Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Reading Challenges

These are the reading challenges for 2012 that I find fascinating.
I'll be joining many of these for 2012.  Join along with me. 
I'll list each challenge on it's own tab.

1.  A - Z Reading Challenge (26 Titles + 26 Authors)

2.  52 Books in 52 Weeks

3.  12 Books in 2012

4.  Mind Voyages (SciFi/Fantasy)
    Sling shot back to Earth : Read at least 3 winners on the Nebula Winner's List

5.  Cruisin' Through The Cozies -
    Level 2 - Investigator - Read 7-12 books

6.  Reading Romances - 12 books

7.  What's In A Name 5 - 6 books

8.  Foodies Read 2
    Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books

9.  Chick Lit Challenge - 12 books

10.  Cozy Mystery Challenge - 12 books
      Level 4 Super Sleuth: 10 to 12 Cozy Mysteries

11.  Steampunk Reading Challenge
       Geared –  Choose 5 books to read

12.  The Classics 
        Level One: 1-3

13.  YA Reading Challenge
      The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

14.  Time Travel Reading Challenge
      Surprise Trip: 1 to 3 time travel books.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to Knit a Heart Back Home by Rachael Herron

This is the second book in the  Cypress Hollow Yarns series.
I've been knitting more this year so I'm finding I enjoy books with knitting too.  In this series the characters love to knit and I want to pick up my knitting right along with them.

There is also romance built into this series and this book focus's on Lucy Harrison, fire brigade volunteer, bookseller, and fan of the famous knitting work of Eliza Carpenter.  Eliza is the deceased friend of Lucy's grandmother and Irene Bancroft, the mother of Lucy's high school crush, Owen.

Owen, is a former San Francisco cop. An on-the-job injury forces him into retirement at 35 so Owen returns to Cypress Hollow to visit his mother and decide where he will live next.  Lucy is thrilled. With Irene suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's in a home, Owen takes up residence in the parsonage next to the Book Spire, a deconsecrated church turned book store that Lucy owns and a romance blooms between them.

While helping Owen with his mother's belongings, Lucy discovers a valuable cache of Eliza Carpenter's patterns and papers, prompting her to write a biography of Eliza. Things come to a dramatic and contrived head when Owen's mother flees the home and ends up in an abandoned lighthouse, where Owen's injury forces Lucy into action.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dead Days of Summer by Carolyn Hart

This book is number 17 in the Death on Demand Mystery series.

I really enjoy this who-done-it series by Carolyn Hart and number 17 is another hit.  Most books in this series has some focus on Annie Darling's book store, but this one has less focus on the book shop when Annie goes undercover to do some investigating and set up a trap.

Annie's PI husband, Max, accepts a new case and fails to come home, she's frantic and calls in all her friends, including the police. The authorities organize an effective search that leads to the body of an attractive woman near Max's abandoned car; in the trunk is the murder weapon. Portrayed by the press as an unfaithful husband and killer, Max is arrested as soon as he surfaces. That's when Annie and her friends go to work to hunt down a killer.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Only Mine by Susan Mallery

This is another book in the Fool's Gold series.  This is another series I can't get enough of.  It's well written without repeating what has happened in previous books.  There is a short reference here and there but definitely acceptable.

Fool's Gold is a small town filled with mostly women and since someone reported this, a reality TV series is trying to create interest for the town and men have started showing up.
Her town’s lack of men may make headlines, but it isn’t news to Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality competition filming in Fool’s Gold. Screening eligible bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to town. Finn Anderssen will do anything to keep his twin brothers — the perfect contestants — off the show. Despite Dakota’s better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn’t dare to hope for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it looks on TV.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Real Thing by Baraba Delinsky

This book was too easy to predict, but it was light, easy and fast reading.  A good distraction from everyday doldrums.

They were complete strangers searching for the same thing— solitude. But thanks to a matchmaking friend, Deirdre Joyce and Neil Hersey found themselves stranded on an island off the coast of Maine. Forced to coexist, they discovered there was no escaping the inevitable—irresistible attraction. The idea of living alone again was unimaginable, and so a marriage of "convenience" seemed like the perfect solution—he would run her family's company and she would pursue her career. But could their feelings survive the forces of the outside world?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ghost Moon by Heather Graham

This is the 3rd book in the Bone Island Trilogy.  
The gang of friends living in Key West are still together along with their resident ghost.  This book is a fast read with never a dull moment.

Kelsey Donovan's grandfather, collector Cutter Merlin, has died in his Key West home. Merlin was known for being reclusive, and Kelsey hadn't seen him for years; not since her mother died mysteriously and her father took her away from Key West. Now she's back, ready to take care of the numerous artifacts, which include a well-talked-about mummy.

Officer Liam Beckett has the horrible job of phoning Kelsey and telling her that her grandfather has passed away. When he hears her voice he remembers her very well from when they were younger and she lived on the island with her grandfather and parents, and when she arrives Liam's instantly attracted to her. He tries to discourage her from staying in her grandfather's house, which has already experienced two break-ins since his death. But Kelsey is determined to stay there, despite the widespread belief that the house is cursed. She has a lot to do, she says, in order to sort out the artifacts in the house and follow her grandfather's wishes as to their distribution to museums.

