Tuesday, August 31, 2010

500 Follower Contest Winner!!!

I am finally able to announce the winner of my 500 Follower Contest, but first I just want to say thank you to everyone who have made my blog such a success.  I am still in shock and amazement over everything that has happened the past few months and I appreciate so much the contributions and comments that everyone has made.  Thank you everyone!!  This book blogging community is amazing!

Anyways, on to the winner, who will be able to choose books up to $25 CAN from The Book Depository.  The winner is:

Liz. R. from Planet Print

Congratulations!  I will be sending you an email shortly confirming your mailing address as well as your book choice(s).  And thank you to everyone who entered!

Keep an eye out for future contests, there will be a lot going on in the next few months - Blog Fest and Blogmania - to name a few!

Happy reading everyone!

Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour

Author Scott Nicholson and Amazon are giving away two Kindles as part of his fall book blog tour from September through November, including a stop here at Curling Up By The Fire on Sept. 24. A Kindle DX will be given away through the participating blogs, and a Kindle 3 will be given away through the tour newsletter. A Pandora's Box of free ebooks will be given away through Nicholson's "hauntedcomputer" Twitter account.

"The digital era coincides with Act II of my career," Nicholson said. "The Kindle has broadened many people's horizons and given readers more power than ever, and this is an opportunity to celebrate them and the book bloggers who spread the word."

Nicholson is author of 12 novels and five story collections, as well as four comics series and six screenplays. His paranormal thrillers The Red Church, Drummer Boy and Speed Dating with the Dead have all hit #1 in the Kindle "Ghosts" category, and his new releases are the sci-fi thriller Forever Never Ends and the multiple-personality romp As I Die Lying.

As a bonus, if Nicholson hits the Top 100 in the U.S. or U.K. Kindle Store during the tour between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, he will give away an extra Kindle 3 through the blogs. Sign up for the newsletter at scottsinnercircle-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to get daily links to the participating blogs. Winners will be selected at the Watauga County (NC) Public Library in December. No purchase necessary, and the contest is international. Co-sponsored by Kindle Nation Daily and Dellaster Design. Details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/.

Teaser Tuesday - Velocity by Alan Jacobson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B @ Should Be Reading.  All you have to do is grab a book you are reading, open to a random page, and share two teaser sentences.  Be careful not to include any spoilers for those who are interested in reading your book.

Velocity by Alan Jacobson

I am almost finished this book and it has been quite a journey, a novel riddled with twists and turns and complications.   I have really enjoyed the scenes in Washington, DC, and surrounding area, having recently visited. 

Here is my teaser: 

"You know who this is, Agent Vail.  I thought you should know that by now, your friend is dead.  Don't ask how I know this because I'll never tell you and you'll never find out."  p173

What teaser do you want to share?

Upcoming Releases - August 30 - September 5 (Part 1)

I haven't done this feature in several weeks as I've been away on holidays with limited computer access, so I thought it was time to get back into the swing of things and see what books being released this week I would love to get my hands on.  There are so many great books that I actually didn't get past August 31st for this post, so I decided to separate it into two separate posts for this week.  Take a look:

Halo (Book 1)
by Alexandra Ardonetto
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Three angels are sent down to bring good to the world: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenaged girl who is the least experienced of the trio.  But she is the most human, and when she is romantically drawn to a mortal boy, the angels fear she will not be strong enough to save anyone - especially herself - from the Dark Forces.
Is love a great enough power against evil?

by Kiersten White
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices, Book 1)
by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Tessa Gray descends into Victoria London's dark underworld to search for her missing brother, with the mysterious Shadowhunters as her only allies.

by Kelly Creagh
Release Date: August 31, 2010

When a project pairs Isobel and Varen together, Isobel finds herself steadily swept into Varen's world, one that he has created in his notebook and in his mind, one where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.  Isobel slowly learns that dreams can be much more powerful that she'd ever expected, and that pain and despair come in all sorts of shades.

When Isobel has a single chance to rescue Varen from the shadows of his own nightmares, will she be able to save him - and herself?

The Haunted (The Hollow, Book 2)
by Jessica Verday
Release Date: August 31, 2010

After a summer spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with, Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, ready to leave the ghosts of her past behind.  She throws herself into her schoolwork, her perfume-making, and her friendship with Ben, who just might be her ticket to getting over Caspian.

But Abbey can never get over Caspian, and Caspian must return to her side, for Caspian is a shade, and Abbey is his destiny.  They are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleepy Hollow, and to the famous legend that binds their fates - a legend whose dark truths they are only beginning to guess...

The Lucifer Code (Thomas Lourds Series,
Book 2)
by Charles Brokaw
Release Date: August 31, 2010

A new novel that pitts Thomas Lourds against new enemies and has him dodging spies, crooks, and bullets. Can Thomas and his allies nagivate the secrets hidden in ancient Istanbul's most secret depths before they are killed?  Or will they be too late to stop the workings of the Devil himself before he can bring the world down around him?

The Candidates (Delcroix Academy, Book 1)
by Inara Scott
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Dancia has a 'gift' and she's hoping the recruiters at Delcrois Academy can teach her how to use it properly...But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.

