Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year!

You probably thought I abandoned you again. You needn't have worried. I just took a brief holiday break. I've been reading like mad this month and lucky for (all three of) you not all of them were for the review site. Which means I can review them here! There's still at least one more Blaze, a pair of paranormal fictions, I'm about to start books five and six in the Cal Leandros series, and I think another romance and general fiction book, too. So if any of that interests you, please stay tuned. Most of those reviews should be posted throughout January.

One of my goals (I rarely use the term "resolution") for 2011 is to keep up with this blog. Do I think anyone reads it? Nope. But, I'm going to continue it anyway. There might be one person out there reading my reviews and actually using them to help in their book purchasing decisions. If that's true, color me shocked. But it could happen! I'm starting off with 3 reviews a month as a minimum. Just so I don't get overwhelmed and nervous about it. Anyway, look out for those reviews within the next few weeks. If you're ever at all curious about what I'm currently reading, my Good Reads page is a great place to find out.

With that said, I am wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Have fun and be safe.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

body check/power play.

Look what I've got here - two reviews at once! Neither of these books is new, but they were new to me. :c) And I did warn you that I've been reading a lot of Blazes.

Hard body? Check. Awesome-night-in-the-sack potential? Check! Hayden Houston is breaking out of her good-girl mode. It's time for a one-night stand--and she's found just the man for the job! She spent her childhood being dragged from rink to rink by her hockey-coach father. Now Hayden craves stability. And she's determined to get it--after this one night....

When hockey star Brody Croft sees the sexy brunette at the bar, he's riveted. He's ready to shed his bad-boy ways and settle down. And after a mind-blowing night in bed with Hayden, he knows she's the one.

Now all he has to do is convince her....

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for sports romances. I've read boxing, baseball, football, and hockey romances (no soccer or basketball yet, got any recommendations?). For the most part, the authors either focus too much on the sport or pretend it doesn't exist (and if that's the case, why bother making them hot athletes?). Elle Kennedy did neither here, but the story still left me wanting. I'm not quite sure what went wrong here. The story starts off well enough, with Hayden picking up Brody in a bar. The relationship and issues within it are good. Which leaves everything else. I think Kennedy takes on too much here. Without giving away the story, she introduces to other major issues in the story that have to do with the investigation going on throughout the book. My problem with it is that they're serious, but a bit swept aside. It's possible that she was trying to make it more real, but I think the book would've been better off without that much outside drama.

Keep her hands to herself?

Not easy for Emily Saunders, who's in Elk Crossing, Idaho, for a family wedding. She's double booked in the same hotel room with a sexy cop attending--of all things!--a hockey tournament. As a massage therapist, Emily's soon itching to soothe Jonah Betts's gorgeous muscles--both on and off the ice.

Jonah can't believe his luck--a sexy single woman sharing his cozy room, albeit temporarily. Okay, her orange bridesmaid dress is a disaster and her family is convinced he's actually her boyfriend. He's ready to go along with it even as he makes his play....

Until Emily is suddenly calling for a TIME-OUT! Will Jonah's fantasies be permanently iced?

I'm happy to say that I enjoyed this one a bit more. The cover and blurb are a bit misleading. Jonah being a recreational hockey player isn't the focus at all. It's really just an interesting way to get the characters where they are and add a bit of flair. The story could've been almost the same if he was a businessman on a work trip. But making him a hockey player is sexier, I guess. Nancy Warren does right what Kennedy did wrong. The two have time to get to know each other and I have a soft spot for stories where there's a pretend relationship, I don't know why. Warren tosses in a twist that allows Jonah's cop side to make an appearance. Overall, it's a fun, quick read.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ace is wild.

Vivi Foster is a psychic who ends up saving former FBI/current lawyer Daniel Pierce's life. As someone who doesn't believe in anything but facts, Daniel thinks Vivi has some other way of knowing about the attempts on his life. While dodging multiple murder attempts, viviv and Daniel run around the city trying to figure out who is trying to kill him and why.

Ace is Wild is not the best romantic suspense I've ever read, but it's not the worst. The investigation parts were fine, but the romance was lacking. I was far more interested in who was orchestrating the hits than I was on what was going on between the two main characters. The sex scenes were just okay and I didn't really believe the ending. That said, it was enough for me to want to give Penny McCall anothet shot. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone unfamiliar with her work. I plan on getting my hands on Tag, You're It and making my decision about her writing then.

