Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Best Book of June 2010

Another month gone by and another no-brainer decision in this contest.

Bookworm News

With June coming to a close already (I can't believe it's July) I just wanted to talk a bit about what's going on around here at My Book Addiction.

I've read a LOT this month, almost forty books. The weather here has been crazy hot lately and FYI, Jen the Bookworm doesn't like the crazy hot so she stays inside and reads instead of cleaning her house. I may have read almost forty books but I managed to not read any of them listed in that challenge I signed up for in May. Grrr.

You may have noticed that Jane isn't posting that much right now. Her family always takes advantage of the season and spends all summer having fun. She'll be back more often in the fall when her life goes back to normal :)

What Kind of Reader Are You? will continue into July. I've also got my eye on a few books that I want to reread and discuss a little in a retrospective spotlight.

I've decided that enough is enough. I'll be starting The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest tomorrow. Might as well start out the new month right.

Lastly, this month's teaser from Karen Marie Moning's Shadowfever landed in my inbox a little while ago. The release date for this sucker has been pushed back until January 18! At double the usual number of pages I suppose I can wait a little longer but I'm dying to know who Mac killed. Here's the excerpt:

My ghosts whisper to each other across me but I can’t hear them. There’s only one way I’ll ever be able to hear them again.

I turn my head for Darroc’s kiss.

As his lips close over mine, the duality inside me threatens to tear me in half, and if it succeeds, I will lose my best chance at accomplishing my mission.

I hurt.

I need punishment for my sins.

I bury my hands in his hair, and channel all those feelings into passion, pour it into my touch, kiss him hard, violently. I turn us both around and slam him up against the wall, kissing him like he’s all that ever existed, kissing him with a full measure of humanity.  It’s a thing a Fae can never feel, no matter the form they wear—humanity. It’s why they crave us in bed.

He staggers for a moment, pulls back and stares down at me.

My eyes are wild. I feel something inside me that terrifies me, and I just hope I can hang on to the edge of this cliff I’m on. I make a sound of impatience, wet my lips and shove at him.

“More,” I demand.

When he kisses me again, the last part of me that could stand myself dies.

What Kind of Reader Are You? (part 4)

This week's topic: I want to know where you read.

Do you have a favorite place to settle in for a good book or can you read anywhere, in any setting? Do you have a certain chair or spot on the couch? Do you prefer to read in bed? A hammock or comfy chair outside? I have always fantasized about laying on something like this and reading:
OK, so I need to work on my fantasies but it's so pretty and elegant and practically screams "Lay on me!" Then I figured that I'd have to keep from constantly sliding down until I'm horizontal so I chucked that idea. When I was a teenager I was in love with the papasan chairs from Pier 1. Remember them? I liked the idea of curling up in one of these with a good book.
They make ones that rock now. I still look at them wistfully when I'm at Pier 1 but I've never bought one. The space in my house is at a premium and in a contest between books and some silly chair like this, books will win. Always.

Can you imagine trying to sit and read on this? It looks kinda cool and I love that it's purple but how would you be able to relax without tipping over?

I can read just about anywhere. In the car, at my brother's house amongst screaming children et cetera but with the exception of the bookstore or the library. I don't know why but I always feel self-conscious there. You'd think that I'd be most comfortable among my people but no. Maybe it's the lack of noise. I'm most often found reading on my living room couch. You can tell which seats I spend the most time in because they are the flattest :) I dream of one day having a house with an actual library with bookshelves built into the walls, comfy overstuffed chairs, and a fireplace to keep me toasty warm. A girl can hope, right?

I can read within minutes of getting up in the morning. Some people need a while for their synapses to warm up but not me. I'm good to go from the start. I can read all day or until I'm cross-eyed. Not kidding. My husband knows when I've read too much just by looking at me. I think of myself as a "chain reader." I will start a new book as soon as I finish the previous one (don't worry - I don't light them on fire). 

I am unable to read in the tub. I have tried but I can't relax enough to enjoy a book because I'm worried about dropping it in the water. That would be very upsetting. (Can you tell I'm a total control freak? LOL) I have been known to stand at the stove while making dinner with my nose in a book that I just couldn't put down long enough to cook. I don't recommend this - it's the culinary equivalent of driving a car while texting. Not smart.

