Great Deal - eBook for $0.99

A great deal I don’t want any of you to miss out on: Lord and Lady Spy, Shana Galen’s latest release (in stores earlier this month) will be available for 99 cents for one week only, starting today, 9/27/11, until Monday, 10/3/11. Take advantage of this great deal to read a great author while you can!

I haven't read it yet, so I cannot attest to how good it is....BUT here is the synopsis from Goodreads.com

Lord Adrian and Lady Bridget Smythe have the picture perfect high society marriage. Little does the ton know that each is one of England's most preeminent spies- with their secret identities guarded even from each other. But what are secret agents to do when the spying game is over and they suddenly discover a whole new spark in each other?

The Highlander's Heart - Amanda Forester

RATING:   3 of 5 Stars
GENRE: Adult-Romance
FORM:  Mass-Market Book, ARC
PUBLICATION DATE:  October 1, 2011

While I was granted permission to read this book by Sourcebooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!  

SYNOPSIS: Isabelle Tysdale is on the run from her angry, abusive husband. After being ditched by her horse, she is stuck wandering the wilderness alone, with no clue where she is. It isn’t until she encounters some Highland thugs on the road that she finds out she has made her way all the way to Scotland, enemies of England. Trouble finds her at every twist and turn, but fortunately Isabelle has a reluctant savior in David Campbell. Realizing that in her absence will likely mean danger for her family, Isabelle tries again and again to get back to England, but to no avail. Isn’t it just her luck that every time danger lurks, David is right there to protect her?

REVIEW: I found The Highlander’s Heart to be a funny adventure through the Highlands. Isabelle was charming and funny, and did not always make the wisest of decisions. She was compassionate and expected the good out of everyone, even though it got her in more trouble many times. She was nothing if not persistent though. Even when there was no hope of escape, she never failed to come up with some grand plan. Despite her repeated failed attempts at escaping, in the end others called on her creative thinking when they needed help in or out of a situation.

This book was full of interesting characters, both of the darkest dark and those with the best of intentions. Some of my favorites included the McNab brothers, both of whom are desperate and do whatever they can to help their clan, trouble is their decisions continue to bring their Clan closer and closer to demise. I think my heart really went out to them because of their good intentions, and their slight stupidity. In addition to the McNab brothers, it was impossible not to fall in love with David Campbell’s siblings, all distinct in their personalities, but they give you get a sense of a true solid family.

David Campbell was by far one of my favorite Highlander male characters. He doesn’t drip with passion, nor is he overly aggressive in love or in life, as I find many Highland-heros do. He was a thoughtful man, weighing his decisions, seeking God for wisdom. He didn’t grab and take, but he prayed and weighed his options. This was a nice change from the typical, and I found that it made him more appealing, and the ending all that much better.

The Highlander's Heart is was a very fun, romantic read for anyone who loves Highlander books.  The story was often funny, and moved along nicely.  Amanda Forester's characters are not only sexy, but also honorable and filled with compassion.


The Sweetest Thing - Christina Mandelski

RATING: 4 of 5 Stars
GENRE: Young Adult – Fiction, Romance
FORM: eBook, NetGalley, ARC

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, Egmont USA, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS: Sheridan has a simple, mostly happy life, made up of her Father, chef of the local restaurant Sheridan & Irving’s; her Grandmother who is also the owner of the bakery where Sheridan spends most of her time making cakes for all of the city’s events. Making cakes is a talent that Sheridan excels at, and one that has been handed down from her runaway mother. Designing cakes makes Sheridan relax, think more clearly, and it makes her feel closer to the mother she knows still loves her very much. She also spends as much time as she can squeeze in between school and working at the bakery, she hangs out with her best friends, Jack and Lori.

This easy life could only be made perfect if only Sheridan could locate her Mom and convince her to come home, at task that her and Jack have been working on for a long time, but perfection finds its self jumping clear out of her reach when her father lands a TV show that would have the two of them packing their bags and moving to New York. Now Sheridan is dead set and getting her mother back, and making right all the crazy things going on in her life.

