Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lost in Time by Melissa De La Cruz

Lost in Time, by Melissa De La Cruz, is the 6th (and 2nd to last) book in the popular YA Vampire series, Blue Bloods.  Lost in Time starts off where De La Cruz's last Blue Bloods book, Misguided Angel, ends.  I do believe that you need to be familiar with the other books in the series before picking up Lost in Time.  Also, if it has been a good amount of time since you read the last book I recommend picking up Misguided Angel to refresh your memory.  There is so much going on in the Blue Bloods world that it helps if you can recollect everything that has happened.

At the end of Misguided Angel, Schuyler and Jack had decided to have a bonding ceremony (they got married to us Red Bloods.)  Jack's sister/nemesis Mimi, after losing her love Kingsley Martin to the Demons of Hell, had decided to make the journey through the Gates of Hell with Oliver to get him back.  Finally, Charles and Allegra (Jack's father and Schuyler's mother) had disappeared leaving the New York Coven in shambles.

Lost in Time is written from the point of view of 3 characters: Schuyler, Mimi, and Allegra.  Each character is involved in their own individual story.  While the happenings of Schuyler and Mimi take place in current time, the chapters revolving around Allegra go back to before her Comatose state.  De La Cruz allows her readers a closer look at Allegra's relationships with Charles and Ben and how the consequences of her actions unfolded.

In Lost in Time, Schuyler is able to convince Jack to help her find Catherine of Siena and the Gate of Promise before facing his blood trial with Mimi.  They find themselves on a wild goose chase throughout Alexandria and Cairo searching for the Gate Keeper.  After each wrong turn the couple comes closer together as they realize just how important it is to find her secrets in order to save their world from Lucifer.

Mimi, the current Regent of the Coven, looks on as the chaos in the Blue Bloods world grows.  She comes to realize that to be an effective leader she first has to be happy.  She and Oliver decide they have no choice but to enter Hell to save Kingsley.  With determination and many struggles Mimi finds the man she loves.  However, Kingsley has changed due to his time in the Seventh Circle of Hell.  This unexpected realization puts Mimi and Oliver in danger, as well as the New York Coven.   

Melissa De La Cruz does a great job in weaving an entertaining story filled with lust, suspense, and heartache.  She describes Hell in a way that I have never seen done.  Her Hell is not just a place with lakes of fire and demons.  De La Cruz creates a world inhabited by fallen Angels, Demons, Trolls, the dead, and Hellhounds.  Each level of Hell is different and miserable in its own unique way.  Oliver discovers that the clothes are itchy, the buildings are too hot or too cold, the food is too sweet or rotten.  Nothing is right.

I really enjoyed watching Mimi and Oliver's friendship grow.  They started off despising each other in the beginning of the series and grew to truly enjoy each others company.  De La Cruz shows in Lost in Time how they have come to know each other better than almost anyone else.  Mimi no longer just worries about herself and what is going to make her life easier, she now views Oliver as a true friend which as a result changes her and her relationship with Kingsley.

When I found Schuyler and Jack's story start to drag Mimi and her escapades lifted me back up.  De La Cruz really handles the Mimi/Oliver/Kingsley storyline well.  It is witty, quickly moving, and hot (in more ways than one!)

I recommend Melissa De La Cruz's Lost in Time to all YA literature fans.  De La Cruz does a great job of leaving her readers asking for more.  My countdown is on for January 2013 when the final Blue Bloods novel, The Gates of Paradise, is released.  I'm excited to see how the story turns out for Schuyler, Jack, Mimi, Kingsley, Oliver, Allegra, Charles, Bliss and all of my other favorite Blue Bloods characters. 