The Julian Game
by Adele Griffin
Release Date: August 31, 2010

This riveting novel explores the issues of generation Facebook; the desire to be someone else, real versus online friends, and the pitfalls and fallouts of posting your personal life online for all the world to judge.

Chosen (Anna Strong Chronicles, Book 6)
by Jeanne C. Stein
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Anna's primitive vampire instincts are getting harder to control.  And a new enemy wants to take advantage of that fact, for Anna has been chosen to shape the destiny of all vampires - and all humans.

Queen of Shadows (Shadow World, Book 1)
by Dianne Sylvan
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Overwhelmed by her uncanny ability to manipulate people's emotions through her music, Miranda Grey comes to the attention of vampire lord David Soloman.  Believing he can help bring her magic under control, David discovers that Miranda's powers may affect the vampire world too...
Monday, August 30, 2010

Blogmania Sponsor: Flash Forward Photography

I would like to introduce another of my Blogmania sponsors, Flash Forward Photography.  Lauren has a business degree from Belmont University where she studied music business, and Flash Forward Photography is a reflection of her passion for music, nature, animals, and traveling. 

Flash Forward Photography

All of her items can be shipped internationally, and are shipped flat in a protective sleeve to protect the print from being damaged or scratched in any way.   Prints have different background paper, so be sure to check each item as they are all different.  If you prefer a certain type of paper, Lauren does accept custom orders and custom sizes.

You can find Lauren and Flash Forward Photography on:

BLOGMANIA TEASER:  One of my lucky readers will win a prize from Flash Forward Photography.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's Monday!!! What Are You Reading?

Sheila @ Book Journey hosts this wonderful weekly meme where we share the books we have read in the past week, the books we are currently reading, and the books we are looking forward to reading in the upcoming week.  It's a great way to share your love of reading with a great community of book bloggers and maybe see a few books/authors that you didn't know existed.

It's been a few weeks since I've participated in this meme as I've been on holidays and then the week leading up to getting two kids ready for a three-week trip to the United States and the week afterwards is just as busy.  But for the first time, instead of driving around Washington, DC, as per usual, we actually spent a couple of days there and I was so excited.  I'm always like that though and as I was driving in Washington at the time, I probably should not have taken my hands off the wheel to point at the Pentagon in childish excitement as that is a death wish, especially on a Friday afternoon.  But I couldn't help myself!!!!!

I'm currently reading Velocity by Alan Jacobson and part of the story takes place in Washington and for the first time, I could actually picture how it all looks instead of from movies or documentaries.

Karen Vail, the main character in this novel, rushes about Washington, looking for clues for her case, and of course ends up at Quantico and the Pentagon and Capitol Hill, all places I can finally envision.  I love it!!!

Anyways, we had a great time on our trip and I managed to get a lot of reading done, far more than when I was at home.  Myrtle Beach is a great place to relax and read, and I certainly enjoyed sitting by the pool, watching my kids swim, and reading a great book. 

Books I Read Last Week:

Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony - I love dystopian literature.  A good young adult novel for those who love the dystopian genre.

The Secret of Happiness by Demosthenes Armeniades - I loved this book and was caught off guard by the twists and turns and quirky characters.  It was definitely not what I was expecting.

Damaged by Pamela Callow - A legal thriller that had a lot of interesting characters, set in Halifax.  I'm not really a huge fan of legal thrillers, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and can't wait until her next book is published in January.

The Poet Prince (Book 3, The Magdalene Line) - Not as good as the first two books, but still interesting.  Although touted as a trilogy, the ending definitely suggests another book may be in the works.  This book was somewhat disconnected in its storytelling, and I didn't enjoy it as much as the other two.

Books I Am Currently Reading:

April & Oliver by Tess Callaghan

Velocity by Alan Jacobson - I am almost finished, and I am having difficulty putting this one down.

The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson

Books I Am Planning to Read:

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Jealousy by Lili St. Crow

It's been an interesting few weeks and there is a lot to do in the next few months.  I have some product reviews coming up, some for Blogmania and some on my own as I have been approached by CSN Stores and by other companies to review some products.  It's exciting and busy too!!!  There are a few tours coming up in September and October and it's also back to work time. 

What are you reading?  And do you have any exciting projects lined up for fall?

Happy Reading Everyone!!!!

Review: Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony

Restoring Harmony
by Joelle Anthony
Release Date: May 13, 2010
2010 G.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN: 978-0-399-25281-5
Hardcover Edition; 320 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Source: Review Copy from Penguin

4 / 5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has only even known a life where she grows her own food, depends on solar panels for electricity, and relies on horse-drawn wagons and bicycles for transportation.  Since the Collapse of 2031, her family has fared better than most, thriving on their isolated farming island in Canada - but Molly knows worldwide devastation lurks just beyond the shores of her home.

When calamity strikes all at once, Molly is forced to leave the comfort of the island for the very first time, embarking on an impossible rescue mission in the U.S.  The year is 2041.  The oil has almost run out, poverty and crime are rampant, and food is in short supply.  Armed with only her ingenuity and sheer farming know-how, Molly braves a chaotic world where people are hungry and desperate, and no one is as they seem.  Luckily, there's a handsome stranger who's willing to help.