I found The Sweetest Thing to be very entertaining and fun. I enjoyed learning about Sheridan and her home-life dynamic. She was a girl with a constant plan to get what she wanted. It was pretty difficult to put this book down. I really enjoyed reading about the details of Sheridan’s cake making, and I absolutely loved the dynamic between her and Jack; best friends becoming something more is always a favorite story-line of mine. It was made even better by the brief relationship with the super-hot jock Eric, the guy she has been pinning over for quite a while. There’s nothing like getting what you think you want only to realize you already had what you needed! The entire book was cute…or if the description suits you better, sweet.

There were times that I felt like Sheridan was being very closed minded about the things around her. She had a single focus, and that was on her mother. She had a difficult time coming down from what she felt like she knew and opening her eyes and look around at what she had. However, I do not think her Dad was very helpful in preventing her from having that perspective. While at one point he tells her that everything he has done has been for her, he really just isn’t “there” at all for Sheridan. But this is what makes this book so real to life, in my opinion. Here we have a couple of people who went through a major, very hard change in their life. They dealt with it the way they could on their own, but then it seems they forgot to come back together as the healing process was taking place. Everything in this book we see from Sheridan’s perspective, and what I saw was a father who left her to her own devices as long as she wasn’t getting into trouble. He wasn’t really at home when she was at home, and rarely did they seem to spend quality time together. He didn’t really bother her, and she didn’t really bother him until some decisions were being made that would affect her life. But drawling from conversations and little comments and thoughts thrown out by Sheridan, her dad did try at first, but she shut him out with her cakes – the point of connection that Sheridan has made with her mother, and the one that she refuses to release. Both really are at fault.

I felt that Christina Mandelski took all of this into consideration, and in the end, with my favorite big happy red bow, begins the mending process between Sheridan and her father. Sheridan also begins the process of finding out who she will become and wants to be, moving out of comfort and waiting into the forward motion of life.


Mr. Cavendish, I Presume - Julia Quinn

RATING:  4 of 5 Stars

GENRE: Adult – Historical Fiction/Romance
FORM: Audiobook

SYNOPSIS: Amelia Willoughby has been engaged to the Duke of Wyndham since before she can remember. She has been raised to be a lady, to be a Duchess. Every step, every day, every breath has been seemingly planned out for her. Now that she has come of age, it just seems like her life is a waiting game. Likewise, Thomas Cavendish has known nothing except Wyndham, it has been his life and responsibility. Having a fiancée has been a part of his life just as long, so it is no wonder that courting Amelia hasn’t been his priority, she is his regardless. It isn’t until parts of Thomas’s life begin to unravel and everything he knew to be true is now looking as if it isn’t that he starts to get to know the women who has been his fiancée since childhood. Much to his surprise, he may even fall in love with her.

REVIEW: There was something just so Pride and Prejudice about this book that the day I finished it I went home and snuggled up on the couch to watch the movie. It probably had something to do with Amelia and her five sisters. Or maybe it was Thomas and the admiration and passion that took him by surprise. If Jane Austen was to read this book, however, I’m sure she would have been scandalized, seeing as how Elizabeth and Darcy didn’t even kiss.

I have been caught in a Historical-Romance binge lately. I don’t always write reviews on them though. Why not? Well, mostly because…well, I don’t know really. I think mostly because this blog contain more Young Adult book reviews than anything else…I’ve been considering starting a separate blog, but there are days I do good to do anything besides book reviews on this one. Oh well. Anyway, back to the book….

I’ve been on a binge lately, but I have to say I really, really enjoyed this book. As you are reading you can’t help see the story from both Amelia’s and Thomas’s perspectives, and at times it is easy to be annoyed or aggravated at either one of them, and in the end you love both. Thomas is what people today would be known as a “goodie-goodie.” He does everything that is expected of him without complaint, and this includes living with his over-bearing, extremely loud and opinionated grandmother. (I’m not even sure I could have tolerated her). He knows that he is expected to marry Amelia, and he will. He’s just not in a big hurry.

