Saturday, January 31, 2009

REVIEW: Kiss & Tell by Alison Kent

Year of the Category Reading Challenge hosted by Kmont of Lurv a la Mode.

Kiss & Tell is a contemporary love story between a woman desperate to stay hidden from the media and her potentially worst enemy--an entertainment gossip columnist. Five years ago, Miranda Kelley returned to her small hometown in Mistletoe, Colorado to escape the media after a much publicized, much gossip-laden divorce to a high profile businessman in Balitmore, Maryland. Mistletoe, Colorado is a small town whose businesses center around a lovers resort renowned for its utmost respect for the privacy of its visitors. Miranda has spent the last several years immersing herself in her work in her flower shop by day, and as a cocktail lounge singer at the resort hotel by night. Only a very few people in Mistletoe know Miranda is Candy Cane, the cocktail lounge singer and virtually no one outside Mistletoe know she is the ex wife of the Balitmore businessman, E. Marshall Gordon, who is once again under the scrutiny of the public eye as he's being brought to trial on charges of fraud. Now more than ever, Miranda is desperate to stay hidden from the world.

Caleb McGregor is the writer of a nationally syndicated entertainment column who writes under the name of Max Savage, keeping his true identity a secret from the world as well. His latest assignment brings him to Mistletoe, Colorado to cover the controversial wedding of the young rock star Ravyn Black to the newly divorced Colorado congressman,Teddy Eagleton. Sitting alone in the cocktail lounge of the lover's resort, Caleb is contemplating his career as celebrity gossip columnist, drowning his regrets in a few drinks. He's come to a turning point in his career, thinking he's made some mistakes exposing celebrities' private lives and is considering how he might make amends with his career choices when he becomes enthralled by the evening's performer--a beautiful strawberry blond named Candy Cane. Miranda--performing as Candy Cane--notices an attractive man sitting by himself looking lost and lonely, playfully winds her way through the audience during her last number and ends her performance on an alarmingly uncharacteristic note by seductively kissing the man who is none other than Caleb McGregor. The one man who unknowingly to both of them, has the power to ruin Miranda Kelley's life.

Miranda doesn't know that the man she kissed is a man who has the power to expose her to the world, yet she knows that doing anything like kissing a stranger has the potential for disaster if she's trying to maintain a low profile. Caleb doesn't know Candy Cane is Miranda Kelley, a.k.a. the ex Miranda Gordon. In fact, he doesn't even know she's keeping her identity a secret. But their kiss was unforgettable for both of them and after the show they cross paths at the bar. One thing leads to another and Candy Cane and Caleb start to have a fling. Their fling is fun and sexy, but quickly and easily begins to be something more. Candy reveals herself as Miranda, and Caleb soon finds out her last name is Kelley, but the connection isn't made with her ex husband yet. Miranda and Caleb are really comfortable with each other's company. They talk for hours and both find something truly soul satisfying in each other's arms. Eventually, though, truths come out between them regarding their identities and things get complicated. Both Miranda and Caleb have a lot to work out with their individual identities and how they want to live their future. Coming together seems an impossibility for this unlikely pair, but eventually they get their happily ever after.

Kiss & Tell is another fun, sexy and emotional love story. The circumstances that bring Miranda and Caleb together almost sound far fetched, but were actually very believable. Despite the fact that Miranda and Caleb were seemingly the last two people who should be falling in love, they felt so right together from the very start. They were really comfortable together both intimately and in a friendship or companion kind of way as well. The parts when their fling started to become an actual relationship were very sweet and had me wanting to push them to their happily ever after. However, it wasn't so easy for them to finally come together, which actually makes for a better story. Miranda and Caleb both learned a lot from each other and did a lot of soul searching as a result of other person's true identity. Their relationship afforded them the opportunity to reflect on life choices they made in the past and change something in their present to improve their future. This was rather important for the future happiness of both characters.

