Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Reviews

Here are all the books I've read in September!

Bernadette Walsh - Devil's Mountain (9/28/2012)
Taylor Dean - Sierra (9/25/2012)
Amy Hill Heath - Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society (9/24/2012)
Eloisa James - The Ugly Duchess (9/21/2012)
Regan Walker - Racing With The Wind (9/17/2012)
Amanda Stevens - The Prophet (9/15/2012)
Laura Bickle - The Hallowed Ones (9/13/2012)
Stacey Kennedy - Bind Me (9/12/2012)
Laura Durham - Better Off Wed (9/11/2012)
Shari A. Brady - I Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye (9/10/2012)
Emylia Hall - The Book Of Summers (9/8/2021)
Madeleine Wickham - Cocktails For Three (9/7/2012)
Adriana Trigiani - The Shoemaker's Wife (9/5/2012)
Tricia Goyer - The Memory Jar (9/3/2012)

I did pretty good with 14 books this month. I still have to sort out how I did challenge wise for the month. I think I have a good many of them completed now and I'm only about 15 books away from my yearly reading goal!

Woo hoo!

How did you do last month?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Chick Ponders Bookish Things: My Nook Died!

Today started off bad. My mother decided to arrange my schedule for me. That's nothing new, but somehow I knew today that I shouldn't have let her do it.  I'm 38, I should have stood my ground. But I didn't, so my whole morning was a mess.

I was planning on going to the YMCA to run on the elliptical at 7:30, I didn't get there til 2:30 and I had to go to Giant Eagle for groceries afterwards.  I was reading November Surprise for my tour stop on Monday and I was just finishing up my work out when the unthinkable happened. Nanny the Nook (that's what I named my first generation Nook) slipped from its Barnes and Noble case and hit the floor.

Nanny the Nook is now dead, because the impact messed up her screen.

I have a nook color, but now I'm terrified to take it to exercise out of fear that something like this will happen to it.

I loved my first generation Nook.

I'm totally heartbroken now.

Anyone want to cry with me?

Friday, September 28, 2012

CBLS Book Review: Devil's Mountain

Devil's Mountain (Devlin Legacy #1)
by Bernadette Walsh
Published by Lyrical Press
Paranormal/Fantasy Romance (Horror)
Heat Level: Steamy




All Romance eBooks

Blurb: You will hate Him for all that he's taken, but you will love Him. God help you, you will love Him. Mary Devlin accepted her fate years ago, to serve Slanaitheoir, the mountain spirit who saved her ancestors from the Irish Famine. The hauntingly beautiful woman submitted to His every caress, His every humiliation, but He’s gone too far by threatening her family. Mary’s daughter-in-law is now an unwitting pawn in the fickle spirit’s game. Mary must challenge her fate and that of all future Devlin women, but Slanaitheoir is the most powerful being in the land. And when part of her still yearns for His touch and love, how can she fight him and win?

Review: I've read two of Bernadette Walsh's other books and loved them. However both of them fell into the Women's Fiction category, so I wasn't sure what to make of Devil's Mountain when I saw it was a paranormal.

I'm glad I gave it a shot!

Bernadette does a great job with creating characters that stick with you. Plus it has those great paranormal elements, witches and an evil spirit.

The story in an interweaving of two stories, Bobby and his wife Caroline and his mother Mary and Slanaitheoir a rather randy spirit. The whole story around the Slanaiteoir is really intriguing, and I hope we learn more about this Devil in the books to come.

I like how Bernadette makes you change your perception of Mary from the first time you meet her at the rehearsal dinner til the end of the story. It's Mary's story and back story that I liked the most over Caroline's.

I absolutely loved this story. Bernadette can really write in any genre. My only gripe is that the story was only 119 pages long! I want more!

Rating: 5 flowers

AUTHOR BIO Bernadette Walsh has been writing contemporary and paranormal romance for four years. She has published three novels to date (The House on Prospect (Echelon Press) and Gold Coast Wives (Lyrical Press)) and the first book of her paranormal trilogy, Devil’s Mountain -- Book One of the Devlin Legacy. While Bernadette has hopped around genres, all of her books to date have a common theme: strong women handling what life throws at them the best way they can.  

Twitter: @BWalshWriter



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Tour Schedule:
Sept 17: Harlie's Books (Review)
Sept 18: Storm Goddess Book Reviews & More (Review)
Sept 18: Turning The Pages (Review)
Sept 20: The Bunny's Review (Review)
Sept 20: Sandra's Blog
Sept 24: Natalie Nicole Bates
Sept 25: Aspired Writer (Review)
Sept 27: My Reading Obsession (Review)
Sept 27: SnifferWalk (Review)
Sept 28: A Chick Who Reads (Review)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Must Buy Books: Beverly Lewis - The Bridesmaid

I know I said I'd never get sucked in to another Beverly Lewis book, but then I saw the trailer for The Bridesmaid, and I quickly changed my mind.

