
Everything hinges on Abby and she’ll do anything to protect the man she loves.
Rate & take
Heat Index 1 ☼
This second book brought the story home nicely but with a bit less spark than the first book (see my previous review). I still enjoyed the main characters and hearing about the art world and the creative process.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Scandalous by H.M. Ward
One kiss could have changed Abby's life, but when it didn't happen, she ran. Jack was everything to her and when he didn't respond, Abby couldn't bear it. Everything about that night--leaning in close to his face, feeling the night breeze teasing her hair, the way his scent filled her head--was burned vividly into her mind, including the moment when Jack pulled away. There was no kiss. Abby was wrong. She was wrong about him, wrong about them.
Maybe she didn't have to go to college two thousand miles away, but she did. She had to forget about him. Abby threw herself off the grid, disappearing completely from the life she knew. After completing her undergraduate degree, she enrolled in seminary. All contact with her old life was severed and she never looked back, until she was forced to.
When Abby puts idealism into practice, her congregation throws her out. If she can survive a year on her own, they'll take her back, and continue to pay off her student loans--but if she fails, Abby is on her own with enough debt to fund a small town. Seminary wasn't cheap. With no place left to go, Abby returns to New York and her best friend takes her in.
Desperate to make it on her own and prove she was right, Abby follows a job lead to an art studio on Long Island. It isn't until she hears Jack's voice that she freezes. The hairs on the back of her neck prickle as she turns to see Jack, ten years later, looking even more tempting than before.
Fate is cruel. Abby left this life behind, but she's thrown back into it, head first. It's like someone hit rewind on her life and its ten years earlier. She's the cotton-mouthed girl that she always was around Jack, and now her future relies on the man who rejected her.
Rate & take
Heat Index 3 ☼☼☼
It's something in the way H.M. writes that just pulls you right into the story like you are there with the characters, hearing their thoughts watching how they relate to their world.
I just never want the story to end....and thankfully I got a boost there as book two in this series is already out. Happy am I to go off and read now. :-D
Friday, November 15, 2013
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…
Rate & take
Heat Index 1☼
My very first Nora Roberts read...I know she has written hundreds of books and yet I had never even read one. I actually made the decision to take in one of her books a few months ago but waited until this particular title was published as I was drawn to the subject matter. This title starts The Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy, and I am happy to report that while I know there is plenty of story left, the book did not leave me in a desperate cliff hanging moment, just the sweet promise of more to come. I very much enjoyed my first Nora experience and will be sure to tune back in once book two comes out.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Rock the Beat by Michelle A. Valentine
Twenty-year-old Holly Pearson never dreamed that while working at her father’s motocross track she’d run into the walking, talking definition of trouble in a sexy, tattooed package—Trip Douglas, the man sent to evaluate the track for a possible investment opportunity. Holly makes no attempt to hide the fact she despises Trip, but she learns to be civil toward him when he offers to help her land the man of her dreams.
Trip needs a break from the crazy rock-and-roll lifestyle he’s been living for the past few years. With his Black Falcon band mates settling down with marriage and babies, Trip peruses an investment opportunity in motocross, something he’s always been passionate about. Hiding his celebrity status, Trip infiltrates the new business posing as a dirt bike rider training for the X-Games. The only obstacle is the owner’s daughter, Holly. She’s a real ball bustin' Ice Queen, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make the deal fall through. Trip soon discovers that winning over his new enemy is the key to gaining a partnership in Mountain Time Speed Track.
Knowing he’s the expert on getting laid, Trip ropes Holly into becoming his ally by helping her score a date with the man she’s crushing on. The problem is, the more time Trip and Holly spend together, the more they uncover the undeniable attraction between them. Soon they both realize that even the best laid plans go to hell when you find you’re falling in love with the enemy.
Rate & take
Heat Index 3 ☼☼☼
I have been involved with this the Black Falcon series for a while. I lovingly wait for each new story to come out, each band member gets their own book. This book was delayed for a while after the original pub date was announced, the author said she wanted to make sure it was the best that it could be...or something along those lines, and I appreciate the dedication. I would have even been even more appreciative if I thought that this book was equal in greatness to the last several, however I found it missing some ingredient that ran fully through those other reads. Not to say I did not enjoy this addition but it just left me feeling like the characters were not as fully explored as they could have been, that some spark was missing.
But, no matter what I will still be there for the next in series.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Panic by J.A. Huss
Rook is chasing her dream—film school and a chance at a life beyond the one she ran from six months ago. But before she can become the girl she wants to be, she must deal with the girl she left behind.
Ronin is also chasing his dream—a family of his own and a life away from erotic modeling. And he too, has a past he’s trying to forget. A past that makes Rook question everything about their life together.
Lies, secrets, and shocking truths will rock the foundation Rook and Ronin have built. Can they put the past behind them and move forward together? Or is this just another too good to be true relationship that will crash and burn in the end?
Rate & take
Heat Index 3 ☼☼☼
Intrigue, drama, hotness, confessions, reveals, this book had it all and the writing was tight. I could not have written a better ending and I love that the author hinted that one of the characters might just get their own spin off book! I'll be there on publishing day for sure.
My review of book 1 My review of book 2
Friday, November 8, 2013
The Arrangement 11 by H.M. Ward
Sean Ferro is my addiction. I can’t tell him no, no matter what he asks for, and I know there are so many dark questions behind those blue eyes, so many things he wants me to do with him.
