Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Release Day Review of Parasite (Parasitology, #1) by Mira Grant

Title: Parasite (Parasitology)
Series: Parasitology
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Science Fiction
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Orbit (October 29, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0316218952
ISBN-13: 978-0316218955
Author's website: http://miragrant.com/
Notes: I recieved an eARC of the book via the publisher and Netgalley

Six years ago, Sally Mitchell was in a devastating car crash. The doctors told her parents she was brain dead with no chance of recovering. They allowed them into Sally's room to say their final farewells and try to get them to agree to take her off life support. A few minutes later they were all stunned. The implant which had been installed to keep her allergies under control thereby keeping her healthier had seemingly managed to repair the damage to Sally's brain and she regained consciousness. The one thing the implant couldn't repair, however, was her memory. Everyone was hopeful she'd regain it, but as days turned to weeks and weeks turned to years, all hope was lost, and she and her family had to come to terms that for all intents and purposes, the old  Sally was gone. She was a new person and had to relearn everything. Her miraculous recover spurred many to get similar implants, which were touted to be a panacea able to keep one from getting sick as it boosted and strengthened a person's immune system.

Now an epidemic is causing people to seemingly lose their minds. It comes on suddenly and causes people to act like zombies. As the number of victims grows, those that Sally care for begin to succumb. Even more disturbing is that the victims seem to be becoming increasingly violent, and Sally finds herself running for her life. With no idea of what is causing the scary outbreak, is anyone safe?

A novel which will make you think twice about being the test subject of new and untried medical trials and procedures.


This had the feel of a classic horror story. I guessed early on what had happened to Sally because Ms. Grant was fairly obvious with her clues as to where the story was headed. At first I was kind of skeptical about parasitic tape worms seizing control of people, but, ironically, as I was reading, my hubby (who watches a lot of science oriented TV shows) started watching a program that talked about a zombie fly or wasp which laid it's eggs in ants and the larvae somehow took control of its host temporarily before devouring it from the inside out. *shudder* There appear to be several types of parasites which seize hold of their host in an effort to seek out the most optimum places where it will thrive and grow (see Notes to Keep You in the Know at the bottom of the post to learn more.).

This story focuses on Sally who has spent the last six years working hard to get herself to a point where she can stand on her own two feet and regain her independence. She's come to terms with the fact she will never be able to regain all she once had and is not the person every one remembers. She's okay with that and her sister has even told her she's a much nicer person than she once was. She's built a new life for herself complete with a  boyfriend who she'd like to start a life with. Her parents seem hesitant to let her leave the nest, and due to her accident, injuries and on going recovery, she isn't allowed to decide things for herself. She's also is having issues with the therapist she's been assigned by SymboGen Corporation, the company whose genetically altered tape worm gave Sally her new lease on life when she would have otherwise died. She is at a point where she's frustrated by not being in control of her own destiny, but as people start succumbing to the zombie like illness and dying, she starts to wonder if SymboGen knows more about what's happening than what they've led others to believe. She and her boyfriend, Nathan, will attempt to get to the truth of it all.

I loved the subtle humor Ms. Grant infused into the story such as Sally's fear of teeth. It made me laugh as I understood why she would have such a fear. Additionally, I loved the symbolism of the sundews, a carnivorous type of plant which is said to be a beautiful but vicious killer, killing its prey slowly as it siphons the life from it.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I felt Ms. Grant set a fairly good pace for the book and, with the exception of my being distracted by the word zombie coming from the TV (You can understand that right?), it kept my attention. I enjoyed how Ms. Grant gave us a slow steady stream of information instead of dumping it all at once. I loved learning as Sally did what was going on. I liked how Ms. Grant alternated between what was going on in Sal's life and the reports/video diaries prepared by the Intestinal Bodyguard's creators. I liked the twist and turns Ms. Grant threw in our way and can't wait to find out what happens next in the sequel. A very traditional horror story with a great blend of mystery, zombies, and a young woman's attempt to gain her life back as she tries to understand what happened to her.

Notes to Keep You in the Know:
A great article about tapeworms and how they can attach themselves to the human brain:

An article from Wired magazine about parsites taking over wasps:

Video about parasites taking over their host's body, albeit only temporarily:

P.S. If you have problems viewing the video, here's a link to the magazine article in Scientific American it referenced: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/07/24/are-zombie-bees-infiltrating-your-neighborhood/

Pictures of sundews:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Giveaway and Excerpt of Barefoot by the Sea by Roxanne St. Claire

Coming to book stores tomorrow, October 29th, is the final installment of the Barefoot Bay series, Barefoot by the Sea, by the very talented Roxanne St. Claire.*sniff* But don't worry, be happy because Ms. Claire has a spin-off series in the works. So, if you haven't read this fabulous lighthearted and enchanting series, now is the time to act because Grand Central is allowing me to give away a full print set of the BAREFOOT BAY series by Roxanne St. Claire (4 books in all!) to one lucky winner. Yay!

Have question about the series you've been dying to have answered? Join Ms. St. Claire as she hosts a chat on Facebook October 30th from 8:00 PM -9:00 PM EST.

About Roxanne St. Claire:
Check out her website: http://www.roxannestclaire.com/
'Like' her on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/roxannestclaire
Follow her on Twitter:  @roxannestclaire

First published in 2003, Roxanne St. Claire is a RITA® Award-winning author of thirty novels, including her bestselling Bullet Catchers and Guardian Angelinos series. Her critically acclaimed books have been published in numerous languages and recognized with multiple awards including the National Readers' Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and the HOLT Medallion, all for best romantic suspense. She currently lives on the east coast of Florida with her husband and two teenagers.

