Friday, January 29, 2010

Contest! From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

From Dead to Worse (8th novel): After the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina, and the manmade horror of the explosion at the vampire summit, Sookie Stackhouse is safe but dazed, yearning for things to get back to normal. But her boyfriend Quinn is among the missing. And things are changing, whether the Weres and vamps in her corner of Louisiana like it or not. In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death-and once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood ceases flowing, her world will be forever altered.

From Dead to Worse is being reissued, by Penguin, in Trade Paperback and features the new cover as shown above. Thanks to Bronwyn at Penguin Canada, I'm happy to offer a copy of From Dead to Worse to 5 lucky Canucks! (That's right, folks, Canadian addresses only for this one.) Click here for more details from the publisher.

Please click this link to fill out the entry form. Contest closes Feb. 25, 2010 and winners will drawn using Good luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review: Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Pages 336
Published: January 1, 2010
ISBN - 13: 9780545139052

From the Publisher:

After her vivacious twin sister dies, a shy teenaged girl moves with her parents to San Francisco, where she meets a magical seamstress who grants her one wish.

It's always hard to fit in to new surroundings, a new school, but for poor Olivia these problems are a thousand fold after the death her twin sister. As she attempts to blend in unnoticed at her school, she learns she must attend a welcoming party at her mom's law firm (which some of her fellow students will also be attending). She needs a dress for the occasion and finds one that belonged to her sister, Violet. It's in need of repair, so she takes it to a seamstress close to home.

It doesn't take long for her to realize there's something different about Posey, the seamstress, and her alterations. The dress that is returned to her is completely different from the one she wanted fixed. Not having time to resolve the confusion, she dons the dress and heads to the party. At one point, she utters a statement, wishing her sister back and discovers a butterfly flying away from the dress. Lo and behold, she wakes up, thinking she's hearing voices which turns out to be her sister, returned to her, (sort of.)

When I first read the premise of this book, I thought Violet actually returned and between the sisters, they shared additional wishes. This is not what happens (I think maybe I read it wrong, lol). It becomes a true tale of be careful what you wish for; sometimes the fall-out is worse than where you started off.

Wish is a cute book, with lots of the sights and sounds of San Francisco described throughout. While there is no villain in the story, I think Olivia's struggles with her conscience represents the most difficult part of the story, along with the coping techniques (or lack of) that come along with the death of a loved one.

The hardest part for me to digest (pun fully intended) were the references to all of the healthy foods, in particular those consumed by the teenagers throughout the story. Maybe I'm just a little out of touch and this may be the norm out there. I will give the author her due, if I were to pick a U.S. city that defined the healthy lifestyle, San Fran would probably be first to mind, with its seeming openness to alternative lifestyles in general (and I don't mean this in a negative way what-so-ever!)

Overall, an enjoyable read.

If you would like to experience Wish through an audio/visual tour, check out this link over to Mel @ He Followed Me Home's blog for the virtual backpacking trip (that I helped create:-)

Waiting on Wednesday: Jan. 27, 2010

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we get to share which upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This is an easy one for me this week! From my good friend Mel at He Followed Me Home, I borrowed Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink on the weekend and, well, spent all day Saturday reading it. Then I ran out and bought my own copy. It's definitely something I will need to read again. (I'll be posting my review of Prophecy later this week, so stay tuned).

So the book I'm waiting for this week is Guardian of the Gate, the second in the series, by Michelle Zink. While the cover art hasn't been finalized yet, I found the book trailer on the author's official website (click here to check out Michelle's blog for more information on all of her work). This trailer seems to feature only the new (perhaps German?) cover for Prophecy, but the haunting music heard is the work of Michelle's son, Kenneth, and is the "score" for Guardian. I think it's a good reflection of the dark, Goth-like feel to this incredible story. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Teaser - Jan. 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here is how it works:
Grab your current read
Open to a random pageShare two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week comes from Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow (pg. 39):

Prior to immigrating, he was engaged in the manufacturing of inlet valves and flotation devices for toilets, and while he'd amassed a fortune, the source of his money ruled out acceptance in polite society. At a lawn party, really, how could one converse with a toilet valve magnate?


