Monthly Archives: July 2012

Summer Giveaway Hop

Ready for another chance to win a book? Sure you are!

The Summer Giveaway Hop, co-hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer

From August 1st through August 7th, enter to win your choice of a fabulous prize.

So now the good part. What can you win? You will get to choose a digital copy of one of these three fantastic YA novels. Believe me when I tell you that all three of these are terrific books.

All you have to do is complete the Rafflecopter below. And please visit the other blogs participating in this giveaway. There are all sorts of great prizes out there, from gift certificates to more books. You know my motto: if it’s free, it’s for me.
Thank you for participating! Good luck!!

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Filed under giveaway, Summer Giveaway Hop

Storm Bound

Storm Bound (A Cabin Fever Novella)
by Alice Gaines
Published by Avon Red
Available August 14
224 pages
Available for pre-order on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
4 / 5 cupcakes

Let me tell you: Alice Gaines can write about sexy times. A previous novella, Heat Rises, another in the Cabin Bound series, was scorching hot. This one, Storm Bound, makes Heat Rises look like kiddie lit.

Much like Heat Rises, the whole point of this fabulous little nugget is S-E-X. In this case, the hot lovin’ is a mènage á trois, M/F/M styles.

The “plot” that gets us to the sex focuses on a swanky resort at a tropical island. Christie Lovejoy (oh, the names – wait till we get to one of the men) looks at the resort as her “baby,” and she hopes that business partners – ready for it? – Wolf (!!!!!) and Jon will invest in the resort. When a hurricane bears down on the island, Christie makes sure everyone safely evacuates, except for Wolf (!!!!!) and Jon, with whom she hopes to get better acquainted. (wink wink)

Well, our boys are nothing if not up for this challenge, so they set out to help Christie keep her mind off of the hurricane. They have some hot – and I do mean HOT – sex. And in such locations! The hotel kitchen. The hotel workout gym. The beach. Christie discovers that two is better than one, and she revels in every touch, bite and thrust.

And then the rescue ferry arrives, and our story comes to its inevitable conclusion. Sadly, Alice Gaines tries to slap a happy face on the end, which is totally unnecessary. It would have been fine for the three to say their goodbyes and have the solace of their memories.

But that’s a minor quibble. You read these things for the sex, and Alice Gaines is more than happy to provide you with some hot headboard rocking.

Quick, hot and fun. That’s the essence of Storm Bound.

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Filed under erotica, steamy sex, threesomes

The Theory of Attraction

The Theory of Attraction
Delphine Dryden
Published by Carina
121 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
4 / 5 cupcakes

You know what? I really liked this silly little book. I liked it a LOT.

Neighbors in an apartment complex largely inhabited by a bunch of geeky nerds, rocket scientist Ivan asks computer programmer Camille to help him woo prospects for funding grants Ivan needs to continue his research. Camille gamely agrees, largely due to her growing attraction to Ivan. At first glance, he is cold, forbidding and opinionated. But as she gets to know him, Camille discovers that Ivan is complex. He is passionate, for one thing, and he craves control in all aspects of his life.

Those of you who read Fifty Shades of Grey or Bared to You know what that means, right? Our boy Ivan likes to dole out punishment (as needed, of course) and exert his influence over the woman in his life. Ivan, you see, is a Dominant, and as her relationship with Ivan develops, Camille comes to discover that she might be submissive.

There is a plot here, believe it or not. Camille tries to help Ivan get what he wants, and in return, he helps her discover things she never knew she wanted. The plot doesn’t get in the way of the crux of the tale, which is a woman embarking on a venture of self-discovery while the man lowers his inhibitions long enough to allow her into his life.

Bottom line, is this a good book? For what it is – a quick, hot read – yes, it is. We don’t get to know much about the characters, but that’s okay. We don’t need to know more about Camille or Ivan to understand how and why they are drawn together. Ivan’s sexual predilections are explained, which helps, but we nonetheless are left intrigued by him, much like Camille. These two have been friends and then progress into romance.

Now on to the good stuff: these two rock the headboard and then some. Ivan likes CONTROL, and he exerts it over Camille. We empathize with her initial confusion and continue to empathize with her as her understanding, acceptance and enjoyment of Ivan’s lifestyle evolve. The sex scenes are HOT. Delphine Dryden knows how to write about sexy times, people. Oh, does she ever.

Are we talking The Great Gatsby or Pride and Prejudice? Of course not. But we are talking about a fast read with some well written sex scenes. Read this, let your brain check out for a little vacation, and enjoy,

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Filed under Christian Grey continues to cause problems, erotica, not another excuse to bring up Christian Grey again, someone other than Christian Grey likes to spank

Sharing Hailey

Sharing Hailey
Samantha Ann King
Published by Carina Press
240 pages
Available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
3 / 5 cupcakes

The cover tells you everything you need to know about this book. Except how it’s written.

Hailey is in her twenties, and, as we are told MANY times, she is very hot looking. What we are supposed to like about her is that she doesn’t know how hot she is (at one point, she’s told she is a Jennifer Aniston look-a-like). She thinks she’s ordinary.