We all know I'm a sucker for Amish fiction of any kind!

Watch the trailer

The Bridesmaid by Beverly Lewis
Date Released: 09/11/2012

Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania--the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis's celebrated Amish novels began--with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together. "Much of the credit [for the growth of Amish fiction] goes to Beverly Lewis, a Colorado author who gave birth to the genre in 1997 with "The Shunning.".." --Associated Press Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The young Amishwoman is a closet writer whose stories aren't her only secret. Eben Troyer hopes to make Joanna his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet Eben's hopes to build a life with Joanna hinge on his brother's return from the English world...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Reading Addiction Book Tours Book Review: Sierra

Today A Chick Who Reads welcomes Taylor Dean to the blog to share:

10 Things you Don’t Know About Sierra
1. Sierra is my first novel.
2. Sierra was originally a 165,000 word monstrosity. (it’s now 100,000 words)
3. Sierra was inspired by the true-story-TV-movie of the ordeal endured by Olympic Medalist Kari Swenson, entitled, Abduction. (1987)
4. The first ten pages of Sierra were handwritten back in 1991 (I still have them!) on a day when I just couldn’t stand it anymore, I had to write my story. I didn’t officially write Sierra until 2006.
5. My sister—one of the first people to ever read Sierra—stayed up ALL night to read it and still says it’s the best book she’s ever read.
6. Of all of my novels, Sierra is my personal favorite.
 7. The original cover of Sierra was an actual picture of a snowbound cabin.
8. In my original story of Sierra, Alyssa takes Alex to court to have their marriage declared legal. Ugh.
9. It took me one year to write Sierra. (and even longer to EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!)
10. >The original (awful) title of Sierra was Sanguinity.

Author: Taylor Dean
Title: Sierra
Date Published: 6/13/12
Synopsis: Alyssa Fontaine’s life, loved ones—everything familiar and dear—are brutally taken from her. Taken captive by two men, she endures a horrific nightmare. A new life is forced upon her and even a new name. Just when it appears that no hope is in sight, she is saved by an unlikely twist of fate. Trapped in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, life will open its arms to her again and she will embrace it. She will find love such as she never knew existed. Sierra is a heart-wrenching story of the power of the human spirit to survive amidst impossible circumstances and severe losses. It is a story of survival . . . and hope.

Review: If you look at the cover of this book, you may think you are getting a light hearted winter tale. That's definitely not the case here.

This is the kind of story that grabs you from the first page and makes you hold on until the last page is turned.

I always find books like this hard to review because of that whole spoiler thing.

So rather than try to sum the book up, I'll tell you this. When I first saw the cover and saw the genre as romantic suspense, I almost dismissed it. The cover gave it a kind of Harlequin-y look. A cozy suspense novel. (Not my favorite genre in the harlequin imprints) But something in the blurb made me give it a try.

It is nothing like the cover. And it isn't cozy. There are times when it is terrifying and others when it it absolutely romantic. Oh and don't worry, there are plenty of times when you'll cry. This book is packed with emotion and both Alex and Alyssa have gone through a lot and you will love them for their strength.

This book will definitely surprise you and Taylor Dean will be an author you'll be adding to your must read lists!

Rating: 5 flowers

Book Excerpt:  Stay strong, Alyssa. Another opportunity for escape will come, you just have to wait for it. And yet, she wondered if she would live through the next day. It wasn’t a matter of being lost in the woods, it was a matter of being totally, and utterly, lost. “WE HAVE TA find our community today. We’re out of food,” Pa said at lunch as they ate the last of the granola bars. “I know wur close.” As they hiked, Adam walked behind her and pushed her every time she slowed down. They were all slow today. He never walked behind her. The trip was getting to all of them. Alyssa felt as though she could simply lie down and die. Her pain, which had been significant, seemed to have diminished into a dull, anesthetized feeling that enveloped her. Maybe this is what death feels like—a sluggish, agonizing death, that is, she thought numbly. As they hiked down the mountain through a heavily wooded area, a deluge of rain descended upon them. They did not stop or seek any shelter, they hiked right through it. The noise of the storm hid the fact that Alyssa sobbed out loud. The moisture hid her tears. She didn’t even try to rein it in—she just let it out and was glad for the cover of the storm. Lightning and thunder roared around them and still they walked. Pa was sure the community was just below them. Alyssa knew that life—as she knew it—was over. Her fate was to be with Adam. The thought set in and her heart sank. She couldn’t remember ever being so terrified in her entire life. It soon became obvious they were nowhere near their precious community, however. Pa cursed and yelled in a fit of temper. They were all hungry and tired. When they stopped for breaks, Alyssa fell asleep each time, hardly able to hold herself in an upright position. That evening as they walked through an area dense with pine trees and foliage, to their surprise, they came across a cabin in the woods. Pa and Adam stood in the trees staring at it. It was obviously occupied. Smoke wafted out of the chimney, the smell of fresh bread was in the air, and the tinkle of music could be heard if you strained your ear. As Alyssa's eyes alighted upon the cabin for the first time, she thought perhaps she was dreaming. It was like seeing a mirage in the desert. It couldn’t be real—the sight, the sound, the smell. It was . . . charming. She was seeing things. It must be her imagination. After all, who lived up here in the middle of nowhere? But if she was seeing things that weren’t really there, then so were Adam and Pa. They decided to pay the occupant a visit and cautiously began the walk up to the door of the cabin. Alyssa suddenly felt like Dorothy along with two cowardly lions approaching the wizard. The cautious music from the movie played in her befuddled brain. Yep, she was losing it. Puffs of smoke shot out of the chimney and she wondered if Adam would turn around and run. Maybe the wizard would grant her deepest wish. Freedom . . .