Hyperion and has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, Lost in Time, for the purpose of review.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken by Mari Passananti

The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken, by Mari Passananti, is a funny, chic, and poignant novel about a modern day woman searching for her Prince Charming.  Zoë lives in New York and has a complex job that is nowhere close to what her College degree is in.  Still, things seem mostly perfect in her life.  She is planning the wedding of the year, lives in a terrific apartment, and has two best friends that have been with her since her freshman year in college.  However, Zoë's world is turned upside down when she is dumped by her fiancé.  After a good deal of wallowing in self-pity, her best friends, Angela and Kevin, are determined that Zoë put down the ice cream, take a shower, and not become the deranged Cat Lady everyone knows.  Things start looking up for Zoë when she finds herself with a secret admirer.  On the outside Oscar seems like the perfect man...or is he?

 I thoroughly enjoyed Passananti's, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken.  It is the perfect beach, vacation, or 'I need to escape reality' read.  The 3-diminsional characters felt real, as did their individual situations.  Passananti did a great job in weaving the lives of Angela, Kevin, and Oscar around her main character, Zoë.  Ultra chic Angela has a great job in the fashion world and is on all of the up and coming lists.  Smart and charming Kevin runs the mayoral campaign for a popular candidate.  Oscar, Zoë's rich boyfriend, has a past he keeps hidden, an ex-wife that keeps showing up unexpectedly, and secrets that Zoë finds hard to ingnore.   Top it off with Carol, Zoë's boss from Hell, and you have a hilarious, romantic, and edge of your seat read.

Angela, Kevin, and Carol all went through major changes throughout the book.  However, the character that went through the biggest change was Zoë.  Zoë started out as a woman who found her self worth in men.  She always had a significant other and did not know who she was without one.  When she found herself alone, Zoë became depressed and helpless.  All of the day to day chores seemed pointless and complicated. Throughout the book Zoë starts to transform into an independent women who realizes that she has to be happy with herself before she can be happy with a significant other.  This is a great lesson for all women today.

Passananti did a great job in creating and breathing life into her New York high society world.  Everything felt real from the fashion, restaurants, clubs, parties, and even the New York landscape.  Passananti was also able to create a world for Zoë and her friends to reside in that resonates with what I actually believe New York living to be like.  However, my favorite parts of the book came when Zoë was at her job.  I found myself laughing out loud at the situations Zoë and her colleagues found themselves in.  Furthermore, there were more than a few times that I had to pick my jaw up from the floor after I read about some of Carol's antics.     

Passananti's, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken is a book that I will definitely recommend to all of my girlfriends.  If you are looking for a light, funny, quick read, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken is for you!  

Rutland Square Press and has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken, for the purpose of review.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dry As Rain by Gina Holmes

Dry As Rain, by Gina Holmes, is a Contemporary Romance novel that dives into real problems that marriages face today.  Eric and Kyra have been married for more than 20 years, 18 of which have been good.  For the last two years Eric and Kyra's marriage has turned stale and been filled with arguments, betrayal, and frigidity.  They find themselves living life as strangers.  However, Eric believes he is given a second chance when Kyra is in a car accident and loses part of her short term memory.  As they begin to reconnect, Eric dreads the day her memory comes back.  Dry As Rain take its readers on a journey that finds Eric and Kyra learning about forgiveness and atonement.

I feel that most married couples can relate to Dry as Rain.  Holmes does an excellent job in describing what can happen in a marriage when the couple finds themselves drifting apart.  Jealousy and coldness can easily destroy trust, which in turn can make a deed that was once unthinkable, doable.  Holmes perfectly describes the feelings both partners feel after a betrayal takes place, and just how hard it is to bridge that gap...if ever.  

Dry As Rain illustrates what can happen when money becomes more important than anything else in life.  Eric works 6 days a week in order to climb the corporate ladder.  His goal is to make more money and win the next promotion.  I think that many marriages suffer when work becomes the number one priority.  The other spouse is forgotten, along with his or her hopes and dreams.

Holmes did a great job in incorporating Christianity into Dry As Rain.  In the midst of his own marital infidelity, Eric discovers that God can and will forgive all sins.  Without being 'preachy,' Dry As Rain is a Christian romance novel that reminds readers of certain biblical truths.

Gina Holmes wrote a novel that pulls at the heart strings.  Dry As Rain is a quick read that shows what happens when true love persists.  I recommend this book to any romance lover.  

 Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, Dry As Rain, for the purpose of review.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal

To Be Sung Underwater, by Tom McNeal, is a moving story about a middle aged women and what has come of her life.  Judith is a wife, mother, but most importantly a career women.  Working in Hollywood as a television show editor, Judy puts in long hours at work and lives what others might call a perfect life.  She has a handsome banker husband, a beautiful and smart daughter, and an impressive Hollywood career.

Unbeknownst to those looking in, Judy has recently come to question her husband's fidelity as well as her detached relationship with her daughter, Camille.  Judy finds herself at a crossroads while renting a storage unit for her childhood furniture.  Instead of giving the storage company her true name Judy writes down an alias.  She then spirals rather quickly into a life where she finds herself retreating to her storage space in order to dwell in the past and relive past regrets, namely regarding her first love, Willy.  When Judy's mother finds out about her secret, she pointedly says, "I think you're trying to run away from home but don't know how to do it."   

As I started reading To Be Sung Underwater it quickly pulled me in and then refused to allow me to put it down.  I really enjoyed how the novel switched back and forth between Judy's teenage life in Nebraska and her present life in L.A.  Tom McNeal effortlessly exhibited how Judy developed and grew into an adult and how she lived as that adult.

I felt that the character of Willy was very realistic and likeable.  From the style that he dressed in, to the way he spoke, Willy was a great 3 dimensional character.  Judy views Willy as the man she never really left behind.  Judy thinks fondly of Willy and comes to realize that not only was he her first love, but quite possibly her one true love.  McNeal shows what can unfold when second chances are presented and the past makes its way into the present.   

McNeal did an excellent job in creating a special relationship between Judy and her father.  A summer trip to visit him in Nebraska turned into a permanent situation when Judy realized that his house and town felt more like home than her childhood home with her mother.  Judy discovered a friend in her quiet father and enjoyed the time spent with him, be it driving around country roads, weeding the garden, reading aloud from novels, or doing homework at the same table that he graded papers. While they may not have spoken much, Judy found comfort and familiarity in their silence.  

I thought that McNeal did a terrific job painting the setting in To Be Sung Underwater.  As the story unfolded I could perfectly visualize Nebraska, along with Judy and Willy's hangouts.  McNeal gave life to the lakes, back roads, little towns, and storage unit.  This helped To Be Sung Underwater feel profoundly realistic.

Tom McNeal's, To Be Sung Underwater, is an excellent novel which I would without a doubt read again.  I definitely recommend this novel to book lovers, both male and female. This complimentary book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher Little, Brown and Company and



Friday, July 22, 2011

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner's, Then Came You just found itself a permanent spot on my 'Favorite Books' bookcase.  I'm not referring to my 'Ordinary Books' bookcase that is in our guest bedroom- I am talking about my office bookcase that holds all of my favorite novels.  Not just any book can find its way onto these shelves, but as soon as I started reading Weiner's Then Came You I realized there was something special about it.

Then Came You takes place during current times.  Weiner tells her story from the point of view of 4 different women that at first glance have nothing in common.  Jules is a gorgeous blond, blue eyed Senior at Princeton.  On the outside it seems like she has the perfect life, however she is hiding a hurtful family secret.  Annie is a 24 year old wife and mother of two young boys.  As happy as she is with her life, she can't help but feel discontent with her current situation.  Running her household zaps her energy while the constant struggle for money makes her wish for things she and her family does not have.  Bettina is the daughter of a New York Billionaire.  She does not fit into the party scene, she would much rather spend her time at her job appraising art for an auction house.  She is fairly content in her life until her father shows up with his new bride, India.  India feels that she won the brass ring when she married her wealthy husband.  The struggles she went through as a child, teenager, and adult all seem worth it.  She has finally made it, what more could she want?  

