Friday 28 September 2012

Review:: The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

The Demon Catchers of Milan
By: Kat Beyer

Mia’s ordinary life is disrupted for good in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon—and  saved only by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins, the charming and gorgeous Emilio and stern, elderly Giuliano, say the only way to keep Mia safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the ancient lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever.

Christy's Review:
Oh heavens, I adored this book! I'm not one for demon-type stories, normally, but this book had just the perfect balance of self-exploration, learning, history, family and Italy! I constantly found myself wanting to be in Italy among the Delle Torre family (minus the demon catching part), living life surrounded by such rich, storied places and people.

Mia is a great character. And her journey from a wayward, English-speaking American family member to a repatriated Italian, speaking fluent Italian is so convincing as a story line! Using the learning curve as a literary device literally drags the reader right off of their sofa and into Mia's story. I could picture myself with her family members, walking down the streets of Milan, practicing verb tenses, passing the Duomo, cooking Panettone in the kitchen of an old family home for Christmas and attending mass in a historic, Catholic Cathedral. And I'm not Catholic. Gah! Note to self: Must.Move.To.Italy! Absolutely captivating writing.

The one thing I didn't like about this story is the same thing that the entire plot pivots upon, demons. I was both fascinated and horrified by this aspect of the book. It creeped me out just enough to read with my bedroom door securely locked at night. (As if that would help!) I guess it would be fair to say that I really, really tend to shy away from stories that lean more to the horror side of things, and, knowing that, I would also have to say that The Demon Catchers of Milan approaches a horrific subject in a cool-teen-acceptable way, with care, compassion and craft. Don't worry, it's nothing like the exorcist.

I liked this book so much that I kept reading, right past the end. (How is that possible?) I read the author's credits and note and just found myself staring at the last page (on my Kindle) thinking, Wow! Wow. Wow. I want more!

PS, Ms Kat Beyer, I'm from NorCal and love the delicious irony of the children from your youth growing up in Palo Alto striving to get into Harvard. Ms Authoress, you've a way with a story. I certainly cannot wait for the next installation of Mia and the Delle Torre family, it's sure to be lovely, horrific and fascinating all at once!! Bravo.

Note: I wouldn't recommend this for middle-readers because of the subject matter, but it's definitely something I would have loved in high school.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Review:: Welcome to Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Title: Welcome to Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop of Dreams
Author: Jenny Colgan
Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 465

Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Soft chewy ones or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money . . . the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag . . .

Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian s sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong.

Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton s sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets.
Welcome to Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop of Dreams, a novel, with recipes.

Catriona's Review:

If you are looking for a sweet, scrummy, heart warming tale with comedy and romance a-plenty, you’ve found it! This was such a lovely novel, one that I knew I couldn’t wait to read! As soon as we meet heroine Rosie and find out that she has been asked to leave bustling London and move to a quiet sleepy village in the middle of nowhere, we know that fun and capers is going to ensue!

This book has something for everyone. The storyline is strong covering Rosie’s struggles to come to terms with her new country life, aging Lillian who still wants to be completely independent, her rocky relationship with boyfriend Gerard and the various other men she encounters along the way! There are also fabulous descriptions of the countryside, making the reader want to take a trip to the country pub or go for a walk with Rosie on the hillside, and lets not forget the fabulous sweet shop scenes which make your mouth water and will definitely leave you wanting to return to the sweetshop of your childhood and indulge in your favourite sugary concoction!

As in her previous novel ‘Welcome to the Cupcake Café’ the author has included recopies and snippets from the former shop keepers ‘log’ and this really adds to the magic escapism of the book. If you think it is going to be all countryside and no action, however, you’re in for a shock. With a handful of men to contend with, Rosie and the other characters have enough romance and controversy to keep any modern woman happy!

If this book hasn’t managed to make it onto your summer reading list, fear not! It will make the perfect companion to cosy autumn nights in (roaring fire optional).

