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Showing posts from November, 2009

Sad Bookstore News

Another independent bookstore is closing, and this one is particularly sad for me since Lee Booksellers is in my city, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Lee Booksellers has been a part of the Lincoln community since before I moved here. Once a mini-chain with three (if my memory serves correctly) locations in Lincoln, they went to one smallish, by chain standards, store in recent years. I hoped the consolidation might allow them to continue indefinitely.

After thirty years in business, I hope the owners, a married couple, enjoy their retirement. I just can't help thinking the economy and the competition from the big chains and the online retailers played a role in their decision to leave the business, though.

If you're in the Lincoln area, their Quitting Business Sale begins this Thursday, December 3, at 9 a.m. I'll be there, sad, yet looking for some bargains.

Luke by Cheyenne McCray

Luke: Armed and Dangerous by Cheyenne McCray (2009) is actually an updated, extended version of a story issued in 2003 as Wildcard. I hadn't read the earlier work, so didn't care, though I would have been annoyed if I had read that book and then bought this book without realizing the "remake" status until reading the author's note.

Trinity MacKenna, leading a glamorous new life, complete with an exciting career and an English almost-fiance, returns home to Arizona for the first time in four years. Glad to leave her life there behind, returning home isn't easy for her. Then she meets ranch foreman Luke at her friend's charity fundraiser, and she suddenly sees the appeal of a cowboy, especially one as intent on staking his claim on Trinity as Luke.

Can Trinity stay in Arizona for the sake of her sister, Skylar, and her new feelings for Luke?

Luke isn't exactly who he seems to be, though, because he's only a foreman at Skylar's ranch as part of …

Big Bad Wolf by Christine Warren

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Big Bad Wolf by Christine Warren (2009) is the eighth offering in The Others series. This is definitely a stand-alone book, though, with just a few references to some of the characters from previous books since the women are friends and the men are all on the same council. You won't miss anything if this is the first book you read from the series, though.

This is my favorite book in the series so far. Warren's writing seems more relaxed, and the sex scenes are hotter. And there's a lot of sex in this one. I can tell that she's coming into her own as an author.

Six weeks after walking down the aisle together as maid of honor and best man at their best friends' wedding, Alpha werewolf Graham Winters doesn't even recognize sweet human Missy Roper when she enters his club for a fantasy set-up date. He may not recognize her, but Missy's crush finally notices her. She uses his sudden interest to get him to take her away from the club--effectively escaping he…

Dream of Me by Jan Hudson

Dream of Me by Jan Hudson (1995), who more recently writes under the name Janis Reams Hudson, is one of my favorite romance novels. One of those books I keep instead of giving to other readers or otherwise donating to one worthy cause or another. When the right mood strikes, I pull this paranormal romance from my "keeper" shelves for a little light entertainment.

Meri Vaughn is an American traveling in Egypt for the first time in order to take photographs for a hotel brochure to be created by her fledgling business. Enter striking Ramson Gabrey, who talks about getting married during his very first conversation with Meri.

The paranormal comes into play because Meri and Ram have been lovers throughout several different lifetimes, and they have dreamed of each other for years in their present lives. All of this leads Ram to instantly (and aggressively) pursue Meri, who isn't quite so sure about giving up her freedom for a permanent relationship.

Ram unwittingly gives Me…

New Moon Movie

My eighteen-year-old goddaughter and I had the chance to see New Moon on Saturday. Or maybe I mean that we were brave enough to go with the sighing, gasping horde of young females present at our movie theater.

New Moon is so, so, so much better than Twilight, in terms of the movies. The acting isn't as cheesy, and the pace isn't as slow. The change in director must have helped, plus more money seems to have been poured into this movie.

I'm still not very excited about the casting for the lead roles, but no one asked me. Still, does anyone else think the actress playing Alyce would have made a fantastic Bella??

I'm sure the entire city around us heard the young females' gasp at the "surprise" ending.

And since when did a guy taking off his shirt lead to clapping and sighing in theaters? I hope they don't have the same kind of reaction when a real boy does the same.

Oh, was I ever really that young? Really?

Have you read the books? Seen the two mov…

Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

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Uninvited by Amanda Marrone (2007) isn't your typical teen vampire romance. I wouldn't even say there's much romance at all in this book.

