Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: It Happened One Bite

It Happened One Bite (Gentleman Vampyre's -Book 1) by Lydia Dare

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Historical
Pages: Paperback, 416pp
ISBN-13: 9781402245077

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Lydia Dare on the WEB: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Excerpt from
It Happened One Bite
Youtube Channel for Lydia Dare - They have some great question and answer video's posted.

Check out my interview with Lydia Dare for a chance to win one of two copies of It Happened One Bite!

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


Rich, titled, and undead, gentleman vampyre James Maitland, Lord Kettering, fears himself doomed to a cold and lonely existence - trapped for decades in an abandoned castle. Then, beautiful Scottish witch, Blaire Lindsay arrives, and things begin to heat up considerably...


Feisty Blair Lindsay laughs off the local gossip surrounding her mother's ancestral home - stories of haunting cannot scare off this battle-born witch. But when she discovers the handsome prisoner in the bowels of the castle, Blaire has no idea that she has unleashed anything more than a man who sets her heart on fire...


First in a new series featuring gentleman vampyres,
It Happened One Bite is the latest release from writing duo Lydia Dare. Readers who loved the Westfield Wolves series will not be disappointed as Lydia Dare once again blends the historical and the paranormal to create a heart-stopping romance. With everything from an ancient castle with it's own prisoner to a love that could breathe new life into the heart of a lonely man, this book has it all!

Blaire Lindsay has no idea what she will find when she accompanies her brothers to the ancestral castle belonging to their mother. Briarcraig Castle is covered in dust and long forgotten along with the undead prisoner it holds. Twenty years ago Blaire's mother and her coven sisters imprisoned James Maitland, Lord Kettering in the castle to prevent a vision from coming true that could destroy Blaire and her family. Now, Blaire releases the gentleman vampyre unaware of what he is, only that he touches her in a way no one ever has. Their attraction for each other is strong and fiery, though perhaps futile. When a vampyre bent on revenge targets Blaire , it will take everything Blaire and James have in them to fight for her family and their love.

It's no secret that Lydia Dare is one of my favorite authors. After being introduced to the first book in the Westfield Wolves series,
A Certain Wolfish Charm, I have sung their praises at every opportunity. This was one of the first paranormal historical's I had ever read and I was completely enthralled by it and I have felt the same about every book they have released since.

Lydia Dare's latest offering,
It Happened One Bite is the first in a new series called the Gentleman Vampyres. I was somewhat sad to see the end of the first series, but happy to see what Lydia Dare would come up with next. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is more of a continuation of the story than a complete departure from the their first efforts. The characters we have learned to love from the Westfield Wolves books are still a vital part of this new series and that was an exciting prospect for me (Benjamin Westfield will always be a favorite of mine!)

Lydia Dare's approach to vampyre mythology was somewhat related to what readers have come to expect from this supernatural creature. The undead in
It Happened in One Bite, have an aversion to the sun, they have fangs, they drink blood and have the ability to compel others to do their bidding, but Dare also adds a few refreshing aspects to their version of the vampyre.

James Maitland and a few of the other vampyre's in the story have mystical rings given to them by a ancestral version of the coven that allows them to lead a more normal existence, going outside during the day etc. This ring also keeps them in constant contact with each other, almost like a tracking device or a homing beacon. Dare's vampyre's also seem to retain a semblance of their former selves. Matthew was a knight in his former life and he retains that air of command and loyalty. James was a rich and titled gentleman and he still has the consistent mannerisms and idea's of a gentleman even though vampyre's are considered uncivilized. I liked the way the authors were able to show vampyre's in a different light. Though there were a couple of villains, Dare's vampyre's still gave off the impression of a very elegant and cultured race.

The character development in this one was off the scale. When we were first introduced to Blaire Lindsay and her coven sisters in the Westfield Wolves series, Blaire's character took a backseat to other more prominent members of the coven. But this book is truly her story, where she comes into her own as a strong and very entertaining character. Her fiery spirit and determination radiate off the page as well as her passion. Blaire comes across to the reader as young woman who believed her only purpose in life was as a battle-born witch. She has neglected that part of herself that is all woman. But, James seems to draw that out of her and shows the reader a very different aspect of Blaire. The authors did a wonderful job of developing the relationship between Blaire and James and allowing the reader to see Blaire blossom within the love they share.

James is a great character as well. He's handsome, rich, and very debonair. He gives of the air of a man who knows what he wants and isn't used to not getting it. In this case he wants Blaire, even though he knows that as a vamypre he doesn't have a heart and cannot give her the love she deserves. Yet he is still drawn to her like a moth to the flame. He is a gentleman to the core, never feeding from anyone who does not want to be with him. I found the idea that he marked Blaire interesting as that went right along with the idea that a werewolf marks his mate as well. In reality I think each person bears a mark from the person they love whether it is visible to the outside world on just on their hearts. So I really liked this idea.

I recommend this one to all of my readers. If you are a fan of historical romances, this one fits the bill. If you are a fan of the paranormal, this one is right up your alley. If you like mysteries, this one has a little bit of that too. Horror fan? Vampyre's generally fit into that category as well. So there is a something for just about every type of reader to fall in love with in this book. I can't say enough good things about this writing team. I really love their books and can't wait to see what they come up with next.

It Happened One Bite is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Lydia Dare is the writing team of Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson. Both ladies are active members of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and sit on the organization's board of directors. They live with their families near Raleigh, North Carolina.