Friday, December 10, 2010

i'll be home for christmas.

Abby Harper and Reece Winston have known each other most of their lives. Their parents owned vineyards right next to each other. While Abby has stayed close to home to run the family business, Reece moved to France to become a successful race car driver. Around the holidays, Reece returns to sell his family's vineyard. However, a fire burns Abby's place and he invites her to stay with him.

It's obvious that the two are attracted to each other. A mistaken identity incident when they were in college has made both curious about how they would be together. Predictably, the close quarter brings those feelings to the surface and it's not long before they succumb to the lust between them. Samantha Hunter writes good love scenes here, tossing in some Tantric type elements. Overall, it was an ordinary Blaze with a good balance of romance and ses, which can't be sad about all of the Blaze books.

more apologies.

My computer died. I am borrowing my father's for now, until I can get a new one. And who knows when that might happen. Anyway. That means I've got a couple reviews for you. Starting now!

Friday, November 12, 2010

mini shopaholic.

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is at again in Mini-Shopaholic, and this time she has a partner in crime – little Minnie Brandon, her two year old daughter. Filled with escapades at Santa’s Grotto (they’re banned), a Super Nanny (Minnie may have behavior problems), a financial crisis, and a surprise birthday party for Luke, Mini-Shopaholic is more of the same in Becky’s world and that’s not a bad thing.

Amidst their happiness at finally being able to move out of the Bloomwood home, the Bank of London collapses and Becky can think of no better way to cheer everyone up than to throw Luke a surprise party, despite the fact that he rarely celebrates his birthday. Any fan of the Shopaholic series can see where this is going. Becky, as usual, ends up in a huge mess (mostly) of her own making. From bartering for party supplies to lying about plastic surgery to keep the party a secret, she is the Becky that readers know and love and, of course, manages to come out of the situation unscathed. In Mini-Shopaholic, the reader is treated to guest appearances from several characters from previous installments, including Becky’s hilarious designer friend (and Godfather to Minnie) Danny. There is another surprise character that readers may not be expecting to see who returns in a touching way.

The sixth book in Sophie Kinsella’s series is everything that a faithful reader would expect. Minnie’s baptism scene alone is worth the price of the book. I cannot wait to see how Becky (and Luke and Minnie) fare in their next adventure, which Kinsella alludes to at the end.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

christmas eve at friday harbor.

Book Description:

One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.
The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.
Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.
Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home…


I really, really liked this story. Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite historical authors, but I was never tempted to try her contemporary writing until now. Her previous attempts didn't interest me at all. But when I read the blurb for this one, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is exactly what it professes to be. A simple, contemporary romance with no wild plot twists or crazy secrets. I have said before that it's difficult to find what I call "regular" romances these days. So many authors and publishers are pushing paranormal (which I truly dislike) and leaving us regular story lovers behind.

I loved the Nolan brothers and Holly. While Maggie wasn't the best heroine Kleypas has ever written, she served her purpose here. I liked the speed of their relationship (patient) and the description of Friday Harbor (made me want to visit Washington). Basically, Kleypas did quite a good job here. Honestly, the only thing that readers might not care for is that the two don't sleep together until the end and it's more of a fade to black scene. I would've preferred a bit more passion, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless. Great for the holidays!

This book is available here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

my apologies.

I've been away! I haven't updated this place in forever. I've been reviewing for another site and I can't put reviews here. Since most of the books I'm reading is for that purpose, I haven't had much to share with you.

However, I am dedicating myself to reading for the month of November. Since I can't write to save my life and thus cannot participate in NaNoWriMo, I've decided to read every day this month. After all, where would writers be without us readers? Got you thinking there, didn't I? :c)

I'm reading a ton of romance now, especially Harlequin Blaze. It's a guilty pleasure of mine, especially when holiday season rolls around. I love holiday Blazes! I've gotten a few (holiday and non-holiday) Blazes from BookMooch over the past few weeks. I'm thinking of reviewing those, too. There's gotta be someone else out there that likes reading them besides me, right?

Anyway. That's what's been going on here. I'll see if I can commit to maybe two reviews each week for November? That means I owe two from last week, in addition to two this week. Well. I'm off to get started on that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

the first love cookie club.

