Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My take on: Until You're Mine

According to Goodreads I began Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes on July 7th, and I only finished it just last week. This book suffered from my frenetic reading style. One week I was really into this book, then something else caught my attention the next. I picked it up for 20-30 pages, then put it aside for days and, clearly, sometimes weeks. In the last two weeks I finally committed to this book because I wanted to know how it ended. If I had to characterize this book I would call it: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle ON steroids! If you haven't seen the movie look it up,  read the book, and then you'll get what I'm talking about.

After years of heartache, Claudia Morgan-Brown has it all. A handsome husband, James, twins boys, Oscar and Noah, and a successful career as a social worker. What more could Claudia want? A baby to call her own. She loves the boys like her own and she has raised them since they were infants, but they are James' children from his first marriage. Multiple miscarriages before and after marrying James, have left a hole in Claudia's heart. But now that hole is finally going to be filled, Claudia is due to give birth to a baby girl in just another month or two. She finally has it all, or so it seems! James is a naval officer on a submarine, and is about to ship off for a long mission. Claudia will soon be alone with two toddlers and a newborn. That can't happen. Claudia hires the mysterious Zoe as her nanny. Zoe comes along at just the right time, but there is something off about her. What is it? Claudia isn't quite sure, but it might cost her everything, including her life, to find out!

Intrigued? You know there is more to the story! Keep reading!

A recent crime spree has left the women in the area frightened. Several violent attacks on pregnant women, including one murder, has left everyone on edge. The detectives assigned to the case, Lorraine and Adam, are baffled. Are these isolated incidents? Or are they connected?

Reading the book, I thought it's way too obvious for the killer to be Zoe. Although she is clearly hiding something about her past, I never believed the killer was Zoe. My mindset from the beginning was that she was a red herring. All of the hints at Zoe being the killer were heavy-handed. In one chapter, the author led me to believe that Zoe wanted a baby of her own. But then the next chapter, Zoe's motives for being in Claudia's life were totally different. Who the real killer was I just didn't get until the final 80 pages. I'm not saying Zoe is the culprit and I'm not saying she isn't, but looking back I realize the clues were there the whole time.

This was a good book, but it wasn't without flaws. The secondary storyline of Lorraine and Adam's crumbling marriage and home life, in my opinion, was just unnecessary. Adam cheated on Lorraine, their eldest daughter wants to drop out of high school, and both of them seem to ignore their youngest daughter. Adam's cheating ties back to the overall storyline, but the book could have still worked without it. Their lives outside the police station served more as a distraction than adding depth to the story. The pacing and flow of the story was a little uneven for me because of this secondary story. I wanted to get back to reading about Claudia and Zoe, but I had to weed through the family drama. Overall, I really liked the book and would read another one by Samantha Hayes!

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy from Penguin Random House's Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My take on: An Unseemly Wife

Curiosity got the best of me. Quite often I see rows of Amish fiction in the bookstore. I haven't been tempted to read them before, but the pitch for An Unseemly Wife by E.B. Moore got my attention.

The book starts with this dedication:

"For my mother, who told me the Plain stories; 
and when she lost her memory, I retold them to her."

I was intrigued. This was also pitched as historical fiction, which I love. I definitely felt transported back to 1867.

Ruth Holtz lives her life by the Order. Amish men and women follow a certain way of life. They are supposed to stay away from the "English." The English don't live their lives according to God. Ruth, her husband, Aaron, and their children live and work hard on a Pennsylvania farm. They live amongst people just like them. But some English men come to the farm and fill Aaron's head full of stories of free land and opportunities for wealth in Idaho. Now, Ruth's life is flipped upside down.

Everything in Pennsylvania is familiar and comfortable. Everything in Idaho is against the Order. Everything in Idaho is frightening. The "English" are also in Idaho. Ruth doesn't want to leave, but fighting her husband's wishes also goes against the Order. She's supposed to be a good wife, but internally Ruth is finding it hard to be a good wife. She's supposed to be obedient and submissive. Ruth's internal struggle is well-played by author E.B. Moore. She's not allowed to truly think for herself. Aaron's wishes trump hers. My modern-day brain didn't like that, but for the times it was very realistic.

