Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Reading Recap

I'm thinking I did just as well in June as I did in May. I'm going to list my reads from the most recent on back. I think I'm somewhere in the low 90s for book totals this year. I'm at 89 on the eharlequin site, but I didn't include a few of the young adult books I read because they don't meet their word count requirement.

1. Hope Tarr - The Tutor
2. Jennifer LeBrecque - Better Than Chocolate
3. Karen Robards - Loving Julia
4. Janet Evanovich - Finger Lickin' Fifteen
5. Jason F. Wright - The Wednesday Letters
6. Dorothy Garlock - Ribbon In The Sky
7. Rena McKay - Desert Devil
8. Murray Kalis - Love In Paris
9. Carla Cassidy - Swamp Secrets
10. Violet Winspear - The Unwilling Bride
11. Leslie Hatcher - Magic At Sunset
12. Catherine Coulter - The Generous Earl
13. Laurie Grant - My Lady Midnight
14. R.L. Stine - The Third Horror
15. Marion Chesney - Rake's Progress
16. Linda Goodnight - Winning The Single Mom's Heart
17. Dorothy Fletcher - Always My Love
18. Sondra Stanford - And Then Came The Dawn

I also read Mary Aris' novella Princess Rose.

Now I just need to update a few of my challenge posts. In July I plan on completing most of the classics challenge. I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to read the full version of Les Miserables. I've finished the abridged version, but I really want to read every word. That's not for this summer though.

How many books did you read this month? Do you keep track?

Book Review: The Tutor

Author: Hope Tarr
Title: The Tutor
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
Publish Date: July 2010
Rating: 5 Stars
Book Blurb: Lady Bea Lindsey is desperate. She's newly engaged to a very nice but dull gentleman and is fully aware that if she wants any joy in her marriage bed, she'll have to call the shots. But first she needs to be taught. And who better to instruct her than irresistibly sexy rogue Ralph Sylvester?

Ralph is surprised by Bea's request, but he can't turn down the woman he's lusted after for the past nine months. He agrees on one condition. For the next seven days and nights, Bea must relinquish total control to him. No pleasure will be off-limits, no act of lovemaking forbidden, no desire too shocking.

It's every man's fantasy. Until the student surpasses the teacher…

Review: Hope starts this Blaze Historical out slowly, but that isn't a problem, it allows you to get to know Lady Bea, Ralph, Kate, and Rourke. However once things get started between Bea and Ralph, well, things get so steamy that you may have to jump into a tub of ice water to cool off.

Yeah it is that steamy. It is sexier than most of the contemporary Blaze books I've read, and I read a lot of Blaze books. In parts I felt that this book might have been better suited to the Spice line, not that I'm complaining. All the sex scenes were well written.

All four characters that figured into this story were well developed and likable, even Mr. Billingsby, who you really don't get to know outside of the fact that he was a rather poor lover. By the end of the book, you feel sorry for the poor guy and you wish that Hope would devote a book on him, so that he could find his match. After how he was treated without being able to redeem himself, was kind of cruel. However I liked that he graciously accepted Bea's rejection of his suit rather than turn into a cad.

What I really liked about The Tutor was the relationship that existed between Bea and Ralph before she asks him to tutor her. It wasn't like she picked Ralph to be a stud. She liked him and wanted him but felt that anything between them was doomed to failure.

If you are looking for a steamy historical beach read, this is it!

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is brought to you by Breaking The Spine. This meme spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Here are a few of my choices

Annette Blair - Death By Diamonds

Madeira Cutler loves her Vintage Magic boutique, but the 'visions' she gets from the garments can be hard to handle, especially when she knows the owner. At first she's thrilled to receive a package containing the beautifully bejeweled dress she designed for actress and old friend Dominique Delong while in fashion school. But the dress comes with a disturbing message from Dominique, who it seems took her last bow under very mysterious circumstances.

Michelle Moran - Cleopatra's Daughter

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony's vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian's sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian's family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra's Daughter.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review: Better Than Chocolate

Author: Jennifer LaBrecque
Title: Better Than Chocolate
Publisher: Harlequin Temptation
Publish Date: September 2004
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Blurb: Marketing exec Eve Carmichael plays to win — in everything. So when she finds herself up against the notorious Jack LaRoux — known in corporate circles as Jack the Ripper — for a promotion, she's determined to do whatever it takes to come out on top.

But first she decides to psych herself up by indulging in a weekend of R and R...and a lot of chocolate. Only, once she meets the gorgeous guy by the pool, she decides a fling might be more to her taste. It's the perfect fantasy. No names, no promises, just one incredible night with a sexy stranger. Too bad the man in her bed is anything but a stranger...

Review: There can really only be one word to describe this book and that is HOT! Eve and Jack have an instant connection and it doesn't take them very long to move from drinks at the pool, to dinner, to bed. Even when things start to get complicated with their careers, it doesn't stop them from...well..going at it like bunnies.

Yeah, this story is that HOT! I'm pretty sure half the book was Eve and Jack having sex, or getting ready to have sex. The other half was them arguing over the promotion that they both are up for. Neither of them trusts the other outside of the bedroom, which complicates things, but not enough for them to ...well, you know, quite shagging!

At the beginning I didn't even want Eve to get the promotion. She was too arrogant about her talent. Then Jack steps in and is just as arrogant. These two are perfect for each other.

And Eve is not the typical heroine. She likes to eat, and she has Godiva thighs, from her love of chocolate. Praise the Lord! A gorgeous heroine who isn't slim! I give props to the author for writing Eve the way she was. She had some insecurities about her appearance but she wasn't obnoxious about it. When Eve talks about her relationship with Jack she's very realistic in the way women talk about gorgeous guys with not so gorgeous women too. This made her feel more real.