Interview and Giveaway: Lydia Dare

Please join me in welcoming the writing team of Lydia Dare back to Debbie's Book Bag today! They are joining us to talk about their latest release, It Happened One Bite. The publisher has generously offered two copies of this book for giveaway. See details at the end of the post.

Ladies, welcome back to Debbie's Book Bag!

DEB: Lydia Dare, tell us what you’ve been up to since you were here last? Lydia (Jodie) – Well, since we were last here we have completed a new series on Regency vampyres and the witches who love them. We’re currently working on another wolfish trilogy, featuring a trio of brothers connected to Dashiel Thorpe from The Taming of the Wolf.
Lydia (Tammy) – We’re looking forward to having the two newest vampyre books out in 2011, and then the next three Lycan books will be out in 2012!

DEB: Tell us a little about your latest book, It Happened One Bite. Is this book a single title or part of a new series?

Lydia (Jodie) – It Happened One Bite is the first in our latest series about Regency Vampyres. Readers may remember fireball throwing, battle-born witch Blaire Lindsay from our Westfield Wolves series. In this book, Blaire travels to the Highlands with her brothers to see a castle her older brother has inherited. She doesn’t expect to find a vampyre trapped in the dungeon once she arrives however.
Lydia (Tammy) – Trapped by their by her own mother and the former generation of the coven, Blaire has to set him free. But once he wakes, some vampyres show up. One is his maker, a former knight in shining armor, and the other is a vampyre bent on revenge. So, James is forced to protect the battle born witch while keeping himself from partaking of her charms. He’s a gentleman through and through, but without a beating heart, he’s doomed to live a loveless existence.

DEB: I know that one of you tends to write the historical parts of your novels and the other writes the paranormal aspects of the book. Who writes which parts and what inspired you to put the two together?
Lydia (Jodie) – I brought the history to our books and Tammy is responsible for the paranormal. At this point, we’ve gotten more comfortable in the other’s domain and we each can and do write both. Tammy is responsible for the idea of blending our preferred genres.
Lydia (Tammy) – I know for me, the parts of the book that seemed foreign when we started writing are not as foreign anymore. The furniture, the clothing, the mannerisms – it all seems like second nature now. So, what used to be only my domain or only Jodie’s domain we often sneak into and out of when it’s our turn with the pages.

DEB: When you are researching for a particular book, what kinds of resources do you use and what is most helpful to you in finding out what you need to know for your novel?
Lydia (Jodie) – Well, it depends on the book. For Tall, Dark and Wolfish, where we first introduced our Scottish coven, I bought a number of books on witchcraft and magical ingredients. This was a completely new terrain for me and I wanted to make certain our witches were using the right ingredients in any potions they might create. Now after writing 6 books that feature witches in one way or another, those books have gotten a little worn. For the book we’re thiiis close to finishing for next year, I started with the year 1820 and just began combing through the events of the year to be more familiar with what would be happening in the background. And what a year it was. We think we have the Trial of the Century every year, but that particular year – the new King George IV was doing everything in his power to rid himself of his inconvenient wife. There was a very salacious trial, witnesses after witnesses paraded before parliament to discredit the Queen, with the ultimate goal of annulling his marriage. And though he had the votes in parliament, the action was so unpopular with the people, the King did not press forward. I have a ton of books on the period and often ideas for stories will pop up just from browsing through my research books.

DEB: A lot of my readers are writers and they are interested in how you first got started writing. What gave you the confidence to try to sell your manuscript?
Lydia (Jodie) – I’ve been writing since I was in the 2nd grade. I’ve written a little bit of everything. Short stories, news articles, stage plays, and screenplays. In fact I had been actively screenwriting for many years when an exec at Disney suggested to my then husband that I try my hand at writing romance. I had considered the idea when I was in 7th grade, so it wasn’t a new one, but I hadn’t thought about it for many, many years. But I decided to give it a shot. Joined my local RWA chapter and met some of the most amazing, talented, and helpful women ever. Tammy and I met at the local chapter as well, and became fast friends.
Lydia (Tammy) – We were sitting at a workshop not paying attention, and we started talking about this idea I had for a Regency paranormal novel. And Jodie started telling me all the reasons why it didn’t work history-wise. So, by the time she told me all the ways it could work, the story wasn’t mine anymore. It was ours. And has been every since!

DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
Lydia (Jodie) – If you’re not part of an organization for writers, join one. The support you get is amazing. And it is so helpful to surround yourself with creative people who “get” that part of your life.
Lydia (Tammy) – RWA and our local chapter of RWA, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, has been a tremendous help to me. Just knowing that there are other people who juggle life, family, kids, jobs, and writing is a huge help. And being able to tap into their collective knowledge is wonderful. I can’t think of all the times I’ve sat down with one or another of them and said, “Can I ask you a question?” They’ve never turned me down.

