Ashes of a Black Frost (11/1) | The Shattered Vine (11/3)
Coming soon:

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.

Review: 117. On Maggie's Watch by Ann Wertz Garvin...

August 31, 2011
It's the last day of August, so I thought I'd post my thoughts on August's Featured Author Ann Wertz Garvin's On Maggie's Watch today... 

on maggie's watch
Title: On Maggie's Watch
Author: Ann Wertz Garvin
ISBN-13: 9780425236789
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Penguin, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Ann Wertz Garvin

drey's thoughts:  
What do you do when you're eight-and-a-half months pregnant and find out there's a sex offender living on your street? If you're Maggie Finley, you start up the Neighborhood Watch and take midnight strolls past his house. Just to make sure he's not out there hurting anyone, that's all...

But it's not all for Maggie. She's a natural worrier--worrying about the baby, the neighbors, the husband working late... Then she makes a new friend and starts worrying if she maybe likes him just a little itsy bit too much? In between all the worrying and cuticle-chewing Maggie finds time to distract her best friend from her daily grind, and starts compulsively leaving "presents" for the offender.

As off-the-wall as Maggie seems, she could be someone you know--if you know people who're neurotic and just a tad too anal-retentive to let things slide, who get a bit obsessive about their latest "passion"... And I liked her, and wished I knew somebody on my street who cared that much. Never mind that she didn't do more research before going all gangbusters, and never mind that what she's doing isn't quite legal. Ann Wertz Garvin's portrayal of Maggie makes her somehow endearing, which makes On Maggie's Watch a cozy read. (Yes, even with the troubles...) And I thought that the present Maggie gets at the end, is a nice little reminder that you can't always judge a book by its cover.

drey's rating: Pick it up! Summer's not over yet, there's still room for at least one more read! *grin*

Have you read On Maggie's Watch? What did you think?

Winner! On Maggie's Watch!

Well, August is over. And I've put Randomizer to work picking a winner for Ann Wertz Garvin's On Maggie's Watch... The lucky duck is...


Congratulations! Email's on its way, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Friday. And thank you for visiting this month!

Review: 116. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher...

August 30, 2011
I've been very impatiently waiting on this title to be mine (from the library)... Well, it finally was! Yay!

ghost story
Title: Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13)
Author: Jim Butcher
ISBN-13: 9780451463791
Hardcover: 477 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts: Poor poor Harry. *sigh* He does the world a good deed, and ends up in the ever-after for his efforts. Good thing he's got friends... Or does he?

In this thirteenth installment to the popular Dresden Files series, Harry is sent back to watch over his friends--and to prevent further catastrophe (of course). He's not real. He's lost his magic. And he can't figure out which friends need protecting, never mind the how.

Reading a bit like Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Harry gets to reflect on how his emotions have caused some of the ruckus now gone mad in Chicago--and all around the world--and figuring out what he needs to do to help fix things for everyone else. Murphy's stressed and mostly in shock. Molly's surviving as best she can. And Bob's split off his evil half, just in case somebody not-so-Harry gets their grubby mitts on his skull. Sigh. When did saving the world get so complicated?

I loved the growth Harry experiences in Ghost Story. I winced at the Molly we see here. And I felt really really badly for Murphy. But I thought the ending provided a twist to how the story can progress, and I can't wait to meet the Harry starring in book number fourteen.
drey's rating: Excellent!! Not quite my favorite Dresden Files book, but close.

Have you read Ghost Story? What did you think?

Blog Tour: Review of (115.) Snapped by Laura Griffin, a guest post, and a giveaway!...

August 29, 2011
Boy oh boy, wait till you see what we have here for you today... A guest post from Laura Griffin AND a giveaway!

laura griffin
About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. Her books have won numerous awards, including a 2010 RITA (Whisper of Warning) and a 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award (Untraceable). Visit her online at her website or on Facebook.

The Story Behind the Story

I started my career as a newspaper reporter, so I’m a big believer in doing some legwork before sitting down to write a word. Some people call this “research” or “procrastination.” For me, it’s a little of both and an important part of my writing process.

