Thursday, 31 January 2013

Let's Talk Romance News

Check out some Romance News around the web! 

+Harlequin has a new imprint! Harlequin Kiss will have 4 new stories every month! 

+ Download a FREE book from Harlequin's new imprint Harlequin Kiss! 

+ Romance Writer's of America February {RWA} Online Workshops These are some really cheap workshops and I'm partial to this one.

+ Romance Reader Statistics. This is so interesting!

+ World tallest teen girl tower's over boyfriend. I love quirky romance stories like this.

+ I'm kind of obsessed with Entangled Publishing's imprint BLISS. They have the perfect contemporary romances! Find out why I love them so much.

Romance Novels I Want


Let’s Talk Romance is an original feature/meme hosted by yours truly {Mary @ The Sweet Bookshelf} and {Jac @ For Love and Books} . We love romance and wanted a place where we could discuss it freely each week! Come along each Thursday and you’ll be able to participate in discussion questions, reviews, lists, and all things romance. When we have a Mr. Linky present you’ll be able to post the topic on your blog as well. We hope to get to know other romance lovers as well as maybe get a few more to give the genre a try. Let’s Talk Romance!! 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Book Review:: From Notting Hill to New York by Ali McNamara

From Notting Hill to New York by Ali McNamara
Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 425
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

Scarlett O’Brien, utterly addicted to romantic films, has found her leading man. She’s convinced Sean is Mr Right, but the day-to-day reality of a relationship isn’t quite like the movies. With Sean constantly away on business, Scarlett and her new best friend Oscar decide to head to New York for the holiday of a lifetime. From one famous landmark to the next, Scarlett and Oscar make many new friends during their adventure - including sailors in town for Fleet Week, a famous film star, and Jamie & Max, a TV reporter and cameraman. Scarlett finds herself strangely drawn to Jamie, they appear to have much in common: a love of films and Jamie’s search for a parent he never knew. But Scarlett has to ask herself why she is reacting like this to another man when she’s so in love with Sean …

Catriona's Review::

I read and enjoyed both of Ali McNamara’s previous novels ‘From Notting Hill With Love … Actually’ and ‘Breakfast at Darcy’s’ and so when I found out that she had a new romatic tale coming out, I looked forward to delving into it and catching up with the herioine from her first novel Scarlett O’Brian. Ali’s style of novel is very much the same as that found in a chick-lit movie. Sometimes things happen that seem entirely implausible in real life, and some readers might not find that to be their cup of tea, but in these novels and indeed in the movies from which they seem to be inspired, these things are just parr for the course. Some readers may find a romantic trwasure hunt round manhattan to be unrealistic and completely fanciful, but let me tell you, my friend did the equivalent in London when he propsed to his fiancĂ© and so that part of the novel was totally relatable to me!

The main character Scarlett, her boyfriend Sean, her family and friends all return from Ali’s first novel, and being a fan of returning characters, not necessarily as a series but just meeting familiar friends once again, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Scarlett used to be a bit of a rom com addict and so a lot of the storyline of the first novel revolved around her finding movie meanings in everything going on in her real life. Whilst she is not as hooked on movies as she was in the previous novel, a lot of the things that happen to Scarlett in this new novel are found in some of the movies set in New York, and her reactions to these things I found just as endearing as in the first novel. Just like her namesake, Scarlett O’Hara, the heroine of these novels in headstrong and when she sets her mind to something, nothing will stand in her way, a really good example of a strong female character in fiction today.

The setting of the novel is something else I really enjoyed about this book. I am a bit of a lazy reader when it comes to settings. I much prefer a book to be set somewhere I am familiar with, or at the very least, somewhere which actually exists as opposed to a fantasy setting, and New York is just about the perfect setting for me. All of the places that Scarlett went to, I have visited myself. Ali said that she really enjoyed going to New York to research the setting, and I completely jealous of her getting to do that. I would love to go back, but for now I shall settle for reading about it, especially when it is described in such a vibrant and exciting way as it is here.

 As I mentioned, some of the slightly more implausible events that befall our heroine in this novel might not be quite to everyone’s taste, but I think that the storyline is great fun, and a wonderful form of escapism. It could also be argued that the storyline is somewhat predictable, but I think that whilst the ending is something that the reader might expect from the word go, there are enough twists and turns throughout the book to keep you on your toes, and keep turning those pages. Even if you haven’t read Ali McNamara’s previous novels, this works really well as a stand-alone story even though it bring back characters from her first novel, and it a really quick read with something for every fan of chick-lit. I recommend that you travel with Scarlett across the pond and dive into an adventure in New York!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Book Review:: Avow by Chelsea Fine

Avow by Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Firefall Publishing
Pages: 407
Series: Archer's of Avalon {Anew, Awry}
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary

Scarlet remembers. Everything. Her past lives, Tristan, Gabriel, Nate: she remembers it all--including how to get to the Fountain of Youth. But time is running out. 