Kiss & Tell is the second book I have read by author Alison Kent, and I have to say I really enjoy how she layers the relationships between all of her characters--the hero and heroine as well as a full cast of secondary characters. All of the characters in a story are connected in some way and their actions and reactions have this domino effect on the whole story arc. Because I really enjoy the way these relationships are so tightly layered, I came to expect full disclosure on all of the subplots, and was a bit disappointed that I didn't get to find out how a rather big conflict between the rock star Ravyn Black and her mother was resolved. Not that it would have affected the outcome of Miranda and Caleb's happily ever after, but I was vested in the mother daughter relationship so I wanted to know what happened between them. I also wondered how Caleb maintained his duo identities as a reporter. Wouldn't the people he interviewed for his column be able to identify him as Caleb McGregor and not Max Savage? He was clearly visiting the resort as Caleb McGregor, but when he interviewed Ravyn Black, was he Caleb or Max? I wasn't sure how that preserved his secret true identity as Caleb McGregor.

All in all, Kiss & Tell was a great romance that I truly enjoyed.


Visit Alison Kent at her website at

REVIEW: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Read and reviewed for the Young Adult Book Challenge hosted by J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a small collection of fables for wizards and witches that have been recorded by the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore and translated by Hermoine Granger. Much like Aesop's fables, which are often grim stories leading to thoughtful moral lessons that have been written for muggles, The Tales of Beedle the Bard have been written with the similar intention of providing lessons on values such honesty and charity for wizards and witches. The tales also attempt to encourage the peaceful coexistence of wizards and witches with muggles.

There are five tales in the book and each tale is followed by comprehensive commentary and footnotes by Albus Dumbledore. The tales themselves are short, yet interesting, especially if you are a fan of the Harry Potter world. The commentary helped tie the stories into the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling, offering small insights into the history of wizards and witches, spells, wands, and so on. The book makes a nice addition to our set of all seven Harry Potter novels in hardcover, along with Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I don't necessarily consider it a "must read" for Harry Potter fans.

My least favorite tale is "The Warlock's Hairy Heart." I just didn't get the ending. The first time I read through it, I thought, 'Huh?' I read the last two pages again, and also Dumbledore's commentary and I think I get it, but it is a bit odd. I suppose the moral lesson makes more sense in the wizarding world, and just isn't applicable to a muggle like me. Oh well.

My favorite tale is "The Fountain of Fair Fortune," as its lesson included lessons on friendship, teamwork, and sacrifice. Its message was the most positive and uplifting, not to mention there was a little romantic happily ever after.

The best part of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is the fact that net proceeds from the sales of this book go toward the Children's High Level Group (CHLG), a non profit charity founded by J.K. Rowling and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, MEP whose aim is to provide assistance to and improve the lives of marginalized and institutionalized children throughout Europe. You can read more about the Children's High Level Group at


Thursday, January 29, 2009

What kind of blogger are you?

I saw this blog analyzer called The Typealyzer over at Jace's blog called Jace Scribbles. [Jace also has a second blog titled Jace Makes where she blogs about things she crafts such as beautiful book thongs, book marks, and other items made from paper, beads, and embroidery floss. She even opened an Etsy shop! Very cool.]

Jace's results indicated that she one of The Doers type bloggers: the active and playful type. She thought the description was a really accurate assessment, so I thought I'd give it a go. The easiest part is that it isn't even a poll. You just need to enter the url of your blog and the program analyzes your blog content.

This is what came up for me, and I have to say, I believe it is quite accurate for me, as well.

The Artists

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of.

They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living.

What kind of blogger are you? Do you think your results are an accurate indicator of your blogging type? Visit The Typealyzer and find out! 

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm a RoCkStaR!

We bought Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and a PS 3 console for Christmas in 2007, but after failing miserably when convinced to play by my family who are all of above average musical talent whereas my musical ability lies in the realm of negative, and getting booed off the stage in a mere few seconds, I quit the band. Getting booed off the stage is awful, you know?

Fast forward to Christmas break 2008. So we've been living in this one bedroom apartment (condo, whatever...) about a mile and a half from our house since Thanksgiving weekend (long story... ) with NO TELEVISION and a slower wireless network (that we're basically hijacking from some unassuming dude in the apartment complex who has an unprotected wireless router... SCORE!), so we brought along a projector and the PS 3 so we can at least play DVDs and video games. And since we're living in such close quarters (two adults, a senior citizen, a teen, a tween and four cats.... in a one bedroom apartment, condo, whatever... ), it was only a matter of time (minutes) before I got convinced to give Guitar Hero another go one year later. I figured I might as well since I'm going to have to listen to it up close and personal anyway since I have no place else in the place to sit really. So I fail miserably on my first attempt and get booed off the stage in a matter of ... oh ... less than 20 notes, I imagine. No surprises there. But my teen steps in and shows me how to place my fingers on the 'keys' and how to angle my wrist just right, and how to relax my fingers and wrist (I should follow her advice. There's a good reason she's first chair violin in the school orchestra, you know?). I give it another whirl, and guess what? I actually freakin' finished a song! There was singing, dancing, records playing, dancing in the streets! Okay, well not really. But I did get lots of praise and pats on the back and hugs and kisses from my fans. I liked that. So I went back for more. And more. And more. And that, my friends, is how a Guitar Hero Mom is born.