DEB: My readers are also interested in you as a people. Name one pet peeve that each of you have?
Lydia (Jodie) – Just one? How will I ever narrow it down? How about this… I hate it when writers think there is only one way to go about something, namely theirs. I’ve sat in sessions where presenters have said – and I’m not kidding – things like “The most stupid thing you can do as an author is be a pantser”. That drives me insane. There are so many ways to do so many things. We each have our own methods that might not work for anyone else in the world. And that’s fine. You have to find your own path. Discover what works for you and be able to shut out all the helpful advice that is really someone else’s arrogance being thrust on you. Many writers are introverted and when starting out look for any morsel of advice that will help them be successful. And that’s great. Listen to everything, because you need to discover what works for you. But have enough faith in your own vision, your own method, to do whatever works for you. Just because a NYT bestseller says there’s one way to do something, doesn’t make it true. And it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. … There. Aren’t you glad you only asked for one pet peeve now?
Lydia (Tammy) – I’m glad they only asked you for one pet peeve, Jodie. We could be here all day… My big pet peeve – Jodie’s list of pet peeves. JUST KIDDING! I’m not a physically demonstrative person, so people who hug and stuff always make me a little uncomfortable. Does that count?

DEB: Tell us one thing that readers may not know about each of you?
Lydia (Jodie) – This is so hard for me. My life is an open book and I tell everyone everything. How about this – I’m not a fan of music. Not any kind by anyone. I find it messes the area of my mind that is creative and drives me a little crazy as it wars for my attention. I honestly could never hear another song for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t miss it. And, yes, I do know how strange that makes me. Believe me everyone in my life thinks I’m a little nuts.
Lydia (Tammy) – I am a mom of two boys, ages 16 and 7 and I am a sports mom. Does the word cow bell mean anything to you? If so, you may be one, too.

DEB: If you could travel to any time period when and where would it be?
Lydia (Jodie) – I’d have to go to Regency England, wouldn’t I? That would open so many doors on research.
Lydia (Tammy) – ANYWHERE! But if I have to pick, I’d probably visit the same time period, just to see how accurate our books are. How much of what we use is what we assume to have happened? And how much did? I’d love to find out.

DEB: What books by other authors are you most interested in that are coming out in 2011?
Lydia (Jodie) – I’m looking forward to Deb Marlowe’s How to Marry a Rake. And I’m looking forward to Sabrina Jeffries’ To Wed a Wild Lord.
Lydia (Tammy) – I’m waiting for the same. And in 2012, Claudia Welch’s Sorority Sisters. And all the great authors at HCRW -- love them all and can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Sourcebooks has generously offered two copies of It Happened One Bite for giveaway to two winners here at Debbie's Book Bag! Follow these simple rules to be entered.

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
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~ The deadline for this giveaway is Midnight EST April 13th.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Driftwood Cottage

Driftwood Cottage (Chesapeake Shores - Book 5) by Sherryl Woods

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: Paperback, 384pp
ISBN-13: 9780778329473

(Received for review from Nancy Berland Promotions)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Sherryl Woods on the WEB: Website, Facebook

Excerpt from
Driftwood Cottage
Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Single mom Heather Donovan's dreams of home and family are tantalizingly within reach when she settles in Chesapeake Shores. The welcoming arms of the boisterous, loving O'Brien clan embrace her and her son. But accepting their support seems to further alienate her son's father, Connor O'Brien. His parents' divorce and his career as a high-powered divorce attorney have left him jaded about marriage.

Then everything changes. Will the possibility of a future without Heather make Connor look at love and his career differently? Heather's just about given up on her old dreams - of love, of family and especially of Driftwood Cottage, the home she secretly wishes were hers. It's going to take a lot of persuasion - and some help from the O'Brien family - to make Heather believe that some dreams are worth fighting for.


Master storyteller Sherryl Woods takes readers back to Chesapeake Shores, with her novel,
Driftwood Cottage. Woods' heartwarming style and compelling stories filled with love, friendship and family have earned her a huge following and readers will be thrilled with the latest book about the O'Brien family. Woods has a knack for writing about people who could be your neighbors, giving her characters every day problems and engaging the reader on a personal level.

Heather Donovan, like any woman, has always dreamed about love and having a home and family of her own. When she met Connor O'Brien in college he was quick to let her know he was not the marrying kind. His parents had gone through a bitter divorce and his job as a divorce attorney had basically turned him off to the idea of ever becoming that attached to someone. But, Heather believed that the longer they were together, Connor would start to change his mind. He didn't. He just couldn't give her what she needed, even though they had a child together out of wedlock, which caused to be estranged from her own family. When Heather decides to move out and start over, taking their son, Mick with her, Connor has to face a future without them. Can he get over his issues with commitment and find love with Heather or is it just too late?

Driftwood Cottage is he fifth novel in the Chesapeake Shores series, that surrounds the O'Brien family. In this book, Sherryl Woods continues the story of Heather and Connor. Essentially this is a book about working through issues within a family. Connor has some serious issues, surrounding the divorce of his parents, even though they have recently gotten back together. He just just can't seem to let that go and it has skewed the way he looks at love in his own life. Since his mother walked out them when he was young, it's safe to say he probably expects that same kind of thing from any woman he is with. Heather on the other hand has issues with her family, because she chose to stay with Connor and have a child out of wedlock. So both characters are going through some heavy stuff within their own families. I thought Woods did an excellent job of showing the reader how divorce can effect families in some cases. She also made it clear that it doesn't have to go that way. I liked the fact that the O'Brien's were so accepting of Heather and her son and that they gave her the comfort and support she needed and wasn't able to get from own family.