The move to Idaho is coming at the wrong time. The family is expanding, four children is soon to become five as the family heads west. The passages of Ruth giving birth were very realistic. She doesn't want her children to see her in that state, it's unbecoming of a woman. Her boys shouldn't see her with a dressing gown lifted up and neither should her young daughter. It frightens Ruth to think that the children could see her in pain and bleeding. Giving birth without help wasn't the plan, but Ruth gives birth to a boy. The rest of the trip is not without strife. The family has to fight through bad weather, rough terrain, disease, and religious prejudice. She has to learn to rely on a new way of life and new friends, including a preacher's wife. I don't want to give too much away, but despite all the problems on the trip Ruth does get an opportunity at a new life. She does find her voice.

E.B. Moore does a good job of being faithful to the past. There are A LOT of flashbacks. I don't mind books that have flashbacks, but in this case it was hard to follow. One sentence Ruth is in the present day, and the next she is months, sometimes years in the past. I had to re-read passages several times before I understood what was going on. Overall, I liked the plot but I wasn't a big fan of the flow of the story.


Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Penguin) as part of a blog tour.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cover reveal for Leaving Amarillo ... & Gift card Giveaway!!

About the book: 
Some promises are made to be broken...
Music is my everything.
After my parents died when I was a kid, moving into my grandparents’ ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo seemed like a nightmare. Until I stumbled upon my grandfather’s shed full of instruments. My soul lives between the strings of Oz, my secondhand fiddle, and it soars when I play.
In Houston, I'm a typical college student on my way to becoming a classically trained violinist headed straight for the orchestra pit. But on the road with my band, Leaving Amarillo, I'm free.
 We have one shot to make it, and I have one shot to live the life I was meant to. Leaving Amarillo got into Austin Music Fest and everything is riding on this next week. This is our moment.
There’s only one problem. I have a secret...One that could destroy everyone I care about.
His name is Gavin Garrison and he's our drummer. He's also my brother's best friend, the one who promised he'd never lay a hand on me. He’s the one person I can’t have, and yet he’s the only one I want.
One week.
One hotel room.
I don't know if I can do this.
I just know that I have to.

Intrigued by Leaving Amarillo by Caisey Quinn? 
It's not out until March 2015. 
If you can't wait, read on for an excerpt!! 
Plus...there's a giveaway opportunity if you keep reading on!