Tonight, I got my all highest score yet! I scored 125,425 points playing Knights of Cydonia by Muse, circa 2006. Check. Me. Out.

Notice I'm sweeping the charts. SWEEPING!

Actually, I'm practically sweeping the charts on ALL the songs.

It's true. On Easy.

Because no one else plays on Easy but me.

But that's beside the point! The point is I'm a STAR!

In my house, in the eyes of my husband and daughters.

And I apparently, I can go to parties now, too! Sweet.

My favorite songs to play:
Knights of Cydonia, Muse
My Name Is Jonas, Weezer
Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Pat Benatar
Black Magic Woman, Santana
When You Were Young, The Killers
Ruby, Kaiser Chiefs
Don't Hold Back, The Sleeping

Admit to me that you play video games, too! I'd love to hear what you play!   

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

REVIEW: Shaken And Stirred by Kathleen O'Reilly

Published March 1, 2008
TBR Challenge Review

For more information on the TBR Challenge, visit

Shaken and Stirred is the first book in the Harlequin Blaze trilogy titled "Those SEXY O'Sullivans" by Kathleen O'Reilly. Each of the three books center around one of three O'Sullivan brothers whose stories are intertwined through brotherly bonds as well as through their famous Manhattan family owned bar called Prime. Shaken and Stirred is the love story of the youngest O'Sullivan, Gabe who is the owner of Prime, and Tessa Hart, who is a college student by day and Prime bartender by night. Tessa Hart left her Florida hometown four years ago after being unexpectedly dumped by her then boyfriend Denny Ericcson. The break up was a huge blow to Tessa, namely because she put off college, career or any goals for herself after high school because Denny promised her an easy future with him in which she didn't have to worry about anything. Desolated but not broken, Tessa took off for New York City to make it on her own. Determined to forge her way to complete independence, Tessa has avoided intimate relationships with guys and has been flitting between roommates and apartments, all the while struggling with keeping ends met and studying accounting at a community college. The only thing that Tessa has been able to rely on in her four years in the Big Apple is tending bar at Prime and her boss and mentor, Gabe O'Sullivan. Now Tessa finds herself with a mere five days to find a new place to stay and is offered a room by Gabe. Tessa reluctantly accepts the offer, hesitant to do anything that would change their easy, comfortable relationship as boss and friend. Of course, things get shaken and stirred between Tessa and Gabe the very first night, and their road to their happily ever after is sexy, fun, and at times on the rocks, as Tessa insists on her independence when all Gabe wants to do is take her in forever.

Shaken And Stirred is such a fun romance! I was drawn in to the setting, the cast of characters, and the story line from the very first few pages. Firstly, the setting of the story is perfect. New York City is lively, interesting, and dramatic in and of itself and the perfect compliment to a sexy romance between the owner of a bar and his best bartender and friend. The entire cast of characters, including secondary and trivial characters, are realistic and unique, just as you'd expect at a real life family owned bar.

Although the book is relatively short at 214 pages, Ms. O'Reilly does a wonderful job at developing the individual personalities of her characters, including their flaws and weaknesses. Gabe is protective of Tessa, yet respects her need to survive on her own. Well, he tries his best, anyway. There's only so patient and understanding a guy can be when the woman he loves wants her independence more than anything else. Tessa is confident and determined.... but not. She's still young, a bit naive, a bit skittish, and I think deep down inside loves the idea of having a man take care of her, which completely contradicts her resolve to be completely self reliant. Shaken And Stirred is almost a coming of age story for Tessa as she tries to figure out what's truly important for her present and future success and happiness.

