Ashes of a Black Frost (11/1) | The Shattered Vine (11/3)
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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.

237. The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie...

December 31, 2009
last argument of kingsAbout the book:
The end is coming.

Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him-but it's going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the king of the Northmen still stands firm, and there's only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy: it's time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. As his days with a sword are far behind him, it's fortunate that he's deadly with his remaining weapons: blackmail, threats, and torture.

Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is too painful an undertaking and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too-and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.

The king of the Union lies on his deathbed, the peasants revolt, and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is about to fall across the heart of the Union. Only the First of the Magi can save the world, but there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, than to break the First Law...

drey's thoughts:
Oh what a mess! Lots of dead people--and the ones in positions of power result in lots of wrangling over successions (and the accompanying politicking). Lots of surprises--including to the (supposedly) bastard-born son of the late king. And lots of left hands not knowing what the right hands are doing. Or do they?

This third book of the First Law series brings to a close storylines hatched in The Blade Itself and Before They are Hanged. And what a close it is. Joe Abercrombie's snarky wit is scattered liberally throughout this romp through the lives of kings and bastards, barbarians and heroes, slaves and master manipulators. Who are all deftly weaved together into a story that entertains. Read it. But make sure you put aside the time, because these books are not little by any means of the imagination!

Title: The Last Argument of Kings
Author: Joe Abercrombie
ISBN-10: 1591026903
ISBN-13: 9781591026907
Paperback: 636 pages
Publisher: Prometheus Books, 2008
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

Challenges: 100+, Series, Support Your Local Library

Disclosure: My copy of The Last Argument of Kings visited for quite a while, but eventually returned to my local library.

236. Breakfast in Bed by Robin Kaye...

December 30, 2009
breakfast in bedAbout the book:
He'd be Mr. Prefect
if he wasn't a perfect mess...

Rich Ronaldi is almost the complete package--smart, sexy, great job--but when his girlfriend dumps him, Rich swears he'll learn to cook and clean just to win her back...

She'll be glad to make him over,
but not for another woman...

Rich is the only guy Becca Larsen's ever met who hasn't tried to change her. She's happy to help him master the domestic arts, but she'll be damned if he'll start cooking in another woman's kitchen--or bedroom...

drey's thoughts:
Robin Kaye had me laughing out loud at parts of this deliciously enchanting book. Which is good, because, um, I had a hard time getting over Rich's name. I kept thinking his last name is Rinaldo instead of Ronaldi. But, back to the laughing-out-loud parts. Robin's characters are funny, sympathetic, and identifiable. Well, maybe except for the boys' telling Rich what to do to get Becca back. I can't see that happening in real life. =)

Then again, this is a romance novel, which means, really, that it's an escape from real life. So, whatever works! The book is entertaining, and easy to breeze through. Pick it up if you're a fan of the genre.

Title: Breakfast in Bed
Author: Robin Kaye
ISBN-10: 1402218958
ISBN-13: 9781402218958
ARC: 361 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, 2009
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

Challenges: 100+

Disclosure: My copy of Breakfast in Bed was provided by Sourcebooks for this review.

235. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks...

December 29, 2009
dear johnAbout the book:
"Dear John," the letter read. And with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives changed forever.

When Savannah Lynn Curtis comes into his life, John Tyree knows he is ready to turn over a new leaf. An angry rebel, he had enlisted in the army after high school, not knowing what else to do. Then, during a furlough, he meets Savannah, the girl of his dreams. The attraction is mutual and quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah vowing to wait for John while he finishes his tour of duty. But neither can foresee that 9/11 is about to change the world. Like so many proud mena nd women, John must choose between love and country. Now, when he finally returns to North Carolina, John will discover how love can transform us in ways we never could have imagined.

drey's thoughts:
This being a Nicholas Sparks novel, be prepared with tissues. I don't know why, but every once in a while, I need a good sob story to blubber over. And Nicholas Sparks does churn out the blubbery ones with amazing regularity. But while Dear John does tug at the heart-strings, it didn't make me blubber. Which I guess is a good thing for the tissue box...

This book is like a four-part play. Act I has John and Savannah meeting and falling in love. Act II has John going abroad to finish his term in the military, and how difficult that parting is. Then 9/11 happens, and he is carried along in the tide of patriotism, and re-ups. Act III is the consequence of long-distance relationships, when the end that was in sight, no longer is. When John comes home because of his father's ill health, and subsequently his funeral, he meets up with Savannah. There are lingering feelings, but neither act on it--in keeping with his honor and her morals. And Act IV puts it all into a nice little box and ties a bow around the whole story.

It's a nice story, but not an emotional roller-coaster like I'd expect from a Sparks novel. However, fans will love it anyway.

Title: Dear John
Author: Nicholas Sparks
ISBN-10: 0446567329
ISBN-13: 9780446567329
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2009
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Disclosure: My copy of Dear John was provided by Hachette Book Group for this review.

Giveaway: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker...

December 28, 2009
little giantThanks to Hachette Book Group, we have a lovely book for you--perfect for sharing with a book club. I cannot wait to receive my copy & read it.

About the book:
When Truly Plaice's mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother's death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of femine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated--Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane's beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book--containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers--has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly's biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly's brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as aresult, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling--the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques--hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan's family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly's reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

The reading guide for The Little Giant of Aberdeen County:
  1. Truly is the “little giant” of this book, yet her size seems to make her less, rather than more, visible to the town around her. Can you explain this phenomenon? What do you think the author is trying to say about her outsider status?

  2. Serena Jane and Truly are as physically different as sisters can be, yet Truly sees that this difference is crucial, explaining “the reason the two of us were as opposite as sewage and spring water, I thought, was that pretty can’t exist without ugly.” (pp. 97-98) How would you describe Truly and Serena’s connection? How is it different from Truly’s relationship with Amelia Dyerson? Which seems the more genuine sisterhood to you?

  3. As the successor to a long line of old-fashioned, small-town doctors, Robert Morgan is traditional, strict, and often cruel. I the end, however, the legacy terminates with him and he becomes Aberdeen’s last Dr. Morgan. How do he and Bobbie stray from the family paradigm? What Morgan characteristics stayed with each of them? Is the town “more modern” without a Dr. Morgan, and with Bobbie and Salvatore’s restaurant instead? Is the replacement of nurturing through nourishment rather than doctoring a symbolic replacement?

