Posted in Winners on August 31, 2010

Congrats to the two winners

Jules
Amy

look for an email from me so I can get your mailing address and get the books sent to you.

Enjoy the book, I loved it!

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Posted in chick lit, Christian, fiction on August 23, 2010

Joyce Magnin Moccero is the author of Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise which is the second in a series about Bright’s Pond which is somewhere in the Pennsylvania area since Charlotte moves to Paradise from a suburb of Pittsburg.  But you don’t have to read the first to appreciate the second novel.

Charlotte’s husband has recently died and she received (by  mistake) an ad for a trailer for sale in Paradise.  She puts it aside but once the activity surrounding the funeral has passed, she decides to purchase the trailer sight unseen.  Well as well all know, that isn’t necessarily a wise move, but this was about 40 years ago and things were a little different.  She arrives in Paradise and discovers the trailer is not what was pictured and is infested by raccoons and smells horrible.  Charlotte is discouraged but with the help of a few neighbors it becomes a habitable.

The trailer park has a wide variety of occupants including a wife-beating manager, the one armed maintenance man and a heavily tattooed woman with a large sculpture of a hand in her yard…large enough to climb up and sit in the palm.  Charlotte reaches out to befriend all of these people plus the remaining residents of the area and starts an all women’s softball team which she manages.

This story is about people banding together to right wrongs and to support each other in good times and in bad.  It is also about Charlotte finding her independence, becoming her own woman and not staying in the shadows.

I really enjoyed this book.  I will say that I wasn’t sure with the first chapter or two but am glad that I continued reading because I was inspired by Charlotte for leaving what she was comfortable with and starting over in a small town.  She even resists giving in to her overbearing mother who would love nothing more than for Charlotte to move to Florida with her.  It would have been very easy to give in, but that isn’t where God wanted Charlotte to be at that time in life.  He wanted her in Paradise to bring together this community.

Charlotte isn’t the only one that blossoms with the new friendships that are created.  Others become stronger with the various situations that they are faced with at the time.

I give this book 4 stars.

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Posted in baking, chick lit, Christian, cooking on August 18, 2010

Sandra D. Bricker worked on her writing skills while working as a personal assistant and publicist to daytime television stars.  What I like about her is that she is an animal rights activist and is very involved in fundraising for Lost Angels Animal Rescue

Sandra says she is a Christian Woman and that clearly comes through in this novel without it being over the top.

Always the Baker Never the Bride is the story of Emma Rae (a good Southern name) who is a baker in Atlanta who has won the prestigious Passionate Palate Award for her crème brulee wedding cake (and it does sound yummy when she describes making it for a client).  The twist is that she is diabetic and cannot sample her creations without making sure she has eaten and then she can only sample a bite or two.   Emma is working at a bakery when she is lured away to work for the new Tanglewood Inn that is to become The Place to have a party or wedding.  She had met Jackson, the CEO, when he stopped in her shop but didn’t realize who he was when she accepted an interview at the inn and she certainly doesn’t expect to fall in love with him either after their first encounter in the shop.

There are also some other fun and quirky characters including Emma’s parents, Jackson’s sisters and most of all, Emma’s assistant Fiona.  All of these characters round out this story to make it fun and witty but still give the reader a message.

I really enjoyed this novel especially since it revolved around food and even more importantly, sweets!  Emma’s no nonsense attitude makes Jackson think twice in several situations and to make him realize that he can’t tip toe around his feelings.  I also like how Fiona appears to be the total opposite of Emma, at least in dress, but deep down they are really very similar.  There is a Christian theme running through the novel to put your trust and faith in God and what is meant to be will be.  This is laid out in several scenes in the book and fit in nicely considering the events that had just occurred.

Pick up this book when it comes out in September from Abingdon Press, you won’t be sorry!

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Posted in chick lit, Giveaway on August 17, 2010

Jennifer (aka Jenny) Crusie has been writing books since the early 90’s and has co-authored several books over the last 6 years.  This newest book, Maybe This Time! is her version of The Turn of the Screw a short novel written in 1898 by Henry James.

I was lucky enough to be ask Jennifer a few questions about the book and her writing:

SBR: Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

 They just show up.  Ideas are never a problem.  Writing them is the problem.

 SBR: When and why did you begin writing?

 I was researching my dissertation on the differences in the way men and women tell stories, and I read 100 romance novels to study women’s narrative.  I fell in love with the genre, dropped my dissertation, and began to write romance.

 SBR: Are there any new authors that you predict will be successful?

 Lucy March has a paranormal romance coming out next year called A Little Night Magic.  Otherwise, I’m really out of the loop on new authors, although I’m sure there are many.  I must start reading up on that.

 SBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and what book are you reading now?

 Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lani Diane Rich (soon to be Lucy March), Anne Stuart, Patricia Gaffney, Barbara Samuel, Terry Pratchett, Georgette Heyer, Michael Gilbert, Margery Allingham, Rex Stout, Dorothy Parker, P.G.Wodehouse . . . lots and lots of faves.