The story line of Shaken And Stirred is at times fun and then at times very serious. The dialogue and pace of the story is excellent, and of course the intimacy shared between Gabe and Tessa is very steamy. I thought the relationship between Gabe and Tessa was realistic, as was the way they fell in love. I understood Tessa's need to have her independence, but at the same time I wanted her to just fall into the security of Gabe. There was a brief part at which I was skeptical of how quickly Gabe's resolve to not wait for Tessa wavered. One moment he was adamant about not waiting around for her, and then the next moment he was ready to wait forever for her. But young love is confusing, and it's easy to say one thing and then do another, so I got over it. The story was just so sweet and sexy, I couldn't help but love it. It's a friends to lovers romance that had me rooting for a happily ever after for Gabe and Tessa from the very beginning. I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy, which are both in my TBR pile, so stay tuned!


Unfortunately, Shaken And Stirred is no longer available to purchase new in paperback. It is, however, available in Kindle edition at Amazon HERE or in ebook format at eharlequin HERE.

Visit Kathleen O'Reilly at her website:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Win a copy of BROKEN WING by Judith James!

I've wanted to read Broken Wing by Judith James book since the dawning days of Kristie's glowing remarks way back in early October, but shockingly still haven't picked it up. And I don't mean 'picked it up' as in off my TBR pile. I mean I still haven't 'picked it up' as in I still haven't bought it! Alas, my wait may be over because Cindy W recently read Broken Wing and loved it so much that she's giving away a copy on her blog! So if you're like me and still haven't read this widely loved debut novel, head over to Cindy's blog at Cindy Reads Romance and enter for your chance to win. 

Contest ends Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 8 pm EST.

Good luck!

REVIEW: What A Scoundrel Wants by Carrie Lofty

What A Scoundrel Wants is an historical romance set in medieval England at the turn of the 12th century. It is the tale of a rakish swordsman named Will Scarlet and a woman named Meg of Keyworth who is much sought after by the villains of Nottingham for her talents in alchemy. Will Scarlet is the nephew of the renowned Robin Hood and has abandoned his post as guardian of his uncle's estate in part because he feels he has performed an act of betrayal against his uncle, and in part because he is so desperate to stop living in his famous uncle's shadow once and for all. Will has since taken a position as a swordsman for the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Meg of Keyworth was blinded due to a childhood illness, yet is a strong and independent woman and completely capable when in her own element. Meg inherited her deceased father's passion for alchemy and has learned how to create fake jewels that she can sell in the marketplace to put food on the table for herself and her sister Ada. After having been deceived and humiliated by her lover Hugo and her sister Ada, she sends her sister to Nottingham to sell her jewels for profit, and Ada is arrested and imprisoned by none other than Will Scarlet. Upon learning of her sister's arrest, Meg solicits the aid of her late father's only friend of station, Lord Whitstowe to enter the castle of Nottingham to free her sister. On route to the castle, however, they cross paths with the sheriff's guards and a bloody battle quickly ensues. Will Scarlet witnesses traitorous behavior among the fighting parties, including the death of Lord Whitstowe by the hand of the Lord's own guards and is not sure who is on the side of the law and who has what intentions in this unexpected battle. While trying to figure out what is going on and what to do, he instinctually responds to a woman's screams and rescues Meg from being violated and taken prisoner by these men. Will and Meg escape into the forest and Will decides he needs her as witness to the truth of the betrayals that took place in the battle before he is framed for murder, only to find out his witness is a blind woman and the sister of the woman he arrested in Nottingham no less. Obviously, the relationship between Will and Meg is full of anger, frustration and even hatred, yet they form a sort of alliance because they each need the other for their own purposes. Despite their unlikely pairing, heat develops between the two throughout their treacherous escapades through Nottingham over the course of a few weeks and they fight each other every step of the way.

It has been awhile since I read a novel that took more than a few chapters to get interested or involved in a story and its characters, and I'm afraid What A Scoundrel Wants was the first to stump me in quite some time. For the first 200 pages or so, I felt no investment in the characters and I wasn't even intrigued by the outcome of their quests. I continued on, however, largely out of obligation because I had won this book in a contest and promised a review in return for the prize. I'm glad I did, however, because finally in the last 150 pages or so of the book, I was at the edge of my seat desperate to see Will and Meg through to their happily ever after. Still, it took reading 200 pages to get that point, which is rather disappointing.

