Monday, September 1, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Linger

Linger (In Vino Veritas - Book 3) by Lauren Jameson

Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 045147080X
ISBN-13: 978-0451470805

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

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

Lauren Jameson on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

In Vino Veritas

1. Blush
2. Breathe
3. Linger

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




Audio excerpt from, Linger, courtesy of the author's deejay husband!

WARNING: This book is inappropriate for readers under the age of 18. 

Synopsis:

From the author of Breathe and Blush comes a blisteringly hot new novel about baring it all.…

On her last night in Nevada before embarking on a yearlong veterinary internship, Scarlett Malone is celebrating—and looking for one night of incredible pleasure. But the man who draws her eye is not her usual type: He’s a cowboy whose alpha-male tendencies tempt her beyond belief. Scarlett can’t understand why she wants this man and no one else, but she’s determined to entice him to submit.…

Dr. Logan Brody lives an isolated life in rural Montana, running a ranch and suppressing his submissive tendencies. Only on his occasional trips does he give into his hidden urges. He can’t deny his scorching attraction to Scarlett or that she makes him want more, but he never lets anyone break him down fully. He’s hers for one night and one night only.

But when Scarlett shows up at Logan’s door as his intern for the year, he realizes that the walls around his heart are about to crumble—and that this sexy dominant woman has no intention of letting him keep control.…


Thoughts:

Lauren Jameson brings readers the third book in her In Vino Veritas series, focusing on the owners and friends of a BDSM club. Jameson takes readers on a journey into the world of BDSM and into the hearts of her characters. She is able to show the lifestyle in a way that clearly defines it's boundaries and it's pleasures. Readers looking for something different in the genre will love Jameson's originality and the role reversals she explores in this book. A great addition to the series.

What I liked:

Lauren Jameson has a way with words. She is very descriptive and I don't just mean about the bedroom scenes. She brings the setting, the interactions between her characters and every aspect of the story to life through her words. Prose is often overlooked when it comes to stories in this genre. BDSM novels often rely heavily on dialogue to build the tension and depth that is needed to drive the story. Lauren Jameson can and does write good dialogue, but her prose is exceptional. It makes the reader feel like they are really experiencing and seeing what is going on versus hearing about it. It becomes more individualistic instead of second hand accounting. Every book I have read by Jameson has exceeded my expectations partly because of this and Linger is no different.

This is not your typical BDSM novel. Though the characters, Scarlett and Logan meet in a BDSM club, that is not where the majority of the action takes place. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Once Jameson took away the unreality that happens in a club like this, the characters were still able to drive the story. They didn't need all the bells and whistles that a BDSM club has to make the story memorable or exciting, their relationship was enough and that was refreshing. I didn't want the same old setting with this one and Jameson delivered. I loved the Montana setting and the fact that both characters had a life outside the lifestyle, which is not often shown in books of this kind. 

The BDSM lifestyle certainly isn't for everyone. Some people even have issues reading about it. This isn't a book for the faint of heart. Jameson doesn't just stick to the tame and vanilla parts of the lifestyle. Readers are treated to a look at the lifestyle from a different angle. It makes the book more emotional, more original and more intense than many I have read. The main factor that makes this one different is the role reversal. Most BDSM books have an alpha male who is the dominant in the relationship and a submissive female. Not this time! Logan is the submissive even though in his normal life he is anything but. Scarlett is the domme and is she ever! I loved that Jameson switched it up a bit with this one. I wasn't sure I would like it that way, but when the reader starts to find out more about why, things are the way they are in this book... it all makes perfect sense.

What I didn't like:

I thought Scarlett got really close to going over the line a few times with Logan. I think Jameson was just trying make her appear truly dominant and assertive, but she straddled the line a little too closely for me a couple of times and I was glad when she let up. Not a deal breaker but a little disconcerting none the less.

Linger is available tomorrow from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Lauren Hawkeye/ Lauren Jameson never imagined that she'd wind up telling stories for a living... though when she looks back, it's easy to see that she's the only one who is surprised. Always "the kid who read all the time", Lauren made up stories about her favorite characters once she'd finished a book... and once spent an entire year narrating her own life internally. No, really. But where she was just plain odd before publication, now she can at least claim to have an artistic temperament.