There could have been plot to this story and less sex, but that might spoil the fun of it all. This is a great beach book, best read with a box of chocolates nearby.

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Book Stores Are My Crack

My friend Jennifer discovered a new bookstore in her hometown. Its now on my list of places to go at some point this year, because, I always need more books. I mean it isn't as if I don't subscribe to 4 Harlequin lines, BOMC2 and visit Walmart, Target and Goodwill frequently!

I have books piling up EVERYWHERE!

I've bought Itso cubes at Target to house some of them and little plastic baskets at the Dollar Store.

It is a sickness.

But I love book stores, even when I'm not buying anything. I love to walk through the shelves, read the blurbs and write down potential future purchases on scraps of paper. I can spend hours in Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million, just BROWSING! The only thing I might enjoy as much is going to a real music store, the kind that really don't exist much anymore. I think music is probably my next largest obsession, though at the state of the industry I haven't been buying much because there is so much lousy stuff out there. That, of course, means more money for books.

Libraries for some reason don't hold the same power over me. Maybe it is because budget cuts have really affected my local libraries so much that it is hardly worth stopping in. I do have found memories of checking out most of the Jean Plaidy books from Monessen Library, and the ones I didn't read there, I read from John K. Tener Library in Charleroi. I loved getting the calls that a book I was on a waiting list had come in. I can't remember the last time I was in the library. It has to be more than 3 years. It kind of makes me sad that that's the case, but then again it is hard to justify bringing books home when I have a houseful that I need to read.

Books-A-Million has to be my favorite book store now. I have to admit, I miss the smaller stores, but these huge places rock my world so much, especially with their sales and coupons and bargain areas.

I just wish there were more used book stores in my area. When I was younger there was one in an old barn in Ruffsdale that we went to on the weekends. Oh how I loved that place. There was even one in my hometown. Now, nothing. However my hair salon has a book swap shelf, that's very cool. I've found a lot of great reads there. Plus I could drop off a few books for their shelf, therefore spreading the book love all around the universe!

So what stores do you go to for your book fix?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: Loving Julia

Author: Karen Robards
Title: Loving Julia
Publisher: Warner
Publish Date: December 1986
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Blurb: "Fate brings cockney commoner Jewel Combs to the mansion on Grosvenor Square to face the icy demeanor of Sebastian Peyton, Earl of Mooreland. She doesn't know why blue-blooded Sebastian accepts the sudden challenge to transform her into "Julia Stratham"--to turn a diamond in the rough into a glittering gem--but she knows his plans will give her a home where she will never be hungry, shivering or frightened again. And "Julia" has a little surprise of her own in store for this breathtaking man: she'll show him that although she isn't a lady, she is all woman. "

Review: This is the second book by Robards that I've read recently and I started this one with much trepidation. Green Eyes was by no means a favorite book of mine, but I didn't want one bad story to cloud my judgment.

This book, redeemed the author in my eyes. It was a twist on "My Fair Lady" and it worked well, though there were holes in the story that could have been better filled, particularly when it came to Sebastian's back story.

Jewel/Julia was a sweet character, a pickpocket with a heart. It was fun to watch her transformation from a "guttersnipe" to a "lady." There is only one thing in the story that involved Julia that really bugged me and that was her treatment of Oliver towards the end, and Oliver's behavior towards her in return, just didn't suit his character at all. I didn't think it was necessary to make a character that seemed likable and kind into something vicious and ugly to be necessary.

Sebastian was an interesting hero. For the most part, he wasn't exactly nice, but as the reader comes to know him, there are plenty of reasons for him to be the way he is. He has a mother that didn't love him and wife that was cold. (Uh, why is this always the case in historicals?) Oh and he is thought to be the murderer of his wife, though there's no evidence to prove that he was.

The ending seemed a little hurried to me, resolving some of Julia's past and making sure everyone was happy. I think the story could have gone on about 50 pages more so that things would have been closed properly.

Overall, I did enjoy Loving Julia. I won't hesitate to try another by Robards, especially a more recent book.

Its Monday! What Are You Reading

From Sheila @ Book Journey.

This is the meme where we discuss what we've read in the past week and what we plan to read in the coming week.

What I've Read
Janet Evanovich - Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Jason F. Wright - The Wednesday Letters
Dorothy Garlock - Ribbon In The Sky
Rena McKay - Desert Devil

What I'm currently reading
Karen Robards - Loving Julia: The first book by Robards that I picked up a few weeks ago didn't impress me much, but this one is really good. Its a little spin on My Fair Lady and its working out really well.

What I plan on reading this week
I had wanted to read Hope Tarr's latest Blaze Historical, The Tutor over the weekend, but I didn't finish Loving Julia. No big surprise there. It is the weekend. I just don't read much on the weekend. That really doesn't make much sense does it?

I'm not sure what I might pick up next. I found some old Phyliss Whitney's that I hadn't read, and those are great summer reads, plus I have all my new books. I think I may just close my eyes and whichever book I grab first will be the book!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In My Mailbox #4

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted here at The Story Siren. (It was inspired by from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.) Anyone can participate in IMM and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library.

Two of my Harlequin shipments came in the mail this week and my BOMC2 book came. (That was Lisa See's Shanghai Girls, which I've been waiting over a year to get)

This weekend was also an awesome shopping weekend. Books-A-Million had a one day sale on Saturday and I had to pick up a book for my sister at Barnes & Noble, which prompted me to buy a few more books.