For more than half the book, I honestly didn't think very highly of Meg at all. She is not a very nice person, and in fact is deceitful and selfish. She creates counterfeit jewels and sells them for profit. Out of anger and perhaps even revenge for Ada's betrayal, Meg has her sister be the one to risk selling the jewels in the marketplace where she is arrested and imprisoned for fraud. So Meg compromised her sister's safety out of vengeance and is angry and spiteful when she is caught? Those actions alone make for a long road to feeling compassion for this woman, let alone feeling she deserves the affection of Will Scarlet who responds to keeping her safe out of mere chivalry from the very first scene. Of course, Meg's blindness and the acts of injustice against her play a huge role in molding the person she has become, yet her bitterness and spite was rather overwhelming and it took a long time before I came to care for her.

Will Scarlet is not nearly the scoundrel he is claimed to be. He did perform a singular act of betrayal against Robin Hood, he was not the only one responsible party, so calling him a scoundrel for it is quite exaggerated. If his actions several years prior as an outlaw alongside Robin Hood deemed him a scoundrel, it is never revealed in the novel. Will is struggling to find his own way in the world, putting an end to living in the shadow of his uncle, which adds depth to his character, and his dedication to chivalry and carrying out justice is admirable.

Readers who love stories of Robin Hood and the like would find What A Scoundrel Wants to be an enjoyable and rewarding read. The story is loaded with adventure, danger, and intrigue right to the last pages of the book. Will Scarlet and Meg Keyworth both have complicated pasts and their present situations are even more complicated, each contributing to interesting character developments for both, and their union a curious, yet satisfying part of the tale. Unfortunately for me, the incessant fighting, anger and spite from Meg, in addition to her inconsistent intentions with Will detracted from my enjoyment of a large part of the novel.


My grade for this novel is based on giving the first 200 pages a C and the last 154 pages a B.

Don't just take my word for it, though. The following reviewers really loved What A Scoundrel Wants:

Ana of The Book Smugglers gives it an 8/10 in her review HERE.
AztecLady of Karen Knows Best gives it an 8.5/10 in her review HERE.
Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books gives it an A- in her review HERE.
Jayne of Dear Author gives it a B+ in her review HERE.

Monday, January 12, 2009

REVIEW: Stranger by Megan Hart

Sorrow, like songs, is never the same. ~Grace Frawley

Grace Frawley is the funeral director of Frawley and Sons funeral home, a long time family business that she recently took over from her father. Grace has been working hard at filling her dad's shoes in the business and also making small changes and improvements in order to keep a competitive edge in the business. She's diligent with her business responsibilities, and also very patient and compassionate with her clients all of whom are in varied states of emotional distress. Constantly exposed to people losing and grieving for their loved ones, Grace has decided to live her life without the risk of suffering those horrendous losses for herself. She doesn't want anything to do with marriage, or even boyfriends, so Grace hires escorts for dates and often, if not most times, for sex.

Regularly using an escort service and paying for sex is Grace's deepest kept secret and suits her just fine. Grace prearranges her dates with the escort agency with specific instructions on where she'd meet her escort and includes the pretense under which they would meet and proceed to a private place for sex. Her sex life is exciting and satisfying, and most of all, she's safe from the emotional attachment of a relationship that inevitably ends in loss and pain. Until the night, that is, that Grace signed up with the agency to pick up a stranger at a bar and proceed upstairs to a room for sex, and she hooks up with Sam Stewart instead. It isn't until after Grace leaves Sam's room after a night of hot, passionate, unforgettable sex that she checks her voicemail only to find out her hired escort missed their date and she picked up the wrong stranger. Or is he the right one?

Once again, Megan Hart has written an otherwise straightforward story of a young woman who avoids romantic relationships, and transformed it into a thought provoking, insightful story of self reflection and discovery that is perfectly layered with dramatic realism and sensuality that is simply unforgettable. Right from the start, the reader learns that Grace pays for sex because she doesn't want the emotional entanglement and the inevitable pain and loss that follows when either the relationship fails or worse, when the one you love dies. But why does she go to such lengths to avoid relationships? What really makes Grace Frawley tick? Can the right man make her change her ways? Is the joy of love worth the risk of losing that love? All of these questions are explored through this riveting story told from Grace's point of view as she struggles to keep her emotional attachments in check.

