I Loved ‘The Red Bikini’ by Lauren Christopher

** Buy The Red Bikini today! Amazon * B&N * GoodReads **

I was blown away by Ms. Christopher’s debut novel, The Red Bikini. A woman who was suddenly divorced her husband, was taking a break in beautiful “Sandy Cove” (Southern Californian’s will recognize this town!) at her sister’s place, and while she is taking some time for herself she meets the interesting, and younger, man named Fin.

The Red Bikini by Lauren Christopher

The first half of the book lures you in with beautiful imagery of San, er, Sandy Cove and the Southern California lifestyle. I actually LIVE in SoCal so it was fun to take a trip through the beach.

You are slowly introduced to the main players that appear in Giselle’s life. From Coco, her beautiful daughter who is always cracking jokes, to Rabbit, the 23 year old surfer who teaches kids how to surf during the summer. You hear about Lia, her marketing minded sister (whom I can’t wait to read about in the next book!) and Roy, her ex-husband who screams of reality in an over-powering relationship that goes bad. While Giselle is out in Sandy Cove, Roy calls her to let her know that his Father has died and he wants her to attend since she’s out in California already.

To keep busy, Lia arranged that Giselle does a trade with Rabbit. She will take photos of his surfing lessons so Lia can help him create brochures about his business, while he teaches Coco how to surf in his grommet class.

Giselle & Coco’s relationship is sweet to read about, especially if you have kids and remember that sweet young time.

***

“‘You know who lives here?’ Coco asked Giselle, pointing at her largest castle. She had just trudged back up from the water’s edge from the millionth time with another pail full of sandy, murky water. The sun was sitting low on the horizon.

‘Who?’ said Giselle.

‘Me.’ She readied her pail with both hands to pour into the moat she’d created around the sand mansion. ‘And you. And Iggy. And a prince.’

‘A prince?’

She nodded solemnly. ‘For you.’.

Coco poured the water into the moat and sat back on her haunches, the sand granules sticking to her legs in circular patterns, while the water swirled briefly, then disappeared into the sand.

‘Oh.’ The wind swept the tendrils of yellow hair around her ears while she put together what just happened. ‘I guess we need soldiers.’ She scrambled to her feet and ran back to the foamy surf to look for pebbles and shells, which she collected the rest of the afternoon.”

***

The best part is Fin. Giselle is attracted to him but finds out that Fin is 28 years old compared to her own 35. She feels humiliated that the surfer boys are calling her a ‘betty’ and a ‘donna’ (Donna Reed!) even though it’s a compliment and when Fin introduces himself to her at a beach party he wants her to come to a ‘party’ with him because she is ‘older’, or more ‘his age’, so he can show off how responsible he is.

**
“Do you…date Lia?” she asked anyway, unable to keep the incredulity out of her voice.

“No, no.” Fin shook his head as if the idea were preposterous. “She’s not – I’m not… her type at all.”

At least they agreed on that much.

“We’re friends. She’s helped me out of a few jams. But this one – even she wasn’t right for this. But you…” He looked her up and down. “You’re perfect.”
**

So they decide on a trade. Giselle will attend his exclusive party where he needs to show off a responsible 30-something woman while Fin will go to the funeral with Giselle so she won’t be alone in front of her ex-husband.

**
She took a deep breath. All right. A gorgeous pro surfer, who had all these people here to see him – including at least forty stunningly beautiful women in very small bikinis – had just asked her on a date. Or, well, not really a date. An event. And she’d asked him to a funeral.
**

You get to know Fin more, and his motivations for why he needs an older, more responsible looking woman gracing his arm at some events. As well as Giselle and how she navigates learning more about herself and moving forward.

I loved this book. Learning more about surfing was an education and kept me enthralled through the whole book. I highly recommend you read the Red Bikini and Lauren Christopher is now on my ‘Must Read’ list!

** Buy The Red Bikini today! Amazon * B&N * GoodReads **

Review: The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn is one of my favorite authors. My favorite book, of course, is Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. I adored that book and didn’t think that anything could compare but then she came out with Ten Things I Love About You and I laughed and laughed and did a happy sigh at the end. It wasn’t my amazing, nostalgic Romancing Mr. Bridgerton but it was righhtttt up there with it!

I got the email that I had been approved for an ARC from my Avon Addicts program for The Sum of All Kisses and I eagerly dropped everything and proceeded to glom on that book and stay up until 1am. It was worth it. Ms. Quinn has written the perfect book again. I really loved all the Smythe-Smith books but this one is definitely my favorite.

We met Hugh Prentice in past books and he had such a history that he was such a sympathetic character. He did a stupid, dumb, male ‘thing’ and he made a mistake. He apologized. He fixed it. He manned up and accepted his crappy decisions. He also suffered from them. He was a good character to read about.

Sarah Pleinsworth was also a character that we met previously. Very likable, as are all of Ms Quinn’s heroines, but she was amusing to watch. She was a little selfish, a little annoying, but she didn’t apologize for it.

One of my favorite quotes from the beginning:

“Oh, if only I could find a gentleman,” she muttered to herself, “who will make me miserable and vex me to the end of my days.”

And then.

Of course.

Lord Hugh Prentice.

God above, was there to be no end to her travails?

These two took us on a merry chase and slowly slid from adversaries to… well, I will let you read it and figure it out. The cast of characters didn’t disappoint and I loved learning more about Frances, the 11 year old sister of Sarah’s.

