Thursday, May 31, 2012

Along Came A Duke (Rhymes with Love, #1) by Elizabeth Boyle

  • Title: Along Came a Duke: Rhymes With Love
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Format: Paperback, 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (May 29, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062089064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062089069
Author's Website:

"Sir, I will have you know, I never intend to go seeking a husband and am quite content with that notion." There, she'd managed her mind, and fortified by her first success she continued unabashedly, "Marriage offers no benefits to a lady, save leaving her a servant to a man's fickle whims and his selfish demands."

What a difference a day or even a few hours can make...

Tabitha Timmons was the daughter of a Vicar. When he passed, she was taken in by her Uncle and his wife. They hadn't done so out of the kindness of their heart, however, she was part of a package deal. Her uncle would only be allowed to take over the vicarage if he agreed to take her in. Unfortunately, they didn't treat her like family, they treated her more like a maid and had her doing the cleaning and cooking and anything else that caught their fancy.

Just days after making her passionate declaration that she would never seek a husband, Tabitha was on her way to London to get married. Her uncle on her mother's side of the family had passed away and she was his only living heir. He'd left his vast fortune to her with only one stipulation, that she marry by the age she reached her majority and, if she wasn't already married, that she wed the man he'd chosen for her prior to his death--Mr Reginald Barkworth.

It seemed all had been decided for her and her new fate set. If not for a chance encounter between Tabitha and Preston, the man Tabitha had made the aforementioned declaration to, things may have turned out very differently. For on her way to London to meet her betrothed, along came a Duke (Preston) that should have scared Miss Timmons away, but decidedly didn't.

This was a deliciously delightful read. I just adored the chemistry between Preston and Tabitha. The attraction between the two was undeniable and Preston's initial reaction to that attraction was priceless. I loved watching Preston realize his feelings for Tabitha after most of those closest to him already did. His actions had me laughing myself silly, grinning from ear to ear, and shaking my head wondering, "What does he think he's doing?" I loved how Tabitha didn't miss a beat and just did her best to smooth over his deliberate bad behavior. It's always fun to watch a man go a little crazy about a woman.

Tabitha was fun and, as I insinuated, cool under pressure. She started out the book in a bad position--under her aunt's and uncle's thumb, but proved to be smart and resourceful. I enjoyed the witty banter she and Preston shared and how she wasn't intimidated by his position or his bad reputation. I loved how she saw past the illusion he'd constructed around himself and saw to the heart of the man who resided underneath. I also liked the added dimension Reginald Barkworth, the man she came to London to marry, brought to the story.

Overall, I loved the book and gave it 5 out of 5 roses. It has a charming blend of humor, wit, and romance with a dash of suspense mixed in. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earns a 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. I highly recommend this one who loves humorous romances that leave you with a smile on your face.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Release Day Review of For Love and Honor (Anthology) by Cathy Maxwell, Lynne Hinton, & Candis Terry

  • Title: For Love and Honor
  • Classification: Adult Fiction 
  • Genre: Historical & Contemporary Romance (3 Stories)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Impulse (June 5, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062218166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062218162

This is an anthology containing three different short stories (novellas) about men in arms. Perfect timing with its release being right around Memorial Day. I'll break it down into three parts then give an overall rating to the anthology.

Historical Fiction - 1812

"You are hot-headed, Duroy. An officer under my command controls his temper. I want level heads around me. So, I'm going to have you cool your heels by undertaking a special mission." Medford placed his hand behind his back. "You will organize a small party of your men to escort our envoy to Spain's daughter back to Lisbon, here she'll be sent home to England."

Captain William Duroy has been reprimanded. Caught brawling with his men against some Irish soldiers, he was the highest ranking officer involved and so the blame for the incident had fallen upon his shoulders. Now he's been asked to escort, Pippa Nelson, aka Bookworm Pippa, to Lisbon. With the French nearing, it wouldn't be long before a battle would ensue between the French and British. William had been hoping the battle would lead to his advancement in the service, but now it appeared he wouldn't get the chance.