Then Came You has all of the aspects I look for in a great work of fiction.  There are strong female characters that are well written and seem real to me.  I may not like a certain character but Weiner makes sure that I can sympathize with her.  The dialog is witty and there are twists that I did not see coming.  At one moment I found myself laughing while the next moment I was trying not to let the tears fall.  I was also able to escape reality while reading Then Came much as a mother of a two year old can escape reality (during some of my reading my daughter made it her mission to get my attention by splashing me from her baby pool that my feet just happened to be resting in.)

Then Came You tackles many important current issues, one of which is Egg donation and Surrogacy.  Weiner does a fantastic job opening up the door for discussion of this practice.  How does the egg donor feel about the situation?  Will she ever regret her decision or want to know about her biological baby in the future?  Can the Surrogate easily tell herself that the baby she is carrying is not really hers?  How will she feel once the baby is delivered and placed in its Mother's arms?  What about this new Mother, how does she react to the newness of it all?  Can she easily bond with the baby, or will she feel like a babysitter?  All of these crucial feelings and more are covered in Then Came You.

Jennifer Weiner's Then Came You is an excellent novel that I highly recommend.  If you are looking for a book with heart and humor, Then Came You should be your first choice!  This complimentary book was received for the purpose of review from Atria Books and


Monday, July 18, 2011

A Bullet for Two by Robert Strzalko

A Bullet for Two is Robert Strzalko's first novel.  Known better for his works of Poetry, Strzalko goes in a different direction in this thrilling story.  Taking place in the American West shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, A Bullet for Two shows a gritty, dark, and realistic side of the West.

Real life is hard and unfair and there is not room for rose colored glasses in this novel.  A Bullet for Two starts as Jeb, a Civil War Hero looking for a fresh start in the West, stumbles upon the gruesome raping of a young half Indian girl.  The 3 corrupt men involved in the raping happen to be the town's Sheriff, Mayor, and local business tycoon.  Jeb does what he feels is right and rescues the 14 year old Sara while bestowing revenge.  Because of his actions, Jeb finds himself a Wanted Man with a bounty on his head.  A Bullet for Two unfolds as Jeb and Sara run from the law, bounty hunters, and a posse made up of town men obsessed with seeking revenge for the murders.

Strzalko does a terrific job in developing his characters.  Jeb feels a deep torment due to the part he played in the Civil War.  After losing those most important to him and witnessing an overload of death and destruction, Jeb views society as an unforgiving, dark place where people take amusement in public hangings and use 'justice' to justify killing others.  Sara, on the other hand, lost her parents at a young age and has been treated as a sexual slave and servant for too many of her 14 years.  However, she still believes in happy endings and views Jeb as her savior.  The loyalty she feels regarding Jeb is far beyond that of a teenager. 

Strzalko did a fantastic job in showcasing just how lawless the 'Wild West' was after the Civil War.  When the War ended many soldiers had nothing and no one to go back to.  After witnessing and causing brutal deaths, many men felt the only job that suited their new outlook was that of a bounty hunter...thus, the influx of bounty hunters in the West.  Many of the bounty hunters Strzalko wrote about lived outside the law.  When coming upon a 'Wanted' man they shot first and asked questions later.  Many times an innocent person was killed due to faulty identification.  However, as long as is wasn't a sheriff or politician that was killed the bounty hunter didn't care about the unnecessary loss of life.  They played the game and played it well.

Also brought to light in A Bullet for Two was the way the Native American population was viewed by the general public.  Strzalko makes the argument that the US Government viewed the Godless Savages as an annoying group that had something they wanted- land.  Instead of sending the Army in to get rid of the Indians and secure the land, the government saved money and sent homesteaders out to do the dirty work for them.  Their basic advertisement was 'Free land in the West, you just have to get rid of the current owners.'        

I highly recommend Robert Strzalko's A Bullet for Two.  You will find a suspenseful and faced paced story revolving around the dark side of human nature.  