Some sneaky bookworms may feel the need to read under the covers with a flashlight or the Itty-Bitty Book Light. I definitely did that as a kid when my bedtime was way too early for a night owl like me.

You can just imagine all the possibilities. So please leave a comment and share just what kind of reader you are.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

"The first question people always ask me is what are the essential ingredients." Lillian paused and smiled. "I might as well tell you, there isn't a list and I've never had one. Nor do I hand out recipes. All I can say is that you will learn what you need to."

Once a month on Monday night, eight students gather in Lillian's restaurant for a cooking class. Among them is Claire, a young woman coming to terms with her new identity as a mother; Tom, a lawyer whose life has been overturned by loss; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer adapting to life in America; and Carl and Helen, a long-married couple whose union contains surprises the rest of the class would never suspect.

The students have come to learn the art behind Lillian's soulful dishes, but it soon becomes clear that each seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. One by one they are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of what they create, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love, and a garlic and red sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Over time, the paths of the students mingle and intertwine, and the essence of Lillian's cooking expands beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of their lives, with results that are often unexpected, and always delicious.
Well. Now I'm hungry. I want...tiramisu and cake and fondue and melon with proscuitto and everything else described in this lovely book except for the pasta with red sauce. I had a very bad experience with that a long time ago and I still can't eat it but if anything would be able to convince me to get over that it would be this book.

Lillian is a witch. A food witch to be precise. The way Lillian uses food to teach life lessons is amazing. Her story is the first one to be told in this book and you get to see how she learned to learn and wield it as a witch would magic. There are nine stories in Essential Ingredients, some more powerful than others. Tom's affected me the most. His is about his wife and her relationship with food. From page 108:

Charlie had loved garlic; she had told Tom that if he loved her, he'd better love the way her fingers smelled after a day in the kitchen, the scent soaked deep into her skin like wine into a tablecloth. She refused the aid of all kitchen gadgets, crushing the fat, firm cloves under her strong thumb, pulling off the papery outer sheets and digging her nail into the base of the clove to remove the hardened end. She would have chopped with her fingers, too, if she could have, burrowing into the smell of it. When she was done, she would trace lines with her fingertips between her breasts, along the base of her skull and up behind her ears.
    "Trails for you to follow," she would say to Tom with a wink.

Good stuff, no? Who doesn't like a woman who smells like garlic in places where garlic wouldn't normally touch? *grin* This book flowed like music, something slow and sultry that also had peaks and valleys in the feel of it. This is Bauermeister's only fiction work in this style thus far and she certainly has her work cut out for her for the next one. Visit her website to see some of the recipes for the food that Lillian teaches them to make. Lillian won't give recipes for her dishes because she doesn't believe in them because she believes that the end result will be far better if it is made by instinct rather than by following a list of instructions. I would be pulling my hair out if I was faced with that challenge - I need a recipe :)

Other reviews:

Happy Birthday Jane!

I would like to take a moment and wish a very Happy Birthday to my friend Jane. I hope this year's is a good one!

What Kind of Reader Are You? (part 3)

Bookmarks. That's what we're talking about today.

How do you save your place? Do you simply remember the page number you were on when you were so rudely interrupted from the literary treat you were devouring or are you like me and need something to mark the page? Never say that you just fold down the corner dog-eared style! What are you, an animal? I get angry when I see dog-eared pages in a hardback book. Why would someone do that?

How specific a mark do you need? I've known some people who have their bookmarks sticking out perpendicular to the spine so that they can pick up where they left off at the exact line they were reading.

Are you one to use any piece of paper lying around like a receipt or bill? Post-it? Postcard? Canceled check? Ticket stub? A finger? Or do you just lay your book open and upside down? In my case, all of the above. When I'm reading a hardback book I tend to use the front or back flap from the book jacket. I liked to use the card from the pocket in the back when it was a library book but almost nobody uses them anymore.

In this day and age with eReaders everywhere that remember your page for you, are bookmarks going to become obsolete? I hope not. I like browsing the racks of them while I'm standing in line at the bookstore. Here's my newest one:

Sounds like a good motto to me. I've been having a difficult time keeping this one away from our newest kitty. She just loves that pretty pink tassel.