Heather and Gabriel have been kidnapped by Raven, while the curse that has plagued Scarlet and Tristan for centuries has shifted, putting the star-crossed lovers in more danger than ever before. Water from the Fountain of Youth is the only thing that can save Scarlet and her loved ones. But the water comes at a price.

With lives--and hearts--at stake, Scarlet leads her friends on a dangerous journey to the Fountain of Youth. Where eternal life is possible, but death is certain.

I love this series. It's totally fresh. I'm so over the paranormal stuff out there but this is like nothing I've read before. I've been patiently waiting for this conclusion and I just knew it would be epic. I was not disappointed.

The sexual tension between Scarlet and Tristan is unreal! They belong together but they've not been able to touch for centuries. Talk about a curse! I so wanted more of them throughout the series and I was hoping Avow would give me what I wanted. It delivered on all levels there. I loved all the interaction between them and re-read passages before I could move on.

Now, on to the story. There is a curse and a cure needs to be found. I had my own theories of how to break it and I couldn't wait to find out what all was going to happen. There is a large {50% of the book} flashback. I usually am not a fan of big flashbacks but I absolutely loved this. All the questions I'd had over the last two books were being answered. I felt like I was being rewarded when the flashbacks kept coming chapter after chapter. It was like fitting puzzle pieces together. It was really fun to find out what happened so many years ago. The plot kept moving and when I wanted to know something the author showed it to me. Everything was coming together so nicely.

I did have a problem with the dialogue. It felt juvenile. Especially for people who had lived for more than 500 years. We're talking a lot of eye rolling and such. It just didn't work for me. They might have looked like teenagers but they weren't. Cut the moody teenager act. Oh, and Heather was a bit over the top teenager-y. If you get my drift. Too...blonde?? There were parts that just didn't feel real or the dialogue made it feel not as sophisticated as I thought the characters should be with so much experience on their hands. I'm 33 yrs old and I can get through a conversation without rolling my eyes. Surely a 500 yr old can do it.

Love this series though! The ending was everything I'd hoped for. Except maybe a marriage {or at least a proposal!!} and I'm sad that it has ended. I want the epilogue to mean something. More of the story. I can't let it go. If the epilogue does mean something {Another series} I will be overjoyed! You need to read The Archer's of Avalon! You won't be disappointed.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Review:: Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman
Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

'You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you.'

When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?

I was eagerly awaiting Rowan Coleman’s latest novel, and when it finally arrived in the post, I was in no way disappointed! To me the novel feels very different from some of her earlier offerings, if someone had told me that this was the same author who wrote ‘The Baby Group’ (my favourite of Rowan’s novels) I might not have believed them. Nevertheless, I liked Dearest Rose just as much.

The thing that stands out for me is how real the characters and the storyline seem to be. I feel as if the events that unfold could’ve been happening to someone I knew, a friend of mine, and therefore found the book very easy to relate to and equally as easy to read. The story centres around Rose and her daughter Maddie and the journey they embark upon when they find themselves suddenly removed from coastal Kent and plonked in a Cumbrian town which is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. There are plenty of other characters thrown into the mix, each bringing their own complications, humour and joy to the storyline.

The thing that I found really refreshing in the plot of this novel was the way that they relationship between the mother and daughter was explored. I can’t think of another book where this relationship has been exposed as much. It tends to be that yes the mother/daughter bond is touched upon, but generally other characters are involved, a father, or other siblings, but in the case of this novel there are lots of scenes where the two characters are alone, or else the mother is focusing entirely on her daughter, worrying about her or addressing problems in their own relationship.

Whilst there is the usual light-hearted romance feature of Rowan Coleman’s writing, as well as these families ties-as expected-the book also deals with some slightly more uncomfortable issues including domestic abuse. I think it can be tempting for authors to sensationalise this kind of thing in their writing, but I really love the way that Coleman deals with the issues surrounding domestic abuse in this book. There was one passage in particular which particularly rang true for me, and I think should touch many other readers out there even if they are not already fan of this fabulous author…

“The hardest part is seeing the expression on someone’s face when you try to explain to them what life was like. I can see exactly what they’re thinking, poor stupid cow. Why did she leave him at the first sign of trouble? What they don’t know is that there isn’t as first sign of trouble…Richard was slowly smothering me and I got so used to the lack of oxygen, I didn’t notice.”

This is the perfect book to be reading at this time of year, it goes especially well with a nice hot chocolate on a Sunday afternoon. Even if you haven’t read anything else by this author, I think that there is something for everyone in this book so it is definitely worth a try. And if you are already a fan of Rowan Coleman’s delicious writing, you won’t be disappointed what her latest novel has in store for you!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

An Open Letter to Contemporary Romance Settings

Dear Contemporary Romance Settings,

I'm a huge fan. Let me just get that out of the way. I prefer contemporary romance over any other romance. It feels the most real. Well, since I am living in this time I guess it would feel that way wouldn't it?