I'll be opening my own library soon, or at least my own used book store! LOL!

Here's a photo of all my goodies.

Lusting For Covers #2

Lusting for Covers is a weekly meme, held on Sunday, that allows bloggers to share their current cover obsession with fellow book lovers. This meme is hosted by TBQ

The cover I'm lusting for is for a book I hope to be getting for my birthday. I've been drooling over the cover for more than a month now. There is something about the guy on this cover that reminds me more than a little bit of Colin Firth and anyone that knows me, knows that Colin Firth is one of about 5 actors that I absolutely adore. (The others are Johnny Depp, Hugh Grant, David Tennant and Alan Rickman)

Amanda McIntyre - The Master & The Muses

Here's the blurb from the Eharlequin website:
They are his inspiration. He is their obsession.

Icon, rebel, unabashed romantic…

With a single look painter Thomas Rodin conveys the ecstasy of creativity—the pleasures awaiting the woman who can fuel his artistry.

the Innocent
What did this master artist see in me?
Genius abided in his soul, rapture in his flesh—I doubted not.
To refuse him…my folly. To surrender…my sensual salvation.

the Upstart
I chafed at the bonds of servitude until he set me free.
I turned my back on all that I knew to follow him and found myself between two men—master and student—one whom I loved with my heart…the other with my body.

the Courtesan
I understood, perhaps better than any, his needs.
I stoked the fires of his soul, the spark of his creativity—he made me a legend. But never could I forget his searing touch….

Three transcendent tales of women bewitched by a master of seduction—a slave as much to his art as to his boundless passion.

If You Like

Do you love an author? Do you want to find other authors that have a similar writing style? Well, I'm here to help you!

Since Janet Evanovich's latest Stephanie Plum has come out this week, I'm going to spotlight her and another author who I think you might enjoy.


Just about everyone is familiar with Evanovich's Plum series and even the Metro Girl series. The mysteries are light, fluffy and fun to read on a warm summer day. Some may call them guilty pleasures, but I just call them entertaining.

Stephanie Bond writes the Body Killers in a similar fashion. Her books figure around Carlotta Wren. To see what this series is about, here's a blurb from Body Movers

So Carlotta Wren's life hasn't turned out as she'd planned. She didn't plan for her parents to skip bail for a white-collar crime, leaving her to raise her brother. She didn't plan on having the silver spoon ripped from her mouth and forgoing college to work retail. She didn't plan on her blue-blood fiancé dumping her. And she didn't plan on still being single ten years later, working at Neiman Marcus, with no idea where her fugitive parents are. But she's coping. Until:

* her lovable brother is arrested, and the hunky cop decides to reopen her parents' case.

* her brother becomes a body mover for the morgue, and his sexy boss gets Carlotta involved.

* her former fiancé's wife (a good customer) is murdered, fingering Carlotta.

With three men in her life, Carlotta has added motivation to help bag a murderer to keep her own well-dressed body from being next on the list

What makes Body Movers great is that it really doesn't come across as being Plum lite or just another Plum wannabe. These books are also a little more suspenseful and less slapstick.

Some of you might be wondering why Stephanie Bond's name sounds familiar. That's an easy one. She's done a lot of writing for Harlequin over the years. She wrote for Love & Laughter and now for the Harlequin Blaze line. She's definitely one to check out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On My Wishlist #3

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet.

I'm going to Books-A-Million today so maybe this list will get smaller...or larger. One never knows when I go to a book store.

Libba Bray - A Great And Terrible Beauty

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left wi! th the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

Christy English - The Queen's Pawn

Princess Alais of France travels to England to marry Richard the Lionhearted, the son of King Henry II, armed only with her dowry, the valuable Vexin. When Alais arrives in the land of her father’s enemies, she is welcomed by the beautiful and powerful queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor, the richest and most influential woman in Europe, sees a kindred soul in the young French princess. Intrigued by the girl’s strength and fire, Eleanor adopts Alais as her protégée, teaching the girl what it takes to be a woman of power in a world of men. But Eleanor and Alais’ love for each other is threatened when the capricious and imperious King Henry meets the lovely young princess. Fascination with the king draws Alais deep into political intrigue, and she soon discovers what Eleanor is prepared to do to retain her position as queen. Alais, the one-time pawn, takes ruthless action of her own, as the two women become rivals both for the king’s love and the throne of England itself.

Monica Fairview - The Darcy Cousins

One might reasonably expect that a young lady dispatched in disgrace across the Atlantic to England would strive to behave with decorum, but Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning! And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin. And Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper," Mrs. Jenkinson, simply… vanishes.

In this tale of friendship, rebellion, and love, two young women entering Society forge a strong connection. A connection that is sorely tested when they both set out to win the heart of a most dashing—and dangerous— gentleman.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Review: Finger Lickin' Fifteen

Author: Janet Evanovich
Title: Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Publish Date: June 23, 2009
Rating: 5 Stars
Book Blurb: "Unbuckle your belt and pull up a chair. It's the spiciest, sauciest, most rib-sticking plum yet." "Recipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head - literally." "Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli." "Pump up the heat: Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers." "Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah." "Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur. Enough said." "Bring to a boil: Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?" Warning: Habanero hot. So good you'll want seconds.

Review: Do you need to laugh? To really belly laugh and smile? If you do, pick up a copy of this book and start reading. There is something about Stephanie Plum's madcap antics that really draws you in, and this has to be one of Evanovich's best books in awhile. Book 15! And the characters don't get old, in fact, they feel like old friends you visit with once or twice a year.