My Thoughts
Since being introduced to The Chysalids as a thirteen-year-old by a very astute teacher, I have loved dystopian literature.  While I wouldn't put Restoring Harmony on the same level as The Chrysalids, it was still certainly a riveting and entertaining story that gave me quite a bit to think about in terms of the future and what it could possibly hold for us as human beings. 

As a sixteen-year-old girl out of her depth and her comfort zone for the first time in her life, Molly was forced to deal with situations with which she was completely unfamiliar.  When she left the island, she was somewhat naive and young, but her journey changed her and towards the end we saw a young woman who was confident and capable; I enjoyed following her journey and watching her character grow and develop and make decisions for herself and her family.  She was an interesting character in whom I could easily identify.  I also liked how she turned to music, her fiddle Jewels was her most-prized possession, in order to soothe the soul and the scene when she finds her grandfather playing the grand piano and they share a quiet moment together with their music is one of my favourites in the novel. 

The descriptions of the future are somewhat disquieting and it certainly makes you think about what could happen if we do ever run out of oil.  They are definitely not meant to put you at ease, but to make you think and to make you squirm and to haunt you somewhat about the possibilities of a very different future from what we now have.  I've felt for years that we do not give our farmers enough credit for what they do, and this book has given me more of an appreciation for farming life and for what a lot of us have lost.  I have made it my goal to learn more about gardening and planting;  I have always wanted to have a big vegetable garden so maybe it's time to really learn as those are skills that would never go to waste.  And if it helps in a future like this one that could possibly happen...well, at least I wouldn't starve.  My, that was gloomy!!

The plot had some interesting moments in it where I was completely caught up in the story, but there were also times where I was not sure where the author was going with her ideas and some of it seemed disconnected.  There was definitely a little bit of everything in this novel though, intrigue, romance, and suspense.  I found the scenes towards the end very interesting as they entered Canada, but as a skeptic, I couldn't imagine it would be that easy, especially in those times, and especially with the borders closed.  And yet, Anthony writes in such a way that you become attached to the characters and you want them to succeed.

Anthony has given us a beautiful dystopian world that is created around family, love, courage, and hope.  We are introduced to a variety of interesting and quirky characters that make this novel  fascinating and fun, and if you are looking for some adventure and some intrigue, you will find some of that in here, too.  I am definitely looking forward to reading more novels from this author.
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review: The Secret of Happiness by Demosthenes Armeniades

The Secret (of Happiness): An Offbeat Fairytale-Thriller
by Demosthenes Armeniades
Release Date: July 1st, 2010
2010 Tinseltown Press
ISBN: 978-0-9843431-0-2
Softcover Edition; 466 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

5 / 5 Stars

Max the billionaire invited David to his private island where whiz kid golden boys zip around the globe in private jets making millions and living the dream.  But all may not be as golden as it seems...Max wants happiness.  David wants his girlfriend back.  Marcie wants to avoid getting fired from her cashier job at Wal-Mart.  And the guru knows the answers, or does he?  Follow them on a wild roller coaster ride through offshore paradises, out to space, over the Himalayas, across the Russian tundra and through an evolutionary quantum shift to a final showdown in the Texas desert. 

My Thoughts
When I first started reading The Secret of Happiness, I really did not know what to expect.  The principal character, David Finnegan, is approached by a man and offered the job of a lifetime on a dream island, making more money than he ever expected, and on impulse, he accepts.  Unfortunately, he forgot to consult his long-time girlfriend, Dot, who is not exactly pleased with his decision.  David then settles in as the new "golden boy" who makes his boss millions of dollars on his first day of work.  And I thought the novel would be about this group of whizzes who spend their time making money, come up against a few obstacles (such as running for their lives as they somehow broke the law, or someone is after them), and they would spend the rest of the book trying to save themselves.  Boy, was I ever wrong!!!!  The book was, and not very simply either, about finding the key to one's happiness in life.

The plot was complex, thrilling, full of adventures, twists, and turns, where I didn't know what was going to happen from one event to another.  It was unpredictable and exciting.  And I enjoyed it tremendously as it was definitely not what I was expecting.  I love it when a plot can take something so simple and turn it into something so complex, yet in the end, the message was so clear. 

David is such a likeable guy, really down-to-earth, which is probably why Max, who is suffering from the loneliness of a lack of friends and a dissolving marriage, asks David to help him find the secret to happiness.  David agrees to help Max, but nothing works, and as he is getting desperate as his job is on the line, he stumbles upon a corrupt lawyer who can help him, and suddenly everything goes badly for Max.  I spent a large part of the book hoping David was still a good guy, and still doing his job as he is such an interesting and likeable character.   In fact, all of the characters in this book were fun and enjoyable to read about, all with interesting personalities and quirks. 