Stranger is not just the story about Grace Frawley and her sexual escapades. Stranger is the story about Grace Frawley and how she learns about love and loss taking risks through her relationships with the people around her. It's about her relationship with her father who can't help but keep his nose in her business in more ways than one. It is about her relationship with her sister who has the seemingly picture perfect happily ever after with a husband, two kids, and a nice suburban life, but is struggling with her own happiness. It's about her relationships with her office assistant and her intern, and how to balance friendship with professionalism. It's about her relationships with all the families in their various states of emotional well being that pass through Grace's life because she is the one they turn to in preparing their loved one for final good byes. It's about her relationship with Jack, her regular escort at the agency, with whom emotional barriers begin to falter for both parties. It's about her relationship with Sam Stewart who was once a stranger, but ends up teaching Grace a few things about joy, love, and intimacy, and whether experiencing all that is worth the risk of losing it at any moment.

Grace sincerely believes she's doing the best thing for herself by remaining emotionally detached from any guy she goes out on a date with or has sex with. Her confidence in this arrangement, though, begins to falter both with her regular escort Jack and even more so when Sam shows up in her life again after that fateful night of picking up the wrong stranger. The pace at which Grace allows herself to become emotionally involved with a man after having such resolute feelings on the matter is realistic and convincing. I liked that she struggled with allowing herself to love someone until practically the very end when it was almost too late. I liked that she learned that decisions about love aren't just about herself, but about the other person, too.

Realistic characters, natural dialogue, beautiful erotic and romantic trysts, and thought provoking insights on life, death and love all exemplify Megan Hart's signature style of erotic fiction. The characters and their stories will remain on your mind and in your heart long after you've closed the book.


Stranger was released on January 1, 2009. Visit Megan Hart at .

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Young Adult Reading Challenge

Well, that didn't take long. My friend DarlingDiva from the Things That Make Me Happy and apparently the new Tales of a Ravenous Reader blog that she didn't tell me she started (hrmpf!) commented on my Stats and Reading Challenge Post last night, stating that she had joined an Audio Book Challenge and a Young Adult Book Challenge. So I checked out the one she joined and decided to give it a go. The 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge is hosted by blogger J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog. I'm pretty sure all I have to do is list the 12 books I am challenging myself to read, link my post to the challenge and then check off the books as I go along. It doesn't exactly say in the rules that you have to post a review . . . but I bet I'm supposed to. I'll do my best. :)

Here is my tentative list of YA Books I'd like to read for this Challenge:

In no particular order . . .
1. Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart trilogy, Book 3)
2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
3. Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
(Gemma Doyle trilogy, Book 3)
4. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
6. Rumors by Anna Godbersen (The Luxe, Book 2)
7. Envy by Anna Godbersen(The Luxe, Book 3)
8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (sequel to the amazing novel The Hunger Games!)
9. Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast (House of Night, Book 1)
10. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy, Book 1)
11. The Graveyard by Neil Gaiman
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter, Book 7)

Wish me luck!

Edited to Add:
My list is posted no longer than two hours and already I'm altering it! LOL Kati just reminded me of an upcoming YA novel that looks really good, so I'm going to add it to my YA reading queue.

13. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Personal Reading Stats for 2008 . . . . and Reading Challenges for 2009

My Reading Stats for 2008
When I looked back to reflect on the books I read last year for My Favorite Books of 2008 post, I decided to take a closer look at my personal reading stats. 

Note the following simple chart:

Number of Books Read Per Month (2008)

#Books Read:

Mean: 5 Books
Median: 4 Books
Mode: 4 Books

Very interesting. This is what I discovered:

On one hand, you can look at the number of books I read each month and it looks like my reading patterns were all over the place! Reading anywhere from ONE to TEN books in one month is pretty erratic if you ask me.

However . . . if you look at the measures of central tendency, my reading patterns are practically a "normal" distribution! 

Um. Okay, so maybe that's not that funny, but it is kind of neat how the mean, median, and mode are so close. When those three measures of central tendency are the same, it means that I'm most likely to read four books in a month, but in any given month, I'm equally likely to read more than four books as I am likely to read less than four books. I think. And you know what that means? It means I need to read more this year. Okay, that I pulled from where the sun doesn't shine.