As I've mentioned before and if you've noticed the BookMooch and PaperbackSwap widgets on my sidebar, I trade books online. I just love it when I receive a book from some thoughtful person who has added a bookmark to the envelope. BookMooch members tend to send BookMooch bookmarks *smacks forehead*:

Some people send handmade ones like the one I got from Barb in PA that she made while scrapbooking. It's purple (yay!) and has an inset of hydrangea flowers on it, also purple (yay!). Others are made from embroidery thread and look like the bracelets I used to make in grade school. I also get the occasional book thong and I like them but don't use them all that much. There's something almost naughty about them, isn't there?

I do love a nice bookmark. I don't really collect them but if I get one, I keep it. I was recently going through my box of personal mementos (greeting cards, pictures, etc) and found the one I always used as a child. It's one from the Suzy's Zoo collection but they don't make that particular one anymore. The tassel is missing but that can be fixed with some red yarn.

Check out these sites for bookmarks...

Now you know my official position on bookmarks. I hope this helps everyone sleep tonight :) So, what kind of reader are you and how do you save your place?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Josey Cirinni is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and her passion for the man she loves is best kept a secret, even from him. Josey has grudgingly settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, but her one consolation is the secret stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she keeps in her closet. One morning, she opens her closet for a sweet, but finds Della Lee Baker hiding there instead. Della Lee is a local waitress on the run who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. Under Della Lee's guidance, Josey is soon living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion is so real it can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters. (from author's website)
Well, I have found another new favorite author and a new permanent addition to my bookshelves. I started it last night right before bed, took it with me today and read it whenever I had a minute: at my brother's house before we left to go to the pediatrician; in the car while waiting outside the doctor's office for my sister-in-law and nephew; finished it once I got home an hour later. I had to make myself put it down last night and even though I've learned that with children they don't give you much time to read I couldn't leave this one home today. I devoured every page and I will definitely been reading this one again.

I loved Josey and totally identified with her only my mother is a wonderful person, not a selfish and vain *expletive deleted*. What kind of mother daily sabotages her daughter's self esteem and self image for the sole purpose of preserving the image of perfection she needs to carry inside? And why would Josey let her? Guilt is a powerful thing my friends. Atonement is a big part of what happens with Josey in this book.

What else did I love? Chloe and her books. That was one of my favorite things ever. It would be like having her own private book fairy :) The touch of magic all over the place. Chloe and Josey finding each other. Josey using her candy as a rebellion as well as a solace. Helena and her names for Josey and Margaret. Della Lee in the closet. The heartbreaking surprise at the end. Adam discovering Josey. Everything.

I think this book may have changed my life. Nothing drastic, you understand, but in a subtle way. I can't even explain it but I just know I'm a bit different. I suppose that some would say that each book you read has that potential. I don't read a lot of deep stuff; most of the books I read are more for light entertainment than enlightenment. A friend is sending me Garden Spells later this week and I've requested The Girl Who Chased the Moon from the local library. I cannot wait.

Other reviews:
Alison's Book Marks

Monday, June 21, 2010

And Then There Was One

Out of the whole stack of books I brought home from the library last week, one remains. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson has been sitting on my coffee table for several days now, daring me to read it.

I'm not sure I want to.

It's like when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was being released in the theaters. You knew going in that The Fellowship of the Ring is going to be good and full of exposition and introductions and all that. And it is and it sets up The Two Towers but that's okay because there's two more movies to go. 

So then The Two Towers comes out. I was one of those folks that hadn't read the trilogy already. Yes, I've been reading since I was in short pants but sadly nobody ever shoved a copy of these books in my hands with the order to read them so I didn't know what would happen. The movie was so fantastic there really isn't a word for it or Fellowship but oh no! There's only one more to go before the end. 

The Return of the King wraps up the LOTR trilogy and it is bittersweet. It was hard to go to that movie and see how everything ended and know that there would be no more afterward. And no, The Hobbit doesn't count. Peter Jackson's washed his hands of it. 

Lisbeth's story comes to an end in Hornet's Nest. I do hope they wrap everything up but I'm afraid that the author didn't because he died while planning more Lisbeth and Mikael *bleeping* Blomkvist novels. How badly do I want to know how it ends? I've only got this book until July 7th so I can't put it off forever. I should probably read the book I picked for this month as my most anticipated, Open Country by Kaki Warner, but I'm not ready for it yet. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions...