The book I’m reading now is mine because it’s three months past its due date so I am peddle to the metal 24/7.   

 SBR: Maybe This Time touches on the paranormal, did you go this direction because of the fascination with this genre?

 Maybe This Time is my version of The Turn of the Screw, so the paranormal came packaged with that, but yes, I love paranormal stories.   Ghost stories not as much as magic, but if you’re paying homage to one of the greatest ghost stories of all time, you better have ghosts. 

 SBR: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

 I feel strong that if you want to send a message, you should use e-mail.  Fiction has themes, but I don’t think it should have morals.  This book is about second chances, about letting go of what’s past and moving on, but it doesn’t say you should move on, it just says that these characters are faced with the choice of moving on, and how they make that choice determines their fates.  Your mileage may differ.

My Review:
I will say that I really enjoyed this book.  It grabbed me from the first chapter all the way to the end….and even with a twist at the end that I know I wasn’t expecting!  It starts with Andie visiting her ex-husband North at his law office to try and put him out of her life once and for all by returning the alimony checks that she has not cashed over the last 10 years.  Once there she notices that she still feels drawn to her ex and him to her…there is something to be said for chemistry!  North decides that he has nothing to lose and asks her for a favor, to watch over his wards until he could get them moved to his home.  Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) Andie agrees to do it for a month.

When Andie arrives it isn’t quite what she expected and she is appalled at the condition of the home and the state of the children and this makes her more determined than ever to make things right at whatever cost for the children.

This book has many funny sections that had me laughing out loud because I could picture the events as they were described.  And then of course you have the ghosts, who are never predictable, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers who thinks she runs the property because she has been there since she was a teenager.  Of course there is the jealous boyfriend, her kooky mother and a crazy news reporter that wants to expose more than just the story of the ghosts in the home.

Definitely pick up this book when it comes out 8/31, you won’t regret it!

Giveaway:

Leave a comment on my blog to win a chance for your own copy of Maybe This Time! 

I will give away 2 copies, one from the publisher and the ARC that they sent me to review.

Contest ends August 28th and is open to US and Canadian residents

Posted in Cozy, New York on August 4, 2010

Before Elise Warner started her writing career you could find her on Broadway, working with National Companies and in clubs as an actress, singer and stage manager.  She has even written a play which won Theatre Guinevere’s “Guinny Award”.  After that she started writing for various magazines but this is her first novel.

Scene Stealer features Miss Augusta Weidenmaier, a retired school teacher who is caught up on the case of a kidnapped child, an actor in fact, and feels that she must help the police solve this crime.  She does this putting her self in harms way a time or two, and as expected of a school teacher, a rap or two on the knuckles of some not some helpful characters.

When I first started reading this book I wasn’t sure what to expect, in fact, I wasn’t even aware that this was the author’s first novel.  The story started off with Augusta noticing a child on the bus and as a former schoolteacher knew that something wasn’t quite right.  The child looked scared and the man he was with was a bit scary himself.  She departs the bus to try and follow the pair to see if she can help the child.  In the back of her mind she recognizes the child but does not realize he is an actor for a local fast food chain until his disappearance is publicized in the media.  Then she realizes what she saw could help find Kevin and bring him back to his mother.  She doesn’t realize the danger that she ends up putting herself in to until it is too late. 

I was beginning to wonder why someone would want to read this book if the kidnapper was going to be revealed so early in the book.  But imagine mysurprise when the obvious wasn’t as obvious as you might think.  It was a nice twist that I wasn’t expecting and pulled me back in to the story wondering how it was going to end.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars and if the author decides to make this a series, I will definitely check out the second installment.

Posted in Cozy, mystery, Washington DC on August 4, 2010

Julie Moffet is a published author and this is her first venture into mystery/suspense and she has the background for this type of novel.  She has a degree in political science and speaks several foreign languages mentioned in this book, so what she writes about she knows and understands.

Lexi Carmichael works for the NSA and is a “Geek Extraordinare” by excelling in math and computer skills.  Lexi is a woman after my own heart with her addiction to chocolate and her favorite stop is Dunkin Donuts.  Helping Lexi out in the book are the Zimmerman twins, Elvis and Xavier, who are even bigger geeks who have taken their computer skills from the NSA to the private sector.  There is also Slash, who no one knows his real name, who works for NSA, the Vatican and who knows what other government body.  The last is Finn, a lawyer and heir apparant to a winery in Ireland.  All of these characters come together to help Basia, Lexi’s best friend, who puts herself in the middle of an international incident simply because of some documents that she translated.

I would give this book 3 1/2 stars.  The book was good but some parts seemed a little longer than necessary.  Plus I would get confused between the two guys named Al-something and who was the Saudi prince and who was the terrorist.  That aside, I enjoyed the storyline and Lexi’s interactions with the twins, Slash and Finn.  For someone who is supposedly “plain” (the character’s words) she has 3 men that are attracted to her so perhaps she did inherit some of her mother’s beauty.  Lexi also gets a taste of what it is like to be a field agent since she decides to do some things her own way, which was probably a good move because the situation could have ended differently had she not involved herself because of Basia.

