Ashes of a Black Frost (11/1) | The Shattered Vine (11/3)
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drey's Giveaway Policy

FTC Disclosure: I am an affiliate at IndieBound, The Book Depository, and Amazon, and any purchases made by clicking on covers or links here may result in monetary compensation.

Blogoversary giveaway winners!!

November 30, 2010
Well! Thank you so much for entering my blogoversary giveaway! There were 195 entries for the 12 books, so you lucky winners are definitely lucky indeed!

Using Randomizer, I picked one number at a time, and these are the books and their new owners:

Roberta Gately's Lipstick in Afghanistan goes to Margie!!

Kathleen Kent's The Wolves of Andover goes to Elise!!

Michael Connelly's The Harry Bosch Novels Vol. 3: A Darkness More than Night, City of Bones, Lost Light goes to Doreen!!

Kate Perry's Tempted by Fate goes to Marie!!

David Baldacci's Hell's Corner goes to Marjorie!!

Jill Mansell's Take a Chance on Me goes to Julie!!

Anita Shreve's Rescue goes to amandasue!!

Jill Mansell's Rumor Has It goes to Melissa!!

Ben Tripp's Rise Again goes to Cheryl!!

Z.A. Recht's Thunder and Ashes goes to Moridin!!

Laurel McKee's Duchess of Sin goes to Debbie!!

Nicholas Evans' The Brave goes to Ruthie!!

Phew! All emails have gone out, please get me your mailing information before the end of day Friday or I'll have to pick new ones. Congratulations, y'all!

Tour: 149. Leon H. Gildin's The Polski Affair...

Today's visitor is attorney-turned-author Leon H. Gildin, whose book, The Polski Affair is ... He swings by and shares his journey with us. Read on!

From attorney to author, life is fortuitous
by Leon H. Gildin
How can we ever say that which we plan and work towards will ultimately be achieved? Life is fortuitous. Stuff happens and we are swept off in a totally new direction.

I was drafted into the army thirty days after I graduated from law school. When I was discharged, two years later the only job I could get, as a law clerk, paid $25 a week. To hell with it; I opened my own office in the Bronx and if I was lucky made $35 a week.

But things got better. I moved from my first office to a bigger suite and my accountant was in the office next door. One day he came in and said to me, "Give me three thousand dollars. We're going into the nightclub business." Other clients of his whom I knew were also going in with him so I wrote him a check. This was in the mid 60's when three thousand dollars was a lot of money.

To make a long story short, the French singers and dancers came to Canada where we had a booking in a night club. William Morris was our agent. The owner of the Latin Quarter in New York came up to see the show and booked it into New York. For reasons I still don't understand, the cast fired the producer of the show and said they would only work if I became the producer. Lo and behold, I had a show in the Latin Quarter. Unbelievable; I knew as much about producing a night club show as I did about being an astronaut.

But that got me into show biz. I then had a show at the Playboy Club and, at the insistence of my agent at William Morris, went to France to see an Israeli review which I bought and produced on Broadway in 1970. I lost a bundle but got more show biz clients.

While all of this was going on, a story that I had lived through when I was in Europe kept going through my mind. I worked for the Provost Marshal at Seventh Army Headquarters in Germany. In 1948, President Truman integrated the Armed Forces but there was still not one black officer or enlisted man in Army Headquarters in 1951. Suddenly, a black Lt. Colonel appeared. He was an infantry officer but was assigned to the Judge Advocate. Who was he and why was he there?

Through a friend who had been the chief court reporter for the Seventh Army, I learned that the Lt. Col. was there to face a disciplinary hearing based upon his failure to command. I wrote a short story about this and called it "The Third Step."

Practicing law intervened and I got involved in other matters. I then met a playwright who read my short story, found it fascinating and with my assistance, wrote a play based on the incident. We changed the name to "Appear and Show Cause." The play was done in a workshop performance at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, went on to open the 1982 season at the Cleveland Playhouse, went on to Detroit and ultimately, I co-produced it in New York off-Broadway with the New Federal Theatre. I am proud to say that the play won the Adelco Award which is a prestigious black theatre award.

During those years I wrote a number of stage plays since that was the medium with which I was most familiar. And again a fortuitous happening. A former client who had become a prominent literary agent called me asked if I could write a dirty book in English about Yiddish. I considered it and told him it was not the kind of book I wanted to write, made some other suggestions which were rejected and the matter ultimately was dropped.

It was also during this period that I got involved in the motion picture business. This came about through a client who was a producer of films and stage plays as well as a professor of religious studies. He, in turn, introduced me to a friend of his by the name of Abraham Shulman. Shulman was a writer in both English and Yiddish, was a pain-in-the-ass, but was very bright. One day he came to my office with his latest book, "The Case of the Hotel Polski." It was a fascinating piece of research which I read, and reread and thought it would make a good stage play. I started to write one and found after the first two scenes there were so many characters it just wouldn't work. I put it away.

I retired in 1996 and left New York the day after Thanksgiving of that year and headed to Sedona where I had a house built. Now I had time and now I could write.

I still had my original notes for a book about the amount of Yiddish spoken by Jews and non-Jews alike, both of whom, in many cases, not knowing the derivation of the expressions that they were using. These notes were an off-shoot of my former client who wanted a dirty book on Yiddish.

Ultimately I put the book together, found an agent and a publisher, Hippocrene Books, NY. In 2000, "You Can't Do Business (or Most Anything Else) Without Yiddish" came out in hard cover. The next year, it came out in soft cover and when it was sold out, I continued to have it printed because I continued to lecture about the book.

But what took place at the Hotel Polski stayed with me. It necessitated reading Shulman's book again, underlining important passages and deciding how much would be fiction and how much would come from Shulman's research. The story poured out of me. I was originally called "The Reunion." All the physical aspects of the story were historically true; the characters and their lives were fiction. An early, potential publisher suggested changing the name since there were many prior novels entitled "The Reunion" and we decided on "The Polski Affair." It was published in 2009 and won the 2010 International Book Awards for historical fiction.

I have spoken about the book and how I came to write it on many occasions and have been asked by readers to continue the story. As a result of these many inquiries, I have recently completed a sequel with the working title, "The Family Affair" and am seeking a good literary agent/new publisher.

So that is how life took me from being a single practitioner in New York to being an author in Arizona. Would you not say that life is fortuitous?

Wow. What a journey. I'd say life is fortuitous, indeed. Thank you so very much for sharing with us, Leon.

the polski affair
Title: The Polski Affair
Author: Leon H. Gildin
ISBN-13: 9780981137605
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Diamond River Books, 2009
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: On Point Communications, LLC

drey's thoughts:
I admit, I am intimidated by WWII history. There's so much that went on, so many lives that were impacted, that I feel like everyone should know--at the very least--the major events that occurred. And me being the geek that I am (both feet first!), I signed up for a history class while in college, to learn more. It was a course that covered the Holocaust, and it was haunting, unforgettable.