Review: Silent Scream by Karen Rose

When a teenage girl dies in a suspicious fire, Detective Olivia Sutherland is assigned to track down the arsonist. Then she discovers something more sinister: a vicious blackmailer who preys on young people and murders without hesitation. Making her work even harder is sexy firefighter David Hunter. He's not only sharing the case but sparking memories of their long-ago night of passion, when feelings were left unspoken and hearts were broken.

David has his own ghosts, and a million regrets. But while he and Olivia try to face the wall of pain between them, a diabolical puppet master is pulling strings to make a group of twentysomethings do his bidding. Soon Olivia and David are scouring the city for a calculating criminal who seems tantalizingly close—and is moving in for the kill.
Silent Scream is the fourth Karen Rose romantic suspense novel I've read. It's been over a year since I read her last trilogy: Die For Me, Scream For Me, and Kill For Me. At the time, I wasn't yet grading the books I read so I don't remember exactly what I thought but I'm pretty sure I thought they were all worth a grade of B or better and Silent Scream is right there with them. 

Olivia and David have problems. She's got low self-esteem issues and he thinks he has to save the world. They share one screwed up night a few years prior and they've both been miserable since. Getting thrown together on a murder/arson case was really the best thing for them since they were both too chicken to call the other. Oy.

My only real criticism is that I think Rose tipped her hand a little too early. Pretty much exactly halfway through this book I picked out the killer. That's not to say that the rest of the book isn't worth the read but I do like to be surprised a little. I also would have been more familiar with everyone in the book had I read I Can See You and just about every other book she's written other than the three I read in early 2009. Isn't that always the way? Rose seems to be the type to connect all the players in her books to each other. That's definitely one way to get people to read all your books :) I'm not sure I need to read I Can See You anymore but I'll definitely be looking for her next new one, ETA unknown.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are screwups, and security cameras watch every move. 

Except Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce - he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page-turning thriller and the ultimate love story.
I think it's time for me to take a break from YA pararoms. Not all of them, just the ones that can't distinguish themselves from their peers. Fallen is one of these; it's an amalgamation of Twilight and Hush, Hush. With a female main character who can pine with the best of them, Luce wants Daniel as much as Bella wanted Edward only this time, the beautiful boy isn't a vampire, he's an angel. An angel that runs as hot and cold as the faucet in my bathroom. How irritating.

Actually, the most irritating aspect of this book wasn't Daniel or even Luce - it was the total lack of answers that you get by the end. I get that the publishers want us suckers readers to come back for more but c'mon! Help a girl out! Throw me a frickin' bone here! I dislike series like this where the reader is kept mostly in the dark and I quit watching Lost during the second season for just this reason. Just so I don't come off as a complete wretch, I will admit that I did like some of the secondary characters like Penn and Arriane. Cam and Miss Sophia were pretty predictable. Also, I happen to like stories with angels and their mythos and this one was just intriguing enough to compel me to crack open book two. Maybe.

Fallen turned out to be one book in a crowd of okay but unimpressive YA.The sequel, Torment, comes out on September 28, 2010.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Coming Up for Air

Well, June is definitely shaping up to be a rather lackluster month for me, posting-wise. The truth is that I just haven't had much to say lately and if you've been paying attention to what I've been reading lately you'd understand why: in the past few weeks, I've read ten Susan Wiggs novels. 


Yeah, I know. I'm not done yet with her either. I've got two more in the Lakeshore Chronicles to read and the second book in the Calhoun Chronicles ready plus a few more I've got my eye on. Wanna hear the crazy part? I'm not hating them. Susan Wiggs is a gifted writer; her books are touching and evocative even if they tend to turn a family-oriented series into a saga and as a result, make them heavy on the drama and pathos, almost to the point of melodrama but not to the level of a soap opera. For some particular reason, I've felt the need to collect her books as badly as I would Timothy Zahn's and talk about the pinnacle of geekdom - his sci-fi novels are based on the continuation of the Star Wars trilogy beyond Return of the Jedi. (We can definitely blame that one on a high school crush.) I'm not sure what made me start them in the first place.

Anyway...These Susan Wiggs books have been entertaining enough to keep my attention this long and yes, I remember recently writing about how I don't read many chapters in a series like this back-to-back. I can't really explain it. The highest grade I have given one of her books was A-, which is obviously a fantastic grade, and it wasn't a contemporary romance in the Lakeshore series but a historical one, The Charm School. Most of them have been graded B, some B-.