For a long time I knew he only saw me as Dallas’s little sister. I used to have frizzy hair and knobby knees and a chest as flat as both boys. But somewhere along the way, I changed. I’m having a hard time convincing myself that he really sees me for who I am now. Maybe he still sees knobby knees, frizzy hair, and freckles on my shoulders.
His eyes narrow and he shakes his head. No. “Don’t. Don’t do that to me. I just told you. You know why.”
I frown involuntarily while swallowing the knot of emotion that’s rising steadily in my throat. “How could I possibly know? You treat me like we’re related most of the time. You put your hands on random waitresses right in front of me. You sleep with anything that moves. Except me. I tell you how I feel and you can’t get rid of me fast enough.”
Suddenly Gavin is a burning man, coming toward me with angry gleaming eyes. He steps into the room, forcing me back against the wall. The door slams heavily behind him, and he braces his arms on either side of my head. I’ve only seen him this worked up when playing his drums. My heart morphs into a hummingbird inside my ribcage. It’s trapped and wants to escape. Desperately.
His words come out with force that would shove me backward if there were anywhere for me to go. “As flattering as your honest opinion of me is, how about you just tell me what the hell you want from me so we can both get on with our lives. You want to hold hands and go steady, Bluebird? Because I gotta say, you’re not as smart as I thought you were if you’re looking for that from me.”
I jerk my chin upward, faking a confidence I don’t have but refusing to let him intimidate me. “Did you sleep with that waitress? I want to know.”
He snorts out a harsh humorless laugh. “No you don’t.”
“I do. Tell me the truth.” I look up into his eyes, praying the answer is no. Something about that specific waitress is really bothering me. Maybe because I saw their initial flirtation or maybe because of what she said to me in the ladies room. I don’t know. I’m well aware of the fact that he’s been with countless women, but somehow this one feels different. More personal. Because this time, he knew how I felt and if he slept with her anyways, then he actively chose her over me. “Please,” I add to my already pathetic plea.
He releases me from my forearm prison and throws both of his hands into his hair. I inhale a much-needed breath and relax just a little. Until he slams a palm against the wall. I flinch, only because it startled me, but I can see in his wounded expression that he believes he scared me. As if I could ever be afraid of him.
“No, okay? No I didn’t sleep with her. There, you happy now?”
“Well you’re obviously not. If you were going to be so upset about it, why didn’t you just go ahead and do her?”
“You gotta be fucking kidding me,” he says, raising his voice a few decibels shy of shouting. “Which is it? You want me to have screwed her or not?”
I’m all wound up, like the toys from my childhood. The ones with the knobs you turn and turn, winding so tight the spinny thing breaks and falls off. I’m confused and hurt and angry and turned the hell on in a way I can’t even process. The combination is more than I can handle rationally. I take a page from his broody book and let my palm smack the wall behind me. It stings so I clench it shut. The pain distracts me and I blurt out the truth.
“No, I don’t want you to have screwed her. I don’t want you to screw anyone!”
His reaction is wide-eyed shock and disbelief. “Anyone? Christ, you want me to be celibate? Do you hate me or something?”
Licking my lips, I take several deep breaths in an attempt to calm down. It almost works. “I want you,” I begin slowly before taking another deep breath. “To not engage in foreplay in front of my face.”
He opens his mouth to respond—most likely to deny that he did that tonight—but I place my trembling fingers against his lips, firmly breaking our ten-year unspoken no-touching rule. I’d like to take a moment to enjoy the soft, full, sensuously masculine mouth of his, but there isn’t time. I need to focus all cylinders of my brain on what I’m trying to say.
“I told you how I feel, what I want. And I get it. You don’t feel the same way. Or you won’t act on your feelings. But that doesn’t mean I can switch mine right off for your convenience. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not jealous, not hurt, and that I don’t hate, hate, being in the presence of any woman who is going to have you in a way that I never will.”
I’m breathing hard, tasting his anxiety and frustration in the air between us. Removing my fingers from his mouth and placing them on mine, I watch him go to war with himself.
He neck loosens, allowing his head to fall forward. Remaining completely still while he inhales the length of my neck, I swallow hard.
“Tell me I’ll never have you that way. Tell me to move on and let this go,” I whisper, needing to hear him say it and terrified that he actually will in equal measure.
            “You’re my best friend. Growing up, you were my safe place,” he tells me on a ragged breath that seems to pull the life completely out of both of us. “I don’t want to ruin you, Bluebird.”


Thank you to HarperCollins for the opportunity to take part in this cover reveal!! Happy reading everyone!


Want a chance at an Amazon gift card? I'm sure 
everyone reading wants more books!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My take on: The 100

It all starts with a promising first sentence.....

"The door slid open, and Clarke knew it was time to die." Pg. 1 of The 100 by Kass Morgan. How can I not keeping reading? There is clearly the promise of more!

Nuclear war has left Earth a radioactive wasteland. Mankind has had to fend for itself, splitting into various factions, Walden, Arcadia, and Phoenix, living on a large space station. But now life on the space station is in peril. Oxygen is waning. There has to be a way to survive. The council has decided to send 100 of its death row/condemned inmates to Earth. Send the scraps to Earth to see if its habitable. Send the scraps to Earth to give the ruling class on Phoenix a chance to survive longer on the ship. Send the scraps to Earth to do all the hard work.