One of the best parts of being a writer is that it gives me an excuse to do interviews. Over the years I’ve had a chance to interview all sorts of people who later became characters in my books: Navy SEALs, FBI agents, artists, crime scene techs, anthropologists. Once I actually interviewed a fingerprint expert, which would have been a fairly routine, except that the guy was standing there holding a glove made of human skin as we talked. I found this to be a bit distracting. But as with all good interviews, I learned something. (In this case, it was that once a body reaches a certain stage of decomp, the skin slips off like a glove and can be used by a skilled technician to recover prints for identification purposes.)

Not all of the research I do has such a high gross-out factor. Some of it is really fun. There was the time I jumped out of an airplane in Tennessee. This experience inspired the skydiving scene in my second book, One Wrong Step. One of my most memorable research excursions was visiting the FBI Academy at Quantico. There, I had a chance to meet dozens of interesting people who would later answer my pesky story questions. I also got to tromp around the grounds and visit Hogan’s Alley, where special agent trainees practice making arrests. The highlight of the trip was learning to shoot a Glock on the FBI firearms range.

My latest book Snapped opens with a sniper scene, so I interviewed an array of law enforcement experts before writing the story. A police sniper gave me some tips on SWAT tactics that helped me pack the opening pages with as much tension as possible. This book is a romantic suspense--a mystery intertwined with a love story. This book is especially close to my heart, and I hope readers will connect with it, too.

About the book

On a sweltering summer afternoon, Sophie Barrett walks into a nightmare. A sniper has opened fire on a college campus. When the carnage is over, three people—plus the shooter—are dead and dozens more are injured. Sophie escapes virtually unscathed. Yet as details emerge from the investigation, she becomes convinced that this wasn’t the random, senseless act it appeared to be. No one wants to believe her—not the cops, not her colleagues at the Delphi Center crime lab, and definitely not Jonah Macon, the homicide detective who’s already saved her life once.

Jonah has all kinds of reasons for hoping Sophie is mistaken. Involving himself with a key witness could derail an already messy investigation, not to mention jeopardize his career. But Sophie is as determined and fearless as she is sexy. If he can’t resist her, he can at least swear to protect her. Because if Sophie is right, she’s made herself the target of a killer without a conscience. And the real terror is only just beginning. . . .
Title: Snapped (Tracers #4)
Author: Laura Griffin
ISBN-13: 9781451617368
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Pocket Books

drey's thoughts:
Laura Griffin's Snapped is fast and tightly-paced, and will have you at the edge of your seat. I couldn't put it down--from the first shot to the very last page, because I just had to find out who the bad guys are and what the deal was.

I really liked Sophie--she doesn't make excuses for herself or her past, and she's not going to sit back and wait for someone else to fix the problem. She charges in with her charm and her brains, and actually manages to dig up stuff that the cops hadn't looked into. Now to get the cops to pay attention to that...

Jonah is a good guy--and true to typical romance-novel hero typecasting. He's gorgeous (of course), stubborn (*rolls eyes*), and does his utmost to keep Sophie safe--including from herself. Which means that he'll take her information and then tuck her back under lock and key until he has time to get answers. Which is so not how Sophie works.

Of course, that means that their interactions come with lots of sparks, which means this book is not only suspenseful, but fun to read as well. Fans of romantic suspense will love Snapped.

drey's rating: Excellent!

Have you read Snapped? What did you think? And if you haven't, here's your chance to win a copy!

Boy oh boy, do I have a giveaway for you to enter! Laura has very graciously offered up a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky duck. And thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of Snapped for you, too! This one's for US residents only. To enter, fill out the form below. Good luck!

Winner: Money Can't Buy Love!

August 28, 2011
I did it! I picked a winner for Connie Briscoe's Money Can't Buy Love! Phew...

Anyway, the lucky duck is... Lisa Garrett!

Congratulations, Lisa. Happy reading!

Review: 114. Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler...