I believe this book is to become a series and if it is, I will definitely give the 2nd book a chance because it could turn into an interesting series.

Posted in Chicago, Cozy on July 26, 2010

Liar, Liar is the first novel for a trio of sisters – Julianne, Kristen and Kari Larsen.

Cat DeLuca, along with her beagle Inga, owns and runs the Pants on Fire Detective Agency…and yes, the name is all that it implies.  She won’t find a long lost relative but she is the one to call if you think your hubby (or wife) is cheating on you.  Cat also has an overpowering family where all of the men are cops (dad, brother Rocco, cousins, etc) and they want her to give up her job and work as a dispatcher.  Then there is mom who is your typical Catholic Italian in Chicago who thinks her daughter is going straight to hell for her career choice.

Everything is going well with her agency until Rita Polansky hires her to follow her “husband” Chance and find out the scoop on what he is going.  Little does she know that she is going to end up in the hospital after being hit by a For Lease sign from an exploding building which also has everyone convinced she has lost her mind when no one else can see Chance except for her.  This throws her into a series of events that she cannot control with out a little help from Uncle Joey (and yes, Uncle Joey will “fix” things for you) and Tino who owns the deli but has other talents up his sleeve.

I read this book almost in one sitting.  It reminded me a lot of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, they are both strong female characters, have overbearing Italian mothers and always seem to find themselves in a bit of danger but luckily have friends and family to help bail them out.

If you like to laugh you will love this book….like I said, I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it at work (just don’t tell my boss!).  You won’t be disappointed.

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Posted in Winners on July 13, 2010

Congrats to these 4 lucky winners!

Ashley H
Karen
DKay
Mary

I have sent you an email requesting your mailing address.

And look for another giveaway from this author, he kindly sent me 3 copies of the 2nd book.

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Posted in Uncategorized on July 5, 2010

A few months ago I gave away a copy of Hush by Kate White.  Kate was able to answer some interview questions and here they are!

SBR: What made you break from your Bailey Weggins series and venture into unknown characters?

KW: I love Bailey, but I thought it would be nice to take a break and come back to the series re-engerzied. I also wanted to try a new genre, one that was darker and scarier.

SBR: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

KW: Writing when I have a day job, which means always writing on weekends. I fantasize about having free Sundays some time in my life

SBR: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

KW: Even a very young girl I wrote stories. Not sure why. My mother told me that at 3 I handed her a picture I’d crayoned—it was all black. She asked what the name was and I said, “The hacienda is dark and the town is sleeping.” Weird kid, right? But I guess I’ve just always loved to weave a story.

SBR: What authors inspire you and your writing?

KW: I just love so many writers. Mysteries: Ruth Rendell, Linda Fairstein, Michel Connelly, Elizabeth George, Scott Turow, and on and on. Literary fiction: Sue Miller, Anita Shrive, Jane Smiley, Ian McEwan and on and on

SBR: What advice would you give aspiring authors?

KW: I would advise inspiring writers to figure out their perfect writing cocktail: what’s the best time, best background noise, best location. I’ve realized that during my twenties I didn’t write much because I hadn’t’ figured those things out yet. Don’t beat yourself up, just experiment and see what works.

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Posted in mystery, suspense on July 4, 2010

John Howard Reid is a prize winning author and writing contests judge.  He has also worked as a publisher, editor, critic and bookseller.  As a fiction writer, Reid first achieved fame in England and Australia for a series of detective novels, all featuring a Miami police sergeant named Merryll Manning, who made his debut in “Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island” set in the Florida Keys.

John was kind enough to send me copies of this book to read and giveaway here on my blog.  Thank you John!

Trapped on Mystery Island is the first in a series featuring Merryll Manning, a police sergeant who has gone away for the weekend with his girlfriend for a mystery weekend on a remote island.  There are many guests who have paid to be there for a chance at a $5,000 pot for solving the mystery that is played out for them.  However, things don’t go quite as planned as some guests are murdered on the island and it isn’t a part of the script!  Because of Merryll’s background, he attempts to figure out who doesn’t belong on the island before anyone else is murdered.

I enjoyed this book because I was not able to figure out who the killer was in this book.  There were many times where I thought it was one character or another but then something would happen and I would be wrong and have to start looking at the clues again.  I also liked that it was set at a murder mystery weekend where at first the guests wouldn’t have suspected anything was wrong because that should have been part of the game.  However, once things were evidently wrong their true personalities came through.

If you like mysteries and like to be kept in suspense, check out this first book in the series and the second which is The Health Farm Murders.

To Win a Copy:

Leave a comment on this blog and I will draw 4 winners on July 12th.  Yes, John kindly sent me 4 copies to giveaway.