Finger Lickin' Fifteen is all about Lula with a touch of Ranger thrown in to make things interesting. Actually a book that revolves around Lula has to be funny. The descriptions of her clothes alone will make you crack a smile and in this one she's got some yellow spandex! Plus she's making BBQ to catch a killer and she's doing it with Grandma Mazur! The thought of that combination should bring some smiles.

Like all Plum novels things get blown up. I think she loses at least 3 cars in this one! Note to self: when my next car gets old, hunt Steph down to get rid of it! Poor Ranger loses 2 Porsche Cayenne's in the space of 24 hours. That combined with a security breach @ Rangeman would be enough to make him cry, but not Ranger. This book does give a glimpse at some of his more human qualities.

Then there's the other man in Stephanie's life, Morelli. They're broken up in this one, but not for long, especially since he's on the case to see who killed the celebrity chef and who is trying to kill Lula!

This book was fun, fast paced and probably one of my favorite reads of the year. It had me in stitches in several places. Oh and for those of you that haven't read any Plum novels? Jump in and try one. That's the thing about these books, you don't have to read them in order, it helps but they stand alone quite nicely.

I can't wait to read the new one in the coming weeks!

Blogger Book Hop #3

Crazy For Books hosts a get to know you blog hop every weekend! I thought that I'd jump in this week and get to know a few more booky blogs.

But for those of you hopping by, here's a bit about A Chick Who Reads:

1. I love series romance and subscribe to several of Harlequin's lines and buy several books from the ones I don't subscribe to. They are my candy. Mmm tasty..

2. I will read anything if it strikes my fancy. I do like a good suspenseful story and sometimes even horror.

3. I have two other blogs A Little Night Music which is my personal blog and The Certifiable Wenches which is a blog I maintain with a few other ladies and we post about pop culture and other fun stuff.

Now here's what I've been doing this week:

Books Reviewed
Jason F. Wright - The Wednesday Letters
Dorothy Garlock - Ribbon In The Sky
Rena McKay - Desert Devil

~ Check back for my review on Janet Evanovich's Finger Lickin' Fifteen.

Memes Played
Friday Finds
Booking Through Thursday
Waiting On Wednesday
Teaser Tuesday
It's Monday! What Are You Reading
Lusting For Covers
In My Mailbox
On My Wishlist

My Feature
If You Like

Friday Finds

Another fun book meme care of Should Be Reading.

What great books did you hear about / discover this past week?

Ella March Chase - The Virgin Queen's Daughters

Blurb: As captivating now as it was more than four centuries ago, the reign of Elizabeth I—with its scandal, intrigue, and resilience—has sparked the imaginations of generations. In her sweeping historical debut, Ella March Chase explores a thrilling possibility: that the Tudor bloodline did not end with the Virgin Queen.

Tucked away in the country estate of her beloved father, Lord Calverley, young Nell de Lacey feeds her hungry mind with philosophy, language, and studies of science. Her mother, once a devoted lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr, would rather her daughter stop dabbling in the grand affairs of men and instead prepare for her eventual duties as a wife. She knows all too well what menace lurks in royal courts.

W. Bruce Cameron - A Dog's Purpose

Blurb: T his is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here? Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders—will he ever find his purpose? Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog’s Purpose is not only the story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This beautifully crafted novel teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on Earth is born with a purpose.

Karen Essex - Dracula In Love

Blurb: From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept coast of Yorkshire, the quintessential Victorian virgin Mina Murray vividly recounts in the pages of her private diary the intimate details of what transpired between her and Count Dracula—the joys and terrors of a pas­sionate affair and her rebellion against a force of evil that has pursued her through time.

Mina’s version of this timeless gothic vampire tale is a visceral journey into the dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries, and locked asylum chambers where she led a secret life, far from the chaste and polite lifestyle the defenders of her purity, and even her fiancé, Jonathan Harker, expected of her.

Bram Stoker’s classic novel was only one side of the story. Now, for the first time, Dracula’s eternal muse reveals all. What she has to say is more sensual, more devious, and more enthralling than ever imagined. The result is a scintillating gothic novel that reinvents the tragic heroine Mina as a modern woman tor­tured by desire.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Booking Through Thursday

To play along, go here.

Do you read book reviews? Do you let them change your mind about reading/not reading a particular book?

I read reviews, especially if its an author I've never read before. I have to say that there are places I won't read reviews. I've never been keen on places like Amazon for reviews because a great deal of the time, the writers always seem to be out to get attention in either their favoring of the book or dissing. I prefer to read reviews on book blogs, because they seem to be more honest.

There isn't a review that would make me not read a book if I really wanted to, basically because everyone takes away a different impression of a book. Writing is art, and just like people will have different perceptions of a painting, people will have different perceptions of a book. I've seen some of my favorite books get low marks on Goodreads and some books I can't stand get high ones. It is all a matter of perception.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review: The Wednesday Letters

Author: Jason F. Wright
Title: The Wednesday Letters
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publish Date: December 1991
Rating: 5 Stars
Book Blurb: Their story begins with one letter on their wedding night, a letter from the groom, promising to write his bride every week-for as long they both shall live.

Thirty-nine years later, Jack and Laurel Cooper die in each other's arms. And when their grown children return to the family B&B to arrange the funeral, they discover thousands of letters.

The letters they read tell of surprising joys and sorrows. They also hint at a shocking family secret-and ultimately force the children to confront a life-changing moment of truth . . .

Review: This short little book was amazing. I started reading it in the evening and knew I couldn't keep on because I wouldn't get any sleep. It begs to be read from cover to cover.

