Monday, July 30, 2012

Awake at Dawn (Shadow Falls, #2) by C.C. Hunter

  • Title: Awake at Dawn (Shadow Falls)
  • Classification: Young Adult (Ages 12 and up)
  • Genre: Paranormal
  • Format: Paperback, 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (October 11, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0312624689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312624682
  • Author's Website:

“Whatever you are, whatever gifts you end up getting, you’ll find that time will make those changes less scary as well.”

Kylie Galen isn't the first teen to go through an identity crisis. Her situation, however, is unique. She's discovered she's not a hundred percent human. She's something more...something supernatural. She just doesn't know what type of supernatural being she is. She's slowly coming into her powers, and with every new gift she displays, she's hoping she's that much closer to discovering just what she is. She recently discovered the man she thought was her father wasn't, and the ghost that had been haunting her was the spirit of her true father--a man who'd died before she was born. She thought he'd have the answers she sought, but he himself died before he'd found out what he--they are.

Now Kylie will attempt to contact her father's adoptive parents to see if they can help her find the answers she seeks. Plus, Kylie is now being haunted by another ghost with an ominous message, "You have to stop it. You have to stop it or someone you love will die." As if the normal problems associated with being a teenager weren't enough, she now has to figure a way to hone her ghost whispering skills so she can try to find out what the ghosts means before it's too late.

This is the second book of the Shadow Falls series. In the first book Kylie discovered she was part supernatural. Nobody, however, knows exactly what type of supernatural being she is, and in this book, not knowing seems to be taking it's toll on her. She's acquiring powers left and right making it anyone's guess at what she might be. There are some beings she wouldn't mind discovering she is, while others, like vampires, are something she'd be a little apprehensive about. With each new power, new possibilities arise as to what she could potentially be. I'm actually a little surprised no one is taking bets as to what she might be.

On the home front, her relationship with her mother is on the mend, but she's not speaking to her dad. In Born at Midnight she discovered her father was having an affair with a younger woman. When parents divorce it can be hard because you quickly learn your parents aren't perfect. They're like everyone else with flaws. When one parent up and leaves for another person you can't help but feel a bit betrayed and abandoned yourself, even if you know it's not truly about you. It effects you nonetheless. I must say I can truly sympathize with Kylie on this one. My father left us for another woman, and when next I saw him, he wasn't sporting highlights in his hair as Kylie's dad did, but he got a ridiculous perm instead. I'm thinking midlife crises must really mess with a man's mind. 

Kylie's friendship with her roommates seems to be getting stronger. She's beginning to feel like she fits in and has found where she belongs. Della is a vampire who still seems to have issues with people accepting her, and Miranda is a witch who has dyslexia which sometimes causes her spells to go awry. Both lend Kylie much needed moral support. They along with Holiday, the camp counselor, help her stay grounded. While her relationship with her new friends seems to be thriving, however, her friendship with Sara seems to have fallen to the wayside. They hardly ever talk, and Kylie's not sure if the friendship can be salvaged.

Why is the book called Awake at Dawn? I believe it has to do with this verse, "While every morning she woke up right at dawn to a blast of icy temperature, the spirit left without any visual or verbal contact."  

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I thought it was a great book with a lot of things going on. It kept my attention and had me wondering what would happen next.  Luckily, I heard we find out what exactly Kylie is in the next book. Yay!

Order of Series:

Coming October 2nd:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 RITA® and Golden Heart® Awards...and the winners are:

The 2012 Golden Heart® and RITA® Award Winners. 
Congratulations to all the winners. 


2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Paranormal Romance:
"Never Deal with Dragons" by Lorenda Christensen

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements:
"Song without Words" by Lisa Laing

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Historical Romance:
"The Devil May Care" by Elisa Beatty

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Inspirational Romance:
"Love's Advocate" by Karen Fleming (w/a KD Flemming)

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Contemporary Single Title Romance:
"No Peeking" by Tamar Bihari (w/a Talia Quinn Daniels)

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Regency Historical Romance:
"The Perfect Heiress" by Kimberly Ohara (w/a April Bennet)

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Young Adult Romance:
"Wired" by Romily Bernard

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Contemporary Series Romance:
"Cyrano at Your Service" by Tamra Baumann

2012 Golden Heart® Winner for Romantic Suspense:
"Edge of Deception" by Elizabeth Bemis

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * RITA AWARDS * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  
(Click on Covers to be transported to Amazon to view the description and/or buy the book)