I really enjoyed reading The Secret of Happiness and it was hard to put down.  Mr. Armeniades weaves a fascinating story about life and the secret to living life to the fullest and how money is not the most important thing in the world.  It is very philosophical and really makes you think about your own life and what you are doing to make yourself and others happy.  I would love to read more of Mr. Armeniades' work in the future.

I Love CSN Stores!!!!

CSN Stores has over 200+ stores featured in one incredible shopping experience.  You can find dutch ovens, bookcases (who doesn't need more of these?), outdoor furniture, dinnerware sets, art decor, bedroom furniture, office furniture, and pretty much anything else for which you are looking.  They have a huge variety of products listed in every category and because the products fall within such a great price range, you have the flexibility to choose any price range within your means.

The customer service is very reliable, and I love the fact that most of the products ship to where I live.  I have been given another opportunity to choose a product for review from CSN Stores, and I am looking forward to searching through their great array of products.  Look for my review coming soon!!!
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Damaged by Pamela Callow

by Pamela Callow
Release Date: June 1st, 2010\
2010 Mira Books
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2750-9
Trade Paperback: 464 Pages
Genre: Thriller
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Haunted by the death of her sister and wounded by her ex-fiance's accusations, Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm.  When the grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it's just another custody case.  But then the teen is brutally murdered.  And it isn't only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl's death.

Put on notice by Randall Barrett, the firm's charismatic managing partner, Kate must fight for her career, for her reputation - and for redemption.  Unwilling to live with the damage she may have caused, Kate pursues the case on her own and unearths some chillings facts.  Facts that lead straight to the heart of a legal conspiracy.  Facts that lead Kate directly into the surgically skilled hands of the Body Butcher.

My Thoughts
A number of years ago, I went through a phase where I read legal thrillers to the point of obsessiveness and for quite a while now I have tended to avoid them like the plague.  Lately though, I have started to venture back into this genre, and Pamela Callow's Damaged was a great one in which to re-immerse myself.   There was intrigue, suspense, romance, thrills, and chills, and I was hooked right from the beginning. 

Kate Lange is a fascinating character, full of depth and layers that made her really interesting.  I connected completely with her character and felt compassion and empathy for everything she went through, often feeling like I was right there with her, sharing her emotions with her.  I looked forward to learning about her life and her past which was given to readers in pieces at a time, making you want to learn more.  She is a complex, courageous, gutsy heroine, someone to admire and cheer for as she makes her journey through life.

The plot itself was somewhat predictable and formulaic, but so well-written that it didn't seem to matter very much.  The quirky characters more than made up for the lack of orginality in the plot and I really enjoyed the witty dialogue and interactions amongst them all.  It was quite often fun to read, even when suspenseful, and it kept me reading long past when I should have put it down for the night.  I particularly liked the elderly sisters Enid and Muriel, whom I hope have a story to tell in future books as they were so interesting and funny.  I would also love to learn more about the relationship between Ethan Drake and Randall Barrett as we didn't learn nearly enough about these two principal characters in this novel.  There were a lot of hints as to their relationship differences, but nothing concrete was given, and I hope that changes in the future.

I really enjoyed Damaged, the first book in a thriller series, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading thrillers and/or mysteries.  I am looking forward to reading Indefensible, the next book in the series, releasing January 2011.

Website - Pamela Callow

Buy at Book Depository - Damaged

The Golden Mean Banned on Canadian Ferryboat

A ferry service, owned by British Columbia Ferries and connecting Canada's Pacific islands to the mainland, has banned The Golden Mean because a naked boy astride a white horse adorns the front cover.  It has drawn worldwide speculation and attention, but the reasons given are because the ferries are family-oriented and children frequent the gift shops and might see the cover of the book.

The Golden Mean won the 2009 Rogers Writers Trust first prize and was a finalist for the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award.

What do you think?

Review: The Poet Prince by Kathleen McGowan

The Poet Prince (Book 3, The Magdalene Line)
by Kathleen McGowan
Release Date: May 25, 2010
2010 Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9998-5
Hardcover Edition; 407 Pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Worldwide controversy surrounds Maureen Paschal as she promotes her new bestseller - the explosive account of her discovery of a gospel written in Jesus' own hand.  But a scandalous headline about her lover, Berenger Sinclair, shatters Maureen's plans and sends her to Florence.  In Tuscany, Maureen and Berenger seek out their spiritual teacher Destino, who insists the besieged couple study one of history's great Poet Princes: Lorenzo de' Medici, the godfather of the Italian Renaissance.  Berenger is a Poet Prince of the ancient bloodline prophecy, and even across the centuries, his fate is intertwined with Lorenzo de' Medici's.  Berenger must uncover the heretical secrets of the Medici family - and the shocking truth behind the birth of the Renaissance - if he is to fulfill his own destiny.  These heretical secrets were hidden for a reason, and there are those who would stop at nothing to prevent Berenger's assumption of his rightful role.

My Thoughts
I thoroughly enjoyed The Expected One and The Book of Love, the first two books of the series, and was thrilled when the third book in this series was published.  That it was an interesting read is beyond doubt, but to say I was disappointed, in comparison to the first two novels, is without question.