Family drama's are so interesting to me, probably because I have a lot in my own family. As a reader and a woman, I know I should have sympathized with Heather and her situation. She has given so much of herself for this relationship and it doesn't seem to have gotten her anything. But, I found myself leaning more toward Connor. Here's someone who has seen how messy divorce can be. Has seen what it can do to a family. Someone who deals with this kind of thing on a daily basis with his job. That's enough to turn anyone off to marriage. I'm divorced, and I am not really sure I can ever take that step again. So I found a sort of kinship with this character, that was unexpected. Woods has a great ability to develop characters that people can relate to and I think there will be readers who will understand both sides of this coin. She did a remarkable job of giving this book a plot line that is current and relevant.

The O'Brien family is an interesting bunch. Mom and Dad O'Brien were divorced for years and then finally got back together. Instead of being happy and ready to try to start over, Connor is bitter and unrelenting. I thought the author showed a lot of emotions that someone would go through in this type of situation. It was realistic and had a very authentic feeling. Connor doesn't get over his issues with his mom or marriage in the blink of an eye. He doesn't just have this huge epiphany where he suddenly knows exactly what he wants. He agonizes over this decision. He is self-conscious and unsure and it takes something pretty drastic to let him see what he truly wants. That's how it is in life. These kinds of things are not easy and I really loved that Woods' was able to convey that.

The book started out a little slow, as Woods kind of tells the reader what's going on, instead of letting them figure it out as they go along, but once it hits it's stride, this is a great book. Lots of family drama and love. We get to see what is happening with the old characters from previous books, while being introduced to new characters that will take the series even further. It was a little predictable, as romance readers we expect a happy ending in most romance novels, but with this one it's all about how they got there. What they had to go through to get that happily ever after. It's a journey of self discovery for both Heather and Connor and it was a joy to read.

I recommend this one to contemporary romance readers. Woods has a way of engaging the reader. Her stories are heartwarming and full of love and friendship. These are realistic characters with realistic problems. This is a great story and a great addition to the series. There are also two more Chesapeake Shores book due out this year that you won't want to miss!

Driftwood Cottage is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

With her roots firmly planted in the south, Sherryl Woods has written many of her 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether from her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Shes also especially partial to small towns, wherever they may be. A member of Novelist Inc., Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America, Sherryl divides her time between her childhood summer home overlooking the Potomac River in Colonial Beach, Virginia, and her oceanfront home, with it's lighthouse view, Key Biscayne, Florida.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Murder of a Bookstore Babe

Murder of a Bookstore Babe (Scrumble River - Book 13) by Denise Swanson

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Obsidian
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 254pp
ISBN-13: 9780451232809

(Received for review from Berkley/Obsidian)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Denise Swanson on the WEB: Website, Facebook

Excerpt from Murder of a Bookstore Babe

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Who could be driven to kill by books and sweets? While school psychologist Skye Denison eagerly anticipates the grand opening of a new bookstore called Tales and Treats, many of Scrumble River's most outspoken citizens want to shut down the owners before they even open - and one is angry enough to commit murder...

Dropping off some old books at Tales and Treats, Skye trips over a toppled bookcase, which has crushed a woman beneath its weight. While the police search for motives, Skye sees the messy aftermath of a half-baked plot to murder somebody else. Skye is juggling her busy life, but when all the clues lead to dead ends, she turns up the heat on her investigation - and stumbles upon the deadly secret that got this bookstore babe done in. And if Skye isn't careful, the killer might just make her the sequel...


Denise Swanson's thirteenth novel in the Scrumble River series, Murder of a Bookstore Babe will leave readers wanting more once again. This long-lived series features school psychologist and amateur sleuth Skye Denison. Readers will fall in love with Swanson's smooth style and zany characters. Cozy Mystery readers will love this bookstore themed mystery full of more surprises then they can count.

Skye Denison finds herself in the middle of another mystery when a new bookstore is set to open in Scrumble River. Everyone from the librarian to the used car dealer has a problem with Tales and Treats and it's owner Rise Vaughn. When Skye goes over to the new bookstore at night to deliver some old books she finds her former student and well loved bookstore employee, Kayla crushed under the rare books, bookcase. Skye and her fiancee, Police Chief Wally Boyd realize that Rise may have been the real target. Will they be able to find the killer before Skye becomes the next victim?

Denise Swanson has crafted a novel that cozy readers will love. The mystery surrounds a place book lovers can't do without, the bookstore. Owner Rise Vaughn seems to have set the entire town of Scrumble River against her just because she wants to open a new shop. Hugo Leofanti, the used car dealer parks his merchandise illegally in front of Tales and Treats, the librarian is worried a bookstore will mean less people will come to the library and it just goes on and on. There are so many suspects it's hard to keep them all straight. And most of them happen to be a part of Skye's family.

One of the things I found interesting was the fact that Skye's fiancee, Wally lets her take a leading role in the investigation even though she isn't on the police force. It's obvious that through the first twelve books Skye has been able to develop a relationship with the police and her skills have become very beneficial to them. As a character Skye is very determined and just seems to be in the right place at the right time a lot of the time. It's almost as if she stumbles across a murder every time she turns around. I think readers have become used to Skye's eccentricities and find her a lot of fun to read about.

Skye's quirky family also adds humor and zaniness to the plot. The supporting cast is one of the big pluses in this novel. All these characters have their own stories and you find out a little more about them with each new book. They give each mystery a lighter feel and the reader doesn't become bogged down by a lot of unnecessary information. These character's also provide a suspect list for Murder of a Bookstore Babe. It's really fun to read about Skye's questioning of the suspects and how she comes around to figuring out whodunit.

