Friday, January 31, 2014

Review and Giveaway: More Than a Touch

More Than a Touch (Snowberry Creek - Book 2) by Alexis Morgan

Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451417720
ISBN-13: 978-0451417725

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Alexis Morgan on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

A Time for Home (2013), More Than a Touch (2014)

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, More Than a Touch, courtesy of the author's website (half way down the page).

Synopsis:

Welcome to the small rustic town of Snowberry Creek....
 
As Nick Jenkins travels from the war zones of Afghanistan to his comrade’s hometown, the kinds of wounds he carries with him have little to do with the shrapnel damage to his arm. Burdened with the guilt of failing to save his friend Spence, Nick is nonetheless determined to find a home for the dog that had been Spence’s constant companion.
 
Callie Redding, Spence’s childhood best friend, was shocked to learn he left her his old Victorian home. She’s even more surprised when one of his war buddies shows up with a dog at his side—and a heavy weight on his shoulders. As a tribute to their friend’s life, Nick agrees to help Callie turn her inheritance into a welcoming bed-and-breakfast for the town of Snowberry Creek.
 
But as they work through their grief together, they also share something far more precious—the belief that love is worth fighting for.... 


Thoughts:

Alexis Morgan's second book in the Snowberry Creek series, More than a Touch, is sweet contemporary romance about a soldier dealing with PTSD and survivor's guilt. Morgan does a fantastic job of showing the difficulties of a member of the military re-entering normal life and the adjustments they have to make. Leif and Zoe make a great couple who have some obstacles standing in their. Both are wounded in their own way and must help each other to heal. Another great book in this quaint series with a great hometown feel.

What I liked:

This was my first experience with this series and Snowberry Creek was a new town for me. I liked how similar this town was to my own small town, where many people know each other and their lives were intertwined. After loosing a hometown hero, Spence, the town is still recovering when this book starts. I liked the fact that Zoe was already a part of the town and how Leif very quickly became at home there. Mitch the hometown football star, and other characters really bring the town to life. A great new place for readers to visit.

Leif was such a great hero. He was military threw and threw. Everything they did had a commanding air and he just has that presence of a someone who has sworn to protect and serve. The fact that he had survivor's guilt even goes to show how much he cared about his fellow soldiers. I thought his struggles with PTSD seemed very realistic and heart felt. He also had a severe injury to his leg and that's how he meets Zoe.

Zoe is assigned to help Leif with his physical therapy. Even though there is a spark between them from the first time they meet Zoe refuses to let it go beyond the professional because she is determined it is not good business to date patients. But as their friendship grows it's apparent that these two were made for each other. I wasn't quite sure they were going to actually make it, until close to the end. I wished Zoe had figured things out a little sooner, but it was sweet and romantic when she did.

What I didn't like:

This one had a slow pace. It took awhile for the couple to get together and the reader doesn't get much time with them as a couple. That was my only qualm. It made the pacing seem a little draggy at times but it was still a very good love story.

Bottom Line:

This was just a very sweet romantic novel that Morgan shares with readers. It wasn't one of those books that knocks your socks off but it was definitely a feel good novel that many readers will really enjoy. I look forward to reading more about this little small town and the people who live there. 

More Than a Touch is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:


Alexis Morgan has a BA in English from the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She and her husband make their home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Alexis shares her office with two parakeets, who rock out to her favorite music and keep her company while she’s writing.
A lifelong avid reader, Alexis loves spending her days creating worlds filled with sexy warriors and the strong women who love them. She has been nominated for numerous industry awards, including the RITA from the Romance Writers of America, the top award in the romance genre. 


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of More Than a Touch by Alexis Morgan.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, February 14th.