Author Bio: Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding that she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of romance in her line-up.
Twitter - @taylordeanbooks

Links to Buy  Amazon /Smashwords /Barnes and Noble

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Follow the rest of the tour here

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Review: Miss Dreamsville And The Collier County Women's Literary Society

Author: Amy Hill Hearth
Title: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: Oct 2, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: Eighty-year-old Dora, the narrator of a story that began a half century earlier, is bonding with an unlikely set of friends, including Jackie Hart, a restless middle-aged wife and mother from Boston, who gets into all sorts of trouble when her family moves to a small, sleepy town in Collier County, Florida, circa 1962. With humor and insight the novel chronicles the awkward North-South cultural divide as Jackie, this hapless but charming “Yankee,” looks for some excitement in her life by accepting an opportunity to host a local radio show where she creates a mysterious, late-night persona, “Miss Dreamsville,” and by launching a reading group—the Collier County Women’s Literary Society—thus sending the conservative and racially segregated town into uproar. The only townspeople who venture to join are regarded as outsiders at best—a young gay man, a divorced woman, a poet, and a young black woman who dreams of going to college. This brilliant fiction debut by Amy Hill Hearth, a New York Times bestselling author, brings to life unforgettable characters who found the one thing that eluded them as individuals:a place in the world. Inspired by a real person, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society will touch the heart of anyone and everyone who has ever felt like an outsider longing to fit in.

Review: This book could be described as The Help lite. But it is more than a book that deals with issues facing African Americans in the 1960s. No, it is about social reform, about finding yourself, and making the world better. It also reminds us that big changes often bring big hurdles to overcome.

The characters are all misfits, but lovable misfits. The story is told through the eyes of Dora, a post office employee and divorcee. This is something that is looked down upon in the small Florida town of Naples. Dora also helps heal turtles, giving her the name Turtle Lady.

Each of the other characters bring about something different to the table, Ronnie-Lee is a homosexual with a mother that hunts alligators.

Plain Jane is a writer,  hiding her identity and what she writes from everyone.

Priscilla is the young colored girl with big dreams

But most importantly there's Jackie who shakes everything up, starting the literary society, becoming Miss Dreamsville and taking on the KKK in a most unusual way. (That part of the book, is by far the best in the story)

This is Amy's debut novel and it is a shining star. It gives everyone hope that things can change, and sometimes it only takes one person to get the ball rolling.

One thing I've personally learned through reading books about the south in this time period is that I'm totally ashamed of how we allowed people to be treated because of their skin color. It is even sadder that 50 years later, some people's views haven't changed.

This was a great book and a super fast read. Once you start it you can't put it down!

Rating:  5 flowers

Friday, September 21, 2012

TLC Book Tours Review: The Ugly Duchess

Author: Eloisa James
Title: The Ugly Duchess
Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: August 28, 2012
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours & the publisher
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: How can she dare to imagine he loves her . . . when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess? Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke's passion. Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months. Theo would have given it a lifetime . . . until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry. Society was shocked by their wedding . . . and is scandalized by their separation. Now James faces the battle of his life, convincing Theo that he loves the duckling who blossomed into the swan. And Theo will quickly find that, for a man with the soul of a pirate, All's Fair in Love—and War.

Review: Eloisa James is one of those authors that I've always wanted to read but for some reason put off doing so. I'm glad I finally read one of her books. The Ugly Duchess was superb.

The story is set in Regency England, which is one of my favorite periods in history and it is a re-imagining of The Ugly Duckling fairy tale.

There are many reasons why you should race to the store to grab this book.