Pippa Nelson is her father's only child. Sir Hew, her father, dotes on her and takes her with him whenever he can. On his latest mission he needed to leave her behind and left her in Colonel Medford's capable hands. With an imminent battle only days away, Colonel Medford had decided it would be safest for Ms. Nelson to go back to England. The only problem with that is that Pippa hasn't ever really lived in England and doesn't really consider it home. When Captain Duroy comes to escort her he insists they leave her precious book collection behind. That doesn't sit well with her. If he'd known her better, he'd have been more wary of her compliance and would not have insisted she leave them behind. That small decision will lead to a grand adventure which will change both their paths.

This was a very cute story which had me grinning and wishing it had been a full blown book. I loved both the characters and enjoyed watching their relationship go from one of mutual dislike to mutual admiration and respect. Plus, there was plenty of action and suspense as they encounter some close calls. If this is a good representation of Cathy Maxwell's writing, then I will definitely need to read her books. Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one got a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice.

Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

Raymond Twinhorse's home town of Pie Town, New Mexico is attempting to put together a care package with gifts and letters for the injured soldier. Raymond is presently recuperating in a hospital in Germany and the package is to let him know he's thought of and cared about. Trina and Raymond came to know each other via emails and letter and are now in a long distant relationship. She's the one organizing the care package. This short story is really a series of letters from friends and family in Pie Town to Raymond.

I have to confess, I've read stories with a lot of letters in them and loved them, but this one got a little boring after the third letter with no interaction. If I was already familiar with the people writing the letters, I'd probably have enjoyed it more, but this is my first book by Ms. Hinton. Overall, I gave it 1 out of 5 roses. The author did nothing wrong, I just felt the letter format didn't work for me. Thankfully, from the sneak peek of her upcoming novel, which was included in the anthology, the book looks like it will be most enjoyable. I'm forgoing a romance rating because there was no interaction between the Raymond and Trina, hence no romance.

HOME SWEET HOME by Candis Terry
Contemporary Romance

Lieutenant Aiden Marshall served in Afghanistan. He was not the only one from the small town of Sweet, Texas to serve. His two best friends had enlisted, as well, and they had managed to stay together and fought side by side. Unfortunately, he was the only one to make it back. When a soldier comes home sometimes they bring more back than just themselves. Sometimes they bring the ghosts of what happened in combat. Aiden was haunted by guilt. Guilt that he was the only survivor of the trio. Guilt that it was his miscalculation that caused their deaths. Guilt that he had to leave another friend he'd made there behind--the dog he'd raised from a pup for the last 2 years.

Paige was the girl he'd left behind when he'd enlisted 2 years ago. She'd patiently waited for his return, but he wasn't the same man he was before he left. Now he was determined to break things off with her because she deserved better than him. As Paige would note when she saw him, 'the smile in his eyes had vanished.'

This was a sweet story, and I wouldn't mind reading a longer version. Ms. Terry packed a lot of emotions into this short story, and I liked both of her main characters. I felt she captured a glimpse of what can go in a soldiers mind when he returns home from war. I know my grandfather was haunted until he died by the things he endured and saw in WWII. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have all hell break loose around you and not be able to do anything to stop it. I can't help but believe that anyone living through it would have to be altered by it in some way. 

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses.  I loved how Paige and the town rallied around Aiden in an attempt to make him feel welcomed and loved. A short but sweet story that left me with a smile on my face. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one got a 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.

Overall, I gave this anthology a 3 out of 5 roses. I really liked two stories, but another just didn't tickle my fancy. 

Top Ten Sure Signs You're a Book Addict

The following is a list of the top ten sure signs you are a book addict.

10. Your favorite flower is:
Picture found on photobucket.

9.Your favorite Jewelry is:
Found on Pintrest. Sold on Etsy under book necklace.