Lauren lives in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada with her husband, toddler, pit bull and idiot cat, though they do not live in an igloo, nor do they drive a dogsled. In her nonexistent spare time Lauren can be found knitting (her husband claims that her snobby yarn collection is exorbitant), reading anything she can get her hands on, or sweating her way through spin class. She loves to hear from her readers!



Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Linger by Lauren Jameson.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 15th.

1. Please leave a comment about how you feel about the role reversal of the male being submissive and the female being dominant.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: Harvest at Mustang Ridge

Harvest at Mustang Ridge (Mustang Ridge - Book 3) by Jesse Hayworth

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-10: 0451419162
ISBN-13: 978-0451419163

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

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

Jesse Hayworth (aka. Jessica Andersen) on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Mustang Ridge

1. Summer at Mustang Ridge
2. Winter at Mustang Ridge
3. Harvest at Mustang Ridge

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




Excerpt from, Harvest at Mustang Ridge, courtesy of the author's website

Synopsis:

When former lovers reunite at Mustang Ridge, old feelings run wild….
 
With guest season about to start at the ranch, Krista Skye needs to track down a new head wrangler fast. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the last person Krista wants to see—Wyatt Webb, the college sweetheart who left her behind. Wyatt has major reservations about working with Krista as well, but he has his own reasons for wanting to stay in town.
 
Although Krista and Wyatt are all business at first, sparks fly as they work side by side, preparing for an upcoming country fair. Even though rekindling their relationship brings up painful memories, they’re not the same people they used to be—and neither can deny that there’s still something special between them. They have one last opportunity to save a good thing before it’s too late, but one of them will have to find the courage to take a chance on love....


Thoughts:

Readers return to Mustang Ridge with Jesse Hayworth in her third book in the series, Harvest at Mustang Ridge. This is a heartwarming story of two people taking a second chance at love. Hayworth has a knack for writing not only the human characters in her stories, but the animal characters as well. Readers looking for a book that is about friendship, family and the ties that bind will love this one!

What I liked:

Jesse Hayworth knows how to write a book that will tug at your heartstrings. Often readers know from the onset that the main couple will eventually have a happy ending with Hayworth's books, but it's the journey that makes all the difference. The Mustang Ridge series has introduced readers to a family that loves the land, the people and the animals that make up their home. The Skye family is close knit, determined and they have each others back. Readers will not be able to find any faults with this bunch. They are realistic and lovable at the same time. I loved getting to know Krista who actually runs the ranch in Harvest at Mustang Ridge. She was a great character who deserved a great story and Hayworth certainly gives it to her.

Krista and Wyatt have known each other for a long time and I enjoyed the way they interacted with each other. Hayworth gives readers a couple who probably shouldn't like each other given their past and shows that time does heal wounds and that second chances are possible. I felt like these two characters had so much depth to them. Krista is determined to make the ranch a success and even bites back her pride to ask Wyatt for help. Wyatt is an artist, a metal sculptor. I loved the idea of his career and that he felt he real inspiration came from being home. These characters were just right for each other and that came across in the writing so well.

Another thing I appreciate about Hayworth's writing is her ability to write the animals in her books. She has a way of understanding how these creatures view the world. I've been around a horse or two in my day and this author knows horses. Right down to how a wild mustang might be feeling as it is introduced to life on the ranch. I loved Klepto the dog, he was a great character as well. I once had a dog that would grab things right out of your hand if you weren't quick enough to stop her. LOL! I loved that aspect of this book. The animals were as real as the humans!

My favorite part of this series and especially this book is the interaction of the Skye family. The main characters Krista and Wyatt see the majority of the time in this book, as it should be, but the secondary characters include the rest of Krista's family. The Skye's are something else. They are so realistic. They aren't the perfect family where everything works out just the way you think is should. They have real emotions and real struggles and like a family should, they pull together when they need to. I loved that about this book.

What I didn't like:

Not much to add here, this was a great book and a welcome addition to the series!

Bottom Line:

If you like books about family, friendship and cowboys, this is a good choice for you. Hayworth has a knack for writing both human and animal characters and the family dynamic of the Skye family is extremely enjoyable to read. The romance was heartwarming and ended perfectly and readers will love all of the things that make Mustang Ridge a great place to read about.