1. Theo is such a lovable heroine.

2. I love that Theo and James are close in age. That's something that you don't see that often in historical romance.

3. I loved how James turned into a pirate when things went wrong with his marriage.

4. I love that James didn't totally turn womanizer when he was on the high seas.

5. James wanted her for her. He loved Theo/Daisy even before she transformed herself.

It was great to read a book that didn't have a character that was gorgeous. I liked that she had self esteem issues and that she did things to make herself stronger.

The only gripe I had with the story was that it was too long. Sure it was only about 330 ish pages but the story was really wrapped up around page 300. The epilogue especially felt like filler. Other than that, I really loved the story and it earned Eloisa a place on my must by author list.

Rating: 5 flowers

About Eloisa James New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa’s very first book that she ‘found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar’; later People Magazine raved that ‘romance writing does not get much better than this.’ Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists. After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in new York City. Her most recent book, Paris In Love, received critical acclaim. Her ‘double life’ is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professional guise, she’s written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women’s magazines such as More to writers’ journals such as the Romance Writers’ Report.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Chick Ponders Bookish Things: 20% Off One Item

I love when I get those coupons from Barnes and Noble. However I hate trying to decide what I want to buy, because it has to be just one item!


It is so frustrating, especially when my wishlist for books is so huge.

How can I choose just one?

It is so not fair.

What is also not fair, is not being able to use the discount on NookBooks. But that is a rant for another day...or perhaps I've already ranted on that!

So what are you buying with your extra 20%

Monday, September 17, 2012

Innovative Online Book Tours Guest Post & Review: Regan Walker - Racing With The Wind

Today we are welcoming Regan Walker to A Chick Who Reads!

 Mary’s  Unusual  Black  Stallion  in  Racing  with  the  Wind    

When  I  began  to  write  Racing  with  the  Wind,  I  envisioned  Midnight,  the  horse  ridden  by  the  heroine,  Lady  Mary,  as  a  huge  black  stallion  few  women  could  handle.  Certainly,  few  women  in  the  Regency  would  have  ridden  a  horse  that  large  and  powerful.  When  I  began  to  write  the  scene  when  the  horse  is  first  described,  I  just  wrote  what  I  saw  in  my  mind  as  the  hero  watches  Mary  ride  across  the  green  pastures  of  her  home,  Campbell  Manor:    “The  horse’s  muscles  rippled  along  its  huge  flanks,  and  its  long  mane  and  tail  trailed  out  behind  like  great  black  flags  as  it  galloped  in  front  of  him.”      Interestingly  enough,  I  discovered  the  breed  of  horse  I  described  only  after  the  book  was  finished  and  had  been  through  my  editor  and  was  with  the  copyeditor.  I  was  busy  creating  the  cover  with  cover  artist  Kim  Killion,  and  gave  Kim  a  picture  of  the  exact  horse  I  pictured  as  Midnight.  She  included  it  in  the  cover  we  were  designing  together.  Very  proud  of  the  result,  I  sent  a  friend  the  new  cover.  She  took  one  look  at  it,  and  the  horse,  and  said,  “Great  cover.  And,  oh,  that’s  a  Friesian—my  sister  raises  them.”  Immediately,  I  was  in  panic  mode,  worried  the  breed  might  not  have  been  around  in  1816,  the  year  of  my  story.  Quickly,  I  researched  the  Friesian  breed,  and  much  to  my  relief,  I  learned  it  originated  in  the  Netherlands  and  was  imported  to  England-‐-‐and  used  in  trotting  races  during  the  time  of  my  story.  Whew,  that  was  close.  I  breathed  a  sigh  of  relief  and  hurried  to  add  the  label  “Friesian”  to  Lady  Mary’s  horse  in  my  story.  It  was  a  nice  add,  and  I  owe  it  all  to  a  friend  with  a  horse  breeding  sister!      It  seems  no  matter  how  thorough  your  research  is  there  is  always  something  to  consider  you  may  have  missed.  That's  why  it's  good  to  have  beta  readers  who  know  the  genre  and  care  about  details.  I've  added  some  beta  readers  to  my  lineup  since  then.

The intrepid daughter of an earl leaves Regency London for the Parisian
court of Louis XVIII, where she finds adventure, mystery, and above all,

THE NIGHTHAWK Hugh Redgrave, marquess of Ormond, was
warned. Prinny had dubbed Lady Mary Campbell “the Swan,” but no
ordinary man could clip her wings. She was a bluestocking hellion, an illadvised
match by every account. Luckily, he sought no bride. His work lay
on the continent, where he’d become legend by stealing war secrets from
Boney. And yet, his memories of Lady Mary riding her stallion were a
thorn in his mind. He was the son of a duke and in the service of the
Prince Regent…and he would not be whole until he had won her hand.