  4. Death haunts Truly and all of Aberdeen, sometimes in unexpected ways. As a gardener, Marcus’s aim is to “make things live,” but, as Truly realizes, “wasn’t it also true that gardeners were always wrestling with death, whether in the form of drought, or blight, or hungry insects? In a garden, Marcus always said, death was the first, last and only fact of life.” What other parallels do you see in the ways Marcus and Truly court life and death?

  5. Truly’s size marks her as an outcast, but throughout the novel, other characters have trouble “fitting in” in a more figurative way. Examine how this manifests in Bobbie, Marcus, Amelia, even Serena Jane. What larger point do you this the author might be trying to make about the importance of conforming?

  6. What role does Aberdeen County play in the novel? Could the story or these characters exist elsewhere? Do the effects of the 60s and the Vietnam War seem to touch Aberdeen in the same way they touched the rest of the country? What is unique and what is not about Aberdeen as a setting?

  7. When Amelia discovers how Priscilla Sparrow and Robert Morgan died, she asks Truly whether it was mercy or murder that killed them. What do you think? How do you feel about Truly’s actions? What in Truly’s character draws her to “collect souls” as she comes to call it?

  8. When Marcus and Truly finally come together, Marcus says “We’re not exactly a match made in heaven, you and I, but I figure we’re good enough for here on earth” (p. 334) What does he mean by this? Do you agree?

  9. Why doesn’t Robert Morgan “care” that his son runs away? What does it say about what he thinks of himself? How does this connect to Serena Jane’s leaving and his reaction to that event?

  10. After Robert Morgan’s death, Truly gradually takes on some of his responsibilities as town doctor by using the knowledge she’s gained from Tabitha’s quilt. How is this a fitting purpose for Truly, and a fitting counterpoint to the legacy of Morgan doctors?

  11. What about this story is larger than life or possesses elements of a tall tale or folklore? How are these details woven into the story? How is the book similar to or different from other works in this tradition?

Read an excerpt:

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have up to three copies of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County for you...
-- Contest is open to US & Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment & tell me--do you belong to a book club?
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Every 10 people entered gets another copy in the hat.
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST January 10th. Good luck!

234. The Struggle by L.J Smith...

About the book:
Torn between two vampire brothers

Damon: Determined to make Elena his, he'd kill his own brother to possess her.

Stefan: Desperate for the power to destroy Damon and protect Elena, he gives in to his thirst for human blood.

Elena: The girl who can have anyone finds herself in the middle of a love triangle... one that might turn deadly

drey's thoughts:
Oh, Elena. Damon wants you. Stefan wants you. Caroline hates you. How do you deal with all that attention?? Or, not?

In this sequel to The Awakening, people are suspicious of Stefan, and his possible involvement in the killings--no thanks to certain people who don't care for him or Elena. Elena, of course, tries to find him, and prove his innocence, in the face of censure from her friends, classmates, and family. For no other reason that he couldn't have, because Damon must've done it. Okay......

I have to admit, I'm not loving the series. I might pick up the next few book, but I just as easily might not. This is a so-so series for me. I don't care much for Elena, who's very all-about-me, or Stefan, who's sooooo blinded by her (hmm, remind you of another series, perhaps?), or Damon, who's so bad that there's nothing redeemable in him... So, if I don't care for the 3 main characters, or the love triangle, then what's in this for me?

Title: The Struggle
Author: L.J. Smith
ISBN-10: 0061963879
ISBN-13: 9780061963872
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2009 (media tie-in)
Purchase at Indiebound, Amazon.

Challenges: 100+, Series, Support Your Local Library, Vampire

Disclosure: My copy of The Struggle flitted through my house like a moth heading towards light... Yes, it's back at my local library.

Merry Christmas, everybody!!

December 24, 2009

Well, it's Christmas Eve, everyone... I am going to be off till Monday, so don't y'all get into trouble, ok? *grin*

I love Christmas. I hope that this joyous season brings peace, health, and happiness to all of you and your families. I can't wait to spend time with the Mr.'s family, and I wish I didn't miss my family quite so much. But such is life, and we go on. May the spirit of the season be with you and yours.

Hugs and muahs!

Winners!! Margaret Mallory's Knight of Pleasure...

December 23, 2009
knight of pleasureI didn't forget!! There were 62 entries from 29 people for Margaret Mallory's Knight of Pleasure, and Randomizer picked the 4 winners--

Comment #28, Jane!!

Comment #40, Nicole of Mom Saves Money!!

Comment #56, justpeachy36 of Debbie's Book Bag!!
Ok, Debbie's already won a copy of Knight of Pleasure somewhere else, so Randomizer picked a replacement. The lucky duck is... Comment #12, chey!!
Ok, chey's won this one, too. So who's next? Comment #22, photoquest!!

Comment #20, Wanda!!

Congratulations, y'all! Emails have been sent, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Monday (this being the holiday season & all)!

Want the book? Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon.

233. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins...

hunger gamesAbout the book:
Could you survive on your own in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

drey's thoughts:
Y'know, in the beginning of the year, I never would've thought that I'd be reading YA novels, and actually enjoy them. Well, The Hunger Games is definitely one of the YA books that I really liked this year, and you should pick it up and read it. Especially if you're a fan of science fiction stories with spunky characters who fight like heck against conforming to what's expected.

Katniss is a pretty cool character. She's strong, smart, and tries to do her best even when she doesn't feel like it. When her twelve-year-old sister is picked to be tribute for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place instead. Because she cannot imagine losing Primrose, and she cannot imagine that Prim would even have a chance.

Her mentor is a drunk, her handler is chirpy, and the boy chosen from her district has a humongous crush on her. But together, they come up with a plan to try to stay alive against the other 22 tributes, even while knowing that only one can win.

The Hunger Games is gripping until the very last page, and it's a journey I don't think you will regret taking. I loved it, and cannot wait to read Catching Fire.