I love the small towns. Usually by an ocean or out there in the country somewhere. By a mountain! There is always a diner that serves meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Everybody know's their neighbor's and there is always a town gossip. Somebody always owns the cute B&B. If you add some home town boys you've got yourself a contemporary romance! It is all so idealistic. I love it.

Some of my favorite contemporary romance series settings are Virgin River by Robyn Carr, Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis, Shamrock Falls by Kelley Vitollo. As well as anything written by Kristin Higgins and Shannon Stacey. They do the best small towns in the business.

But, I'm not going to might be time to add  a new setting. How about something abroad? or maybe a big city? Maybe something on an island. Singles cruise anyone? I'm not saying these book aren't out there. I'm sure they are...somewhere. But, I've not come across one yet. I'm saying that it should be the new trend! Let's branch out ya know?

I'm ready for a new setting in my contemporary romance reading. Does anybody have any good recommendations for me of anything a little different? I'm all ears!


A contemporary romance lover

Let’s Talk Romance is an original feature/meme hosted by yours truly {Mary @ The Sweet Bookshelf} and {Jac @ For Love and Books} . We love romance and wanted a place where we could discuss it freely each week! Come along each Thursday and you’ll be able to participate in discussion questions, reviews, lists, and all things romance. When we have a Mr. Linky present you’ll be able to post the topic on your blog as well. We hope to get to know other romance lovers as well as maybe get a few more to give the genre a try. Let’s Talk Romance!! 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Review:: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle-ARC
Review by: Mary

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.

All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

Whoa. Listen up folks. You're going to need this book. I was hooked from the very first page and I was glued to whole story. I had every emotion available coursing through my body and I just couldn't get enough. 

Nastya doesn't speak. I knew something horrific had happened to her and I couldn't wait to find out. Damaged girl needs saving. Shows up in boys garage and watches him build stuff. Boy also needs saving. They are the story of thinking she is unlovable and he believing everything he loves dies. Totally tragic and gut wrenching. 

I wanted them to love each other. I wanted them to be loved by each other. I wanted them to know they were each other's savior. The whole thing was brilliant. It has been a long time since I've read a tragic story that I didn't feel bogged down by. It was heart warming and I so want there to be another book. Put The Sea of Tranquility on your radar people. It needs to be at the top of the list.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Finding a Place in This Book Blogging Community

I've been blogging about books since 2008. I have a personal blog and my family and friends were always asking what I was reading. So, I started to add what I was reading to my personal blog posts. Then I felt like it was taking over everything else I wanted to say. My family asked me to put the books in a separate place so they could find what they wanted right in one place. I started The Sweet Bookshelf in June 2009. I will have been blogging about books for 5 yrs.

I didn't even know there were other book bloggers for quite some time. Then one day Lenore, from Presenting Lenore commented on my blog. She even sent me my choice of two ARC's. {she's so nice!} I didn't even know what an ARC was. I didn't even know what a book blogger was. I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into.

Through the years I've watched blogs that started years after mine take flight and become "the big wigs" in book blogging. I've watched bloggers turn authors, more drama unfold than you can imagine, and blogs increase their following all the while The Sweet Bookshelf has stayed small and inconsequential. I've watched this book blogging community start from a tiny town and has become this giant city with more bloggers than anyone can imagine. Where does one fit in? How can one's voice be heard in such a loud place?

I'm sure I don't have the slightest idea. I don't have the answers. Not what you wanted to hear I'm sure. But, it's true. I'm a small book blog. There are tons of blogs out there telling you how to increase your following. Have I done them? You bet. Am I still small? Yep.

One thing I have done in these past 5 yrs is remain true to myself. I review the books I want to read. I post the kind of content that I want to read about. I don't take more books than I can read. When I need a break, I take it. I've never participated in a meme solely for the purpose of getting more follower's or to have "filler" content. I want those who follow this blog to do it because they like what they see and read. I love what I do and I do my own thing. I'm OK with being a small book blog!

Maybe it is time to leave the big city and move out to the country to blog.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Newsstand:: Reading Bingo, Free Books and Confessions

+Giveaway:: BLISS Book of your choice!!

+Are your fears about going all digital with your reading mostly irrational?

+Download a FREE copy of Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly {Harlequin KISS}

+You buy more as an e-reader than a tree reader

+How to protect your gadgets and books while flying on a plane.

+People remember Facebook more than real books

+Play Reading Bingo when you buy books this year!

+How to donate books to a good cause

+When the publication of a book gets pushed back.

+The greatest book nooks are always hidden in the most unlikely places

+John Green's official response to The Daily Mail article about "sick lit" that mentions A Fault in Our Stars.

In Case You Missed It

+Who is BLISS Books? And why I love them!
+I have some Confessions to make
+Falling For Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen
+Luck of the Draw by Kelley Vitollo
+Shopping with the Enemy by Carmen Ried

Friday, 18 January 2013

Review:: Falling For Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen

Falling For Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen
Publisher: Entangled Publishing {BLISS}
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary

Danielle and Wes have been best friends since college, so when Wes needs a date for his sister’s wedding and Dani needs a partner for her company’s retreat, they devise the perfect plan: a fake engagement to get through both events unscathed. Adrenaline-junkie Wes can prove to both his ex and his family that he’s well and truly moved on, and serious-minded Dani can prove to her boss that she’s worthy of the promotion he seems to only want to give to a family-oriented employee.