Clarke, reeling from the death of her parents, is one of the 100 rogue teenagers sent to recolonize Earth after the planet has been left desolate for centuries. Wells, son of the Chancellor, commits a crime and forces his way into the 100, to save the girl he loves. To save his sister, Octavia, Bellamy commits an act of violence just as the dropship is about to leave for Earth. Glass has managed to escape the dropship and remain on Phoenix, but life in space isn't much better.

I'm so used to books based in reality, that sometimes it's very hard to read a book like this. I keep forgetting to just let go. To just enjoy the story. To just let my imagination run wild.  There are some things I loved about this book, and there are some things I didn't.

With each chapter, there was an increasing element of suspense. I had to keep reading to find out what Clarke did to dread her 18th birthday -- the age that all condemned youth will die. Why would Wells want to go on such a deadly mission? He did it all to save Clarke. But was she worth it? Once reunited, why does Clarke have so much hatred for Wells? Once on Earth, why didn't the 100 die? What happened to the people who were left on Earth?

Sometimes this just felt like a teenage soap opera, mixed with some elements of science fiction and Lord of the Flies. There's a lot of teenage angst and hormonal activity going on here, and I'm not a big fan of that. I felt like the juicier part of the story was life on the space station after the 100 leave. Glass' story offers a glimpse into that life, just not enough for me. Equally frustrating is the ending! It just stops, right when the action is starting to pick up! But there is a flip side to that, the author succeeded in making me want to read the next book in the series. Fortunately, I don't have to be frustrated for too long because I've already started reading the sequel, Day 21.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 17, 2014

My take on: Finding Zoe


Five days a week I wake up at 6:00 a.m. to the sound of Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" blaring from my iPhone. Most days when I hear that sound I say to myself, "Is it really time to get up?"

Why am I starting with this little anecdote? Because I think I take for granted that I can hear the sound of my alarm. I don't think I'm alone in that feeling. What if one day I couldn't hear at all? I'm not sure I would know how to deal with that. Would I still be the same person? That's just one of the many questions I was asking myself after reading Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption by Brandi Rarus

Spinal meningitis took away Brandi's hearing at the age of 6. Already verbal prior to losing her hearing, Brandi easily fit into the societal mainstream. But was that the best place for her? It wasn't until college that she fully embraced being deaf and deaf culture. Learning to let go of the hearing world and learning to embrace the deaf world took years. Think about it? No matter your age, how many of you could let go of who you once were? It's more than a lifestyle change. In some cases you have to let go of people you were once close to. Embracing deaf culture opened up a world of possibilities for Brandi, including being Miss Deaf America and meeting the love of her life. She went on to marry Tim Rarus and gave birth to three sons. But there was something missing for Brandi.

What was missing? A little girl. She always wanted a daughter. Adopting a deaf child seemed to be the best way to fulfill that desire. At first her husband did not want a fourth child, but after writing him a heartfelt letter Brandi got Tim to reconsider. Call it fate or call it divine intervention, soon after Tim's change of heart the Rarus family learned of an infant who needed a home. I guess it had to happen that way. Reading the book, it's clear Zoe was meant to be part of this family.

I definitely felt like I was in Brandi's head the entire time. Although, I did feel that some sections of the book were a bit rushed. Some passages felt like play-by-play, rather than a narrative of someone's life story. The first half of the book is everything that lead up to the Rarus' decision to adopt a child. The second half is devoted to the adoption process, and the multiple homes that Zoe was in before being adopted by Brandi and Tim. As a whole, I was captivated by Brandi's story, I just wished some parts were fleshed out a bit more. I don't always advocate this, but I wish this book was about 100 pages longer. Deaf or hearing, there are parts of this book that everyone can relate, especially the power of love and family.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy from the publisher (BenBella Books) as part of a blog tour with Pump up Your Book.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In the mood for a play?

Want to take a break from books? 

Want to get out for the night? Well, how about you take in a play.
 