The ending took me on some quick twists and turns. I started to think, WHAT exactly is she doing? But then, oh, okay wow, I didn’t expect that. It was a little dramatic, a little over the top, and then a little dangerous. It was really perfect.

Brava Ms. Quinn, it’s another winner for my bookshelf! Buy from Amazon today!

My Favorite Books of 2012 Plus Bonus Books

In 2012, my New Year’s resolutions were to cook a turkey (by myself – not that hard, but still!) and to log every single book I read in 2012 in GoodReads.com. I achieved both! Woohoo.

I set a goal to read 250 books in 2012 and around July, I was on track to hit 300 but I stopped reading as much. I got busy and there were a lot of good TV shows on! So in December I moved it back to 200. I’m at 191 today with one book almost finished and I bet I will end around 197. Not too shabby!

First off, there are some crazy book deals right now.

Pushing the Limit – Raves all around and it’s $2.99, down from $14.99 as it’s Harlequin Teen. Just bought it.

Winter Sea – $2.99, down from $16.99 – Got some ‘best book of 2011′ awards. I have not read this yet either. I didn’t buy it but I bought it for my Mom and Mother in Law :)

The Opportunist - $0.99 because her 2nd in the series just came out. Took my heart and stomped on it, I haven’t read #2 yet!

 

Okay, so on to my favorite books of 2012. Reading almost 200 books this year, I am going to keep my recommendations to under 10% and separate them into categories. I really could not get into historicals this year. The emotions, the angst, the ‘different’ in Young Adult, New Adult (like YA but with lots of sex!), and Paranormal were just like crack to me. I had to have more more more. I read 4 different Urban Fantasty/Paranormal series this year that I just glommed on and adored. I got into a big reading funk the last part of the year though but I definitely came out of it and can’t wait to read more in 2013.

Here are my stats for the year.

Screen Shot 2012-12-26 at 3.12.56 PM

52 – 5 Star Books
96 – 4 Star Books
36 – 3 Star Books
4 – 2 Star Books
2 – 1 Star Books
1 – Not rated.

From this, I really want to refine my rating skills! I would like to have 20 5 star books in this list so I can REALLY recommend the best of the best. However, a lot of books are really ‘good’ and rate 4.5 for me, and I feel guilty rating books anything but 5 stars because I know recommendations really sell books. So if I am not going to type out a huge long recommendation when it’s 4 stars but really great, I will just label it as 5 stars.

There are a lot of authors in my super fantastic Bookclub in Facebook and I am perhaps more sensitive. It’s a catch 22 though because I LOVE reading critical reviews from other book reviewers, even if they think something is a “B”, I know I would love it. So it really just depends who you like to read, and who else reads like you. There is a woman who if she rates something 5 stars, I want to read it no matter what. There is another woman that I follow on Twitter and if she hates something, I will probably like it.

Just one of those things. So on to the good stuff!

Young Adult

I have not figured out what really qualifies as Young Adult. Some of these might be a little mixed so hopefully I have the right category.

Slammed - Colleen Hoover – Hands down, this was my favorite book by far for most of 2012. It starts out as a sweet love story and you are plodding along and SLAM, you are suddenly dying and MUST.REACH.THE.END. I stayed up really late to read this book. I have told everyone, you just have to get past 25% and you will be hooked. Ms Hoover published this book in February and it raced through my bookclub. I read it in April and she got picked up by a publisher a month or two later. She has a sequel which is not as great but still pretty dang fantastic. I read them both, right after each other, and it was wonderful. She has a particular way of writing that just hits your heart.

Sea of Tranquility - Katya Millay – Another author that raced through my bookclub. I thought the title was a little weird and was going through a reading funk. I heard she got picked up by a publisher so I snatched up the book at $0.99 and still waited awhile to read it. Ooohhh, once I did, it was worth it. So worth it that I ended up buying the higher agency pricing for my sister, Mother, and Step-Mom. It’s soooo good!

The Fault in our Stars – John Greene – At the top of most ‘Best Of’ lists for 2012, this book is about two kids with cancer. It is expectedly sad in unexpected ways. It’s damn good.

Insurgent - Veronica Roth (Divergent #2) – One of the ‘Hunger Games’ post-apocalyptic/dystopian genres that popped up everywhere, the Divergent Series got picked up for movie rights this year and really surprised me. I think it’s my favorite series after the Hunger Games (in this genre) and I can’t wait for the 3rd novel. I loved diving into the relationship of Tris and Four in this book, and while Tris bothered me at some points, I think she had to go through all of her annoying emotions to really show what was going on.

That Boy – Jillian Dodd – Ms Dodd is an indie author and she is amazingly talented. Price is a huge factor in how I buy books and I waited patiently for ‘That Boy’ from Lendle.me and laughed out loud the whole time reading it. I LOVED reading about Jadyn’s life and it was just so perfect. Perfect, sad, funny, just like real life. Ms Dodd has since brought her prices down on most of her books to (what I feel are) acceptable prices. Her sequel of ‘That Wedding’ many of my friends LOVED but I read it when I was in my book funk and just thought it was more of the same. I will need to go back later and read it because Ms Dodd is a fantastic writer. She started a new series which I have the first book too, and plan on reading it when I’m on vacation next week.

