Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro





rating: 4.0/5.0






From Goodreads.com:
Kim, a breathtakingly beautiful supermodel on a photo shoot in Hawaii, disappears. Fearing the worst, her parents travel to Hawaii to investigate for themselves, never expecting the horror that awaits them.

LA Times reporter Ben Hawkins is conducting his own research into the case, hoping to help the victim and get an idea for his next bestseller. With no leads and no closer to uncovering the kidnapper's identity than when he stepped off the plane, Ben gets a shocking visit that pushes him into an impossible-to-resist deal with the devil.

A heart-pounding story of fear and desire, SWIMSUIT transports readers to a chilling new territory where the collision of beauty and murder transforms paradise into a hell of unspeakable horrors.
I am a big James Patterson fan. I have read his books since Along Came a Spider and kept up with the new releases and then went back and read his earlier books. I love the Alex Cross series and the Women's Murder Club and the standalones. So I was thrilled to get an early copy of his newest standalone - Swimsuit from Miriam Parker.

Swimsuit does not disappoint either. From the first page I was sucked into Ben's story of how he came across Henri and the missing swimsuit model Kim.

Ben is a very compassionate character as are Kim's parents and Ben's girlfriend Amanda. This is one of the things I really liked about the novel - Ben is the ordinary guy, the caring guy, he's not a tough guy, he's just a guy who wants to do what is right and help people. He just gets thrown into an insane set of circumstances.

The story moves along quickly and doesn't lose you as some have in the past. I was able to follow along, but not guess the next thing that happened. There were quite a few twists and turns and the usual James Patterson "evilness" in the serial killer. He just does serial killers the best. They are always twisted and egotistical and stand out against the good-guy, who is usually just an average guy, like Ben.

If you like the thriller genre then I encourage you to pick up Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Patreo - it will not disappoint, it may make you lose sleep from trying to finish it, but I don't think it will disappoint. You will find great suspense, evil bad guys, compassionate good guys and a great story to follow along with.


Binding: Hardcover
On-sale Date: June 30, 2009
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Pages: 400

Teaser Tuesday - June 30

teasertuesdays31

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Charlie ordered a dessert wine and the entire dessert menu: zuccotto, pralines and milk, chocolate mousse, Lanai bananas carmelized by the waiter at the tble. The delicious fragrance of burnt sugar made him hungry all over again. He looked at the girl, and she was a girl now, sweet and vulnerable and available to him.

Four thousand dollars had been well spent, even if he stopped right now.

But he didn't.
From Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro which I should finish in a little while - it's a wild ride.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Winner - The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas


The Winner of the copy of The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas (review here) is:

Jess!

Congrats Jess - I have emailed the winner and will get her address to Miriam Parker with Hachette who so kindly offered this giveaway so I could keep my copy of this outstanding book!

What Are You Reading Monday - June 29th


Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see J.Kaye's Book Blog and join in!

Books Completed Last Week:


Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Nobody Does It Better by Cecily Von Ziegesar - Review

A good reading week but not very productive - something about neurosurgery takes a lot of reading time away - but now that I'm recovering I plan to make up some of that time!

Reading Now:
Gifts of War by MacKenzie Ford - received as an ARC - this is wonderful and I should finish today.
Reunion in Death by J.D. Robb - my current mp3 player audiobook
Uglies by Scott Westerfield - my current computer audiobook
All That Glitters by Nicole O'Dell - a young adult "interactive" book from Barbour Publishing

Next:
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - I have heard wonderful things about htis
I Apologize by Bradley Booth - this looks like a tearjerker and I can't wait to read it
Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro - book from Miriam Parker - see my giveaway here.

Summary -
2 books read last week. Did several reviews and posted my first author interview and a new contest - pretty good for only a partial week!

Mailbox Monday - June 29th



Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. To see this weeks list of participants go to The Printed Page.

I didn't think I would be here this week to make this post on Marcia's blog, but I'm here - I underwent neurosurgery on Friday at Duke University Hospital and was able to come home yesterday! What a wonderful blessing and that is a wonderful hospital full of caring nurses, doctors and staff.

I'm now into recovery time, which allows more blogging, reading blog and just general reading time over the next few weeks.

ARCs of:

undiscovered gyrl by Allison Burnett - pub date: August 11, 2009 - Vintage Paperback

Only on the internet can you have so many friends and be so lonely.
Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film professor.

Katie chronicles her adventures in an anonymous blog, telling strangers her innermost desires, shames, and thrills. But when Dan stops taking her calls, when her alcoholic father suffers a terrible fall, and when she finds herself drawn into a dangerous new relationship, Katie's fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge.
Sexually frank, often heartbreaking, and bursting with devilish humor, Undiscovered Gyrl is an extraordinarily accomplished novel of identity, voyeurism, and deceit.

Red to Black by Alex Dryden

A spy thriller, a love story and a chilling look at a resurgent superpower...At the dawn of the new millennium, Finn, an MI6 spy, and Anna, a colonel of the KGB, have been sent to spy on each other. Instead they find a love that becomes to only truth they can trust. A source deep within the Kremlin tells Finn of a plan, hatched in the depths of the Cold War, to dismantle the edifice of the communist state and to bring about the rise of a new imperium within Russia: a plan to control the whole of Europe. Finn's masters in London are blinded by the new wealth pouring out of Russia and he must leave the Service and work in secrecy to uncover the deadly threat it poses to the freedom of every one of us.