Harvest at Mustang Ridge is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Jesse Hayworth is a farm girl from way back, complete with tractors and livestock. Now farmless and driving a Subaru named Roo, Jesse lives on the East Coast with a cranky tabby she rescued from an auto shop and a beloved husband, who rescued her from Match.com. Her past books include Summer at Mustang Ridge and Winter at Mustang Ridge. She loves writing about wide-open spaces, animals, and true love, and she hopes you’ll come along for the ride!


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Harvest at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 15th.

1. Please leave a comment about your experiences with a local country fair or something similar you've experienced.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Extra Sensory Deception

Extra Sensory Deception (Raven's Nest Book Store - Book 4) by Allison Kingsley

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 288
ISBN-10: 0425271382
ISBN-13: 978-0425271384

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

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

Allison Kingsley (aka. Doreen Roberts Hight, Karens Kingsbury and Rebecca Kent) on the WEB: website, blogfacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Raven's Nest Bookstore

1. Mind Over Murder
2. A Sinister Sense
3. Trouble Vision
4. Extra Sensory Deception

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




Excerpt from, Extra Sensory Deception, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

As the owners of the Raven’s Nest bookstore, cousins Stephanie and Clara Quinn are the premier booksellers in the quaint town of Finn’s Harbor, Maine. But with Clara’s inherited ability to read minds and see the future, she’s also the premier crime solver… 
 
You don’t have to be a psychic to know: The rodeo is coming to town! Clara’s boyfriend, Rick Sanders, invites her to the show to meet his high school buddy and expert calf roper, Wes Carlton. But when Clara’s Quinn Sense offers her a disturbing vision involving a rodeo clown, she worries that there will be more danger at the rodeo than just the traditional bucking bronco.
 
Of course, her premonition turns out to be accurate, and a dead body is discovered behind the concert stage, strangled by Wes’s piggin’ string. Rick is sure that there’s no way Wes could have murdered anyone, but he’s going to need Clara’s Quinn Sense to keep the authorities from roping the wrong suspect... 


Thoughts:

Extra Sensory Deception is the fourth book in the Raven's Nest Bookstore mystery series by Allison Kingsley. Kingsley use of the paranormal is a joy to read. The heroine, Clara has inherited her families sixth sense, and she uses it to solve crimes in the quaint little town of Finn's Harbor, Maine. Readers will love the setting, be intrigued by characters and engaged by the intricate mystery. The rodeo has come to town and a killer may be with it. It's up to Clara, Stephanie and their friends to figure out whodunit!

What I liked:

Back a long time ago when I first started reading, books paranormal elements were much more rare than they are today. The didn't have a lot of werewolves, or vampires and relied a lot on the readers perceptions of what was normal and what was not to drive them. I appreciate that Allison Kingsley takes readers back in a sense, when ESP (extra sensory perception) was one of the main paranormal events along with aliens and maybe a ghost or two. Clara's "Quinn Sense" is intriguing, if a bit haphazard. The fact that is unpredictable at best, makes it that much more believable. It adds a lot to the story, from her conversations with her dog, Tatters to her visions of what might be about to happen. Kingsley takes and old school approach to the paranormal and I like it.

Clara's relationship with her cousin Stephanie has always interested me in this series. Both are only children and very different from each other. But the way they work together is amazing. Stephanie is quick on the draw, very spontaneous and full of surprises, while Clara is more reflective and introspective. She is ponderer, a thinker. I like both approaches and think that Kingsley uses both her advantage in this series. 

As usual, I love the Maine setting for this series. I always think of Maine as being full of little fishing villages and things. I couldn't imagine a rodeo coming to a town in Maine of all places until I read this book. And believe it or not, it actually worked. I liked the behind the scenes aspect of the rodeo and Rick's connection to Wes. I thought it made for a very interesting mystery with some unconventional suspects. I admit I was really surprised at how it all came together in the end and how Clara's ESP worked into the story line. 

What I didn't like:

I will be the first to say that I enjoy Clara's relationship with hardware store owner, Rick. But I don't understand why she still hasn't confided in Rick about her gifts. We are four books into the series and I think it's time she starts to trust Rick and herself and what she is able to do. She treats it more like a curse and I'm not sure how long readers will buy that.