1. Please leave a comment about what you think of military or former military heroes, as heroes in a novel. Good or bad? And why.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review: Dark Wolf

Dark Wolf (Dark - Book 25) by Christine Feehan

Publication Date: 01/07.2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 432
ISBN-10: 0425270793
ISBN-13: 978-0425270790

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Christine Feehan on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Dark Prince (1999), Dark Desire (1999) Dark Gold (2000), Dark Magic (2000), Dark Challenge (2000), Dark Fire (2001), Dark Dream {Short Story} (2001), Dark Dream(2010), Dark Legend (2002), Dark Guardian(2002), Dark Symphony (2003), Dark Descent {Short Story} (2003), Dark Descent(2010),
Dark Melody (2003), Dark Destiny (2004),Dark Hunger {Short Story} (2004), Dark Secret (2004), Dark Demon (2005), Dark Celebration: A Carpathian Reunion (2006)Dark Possession (2007), Dark Curse (2008),Dark Slayer (2009), Dark Peril (2010), Dark Predator (2011), Dark Storm (2012), Dark Lycan (2013), Dark Wolf (2014)

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Dark Wolf, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

WHERE DARK LYCAN ENDED, DARK WOLF BEGINS...

BOOK NUMBER 25 IN CHRISTINE FEEHAN'S ACCLAIMED CARPATHIAN SERIES

#1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan now delivers her most eagerly awaited novel of all—ten years in the making—in the “the erotic, gripping series that has defined an entire genre” (J. R. Ward).

In Dark Lycan, Christine Feehan journeyed into the heart of the Carpathians, and into the souls of two lifemates stirred by the flush of passion and the threat of annihilation. In Dark Wolf, the breathtaking story continues as the bonds of family are imperiled, and the fate of two lovers lies hidden in the seductive shadows between life and death.

Skyler Daratrazanoff always recognized the miracle that was Dimitri Tirunul, a man beyond any dream that had ever engaged her nights. But she was human. Vulnerable. He was Carpathian. Nearly immortal. She was nineteen. He was an ancient. Yet she held half his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not survive. Caught between the two warring species, Dimitri has spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people free, and humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to give up their souls. But now, marked for extermination by the Lycans, Dimitri found himself alone, and fearing for his life. But salvation was coming…

No Lycan would ever suspect someone like Skyler to dare mount a secret rescue operation. A teenage girl. A human of untested abilities. But she had something no one else had. She was predestined for Dimitri—as he was for her. And there was nothing stronger for Skyler than her desire to see her life-dream come true. Whatever the risk.


Thoughts:

Christine Feehan brings readers the long awaited story of Dimitri and Skylar in her latest Dark novel, Dark Wolf. This romance has been a while in the making and readers will be excited to see how their happy ever after comes about. Feehan does and excellent job of bringing a woman with a tragic past full circle and developing her character to accept love and affection. Readers who are looking for an adventure packed paranormal romance will love this latest addition to a long standing series.

What I liked:

Finally, long time readers of Christine Feehan's Dark series get the romance of one of their most beloved couples, Skylar and Dimitri, but it doesn't come the way most readers expected. I was really happy that this book was to focus on this couple, one of my favorites who haven't quite made it together yet. But it didn't happen at all like I had envisioned it. 

When Dark Wolf begins Dimitri is being held captive by the lycans and tortured because of his mixed heritage. Skylar is trying desperately to find and rescue him. But Dark Wolf is not a book about how Skylar and Dimitri fall in love or anything like that. Instead the couple is already together and all of the build up and the fall has already taken place before the book even begins. Certainly not what I expected. Feehan goes a totally different direction by bringing readers in late to party so to speak. And I'm sure that most long time readers of the series will be impressed.

Skylar is of course a great character no matter what circumstances we find her in. She is courageous and spunky. She's been through so many horrible experiences in her past and now she has finally found love with Dimitri. I liked that part very much. She deserved happiness, but now Dimitri is about to be killed and she has to protect him. The role reversal was quite interesting and I think Feehan did a great job with that aspect of the book. Dimitri is not your typical alpha male Carpathian. He understands Skylar need to rescue him and appreciates what she has to offer in order to help protect him this time.