Books for Review:

Confessions of a Trauma Junkie: My Life as a Nurse Paramedic by Sherry Jones Mayo RN, EMTP, NCCM - received this from the author. This looks very interesting and I can't wait to read it.

Share the innermost feelings of emergency services workers as they encounter trauma, tragedy, redemption, and even a little humor. Sherry Jones Mayo has been an Emergency Medical Technician, Emergerncy Room Nurse, and an on-scene critical incident debriefer for Hurricane Katrina. Most people who have observed or experienced physical, mental or emotional crisis have single perspectives. This book allows readers to stand on both sides of the gurney; it details a progression from innocence to enlightened caregiver to burnout, glimpsing into each stage personally and professionally.

Giveaway Wins:

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins - I won this audiobook on CD from Mari at MariReads

Sometimes you don't wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same. Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act- suicide. Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade. Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills. And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself. In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

From Booksfree I received:

Nothing Can Keep Us Together (Gossip Girl #8) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Wicked Burn by Beth Kery

And from Paperbackswap I received:
Some more sewing books and another herb book

Another wonderful week - now to read all of this while I'm in recovery for the next few weeks.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: Nobody Does It Better - Gossip Girl #7


Nobody Does It Better by Cecily Von Ziegesar






rating: 4.0/5.0







From Amazon.com:
The uptown girls are headed downtown as Serena and Jenny take on their new fabulous roles as rock-star model girlfriends of New York's hottest band, The Raves. Meanwhile, Dan is too busy drowning his sorrows in empty bottles to notice a mysterious French beauty who has a penchant for dirty, Jim Morrison-wannabe lead singers. Blair takes residence at the Plaza to think about her future. Will she become a gun-toting international spy or Manhattan's snobbiest society hostess? Decisions are so difficult! Sounds like everyone needs a day off at the spa. And Senior Spa Day promises to serve up further doses of scandal for New York's busiest private-school vixens.
Lots is going on in this one as we draw nearer and nearer to graduation of those who we have gotten to know in the first 6 books of the Gossip Girl series. There is Blair, Serena, Nate, Chuck, Jenny, Dan, and Vanessa who take on the starring roles and new and unusual side characters introduced. This book features The Raves lead guitarist as Serena rumored boyfriend and it also finds both Jenny and Serena modeling together.

There is the usual drama with Blair who is back with Nate again. And it all ends with Senior Spa Weekend which branches off of Senior Skip Day and while it's supposed to be all girl - you know the boys are going to be there.

I really enjoyed this installment, better than I have the last few. Things have picked up and mainly feature those who are dear to us. College decisions have been made and most of the seniors are now just kicking back. But for those that aren't in yet, they go to some interesting extremes as usual.

If you like this series, then keep it up - this is a fun book. If you are just getting started on the series, hang on tight - it's a wild ride.

Binding: Trade paperback
On-sale Date: May 2005
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 256

Buy Nobody Does it Better at IndieBound

Buy Nobody Does it Better at Amazon.com

Friday, June 26, 2009

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann


Wake by Lisa McMann





rating: 4.0/5.0











From the back of the book:
Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....

This is a very interesting young adult read. It moves very fast. Since the paranormal only involves dreams, it doesn't take much setup for this book and that makes it easy to get right into the story. I liked getting to know Janie and watching her grow in her ability. I also liked her interaction with her best friend and neighbor Carrie and of course the snobby girl that inhabits all high schools, Melinda. I found Janie's mom sad, but she only plays a minor role (and that in itself is sad). I really like Cabel, though he was shrouded in mystery a lot of the book. The dreams that Janie is sucked into can be anything from amusing (the typical naked in front of a class) to terrifying.

I didn't find the book predictable at all - it kept taking me by surprise and I really enjoyed reading it. I am looking forward to learning more about Janie and Cabel and the other adventures they are in in Lisa McMann's next book in the series, Fade which came out in February.

I think this is a good, easy-to-read series for young adults and older adults alike.


Binding: Trade paperback
On-sale Date: December 23, 2008
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 224

Buy Wake at IndieBound
Buy Wake at Amazon.com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review and Giveaway: The Texas Billionaire's Bride by Crystal Green


The Texas Billionaire's Bride by Crystal Green

Genre: Romance (Silhouette Special Edition)
Series: The Foleys and The McCords (book 1)










Rating: 4.5/5.0





Melanie Grandy grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. She worked her way through school and has made a name for herself as a nanny. Now she is given the opportunity to become a nanny to Olivia Foley, the only daughter of Texas businessman Zane Foley. The is the opportunity of a lifetime for her. Olivia seems to go through nannies rather quickly, so this is a great proving ground for Melanie. It is also a perk to the job that Zane Foley is very handsome, a fact that Melanie is well aware of.

Zane is a quiet man. He conducts his business and stays out of the public eye. His daughter Olivia needs a new nanny and Melanie is well-qualified for the job. He also likes her spunk and hopes that she will be the one that finally stays with his daughter. He worries about his daughter and wants the best for her. He is also attracted to Melanie, but as her boss and also for himself he will not act on that attraction.