All of the elements were definitely in place:  there were heretical secrets, extremely interesting historical characters, a vibrantly written historical past and culture, elements of mystery, intrigue, and adventure, and romance.   I enjoyed learning and reading about the history of the Renaissance and about Lorenzo de' Medici, Botticelli, da Vinci, Savonarola, Michelangelo, and other assorted characters during this time period. As usual, I am always fascinated to learn more about those people we hear so much about, but don't always know so much about, except maybe through their work or their great deeds (or not so great deeds).  To imagine what drove these people, what their passions were, is an amazing thing, even if we will never really know for certain.

Unfortunately, I found the writing in this novel didn't flow smoothly and I found the storyline itself somewhat disconnected, especially in comparison with the first two novels.  I couldn't seem to connect very well with the characters and didn't feel the usual compassion or empathy I felt in the earlier novels, except maybe in the scene about Felicity at the beginning of the novel.  For those who follow Saint Felicity, I apologize, but I have never been one of her followers, and the scene at the beginning of this novel certainly didn't help in that respect.  I personally think the author was trying too hard to give us the facts that she kind of forgot about the story, which is a shame as the characters appeared disconnected from each other and the story seemed rather thin.  I had a hard time trying to figure out exactly who the bad guys were in this one

Although the series was orignally presented as a trilogy, the events towards the end of the novel give me dim hope that perhaps Ms. McGowan is intending to write a fourth book in the series.  I am really hoping she will continue the series, but I seriously hope the fourth book will return to the magic and mystery of the first two books in the series.  Meanwhile, enjoy this book as a 'beach' book for its own sake, enjoy the beautiful descriptions of the art and magic of the Renaissance world of which Ms. McGowan is obviously so very passionate, enjoy the historical descriptions of the Medici family and their world, but it is definitely the weakest novel of the series so far.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm Back!!!!!

It's Good to Travel, But It's Good to Be Home Too!!!

I am finally home after spending three weeks in the United States on holidays.  We had a great time travelling around various states and visiting such places as the Kennedy Space Centre (my son and daughter now have ambitions to become astronauts), Walt Disney World, Gettysburg, Myrtle Beach (I have ambitions to do nothing but relax), Charleston, Washington DC, Savannah and other places.  I absolutely love to travel and can never get enough.  One of our goals as a family is to visit every state in the United States and every province in Canada.  We have this big map posted in our house where we colour the places we have visited and put tacks in the cities in which we have stayed; it's so motivational to see the places I read about all the time.  I can now envision how the Pentagon really looks as well as the J. Edgar Hoover Building, places I read about so often in thriller novels.  I was so excited I almost stopped paying attention to the road, not a good idea when driving in downtown Washington (and anyone who has been there will understand exactly what I am talking about).

I will post more about my holidays and the many reviews I have in the next few days.  As always, after being away, I am glad to be home!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, where we readers anxiously waiting upcoming releases.  It is a great way to discover new books and authors on other blogs and to discover the subject we love best, books.

Devoured (Hatton and Roumonde,
Book 1)
by D.E. Meredith
Release Date: October 26, 2010

London in 1856 is gripped by a frightening obssession.  The specimen collecting craze is growing, and discoveries in far-off jungles are reshaping the known world in terrible and unimaginable ways.  The new theories of evolution threaten to disrupt the fragile balance of power that keeps the sprawling city in chaotic order - a distruption that many would do about anything to prevent.

When the glamorous Lady Bessingham is found murdered in her bedroom, surrounded by her vast collections of fossils and tribal masks, Hatton and Roumonde are called in to examine the crime scene - and the body.  In the new and suspicious world of forensics and autopsy examinations, Hatton and Roumonde are the best.  In their efforts to help the infamous Inspector Adams track down the Lady's killer, Hatton and Roumonde uncover a trail of murders all connected to a packed of seditious letters that, if published, would change the face of society and religion irrevocably.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

WOW is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine which focusses on books that we readers can't wait to see published.  Here are a couple I can't wait to read:

The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff
Release Date: September 21, 2010

Mackie Doyle is not one of us.  Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess.  He is a Replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago.  Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or to spend time with his crush, Tate.  But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem.  He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Hearstone (Shardlake, Book 5)
by C.J. Sansom
Release Date: September 28, 2010

Summer, 1545.  England is at war.  Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel.  As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen.  The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. 

Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr.  Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' commited against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant journey to Portsmouth.  Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to be a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam.  The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Emily's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. 
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine.  It takes a look at those books we are looking forward to seeing published and can't wait to read.  It's also a great way to see what other books other readers have discovered in the publishing world we may not have seen or heard about.

Reckless (Reckless, Book 1)
by Cornelia Funke
Release Date: September 6, 2010

For years, Jacob Reckless has been secretly disappearing to another world, a world behind a mirror, a world for which his father abandoned his family.  The mirror world is Jacob's escape from reality.  It's a place for treasure hunts and magnificent quests.  A world where witches haunt the forests and giants and dwarfs roam.  A world locked in a deadly war.

Jacob's secret seems safe, until one day his younger brother Will follows him, with disastrous consequence.  Faced with a curse that is quickly turning Will to stone, the Reckless brothers are thrust into a race against time to find a cure before Will is lost forever.