Everyone's read Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, right? And Elie Wiesel's Night? The words on the pages haunt me. How cruel we are to our fellow human beings... Anyway, that's neither here nor there. But every once in a while, I try to read something set during those years. Because while I'm not Jewish, and I do not know what it's like to be persecuted because of my race or religion, I do know that each and every person affected had a family--a father, mother, brothers or sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents--and friends, and their story deserves to be remembered. And not the least to remind us what can happen when we turn a blind eye on evil taking root in our midst.

Leon H. Gildin's The Polski Affair is a story set in the Warsaw ghetto in Poland, and in Tel Aviv as Rosa's past comes back to haunt her. Based on a true story, it pulls you in as it slowly reveals the purpose behind the Hotel Polski. Capricious fate grants Rosa life, when it was not so kind to her husband or children. Unsure of where to go, she hides out in the woods with the partisans until she goes to investigate rumors that there may be safe haven at the Hotel Polski. Rosa is so very brave and so unflinching in the face of all she's been dealt. Everything she does, she does to try to survive, even while knowing that it may not be enough. And when she thinks it's all over, and she's built a new life, fate comes knocking on her door again.

My emotions were all over as I inhaled The Polski Affair, first to see if she makes it, then to find out how she resolves the unfinished business. I am still in awe of her strength and courage.

Like historical fiction set in WWII? Then give this one a try.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+

I have 1 copy of The Polski Affair for you, if you live in the continental US. To enter, comment with your email address and say you want it.

Extra entries (in separate comments, please):
+1 for tweeting (comment with your tweet status--you can do this daily, just remember to come back and comment with your new link!)
+1 for sharing the giveaway from my fb page (comment with your name here)
+1 for linking on your blog (comment with your blog link)

Do it all before 6pm CST December 13th. Good luck!

Tour: 148. The Duchess of Sin by Laurel McKee...

November 29, 2010
duchess of sin blog tour

Today's tour is for Laurel McKee's The Duchess of Sin, previously titled Countess of Scandal...

laurel mckeeAbout the author:
LAUREL McKEE lives in Oklahoma with a menagerie of two cats, a Pug, and a bossy miniature poodle. She loves dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network-even though she doesn't cook. Writing as Amanda McCabe, her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers' Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.

About the book:
duchess of sin
Title: The Duchess of Sin
Author: Laurel McKee
ISBN-13: 9780446544764
Paperback: 351 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Hachette Book Group
Blonde and beautiful Lady Anna Blacknall is in the mood for mischief. Entering Dublin's most notorious den of vice, she finds herself in the arms of a mysterious, emerald-eyed Irishman. And although he is masked, his tender kiss is hauntingly familiar.

Conlan McTeer, Duke of Adair, has come to Dublin to fight for a free Ireland. But he's suddenly reunited with the young Englishwoman who had once claimed his heart, and his passion turns from politics to pleasure. When their sizzling encounter brings danger to Anna's door, she must decide where her loyalties lie-and quickly. For someone will do whatever it takes to destroy Conlan . . . and anyone he dares to love.

drey's thoughts:
Laurel McKee's Duchess of Sin is delightfully entertaining. Anna is sassy and adventurous, but knows to hide it when with Society. Because a girl simply must be proper, don't you think? As time catches up with her, however, she knows that she will have to accept one of the proposals that come her way. But she wants so much more. Then she runs into Conlan McTeer again.

The Duke of Adair is, of course, rude and obnoxious. But he's only trying to keep Anna away from the rougher elements of his life. Intrigue and politics stir up the waters and provide the backdrop against which Anna and Conlan try to prevail. Will they? I'm not telling. *wink* Read it and see...

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

I have up to 5 copies for y'all. One's in the hat, another will be added for every 10 people who enter. US & Canada residents only, please, and no PO Boxes. One copy per household--if you win the same title in two or more contests, only one will be shipped.

To enter, comment with your email address.

Extra entries:
+1 for tweeting (comment with your tweet status--you can do this daily, just remember to come back and comment with your new link!)
+1 for sharing the giveaway from my fb page (comment with your fb name here)
+1 for linking on your blog (comment with your blog link)

Do it all before 6pm CST December 12th. Good luck!

Review: 147. The Crowded Shadows by Celine Kiernan...

November 26, 2010
I'd picked up the first book in this trilogy, The Poison Throne and liked it enough to want to keep reading, so my next visit to the library netted me this sequel...

the crowded shadowsTitle: The Crowded Shadows (Moorehawke #2)
Author: Celine Kiernan
ISBN-13: 9780316077088
Trade Paperback: 474 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:
Wynter Moorehawke has left to find Alberon and find out if the rumors she's hearing are true. Rumors that he's mounting a rebellion against his father's throne. Rumors that he's gathering the Kingdom's enemies to strike a blow.

The story meanders a bit in this second installment, but is worth it for the characters that are introduced. Bandits, rebel sympathizers, gypsies, and the King's own soldiers, all gather in the forests where the Rebel Prince is thought to be hiding. And loyalties are formed and strained as the ties that bind one may not be the same ties that bind another.

I will be picking up The Rebel Prince to see how this story ends.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub, Support Your Local Library

Steamy Reads for Snowy Nights giveaway!

November 25, 2010
Are you a fan of romance novels? If so, boy do I have a giveaway for you! Say "thank you!" to Hachette Book Group, because here's their Steamy Reads for Snowy Nights giveaway!

Can we say "sizzle"??

Ok, enough drooling. On to the important stuff.

The books:

to sin with a scoundrel
A reclusive widow known for her scientific scholarship, Lady Ciara Sheffield is shadowed by rumors that she poisoned her husband . . . A rakehell rogue notorious for his devil-may-care antics, Lucas Bingham--the Earl of Hadley--is not accused of murdering anything--save for the rules of Polite Society. The only thing they have in common is seeing their names featured in the lurid gossip columns of London's newspapers. Until an ancient manuscript draws them together.

Ciara needs a titled fiancé to quell the slanderous speculations which may send her to the gallows. Lucas needs brilliant scholar to help his elderly uncle decipher the secrets of the mysterious manuscript. So when her friends urge her to accept the earl's proposal of a temporary alliance, Ciara decides that she has no choice but to make a deal with the Devil. And so begins a seductive dance of sinful pleasures and hidden desires as the two of them waltz through the mansions of Mayfair. Lies, intrigue, treachery, sex. They find themselves facing slanderous whispers, unscrupulous relatives-not to speak of their own simmering passions, which quickly ignite into dangerous flames. It's a potent mix and the result may be explosive-and perhaps deadly-if they don't watch their step.

a touch of scandal
A TOUCH OF SCANDAL By Jennifer Haymore
The last thing Garrett, Duke of Calton, expects to find while tracking his sworn enemy is the delectable, mysterious Kate. This beautiful servant girl rouses a longing the battle-scarred ex-soldier had never hoped to feel again. But when she turns out to be the sister of the man he seeks, he's convinced he's been betrayed.