But not all is as seems for either Melanie or Zane. Melanie quickly learns of problems in the family, she wants to fix them for Olivia's sake and she just can't help her attraction to Zane. Her spunk is what quickly lands her in his sight and around him frequently. And when Melanie and Zane are around each other sparks start to fly.

I enjoyed watching the relationship of Melanie and Zane develop. They both felt the attraction but did not feel right to act on it (the employer/employee angle plus other secrets that they both have). The makeover scene is wonderful and Olivia fits into everything perfectly. Seeing the faults of both Zane and Melanie endear them as characters to you. I really felt them, their emotions, as I read about them. They came to life for me. I think almost everyone can identify in some way with Melanie. She's the woman most women want to be - strong, yet feminine and when she sets her mind to something she will do everything she can to get it. Yet she has insecurities too. All this deep layering of emotions make the book very real and enjoyable.

This is the first in The Foleys and The McCords series and it sort of sets the stage between the two families, why there is a rivalry and why the rivalry is coming back into play after years of a kind of truce. You learn about the Magdalena Diamond which figures prominently in the arcing storyline of the series. All of this not only makes The Texas Billionaire's Bride a very interesting book, but also piques your interest in continuing the series. Not only that but I would like to see a little more of Zane and Melanie later on and learn more about the family members introduced in The Texas Billionaire's Bride.

In short, this is a book you should run out and grab then sit in the sunshine for the summer afternoon and get to know Zane and Melanie. Watch them fall in love and just enjoy. (That is what I did).

Thank you Crystal Green for sending me this wonderful book.

Publisher: Silhouette
Release Date: July 2009
Pages: 210
Format: paperback

Buy The Texas Billionaire's Bride at eHarlequin.com
Buy The Texas Billionaire's Bride at Amazon.com

For the giveaway - the author Crystal Green has graciously offered to send out a copy of The Texas Billionaire's Bride (Book 1 in The Foleys and The McCords) to one lucky commenter on this blog. Thank you Crystal for offering this giveaway!

Contest will run through Friday July 10th at midnight and I'll draw the winner and post by Monday the 13th. Giveaway is open only to the U.S. and Canada. For entries:

  1. Leave a comment (and make sure I have a way to contact you)
  2. Become a follower or if you are already a follower let me know (for an additional entry)
  3. Follow me on twitter (see sidebar for link or I am cfulcher)
  4. Twitter about the contest (use @cfulcher so I will see it) and let me know about it (for an additional entry)
  5. Blog about the contest, sidebar mentions are fine (for an additional entry)
  6. Tell me if you have read any Crystal Green/Chris Marie Green books before and what they were.
So there are 6 ways to enter! Good luck.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Author Interview: Crystal Green


In honor of Crystal Green's July Silhouette Special Edition release of The Texas Billionaire's Bride, she allowed me to ask her some questions for my first author interview. So read on to hear about her current book and learn a little more about her. Her official bio is on her website here. Her website where you can learn more about her books is here.

  • What was the first book you sold? How did you find out it was sold and how did you celebrate?


Crystal Green: My first book was a Silhouette Special Edition, too, and I sold it back during my teaching days. It was called BELOVED BACHELOR DAD, and I got “the call” after I came home from work. I was stunned for about twenty-four hours. I even thought it was a cosmic joke until they started talking contracts, numbers, and the dreaded revision! I celebrated by buying a nice bottle of wine and drinking it with my family.

  • What are your favorite types of books to read? Do you get much chance to read?



Crystal Green: I try to find time to read because I’ve found that it makes me much happier in general. It fulfills something that I don’t get anywhere else, maybe because it’s private time where I can relax and explore other dimensions. I read just about everything, but when I’m deep into a project, I’ll concentrate on books that make me push my thinking on the subject I’m writing about. For instance, I just finished writing one of my Vampire Babylon books and I was reading nonfiction about female rage as well as Jungian psychology applied to fairy tales. (Gah! But it’s all very interesting, LOL. Really.) All of that just helped me find out more about these characters I’ve written about for six books now. But I also love romances (I grew up with historicals!), urban fantasy, and “bestsellers.” I like non-fiction, too, just so I can find out more about the world.


Me: Female rage and Jungian psychology - definitely interesting :) But hey if it helps you write your books I'm all for it!

  • What is your favorite room in your house?


Crystal Green: I like the kitchen a lot, because it makes me think that I can cook, LOL. That’s a huge fantasy, of course, but I do dabble. The results are not always successful, but I try.


Me: I love my kitchen as well and I'm a dabbler too. There is just something fun about trying things out.

  • What is your favorite spot to read in?


Crystal Green: If I can’t be at the beach reading, I’m good with cuddling up in bed. Hopefully there’s a nice rainstorm outside to accompany the book. To me, that’s a great day.


Me: That sounds wonderful - I love reading on dreary days.


  • What is your favorite snack food?


Crystal Green: Popcorn. So good. And anything chocolate. Always. Anytime.


Me: I started craving popcorn yesterday so it's funny you said that. Of course chocolate - who functions without it?


  • Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?