The Barefoot Bay Series:

Barefoot in the Sand

When all you hold dear is taken away . . .

When a hurricane roars through Lacey Armstrong's home on the coast of Barefoot Bay, she decides all that remains in the rubble is opportunity. A new hotel is just what Mimosa Key needs, and Lacey and her teenage daughter are due for a fresh start. And nothing, especially not a hot,younger architect, is going to distract Lacey from finally making her dreams a reality.

A second chance is the only thing you have left.

Love has already cost Clay Walker everything. And if he's going to have any chance of picking up the pieces of his life, he needs the job as Lacey Armstrong's architect. What's not in the plans is falling for the headstrong beauty. Her vision of the future is more appealing than anything he could have ever drafted for himself. Will Clay's designs on Lacey's heart be more than she can handle, or will she trust him to build something that will last forever?

Barefoot in the Rain

They say you can never go home again . . .

When "Life Coach to the Stars" Jocelyn Bloom is embroiled in scandal, the only place she can hide is the one place she wishes she could forget. She left Barefoot Bay-and the boy next door who knew all her secrets-years ago. Now nothing about the tiny island off the coast of Florida is quite how she remembers it, especially Will Palmer. He's even more gorgeous and tempting . . . and still capable of turning her world inside out.

But what if someone is waiting for you?

To Will Palmer, Guy Bloom is more than the elderly, senile neighbor he looks after-he's the last connection to Jocelyn, the woman Will loved and lost. But the reunion with Jocelyn doesn't go smoothly. Shocked by the change in her father's personality, Jocelyn struggles to reconcile her dark childhood with the sweet, confused man who has grown close to Will. Jocelyn has guided countless clients to happiness-but can she escape the rainy days of her past for a new sunny future with Will?

Barefoot in the Sun

When running is all you've ever known . . .

Caught between fight and flight, Zoe Tamarin has always picked flight. Since she was rescued from a nightmare childhood by her great-aunt Pasha, they've been on the move, never staying in one place long enough to risk exposing their precarious past. But now that they've reached the sun-baked shores of Barefoot Bay, Zoe may have to stay and fight--for her aunt's life . . . and for a love she ran from years before.

Sometimes the bravest act of all is to stand still.

Oliver Bradbury came to Florida to start over, as both a doctor and a father to his eight-year-old son. He never expected life to hand him a second chance with the woman he lost years ago--but one look at Zoe Tamarin and he knows he'll do whatever it takes to prove that this time, he can be the man she needs. But when demands of family and friendship threaten to shatter their rekindled passion, Oliver must heal Zoe's lifelong wounds with more than hot kisses . . . but will that be enough to keep her from flying off with his heart?

Barefoot by the Sea

When you think you know your heart's desire . . .
Tessa Galloway is a gifted nurturer-her verdant garden at Barefoot Bay's new resort is living proof. If only the woman who can grow anything could grow what she wants most: a baby. Her friends think the right guy will come along, but Tessa doesn't want to wait. All she needs is the perfect donor to make her dream come true. Then John Brown is hired at the resort. If anyone could make beautiful babies, it's this gorgeous, mysterious man. So why does Tessa suddenly find herself wanting so much more?

Can you give up all your dreams for love?

It's been three long years since John Brown had to leave his old life. Forced into the witness protection program, he's desperate to be reunited with his toddler twins. When he gets that chance, there's a catch-he must prove he's got a steady job and a new wife. Landing a gig as a chef in Barefoot Bay is easy enough. And falling for lovely Tessa is even easier. The hard part? Can he win the heart of a woman who prizes honesty-when the truth may shatter it?

Excerpt from Barefoot by the Sea:

“Tessa,” he said softly, looking from side to side for a second. “I have to tell you something about me. Something you didn’t ask in your interview.”
Interesting, since he didn’t even answer the questions she did ask. Still, she waited, dying to see where he’d go with this.
“I don’t shy away from anything,” he finally said. “When I see something I want, I get it.” He gave her a hard, straight look.
Did he mean the job as chef or…her?
“So, what are you here to get?”
“My plan is that we start all over again.” Reaching down, he lifted her hand and very slowly drew off the gardening glove, sliding one finger out at a time out of the rough canvas. She couldn’t do anything but stare at his large, tanned, masculine hand undressing her much smaller one, her throat parched and every nerve ending dancing at the touch.
“We could shake on it,” he said, dropping the glove to the ground but still holding her hand. His skin was warm. A little rough, a little dry, but very warm. “But I’d rather do this.”
He lifted her fingers to his lips, barely brushing the knuckles, the sensation shooting fireworks down her arms. “To new beginnings, pretty Tessa. A new job, and a new…” He looked up from her hand and met her gaze, his own so serious she forgot to breathe again. “Friendship.”
For a moment, she stared at him, a thousand emotions erupting like a volcano in her chest. Disbelief and excitement and desire and disbelief and longing and—yeah, mostly disbelief.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Well, I’m not really trusting by nature, so I’m fighting the sensation that you might be full of shit.”
He laughed. “I deserve a chance.”
Did he? “And you’ll probably get one, but what happened?”
He lifted both brows. “I want the job.”
“So you’re suddenly Prince Charming? After being guarded, evasive, and walking out in the middle of an interview?”
He curled his fingers around her hand and sighed with resignation. “I guess I’m going to have to do some seriously high-quality groveling.”
“Major high,” she agreed.
“Let’s start with dinner tonight. We can finish the interview.”
Obviously, he didn’t know she’d called all his references and they glowed like polished gold, and he certainly didn’t know about the wedding planners and the urgent need for a chef. Instead, he’d come to grovel and take her to dinner.
“I’ll give you time to clean up and change for our date,” he said, as if she might be looking for an excuse to say no.
As if a groveling man offering dinner and looking like a sex god fell into her lap on a daily basis.
“I thought it was an interview,” she said.
He shrugged. “You call it an interview, I call it a date.”
“I call it a pretty remarkable turnaround for the guy who suggested a one-night stand of tongue-tattooing the last time we talked about going out.”
His smile was sinfully slow and so damn confident. “Haven’t you ever changed your mind about something,Tessa? Ever looked at a situation in the light of day and realized you’d need a new approach to get what you want?”
She tried to ignore the little thrill of his words and be smart about this. “What about trust?”
He lifted his brows. “What about it?”
“Did you change your mind about the advice you gave me in the bar? Or don’t you remember when your one word about trusting you was ‘Don’t’?”
She could have sworn a little bit of color left his face.
“How else are you going to know if you should or not unless you have dinner with me?”