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Audiobook:: The Miller's Daughter by Margaret Dickinson

Title: The Miller's Daughter
Author: Margaret Dickinson
Publisher: Pan Books
Narrator: Susan Jamison
Length: 3 hrs {approx}
Format: CD

Emma Forrest has waited three long years to welcome home the man she loves from the horror of the trenches, but now her father’s bitter feud with Jamie Metcalfe’s family threatens everything she has dreamed of. Knowing that Harry Forrest will go to his grave wishing she were a boy and now, devastated by Jamie’s coldness, Emma clings resolutely to the memory of her beloved grandfather, Charlie, and his hopes for the mill he built he his own hands. Somehow, in spite of all Harry’s scheming and the disastrous marriage she finds herself in as a result, Emma will make sure that the mill has a future – with a Forrest at the helm…

I was perusing my libraries audiobook shelves when I came upon this book. It was short and I love a good historical book. The past fascinates me and I love to get a picture of life back then. This story starts out in 1918 with Emma working on the family Mill.Her father doesn't want to matter her intended fiance because he thinks he's just after the Mill.My heart really went out to Emma. She was never good enough for her father.

Throughout Emma's life she is dealt the hard card. She's married a man who doesn't love her, gambles all their money away and doesn't take care of her like he should. He's just after the Mill. The reason she wasn't allowed to marry Jamie in the first place. She just keeps going and going. The ending storyline was quite a surprise to me and I was hoping everything would turn out right. Emma deserved so much. It seemed like she just kept losing everything and everyone dear to her. It was time her had some happiness.

I love this time period and I love reading about women's hardships. It was easy on the ears and short too. I love me a short audiobook!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

The Unfinished Series

I don't know about you but I have about a million series that I've started and have yet to finish. I got into this stage where I was waiting for series after series. I got sick of the waiting. The anticipation was killing me. So, I kind of made it a "thing" that I wait for the series to be finished before I'll read the entire thing.  NO more waiting! Then I can goble the series up in its glory and gorge myself on the story. So, I'm waiting.

This post will probably guilt me into finishing them now. It is kind of exciting that when I started reading them there was only one book and now look at them! Come and see what I've yet to read...

Read the 1st book. Liked it just fine. Didn't bat an eyelash when the other books came out. Why? I have no idea? I'm not even positive but there might be a fourth book to this now too. Love the covers though. They don't really have anything to do with the story, but they are pretty.

I read the 1st book and really liked it. A lot. I have absolutely NO idea why I've not read the other books. I mean, what's wrong with me?! The covers are gorgeous too!! I'm going to have to sit down and read this one straight through!

Is there a 4th book here? Is it called Finale? I actually own this series in Hardback as well as Paperback. I'd like to finish it but hate that waiting game. So, I'm just waiting. Then I'll enjoy!

I've read them all except the last one. I really need to, I just haven't gotten around to it. My series looks incomplete on my shelf. Just knowing there is one last book. I love faeries. We'll see how it all ends. I can't even remember the story so much anymore.

Friday 21 September 2012

Review:: Where I Belong by Rachel Ann Nunes

Where I Belong by Rachel Ann Nunes
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Pages: 207

When Heather Samis moves in next door, she and Tanner Wolfe quickly become best friends. They help each other through high school and college, date other people, and write letters during their time apart. Heather passionately dreams of becoming an artist, while Tanner has his life mapped out as an executive at his father’s software company. Their friendship is too important to let romance get in the way.

Then the impossible happens, and the invisible line between friendship and love is blurred. But Heather has seen her mother give up a promising artistic talent to raise ten children and to serve others at church, and she is determined not to sacrifice her own talent.

Her beliefs shaken, Heather is faced with a decision that will change her life forever. She desperately wants to allow herself to love her best friend and become a mother to their children, yet how can she forget her lifelong dream of succeeding in the art world? And if she does choose love, can she be truly happy without the art that is as much a part of her as breathing? There seems to be no way to succeed in both. Or is there?

I have a lot to say about this book. The beginning {and first 5%} of the book is just one giant paraphrase. I could have done without that. It started off with dialogue and a story but then went into a paraphrase about Heather and Tanner's life up to this point. I didn't need that. I would have understood they were friends and what not without that. I just didn't enjoy the style I guess. I was afraid the whole book would have been that way. 