It's great to host contest on my own blog, but I also like to bring attention to other blogs and the fantastic contests they are holding. In the case the blog in question is Steph Su Reads, which is celebrating its blogoversary with a bang! There are some awesome YA titles up for grabs, including Maggie Stiefvater's Linger and Michelle Zink's The Guardian of the Gate (you'll be seeing my review of the 1st book in this series calles the Prophecy of the Sisters soon). So click here, follow Steph and get in on the fun!

(And did I mention this contest is open to International entrants?)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Post: Carolyn Brown

I am very excited to present the first ever guest post on my blog! Everyone please give a warm welcome Carolyn Brown, author of Getting Lucky. (For my review, click here)

Carolyn Brown, take it away!:

Hi everyone. Thank you for letting me stop here during my blog tour to celebrate the release of Getting Lucky earlier this month. I brought the homemade cookies and sweet tea! Pull up a chair and let’s visit.

Getting Lucky is the third and final book in the Lucky Series. Luc
ky in Love came out in September of last year and One Lucky Cowboy in November. Getting Lucky is the story of Julie Donavan, a divorcee who moves from Jefferson to Saint Jo, Texas to get away from the gossip surrounding her daughter, Annie. And of Griffin Luckadeau, cousin to Slade (One Lucky Cowboy) and Beau (Lucky in Love), who has a daughter, Lizzy, the same age as Annie.

Two single parents. One running from a mistake in her past. The other one trying to get past a mistake he made in his life. Neither trusting the opposite sex. Neither looking for a relationship much less love and commitments.

So how in the great green earth did they overcame their past relationships to get on about the business of finding happy ever after in Getting Lucky?

Julie Donavan brought baggage with her from Jefferson, Texas to Saint Jo. Not only in the form of a beautiful little black haired daughter with a white streak in her hair. Along with Annie’s assortment of Barbie dolls she packed up a past that included a cheating husband, a one night stand, a divorce and a town full of gossiping people. Looking up and seeing G. Luckadeau standing before her that first day of school was like being hit by a class five tornado!


Her first thought was “Damn, he even looks better with hair.”

Her second was “What in the hell is he doing in Saint Jo, Texas?”

Her third was, “Oh, shit, what do I do now?”

The man stopped in front of her and looked down. “Hello, we are the Luckadeaus. This is my daughter, Lizzy, who will be in your class this year.”

And I’m the woman you met in Dallas six years ago? She wanted to shout at him. Remember me? I’m Red.

Griffin waited for her to finish with the little boy, his pulse racing and his heart thumping. God Almighty, he’d never been attracted to a red head before. That was his brother’s choice of women. No one told him the new kindergarten teacher was knock-down-gorgeous or that she had eyes that could see straight into his soul. Desire shot through his body or was it plain old lust? Either one was something he hadn’t allowed in a very long time and he determined he would get control of it before he spoke again.

© Carolyn Brown, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2010

Griffin Luckadeau had no luck at all with his first wife who gave him total custody of their child Lizzy, for a “settlement” of ten thousand dollars. So he’s in Saint Jo, Texas raising his child alone, also. So even though he didn’t have to pack up his daughter’s Barbie collection, he’s got just as much baggage.

So how do they overcome their previous events and try to find trust, respect and love in a new relationship?

It’s about as easy as shoving a camel, hump first, through the eye of a sewing needle. It would have been a whole lot less difficult if the two girls hadn’t bonded immediately and wanted to be BFF’s. They might have been able to stay out of each other’s way even in a small town but that wasn’t happening with Annie wanting to spend all her time with Lizzie and Lizzie telling Annie all her deepest secrets.

Then fate jumped onto the hay wagon and began to throw both Julie and Griffin together at every possible chance. Avoiding each other was hard enough in a town with a population of less than a thousand people, but toss in a town meeting where they are on opposite sides or even the simple act of going to church and figuring out they are sitting on the same side of the church. Fate didn’t play fair either! It sent a fire and a near heart attack when they were too stubborn to admit the past and all its problems should stay in the past so the brilliant light of the future could shine.