The Brightness of Heaven
A New Play by Acclaimed Author Laura Pedersen
Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser
At the Cherry Lane Studio Theatre (38 Commerce Street, Manhattan)

October 16 - December 14, 2014

The Kilgannons are a typical Irish family in 1974 Buffalo.  However, the world is changing fast, the generation gap is widening, and the future is up for grabs. Will the Kilgannons find the serenity to accept the things they cannot change and the wisdom to know that what needs changing most is sitting around the dinner table? THE BRIGHTNESS OF HEAVEN is a witty drama about Family, Faith, and the ties that bind — sometimes too tightly.

Recommended Ages: This is a witty drama that may be inappropriate for anyone under the age of 10.

Ticket information and more about the cast and crew can be found online at http://thebrightnessofheaven.com.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Read Pink! in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month!


Read Pink® in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Support the Next Chapter in Innovative Research

Penguin Random House Marks Five-Year Partnership Milestone and $125,000
in Donations to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®

What’s black and white and pink all over?  The initiative by Penguin Random House called Read Pink® in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)!

Today the scientific community has left behind the “one-size-fits-all” breast cancer treatment to emerge with targeted, more effective therapies. As a result, after remaining stagnant for more than 50 years, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 30 percent. The Read Pink® initiative by Penguin Random House is proud to be part of this exciting new chapter in the fight against breast cancer, supporting the bold research of The Breast Cancer Foundation® (BCRF), while leveraging its passionate readers to help increase awareness and education about the disease. This literary embrace of a life-saving cause has resulted in nearly 1.5 million best-selling novels shipped with Read Pink seals and information about BCRF across all five years of the promotion.

Penguin Random House is thrilled to partner once again this year with BCRF, as 91 cents of every dollar spent by BCRF is directed towards breast cancer research and awareness programs.

The $25,000 donation that Penguin Random House contributes, regardless of sales, provides vital funds to support the mission of BCRF.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Penguin Random House’s Read Pink® editions, we are featuring a few participating authors and what Read Pink® means to them…

Beatriz Williams (2014 Read Pink® Spokesperson), A Hundred Summers
“Every life lost to breast cancer leaves behind a hole that can never be filled again: a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a grandmother. I’m so grateful for organizations like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation for their efforts to find a cure for this devastating disease, and honored to support breast cancer awareness, detection, and research through Penguin’s READ PINK program in 2014. With your help, we can move closer to the day when breast cancer leaves behind only survivors.”

Karen White, The Time Between
“Since 1989, death rates from breast cancer have been decreasing due to earlier detection and improved treatment because of the efforts of organizations like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Books have always been an important part of my life, and I am honored that my book will be part of Penguin’s Read Pink program that supports breast cancer awareness and research through reading. It is my greatest hope that through efforts like this we might find a cure within my lifetime.”

Nora Roberts, Sea Swept and The Witness
“To all the moms and daughters, wives and sisters, lovers and friends, Read Pink is here for you and yours. Help support breast cancer awareness and the strong, brave women who fight or will fight this disease and Read Pink in October.”

Catherine Anderson, Perfect Timing
“I am so delighted to be included in the Read Pink campaign again this year with Perfect Timing being featured, along with so many other great books, to raise funds for breast cancer research. I can remember when a diagnosis of breast cancer was often equivalent to a death sentence. Nowadays, the survival rates have increased greatly, and I personally know women who have prevailed over this terrible disease. Sadly, I’ve also known a few women who lost the battle. So I call upon all of you to join ranks with me and countless other women in a war to defeat breast cancer. ‘Read Pink! Buy books bearing the Read Pink logo as gifts for the women you love.’ By standing together as sisters, we have it within our power to make a huge difference!”

Jayne Ann Krentz, Dream Eyes
“This is the time of year when we celebrate the progress that has been made in the battle against breast cancer and acknowledge the work that lies ahead. No, we aren't there yet. There's a long way to go. The greatest weapon we have to fight this disease is research and research costs money. That is why this breast cancer awareness campaign is so important and why I am proud to participate.”