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
ISBN-10: 0439023483
ISBN-13: 9780439023481
Hardcover: 374 pages
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc., 2008
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

Challenges: 100+, 1st in Series, Support Your Local Library

Disclosure: My copy of The Hunger Games paid a visit from my local library, for which I'm very grateful.

232. A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer...

December 22, 2009
field guide to burying your parentsAbout the book:
Grace Hawkes has not spoken to her previously tight-knit family since her mother's sudden death five years ago. Well, most of the family was tight-knit— her father walked out on them when she was 13 and she and her two brothers and sister bonded together even closer with their mother as a result.

She's been doing her best to live her new life apart from them, but when their estranged father has a stroke and summons them, Grace suddenly realizes she's done the same thing he had done...abandoned those who need her most.

And need her they do, for inside the hospital walls, a strange war is unfolding between the pseudo-kindly woman who is their father's second wife and the rest of the original Hawkes clan. Upon reconnecting with her brother and sisters, Grace will find a part of herself she thought was lost forever. As they unravel the manipulative deception of the second Mrs. Hawkes, Grace will finally be able to stand up for her family— and to remember what a family is, even after all these years.

drey's thoughts:
I wasn't sure what to think about a book titled A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, but it piqued my interest. And it was definitely worth picking up. You'd think the subject matter would be a little morbid, but it's really a reflection on family dynamics and relationships. And how those don't change, even after years away from them.

Grace has to face the fact that she ran away from her siblings when her mother died 5 years ago. And now she's summoned to her father's bedside, because he is dying. So on top of dealing with the siblings she walked out on, she has to learn if she can reconcile her feelings towards her father, and the betrayal she still feels because he left.

As if that isn't confusing enough for Grace to deal with, she finds out her father has a wife and step-child. Who are both apparently really loving and caring. But there is more than meets the eye, and as Grace explores her own emotions and psyche where it concerns her father, she and her siblings work together to find out what the second Mrs. Hawkes' story is.

I really enjoyed A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents and recommend it for those who like family dramas and "watching" a girl grow up, taking responsibility for her own actions, and remedying the situation.

Title: A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents
Author: Liza Palmer
ISBN-10: 0446698385
ISBN-13: 9780446698382
ARC: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Disclosure: My copy of A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents was provided by Hachette Book Group for this review.

2009 Summary

December 21, 2009
Well, the year is (almost) over, and it's been quite a ride. I celebrated my 1st anniversary of blogging about books on November 23rd, and I am very gratified that you have taken time out of your busy lives to come by and drop a note or two, enter my giveaways, and generally let me know that I'm not just out here shouting into the wind. Thank you. Come back in 2010, and let's see what trouble we can cook up together... *grin*

Books read in 2009 Boy, I cannot believe how many books I've read this year. Tons! Way more than I'd expected to. And I still have Mount TBR to conquer...

2009 favorites...

Ban on Spending Challenge Alas, I didn't do so well on the Ban on Spending Challenge. Well, ok, so I didn't spend anything, but I didn't finish my TBR either. So... does that make it a draw? Anyway, if someone wants to host this for 2010, feel free! Let me know so I can route people your way. =)

I did complete the following challenges, though, and had a blast with my reading. How did you do in 2009?
100+ Challenge
1st in Series Challenge
Pub Challenge
Series Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge
Vampire Challenge

Tour: 231. Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole & Gena Showalter...

deep kiss of winterAbout the book:
delivers a breathtaking tale of a brutal vampire soldier about to know love for the first time...and a Valkyrie aching to be touched.

Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela the Ice Maiden -- the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can't be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure. Soon desperate for closeness, in an agony of frustration, Murdoch and Danii will do anything to have each other. Together, can they find the key that will finally allow them to slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?

puts a daring spin on a tale of huntress and hunted...and concocts a sensual chemistry that is positively explosive.

Aleaha Love can be anyone -- literally. With only skin-to-skin contact, she can change her appearance, assume any identity. Her newest identityswitch has made her an AIR (alien investigation and removal) agent and sends her on a mission to capture a group of otherworldly warriors. Only she becomes the captured. Breean, a golden-skinned commander known for his iron will who is at once dangerous and soul-shatteringly seductive, threatens her new life. Because for the first time, Aleaha only wants to be herself....

About the authors:
kresley coleBefore becoming a writer, Kresley Cole was a competitive athlete and a Master's grad in English. She sold her first two novels in 2003, and since then, she has published eleven more books and has seen her releases translated into nine foreign languages.

Kresley followed her highly-acclaimed Sutherland Series historicals with the bestselling MacCarrick Brothers Series, a trilogy of Highlander historical romances, as well as the continuing Immortals After Dark Series, a Rita award-winning paranormal romance collection, all with Pocket Books.

In January 2009, she became a #1 New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller with her sixth IAD installment, Kiss of a Demon King.

Kresley lives in Florida with her husband and far too many dogs. Find her online at her website,

gena showalterGena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27 and now, four years later, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen books, with eleven more on the way in a thrilling blend of genres: breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy.

Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in French, Italian and Korean. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”.

Find Gena online at

drey's thoughts:
Well, what can I say about Deep Kiss of Winter? Other than it's hot! This is my very first Kresley Cole, even though I've heard her name quite a bit. And Deep Kiss of Winter definitely lives up to what I've heard. The heat between the ice queen and the vampire soldier just sizzles off the pages. I wasn't quite sure I liked the image of the ice queen... You know--she's off-limits, cold (literally), etc. But somehow the relationship between Dani and Murdoch just worked. Even if he's such a dork sometimes. Even if she's just a tad melodramatic sometimes.

Gena Showalter's story is the meeting of Aleaha and Breean, characters I first came across--albeit briefly--in Seduce the Darkness. Aleaha is trying to be Macy, an AIR agent, without blowing her cover. After all, she can't quite be human if she can take on another's form, can she?

This being the romance genre, there's the requisite misunderstandings, antagonistic initial impressions, and the myriad of obstacles to overcome before true love prevails. Great read for fans of Cole and Showalter. Romance fans who're not into the paranormal will want to skip this.