She couldn’t argue with that logic. Or maybe she just didn’t want to.

~ Excerpt used with permission from the publisher. ~

~ Giveaway ~

I'm giving away ONE set of the BAREFOOT BAY series 
by Roxanne St. Claire
 (4 books in all) to one lucky winner (US Only).

Rules of Eligibility:
- Only residents of the US who are 18 years of age or older are eligible.
- Please leave your email address so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. **No P.O. Boxes, please**.
- Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already. (Required)

Winner will be randomly chosen. Only one prize per person and per address. Giveaway ends on November 1st, midnight Eastern time. Winner will be posted on my blog and notified by email. Winners will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ms. St. Claire's books can be found at the following retailers:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1biwJUZ
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1adNfoX
iTunes: http://bit.ly/16vEDNn

Want a signed copy of Roxanne's latest book? No problem, Roxanne is offering them through her local book store where you can purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/18lyqlq

Barefoot by the Sea (Barefoot Bay, #4) by Roxanne St. Claire

Title: Barefoot by the Sea (Barefoot Bay)
Series: Barefoot Bay (Book 4)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Forever (October 29, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1455508233
ISBN-13: 978-1455508235
Author's Websitehttp://www.roxannestclaire.com/
Notes: Received an eARC from the publisher.All quotes will need to be checked against the final copy.

Tessa Galloway was married for 10 years before her husband, whom she'd been trying to have a child with, left her for another woman--a woman he'd had an affair with and had gotten pregnant. While he'd broken Tessa's heart and stolen all her dreams for a happily ever after, she still wanted a baby. Now she's thinking of taking a huge step--she's looking into being artificially inseminated. She's given up on finding that special someone, but not the hope of having a child.

Ian Brown is in the UK version of the witness protection program. He witnessed someone leaving the scene of his wife's and brother-in-law's murders, and that individual is not the type of person one wants to mess with. Whisked away from London, he's been previously relocated and found and is now hiding in the US. When placed into the witness protection program he'd been separated from the two people whom he loves most in the world--his children. His wife and her brother had been murdered by a man heading one of London's most notorious gangs, N1L--short for No One Lives. The UK Protective Persons Service felt it would be easier to find a man with twins, so they split the small family up. Now, he's been told he needs a wife if he ever hopes to regain custody of his children. It's been close to three years since they were together and he'd do practically anything to get them back. He needs to find someone and quick, if he doesn't, he may lose his kids forever.

Two very different circumstances. Two very different wishes. Could each be what the other needs?


This was a very fun story. Tessa is a beautiful, sweet and loyal person who hates secrets. She hasn't dated since her husband betrayed her three years ago and left her. She runs a small farm that grows organic vegetables and supplies the resort she and her friends have teamed together to create. Each of the resort's villas bears the name of a different flower, herb, or spice that is indigenous to Morrocco or North Africa to fuse together the resort's theme of Casa Blanca. Tessa makes sure that each villa has the plants its named for growing around it, many of which are difficult to grow in the Florida climate. As her friends have all recently wed and are beginning to have children, the itch to have a baby has once again struck Tessa hard. Her friends think she should try the old-fashioned way again before opting to use a donor's sperm to fertilize one of her eggs. They encourage her to get out there and date or at least get horizontal with someone.

Ian Browning, now going by the name John, is looking for a job as he drifts through Barefoot Bay. He's picked up some cooking skills over the last few years and is looking to fill the chef position he sees advertised for the Casa Blanca resort. He's just what the resort needs and what Tessa's friends suspect Tessa needs. There's no doubt he's both smart and handsome, but while Tessa finds herself attracted to him, she can't help but feel he's hiding something--an instant relationship breaker in her book.

Over the past few years Ian's lost himself in grief, drink, and ink, but he's finally starting to get a hold of his life and put the pieces of it back together. He desperately wants his children back, but as long as the N1L exists, the likelihood is grim. Agents have been working to make the dream a reality, but for the moment gang members are still out there. When the possibility arises that he may be able to get his kids back he needs to act quickly or the possibility may be lost forever. He needs a wife, no one permanent, who he can quickly discard. Just a person to give the appearance that he's in a stable relationship. He can't tell the truth to anyone, not even a perspective wife, because he and his children's lives depend on no one finding out who he truly is. Tessa is the obvious choice, but can he do to her what his liaison in the UK Protective Persons Service is asking him to do? Could he be so cruel? He will quickly have to decide or lose his chance.