Jack and Laurel were the sweetest couple and this book paints a picture of their marriage through the eyes of their grown children, come home to lay them to rest and through the letters Jack wrote to Laurel ever Wednesday of their marriage.

I loved how very different their three children were and how they loved each other. I perhaps would have liked to have known more about Samantha and Matthew lives. They both had troubles in their marriages but Wright kept much of the focus on Malcolm, the middle son who is part of the secret they learn through the letters and then through their aunt Allyson. It is a secret that really rocks Malcolm, the troubled middle child to the very core of his being.

This book shows what true love really is. It shows us forgiveness and healing. It displays Christian values without being preachy. It even shows how two people with different political views live as one.

The Wednesday Letters is more than just a keeper shelf book, its a must read book. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry and it will give you warm fuzzy feelings. If you haven't read this book, go get it now!!!

Book Review: Ribbon In The Sky

Author: Dorothy Garlock
Title: Ribbon In The Sky
Publish Date: December 1991
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Blurb: Sprightly, auburn-haired Letty Pringle had been forbidden by her hell-and-brimstone preacher pa to see Mike Dolan, but the young sweethearts had whispered their vow to someday be man and wife. Then a cruel betrayal tore them apart and left Letty on a windswept Midwestern farm to raise their son alone. Struggling to build a future over the years, she learned to harden her heart to desire . . . until big, dark-haired Mike marched into town, looking for his woman and his dream--and ready to fight the world to have her in his arms again.

Review: I really enjoyed this book. At the beginning it was hard to figure out when everything was taking place, as there wasn't much talk about current events, until Letty had been forced to find her grandparents, then we start to get snippets from Mike Dolan's point of view. It is then that we know that the book takes place shortly after WWI.

Letty's father was the kind of minister that gives religion a bad name. He bashes other religions and doesn't believe in forgiveness. So when his own child ends up as a teen pregnancy, in a time when that was even less kosher than it is now, he tosses her out and we later discover, he declares her dead and even has a memorial service!

Her sister is even worse and becomes even more distasteful as the book goes on. You really come to hate Letty's immediate family quickly and you are very thankful that she learns about unconditional love from her ailing Grandma and Grandfather. Her grandfather is a fantastic character that you can't help but love. He's very open minded for the time period and devoted to his family. He's also a little bit meddling, but that works in Letty's favor. Grandpa Jacob really gets Mike Dolan, who is the father of her son, back into her life for good.

Your heart breaks for Mike when he comes into town looking for the Fletcher farm to find Letty's grave. It continues to break when Letty will have nothing to do with him, because she can't believe her parents would declare her dead to their parish. He's a dream hero, a man who is totally devoted to his childhood sweetheart.

Patrick is her little boy and he's ornery, maybe a touch spoiled but oh so sweet. He's like a mini man of the house. When he gave Oscar Phillips a head butt to the groin, I doubled over in laughter.

Letty proves to be more than just a mother, she takes on a teaching position at local school and then takes in a child whose father is in jail. While she has Helen in her care it becomes apparent that the child had been abused by her father, and Letty will fight to keep her in their home.

Dorothy Garlock really created some wonderful characters in this book. She made some good guys, some bad, and some bad guys turned good. There's a lot of tension in this story especially with Sister Cora, who I can't stress enough is a detestable character and Helen's father Cecil.

This was a really good story, definitely a must read for fans of westerns and historicals.

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is brought to you by Breaking The Spine. This meme spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Just discovered this new July release the other day and I'm really excited about it. It looks like a super cute read.

Pamela Morsi - The Bikini Car Wash

After Andrea Wolkowicz abandons corporate life to help care for her sister, she quickly wears out the want ads in their rust-belt hometown. Time to be her own boss.

Every mogul knows the best idea is an old idea with a new twist. So Andy proudly revives her father's business: an old-fashioned car wash...staffed entirely by bikini-clad women. That ought to get traffic-and blood-flowing on Grosvenor Street!

This gutsy gimmick soon has the whole town in a lather, and not necessarily in a good way.

Scandalized citizens are howling, neighboring businesses are worried. But straitlaced grocery-store owner Pete Guthrie is definitely intrigued. He knows it's hard to run a small business in a big-box world. To him, Andy's brains and bravery are as alluring as the bikini she calls business attire.

In this story of life, love and small business, it's not just the swimsuits that are revealing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Books To Movies And TV

I was looking up something on line when I came across a reading list on Buzz Sugar. It's 15 books to read before they are adapted into movies or tv shows.

There's quite a few books in that list that I hadn't heard of, but I'm now intrigued by. Being from the Pittsburgh area, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower will now go on my wishlist. Important Artifacts by Leeane Shapton looks like a good read too.

I'm not sure if I want to read the books from that list before seeing the films or not. Its one of the little quirks of mine. If the film looks good, I'd like to appreciate it it for what is is. If they do a poor adaptation while still making a reasonably good film, I'm likely to blast it. Remember the Streisand film, Prince Of Tides based on Pat Conroy's book?

The film was excellent, but having read the book beforehand I was totally disappointed in the important parts of the book that were left out of the film.

I just hope that of the 15 books they are making into films one or two of them will do justice to the books.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) "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 other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Author: Dorothy Garlock
Title: Ribbon In The Sky

Teaser: Something had happened to Letty! A wave of sickness rolled over him. Please, God, don't do this to me. I love her! (page 180)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: Desert Devil

Author: Rena McKay
Title: Desert Devil
Publisher: Silhouette Romance #92
Publish Date: July 1981
Rating: 3 Stars

Juli Townsend was sure that Thorne Taylor, the dynamic, arrogant owner of Taylor Electronics, had cruelly wronged her family. She was convinced that he had stolen the profits from her brother's secret invention for his company and had never acknowledged it.