2012 RITA® Winner for Paranormal Romance:
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
Berkley Publishing Group
Cindy Hwang, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Romance Novella:
I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden
Avon Impulse
Lyssa Keusch, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements:
How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal
Ballantine Bantam Dell
Shauna Summers, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Best First Book:
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
St. Martin's Press
Jennifer Enderlin, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Historical Romance:
The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne
Berkley Publishing Group
Wendy McCurdy, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Inspirational Romance:
The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller
Vicki Crumpton, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Contemporary Series Romance (Suspense/Adventure):
Soldier's Last Stand by Cindy Dees
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Patience Bloom, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Contemporary Single Title Romance:
Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe
Carina Press
Charlotte Herscher, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Regency Historical Romance:
A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Avon Books
Tessa Woodward, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Young Adult Romance:
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Macmillan Feiwel & Friends
Liz Szabla, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Contemporary Series Romance:
Doukakis's Apprentice by Sarah Morgan
Harlequin Presents
Lucy Gilmour, editor

2012 RITA® Winner for Romantic Suspense:
New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb
Penguin Putnam
Leslie Gelbman, editor


Friday, July 27, 2012

Love Story by Erich Segal

  • Title: Love Story
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Romance
  • Format: Paperback, 224 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (January 8, 2002)
  • ISBN-10: 0380017601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380017607

     "What the hell makes you so smart?" I asked.
     "I wouldn't go out for coffee with you," she answered.
     "Listen--I wouldn't ask you."
     "That," she replied, "is what makes you stupid."
Every so often the planets align, the universe is at peace, and two soul mates meet. Oliver and Jenny met in college. He was a preppie rich Harvard jock on the fast track to becoming a lawyer. She was a studious Radcliffe scholarship student majoring in music. It started off as a classic case of boy meets girl, but as Oliver tells you right from the start this is a tragic love story. But it's his story to tell. Make sure to have a box of tissues handy. This one is a real tear jerker.

This story was first published in 1970. At the time it was a best seller and I can see why. Even though it's a little out of date (ex: $11, 800/year salary for a lawyer), and most love stories are a little more detailed these days, it contains the essential ingredients for a good romance--likable characters, witty banter, a good chemistry between the main characters that saturates the pages, and a story everyone can relate to. I particularly liked that this story was written from the perspective of the male character. You just don't see that too much these days and I found it quite enjoyable. Usually you'll get the female's perspective or a mixture of both the hero's and heroine's, but I truly can't recall reading another love story given fully over to the male character's perspective.

I loved the relationship that the two shared and how at one point, Jenny and Oliver have a fight where she states, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." I liked it not because I think a 'sorry' is never necessary, but because I felt what she was trying to convey a deeper meaning. That when you love someone you can forgive them just about anything because you know nobody's perfect and you love them despite their imperfections. You realize everyone will undoubtedly at some point in time say or do something they don't truly mean. You understand them on a deeper level and know it wasn't meant to wound you and you let it go. My grandmother once told me she felt one of the keys to a successful marriage was to make sure you never went to sleep angry with each other. For some reason this verse reminded me of that. I guess I always looked at it as meaning grudges have no place in a marriage.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was short and sweet and I liked it despite the sad ending. I confess, I  needed a tissue or two. Additionally, I loved the fact their relationship started out because he wanted to check out a book. The book lover in me got a kick out of that. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a  BLUSH--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred. (i.e. pretty tame)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Early Review of Lessons from a Scandalous Bride (Forgotten Princesses #2) by Sophie Jordan

Cleopatra Hadley knew what it was to live a hard life. She knew what it was to live in poverty--to live without. She knew there were better ways to live then the life she led. Her stepfather kept her mother in a perpetual state of pregnancy, and they had fourteen children with another four lying in a neighboring cemetery to prove it. Cleo did what she could to help, but at times there wasn't enough to eat or enough money for them all to be properly clothed. Her own father had been out of the picture for as long as she could remember and she had all but forgotten him until the day he sent someone to "fetch" her home. Her mother encouraged her to go saying it'd be her chance at a better life. Cleo, however, saw it as a way to better the lives of her siblings as well. When she learned of her father's plans to marry her off to a man with a title, she knew exactly what type of man she wanted to marry. She'd long ago thrown away ideas of fairy tales, Prince Charming and happily ever afters. She was a realist and when she met Lord Thrumgoodie, an eighty year old fatherless Earl, she knew she'd met her perfect match.

Logan McKinney had a reputation as being "the perfect savage". He'd earned the reputation when he'd sliced a woman's stays with his sword when he realized she wasn't breathing properly. He was in London looking to marry an heiress so he could get his current estate out of disrepair. His problem, however, was that he found the woman of London society to be a bit too 'vapid' and 'feather headed' for his tastes. That was until he met Miss Cleo Hadley. He found her intriguing and down to earth. He saw her as not someone to be saddled with, but someone he could share a life with. Now he only had to convince her.