This complimentary book was received for the purpose of review from

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Quotable Rogue by Matt Lewis

What does Sarah Palin think about Health Care?  Does she support Immigration Reform?  Matt Lewis' The Quotable Rogue: The Ideals of Sarah Palin in Her Own Words, is a book of well known and lesser known quotes made by Sarah Palin that shows readers exactly where Sarah Palin stands on issues.  These quotes comes from a variety of places, including magazine interviews, television interviews, newspaper interviews, speeches, and letters.

Lewis has put together a very interesting and informative book.  Many in the general public see Sarah Palin as a caricature the media has created.  When some people are asked what they think of Sarah Palin their response revolves around her one liners, glasses, and accent.  However, Matt Lewis opens the door to the real Sarah Palin by sharing her actual quotes. 

Before reading Lewis' The Quotable Rogue I could tell you about the Sarah Palin Saturday Night Live impersonations or late night tv jokes.  However, I couldn't tell you exactly what Sarah Palin stood for.  What are her views on Civil Rights, Iraq, the Economy, Education, Energy, or the Environment?  Matt Lewis sheds light on exactly what Sarah Palin thinks about each of those subjects and more.

In an ingenious way Lewis divides his book into section with direct quotes about 33 different issues.  Whether you like Sarah Palin or not, or agree with her politics or not you no longer have an excuse not to know what Sarah Palin stands for.  By reading the fast paced The Quotable Rogue you are able to find out just who Sarah Palin is.

I recommend Matt Lewis' The Quotable Rogue to every political minded AmericanLewis presents a great way to learn just what Sarah Palin stands for without the slanted view of the media.

This complimentary book was received for the purpose of review from BookSneeze and Tom Nelson Publishing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lagan Love, by Peter Murphy

Once the pages of Peter Murphy's novel, Lagan Love, was opened I was instantly swept into Dublin, Ireland.  Lagan Love centers around a group of people who are just beginning to find themselves.  Aidan charges (or more aptly drunkenly stumbles) into the novel as Dublin's fresh young poet, dubbed as the voice of Ireland's conscience.  Janice, a young women from Toronto, has moved to Dublin to study at the prestigious Trinity School.  As Janice immerses herself in the new culture she also finds herself on a journey of self-discovery.  After finding herself in a somewhat shaky relationship with Aidan, Janice decides to follow the path of becoming an artist.  Mix in Gwen, Aidan's mysterious and other worldly editor, and you find yourself in the middle of Murphy's intoxicating tale of love, heart ache, and the cost of making your dreams a reality.   

Murphy does a fine job in painting his 1980's Ireland as a place filled with class, socioeconomic, and religious strife.  It doesn't take long to see that many characters in Lagan Love are disenchanted with many of the European countries, England being at the top of the list.  Many of the characters are prejudice and have no problem throwing around racial remarks involving those in other social classes, of a different faith, or from a different country.  This all seemed very realistic to me.  However, Murphy also showed his Dubliners as a proud people, who didn't forget history and spoke of it frequently.

The characters in Lagan Love frequently spend their mornings, afternoons, and evenings in pubs drinking, smoking, gossiping, complaining, and speaking about about their times growing up.  Murphy makes the pub a familiar place where everybody knows everyone and their business.  The Cheers song, "Where everybody knows your name" comes to mind while following the characters from pub to pub. 

Religion also plays a role in Murphy's novel.  While reading I definitely felt the tension between the Protestants and Catholics.  Murphy does a great job in showing what turmoil in the Catholic church can do to men and women in their own homes.   

While I enjoyed Lagan Love, it took me a few chapters to get my footing.  At times I felt there was too much history and 'sightseeing' being written about, which took away from the characters and their journey.  It also took me a while to adjust to the Irish vernacular, however it did make the novel that much more realistic.

I enjoyed watching the character dynamics unfold between Janice and Aidan.  When Janice met Aidan she was a shy, self conscious girl.  Throughout the novel she evolved into a self confident, daring women.   However, Aidan stayed much the same.  The novel started showing him as an unhappy,  egocentric character and ended much the same.  Murphy makes the case that both Janice's evolution and Aidan's stalemate could be linked to Gwen.