But strange things start happening. Kelsey can't get over the idea she's being watched, and the house has an ever-present smell of death. Despite the things that keep happening, though, Kelsey can't deny the attraction she feels for Liam. It will take Kelsey and Liam, and a group of their friends, to figure out what's really happening, and uncover the truth about the Merlin home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wishes & Stitches by Rachael Herron

This is book 3 in the Cypress Hollow Yarns.
Cypress Hollow is a small town filled with caring people.  Unfortunately, Naomi Fontaine is so shy and so inept at making small talk, she has a hard time fitting in.
She is practicing family doctor and even though her patients come to her for their illnesses she doesn't feel accepted into the tight knit community.

In walks Dr. Rig Keller who is filling in for Naomi partner and if he likes the medical practice plans on buying her partner's half of the business.  When Rig moves into town he is easy going and has the gift of chatting it up with everyone.

The reader can't help but feel sorry for Naomi who is so pathetically dysfunctional in public.  Rig is easy to like, he's friendly and caring and see's Naomi's problems for what they are.

This book never slows down, there is a lot of twists and turns and an unexpected ending. 
I love this series.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dollars to Donuts by Kathleen Kole

This is a giveaway tour featuring author Kathleen Kole.  You can find out how to enter the giveaway and more blogs on the book tour for author Kathleen Kole hosted by Chick Lit Plus HERE.
For more information on Kathleen Kole you can visit her website HERE
and here Twitter link is HERE.
Kathleen Kole was born in Edmonton AB and graduated from college with a Diploma in Radio and Television Arts.  Her career path has included writing in the fields of advertising, television and newspaper - and most recently novel writing.  Kathleen relocated from Edmonton to Kelowna BC and resides there with her beloved husband, adored son and their happy-go-lucky dog.  Dollars to Donuts is Kathleen's second published novel and she is currently working on her third, to be published in December.

Dollars to Donuts is a quick, easy book to read.  I enjoyed the little mystery twisted in with a tight knit neighborhood, but also the closeness two sisters April and Jessica share.  There is also a bit of flirting and what if going on reminiscent of high school dramas.
It's just a fun story.
Take one newspaper columnist; move her from the anonymity of her home city to a sleepy, small town; add a dollop of nosey, suspicious and just plain odd neighbors;

a dash of mystery in the form of a stained garbage can and a rodent and, finally, a large pinch of unsettling attraction to a virtual stranger and you’ll find yourself with a recipe that imitates April Patterson’s life.

April Patterson had no idea that when she decided to follow the path of family and love, she would find herself an unwitting player in an eyebrow raising cul-de-sac mystery, grasping for her privacy as she plays “Dodge the Neighbor” and being forced to examine her relationship motives ... all before she had unpacked her last box!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guest Blog Author Irene Woodbury

Today I would like to welcome author Irene Woodbury to my reading blog.

This is a 'guest post' that Irene has kindly written for my blog.
thank you Irene.

Wendy’s Parents Post
“A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis”      
Irene Woodbury

In Chapter 9 of “A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis,” Wendy makes the following comment to Roger during one of their phone fights:   “I barely knew either of my parents, even though we lived in the same house for twenty years.”  What, exactly, does she mean?  Who were these people?  What kind of marriage did they have, and what kind of parents were they?
            Wendy’s mother, Laura, was an artist.  Her father, Charlie, owned a successful diner in downtown Denver called Cantrell’s that his father had owned.  Both of them were very involved with their careers.  Wendy’s mother spent most of her time locked away in an upstairs bedroom painting, sketching, and chain-smoking.  Her father worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week.  Wendy didn’t see much of them, and when she did, they weren’t very attentive.  They were much more interested in her younger brother, Tom, who started working at the family restaurant when he was a child, and would ultimately take over when his father died.
            The only time Wendy seemed to bond with her mother was on their yearly shopping trip to New York.  On these extravagant, mother-daughter jaunts, the sky was the limit, as she explains in this passage from the book that was cut because of length:
What can I say?  Our relationship was never a normal, day-in-day-out kind of thing.  We were either in the same house but on different planets, in separate cities, or together 24/7.  Like on our annual shopping trips to New York during my grade and middle-school years.  On these week-long fashion binges, we were more like two little girls playing in the same sand box than mother-daughter.  After settling into a posh suite at the Plaza, we’d spend hours each day roaming around Bergdorf’s, Saks, I. Magnin  and Bloomingdales, trying things on, and buying clothes, handbags, and shoes.   By 4 or 4:30, we’d be seated at a linen-covered table in the Plaza’s sumptuous Palm Court for tea.    As we nibbled crustless finger sandwiches and delicate pastries, we’d chat about art, fashion, theater.   It was all so grown-up and glamorous, so Auntie Mame meets Breakfast At Tiffany’s.  Mummy would come alive on these fabulous retail flings, morphing from a self-absorbed artist into a stylish, vibrant fashionista..  
But the minute we got back to Denver, the glass coach would promptly shatter and turn into a pumpkin.   Mummy would cram her pretty new clothes into her already-bulging closets, revert to her withdrawn self, and schlep around the house in baggy pants and  paint-stained work shirts.  I would basically become Cinderella again--invisible.   And my father would rant about the bills for a day or two and complain  bitterly that my mother never went to his restaurant,  refused all invitations, shunned the neighbors, and made an effort to look as unattractive  as possible at all times.   