Title: Deep Kiss of Winter
Author: Kresley Cole & Gena Showalter
ISBN-10: 1439159661
ISBN-13: 9781439159668
Hardcover: 426 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books, 2009

Challenges: 100+

Disclosure: My copy of Deep Kiss of Winter was provided by Pocket Books for this blog tour.

Tour stops:
Parajunkee’s View
I’m Bookin’ It
My Overstuffed Bookshelf
The Book Tree
What Book Is That
Morbid Romantic
Book Junkie
Jeanne's Ramblings
Poisoned Rationality
Brizmus Blogs About Books
Found Not Lost
I Heart Book Gossip
All About {n}
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Jen’s Book Talk
Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!
Reading with Tequila
Mindful Musings
Pick of the Literate
Carol’s Notebook
Wendy’s Minding Spot
You Wanna Know What I Think?
Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
Patricia’s Vampire Notes
Seductive Musings
SciFi Guy
The Wayfaring Writer
Book Soulmates

Tour: 230. A Highlander Christmas by Janet Chapman...

December 18, 2009
highlander christmasToday's tour is for Janet Chapman's A Highlander Christmas!

About the book:
Camry MacKeage has absolutely no intention of telling her parents that she left her job as a NASA physicist for the small-town life of a dog-sitter — which is why she's spending the holidays alone in coastal Maine with her furry friends Tigger and Max. Unfortunately, her irresistibly handsome rival, scientist Luke Pascal, accidentally spilled the beans. Now he's on a mission from her mother to tempt Camry home for the family's annual winter solstice celebration. But Luke is hiding his own secret, and he'll need a little bit of magic to earn Camry's trust...and a whole lot of mistletoe to seduce his way into her heart.

janet chapmanAbout the author:
A native of rural central Maine, Janet Chapman lives there in a cozy log cabin on a lake with her husband. Three cats and a stray young bull moose keep them company. The author of the hugely popular Highlander time-travel series, she also writes contemporary romances. Find her online at her website,

drey's thoughts:
A Highlander Christmas is a fun romp with romance, humor, magic, and sparks. Lots of sparks. I wasn't so sure about Camry at first. Flighty, proud, ego-bruised. Running with her tail between her legs. What kind of girl would do that? Well, ok, a flighty, proud, ego-bruised one, I guess.

Luke is charming and witty. And an all-'round nice guy. And such a romantic one, too. Makes for a warm-fuzzy read while snuggled up with some hot chocolate (in this cold weather)...

Title: A Highlander Christmas
Author: Janet Chapman
ISBN-10: 1416595457
ISBN-13: 9781416595458
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2009

Challenges: 100+

Disclosure: My copy of A Highlander Christmas was provided by Pocket Books for this blog tour.

Tour stops:
Books Reviews by Buuklvr81
She Reads
I Read
Seductive Musings
What Book Is That
My Five Monkeys
My Overstuffed Bookshelf
Book Junkie
Just Another New Blog
My Book Addiction and More
My Reading Room
Frugal Plus
Book Magic
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
All About {n}
Psychotic State
That’s a Novel Idea
Brizmus Blogs About Books
Found Not Lost
Wendy’s Minding Spot
Pam’s Personal Reflections
A Book Bloggers Diary
I Heart Book Gossip
Jen’s Book Talk
The Princess and the Monkey
Marta’s Meanderings
Angela R. Simmons’s Blog
Broken Teepee
Books, Books Everywhere
Books, Books, The Magical Fruit
Find the Time to Read
Libby’s Library News
Reading at the Beach
Book Soulmates

Tour: 229. The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay...

December 17, 2009
the better part of darknessToday's tour is for Kelly Gay's debut urban fantasy novel, The Better Part of Darkness. You'll have to pick it up if you're a fan of the genre, it's goooooooood!!

About the book:
Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

kelly gayAbout the author:
Kelly Gay is a bookworm who's had lots of jobs, from construction to waiting on tables, threading film through a projector, selling men's underwear (a talent!), and managing horse farms. She is currently working on a sequel to The Better Part of Darkness (yay!) and on a new YA series as Kelly Keaton. Find her online at her website, and blog, Kelly Gay.

drey's thoughts:
I think Charlie might be a new addition to my cadre of kick-butt heroines. But kick-butt in a nice way, like, it's not the first thing she reaches for to resolve issues. Because, even if she was brought back from the dead, she's just human. Mostly. And when you're living in a world also populated by aliens with powers, you have to be a little more creative--and careful--when confronting enemies. Or even friends, for the matter.

The world Kelly Gay has drawn up for Charlie is ours, for the most part. But there are paranormal races sharing our streets, and there's even an immigration policy for them. And Charlie navigates the streets of Atlanta keeping the law & order (because even alien races have their thugs) with her partner. When she finds ash, a new drug, hitting the streets close to home, she has to find its source.

And the adventure begins. There's a little something for everyone here. Mystery? Yup. Different races with known & unknown powers? Yup. Cool characters? Yup. Bad-ass bad guys? Yup. Take a peek between these pages, I think you'll like it.

Sarah loves you! Thanks to Pocket Books, I have two copies of The Better Part of Darkness for you...
-- Contest is open to US residents only, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment & tell me you want the book. That's it. But seriously, say "I want the book"!
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST December 30th. Good luck!

Title: The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan #1)
Author: Kelly Gay
ISBN-10: 1439109656
ISBN-13: 9781439109656
Paperback: 391 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Disclosure: My copy of A Better Part of Darkness was provided by Pocket Books for this blog tour.

Tour stops:
My Life in Not So Many Words
Parajunkee’s View
Crazy Books & Reviews
The Book Tree
Book Junkie
Jeanne's Ramblings
Poisoned Rationality
Found Not Lost
A Book Bloggers Diary
Booksie’s Blog
The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object
My Adventures in Mommyland
I Heart Book Gossip
All About {n}
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Jen’s Book Talk
Chick with Books
Reading with Tequila
Pick of the Literate
Books Gardens & Dogs
Wendy’s Minding Spot
Revenge of the Booknerds
You Wanna Know What I Think?
Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
Patricia’s Vampire Notes
SciFi Guy
The Wayfaring Writer
Book Soulmates

2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge...