I really liked Tanner and I wanted more of him but there just wasn't. The story was more Heather's and well...I just didn't like her very much. She didn't exhibit likeable qualities and she was quite thick in the head. Come on girl! Don't be so stupid. Her problem was quite selfish to be honest. It is a big sacrifice to have kids, but the way she was going on about it was really disturbing. I just didn't feel that connection with Heather that I like to have with a main character. 

Now, let me talk about the romance. It was...meh. Why didn't Tanner and Heather talk more? If they were such good friends, they would have. I didn't get butterflies when they had their moments. The dialogue between the two of them didn't feel real. It was kind of cheesy and all I could think of was that nobody actually talks like that. I was also expecting a big ta-dah ending! But it was also just...meh. 

This book was OK, but not great. If I don't feel a connection with the characters then what is the point? I just didn't "get" them. I wanted too, I just didn't. 

Thursday 20 September 2012

Review:: Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn

Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn
Publisher: Self Pub
Pub Date: August 2012
Format: Kindle

Seventeen-year-old Annabel Conway is tired of the Hillcrest High School elite making her life miserable because she’s not a size two. This summer, she's hiring a personal trainer to help her lose weight. 

Annabel doesn’t expect her trainer to be a gorgeous guy around her age. Boys like Tegan are jerks. They pretend to like girls like her so they can make an idiot out of them. Been there, done that. Totally not going there again. She kind of hates him on principal. Blond. Muscular. Funny. It doesn’t help that he knows her measurements!

Soon, Tegan's so much more than that. He’s the boy who teaches her to box when she has a bad day. Who jogs with her and lets her set the pace. Who kisses her until she melts. He makes her feel beautiful regardless of what the scale says. Unlike her mom, he doesn’t expect perfection, and he doesn't try to shield her from the world like her dad and best friend. Tegan likes her the way she is.

But what happens when he’s not there? He can’t always be there… 

Will Annabel be able to stand on her own and learn that she already measures up? That her worth doesn’t lie in what the world thinks, the scale says, or even what Tegan tells her—but in herself?

The preface of this book really made me eager to read it. I was the fat girl in high school so I knew I'd identify with Annabel. Or somewhat at least. She's made fun of and doesn't really fit in. I'll admit it though, I did not like Annabel in the beginning. It wasn't just her inner dialogue that got to me but the lack of self esteem she would throw out to others. I had to think back and see if that is what I sound like. It was beginning to make me depressed. In my experience, being fat makes you compensate with a super awesome personality. I felt Annabel was being overly negative all of the time. It was getting me down. But, she got better. Don't worry. I do think this shows what a difficult time overweight people have with their inner struggle. It's more than being fat.

Back to the story...This is what every overweight girl who ever lives wished would happen to her. Measuring Up is a sort of the evolution of Annabel. She isn't just losing weight, she's changing inside and out. Her relationships change from friends, parents, boyfriend, and people who were mean to her. Everything shifts and changes along with her. It's a coming of age tale really.

I'm glad that Annabel got what she wanted. I'm glad that Tegan wasn't a jerk and he liked her from the beginning. This is every girl's dream come true. I really liked Tegan and I wouldn't mind another story with him or maybe a few chapters from his point of view. He's a very likable character. I am really not a fan of teen sex though. Maybe I'm old fashioned or just naive but I just don't see a girl who has never had a boyfriend having sex so soon. I just don't find it realistic. I also don't think we should normalize teen sex. OK, maybe it happens but I don't think it should. I wanted to slap Annabel around and tell her to keep the goods to herself for awhile. She was too young.

Overall, good story. Enjoyable and heartbreaking at the same time. I easily stayed interested and didn't want to stop reading until I was finished. Really good. Made me want to go work out by the end. Ha!