THE SWAN It was unheard of for a Regency debutante to postpone her
first season, yet Lady Mary had done just that. Far more interested in
politics than a husband, she had no time for foolishness or frippery.
Already she had assisted her statesman uncle in Paris, and she swore to
return to the court of Louis XVIII no matter the danger. Like her black
stallion, Midnight, she would always run free. Only the truest heart would
race beside her.

Buy: Racing With The Wind

·                     All Romance 
·                     Amazon
·                     Apple iBooks
·                     Barnes & Noble
·                     Smashwords

Review: This book reminded me why I have always loved regency romance. Because of the time period you always have a little bit of intrigue and the romance part is never too hot and spicy. I started reading regencies back when I was in junior high.

I really loved the characters in this book. Lady Mary is a bluestocking. God I love that word! It always makes me laugh! Why it was so totally unacceptable for a woman to have a brain then? And Lady Mary is more then just a bluestocking, she's a forward thinking woman. She knows her own mind and  isn't going to let a husband take over for her.

Mary is the kind of heroine you expect from a regency. She's smart and she's always getting into trouble because she wants to be her own person and she's not ready for marriage.

Then there's Hugh. He's the Nighthawk and a night in shining armor. He's the kind of hero everyone hopes to have around. I didn't find him nearly as arrogant as Mary made him out to be. After all, they were living in a time of unrest in Europe and

I really found this book to be well written and well researched. The characters were so good and the historical accuracy spot on. It really made you feel like you were in Regency England. Hugh did have some rights when it came to wanting to protect her. (Mostly from herself).

The only thing that I had the slightest problem with was the pregnancy of Hugh's former mistress. It just didn't seem to help the story along. There could have been another way to add one last bit of conflict for the two characters.

This is a definite must read for anyone that loves historical or regency romance!

~ Review copy provided by Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 4 flowers

Author Info: As a child, Regan loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls. But by the time she got to college, more serious pursuits were encouraged. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law. Regan says, “I became a lawyer because I thought it would be better to be a hammer than a nail.” Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the "Crown" on its subjects. Hence, her first romance novels involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool. Regan says her stories will always involve adventure as well as love.

Regan lives in San Diego with her Golden Retriever, Link, who she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Review: The Prophet

Author Amanda Stevens
Title: The Prophet
Publisher: Mira
Publish Date: April 24, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: My name is Amelia Gray.
I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.

Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

Review: I absolutely loved book 1 and 2 from this series. I devoured them. This book however dragged for me, from the very first page, it just didn't hold my interest.  I found myself putting it down quite frequently, which is not what I did with the other books.

I think the problem was, there was no restoration in this story. The focus was on Devlin and his relationship with Amelia, even though their romance was barely there in this book. After a few chapters I was starting to dislike both of them, Amelia the most because she seemed to have lost her spine since the last book.

The story was too much mystery and not enough spooky. And as things begin to wrap up with Amelia learning what she needs to know about the death of Robert Fremont and Mariama and Shani, I groaned in disbelief. I did like the elements of voodoo that made there way into this story. It added a new creepy element to the book, which was definitely needed.

This was not how I wanted this part of the story to wrap up, though. It came off a bit flat and tied up the loose ends a bit too easily. I'm actually quite happy that Amanda is going to be writing at least 3 more books in this series. The only thing that I'm wondering, is whether things are going to focus on the graves or if Amelia's going to turn into a more crime oriented Ghost whisperer, because that's what I felt she had become in this book.

Every author is entitled to a sub-par book. This one is definitely sub-par for Amanda. I hope things pick up when the next book comes out.

Rating: 3 flowers

Friday, September 14, 2012

CBLS Book Barrage: My Sister's Boyfriend

Title: My Sister’s Boyfriend
Series: The Trouble with Twins
Author: Sylvia McDaniel
Publisher: Virtual Bookseller
Length: 167 pages/70,000 words
Genres: Contemporary Romance (Comedy)
Heat Level: Sensual


The trouble with identical twins…

He's back. The one guy she never wanted to see again. Her high school indiscretion, Brent Moulton, has returned to Tyler, Texas. Only Jennifer Riley knows the truth about that night so long ago when she switched places with her twin sister, Julie, and gave her virginity along with her heart, to her sister's boyfriend in the backseat of his father's Mustang.

…they look alike.

Fifteen years later, life has thrown them back together. Will Brent realize he slept with the wrong twin? Will he overcome his commitment issues and realize that Jennifer just might be the right twin for him.

"Never again," Jennifer Riley vowed as she stepped into the black-paneled wooden coffin outside the entrance to the Hilton Hotel in downtown Tyler, Texas. Traffic whizzed by on Main Street, some cars slowing at the sight of a woman climbing into a coffin.

Jennifer tugged at her filmy black chiffon dress, trying to cover as much of her exposed cleavage as possible. "No matter how busy Julia gets or how much she pleads, I refuse to do this again. I didn't come back to Tyler to dress up as an over-the-hill sex queen."