Instead, heroine Jordan is a teenager with a lot of issues, including alcohol and drug problems, very low self-esteem, and being seemingly unable to say no to random sex. Those issues might be a little too neatly tied to having an uninvolved father living in another state and a mother more interested in her new husband than parenting.

And she's being haunted by her ex-boyfriend, Michael, who turned into a vampire after she dumped him. He comes to her house every night, asking to be invited into her room, promising eternal love. She abandons her attendance at parties to sit at home, drinking alone every night, waiting for him to arrive.

And, yes, Jordan's intelligent enough to find something a bit "off" about Michael's interest in her. And, frankly, why Michael decides to pursue Jordan so aggressively isn't…

The Time of the Uprooted by Elie Wiesel, translated by David Hapgood

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I often feel like I'm not intelligent to understand what's happening with an Elie Wiesel novel, and The Time of the Uprooted (2005) is no exception. I spent most of the novel feeling lost and wondering where the story was headed, and then I realized that's probably one of the goals, considering the main character is a Holocaust survivor and refugee who hasn't ever found a place for himself.

There are various stories happening at once, interspersed in the book, with enough slips back-and-forth to keep the reader busy trying to keep everything straight. We have (1) Gamaliel's current life in the United States as an older man coming to the end of his days, (2) Gamaliel's Holocaust experience, when he was a young Czech boy left with a Christian cabaret singer, Ilonka, in Hungary, (3) Gamaliel's work as a ghostwriter, (4) the important women in his past, and (5) excerpts from the Book of Secrets that Gamaliel's writing for himself. There are also, in the p…

Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione

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Passion Unleashed (2009) is the third book in Larissa Ione's The Demonica Series. If you like paranormal romance, Alpha males, some mystery/intrigue along with your romance, and hot sex scenes, give Ione's series a try if you haven't already. And, fortunately, although there is definitely a connection between all of the books (the heroes are brothers--same father, different mothers), you can read each entry as a stand-alone without being lost.

In Passion Unleashed, Wraith, who is part-demon and part-vampire (yum!), needs to obtain a charm from Serena Kelley, archaeologist and immortal as long as she maintains her virginity and, consequently, the charm in question. He needs to get the charm in order to defeat a poison given to him by an assassin sent by his dead brother (though I personally don't think he's actually dead and would love a future book featuring his redemption).

Not too surprisingly, what starts as a scheme to impersonate a bodyguard for Serena in ord…

Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel

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Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel (2007) is the story of Echo, a teenager living through the normal teenage changes--adjusting to high school, moving somewhat away from her two long-term best friends, having a first boyfriend--while also dealing with the fact that her older sister is dead.

Then Marc, Zoe's boyfriend and once the primary suspect in her murder, gives Echo the best kind of present, the diary that Zoe left, meant to be temporarily, with him the day she died.

As Echo reads Zoe's diary in short snippets (oh, the restraint I wouldn't ever have!), she learns not only about Zoe--and about herself, but also information that she can use to become a stronger person, one able to help stop other girls from going through at least one of Zoe's worst experiences.

I liked the fact that Echo and Zoe, as shown through her diary entries, aren't nearly as different as Echo imagines, either.

My one concern was the relationship that develops between Echo and Marc, yet Noel manages to…

Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin

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[Full disclosure: I won a copy of Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin (2009) from Free Book Friday Teens! Along with the main site, Free Book Friday, a lot of great books have gotten into the hands of readers at no charge, thanks to founder Jessica Brody and the generosity of authors. Check out the sites, and know that my review is in no way influenced by having won an autographed copy of the book.]

Parker Prescott is the quiet middle child with a "perfect" older sister and a younger brother with ADHD. There's a lot happening in Parker's world, as we learn in this first-person story, including the unfolding details of her not-so-perfect sister's problems, serious family financial issues related to Dad's earlier job loss, a girl from school who is blogging very unkind things about Parker, a little blackmail, and a new relationship with a boy--a very complicated boy who brings her to the attention of everyone in school just by his own coolness.

A lot is not as it se…

Day after Night: A Novel by Anita Diamant

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I absolutely, positively 100% hated The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Good thing I downloaded Day after Night: A Novel (2009) to my Kindle before registering that Diamant is the author because I would have missed a very interesting read.