I definitely recommend Lagan Love, Peter Murphy's first novel.  I look forward to reading more literary work from him.         

~Candace, Reviewer for

Friday, July 1, 2011

Covet by J.R. Ward

Covet, by J.R. Ward, is the first in her new series entitled The Fallen Angels.  Covet revolves around a number of people who on the outside have very little in common.  However, fate...or as is would seem someone 'up above,' has brought them together.

Covet taken place in Caldwell, NY which fans of Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series will instantly recognize.  The characters in Covet frequent many of the same places that the characters in the BDB go to.  The BDB fans will also get a little 'present' as one or two cameo's are made by characters from the BDB.  However, by no means do you have to read or be familiar with Ward's BDB series in order to read her new Fallen Angels series.  Aside from the same setting Covet is a book of it's own. 

Jim is a mysterious man of few words.  He is new to Caldwell and as fate would have it is chosen by both good and evil ... or angels and influence and save the souls of 7 different people who are caught up in the 7 deadly sins.  Each book in the Fallen Angels series will feature one of these people...hence the first novel's title, Covet.  In walks Vin, an extremely wealthy business owner with a multitude of secrets.  Jim sets out to help Vin see the errors of his ways and find true happiness that money can't buy.

Let me be clear that Covet is most definitely an ADULT novel.  Ward spins a world with romance, raw sex, violence, suspense, and adult language.  Ward does a great job in writing about social issues.  There were many times throughout the book the characters spoke about the importance of using condoms and even wearing motercylce helmets.

I feel that Ward does an excellent job in creating 3 dimensional characters that start evolving from the beginning of the story until the end. Covet was extremly entertaining, I literally could not put it down until I finished it.  I especially like how Ward writes from the male perspective, she seems to capture the ends and outs of male friendship and bonding.  Ward also does a stand out job in creating a world that readers can visualize in her Caldwell, NY.  As she describes the bars or homes I can picture exactly what each looks like in my mind. 

I highly recommend Covet to anyone who is looking for an escape from everyday life, it is a GREAT book.  Each chapter will leave you wanting more and be prepared to find many surprising twists and turns.  Kudos to Ward for creating another excellent series, I look forward to seeing the journey Jim will be take in the next The Fallen Angels book, Crave.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NightShade by Andrea Cremer

Well ready or not, here I go!  I'm just going to jump right in to reviewing my first book! 

NightShade by Andrea Cremer is a modern day Werewolf story...but don't call the characters werewolves or you will step on some toes, they prefer to be called Guardians.  

To any normal teenager (and when I say normal, I mean human) Calla Tor is a leader among her peers and someone you don't want to mess with.  In actuality, there is nothing 'normal' about her.  She has been raised her entire life knowing that she is the Female Alpha that will be gaining control of a newly formed were pack once she is of age.  Her mate and the Male Alpha is Ren, a boy Calla has grown up with and always felt tension around.  Ren's pack and Calla's pack are to merge into one once the two Alpha's are of age.  All is going as planned until Shay, a mysterious yet lonely human teenager, enters the picture. 

NightShade is a romantic and at times suspenseful tale.  When I first started reading this book I was a little confused about the world Andrea Cremer was creating:  just who are the Keepers, Searchers, and Guardians?  However, as I delved deeper into the story things became abundantly clearer.  

I loved the characters in NightShade and enjoyed seeing them develop as the story progressed.  Andrea Cremer did a fantastic job in creating a female heroine.  Calla is a strong, opinionated, and in charge female.  Honestly, the only issue I had with NightShade was the love triangle that is set up.  While I like the character of Shay, I just felt mixed emotions whenever he was in a scene with his love interest.  But I will leave YOU to judge that aspect!

Andrea Cremer's NightShade comes highly recommended from me!  Romance, alliances, mystery, suspense: NightShade has it all!  I am eagerly awaiting the July 2011 release of Wolfsbane, the 2nd book in her series. 

Happy Reading! 

Hear thee, Hear thee...

What out literary world, you are reading the thoughts of an official book reviewer!