Crystal Green: When I’m into a project, I do have a firm schedule, but my day’s work depends on whether I’m writing a chapter or if I’m revising. On a chapter day, I’ll wake up, write the entire chapter, let off steam with some exercise so my butt doesn’t fall asleep, then come back and take care of promo and business. If it’s a revision day, I’m pretty much at my computer the entire time. Guess which day I enjoy more?


  • Where did the idea for The Texas Billionaire’s Bride come from?


Crystal Green: I was invited to participate in this “continuity”—my book is the first one of the series. A continuity involves six authors who get a story bible from Silhouette and work together to tell six different stories about six couple falling in love. There’s a premise connecting the entire miniseries though.


The bible provides a plot outline as well as character details, so I can’t take credit for the outline—but the authors flesh everything out and do our best to maintain continuity. I love these series because it’s a different way of writing—it’s like being given paper dolls with a certain set of clothes and a basic storyline, but I get to dress them and send them on daily adventures, LOL.


  • Where did your character of Melanie Grandy come from (by the way I really love her – she feels like a real person)?


Crystal Green: Thank you! She was in the bible, and she already had all the elements of being that “girl from the wrong side of the tracks who wants to better herself.” She was spunky, determined, and fun. I fleshed out her family background, etc. I made her sew Barbie clothes and look good during the makeover scene. J


Me: I loved the sewn Barbie clothes. I like to sew also so I thought this was cool and a great way to connect Melanie and Olivia. I also loved the makeover scene - you did a good job :)



  • Where did the idea for the Foleys and the McCords miniseries come from?


Crystal Green: The fantastic editors who came up with the bible wanted to feature two rival families who go after a mysterious, cursed diamond. They wanted Romeo and Juliet type stories as well as rich Texas businessmen and businesswomen who take charge of their lives and find true love while they’re at it. They put all that together and gave it to us!


  • I know you work on your own series with your Chris Marie Green books, and you have done your own series under Crystal Green, so what is it like working with other authors on a series?


Crystal Green: I love it. There’s great energy on these projects, like we’ve all been connected by a wire and the ideas are sizzling from one author to another, LOL. With every continuity, I have to go out and buy the other five books because I’m dying to know how the other writers handled their stories. I’m actually reading one of the continuities in which I participated right now: Montana Mavericks, Strike It Rich. I grew up loving soap operas, and continuities are very similar: you get to spend a lot of time in this community that’s been developed and touch base with old characters while you get to know upcoming heroes and heroines.


Me: I never thought about continuities as being like soap operas, but you are right. I love continities because I am never ready to let go of the characters when the book is done. So seeing them again is great. I know I will continue reading the series because I am intrigued by the other members of the families that you had in your book and also for the continuing search for the Magdalena Diamond


  • I know you write for Silhouette Special Edition and Harlequin Blaze and that you also write the Vampire Babylon series under Crystal Marie Green. Is it easy for you to shift back and forth for each of these styles
    of writing? Are you ever working on more than one book at a time?

Crystal Green: It’s easy go shift back and forth because I’m always looking forward to being challenged by that change. It’s refreshing, and I think it helps me to write at the pace that I do. It does take a bit to ground myself in the flow of what each book requires, but that’s all part of the challenge.I try not to work on more than one book at a time, but it occasionally can’t be helped. You’ve always got line edits and galleys that come in during another project, and the deadlines for those copies are usually urgent. But if I can, I like to live and breathe in one world at a time—it makes writing easier.


  • What books do you have coming out in the near future?


Crystal Green: This July, I have THE TEXAS BILLIONAIRE’S BRIDE, plus a mass market reissue of the second Vampire Babylon book, MIDNIGHT REIGN. In August, the sixth Vampire Babylon book, THE PATH OF RAZORS, comes out in trade edition.


  • Any book signings/conferences/public appearances in the near future?


Crystal Green: I’ll be signing at the Romance Writers of America national conference in Washington, D.C., both at the literacy signing and the Penguin/Berkley signing. Then I’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con, signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth on Thursday at 3pm. I’ll also be on a speaking panel there, with a signing at about 2:30pm.


  • Any last words on The Texas Billionaire’s Bride?


Crystal Green: This is a really fun series that I think people will love, mostly because of the two rival families and their search for the Santa Magdalena Diamond. As for my book, I hope there’s a lot of emotion as my hero and heroine fall for each other!

Thank you Crystal/Chris for the interview!


So there you go - check out Crystal Green's new book - The Texas Billionaire's Bride the first book in The Foley's and The McCords series from Silhouette Special edition. It's a wonderful book. And also check out her Chris Marie Green Vampire Babylon series.

Winner: The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner


The Winner is: RebekahC who has never read Lisa Gardner before. I hope you enjoy this one - it's good. I have emailed Rebekah and her book is going out tomorrow. Thanks to all who commented. Please see the sidebar for other giveaways and look for even more in the weeks to come! Until then - The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner is out and available.

Waiting on Wednesday - June 24


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My "can't-wait-to-read" selection for this week is:

Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Release: August 11, 2009











Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: everything is about to change

It was an accident. It was dark, it was raining, Alison had only had two drinks. And the other car ran the stop sign. But Alison finds herself trapped under the crushing weight of grief and guilt, feeling increasingly estranged from her husband . . .