I loved the symbolism Ms. St. Claire incorporated into the story via the junonia shell and the saffron plants. It added a touch of whimsy to the story. The junonia shell, like true love, is rare, but not impossible to find. Additionally, the saffron plant has deep set roots and, at times, can give the impression of being dead (like Tessa's dream of finding love and having a family) when it is just dormant tending to spring back to life when all hope seems gone. I thought this was very cleverly used.

I found the story very sweet and charming. I liked that it dealt with the fears one experience in a new relationship along with the faith and trust one needs to have for a relationship nurture and grow. Ms. St. Claire spins a web of lies that ensnare not only Ian, but all those he comes to care for. I love the inner struggle Ian has as he's torn between his newly forming feelings for Tessa and his instincts to protect his children. The choice that he has to make and live with is bittersweet. I loved watching these two fall in love. I gave it 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, I gave this book 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.

Order of the series:

Friday, October 25, 2013

What the Duke Desires (The Duke's Men, #1) by Sabrina Jeffries

Title: What the Duke Desires (Duke's Men)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Duke's Men
Format: Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (June 18, 2013)
ISBN-10: 145169346X
ISBN-13: 978-1451693461
Author's Website: http://www.sabrinajeffries.com/
Notes: I bought the kindle version, borrowed an audio version from the library, and received a signed copy at RWA. I should also confess I love Ms. Jeffries' books so much I volunteered to be on her street team. So yes, I highly recommend her books.        

Once upon a time a little girl grew up with parents unmarried. Her father was a man who promised much, but never followed through. He promised to marry her mother one day. He promised to send her to school. He promised to take her riding. He promised to take care of them, but he always put off till tomorrow what he should have done today; until one day the man ran out of tomorrows and the little girl grew up knowing what a man's promises were truly worth--absolutely nothing. So she grew up knowing the only one who would truly look out for her was herself and vowed never to let herself fall under the thumb of a man like her mother had. Never to put her fate in the hands of another because she knew that the making of a promise didn't automatically guarantee that it would be kept. She was determined to avoid marriage at all costs.

Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived in fear that he would one day go quite mad. His father and great uncle had, and he'd watched his mother, who had loved his father dearly, pay the price. He'd vowed he'd never do that to someone he loved and would, therefore, never marry for love, if he ever married at all. He believed his family cursed and steeled himself for a very lonely and loveless existence.

Over the years the boy grew into a handsome dashing young Duke and the little girl grew into a smart and beautiful young woman. Then one day the Duke met the young woman, and try as they might, everything changed...

Who says happy endings never happen? 

Sometimes with love you have to take a leap of faith and not only want it, but let yourself have it.


This was such a fun story. I read it and then listened to the audio version and absolutely adored Lisette. She is strong and independent yet still very feminine. She's loyal, a touch naive, and a bit mischievous. As I listened to the audio version, an image of Audrey Hepburn, one of my all time favorite actresses, came to mind. Corrie James did an excellent job of narrating the book and managed to create several different feminine and masculine voices giving it the feel that a full cast of individuals had been engaged allowing one to easily lose one's self within the story.

After what her mother and family went through upon her father's death, Lisette intends never to marry. She believes men are unreliable and too quick to make promises they may or may not keep. Her father's lack of delivering on his promises altered the course of her life in such a way that she hasn't truly forgiven or forgotten. As her mother had to take care of their family single-handedly, she believes she can survive without a man to lean on as well. Plus, her half-brother (her father's legitimate heir) George's betrayal when he denied his siblings their inheritance and refused to acknowledge her or her brother as being family further soured her on men. It's her indifference to men and  marriage that makes her bolder and more forthright than the average woman of the day. When something bothers her, she lets a person know. She dreams one day to become an investigator for either her half brother Dominick, the youngest legitimate son who was also cut off from the family fortune by his eldest brother, or for the man who her brother Tristan worked for in France.

Max is a very honorable, noble, stubborn, and infuriating (in Lisette's eyes) man. His family's history of madness makes some view him as they would a leper, but his fortune and status in society still makes him the target of those who covet such things. When he receives a note from Lisette's brother, Tristan, stating he may have found the Duke's long lost older brother, he fears another gold digger has come a calling at his door. The thought is strengthened when Tristan doesn't show up to the assigned meeting spot. Infuriated and determined not to be the victim of another con artist Max seeks out Tristan at his brother Dominick's townhouse where he finds Lisette. He's convince Tristan is up to no good. Lisette is convinced he's innocent and together they set out to find the only person who can prove one of them correct, that being Tristan who resides in Paris.

 Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. I adored witnessing the battle of wills between Max and Lisette as they fought for what they wanted. I loved  how each had preconceived notions about the other that had to be broken down before they could see the other person as they truly were. Plus, I enjoyed the warm humor which can always be found sewn into the fabric of each of Ms. Jeffries' tales leaving me with a grin on my face and a smile in my eyes. On the Lisarenee Romance rating scale, this one receives 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. It should be noted this one leaned quite strongly towards getting a SHOWER rating. :) This one is definitely going on my keeper shelf.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Teardrop (Teardrop, #1) by Lauren Kate

Title: Teardrop (Teardrop Trilogy)
Series: Teardrop Trilogy
Classification: Young Adult (12 and up)
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover; 464 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (October 22, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0385742657
ISBN-13: 978-0385742658
Author's Website: http://laurenkatebooks.net/
Notes: Received an ARC at BEA.