Bottom Line:

This is a great series and I love just about everything about it from the book store theme to the beautiful Maine setting. The mystery aspect in Extra Sensory Deception was well written and kept me engaged throughout the book. I liked the addition of the rodeo and the characters it brought with it. I love Tatters and now Edgar and can't wait to read the next one. 

Extra Sensory Deception is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




Check out the quote from Debbie's Book Bag on the first page inside the cover!

About the Author:


Allison Kingsley is the national bestselling author of the Raven's Nest mystery series, including Trouble VisionA Sinister Sense, and Mind Over Murder.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Extra Sensory Deception by Allison Kingsley.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 11th.

1. Please leave a comment about your favorite rodeo activity.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Man Plan

The Man Plan (Graysons - Book 2) by Tracy Anne Warren

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451466144
ISBN-13: 978-0451466143

(Received for an honest review from Signet)

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

Tracy Anne Warren on the WEB

websitefacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Graysons

1. The Last Man on Earth
2. The Man Plan

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




Excerpt from, The Man Plan, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Man on Earth comes a delicious new novel about a young woman’s dreams of finding grand romance and success in the big city—and her schemes to make both come true....
What’s a girl to do when the man she’s loved her entire life thinks of her as a little sister? Worse, her own big sister was the one who broke his heart years earlier. For Ivy Grayson, the chance to get him to see her in a different light comes when she receives an unexpected invitation to move into his luxury New York apartment building. Manhattan also just happens to be the perfect place to pursue her wish to become a successful artist. But how many dreams can one woman expect to come true?

Billionaire financier James Jordon has everything a man could want—except love. When Ivy’s family asks him to keep an eye on their “little girl” in the big city, he agrees. But the innocent girl he knew is now a dynamic woman who knows what she wants, and how to get it. He may have promised himself to keep things platonic, but ignoring the game of love isn’t an option. Especially when Ivy is so eager to play.


Thoughts:

Tracy Anne Warren brings readers the second book in the Graysons series, The Man Plan. This is a contemporary romance set in the world of business. The hero is a successful businessman, while the heroine is an up and coming artist. It's a case of opposites attracting, but they have a lot to overcome, including a substantial age difference and the fact that Ivy's sister left James at the alter in the previous book. Warren is able to pull it all together to provide readers with an adventurous love story that will have them on pins and needles to see if the seduction works.

What I liked:

After reviewing the first book in this series, The Last Man on Earth, I was hoping that James would get his own story. I wanted to see the nice guy finish first instead of last. His character seemed very genuine and caring. I wanted to see him find his own happy ever after because he was jilted by Madelyn and because I wanted to know more about him and I'm really glad that Tracy Anne Warren gave us a book that takes a deeper look into his character. 

What I didn't like:

In The Man Plan, James becomes of the object of Ivy Graysons deepest desires. Her sister may have left him at the altar, but Ivy wanted to be the one to pick up the pieces and now she may have her chance. James is a very successful businessman. His career and his love life seem to be going alright from an outsiders point of view. I liked James in this book, but not quite as much as in the first one. I thought he got a little short changed in The Man Plan. I wanted to see a lot more depth to his character. I understood his need to stay away from Ivy and her conniving. He was the older man and she seemed too young and naive for him, but he just couldn't resist. I was hoping for a love interest that was his equal and didn't quite find that here.

Ivy was not what I expected. I am generally okay with the theme of the older man, having been in that situation myself. But this time it just didn't seem to work. Ivy's maturity level was just too far removed from that of James. He seemed every inch, a man, while she still had all the characteristics of an infatuated girl. Her decisions were often rash and her reactions more like a teenager than a young woman. She goes into her 'man plan' to get James to fall in love with her, all the time knowing he had a girlfriend. I just couldn't make myself respect her or like her. That doesn't happen too often for me.

Bottom Line:

I like Tracy Anne Warren's writing but this book fell a little short for me. I wanted so much more for James. He had his moments of being underwhelming in this book and Ivy was just too young for him in every way. I wish I could have liked this one because I enjoyed James' character so much in the first one, but it just didn't hold together. The last few chapters were good, but the rest of the book was a bit too cliche. As with any book you should read it and see what you think. My opinion is just that, my opinion and yours may be different. 