But amid the fake swoons, fake kisses, and forced proximity, neither expects the very real feelings that develop. There’s nothing more dangerous than falling for your best friend…but what if the landing is worth the fall?

I love stories like this. But, I'm always left feeling like it isn't a plausible situation. Why would someone pretend to have a fiance? How could they fall in love so fast? They just aren't realistic. EXCEPT for Falling For Her Fiance! Whoa you guys. I had freakin' butterflies in my stomach the whole way through this book. You know the kind that build up before you are about to get kissed? They just lay low and flutter away until they can't be contained and literally erupt from inside you. I almost gave myself a stomach ache!

This story works. Dani and Wes are best friends. Have been since college. Relationships don't ever work out because of their friendship with each other gets in the way. Stories like this leave me feeling why hasn't something ever happened between them? Well, in this story it makes complete sense! Finally! Something did happen between them in college. They shared a kiss one night. Dani got freaked. Wes backed off. They didn't push it for fear of ruining the friendship. Makes sense right? Of course they felt something! How could they not?!

I love their friendship and it actually made the situations of "pretend fiance" really believable. They already knew everything about each other. They needed some help and they were there to help each other out when the time came. They didn't have to fake chemistry or push anything for the sake of appearances. It just happened. The stolen kisses were nice and had me reeling inside! Just grab her and kiss her already, for real!!! I was on fire. The romantic tension is unbelievable. Seriously you guys. 

I love this story! The characters were fun and believable. The romance was hot when we got there and  the heartaches and love made my heart burst with feeling. Falling For Her Fiance is a book I will be re-reading again. Sooner rather than later. 

ps It is totally cheap so you should buy it. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Review:: Luck of the Draw by Kelley Vitollo

Luck of the Draw by Kelley Vitollo
Publisher: Entangled Publishing {BLISS}
Series: Lucky Break {Shamrock Falls #1}
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary

Rowan McKinley isn’t looking for one wild night while vacationing in Vegas, but she gets it anyway when she meets professional poker player—and professional ladies’ man—Breck Wilder. Breck’s easygoing charm and lighthearted banter draw in the reserved Rowan, and though she’s always dreamed of the kind of forever love her best friends Sidney and Kade share, she’ll settle for one night with the charismatic player.

After their crazy one-night stand, Breck never expected to see the mysterious redhead again. So when he shows up at a Shamrock Falls B&B looking to get away for a few weeks and Rowan answers the door, he’s floored. Breck’s rolling-stone lifestyle and ill-fated history with women means he’s not interested in anything long-term. But the longer he stays at the B&B, the more he considers dropping the poker face and putting all his cards on the table…for Rowan.

I absolutely loved Lucky Break so I bought Luck of the Draw on release day. I knew this would be a read in one day kind of thing. I couldn't wait to get back to Shamrock Falls. 

We got to know Rowan in Luck Break. She is a best friend and Bed & Breakfast owner. She's single. Life overall has been good but she has a new business and no one to share it with. She's a good girl really. When she meets Breck Wilder she decides to give herself one wild night. She gets more than she planned on.

Breck Wilder is pretty funny. I loved his sense of humor and how he kept most things light. But, when it counted he was right there front and center. Dream guy! I loved his whole reaction at the end. It felt real. I love that ti didn't even cross his mind to shirk from his responsibilities and how he was going to make things work. 

I even loved the not so main characters! I'm crazy for Jace and Betsy's story. I had dreams about them last night when I went to bed. How would their story go? What changes will take place that make Jace finally notice Betsy? I'm a lot like Betsy and I really want to know her story. Jace is pretty hot to me too!

This is a really cute story. Rowan and Breck get to know each other and become friends. I loved romance stories where the couple are friends first. That's the way it should be in my eyes. I'm not a fan of insta love and you'll get none of that here. You see real character development. Real, everyday people falling in love. What's not to like?! 

If you are looking for a clean romance with real characters, then head to Shamrock Falls. You'll meet friends and have a little love affair of your own. Luck of the Draw is worth your time! This is my new favorite series!

Let's Talk Romance:: BLISS Books + Giveaway

This week on Let's Talk Romance we're highlighting BLISS Books an imprint from Entangled Publishing. I found BLISS last summer. I read Lucky Break by Kelley Vitollo and absolutely loved it! I wanted more. Immediately. So, I looked up the publisher as soon as I finished in hopes of finding more of what I'd just read. I've read almost every single BLISS book!! Check back this week for more BLISS reviews.

So, who is BLISS anyway?

BLISS is a digital only imprint from Entangled Publishing. They publish shorter contemporary romance novels. Longer than novellas but short enough that you can read them in 1-2 evenings. They publish new titles the second Monday of each month. I'm absolutely addicted to them! I've been rushing to check out what is new each month and devouring the new titles during the week.