8. You've managed to cover all your walls with bookcases and now you're eyeing your furniture in new ways:

Photo found on photobucket, product created by Nobody&co 

8. When you read, the story seems to sail out of the pages:
Photo found on photobucket

6.  You make the men in your life do absurd things to uphold the high standards set up by the men in your books:
Photo found on photobucket. After a little leg work I believe the photographer tobe David Blázquez. An article about the artist who has created a collection of 'naked' furniture photographs can be found at:

5. You have a tendency to bathe yourself in books:
Not sure where the above photo is from. It was posted on goodreads, but I found this article entitled, 'Take a Bath of Knowledge with Vanessa Mancini’s Tub Made of Books' by Helen Morgan, posted 02/22/12 at So I'm pretty sure it was taken and the tub created by Vanessa Mancini.

4. You find yourself being drawn into deep thought while reading between the covers:
Picture found on photobucket

3. The characters can seem so lifelike at times that you swear they reach out and touch you: 
Picture found on photobucket. I have no idea who the photographer is.

2. You start to see yourself within the pages of your books:
Photo and artwork by John Clark and can be purchased at Etsy:

1. You start to look like your favorite book or series:

Shirt, bracelet, socks, umbrella, and book all purchased on Amazon.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Musings - Young Adult Books - What exactly does it all mean?

Did you ever notice how movies are rated, but books really aren't? Did you know just because a book is labeled as Young Adult, it doesn't mean it's appropriate for Teens? It just means that it's marketed to them. What's a parent to do? With all the books that come out how's a person to keep track of all of them? That is one of the reasons I usually attempt to read books before my daughter does. From what I can gather, the age level assigned by Amazon and B&N and probably others, only tells you what age can handle the reading associated with the book, not the actual age appropriateness. Usually the age of the characters in the book also influence the book's age classification.

Should books be rated like movies? I asked my Goodreads group almost two years ago and got a bunch of mixed opinions. What is appropriate for one child may not be for another. What is acceptable by one parent can differ from that of another with a child of the exact same age. What it all boils down to, in my opinion, is basically four things need to be considered in Young Adult books. The first is the amount of violence, the second is language, and third is sexual content, and the last is the way drugs and alcohol are portrayed in the books.

First, let me just say violence in books is quite different from what is seen in a movie or on the TV. In a book you don't get the visual you would get on a screen, so depending on the details the author gives, it may not appear quite so scary or gory as it would if it was adapted to the screen. For instance, my twelve year old son had no problem reading the 'Hunger Games', but at the theater, he was asking me to tell him when the most violent parts were over so he could start watching again. Again some kids would be okay with the violence of the 'Hunger Games' film while others would not.

Secondly, some parents are going to object to 'foul' or, what my son likes to term, 'colorful' language being used in books. I am amazed at times how much swearing can be included in a YA book. Unless you grow up in a very controlled environment, your kids are probably going to have a pretty 'colorful' set of vocabulary words whether they put them to use or not by their teen years, so the question becomes how 'colorful' is the content of the book and do parents need to know?

Thirdly, the young adult age range can vary from 12 to 18. That is a very wide variance in age, and what is appropriate sexually for a 12 year old can be very different from what is considered appropriate for an 18 year old. After all, according to the US 18 is considered the legal age of consent. Plus, if we're to go by what former President Clinton believes, certain acts are not considered as being sex even though sex is included in their commonly known names. So lets just agree to disagree there.

Fourthly, the use of drugs and alcohol in books can and can not be appropriate for kids depending on how they're portrayed. Do I want my child to read a book where someone blatantly uses drugs and alcohol like it's tea and pop? Ahhh, no! But I do know that some parents will disagree with me on that even if the law is with me. Additionally, if a family comes here from Europe where the drinking age is lower than ours who am I to tell them they are wrong? In my humble opinion, I couldn't and wouldn't. Again it all boils down to the kids and the parents. One last thing to consider, if the main character of a book were to hit a downward spiral via drugs and/or alcohol and a lesson can be learned, well, heck I might just be the one to go out and buy the book for them.