Delirium – Lauren Oliver – (Published 2011) This is the last of the ‘best ofs’ and it was the one I didn’t love as much. I’m listing it because this series rose to the top in many of the ‘dystopian’ lists of the year. Ms Oliver writes beautifully but it may be too beautiful for me. The world building was excellent though, and the story was definitely unique. I liked Pandemonium, which was published in 2012, as well but I didn’t feel it rated 5 stars. I felt the Divergent Series was a stronger and better dystopian. I am listing it here because I did like Delirium (which I read in 2012) and if you like the genre, you may want to pick it up and read it.

New Adult

Hopeless – Colleen Hoover – My favorite author of the year wrote a THIRD book. I crossed my fingers, bought and read the day it came out, and cheered when I was finished. Slammed is still my favorite of the three but it was amazing. It’s completely new characters and is worth the $3.99 it’s listed for right now. I’m assuming this book will be picked up by a publisher soon so you should buy it… she hit the New York Times Bestseller list, she just posted today. (The book came out last week!) The first half was amazing, and the few comments that have come out about it talk about how the second half has a little too much psychology in it, which I may agree with. However, the way she writes just resonates with me, and hits my emotions, and I just loved loved loved this whole book. I also won a Kindle Fire from one of her promotions earlier during the year… which is the coolest thing EVER. I adore my precious Kindle Fire! It’s so much easier to read than on the iPad!

The Opportunist - Taryn Fischer – This is on sale right now. This was such a cracky book. It kept pulling and pushing you back and forth and I had to stay up so late to finish it. I was mad when I finished!

Easy – Tammara Webber – Another indie author that got picked up by a publisher so fast, Easy won the hearts of many people. It’s really strong on dealing with a hard issue and has such wonderful depth, grace, and emotion in it. Completely rocks.

Reason to Breath – Rebecca Donovan – I was so scared of Emma’s aunt this whole book. The emotions she evokes from you, keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. The completely crappy and annoying thing (I say this with love) is that the book ends in a cliff-hanger, so you better be ready to read #2 in the series. I didn’t love #2 as much but I HAD.TO.READ.IT because this one was just so good.

Thoughtless – S.C. Stephens – Speaking of emotions…this book is about cheating. So many people did not like it, thought the main character whined too much (she did), thought it was annoying (it was), and wanted to throw their e-reader across the room (yep, that too). But this book was like CRACK. And Kellan Kyle should be my book boyfriend! Ahh! Another book you may want to make sure you have the sequel bought and purchased, you will just want to keep reading more about these guys.

Between the Lines - Tammara Webber – It’s a book about movie stars. It’s pretty fantastic.
Good for You – Tammara Webber – The 3rd in the ‘Between the Lines’ series – you don’t have to read them together, it just makes it more satisfying. I think Good for You might be the strongest in the bunch but the whole series was fantastic.

Paranormal

I was a bad girl. People have raved and raved about these authors below and it took me SO LONG to finally read them. In order of ‘must-read’… I think…

Shadowfever – Karen Marie Moning (Published 2011) – This is the LAST book in the Fever series. Why this one and not all the books? Oh because… OH MY GOD, Barrons. I don’t know. The whole series is amazing, I sped through them so fast I don’t know where one starts and the other ends. One weekend in February I went on a Karen Marie Moning kick and I stayed in our hotel room (we were in Vegas) and just continuously read (borrowed from the e-library) while the husband happily played poker. I have re-read the 1st in the Fever series about 2 weeks ago and she just came out with Iced, which is it’s own series set in the same world. I’m afraid to read it because I REALLY want to re-read the whole series again first. I need to review! I just got #2 for Christmas that I want to re-read because I need more Barron’s in my life. This series is on the line of ‘I NEED in hardback’ so I can flip through the pages anytime I want… however, I almost want them all in e-reader so I can have a copy on every single electronic reader I have available to me. The options… I just can’t decide. I have #1 in ebook, #2 in paperback, and Iced in ebook right now. My OCD is rearing it’s head… Just go start with Darkfever and enjoy yourself. I recommended this series to my brother-in-law yesterday, if you like creepy Urban Fantasy, this is for you. Not (too) much sex in it for the first few books at least!

It is based in Ireland where the wall is coming down between humans and the Fae, and other mysterious things.

Magic Slays - Ilona Andrews (Published 2011) – Another series that I neglected. This one was #5 in the series. This one is pure Urban Fantasy for quite awhile (not much sex in it) and is just PURE awesome. However the romance in it just tingles my soul :) “Here, kitty kitty!” Love it. Start with Magic Bites. The series is awesome though.

Set in present day, where vampires, shapeshifters, fae, and humans all live together but did so when the magic came down. Sometimes the magic works, other times it doesn’t, but all different worlds of life need to live together.

Angelfall - Susan Ee – This is a hard one. First off, the book was AMAZING. It’s showing the world disintegrating because angels are coming down to destroy the earth. Oh no, they are NOT very good Angels at all. The world building is cool. There are incredibly creepy factors in  this book however I want to stab something once it ended because HELLO, CLIFFHANGER! And if that was not bad enough there is NO KNOWN DATE for #2! And it’s supposed to be a six book series! The movie rights were already purchased (I believe) and the author posts here and there on her blog just basically saying ‘everyone keeps yelling at me for #2′. Well no shit. Jeez. :) I think it should be against the law to have a cliffhanger and not even have a date for the next book! If she dies and doesn’t finish, I don’t know what I will do. I have to know more. I have to know what happens next. So there. Good book!