Kate knows her duty to her family, yet how can she ignore Garrett's powerful pull on her heart? Or the heady temptation of his stolen-and sizzling-kisses? Scandal has followed the duke since the war. Now the greatest shock of all is on its way-the one that can separate Garrett and Kate forever.

bound to please
Ruby Scott is a beautiful, quiet event planner who leads an oh-so-respectable life. Yet the things that go on in her secret fantasies are anything but. She has every intention of keeping her hidden desires under wraps-until she meets a gorgeous, hard-muscled man ten years her junior. Mark St. Crow is a gifted, up-and-coming musician who collects erotic art and loves to "play" women as much as his piano. After one night of uninhibited passion, Ruby realizes there's no turning back.

a highlander never surrenders
Defending Her Was His Duty

Skilled with a sword and quick with her wit, Scottish rebel Claire Stuart cannot be tamed. And nothing can deter her from rescuing her beloved sister and saving them both from arranged marriages--not even the handsome Highlander who vows to protect Claire. His scorching gaze and fiery kiss bring her to the brink of surrender, but she belongs to no man...

Seducing Her Would Be His Reward

Graham Grant has had his share of lasses. But he has never met one as headstrong or as bonnie as Claire--or one with such desperate, dnagerous plans. Helping her could betray his honor, his country, and more. Graham can't claim her. Yet everything in him says: Take her, make her yours, teach her pleasure, and never let her go.

The details:
I have 3 sets for you. US and Canada residents only, no P.O. Boxes please. One set per household, which means that if you win two or more contests, you will only receive one set of these books.

Now that that's taken care of...
To enter, comment with your email address and say you want it. *grin* Easy, huh?

Extra entries (in separate comments, please):
+1 for tweeting (comment with your tweet status--you can do this daily, just remember to come back and comment with your new link!)
+1 for sharing the giveaway from my fb page (comment with your name here)
+1 for linking on your blog (comment with your blog link)

Do it all before 6pm CST December 15th. Good luck!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the good ol' US of A... So, Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

I am thankful for a lot in my life, starting with the Mr. and the little man, and our collective good (mostly) health. I am thankful for the roof over our heads, and the jobs that lets us pay the bills and afford the activities that hopefully are providing a well-rounded, explorative childhood for my little monkey... I am thankful for our friends and family, even if I'm not always demonstrative of that thankfulness. You know who you are, and I love you.

I am also thankful that there are people who stop by this lil' ol' blog, from the authors who spend time on my Q&As and guest posts, to the visitors who comment on my reviews and enter my giveaways. I am amazed that my eclectic reading selections speak to some of you, and I'd like to try for more of a dialog. I think in this next year, this blog will have more of a focus on the genres reviewed, with the occasional step out (of course!), and I hope you'll come along on that journey too.

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.

November's FEATURED AUTHOR: A Tribute to the Ideal Reader...

November 24, 2010
November's Featured Author Jeannie Lin visits us today with a post on her ideal reader. Prepare to go "awwwww"...

My Ideal Reader
Stephen King discusses the concept of the “ideal writer” in his non-fiction book On Writing.

on writing“I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, "I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?" For me that first reader is my wife, Tabitha.”

Definitions of the ideal reader vary slightly, describing a fictional construct of a target reader or a kindred spirit. The consensus seems to be that the ideal reader is an imaginary audience that your writing is “meant” for.

On Writing has been described as part writing manual, part memoir. Though it is those things, I think it’s better described as a love story. It’s a romance between Stephen King, his writing life, and the written word.

Maybe that’s why it’s apt that King identifies his wife Tabitha as the embodiment of his ideal reader. It’s clear that she’s his other half and his sounding board. I also have an embodiment of my ideal reader. It’s my sister, affectionately known as Little Sis. She’s grown up with the same background as me. We enjoyed the same stories and movies growing up. Had very similar life experiences. I suppose that’s why she easily falls into the role of being my ideal reader. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Little Sis is taller than me. *grumble*

I feel that writing truly is an ongoing love letter to that object of our literary affection; a reader who may or may not exist.

“I have to tell someone,” you say, in chapter after chapter. “Only you can understand why I’m doing this.”

The ideal reader correctly deciphers the nuances of your language, gets your little jokes, absorbs the message you’re trying to send. So you plead and seduce and charm this ideal reader, and you hope that with this next work, that they’ll still return your affection.

Just like with any prolonged love affair, you develop and grow and the letters reflect that. You push the relationship in different directions, lest it become stagnant. And so you have that innate fear:

“It’s been a while since I’ve last written,” states the beginning of your next book. “I know things are different now, but do you still love me?”

You may think that writing for someone who’s predisposed to “get your writing” may make it an easier process. This person thinks the world of you. She’ll let you slip by with an “I love it, it’s great!”

Not so. My ideal reader is very exacting and I think the IR, by his very nature, is going to be very demanding of you as a writer. Little Sis’ expectations are very high. There’s stuff she’ll let slide in other stories, but not in mine. NOT in a story written by her ideal writer. It’s like having my own brain cloned and being able to show my writing to myself, and have my clone look back and say, “I don’t get it.”

If my sister doesn’t understand, then no one will. I’ve confused my ideal reader which means I’ll confuse any reader. My ideal reader asks more of me than anyone else, but she sees what the story is trying to be, beneath the fog. She can see potential and pushes me to reach that potential. Other readers tell me what’s wrong with my story, but Little Sis tells me what the story can become.

L.S. is on the left, sometimes people can’t tell us apart

When I first starting writing this post, I thought I could discuss the purpose of the ideal reader, or describe the intricacies of a writer/critique partner relationship. But in the end, the post turned out to be a tribute to my Little Sis and how I’d have no writing process without her.

So that’s all this is: yet another love letter.

Jeannie Lin writes historical romantic adventures set in Tang Dynasty China and has published a full length novel and a short story in that time period. Her Golden Heart award-winning novel, Butterfly Swords, received 4-stars from Romantic Times Reviews—“The action never stops, the love story is strong and the historical backdrop is fascinating.”

Little Sis (Nam Nguyen) is published in short fiction and non-fiction. Her trade book, Micro Monsters, made the National Science Teacher Association’s 2010 list for best science books for K-12 students.

Visit Jeannie online at: Little Sis does not maintain an online presence as of yet, however Jeannie blogs about Little Sis and her cat Oliver quite a bit.


Thank you for sharing your Little Sis with us, Jeannie. And THANK YOU so very much for taking the time to visit with us this month! I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us next.

Review: 146. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott...

November 23, 2010
Noticed this one because I thought the cover was cool... Finally got my hands on a copy, and inhaled it!

cold magic
Title: Cold Magic (Spiritwalker #1)
Author: Kate Elliott
ISBN-13: 9780316080859
Paperback: 502 pages
Publisher: Orbit, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library (inter-library loan)

drey's thoughts:
In this tale set in an alternate universe where Rome hasn't quite disappeared with the gladiators yet, the Industrial Revolution is threatening to unravel the control that the mages and princes have wrought on the people. Catherine Hassi Barahal and her cousin Beatrice are young women studying at the university when Catherine is summarily dispatched with her new husband to one of the mage houses, where everything she knows about herself is challenged and found wanting.