Good for her.

When we meet her, she is on her way to Hawaii for a vacation with her brother, his pregnant wife, and her brother’s two best friends, Tony and Mark, who also are good friends of Hailey’s.

Can you guess who shares her? HINT: it isn’t her brother and his wife.

Hailey also is recovering from a break-up with her abusive ex-boyfriend Daniel. Being the approachable, just folks kind of girl she is, Hailey had no idea Daniel was abusive. Sure, he shoved her into the wall and up against a car. Sure, he left bruises. But he didn’t hit her, so he can’t be abusive, right? Wrong.

So anyway, while on the plane to Hawaii, Hailey gets some conflicting signals from Mark and Tony. She’s loved them for years but thinks they either are not interested or, worse, gay. It doesn’t matter anyway, really, because she wouldn’t choose between them if she had to do so. Well, good for her, because they don’t want her to choose, they want to share her!

The boys explain their plan to Hailey, and just to prove that it will be soooo good, they give her a little demonstration as to the fabulosity of this arrangement. Hailey decides this may be a great idea after all, so let’s do it, boys!

Of books must have conflict, and the conflict here is found in (a) Hailey’s brother, whose acceptance of her menage is feared by Hailey and her menfolk, (b) her sister-in-law’s heart condition, which poses a threat to her pregnancy, and (c) the crazy ex-boyfriend Daniel, who just might come to Hawaii to confront her. Oh, and he hates Mark and Tony.

Okay, so here’s the deal with this book. It isn’t very good. The sex scenes are hot, I’ll give it that much. I can’t imagine that it’s easy to write about threesomes, because everyone needs their shot (so to speak) at the action, and Samantha Ann King does a good job of writing those. The problem is the rest of the book. At times, King delivers a treatise on abuse, which, while certainly information we need, is not appropriate for this venue. The tension surrounding Daniel goes nowhere, and the worry over how friends and family will feel about Hailey’s unorthodox relationship is dispensed with too easily.

If you are into M/F/M threesomes and some hot lovin’, go ahead and give this a try. Just skip all of the unnecessary plot stuff.

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Filed under Hot Headboard Rockin' but not much else, threesomes

Northwest Corner

Northwest Corner
John Burnham Schwartz
Published by Random House
304 pages
Available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
4 / 5 cupcakes

Are we destined to repeat our parents’ mistakes?

That is a central question, if not THE central question, in Northwest Corner. The sequel to Reservation Road (which I had not read, nor did I even realize that this was a sequel until I read the interview with John Burnham Schwartz at the end of the book), Northwest Corner picks up twelve years after Dwight Arno went to prison for accidentally killing a young boy. In Dwight’s case, it was the old refrain: it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. He served less than three years in prison, after which he moved from Connecticut to California.

Dwight’s post-prison life is simple: he’s fifty, works at a sporting goods store, lives alone, and occasionally dates Penny, a single mother. Yet for all the simplicity of that day-to-day routine, the fact remains that Dwight lives across the country from Sam, with whom he has had no contact since he turned himself in to the police a dozen years ago. We learn that he has had very sporadic contact with Ruth, Sam’s mother and Dwight’s ex-wife.

So imagine Dwight’s surprise when Sam shows up in California. Sam, you see, is in a bit of trouble. After a disastrous outing in a college baseball game, he gets into a bar fight, hits his opponent with an aluminum bat, and sends said opponent to the hospital. He goes, then, to the one person who might understand him.

Except – and here is where this book gets a wee bit frustrating – Sam says nothing. He never talks to Dwight, never discusses anything. Not his anger at being abandoned, not his anger at his father’s previous treatment of his mother, not his fear that the kid in the hospital might not recover. Not his terror that he has become his father.

Yet as we discover, that reticence is very much the man Sam Arno has become. It frustrates us – as it certainly frustrates Dwight – but John Burnham Schwartz is unrelenting with Sam’s depiction. We alternately want to huge him and shake him. The same with Dwight, as a matter of fact. You want him to connect with his son, but at the same time, you are furious that his contact with his boy for twelve years consists of little more than a birthday card with a check. There were no visits east. There were no phone calls. What does Dwight expect?

The suspense of what will become of Sam’s legal problems takes a secondary role to what will become of Sam and Dwight, and even Ruth, Penny and Emma, the sister of the boy Dwight killed. Can they recover? Can they survive the continual assaults on their emotional well-being? Can they be the people they want to be?

As Dwight observes:

To build a solid, lasting bridge between two people, let alone a father and son with a history like ours, is a mighty human endeavor, and to sit here and think I might be able to accomplish it alone, with no glue, a few pickup sticks, and a dollop of spit, is nothing short of hubris. And hubris, the Greeks tell us, will see you dead. The robed chorus chanting your name until, in the last act, they bury and forget you.

Not quite the picture of paternal optimism, is he?