Ander comes from a long line of Seedbearers that can trace their family ancestry back to Atlantis. They tend to blend in to the background unless they wish to be noticed, and until recently, he'd never wished to. After years of watching Eureka Boudreaux, his fellow Seedbearers have determined she is the girl who could bring about the beginning of the end of the world and instead of taking a chance to see what she'll do, they've decided she must be eliminated like countless others over the centuries. Ander has been promised once the deed is complete he will finally be able to lead a normal life. Something he's never been able to do. There's only one problem, Ander has fallen in love with Eureka even though the two have never met. Now he needs to make a choice...
Save the world or save the girl.


This was the first book in the new Teardrop series and quite interesting. Ms. Kate shied away from info dumping and gradually introduces us to the world she's created. While we get a fair glimpse of what has happened in the past, thereby making us understand what we see in the present, there is a lot that goes uncovered and unanswered. For example, while Ms. Kate gives us some background on what a seedbearer is, we don't get the whole picture. Why are they called seedbearers? How did they become displaced from Atlantis? I was a tad bit curious. Plus, there was a mysterious object/relic which was used but wasn't readily explained. While these things perplexed me, being as this is the first in a series, I have no doubt they will be explained later in the series and didn't cause me to ponder what was going on as some of the other new series I've read recently had. I rather look forward to finding out the answers.

Ander and Eureka appear to be two star crossed lovers who are not meant to be. Subtle insinuations suggests there may be more to this couple than this first book reveals. Hopefully, in the coming sequels, we'll find out more and see if my theory is correct. Our first real look at Eureka is not a very happy one. It's just a little over four months since she survived a freak oceanic phenomena that killed her mother when a giant wave swept their car from a bridge. Eureka suffered some hearing loss and broken wrists but the loss of her mother, whom she was very close to, undoes her. She's had suicidal tendency and has lost interest in the things that once gave her joy. She's suffering from survivor's remorse--feeling guilty for surviving when her mother did not. She feels lost and the way her father and stepmother are treating her doesn't help even though their intentions are good.

Ander has never lived a normal life. Never attended school. Never really socialized with other children. He and everyone he knows have been focused on studying Eureka. He's gotten to know her over the years and gets her. If the curse proves to be true, she could literally flood the world with her tears. Ander will have to pick between Eureka and his family. He'll have to decide if all he's been told is true, and decide if the girl he's come to know and love is worth the risking everything on the chance that she might not bring the end that's been predicted.

The song that kept dancing through my head as I read this was Absolutely (Story of a Girl) by Nine Days. I can't help but wonder if it was these lyrics which inspired Ms. Kate to create such unique character. They seem to fit so perfectly:
'This is the story of a girl
Who cried a river and drowned the whole world
And while she looked so sad in photographs
I absolutely love her
When she smiles'

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. A very original concept and lore created around an oldie, but goodie--The Lost City of Atlantis. I enjoyed the mixing of the old with the new and I felt Ms. Kate has begun some wonderful world building, setting a nice foundation for the next book. I'm optimistic she's going to blow us away in the next book as she expands upon it. I always love it when an author creates their own legend, lore, or curses for their stories. My only complaint is that I wish the story within the main story hadn't been quite so broken up in the telling. I kept having to go back and reread the previous parts because I kept feeling as though I'd missed something. Regardless, I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to see where the author will take us and her characters in the next book, but I'm predicting it will be good. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nancy Gideon's Haunted Open House Giveaway Blog Hop

Nancy Gideon's 3rd Annual Haunted Open House

The 3rd Annual Haunted Open House Giveaway Blog Hop
Hosted by Nancy Gideon

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because I love dressing up, eating candy (especially chocolate) and reading scary stories. The following is a list of some of the books I've enjoyed over the years that I think are perfect for reading during the Halloween season. Let me know what some of your favorites are.

Ten Recommendations for this Halloween Season:

10. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Young Adult)
9. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (Young Adult)
8. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
7. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
6. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
5. The Passage by Justin Cronin
4. Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
3. Feed by Mira Grant
2. The Taker by Alma Katsu
1. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

Here are three more awesome books:

~ Giveaway #1 (US Only) ~
The Reckoning by Alma Katsu
a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ Giveaway #2 (US Only) ~
Tarnished by Karina Cooper
a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ Giveaway #3 (US Only) ~
Lyon's Bride by Cathy Maxwell
a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ Giveaway #4 (US Only) ~
As a thank you to Ms. Gideon for setting this awesome hop up, I'm also giving away a copy of one of her books (winner's choice) that is $10 or less from Amazon US
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules for Eligibility:

- Only residents of the US who are 18 years of age or older are eligible.
- Please leave your email address so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. **No P.O. Boxes, please**.
- Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already. (Required)

Winners will be randomly chosen. Only one prize per person and per address. Giveaway ends on October 30th at midnight Eastern time. Winners will be posted on my blog and notified by email. Winners will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good Luck and Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu

  • Title: Prodigy: A Legend Novel
  • Classification: Young Adult (12 and up) 
  • Genre: Dystopia
  • Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (January 29, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0399256768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399256769
  • Author's Website:  http://marielu.org/

What a difference a Day makes....