Anyway, I read a total of 61 books in 2008, which averages out to reading about 1.17 books a week or about 5.08 books a month. That number really isn't too bad considering that in 2006, the typical American was reading four books per year (courtesy of, All Things Considered.). So on average, I read more books in one month than the typical American reads in a whole year. Still, it's usually more prudent to read more books in a month than you buy. Isn't it?

Something else that I observed from my reflection on last year's reads that isn't revealed in those stats is that I actually read books from a wider variety of genres. In 2008, I actually deviated from my normal paranormal fixation and read quite a few urban fantasy novels and contemporary romances, a few historical romances, a few romantic suspense novels, a touch of straight fantasy, and I even went back to pre-romance reading days and read a handful of young adult fiction. I hope to continue this pattern this year as well. 

Reading Challenges for 2009
To encourage myself to read more in 2009, and to help whittle down my TBR pile (ha!), I joined a few Reading Challenges this year. 

In March of last year, I joined the TBR Reading Challenge hosted by Keishon at the blog. I did well the first four months, but failed to follow through the last several months. I was disappointed that I didn't keep up, and now my TBR pile is bigger than ever, so I rejoined Keishon's TBR Reading Challenge 2009 and am determined to complete it this time. To learn more about this challenge, visit Keishon at the

I also joined the Year of the Category Reading Challenge hosted by Kmont at Lurv à la Mode. Kmont mentioned late last year that she was going to resolve to read more category romance in 2009 and I coerced pressured encouraged her to organize a Category Reading Challenge and she did!!! So of course, then I had to join. Talk about pressure. To learn more about this challenge, visit Kmont at Lurv à la Mode

Last, but not least, I joined a Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Brie at Musings of a Bibliophile. I already have several contemporary romances at the top of my TBR pile that I've been itching to read, plus a few MUST BUYS for 2009 (Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas, Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins, anything by Megan Hart ... ), so I figure I may as well join Brie's challenge in order to keep my head in the game. To learn more about this challenge, visit Brie at Musings of a Bibliophile

I was actually contemplating organizing a Young Adult Reading Challenge, but thought it might be kind of lame if the only participants were me, Thea and DarlingDiva. LOL! 

Did you join any Reading Challenges for 2009? What are some of your reading goals for 2009?

Monday, January 5, 2009

REVIEW: Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Midnight Breeds Series, Book 5

In the world of the Midnight Breeds, vampires are the descendants of an alien species that crashed on Earth thousands of years ago. These other worldly beings survived on human blood and were able to successfully mate with the select few human women of compatible DNA capable of bearing their young. These women, known as Breedmates, are rare, yet still exist today and all bear a distinguishable birthmark in the shape of a teardrop sitting above a crescent moon somewhere on their body. The first generation of young vampires fathered by the alien species born to human Breedmates are called Gen Ones and are the oldest and strongest of all vampires and highly respected and feared by all Breeds. A finite number of Gen One Breeds are still alive today, but their numbers are dwindling.

The Midnight Breed Series follows the lives of the Midnight Breed Warriors of the Order--an organization established by a Gen One who, with a select few brethren, eliminated the violent fore fathers of their species in order to protect the secrecy of their existence to protect humans who are in essence the vampires' only sustainable food source and method of breeding. The Order has also taken on the task of stopping the threat of the growing number of vampires who are going Rogue--feeding and killing humans and Breeds alike and jeopardizing the safety and security of their species. Each book in the series tells the ongoing story of the Order's fight in this Blood War and also the love story of a single Breed Warrior as he and his Breedmate find their happily ever after.

Veil of Midnight is the story of Breed Warrior Nikolai who is the weapons specialist of the Order and an unbeatable fighter. He has been dispatched by the Order to Montreal to find the reclusive Gen One named Sergie Yakut in order to warn him of a new threat against Gen One Breeds all over the world. It appears that Gen Ones are being sought out and assassinated one by one by some organized faction. A faction that the Order believes is being lead by a second generation Breed, the son of First Gen named Dragos who had hidden the sole surviving alien fore father of the Breeds for hundreds of years in a cave. To make matters worse, Dragos has released this alien forefather and has been using him to breed powerful First Gens, not unlike breeding his own unstoppable army.