Charlie, who has his own burdens. He's in a job he doesn't love so that Alison can stay at home with the kids (and why isn't she more grateful for that?); he has a house in the suburbs and a long commute to and from the city. And the only thing he can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with . . .

Claire, Alison's best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved, vibrant where Alison is cautious, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly veiled retelling of her childhood in North Carolina. But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can't stop wondering if she should leave her husband . . .

Ben, an ambitious architect who is brilliant, kind, and meticulous. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two—exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison seem to have. . . .

In each of her novels, Christina Baker Kline has explored how people tell the stories of their lives and what those stories reveal about who they are. As they set out on their individual journeys, Alison, Charlie, Claire, and Ben explore the idea—each in his or her own way—that every moment of loss contains within it the possibility of a new life. Alternating through these four intertwined perspectives, Bird in Hand is a searing novel about friendship, love, marriage, loss, and the choices we make that irrevocably alter everything we believe to be true.


So what are you waiting on this week? Go here to see what everyone else is waiting on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009 Wrap Up


Wow - the date slipped up on me, but the Spring Reading Thing 2009 hosted Katrina at Callapidder Days is now over. For the wrap-up post she gave us some questions we could answer. So I thought I would do that. In quick summary I read 56 books during this time. I reviewed some of them (don't have an actual count at this moment and enjoyed all of them.

  • Did you finish reading all the books on your spring reading list? If not, why not?
I must confess that my reading list kept evolving. I would say I read about 50% of what I originally posted and then changed the other 50%. I also read more books than I thought I would.
  • Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?
Changed my list - I just can't seem to help it - I want to be organized and have a plan on what to read, but then I seem to revolt when that list is in front of me.
  • What was your favorite book that you read this spring? Least favorite? Why?
My favorite(s) (I can never choose just one) were The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale, Fragment by Warren Fahy, and Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley

I don't think I have a least favorite - the lowest score was to Strange Angels and I enjoyed it, I just wanted a little more action - but know that will come in the next book in the series. I really liked the characters.
  • Did you discover a new author or genre this spring? Did you love them? Not love them?
I think I started finding the more general fiction that leans toward the literary - I had read these from time-to-time, but not often. I explored it a little more lately and have found they are not stuffy boring books, but very good books so this was good for me.
  • Did you learn something new because of Spring Reading Thing 2009 — something about reading, or yourself, or a topic you read about?
I have read several small facts and things during the reading challenge. I have also learned that I like to read just about anything. I have read scientific suspense, chicklit, romance, young adult, general fiction, romantic suspense, regular suspense, paranormal and just about everything in between.
  • What was your favorite thing about the challenge?
Trying to stick to my reading list (which I failed out - but it was a good exercise) and setting a goal. I also think it was this challenge that helped springboard getting a good start on my blog.

Teaser Tuesday - June 23

teasertuesdays31

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"I'm relieved the story has a happy ending."
She looked at me without blinking. I noticed that her eyes were watering. "My mother and Sir Mortimer were married by Captain Edward John Smith, master of the Titanic."
Pause.
"You mean--?"
She bit her lip and nodded.
So much for a happy ending.

From Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford, which is out today 6/23/2009 and so far is an excellent read!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Review and Giveaway - Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley


Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley

Genre: Chicklit I suppose, but it has a little bit of everything








Rating: 4.5/5.0



I used to read chicklit a lot, but it's been on the decrease lately so I just haven't read it as much. I am so glad that I picked this book from the Harper Collins imprint selections for this month. I knew it had an intriguing premise, I just didn't know it would be chicklit and so much more.

This is Mr. Begley's first novel and if how I feel about it is any indication it surely won't be his last.

The book starts with stuffy, stuck-up Mitch. He's a "serious" writer, he loves only authors who "make you think" and doesn't deal with any of the fluff that makes the best-seller lists regularly. He has a best friend, Bradley, who is a fairly down to earth guy, but other than that, he dates girls that are like him. They like the things he likes, they agree with the things he says. The latest in this line of girls is Hannah, who is in love with him, but as the book begins, realizes Mitch does not love her. Thus, the breakup. Truthfully the breakup does not affect Mitch very much. What does affect Mitch is the fact that his wonderful manuscript has been rejected everywhere.

Here is where the chance signing by a huge chicklit author, and then a chance meeting with her turns Mitch's life around. At first he thinks it's simple to write chicklit, but he quickly learns it's tougher than he thinks. So he starts researching. He joins a dance class suggested by Bradley as his sister is in it, becomes involved with the people in the class (even though they are obviously lower than him). And he even becomes involved with a woman from the class. Wonderful, right? Well the problem is they all know him as "Jason" not Mitch and of course our deceptions always come back to haunt us.

A well-planned and plotted book, this book kept my interest and made me fall in love with the characters. The dance-class characters were different yet you could see them all getting along. Mitch is a great character and you love watching him change without him realizing he is changing and I love the guy as a chicklit author angle (and it works for the author too).

The twists and turns are great and hold your interest. There is fun (going out after the dance class), varying characters, romance, breakups, fights (even fist fights) and so much more in this book. There is a serious side, but the humor and lightness remains throughout. This book was just such a joy to read. I hated when it ended because I wanted to know more about the characters (but it ends in a way that ties things up so you aren't left hanging). It's just that good of a book.