With a death sentence on her head, she runs away to try and warn her cousin Bee, even as she wonders if Bee has always known that her father, really wasn't. What follows is a classic fantasy adventure story, with new characters popping up every so often, danger threatening at every turn, twists and turns to make you dizzy, and a love interest who isn't showing much love or interest...

There was quite a bit in the book that I didn't think really contributed to the story--these were the pages my brain skimmed over--but overall, Kate Elliot has woven a story that I liked enough to want to read more of. Especially to find out what, exactly, Cat is.

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Support your Local Library

Giveaway: Scorpions by Noah Feldman...

November 22, 2010
Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have for you today up to 3 copies of Noah Feldman's Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices.


A tiny, ebullient Jew who started as America's leading liberal and ended as its most famous judicial conservative. A Klansman who became an absolutist advocate of free speech and civil rights. A backcountry lawyer who started off trying cases about cows and went on to conduct the most important international trial ever. A self-invented, tall-tale Westerner who narrowly missed the presidency but expanded individual freedom beyond what anyone before had dreamed.

Four more different men could hardly be imagined. Yet they had certain things in common. Each was a self-made man who came from humble beginnings on the edge of poverty. Each had driving ambition and a will to succeed. Each was, in his own way, a genius.

They began as close allies and friends of FDR, but the quest to shape a new Constitution led them to competition and sometimes outright warfare. SCORPIONS tells the story of these four great justices: their relationship with Roosevelt, with each other, and with the turbulent world of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. It also serves as a history of the modern Constitution itself.

Watch Noah discuss SCORPIONS on Youtube:

There are up to 3 copies up for grabs. One's in the hat, another will be added for every 10 people who enter (up to the 3). This one's for residents of the US or Canada only (No PO Boxes, please)... Enter before 6pm December 5th. Good luck!

Extra entries:
+1 for tweeting (comment with your tweet status--you can do this daily, just remember to come back and comment with your new link!)
+1 for sharing the giveaway from my fb page (comment with your name here)
+1 for linking on your blog (comment with your blog link)


November 21, 2010
Alright. I have 10 people wanting my ARC of Carolyn Brown's Honky Tonk Christmas. And according to Randomizer, comment #8 gets it: Jessica!!

Next, five lucky ducks are getting a copy of Caridad Piñeiro's Stronger Than Sin. According to Randomizer, they are:

#21 The Book Vixen

#16 ♥

#9 Martha Lawson

#1 holdenj

#6 elaing8

Congratulations, y'all! Emails have been sent please reply by the end of day Wednesday.

TLC Book Tours: 145. And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman...

November 19, 2010
Today's TLC Book Tour stop is for And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman...

tlc tour

About the author:
Maira Kalman is an illustrator, author, and designer. She is the author of The Principles of Uncertainty and she illustrated the bestselling edition of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Ms. Kalman’s twelve children’s books include Max Makes a Million, Stay Up Late, Swami on Rye, and What Pete Ate. She also has designed fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, sets for the Mark Morris Dance Company, and, with her late husband Tibor Kalman under the M&Co. label, clocks, umbrellas, and other accessories for the Museum of Modern Art. Ms. Kalman’s work is shown at the Julie Saul Gallery in Manhattan.

Find out more about Ms. Kalman’s work at her website,, and be sure to check out her blog in the New York Times.

Title: And the Pursuit of Happiness
Author: Maira Kalman
ISBN-13: 9781594202674
Hardcover: 471 pages
Publisher: Penguin, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: TLC Book Tours

drey's thoughts:
I really enjoyed paging through Maira Kalman's whimsically-illustrated And the Pursuit of Happiness. This is like history with a dash of serious and a whole lot of fun. A whole lot of fun. And I'm not quite sure how to review it.

Abraham Lincoln makes an appearance. So does his stepmother. Thomas Jefferson. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Benjamin Franklin. Regular folks too. Along with scenery, furniture, shoes, flowers, hats, books...

It is exuberant. It is at times completely irreverent and snappy (as in "oh, snap!" snappy). But most of all, it is filled with excitement and hope for this democracy that is the US of A. And that is why I really like this book.

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Tour: 144. Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois...

November 18, 2010
Today, I'm participating in the blog tour for a new anthology of seventeen stories from your favorite authors. If you're a fan of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, you'll be wondering what on earth he's doing with other projects when we're impatiently waiting for A Dance with Dragons... That is, until you pick this one up and realize that hey, maybe the guy should get a break now and then. As long as he does finish the ASoiF series, of course.

About George R.R. Martin: (One of my favorite authors. S'all you need to know. *grin* Just kidding!)
George R.R. Martin has been called "the American Tolkien," and his books, including the volumes in his landmark A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, have been on bestseller lists around the world.

About Gardner Dozois:
Gardner Dozois is the author or editor of more than a hundred books. He was the editor of the leading science fiction magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction, for eighteen years, and is also the editor of the annual anthology series The Year's Best Science Fiction, now in its 27th annual collection.

About the book:
Title: Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love (Anthology)
Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
ISBN-13: 9781439150146
Hardcover: 468 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Simon & Schuster

In this star-studded cross-genre anthology, seventeen of the greatest modern authors of fantasy, science fiction, and romance explore the borderlands of their genres with brand-new tales of ill-fated love. From zombie-infested woods in a postapocalyptic America to faery-haunted rural fields in eighteenth- century England, from the kingdoms of high fantasy to the alien world of a galaxy-spanning empire, these are stories of lovers who must struggle against the forces of magic and fate.

Award-winning, bestselling author Neil Gaiman demonstrates why he's one of the hottest stars in literature today with "The Thing About Cassandra," a subtle but chilling story of a man who meets an old girlfriend he had never expected to see.

International blockbuster bestselling author Diana Gabaldon sends a World War II RAF pilot through a stone circle to the time of her Outlander series in "A Leaf on the Winds of All Hallows." Torn from all he knows, Jerry MacKenzie determinedly survives hardship and danger, intent on his goal of returning home to his wife and baby—no matter the cost.

New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher presents "Love Hurts," in which Harry Dresden takes on one of his deadliest adversaries and in the process is forced to confront the secret desires of his own heart.

Just the smallest sampling promises unearthly delights, but look also for stories by New York Times bestselling romance authors Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, and by such legends of the fantasy genre as Peter S. Beagle and Tanith Lee, as well as many other popular and beloved writers, including Marjorie M. Liu, Jacqueline Carey, Carrie Vaughn, and Robin Hobb. This exquisite anthology, crafted by the peerless editing team of George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, is sure to leave you under its spell.

drey's thoughts:
Ever wanted to know "what if"? Like, what if Harry Dresden and Murphy ever got together? Then you'll want to read Love Hurts. Ever wondered about Anafiel Delaunay? You, and You Alone shares his dying thoughts. Believed in true love? Destiny calls in The Marrying Maid and Blue Boots. Spent hours doodling and daydreaming away? Imagination meets Twilight Zone in The Thing About Cassandra...