When Wendy was a teenager, she learned some things about her parents’
marriage that helped her understand why they were so unhappy.   According to Cousin Linda, Wendy’s mother had married her father on the rebound after her high-school sweetheart eloped with her younger sister.  Laura never spoke to either one of them again.  Six months later, she married Charlie Cantrell.  It was never a happy or loving union.  He may have loved her at one time, but it is unlikely that she ever returned the sentiment.
            Cousin Linda also tells Wendy that her father had a long-term romantic relationship with a pretty blond hostess at Cantrell’s named Kay.  Wendy’s mother looked the other way and ignored it until one summer when she left for an artists’ tour of Europe, came back, and spotted Kay wearing one of the designer discards from her Big Apple shopping trips.  Laura was furious.  She didn’t care that Kay was sleeping with her husband.  She was more upset that he’d given her one of her never-worn jackets.
            This incident provides a glimpse into Laura’s skewed values.  No wonder Wendy turns out the way she does.  She equates shopping with Mother Love, and worships designer clothes.  This makes her a brilliant success at Panache, but it also instills values that are sometimes hard for others, including Roger, to fathom.
            In 1980, when Wendy is 20, she leaves Denver and moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actress.  Before she can achieve any real success, she takes a job at Panache so she can pay her rent and meet expenses.  At Panache, she bonds with Carol and Paul Guthrie, the store’s owners, who become her surrogate parents.  Years go by before she sees her mother and father again.  When her mother dies of lung cancer in 1989, Wendy is in Paris for Fashion Week and can’t get back to Denver for the funeral.  Her brother criticizes her to the family for not attending, and Wendy cuts all ties to him.   I think she’s hurt because they always favored him, so this is the final straw for her.
            As Wendy experiences a period of confusion with her marital problems and the loss of her job and friendship with Carol, she finds herself looking back on her unhappy, unfulfilled relationship with her parents.  In the following excerpt, she fantasizes about what it would be like to have loving parents to turn to for guidance and support.
As I tried to cope with the loss of my job, my marital problems, and Carol’s disappearing act, my gaping lack of parental support was especially painful because there was nowhere to turn for guidance, perspective, reassurance.   My father, who died in 1995, and I hadn’t been close either, and now, for the first time, I found myself longing for a warm and loving fantasy-surrogate who would put his big, strong arm around me and say, with absolute conviction, “It’s their loss, sweetheart.  You’ll find a better job with more money.  Just wait and see, they’ll be sorry.”   
Standing beside him would be this equally mythic gray-haired maternal being with my eyes and bone structure, a Miss-Manners-type swathed in comfy cashmeres and tweeds who would pat my hand reassuringly and whisper in sweet, dulcet tones,  “Don’t worry, honey.  You and Roger are going through an awkward period of adjustment.  He loves you.  You love him.  Everything will work out.   You’ll see.   Now come into the kitchen and I’ll make us both a nice cup of tea.”
Did anyone actually have parents like these anymore?    Or were they nostalgic relics from some bygone era?   Mythic figures from a lost civilization?   Maybe it would have been more realistic to conjure up some Botox-Babe-Collagen-Cougar with a better body than mine who wouldn’t hesitate to seduce my husband just for kicks while I was out of town?
My neediness frustrated and disgusted me.  I couldn’t believe how vulnerable I still was in the parent department.   When would it end?   I was a 45-year-old newlywed.   Why couldn’t I just get on with my life and be happy?    Why did I still long for parents, or my fantasy-version of them:  endlessly warm, loving beings who would advise, support, and comfort me forever?

            As 45-year-old Wendy suddenly finds herself without the comfortable world she has thrived in for 25 years, she feels the need to reach out for support from the people she has always been too busy to contact, 
Now, years later, with my personal and professional lives in flux, I felt vulnerable, isolated, and more aware of my lack of family.   Without parents to lean on or children to nurture, I was a member of the sandwich generation--without the bread.   Where was my support system?   Friends, bosses and co-workers had always filled the void, but now they, along with my career, seemed lost, scattered, elusive.   Illusions, really.  I suddenly felt the need to get in touch with people who’d been important to me--to reconnect with them and find a part of myself that I’d denied and neglected for years. 

It was sad, but true, that as I pursued my career and my relationship with Roger, I failed to maintain regular contact with family and friends.  I didn’t make enough of an effort to let them know what I was doing, or to find out what they were doing.  Maybe I was busy?   Maybe I was lazy?   Maybe I didn’t think it was important?   Maybe I was waiting for them to make the first move?   I don’t know.   But whatever the reasons, it had gone on long enough, and I now felt the need to get in touch.  

In the next chapter, Wendy makes an effort to contact Cousin Linda; her childhood best friend, Erin, in Denver, and Kelly, her former assistant at Panache in L.A.  The results are dismal.  In these tragically comic phone calls, Linda, Erin, and Kelly bombard Wendy with their problems, while she never brings up hers.   She’s too embarrassed to even admit what’s going on with her and Roger—and they won’t let her get a word in.  Each call makes Wendy feel more lost and alone.  A darkly funny chapter that helps propel Wendy into her midlife crisis.  She’s not totally comfortable in Las Vegas yet, but she doesn’t know where else to go.  Maybe you really can’t go home again? 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dead by Midnight by Carolyn Hart

This is another installment of the Death on Demand bookstore mysteries.  Annie Darling is the owner of the book shop and once again helps solve the mystery of another murder on the small island of Broward's Rock.