So check it out - it comes out today. Thank you to Miriam Parker for sending me this book.

Publisher: 5 Spot
Release Date: June 22, 2009
Pages: 288
Format: Trade Paperback

Other Reviews:
Lauren at Half Deserted Streets

Buy Ms. Taken Identity at IndieBound
Buy Ms. Taken Identity at Amazon.com

Miriam Parker has offered to send out one copy of this wonderful book to a winner from the blog so you will actually be getting the book instead of my arc! Thank you Miriam for offering this book to giveaway.

Contest will run through Monday July 6th at midnight and I'll draw the winner and post on Tuesday. Giveaway is open only to the U.S. and Canada. For entries:

  1. Leave a comment (and make sure I have a way to contact you)
  2. Become a follower or if you are already a follower let me know (for an additional entry)
  3. Follow me on twitter (see sidebar for link or I am cfulcher)
  4. Twitter about the contest (use @cfulcher so I will see it) and let me know about it (for an additional entry)
  5. Blog about the contest, sidebar mentions are fine (for an additional entry)
  6. Tell me your favorite chicklit or romance book.

What Are You Reading Monday - June 22


Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see J.Kaye's Book Blog and join in!

Books Completed Last Week:
























The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner - I received this ARC in the mail last week and it was a wonderful book - very suspenseful. See my review and Giveaway here.
Avalon High by Meg Cabot - Cute young adult story, quick read and lots of fun. Review here.
Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley - Book received for review. Chicklit-ish, and wonderful. Review and Giveaway to be posted later today.

Reading Now:
Gifts of War by MacKenzie Ford - received as an ARC
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris - my current mp3 player audiobook
Uglies by Scott Westerfield - my current computer audiobook
Nobody Does It Better by Cecily Von Ziegesar
All That Glitters by Nicole O'Dell - a young adult "interactive" book from Barbour Publishing

Next:
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - I have heard wonderful things about htis
I Apologize by Bradley Booth - this looks like a tearjerker and I can't wait to read it
Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro - book from Miriam Parker - see my giveaway here.

Summary -
3 books read last week. Several reviews caught up. I didn't end up having much time for Bloggiesta and I'm sorry about that. But all-in-all it was a good week.

Mailbox Monday - June 22nd

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. To see this weeks list of participants go here.

ARCs of:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard - pub date: August 2009: - From the Editor's letter at the beginning of the book:


...which is set during a long weekend in 1987 and tells the simple yet profound story of a thirteen-year-old boy, his mother, and a stranger who suddenly enters their lives--and who is taken from them as unexpectedly as he appeared.






0 to 60 by Susan Slater - Pub Date: July 15, 2009

Shelly Sinclair's life is perfect - one most women would envy - a 35-year marriage to a successful doc, two grown boys, a beautiful home and the security of predictability. Without warning, this world collapses. Her husband of a lifetime announces that he's asked someone to marry him - someone thirty-nine years his junior. And, oh yes, the mother of his four-year-old child. Alone. At sixty. To start over. But maybe, just maybe this can be the best time ever.


The Amen Heresy by W.H. Muhlenfeld - Pub date: October 2009 - From the back:
Ex-priest and dyslexic expert of ancient languages, Jack Fisher, agrees to assist a friend and Israeli professor of religious history; and is drawn into an unsolved mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. His discovery of the true meaning of the copper Scroll threatens to expose the three religions of Abraham as the monotheistic legacy of an ancient, sun-worshiping pharaoh, Amen-hotep IV.
Jack joins forces with a beautiful agent of the Israeli Antiquities Autthority and a Palestinian boy of the streets as they battle a secret cabal of Jerusalem's high clerics and a murderous Egyptian madman for possession of the scroll and its revelations. Fisher wrestles with the demons of his own past as their search leads through the Old City of Jerusalem, onto the Judean Desert, to the tomb of an Egyptian noble and the holy site of the Burning Bush at Mount Sinai. Here the final struggle for possession of the scroll reveals a startling truth, sealing the fate of Jack Fisher, and of three billion Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Surviving a House Full of Whispers by Sharon Wallace - out now

Sharon suffered continual physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather for seven years. Unfortunately, no one would listen to her or believe her story. At age 16, she finally finds the courage to flee from her tormenters. Social Services find her the first of a string of temporary jobs between which she criss-crosses England trying to find a safe haven.

However, she cannot escape her "night devil" completely until she comes to terms with her past. Sharon's growth and recovery from abuse and learning to accept love would be a long road to travel, taking nearly forty years to achieve. She had to learn to trust and love herself before she could another.

Faced with society's judgments against her, Sharon stood alone against the people who abused her for seven years. The truth is, we don't start to heal when taken from an abusive situation; we only start to digest and relive its emotional content. Many go on to live their lives with tortured souls and an inability to trust and love their own children.

Equally, many of us find the inner child that God intended; we pull that child past the empty adult left by years of mutilation of our childhood souls. I was a no-hoper, unjustly cast out into a world of desolation and loneliness that pulled at my heart like a lead weight. I self-harmed and mutilated parts of my mind and body to try and erase memories.