For the first time ever, Nikolai is duped and captured by a fighter of comparable fighting skill who just so happens to be a human female. A human female who also bears the mark of a Breedmate. Her name is Renata and it turns out she's lives in Sergei Yakut's compound and is one of his body guards. This would seem like good news for Nikolai, but things are not exactly what one would expect. It turns out that not all First Gens agree with the Breeds' peaceful coexistence with humans, and, as evident in previous Midnight Breed novels, not all Breeds support the Order or their mission. Sergei Yakut is old school First Gen, if you will, and wants nothing to do with the Order and could care less about the assassination attempts on other First Gens around the world.

Things turn topsy-turvy rather quickly for Nikolai and although he manages to leave Yakut's compound after making some new enemies, he lands in the not so kind hands of the Montreal Enforcement Agency, an organization headed by the Montreal Darkhaven's leader who is also up to no good. The plot gets thick when Renata turns to Nikolai for help in rescuing a loved one, a child with an alarming psychic ability that she has vowed to protect. Nikolai and Renata come together to help each other reach the other's goals--rescue the child and uncover the violent truths about the Gen One assassination attempts. Of course, they fall in love along the way, although that doesn't come easy for these two warriors who fight their emotions every step of the way.

Veil of Midnight is yet another great installment in this consistently written paranormal action romance series by author Lara Adrian. The complexity of the Midnight Breed world continues to expand, yet always adheres to world rules established in preceding stories. Veil of Midnight is full of surprising plot twists and unexpected deaths that keep the story moving at an entertaining pace and with the kind of tension and exciting action sequences that readers of this series have come to love.

Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed heroes have all been strong, determined and honorable heroes who appear capable of anything except perhaps, resisting love when it finally finds them, and Nikolai is no exception. The heroines in this series are equally strong and honorable, who are very brave when it comes to working with the Order for the greater good of the Breed, and of course, falling in love with a vampire. Renata has had a difficult life and has become the strong warrior she is in Veil of Midnight in order to survive the world she was forced into at a young age. She works hard at maintaining her edge as an unbeatable fighter not because she's simply angry, out for revenge or on some mission to save the world, but because she has to if she wants to stay alive. I think the fact that she knows how dangerously powerful vampires truly are and how dangerously easy it could be for her to mess up and lose her edge, makes her a bit vulnerable which in turn makes her character that much more realistic and smart. Also, the fact that she has promised to protect an innocent child reveals a compassionate side of Renata that makes her character even more appealing. Of course, she's never too compassionate that it stops her from showing Nikolai just how dangerous she really is.

Consistent world building, great characters, a suspenseful plot and a sweet romance make Veil of Midnight one of my favorites in this series. The pacing of the story, the increasing complexity of the series arc and the developing romance between Nikolai and Renata definitely makes this novel shine.


There is a minor thread of a subplot that takes place throughout Veil of Midnight that takes place with Andreas Reichen, the Berlin DarkHaven leader who was a leading secondary character Midnight Awakening, that ended on an utterly spine chilling note. I am undoubtedly now waiting on pins and needles for the release of the next book in the Midnight Breed Series, Ashes of Midnight, scheduled for release on May 26, 2009.

Although I did not formally review preceding novels in this series, I'm including the following for comparison. Please also refer to my grading system for more explanation on my letter grading.

Kiss of Midnight B++
Kiss of Crimson B++
Midnight Awakening A
Midnight Rising B
Veil of Midnight A-

Visit Lara Adrian's website HERE.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Favorite Books of 2008

Happy New Year!

Reflecting on the books I read in 2008, I've come up with a list of my favorite novels and some honorable mentions. My three most favorite books are highlighted in BLUE.

Favorite Young Adult novel:
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Honorable Mention:
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (paperback released in 2008)

Favorite Historical Romance:
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Honorable mention:
The SpyMaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne

Favorite Paranormal Romance:

Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

Honorable Mentions:
Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian
Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole

Favorite Contemporary Romance:
Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas


Favorite Urban Fantasy novel:
Iron Kissed* by Patricia Briggs

*This UF series also features my favorite heroine of 2008, Mercy Thompson.

Honorable Mention:
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Favorite Sci Fi Romance:
Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre

Honorable Mention:
Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Favorite short story:
"Alpha and Omega" by Patricia Briggs
On the Prowl Anthology