It doesn't matter that the island is small - I still enjoy following Annie and her husband Max around the island and listen in as they slowly solve the mystery.  Max, although not a private eye, runs an unusual business that offers help to people in trouble.
A recent death of one of the bookstores just hired part time worker appears to be suicide, but Annie suspects murder.  In her deceased employees phone she finds a photo of a towel hidden at midnight in a gazebo which start her on the search for more clues.  The lack of fingerprints on a crystal mug, blood on a teenager's blue shirt, and the secret of a lovers' tryst are all part of the mystery.

Annie believes she has set the perfect trap for a merciless killer until her cell phone rings and Death keeps her talking on the phone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ghost NIGHT by Heather Graham

Heather Graham is one of my new favorite authors.  I recently discovered her.  I should have known when I saw her on a Sex and the City episode that her books would be great.  and yet, I hesitated because of the titles.  "They" always say "never" judge a book by its cover..... there you go.

I just finished ghost NIGHT and wasn't disappointed. 
There were plenty of ghosts and pirates and pirate ghosts.  ghost NIGHT is the second installment in the Bone Island trilogy.   Even though there is death and gore they are handled delicately so I don't end up with nightmares.

A slasher movie turns real when two young actors are brutally murdered on a remote island film set. Their severed heads and arms are posed in macabre homage to a nineteenth-century pirate massacre.

Two years later, survivor Vanessa Loren is drawn back to South Bimini by a documentary being made about the storied region. Filmmaker Sean O'Hara can see the unsolved crime haunts her…and Sean knows more than a little about ghosts.

Lured by visions of a spectral figurehead, Vanessa discovers authentic pirate treasures that only deepen the mystery.  As Vanessa and Sean grow closer, the killer prepares to resume the slaughter…unless the ghosts can help.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Pub Across the Pond by Mary Carter

Imagine if you won an Irish pub.  Would you leave your home to go run it.  Will the people in that town accept you?
This is a wonderful book about taking chances, learning to trust people and learning to love.

Carlene Rivers, at thirty, is living a stifling existence in Cleveland, Ohio. Then one day, Carlene buys a raffle ticket. The prize: a pub on the west coast of Ireland. Carlene is stunned when she wins. Everyone else is stunned when she actually goes. As soon as she arrives in Ballybeog, Carlene is smitten not just by the town's beguiling mix of ancient and modern, but by the welcome she receives.

In this small town near Galway Bay, strife is no stranger, strangers are family, and no one is ever too busy for a cup of tea or a pint. And though her new job presents challenges - from a meddling neighbour to the pub's colourful regulars - there are compensations galore. Like the freedom to sing, joke, and tell stories, and in doing so, find her own voice. And in her flirtation with Ronan McBride, the pub's charming, reckless former owner, she just may find the freedom to follow where impulse leads and trust her heart - and her luck - for the very first time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

This is a quirky book about a quirky family.  I found myself enjoying this book more than I expected to.
On hiatus from her parents’ detective firm, Izzy ponders the suspicious behavior of her straitlaced, type-A brother David, who has traded his Brooks Brothers suits for a bathrobe and taken to calling in sick to work. (He has no clue Izzy has been living in the basement apartment of his house.)

Izzy also looks into the life of Linda Black, whose husband, Ernie, is certain she’s cheating on him. Or could that expensive clothing and perfume she’s been bringing home simply be the sign of a serious shoplifting problem? Izzy must once again contend with Rae, her troublemaking, Twizzler-chomping teenage sister, who’s been “relocating” Izzy’s car to various spots around the city. (Izzy has enough trouble finding her wheels when she parks them herself.)

Then there’s Henry Stone, Izzy’s police inspector ex-boyfriend, who has an annoyingly likable new squeeze. Rounding out this mordant mix is Izzy herself, whose court-mandated therapy sessions boast more quips than a Groucho Marx retrospective.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham (Bone Island Trilogy)

This is the first book I've read by Heather Graham and I'll be back for more.  I was put off at first by the dark titles, but I've happily found that she fits my favorite genre.  A little mystery with romance tucked inside.

I will definitely read the rest of this series.

There are those who walk among us who are no longer alive, but not yet crossed over. They seek retribution…vengeance…to warn. Among the living, few intuit their presence.
Katie O'Hara is one who can.
As she's drawn deeper and deeper into a gruesome years-old murder, whispered warnings from a spectral friend become more and more insistent. But Katie must uncover the truth: could David Beckett really be guilty of his fiancée's murder?
Worse—the body count's rising on the Island of Bones, andthe dead seem to be reenacting some macabre tableaux from history.

The danger is increasing by the moment—especially as Katie finds herself irresistibly drawn to David, who may be responsible for more than just one killing….

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery

I love this series.  A town where women are the majority, but men are happily enjoyed.

Back in high school, Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Then she'd stolen the heart of the most popular boy in town, and their secret romance helped her through the worst of times. Until Ethan Hendrix betrayed her and everything they'd ever meant to each other. Devastated and pregnant, Liz left Fool's Gold, California—forever, she thought….

Now Liz must return to town and face the man who doesn't know of their son's existence. And this time she won't have the option of making a quick getaway. Ethan and Liz can't deny their passionate attraction, even after all these years. But will their desire be enough to spark a second chance at love?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Laced with Magic by Barbara Bretton

This book has a sad, story line.  I like the idea of a city filled with paranormal creatures, but had I known the story was heavily based on the sadness of the loss of a child, I would probably have skipped this one.
Once into the book, I was hooked and couldn't put it down.  I wanted to find a good ending.  The ending wasn't what I expected.