For a change of pace, I tried Kat Martin's Reese's Bride. I had read the first in this trilogy, Royal's Bride, though now I have no idea of the troubles of the lovers in it or how they got together in the end. Reese's Bride and Rule's Bride had both recently fallen into my lap so I figured I'd finish that series off and hand them over to others. Er, not exactly. 

Reese's Bride is about the second brother in the family, the second son of a duke who leaves the woman he loves with a promise to return and marry after he chases down the French on the continent for a while. Well, shortly after he leaves his lady love gets married to another man. Reese is so angry that he calls her a whore and reinlists or whatever, gets injured years later, and returns home to live in the same village as her, now a widow, and her son. Ok. The plot itself wasn't the problem. It's not very original, but not insurmountable. My problem came with Reese not considering that he may not be the only injured party and assuming too much. His former lady love is also guilty of keeping secrets and of being desperate enough to turning to him when she needed help. Again, not original. Before the middle of the book, they had married (his idea) and I knew where it was going and just wasn't interested in seeing what happened. Reese's Bride is far from a wallbanger but I didn't find it worth finishing. Sorry Ms. Martin. I have liked other books you've written but not this one and I doubt I'll be getting into Rule's Bride either.

I know all this makes me sound like a total book snob and okay, I am one, but I think my problem is just that these books should be too old for me, like the ones that my best friend's mom read while we were kids. And yet, I'm loving them. So today I've returned to Susan Wiggs but I hope I'm still holding onto my street cred since I recently read Carolyn Crane's Mind Games (finally). Today I finally got The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson from the library and that helps too. Pray for me, people, that I can kick this addiction of mine. Well, not totally. Just the Susan Wiggs books. And maybe the Timothy Zahn stuff too.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What Kind of Reader Are You? (part 2)

This week's discussion: the buying of books. Who, Where, When, Why & How?

I buy books everywhere. The supermarket, the library, actual bookstores, Goodwill and The Salvation Army, the internet, Walmart, and Target. I love book sales too. If I see books for sale somewhere, you can bet I'll be checking them out. If I go somewhere new to me, I have to check out the local B&N. It doesn't matter that they are all homogenized and carbon copies of what I'm familiar with - I have to check them out. I can't wait to go back to The Strand in NYC later this year and plan to have a good long list burning a hole in my pocket. I'm addicted to trading them online and in the two years I've been trading, my book count has doubled. I'm trying to work on that.

I tend to order hardbacks online. After I let my B&N membership lapse a year plus ago, I find that it just makes more sense. I know I won't die if I don't get my hot little hands on some new hardback (it just feels that way) so I make myself wait for them. I order them from evil Amazon typically for the free shipping and cheap prices. I've been pleased with The Book Depository so far so you can be sure I'll be comparison shopping there as well. Occasionally, I will pay cover price for a hardback but it won't be at a regular chain bookstore. The other day I paid the full $25 for a gorgeous copy of Peter Pan for my nephew at an independent toy store and it was totally worth every penny.

Paperbacks are a different animal altogether. I don't usually order them online unless I can't find them locally. I'm reluctant to pay cover price for trade paperbacks; why should I pay something like double the mass media price for larger print? Granted, the covers are usually more visually appealing but I'm not buying them to look at the covers. I don't like those newer, longer versions of regular paperbacks, the ones that are several dollars more? They're supposed to be more comfortable to hold while reading but for me, it's the opposite.

Which authors do you consider to be automatic buys? I have a relatively short list of authors that I will always buy as soon as they're released (hardback and paperback) and an even shorter one that will get me in the car and on my way asap. Charlaine Harris, Ilona Andrews, Karen Chance, Meljean Brook, and Jim Butcher are in the former group. Deanna Raybourn is in the latter group. I'll even buy her new books in trade paperback size.

I don't usually buy books just to collect them. There are times, like last week when I ordered a copy of The Demon's Lexicon to keep (I got it from the library before), when I loved a book so much that I have to have my own copy and that's pretty normal. I've never been into hunting for first editions or anything like that. For me, what they look like isn't all that important as long as they're in english :)

So...How do you acquire your books?

Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin. But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him . . . forever.
This fifth book in the Vampire Academy series was much better than book four, Blood Promise. Rose is trying to move on from Dmitri with Adrian. Only makes sense, right? Boyfriend becomes a vampire = break up. They certainly aren't Buffy and Angel. Only Rose has a crazy idea that was planted in her head by her father - turning Dmitri back from vampire to dhampir. In order for her plan to work she'll need the help of Victor, Lissa's ruthless uncle. So....Road trip! Dmitri's on her tail too as promised. Rose has lots of decisions to make and life lessons to learn but none of them will be easy.

Having graduated from the academy, Rose is now a BIG GIRL and a guardian which means that Rose has to grow up and it's about time, I say. All through these books she's been determined to be Lissa's protector but in book four she ditched all that and went to Russia after Dmitri, leaving Lissa behind at school. A dedicated guardian wouldn't do that. She wouldn't call Queen Tatiana stupid to her face either. I actually like Rose; she's tenacious as a pit bull and loyal yet emotionally vulnerable and I have to remind myself that she, and all her friends, are teenagers. I don't like Lissa; she's irritating and annoying and acts more her age. Makes me wonder why Rose is so attached to her.

Mead ends this one in a heck of a cliffhanger, leaving the last book to finish the story and wrap everything up. Last Sacrifice will be out on December 7, 2010.

Review: Mind Games by Carolyn Crane


Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she's convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine's soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard's hand-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity's worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she's always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine's first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard's help, Justine has freed herself from her madness - only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone's worst fears.

I probably should have written this last night right after I finished Mind Games but I thought I might stew about it for a little while and see what happens. I knew when I bought this book that Carolyn Crane would have an interesting writing style. I usually get a chuckle or two when I read her blog, The Thrillionth Page (see blog roll at sidebar). I didn't find Mind Games to be all that funny (but there is humor) and instead an absolutely fascinating and clever book. Very freaking cool.

What an interesting concept: using your own neuroses as a weapon. Everybody has them. Everybody would be vulnerable to an attack like this. I loved how Justine struggled with the ethics of what Packard's crime-fighting team. It's certainly not a black and white issue for Justine, this tactic of ruining someone emotionally and mentally and she discovers that there is a lot of gray in between what could be considered right and wrong. 

Justine's also struggling with having two lives: one with her normal boyfriend, Cubby, and the other more exciting one that keeps her sane. Hypochondriacs aren't taken seriously and Justine's tired of having people quit her because of her obsession with the blood vessels in her brain. She's in debt from all the ER visits she makes thinking that her head is about to pop. So when Packard offers something she can't get anywhere else - peace - she swallows her pride and misgivings and joins his group but the more she discovers about Packard, the less sure she is about him. Is he good or evil? Why won't he talk about his past, even to her? Is their shared attraction and early beginnings of a relationship real or is he just using her for other reasons? Hmm.

I can't wait to see what's coming in Double Cross, book two in this trilogy. There's no description out yet but its release date is September 28, 2010.

Review: A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh

Her name is Hannah Reid. Born a commoner, she has been Duchess of Dunbarton ever since she was nineteen years old, the wife of an elderly duke to whom she has been rumored to be consistently and flagrantly unfaithful. Now the old duke is dead and, more womanly and beautiful than ever at thirty, Hannah has her freedom at last.

And she knows just what she wants to do with it. To the shock of a conventional friend, she announces her intention to take a lover — and not just any lover, but the most dangerous and delicious man in all of upper-class England: Constantine Huxtable. Constantine’s illegitimacy has denied him the title of Earl, so now he denies himself nothing . . . or so the ton would have it. Rumored to be living the free and easy life of a sensualist in his country estate, he always chooses recent widows for his short-lived affairs. Hannah will fit the bill nicely.

But once these two passionate and scandalous figures find each other, they discover that it isn’t so easy to extricate oneself from the fires of desire — without getting singed. For the duchess and the dark lord each have startling secrets to reveal, and when all is said and done, neither will be able to say which one fell in love first, who tamed whom, and who has emerged from this game of hearts with the stronger hand.
I have to say that I am relieved that Balogh has finished this miniseries. I only really liked one out of the five, At Last Comes Love, the third book. I was curious to see what would happen to Constantine not to mention the explanation of the feud between him and Elliott and why they hated each other. Well, it was pretty much what I figured (the explanation). I liked Hannah though. I liked her determination and spunk and she and Con made a good couple. Balogh gave everyone their happily ever after as expected and all that. Her books are so predictable in that fashion that sometimes I wonder why I still read them. Balogh doesn't have any new series listed in the upcoming section of her website, just several reprints of older books.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Play Ball!