August 26, 2011
Today's review is for the rare memoir that I say "yes" to, and I did because I'm a closet Francophile... ;)

Title: Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France
Author: Karen Wheeler
ISBN-13: 9781402261183
ARC: 311 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
Tout Sweet appealed to me because Karen did something I've always dreamed about--picking up and moving to France. Or Italy--I'd move to Italy, too. I can't imagine buying a house on a whim, or having no kitchen floor, but love the idea of everything within walking distance, friends across the way, and learning French. Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that in real life! *grin*

The people Karen meets are a hoot to read about, but I don't know that I'd have had the patience for the drama. What I liked most about Tout Sweet was the day-to-day stuff--chatting with the neighbors, having everybody wonder who the guy she's having dinner with is, taking a walk...

Tout Sweet is c'est si bon! Add it to your summer reading if you like memoirs with a touch of foreign soil and a dash of self-discovery.

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read Tout Sweet? What did you think?

Review: 113. The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch...

August 25, 2011
This is yet another title whose cover caught my eye, and it was one of a horde of books that made it to my house from the library in the past few weeks...

magnolia league
Title: The Magnolia League
Author: Katie Crouch
ISBN-13: 9780316078498
Hardcover: 348 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:  
Alexandra Lee is sixteen years old and orphaned when her mother's van goes off a cliff. Two months later, she is moved to Savannah, Georgia, to live with her grandmother. Going from hippy to southern belle is a culture shock to say the least, and she doesn't intend to acquire any of the seemingly-effortless gentility that her grandmother expects of her.

Then she finds out that not everything that glitters is gold, and all the gentility in the world doesn't hide the fact that her grandmother's social club has its fingers in more than a few questionable things--including a partnership with hoodoo practitioners. And now she's expected to not only be one of them, but eventually lead them...

Is she strong enough to withstand the pressure to conform? Or will this not-quite-rail-thin sassy hippy girl become lost in the glory--real and imagined--of being one of the Magnolia League?

I like Alex, except when she's all wishy-washy about a boy. A girl who stands up for her vintage t-shirts and ripped jeans in the face of Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs does not do wishy-washy; she kicks butt with her army boots or smart-mouth witticisms. I like her new friend Dexter and I even like Hayes and Madison--the debutantes assigned to get Alex into the local scene. I'm not sure I like the Buzzards much (what a name, huh?), and I'm definitely sure I don't like her grandmother all.

The pace starts off leisurely and hardly picks up until you get to the end, where Alex finds out just how devious her grandmother is, and has to decide whether she'll give it all up--for the boy she's pretty sure she loves, or for the mother she's lost. Up till the end, this was just another story about another teenager who finds out that the world around her holds many secrets. But with that ending, I'm waiting to see what Katie Crouch comes up with next for Alex. And what repercussions will flow from her decision.

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read The Magnolia League? What did you think?

August's FEATURED AUTHOR: Balance 101...

August 24, 2011
It's almost the end of the month (*gasp*), and today our Featured Author Ann Wertz Garvin is here to share a lil' something on balance...

Balance 101: Shutting off the Bachelor and Getting the Life You Want.

Occasionally, when I’m playing Trivial Pursuit, I’m thrilled that I know that John Philip Sousa wrote the Stars and Stripes Forever. There are times when knowing the difference between mean, median, and mode gets me a look of appreciation from my children during homework time and nobody can rock a dinner party like I do when the lyrics are needed for Funky Cold Medina. During these times I give credit to traditional education and America’s Top Forty Countdown. But where is the love when I need to know how to choose between sleeping, writing, or feeding my children? Where is the class Balance 101: Shutting off the Bachelor and Getting the Life You Want?

I get a lot of questions about balance. I have a career unrelated to my creative life of writing and I’m a parent of two teen girls. I have, essentially three full time jobs. I think based on this information alone, people should be asking me-- Have you heard about balance? You should try it some time. Do you want the enamel on your teeth when you’re seventy?

On the days when I am successful in balancing life I might offer the following advice (but would then deny it as I believe the universe is listening and has a wicked payback system for advice givers):

1. Get a handle on what you value and hold every decision up to those values. I value my health, my family, my job, my relationships and my writing. Oh, and GoodWill (both the store and the concept). I do not value the Bachelor(ette). I do not value Solitaire, Tetris, or Angry Birds. I do not value season tickets to Wisconsin Badger Hockey. If you love nothing better than to dress in your alma mater’s colors and watch your team throttle another, rock on. If that is part of your balance formula, I’m on board with it. Just make it an active decision and not a passive one.

a. Example I: The phone rings and there is an offer to make some money teaching a quick nutrition course to twenty Physical Therapy Students. Does it further or hinder my values? Does it cost or buy me time. Do the positive results outweigh the negatives…and so on. In this case the answer no and to take a pass.

b. Example II: Should I stare into space or write a chapter in my book. Again with the checklist and in this case the answer was to go with the staring. I needed the space-staring for balance in my day.