 Paul, her sister's employee, stood quietly by, holding the lid open. "Ready?"

 Jennifer took a deep breath, dreading the darkness that would engulf her. "Yes, make it quick. I hate lying inside this creepy box."

Jennifer watched the coffin lid come down, shutting out the noise and headlights from the traffic.

"You all right?" Paul asked.

"Hurry!” Her breath sounded harsh in the darkness. She felt the pallbearers lift the coffin onto the cart and roll it along the sidewalk into the hotel.

After tonight, Julia, her twin sister, would have to find someone else to jump out of coffins and sing seductively when she needed help with her business. No ifs, ands, or buts!

As the new Development Director at County General Hospital, Jennifer would be way too busy to fill in at her sister's fledgling singing telegram company. Not to mention that popping out of coffins could be damaging to her career.

The cart jostled along the hallway of the hotel until she heard wolf whistles and loud, boisterous, voices cheering, and she knew they'd arrived at the party.

Paul rapped on the coffin lid. "Are you ready?"

Jennifer cleared her throat and searched for the button that would pop open the door. Whatever happened to women jumping out of cakes? What nut case thought coffins were funny?

The coffin lifted. She gripped the sides, trying to find her balance as the pallbearers slid the casket off the cart until the box stood upright. She landed with a jarring thunk on the floor. Why couldn't you get good pallbearers these days?

Paul tapped on the side of the coffin to let her know it was show time.

"In honor of your birthday, your friends and family have given you a gift from the other side. The other side of the hill, that is," Paul announced as the noise from the crowd swelled.

Music started to play, and Jennifer hit the button on the inside of the wooden box. The lid sprang open and she slinked out, her chiffon dress clinging like a second skin that left little to the imagination.

"Happy Birthday," she sang in her alto voice, her eyes blinded by the lights. She blinked rapidly, hoping her eyesight would adjust to the brightness of the room. When her vision finally cleared, she found herself staring into the face of the one man she'd hoped never to see again.

There before her, wearing a stunned expression on his face and a Marvin the Martian child's birthday hat on his head, sat Brent Moulton.

"Well, I'll be damned," said the captain of her old high school football team, the person voted most handsome and most likely to succeed.

Jennifer's voice cracked as she gazed into the emerald eyes of the boy who'd once been the object of her teenage dreams. A lock of dark hair lay across his high forehead. His full lips smiled as she stumbled over the words to the song she'd sung countless times.

I should never have agreed to do this tonight!

Dancing for a man who, almost fifteen years ago, hadn't known the difference between her and Julia was anything but special, but the show had to go on.

She slinked around him, her heart beating in her throat as she ran her hands along the hard, contoured muscles of his shoulders. Brent must have existed on nothing but Wheaties, because his physique resembled a professional football player's rather than that of a high school kid.

Of course, he would never remember her. She had portrayed Julia that night so long ago when they'd pulled a switch on him. Nevertheless, deep down inside, the foolish young girl Jennifer had been back then had convinced herself that he’d known which twin he was with. Yes, they looked alike, but when someone really knew the two of them, their differences were obvious.

With a coo that she hoped resembled Christina Aguilera’s crooning, she ran her fingers down his cheek as she began the last chorus of the song, the place in the act where she was supposed to lean forward and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. She gazed at his lips, full and inviting, and remembered the feel of them against her own that moonlit night when he believed he was kissing Julia's lips.

She chickened out.

As the song ended, Brent reached up and unexpectedly pulled her onto his lap, wrapping her in his muscular arms. A full-blown explosion of magnetism rushed at Jennifer like a Eurail locomotive as she gazed into his laughing emerald eyes, catching her completely off guard.

Fifteen years had passed since that night, and still he'd tag teamed her libido and brought back all those annoying yearnings she thought she’d buried long ago.

Sprawled across Brent's lap, her bottom rested against his legs, and her head lay against his muscular arm. The memory of his kiss had her heart beating a sharp rhythm against her chest. Hopefully he'd forgotten his date with Julia the night before they left for college.

He ran his hand down her arm, leaving a trail of goose bumps beneath the black chiffon sleeve of her dress. "Hi," he said as his gaze swept down the length of her, his voice deeper, sexier than she remembered.

"Hi," she managed as a shiver ran down her spine and her lungs tightened beneath the unyielding black dress.

“It’s been a long time.” The corner of his lips turned up in a cocky grin. "Shouldn't I get some kind of official birthday kiss?"

Determined to control the situation, she placed her hands on his jaw and brought his face close to her lips. She placed a quick, chaste kiss on his cheek. "Happy birthday!"