Amelia is just bursting at the seams to get away from such a stifled life. She is constantly told what to do, and how to behave that her eyes are crossed with the mundaneness of it all. And Thomas is no help. He does what is expected of him and doesn’t even seem to care to notice that Amelia is there, and is to topic of gossip and speculation. She just takes it in stride. When the two finally start getting to know each other, the relationship is just as sweet and beautiful as two teenagers falling in love for the first time. I love that Amelia calls him out on not even thinking about her. In reality it never even crossed Thomas’s mind that he ought to be thinking about her, but once that seed has been planted (and a few other things happen I’m not going to mention here), he can’t help but think about her.

When Jack, the long lost cousin, enters the scene, the book really picks up for the good. It went from an entertaining romance novel into something with a bit more suspense and fun. Just imagine having your life tossed upside down and everything you have known to be true suddenly not be. I didn’t know this was a “book 2” of a series, and didn’t realize that this story had already been told from another perspective, so there were many events I wasn’t expecting. I’m really anxious to get a hold of The Lost Duke which is the first book – but I’m wondering if in the end this one might be my favorite since I read it first.

One last thought – When Amelia attacks Thomas (just before all is revealed, etc) read very slowly…you don’t want to miss a detail. I literally could see her pushing her hands through his hair. HOT, HOT, HOT!


If I Tell - Janet Gurtler

RATING:  4 of 5 Stars
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction, Romance
FORM: eBook, Netgalley, ARC

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, Sourcebooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS: Jasmine wasn’t suppose to see her best friend making out with her mother’s boyfriend, she wasn’t suppose to see how they embraced madly, driven by lust and alcohol, nor how it looked like the whole event was just getting started, so she turned away and went back to where she came from. Now burdened with this huge secret, Jaz was set on breaking the news to her mother, knowing that it will ruin her relationship with Simon, but it was something she just had to do. Except her mother had some news of her own; she is pregnant. Now she’s holding this information inside, and is unable to make amends with Lacey, her ex-best friend, so she begins turning to the new hot guy working at the same coffee shop she does. Jackson is there for her when she feels as if no one else is.

REVIEW: If I Tell had me hooked from the beginning. Janet Gurtler lets out just enough information at a time to keep you pushing forward in the book to find out the ‘why’s’ or so you’ll find out what happens next. To me, this was more of a story of coming into one’s self than it is about keeping a deep dark secret, but this thing looming over Jaz’s head is what causes her life to go spiraling off path in the first place.

Jaz is half black, was born to a teenage mom, her dad skipped town, and she was raised by her grandparents. Already, she has a lot to deal with. Throw in the fact that all the kids in school look down on her for being so different – not black, and not white, there is not a crowd that she belongs to. Now throw in the fact that you've witness your mom's boyfriend kissing your best friend, and you've got a mess. The thing is, Jaz, behaved as if she was younger than her seventeen years. While she was dealing with a lot of issues, instead of behaving like a mature young-adult, she would fly off the handle, yell out biting words to hurt her target and storm off. Sometimes she had the decency to cry and feel bad about what she had done, but not enough to try and make efforts not to do it again. Her biggest problem, as her friend Ashley points out, is self-esteem. She does not think very highly of herself. If you think you are the victim, often times you will find yourself the victim. Point in case, the high school snob, Tina.

Here’s the kicker, with all these things going wrong for Jaz; she’s got a huge secret, and she feels like the world is out to get her because of her skin color, what she does not see is that she’s got this huge support system all around her. She is blessed with more friends than some people have, granted it’s a group of misfits, but together they form a crowd all their own, one in which they all belong. Despite the big fat huge mistake that any normal person probably would have trouble getting over, she’s got Lacey, who has been her best friend for a while. She’s got Ashley, the lesbian who moved to her school to get away from her own bullying. She’s got Jackson, who has his own secrets, and also was in juvy for dealing drugs. She’s got Simon, who once again made a really big mistake, but who loves her and has helped her understand a part of herself no one else could. She’s got her grandma, who for all intents and purposes was her mother. Even her own mother is there, even if her role is more of an older sister than that of a mother. So reading it from my end, seeing all that she did have and was missing out on proved to be a bit of a frustrating for me. While Jaz was sinking in self-pity and throwing self-destructive tantrums, these people are sticking by her through thick and thin.