Determined to challenge Thorne with her suspicions, Juli drove all the way to Cholla, Arizona to confront him in person. When she demanded satisfaction, Thorne dismissed her. He even angrily accused her of blackmail.

But Juli refused to leave Cholla. She would find out the truth--even if it meant losing the only man she could ever love.

Review: This story was very cute, though there were several things about it that drove me nuts. Juli was 22, and she acted like she knew everything, which is typical of a 22 year old, but most 22 year olds wouldn't try to go head to head with the president of a big company.

The relationship that develops between them is strained, at best, but isn't that what we like the most about romances? Thorne is a bit arrogant and isn't very trusting of Juli, but by the end of the story, we can completely understand his reasoning. It is also hard to dislike a man that took time out of his busy day to deal with her nonsense.

I wish there would have been more communication between the characters. It would have made the story better. Even if they would have developed the relationship with Brian, the employee who took her cousin David's place in the company it would have made things more interesting, as it was, the modern reader feels like she was using him in some way.

This wasn't the greatest read, but it was entertaining at times.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading #6

From Sheila

This is a great weekly event where everyone can keep track of the books finished last week & the books planning to read this week!

What I read last week

Murray Kalis - Love In Paris
Carla Cassidy - Swamp Secrets
Violet Winspear - The Unwilling Bride
Leslie Hatcher - Magic At Sunset

What I'm currently reading
Rena McKay - Desert Devil (Yes I know another Silhouette!)
Dorothy Garlock - Ribbon In The Sky

What I plan on reading this week
I'm challenging myself to stay away from series romance this week. I want to read The Wednesday Letters which I picked up at Goodwill yesterday as well as a few historicals I found in that box, there was an older Julie Garwood that I hadn't read and I do love her books. My problem is that Harlequin novels are my crack. I devour them like candy. Mind you the ones from the 80s and older are kind of stale crack, but still its nice light, fun reading. The only problem is I keep buying more books.

For those of you interested, here's a bit more about The Wednesday Letters

Jack and Laurel Cooper are two hardworking, loving Christian pillars of the community who die in each other's arms one night in the bed-and-breakfast that they own and operate. The event calls their three grown children home for the funeral, including their youngest son, a fugitive from the law who must face an outstanding warrant for his arrest and confront his one true love, now engaged to another man. As events unfold around the funeral, the three children discover a treasure trove of family history in the form of Wednesday letters-notes that Jack wrote to his wife every single week of their married lives. As they read, the children brush across the fabric of a devoted marriage that survived a devastating event kept secret all these years. It's a lovely story: heartening, wholesome, humorous, suspenseful and redemptive. It resonates with the true meaning of family and the life-healing power of forgiveness all wrapped up in a satisfying ending.

Lusting For Covers

Lusting for Covers is a weekly meme, held on Sunday, that allows bloggers to share their current cover obsession with fellow book lovers. This meme is hosted by TBQ

I'm a little late on this meme, since it is a Sunday one, but oh well, a day late and a dollar short as usual.

I actually bought a book last week that has a cover that makes me go, Mmmm Hmmm, I'll have one of those.

Comments Where can I put an order in for one of that gorgeous man on that cover? I might need two on the off chance I would wear the first one out!

Here it is.

Author: Deborah Simmons
Title The Dark Viscount
Publisher Harlequin Historical
Book Blurb Thunder claps, lightning strikes and her imposing new mansion looms high, but Miss Marchant is not one to be afraid. Not willful, beautiful Sydony Marchant.

If the house doesn't shock her, the arrival of Viscount Hawthorne does. No longer the boy she once kissed—Bartholomew is a man with a ruthless glint in his eye.

He's here to uncover a truth and ruin Sydony. But they are soon entangled in secrets darker than they know. And as the tension crackles between them, the memory of their innocent kiss is no longer enough….

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In My Mailbox #3

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted here at The Story Siren. (It was inspired by from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.) Anyone can participate in IMM and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library.

My mailbox was empty this week, though I am waiting on a book I won at the end of May in a contest.

My purchases were mostly at the Goodwill store and one book from Target. I'm quite happy that I got the Emilie Richards, as it was a recent add to my wishlist. The book I bought at Target was The Devil's Queen. However The Wednesday Letters was my find of the week! I've been putting off buying that one since it came off the list at BOMC2, so imagine my surprise when I find a copy at Goodwill for $1.99!! How awesome is that?

If You Like

This is a new feature here at A Chick Who Reads. Have you ever loved an author so much but wanted to branch out and discover more books that are similar? Well that's what I plan to help you with in this feature.


Today's author is Phillipa Gregory. We all know her from her books The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance and The White Queen to name but a few.

So if you like historical novels that involve European royalty, what other author's should you try out?

There are many writing in the area right now but there is one that stands out above all the rest, maybe even about Ms Gregory, and that's Jean Plaidy.

One thing you must know if you are unfamiliar with Plaidy's writing, is that she's actually Victoria Holt. Most of her books were written in the 40s and 50s, and she has written a great deal. Since there was such a boom in historical fiction lately, a good many of her books have been reissued.

You can check out her many books here and to learn more about Jean Plaidy read her Wiki Page

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On My Wishlist #2

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet.

My wishlist is getting out of hand. It is probably a bad thing that I frequent so many book blogs now, because that just makes it worse. Here are three of my wishlist books for the week. Let me know if you've read any of them!