The Man Plan is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Tracy Anne Warren is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen romance novels including The Last Man on Earth.After working in the corporate world for a number of years, she quit her day job to pursue her first love: writing. She has won numerous industry awards, including Romance Writers of America’s RITA award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the HOLT Medallion. She currently lives in Maryland with a small clowder of rescue cats.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Man Plan by Tracy Anne Warren.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 10th.

1. Please leave a comment about a time when you tried to change someone's opinion of you.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Book Fair and Foul

Book Fair and Foul (Ashton Corners Book Club - Book 4) by Erika Chase

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425271498
ISBN-13: 978-0425271490

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Erika Chase on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Ashton Corners Book Club

1. A Killer Read
2. Read and Buried
3. Cover Story
4. Book Fair and Foul

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




Excerpt from, Book Fair and Foul, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

For the mystery book lovers of Ashton Corners,
burial plots tell the most intriguing stories.


The members of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society are all chipping in as Molly Mathews, now owner of the bookstore the Book Nook, prepares the first annual Mystery Book Fair. While gossip circulates about the guest authors, club member Lizzie Turner is unpleasantly surprised to see a certain book publicist make an appearance. It seems Lizzie has a history with Ashley Dixon—a chapter of her life she’d rather leave closed.

But when someone gives Ashley a death sentence, Lizzie becomes the prime suspect in a murder mystery she can’t put down. Now Lizzie and her fellow book buffs have to read between the lines of the publicist’s past and catch the real killer before Lizzie is written off for good.


Thoughts:

Erika Chase brings readers the fourth book in the Ashton Corners Book Club series, Book Fair and Foul. This series focuses on a local book club and their exploits in reading and sleuthing. Chase excels at good character development and plotting. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book that will have the reader up late trying to figure it all out. With former college roommates and several finicky authors there are plenty of suspects to choose from as the gang trys to find the killer who is framing, Lizzie. A good addition to the series.

What I liked:

One of the things that I always enjoy about this series is the fact that the characters are readers. They are a part of book club that enjoys not only reading mysteries but also solving them. I think Chase understood that writing the series from the perspective of actual readers would appeal to people who love books. We tend to see things a little differently. I have a tendency to try to solve the clues right along with the hero or heroine and I think Chase uses that reader mentality to her advantage here. The quotes from other current mystery writers at the beginning of each chapter was a great touch. Many of the books they are taken from are books that I have actually reviewed. A nice touch!

The theme of the mystery book fair went over really well in Book Fair and Foul. I liked learning all of the behind the scenes machinations that have to go on to make a book fair a success. It was interesting to see the process of getting the authors assembled and how the book fair went off. I think it added to the whole atmosphere of mystery reading and mystery solving. It gave the plot cohesion and helped to drive it toward it's ultimate conclusion. Who knew authors could be so catty? LOL!

Lizzie has certainly gotten herself into a mess in this one. Not only has her former college nemesis ended up in Ashton Corners, but she tries to put the moves on Lizzie's police chief boyfriend, Mark. The relationship drama ends Lizzie in a pickle, as the main suspect in Ashley's murder. Continuing with the idea of reading, as well as, solving crimes, the victim's reason for being there was that she was a publicist. I thought Chase really did a great job of pulling everything into a central idea, even the personal aspects of the story. 

What I didn't like:

I liked this book. It had a good plot and the characters not only supported the story, but kept the theme of reading and mystery solving alive. But there just wasn't quite enough punch for me to make this a five apple read. It wasn't bad, in fact there were a lot of things I liked about it. But it didn't give me that wow factor that I need in a good mystery. I solved it a little too soon for my own tastes. The cliffhanger at the end did go a long way toward making me want to read the next book, though, so that was a good thing.

Bottom Line:

Not my favorite of the series, but still certainly worth the time to read. Readers who are familiar with the gang from Aston Corners will enjoy more adventures with characters they have come to know as friends and new readers will like the book fair theme and how it plays out in the mystery.

Book Fair and Foul is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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





About the Author:


Erika Chase writes the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime. In a parallel life she is also known as Linda Wiken, a former mystery bookstore owner. The first in the book club series, A Killer Read, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel from the Malice Domestic conference in 2013. Linda/Erika is also a short story writer and a member of those dangerous dames, The Ladies' Killing Circle. She has been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award, Best Short Story, from Crime Writers of Canada.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Book Fair and Foul by Erika Chase.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 9th.