Knit shop owner and sorcerer's daughter Chloe Hobbs felt the Fates finally got it right when she met Luke MacKenzie. And no one could have convinced her otherwise-including the trolls, selkies, or spirits who also call Sugar Maple, Vermont, home. But then out of nowhere Luke's ex-wife suddenly shows up, claiming to see the spirit of their daughter, Steffie-a daughter Chloe knows nothing about.

Steffie's spirit is being held hostage by a certain Fae leader. And if Chloe weaves a spell to free her spirit, her nemesis will also be free-free to destroy her yarn shop and all of Sugar Maple. But if she doesn't, Steffie won't be the only one spending eternity in hell. Chloe'll be joining her, cursed with a broken heart.

Monday, October 24, 2011

An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller

This is a story of love, forgiveness and family.  This is a story of slowing down, working hard and enjoying friendship.

Meg Hobart has everything: a happy marriage to a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and three wonderful children. But it all comes crashing down around her the day she learns that her husband, James, has been living a lie—and has brought the family to financial ruin. Penniless and homeless, the Hobarts pack up what little they still possess and leave behind their golden life for good. But it’s not the material things Meg finds herself mourning. Instead, she misses the certainty that she should remain married to James, who has betrayed her trust so thoughtlessly. Worse, she is suddenly very aware of just how spoiled her children have become. Meg wonders what her family has really sacrificed in their pursuit of the American dream.

A frightening twist of fate forces the Hobarts to take refuge with a kind Amish family in Pennsylvania, where they find themselves in a home with no computers, no cell phones, nothing the children consider fashionable or fun. Her uncooperative brood confined to the Amish world of hard work and tradition, their futures entirely uncertain, Meg fears she can never make her family whole again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Big Girl by Danielle Steel

A story about being a chubby girl in skinny world, about feeling unloved in her own family.
This is a struggle book with a good finish.  Regardless of the struggle, the characters are well rounded, most are likeable, and the storyline keeps moving.  You may feel sorry for the main character Victoria, but not for long - she's a fighter.  If you enjoy eating, you will understand Victoria.
 A chubby little girl with ordinary looks, Victoria Dawson has always felt out of place in her family, especially in body-conscious L.A. While her parents and sister can eat anything and not gain an ounce, Victoria must watch everything she eats, as well as endure her father’s belittling comments about her body and see her academic achievements go unacknowledged. Ice cream and oversized helpings of all the wrong foods give her comfort, but only briefly. The one thing she knows is that she has to get away from home, and after college in Chicago, she moves to New York City.

Landing her dream job as a high school teacher, Victoria loves working with her students and wages war on her weight at the gym. Despite tension with her parents, Victoria remains close to her younger sister, Grace. Though they couldn’t be more different in looks, they love each other unconditionally. So when Grace announces her engagement to a man who is an exact replica of their narcissistic father, Victoria worries about her sister’s future happiness, and with no man of her own, she feels like a failure once again. As the wedding draws near, a chance encounter, a deeply upsetting betrayal, and a family confrontation lead to a turning point.

Behind Victoria is a lifetime of hurt and neglect she has tried to forget. Ahead is a challenge and a risk: to accept herself as she is, celebrate it, and claim the victories she has fought so hard for and deserves. Big girl or not, she is terrific and discovers that herself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron

If you love yarn and love to knit, this will be a fun to read book for you.
You will quickly bond with the main character Abigail loves everything knitting.
The people you meet in this book are lively and have plenty of character.  The hero Cade comes off a bit dim at times, but I kept rooting for him because I liked him.

This is a debut book for Rachael Herron who is best known for her knitting blog Yarn-A-Go-Go.  It is a formula romance, but still worth reading.

Abigail is more than ready for a change when she inherits a cottage from her beloved mentor, knitting guru Eliza Carpenter. Leaving the oppressive city for the greener pastures of a small California beach town, she intends to turn her cozy little windfall into a knitting shop and spend her days spinning, designing, and purling. But she's not going to be welcomed with open arms by her new neighbor.

Eliza's disgruntled nephew, the gorgeous Cade, now owns everything surrounding Abigail's ramshackle new home, and he views this sexy city girl as an unwanted interloper.
But chemistry working overtime is drawing two very different people closer than they ever thought possible. And when the past that Abigail thought she'd left behind comes calling, she'll have to somehow learn to trust her handsome adversary with much more than just her heart.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Trust Me on This by Jennifer Cruise

A great case a mistaken identities starts this book off to a great start.
Dennie Banks is an investigative reporter chasing down the biggest story of her career. Alec Prentice is a government agent working undercover to catch an elusive grifter. When they meet by accident, it's a case of mistaken identities at first sight. What they don't mistake is the instant attraction they have for each other, an attraction they'll do everything in their power to resist--because Dennie thinks that Alec is running interference for her interview subject, and Alec suspects that Dennie is linked to his swindler. As the confusion grows, so do their feelings for each other, and what begins as a romantic comedy of errors may just end in the love affair of a lifetime.

One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland

This is a great time travel book.  Reading about life in the 13th century was fascinating.  Wouldn't it be fun to travel back in time - as long as you know you could get back to modern life.