2. There is no number two. I was going to put time management here. But, time management is just another way to say value management. If you know your values then you know what is worth your time. It’s a twofer.

I think often we need to remind ourselves where we are in the life process. Many times when a beautiful temptation or otherwise irresistible distraction crosses my path I have to review my value system and remind myself, Ann, you are in the parenting part of your life. Jetting off to party with Brad Paisley just isn’t an option right now. You did that before (no I didn’t) or you can do that in a few years (well…probably not).

It’s old advice I’m doling out here. Advice my mother used to give to me in her usual no-nonsense fashion. “Oh for God’s sake Ann. Shut the TV off and get on with your life.”

Well, I guess Ann's mother says it clearly enough! I agree that we all need to better prioritize, and what better way to do so than with a value system. But I am glad that you point out that what may be a negative on one day might be a positive on another. We just need to know what works for our individual selves.

Reading is one of my priorities, and I will freely confess that sometimes I read to the point of ignoring my family. Other times though, everything else sucks up all the reading time I've planned for--and then I binge-read to make up for it. I have definitely worked on balancing reading with all the other things I like to do (note that I reviewed 237 books in '09, 159 in '10, and I'll be hitting around 150 this year--I think!), and yet I still think I could cut back a bit more. But how? There are soooo many books out there just waiting to be read!

What do you do to prioritize reading with everything else going on in your life?

Review: 112. Perfect Partners by Carly Phillips...

August 23, 2011
Perfect Partners is the second of three of Carly Phillips' backlist that I've had the opportunity to read and review...

perfect partners
Title: Perfect Partners
Author: Carly Phillips
eBook: 169 pages
Publisher: Inkwell Publishing, 2011 (reprint)
Purchase at Amazon
Source: Blue Dot Literary 

drey's thoughts:  
Carly Phillips' Perfect Partners has two people who've lost a lot--and could lose even more--for the possibility of love.

Chelsie has baggage from a previous marriage, and she's still trying to make amends. Griffin just doesn't trust women, period. You know the walls are way up there when these two have to learn to tolerate the other, for the sake of their niece... 

When tolerance grows into something else, can they take the steps towards love? Or is losing your heart too risky a proposition?

I didn't get into Perfect Partners--not like I did Solitary Man, but I did enjoy the story. I wish there was a bit more of the lovely little girl, and a bit less of the self-doubts. All in all though, a good read.  

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read Perfect Partners? What did you think?

Winner: Deadly Sins!

I completely forgot to pick a winner for this one! Sorry!!! But, I put Randomizer to work, and the winner of Kylie Brant's Deadly Sins (book 6 in her Mindhunters series) is...

Teresa Warner!!

Congratulations, Teresa! Email's on its way, please respond with your mailing information before the end of day Friday. Thanks for swinging by!

Review of 111. Fallen and a visit from Traci Slatton...

August 22, 2011
Whew! Do we have a treat for you today. Traci Slatton swings by to talk about the path from inspiration to novel!

About the author:
Traci L. Slatton is a graduate of Yale and Columbia, and she also attended the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, sculptor Sabin Howard, whose classical figures and love for Renaissance Italy inspired her historical novel Immortal and her contemporary vampire art history mystery The Botticelli Affair. Fallen is the first in a romantic trilogy set during the end times.

Find her online at, on Facebook, and Twitter.

And now, may I present a guest post from Traci...
How I Get From Inspiration to Ideas to Research to Novel
By Traci L. Slatton,
Author of Fallen

This topic fascinates me, because I wrestle with it every day. I am a creative person and I have a lot of ideas for stories. I'm also hungry. I'm starving to write 100 books before they peel my cold, dead fingers off my keyboard and lay me in a plain pine box. Then there's another consideration: writing is misery. Every page is agony.