June Iparis was the Republic's prodigy, their darling. She was the best of the brightest and the apple of their eye. She was a slightly rebellious teen whom everyone loved and strived to be like. She broke records and sometimes rules all in the name of helping her country. She loved her country and looked forward to serving it. A more patriotic person could not be found. That is until the day she learned the truth about her parent's deaths and that of her brother's. That was the day she decided to help the Republic's most wanted criminal escape his execution. That was the day she lost her faith in her country. That was the day she decided to join forces with Day, a boy falsely accused of her brother's murder. A murder the Republic itself orchestrated. 

Times they are a changing and Day and June are right in the middle. They will be the catalysts that will start it all. 


Prodigy picks up shortly after Legend leaves off. While the Patriots, a rebel force bent on reuniting the Republic with the Colonies, helped save Day and June and they quickly abandoned them to their own devices. Hired by June with the money she received ironically for capturing Day, once they'd done the job June paid for they took off. While Day and June would definitely be resources for the Patriots, they were not willing to lose any more members then the job required. Especially not for two individuals who have never shown an interest in joining them even if the two are the Republic's most celebrated individuals. Prodigy starts off with Day and June trying to make their way to the Patriots headquarters hoping they'll find a place among the rebels. Both will be asked to play important rolls in the rebellion's plan to overthrow the Elector Primo. 

What I really like about this series is the way Day and June are in effect mirror images, almost like twins separated at birth. Both scored perfect scores at their Trials, but because of somebody altering Day's Trial scores they've led very different lives. I can't help but believe had Day been given his due, he would have been as loyal to the Republic as June and perhaps the two wouldn't have been attracted to one another. They'd have been too similar. The pair kind of remind me of that old Billy Joel song, Uptown Girl, where a boy falls in love for a girl who is from the other side of the tracks.

In Prodigy, we get our first look at the Colonies and it's not at all like Day or June had imagined. We also get a little bit more background as to how the Colonies and Republic split came to be. Also, a new character steps to the forefront, Anden, who we met briefly in Legend. He takes over his father's position as the Elector Primo upon his father's death. Is he just a younger version of his father or will he be different? June and Day will have their job cut out for them to distinguish lie from truth, ally from enemy, and determine who they will give their allegiance to. They can change the destiny of their country. They are the ones the people will follow. They can make all the difference. 

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. It starts out a touch slow but things quickly pick up as we reach the midway point. Be warned, there is a cliffhanger at the end which will make you question if all is as we were led to believe. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Lu will do in Champion. I already have it on pre-order.

Order of the series:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Title: Dark Places: A Novel
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Crown (May 5, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0307341569
ISBN-13: 978-0307341563
Author's Website: http://gillian-flynn.com/
Notes: Library Loan, not for the faint of heart as this one has a lot of violent scenes toward people and animals.

Over 24 years ago the Day family was devastated in a single night. A mother killed. Two daughters slaughtered. A son accused. Only one child remained unharmed and unscathed, but only on the surface. Libby's whole world crumbled within that single 24 hour span. What her brother did still haunts her. Scares her. Makes her wonder if she too is capable... 

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”

To this day she can't think of all she lost, of her loving mother and sisters and all that she no longer has, without those terrible last moments and  images of her family infringing on her fond memories...

"I can never dwell in these thoughts. I’ve labeled the memories as if they were a particularly dangerous region: Darkplace. Linger too long in an image of my mom trying to jury-rig the blasted coffeemaker again or of Michelle dancing around in her jersey nightgown, tube socks pulled up to her knees, and my mind would jerk into Darkplace. Maniacal smears of bright red sound in the night. That inevitable, rhythmic axe, moving as mechanically as if it were chopping wood. Shotgun blasts in a small hallway. The panicked, jaybird cries of my mother, still trying to save her kids with half her head gone."

Those memories can still quickly be recalled from the dark recesses of her mind at a moments notice. She's never been able to truly leave that dark place which happened so many years ago. It's left its mark upon her and effected her whole life...

“I am, I guess, depressed. I guess I've been depressed for about twenty-four years. I can feel a better version of me somewhere in there - hidden behind a liver or attached to a bit of spleen within my stunted, childish body - a Libby that's telling me to get up, do something, grow up, move on."

Now, at another low point in her life, Libby Day finds herself on the verge of  financial bankruptcy when she is approached by someone willing to pay her for her memories of that fatal night. A person asking her to unlock her own memories and gain access to police files and the memories of others to piece together what truly happened that awful night. Desperate enough to agree to the thing she once vowed never to do, she'll plunge full force into the past. Will she find the closure she never has by finding out what truly happened that night or rip the band-aid off and open a wound that has still never truly ever healed?  After all, as the only surviving witness, how reliable was the testimony of a seven year old child? What if her memories and accusations were somehow flawed and she helped imprison an innocent man--the only living relative she truly considers family, her brother, Ben?


Gillian Flynn's books are dark. They tend to show you the darker side of human nature which lurks within most people and the way one might act upon it. This can make some uncomfortable. She excels at what she does and what she does is make you think, open your eyes, and see the uglier side of society that she expertly spears with the point of her pen and artfully displays them for all to see. To use a quote from the book, she reveals that, “The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty - we all have it.” 