Skye's relationship with Wally is interesting in itself. I liked the banter between the two of them and the mutual respect. It is obvious that Swanson intended that Skye and Wally should understand each other and trust each others instincts. I thought that Simon Reid was the catalyst for making them stronger. He kept trying to work things out so he could possibly win Skye back and it was interesting to see how that affected Wally and whether he was bothered by it or secure in his relationship. This added a whole new dimension to the novel. Swanson did an excellent job of pulling it all together.

I recommend this book to cozy readers and long time fans of Denise Denison and the Scrumble River series. I think it shows the differences between cozie's and regular mysteries very well. This is a lighter, fun kind of mystery as opposed to dark and malevolent. The wacky characters and great plot make this one a must read for cozy fans.

Murder of a Bookstore Babe is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

New York Times bestselling author Denise Swanson writes from her personal experiences as a school psychologist and small town resident. Her plots are inspired by incidents in her own life. Her books have been nominated for the Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, RT, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. Denise lives in Illinois with her husband, classical music composer David Stybr, and her black cat, Boomerang.

Review: Horns

Horns by Joe Hill

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Thrillers/Horror
Pages: Paperback, 416pp
ISBN: 0061147966

(Received for review from TLC Tours)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Joe Hill on the WEB: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Check this out! The first 1000 people to pre-order Joe's latest novel and then email with proof of purchase will receive a specialized bookplate from Joe! For more information on the giveaway, check out Joe's website above.

Excerpt from
Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

The New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box returns with a relentless supernatural thriller that runs like Hell on wheels...

Merrin Williams is dead, slaughtered under inexplicable circumstances, leaving her beloved boyfriend Ignatius Perrish as the only suspect. On the first anniversary of Merrin's murder, Ig spends the night drunk and doing awful things. When he wakes the next morning he has a thunderous hangover... and horns growing from his temples. Ig possesses a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look, a macabre gift he intends to use to find the monster who killed his lover. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. Now it's time for revenge...

It's time the devil had his due...


The Devil made him to do it! Write a spectacular supernatural thriller that is. Joe Hill"s follow up to
Heart-Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts is somewhat of a departure from his earlier writing, which readers will truly enjoy. Horns is a gritty emotional thriller that will have readers on the edge of seats. With a heart stopping pace and a killer plot, this is one you won't want to miss. What more sinister character can you find than the devil himself?

Ignatius Perrish has a problem. After a night of debauchery, drinking, and cursing God, Ig wakes up to find he has horns growing from his temples. Unable to remember the events of the night before and with a strange woman in his bed, Ig is in for quite a shock when he realizes his horns come with some interesting abilities. Ig can make anyone tell him their deepest, darkest and most depraved thoughts. If he touches someone he can see their sinful past and if he wants to, he can make them act on their dark desires. Ig's life has been on a downward spiral since his girlfriend Merrin Williams was raped and murdered. Even his parents think he did it along with everyone else in town. Now Ig has the ability to find out who did it and send them straight to Hell. Will Ig embrace his new power or will good prevail?

Joe Hill has once again proven that he is a fantastic addition to the Horror genre.
Heart-Shaped Box was a horror story in every sense of the word and 20th Century Ghosts was along the same lines, but Horns is a totally different animal. It leans more toward the thriller or suspense category, in which Hill really seems to shine with this one. Though he may be following in the footsteps of his famous father Stephen King, he has certainly proven with this book at he isn't hanging onto anyone's coattails. He is an extremely versatile writer with a remarkable gift for telling a great story.

Horns is one of those novels that when you hear what it's about you might think it's one of those books where the protagonist ends up with horns and devilish powers and will spend the entire book trying to get rid of them and get his normal, hum-drum life back. That is soooo not the case with this one!

Ig is such a great character. He is so three-dimensional. Not only does he not want to get his old life back, but he truly embraces his horns and the abilities that come with them. He becomes a very strong and powerful antihero. Ig is just this normal sort of guy who always does the right thing and it never gets him anywhere. All it seems to do is get him walked on and suspected of murder in this case. But, when he realizes that he can make people do things. Things they've only thought of in their darkest hours, he relishes it. Even though he is akin to the most evil thing readers can think of, the devil, they will still sympathize with him, care about him, and want him to find Merrin's killer. When an author can make the reader care about a character who they know they should loathe, that's an accomplishment.

Hill has a very forthright and in your face approach with this book, that I think will appeal to a lot of readers. He doesn't hold back, but tells the story with a sort of abandonment you would expect from a character who has hit rock bottom in his life and finds that there is somewhere else to go besides up. I think this novel really shows the fact that there is at least a little evil in everyone. The question is, is that evil necessary to make the world keep going around? Do we need that little spark of something sinister to get us do things sometimes that we might not have had the guts to do otherwise? Hill did a masterful job of showing the reader the depravity of the world and those who live in it. What they think, what they would do if the conventions of society would allow it. It's haunting, it's emotional and above all it's a riveting plot that will hook you from the first page and not let you go til the end.

I don't usually go for books that portray the devil in good light or show him as a harmless, pitchfork toting cartoon character.
Horns shows the devil like he is... evil, sinister, malicious and maniacal and still made me like him. Not an easy feat! I really liked this book and I felt that it solidified Joe Hill's spot, as a master storyteller. Use a bit of caution with this one, it's not for the faint of heart. It's fast paced and full of surprises and twists. Ig is a fantastic character and the villain is down right scary. I recommend this one to horror and thriller readers and to those who are looking for something very unique and different.