Ideas come and I take notes. If I'm walking, I'll make a voice memo. Usually characters stuck in tense situations, and bits of their dialogue, come to me first. Sometimes I'll get a palpable feeling-sense of a relationship: the tenderness and eroticism and playfulness and fierceness of it. I also see my main characters in my mind's eye. With FALLEN, my recent post-apocalyptic romance, I had a vision of Europe in shambles, and a man and a woman who were both very strong and very tormented. She was willing to do anything to keep some children alive, but she was strongly connected to an absent husband. So the premise came to me first. I had a clear sense of the man as good and bad, a leader, a striated human soul. I could feel his essence.

Usually I won't start writing until the idea threatens to shove bamboo shoots up my fingernails if I don't write it. That's when compulsion has set in. The beginning is great fun. It's a rush. I've never been interested in drugs but I always think that the rush of creative energy when I finally surrender to a story must be like the rush of some potent chemical. It's intense, it's alchemical, it consumes me. It's like falling in love, because it's all I can think about. I walk down the street with scenes scrolling through my brain. I feel alive in a new way.

After that initial rush, the work sets in. Maybe it's like a marriage at this point. You know, when the honeymoon has worn off and you're sick of picking up your spouse's toenail clippings from the coffee table and you just want to throw a heavy wrench at his head. It's a lot of unglamorous work. Here's when I mock up an outline of the story, the main turning points, and the character arc. I grapple with the nuts and bolts of story, and the fundamentals of what I aim to do with this particular one.

Best I've figured out, and this is an on-going inquiry for me, story is what your main character wants and how they DON'T get it. All story has a common source: it's an argument for a specific value. And all good fiction has two qualities: 1, it's about truth but not necessarily about fact, and 2, it is structured around conflict and obstacle.

So I have scenes, obstacles, disasters, bits of dialogue, and the faces of my characters all jumbled up in my brain, and I sit down and start writing the first few chapters. Then I pause to write an outline. I also figure out what value I am arguing for. I am opinionated and I have strong values, which helps. I write out my value on a sticky note and tape it to the side of my iMac.
I also almost always have a clear sense of the ending of the story. With FALLEN, I saw my heroine riding off without her man. I saw her heart-broken and determined. I enjoy writing stories where the stakes are high, so I tweak the plot points to up the ante. How can I push a scene? How can I turn up the volume on a character's breaking point?

Writing is an arachnoid process: it's like weaving an intricate web from the silk in my gut. That weaving happens in the back and forth between the vast, oceanic creative flow and the careful structuring of analytical thought. Both are crucial.

I usually do research as I am writing. I'll pause in the middle of a page and read six chapters in a book, or google around the internet, or send emails to people I know who might have answers. A small plane flies from Edmonton to Le Havre in Fallen, so I emailed my friend Geoffrey, who's a pilot, to ask him how that would be done. He had some ideas and he emailed some of his friends, too. When I have my answers, I resume writing. If I need to do further research, then, after a day or so, I'll keep writing and start reading the necessary texts at night.

The end is another rush, because I get excited to torture my main characters more intensely, and so finish the story. Finally I have a first draft. Here's where I ask a few trusted friends to read and critique. I've also found a free-lance editor who is scary smart, and I have her read the draft. Then I go back and revise, revise, revise . . .

Title: Fallen
Author: Traci Slatton
eBook: 180 pages
Publisher: Telemachus Press, 2011
Purchase at Amazon
Source: FSB Associates

drey's thoughts: Fallen starts off with a bang, capturing your attention right away...
I was flattened against a brick wall, watching in terror as she struggled not to inhale the killing mist that pulsed a few centimeters from her face. If she breathed it in, it would kill her. If she moved into it, or if it moved to engulf her, it would kill her. Dissolve her from within, filling her mind with madness before blistering her cells with heat until she ruptured into steam and water droplets. All that would be left of her would be a splatter of water on the ground and a fine beige powder sifting down from the air.
Yikes!!  This is so not a world I want to live in--a mysterious mist that kills, rogue bands of survivors who round up women and children for far more nefarious purposes than you could imagine, dwindling food supplies...