Friends played a big part in helping them sling their past relationships into the garbage dumpster and trust their hearts. Mamie was a matchmaker.

Nellie and Ellen placed bets on when Julie and Griffin would tie the knot.

With that much help how could they continue to hang on to the past? It just wasn’t possible.

With the children showing them how to love each other and a spare child they’d taken in when his parents were picked up for drug trafficking, they finally tossed the past into the Red River and learned to trust their hearts and each other.

After all happy-ever-after depends on overcoming past relationships to find new love. New love cannot grow in the weeds of bad relationships. It needs a nice fresh heart to plant the seeds of love.

Do you like to read about people who overcome big hurdles before they finally admit that they really have found happiness?

Single mom Julie Donavan is looking for a place to start over. What she finds after buying a small house on five acres is nothing short of a nightmare.
Single dad "Lucky Griffin" Luckadeau has been crossing horns with his elderly neighbor for years. But when his daughter, Annie, decides she wants the new little girl who lives on the feuding property to be her friend, or better yet her sister, the sparks fly.
These two stubborn hotheads, who irritate each other beyond endurance, refuse to admit that it's fate that brought them together. And running from the inevitable is only going to bring a double dose of misery…

Carolyn Brown, an award-winning author who has published 36 romance novels for the library market, credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. She was born in Texas but grew up in southern Oklahoma where she and her husband, Charles, a retired English teacher, now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. For more information, please visit

Thank you Carolyn, it's been a pleasure featuring you here on my blog!

And, to show my readers some appreciation, I'm happy to offer a copy of the Lucky trilogy ( One Lucky Cowboy, Lucky in Love, and Getting Lucky) to one of my lucky followers :-)

To enter, you must be a follower of my blog and live within the U.S. or Canada.
+1 for tweeting or blogging about my contest
Contest closes Feb. 8, 2010

Thanks to Danielle at SourceBooks for allowing me to host this awesome contest! Good Luck everyone.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Death of a Valentine: A Hamish MacBeth Mystery by M.C. Beaton

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Jan 12 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446547387
ISBN-13: 978-0446547383

From the publisher:

Amazing news has spread across the Scottish countryside. The most famous of highland bachelors, police sergeant Hamish Macbeth, may actually marry at last. The entire village of Lochdubh adores Macbeth's bride-to-be. Josie McSween is Hamish's new constable, and she is a pretty little thing, with glossy brown hair and big brown eyes. The local folk think that Josie is quite a catch, but Hamish couldn't be more miserable.

The wedding wouldn't be happening if it weren't for the murder of a beautiful woman in a nearby village. After the gorgeous woman receives a deadly Valentine's Day gift, Hamish and Josie take on the case. However, they soon discover that the list of the victim's admirers is endless. The case confirms Hamish's belief that love is extremely dangerous, but he still can't avoid the events that lead up to his celebrated engagement.

I started reading the Hamish MacBeth books after watching the short lived BBC television series of the same name. While the storylines and characters from the books differ greatly from the TV series, the atmosphere surrounding each story is similar; the small town where everyone know everyone else's business and people show no shame for sticking their noses in it.

Death of a Valentine is the 25th book in the Hamish MacBeth series, of which I've probably read about 3/4's. This time around, Hamish has to solve the murder of a local beauty queen and, as always, things aren't as simple as they seem to be. The woman in question has left behind her a trail of bitterness and hatred that leaves many suspects on Hamish's list. He has a sixth sense for the truth and is determined to get his man (or woman).

But there's a wrench in his usual way of doing things that doesn't involve his boss and nemesis, Blair, this time. He's been given a constable, Josie, and unbeknownst to him, she has an agenda. Josie thinks with some well timed eyelash batting, she will attract the attention of the famous Hamish MacBeth. When her plans begin to turn sour, she turns to some drastic measures to ensure her future.

While I felt the "love" story was a bit silly, I suppose there are woman out there that will stop at nothing to get the "man of their dreams", which lends some credence to this part of the book. The storyline becomes a bit of a comedy of errors; Hamish seems doomed as a series of people, unknowingly, compound his misery with incrementing stupidity. I just found it a bit hard to swallow that he couldn't figure out what was going on when he's the one that solves the crimes before his counterparts in Strathbane usually even get a clue.