I meant to read this one story at a time, to savor them individually. But each was so well-written it whetted the appetite for the next, and the next, and the next after... (No, we shall not talk about my self-control where it regards books!) Looking for a gift for the bookworm who loves fantasy or science-fiction? Pick this up. Seventeen satisfying stories from your favorite authors. Need I say more?

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent

Challenges: 100+, Pub

November's FEATURED AUTHOR: Jeannie's top 5 books

November 17, 2010
Today, Jeannie swings by to share with us her top 5 reads... Come find out what they are!

Top 5 Favorite Big, Fat Books

When people ask me what sort of music I listen to, I answer “all kinds”. Which means I listen to radio ga-ga. Which means I don’t identify with any type of music. My answer is always very disappointing to people.

When people ask me what books do I like to read, I can’t be so blithe. I do read all kinds, but my books do identify me. So here’s my answer – big, fat, juicy books the size of dictionaries. Ones that suck you into their decades of storyline, and at the end you feel like you’ve aged and changed with the characters. In retrospect, most of them are historicals and fantasy stories. Probably because that also lends to the transportive element.

Here are my five desert island keepers—in no particular order. They are all books that took me somewhere else and kept me there for a long time. Very important to have that window when you’re stuck on a desert island.

Roots by Alex Haley. This powerful book showed that traditions of culture and family are strong enough to transcend time and space. Through abduction and enslavement and every attempt to erase his past, Kunta Kinte survives and passes down his roots through the stories and words he taught his child. The scene where Kunta names Kizzy and presents her to the heavens the way his ancestors did back in Africa brought me to my knees. When Alex Haley traces back his family history and finds his ancestral tribe in Africa, it’s a miracle that the original abduction was still recorded in their oral history. The “laying on of hands” as Alex is taken back into the tribe completes the circle.

gone with the wind
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I watched the movie after reading the book and I never felt the movie did it any justice. So much more happens in the book. There are nuances of Southern culture before and after the Civil War, as well as Scarlett’s growth from a spoiled brat to a strong woman. Also her relationship with Rhett Butler is complex and conflicted. The movie chops everything up into disjointed episodes. The scene when Rhett drags Scarlett up the stairs makes no sense without all the context behind it. I also read this when I was in love with The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. The Outsiders references Gone with the Wind, so reading both enhanced my experience.

the pillars of the earth
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Though a historical, this reads to me like a fantasy with its elements of witchcraft and prophecy and dastardly evil villains. The historical detail regarding craftsmen and builders is fascinating. Everyone kept on recommending this book to me because they knew I loved historical epics. “It’s about building a cathedral,” they’d say. It is so NOT about building a cathedral. It’s about Christianity and its role in politics. It’s about the rise of cities and medieval industry. It’s about the plight of working class people. And there’s a love story woven into it all. So many threads and generations winding together so perfectly.

mists of avalon
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This story brought Morgan Le Fay to life for me. It told a favorite story of mine from a new feminine perspective. I read this first in middle school and it changed everything I thought about King Arthur. Plus the risqué sexual elements and Wiccan rituals had me avidly hanging onto each page. The story starts with Morgana as a child and follows her through a stint with the fey, where time distorts, and then it continues afterward to the last days of Camelot. I closed this book and felt like time had distorted for me. Fifty years had passed and I had lived them with Morgana. But when I looked up from the book, only a day had gone by. This book started my addiction for big, fat epic books.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I could have cheated and rolled the entire trilogy in, citing one of those three book volumes, but I think each book in itself feels epic. After reading this book about the rise and fall of civilization, and the psycho-historians who tried to be the shepherds of it, I wanted to be a psycho-historian. I heard Asimov wrote this when he was 18. I was 19 when I read this and felt dull and dim-witted in comparison. They were originally published as a series of novellas, but there’s such cohesion and purpose throughout that I never thought of them as separate entities. The later books are written more in novel structure with a single storyline that continues throughout. This was a book where I felt my neural connections expanding, making new branches and growing beyond their old boundaries.

I guess that’s the only way I can describe it. I could feel my mind going somewhere new and unexplored with each of these books. I didn’t just enjoy these books, I assimilated them. Or perhaps they assimilated me? The books I write now are much, much smaller in size, however the grand scale and larger than life characters of these epics has always stayed with me.

Are there any big, fat books are on your keeper shelf?

Wow, those are epic reads, Jeannie! Gone with the Wind is on my shelf. And while I haven't read Pillars of the Earth yet, it's on the tbr list... My keeper shelf has George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire series, and I've read them multiple times. Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. C.S. Friedman's Coldfire trilogy. And a few others... What about you guys?

Review: 143. Honky Tonk Christmas by Carolyn Brown...

November 16, 2010
Carolyn Brown is one of my favorite guests here at drey's library, and I need to fix the fact that she hasn't visited since January. *gasp* How on earth did that happen?? Anyway, I love how her characters radiate spunk and sass, and Honky Tonky Christmas is no different...

honky tonk christmasTitle: Honky Tonk Christmas (Honky Tonk #4)
Author: Carolyn Brown
ISBN-13: 9781402242014
ARC: 368 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
The Honky Tonk bar in Mingus, Texas has a new owner--Sharlene Waverly. Never mind that the previous three owners have all found love and left the bar, she's dead certain that being number four means she's immune to the Honky Tonk charm. Then in walks Holt Jackson...

Carolyn Brown is at her best when bringing two reluctant lovers together. The sparks flying between Sharlene and Holt could light bonfires. The other trademark of Carolyn's books? The families. It doesn't matter how much they might agree or disagree, they stick together. So they can be a little nosy... Sometimes... But when it's doing what's best for their own, they band together and take care of it.

Honky Tonk Christmas is Carolyn Brown through-and-through. If you enjoy contemporary romance starring sexy-licious cowboys, pick this (and all her other cowboy romances) up. You won't regret it. Well, except you'll need a towel to wipe the drool off the covers...

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Want my ARC? Comment and let me know. I'll pick from the first 10 people. US only please. Extra entries apply (+1 for tweeting, +1 for linking, +1 for fb share), comment separately so it counts!

Review: 142. Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley...

November 15, 2010
How do you turn down a book with a title like Dating Mr. December? Well, in this case, you don't... *grin*

dating mr december
Title: Dating Mr. December
Author: Phillipa Ashley
ISBN-13: 9781402241420
ARC: 294 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
Phillipa Ashley's Dating Mr. December first brought to mind the 2003 movie Calendar Girls. Only with dudes. Reluctant dudes, at that...