Libby Day was seven years old when the majority of her family was killed. She still remembers bits,  pieces and snippets of what happened, but she has never known the full extent of all the evidence they had on her brother when he was arrested for the crime. Now approached by Lyle Wirth who is part of a 'Kill' club where members try to piece together famous murder scenes a bit like detectives, he and many others are convinced her brother is innocent and wants her to help him find out what truly happened that horrific night. Never truly having done anything with her life, she desperately needs the money he's offering and while she doesn't believe he'll find anything to disagree with the police's conclusions, she's willing to comply with his request although begrudgingly. What she finds, however, is more than she ever imagined, and a long list of possible suspects slowly start to come to light. People the police never even considered as all their attention focused on her brother.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed this cautionary tale that shows just how what you do and say can potentially harm both you and others around you in unpredictable ways. It delves into our darkest nature and shocks you with the fact something like this could and probably has happened. It touches on subjects usually left untouched and untold thereby making you a little bit squeamish. I enjoyed how all is eventually revealed little by little and the whole of it all is nothing like what I would have imagined. I love Gillian's books because they're so different from most of the books I read and leave you with much to ponder.

Interview with Gillian Flynn about Dark Places:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1) by Simone Elkeles

    Title: Wild Cards
    Series: Wild Cards
    Classification: Young Adult
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Format: Hardcover; 352 pages
    Publisher: Walker Childrens; 1 edition (October 1, 2013)
    ISBN-10: 0802734375
    ISBN-13: 978-0802734372
Notes: I obtained a signed ARC at BEA

He'd been expelled from his high priced preppy California school for a prank.

She'd been voted the Freemont football team's Captain.

He was too good to be true and so not her type.

She swore like a boy, was bossy and definitely not someone he'd date.

Yet here they were thrown together when his stepmother, who happened to be her sister, decided to move the family into her childhood home. Somehow the two had to make things work. They just hadn't a clue how well they'd end up getting along. Sometimes it's the wild card that can throw you for a loop. 


This was such a fun book. Simone Elkeles once again writes an excellent love story. Derek and Ashtyn absolutely get off on the wrong foot. He finds her exasperating, difficult, and frustrating yet can't help being attracted to the strong determined female. She, however, has a boyfriend whom probably everyone but Ashtyn realizes is totally wrong for her.

Derek tries to stay out of the limelight, but his good looks tend to make that next to impossible where the female half of the population is concerned. He's a nice guy, but not looking to get involved with anyone. He'd rather have an uncomplicated relationship with no strings attached. He's quite and keeps mostly to himself, but can't help acting when he feels someone he knows has been wronged. His actions speak louder than his words and though he won't admit it, not even to himself, he's slowly falling for Ashytn.

Ashtyn is headstrong tom boy, but a curvy blond knockout underneath her team jersey. She's just been named team captain over her boyfriend, Landon and she's trying to figure out how he'll take the totally unexpected news. They'd both thought Landon would be the next team captain. Already taken a little off balance, she's thrown even more so by Derek's arrival into the household. She can't help but be attracted to him and her attraction both confuses and unsettles her. Everyone seems to think he's this great guy, but she's positive there has to be something wrong with him. He constantly tries to ruffle her feathers and maddens her to no end.

Why is the book called Wild Cards? Well, I believe that has to do with a declaration by Derek's grandma where says the following:
"My grandson is a wild card. I can't keep up with him. One day he's moving to Texas, the next he's going back to California."

I just adored this story. Elkeles managed to capture the emotions and craziness of being a teenager falling in love while dealing with family issues and finding oneself. It's a sweet, well paced, and utterly charming read. There are some nice twists and turns along the way and I loved how Simone managed to capture so much emotion and feeling within the pages. I instantly fell for the characters and wished the story hadn't ended which is always a good sign. I'm hoping we'll see more of these two in the upcoming sequels. I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. Definitely a keeper.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Release Day Review of Hereafter (Shadowlands, #2) Hereafter (Shadowlands, #2) by Kate Brian

    Title: Hereafter (A Shadowlands Novel)
    Series: Shadowlands
    Classification: Young Adult Fiction
    Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy
    Format: Hardcover; 320 pages
    Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 1, 2013)
    ISBN-10: 1423164849
    ISBN-13: 978-1423164845
    Notes: Received an ARC at BEA

Rory Miller and her family were the victims of a serial killer. While trying to get away from the madman who'd set his sights on Rory, they'd been killed, only, they didn't know it yet. They'd entered an 'in between' realm that was neither heaven or hell, but the first stop most souls encountered before reaching their true hereafter. Some would refer to it a purgatory, but unlike the biblical rendition, those who got left behind for extended periods of time aren't being punished, but rather they've been selected to escort/usher the dead to their final destinations. Good or bad, the Lifers, as they called themselves, take the souls of the dead to heaven or hell. Not deciding their fate, only making sure they reach it. If a soul has unfinished business or issues, they'll linger for a time in the 'in between', but never for very long.

The story begins with Rory being told that Juniper Landing is, as she suspected, not a normal town. She's been chosen to be a 'Lifer' and she won't be leaving the realm any time soon, if ever. She won't be joining her father and sister in their final journey, nor can she tell them that they've been killed, because revealing that fact prematurely to someone would guarantee they'd end up in the one place no one wishes to go--the Shadowlands.

As Rory starts to learn about what being a Lifer entails, she begins to notice all is not right with this seemingly 'new' world. Something strange is going on and things that shouldn't be happening are. She begins to question whether a soul could end up in the wrong place.

They say the coins of fate are never wrong, that they know who should be sent to the Light and who should be sent to the Shadowlands, but what if they're wrong? What if they're terribly wrong? They say no one ever comes back from the Shadowlands once they've been sent. With her father's and sister's fates still hanging in the balance, she hopes they're right. 