December 16, 2009

Another 2010 challenge! This one is the 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge hosted by the challenge hostess extraordinaire, J.Kaye. And since I love my local library, how could I not participate?

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:
--The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.
--Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.
--Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.
--Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.
(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.
This year I'm at 75 library books and counting, which blows away the 25 I signed up for... So for 2010 I'm going to try & Step It Up and check out another 75. I think I should be able to do that!

Come and join me--Sign up for the 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge! The more the merrier!!

2010 100+ Challenge...

Yes, it's that time of year again... Preparing for next year's reading challenges! The first one I'm signing up for is the 2010 100+ Challenge hosted by J.Kaye.

1. The goal is to read 100 or more books. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. Click link to sign up without having a blog.

2. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Library books, Young Reader, Nonfiction – as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts.

3. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

4. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Books started before the 1st do not count.
This year I'm at 200 books and counting... I might actually hit 250! Next year, I'm aiming for 3 books a week X 52 weeks = 156 books. I will probably go way over, but hey, a girl's gotta start somewhere, right?

Come and join me--Sign up for the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge! The more the merrier!!

228. Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder...

storm glassAbout the book:
As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it's time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan's glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers--particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade--require Opal's unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance--including her own--Opal must control powers she hadn't known she possessed...powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she's ever known.

drey's thoughts:
Storm Glass is a continuation of the characters from Maria V. Snyder's Study series, but has a different character focus. We've shifted from Yelena's story, to Opal Cowen's. Opal was a minor character in Yelena's story, who helped Yelena out with her glass creations. She is now a magician-in-training, but her skills seems to be limited to the ability to make glass that other magicians can use to communicate. That, in addition to her history with Yelena, means most of the other students either shun or humiliate her. So, she's not a happy camper, except when she gets to work with glass.

But, because of her unique skill, she's asked to help the Stormdancers figure out what has been going wrong with their orbs. And while there, she meets Kade and is surprised by the spark of connection between the two of them. But Kade is in mourning, and has no room for Opal in his life, or his heart. So she goes on, without him. Then, she meets Ulrick, another glassmaker with limited magical ability. He becomes her sort-of protector, but she's torn between the two men.

I like Opal quite a bit more than Yelena. Can't quite pinpoint why, but I do. The situations she finds herself in, seem a bit more realistic, and the resolution more attainable without all of the harrowing trials that Yelena went through. Which is good, I guess. If the sky kept falling, there wouldn't be much of a sky left, would there? *grin* I'm looking forward to Sea Glass, to see if the story gets better.

Title: Storm Glass (Glass #1)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
ISBN-10: 0778325644
ISBN-13: 9780778325642
Paperback: 488 pages
Publisher: Mira, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub, Series, Support Your Local Library

Disclosure: My copy of Storm Glass took a side trip from the library to my house on it's way to more important destinations.

Tour: 227. A Blue and Gray Christmas by Joan Medlicott...

December 15, 2009
blue and grayAbout the book:
When a rusty old in box is unearthed at the Covington Homestead, longtime housemates Grace, Amelia, and Hannah discover that it contains letters and diaries written by two Civil War soldiers, one Union and one Confederate.

The friends are captivated by the drama revealed. The soldiers were found dying on a nearby battlefield by an old woman. She nursed them back to health, hiding them from bounty hunters seeking deserters. At the end of the war the men chose to stay in Covington, caring for their rescuer as she grew frail. But while their lives were rich, they still felt homesick and guilty for never contacting the families they'd left behind.

Christmas is coming, and the ltters inspire Amelia with a generous impulse. What if she and her friends were to find the two soldiers' descendants and invite them to Covington to meet? What better holiday gift could there be than the truth about these two heroic men and their dramatic shared fate? With little time left, the ladies spring into action to track down the men's families in Connecticut and the Carolinas, and to make preparations in Covington for their most memorable, most historic Christmas yet.

joan mendlicottAbout the author:
Joan Mendlicott was born and raised on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She lives with her husband in the mountains of North Carolina. Find Joan online at her website,

drey's thoughts:
What interested me about A Blue and Gray Christmas was the description--how cool to read about two Civil War soldiers who survived the carnage and chaos, to live out the rest of their lives as brothers... And that's the best part of the story--the letters and diary entries of these two soldiers.

How hard it must have been, to realize while you might be drawing your last breath, that you don't really know what it was all for--the loss of life, hunger, cold, uncertainty, chaos... And not knowing about PTSD back then, so no diagnoses or treatment was available. Which, even if it had been, Tom and John couldn't have utilized anyway, being deserters.

Of course, this is all woven into the lives of Grace, Amelia, and Hannah, who do their best to dig deeper into the history of the two soldiers, and find their families. A Blue and Gray Christmas is my first introduction to these lovely ladies of Covington, and while they're charming, I found myself more entranced by the soldiers' histories than the current-day sleuthing. Still, this is a cozy, feel-good book to pick up for the season.

Title: A Blue and Gray Christmas
Author: Joan Mendlicott
ISBN-10: 1416597352
ISBN-13: 9781416597353
Hardcover: 323 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2009

Challenges: 100+

Disclosure: My copy of A Blue and Gray Christmas was provided by Pocket Books for this blog tour.

Tour stops:
Books Reviews by Buuklvr81
The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object
Good Books & Wine
I Read
Morbid Romantic
Book Junkie
My Book Addiction and More
Red Headed Book Child
Blog Business World
My Reading Room
Frugal Plus
Book Magic
All About {n}
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books
Psychotic State
That’s a Novel Idea
My Friend Amy
Brizmus Blogs About Books
A Few of My Favorite Things
Found Not Lost
Jen’s Book Talk
The Princess and the Monkey
Marta’s Meanderings
Broken Teepee
Books, Books Everywhere
Books, Books, The Magical Fruit
Reading at the Beach

Q&A: What is drey's featured authors all about?

Announcing a new thingamabob for 2010: drey's FEATURED AUTHORS.

What is it, you ask? Well, let me give you the spiel... *grin*

Every month, drey's library will host one featured author. On Wednesdays during that month--4 of 'em, so if there's a 5th Wednesday, you'll get a break--there will be a post about or by the featured author. This starts off with an interview to introduce the author, which I need to work on for January's author, Susan Helene Gottfried! Yikes!