Pale Demon – Kim Harrison (Published 2011) – “Kim Harrison, this! Kim Harrison, that!” Is what I pretty much heard all the time when I talked about liking Urban Fantasy. Yes yes yes, I know I need to read her. So when a Mom friend passed me along the first 4 books, I decided to start them. Damn it, they were good. The first was slow but the last chapter had me continuing to the next one. After I finished #2, I went to the library and checked out the next 8 books and just sped through them. They are funny. They are entertaining. They HARDLY have any romance in them. Which pissed me off because of Trent. I have Pale Demon as my favorite novel of this bunch even though it’s the 9th in the series because we finally FINALLY get some closure on Trent. TRENT. I love Trent. I need more Trent. This series was great. Start with Dead Witch Walking.

Gunmetal Magic – Ilona Andrews – Kate Daniels World – I know I already posted about Kate Daniels above in the Magic Series, however this one is about Andrea, her co-worker…. co-owner? And it’s the first in it’s own series, although I hear we are going to get more Kate and Curran. This was actually published this year and it was fantastic. Her books just keep getting better.

Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs (Published 2008) – The Mercy Thompson series was the 4th series I want to talk about. They were all published in earlier years but I finally caught up. Wow, were they good. More vampires, shape shifters, fae, and walkers. The reason I’m putting Iron Kissed as my favorite is because Mercy had some really traumatizing things happen to her in this book. I cried. I mourned. I just fell in love with this series. The next book comes out in 2013 and I’m hoping it’s more focused on pack business. The last one was good but I didn’t get enough pack! Moon Called is the first book in the series.

Contemporary

I’ve Got Your Number - Sophia Kinsella – I fell in love with Sophia Kinsella with her Shopaholic series. She is hysterically, laugh out loud, funny. I recommend everything she has written so far and her latest, published in Feb of 2012 is no exception!

On the Island – Tracey Garvis-Graves – Last but not least is another one of my indie authors from my bookclub who wrote a fabulous book and got pushed to the big time publishers! Completely worth it! A school tutor and her 16 year old charge crash in a small plane and have to live on an island for… quite a long time. I’ll let you read it to find out. Loved it. I avoided it for the longest time because I was like EWWW, the age difference! It worked though. I was glad I tried something I was afraid to read because it really pushed on my emotions and let me accept something new. Highly recommend!

 

FINALLY…

There were SO MANY books that I missed! I’m going to post a few of my favorite ‘Top 2012 Books’ posts that I have come across in the last few days. All of these are books that I REALLY want to read, or highly agree with their recommendations! So check ‘em out! And tell me what YOUR favorite book of 2012 was!

Mandi’s Fav’s of 2012 – OH my god, you have to read her weekly Top 10. She is hysterical. I love her recommendations though, I seriously can’t wait to read Iced! I have heard SO MUCH about Tiffany Reiz too, I need to check her out. Tessa Dare is already in my TBR pile. Kit Rocha? Dystopian Romance? It’s gotten so many great reviews. I’m scared to read it. Ruthie Knox WAS good, I only read one, I need to read the others!

Tori’s Favs – Kingmakers! I need to check them out!

Jane’s Top 10 – I just bought Pushing the Limits, I’m so excited.

Kati’s Top 10 – I still need to READ Archangel’s Storm! I adore Nalini Singh but I miss Elena. And Kristin Ashely, everyone RAVES about her. I must try Motorcycle Man!

Janine’s Top 10 – I still need to read Graceling! I also purchased the first in the series of Ben Aaronovitch for the husband as I have heard so many great things!

MyKeeperShelf - Oh Kresley Cole. I want to read her! I also tried the first of Stacia Kane and I really need to move to the next book. It was interesting and everyone says they get better. Tough. That series was really harsh. Drug addicts and killing people but the main characters are strangely appealing…

RiffsandReviews – The Reverants look amazing. Oh, also Julia Kagawa… and Hex Hall? I’ve heard so many great things about Hex Hall!

That’s it, whew! How many books can I read in 2013?? Hopefully just about the same! I don’t want to burn out!

Book Crazy Avon Addict Blog Hop (Includes Giveaway!)

Yep, call me book crazy. I think anyone who knows me at all, or has visited this site, already knows that though.

Earlier this year I was selected to be an “Avon Addict” which meant I got early access to amazing books, the ability to chat with other book lovers, and a community of awesome people that I was introduced too. Ooh, not to mention fantastically amazing parties at Mastro’s in Newport Beach! (I was just lucky RWA was held in Anaheim this year!)

Every month we would receive this huge box of books, along with extra to share with other book lovers.

Some of my very favorite authors on my ‘must read‘ shelf are published with Avon.

Julia Quinn – Her books always make me laugh out loud. My old favorite is Romancing Mr Bridgerton. She is quite famous for being one of the first authors to do an 8 book series on all the siblings in her world. Her latest novels are amazingly sweet and funny and she continues to get better and better.

Eloisa James – It’s like Sex in the City in the Regency Period. So awesome. She can’t write a bad book. She even wrote a book about living in Paris for a year and that was fantastic.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips – She writes contemporary romance and I still remember her ‘cereal-killer’ joke in Nobody’s Baby but Mine. Makes me laugh every time but her latest novel just hit all the right buttons.

While I love these ladies, lately I have been reading a lot of Paranormal and New Adult.

The New Adult craze has hit me like a ton of bricks. So I’ve been moving away from historical and regency a bit. The greatest thing about Avon is that they are in all book genres. I’m previewing an amazing book called Losing It right now

Paranormal? Ahh, Avon has two crack-like series that I just can’t get away from.