I loved her support system. I loved all of her friends. Ashley was earnest and kind. Jackson was sexy and understanding and unbelievably patient. These characters have started to help Jaz see that life isn’t as bad as she makes it out to be. I can’t say everything she felt was all in her head, it absolutely was not, but thankfully, at the end of the book I think she realized that it was time to heal and move on from past hurts and begin to look forward, making this book more than worth the read!


Trying out Rafflecopter - GIVEAWAY!

I recently was approved to use Rafflecopter, and I've been itching to run a giveaway just so I can try it out.  So here it is..the "just because I can" giveaway! ;)

I am giving away a brand new (still in it's wrapping and everything) audiobook of The Story of Beautiful Girl.  Synopsis from Goodreads:

It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

To enter, please ...YAY....fill out the Rafflecopter form below!  And of course, stay tuned, I'll be participating in the Spooktackular Giveaway Hop, hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer, and The Diary of a Bookworm.
And I have the perfect book for that hop!!  :)


Shut Out - Kody Keplinger

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

RATING: 4 of 5 Stars
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction, Romance
FORM: Audiobook

SYNOPSIS: Sick and tired of the prank war going on between the Football and Soccer teams, and how it is effecting her relationship with her boyfriend Randy, Lissa has come up with a plan that will end the feud once and for all. She has gathered all of the girlfriends of football and soccer players and has convinced them swear an oath of chastity until the war has ended. While she expected her plan to bring the war to a quick end, she did not expect to create a strong friendship bond with the girls, one in which they could trust each other and really talk about sex without being judged.

REVIEW: Okay, so I'm throwing my normal blogging template out the window for today. And the way many of my blogs have been going lately, it might stay out the window, but I’ll think about that some other time. I’m just warning you now, so you don’t think something’s missing..there will be no “What I loved” and “Not so much” sections today, sorry.

Shut Out was an interesting read for me, leaving me a bit conflicted. On one hand, the book was extremely open and honest about sex, and sexual behavior among teenagers. On the other hand, the book had a lot of talk about teenage sex. Once again, I find myself liking and disliking the same thing about a book….but let me elaborate a bit.

I think at first what bothered me was that sex was just plain and simple THE topic of the book. The book started in full swing and it never really stopped from there. I have some reservations about making sex such a normal book topic in a young adult/teenage genre. But here’s the thing, no matter how much us adults would like to dance around this topic and pretend it doesn’t exist; to do so is to shut yourself into a closet and pretend the world doesn’t go on without you. The fact is, teenagers are curious about sex, they have sex, they want to have sex, they think about sex…. In my opinion, parents are way too closed about this topic. No, I don’t want to think about my kids having sex..but they are 7, 6, and 4, but one day they are going to be 16, 15, and 13 and I’m going to have to face the reality of this topic long before these ages come. I think it is important to be open, and especially honest about sex. I think most of us as kids were taught the science of it; how it works, what is done, what happens afterwards. We separated into classrooms, given pictures, and diagrams and made to understand the functions of our body parts. We learned the emotional aspects from…unfortunately in my case, Cinamax. Open conversation would do wonders I think, and would probably help teenager made better decisions.

And THIS is what I really loved about Shut Out. The bad part, these teenage girls were not discussing these things with their parents, not that it would have helped some. One of the girl’s mothers bought her a pack of cigarettes. Nice. But it’s reality, there are parents out there who promote unhealthy decisions. The good part, the girls got together and discussed these things with each other. What they found was that everyone was different. Some lied about having sex, because they didn’t want to seem abnormal. Some didn’t even like sex. Some, er well one at least, really enjoyed it. This hits on another wonderful part of the book. Kody Keplinger also is tackling the social norms of sexual behavior among the sexes. Is it wrong when girls like and desire sex, and are open about it? How about if a girl sleeps around, why is it that when a girl sleeps around she’s a slut, and when a boy does he’s “the man?”