What I love about Bliss::
+they are at a price point I can afford. At about $3 per book , you're talking my language.
+eBooks only. I love my Kindle!
+I can read a whole book before bed. They are quick and easy reads.
+Pretty covers! Just look at them! Simple, cute, fun, and identifiable to BLISS.
+These are cleaner romance novels. Harder and harder to find today.
+The writing is quality. They aren't cheesy romance novels. I know you know what I'm talking about.
+New books every month! What's not to love?!

My current favorite BLISS titles are::



*click on picture for summary

If you love contemporary romance I do hope you'll give BLISS a try. You won't be disappointed!


It is your lucky day! I'm giving away a BLISS title of your choice! 

+Just have a look around the Entangled {BLISS} website 
+leave me a comment telling me which BLISS book you'd want to win 
+enter the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review:: Shopping With The Enemy by Carmen Reid

Shopping with the Enemy by Carmen Reid
Publisher: Corgi
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

Disaster has struck in Annie Valentine's well-dressed world. Her daughter Lana has become her worst enemy and she's lost her legendary sense of style. 
The battle scene: a boutique changing room
The opponents: mothers vs. daughters
Annie's having a crisis -- a fashion-confidence crisis. And now it seems like her best friend, her daughter Lana, has become her worst enemy. Even Annie's multi-millionairess friend, Svetlana, is having problems. She's at war with her daughter Elena, who's running their Perfect Dress business in New York. A trip to a luxurious Italian spa seems like the perfect solution. But celery juice and pilates can't solve the disasters that are about to strike. Svetlana's ex-husband snatches her sons, Perfect Dress is facing financial ruin and Lana is in all sorts of boy trouble. Will Annie rescue her passion for fashion, as well as saving Svetlana's children? And can mothers and daughters ever truly be friends?

As a huge fan of Carmen Reid’s novels and especially her Annie Valentine series I somehow missed the release of the 6th instalment of personal shopper Annie madness! I knew I was going on a couple of long journeys and so downloaded it as an audio book to keep me company in the car. It felt very self indulgent having it read to me, naturally I loved it!

Annie has lost her touch, she has become disenchanted with the latest fashions and her label in New York is also floundering. Unfortunately at the start of the novel, the storyline and the characters have also lost some of their sparkle. Its only when the story actually gets going that we see the return of fiery, bold Annie, confident Svetlana, loveable Ed, and the two daughters in New York, lovely Lana and feisty Elaina. I actually found myself loving the storyline taking place in New York more than the storyline surrounding Annie and Svetlana in their Italian spa, this made me feel disloyal to our heroine, but nevertheless I really like the fact that Reid added this sub storyline, it kept the novel feeling fresh rather than ‘just another sequel’.

I think that because of this sub-story within the novel, even those who have not read any of the Annie Valentine series before would really enjoy this book, and it would hopefully lead them to the earlier personal shopper novels. Fans of the series will welcome the return of the characters and be pleased to find out what is happening in their lives and careers since the formation of label ‘NY Perfect Dress’. The only part of the story that I didn’t enjoy was the ending, I felt it ended all too abruptly. Reid has obviously left it open to carry on the Annie Valentine saga, but I was left feeling a little empty, I think things could have done with tying up just a wee bit more to give full satisfaction to the reader/listener.

This is a must for any Carmen Reid fan. It’s fun, light-hearted, full of delicious fashion and the odd mad caper which is indicative of Reid’s other novels. A quick read for an autumn’s evening!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Teaser:: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Last year I read Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder and I was obsessed with it. It has a Graceling by Kristin Cashore feeling to it, but better. Oh yes, I think it is better than Graceling. I'm not reading book 2: Scent of Magic and it is everything I was hoping for! I'm about half way into it right now and I can't wait for more reading time. I highly recommend this series. 

"We don't take orders from you, Sergeant." Quain said. "Your man tried to assassinate-"

"He isn't mine. My man has eyes that change color with the seasons."

*I'm participating in Teaser Tuesday at Should Be Reading.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Confessions {6}

1. When a character in the book winks, rolls their eyes, or bites their lip I have to do it too...a couple of times.

2. If I watch the movie before reading the book, I never will read the book. That's why I've never read or seen The Lord of the Rings. I just need to read the books first! {well, I've read The Hobbit a million times}

3. My son is currently obsessed with The Gingerbread Man and The Three Little Pigs books. I swear that's all we read.

4. I started out blogging about books on my personal blog 4 yrs ago last October. When I finally started my book blog I didn't know other people blogged about books. I'd never seen or heard of a book blog. At the time only my family wanted to know what I was reading. Sometimes I wish I still thought I was the only one.

5. Last year I pretty much only read contemporary.

6. This morning {release day} I bought  Luck of the Draw by Kelley Vitollo. I loved Lucky Break and have just been dying for this next story. I love me some contemporary romance!