Up next will be a featured book, or books. This could be a review, or a showcase, of the author's book(s). Or some mish-mash of both, since there's no way (even) I could possibly have read everything an author's written... Hmm... Maybe I could make this a challenge? A read-a-book-by-drey's-featured-author challenge. I'm going to have to noodle on that!

On the third Wednesday, the featured author will share their favorite reads. This can be as long or as short as they make it--it's up to the author in question.

And, bringing up the rear with a bang, will be a wrap-up-the-month post from the author, the author's favorite character or characters, or BFF from high school. Whatever comes to mind. The point is to have fun!

So, make sure to swing by on Wednesdays!

If you're an author who'd like to be featured, drop me a line at dreyshouse at gmail dot com!

Going Indie...

December 14, 2009
If you've been here for a while, you've (probably) noticed that the book covers here all link to Well, for 2010, I am going to change that practice, and link to IndieBound instead. I firmly believe in supporting local, independent booksellers, and want to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

So. For 2010, all cover images will link to IndieBound, where you can search for a local bookseller. And if I remember to, I will include a text link to Amazon and B&N as well. Happy reading!

226. My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy...

my unfair ladyAbout the book:
He created the perfect woman...
The impoverished Duke of Monchester despises the rich Americans who flock to London, seeking to buy their way into the ranks of the British peerage. So when railroad heiress Summer Wine Lee offers him a king's ransom if he'll teach her to become a proper lady, he's prepared to rebuff her. But when he meets the petite beauty with the knife in her boot, it's not her fortune he finds impossible to resist...

For the arms of another man
Frontier-bred Summer Wine Lee has no interest in winning over London society--it's the New York bluebloods and her future mother-in-law she's determined to impress. She knows the cost of smoothing her rough-and-tumble frontier edges will be high. But she never imagined it might cost her heart...

drey's thoughts:
I put my hand in the air for this one based solely on the title. I love My Fair Lady--the movie with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. So what else was I going to do with another Pygmalion-like story? Read it, of course.

Summer is like a cool breeze blowing off the ocean into the stuffy lives of the British peerage. She's trying to improve herself--which I have absolutely no problems with--for the family of the man she hopes to marry--which I have lots of problems with.

My Unfair Lady is a charming story about a girl who's trying to fit society's expectations so she can marry the man she wants, and the man who tries to help her, but eventually shows her that she's great just the way she is. Perfect for an evening in.

Title: My Unfair Lady
Author: Kathryne Kennedy
ISBN-10: 1402229909
ISBN-13: 9781402229909
ARC: 363 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, 2009

Challenges: 100+

Disclosure: My ARC of My Unfair Lady was provided by Sourcebooks for this review.

Loot. In time for holiday reading?

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

hush hushI saw Hush, Hush on someone's blog a while back, and had added it to my queue. Well, it's here now. And I can't wait to read it.

the physick book of deliverance daneThis is a result of walking around the "new releases" bookshelf. The cover caught my eye, and it's now on my shelf waiting to be picked up.

magic strikesI'm a huge fan of the Kate Daniels series, and it's been a while since Magic Strikes came out. But it's finally at my library, so it's gonna get inhaled, soon.

hunger gamesI've been seeing reviews of Catching Fire floating 'round the blogosphere, and they're all glowing. Thought I'd jump on the Suzanne Collins bandwagon.

What did you get this week?

225. Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder...

December 11, 2009
fire studyAbout the book:
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder--able to capture and release souls--spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorceror she has defeated before...

Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself--and save the land she holds dear.

drey's thoughts:
It's been a while since I read Poison Study and Magic Study... And I now remember why. Don't get me wrong. The world that Maria Snyder weaves is fully-realized, and so are the characters. But it's just so... black and white to me. There are so many stark opposites, but yet not much in the gray range. Sitia has magicians who do everything from controlling the weather threatening their coasts, to lighting their lamps. Ixia is very controlled and orderly--kinda like an Asian secondary school, where your grades determine which "stream" (sciences, business, etc.) you're put into--and kills any magicians they come across. As long as they can identify you as one, of course.

Being such polar opposites from each other brings some tension into Yelena's attempt to live in either country, much less fit in. And Magic Study and now Fire Study clearly describe her difficulty in both countries. Yet, I couldn't quite get around the feeling that the tension seemed contrived, because for me it's mostly about the gray. And the lack thereof distracted me from the overall effect of the series. Which is a shame, because Yelena is a likable character. She's strong, yet not overbearing. She's not afraid to take chances when it could save lives, but she's not all about the magic, either. *sigh*

I know there are a lot of people who liked this series. If you do, & have reviewed it, let me know, and I'll link to it.

Title: Fire Study (Study #3)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
ISBN-10: 0778325342
ISBN-13: 9780778325345
Paperback: 441 pages
Publisher: Mira, 2008

Challenges: 100+, Series, Support Your Local Library

Disclosure: My copy of Fire Study was on loan from my local library.

224. Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast...

December 10, 2009
huntedAbout the book:
At the start of this heart-pounding new installment in the bestselling House of Night series, Zoey's friends have her back again and Stevie Rae and the red fledglings aren't Neferet's secrets any longer. But an unexpected danger has emerged. Neferet guards her powerful new consort, Kalona, and no one at the House of Night seems to understand the threat he poses. Kalona is gorgeous, and he has the House of Night under his spell. A past life holds the key to breaking his rapidly growing influence, but what if this past life unearths secrets Zoey doesn't want to see and truths she can't face?

On the run and hold up in Tulsa's Prohibition-era tunnels, Zoey and her gang must discover a way to deal with something that might bring them alldown. Meanwhile, ZOey has a few other little problems. The red fledglings have cleaned up well--they've even managed to make the dark, creepy tunnels feel more like home--but are they really as friendly as they seem? On the boyfriend front, Zoey has a chance to make things right with super-hot ex, Eric, but she can't stop thinking about Stark, the archer who died in her arms after one unforgettable night, and she is driven to try to save him from Neferet's sinister influence at all costs. Will anyone believe the power evil has to hide among us?

drey's thoughts:
Well, it's nice to know that while some things do change for the better, others don't. Neferet is still an evil bee-hive, only now she's got Kalona on her side. Or so she thinks. He wants Zoey, because he thinks she's the reincarnation of the maiden sent to lure him to his prison eons ago. Like Neferet needs another reason to not like Zoey...