Book Description:
"On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your one true love, he will be your destiny."

The townsfolk of Twilight, Texas, believe the legend, but not Sarah Collier—not since she was a pudgy teenager, running down the church aisle on Christmas Day in a jingle bell sweater and reindeer antlers, trying to stop Travis Walker from marrying someone else. She may be grown-up, slimmed-down, bestselling children's book author "Sadie Cool" now, but Sarah will never forget that day. And she'll never fall foolishly in love again!

But when a letter from a sick fan brings Sarah back to Twilight, she's shocked to discover that Travis is the little girl's father—unattached and hotter than ever. His smile still makes her melt, but Sarah knows that ship has sailed. Travis, however, might have different ideas.


The First Love Cookie Club was a sweet story of romance between Travis and Sarah. Wilde creates believable, relatable backgrounds for both characters. It's easy to understand why they are the way the are. The story is also about the two of them reconciling their pasts and finding a future together. As the reader, you want them to work through their issues and be together. In Jazzy, Wilde has created an adorable, astute kid who adds even more charm to the story. A small thing that I loved was the little bit of added depth to Crystal, making her less of a villain than she originally appears. The only downside was what seemed to be an unnecessary twist with Raylene and her secret background. Perhaps it seems that way because I haven't read the previous Twilight books, though I plan to rectify that very soon.

This will be a comfy book to read under a blanket with hot tea. If the other books are as sweet and heartwarming as Travis and Sarah's story, Wilde has a great series on her hands.

The First Love Cookie Club will be available for purchase on October 26, 2010. Advanced reader's copy provided for review by NetGalley.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

always the baker, never the bride.

Book Description:
Thirty-six-year-old Emma Rae Travis has been baking specialty cakes and melt-in-your-mouth pastries at The Backstreet Bakery in historic Roswell, just outside of Atlanta, for the last six years.

When Jackson Drake hears about this local baker who has won a prestigious award for her wedding cake artistry, he tells his assistant to be sure and include her in the pastry tastings scheduled at his new wedding destination hotel the following week. But when the arrogant baker he met a week prior in Roswell stumbles into the dining room with a platter of pastries and a bucketful of orders, he knows for certain: It s going to be a really rotten day.

Can these two ill-suited players master the high-wire act and make a go of their new business venture? Or will they take each other crashing downward, without a net? And will the surprise wedding at The Tanglewood be theirs?


First, the version I read didn't really match the book description. I'm not sure if it was changed before it went to final print, but there was a difference in the circumstances. It's not a big deal, but I just thought I should mention it.

Overall, I found Always the Baker, Never the Bride to be a comfortable and pretty easy read. For the most part, it was a what you see is what you get book. It is Christian fiction, with the mentions light at the beginning, and getting heavier throughout the book. It could've been integrated into the story a bit better, as it seemed a bit forced sometimes. As a Christian book, you'll find no profanity or love scenes, and the story does not suffer from the lack of it.

Jackson and Emma Rae made a cute couple, with a lot less animosity than the description suggests. I would have liked more of their thoughts and feelings in the earlier part of the book, but the author makes sure to detail those feelings later. The entire cast of characters is an interesting bunch. The author includes tips and recipes related to what's going on in the story, which could have been cheesy but I made one of the cookie recipes the day after reading the book and they weren't bad.

While the story wasn't as great as it could have been, I enjoyed it nonetheless and it wasn't a bad way to spend a few hours.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride is available for purchase.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

once upon a holiday.

Once Upon a Holiday is an anthology consisting of three African-American holiday stories. I choose this book because it seemed like it would be a decent read.

Holiday Heat - Beverly Jenkins
Holiday Heat starts the book off with characters Eve and Leyton meeting at a masquerade party. Dressed as a warrior goddess and a Roman soldier, they both attend the party for reasons not their own. Eve is pressured into it by a cousin, while Leyton goes to add a discreet police presence. The idea of the party is that guests are randomly paired and assigned a hotel suite to share. But after meeting Leyton, Eve fixes it so that they are paired together. They spend a hot night together and go back to their separate lives. Of course, it doesn't end there. The author brings the characters back together through work, both of them investigating a fire.