I loved Dimitri's attitude toward Skylar. He was determined not to die though his torture was nearly unbearable, because he knew she needed him and this time he needed her. He is always respectful of Skylar and what shes been through in everything he does including the way he treats her physically and romantically. He is a hero that readers can get behind and appreciate. 

I was a little taken aback by how Skylar responded to Dimitri emotionally and sexually to be honest. Her past is tragic and she has had some pretty horrific sexual experiences due to it, and though Dimitri is patient he still wants to be with Skylar. Feehan has made a great deal about how scarred and traumatized Skylar is, so I was really surprised at how quickly she threw caution to the wind and just went for it. I thought she might have a really hard time with things, but not so. Not sure I quite liked it, but I understood that eventually a person has to try again and in a way that was a good message.

What I didn't like:

I felt a little short changed by not being able to read how Dimitri and Skylar fell in love, but I think it was a plot to shake up the readers of the series. Just not sure it was a good shake. I thought Sklyar was a little too easily turned from a tragic victim to a woman in love. It didn't exactly ring true to me.

Bottom Line:

Overall I liked this book, but it was not the best or the worst of this series. Sometimes when a series continues for a long, long time it starts to loose it's luster and readers aren't treated to something new, but just a rehashing of old stories. I think this was Feehan's attempt to thwart that, but it didn't quite work. It might be time to think about wrapping up this long standing series and trying something altogether new. I love reading Christine Feehan's book, but this one didn't quite hold up to her normal standards. Not a bad book, but not a great book either.

Dark Wolf is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag.



About the Author:


I live on the beautiful Northern California coast. I have always loved hiking, whale watching, and being outdoors. My camping days are over but I might consider glamping. LOL! I am surrounded by my family, my beloved grandchildren and my pack of dogs.

In addition to her Dark Carpathian novels, #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan is the author of the Ghost Walkers series, the Leopard series, and the Sea Haven series which include the novels of the Drake Sisters and the Sisters of the Heart.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Hope Flames

Hope Flames (Hope - Book 1) by Jaci Burton

Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0425259765
ISBN-13: 978-0425259764

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Jaci Burton on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Hope Flames, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

When it comes to love, they already know the rules…by heart.
 
Thirty-two and finally setting up her veterinary practice in the town she once called home, Emma Burnett is on her own and loving it. Independent and driven, she’s not letting any man get in the way of her dreams. Not again.
 
That’s fine with Luke McCormack. Divorced and hardly lacking in female company when he needs it, he’s devoted to the only faithful companion in his life—his police dog. Still, there’s something about Emma he can’t shake.
 
When a series of local break-ins leaves Emma vulnerable, she seeks help from the first man to spark her desire in years. And now they’re giving each other something they thought they’d lost forever…hope.


Thoughts:

Hope Flames is the first book in Jaci Burton's new contemporary romance series. Most readers are familiar with Burton's highly acclaimed Play-by-Play erotic romance series, but this is a change of direction and will appeal to much broader audience. Burton fans may miss some of the over-the-top sexual exploits they are used to with her writing, but she proves she is just as at home in the contemporary genre with this novel. Featuring a home town cop and a lady vet, Hope Flames is sure to be a new kind of hit for Jaci Burton.

What I liked:

If readers are looking for a typical Jaci Burton novel, this one is not it... Written for a wider range of readers Hope Flames has a more realistic and simple feel to it. I was really impressed with how Burton was able to switch gears and still write a romance that well worth my time to read. She still writes her trademark steamy scenes but will a little less graphic language and the book certainly doesn't suffer from it. Burton proves that she can easily write just about anything she wants and it will be very good.

I liked the fact that Burton makes both her lead characters people that readers can look up to. The hero, Luke is a cop with a canine sidekick and the heroine, Emma is a veterinarian who also works with animal rescue. Both are from a small town and have that small town appeal going for them. Working with the community whether it be with the humans or the animals was realistic and engaging. 