Anyway, Zoey still has boy drama, friend drama, evil hordes to fight, and a world to save. Luckily for her, she still has her grandmother, and friends who stick by her for the greater good. My overall impression of the series? It's ok. I'll read another book if it comes out, but it won't be at the top of my wish list. That spot's reserved for Kitty's House of Horrors right now... =)

Title: Hunted
Author: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
ISBN-10: 031237982X
ISBN-13: 9780312379827
Hardcover: 321 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Series, Support Your Local Library, Vampire

Disclosure: My copy of Hunted paid a visit along with the other 4 books of the House of Night series, and returned safely to my local library.

223. It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale...

December 9, 2009
it happened one nightAbout the book:
Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it. Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns to the one man whose strong shoulders can lighten any burden: her best friend, Eli Ward. Eli has always been there for Lana--after all, that's what best friends do. But Lana isn't the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then, when another Vermont winter fills the valleys with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible...and a love that will last for all time.

drey's thoughts:
Lana is a free spirit, who's not quite willing to commit to the life her sister has chosen. But she can't leave, because there's just the two of them. Even if Karin is married. Eli has always loved Lana. At least, as much as she lets him. Keeping him at arms' length is the only way she knows to not commit to a life she might not want. But life has a way of throwing you a loop when you least expect it.

The story's undercurrents get stronger when Lana gets pregnant. And everyone's hopes and fears drives them to do and say things they might usually not. It Happened One Night is a slow and leisurely read about two people who find their way back to each other, and take a chance on love. It is also a story of relationships--between sisters, between best friends, between estranged fathers and daughters, between spouses--and courage--courage to face the truth, and to do something about it.

Title: It Happened One Night
Author: Lisa Dale
ISBN-10: 0446406902
ISBN-13: 9780446406901
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group, 2009

Challenges: 100+

Disclosure: My copy of It Happened One Night was provided by Hachette Book Group for this review.

Giveaway: Knight of Pleasure by Margaret Mallory...

December 8, 2009
knight of pleasureAbout the book:
Lady Isobel Hume is an expert swordswoman who knows how to choose her battles. When the king asks her to wed a French nobleman to form a political alliance, she agrees. But that's before the devilishly charming Sir Stephen Carleton captures her heart-and tempts her to betray her betrothed, her king, and her country.

Sir Stephen Carleton enjoys his many female admirers-until he dedicates himself to winning the lovely Isobel. So when a threat against the king leads Isobel into mortal danger, Stephen has a chance to prove that he is more than a knight of pleasure...and that love can conquer all.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have up to five copies of Knight of Pleasure for you...
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment & tell me you want the book. That's it.
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Every 10 people entered gets another copy in the hat, so tell everyone! =)
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST December 21st. Good luck!

222. The Awakening by L.J. Smith...

vampire diariesAbout the book:
Searching for the ultimate thrill, she vowed to have Stefan.

Haunted by his tragic past, he struggled to resist her passion.

Driven by revenge, he hunted the brother who betrayed him.

drey's thoughts:
I have to admit, I wasn't terribly impressed by The Vampire Diaries so far... I picked it up because others have mentioned it, and it is now a TV show on the CW (The Vampire Diaries on CW).

But, I didn't like Elena. Why do all these YA books have main characters who're the queen bee at their school? Ok, so maybe not ALL... Elena is popular, at the top of the social food chain, and completely unsympathetic when she's frustrated that Stefan won't pay attention to her. Like, hello. Can you spell b-r-a-t any other way? I guess the fact that she's lost her parents is supposed to make her more human or something, but it didn't work. She's still annoying and bratty.

I'm not too sure about Stefan either. He seems to be a little too broody. Kinda like a certain vampire-who-shall-not-be-named, but at least he doesn't sparkle... *grin* Or, rather, the other way 'round, probably. Since this was written way earlier...

Anyway. Don't love the book. But I'll give the next few a try & see if I at least like the series...

Title: The Awakening (The Vampire Diaries #1)
Author: L.J. Smith
ISBN-10: 0061020001
ISBN-13: 9780061020001
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins, 1999

Challenges: 100+, 1st in Series, Support Your Local Library, Vampire

Disclosure: My copy of The Vampire Diaries was on loan from my local library for a few weeks...

221. The Diplomat's Wife by Pam Jenoff...

December 7, 2009
the diplomat's wifeAbout the book:
How have I been lucky enough to come here, to be alive, when so many others are not? I should have died.... But I am here.

1945. Surviving the brutality of a Nazi prison camp, Marta Nederman is lucky to have escaped with her life. Recovering from the horror, she meets Paul, an American soldier who gives her hope of a happier future. But their plans to meet in London are dashed when Paul's plane crashes.

Devastated and pregnant, Marta marries Simon, a caring British diplomat, and glimpses the joy that home and family can bring. But her happiness is threatened when she learns of a Communist spy in British intelligence, and that the one person who can expose the traitor is connected to her past.

drey's thoughts:
I just finished The Diplomat's Wife. Like, 2 minutes ago. And, whoa. What a story this was. Gripping and suspenseful in parts, languid and romantic in others. You get so caught up in Marta's story that time speeds by and before you know it, it's time for dinner. Or bed. You know what I mean.

Marta's had a hard road to travel, but her strength pulls her through. And you hope that she finds happiness in her life. When she marries Simon, you know she's settling, because what she had with Paul was special, and nobody else could take his place. But up till the point that she's married, I kept hoping that she wouldn't. But I'm just a reader. And Marta needs to do what's right for her. I felt her sadness when she finds that her previously-attentive husband prefers his study to her company. And I felt her determination when she returns to eastern Europe to make contact with the resistance there. And kept my fingers crossed that she would return safe and sound.

Oh, but what surprises await her in Prague. And even more when she returns to London. Read it yourself to find out what they are.