Jenkins does a decent job of detailing the investigation and also putting the characters together romantically. At first, she goes too far in showing the "other side" of Eve, the tough woman in a man's world side, and she starts to become annoying. Thankfully, that doesn't last for too long. The love scenes in Jenkins' story were detailed, but not too raunchy or outrageous. I think she did her best once they both realized who they other person was and they get back together again.

Candy Christmas - Adrienne Byrd
The second story, Candy Christmas, did not live up to Holiday Heat in any way, shape, or form. I absolutely, positively did not like this story. In Byrd's story, Montel and Candace are both vying for a promotion at the same company. On the surface, the two despise each other, but a tryst in the office shows that there is chemistry between them. It is later revealed through flashbacks that they are actually married. I found that to be a ridiculous twist and completely unnecessary. Unlike Holiday Heat, the sex scenes in Candy Christmas seemed to be excessive. I felt like the author went out of her way to include what she, and some readers, might think was "exciting." I found myself rereading a few of the positions included, not because they were great, but because they were poorly explained. If I had known the tone of this story before reading it, I would've skipped it.

Chocolate Truffles - Kimberly Kaye Terry
After reading Candy Christmas, I figured the tone of the book was that the stories would get progressively worse, and I was nervous about reading this one. But I shouldn't have been. Chocolate Truffles turned out to be my favorite of the three stories.

In Chocolate Truffles, Camille and Gideon meet in an elevator after she receives a promotion and he closes a deal with her company. Instantly attracted to each other, they agree to meet for drinks at a bar in the building. Drinks and dancing lead to more and they spend the night together at Gideon's hotel room. Similar to Holiday Heat, the two characters don't know each other's full names and have no way of finding each other until they find out that they are working together. Also, like Byrd, Terry tosses a curveball by subtly revealing that the Gideon is white. I had actually picked up on this at the beginning, not as much because of how she described him, but the words she didn't use to describe him when they first meet.

I thought this one was the best of the three because it made the most use of the amount of pages to create a full story. It didn't feel rushed at all and the characters were well developed. I may have also liked it because it was a true romance, their jobs were just background noise to the story of the relationship. I'm now interested to read more of Terry's work and hoping that it's as good as this was.

Once Upon a Holiday is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2010. Advanced reader's copy provided for review by NetGalley.

Monday, August 9, 2010

the bikini car wash.

While perusing through a selection of e-books, I came across The Bikini Car Wash by Pamela Morsi. I randomly requested a copy to go along with the romance books I was selecting. And I am so, so glad I did. I absolutely positively loved, loved, loved this book. I had originally intended to read some of it over the course of a few days, but got so into it that I read it in one day. Every time I tried to walk away from the computer, I'd come right back and pull the story up again.

The book is about a young woman (Andi) who returns to her hometown when her mother dies. In the big city, she has a great job, but she can't manage to find one at home. Eventually, with the help of two other unemployed women in town, they come up with the idea to open a car wash with a gimmick - they wash the cars wearing their bikinis.

For me (and I think for most people), it's important that I like the main characters and care about what happens to them. In this book, I liked all of the characters. Though the relationship between Andi and Pete (former high school crush) could have used some work, I didn't mind too much because I knew it wasn't really the focus of the book. I also could have done without the sidebar of Andi's father Walt and his relationship. What I enjoyed most was what I believe the point of the book was - Andi and how she transitions and changes into a new life. How she learns that some things in her life weren't the way she'd always believed them to be and how she moves on from there. Andi was definitely the most defined of the characters and, as a reader, I wanted her to do well and figure how to deal with the changes in her life.

All that said, I just liked the book. Truly, thoroughly enjoyed it. I've actually got my eye on another one or two of Morsi's book because of how great I thought this one was.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

love me if you dare.

Love Me If You Dare tells the story of police officers and former partners Rafe Mancuso and Sara Rios. The book opens quickly with an easy job turned hostage situation and sets the story in motion. Due to injuries, Rafe and Sara are forced to be in close quarters with each other in Rafe's hometown of Hidden Falls as they recuperate and attempt to keep criminals from finding Sara. As you can guess, the proximity draws them into a relationship that one wants to further develop and the other claims to wish it would stay the way it is.