That part aside, what I love about these books is the locale involved.The Highlands of Scotland are filled with green grass, mountains, fresh air, and yes, the villages where privacy is virtually unheard of. They make me long to visit the country that I lived in for a short time and which I don't get to return to often enough. The town where my parents were raised even gets a passing mention in Death of a Valentine, though not in the most flattering light (it's almost considered the crime capital, being close to Glasgow).

M.C. Beaton gives us the charm of the small community of Lochdubh while showing the contrast of the criminal element that is unfortunately spreading through the country. In Hamish MacBeth, she has created a character stuck in a bit of a time warp. He struggles with maintaining a peaceful life in his beloved village while constantly being bombarded with the harsh realities of the modern era. Not to mention, he doesn't seem to be aging very quickly even though Death of a Valentine encompasses more than a year's time frame. It's all an entertaining enigma.

I do enjoy reading the Hamish MacBeth series and if you like "cozy mysteries", you will too. Death of a Valentine, as well as the others in the series, are quick reads and full of Highland charm and humour.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: Getting Lucky by Carolyn Brown

Getting Lucky is the third in the series of "Lucky" novels by Carolyn Brown. Julie Donavan has just moved to Saint Jo, Texas to take a position as the new teacher. But she's also using this move to escape her troubling past and is attempting to start over. Imagine her surprise on the first day of school, when someone from her past shows up with a daughter almost identical to her own yet not acknowledging their former shared experience.

For me, Getting Lucky was probably the first "cowboy romance" novel that I've read. It's full of lush characters: proud woman, handsome cowboys (of course), a few older ladies that seem to have interesting back stories themselves, as well as the joys and perils that come with living in small town Texas.

Julie and Griffin Luckadeau seem to be fighting fate at every turn, but mostly I just wanted to give them a good shake and tell them "enough already!" These were two stubborn people that, if they'd had more communication sooner, would have been easily able to resolve the differences between them. But, I suppose, that would have taken the fun out of the story.

It's an interesting ride getting to the bottom of why the two little five year-old girls that have never met could almost be twins. The whole situations leaves room for lots of speculation throughout Saint Jo and Julie being referred to as "white trash" more than a few times. This becomes a running joke in a story that's filled with lots of Southern humour.

Overall, it's a cute book that's fun to read. If you like romance novels, then Getting Lucky would be a welcome addition to your TBR list!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

Published by: Little, Brown
Category: FICTION
Publish Date: 1/12/2010
Price: $26.99/$32.99
ISBN: 9780316065788
Pages: 576

From the Publisher:

Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

I had heard much about Elizabeth Kostova's first novel, The Historian, but hadn't had a chance to read it. When I heard she had a new novel being released, I jumped at the opportunity to review it.

It didn't take me long to realize I was going to love this book. Kostova's masterful descriptions were so detailed that you could easily envision what she was talking about.

In this case, her topic is an artist, Robert Oliver, that has had an apparent breakdown. Through the eyes of his psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, and the women in his life, we see a mystery unfold that attempts to explain how Oliver reached his breaking point. Through a series of letters in Robert's possession, we also see the substory of Beatrice de Clerval, an artist from the late 19th century, and how she also plays a part in Oliver's mental decline.

The descriptions I referred to before not only include the standard people and places but also the every brushstroke on a myriad of paintings that are discussed throughout. I have been a fan of Impressionist paintings for a long time, Monet in particular, and he and his fellow painters are mentioned frequently in the story. What I loved about this book was how Kostova took real museums, real works of art, then seamlessly added in the fictional elements that made me wonder if Beatrice was indeed real. I was actually saddened to find out that she wasn't but I am always pleased when a novel makes me question things and sends me into further research.

There's a particular Sisley painting towards the end that I could've sworn was real and loved the circumstances in which it came to be but I couldn't find any actual references to it anywhere! It can be a slight disappointment when reading historical fiction to find out that the parts you like best are the least real (not that this book is actually historical fiction, only certain parts). Regardless of this, The Swan Thieves is a beautifully written tribute to Impressionism and the profound effects of the artistic mind and its ability to create beauty, sometimes to the point of obsession. There were a few things that didn't wrap up as satisfactorily as I would have liked but the power of the other aspects of this story outweighed, for me, these minor things. Kostova has created rich characters, settings, and, of course, paintings that make you want to run to the closest museum and absorb all of these elements for yourself.