This is the second book in the Shadowlands series and if you haven't read the first book in the series, I'd urge you to do so. This book starts up where the last book, 'Shadowlands', left off and Rory finally gets the answers she's been seeking. She was right that something was off about Juniper Landing and its nothing she ever could have imagined.

In 'Hereafter' we get alternating view points of Rory and some mysterious Lifer who is creating chaos and mayhem in a desperate attempt to find a way out of the limbo of Juniper landing. The mystery of who the Lifer is was rather fun. I'm still not sure if the person implicated at the end truly is the culprit or they've been framed. I'm guessing they are the guilty party, but I'm not 100 percent sure. Plus, this book ended in such a huge cliffhanger and while we get a lot of information at the beginning, we don't get a lot of answers at the end. Ah, such is the way of books in a series.  

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It had a good pace to it and kept my interest, but it didn't manage to fully ensnare me within the story's pages. The fact that we get the thoughts of the unhappy Lifer kind of spoiled a little of the mystery of it all and I kind of wish the author had just gone with Rory's point of view, but it was still a very enjoyable read. 

Order of the series:

THE WAGER by Rachel Van Dyken- Launch Day Blitz, Giveaway, and Excerpt

To celebrate the release of Rachel Van Dyken's latest book, The Wager, Grand Central Publishing's Forever Romance is sponsoring a Giveaway.

The Wager by Rachel Van Dyken

About the Book:

Lose a bet, lose your heart...
What is it about a junior-high crush that can send an otherwise intelligent woman into a tailspin? TV reporter Char Lynn wishes she knew. Jake Titus is too rich, too handsome, too arrogant: a trifecta that once lured Char into the best night-and worst morning-after-of her life. Now they've been thrown together in a wedding party. It's awkward, but survivable . . . until Jake stops acting like a jerk, and starts acting like the man she'd always hoped he could be.

If watching your brother marry your best friend is weird, being attracted to your best friend's other best friend is downright bizarre. Unfortunately for Jake, Char hasn't forgotten how he once tossed her aside. Worse still, Jake's already-nutty grandma is even crazier about Char. Cue meet-cute shenanigans and all manner of meddling, and somehow, Jake's falling. For Char. Now all he has to do is make her believe it . . .

About the Author:
Check out her blog: http://rachelvandykenauthor.com
Follow her onTwitter: @RachVD

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at http://rachelvandykenauthor.com/

~ Excerpt of The Wager by Rachel Van Dyken ~

“Jake!” Grandma peered around the mannequin and yelled. “Help her out of that dress! We have a wedding emergency! Hurry!”

“Right.” Jake released Char’s hand and shook his head as he took a step away. “Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve helped you out of your clothes, huh, Char?”

And special moment gone.

Ignoring the burning sensation on her face, Char walked into the dressing room and pulled the curtain.

“Don’t you need help?” came Jake’s voice.

“I think I know how to undress myself, Jake.”

“Yes.” His warm chuckle made Char want to smack him. Shivering, she reached for the zipper. “But when I do it, it’s unforgettable. That’s all I’m saying.”

Fine. She’d had enough. Refusing to let him think she was afraid of him touching her, she took his challenge. With a huff Char pulled open the curtain. “Prove it.”

His eyes widened and then a wicked smile curved his lips. “My pleasure.”

The way the man said “pleasure” did really unfortunate things to Char’s body, things that made her re-think her rash decision.

“Where’s the zipper?”

“Aww… can’t find it? That happen to you often, Jake? Can’t find the zipper, where does my equipment go…”

“Oh that, I never have problems with. You should know.”

Her eyes narrowed into slits as she watched him close the curtain and then do a turning motion with his finger.

She turned around and faced the mirror. Jake placed his hands on her shoulders then ran them down both of her arms. She would not shiver, she would not react!

He placed his hands on her hips, then unzipped the dress. Slowly he ran his hands back up the sides of her body, all the way until he hit just below her breasts. Her breath hitched as he winked at her in the mirror, bypassing her breasts and finding the fastener behind her neck.

Char chewed on her lower lip as she watched him delicately undo the fastener and then held the dress to her body so it wouldn’t fall.

“You have beautiful hair.” He ran a few pieces through his fingers and sighed, locking eyes with her in the mirror.

He wasn’t smiling. Was he seriously paying her a compliment? To her face? Or her reflection?

“I, uhh—”

“It’s just a compliment, Char. Not a proposal.”

She blushed profusely. “Thank you.”

The way he looked at her made her feel naked. And now she remembered why things had gone haywire in the first place. She never knew which Jake she was talking to. The one who had been her friend when she was little, or the millionaire playboy who had no soul.

Char doubted he even knew which one he was. She just needed to make sure she remembered, lest she end up with a broken heart again.

“Everyone decent?” Grandma called from the other side of the curtain.

Jake stepped back and winked. “Unfortunately.”

Char felt her face heat.

“Damn,” Grandma called. “You’ve lost your touch, son.”

“Don’t I know it.” He licked his lips and nodded one last time at Char before stepping on the other side of the curtain.
(Excerpt was used with permission from Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance)

~ Giveaway ~

1 WINNER will win a "Wits and Wagers" Board Game, plus e-copy of THE WAGER
5 WINNERS will win a SIGNED Forever gift bag, print copy of THE BET and e-copy of THE WAGER
(Giveaway is sponsored by and prizes will be distributed by the publisher, Forever Romance)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1bMQisp
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