Emma Tremayne is settling in at a new job, and comes up with an idea for a fundraiser for the town's mountain rescue squad. Pitching the idea isn't the hard part, it's convincing the guys to take the leap, especially one of the squad leaders--cranky, broody, gorgeous Will Tennant.

Well, you didn't think this would be an easy love story, did you? As with all good ones, there are plenty of hurdles to get over, but Phillipa Ashley writes such sexy characters and dialog that you'll have inhaled this before you realize you're at the end. And then you'll pick up 12 Men of Christmas to see if it's as entertaining as the book.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub


November 14, 2010
I have winners to announce! First up: Kylie Brant's Deadly Intent goes to...

comment #7: Jane!

Next up: Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches and buttons goes to...

comment #9: Bethany C.! (Please remember the book will not ship until January)

Congratulations, y'all! Thank you for swinging by!

Want the books? Purchase Deadly Intent at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository. Pre-order A Discovery of Witches at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Review: 141. The Insane Train by Sheldon Russell...

November 13, 2010
Sheldon Russell's The Insane train is on tour, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy for review as part of that tour. After all, who wouldn't want to read about a train full of asylum inmates?

the insane trainTitle: The Insane Train
Author: Sheldon Russell
ISBN-13: 9780312566715
ARC: 312 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Omnimystery

drey's thoughts:
Hook Runyon just can't catch a break. He might lose his job. He picks up a stray mutt. And now he has to figure out how to move a train load of inmates from the Baldwin Insane Asylum in Barstow, California to Oklahoma. Along an old track. With an old train...

And then people start dying. Actually, they started that before he got pulled into doing the insane train thing. But that wasn't on his watch, like these new ones are... But to find out what's going on, Hook has to start at the beginning.

The cast of characters in The Insane Train are pretty neat, especially the motley crew he finds and hires to help out on the train. The language is what I'd imagine for the time. And the ending, while not completely surprising (there are only so many characters, after all), is still satisfying. A good read from Sheldon Russell!

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Tour: Sheldon Russell & The Insane Train!

Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Sheldon Russell as he stops by on his blog tour for his latest offering, The Insane Train... Sheldon has kindly taken the time to answer some of my questions, check it out below. Don't forget to read on to the end to find out how you can enter a contest for a signed copy of The Insane Train for your very own collection!

drey: Hello Sheldon! Thank you for visiting us today! I enjoyed reading The Insane Train and Hook Runyon’s story, and am glad you’re here to chat with us.

Could you share with us how you got on the path of being a writer?

Sheldon: I lived so far back in the boonies I could have been raised by wolves. I wasn’t, as luck would have it, but I could have been. My nearest playmate lived three miles away, and town was a place we visited once a week to sell cream and buy groceries.

This kind of isolation can turn a boy inward, make him more reflective and imaginative. Drop him into a culture that loves story-telling and fiery oratory, and you’ve created a writer, or a recluse perhaps. In my case, a writer, I think.

drey: Tell us a little about The Insane Train and Hook Runyon.

Sheldon: Hook Runyon is a one-armed railroad yard dog, i.e., detective, who lives in a caboose, drinks busthead liquor, and collects rare books. After having lost an arm in an accident, he turns hobo. There, he learns the skills necessary to survive as a yard dog.

In The Insane Train, a fire has burned the insane asylum to the ground in Needles, California. Hook is called upon to escort the remaining patients, many of them criminally insane, to an old fort in Oklahoma.

But because of the war, there is a shortage of manpower. Desperate for help, Hook hires a motley collection of vets who are living under a bridge to help in the transfer. With such a bizarre crew and passenger list, things soon enough go awry.

Hook struggles to keep murder and mayhem from derailing The Insane Train on its ill-fated journey.

drey: What inspired you to write a story set in the 1940’s? How did you research the environmental factors – people’s way of living, thinking, etc. – in those times? And if that wasn’t enough, you’ve also added the element of mental illness to your story – did that increase the amount of research that you had to do?

Sheldon: As a child, I spent a lot of time with adults who were products of World War II. I can remember the men coming home from the war and how it important it all seemed. In many ways I was more comfortable with that generation than with my contemporaries.

In addition, trains were a vital part of that era. My father had been machinist on the Santa Fe, and so I had grown up hearing those stories. In the end the 1940’s made the most sense for the Hook Runyon series.

While poking through the historical society archives I came across a newspaper story about a private mental institution that had burned in 1908. So many of the “inmates” died that they were buried in a mass grave. The state of Oklahoma decided to transfer the remaining patients by train to a new location in the old territorial Fort Supply. I thought this a perfect situation for Hook.

As a university professor, I learned research skills early in my career and have been involved in psychological research in a number of ways over the years. Even so, I had to do considerable reading in the medical end of things, diagnostic standards and medical terminology for instance, in order to give credibility to both my characters and their illnesses.

drey: What do you indulge in when not writing?

Sheldon: Even then books are important to me. I spend a lot of time browsing in used bookstores, collecting, that sort of thing.

We’ve always done a lot of our own carpentry work and are currently remodeling an old building on our ranch. It is to be my new office and will be equipped with no phone.

My wife and I enjoy auctions, where we buy lots of useless stuff that we can’t live without. I have an old blacksmith forge that I give a go once in awhile. My wife is a sculptor, extraordinaire’, and so the art world has been a large part of my life as well.

As with most people, I suppose, I have more interests than I have time to pursue.

drey: Hmm, why am I thinking that the guys from American Pickers would love to stop by your place?

What are you looking forward to next?

Sheldon: The Johnson Canyon railroad tunnel in Arizona, long-since abandoned, was guarded twenty-four hours a day by the military during World War II. Dug through solid basalt rock, the tunnel touted the steepest grade of any run in the United States. This is a perfect place for Hook to uncover a secret that could have changed the course of history.

drey: And last, but not least, the Proust-lite:
  1. What is your idea of earthly happiness? Home
  2. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Deceit
  3. Who is your favorite hero in fiction? Tom Sawyer
  4. Who is your favorite hero in real life? Churchill
  5. What sound do you love? My wife’s whistling
  6. What sound do you hate? Dead battery
  7. The quality you most admire in a man? The lack of pretense
  8. The quality you most admire in a woman? Determination
  9. If not a writer, you would be a... musician
  10. What is your favorite swear word? Son of a bitch, in all its variations

Thank you again for stopping by, Sheldon! Everyone, find Sheldon online at

FTC Disclosure: I am an affiliate at IndieBound, The Book Depository, and Amazon, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

the insane train
About The Insane Train:
The Baldwin Insane Asylum in Barstow, California, has recently burned to the gound in an inferno that cost many inmates their lives and injured scores. Now, Hook Runyon has been put in charge of security for a train that is to transport the survivors, alongside the head of the asylum, Dr. Baldwin, the attending doctor, taciturn Dr. Helms, and a self-sacrificing nurse named Andrea, to a new location in Oklahoma.