It is in this world that Emma Anderson finds herself in charge of her five-year-old daughter Mandy, and seven other children; trying to survive and keep them safe and alive. When she meets a band of men who are seemingly able to keep the mists away, Emma barters for protection for herself and the children. Before she knows it, she's healing the camp's sick and making friends. Well, except for a few of the men...

I like Emma. She's strong, she's resolute, and she's fearless in standing up for those who can't help themselves--almost to the point of getting herself killed. I like that some of the survivors have acquired a new skill, like Emma's healing.

The plot is simple (survive), the story is moving. I enjoyed reading Fallen, and the realization at the end makes me antsy to find out what happens in the sequel to this first-in-a-trilogy.

drey's rating: Excellent!

Have you read Fallen? What did you think?

Review: 110. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris...

August 20, 2011
Boy, was the waitlist loooooooooong for this one!

dead reckoningTitle: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)
Author: Charlaine Harris
ISBN-13: 9780441020317
Hardcover: 325 pages
Publisher: Penguin, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library 

drey's thoughts:  
Well, it's not Sookie if there aren't a bunch of crazy things happening around (if not to) her, and plenty of crazy things happen in this latest addition to the series. Her place of employment is firebombed. Two fairies live in her house. A naked were hangs out in her bed. And Debbie Pelt's crazy-as-a-loon sister is out of jail.

There's not much in terms of character development or even plot development in this one, except for Viktor pushing all of Eric's buttons. And the fact that Eric has a secret--one he won't tell Sookie, and has forbidden Pam to share. Not that Sookie doesn't eventually find out; she is Sookie after all.

The only thing I'd consider a true addition to the story is Adele's letter, which not only sheds light on Fintan's love for her grandmother, but also prepares for some more interesting occurrences (hopefully) in future installments. Most everything else was just fluff, or a whole lot of no-change. But all in all this was a fun read, and I'm looking forward to see what Eric does with his dilemma and how Sookie proceeds with her new-found knowledge.

drey's rating: Ok

Have you read Dead Reckoning or any of the Sookie Stackhouse books? What did you think?

Review: 109. The Magician King by Lev Grossman...

August 19, 2011
The Magician King is the follow-up to 2009's The Magicians, which I liked but didn't get into.

magician kingTitle: The Magician King (Magicians #2)
Author: Lev Grossman
ISBN-13: 9780670022311
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Penguin

drey's thoughts:
I hate to say it, but I really didn't care for The Magician King... I've picked it up at least a dozen times, and every time I do, I get through about 10-15 pages and I put it down again.

Why? Because I got bored (sorry). The only part that was remotely interesting to me was Julia's story. She is one messed up Queen of Fillory, and The Magician King explains why. Quentin is still sometimes a brat--and a king to boot--and still a bit annoying.

As for plot--The Magician King starts out with the four kings and queens living the high life in Fillory. Then Quentin gets bored and decides to sail out to the outer edges of Fillory. It's something nobody else has done (or at least, gotten a good chart out of it), so of course he'll go do it--Julia in tow--and get some adventure to boot. Unfortunately for him, he and Julia get stranded back in the real world, and have to figure out how to get back to Fillory. I got as far as them picking up Josh and Poppy before I stopped picking up the book (again).

If I could've skipped the Quentin parts and just had the Julia parts to read, I think I would've liked it more--and maybe even finished it. Now I'm wondering if I should consider this the squishy-middle of the sandwich, and read the end of the trilogy when that comes out...

drey's rating: Meh.

Have you read this series? What did you think?

Review: 108. Solitary Man by Carly Phillips...

August 18, 2011
I was excited to get a chance to review some of Carly Phillips' backlist, and Solitary Man's the first of three titles... 

solitary man
Title: Solitary Man
Author: Carly Phillips
eBook: 210 pages
Publisher: Inkwell Publishing (eBook)
Purchase at Amazon
Source: Blue Dot Literary 

drey's thoughts:  
Brought together by tragedy, then pushed apart by stubbornness, Kevin and Nikki's non-relationship is further complicated when he returns to town.