I really liked Cleo. She was a strong and independent woman who was very loyal to her family. She'd grown up with no male role models in her life and didn't know of anyone involved in a loving relationship or marriage. So when she entered the marriage market she knew exactly what she wanted in a husband and it wasn't love. She wanted security. When Logan McKinney, a young handsome Scottish lord, started pursuing her, she did all she could to discourage him even though she found him attractive. She'd set her cap set for Lord Thrumgoodie, and elderly gentleman with all rumors suggesting it would be a marriage in name only.

Logan was a fun character. I loved how he figured out Cleo early on and did all he could to dissuade her fears. He was the exact opposite of what Cleo thought she wanted in a husband. He was young, virile, attractive. Yeah, I know...What's wrong with her? lol But when you've grown up on the wrong side of the tracks, and you know what it's like to be hungry and to see your siblings perish because you couldn't afford medical treatment your priorities tend to differ from that of someone who has never wanted for anything. Plus, she was determined to make sure her mother's fate would not be hers. Qualities such as charm and good looks in a husband, after all, wouldn't pay the bills or put food on the table.

Why is the book named Lessons from a Scandalous Bride? Well, I believe it has to do, in part, with the fact Cleo finds herself amidst a scandal which leads to her becoming a bride. Also, in order for her marriage to work she needs to learn a few lessons. She needs to learn that not all men are the same and not all men are bad. She needs to learn not to let fear sabotage her future by dwelling on the 'what ifs' of life. Most importantly, she needs to learn to trust and lean on another individual--something she's never had the luxury of being able to do before. She's always had to be the strong one and look out for herself and everyone else in her family.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I liked how Cleo had to realize her feelings for Logan in her own time and in her own way. I enjoyed seeing her take a step back and decide what she thought of him and what she truly wanted. I loved how the chemistry between them was undeniable and got them into trouble. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of Series:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Early Review of Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4) by Tana French

  • Title: Broken Harbor: A Novel
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Murder Mystery
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (July 24, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0670023655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023653
Author's Website: 
To Read an excerpt CLICK HERE

Brianstown, formerly Broken Harbor, is a new development. Before the economy took a nosedive, it promised to have everything a young family could want--playgrounds, a daycare, lots of room for the little ones to run around and explore, ocean views and plenty of other young families. Now only a handful of completed and occupied houses stood. The rest were in various stages of development and stood abandoned. Patrick and Jennifer Spain had bought into the dream. They were described as the perfect loving couple, but their 'happily ever after' was cut short. Something happened in that house that transformed the fairy tale into a nightmare. It's Detective Sergeant (Mick) Kennedy's and Detective  Garda (Richie) Curran's job to find out what.  

Mick Kennedy, aka Scorcher, is a 10 year veteran to the Dublin murder squad. He loves his job and he's good at it.  While most detectives shy away from the high profile cases, Mick relishes them. He sees them as challenges and has managed to solve cases where nobody claims to have seen anything. For the past 7 of the last ten years he's had one of the top solve rates of the department. When a case dealing with the brutally attack on a family of four lands in Mick's lap, he sets out to solve it with a detective in training in tow. Three of the family members are dead with the fourth one's life hanging in the balance. As Mick states, "this case should have gone like clockwork. It should have ended up in the textbooks as a shining example of how to get everything right. By every rule in the book, this should have been a dream case." Sometimes, however, things don't go the way they should. That's the funny thing about life. Sometimes it's unpredictable and uncontrollable...

This is the fourth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series and it could easily be labeled as a standalone. None of the main characters from the previous books appear in this one, but there is a link to 'Faithful Place'. In 'Faithful Place', Mick is part of the 'calvary' who comes to Frank Mackie's aid investigating Rose Daly's murder. Frank and Mick went to cop college together and Frank is the one who gave Mick the nickname Scorcher. If you'd like to refresh your memory, check out chapter 6 of Faithful Place.

By all accounts Jenny and Pat Spain were a happy couple. Sweethearts since the age of 16. When a murder like this happens, where the house is locked up tight with alarm system in place, it's usually the survivor the police first look to as a potential suspect, but Jenny had wounds she couldn't have inflicted herself. The second person they typically look at as a suspect is the spouse, but at the crime screen the detectives make a significant discovery. A bloody shoe print is found that doesn't match any of the crew working the murder or the victims. Now Mick and Richie will try to work their brand of magic and deconstruct what happened and catch a killer.

Ms. French once again creates a mystery that has you truly bonding with the main character and itching to know what happened. I love how Ms. French creates characters and situations that are so true to life you'd have no problem believing she'd fashioned them after real life people and events. One of the nice things Ms. French does in this book is have a secondary story that slowly gets divulged as the main story progresses. It gives us a better insight into Mick.