While the action of the story started right away, I felt that the romance side of things moved quite slowly in the beginning. Then it seemed to switch, with greater focus on the couple and not as much on the case side of things. For me, the book was missing a depth of feeling, which I definitely felt in Sealed with a Kiss and Cross My Heart (Ty and Hunter's books). This could be because I don't think I liked the character of Sara, but I did like Rafe and his niece Toni was always delight when she appearead. I found that I was more entertained by the antics of Rafe's family and the relationship between his brother Nick and his wife Angel. I would have preferred Nick and Angel to be the focus of the book, with a Rafe and Sara as the secondary couple. However, if you're looking for an easy summer read or a book to just relax with, this is not a bad choice at all.

* I did not read Kiss Me If You Can, in Carly Phillips' first book in what seems to be a duo.

Advanced reader's copy provided for review by NetGalley.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

lady isabella's scandalous marriage.

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage is the second in Jennifer Ashley's Highland Pleasures series, this one focusing on Mac Mackenzie. Those who read the previous novel in the series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, are familiar with Isabella and Mac and their separation. For those that did not have the pleasure of reading it, Ashley does a great job of including enough information about the first book without retelling the entire story.

Isabella and Mac have been separated for three years, though both are still in love with each other. I won't go into details and tell too much of what's going on, but Mac is persuaded by Ian to try harder to get his wife back. What I really liked about this was that Isabella didn't cave in as soon as Mac made an effort to put their marriage to rights. Throughout the book, both characters actually talked about the issues in their relationship. Furthermore, Ashley includes flashbacks so that the reader knows what transpired between them, helping to form a better image of the couple.

The strength of this series, in my opinion, is the characters more than the plot. So far, there is not one of the Mackenzies that I do not like. I thought it was great how they all continued to care about and support Isabella despite her estrangement from Mac.

This novel also introduced the heroine for the next book, Ainsley Douglas. And now, I cannot wait for the next installment, The Many Sins of Cameron Mackenzie.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

oatmeal cinnamon crisps.

So, it appears I made an error in my previous post. The peanut butter cookies did not come from Desserts 4 Today, but from a book I picked up at Ross, simply titled Baking. I'll look up the details on that book later. When I realized this, I went back to Desserts 4 today and picked a recipe to try. I chose the oatmeal cinnamon crisps because there were four ingredients, I love oatmeal cookies, and I love cinnamon. The recipe consists of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats. The end. Isn't that crazy?!

The crisps are not cookies. Something I realized as I watched them bake in the oven. They are really fragile. They break apart very easily. However, they are so freakin tasty! I originally made one batch (12) and after I scarfed down four of them in 2 minutes, I decided to make a second batch. Even now, two days later, I eat one every type I walk past the kitchen table, where I've placed them for easy access.

I know I said the peanut butter cookies were easy, but these were EASIER. Four ingredients! About 10 minutes of baking time! Crunchy cinnamon oat treats! I can easily see myself making these with my nephews (ages 10, 8, and 4) with no issues. I think I might give that a try next weekend, actually.

Abigail Johnson Dodge's Desserts 4 Today hits bookstores on September 7, 2010.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hello (and Cookies) !

So. My first post... what to say, what to say. Well, I guess I'll start off by saying HI! Then follow that up with a note that this site is a work in progress. I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with it, but I know I'll be doing book reviews. Will I review every book I read? I don't know. If I do that, I'll probably have less time to read. And we do not want that.

I'm thinking of sharing my baking trials and tribulations here, too. Why, you might ask. Because I bake and cook from books. So it fits. :c)

Speaking of which, I'm currently in the process of reviewing a book called Desserts 4 Today, set to hit shelves in August or September (I'm not sure which). Last night, I baked the Peanut Butter Cookies. The recipe was easy to follow. It was my first time working with brown sugar and rolled oats. (That sentence probably tells you what I novice I am.) The mix came out right, but a problem occurred when actually baking them.

You see, I made the "drops" far too large. I ended up with pancake sized cookies. I mean, these bad boys were HUGE! One cookie was the size of my hand with my fingers outstretched. I plan to make them again (as soon as I hit the store for more sugar) and actually put a small drop of batter (dough? mix?) onto the cookie sheet - as instructed. I'm going to try to make two recipes form each section of the book and do a full review of it for the website that allowed me the opportunity to get it early.

Clearly, you'll all be able to learn about my... experiments, we'll call them, during the process.