Eventually, I learned that healing was within me and could never be found under that largest or smallest boulder. I have walked the road of hope and desire and looked into the pool of my future. I did not want to be the mother they had raised, or the wife they had created. Slowly, I started to rebuild my life and my wish is that this book offers the same hope to you.


From Booksfree I received:

Nobody Does It Better by Cecily Von Ziegesar (Gossip Girl #7)
Wake by Lisa McMann - I've finished this one and it's good!
both books I cannot wait to read

And from Paperbackswap I received:

Sunset Bay by Susan Mallery
Lip Service by Susan Mallery
Two sewing books


Another really good week - now I just have to get busy reading.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review: Missing Pieces by Joy Fielding

Missing Pieces by Joy Fielding






Rating: 4.0/5.0

From the book flap:

Family therapist Kate Sinclair reparis other people's troubled lives, all the while reveling in her stable marriage and handsome home. But there are demons in her past that will not stay buried forever, and the carefully constructed edifice of her life comes tumbling down when her half-sister JoLynn announces her plans to marry Colin Friendly, a man on trial for the brutal murders of thirteen Palm Beach women.

Kate soon finds herself embroiled in a desperate struggle to protect her family from Colin's increasingly sinister advances. To make matters worse, her aging mother is losing her tenuous grip on reality and her rebellious daughter Sara is falling under Jolynn's wayward influence - a development that would worry Kate in the best of times, but which in this case might well prove deadly. As the strain begins to tear Kate's marriage apart, into the fray comes the smooth-talking Robert, her high-school crush who soon displays an unhealthy interest in the results of Colin Friendly's trial.

As Kate Sinclair slowly slips across the razor-thin line separating ordinary life from unspeakable terror she realizes that there is no one she can trust, nowhere she can run...and no way she can deny that she and her loved ones may be the next targets of a demented serial killer.
I started reading Joy Fielding books in 2006 when I read Mad River Road. Since then I have read her new releases each year and have really enjoyed them. With my library system requests messed up at this time, I can't seem to get a hold of her newest, so I decided to work my way through her backlist (which my local library has on the shelves). This is how I came acrss Missing Pieces.

Missing Pieces follows Kate Sinclair, who on the outside looks like she has the perfect life but then the cracks start to show. Her oldest daughter is starting to pull away and be independent, tired of being compared to the perfect younger daughter. Her sister who has always been independent and little wild, has developed a fascination with a man being tried as a serial killer, and her mother is slowly falling prey to dementia. And in the middle of all of this, she runs into a man from her past, a relationship that never came to fruition, one of those what if's that most women have.

All of this forms the story as told by Kate. Slowly through the book all the pieces of the story begin to fall into place and it makes for an interesting plot and story to follow. We learn about her family and her past, and all that is going on. I enjoyed reading this book. It is well paced and the characterization is well done. You get to know each of the players at least in some sense, some better than others, but all are well-done.

If you like psychological suspense, this is a book you are sure to enjoy. If you enjoy Joy Fielding and haven't read this, make sure you pick it up. I enjoyed spending my time reading this and wondering what would happen next.

From: Library
Copyright: 1998
Publisher: Bantam books
# of pages: 432
Author's Website

Buy this at IndieBound.
Buy this at Amazon.com

If you have a review of this book, please let me know and I will post a link to it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Finds - June 19


Friday Finds is hosted over on Should Be Reading. It's all about what great books you have heard about/discovered in the past week. Here is my entry, and head over to the Should Be Reading Blog to read others and find books to add to your TBR pile!

First I saw this on BookBlips.com last Friday (click on the books to link to more information):

Introducing feminist chick lit in the form of first-time novelist Sullivan’s diverting parody of life at Smith College. When Sally, Bree, April, and Celia meet during first-year orientation, they quickly bond as they navigate the tricky rules of their new home: no “girl-on-girl” showers before 10 a.m.; no meat in the dining hall unless it has a vegan sidekick; no (well, some) clothes during the opening convocation ceremony. As best friends, all their glories and foibles come to light, including Sally’s lurid affair with an aging professor and Bree’s switch from straight to gay despite her family’s frowning disapproval. All postcollege transitions are also captured, from one-night stands to grad schools, first jobs and first homes, a wedding and a baby. When April, the radical in the group, begins to work with her idol, a “divisive” feminist known for extreme tactics, a secondary plot about human trafficking emerges, switching the mood from nostalgia to suspense. Sullivan’s debut crackles with intelligent observations about the inner sanctum of the all-women’s elite (yet scholarship-laden) college life. --Emily Cook

Second Jill posted this, this week on Waiting on Wednesday:

Simon and Emily Bear look like a couple that has it all. Simon is a respected doctor. His wife, Emily, shines as a partner in a premier public relations firm. But their marriage is scarred by hidden wounds. Even as Simon tends his patients’ ills, and Emily spins away her clients’ mistakes, they can’t seem to do the same for themselves or their relationship.

Simon becomes convinced he’s discovered a cure for chronic pain, a finding that could become a medical breakthrough, yet he is oblivious to the pain that he causes at home. Emily, struggling to move beyond the devastating loss she and Simon suffered fifteen years earlier, realizes she hasn’t felt anything for a long time—that is, until a lover from her past resurfaces and forces her to examine her marriage anew.