So I'm sort of on the fence with giving Young Adult literature a rating scale. I wouldn't mind one, but who would be in charge of determining what is appropriate for my child and could I trust them? With four things to be considered, can it be nicely bundled into a tightly bowed rating scale, and who is going to sit down and read all those books? For now I'm going to keep using my own time proven method of reading it before they do. In my humble opinion, it's the only way I'll ever know for sure if a book is appropriate for my child. Oh, and if anyone is looking to pay people to read and rate appropriateness, I could use a nice paying stay-at-home job that I already love to do, so sign me up! :)

Original post from almost 2 years ago that I expanded on from my blog can be found at:

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

  • Title: The Dressmaker: A Novel
  • Classification:  Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st Printing edition (February 21, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0385535589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385535588
  • Author's Website: n/a

Today was the day. Tess had made up her mind. She knew she was destined for something better, something more. She'd been working as a maid and knew it was time for a change. She'd been trained to be a seamstress, born to be one. It was in her blood. Her own mother had taught her. When she heard some jobs were opening up for a ship traveling to America she decided now was the time. She heard they were hiring, so she'd get a job, take a chance, and risk everything or nothing would ever change. So she took the plunge and handed in her notice and cut the ties with her now former employer and decided she would either sink or swim. By sheer chance, she is offered a position as a maid to one of the world's leading fashion designers. She took this as a sign her luck was finally changing. Unfortunately for her, the ship she was to board was the Titanic.

In the midst of tradgedy, in the midst of scandal. she'll emerge stronger, wiser and find herself.  She'll meet two men, each from very different backgrounds. One can offer her the world, the other only his love. Her life is at a crossroads and each choice offers her a slightly different path. One thing is for sure, she is determined to become a Dressmaker.

I love the fact Ms. Alcott decided to have her book come out at such a pivotal time--approximately 100 years after the Titanic's first and final voyage. I also love it when an author fuses their fictional stories into the bindings of historical events letting me learn something I had not previously known. The story is loosely based off events that happened on the historic voyage. Lady Duff Gordon, a well known fashion designer, and her husband, Cosmo, were scandalized for escaping in a lifeboat that had the fewest amount of survivors in it. Ms. Alcott took liberties with filling in gaps with her own imagination, adding some new characters and events, such as Tess, and changing things to suit her story. The story is by no means an accurate account of events that took place. Ms. Alcott did, however, include some of the actual testimonies from the hearings which took place to investigate the disaster.  

Tess Collins is a fun character. Can you imagine going off on your own in an attempt to find a better life and improve your situation? Even more admirable would be to do so by traveling to another country. I don't think I'd have the gumption to do so, even in today's modern world where woman can travel more freely. 

Lady Duff Gordon is a character trying to keep her head above water while being circled by sharks. She's worked her way to the top of the fashion world and will do whatever she can to stay there. Not portrayed as the most likable of characters, she is the one who has the power to get Tess' feet wet in the fashion industry. She is an interesting yet complicated character that seemed at times to have multiple personalities.

Pinky Wade, a reporter for the Times, befriends Tess and causes more problems than she solves. She creates friction between Tess and Lady Duff Gordon. As Tess is the employee of Lady Duff Gordon, I felt this was not exactly the best thing she could do for someone she calls 'friend'. She's determined and set in her ways and means well, but seems somewhat jaded in her views.

I originally thought this would be a romance, and while there is a touch of romance included, I'm labeling this one historical fiction. By the end I didn't really feel an attachment for either man and wasn't sure Tess should have picked either. Additionally, she was just at the beginning stages of a relationship and the main focus of the book was Tess and the balancing act she was doing while teetering between the upper and lower classes. I think the relationships with Jim and Jack sort of emphasizes the inner turmoil she was experiencing. Tess just needed to make up her mind where she fit in and ultimately she does. I think perhaps the underlying themes to the book are of woman struggling to make it in a male dominated society along with overcoming the barriers of social status. Overall, I gave this one 3 out of 5 roses. It was fun and sweet, but can't hold a candle to the story included in the movie titled 'Titanic'

Notes to keep you in the know:
There were many interesting stories surrounding the Titanic's tragic voyage. Many are listed on the Titanic's blog. To learn more about the titanic and some of her passengers chcek out RMS Titanic's website at:

Here is an account by the real Lady Duff Gordon on what she says happened that fateful night:

Here is an article that was written about a man dressing as a woman to escape death on the Titanic:

Picture of the Titanic:

Picture of the real Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935) who inspired this FICTIONAL story.
Both the above and below pictures came for wikicommons and copyrights have expired on them.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Alma Katsu is hosting an International Giveaway of her soon to be released book The Reckoning

After receiving this box of finished copies of The Reckoning, Alma Katsu decided she'd have a quick contest in honor of the holiday weekend. She's giving away ONE copy and will ship internationally. Folks can enter by emailing her at and she MUST receive entries by midnight Pacific Time, May 28th. The winner will receive the book BEFORE IT GOES ON SALE June 19th. Quick and easy peasy!

I've already got a copy coming my way from the publisher, so Good Luck to all of you! I can't wait to read the sequel to The Taker.

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

Lina waited.
"The rumors whisper of an obsidian mask carved from a single piece of stone, a god bundle never opened, a sacred scepter with obsidian teeth, a foot-long jade Chacmool, and exquisitely made obsidian knife created solely to let the blood of kings. Even an unknown codes. All and more, of the very highest quality, appearing and then disappearing again, like ghost smoke."

Dr. Lina Taylor is an expert on both Maya artifacts and culture. She splits her time between the field and teaching. Part Maya herself, she grew up emerged in the culture. Rumor has it an incredible archaeological discovery has been made, but not by legitimate means. Hunter Johnston, a former ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) officer approaches Lina for help to find out what happened to some seized artifacts which were stolen from ICE. The blame for the theft is lying on the shoulders of Jase Beaumont, Hunter's best friend, who asked Hunter to help him investigate the crime. If the items in the pictures Hunter shows Lina are the real deal, then the rumors would be confirmed. Artifacts from an ancient Maya God some scholars thought never existed would have been discovered.

While the find itself would be huge, if the artifacts truly are genuine, they'd be worth a fortune on the black market. That is what is originally believed to be the motive behind the theft, but while following a lead, a gruesome discovery is made. Several individuals are found to have been killed in a ritualistic type manner. The question is, do the deaths have something to do with a once thought fictitious god and/or the Maya end of times prophecy which will culminate within just days or is something else going on? The only place similar artifacts have been found are on the Reyes Balam family lands, which Lina's family owns. With Lina's own reputation already tainted by a scandal, any link whatsoever to illegally acquired ancient artifacts could end her career completely. Of course, with people being killed, her reputation might just be the least of her worries...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I love stories that deal with ancient cultures that are real or manufactured. I felt Ms. Lowell did an excellent job of mixing just enough of the Maya culture and traditions into her own creation, the deity Kawa'il and his cult following, to breath a real sense of life into them. Before seeing the acknowledgements, I even tried to google Kawa'il and only found another reference to her book. My favorite description was that of an elaborate painting within a temple. It sounded extraordinary and I felt like I was actually there.

The attraction between Lina and Hunter was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. Prior to the beginning of the book the two had started to date so they already had something stirring. It was fun to see them try to contain their feelings for each other while attempting to work together. Lina was strong, smart, and managed to keep a level head when faced with difficult situations. Those are traits I love to see in heroines.

Hunter managed to be protective of Lina yet didn't try to overwhelm her by trying to control or dominate her in any way that would suggest she couldn't take care of herself. While he does sort of manipulate her into helping to find the stolen artifacts, that was only done out of necessity. She was an expert on ancient Maya artifacts, something he needed. Plus, he already knew her. Slowly, the mystery of what is going on is revealed and Lina's and Hunter's relationship grows and blossoms into something neither of them can deny.