Marie Force, I Want to Hold Your Hand
“I’m so thrilled to be part of the Read Pink effort to help raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research. I hear frequently from romance readers who tell me my books and those of other romance authors have helped them get through breast cancer treatment. I want to hear from fewer of them in the future. I want to hear they took our books on fabulous vacations rather than treatments. Please Read Pink in October to support all the courageous women fighting this disease and to fund critical research. Thank you for Reading Pink!”


Full List of 2014 Participating Authors:
Jojo Moyes, The Last Letter from your Lover
Karen White, The Time Between
Nora Roberts, Sea Swept and The Witness
Jennifer Chiaverini, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
Beatriz Williams, A Hundred Summers
Wendy Wax, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
Catherine Anderson, Perfect Timing
Marie Force, I Want to Hold Your Hand
Janet Chapman, The Heart of a Hero
Lisa Gardner, MacNamara’s Woman
Jayne Ann Krentz, Dream Eyes


Mark your calendars and remember to join in the conversation with @BerkleyRomance and @PenguinGroupUSA on Twitter in October.  Make sure to use the hashtag #ReadPink!

For more information about the Read Pink initiative and to view a complete list of the participating retail outlets, please visit penguin.com/readpink.

Read Pink® Blog Tour Schedule
Please support the blogs taking part in this special, Read Pink® Spotlight Tour!

October 1 – Exclusive guest post with spokesperson Beatriz Williams on LizandLisa.com
***
September 22                                   Cheryl's Book Nook; The Readers Den; Gone with the Words;
                                                                Pretty Sassy Cool
September 23                                   Reading Reality; You Gotta Read; Adria's Romance Reviews
September 24                                   Kimberly Faye Reads; Nicely Phrased; I Smell Sheep
September 25                                   Romance Junkies; To Read or Not To Read;
September 26                                   Cindy's Love of Books; Chick Lit Plus; The Book Reading Gals
*
September 29                                   LitChat; Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf; Chris Book Blog Emporium
September 30                                   Reality Bites! Let's Get Lost!; Grave Tells; Britt's Book and Life Blog;
                                                                Sincerely Stacie
October 1                                            Cocktails and Books; The Reading Nook Reviews; 2Bookaholics;
                                                                Wit & Sin; Raw Books
October 2                                            SOS Aloha; Bookish Things & More; Shayna Renee's Spicy Reads
October 3                                            Dew on the Kudzu; Peace Love Books;
*
October 6                                            My Book Addiction and More; Book-alicious Mama;
October 7                                            A Dream Within A Dream; Thoughts in Progress; Mundie Moms
October 8                                            Flirty and Dirty Book Blog; Readers Live A Thousand Lives;
                                                                That's What I'm Talking About
October 9                                            Book Lovin' Mamas; Lori's Reading Corner; The Book Reading Gals
October 10                                          Supernatural Snark; Once Upon a Twilight;
*
October 13                                          Fallen Angel Reviews; Parajunkee's View; As I Turn the Pages
October 14                                          Reading in Black & White; Keepin It Real Book Blog
October 15                                          ABCD Diaries; Fictional Candy; Paranormal Book Club
October 16                                          Sexy Bibliophiles; Book Sniffers Anonymous;
October 17                                          Wicked Lil Pixie; The Book Swarm; Addicted 2 Novels;
                                                                Stephanie’s Book Reports
*
October 20                                          News & Sentinel, “Book Nook”; The Reading CafĂ©
October 21                                          The Book Bellas; The Book Cellar
October 22                                          The Novel Life; My Book Muse;
October 23                                          Rock Stars of Romance; Silver's Reviews; Journey of a Bookseller
October 24                                          Sunshine & Mountains
*
October 27                                          Bewitched Bookworms; Ramblings From This Chick
October 28                                          Reading in Pajamas; Turn the Page
October 29                                          Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks; Stuck In YA Books;
October 30                                          Fang-tastic Books; No BS Book Reviews; Marie’s Cozy Corner
October 31                                          In Shadows; Love Romances & More
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