Monday, August 31, 2009

REVIEW: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry is a stand alone young adult novel by author Simone Elkeles. Rules of Attraction is the sequel novel to Perfect Chemistry and is due out in May 2010.

Perfect Chemistry is a contemporary tale along the lines of West Side Story the musical meets The Outsiders novel by S.E. Hinton meets The ABC Afterschool Specials, with a happy ending. I usually try to avoid comparing written works like that, but in this case, the analogy just works so well. Plus I make this analogy with the utmost respect for all four works. So if you're familiar with those classic tales, you can pretty much predict the story line of Perfect Chemistry. Don't get the wrong impression, though. Although a bit predictable in story line, Perfect Chemistry is no less gripping and is definitely worth reading.

Brittany Ellis--the rich, popular, perfect pompom girl meets Alejandro "Alex" Fuentes --the poor, tough, gang banger boy from the other side of town. Each presumes to know all about the other one's stereotypical life, not even giving each other half a chance. Little do they realize, they're more alike than either would care to admit, as both Brittany and Alex live in a world of obligation to uphold this public facade of their stereotypical lifestyles.

Fate, or rather, their chemistry teacher, brings Brittany and Alex together and although at first they're both extremely full of contempt and disrespect for each other, in time they get to know each other and fall quite hard for each other. Of course, no one thinks they belong together and disapproval comes from just about everyone. But they have passion, understanding, and well . . . perfect chemistry and so despite the odds against them, they set out to prove their love for each other and try to break down the walls between their worlds. There is anger, betrayal and tragedy in Perfect Chemistry, but there is also strength, hope, courage and above all, love.

It's worth mentioning the format of this novel, because it's a format that isn't often used and I think it worked just brilliantly in Perfect Chemistry. Basically, the chapters alternate between Brittany and Alex's first person point of view throughout the entire novel. This method works so well because really it keeps the story moving at a fast clip, making you want to read "one more chapter" to see what the other one is going to think, say or do next. Scenes are never repeated from the other protagonist's perspective... the next chapter just picks up where the other left off. Not always at the same setting, mind you, but always keeping the timeline consistently moving forward. It's really a fun approach to telling a story and worked especially well for Perfect Chemistry in which both characters' perspectives are so crucial to developing the conflict.

Perfect Chemistry is a quick paced, highly addictive story. Both I and my teenage daughter had a difficult time putting the book down. In fact, we borrowed the book from the library on a Monday night and both of us had finished reading it by midnight on Tuesday.

Perfect Chemistry is a wonderfully written, intense and emotional story that tugs at your heartstrings as you watch these two star crossed lovers break down the social and racial barriers between their worlds, fighting for the happily ever after that they deserve.

You can visit author Simone Elkeles on her website at

Saturday, August 29, 2009

REVIEW: MY Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Soul Screamers Series, Book 1

My Soul To Take is the first full length novel in the new young adult urban fantasy series, Soul Screamers by author Rachel Vincent.

When Kaylee Cavanaugh was very young, she and her parents were in a serious car crash that took her mother's life. Shortly thereafter, Kaylee's father moved to Ireland, leaving Kaylee in the care of her Aunt Val and Uncle Brendan. Kaylee's aunt and uncle have lovingly raised her alongside their own, slightly younger daughter, Sophie. Now both in high school, Kaylee and Sophie aren't very close, and in fact don't really get along at all. Sophie is on the school dance team, hangs out with the popular crowd and is basically more the high maintenance, spoiled kind of girl. Kaylee is simply just . . . average. Average, that is, until she starts having inexplicable panic attacks that drive her to want to literally scream.

In My Soul to Lose, the novella prequel to My Soul to Take, Kaylee had a panic attack in the mall that ended in disaster. She was overcome by fear and despair and then noticed dark, moving shadows surrounding a young, sickly boy in a wheelchair. Kaylee desperately tried to fight the overwhelming urge to scream but in the end, she lost the fight and the screams just let loose from her vocal cords. Her screaming completely consumed her and she couldn't stop. She ended up admitted to the mental ward of the hospital where she was sedated to stop her screaming. Kaylee stayed in the hospital for a whole week for treatment and counseling before her uncle couldn't take it anymore and had her released.