Sylvia McDaniel and her very supportive husband Don, the love of her life, live in Texas with son Shane, Putz the klutzy dachshund and Ashley our shy dachshund. During the day, she works for a small insurance agency from home, helping clients with their commercial insurance coverage. 

The weekends are spent working out in the garden until the temperature climbs above ninety degrees. Recently, with the help of her husband, she learned to make homemade blueberry and blackberry jam. Cooking is not her favorite past-time and she prefers Don’s cooking any day of the week.

Currently, she’s written fourteen novels.  In the last year, she’s been a finalist in six writing contests and was a 1996 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist. Sylvia is very involved with the Dallas Area Romance Authors.

She can be reached by email at

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bewitching Book Tours Guest Post & Book Review: Laura Bickle - The Hallowed Ones

Today we are welcoming Laura Bickle, author of The Hallowed Ones to A Chick Who Reads!

Writing a novel is a lot like falling in and out of love. It's a relationship with stages. There's flirting, bliss, angst, reconciliation, and letting go. There are beginnings, middles and ends. And also sometimes shouting and tears.

Beginnings are tough for me. Nothing intimidates me more than staring at a blank page. There's absolutely nothing there but a sea of white. I chew on my lip and doubt myself. Can I conjure something from blankness? What if it never comes together? Beginnings are anxious.

I reluctantly tap out a first line. A hook. It’s like saying “hello.” I squint at it, chew on my lip some more.

Is this concept worth pursuing? Is it attractive enough to chase through the next several months, through research and dreams and headaches? Will it still love me when I get the flu? Is it going to be one of those easy relationships, with effortless flow? Or will this one be like pulling my own teeth? Will there be door-slamming and crying?

There's no way to know. It could be wonderful, or it could put me in a funk for months. I futz and mumble to myself and stare at the first five pages, dawdle around the first chapter. I fret aloud and talk to the cat about the new relationship.

The cat usually ignores me. I screw up the courage to take the plunge. I decide that I like the idea. I flirt with it a bit, chase it around like a butterfly. I court it. Sometimes, I can be trusted to even put on a clean T-shirt and a pair of jeans that does not have holes in it while typing. I'm trying to impress it. I even make an outline. There is lipstick and also chocolate.

And it flirts back with me...with snatches of phrases. Images. I type and scribble notes, fearful of losing anything. Typing, typing...

And then I'm suddenly at the middle. I'm all of a sudden in a committed relationship with the book. I can feel it taking shape, developing a life of its own. It starts to have its own moods. Sometimes, it's cloying. Sometimes distant.

But we fall into a rhythm, greet each other at the same time every day. A standing date.

We start using the “love” word. Usually, it’s a showdown to see who will say it first.

We talk. We do more than that. The book and I have discussions. In the middle, there are multiple ways for things to go. I try some things that work. I try some that don't. I pull out the note cards, fuss with my outline. I spread cards out on the floor all around me, trying to analyze and dissect what's working, what's not. I get frustrated, gossip about the book with my friends, seeking outside advice.

Sometimes, it's a test of endurance, pushing through. But I can see to the end. When I have the ending firmly structured, the last ten thousand words fly. It's bliss. I see where all the tendrils of thought and plot threads I had developed in the beginning curve back around. I think I understand the story, now: the hidden symbols, the growth of the characters. I understand what it is about the story that attracted me to it. I understand what I'm afraid of about it.

The end is the best part. It gathers momentum, takes wing.

And flies right out of my hands. I type THE END on the last page.

And I feel a pang of sadness. It's gone. It's moved out of my life, out of my mind and my heart. There's still some tweaking to be done. Editing. Smoothing. But that part feels like the post-mortem of the relationship. At this point, I’m just looking at old photographs.

The story's gone. I did what I needed to: I gave the story a voice. And it left me. The nest's empty. Lonely.

And the only solution is to fill it again, with another egg of a story. Another beginning.

Laura Bickle
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Graphia (September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0547859260
ISBN-13: 978-0547859262
BUY: Amazon

THE HALLOWED ONES By Laura Bickle If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in? In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror… Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing. Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

   Advance Praise for THE HALLOWED ONES "This is a book to make you fear the shadows--a horrifying and gruesome tale of faith, and things that blink red eyes in the night. I began reading in the daylight, and read on into the late hours, leaning close, biting my lip. I could not look away; I was obsessed. Katie is an unbreakable soul." --Lauren DeStefano, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Chemical Garden Trilogy

Review: This book has so much going for it, that it is impossible not to want to read it.




Now there's a combination!

And guess what?

It works!

Katie isn't a typical Amish teen! She wants her Rumspringa (running around years). She wants to experience the world outside. And when bad things start to happen, she wants to know why.

She felt like a typical teenager, and I have to admit, I loved reading a story about the Amish that wasn't Christian fiction. Sure God and the religion a huge part of the story, but it isn't a constant praying thing. This makes the characters, Katie and Elijah come across as more human. That makes this book a whole lot easier to read than some works of Amish fiction.