Always interested in well-told stories, fiction and nonfiction, about the Holocaust/Shoah, I see a gap now in my personal reading and learning. Although I knew survivors made their way to then-Palestine after World War II, I never really gave much thought to the actual experience.

Along comes this gem from Diamant about four very different women, explored in detail in alternating chapters, who made their way to Palestine, only to find themselves in a "refugee holding camp," Atlit, the British have established.

Trust me when I say that the Americans would hardly have done better if in charge at the time, but I was still horrified to read that the camp was separated from the rest of the world by barbed wire and armed guards. Talk about survivin…

More on Blog Changes

Thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post requesting your input about blog changes. I'm so glad I asked!

My plan is to limit putting excerpts of books in my blog reviews. If I think the writing style is especially pertinent, or if I particularly like/appreciate a passage, then I'll share. Otherwise, I'll stick to more on my opinions, thoughts, and feelings.

Blog Changes

I've been thinking a lot about using others' space and potentially violating copyright lately, so. . . . I won't be posting book covers that I've copied from Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com, etc. any longer on my blog.

If I do post a book's cover, I'll use a photo I've taken of my copy of said book. Otherwise, to keep some color and the visual element to the blog, look to see more of my photos of whatever I find of interest in the blog--related to the book being reviewed or not. Oh, lucky blog readers--run while you can!

I'm also abandoning the This and That "newsy" kind of entries to stick with more book reviewing. Less on what's happening in the world of everything related to reading, and more on what I've actually been reading.

And what do you think about having an excerpt from the book in each review? I like the concept of giving readers an idea of how an author potentially unknown to them actually writes. A plot can be fan…

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

I'm dead.

Not my-parents-told-me-to-be-home-by-twelve-and-it's-two-o'clock-now dead. Just dead. Literally.

I think.

I can't feel a body anymore. No hunger--not even a stomach. No fingers to wiggle, no feet to tap.

So I pretty much have to assume that I'm. . .gone?

No. I can't be gone because I'm here.

I won't say that I've "passed on" or "passed away." I don't remember passing anything on the way here. For that matter, I don't remember dying, either. There's some saying about people "dying of curiosity." But I'm just curious about how I died.


So begins The Everafter by Amy Huntley (2009), a fantastic YA read that I found through Violet Crush's blog review.

Shortly after the start of the book, we learn that our heroine is Maddie, and, as we later learn, she was only seventeen when she died. Part of the beauty of the book is the way that everything unfolds slowly, piece-by-piece, and we learn about Maddie as…

Street Pharm by Allison van Diepen

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Street Pharm by Allison van Diepen (2006) is a gritty first-person look at life on the streets, albeit from the view of a relatively rich drug dealer.

Ty Johnson runs his father Orlando's Flatbush drug business now that Orlando is serving time in prison. Ty's mother has no idea that he's involved with dealing drugs (denial by choice).

After being kicked out of school, Ty is forced to attend an alternative high school, where he meets fellow student and single mother Alyse, who hopes to one day be a criminal prosecutor. Obviously, she doesn't have any idea how Ty earns his money.

Add to the new romance the fact that a dealer from Miami wants to take over Ty's lucrative territory, a brush with the police, and more than a couple acts of violence, and Ty has a few decisions to make about his future.

Here's an excerpt from p.242-243:

I got myself an apartment, a seventh-floor, two-bedroom on Washingon Avenue. The building wasn't much to look at on the outside, but…

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (2009) is a spare, lyrical YA love story. The exact sort of feel that I'm going for with the YA book I wrote, though completely different plots and main characters.

Lucius Wolfe and Aurora Belle start high school in a new place on the same day. Although beautiful, kind Aurora, who recently lost her mother to cancer, is instantly a magnet for friends, Lucius, missing both arms due to a self-created chemical explosion in his home, is immediately shunned.

The story is told in alternating sections (I hesitate to say chapters because some sections don't even fill a page) from Aurora and Lucius' points of view. With their different personalities, that brings a nice balance to the story.