Jennefer Crusie and Boby Mayer - Wild Ride

Mab lives for her work, which unfortunately for her involves restoring a tiny turn of the century amusement park inhabited by demons. Shortly after the story opens, she’s drowning in passion, terror, magic, exasperation, and ice cream. Also, there’s a raven named Frankie. Written in collaboration with Bob Mayer, whose character is an ex-Green-Beret who comes home to the park his mother owns. No, it’s not a romance. Think Luke and Leia.

Mary Balogh - The Secret Affair

The black sheep of the scandalous Huxtable family meets his match in A Secret Affair, the beguiling and utterly captivating new romance by Mary Balogh.

Constantine Huxtable’s illegitimacy has denied him the title of Earl, so now he denies himself nothing. And recent widows make ideal playmates in his short-lived affairs. Like the tantalizing Duchess of Dunbarton, for instance. Reveling in her newfound freedom from her arranged marriage, she has decided to take a lover, and it seems like the beginning of a beautiful affair.

But their liaison is more dangerous than they imagine. As the duchess and dark lord soon realize, sometimes playing at love can lead to the real thing…and when that happens, the only choice is sweet surrender.

Beth Hoffman - Saving Ceecee Honeycut

Though she’s only 12, CeeCee is old beyond her years. She has to be—she’s spent her life caring for a loony mother who keeps reliving her glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen, tiara and all. But that doesn’t quite prepare CeeCee for the shock when a tragic accident leaves her suddenly, and utterly, alone.

To the rescue comes long-lost great aunt Tootie Caldwell. Sweeping in to take care of the young girl, she whisks CeeCee off to Savannah, introducing her to a zany cast of Southern belles—like the garden-slug-wielding Miz Thelma Rae and the see-through-peignoir-wearing Violene Hobbs—who would influence her life in profound and unexpected ways. Wise, feisty and unapologetically independent, this eccentric community of women welcomes CeeCee into their ranks, united in their mission to help her rediscover love, laughter and the joy of life.

Bursting with wacky humor and down-home heart, Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a spirited Southern tale about a remarkable young girl who loses her mother but finds many others. A debut of uncommon grace that beautifully illuminates the power of female friendships, it will have you laughing out loud…and leave a satisfying lump in your throat.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What To Read Next

I've been picking some real stinkers out of the box of books I found in the basement. Series romance has definitely changed for the better in the last 30 years, that's for sure. I'm a little bit burned out on them and as soon as I finish the next Silhouette Romance (I really need to quit those, the old ones are really not so good) I want to move on to something, hopefully more entertaining. That's where I hope you guys can help me.

Here are three books from my TBR pile. Read the blurbs and leave a comment to let me know which book you think I should read.

The scholarly Harry Fleming, earl of Graystone, prizes loyalty above all else. A former spy, he is haunted by his failure to nab a traitor known as the Spider. Furthermore, his wife was "a lying, deceitful, falsehearted bitch." Now a widower, Harry's in the market for a second wife. He has selected as his bride Augusta Ballinger, a reckless but steadfastly loyal woman, and knowing she will balk, he persuades her guardian to present the engagement to her as a fait accompli. Despite her attraction to Henry, Augusta is indeed convinced that a free spirit doesn't belong with a stick-in-the-mud scholar. But the marriage proceeds, and as Harry tries to fashion a proper wife out of Augusta, he begins to believe that a document linked to the suspicious death of her brother two years earlier may offer a clue to the identity of the elusive Spider.

Spritely, auburn-haired Letty Pringle had been forbidden by her hell-and-brimstone preacher pa to see Mike Dolan, but the young sweethearts had whispered their vow to someday be man and wife. Then a cruel betrayal tore them apart and left Letty on a windswept Midwestern farm to raise their son alone. Struggling to build a future over the years, she learned to harden her heart to desire . . . until big, dark-haired Mike marched into town, looking for his woman and his dream--and ready to fight the world to have her in his arms again.

Shay was the raven-haired beauty the Falconer brothers called Gypsy. The four men each found her irresistible. But it was Lyon Falconer who claimed her - when he didn't have the right - and sealed her fate.

And it was Ricky, the youngest Falconer, who picked up the fragments of Shay's shattered life and married her out of love. Only now, with her husband's death, destiny hurled Shay back within Lyon's reach.

It was the moment he'd been waiting for - a final chance to prove that Shay had always been - always would be - HIS Gypsy!

Book Review: Love In Paris

Author: Murray Kalis
Title: Love In Paris
Publisher: Fawcett
Publish Date: Jan 1980
Rating: 2 Stars
Book Blurb: Love In Paris...The most romantic city of them all, the timeless city of lovers, the setting for an enchanted meeting. Lisa: a student at the Sorbonne, she left behind a haunted childhood to embrace all that the fabulous city of Paris had to offer; only to discover that it meant her own awakening.

Michael: a film actor with his first big break -- a major motion picture being filmed in Europe. He had come to Paris to work and to play -- he didn't know he was going to fall in love.

Love In Paris... surging, filled with wonder --the romance of young love struggling to survive.

Review: This is a unique romance in two ways; it's written by a man and it's told from the hero's point of view. Sadly the story was almost too annoying to finish.

The character's really lacked development. It was hard to figure out why Mike was willing to throw away a promising acting career for a girl he had only known a few days and one he didn't seem to share much in common with besides attraction.

His dialogue with Lisa never had much depth and we never really feel like we know her at all.

I'm used to heroes in books being strong or arrogant or a bit of both. Mike was neither, actually from the beginning as he cruised the Paris streets looking for a girl to hook up with, it became apparent that he was a big jerk and nothing he did from then on showed him as otherwise.