She loves him, but doesn't want him if he doesn't love her. He loves her, but doesn't know it yet--and even if he did, he has absolutely no clue how to show it. When circumstances throw them together, they have to figure out if love is worth fighting for. Or if their arrangement is purely for convenience's sake.

This is a sweet love story where the hero and heroine have everything to fight for, and everything to lose. Definitely one for romantic in all of us.

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read Solitary Man? What did you think?

August's FEATURED AUTHOR: Ann and books...

August 17, 2011
It's Wednesday, and with that our Featured Author Ann Wertz Garvin is sharing some of her favorite authors...

Readers Know How to Party

If I had anything that resembles a memory I might be able to list my favorite books. I think that’s probably why I’ve become a writer in this late stage of the game. My memory is toast and if I don’t write life down in some kind of organized fashion my thoughts will go to the place where all my eyeglasses and earrings are.

Having said that, I’m the Labrador retriever of readers--loyal to authors until the end of time. If you write a book I love, I will read every last verb you publish. If, while I was reading I could call the author and have them over for a thank you facial, I would. I would be a friendly stalker--happy to sit at their feet and watch them craft a sentence with my only interruption being to offer a cup of coffee or a Jolly Rancher.

I don’t have a bucket list but if life was winding down and I won the lottery I would throw a party and invite authors living and dead to eat hummus and drink mojitos.

I’d choose authors for sparkling character if not party dynamics. Tennessee Williams, Erma Bombeck, and Oscar Wilde for their posthumous wit and edgy drama.

Nora Ephron, Elizabeth Berg, and Elizabeth Strout for their love, humor and unflinching honesty.

JK Rowling would have to be wrangled from buying up all property in the northern hemisphere, but I’d get her there. I’d promise to supply her a cocktail napkin so she can plot out her next dynasty.

If Anna Quindlen was available I’d eavesdrop on her conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert and I’d really appreciate it if Thomas Cook could stop to chat with Gregory Maguire and Michael Perry.

It wouldn’t be a quiet party. Not one for the conflict avoidant, that’s for certain. I’d have to be ready to break up debates, smooth ruffled feathers and mediate during the inevitable debate over the difference between literary vs. commercial fiction. I don’t even want to think about what would happen if a Kindle or Nook dropped out of someone’s purse. But, wine would get drunk, conversation would sparkle and this Labrador would wag her tail all the way to her grave.

Those are some fabulous authors on your list, Ann! Can I come be a fly on the wall? I promise not to drink all the mojitos...

What about you guys? Who would be on your invite list for a party like this?

Review: 107. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare...

August 16, 2011
I couldn't wait to get to Clockwork Angel, but it took me a while to finally get around to picking it up from the library...

clockwork angel
Title: Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
ISBN-13: 9781416975861
Hardcover: 476 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library  

drey's thoughts:  
I enjoyed Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, and LOVED Clockwork Angel's cover. I meant to pick it up when it came out, but finally (yay!) got it. I guess I was waiting till it got closer to the release for Clockwork Prince...

Clockwork Angel is the story of Tessa Gray and how she gets involved with a group of Nephilim--the Shadowhunters. When her aunt dies, Tessa's brother sends for her to join him in London. Unbeknownst to her, she's got powers. Where from, she has no clue. But once in London she's kidnapped and forced to learn to manifest it. When she finds out that it's all so she can be married to The Magister, she decides to escape.

And runs right into the arms of the Shadowhunters. Will is gorgeous and utterly rude. Jem is handsome and nice. You know who she's attracted to then, right? But never mind that. The story is crazy busy with intrigue, nefarious plots, and clockwork automatons--who has time for romance? *wink*

Clockwork Angel is a fabulous book with characters you'd love (to love and hate) and a story you can't put down. A must for those who love young adult steampunk!

drey's rating: Excellent!

Have you read Clockwork Angel? What did you think?

Review: 106. Another Kind of Dead by Kelly Meding...

August 15, 2011
I inhaled Another Kind of Dead... Seriously.

another kind of dead
Title: Another Kind of Dead (Dreg City #3)
Author: Kelly Meding
ISBN-13: 9780345525772
eBook: 289 pages
Publisher: Random House, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased 

drey's thoughts:  
I don't know how Evy does it. Seems like she's destined to be dead (and stay that way), with as many times as she gets killed. And now, she has yet another big scary baddie to hunt down. If I were Evy, I'd curl up in a ball and hide under the bed. Forever.