Luke was super sexy and I liked the fact that he got a bit frustrated with his job from time to time, who doesn't, right? He had a protective nature and it was easy to see that it carried over from his career choice to how he dealt with everyone including Emma. I loved the way he cared for his dog and how he seemed in tune with what he needed and felt. A man who loves animals is always a plus in my book. Readers will be drawn to Luke instantly, he has that good guy feel to him.

What can I say about Emma. She thought she had it all figured out. She is just getting started with her veterinary practice and she doesn't have time for romance, but when she and Luke get thrown together with some local burglaries going on, it's easy to see that she might have forgotten about something... love. Burton gives Emma such a giving spirit. She offers everything she has to animal community, but still has some left over. I thought she was commendable character who deserved her happy ever after. 

What I didn't like:

There wasn't too much I didn't like about this one, it did have some pacing issues and stalled out a couple of times, but Burton picks the action back up quickly and gets the reader back on track. I think Burton will probably get better and better with contemporary romance as she continues writing this series and her pacing will be more on point.

Bottom Line:

Burton crafts a great romance with a touch of mystery that will have readers flipping those pages until long into the night. It may not be what readers have come to expect from Burton, but perhaps it's time to expect something new.

Hope Flames is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Jaci Burton is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author who lives in Oklahoma with her husband and dogs. She has three grown children who are all scattered around the country having lives of their own. A lover of sports, Jaci can often tell what season it is by what sport is being played. She watches entirely too much television, including an unhealthy amount of reality TV. When she isn’t on deadline, which is often, Jaci can be found at her local casino, trying to become a millionaire (so far, no luck). She’s a total romantic and loves a story with a happily ever after, which you’ll find in all her books.

Review and Giveaway: The Smuggler Wore Silk

The Smuggler Wore Silk (Spy in the Ton - Book 1) by Alyssa Alexander

Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 304
ISBN-100425269523
ISBN-13: 978-0425269527

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Alyssa Alexander on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, The Smuggler Wore Silk, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

A thrilling, seductive adventure from award-winning author Alyssa Alexander… 

After he is betrayed by one of his own, British spy Julian Travers, Earl of Langford, refuses to retire without a fight, vowing to find the traitor. But when the trail leads to his childhood home, Julian is forced to return to a place he swore he’d never see again, and meet a woman who may be his quarry—in more ways than one.

Though she may appear a poor young woman dependant on charity, Grace Hannah’s private life is far more interesting. By night, she finds friendship and freedom as a member of a smuggling ring. But when the handsome Julian arrives, she finds her fa├žade slipping, and she is soon compromised, as well as intrigued.

As she and Julian continue the hunt, Grace finds herself falling in love with the man behind the spy. Yet Julian’s past holds a dark secret. And when he must make a choice between love and espionage, that secret may tear them apart.


Thoughts:

Alyssa Alexander's debut novel, The Smuggler Wore Silk is the first book in the Spy in the Ton series. Readers are given a tale of action, adventure, mystery and intrigue, with a dose of romance to cap it off. Alexander has a way with dialogue that is exceptional. The witty banter she gives her hero was both entertaining and sexy. With a resourceful heroine, a few spies, a traitor and a smuggling ring led by a woman, what more could readers ask for in a historical romance?

What I liked:

First of all, one of the intriguing things about The Smuggler Wore Silk was the fact that it was a debut novel. It certainly didn't read like one. Often times the debut novel of most authors is not always their best work. If that's the case with this book, readers are in for one very good series. This book was well written, had engaging characters with colorful back stories and had enough mystery to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Alexander surprised me with her writing. She writes like a seasoned pro.

Julian, the hero of the story is a wayward earl who doesn't take the responsibilities of his title very seriously. He has spent an inordinate amount of time working as a spy for the British court. Known as Shadow, Julian's work has successful kept him from home for a very long time, keeping his secrets and pain at bay. I thought Julian was an excellent brooding hero. He has issues and flaws, but that was part of what made him so interesting. I loved the way Alexander wrote the way he talked and interacted with Grace, the heroine. 