I would have really liked to have gotten to know Lisa or even his agent Eve better. As the story stands, it doesn't have enough depth to really keep any readers interest.

What I did find interesting, considering that this is a romance from the 80s, was the use of the f-word a few times. The word doesn't shock me, but seeing it in a book that didn't really go into any description of lovemaking seemed rather out of place.

This book was a mere 220 pages long but while reading it, it felt like it was much longer. I'm quite glad to have it out of my life.

Friday Finds

Another fun book meme care of Should Be Reading.

What great books did you hear about / discover this past week?

I went to Barnes & Noble last weekend and I found some great books. Here are a few. I actually had a scrap of paper that I grabbed off a friend so that I could write down the titles I wanted to wishlist. Crazy aren't I?

First in a sexy new series featuring the match-making schemes of an infamous courtesan.

Award-winning author Claudia Dain tells a tale of impropriety and independence, and a mother and daughter determined to bend the rules of society in their favor.

Young Lady Caroline's prospects for a suitable match are severely limited by her mother's infamous past. Before Lady Sophia Dalby entered London society, she was a highly desired courtesan. What man of title, position, and wealth would marry a courtesan's daughter?

Sophia's solution is to purchase a husband for Caroline-the Earl of Ashdon-agreeing to settle his gambling debts if he will take her daughter's hand. Insulted, Caroline refuses to have a husband who was bought for her.

But after meeting the fiery Lord Ashdon, she wonders if it wouldn't be satisfying to have him pay for her, perhaps with a priceless pearl necklace? With Sophia pulling the strings, Lord Ashdon may get more than he bargained for and Caroline may get just what she wants.

The intensity of emotion and vivid language here are more reminiscent of Anderson's Speak (Farrar, 1999) than any of her other works. Lia and Cassie had been best friends since elementary school, and each developed her own style of eating disorder that leads to disaster. Now 18, they are no longer friends. Despite their estrangement, Cassie calls Lia 33 times on the night of her death, and Lia never answers. As events play out, Lia's guilt, her need to be thin, and her fight for acceptance unravel in an almost poetic stream of consciousness in this startlingly crisp and pitch-perfect first-person narrative. The text is rich with words still legible but crossed out, the judicious use of italics, and tiny font-size refrains reflecting her distorted internal logic. All of the usual answers of specialized treatment centers, therapy, and monitoring of weight and food fail to prevail while Lia's cleverness holds sway. What happens to her in the end is much less the point than traveling with her on her agonizing journey of inexplicable pain and her attempt to make some sense of her life. —Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library

All right. Honesty time. Everybody’s got a number—in fact, everyone’s got a few numbers. There’s the one we tell our friends, the one we tell our spouses, the one we tell our parents… but only we know what our true number is.

How many people have you slept with?

Meet chick lit’s sauciest, sassiest new heroine…

“My name is Delilah Darling, I’m twenty-nine years old, I’m single, and well… I’m easy.”

When Delilah reads a survey revealing most people have 10.5 sexual partners in their lifetime, she begins to feel more like a tramp than she’d like. She’s slept with 19 men so far—almost twice the national average. During a self-help moment, Delilah vows to cap her “number” at 20, swearing that she’ll save her last spot for the RIGHT guy. However, after losing her job and having a wild night on the town, she falls into bed with Mr. WRONG.

Unwilling to up her number but unable to imagine a life of celibacy, Delilah dreams up a foolproof plan: she’ll track down every man she’s ever slept with in a last-ditch effort to make it work with one of them. Hitting the road in a rental car, she begins a madcap adventure that takes her across the country, from New York to Chicago, New Orleans to LA.

A hilarious romp through Delilah’s past loves, 20 Times a Lady shines a spotlight on every woman’s dirty little secret and proves that, when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes numbers only tell a fraction of the story.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Review: Swamp Secrets

Author: Carla Cassidy
Title: Swamp Secrets
Publisher: Silhouette Shadows
Publish Date: March 93
Rating: 3 Stars
Book Blurb: There are none so blind . . those who will not see. And Lindsey Witherspoon, used to capturing the world with her camera, to controlling the images that met her eyes, refused to see that the swamp was beyond her control.

The swamp that spread so tantalizingly beyond her door, beckoning with promises of beauty never yet captured on film, was in truth a place of darkness, a place where a woman had no business to walk alone, unprotected. Where the paths themselves seemed to shift and shiver. Where a woman who wasn't careful might find herself alone with... a man like Royce Blanchard. A man who once had warned her that his last woman had come into the swamp... and died.

Review: I was really disappointed in this book, but not because the story was poorly written or anything like that, but more for the fact it was marketed as a Silhouette Shadows. Yes, this showed "the dark side of love" but it really felt more like a gothic novel or a suspense than something that borders on paranormal.

Lindsey and Royce are an interesting twosome. I loved the madness that Royce had, and how he pushed her away because of it.

The best parts of the story center on the fear that Lindsey is made to feel, whether it be from a fortune teller, a voodoo doll left in a room or even Royce.

I would have loved it more if the "things that went bump in the night" were real and not so easily explained at the end of the book by Royce's mother. It all worked out so easily; the explanation about the woman who disappeared in the swamp, the child she heard crying and the reasons Royce retreated into himself.

I also didn't like that Royce didn't take Lindsey to the hospital after being hit by a falling tree branch. Even if they couldn't have made it there the day of the accident he should have insisted she see a doctor when the weather cleared.

Again, I think if this book had been marketed under a different line, I probably would have liked it better.

Rating: 3 flowers

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