When I watch him go down on one knee, with his sexy body covered in sand, and hold up a glittering ring, I can barely stand. It looks like he’s going to propose, and I know exactly what I’m going to say.
Rate & take
Heat Index 3 ☼☼☼
At first it didn't feel like a lot was happening, but than wham! It all started, and all too soon it was all over. Of course I know we will have another installment in a few weeks but damn, this author does know how to spin a tale (and me) to maximum effect.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Knowing his Secret by K.C. Falls
He looked like the kind of man even my mother would call smokin' hot. Eventually, she did.
He felt like the kind of man who didn't just break the rules, but made new ones. He led and it was follow or get out of the way.
Why did a billionaire with a voice like liquid silk and a face like a bad angel take a second look at a girl in no-name jeans, with a fifteen-dollar haircut and a beat up car she calls her "Eep" because the 'J' fell off long ago?
I didn't want to know why and when I thought I knew I didn't want to admit it. By the time I found his secret, it was already too late. His passion had me hooked like a drug. It didn't hurt that he pulled the people I love the most out of harm's way. A girl can get used to a knight in shining armor even when the armor has some very large dents in it.
This 33,000 word novella is part of a series, although this book can be enjoyed as stand alone work.
Keeping his Promise by K.C. Falls
Just carrying a million dollars around is exhausting. Paying my mother's ransom was a relief but I had too much time to think about Tristan on that ferry ride. He was more than I had dared hope for and less than I deserved.
I underestimated his power and didn't give him nearly enough credit for determination. He had me on his jet again, flying high and wanting him. Consequences be damned.
Who could be prepared for what he had to say? I wasn't going to hold him to the promise he intended to keep. When he opened the heavy door to his heart we both knew it would change what we had. Trouble is, I still didn't have a word for what it is we had.
Our bodies tended to do all the talking. Sometimes, it seemed to me there wasn't much left to say.
Taking his Risk by K.C. Falls
(I could not get image to slim down in size...but you get the idea from the first two covers)
I was hurtling across the ocean, a mile high, destination unknown. I'd brought a passport and nothing else.
He seemed determined to make everything in my life brand new. He revealed me, peeling back layer after layer until all that was left was my raw intimate core. Yet, I hardly knew him.
Crazy is a pretty good word for the kind of uncertainty that comes with a man like Tristan King. I never knew what the day would bring, but I began to expect surprises. That was the biggest problem. Managing my expectations with a man who'd told me I couldn't have any.
For a regular girl, falling for a man like him was taking a very big chance. Was it really possible to love one day at a time?
Over all rate & take
Heat Index 3 ☼☼☼
These three are the total series were just a few hours each to read.
The plot moved along nicely, never got boring, and I liked that the main characters met in a community theater. I would consider these books a good beach read.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Significance by Shelly Crane
Maggie is a seventeen year old girl who's had a bad year. She was smart and on track, but then her mom left, her dad is depressed, she's graduating - barely - and her boyfriend of almost three years dumped her for a college football scholarship. Lately she thinks life is all about hanging on by a thread and is gripping tight with everything she has.
Then she saves the life of Caleb and instantly knows there's something about him that's intriguing. But things change when they touch, sparks ignite. Literally.
They imprint with each other and she sees their future life together flash before her eyes. She learns that not only is she his soul mate, and can feel his heartbeat in her chest, but there is a whole other world of people with gifts and abilities that she never knew existed. She herself is experiencing supernatural changes unlike anything she's ever felt before and she needs the touch of his skin to survive.
Now, not only has her dad come out of his depression to be a father again, and a pain as well, but Caleb's enemies know he's imprinted and are after Maggie to stop them both from gaining their abilities and take her from him.
Can Caleb save her or will they be forced to live without each other after just finding one another?
Rate & take
This is book one in a four book series of the same name and all books have been published.
The story itself had a very original feel and I very much enjoyed the read. My only complaint was at every event in the story the characters talked about it (or internal monologues took place) seemingly forever before the next bit of action happened. I am sure the author wrote it this way for the audience she expected, and not middle-aged me. Originally I was going to end my reading of the series with the ending of book one but I have found the story is sticking with me, so at some point in the future I will continue on.
Friday, November 1, 2013
My Now & Forever by H.J. Bellus
Whose parents abandon them in a trashy trailer when they are five years old? Oh Yeah! Mine do!
Hey Hoochies! I'm Milly, and I am tired of taking kicks to the gut. A broken family, an asshole husband and the loss of loved ones have left me crying Uncle, and declaring a serious case of the Fuck-Its!
I had my heart broken, stomped on and shattered before I ever started on my journey to find my little piece of happiness. With a bucket list, a '66 Ford and wild dreams, I set out on an adventure that changed my life forever. Follow me on my journey that resurrected my inner badass.
I found my soul sista from another mista, and opened my dream shop along the way. Just when I gave up on finding true love, a pirate and a princess swept me off my ever lovin' feet and filled my world with sprinkles, mac n’ cheese and the courage to live again. They forced my fragile heart to trust and love without fear.
Truth is, nobody’s past stays hidden forever. It’s an invisible monster waiting to attack and destroy. It has the capability to ruin everything you’ve worked to set right. All it takes is one final blow to the gut to end everything.
Rate & take
Heat Index 1 ☼
I found this to be a cute with some funny lines, steamy goodness, and not a lot of substance otherwise....however that did not stop me from enjoying the overall read. I could ponder what this says about me but I choose not too, instead I'll get busy picking another entertainingly smutty read!