Friday 14 September 2012

Christy's Review:: The Caspian Gates by Harry Sidebottom

Title: The Caspian Gates
Author: Harry Sidebottom
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 432

AD 262 --the Roman Imperium is in turmoil after the struggle for the throne that brought Gallienus to power. And Ephesus, the metropolis of the Eastern Empire, lies in ruins, shattered by a mighty earthquake. Its citizens live in fear as the mob overwhelms the city, baying for blood to avenge the gods who have punished them. Yet an even greater threat to the Empire advances from the North: the barbaric Goth tribes, determined to pillage the city. Only Ballista, Warrior of Rome, knows the ways of the barbarians, and only he can defeat them. In a relentlessly gripping and richly authentic tale of ancient warfare, The Caspian Gates is an adventure for Rome enthusiasts and scholars alike. Widely acclaimed for his Warrior of Rome series, Harry Sidebottom "provides a well-constructed, well-paced, and gripping account . . . which, as a good series should, leaves the reader eagerly anticipating the next installment" (Times Literary Supplement).

Christy's Review:
Book four in the Warrior of Rome series, The Caspian Gates is a complete and utter mess. I LOVED books 1-3! The sheer accomplishment of having written an engaging, educational historic novel, not to mention a series of them, is quite stunning. Harry Sidebottom's novels about Rome have been, until now, books I've been captivated by. If you, like me, adore all things (well, most things) ancient Rome, you should definitely check out these novels. But perhaps stop after book three because Sidebottom has completely side-stepped the thing that made the original books readable: a coherent plot.

The Caspian Gates is completely flawed and disjointed. The main storyline revolves around main character Ballista's new assignment in the Caucus mountains. Except, before we arrive in the Caucus mountains, the entire storyline is sidetracked to Ephesus and the great earthquake that shook that city in AD 262. Seems interesting, right? I thought it would be, but the entire portion of the story in Ephesus is more like a short story than anything, not really fitting properly into the overall plot. It could really have been made into something interesting, and it would have been the perfect place to develop the family story between Ballista, his wife and sons even more (I LOVED that subplot in the last book), but ultimately, I was completely let down. I can't make up my mind whether the author wanted to write off a vacation/"research" trip to Turkey, justifying it by writing about Ephesus, or if the Caspian Gate portion of the story wasn't long enough and he needed more material, tossing in an irrelevant few chapters to pad the book length. Whatever the case, it doesn't work. Too many new characters who aren't developed enough. Too many beloved characters missing. Too much repetitive information about a morally bankrupt, disgusting, power-hungry emperor who can't make up his mind. Just too much of everything unimportant.

Another bone I have to pick is with the insane amount of redundancy in describing matters of etiquette, etiquette that wasn't really used in the first three books, so it was really odd to introduce this "new" practice in the fourth volume (blowing kisses - everyone is flipping blowing kisses all over the place, it may have been historically correct, but it reads as ridiculousness). Lastly, in general, I really hate the shape the main character's character is taking on, or rather, dissolving into like spineless goo. I liked that the main Character, Ballista, was a man with moral grounding in the first three books. I don't want to read books about immoral people. It is one thing to be a moral person dealing with an immoral world, but another to become part of that world. Perhaps Ballista will come around in the next book, but he seems to have floundered in The Caspian Gates, so much so that I nearly don't want to risk reading another book about him.

The verdict: Read Warrior of Rome, books 1-3. Skip book 4. Hope that Mr. Sidebottom pays more attention to writing book five and recovers his sense of direction and storytelling.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Review:: Awry by Chelsea Fine

Awry by Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Firefall Publishing
Pages: 514
Pub Date: 10 June 2012
Format: Kindle

Three curses. Two brothers. One love triangle.
Sometimes love is meant to be. But is the death of you.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlet has just died. Only, dying isn't unusual for a girl under a centuries old curse that left her semi-immortal. 

This time, though, she comes back to her current life instead of awaking in a new one, and she realizes her curse is changing. With the help of the immortal Archer brothers, Scarlet tries to piece together her life and break the curse before her impending death comes again. 

I am so incredibly impressed with the Archer's of Avalon series. It is so totally new and fresh. I've been a bit sick of paranormal as of late. It's all been done before. But, not this. It is so...different and interesting. It also feels realistic in the face of something that is...well, not real. The writing pulls you in immediately and you'll find yourself saying, "Just one more page" at two o'clock in the morning. Not to mention I love the cover. Scarlet's eyes are striking. She's gorgeous and the cover looks just like I pictured her.