I'd brought home The Kommandant's Girl before, but didn't get around to reading it. Now I'll have to make sure that one gets back on my library list. And no, you don't have to read the prequel before you crack open The Diplomat's Wife.

Title: The Diplomat's Wife
Author: Pam Jenoff
ISBN-10: 0778325121
ISBN-13: 9780778325123
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Mira, 2008

Challenges: 100+, Support Your Local Library

Disclosure: My copy of The Diplomat's Wife finally got read after a long visit from my local library.

Winners: Lisa Dale's It Happened One Night!!

December 5, 2009
Ok, I almost forgot about this giveaway (yeah, shocker, I know!!)... But I remembered, and here we go.

There were 46 people who entered (yay), so Randomizer picked 5 winners:

it happened one nightAnd they are:

Comment #27, Stacie!!

Comment #70, jennem!!

Comment #3, Joy!!

Comment #68, Nancye!!

And because 30 was also Stacie's entry, the 5th winner is...

Comment #51, Jaime!!

Congratulations, everyone! Emails have been sent, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Tuesday. And thanks for stopping by!

Want the book? Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon.

drey's blogoversary winners!!

Ok, y'all... I know you've been holding your breath waiting for the announcement, lol! So here are the winners of my blogoversary giveaway. 32 people entered, so there are 3 winners. And according to Randomizer, they are:

Which translates to:
Comment #10, Angela, who picked the Jeaniene Frost books!!

Comment #15, Margie, who picked Tell Me Something True!!

Comment #48, Anita Yancey, who picked A Change in Altitude!!

Congratulations, all! Emails have been sent out, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Tuesday. And THANK YOU for stopping by!

Winner of Into the Beautiful North!!

into the beautiful northYesterday's winner of Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North is...

Comment #4: Jo-Jo of Jo-Jo Loves to Read!! Love the Francis Bacon quote on the header, Jo-Jo... I need to remember the chewing & digesting! =)

Thank you all for playing along with me, i hope you had as much fun with the carousel as I did!

Cindy Vallar's journey to being published...

December 4, 2009
Today, Cindy Vallar stops in to share her journey to getting published... Read on!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Getting Published

cindy vallarI began work on The Scottish Thistle in 1990 while attending a faculty meeting at the school where I taught. I don’t remember the topic discussed; I wasn’t listening. Instead, I played with the image of a stormy night and a caped rider illuminated by a streak of lightning. That idea became the opening paragraphs of my first novel. Over the next ten years, I researched Scottish history, geography, culture, and many other topics to recreate eighteenth-century Scotland. After numerous revisions and listening to what others had to say about my writing, it was time to research where to submit The Scottish Thistle for possible publication.

Initially, I looked at traditional publishers and encountered two problems. First, most shy away from historical fiction unless they can market it in another genre, i.e. mystery, suspense, or romance. Second, many publishers prefer to work with literary agents who represent authors. Many agents, however, prefer to represent authors who can prove their writing is marketable and that they can meet deadlines. Also, once a manuscript is accepted for publication, it can take upwards of two years for that novel to be published. Should it be one of the lucky ones to actually make it onto bookstore shelves, it will probably have a shelf-life of only six weeks. This time line fails to include how long it takes to find the publisher who wants to publish the book in the first place.

Faced with these realities, I turned to the world of electronic publishing. E-publishers are more amenable to publishing novels that cross genres. The Scottish Thistle is historical fiction, but it’s also a romance. Yet it’s not traditional romance because I emphasize history over love. While reading an issue of Of Ages Past, I came across a review of Carolyn Ivey’s Beaudry’s Ghost. Intrigued by the story, I took the plunge and bought my first e-book. Then M. J. Rose offered free copies of the book she co-authored with Angela Adair-Hoy entitled The Secrets of Our Success: How to Successfully Publish and Promote on the Web. I also read Leta Nolan Childers’ e-Lectrify Your Sales: A Writer's Guide to e-Publishing Success and Karen S. Wiesner’s Electronic Publishing: The Definitive Guide. E-publishers prefer to receive queries directly from authors rather than agents. They also accept historical novels. My second e-book purchase was Trace Edward Zaber’s Civil War novel Sins of the Father, a fascinating historical that blends mystery and romance with fiction. This purchase also allowed me to sample Pulsar Books’ product. In the end, this publisher became my first choice to submit to, and I was delighted when they asked to read my manuscript, then offered me a contract.

E-publishing, however, isn’t without perils. By the time The Scottish Thistle was first published, Pulsar Books had merged with the other publishing houses under the Romance Foretold umbrella to become RFI West. The company I contracted with no longer existed and, while some of the people in charge remained the same, others left. Six months after the release of my book, I terminated my contract with the publisher for cause. Although a bit depressed and wondering if I had erred in my judgment, I still felt e-publishing provided the best opportunity for me as an author.

A fellow author, Dorice Nelson (The Gunn of Killearnan and Unlawful) recommended a new publisher, NovelBooks, Inc. Once again I researched the company and its founder and CEO, Penny Hussey. Impressed by the company’s professionalism and Penny’s enthusiasm and plans for NovelBooks, Inc., I submitted The Scottish Thistle for their consideration. In April 2002 NBI released my novel in both e-book and trade paperback formats. I stumbled along the path, but I landed on my feet anyway.

On 1 January 2005, unforeseen circumstances caused NovelBooks, Inc. to close its doors. In June 2006 Amber Quill Press asked me to submit a manuscript for their consideration. AQP doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Rather they are a “submit by invitation only” publisher. They hand-select writers “who not only possess enormous talent, but who . . . excel at their chosen craft.” They released The Scottish Thistle in e-book format in November 2006, and the paperback edition came out shortly thereafter.

When I began writing The Scottish Thistle, I didn’t know where the path would lead me, and in spite of the missteps, I’m delighted AQP chose to publish my first novel. I may have encountered unexpected curves along my path to becoming a published author, but I learned from the rocks strewn in my way and kept looking forward. The real reward on this adventure, though, has been the readers who let me know how much they enjoyed meeting Rory MacGregor, Duncan Cameron, and all the other characters in The Scottish Thistle.

Thank you, Cindy, for stopping by! While there was quite a bit of uncertainty along your journey, I'm glad it all worked out in the end.
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