Among The Ghosts
by Amber Bensen
Release Date: August 31st, 2010

According to the author's own words, this novel is a "spooky boarding school / cool girl heroine / ghost story."
Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm Off to See the Wizard...well, Mickey!!!

Hello everyone!  I am going to be MIA the next several weeks with very limited computer access (I'll only be checking my email every couple of days or it gets completely out of hand and that's pretty much it) as I am headed to the sunny south for a few weeks of heavenly relaxation before heading back to work.  In fact, I am going to Walt Disney World for the first time ever, and I think my husband is afraid I am going to embarrass him silly while I am there as I am more excited than the kiddies.  Hello, dearest hubby, but Belle is my heroine!!!!

We are driving down and leave tonight.  I can't wait as I love driving through the mountains of West Virginia.  And as long as the kids have their DVD player working and their Nintendo DS's, we're good to go.  So different from the days when I was their age.

I just want to wish everyone a safe and healthy August, and I'll be back in a few weeks!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey, Book 1)
by Deanna Raybourn
2007 Mira Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2410-2
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2410-9
Hardcover Edition; 511 Pages
Genre: Historical Suspense / Mystery
Source: Local Library

5 / 5 Stars

"Let them be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave." These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer.  Before he can show themto Nicholas Brisbane, the private enquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise.  Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

My Thoughts
I was completely hooked by this author right from the beginning of this story until the very end.  To say it was completely different from what I was expecting is an understatement, but it ended up being so much better than that.  Rather than being a cliched mystery novel, where the entire novel revolves around the 'whodunit' aspect, the author painstakingly takes the reader on a young widow's journey as she opens her eyes to life and its existence that surrounds her, but she never really truly saw until the moment her husband was murdered.

The characters in this novel were strong, unique, and full of charm and intrigues of their own.  While Julia herself is portrayed as a wife, a sister, and a daughter, someone meek and who has never done anything 'colourful', the characters surrounding her are full of life and character.  They were full of surprises and I never grew tired of them or of learning more about them; in fact, I didn't learn enough about them.  As the mystery evolves, Julia is forced into making more agressive decisions, to the relief of her family, and comes out of her shell, but at the same time, has a few hard lessons to learn about life and what it entails.  She learns she has lived in a bubble for most of her life and is determined to open her eyes and see more of the world.  Nicholas Brisbane, who works with her as her 'investigative' partner, is a brooding dark character, with a mysterious past, who intrigues Julia, and me too.  I was fascinated by his secretive qualities and the bits and pieces we were given of his life.

What makes this novel so enjoyable is not the 'mystery' itself, but the foibles of the characters and the witty dialogue that pokes fun at the upper classes during this time period.  At the same time, the author also explores the issues of poverty, infidelity, prejudice, widowhood, and servitude - all with the aim of satirizing those with too much money on their hands who do not pay attention to those who are really in need.  Julie herself realizes how good she has it when she visits different people in her quest for the murdered, and wonders if she would have survived after Edward's death if he had not left her an inheritance.  She also questions the upper classes and their wealth, commenting on how easily they gain their things in life, without really appreciating what they truly have, or how they can really contribute to the world in which they live.

With an ending that turned out the be very surprising with amazing twists and turns, what you end up with is a historical thriller that will have you racing to read books 2 (Silent in the Sanctuary) and 3 (Silent on the Moor). 

Review: The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Twin's Daughter
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Release Date: August 31, 2010
2010 Bloomsbury Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1-59990-513-6
Softcover Edition; 346 Pages (ARC Edition)
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

Lucy Sexton is stunned when her mother's identical twin sister shows up at the family's front door one day.  Separated at birth, the two sisters have had dramatically different upbringings - and have never known of the other's existence.  Lucy's mother soon becomes determined to transform her sister Helen into the kind of lady that all of society will admire. And the change in Aunt Helen is remarkable.  But is it just Lucy's imagination, or does Aunt Helen seem to delight in being mistaken for Lucy's mother...especially where Lucy's father is concerned?  Then one day Lucy is horrified to stumble upon the scene of a brutal murder in her own house.  Who is behind the vicious slaying - and who has been left alive?

My Thoughts
I started reading this book because I was intrigued by the cover and also because it was a new book by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, whom I did not know was releasing another new book.  I did not know what to expect, but as soon as I started reading it, I was instantly intrigued by the storyline and I couldn't put it down. 

The Twin's Daughter has a whole cast full of interesting and intriguing characters and for me, this has always been important in a novel.   The story is told from the viewpoint of the daughter Lucy, a young girl of thirteen, who really is a product of her lifestyle; somewhat snooty, wealthy, educated, and used to having all of the luxuries that life entails.  As a young girl, she somewhat got on my nerves once in a while, but she really grew on me as she matured and developed.  I really enjoyed the witty dialogue between she and her neighbour Kit as they explored their relationship and dealt with some of the usual issues that most teenagers develop.  I also really liked the characters of Aunt Helen, Mother, and Father, although those characters also changed  as the novel progressed.  I found the scene between Aunt Helen and Lucy as Lucy becomes a woman to be charming, but hysterically funny.  It was some of those little moments that made the novel as interesting as the 'big' life-changing events.  As the theme of the novel was about the exploration of how well we really know those around us, the changes flowed into the storyline and didn't affect it at all.  After the murder that Lucy witnessed, Ms. Baratz-Logsted slowly draws the reader into the ever-tightening world of bitterness and regrets and danger that surround Lucy and her family and feeds us tidbits of information, making the reader on edge, wondering what is going to happen.  I couldn't read it fast enough after that point.