The preface of this story is that of a curse. In the last book I didn't truly understand it all, but I knew I wanted to know more. I felt much more comfortable understanding the curse and was longing for it to end with this second installment. The story goes back and forth from the past {waaaay back then} to the present day. It was well written. I found myself not wanting just the past or just the present information but excited for both. I loved when a chapter would go to the past and I could have glimpses of Scarlet and Tristan together. But also just as excited for present day to learn more of what was happening. Each chapter ending had a bit of a cliffhanger that just kept me reading into the night. My emotions were always on high alert. I love this!

I'm a sucker for good character development and we are not lacking here. I love to see the process of change in my favorite character's and hoping they make the right choices. I was practically dying at the scenes between Tristan and Scarlet. Just get together already! I'm dying here!

The ending happened to quick. I wanted just a little bit more to get me through the waiting period. I'm so excited the next and final book is coming out in December of this year! I don't think I could wait for the ending. Team Tristan forever! Go get your girl!


"I'm going to kill you" Gabriel pointed at Tristian.
"For what?" Tristian raised a brow at his twin. "It's not like I asked Scarlet to come lay on top of me. I woke up and she was just...there" 

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Review:: Ten Minutes to Fall in Love by Julia Llewellyn

Title: Ten Minutes to Fall in Love
Author: Julia Lewellyn
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 400

Zu Forbes has a complicated relationship with love. Her mother died when she was a teenager, leaving her with a lonely father and emotional baggage. So at the earliest opportunity she switched the baggage for luggage and took off around the world.

But now she's home and working for a dating agency. Can she find the perfect match for her dad? If only she can pair him off, she can run away again with a clear conscience.

While Zu busies herself fixing her dad's love life, she almost misses Cupid creeping up behind her. They say it takes ten minutes to fall in love so how can she be falling for someone she's known for years? And why is it taking so damn long to matchmake her dad?

Zu must make a commitment one way or the other: to her love life; to her family; and to the memories of a mother she's tried so desperately to forget.

Ten Minutes to Fall in Love is an engaging, witty and romantic story about finding that perfect person to share your life.

Catriona's Review:

Like all of Julia Llewellyn’s Novels, her latest offering deals not only with romance but with real life issues and problems, perhaps this novel more than others. The story centres around Zu, her father Tony and mother and daughter team Gillian and Holly. Whilst the relationships between these parents and siblings are strained and this makes for quite gritty reading sometimes, there are romantic undertones throughout the book and a full on love story to keep any reader happy.

Zu returns from her travels around the world doing charity work to her father’s house and finds herself working for a dating agency who says that it only takes ten minutes to fall in love. In those ten minutes you will know when you have met ‘the one’. Zu doesn’t support this and it seems that none of the other characters in the novel actually do either, so don’t be put off by the title, you don’t have to be a hopeless romantic and believe in love at first sight to enjoy this book!

I enjoyed reading this book but found it a bit of a slog at points because of some of the issues that were going on between mother and daughter and father and daughter. Be warned, this is not a light and fluffy offering, some of the things may feel a little close to home, and some of the scenes left me feeling uncomfortable. The love stories at the heart of the book, however, more than made up for the fact that there was some gritty, real-life drama dealt with, and I found myself carried away, willing characters to see the person who was right for them and realise that they were in love!

Not a light and fluffy romance novel, but a realistic novel covering all aspects of life, love and family in today’s culture. I will leave you with a quote from the book that made my heart melt… “She was a dark, cold house whose lights had suddenly been turned on and fires lit.”

Monday 10 September 2012

The Newsstand:: Authors Faking Reviews, Traveling Bookmarks and Writing Software

Here we dish on news, up and coming books, tidbits,  and important things bookies should know. Check out what you can glean from this week.  

Bookish News

Bookish Products

In case You Missed It
My NetGalley Picks


Friday 7 September 2012

Blog Tour:: Countdown to Love by Julie N. Ford

Title: Countdown to Love
Author: Julie N. Ford
Publisher: Bonneville Books
Pages: 240
Format: Kindle

A special Thank you to Bonneville Books for sending this book for review.