The first one is Juliana Stone’s League of Guardian’s which is new out this year and just captured my interest. With sorcerers, vampires, witches, the fallen, and warriors protecting the world… well, I love reading about new worlds. You throw in all the usual love, betrayal, angst but put it in a fantastic new world. Yea, I love it.

My ABSOLUTE favorite lately though is Joss Ware. Beyond the Night came out in 2010 with video trailers, a website, and all this cool stuff. Book #2 and #3 came out within the next month or two. I was HOOKED.

So imagine that floods, earthquakes, everything like that came through and adjusted the wold world. Las Vegas has a coastal beach view. The earth is off it’s axis. It’s the apocalypse. However, a group of men who were cave hunting in Sedona somehow were buried and went into a deep sleep… for FIFTY YEARS. They came out unharmed but with some peculiar new abilities. Finding out about their new world was their first priority, and finding out about a mysterious group of strangers who also have special abilities. As well as finding out more about how exactly the ‘end of the world’ was helped along by these mysterious Strangers.

It’s a great world. Great series. I highly recommend it. I also love the fact that a lot of these books are on sale right now, Kindle version, for $4.74 instead of $7.99 so you should rush and go buy them! They rock!

 

WINNER: Emily M – you won! I emailed you!

GIVEAWAY: Paperback version of Book 1 (Beyond the Night) in the Envy Chronicles by Joss Ware. UNLESS, you have already read it, in which case, let me know which one you haven’t read yet (that is currently published) and that one will be sent out, courtesy of Avon Publishing/Harper Collins!

Please comment below with your favorite paranormal/apocalyptic/fantasy book that you have read lately to be entered to win.

Give a second comment if you went to Facebook and ‘liked’ Avon Romance because they rock, have great contests, and give away free books all the time.

Annnddd, tomorrow be sure to visit Alpha Hero’s to learn more about Avon Addicts and another possible giveaway. :) We are doing a full month of Avon Craziness! Or visit the full list for the entire month of madness.

Details: Contest ends at midnight, December 6th. Winner will be emailed and asked for their mailing address. No babies harmed in the writing of this blog. Smiles required. Have a happy holiday!

 

Avon Romance Publishing Party

Mastro’s. Newport Beach. Dry ice martinis. This was the setting of the Avon Romance Publishing party.

I walked in and was immediately welcomed SO warmly by Jessie, and they brought me to Pam. Seriously, they were so nice and amazing to me. It was reiterated several times how 8,000 people applied to be Avon Addicts and only 25 were choose for the first 6 month spot. WOW! Well, I REALLY love to read Avon books so I guess that showed in my application… haha! I’m still flabbergasted about how excited they continue to be about the Avon Addicts program when I’m just so excited to get these books on a monthly basis and be able to chat about them!

Back to the party. Lemon Drop Martinis were circling and I had to ask how I got one of those babies. They were not offered up at the regular bar but were circling the room. So a nice waiter found one for me! Lemon drops are not usually as good as apple martinis but dang, last night they were perfect.

I was getting pretty good at spying on name tags. Tangent: Which were the most amazing things EVER! They were MAGNET. It took me awhile to figure it out… but you just remove the magnet from the back, attach to your dress, and add the back on and no pin holes! Best invention ever.

Sophia Nash.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

As I was waiting to jump into SEPs conversation (she was talking quite a long time with someone showing her phone photos – seriously, the amount of times I noticed people ‘waiting’ to speak to other people was hilarious – pretty much cause I was doing it, I noticed everyone else!).

I ran into Elizabeth Lowell and her writing partner (honesty, I asked about his wife and I felt like he side-stepped my question – I have no idea if they are married or not!) but I had to tell her that her latest ‘Beautiful Sacrifice’ was so well researched, I always learn things from her novels! Then I had to blunder about and say that my favorite was this book, and I loved it, and her name was Cat, and she fell on the steps… der… what was the name? Well, she knew it – To the Ends of the Earth but I can only hope that she appreciated the love.

Then, I met Jennifer Bernard, whom I was passed the book through the Avon Addicts club and her next anthology sounds super awesome (the LA Firemen going to help in a CO wildfire scenario!) and they had Eric the Fireman representing! Yes, he was cheesy beefcake for the ladies of Avon but never fear, Avon donated generously to the LA Fire Fund (or whatever the actual name was) and Eric was an actual Fireman from LA and super witty and hysterical about the fact all us ladies were getting our pictures with him. :) Well, who could resist? Not I…

Kristi & Eric the Fireman

Tessa Dare – whose historical novels are fantastic – and who is so nice. She ended up winning a RITA the next night (the equivalent to the Oscars!).

Then I saw Sarah Maclean, whose stories I love. She introduced me to Toni Blake, and I got super confused because she said she wrote suspense novels and I was trying to place ‘suspense’ novels in my head and thinking the name was familiar, and I just looked her up and I have totally read one of her books and I have two others in my TBR pile and I do not think of those as ‘suspense’. Whoops. Oh well.

Julie Ann Long, I totally fan girl’d over her stuff.

I saw Julia Quinn, who I have met several times and who is my hand down favorite historical writer. Okay, maybe not favorite. Because I do love Eloisa James… and Judith McNaught.. and Jude Deveraux. Anyway. I have several signed things from her PLUS I got to sit next to her at dinner at the 2012 RomCon in Denver so I just smiled and said, I love your stuff! And your purse!