Waiting on Wednesday - Jan. 20, 2010

So, I know I posted about The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting on an earlier WoW but I had to do it again when I discovered the book trailer on Kimberley's own blog (click here to check out her blog and follow...there's a contest too!) Plus, I just love this cover art, so it's prettying up my blog again this week. The Body Finder releases March 16, 2010, so keep an eye out for it. I know it's going to be awesome!

Let me know what you think of this trailer in my comments section and remember to go tell Kimberley too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

Product Details
Simon Pulse, March 2008
Hardcover, 224 pages
ISBN-10: 1416953574
ISBN-13: 9781416953579
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

From the Publisher;

Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....

I was fortunate enough to hear about this and snag a copy of the e-book that was being offered for a short time through The publisher was allowing it to be downloaded for free and gives you 30 days to read it; I only needed one!

I got sucked into this story fairly quickly and it wouldn't let me go. Lisa McMann writes Janie's experiences like a date and time stamped journal or, perhaps, the form surveillance notes would take, which made the flow of the story very fast paced.

I think plot-wise it was a little thin, with Janie aiding the local police with a sting operation: it seemed a little simplistic. But what kept my attention were the human connections Janie made along with the possibilties of where Janie's life is headed and what she could achieve with her ability.

There seems to be a recurring theme with YA books (and I'll probably mention this often) where the parent(s) of the main character are almost non-existent. While I will acknowledge that this is true in some families, it can be hard to swallow as the norm in these books. It is a necessary factor, I suppose, in making the story as interesting as it is; it would complicate things if parents were running around interfering all the time. The teen character in question needs the element of freedom. Wake is no different, though I'm hoping that Lisa McMann will clear up why Janie's mom is the way she is in the follow-up books.

These minor negative aspects aside, I thought the concept was different when so many series' are centrered around vampires and werewolves, etc. I very much enjoyed reading Wake and have every intention of reading Fade and Gone, the second and third books in this trilogy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Jan. 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
Here is how it works:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

It has been a while since I participated in this meme (or any for that matter), so I'm happy to come back with a teaser from The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. I'm currently reading the ARC, so my teaser may not reflect the final copy, though so far I hope it does. This book is beautifully written with many lush descriptions.

Here's my teaser:

I found myself staring at her, unexpectedly stirred. Her gaze was knowing, as she stood there behind the counter, her body lean and flexible under a tight zipped jacket, the smallest curve of hip showng between that and the top of her black skirt - that would be the maximum glimpse of abdominal skin permitted in this gallery full of nudes, I speculated.

I love it when the 2 sentences allowed include run-ons that give a much bigger tease! Hope you enjoyed it.

Mel at He Followed Me Home also posted a teaser for The Swan Thieves, click here to check it out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Contest! Love in 90 Days by Dr. Diana Kirschner

From the Publisher:

Finding true love is possible in just 90 days. Renowned clinical psychologist, Dr. Diana Kirschner, uses the latest research, clinical and personal experience to show you how. Dr. Diana knows the questions single women everywhere face: "Why am I attracted to the wrong kind of guys?" "Why is he just not that into me?" "Why can't I seem to find the One?" She also knows the unconscious mistakes that women make over and over again in love-regardless of age, work success, or the type of men they are dating.

Over the years Dr. Diana has received countless inquiries from single women about writing a how-to guide on her work. Love in 90 Days: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Own True Love is that book.

Thanks to Anna at Hachette, I am happy to offer 5 copies of this book to my followers!

Entry guidelines:

  • Open to Canadian and US addresses only (No PO boxes, please)
  • You must be a follower to enter
  • Please leave your e-mail below so I can contact you if/when you win
  • +1 for blogging or tweeting about this contest (leave a link below)

  • Contests closes January 27, 2010 and winners will be drawn using Good luck to all!
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