Abandoned at the altar, Kelly Grace Pickens finds herself left holding not only the bouquet but also the exorbitant bill for an A-list wedding. Homeless, a once promising singing career floundering, and her life bearing an uncanny resemblance to one of her country music ballads, she reluctantly accepts a last minute offer to appear on a reality TV show akin to the bachelor. Pitted against silicon-enhanced supermodels in four-inch heals, Kelly feels confident that she will be among the first would-be fiancés to be excused. Only, when the mysterious bachelor from New York City, Dillon Black, invites her to stay, Kelly finds herself thrust into the vortex of a game she doesn’t have the first idea how to play. Nursing her hopelessly broken heart while avoiding the foils of her fellow contestants, Kelly is oblivious to Dillon’s affections as she wades through hurt and betrayal to discover, in the end, that she has landed firmly on both feet.

Leaving behind Nashville’s Music Row for the majestic Grand Teton mountains, Count Down To Love takes readers on a journey from duplicity to sincerity as Kelly discovers that being true to oneself is the first step in finding happiness and everlasting love.

If you like The Bachelor or reality TV then you'll love Countdown to Love. It has a hometown southern feel to it which makes it come to life. Feel much more real. My sister lives in Jackson, WY this book gives me a feeling of what it is like to live there. The author paints a very vivid picture and makes me want to live in a small town. 

It is a really fun summer read. One you will believe and enjoy. I like character development a lot and you see the changes in Kelly and Dillon. I like coming of age stories where you can see the difference in someone through the trials they've been through. This is one of those. There are also a lot of laugh out loud moments that had me waking my husband up in the middle of the night to tell him a funny line or two. If you are looking for a clean romance then this is it. 

Thursday 6 September 2012

Catriona's Review:: The Love Verb by Jane Green

Title: The Love Verb
Author: Jane Green
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 354
Format: Paperback

Love is not an abstract idea. It is not saying 'I'm here for you, let me know if you need me'. It's making the decision, when someone close to you is in trouble, about what you will DO to fix as much as you can for them. It's a 'doing' thing. A verb.For Callie, love is about looking after her family - her husband and two children - and their beautiful home. For Steff, Callie's younger sister, love is about experiencing all that life has to offer without having to ever settle down.For Lila, Callie's best friend, love is about finding a soulmate. And when she meets divorced father-of-two Eddie, she knows her search is over. For Walter and Honor, Callie and Steff's divorced parents, love is about caring for the daughters they share. Then Callie gets some life-changing news. And suddenly the whole family is about to understand what 'love' really, really means....

Catriona's Review:
I thought I was going to be reading the traditional complicated romance of the thirty-something girl who can't find a man, but got something completely different.

The story focuses on several characters who's stories intertwine over the course of the book either through relationships or friendships. Each characters situation is fully explored as it the relationships between the characters. I found the emotions TOO heightened for me at some points, and had to put the book down because I hit quite upset, but I have found this with the authors writing before so I should e expected the same with this novel.

This is a heart-warming story and one that has the possibility of restoring one's faith in human kindness. I probably wouldn't read something by this author again because I find the drama a little too real & close to home for my liking but I understand that for some people this would be an added bonus of the book.

A book to be enjoyed with a box if tissues and a nice hearty bowl of homemade soup!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Audiobook:: The Mulberry Tree by Jude Deveraux

The Mulberry Tree by Jude Deveraux
Narrator: Melissa Hughes
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 12 hrs 21 min
Genre: Adult Mystery

A special Thank you to Simon and Schuster Audio for sending me this book to review.

She had a perfect life. Then she got a real life.... 
For nearly twenty years, quiet, unassuming Lillian Manville has devoted herself to her self-made billionaire husband -- and enjoyed a luxurious life of splendid homes, trips, jewels, and clothes. But when James Manville dies in a plane crash, Lillian's grief is compounded by a shocking mystery: all that Jimmie has left to her is an old farmhouse in tiny Calburn, Virginia. Now, Lillian's unexpected circumstances are leading her to a made-over life in Calburn, an exciting businessŠand a sweet new love with a handsome local man. But will she have the courage to unveil the truth surrounding a past scandal and the loss of her husband? The answers may be as close as the mulberry tree in her yard -- and Lillian must dig deep within herself to Wght the secrets and lies that threaten to uproot the past she cherished and the future she treasures....This lush bestseller shines with the passion, intrigue, and warmth that is Jude Deveraux at her best.