So many more. It was a great night and I was so happy to be there!

Quick Book Rec’s

My friend Melissa from my online book club did a post of her favorite reads recently. Since we are in the same book club and all the members tend to gravitate to whatever is being posted about… I have recently read ALL of these books and they are ALL fantastic!

The Significance and DarkFever series I actually read in 2012. I need to do a round-up of what I have been loving lately but right now, it’s easier to link to Melissa’s!

I have been on a Young Adult (YA) and Paranormal and Urban Fantasy kick lately. I keep trying to go back to my lovely historical romances but I just can’t get hooked back in. I have a few that are on my reader just waiting for me to open them up though!

I also was selected as an Avon Addict recently which means… FREE BOOKS and free advance reader copies which is so exciting, I can’t even tell you. Two recent reads I loved from Avon are:

The Rancher and The Rock Star - which is an awesome contemporary with… ya, a Rock Star and a Rancher :) Random combination but it totally works.

Wrong Side of Hell – which just jumped right on my paranormal kick and I LOVED this book. I didn’t realize at first that it was a novella, which is always a surprise at the ending (why did it END? GIVE ME MORE!) but always a good problem to have. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series when it comes out.

I’m struggling through another read and it’s just not clicking with me, which is unfortunate. On the upside, I have tons more to get through so that is always fun!

If you are on GoodReads, come find me but only if you like romance novels! Otherwise, I’ll just completely irritate you instead :)

 

Review: Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh

Somehow the gods were smiling upon me and gave me the opportunity to read two super amazing ARCs this month. The one I’m talking about today is Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh.

The 4th book in the Guild Hunter’s series changes to feature Dmitri, Archangel Raphael’s 2nd-in-command at the angel towers. While the 3 previous books were all about Elena and Raphael, I was not scared to see how this 4th book would turn out because I love the entire world and I’m happy she is continuing it.  Elena and Raphael contributed to this book in small parts and I was happy to see them.

Dmitri definitely stole the show. A very dark and dangerous vampire, his history is revealed along with the herioine, Honor who is the perfect counterpart to Dmitri. Even though I have read the previous books multiple times, I completely forgot about how Dmitri chased down Elena in the first book and how very dangerous he is.  He was not happy about Raphael and Elena and this book really dives into his history and why that is so.  It was a page-turner to see how Raphael met Dmitri and heart-clenching to see why he is the way he is.

The tension was delicious and those small little peeks where we were taken into his history and the way he interacts with Honor was awesome.

This book will give you happy sighs as you read through it and keep you up until 2am. I can’t say anything better about it. I also can’t wait until Bluebell’s book! I am torn between wanting more Elena and Raphael… or wanting to see more Dmitri and Honor… but I think I know where Bluebell is being taken and I can’t wait to read that story too!

This book should be on your auto-buy list, have fun reading it!

Review: Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue: A Cynster Novel

I was thrilled when I saw Pam from Avon post on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in previewing the new Stephanie Laurens book. Um, yes! She is one of my ‘Must Read’ authors and up in my special bookcase so I would love to get my grubby hands on that ebook! Especially a full month early… I did a little dance as I downloaded it!

Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue is the 1st in a new trilogy yet it’s the 16th Cynster novel. If you haven’t read Laurens before, don’t fret, you can easily start with this one.

The book starts quick and captures your attention. I must admit I had to flip back to the beginning (scroll back, rather…) and read it again to try and figure out who exactly was speaking in the prologue.

Let’s give the recap on what the book is about (because I’m terrible at recapping!)

You are cordially invited to the wedding of Miss Heather Cynster . . . but not before she encounters kidnappers, danger, and a daring rescue at the hands of Viscount Breckenridge.

Determined to hunt down her very own hero, one who will sweep her off her feet and into wedded bliss, and despairing of finding him in London’s staid ballrooms, Heather Cynster steps out of her safe world and boldly attends a racy soiree.

But her promising hunt is ruined by the supremely interfering Viscount Breckenridge, who whisks her out of scandal—and straight into danger, when a mysterious enemy seizes her, bundles her into a coach, and conveys her out of London.

Now it’s up to the notorious Breckenridge to prove himself the hero she’s been searching for all along . . .

And coming next month, more unforgettable romance in the Cynster Sisters Trilogy.

The first few chapters had me hooked. Heather was taken away in a coach yet there was a maid/chaperone to watch over her so technically they were keeping it all very proper. Yet, when Heather finds out that Viscount Breckenridge has followed her to rescue her, she tells him that she can’t leave. She needs to find out who is behind this because she wasn’t sure that she was the actual target. If her cousins/sister could be harmed, well, she had to find out what was going on.  Completely sequel bait but I’m along for the ride.

The Cynster’s are a beloved family that are quite distinctive in Laurens world. My favorite Cynster novel is ‘A Secret Love’ but I really love that ‘friends become lovers’ trope.  The current novel, Breckenridge, has a little of the same vibe but most of it is tied up in the kidnapping so it has a different tension.

A few of the things I didn’t like. It was hard to believe that she wouldn’t just leave. Why in the world would you keep staying with your kidnappers? Get out of there! She gave good reasons though.  Once they did in fact escape, Laurens takes you on quite a jaunt in a few different ways. It gets a little tedious as it goes back and forth to keep the tension going in the last half of the book. It did give her an opportunities to get in quite a few sexy-times, so I guess there is that…  She also throws in a little fate/magic which seems is just done to bring us some closure with a few of the past characters. It felt a little too much which is why I didn’t completely love this novel.