Horns is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Joe Hill is the author of the
New York Times bestselling novel Heart-Shaped Box, the award-winning collection, 20th Century Ghosts, and a critically acclaimed comic book series, Locke & Key.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I have several reminders for you this week!

1.) Please don't forget to link-up your March reviews for the 2011 Cozy Mystery Challenge by March 31st!

2.) The deadline for the India Black giveaway is March 29th.

3.) The deadline for The Postmistress giveaway is March 30th.

4.) The deadline for the How to Win a Heart Back Home giveaway is March 31st.

5.) The deadline for the Bird House giveaway is April 4th.

6.) The deadline for the To Defy a King giveaway is April 8th.

Winners! Only Mr. Darcy Will Do

The giveaway for two copies of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do ended on March 25th. Two winners have been chosen via and will be notified later today.

If I do not have the address of the winners they will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

These books will be sent out directly from the publisher.

The Winners are:

Carrie at In the Hammock


Rebecca Booth

Winner: One of Our Thursday's is Missing

The giveaway for one copy of Jasper Fforde's latest book in the Thursday Next series, One of Our Thursday's is Missing ended on March 24th.

The winner will be notified later today!

I'd like to thank everyone for participating, we had a great response with this one. It is definitely a great book, for book lovers!

The winner is:


Winners! Highland Heat

The Highland Heat Giveaway ended not long ago and I would like to announce the winners. The winners will be notified later today and if I do not have their addresses they will have 48 hours to respond. I will then be sending the addresses to the publisher and the winners will receive their books directly from them.

The winners are:

Theresa N.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: A Deadly Cliche

A Deadly Cliche (Books by the Bay Mystery - Book 2) by Ellery Adams

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
ISBN-13: 9780425240236

(Received for review from Berkley/Obsidian)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Ellery Adams on the WEB: Website, Facebook

Book Trailer: This is the trailer for the first book in the series,
A Killer Plot

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

While walking her poodle, Olivia Limoges discovers a dead body buried in the sand. Could it be connected to the bizarre burglaries plaguing Oyster Bay, North Carolina? The Bayside Book Writers prick up their ears and pick up their pens to get the story...

The thieves have a distinct MO. At every crime scene, they set up odd tableaus: a stick of butter with a knife through it, dolls with silver spoons in their mouths, a deck of cards with a missing queen. Olivia realizes each setup represents a cliche.

Who better to decode the cliche clues than the Bayside Book Writers group, especially since their newest member is Police Chief Rawlings? As the investigation proceeds, Olivia is surprised to find herself falling for the widowed policeman. But an even greater surprise is in store. Her father - lost at sea thirty years ago - may still be alive...


Ellery Adams once again thrills fans with her latest cozy mystery,
A Deadly Cliche, part of the Books by the Bay series. This is a great mystery for book lovers. The Bayside Book Writers are on the case! The author's ability to create several different mysteries within one book is one of the things that sets this novel apart from the rest. Readers will love Adams' attention to detail and setting in this one, as the clues are all based on cliches.

Olivia Limoges and her faithful dog and companion Haviland set out on their morning walk on the beach. They certainly don't expect to find a murdered man buried in the sand with a bucket on his head. Olivia is the owner of a local restaurant, The Boot Top and member of the Bayside Book Writers. A rash of burglaries have taken place lately in the town of Oyster Bay and Olivia wonders if the murder could be related. The bad guys have left a calling card at each crime scene, and all are based on cliches. Who better to figure out these literary clues than her friends at the Bayside Book Writers, including their newest member, Chief Rawlings, head of the Oyster Bay police force and a widower. As Olivia works closely with Rawlings to try to find the thieves and a murder, she realizes she may be starting to have feelings for him. Will she find the culprits and the answer a mystery of her own?

Ellery Adams does such a wonderful job with this book. I think one of the best parts is her ability to juggle several different stories at one time. Not only does she tackle the mystery in Oyster Bay itself, but several books that are under review by the Bayside Book Writers as well. This is definitely a book for book lovers, with a variety of genres and plot lines mentioned. I certainly could not have kept it all straight, if I had been the writer, but Ellery Adams pulls it off with style. The idea of using cliches as clues is not something that would occur to just anyone. I thought the plot was interesting and refreshing. The literary clues were fun to try to figure out and seemed very believable.

The characters themselves were very three dimensional. Chief Rawlings was not just a police officer, he came across as a real person with thoughts and feelings and situations all his own. As a widow he provides the love interest for Olivia. Their relationship may not be the forefront of the story, but it provides the book with another layer for readers to become interested in. Olivia's faithful companion Capt. Haviland is a great character. This dog will make readers want to go and get a poodle. He isn't all prime and proper like you would expect. He even tries to dislodge a pail from the head of a dead man despite the odor. He's always ready to accompany Olivia and pet lovers will certainly fall in love with him.

The main character and amateur sleuth Olivia has a lot of layers to her as well. Not only is she a restaurateur, but also an aspiring writer and member of the local Book Writing club, that critiques each others work. I thought this was such a great idea for a character. She is strong and intelligent and comes across as someone you'd find in a cafe lost in a book or a manuscript. Her ability to put together what the thieves are trying to say seems realistic and logical. Someone who writes, generally knows about the craft of writing and clues these bad guys left behind were literary in nature. All this gives an authentic feel to the story and to Olivia's character.