At one time, Broken Harbor held only fond memories for Mick. That was before his mother killed herself. As Mick slowly solves what happened to the Spains, memories of the two weeks leading to his mother's death haunt him. We slowly learn what happened to his mother, and see how it affected and molded him into the detective he's become. I believe the experience with his mother left him wanting to make sure people put the patterns of other tragedies together correctly, because people need to know what happened. Additionally, I believe he wanted to prove to himself things happened for a reason.

My favorite quote:
"Over time, the ghosts of things that happened start to turn distant; once they've cut you a couple of million times, their edges blunt on your scar tissue, they wear thin. The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen." 

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. This book contains plenty of drama, mystery, twists and turns. It got a touch slow in he middle, but the ending picked up the pace and included things I couldn't have foreseen. If you think you know what happened, think again. Every time I thought I had it figured out, a new piece of information came to light. Ms. French is one of my favorite mystery writers for good reason and this book is an example of why.

Order of the Series:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Winners of Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Winners of Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas:

1)  Maria pronounced Mariah
2) Karen C.
3) Maureen C.

You'll be receiving an email shortly if you haven't already.

Thank you to everyone who entered.  

And don't forget Dream Lake, Lisa Kleypas' next novel in the Friday Harbor Series, will be coming out August 7th. To read an excerpt CLICK HERE

Order of series:

Family Affair by Debbie Macomber / The Bet by Darlene Panzera

  • Title: Family Affair
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages (139 Pages to Family Affair / 151 Pages to The Bet)
  • Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0061997137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061997136
  • Author's Website
Notes: This is a novella (aka short story) with another short story by a different author included. This is not a full length story. Nothing on the book indicates this nor is it stated on Amazon. The only clue is a lower price.

 Lacey Lancaster went through a devastating divorce a year ago. She never saw it coming, but then most woman who are utterly in love with their not yet known to be cheating husbands don't. Now living in San Francisco trying to rebuild her life alone, she finds herself annoyed by her neighbor who appears to be just as bad as her ex. She's seen him cheating on his girlfriend, and he even had the gall to hit on her. As if she'd ever go out with the likes of him. She's been there, done that and didn't enjoy the ride. To make matters worse, his cat, Dog, seduced her cat, Cleo. Now she'll have to deal with him on a daily basis as he insists having visitation rights if he's to assist in paying for the pregnancy related vet bills. She sees through his ploy, but will she fall for his charm? Sometimes things aren't always what they seem and the best things in life are sometimes those we least expect..

This was a very short and cute story, but it seemed a little rushed at the end. I felt like I got whiplash when Lacey went from not trusting the man to totally trusting him. I think one of the keys to making a  good short story great is to make sure everything is well balanced, and part of that is making sure the ending doesn't feel rushed. I think this one needed a little more added to make the transition from hate to love flow a little smoother. Granted an author is limited by space constraints when writing a short story so it is what it is. Overall, I gave this one 3 out of 5 roses. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scores a BLUSH rating--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred.

*************************************BONUS STORY*************************************
Title: The Bet
Author: Diane Panzara
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Notes: This author won the Reader's Story Contest and that is why it was included in the book.

Jenny O'Brien's loan on her land was due at the bank. She has only weeks until they foreclosed on her property. So her town's hot spot, the Bets & Burgers Cafe, was taking bets. Not on her losing her ranch, but rather on who she'd marry in an effort to save it. Several men had proposed to her and she was having none of it. She was determined to find another way to get the money. In an effort to put a stop to all the proposals and wagers over her love life, she entered the Cafe for the first time in over 6 years. The last time they'd interfered she'd lost her fiance. This time she was putting her foot down because she had had enough. She declared she wouldn't marry any of them. That's when HE put in a wager. A man she'd never before met...

"Ten thousand dollars says you'll change your mind."


I really liked this story. Jenny was a strong fun character who wasn't going to let anyone get her out of debt but herself. Nick was a nice guy who had his own motives for attempting to get his hands on Jenny's land. I liked them both, but Nick was a wild card until the end when he redeemed himself in my eyes. This one had a touch of drama with a lot of humor mixed in that I found to be a very charming and entertaining combination. I wouldn't mind reading another tale by this author. I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scores a BLUSH--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Winners of A Warrior's Promise by Donna Fletcher

Winners of A Warrior's Promise (The Warrior King #3)
 by Donna Fletcher:

1)  Maureen C.
2) Carol L.
3) Jennifer Lynn
4) Diane S.

You'll be receiving an email shortly if you haven't already.

Thank you to everyone who entered.  

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