I'm a football fan. I don't usually follow baseball that much but when my husband announced that we would be going to see a Washington Nationals game within the next month it put me in the frame of mind to knock out all the baseball romances I had laying around. I ended up reading six of them in a 2-3 day span and had a lot of fun with them. 

I started with the Richmond Rogues series by Kate Angell. Squeeze Play, Curveball, Strike Zone, and Sliding Home all follow players in the MLB made up team from Richmond. Rogues was the perfect name for these guys - they're cocky and absolutely full of themselves but also totally cute and irresistible. Not to mention hot. As in smokin'. Funny too. My favorite book was Curveball, a book that is split into three stories about the Bat Pack, a trio of guys who got themselves put on suspension for fighting on the field. "Psycho" falls for a woman who appears on the doorstep of his historical landmark house to offer her decorating skills. "Chaser" discovers that he's been in love forever with his best friend, Jen, who is also the girl next door. And "Romeo" finally finds the woman who he can't live without but she also happens to the only one he's never been able to charm. (Psycho was my favorite.) These quick reads are filled with sexual innuendo and are very tongue-in-cheek but still manage to be sweet at the same time.

To contrast, Jill Shalvis's Pacific Heat team is a little more serious but no less enjoyable. Double Play is about the relationship between the Heat's pitcher, Pace Martin, and a reporter who always gets her story, Holly Hutchins. Pace and Holly become wrapped up in a scandal involving steroids and banned substances which doesn't do good things for the budding romance they share. Slow Heat pairs up Samantha McNead, publicist for the Heat, with Wade O'Riley, the Heat's catcher. Samantha's family owns the Heat and pushes her into a fake public relationship with Wade to help diffuse some unflattering attention involving a pregnant stalker. Samantha and Wade have a history and lots of chemistry, which makes for a sticky situation. Both Double Play and Slow Heat are classic Jill Shalvis and I am definitely looking forward to the next book, out probably next year. Kate Angell's next Richmond Rogues book, Sweet Spot, will be out in October 2010.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rant! Rant!

I live in a fairly rural area that doesn't pay much attention to cultural-type things and when Barnes & Noble deigned to put one of their little stores down here, it ran all the other bookstores in town out of business. It's amazing what Starbucks and Wi-Fi will do, isn't it? I admit I was happy that the chain bookstore was coming to town but my experience there today, six plus years later, may just keep me out of the place from now on.

I went there today on a mission for three books: Open Country by Kaki Warner, Red Demon by Deidre Knight, and Dreamveil by Lynn Viehl. Today is Wednesday, the day after Tuesday and also the DAY AFTER all three of these books were released. According to B&N's website, ALL THREE were IN STOCK at that particular store. So I go there today, after noon, thinking that yeah, I'll be paying more for them than I would have liked but at least I'll have them. NOT! Not one of them were on the shelves. They hadn't even made room for them yet! I could understand it, maybe, if they had sold out of them as unlikely as it would seem but no. Keep in mind that this was the same store where they hadn't heard of Ilona Andrews. Do they not even bother to train their employees? Are they not supposed to have at least some knowledge of books in general? What about the popular names in each genre? If I was someone who worked in a bookstore such at this one and a customer approached me about a particular author I would bet that seven or eight times out of ten I would be able to point them in the right direction without having to resort to looking them up on the computer. I always assumed that only people who loved books would bother to work at bookstores or libraries. *snort* Shows how much I know.

I was so angry after I had given up my search in that stupid store and rest assured, I looked EVERYWHERE, I just left. I'm not one to ask for help on a good day but today I just thought I'll be DAMNED before I ask anyone of those book-ignorant people in there why they hadn't bothered to stock their shelves this week. I'll tell you what the priority was - setting up that big-ass display for the nook right smack dab in the way when you walk in the front door of the store. They had two people working on it! Thanks, Barnes & Noble, for showing me just how much a book-reading consumer means to you.