7. I have a stack of paperbacks to get through and to be honest...I wish they were on my kindle.

What confessions do you have for this Monday morning?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Let's Talk Romance:: Top 5 Romance Author's

Today we're talking about our favorite romance authors. These are the romance author's that have cemented my love of the genre. I hope you'll check out what they have to offer!

01. Shannon Stacey:: She was my first ever experience with adult contemporary romance. I was completely hooked. I went out in search of more of her books immediately after finishing Yours to Keep. I love the Kowalski family saga!

02. Kristan Higgins:: Her books are so fun! She also always has awesome covers. When I read Until There Was You in one sitting, I just knew I needed more. The character's were believable and there are plenty of one liner's to keep you swooning. "Don't be nice to me," she whispered, though she didn't move away. "I might cry if you are." 

03. Robyn Carr:: Come one people! It is Robyn Carr!! How could I not put her on this list. I'm obsessed with her Virgin River series. There are more than 20 books! Hello! I'll just gorge myself on romance novels thank you very much. My most favorite has got to be Sunrise Point. I am still thinking about it. In fact, I think I'm going to re-read it immediately. I loved everything about this book. 

04. Jill Shalvis:: Addicted. That is the only word that comes to mind when I hear the name Jill Shalvis. Her Lucky Harbor series had me stuck to my kindle for a week until I read them all. It was as if every book was just getting better and better! My favorite has to be At Last. There is something about camping {and a hot forest ranger} that brings people together. 

05. Kelley Vitollo:: She is a newcomer and debut author of Lucky Break. The next installment  Luck of the Draw, comes out next week! Eek! She made me love even the background character's and I closed the book just dying to know more of their stories. I've read several of her self published young adult titles and was so excited to hear she had a publishing deal with an adult romance. She is fast becoming a new favorite!

Now, tell me yours! I want to know what romance author's you think I should be reading. Who's your favorite?!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Review:: Do You Come Here Often by Alexandra Potter

Do You Come Here Often by Alexandra Potter
Publisher: Pocket
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

Grace Fairley lives in South West London with her fiancé, Spencer, a divorce lawyer. They've been engaged for two years and still haven't set a date, a fact that has started to irk Grace no end. In fact, things just haven't been feeling right at all lately, and aren't they supposed to when you're with Mr. Right? Then Spencer goes and makes a fool of himself -- yet again -- on Grace's birthday, and she ends up walking to a taxi company to get a lift home. Alone.
See the guy who dumped her thirteen years ago!
Jimi Malik, a half-Indian, half-Irish writer and ladies man who lives in North West London, has surprised everyone -- himself included -- by deciding to settle down with Kylie, a twenty-one-year-old model from Canada. But when he bows out of his own stag night and goes to catch a cab home, he bumps into Grace Fairley and the past comes rushing back. Like the way they couldn't stand each other. And how their high school hair-pulling routine eventually turned into friendship, then something more. And how he never called again. She's still furious at him and he's still hot for her. But what's the harm in sharing a cab? After all, they're both getting married...Right?

‘They were right at the very beginning; they had no history, not pet names, no holiday snapshots together. They were, she realised, leaning a little closer as they walked along the pavement, a bit like a blank canvas…Imagine the fun they were going to have colouring it in.’

Having read all of Alexandra Potter’s novels, I can confidently say that this is my favourite! I laughed, I cried, I saw shades of my won love life in her writing-in short, I loved it! And above all, I feel sure that anyone who has even the slightest romantic inclination within them will love it too!

The story centres around characters Grace and Jimi who have known each other since their schooldays. But also features their friends Rhian and Clive, and Grace’s work colleague Maggie. Amongst this host of characters, I feel sure that there is someone for each reader to identify with. I loved the character of single mum Rhian because I wholeheartedly admired her tenacity and optimism towards a life which hasn’t been the kindest to her over the years. I really like the main character of Grace, although at times I found myself frustrated by her inability to notice things which might possibly be right under her nose (not wanting to give TOO much away).

To begin with, the fact that the story jumps between the characters’ storylines, and sometimes skips quite large time periods, can be slightly confusing, but it really helps keep the pace of the book, and this is one of the reasons that I found the book so enjoyable. I found myself reading large chunks in one go over a very busy week because it went along as such h a lovely fast pace, and I simply HAD to find out what was going to happen with one of the storylines, or one character in particular.

I have realise that whilst Alexandra Potter almost gives us a modern day take on a fairytale with her mix of romance and magic, she also deals a lot with being given a second chance-a second chance at life or a second chance with love, and this novel demonstrates this just as much as her other novels do. What is also refreshing with her writing is that she gives a very modern take one certain aspects of romance, recognising that modern readers don’t necessarily have the same romantic ideals as readers did when the original fairy tales were written, this line from the  book show it off to perfection… ‘Engagement rings were funny things: romantically they were a token of love, but in reality they were a modern day chastity belt.’