For me one of the best parts of this novel was the banter between Grace and Julian. He has a way with words that is very enjoyable. Not only does Alexander allow him to use a lot of humor, but she always gives Julian a sexiness that is unmistakable. It was a joy to read. Grace also has quite a bit of dialogue that is fun and keeps the reader guessing as to what she's really up to. Alexander's dialogue skills were excellent.

I loved Grace, she was so fun to read about. She is basically a servant by day, smuggler by night and now she's being accused of being a traitor. Julian believes she is the person who has jeopardized his work as a spy and who is trading in secrets. I loved the fact that Alexander shows Grace as a very good hearted person who would help anyone she could. The fact that she resorts to smuggling for that reason did not seem like a stretch at all. She was resourceful character and her relationship with Julian was very complicated and very hot. 

The chemistry between these two main characters was simply sizzling. It is obvious though they are leery of each other, something else is at work, their own longings for someone to care about them. I loved how they worked together to draw out the real traitor and how Alexander kept readers guessing with some well placed clues. 

There were plenty of people who could have done it and when the reader finds out the real culprit, they will probably kick themselves for not figuring it out sooner. The mystery aspect of the book was very well done. 

What I didn't like:

The only thing I could mention here is that Grace allowed her Uncle to treat her in such a terrible manner. She is a strong woman, but even she takes a beating from the other women in her circle. I just thought she should have stood up for herself a little more. I mean she's a smuggler by night, why take the crap from the ton by daylight? Not a deal breaker, just a pet peeve.

Bottom Line:

This was an excellent debut novel. I look forward to seeing where Alexander will take this series next. She introduced several characters including, Angel, another spy who will probably be featured in the next book in the series. An a very choice for readers who like some extra pizazz to their historical romances.

The Smuggler Wore Silk is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Despite being a native Michigander, Alyssa Alexander is pretty certain she belongs somewhere sunny. And tropical. Where drinks are served with little paper umbrellas. But until she moves to those white, sandy beaches, she survives the cold Michigan winters by penning romance novels that always include a bit of adventure. She lives with her own set of heroes, aka an ever-patient husband who doesn't mind using a laundry basket for a closet and a small boy who wears a knight-in-shining-armor costume for such tasks as scrubbing potatoes.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Smuggler Wore Silk by Alyssa Alexander.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, February 13th.

1. Please leave a comment about what you think of female spy's past, present, and future.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Bitter Spirits

Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties - Book 1) by Jenn Bennett

Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensations
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0425269574
ISBN-13: 978-0425269572

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Jenn Bennett on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Bitter Spirits, courtesy of the author's website (bottom of the page).

Synopsis:

It’s the roaring twenties, and San Francisco is a hotbed of illegal boozing, raw lust, and black magic. The fog-covered Bay Area can be an intoxicating scene, particularly when you specialize in spirits…

Aida Palmer performs a spirit medium show onstage at Chinatown’s illustrious Gris-Gris speakeasy. However, her ability to summon (and expel) the dead is more than just an act.

Winter Magnusson is a notorious bootlegger who’s more comfortable with guns than ghosts—unfortunately for him, he’s the recent target of a malevolent hex that renders him a magnet for hauntings. After Aida’s supernatural assistance is enlisted to banish the ghosts, her spirit-chilled aura heats up as the charming bootlegger casts a different sort of spell on her...

On the hunt for the curseworker responsible for the hex, Aida and Winter become drunk on passion. And the closer they become, the more they realize they have ghosts of their own to exorcise…


Thoughts:

Jenn Bennett's first foray into Paranormal Romance is sure to be an instant hit! Bitter Spirits is the first book in the Roaring Twentie's series featuring a lush historical landscape and multi-faceted characters. Urban Fantasy fans have long loved Bennett's Arcadia Bell series and will definitely be impressed with Bitter Spirits. Bennett's voice is strong and full of mystique and magic in this novel that will allow readers to journey back to 1927, San Franciso and the Prohibition Era. The paranormal aspects of the book only heighten the allure. A fantastic new series!