Montgomery de Piaget attracts responsibilities like blossoms lure bees. Where other knights have bonny brides, laughing children, and noble quests, he has the task of rebuilding the most dilapidated castle in all of England. A bit of magic might aid him—if only he still believed in that sort of thing.
When Pippa Alexander is invited to England to provide costumes for an upscale party, she jumps at the chance to showcase her own line of fairy-tale inspired designs. Not even her older sister’s decision to act as Fairy Queen crushes Pippa’s hope that this time, she’ll wind up wearing the glass slippers. Not that she believes in fairy tales, or magic that whispers along the hallways of an honest-to-goodness medieval castle...
But the castle is full of more than cobwebs, and danger lurks in unexpected places. And only time will tell if Montgomery and Pippa can overcome both to find their own happily every after . . .

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

This is my usual genre.  But I wanted to read this before seeing the movie. 
I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.  This book was well worth it.

Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob's life with this circus. Sara Gruen spares no detail in chronicling the squalid, filthy, brutish circumstances in which he finds himself. The animals are mangy, underfed or fed rotten food, and abused. Jacob, once it becomes known that he has veterinary skills, is put in charge of the "menagerie" and all its ills. Uncle Al, the circus impresario, is a self-serving, venal creep who slaps people around because he can. August, the animal trainer, is a certified paranoid schizophrenic whose occasional flights into madness and brutality often have Jacob as their object. Jacob is the only person in the book who has a handle on a moral compass and as his reward he spends most of the novel beaten, broken, concussed, bleeding, swollen and hungover. He is the self-appointed Protector of the Downtrodden, and... he falls in love with Marlena, crazy August's wife. Not his best idea.

Jacob Jankowski says: "I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other." At the beginning of Water for Elephants, he is living out his days in a nursing home, hating every second of it. His life wasn't always like this, however, because Jacob ran away and joined the circus when he was twenty-one. It wasn't a romantic, carefree decision, to be sure. His parents were killed in an auto accident one week before he was to sit for his veterinary medicine exams at Cornell. He buried his parents, learned that they left him nothing because they had mortgaged everything to pay his tuition, returned to school, went to the exams, and didn't write a single word. He walked out without completing the test and wound up on a circus train. The circus he joins, in Depression-era America, is second-rate at best. With Ringling Brothers as the standard, Benzini Brothers is far down the scale and pale by comparison.

One Touch of Topaz by Iris Johansen

Samantha Barton survived imprisonment on the war-torn island of St. Pierre. Her family wasn’t so lucky. Now, in her new identity as the tough-as-nails revolutionary code-named Topaz, she enlists the aid of an enigmatic industrialist, Fletcher Bronson, on a risky mission to rescue some stranded refugees. Trapped behind enemy lines with a man she both fears and desires, Samantha finds herself irresistibly drawn by his promise of a new life away from the hail of gunfire. For Fletcher, Samantha is more than just an intriguing new lover. She’s an object he must possess and protect at all costs. Opening his heart to her was never part of the bargain. But when new developments from Samantha’s past life threaten to disturb his careful plans for their future, Fletcher must come to terms with the changes she’s wrought in him—and reconcile himself to the truth of the warning she once delivered: “I’m Samantha, but I’m also Topaz.”

One Magic Moment by Lynn Kurland

I didn't think I could find a book to follow A Discovery of Witches, but time travel mixed with romance in this book was a great follow up.

This is actually part of a series -  I wish I would have read the earlier books first.  the author Lynn, drops hints of the previous books but not enough information for me to understand what the characters were talking about in the beginning.  I still enjoyed the story, but would have like more explanation first.

Medieval studies scholar Tess Alexander is thrilled for the chance to live in a medieval castle. But then a trip to the village brings her face-to-face with the owner of the local garage, who looks a great deal like the man who married her sister...800 years in the past. She's determined to remain objective about magic and destiny, but she can't help wondering about that mysterious, sword-wielding mechanic.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

This book is my absolute favorite book that I have read in years.
It's a love story and mystery in a perfect blend.

It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war.

Suture Self by Mary Daheim

This is a cute cozy mystery that reads fast and doesn't require a lot of heavy thinking. 
This is the first book I've read by Mary Daheim and Publisher's Weekly reports this 17th installment of her Bed and Breakfast series as not up to her usual standards.  Since I enjoyed this book, I'm looking forward to reading her previous 16 books in this series that are reportedly even better.
Judith McMonigle Flynn, the proprietress of Hillside Manor, a bed and breakfast located somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, ranges further afield than previously in Suture Self, the first hardcover mystery in Daheim's series. Wheeled away from her innkeeping duties and rolled into Good Cheer Hospital for a much-needed hip replacement, Judith brings her own hospital roomie: her trash-talking cousin Renie, who's checked into Good Cheer with Judith for a little orthopedic surgery of her own. Renie, who makes doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators want to take back their Hippocratic oaths and run for the hills, is a bitchy, whiny, sarcastic candidate for the most obnoxious patient of the year. While Renie terrorizes the good sisters who run Good Cheer, Judith worries that the unlikely run of bad luck that's turned up the toes of a baseball star and an actress (both of whom checked into the hospital for minor surgery and checked out in body bags) will follow her into the operating room too. And when a third death occurs just as Judith and Renie are beginning their post-op convalescence, the cousins get their sleuthing act together and try to figure out what the killer's victims have in common and why they met their ends in a place devoted to the healing arts. Of course, that places the temporarily disabled ladies squarely in the sights of the murderer, whose identity is clear almost from the start to everyone except our gals.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Southern Comfort by Fern Michaels

This is a great summer read.  It's fast paced and easy reading.  There's adventure, a bit of romance and a good ending.  In between, you'll find a lot of trouble and some nasty people.