1. Please leave a comment describing a book fair or convention you have been to or would like to go to.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Shelter Me

Shelter Me (Second Chance Ranch - Book 1) by Catherine Mann

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0425269884
ISBN-13: 978-0425269886

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

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

Catherine Mann on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Shelter Me, courtesy of the authors website (half way down the page)

Synopsis:

From the USA Today bestselling Catherine Mann comes this beautiful, heartwarming novel about a returning soldier, the daughter of his fallen commander, and a very special dog with a mission.  For fans of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery.

Nestled in the sunny fields of Tennessee lies the McDaniel family’s Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue. Two new arrivals are on their way, but only one is the four-legged kind.
 
Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski wants only one thing after he gets home from Iraq: to sleep in a king-sized bed with clean sheets. But first, he has to hand off his fallen commander’s dog, Trooper, to his family without handing off his heart to Sierra…
 
Sierra McDaniel needs a break. Her family life is crazy, and when she’s not mucking out kennels, she’s slogging through grad school. Sierra certainly doesn’t want another dog, especially one that reminds her of her father. And she definitely doesn’t want to see Mike with that charming smile of his…
 
But Trooper has a mission of his own. Before too long Mike is moving to the ranch to lend a hand—and hoping for his own second chance with Sierra.


Thoughts:

Catherine Mann brings readers the first book in a new series about a pet rescue operation and a family readers won't soon forget. Shelter Me is the heart wrenching story of the McDaniel family and their struggle to maintain their lives and dreams in the wake of losing their father. Readers who love animals, readers who have lost family members, readers who are just looking for a tender love story, will all find something to cheer about in this book. Catherine Mann delivers a powerful and endearing romance!

What I liked:

I am not even sure where to begin with this book. I have read several books by Catherine Mann and have truly enjoyed all of them. Her characters are always easy to relate to, multi-faceted and emotionally satisfying, but there is something about the McDaniel family. The characters in Shelter Me are so raw and real that readers will have a hard time not being completely drawn in by them. To say that I became emotionally invested in this book was an understatement. It was written with such heart and clarity that I honestly felt every heart break and every joy right along with these characters. 

Mike and Sierra share a past, that wasn't exactly pretty. He didn't feel worthy of her and broke up with her before he was deployed under the command of her father. As the news shows us everyday, our military is still struggling against aggressor's in Afghanistan and soldiers and their families face loss and grief on a daily basis. I think that was part of what was so poignant about this story. When Sierra's father dies in combat and Mike returns his dog,Trooper to the family, something inside the reader will start to wrench and twist. This book is a love story, but it is a lot more than that. It is about the way a family knits itself back together after such a huge loss. It was just incredible to read about and obvious that the author understands what she is writing about. This is something she lives with and the reader will be able to see it in her words.

I am a huge advocate for animal rescue and I was expecting that to be a minor part of this story, but it wasn't. The Second Chance Ranch and McDaniel family commitment to it, was amazing. Readers will get to take a behind the scenes look at what it really takes to run this kind of facility. The difficulties and the decisions that have to be made. The struggles they go through and the deep and endearing love it takes to provide this kind of care. Trooper was amazing! I loved the parts of this book that were told from his point of view. Yes, that's right, part of the story is told from the point of view of a dog and it is something readers won't soon forget. A powerful look at the devotion and love that people can experience through the eyes of their pets. Just a joy to read!

The secondary characters in this story were told with just as much respect as the main couple. They had depth and feeling and made the reader want to know them better. Lacey, Sierra's mom, was a character just trying to make it through another day. I related to her. She was holding it together by a thread and her struggle added so much to the story. Readers will love her, as well as, the rest of the McDaniel family.

I have to give Catherine Mann props for balancing the many emotional elements of this story. The romance certainly does not take a back seat. It is gritty and edgy and these two characters are both hurting but clinging to each other to help them make it through. I loved the way Mike showed his feelings and relished life. It is too short and I think military men and women have a deeper sense of that than most people. Sierra had a lot of love in her heart and she impressed me as a reader at every turn. I loved the nods she made to some literary greats and her intelligence. A great couple, who deserved happiness. 