Having said that, I really like how Stephanie Laurens writes. She is a solid writer and takes you deliberately through every feeling and thought.

A hard body swung around the corner and plowed into her.

She stumbled back. Hard hands grabbed her, holding her upright.

Her heart leapt to her throat. She looked up, saw only darkness. She opened her mouth –

A palm slapped over her lips. A steely arm locked around her-locked her against a large, adamantine male body; she couldn’t even squirm.

Her sense scrambled. Strength, male heat, muscled hardness engulfed her.

Then a virulent curse singed her ears.

And she realized who’d captured her.

Laurens also uses crazy language. Adamintine? My WordPress spell check doesn’t even recognize that word! She tends to do that in all her novels, so it is like an exciting learning experience.

Through the dark, he looked at her.

She couldn’t see his eyes, but his gaze was so intent, so intense that she could feel…

Her heart started thudding, beating heavier, deeper.

Her sense expanded, alert in a wholly unfamiliar way.

He looked at her…looked at her.

Primitive instinct riffled the delicate hairs at her nape.

Abruptly he raised his head, straightened, stepped back. “Come on.”

It’s all very deliberate. So the tension is very sizzling.

I was thrilled to get a chance to read this book early, as I would have purchased it anyway. If you get the chance to read this novel, or any of Stephanie Laurens, I highly recommend it. It comes out August 30, 2011!

March Madness – Round 2

You know those crazy people who freak out about those basketball games during March Madness? Yea, I have NO idea what those crazies are talking about.

But DABWAHA, now that is a different story!

Ok, ok, I’m crazy addicted to romance novels and my favorite bloggers put up DABWAHA every March Madness and we do a tourney. 64 books, only ONE can win it all.

I’m going to make this short. Go to DABWAHA RIGHT NOW (until midnight on 3/18 – central time – so 11PM PST) and vote for Iron Duke. I have it going ALL THE WAY, BABY!

And if you DO go vote? Go to Melijean Brook’s website and tell her you voted for Iron Duke. If it wins the whole thing she is giving away her prize of a white iPad!!! YES! SHE ROCKS!

While you are voting for Iron Duke, today on March 18th, go ahead and vote for:
Holiday Sparks and Her Best Friend in the 1st and 3rd polls on this page. The 2nd poll I didn’t pick either book *pouts* so I’m not sure who I want to win.

Yay! Go DABWAHA!

A Lot Like Love: Julie James

Huzzah! I can not WAIT for this book to come out. You may remember (okay, you won’t) my fabulous review of Just the Sexiest Man Alive but I adored her first book, her second, third, and I can’t wait for her next book to come out.

These are contemporary romances and they are funny, touching, and fantastic reads. Her newest book which comes out on March 1st (so close!) is about an FBI sting operation and the heroine runs a wine store! How nice, especially now that I am so involved with wine. Okay, wine racks but still.

Go take a look and browse through her website. You can read some free excerpts and see if you like it!

* Yes, I’m totally sick and I recorded this but I wanted to test out my webcam with my laptop speaker. :) I’m also on my Z-Pack now so hopefully I will be ON THE MEND!

Some Fabulous Romance Reads

Just a quick note on what I have read in the past few weeks. I keep going on and off reading books because I have so much going on but when I start a book, and it turns good… I always have to finish it!

Courtney Milan – Trial by Desire

This is Courtney Milan’s second book and it did not disappoint. I have been waiting to read this book and when I won it from Courtney on Twitter, it just made it all the sweeter! Once I received it, I opened it right up and dove in.  It was different that all of the other traditional historicals. I loved the POV from both characters. The characteristics, the depth, the writing, everything was wonderful. She is quickly making a spot on my MUST READ list and the excerpt she gave for her THIRD book looks even better. You should definitely have this book on your list, I love it!

Nalini Singh – Bonds of Justice

I am reading this right now. I adore Nalini Singh. I really love her new angel series (I have read it three times already) but her Psy series is really fabulous. This is the 8th book in the Psy series, which is a futuristic series and is pretty darn amazing.

Phillipa Gregory – The Red Queen

The Red Queen is the second in a trilogy of books from Gregory about the Cousins War. It had been awhile since I read the first one, the White Queen, so it took me about half the book to figure out it was covering the same time, just a different person. I really LOVE Gregory and all the amazing details she puts into her stories. I have a few more around that time that I need to start reading again.

Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway – The Lady Most Likely

I can not WAIT for this book to come out. Three of my favorite authors and Quinn and James are both in my ‘favorite’ bookshelf (I love Brockway too though!). This is like an anthology but they are all writing about the same party where an Earl is looking to get married and the women he keeps going after, pair up with other men. Each story obviously told by the different author. It’s coming out right after Christmas and I will be at Borders with my Borders Bucks on the 28th waiting to buy it!

New Books to Read

You would think I wouldn’t need any new books to read. I have at least 40 books in my TBR pile that I should pick up and read, I’m constantly getting library book notices from items I have on hold, and yet all these new fabulous books are coming out on a MONTHLY BASIS that I MUST HAVE. Eek!

I’m attempting to be good and simply put them on my list though. Yesterday I walked through Barnes & Noble looking for Kristan Higgin’s latest. She is an amazing writer and I NEEDED TO HAVE IT. Yet, they didn’t have it anywhere. Which was so annoying.  I love Borders more than B&N but I have a gift certificate to B&N that I needed to use. Borders at least makes an effort to get new releases out on their shelves the day of release. B&N doesn’t even bother. I’ve gone to 2 or 3 stores before on release day and they won’t have them in until DAYS after. Madness!