Too bad for her, she's strong. Too bad for her, she cares. And way too bad for her, her enemies know her weak spots, and exactly which buttons to push to get her to do what they want...

If you have a delicate constitution or a fragile stomach, you won't want to read this. What Evy goes through, I wouldn't wish on my absolute worst enemies. All I know is, I wouldn't want to piss Kelly Meding off. Seriously.

The story is packed with plot and action, and there's even some character development. I wish Wyatt was a bit less wishy-washy, even as I appreciated his sensitivity to Evy's issues. And boy does she have issues. But who wouldn't? I also liked getting to know some of the other characters better. I like Gina, and Phin. I wish someone would break Bastian's nose. Oh wait, did they?

The ending is frenetic and at some parts downright terrifying--and grossly so. Here's another warning if you pick this up: You won't be able to put it down until you flip the last page, and then you're stuck with me waiting to see what happens next. And hoping Evy gets a much much nicer treatment in that installment (Wrong Side of the Dead, coming in January!!)...  But I'm not holding my breath.

drey's rating: Excellent!!!

Have you read Another Kind of Dead? What did you think?

Winner: The Last Four Things!

August 14, 2011
I didn't forget... Really! But it's been a busy month so far, and I am sneaking in the time to post the winner of Paul Hoffman's The Last Four Things. According to Randomizer, that lucky duck is...

Carol Wong!!

Congratulations, Carol! Email's on its way, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Wednesday. And thanks for stopping in!

Happy Birthday: Georgette Heyer's eBooks on sale 8/15 thru 8/21!

August 13, 2011
Tuesday, August 16 would have been Georgette Heyer’s 109th birthday. In honor of this occasion, Sourcebooks is discounting EVERY SINGLE one of her currently available eBooks to $1.99 for one week!

That’s 46 books by Georgette Heyer, plus the fabulous reader companion, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester, available for $1.99 from August 15 to August 21.

Below is the full list of titles, separated by category: regency romance, mystery, historical fiction and non-fiction. For covers and retailers, visit Sourcebooks' Heyer birthday page.


1.                  Arabella
2.                  Bath Tangle
3.                  Beauvallet
4.                  The Black Moth
5.                  Black Sheep
6.                  Charity Girl
7.                  The Convenient Marriage
8.                  The Corinthian
9.                  Cotillion
10.              Cousin Kate
11.              Devil’s Cub
12.              False Colours
13.              Faro’s Daughter
14.              The Foundling
15.              Frederica
16.              Friday’s Child
17.              The Grand Sophy
18.              Lady of Quality
19.              The Masqueraders
20.              The Nonesuch
21.              Powder and Patch
22.              The Quiet Gentleman
23.              Regency Buck
24.              The Reluctant Widow
25.              Sylvester
26.              The Talisman Ring
27.              These Old Shades
28.              Venetia

29.              Behold, Here’s Poison
30.              A Blunt Instrument
31.              Death in the Stocks
32.              Detection Unlimited
33.              Duplicate Death
34.              Envious Casca
35.              Footsteps in the Dark
36.              No Wind of Blame
37.              Penhallow
38.              They Found Him Dead
39.              Unfinished Clue
40.              Why Shoot a Butler?

41.              The Conqueror
42.              An Infamous Army
43.              My Lord John
44.              Royal Escape
45.              Simon the Coldheart
46.              Spanish Bride

47.              Georgette Heyer's Regency World

NPR's Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books...

August 12, 2011
NPR came out with this year's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books yesterday. Here are the 100, and I've taken the liberty of marking the ones I've read (or partially read) in blue.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
22. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
23. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
24. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
26. The Stand, by Stephen King
27. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
28. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
29. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
31. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
32. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

There are a lot of titles here I don't recognize, and more that I haven't read. I'm not sure I like that they mixed series in with actual books, and I'm surprised at some of the names that didn't show up, like Octavia Butler. I also think that Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? should be higher, and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series should be lower. But I guess that's personal...

What do you think?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

what's here...

Powered by Blogger Widgets