Overall, this one gets a 5 out of 5 roses. There was plenty of romance, drama and suspense as they attempted to learn who stole the artifacts, and where they came from. Kawa'il is depicted as the "god of blood sacrifice and death," who reportedly "demanded more blood and sacrifice than other gods."  So things do get a little gory, and there are a few 'Ewww!' moments, but it all fits in with the story. I would love to see this one be made into a movie. I'd actually pay to see it in the theater. While Ms. Lowell states there are no plans to make this into a series because her publisher prefers singles, I would love to see it become one. Even if she had to change characters to do so. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a 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.

Notes to keep you in the know:
Throughout the book Lina and Hunter kept talking about how Lina was supposed to be like 'Caesar's wife'. Well, I had never heard the phrase used before and was curious as to its origins, so I looked it up. It basically means that a person should be above approach. Apparently Ceasar's wife,  Pompeia, 'hosted the festival of the Bona Dea ("good goddess"), which no man was permitted to attend...However a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that "my wife ought not even to be under suspicion." This gave rise to a proverb, sometimes expressed: "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion."' (Quote copied from Wikipedia. To see the post in its entirety and to learn more about Pompeia, check out this link: )

Examples of Cenotes found on photobucket:

The following was created by Frederick Catherwood (1799–1854)  (copyright expired) found on wikipedia:

Example of a Chacmool found on photobucket:

Ms. Lowell did not write about God K, but she did say there is some dispute as to whether the Mayans had such a god. Here is a depiction believed to be of God K on pottery. I thought I'd include it because of the fact it has a serpent depicted on it. Photo taken by Justin Kerr.(copyright expired). Found on wikipedia: 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Inspirational Graduation Speech By Author Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman gave the above inspirational speech to the University of the Arts' Class of 2012. I think all of us can learn from this one. To all of you who are graduating this year, Congratulations!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sneak Peek at Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant

Click on the above image to be transfered to Amazon

Cecilia Grant's Gentleman Undone goes on sale May 29th. Here's the description:

Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play—both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London’s gentlemen’s clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm’s length.

A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind and a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.

Click on the box below to get a better view:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Top Ten Favorite Bookish Quotes In Books


Lately I've been seeing more bookish type quotes in books and they always make me smile. Here is a list of some of my favorites. Do you have any favorites?

10 - “We kissed each other, long and deep, while my legs opened like the covers of a book.”
― Deborah HarknessA Discovery of Witches

9 - “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones

8 - “I love books, by the way, way more than movies. Movies tell you what to think. A good book lets you choose a few thoughts for yourself. Movies show you the pink house. A good book tells you there's a pink house and lets you paint some of the finishing touches, maybe choose the roof style,park your own car out front. My imagination has always topped anything a movie could come up with. Case in point, those darned Harry Potter movies. That was so not what that part-Veela-chick, Fleur Delacour, looked like.”

― Karen Marie MoningDarkfever

7 - “Stories never really end...even if the books like to pretend they do. Stories always go on. They don't end on the last page, any more than they begin on the first page.”
Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

6 - “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
― Cornelia FunkeInkheart

5 - “One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

4 - “Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said..."As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar.”
Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

3 - “People come, people go – they’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favorite book. When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story and you start up again with another book, complete with new characters and adventures. Then you find yourself focusing on the new ones, not the ones from the past.”
Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue

2 - His playful mouth traced the wing of her brow. "I find you thoroughly, deeply interesting. I want to open you like a book and read every page." A smile curved the corners of his lips as he added huskily, "Footnotes included.”
― Lisa KleypasMine Till Midnight

1 - “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Once again, a big thank you to Goodreads for keeping such good track of my favorite quotes.

Release Day Review of Once Upon A List by Robin Gold

Please Note: I read the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book, therefore, there may be some discrepancies between what I quote and the final version. Assume any and all errors are mine because they probably are.

"In the blink of an eye, her entire universe had shattered, instantly becoming an inconceivable memory. BAM! In one second. Just like that...gone."

Nine days before her wedding, Clara received a phone call that no one would ever wish to receive. Her fiance, the love of her life, the man she'd planned to spend the rest of her life with had died in a tragic accident. The shock, pain, and grief of it all overwhelmed her. While she attempted to overcome it, eventually it took hold, and like Snow White after she'd bit into the poison apple, or Sleeping Beauty after she'd pricked her finger on a spinning wheel, Clara Black succumbed to a perpetual state of sleep. Some likened her to a zombie, one of the walking dead.