I have never in my life read a mystery. Seriously. I thought they were all FBI agents and Spencer Tracey like. Not that I'm against that, but I've not delved into the genre yet. But I have now, and I'm hooked. Narrator Melissa Hughes is the perfect voice for Lillian/Bailey. She literally drew me in from her first breath. Her voice is so calm and articulate. I could listen to her all day. In fact, I did! I'll be looking for more of her work for sure.

This mystery was nothing like what I'd expected. I'm so glad I tried it. It is all hidden scandal in a tiny town in Virginia. A story with so many different facets--no wonder nobody knew the truth! It reads like literary fiction and that's what I liked the most. It felt like everyday life and everyday problems that got thrown out of control. I couldn't stop putting together my own conclusions and theories throughout the story. I thought about it as I went to bed and couldn't wait to wake the next morning to keep listening. Maybe my theory would be right? I had to keep listening to find out. I only let myself listen to audiobooks when I'm cleaning or walking. I was trying to find extra chores so I could keep listening!

Lillian/Bailey is my age. She didn't feel my age. She felt about 10 yrs older than me. She's only 32, but seemed much older. She is a great character though. I love her farm house and I'd like one for myself. I grew up in West Virginia and my Mom canned just about everything and I got to help. I pictured Lillian/Bailey as my mother. So organic. She's so smart and such a likable character. I was a little bit in love with Matt too. He's a dream of a guy and I just really liked him a lot.

This is my first Jude Deveraux book and I'm going back for more! I don't want to spoil any of the surprises for this book so I won't say any more. The Mulberry Tree is full of mystery, scandal, love and change. A mix that is sure to bring the perfect ending to your summer reads. I loved it!!

Monday 3 September 2012

More Than an eReader:: Kindle Hidden Features

I'm obsessed with my Kindle. I love it so much. Each time I read I feel a sense of fun just by turning it on!  I also read faster on my Kindle. It's true. I prefer to read on my Kindle now. Does this make me a traitor? No way man! I'm reading aren't I? I'm buying books and enjoying them.

I consider myself computer literate. I may not be tech savvy like my husband, but when it came to my Kindle I wanted to know everything it could do because I wanted to use it. For those of you who are Kindle lovers like me, here are some hidden features you man not be using yet. I use the Kindle keyboard 3G, these tips will be of use on this device.

MP3 Music Player

I usually use my iPod for all of my music but I have recently downloaded some audiobooks for use on my Kindle. LOVE this. I'm happy to have the option for bringing my books as well as audiobooks now on my kindle where ever I go! I can also listen to music while I read. I don't usually do this, but I've added some instrumental "theme" music for background noise as of late and I love it. Find out how to do it {here}

Image Gallery

It is kind of cool to see your eReader do more than just show a text. You can add a slideshow of your favorite pictures to your Kindle by plugging your Kindle into your computer.

  1. Create a folder titled Pictures directly under the Kindle drive. 
  2. Create a sub-folder under the pictures folder. This will be your album. Name it whatever you want. 
  3. Transfer pictures to sub-folder. 
  4. Safely remove Kindle drive from Computer.
  5. Go to your Home Screen.Your newly created folder will appear as an ebook! Enjoy!

Take a Screenshot

No need to take a picture of your Kindle any longer. Just take a screenshot. Here's how you do it:

  1. Press alt, shift and G on your Kindle simultaneously.
  2. Screenshots taken will be saved in GIF formats under the documents folder.

Text to Speech:

Not the quality of an audiobook, but not bad either. Here is a great review of the text-to-speech function. Have any of you used it?

Lending Library

The Lending Library is not available to me in the UK. Boo!! But, if you are interested to read eBooks for free then check {THIS} out!

Are you using any hidden features we should all know about? Leave them in the comments!
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