Hook hires a motley crew of WW II veterans to help, and they set out for the new destination. But things go awry on the Insane Train, as several inmates and attendants are found dead, and Dr.Baldwin seems increasingly disoriented and incapable of running operations.

With Andrea's help, Hook begins investigating the suspicious deaths, and uncovers a trail of revenge that has been a long time in the planning ... by a person as mentally disturbed as her charges.
Check out an excerpt of The Insane Train at

Win your very own copy of Sheldon Russell's The Insane Train! Go to Sheldon's book tour page at Omnimystery (, and enter your name, email address, and this PIN: 3101. Entries will be accepted until 12:00 noon PT tomorrow, so hurry! Winners will be announced at Omnimystery next week. Good luck!

Review: 140. The Taming of the Wolf by Lydia Dare...

November 12, 2010
The Taming of the Wolf is my first Lydia Dare... What took me so long?

taming of the wolf
Title: The Taming of the Wolf
Author: Lydia Dare
ISBN-13: 9781402244377
ARC: 373 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
A note to Dashiel Thorpe, Earl of Brimsworth:
Dear Sir -

It might be a good idea to not be such a controlling, scowling, boor, especially when you're around the lady you're trying to convince to marry you. Forgive my impertinence, but that's a surefire way to drive her far far away, as fast as she can go...

Then again, maybe expecting the Earl to be anything but what he is, when his own perception of himself is so skewed, is too lofty a goal. At least, until Caitrin Macleod comes into the picture.

This one's got all the right portions of chemistry, dialogue, and plot. If you like werewolves with your romances, then add this to your fall/winter reading pile.

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Review: 139. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin...

November 11, 2010
I'm always excited to find new work by Asian authors, and I usually try to get my grubby paws on 'em--unless it's non-fiction, that is! So I was antsy to get started on Jeannie Lin's Butterfly Swords...

butterfly swordsTitle: Butterfly Swords
Author: Jeannie Lin
ISBN-13: 9780373296149
Publisher: Harlequin, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Jeannie Lin

drey's thoughts:
Princess Ai Li is about to be wed, when she finds out her husband-to-be is not the honorable warrior her family thinks he is. And so she decides to run back to her father to let him know. Unfortunately, she is found out almost before she can put her plan into action, and would've been hauled back to her betrothed already except for the fortuitous meeting with Ryam. What follows is an adventure story where two people fall in love along the way.

Ai Li is not strong. She is not sassy. She is honorable and obedient (well, except for the not-marrying-her-betrothed thing). She has also been sheltered for most of her life, and is very naive and trusting. I mean, would you go off into the woods with some guy you just met? But hey, without that, there'd be no story.

And what a lovely story this is. The characters are ones you'd root for. The setting is lush. You'll read this in one sitting.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

The 2010 Green Books Campaign, and 138. Freezeframe: It's Gonna be a Long Winter by Jamie Smith...

November 10, 2010
Today, I'm excited to be participating in the 2010 Green Books Campaign! What is it, you ask? Here's a quick answer:

On Wednesday, November 10, 2010, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time 200 bloggers will take a stand to support books printed on environmental paper by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 such books.

Two hundred bloggers. Two hundred books. Wow. For the complete list of books & bloggers, click on the button above.

My book for review is a collection of strips by Jamie Smith, Freezeframe: It's Going to be a Long Winter.

freezeframeTitle: Freezeframe: It's Gonna be a Long Winter
Author: Jamie Smith
ISBN-13: 9780974922119
Publisher: The Ester Republic Press, 2008
Purchase at Amazon

About the book:
Yet another collection of classics from Alaska's longest-running cartoon, the fruits of Seasonal Affective Drawing are home-grown humor from the heartland of the north. Smith's zany look at life in the Frozen North is appreciated by both visitors encountering our mosquitoes for the first time and sourdoughs with a profound understanding of that winter run to the outhouse...

drey's thoughts:
How is Wisconsin like Alaska? Well, it's bloody cold in winter. Ice-fishing is a bona-fide hobby. Have I mentioned that it's cold? Like, freezing, brrrrrrrrr cold, so cold your snot freezes before it gets out of your nose... Never mind that Alaska gets way colder, and stays that way for much longer. That's just details!!

Anyway, now that we've established that it's cold here (too), Jamie Smith's pen very cleverly captures the joy of living in Alaskan frigidity, whether the subjects are human or animal. I had a good laugh flipping through it, even as I mentally cringed at the thought of winter almost being upon us. Along with the cold, the snow, and the ice. Have I mentioned that I'm from a tropical country? *grin*

Like this? Tweet it! Then check out the other 199 books and bloggers who're participating this year!

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+

November's FEATURED AUTHOR: Jeannie's books!!

This month's Featured Author, Jeannie Lin, writes historical romance set in China. Here are her books:

butterfly swords

On the way to her wedding, Ai Li discovers a plot against her family and escapes with butterfly swords in hand. When a blue-eyed barbarian rushes into a throng of bandits to save her, their journey takes them across the Tang Empire and to the very edge of honor, loyalty, and love.
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

mei lin

When a corrupt local official wants to take Mei Lin as, not second, but third wife, she rebels and makes an outrageous declaration — she’ll only marry a man if he can defeat her in a sword fight. She has managed to fend off the local thugs and village hopefuls, but then a tall, mysterious stranger comes into town…
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Hmm... Who else is drooling over the yummy Asian dude? *grin*

137. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon...

November 9, 2010
I picked up Diana Gabaldon's Outlander because I'd seen it mentioned before (as a good read, of course!), and it was on sale on B&N for my nook...

Title: Outlander (Outlander #1)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
ISBN-13: 9780440212560
Publisher: Random House, 1992
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
I have a new literary hero--Jamie Fraser. *swoon* Diana Gabaldon's Outlander is a story big on adventure. Add in time-travel, sexy Scots, dangerous Englishmen, political wrangling, and a wee bit (hah!) of magic, and you have a tome that begs to be finished, and stays with you for a while after.

Claire Randall is taking a break from being a nurse during WWII when she falls through time to land in 1743, smack dab in the middle of a Scotland torn by war. Confused and wary, it takes her a while to accept that this is her new reality, and even longer to adjust to it. Meeting Jamie Fraser and the clan MacKenzie puts her on the path to being a bigamist, albeit unwittingly--although, is that what you'd describe her as, if her husbands exist in different centuries, and the current one may cause the previous one to not ever have been born? But things being what they are, and choices being very limited, she does what she has to, to survive.

She never counted on falling in love with Jamie. Then again, those who've read Outlander are probably all in love with Jamie... *grin* Gripping is probably an understatement for how much Outlander makes you ignore everything else so you can find out what happens to Jamie and Claire... And after you've finished it, you realize that there are more books!! Yikes! I am going to need a vacation to read these!

Have you read the Outlander series? What did you think?

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent

Challenges: 100+

Tour: 136. Stronger Than Sin by Caridad Piñeiro...