Then, one day, just like in the fairy tales, she awoke. She once again had a purpose and all it took was a single kiss. A kiss that she had written down once upon a list...

This was such a heart wrenching, yet cute story. It may have started out rather sad, but I loved watching Clara figuratively come back to life after such a tragic loss. Sometimes grief strikes so hard, it sends us tailspinning into a whirlpool of dark emotions that can suck us down and can be difficult to break free from. While life goes on, as Clara later realizes, "sometimes it's just too damn painful and difficult--if not impossible to recognize it."  

I loved the list that Clara created when she was nine and the significance it held. Clara had lost her father at an early age. At nine, she believed that 35, the age her father was when he died, was when life ended, or perhaps more specifically, when she thought hers would end too. So when asked to create a list of things she'd like to accomplish in her lifetime, she revised it, with the teachers permission, to be a list of things she wished to accomplish before she turned 35. The list along with other significant items from when she was nine, all went into a time capsule. Clara was 34 and had less than eight months to complete her list when she was reunited with it. Ironically, the list of things that were originally meant to be accomplish before she died became a list of things she needed to complete before she could figuratively come back to life. It was her virtual life line. Such a fun idea. I wish one of my teachers had done the same thing with my class. I wonder what I would have included on it?  

Leo, Clara's brother, was a fun character. With Ms. Gold emphasizing the fact he's one of Chicago's most eligible bachelors, I have a sneaking suspicion he'll be popping up in one of her later novels. I loved the strong bond the two siblings share, and how over the years he kind of took on the role of father figure for her. Always being the protective older brother. It made him quite endearing. 

Link, well, I wish we'd gotten to know him a little better. I didn't really connect with him, but I sort of figured he'd be the one Clara ended up with. I think my problem was that I wasn't 100 percent sure he and Clara would end up together because for the majority of the book he was in a relationship with someone else. I just wish we'd have had more time seeing the two as a couple. I definitely felt the two got along well, but I would have liked to have seen a little more of the dynamics of their romantic relationship. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a BLUSH rating--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. A very sweet story that I felt did an excellent job depicting Clara's journey through the grieving process. Thankfully, we didn't see the full seven stages because an eight month period was skipped. I think Ms. Gold did an excellent job of showing us just the right amount so we could understand how tragic a loss it was for Clara, thereby, allowing us to empathize with her. The book contained a lot of cute and fun elements and a nice blend of drama and humor. 

Notes to keep you in the know:
The seven stages of grief are:
1) Shock & Denial
2) Pain & Guilt
3) Anger & Bargain
4) Depression, Reflection & Loneliness
5) The Upward Turn
6) Reconstruction & Working Through
7) Acceptance & Hope

The above list of stages was found at recover-from-grief.  To learn more, visit their website at:

Silly Side note:
When I was little my mom told me whenever I was at a friends house I was to eat whatever their parents served. One of the most memorable meals was a grilled muenster cheese sandwich. That was one of the most horrible sandwiches I ever ate. My friend and her siblings wouldn't touch one of those darn sandwiches and I was the single eater of them. My mom, after hearing what had happened, actually renounced her previous rule and I never again had to abide by that rule or suffer through eating another grilled muenster cheese sandwich again. Why do I bring this up? I shuddered a bit at the mention of a grilled muenster and American cheese sandwich that Clara's brother, Leo made. I can't imagine adding American cheese could mask the taste of that (in my humble opinion) horrible cheese, but who knows??? One thing is for sure, I'll let someone else be the judge of that one. 

Pictures of Chicago:
Water Tower--I never thought about it when I lived in the Chicago area, but it does kind of resemble a gingerbread house:
Sue, Chicago's Field Museum's T-Rex:
Trip to Las Vegas:
Noah's Ark in the Wisconsin Dells:
Photos found on Photobucket.

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