Oh and did I mention Katie has...GASP SEX!

I know, perish the thought, but how do you get more Amish people if you don't have sex?

Then there are the vampires/monsters/darkness!

They are super scary and they don't sparkle!

The other character that you really have to mention is Alex, the guy she brings into the Amish community when he is injured. He's an Englisher from Canada and he's much more likable than Elijah, the boy Katie is best friends and thinks she's going to marry.

Katie is a typical teen in this book, but she also grows and shows a great strength of character, especially when the vampires get into the community and wipe out Ruth and her family.

The ending leaves you hanging a bit, so I hope this book is going to be part of a series, because I really want to know what happens to Katie.

Rating: 5 Flowers

 About the Author Laura Bickle's professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she's not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats. For more about Laura, please visit her website at:

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: Bind Me

Author: Stacey Kennedy
Title: Bind Me (Pact Of Seduction)
Publisher: Loose ID
Publish Date: Oct 10, 20122
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: The author for an honest review
Book Blurb: Four best friends embrace their fantasies and make a pact of seduction to live out their deepest and darkest desires. The women place their lives in the hands of fate and one short straw declares Marley will be the first to awaken her secret wishes.

Reed, a Dom at sex club Castle Dolce Vita, has lived the BDSM lifestyle for awhile, but has yet to find a submissive that suits him. That is until he meets Marley, a woman seeking to indulge her fantasies.

As Reed guides her through a night of pleasure, Marley brings more to him than a perfect submissive--she stirs emotions in him long ago lost. By binding Marley, he runs up against his own limits, and now he has to choose between his self-protective barriers or surrendering to the wildfire Marley has reignited in his heart.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM theme and elements, including spanking.

Review: I actually reviewed the 2nd book in this series for a book tour about a month or so ago. I finally got around to reading Bind Me, and I absolutely loved it.

I again have to say I'm not a huge fan of modern erotica, but Stacey Kennedy is an exception. Her BDSM books are hot hot hot without giving you that "I feel so dirty" feeling. Does that make sense?

In about 60 pages, Stacey Kennedy creates a story that heats up the pages and makes you connect with the characters. That's hard to do in such a short story, but Kennedy can do it, and she does it will.

I have to admit it does kinda freak me out that Marley is a school teacher by day and a sub now at night, but I  guess what goes on in the bedroom shouldn't make any difference, right? RIGHT!

Then there's Reed. He was a perfect Dom. I loved that while he enjoyed the whole pleasure/pain scenario he didn't try to make Marley do more than she was comfortable doing.

If you haven't read any erotica and want to give it a try, you can't go wrong with Stacey Kennedy. She's one of the best writers in the genre. Grab this one and read it at bedtime and you'll have some very pleasant dreams!

Rating: 5 (smoking hot) flowers

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Better Off Wed

Author: Laura Durham
Title: Better Off Wed
Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: January 25, 2005
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: The murder of a particularly difficult mother-of-the-bride has cast a pall on wedding planner Annabelle Archer's latest triumph -- and suspicion falls heavily on her sometime-business partner and friend Richard Gerard. Annabelle knows that even her trusted wedding emergency kit won't be able to salvage their careers if she and Richard can't find the real culprit.

It's no easy task since the slain matron was perhaps the most hated socialite in D.C., but Annabelle navigates through the city's colorful wedding industry and powerful social scene on the deadly trail of a killer. Always the bridal consultant and never the bride, she's seen her fair share of bouquet tosses. But there's no telling what surprises a ruthless killer will throw her way if she gets too close.

Review: I love cozy mysteries and I always love finding new series where the main character has a different sort of job. Annabelle Archer is a wedding planner and when a brides super nasty mom ends up dead at the reception, Annabelle sets out to find the killer.

Of course!

I always wonder about the characters that just decide to do the sleuthing, especially when the cops don't appear inept. Reese didn't, in this case. I really liked that they didn't end up dating at the end of this book, though I'm sure they'll get together somewhere down the line.

The characters in the story were cute and funny. Richard, the caterer is an absolute hoot. It was hilarious when he was gushing over the wedding photos of his food! Then there's Kate, Annabelle's assistant who never quite gets her cliched phrases right.

What made this book an enjoyable read for me was that there weren't any family members around to make Annabelle feel bad about her unmarried state. Though Leatrice, her neighbor tries to point her off towards many good looking guys.

The mystery was really funny too. Mrs Pierce was quite a nasty tramp. She was probably one of characters that I'd vote most deserving of being offed in a cozy.

So many affairs. So much betrayal and blackmail!

It made for a great read! Hopefully the rest of the series will be this good!

Rating:  4 flowers

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