November 8, 2010
Today, I am one of the tour stops for Caridad Piñeiro's Stronger Than Sin!

strong than sin blog tour banner

About the author:
Caridad Piñeiro is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who wrote her first novel in the fifth grade when her teacher assigned a project: write a book for a class lending library. Her love of writing continued through high school, college, and law school. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, her passion for the written word led to a determination to publish and share the stories she loved with others. In 1999, Caridad's first novel was released and a decade later, she is the author of more than twenty novels and novellas. Find Caridad online at her website, on facebook and on twitter.

stronger than sinAbout the book:
Title: Stronger Than Sin
Author: Caridad Piñeiro
ISBN-13: 9780446543842
ARC: 317 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2010
Source: Hachette Book Group
It's been six months since Liliana Carrera helped her brother rescue Caterina Shaw from Wardwell Laboratories, a group of fringe scientists experimenting on human beings. Now, Liliana--with funding from the FBI--has set up a new facility to continue testing the inhibitor complex, a cure for the patients of Wardwell. What's even better is the FBI has managed to recover another of the patients, Jesse Bradford.

When Jesse arrives at Liliana's facility, he has been drugged and displays violent erratic behavior. As Liliana helps him detox, Jesse demonstrates strange powers--superhuman strength and the ability to heal quickly.

Despite their growing attraction, Jesse is secretive and Liliana remains fearful of him. Eventually he admits that Wardwell scientists threatening his sister's life in order to maintain control over him and his powers. As they try to locate her, they begin to suspect that the scientists may have corrupted the FBI. Unless they can discover Wardwell's master plan soon, Jesse's sister, the other patients, and an unknown number of innocent people, will pay the price.

drey's thoughts:
Caridad Piñeiro sure knows how to mix up interesting characters, great back-stories, and fast action. Stronger Than Sin continues with the devious plot first brought to us in Sins of the Flesh, with Wardwell scientists still experimenting on human beings. Only this time, they're also trying to get theirs hands on Liliana's inhibitor compound, so that their genetically-modified humans don't die away so quickly... After all, if she found a way to save Catarina's life, why not the others'?

When the FBI brings Jesse Bradford to Liliana, she finds a guy who's slowly being calcified to death. And as she tries to find out how to stop the process, she realizes that people are not always who you think they are, and has to decide whether Jesse is worth going all-in for, even if that means she might not survive the experience.

Stronger Than Sin offers an interesting plot to go with the romance. Pick it up if that's how you like 'em!

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Check out Stronger Than Sin:

Like what you see? Then enter this giveaway! 5 lucky ducks will get their very own copy of Stronger Than Sin, US and Canada only (no PO Boxes please!). To enter, comment with why you're interested in this book. Remember to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. Do it before 6pm CST November 21st.

Extra entries:
+1 for tweeting (comment with the link to your tweet)
+1 for linking on your blog sidebar (comment with the link to your blog)

Can't wait? Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Saturday Spotlight: Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs...

November 6, 2010
Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite authors, so I'm a lil' bit embarrassed to admit that I haven't read Masques yet. But I shall have to remedy that soon, as Wolfsbane--book #2 in the Aralorn series--has just been released...


For the last ten years, shapeshifting mercenary Aralorn has led a dangerous existence — a far cry from her noble upbringing. Now she must return home under the most unfortunate circumstances. Her father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has passed away. But when Aralorn and her companion Wolf arrive, the combination of their magic uncovers something wonderful yet alarming — her father is not actually dead, but only appears so. Yet a dark mist is also very much alive within him…

The Lyon of Lambshold has been ensorcelled by the ae’Magi, who’s using him as a conduit to finally destroy Aralorn and Wolf. With her father as the pawn, can Aralorn overcome this mysterious sorcery? Or will she finally fall to the blackest of magic, losing not only her one true companion but also her life…?
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Review: 135. Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane...

November 5, 2010
I really enjoy the world that Stacia Kane created in her Downside Ghosts series, especially the language. I'd love to have her swing by one of these days and tell us more about how this world evolved.

Title: Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts #2)
Author: Stacia Kane
ISBN-13: 9780345515582
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
Oh, Chess. I so wish you'd get some help with that addiction of yours,  because right now your life just seems to be based on a series of choices--when you get to choose, that is--that you make based on whether or when you can get more... You need to get more rest, take better care of yourself, move out of the Downside...

I do understand that if you did, though, you would probably be a different Chess than the one I know and want to read more of. Who knows, maybe making better decisions means that you're not entangled in situations that just seem to pop up out of the blue, with all four loyalties digging their talons into you and pulling you in different directions... Which four, you ask? Well, there's the Church you work for, asking you to look into the supposed haunting of a famous actor's home (shhhhh, keep this on the down low!). Then there's Bump, the drug lord in Downside, who seems to think you're his personal Church-witch, because he has the drugs you want. Or maybe it's Lex, whom you get more than just drugs from (you can do better, you know...). And, of course, there's your personal little helper, those little pills that help you make it through each and every day... When Bump and Lex approach about dead prostitutes, you wonder if you're getting in the middle of a gang war. But they'd tell you if you were, right?

Anyway. I really am glad you made it through Unholy Magic in one piece (although you sure had me on tenterhooks for quite a bit there!). I'm sorry that Terrible's not on speaking terms with you anymore though--except when he's on Bump's business, of course. I sure hope you get help--and soon--because I'm not sure how many more of these stories you can keep going through, without causing permanent harm to yourself. And that would not be good.

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Review: 134. The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan...

November 4, 2010
I can't remember where I first noticed Celine Kiernan's The Poison Throne... But I was intrigued by the premise of having to choose--and between difficult choices at that--and I was looking to try a new-to-me fantasy series (and author!).

the poison throneTitle: The Poison Throne (Moorehawke #1)
Author: Celine Kiernan
ISBN-13: 9780316077064
Trade Paperback: 475 pages
Publisher: Orbit, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:
Celine Kiernan's The Poison Throne sets a fifteen-year-old apprentice carpenter on a hard path. When Wynter Moorehawke returns home, she expects it to be just as it was when she left five years ago. Instead, it seems as though the King has gone mad, and things that used to be so much a part of normal daily life--including ghosts and talking cats--are now banned, upon penalty of death.

When Wynter goes to search out her childhood friends--the King's sons Alberon and Razi, she finds that Alberon's gone, and Razi's being pushed to assume Alberon's position as heir. And she has a challenger for Razi's attention in the form of Christopher Garron, Razi's new best friend.

As things at court spiral out of control--some don't like the idea of Razi assuming the throne, some don't like Christopher because he's not one of them, and the King is unpredictable and paranoid--Wynter has to decide between staying with her father, or helping her friends survive this mad King's schemes.

The Poison Throne is part mystery and part coming-of-age, all wrapped in a middle-ages setting. Celine Kiernan's writing keeps you on the edge, waiting and wanting to find out what happens next. I cannot wait to read The Crowded Shadows...

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub, Support Your Local Library
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