I thought Ellery Adams did a wonderful job of building on the first book in the series. Giving us the continuing stories of characters we met in
A Killer Plot and also introducing us to new people who play an intricate part in A Deadly Cliche. The story of Olivia's father who was lost at sea over thirty years ago also gives the reader another aspect of Olivia's life to be interested in. I think the author will probably expound further on this in later books. The sneak peek of the next novel in the series, The Last Word will leave readers biting their nails waiting for it to come out.

I recommend this one to cozy lovers and regular mystery lovers as well. It may not be as dark and intense as some mysteries, but I think that's the charm in a good cozy. It doesn't take so much out the reader emotionally. If you loved Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon as a child these kinds of mysteries will really appeal to you. I look forward to the next book in the series and I think you will really enjoy this one, especially if you are into books and literary mysteries.

A Deadly Cliche is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Ellery Adams grew up on the beach near the Long Island Sound. Having spent her adult life in a series of landlocked towns, she cherishes her memories of open water, violent storms, and the smell of the sea. Ms. Adams has held many jobs including caterer, retail clerk, car salesperson, teacher, tutor, and tech writer, all while penning poems, children's books and novels. She now writes full time from her home in Virginia.

Review: Fruit of All Evil

Fruit of All Evil (Farmers' Market Mystery - Book 2) by Paige Shelton

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
ISBN-13: 9780425240229

(Received for review from Berkley/Obsidian)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Paige Shelton on the WEB: Website, Blog, Facebook

Excerpt from From Fruit of All Evil

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Becca Robins sells her farm-made jams and preserves at the local farmers' market to make a living. But when a local lovely decides to tie the knot at the same market, someone else decides to make a killing...

With all the sweet spreads she turns out, Becca should be used to having her hands full of sticky situations. So when her best friend and fellow market vendor, Linda, asks her to be maid of honor at her wedding. Becca figures she can handle the extra duties. After all, setting up a wedding with a farmers' market theme should be a piece of cake.

But when Linda's future mother-in-law ends up murdered before the "I dos" are even exchanged, both the nuptials and the fate of a missing local merchant are on the line. And only Becca has the down home know-how to shut the lid on a canny killer...


Fruit of All Evil, the second book in Paige Shelton's Farmers' Market Mystery series, will have readers feeling like 'spring has sprung'! Shelton's sophomore book is a great mix of mystery and humor, with a quirky supporting cast and a plot line that will leave readers wanting more. Shelton's ability to describe the setting as well as the produce in this book, is almost mouth-watering. Readers will find this cozy interesting and full of surprises.

Becca Robin's is back along with all her friends from Bailey's Farmers' Market. The jams and preserves that Becca sells at her stall at the market are second to none in this small South Carolina town. When her friend and fellow vendor, Linda asks her to be the maid of honor in her Farmers' Market themed wedding, Becca is quick to say yes, though her own experiences will marriage have been less than perfect. When Linda and her fiance Drew invite Becca to dinner to work on wedding plans, they are surprised when Linda's future mother-in-law, Madeleine fails to attend. Madeleine is later found dead in her bedroom. As the local banker who has been dead set on foreclosing on several people's mortgages, Madeleine has many enemies including her own dysfunctional extended family. As Becca's relationship with Ian Cartwright starts to bloom it is up to her to find the killer before her best friends wedding has to be canceled.

If you like a good cozy mystery, there are lots of reasons to choose this one. Paige Shelton does an excellent job with the second book in the Farmers' Market series. Fruit of All Evil has it all. Great plot line, quirky and interesting characters, humor and even a touch of romance.

One of the aspects of this book that I really love is the setting. Bailey's Farmers' Market comes across as the place to be. With it's small town atmosphere and engaging townspeople it seems like a place that readers would want to visit, or even sell their own wares at. I was raised on a farm where we grew a lot of different kinds of produce, sold lots of things to the local fruit market and even canned our own food, including making jams, and jellies, so this series really holds a special spot for me. I thought the author did a fantastic job of describing this setting and what it takes to make up a farmer's market. I loved the idea of a Farmers' Market themed wedding, though I was a little unsure how they were going to pull it off, but I was not disappointed.

The author did a great job of showing how Becca, the local amateur sleuth ended up being involved in this mystery. Being the maid of honor in the wedding provided a way for Becca to be a part of the action. It was a very easy transition and worked out well for the plot. It allowed Becca to know the victim as well as her family which provided a great suspect list. It seemed very believable and natural that she would start to put things together and find out who had a motive for murder.

Becca is a great character. I found myself sympathizing with her romantic situation. She was easy to relate to, because many people have been unlucky in love. I was rooting for her with Ian and I hope that the author continues to develop their relationship in subsequent books. Becca is at heart a great cook and I think author must be as well. You can't really write well about food and cooking if you can't cook your self. The recipes included with this one are definitely mouth-watering and some I intend to try myself. I thought Becca's way of figuring out the clues was a little bit hap-hazard but all in all she got where she needed to be and brought the reader right along with her.

I would definitely recommend this one to all of cozy mystery readers. This is a great series and look forward to more Farmers' Market books in the future. If you are new to cozy mysteries, this would also be a great series to start out with it. It will give you good idea of what a cozy is and how it is different from other mysteries. It is basically a lighter, less intense kind of mystery, that has an amateur sleuth as the protagonist instead of an inspector or a police officer.