Bottom Line:

This is one the best books I have read this year. It will pull at the readers heart strings. It will tear them apart and knit them back together, just like this very memorable family. I can't wait to read more about them. This was an exceptional read. I can't recommend it enough!

Shelter Me is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


USA Today bestselling author Catherine Mann writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, and Sourcebooks, with her work reprinted in more than twenty countries. She lives on the Florida coast where she and her military flyboy husband have brought up four children. An active volunteer with her local Humane Society, Catherine enjoys writing while foster puppies nap on her feet. FMI: http://catherinemann.com


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Shelter Me by Catherine Mann.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 8th.

1. Please leave a comment about any rescued pets you may have and how you came to have them.

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Review and Giveaway: Taken In

Taken In (Southern Sewing Circle - Book 9) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425257851
ISBN-13: 978-0425257852

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Elizabeth Lynn Casey on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Southern Sewing Circle

1. Sew Deadly
2. Death Threads
3. Pinned For Murder
4. Deadly Notions
5. Dangerous Alterations
6. Reap What You Sew
7. Let It Sew
8. Remnants of Murder
9. Taken In

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




Excerpt from, Taken In, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

When a trip to the Big Apple ends in murder, the sewing circle searches for a killer who’s rotten to the core. . .
 
Winning an appearance on a top-rated, New York based morning show means the trip of a lifetime for librarian Tori Sinclair and the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle. Anxious to experience Manhattan with her friends, Tori is less than excited when fellow member Dixie Dunn opts to use the vacation as an opportunity to rendezvous with a man she met online.
 
Still, Tori never imagined her friend would be taken in by a con man specializing in scamming vulnerable older women—or that Dixie would be arrested for his murder.
 
Now, as the sewing circle goes up against Gotham’s elite to prove Dixie’s innocence, they will have to unravel tangled secrets and alibis, patch together a mess of clues, and put a clever killer in the city’s hottest spotlight . . .


Thoughts:

Taken In is the ninth book in Elizabeth Lynn Casey's Southern Sewing Circle series. This series focuses on a group of ladies that could not be more different from each other, but all have a love for sewing and solving mysteries. Casey uses humor, originality and a lot of interesting clues to keep her readers coming back for more. Taken In may be book nine in the series, but it is certainly no stopping place. From Sweet Briar to the Big Apple, these ladies are taking over! A great addition to the series!

What I liked:

There is something about a group of ladies getting together to do a project, whether it is sewing, quilting, canning, cooking, crafting, reading or anything in between that builds camaraderie and relationships. One of my favorite parts of the Southern Sewing Circle series is the friendships that develop between these women. When you start a group like this, you really don't know what you are going to get and that's the best part. There is so much diversity in this group of characters. You have big age differences, different ethnic groups, varied personalities. It just gives an author so much to work with and I think Elizabeth Lynn Casey really uses this to her advantage, especially in her latest book, Taken In.

Because of the diversity of the group, Casey is able to take her characters into so many different directions. This time in Taken In readers get to see how the ladies fare in a different environment. The sewing circle is taking on the big city, as they go to New York to tape an appearance on a talk show. I love the fact Casey often uses common things and current situations in her books and the talk show angle was perfect, as well as, the internet dating scene which is also a big part of this mystery. Both were great ideas and very well executed.

Dixie is quickly thrown in jail for the murder of a man she met on the internet, whom she found out was a con man preying on elderly women. Tori and the other gals are quick to come to her defense and to start sorting out the clues that might lead to the killer. The mystery was interesting and there were a lot of possibilities where suspects were concerned. I thought Casey did a fantastic job of not only making the mystery compelling and intriguing, but also making this one funny. There was so much humor and that just added to it's overall enjoyment. 

Bottom Line: 

I think this is one was a very well written addition to the series. It not only made me laugh, but it made me think. I didn't put it together to quickly and was surprised at the end. I loved the change of locale for the ladies, but I did miss Sweet Briar. There just wasn't anything not to like!

Taken In is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Elizabeth Lynn Casey is the author of the bestselling Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Taken In by Elizabeth Lynn Casey.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 8th.

1. Please leave a comment telling if you've been to 'the big apple' and what your experience was like.
2. Please fill out the FORM