Told from the perspectives of Dwight, Sam, Ruth, Penny and Emma, we get to see how each of them thinks and feels about what happens to them. Emma and Penny get short shrift, Penny especially. While I liked Penny and was interested in what she was going through, I either wanted more or none at all. As it is, she seems sort of thrown in there to have the point of view of someone with no connection to the crimes in Connecticut. Emma is intriguing and baffling. Her feelings about something change completely, or so we’re told, yet we don’t really know why. Or if they really did.

But boy is this a good book. I enjoyed it tremendously, and now I want to go read Reservation Road. All of these characters have flaws, but they all desperately want to feel safe and hopeful. You will want them to as well.

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Filed under family, literature, suspense, Tolstoy was right

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop!

It’s summer, and the time is right for a giveaway!
I am honored to be a part of the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop,

Here are the important details:
What you can win: your choice of one these fabulous books
That’s right, kids! You get to choose your prize!
All you have to do is complete the Rafflecopter to enter to win. And see all those blogs listed below? Go visit them, too! There are lots of great prizes out there, so WIN WIN WIN!

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The Testament of Jessie Lamb

The Testament of Jessie Lamb
Jane Rogers
Published by Harper Perennial
256 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
3 / 5 cupcakes

I am an English teacher, so if there is one thing in which I am well-versed, it is literary symbolism. Teach it, love it, know it. When done well, it’s subtle enough to present a challenge but not so obvious that a third grader can spot it.

In the case of The Testament of Jessie Lamb, the symbolism is IN YOUR FACE. You can’t avoid it, even if you prefer your books simple and approachable. It permeates this book like stink from a skunk.

Let’s start with the first obvious symbol: Jessie Lamb. The name? Like, duh? Jessie, which could be a feminized version of Jesus, who is the Lamb of God. Add in the rest of the title, and OH MY GOD. Could it be more apparent?

Add to that some nifty water symbolism (Jesus was baptized! In water!) and a virgin birth (FOR REAL, people), and you have yourself a hot mess of symbolism. At one point, I found myself praying (no pun intended) for relief.

But let’s say you’re not like me (and I really hope you aren’t, because one of me is enough punishment for the world). Let’s say you read your books straight up, no analysis necessary. What, then, to make of this one?

Well … the verdict is not good. Not bad, certainly, but not good, either.

The premise is strong: At some point in the not too distant future (Facebook is still around), a virus, supposedly triggered by bio terrorists, infects all human beings, killing women who get pregnant. In other words, the human population will vanish, because women die once they get pregnant. Sixteen-year-old Jessie Lamb at first merely observes the catastrophe, but when a boy she likes gets involved with a protest group, she joins him. And she begins to think about what this virus means.

Jessie’s father is a research scientist trying to find a cure. He tells Jessie about the “Sleeping Beauties” – young girls Jessie’s age who elect to get pregnant. Upon conception, they are put into a coma, which allows them to bear a child. Once the baby is born, the girl is literally put to sleep more permanently. The disease, called Maternal Death Syndrome (MDS – kind of the same acronym for doctors, isn’t it?) causes the pregnant women to lose their minds, eventually killing them.

As Jessie’s activism progresses, she comes to discover what her role could be. She believes she realizes what she should do to help with MDS, but when she shares her idea with her parents and would-be boyfriend, they are horrified. She is determined that she make a difference, even if her loved ones beg her not to do so.

There is nothing – and I do mean, NOTHING – uplifting about this book. I’m all for unhappy endings (paging Gone Girl), but Jane Rogers seems nothing less than militantly intent on depressing the hell out of us. One of Jessie’s parents might be having an affair. Her best friend is subjected to a horrific act of violence. Her boyfriend apparently rejects her. Her aunt suffers heartbreak and descends into an abyss of despair. Jessie herself is subjected to poor treatment by friends and family.

Even the bleakness of the book could be excused if we accepted Jessie’s reasons for doing what she does. She tries to justify it by saying that she wants to do something that she decides and controls, something her father would be proud to see her do:

To do something straightforward, where there would be no tangled argument and no compromise. Something that would make a difference to the world. Something that was within my power to do without having to rely on anyone else. Something that would make Dad proud. I pulled my pillow and duvet off the bed and wrapped myself up on the floor, so I could go on and on staring at the beech, letting that freedom unroll. The freedom to act. The freedom to do something I had decided for myself. 

A somewhat precocious manner of thinking for a sixteen-year-old, non?

Ultimately, I did not buy Jessie’s rationale. She even considers another option, one that leaves her some control and the potential to have an impact, but she shrugs it off and goes with her plan. The harder she pursues it, the less sensible she becomes. What’s almost worse, I stopped caring about her. In a book like this, with such a heavy premise, you must care about the characters. Too often, I found myself not liking her or her decision.

Like I said, the premise is very good. But when it comes to books about viruses that cause harm to reproduction, I recommend you go with Megan McCafferty’s Bumped and Thumped, which at the very least give you characters to like.

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Filed under a good idea that goes nowhere, teen lit, YA