What I liked:

In short, I liked every single word of this book. Jenn Bennett writes a brilliant and intelligent novel with an incredible setting and characters who live up to the readers expectations. I have not read the author's Arcadia Bell series, but after reading Bitter Spirits it is a given that I will read her other books sooner rather than later. Bennett writes with passion for her subject, her setting and her characters and it can be felt by reader on every page. This is more than a novel, it is perhaps better described as an expression of the author's creativity. I was wowed continually as I read it and I can't recommend it enough. 

What I liked:

As I said earlier Bitter Spirits is an intelligent read. It sparks the readers curiosity about more than just the setting. Paranormal Romance is a genre that is receiving so much attention right now, that it is difficult to sort the wheat from the chafe, so to speak. There are a lot of writers who are just jumping on the band wagon and throwing books out there, that do not possess anything close the quality of this one. Bennett makes the reader believe in ghosts to such a degree that they will find themselves wanting to know more about them in the real world. Her writing is intuitive and riveting. Readers will not want to put this one down!

The 1920's Prohibition Era is not a setting that I would expect for paranormal romance. Actually, it is not one I was very familiar with until reading this book. I had of course the cursory knowledge we get from history class, but that doesn't begin to convey the rich history and beauty that is described so effortlessly in this book. Bitter Spirits takes setting to a whole new level. Bennett's descriptions of everything from the dress and customs to the speakeasies and the bootlegging industry was flawless. The reader is basically immersed in the culture of the time and almost becomes a part of the setting themselves. It was amazing!

I loved the main characters for a lot of reasons. Winter is a man with a commanding presence, an alpha in every sense of the word, but he is flawed and real. Bennett brings his character to life with such resonance that readers will be hard put not to fall for him instantly. Who could blame Aida, he is quite a man. Aida was a sharp and world wise character who had a gift for spirits. She was sassy and resourceful and definitely held her own next to a strong male lead. Both characters were so much more than two dimensional. They had fire and depth and showed strength and vulnerability. Bennett has created a couple who were meant for each other and the reader will know it from their very first meeting, though the author is cognizant to keep readers off balance and wondering until the end.

What I didn't like:

Absolutely nothing! I loved this book!

Bottom Line:

If you have even the barest inkling that you might be interested in reading a paranormal romance, this is a great book to start with. Fans of the genre will be in awe as well. Bitter Spirits is a smart, highly detailed novel, with an unusual setting and a fiery romance. This book sizzles in more ways than one. You gotta read it!

Bitter Spirits is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:


Jenn Bennett is an award-winning artist and author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series. Born in Germany, she’s lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the U.S., and the Far East. She currently lives near Atlanta with one husband and two evil pugs.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, February 12th.

1. Please leave a comment describing your thoughts on the roaring twenties and having a paranormal series set in that time period.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Blog Tour Stop: The Silence of the Library by Miranda James

Please join me in welcoming the author behind Miranda James, Dean James to Debbie's Book Bag today. Dean is here promoting his book, The Silence of the Library. Enjoy this guest post about his inspiration for his latest book in the Cat in the Stacks series. Don't forget to check out my review following the guest post and the publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Silence of the Library, see details at the end.

I blame Nancy Drew...

        I blame Nancy Drew for my life of crime. Reading it and writing it, that is.
I was ten when I borrowed The Secret of Shadow Ranch from a cousin. It was the first mystery I ever read, and I was hooked. Then, to my delight, I discovered this was only one of a long series of adventures in which Nancy solved mystery after mystery. Just as exciting, I soon found other amateur mystery-solvers: the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, and many more. By the time I began reading adult mysteries, my love of the amateur detective was completely entrenched.
When I decided I wanted to write a mystery myself, I knew my main character would be an amateur. After all, I’m not a policeman, or a lawyer, or a private detective. But I do have a healthy dose of curiosity about the world around me and the people in it. Charlie Harris, the sleuth in my “Cat in the Stacks” series, is just like me in that respect. He’s also about my age (fiftyish, if you must know), he’s a librarian, he grew up in Mississippi, and he has a Maine coon cat. That’s as far as it goes, however. (I have two cats, by the way, neither of which is a Maine coon. Also, Diesel is much better behaved than my two.)
I wanted to incorporate my knowledge of, and love for, these juvenile series books into one of my own books, and in the new book, The Silence of the Library, I have done so. I created a series character in the mold of Nancy Drew and the other girl detectives and called her Veronica Thane. The author of the series, Electra Barnes Cartwright, was inspired by Mildred Wirt Benson (the first writer, aka “Carolyn Keene”, of the Nancy Drew series, Margaret Sutton, author of the Judy Bolton series, and Julie Campbell Tatham, the original author of Trixie Belden. In fact the book is dedicated to their memories.