One of the reviews posted on Barnes & Noble.com noted that reader found Aurora a little too perfect. Actually, I thought Aurora was too quick to believe the absolute worst about Lucius when it mattered most; plus, even if upset with Lucius, that didn&…

Your Mouth Drives Me Crazy by HelenKay Dimon

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Your Mouth Drives Me Crazy by HelenKay Dimon (originally 2007, reprinted 2009) is another one of those impulse buys I made when browsing a bookstore without anything really capturing my attention. Then I let the book sit for a while before reading; I'm trying to get through my massive TBR pile at home right now.

This was an entertaining, light read. Nothing particularly different, just a nice romance with a splash of danger.

Kauai Police Chief Kane Travers, currently on suspension from his job, finds naked, nearly-drowned Annie Parks on the beach. She has been thrown from a yacht while on a mission of revenge, and Kane is on suspension as the target of someone else's mission for revenge. Kind of an important learning point for Annie later in the book.

Annie isn't looking for love while seeking her revenge, and Kane isn't looking for love because he's a widower who has shut himself off from everyone except his friend and his orphaned nephew.

Here's a part of a g…

This and That

According to a report on a speech by Schmidt found at ReadWriteWeb here:

Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a radically changed internet five years from now: dominated by Chinese-language and social media content, delivered over super-fast bandwidth in real time.

What do you think the Internet will be like in five years?

Barnes & Noble may have a tiny (read: huge) problem with their Nook design. They're being sued by Spring Design, a company which just released their own e-reader called Alex. They're claiming they have a paper trail leading all the way to the top indicating that Barnes & Noble stole their designs after engaging in proprietary discussions to release something together.

Uh-oh. If they're successful in their lawsuit, Spring Design may cause serious financial and "public relations" issues for Barnes & Noble--deservedly so if the allegations are true.

Read more at Gizmodo here.

Okay, I may actually cry if I decide I need to boycott Barnes &a…

Unbreakable by Sydney Somers

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[Insert full disclosure that I downloaded Unbreakable by Sydney Somers (2007) to my Kindle from Amazon at no charge. My personal review is in no way influenced by the fact that I read this book without paying anything.]

The book starts with information about two brothers feuding, which leads to a blood curse on the descendants of one brother, now forever imprisoned as unfeeling Shadow Demons. Think mythic, epic-type, Cain and Abel jealousy with plenty of magic thrown into the situation.

Fast-forward to the modern-day world, where heroine police officer Jordan is in a relationship with her partner, Gage. Unaware of the Shadow Demons who visit this world, they run into a fight with one off-duty. A fight that leaves Gage dead.

Fast-forward another five years to the majority of the book. Jordan is now fighting Shadow Demons during her off-duty hours, hoping to avenge the death of Gage. Or is he actually dead, after all?

Here's the excerpt, at Locations 708-15 to 708-23 in Kindle, fr…

Some Other Favorites of 2009

What are some of your favorites from 2009?

T.V. shows: Life (yes, I'm the kiss of death), Vampire Diaries, Real Housewives, The Philanthropist, Modern Family

Movies: Public Enemies, The Hangover

Music: Obsessed (Mariah Carey), Throw it in the Bag (Fabolous), Break Up (Mario)

Purchases: Kindle, iPhone, faux Victorian replica wedding ring, art supplies for Maya (well, anything for Maya, really!)

Favorite moments/memories:

Being with both sisters, four nieces and nephews, and Maya all together on the day of my mom's surgery in March (we're never all in one place)

Maya's first morning of kindergarten/"real school" (yes, even with the tears!)

Every single personal letter or card found in the mailbox

The pumpkin patch with Maya and Herb

Sending Keli 40 cards for her birthday

Opening Day for Herb's barbershop

Maya's day of surgery in July--success!!

Shon's graduation party--How can my goddaughter be 18 already?

My Favorite Books Read in 2009

Yes, I know it's only November 2, but I'm in the mood for making a list. I can always add more later if I read something in November or December that I want to include.

You can click on each listing to go to my original blog review.

And what are your favorites that you've read in 2009, regardless of actual publication dates?

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Need by Carrie Jones

The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Dillinger's Wild Ride by Elliot Gorn

Losing My Religion by Jimmy Carter
Okay, it's not a book, but it's important!!