What I did pass by was The Red Queen, the new Phillipa Gregory novel (The Boleyn Girl). Love her. Gregory writes simply amazing historical novels. Scarlet Nights which is a Jude Deveraux Edilean novel but while I adore Deveraux, I don’t really like her newest stuff as much as her older books. I passed by Waterbound by Christine Feehan (new series that goes along with the 7 Drake Sisters), Kiss Me If You Can by Carly Phillips (new series by Carly, adore her!), 3 Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare (the last of her trilogy which was SO GOOD!), Summer Brides which is a novella of some awesome authors.

There were at least 3 or 5 other ones that were authors I’ve read and enjoyed before. The ones up above? Those are authors that I LOVE. I have most all of their books and I WANT WANT WANT.  Yet, I held back.

I did end up picking Suzanne Brockman’s re-release of Infamous since I had not read it yet and Eloisa James’s Kiss of Midnight because these guys are in my treasured bookshelf. Yet I then glimpsed the line which was at least 10+ people long. So I put them back.

I am looking forward to Mockingjay by Susanne Collins. It’s the end of her trilogy and if you haven’t read Hunger Games… you are missing out. It’s young adult but it ROCKS.

Also coming out is another Fool’s Gold novel by Susan Mallery and I just finished up her first two which were great! I see that Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle, Love Me If You Dare which is Carly Phillips 2nd in her newest installment (but I would have to buy the first one, eek!), Just One Taste by Louise Edwards who is hysterically funny, the Firebrand by Susan Wiggs (great author), and tons more.

See my problem? Plus the fact that I am lately only reading one or two books a WEEK instead of seven or eight…. Means that I will probably have tons of books for my Christmas list! ha!

We are off to have tons of fun today with the family. Enjoy your weekend!

A Visit to RomCom in Denver, CO

Last weekend was a super late birthday present from the husband to me. A trip to Denver for the first RomCon! What’s RomCon, you ask? Why just the new Romantic Convention for readers to meet all their A list authors! I was super excited to find out that Julia Quinn, Nalini Singh, Julie James, Susan Mallery, Elizabeth Boyle, Carly Phillips, Lori Foster, Christine Feehan (to just name a FEW) were going to be there.  I was in fan girl heaven.

We arrived on Friday and with the time change, I wasn’t able to help put the kids to bed (heard it was a little difficult though… hehe) and drove over to the convention center to go to a super special Blogger party. Since I have this fancy thing and a twitter account that I use regularly, I was invited and was it awesome! There was a huge bag of books waiting for me at my seat and I joined a big table full of crazy book lovers just like me.  Perfect!

The best part was that Julia Quinn was there and I got a fresh copy of one of her older books (mine are all destroyed) and I was able to have her sign her latest book, 10 Things I Love About You, right then.  Ahhh… heaven!

RomCon Swag

One of the best parts was meeting all these new people that loved romance novels just as much as I do. I’m usually pretty shy at these things but the whole weekend I had no problems sitting down next to other women and chatting with them about my favorite authors and getting some great recommendations back.

The next morning I had a ticket to go to an ‘intimate chat’ with Carly Phillips. I was introduced to Carly a few years back when one of her books was recommended by Kelly Ripa for her book club and it immediately shot to #1 of the Best Seller list. I was hooked. It was great to be in a small room with about 15 other people and be able to talk to her about her ideas, new books, and how she was published.

After that I speed dated a few authors, sat in on the Suspence Mix and Mingle which was awesome, walked through the book fair and met all the authors. There was a quiet period after lunch and I walked in to the restaurant at the hotel intending to eat something and read a little of my latest Nora Roberts when a woman whom I had met earlier flagged me down to have lunch with her and two other people. We had such a nice time at lunch discussing (again) all of our favorite books! It was so nice to be around people… JUST LIKE ME! haha.

Anyway, after lunch was another session where I had a special ticket to the Paranomal Author tea. Again, more free books and we got to walk around getting all the different authors to sign a little scavenger hunt deal. It wasn’t the best session but it was cool because I got to fan girl Nalini Singh (see pic below) and she showed me the cover art of her next Archangel book coming out next year. Christine Feenhan was there and she has written SO many books which are mostly fabulous and I also got a new Jeannine Frost and CL Wilson whom I’m told I have to read.

Fan girl'ing Nalini Singh

The last session of the day was Blog, Oh Blogger hosted by Sue Grimshaw of Borders True Romance fame, Sarah from Smart Bitches, Jane from Dear Author, and eek who was there? I love her books but I’m blanking on the name.  Anyway, I LOVE reading Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Dear Author because they tell it like it is. They give scathing reviews on books when it’s needed and heaps of praise when it’s much deserved. Plus all sorts of fun eye candy and hysterical links and info. So grabbing a picture with them was super fun.

Kristi, Sarah from Smart Bitches and Jane from Dear Author

At dinner that night, I got to sit at…. JULIA QUINN’S table! Purely by accident… but she is so incredibly friendly and sweet. Really, everyone there was. It was just such a great experience throughout the whole show. Here is what I ended up with after the show… Over 31 books, great recommendations, and lots of new friends.

Crazy books

Now wait until you hear how the REST of the trip went because the kiddos came with us!