And the plot was amazing!  When in my arrogance I thought I had it all figured out, something changed dramatically and I went, what? How did I miss that?  Or how did that happen?  I was actually taken by surprise several times and I really enjoy an author who can do that to me.  I love how the secret tunnel was written into the plot and used as Lucy and Kit's secret rendez-vous as it added mystery to the novel and more secrecy.  And we are left with the question at the end of the novel, How well do we really know our mothers?  It's a question that will haunt Lucy as she lives out the rest of her life.

I truly enjoyed this latest book by Ms. Baratz-Logsted, but I am not sure if I like the cover pictured here, or the one on the book that I reviewed, better.  Other than that, I always look forward to reading anything published by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, as her work is always enjoyable and enticing to read and this one is no exception. The time period came alive for me in this well-researched book and I almost felt like I was there, in the ballroom, in the library, or in the tunnel.  It's an amazing gift to have and I certainly appreciate how it was all woven into a very superior plot.

Waiting on Wednesday

Jill @ Breaking the Spine hosts this weekly meme where we highlight upcoming releases we are looking forward to reading.  Here are a couple I am looking forward to reading:

Chosen (An Anna Strong Vampire Novel)
by Jeanne C. Stein
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Anna Strong's primitive vampire instincts are getting harder to control.  And a new enemy wants to take advantage of that fact, for Anna has been chosen to shape the destiny of all vampires - and all humans.

Ghost of a Chance (A Ghost Finder Novel)
by Simon R. Green
Release Date: August 31, 2010

The Carnacki Institute exists to "Do something" about ghosts - and agents JC Chance, Melody Chambers, and Happy Jack Palmer will either lay them to rest, send them packing, or kick their nasty ectoplasmic butts with extreme prejudice.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blogmania Sponsor: Paperplanet

I have the privilege of introducing another of my Blogmania sponsors for the Blogmania event in September.  Sherry from Paperplanet: Contemporary Paper Arts, who considers herself to be an Eco-Artist, works mainly with handmade paper, pressed flowers, leaves, and greenery, branches, grasses, and bamboo, along with many recycled items such as canceled postage stamps and vintage music paper.   She has shared many of her art techniques, projects, and art experiences in magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Holiday Issues, Crafting Traditions, Simply Handmade, and Jewelry Crafts.  She specializes in candle holders, luminaries, note cards, magnets, bookmarks, pendants and necklaces, and light switch plates decorated with handmade papers. 

Paperplanet: Contemporary Paper Arts

Beautiful handmade papers are combined with real flowers and greenery to create these amazing earth lights, earth luminaries, and other items available at her shop.  Take a look at some of the fabulous items that are listed in her shop:

Queen Anne's Lace Earth Light - Turquoise
Scattered Raintree Leaves Earth Light

Earth Bubble - Plum and Sea Foam
Real Phalaenopsis Orchid Earth Luminary

Blue Lobelia Earth Pendant
Charmed Real Flowers Garden Bracelet

Mango Leaf Naturals Earth Coasters

Paperplanet ships worldwide and free gift wrapping is available.   A FREEBIE is always included with every order. 

BLOGMANIA TEASER: One of my lucky readers will win one of her beautiful Earth Lights in the Blogmania Event in September. 

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Miz B @ Should be Reading.  Anyone can play along!  All you have to do is the following:

* Grab your current read.
* Open to a random page.
* Share two (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page.
* Be careful not to include spoilers!!!!
* Share the title & author. (In case another reader would like to read the book.)

My Teaser:

"They had the power to torture and kill our bodies.  But they couldn't touch our souls."  p.145

The Secret of Happiness by Demosthenes Armeniades

Upcoming Releases - August 2 - 8

There are quite a few great books coming out in the next few weeks and into the fall, so it is sometimes difficult to whittle this list down to a measly ten books.  But I am trying to include an eclectic list of books that I would like to read as I tend to read a wide variety of genres.  Here are a few I am interesting in reading this week:

Dating for Demons
by Serena Robar
Release Date: August 3, 2010

I just started to grasp that my best friend is a half-blood vampire, and now I'm facing demons of my own.  Colby needs my help with an ancient prophesy, and a mysterious loner, Hunter, has been kind enough to take me under his wing.  But is he teaching me or studying me?

No Mercy (Dark-Hunter, Book 27)
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Release Date: August 3, 2010

Shapeshifter Dev Peltier has stood guard at the front of Sanctuary for almost 200 years and in that time, he's seen it all. Or so he thought.  In contemporary New Orleans, the immortal amazon warrior, Samia, is about to learn there's a worse evil coming to slaughter manking than she's ever faced before.