I could continue sharing my favourite bits from this lovely novel, but instead I would encourage you to go out and read it and allow yourself to get in this fresh, romantic story of second chances.

Review:: Calling Romeo by Alexandra Potter

Calling Romeo by Alexandra Potter
Publisher: Pocket
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

Juliet is already wondering whether her live-in boyfriend Will has lost his lust for life -- and for her -- when tragedy strikes: He stands her up. On Valentine's Day. Then some jerk in a fancy car splashes her with icky London rain water, takes a good, hard look at her, and drives away. What's worse he was gorgeous, the kind of guy you dream would sweep you off your feet...or at least remember you on Valentine's Day. On top of having to win a big advertising account at work it's a wonder Juliet doesn't collapse into a puddle herself.
The course of true love never did run smooth
To Juliet's surprise, the mystery driver turns out to be an adman named Sykes -- her competition for the hot account -- and he's awfully sorry about the splashing. So sorry that he whisks Juliet away for a romantic weekend in Verona, the storied home of her Shakespearean namesake. A funny thing happens, though. When Juliet gets back, Will's all sweet again and Sykes pitches an ad campaign suspiciously similar to Juliet's. Suddenly it's time for fair Juliet to decide whether she and Sykes are meant-to-be star-crossed lovers -- or whether Romeo has been right by her side all along.

‘I though love was about caring about someone day in and day out, about being there when its fucking amazing, and still wanting to be there when it feel like crap. I thought it was about forever.

I do enjoy Alexandra Potter’s novels and so I was expecting this to be similar to her earlier novel, Me and Mr Darcy which I loved, however I was surprised to find that Shakespeare’s Romeo doesn’t actually appear in this novel. It does, however centre around heroine Juliet, but this is where the similarities end. Juliet experiences that kind of irritating complacency which one often experiences at that certain point in a relationship and so finds herself looking for solutions elsewhere, which is where she lands herself in trouble.

I have to admit that I don’t enjoy books as much when infidelity starts to creep into the storyline, whether it is actual infidelity or just suggested infidelity. I find the read becomes slightly more uncomfortable and that I have to put the book down and walk away for short periods of time. The overall storyline of the book was Potter’s usual mix of modern romance and features what I have discovered to be a common theme in this authors novels, the theme of second chances. It’s hard not to give away too much of the storyline so I can’t say much more than that.

Fans of Alexandra potter will not feel at all let down by this novel; it has strong characters, and a well developed storyline. It steps away from the magic and mysticism that crops up in most of her earlier novels, but is still something which will inspire emotions in the reader. I enjoyed it, it made me laugh and cry which, to me, is always a sign of a good novel! If you haven’t read anything by this author before, I would suggest beginning with one of her other novels and then coming on to this, but if you are a fan of hers then, you won’t feel let down by Calling Romeo!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

I love making goals. I'm a Capricorn! It comes naturally. I don't really have any real big specific goals for my blog, I wish I was more ambitious but my book blog is my stress free zone. I want to keep it that way. This is a place just for me to focus on my love of reading and find others who feel the same. If I start stressing about numbers, followers, meme's, etc then it just isn't fun anymore. So, I'm keeping it simple. Have a look!
  1. Possibly move over to Wordpress. I'm happy with Blogger but would like a more professional look that WP can offer. But, oh the hassle. I'm still thinking about it.
  2. Comment more on my own blog as well as others. I'm pretty quiet online when I should try and meet more bloggers like myself. I need to get out there more and make friends!
  3. Read 100 books. I'd love to do more, but I'm a Mom and Wife first. I keep my reading to before bed only {unless it is a super awesome book that I just can't put down} just so that I can focus on my family during the day. 100 it is! 
  4. Keep my blog updated as well as Goodreads. I should probably do Amazon, but gee whiz, I can only do so much! 
  5. Get my romance Feature, Let's Talk Romance off the ground. Figure out what I'm doing and where I want it to go. Have fun with it! 
  6. Read more YA fantasy this year. I hardly read any last year and I really want to find a few good series to get into. 
  7. Keep my NetGalley queue under control. I currently only have 3 books left to finish and I have a fresh slate. I'm going to keep it that way! Only request 3-4 books at a time, read those, then I can request more. 
  8. Do more giveaway's. I only did a couple last year and I want to get back into them. I'll be making them UK only because I live in the UK and there are so few UK only giveaway's that I want to make it easier for them to win. 
  9. Listen to more audiobooks. I love them and want to listen to at least one per week. We shall see!
  10. Keep having fun! I've been blogging about books since late 2008 and I want to keep doing my thing. I'm still such a tiny blog in this community and I'm OK with that. As long as I'm having fun then I'll do it. 
*I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish

Monday, 7 January 2013

Review:: Prank Wars by Stephanie Fowers

Title: Prank Wars
Author: Stephanie Fowers
Publisher: Triad Media and Entertainment
Pages: 354
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary

All war. No love. Madeleine’s been hurt too many times in the dating scene to let Byron beat her in some huge prank war. They’ve had their deserters, their POWS, their casualties, but no one can risk losing the battle of the sexes.