I actually found one of the three books at Wal-Mart, a place I did NOT want to go today. I came home and promptly ordered the books I missed out on from The Book Depository. Not only did I pay less than I would have here in America but they don't charge for shipping AND I got a copy of The Demon's Lexicon and Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready for less than what amazon was charging. SO THERE! And guess what else - no nook for me! I would rather pay double and get an iPad. End rant.

Review: Risk No Secrets by Cindy Gerard

Twelve years of chasing bad guys didn’t erase beautiful Sophie Baylor from Wyatt Savage’s memory. If he had another chance, he’d never let her leave. So when she tracks him down from El Salvador and begs for help, he doesn’t ask questions—he just goes.
Sophie is grateful her daughter survived a kidnapping attempt, but she won’t forgive herself until the girl who was mistakenly abducted is safe. Wyatt is the only man brave enough to take on the mysterious terrorists behind the crime—and the one irresistible man she wishes she had never let go.
Sophie knows Central America’s steamy jungles and sticky politics better than anyone. Yet she refuses to hide in fear. Then she becomes the enemy’s number one target. Wyatt lost her once, and he won’t lose her again—even if he has to fight, kill, or die to save her.
This is the 5th book in the Black Ops Inc. series. If you are a Cindy Gerard fan, you will enjoy this book. Wyatt and Sophie weren’t my favorite characters in this series but I thought Ms. Gerard did her usual impeccable job of fleshing out their characters. IMHO Wyatt and Sophie seemed a little...too nice? Too honorable? Too perfect? Perhaps I just like my heroes and heroines to be a bit edgier. That being said, the story itself rocks. The first chapter starts out with a young girl getting kidnapped from the school that Sophie runs in El Salvador and it’s non-stop action from there. The ending is just plain awesome but you won’t get any spoilers from me. Just go out and buy a copy and read it. You won’t regret it.

I sure enjoyed catching up with Gabe, Johnny, Luke, Joe, Nate, Rafe and Sam. I missed you guys. Luke, I sure hope you get your story next. I can’t wait to find out who Ms. Gerard has picked out for you. I give it an A-.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What Kind of Reader Are You?

So lately I've been reading books of two particular genres: contemporary baseball romances and historical romances set in Britain. What a pair, eh? The mystical force that picks what I read must be PMSing this week. It's weird how that works, choosing what to read next. It's unpredictable and often nonsensical, hence the baseball and regency romances. I like to stand in front of my bookshelves and wait for something to stick out and grab my attention, much like grazing in the kitchen and staring into the fridge.

And then, the reading. My favorite part. I love the feel of a book in my hands and how I lose myself in the pages, especially when I surface from the story and regain consciousness of my surroundings. I am always amazed how wrapped up I get in whatever story I'm in. I recently borrowed my cousin's Sony eReader to take it for a test drive since my husband let me know that I could possibly expect a nook for Christmas this year and have read Melissa Marr's "Stopping Time", parts one and two. I loved the story, a revisiting of the love triangle of Irial, Leslie, and Niall from Ink Exchange but I wasn't enamored of the little machine. The eReader itself is nothing special with a backlight that illuminates from the sides and pages that turn a little slower than I'd like. Maybe I should try a whole book with the eReader and see what happens. 

And now to the point of this post (finally). Jane and I want to know HOW you book lovers read. This week's topic: SERIES. Are you more of a "straight on through or bust" type or a "make it last" type - once you read the first book in a series do you then have to read the rest right away or do you like to take your time and divvy them out piecemeal? 

For me, it depends on the series. If the individual books are lengthy, I'll space them out (even if they're awesome) so it doesn't feel like I'm reading one loooooong book. If they're shorter and irresistible then I'll gobble them all up one after another. I've referred to myself in the past as a serial series separator, an obviously made-up term that I think is pretty accurate for my situation - I'm notorious (in my own little world anyway) for reading the first in a series, hunting down the rest with an almost unhealthy obsession, and then leaving them to languish on the shelf for months. They sometimes sit so long that when I go back to see if I feel like reading them and read the blurbs on the back covers or whatever I wonder what made me so fanatical about collecting them.

Next time we'll discuss the buying aspect of books. In the mean time, leave a comment about how you read. Or you could just tell me I'm one crazy bookworm :)