The war is on and Dev and Sam are guarding ground zero.  But in order to win, they will have to break the most cardinal of all rules and pray it doesn't unravel the universe as they know it.

The Devil Colony (Sigma Force, Book 7)
by James Rollins
Release Date: August 3, 2010

Could the founding of America be based on a fundamental lie, one coded in secrets that stretch back to before the birth of Christ, to a mystery buried in the prehistoric past?  The truth lies hidden within the ruins of a cursed lost colony of the Americas, know only as THE DEVIL COLONY.  During a sweat lodge ceremony in an Indian cave in the Rocky Mountains, a horrible massacre ensues.  Bodies are found blistered and burned and purposefully positioned to form two shapes: a five-pointed start and a sickle-shaped moon.  One man recognizes the warning behind the gruesome murders, Painter Crowe, director of Sigma Force.  Painter Crowe joins forces with Commander Grayson Pierce and a woman who may have had a hand in the murders, to penetrate the shadowy heart of a dark cabal that has been manipulating American history since the founding of the thirteen colonies.

Waking the Witch (Women of the Otherworld, Book 11)
by Kelley Armstrong
Release Date: August 3, 2010

The orphaned daughter of a sorceror and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around.  So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town, as a favour to one of the agency's associates.

But soon Savannah is in over her head.  She's run off the road and nearly killed, haunted by a mystery stalker, and freaked out when the brother of one of the dead women is murdered when he tries to investigate the crime.  Pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons, Savannah has to fight to ensure her first case isn't her last.

The Red Queen (Cousins' War, Book 2)
by Philippa Gregory
Release Date: August 3, 2010

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and she has a great destiny before her. This is the story of the mother of King Henry VII and the grandmother of King Henry VIII, and a key figure in the Wars of the Roses.

by Gillian Shields
Release Date: August 3, 2010

Evie returns to Wyldcliffe for another term and more danger.  Surrounded by enemies, she lives every day in fear that Sebastian will fall into the darkness of servitude to the Unconquered Lords.  The Wyldcliffe coven is plotting to destroy Evie and use Sebastian to secure their own immortality.  Evie and her sisters must master the power of the Talisman before it is too late.  But could it be Sebastian himself who will ultimately betray Evie?

by Lisa Unger
Release Date: August 3, 2010

Despite their mostly happy marriage, when their son Ricky's girlfriend vanishes, Maggie and Jones find themselves at odds.  With Charlene gone, the memory of another young girl who went missing some twenty years ago is haunting the town.  That story didn't have a happy ending, and almost everyone has an unrevealed reason for keeping the horror of it firmly in the past.

As Jones and the police turn their focus on Ricky, Maggie must find out the truth about what happened all those years ago.  In order to save her son and the young woman who life hangs in the balance, she'll test the bonds of her community - and find out just how fragile they can be.

Labyrinth (Greywalker, Book 5)
by Kat Richardson
Release Date: August 3, 2010

Just back from London, Harper picked up some new skills while she was away.  But instead of taking the time to hone them, she'd rather focus on what's important. Like finding the two-bit perp who 'killed' her.  She's convinced he's a valuable clue in the puzzle of her past and her missing father, as well as a key as to who's trying to manipulate her powers and why.  There's just one problem.  Turns out the man who 'killed' her was murdered himself while she was away.  With Seattle's recent surge in violence - thanks to the vampires - she's already under suspicion.  Which means Harper has to watch her step.  Because finding the ghost of her 'killer' - and rescuing her father - will mean entering into the Grey.  And with her growing powers pulling her more deeply into that paranormal world, Harper's afraid she may not be able to come back out...

The Viognier Vendetta (Wine Country Mystery, Book 5)
by Ellen Crosby
Release Date: August 3, 2010

When Lucie Montgomery visits Washington, D.C., during cherry blossom season, she doesn't expect her reunion with old friend Rebecca Natale is a setup.  But Rebecca disappears into thin air after running an errand for her boss, billionaire philanthropist and investment guru Sir Thomas Asher.  Also missing: an antique silver wine cooler looted by British soldiers before they burned the White House during the War of 1812.

The next morning Lucie identifies Rebecca's neatly folded clothes found in a rowboat floating in the Potomac River.  Is it suicide, murder - or an elaborate scheme to disappear?

Sacred Treason
by James Forrester
Release Date: August 5, 2010

London, 1563. England is a troubled nation.  Catholic plots against the young Queen Elizabeth spring up all over the country.  The herald William Harley - known to everyone as Clarenceux - receives a book from his friend and fellow Catholic, Henry Machyn.  But Machyn is in fear of his life...What secret can the book hold?  And then Clarenceux is visited from the State in the form of Francis Walsingham and his ruthless enforcers, who will stop at nothing to gain possession of it.  If Clarenceux and his family are to survive the terror of the state, he must solve the clues contained in the book to unlock its dangerous secrets before it's too late.  And when he does, he realizes it's not only his life and the lives of those most dear to him that are at stake...