The most fun part of writing this book for me was the “excerpts” from the first Veronica Thane book. I reread some of my favorite girl detective stories from the 1930s to get a sense of the style in my head, and off I went. I hope readers will get a kick out of this aspect of the story. Of course, The Silence of the Library includes murder – a subject that usually didn’t come up in the classic juvenile series books. But when you get a number of rabid book collectors together, with hints of a rare and highly collectible volume, something deadly is sure to happen.


The Silence of the Library (Cat in the Stacks - Book 5) by Miranda James

Publication Date: 01/28/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0425257282
ISBN-13: 978-0425257289

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Miranda James on the WEB: websitefacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Murder Past Due (2010), Classified as Murder (2011), File M for Murder (2012), Out of Circulation (2013), The Silence of the Library (2014)

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Synopsis:

Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel. He’s returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but a celebrated author’s visit draws an unruly swarm of fanatic mystery buffs…and one devious killer.

It’s National Library Week, and the Athena Public Library is planning an exhibit to honor the centenary of famous novelist Electra Barnes Cartwright—creator of the beloved Veronica Thane series.

Charlie has a soft spot for Cartwright’s girl detective stories (not to mention an extensive collection of her books!). When the author agrees to make a rare public appearance, the news of her whereabouts goes viral overnight, and series devotees and book collectors converge on Athena.

After all, it’s rumored that Cartwright penned Veronica Thane stories that remain under wraps, and one rabid fan will stop at nothing—not even murder—to get hold of the rare books…


Thoughts:

The Silence of the Library is the fifth book in the Cat in the Stacks series by author Miranda James. Long time fans of the series always enjoy a visit with librarian, Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon Cat, Diesel. This title is a nod to the girl detective series like Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and will make cozy readers nostalgic for the reads of their childhood. James always delivers a mystery that is entertaining and full of surprises and this one is no different. A great addition to the series!

What I liked:

As always with this series, I love the fact that we have a hero, rather than a heroine. Too many cozy mystery writers believe that the protagonist has to be female for cozy readers to enjoy. Miranda/Dean James proves that theory wrong. Charlie Harris is a well beloved character who has a different perspective on amateur sleuthing perhaps because of his gender. I thought James did a wonderful job of developing this character and continues to delight readers with his antics.

Diesel the Maine Coon Cat is always a favorite with this series. He doesn't have magical abilities or anything like that. He is just a companion, a partner in crime, if you will and he adds a certain flavor to book that is unmistakable. Charlie practically takes Diesel everywhere with him and that includes sleuthing. Diesel is as big as a small dog and would be hard to go unnoticed. I just think Diesel adds something to story that is hard to describe but easy to understand.

The main reason I was so taken with this particular book in the series, was the girl detective theme that James uses. I was a huge fan of girl detective stories when I was young and it led me to books by authors and like Agatha Christie and then to the cozies I enjoy as an adult like The Silence of the Library. That homage or nod to the authors like Mildred Wirt Benson and Julie Campbell Tatham was simply magical. I loved the nostalgic feel this book gives off and I know many cozy readers will as well.