Moving on. The characters. I liked almost all of the characters. They were a very believable bunch, and while reading there were times when you felt like you were right there at the slumber party with them. I did not, however, care much for Lissa – our main girl. I found her very annoying, and pretty selfish. I wanted to slap the control freak right out of here. I’m sorry, that is harsh. She has had a rough run of life, and she does understand she’s controlling, but sheesh. I’m surprised she was even able to function as a person. Oh, she has her good moments, she’s really good at making the other girls feel okay about themselves. On the flipside, there is Cash. I fell in love with Cash right away. He was just…well, the perfect guy is probably too much, but it’s what comes to mind. I actually wanted a better match for him. It is really abnormal that I feel this strongly about a female-lead, but I guess it’s bound to happen now and then.

In conclusion Shut Out was good. It is definitely worth the read. The characters were fun and believable and the story moved along pretty smoothly, and even had scenes that would make you laugh. No weird jumps in topic or scenes. I feel that, while I do not want to see this in every other YA book I read, Kody Keplinger has hit on some topics that really do need a bit of evaluation not only as teenagers, but also as adults, and especially as parents.


The Wedding Affair - Leigh Michaels

The Wedding AffairThe Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GENRE: Adult - Historical Romance
FORM: Book - ARC

REVIEW: In a book of new beginnings, rekindled love, new love and a lot of passion, Leigh Michaels gives you the ultimate romance novel topped with three cherries!

I enjoyed The Wedding Affair from beginning to end. The characters were very well developed and entertaining, each having individual personalities but are so great that you fall in love with them all.

I love books about weddings, and while many historical romance novels end in a wedding, most of the books that I have read are not based completely around a wedding. For this particular novel, the duchess being wed, Daphne, is a minor - however annoying - character in the book. She is spoiled, whines a lot, and is mean as fire, especially to her bridesmaids. I enjoyed her pre-wedding activities/outings though, and the fact that all of the bridesmaids behaved like twittering teenagers lusting after the next hot thing. In this case, the Duke, Simon.

There are many other supporting characters as well, some mean, some overbearing, and some are just outright hilarious. They play their roles in the story well, and really are one of the main things that made this book so entertaining.

All of this "background noise" of the novel just makes for many wonderful scenes and scenarios for the real stories taking place. Neither Simon nor Olivia, both relying on each other for their own reasons, are looking to fall into love or marriage, but as expected - they find it incredibly hard to live without each other. I loved them as a couple. I especially loved Simon. He was such a decent man, and his joy and eventual love for Charlotte, Olivia's daughter, won me over completely!

Kate and Andrew were a little bit harder for me. I liked them both well enough, and it was obvious they were meant for each other, but I think the attitude Kate held for most of the book, and Andrew making suggestions that don't really indicate whether he is serious or joking around, I found that when they finally came together as a couple the fire just wasn't there.

My favorite couple was Penelope and Charles. They are newlyweds who do not have a relationship at all. Penelope is completely innocent and has no idea what to do, which makes her seem scared and shy. Both are operating under false assumptions, but when they finally come together - it is just so sweet and just right! At first I was afraid that Charles was going to be played out to be this really hard menacing character, but in the end he was so sweet and loving. I actually felt sorry for him and the torment he was putting himself through.

WHAT I LOVED: This book was just a fun read. There is a lot of witty dialogue and passionate moments. The characters really are what made this book so good!

NOT SO MUCH: I already mentioned above how I felt about Kate and Andrew's relationship. Outside of that, I found it hard to believe how fast the girls were able to come out of their clothes. For a time when the women are dressed in layers, and as mentioned in the book, they required help getting dressed and lacing themselves up. Therefore it really bothered me every time one the girls (mainly Olivia) was surprised to find her top was hanging open. Silly, I know...but I just kept shaking my head every time I read it.
View all my reviews

While I was given an Advance Review Copy of this book by Sourcebooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!