Ex-homicide detective Patrick 'Tick' Kelly wound up in a beach house on Mango Key, Florida after losing his family and giving up his job. He has turned into a bestselling author, and would gladly stay a recluse forever if his brother Pete hadn't shown up  trying to drag him back to the land of the living.

After years of sacrificing her personal life in favour of her DEA job, special agent Kate Rush resigned and moved back to her native Miami. But the unofficial assignment that has just come her way is too intriguing to pass up. She and a fellow ex-agent are relocated to Mango Key to keep an eye on an imposing, mysterious fortress believed to be at the centre of a human trafficking ring.

At first, the Kelly brothers are suspected of involvement, but Kate is sure Tick poses no danger - except for the slow-burning gaze that makes her breath catch and her heart race. Tick finds himself fascinated by Kate's investigation - and by her inviting mix of courage and kindness. Teaming up, they uncover a web of betrayal, blackmail, and ruthless greed. And as danger mounts, Tick realizes how far he'll go to protect the rare and surprising gift that's come his way: a second chance at a happy ending.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

I love the Stephanie Plum series.  I've followed this series from book 1 and haven't been let down yet.  This book follows Stephanie through her usual daily adventures: donuts and wrecking cars with the usual great cast of characters, my favs are grandma and Lula.
 Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list.

Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie.

With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ghost a la Mode (A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery) by Sue Ann Jaffarian

I loved this book, the pages kept slipped through my fingers like water.  The characters were so rounded I wanted to meet each and every one of them - even Granny Apples - the main ghost. Ghost a la Mode is the first of the Granny Apples series and I can't wait to read the rest.    There is mystery, mayhem, romance and plenty of talking ghosts.

This first book in the series introduces Ish Reynolds (aka Granny Apples), a charming turn-of-the-20th-century spirit and pie maker, who asks Emma Whitecastle, her great-great-great-granddaughter, to prove her innocent of murdering her husband, Jacob Reynolds. Strung up by vigilantes in retribution for the crime, Granny Apples first tried haunting Emma's mother, Elizabeth, who couldn't handle her visitations.  

Emma, who is in the midst of divorcing her obnoxious TV talk show husband, is ripe for a diversion. After getting advice about her new clairvoyant and clairaudient abilities from psychic Milo Ravenscroft, Emma goes to Julian, a former mining town near San Diego, Calif., to research Ish's story. Emma's fluttery feelings for Phil Bower, a crusty rancher and lawyer who owns Granny's old property add a touch of romance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guest Post from Kathleen Kole, author of Breaking Even

I would like to thank Kathleen for this guest post on my blog.
Today she discusses how she comes up with plots for her novels.

Kathleen writes:

I would think for most writers, no matter what the arena, one of the biggest “issues” is subject matter.  How do I come up with ideas for an article, a commentary, a story.  How will I develop that article, commentary and/or story.   

For myself, I’d say that before I can even think about writing a story, I must have feelings about it.  I must have some sort of “ah-ha” moment, where I feel inspired by the idea.  Depending upon the day, it is either a blessing, or a curse.  By that I mean I have had, or heard of, so many wonderful ideas, but if they didn’t capture my feelings I had no choice but to move on.  Plain and simple, I cannot fake enthusiasm.  My readers would feel it.  My heart has to be in the mix in order for me to discover my characters and tell their stories effectively. 

“Breaking Even” is, in my humble opinion, an example of a blessing day.  Each of the characters, as they came to life in my head, captured my attention and I knew they had a story I would happily tell.  I could imagine what it was like to be in their separate pairs of shoes and, from there, the tale almost wrote itself. 

Thankfully, I have had many more “blessing” days than “curse” days.   As a result, I’ve managed, thus far, to create two more novels (both in the editing process) and have ideas on the back burner for even more tales to come.  I’ll continue to give it my best and, with a heart full of feelings and fingers on my keyboard, make every effort to do my characters justice as I bring their stories to life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Breaking Even by Kathleen Kole

A fast, enjoyable summer read and lovable characters.  The grass is not always greener on the other side and this book has us looking at both sides of the grass.
Penelope has been engaged to wonderful, kind and caring Ben Miller ... a man she has known forever. They've been engaged for a number of years, yet have not felt committed enough to set a wedding date.  Enter Single Dad. While on a school run for her good friend, Penelope accidentally locks her keys in her car. A seemingly boring event, until she is offered aid by an extremely attractive and personable Single Dad. The two immediately feel a connection.  Shaken by the encounter, or, more to the point, shaken by her reaction to the encounter, Penelope begins to take a close look at her life and her future with Ben.

Her whole world, including her friends are shaken by the events that follow.  I was rooting for Penelope and Ben.  What would you do?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Already Home by Susan Mallery

I enjoyed this book so much, I'm sorry it ended the way it did.  I would have enjoyed a series following Jenna the main character.  In fact, all the characters are so lovable I hated to close the book on them.
The story revolves around Jenna, recently divorced and in the midst of an unexpected career change. So her life is already in a state of flux when she’s hit with the sudden appearance of her birth parents who are, to put it mildly, nothing like Jenna’s “real” (aka, adoptive) parents. Jenna was raised in a conservative Texas town by loving but traditional parents. Her birth parents are throwbacks to the 1970s, vegetarian hippies who get messages from "the Universe" and have an unnatural dislike of dairy.
Jenna opens a great kitchen store and I love the focus on her cooking and how Jenna and Violet work together to build a fantastic store that I would love to walk in.

Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson

This is another great mystery in the Goldy Shultz series.  I love all the main characters in this series so it was like seeing old friends again to read another installment.  One of the things I like is that the previous stories don't need to be rehashed through each book.  Occasionally there is a wink and nod to a previous story but nothing to strenuous.  In this story, Goldy's godfather who has helped her out while starting up her catering business has moved across the street from her.  After that life takes a lot of twists and turns her friends gather round to help her solve another murder including Goldy's patient cop husband, Tom, and her capable culinary assistant, Julian Teller.
As the book begins, Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz doesn't have a moment to spare as she frantically tries to pull everything together for two upcoming wedding receptions, including last-minute venue and menu changes from a spoiled bridezilla.  When Harold Doc Finn, Aspen Meadow's beloved retired doctor, dies under mysterious circumstances on his way to the first wedding ceremony, Goldy wonders if it was an accident or murder. When her godfather and Doc Finn's good friend, Jack Carmichael, is also attacked, it's obvious that Goldy will have to venture out of the kitchen and put her detecting skills to use once again. Stir in a slimy spa owner, rumors of a malpractice suit.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Love Struck by Chantel Simmons

This is such a cute book and a great one for a fast summer read.  Poppy, the main character, seems so young and naive.   She is so in love with her husband that the decisions she makes had me wanting to call her to help her out.  Fortunately, she has a friend.
When twenty-seven-year-old image consultant Poppy Ross accidentally hears that her handsome and seemingly devoted husband Parker is having an affair, she is dumbfounded. Before she has chance to confront him, however, he is struck by lightning. When he regains consciousness, he has lost his short-term memory—including that of the affair.

Given a chance to erase history and possible save her marriage, Poppy decides to remake herself in the mistress’s image, so that Parker might never be tempted to stray again. Her quest to become his perfect woman has disastrous and hilarious results—and might turn out to be the worst thing possible for her marriage.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

We all have struggles and the ones I found in this small, fictitious rivertown of Avalon, Illinois can hit close to home.  This book has many characters which are introduced slowly enough to know each one by the end of the book.
Usually not my genre, but I continued on and it was worth reading.

Here is a message from the author Darien Gee on this debut novel.
Like many small communities, Avalon is a place where families gather to share a meal and where neighbors are quick to come to one another’s aid. Visitors are charmed by the quiet simplicity of Avalon, of the scent of fresh-baked goods wafting from Madeline’s Tea Salon, of the sweet bungalow homes that line the shady streets.

But behind every closed door is a story, and on a sunny afternoon in March, my protagonist’s story begins. For five years Julia Evarts has carried a grief that threatens to tear her family apart. She’s going through the motions of life when her young daughter discovers the equivalent of a culinary chain letter sitting on their front porch: a plate of Amish Friendship Bread along with a bag of starter and an anonymous note that says “I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.”

They’re instructed to feed the starter over a ten-day period and then bake two loaves of bread and share the remaining starter with three other people. As the bread and its starter make their way through Julia’s small town, including into the home of her estranged sister, the residents of Avalon, Illinois, find their lives--and hearts--opening in ways both poignant and unexpected.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz

This book takes an interesting look at physic energy power levels and aura reading.  There is romance mixed in with mystery.  I liked the main characters almost instantly - the good ones, not the evil ones.  It's a long book, but the story line keeps moving.  I would recommend this book for a summer read.

Librarian Grace Renquist and ex-cop-turned-bartender Luther Malone, both members of the centuries-old Arcane Society, join forces when the psychic investigative agency Jones & Jones hires Grace, with Luther as her bodyguard, to find a killer in Hawaii. Luther quickly realizes Grace is not your normal paranormal, but their hot romance is put (briefly) on hold as they learn that Nightshade, drug-fueled supernatural baddies, are after the same murderer—as is the lethal psychic hunter La Sirène, an opera diva with a killer voice.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Death of a Witch (Hamish Macbeth Mysteries) by M.C. Beaton

This is a great cozy mystery.
 Hamish Macbeth, a hulking Highlander cop and the Scottish Highlands most stubborn (and romantically challenged) bachelor. He has has refused or resigned from every promotion offered so that he can stay in his beloved village, Lochdubh, with its harsh beauty and eccentric inhabitants. But the outside world keeps intruding, the vicious police hierarchy; the effect of Strathbane, an ugly city, spreading its tentacles into the Highlands.
As this story opens Hamish returns to his home village of Lochdubh from a disappointing vacation to discover a witch stirring up trouble. To Macbeth's annoyance, the sex-starved local men have fallen under the spell of Catriona Beldame, who turns out to be a runaway bride with a shady past. Macbeth longs to prove she's selling illegal (and bogus) remedies for sexual dysfunction, and warns her to stop if she is. Macbeth gets a shock when someone murders Beldame and sets her house on fire. More murders follow in As this story opens Hamish returns to his home village of Lochdubh from a disappointing vacation to discover a witch stirring up trouble. To Macbeth's annoyance, the sex-starved local men have fallen under the spell of Catriona Beldame, who turns out to be a runaway bride with a shady past. Macbeth longs to prove she's selling illegal (and bogus) remedies for sexual dysfunction, and warns her to stop if she is. Macbeth gets a shock when someone murders Beldame and sets her house on fire. More murders follow in the village, against the usual backdrop of Macbeth trying to sort out his love life.