The mystery aspects of this novel were very well written. I always enjoy the fact that James allows Charlie to have his own way with the investigation. He doesn't have to resort to going behind the backs of authorities and he doesn't sleuth where sleuthing isn't warranted. He knows the right questions to ask to the right suspects or witnesses or even killers. This was one was a little hard to figure out which is a good thing and I didn't have it until the last couple of chapters. The suspect list was believable as well. Rare book collectors are definitely a breed of their own and James did a wonderful job of bringing that world to life for the reader.

What I didn't like:

There weren't any huge glaring mistakes with this one. James as usual provides a very succinct mystery that is beautiful in it's simplicity and still complex enough to keep the reader glued to the pages. 

Bottom Line:

If you are a fan of this series, The Silence of the Library is easily my favorite so far. James delivers a cozy that is entertaining and harkens back to the girl detectives of old. His style and prose make readers want to continue reading about Charlie and Diesel. Definitely, a keeper!

The Silence of the Library is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:


Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dean James, the Agatha Award-winning author of several works of mystery nonfiction as well as four mystery series including the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Silence of the Library by Miranda James.

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~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, February 12th.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: With Autumn's Return

With Autumn's Return (Westward Winds - Book 3) by Amanda Cabot

Publication Date: 01/21/2014
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Imprint: Revell Books
Genre: Christian/Inspirational Historical Romance
Pages: 416
ISBN-10: 0800734610
ISBN-13: 978-0800734610

(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, ChristianBook, Indiebound

Amanda Cabot on the WEB: website, blogfacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Summer of Promise (2012), Waiting for Spring (2013), With Autumn's Return (2014)

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, With Autumn's Return, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She's certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he's promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction--and disdain from the community--is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they'll have to decide how far they're willing to go to find justice--and true love.


Thoughts:

The third and final book in the Westward Winds trilogy by Amanda Cabot entitled With Autumn's Return is set in the late 1800's Cheyenne, Wyoming. It has enough Western imagery and heartfelt emotion to draw the reader in quickly and keep them flipping those pages. Cabot's knack for characterization and keen sense of integrating faith into her books is one of the things that keeps her readers returning with each new book she writes. A great example of Christian/Inspirational writing at it's best!

What I liked:

First let me say that I have not read the first two books in this series, though I have read several others by this author. It always amazes me how subtle and intuitive she is with writing about issues of faith. She weaves the ideas she has and the beliefs she follows into every aspect of the book, so that it becomes a part of the story and not just added to get the title of Christian or Inspirational fiction. Cabot knows how to allow her characters to show their faith in their daily lives as we should and that makes all the difference.

I loved the heroine in this one for several reasons. Elizabeth is the final Harding sister and she is certainly a go-getter. She knows what she wants and how to get it. She is a female doctor, which was kind of unheard of at the time. It reminded me of Jane Seymour's television show, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman in some ways, which was a good thing, since I loved that show. She was determined to do everything she could for her patients even in the face of adversity, gossip and overall disdain of her abilities. I liked her tenacity and grasp of what was important.

I liked Jason as well, as a new attorney he was having a bit of self-doubt. He wasn't sure he could hack it in this cut throat business, but in the end he was able to find his inner strength and show that he had the stuff to make it. I liked the way his relationship with Elizabeth grew as they both faced their fears and worked to become accepted and valued in the community.

There was actually a murder in this book, several secondary characters that were well written and helped move the plot along, more than one tender romance and plenty of wonderful characters. There was quite a bit going on, but it all seemed to flow seamlessly and gave me more than one reason to smile.

What I didn't like: 

Not much to report here. This is probably one of my favorites by Cabot, so I can't offer any insights on how it would have been better. It's already good.

Bottom Line:

If you enjoy good Christian/Inspirational fiction you can't go wrong with an Amanda Cabot novel. With Autumn's Return is the final novel in the series but can easily be read as a stand alone. The characters are engaging and full of life and the research into the time period is flawless. Pick it up, you'll be glad you did!

Available January 2014 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, Christmas RosesSummer of Promise, and Waiting for Spring. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and RWA's Booksellers Best. She lives in Wyoming. Find out more at www.amandacabot.com.