Except now something strange is happening at the college...and it’s not just the students. Buried deep beneath the pranks is real danger, and the only other person who suspects is Byron. Should Mad join sides with him or does that mean forfeiting her heart to the enemy?

A prank war sounds fun doesn't it? I couldn't help but he brought back to my old college dorm days while reading this. Good times! Ah, to be single with virtually no responsibilities. Those were the days. There are some really good ideas in here if you are the prankster. I wish I'd had this book years ago!

I really liked the whole "prank war" theme that started it all. There was a romantic tension that was keeping my interest and I was really looking forward to how it was going to end. I did like Madeline and Byron a lot. I loved their playful attitudes yet also knowing just where to push each others buttons. I wanted more kissing. I always want more kissing, but this book could have really used some good scenes. I'm a sucker for the romance and kissing you know. But, there is an element of mystery here. It almost didn't fit. I literally could not figure it out. I'm usually pretty good at these things but I just had absolutely no idea where this book was headed.

I've got a small problem with this book. I enjoyed it. I did. It was fun and I couldn't put it down. The beginning reads like a contemporary romance. Really fun and light. You know Mad Dog is going to have some issues to work through and you hope that Byron helps her. But, the mystery story here just didn't fit for me. I liked that it  kept me guessing but when you finally figured it out it just wasn't plausible.  I hate saying that but it just wasn't. It would have been so much better if the whole elaborate scheme was cooked up by Byron and his wing men, as well as Madeline's roommates, to teach her a lesson and finally end the prank war. In the process getting the girl to fall for the guy. That would have been brilliant! Or what about taking the whole boyfriend for a week idea mentioned and running with that. Mad and Byron are forced to be in a relationship for a week to finally stop the prank war and get to know each other but in turn fall in love. Those story ideas would have been more realistic and kept with the light feeling of the beginning of the story. It would have fit better. The mystery aspect and the actual reasons for what was going on were just too far fetched. It never would have happened. I overlooked it in the name of fiction.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Blog Tour:: Easy By Tammara Webber + Character Profiles

Easy by Tammara Webber
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 316
Format: Kindle-ARC
Review by: Mary

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night--but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

I am so totally jumping on this New Adult bandwagon if this is what is inside! I was totally gripped from page one and I didn't stop until I was finished. The book starts off with assault, but don't be thinking this is a depressing story because it isn't. I'm not such a fan of doom and gloom books and being all depressed. I read to escape and escape is what I got with Easy. It was so easy {pun intended} to get sucked in. 

Easy takes place in college. I love a college setting. It lends itself to more experiences beyond the walls of high school and the characters home. Jacqueline and Lucas are old enough to do what they want when they want it. They are free to make their own path and they don't need any parents around. 

Jacqueline is easily relate-able. We've all had that one break up that shook us and we got behind on our life. She's smart and friendly. I'm totally in love with Lucas. What a great character. He's got so many different facets he's almost like different people. It is nice that he's all wrapped up in a package. He's got it all. It is the imperfections that make him a good fit for Jacqueline. 

The plot was predictable on many levels. You could see where the story was going, but please don't mistake this as not a good thing. There is enough to keep you guessing what will happen next so it doesn't fall into the predictable cliche. It was a nice ride. I liked the pace of it and it was an easy {pun not intended} read. 

If you read my blog then you know I'm all about the romance. I gotta feel something. I need toe curling kissing and passages that make me need to re-read them several times before I can move on. Easy was totally steamy and made me long for the next scene with Lucas. This romance is de-lish!

First self published until Penguin UK got smart and snatched it up for its very own traditional publishing, Easy is setting the pace for the New Adult genre {what ever that is anyway??}. I'm liking where we're heading and I'll be watching for what author Tammara Webber comes out with next.

*****Easy Character Profiles by Tammara Webber*****

Jacqueline is the narrator of Easy – a girl who followed her longtime high school boyfriend to the university he chose, but just into their second year there, he broke up with her. The loss of their nearly three-year relationship leaves her floundering for a couple of weeks. She skips the one class they have together. She doesn’t go out with her friends. Finally, her roommate convinces her to go to a party – but her ex is there, and he’s clearly moving on without her. Leaving the party early, she walks to her car, distracted, and is assaulted in the parking lot by one of her ex’s frat brothers – a guy she’s known for over a year.

Lucas is a something of a loner. Putting himself through school while working two part-time jobs and tutoring on the side, he doesn’t make time for relationships and rarely goes beyond the most shallow interactions with his peers. But after witnessing and saving Jacqueline from an attack in a dark parking lot, he feels a sense of responsibility for her, along with a growing attraction. Keeping secrets that only serve to make him appear more of a bad boy, it doesn’t take him long to understand that Jacqueline may be using him as a rebound. He doesn’t want to reveal the obvious secret she’s sure to discover, nor the deeper one she’ll never unearth – a deep-rooted guilt he shares with no one.
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