Fruit of All Evil is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

I moved around a lot as a kid but went to high school and college in Des Moines, Iowa. I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1988.

After college, I spent many years working in advertising, mostly for the local Salt Lake newspapers. My attempts to become a published writer began in 1997, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the first contracts with my agent and Berkley Publishing were signed. My pile of rejections is quite impressive.

Along the way, I got married to a terrific guy and we had a son who is now fifteen and still fun to be around, even though his messy bedroom could inspire a horror novel.

My writing partner is my nine pound dog, Gizmo. She’s adorable.

I read just about anything and everything, and I watch way too much TV. Every year I say I’m not going to be pulled into American Idol, but somehow it just happens.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: To Defy a King

To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 544pp
ISBN-13: 9781402250897

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Elizabeth Chadwick on the WEB: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Excerpt from
To Defy a King
Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

The adored and spirited daughters of England's greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal lives a privileged life. But when her beloved father falls foul of the volatile and dangerous King John, her world is shattered. The king takes her brothers hostage and Mahelt's planned marriage to Hugh Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk, takes place sooner than she expected. Mahelt and Hugh come to care for each other deeply, but Hugh's strict father clashes with the rebellious Mahelt. When more harsh demands from King John threaten to tear the couple's lives apart, Mahelt finds herself facing her worst fears alone, not knowing if she - or her marriage - will survive.

A brilliant story of a vibrant woman in a tyrant's world. To Defy a King is another impeccably researched masterpiece from a beloved author.


Elizabeth Chadwick once again thrills her fans and garners an even bigger following with her latest historical novel,
To Defy a King. Chadwick's fourth novel about the family of one of the greatest knights in history, William Marshal is sure to have fans sitting up late, lost in the history of 13th century England. Chadwick's ability to bring the sights and sounds of this time period to life for the reader is unmatched in the historical fiction genre. Readers will fall in love with the vibrant and determined "Matty", as she tries to save her family from the tyranny of King John.

Mahelt, "Matty" Marshal is the daughter of one of the most powerful men in England, William Marshal, famous knight and Earl of Pembroke. She is given in marriage to Hugh Bigod, a politically advantageous union for the Marshal and Bigod families. Matty has led a privileged up until now, and though she is very young she enters the marriage with high hopes. She and Hugh eventually come to love each other very deeply and share four children together. But their relationship is not without it's problems as Matty continually clashes with her father-in-law, Roger Bigod. Being a Marshal daughter is very different from being a Bigod wife. When her father falls out of favor with King John over his political policies and the taking of English lands, Matty's brothers are taken captive and she is left to try to free her family and still remain loyal to her husband's family as well.

Elizabeth Chadwick has a knack for capturing the spirit and sense of history surrounding 13th century England. Her books about William Marshal and his family are both historically accurate and extremely entertaining. In her latest novel,
To Defy a King, Chadwick brings readers the story of Mahelt Marshal, a vibrant young woman, who is determined to save her family and her marriage when the political and religious upheaval of King John's reign threatens to overcome them.

Matty is a strong character that we meet at a young age. We see her grow into womanhood throughout the book and become a wife and mother, but she still stays to true to her herself. She is determined and resourceful as she goes about trying to free her family. I think the author did a remarkable job making her character believable and easy to relate to. Readers will find her interesting and very forthright. She doesn't hold back her opinions even with her father-in-law. She is described as rebellious, though I think there was more to it than that. She was just confident in her ideas and what she believed. Chadwick makes her come alive in every way.

One of the things that was so impressive about this book was the amount of research that went into it. It is obvious that Chadwick takes this aspect of her writing very seriously and that gives her books a very authentic feel. She is able to give the reader a clear sense of what 13th century England was like from the culture and customs to right down to the mindset each character would have possessed had they lived during this time period. Chadwick even goes so far as to go to the places her where her characters walked, eat the food they would have eaten and dress in the clothing of the time. She makes her characters come alive for the reader in a very entertaining way. I also like the author's notes at the end of the book that gave the reader a clear idea of what parts of the story were historically based and what parts were the thoughts and ideas of the author.

The backdrop of King John's reign is impressive in itself. King John was notorious for his political dealings and his malicious actions and attitudes. I found myself very interested in finding out more about King John and why he did the things he did. Chadwick has the ability to engage the reader and educate as well as entertain them. The circumstances that led up to the Magna Carta are described in such detail that the reader will find themselves as interested in the political climate as in the story itself. I think the author does a remarkable job of giving just enough historical detail, without going overboard.

I really enjoyed this book. Though Chadwick has written several books about the Marshal family,
To Defy a King can stand on it's own very well. Though I do encourage readers to read Chadwick's other books to give themselves a greater understanding of the times and the background for this novel. The book starts out a little on the slow side, but picks up quickly and Chadwick's engaging personal style begins to shine through. I think readers will love her attention to detail and the superb character development in this book. Matty is a very strong character that I found myself falling in love with and wanting to read more about.

Please take a look at my interview with Elizabeth Chadwick for details on how you could win a copy of
To Defy a King.

To Defy a King is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Elizabeth Chadwick is a bestselling, award winning author of historical fiction. A born storyteller, her first novel The Wild Hunt won a Betty Trask Award in 1990. She has been four times shortlisted for the RNA Award in the UK for the best mainstream romantic novel. Her book The Scarlett Lion was selected as one of the top ten works of historical fiction of the decade by Richard Lee, founder of The Historical Novel Society.