In a debut novel on par with today’s top women writers, Remedies explores the complicated facets of pain, in the nerves of the body and the longings of the heart. Depicting modern-day marriage with a razor-sharp eye, Remedies is about what it takes, as an individual and as a couple, to recover from profound loss.

Third from Waiting on Wednesday also is one from The Book Pixie

Ever since Viola’s boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again, and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

But Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she won't wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, Jinn can’t deny that he’s slowly falling for Viola. But it’s only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she’s in love with Jinn as well…and that if she makes her final two wishes, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.


That's it for this week. So what did you find this week?

Bloggiesta Starting Post


Okay - this was supposed to post automatically this morning and it wasn't supposed to be blank. So this is the start of Bloggiesta for me. I had a pre-op appointment out-of-town this morning and that is why the post was automatic. But it's all for the better since I am officially starting now. I'm not sure I will make the prescribed amount of time, but I will be working on my blog a lot tomorrow and touring around the other participants.

I need to catch up on my reviews and create some scheduled posts for next week and I need to do some organizing and cosmetic work on the blog since I am really enjoying it and plan to keep it up. So you will see more of me in the next 36 hours. I look forward to hearing how everyone else is doing also!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Giveaway - Swimsuit by James Patterson

Syd, a breathtakingly beautiful supermodel on a photo shoot in Hawaii, disappears. Fearing the worst, her parents travel to Hawaii to investigate for themselves, never expecting the horror that awaits them.

LA Times reporter Ben Hawkins is conducting his own research into the case, hoping to help the victim and get an idea for his next bestseller. With no leads and no closer to uncovering the kidnapper's identity than when he stepped off the plane, Ben gets a shocking visit that pushes him into an impossible-to-resist deal with the devil.

A heart-pounding story of fear and desire, SWIMSUIT transports readers to a chilling new territory where the collision of beauty and murder transforms paradise into a hell of unspeakable horrors.
So this is the newest James Patterson, due out on June 29th and guess what, I have two copies in hand. I haven't read this yet, but I will for review, but since I got an extra copy, I thought it would be a great time to offer this up as a giveaway.

The contest will go through Tuesday June 29th (release day) at midnight. I will draw one winner on Wednesday or Thursday.

You can enter by:

  1. Commenting on my blog, make sure I have a way to contact you. (+1)
  2. Become a blog follower or let me know if you are already a follower (+1)
  3. Tell me the first James Patterson book you read (+1)
  4. Tweet about this review and giveaway, use @cfulcher in the tweet so I can find it (you can get one additional entry for each retweet - one a day max, but that gives you quite a few days, just come back and comment here) (+1)
  5. Follow me on Twitter (or let me know if you are a current follower) (+1)
  6. Blog about this contest and let me know the link (sidebar or post is fine) (+1)
So there you go - 6 ways to get an entry into this contest. You can leave them in separate posts or one post, it doesn't matter, I will make sure you get your entries, just make sure to let me know what you do.

Review: Avalon High by Meg Cabot


Avalon High by Meg Cabot




Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


From goodreads.com:
Avalon High seems like a typical high school, attended by typical students: There's Lance, the jock. Jennifer, the cheerleader. And Will, senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy.
But not everybody at Avalon High is who they appear to be ... not even, as new student Ellie is about to discover, herself. What part does she play in the drama that is unfolding? What if the bizarre chain of events and coincidences she has pieced together means -- as with the court of King Arthur -- tragedy is fast approaching Avalon High?
Worst of all, what if there's nothing she can do about it?

I was looking through my stacks of books yesterday for just a quick, fun read and I found it in my library stack. Avalon High is a young adult novel featuring Ellie, a high school junior who finds herself in a new school and in a new town while her parents are on sabbatical in Annapolis, Maryland. What she didn't expect was to be thrown into a story she was more than familiar with in the current time.

Meg Cabot writes a really good young adult story in this one, it's clean and fun. Ellie is one of those ordinary girls who doesn't expect to stick out in a new school. She figures she will join the track team and just be an ordinary girl. But that isn't what happens. Within days of starting at Avalon High she is thrust in with the most popular boy in school, his best friend and his girlfriend. But things aren't always what they seem in this popular crowd.

As Ellie tries to navigate her newfound somewhat popular status, the book develops and other questions begin to form. And all of this moves the book to it's conclusion.

Characterization isn't deep - this is more plot driven, but you do learn about Ellie. The other characters are also enjoyable, Will, Lance, Jennifer, Marco and Mr. Morton all make great characters.

All-in-all, it's a great fast-paced quick young adult read. I enjoyed it and will read more of Ms. Cabot's young adult titles (I believe I have read a lot of her adult titles). In fact I have The Princess Diaries in my library stack also. Read this one afternoon that you just want to read something quick and easy - no death, destruction or deep teenage thinking involved. And sometimes you need a book that is just that.

This book satisfies requirements for the 2009 100+ book challenge and also the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge.

There are actually more books in this series in the Manga format. I'll have to see about those, I haven't read any Manga, but I'm pretty open to any type of book and I really would like to learn more about Ellie, Will, Jennifer and Lance.

Meg Cabot's website
Avalon High available on IndieBound
Avalon High at amazon.com

Binding: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Copyright: 2006
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 288