My Soul to Take picks up six months later when Kaylee starts having these panic attacks once again. Kaylee and her best friend, Emma sneak into a club for a fun night of dancing, and Kaylee catches the attention of one of the most winsome guys in her school, Nash Hudson. She's having fun dancing and flirting with Nash, when all of a sudden, Kaylee starts to lose her composure, sensing the onset of another one of those panic attacks. Kaylee notices dark shadows around a beautiful young woman in the club and once again, she starts fighting the overwhelming urge to scream. Emma comes to her rescue and tries to whisk Kaylee away from Nash in order to save her from humiliation if she starts to scream, but Nash is worried for Kaylee and insists on following them out of the club. Outside, Kaylee is still panicking and desperately trying to resist screaming. Surprisingly, Nash doesn't freak out over Kaylee's behavior at all, and in fact, he holds her and soothes and calms her by singing softly to her. In a moment of unguarded honesty, Kaylee tells Nash about her panic attacks, the dark shadows and her uncontrollable need to scream. He doesn't seem shocked or disgusted, and in fact is kind and understanding. He even wants to see her again.

The next day, Kaylee sees on the news that the girl from the club who triggered her panic attack died later that night. She starts to realize that she gets these panic attacks when someone near her is about to die. When a second young girl is found dead, and then a third girl from Kaylee's own school dies right in the school cafeteria during lunch, she's all but freaking out over her ability, convinced that she has a brain tumor that causes her strange and frighteningly accurate premonitions of death. Not being able to wait for her aunt and uncle or her father to explain the truth to her, Nash steps in and helps Kaylee understand her new found ability. She learns that she is a bean sidhe, which is very similar to the mythological banshee that screams for the soul of a dying person. She also learns about the existence of reapers and other supernatural beings of the Netherworld.

Convinced that the deaths of these healthy, young women are not a coincidence, Kaylee and Nash begin investigating the unexplained deaths in hopes of finding a way to stop them. But there are consequences with interfering with life and death, and Kaylee and Nash are challenged not only by those dangers, but also by the morals of right and wrong. In addition to solving the mystery of the girls' deaths, a slew of Cavanaugh family secrets are revealed throughout the story. Some secrets provide Kaylee with answers she's always been looking for and others seem to just lead to more questions.

My Soul to Take is a serious, somewhat melancholy story of Kaylee Cavanaugh's discovery of her bean sidhe heritage and how she learns to come to terms with it while thrown into solving the mystery of unplanned deaths. It's not a depressing story, but when death is a prevailing theme, the story does take on a serious tone. The relationships in the novel are all very realistic and easy for teens to identify with. There's "sibling" rivalry between Kaylee and Sophie, unconditional friendship between Kaylee and Emma, and a budding romance between Kaylee and Nash that is sweet and tentative. Kaylee's relationships with the adults in her life are also very important throughout the story and add a lot of emotional depth to the novel as well.

Author Rachel Vincent has crafted a well written urban fantasy young adult novel by combining realistic, normal teenage relationships with the creative reworking of banshee folklore and a suspenseful mystery that will keep readers flipping the pages until they reach the end. My Soul to Take is a tense and emotional read that ends with satisfying closure, but will definitely have readers looking for more stories in this fascinating world. Thankfully, Rachel Vincent has more in store for Kaylee and Nash in the second Soul Screamers story titled My Soul to Save to be released in January 2010.

You can visit Rachel Vincent on her website at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Library Loot II

Library Loot is a weekly blog event that I recently joined that encourages bloggers to share what books they borrowed from the library that week. To participate, simply make your Library Loot post on your blog and link it using the Mr. Linky link at Marg's blog Reading Adventures or Eva's blog A Striped Armchair.

After reading some recommendations for Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles online, I searched for it on my library's online catalog a week or so and was delighted to see that my library actually had it--only it was out. On Monday afternoon, though, I got a call from the library informing me it was returned. I checked it out on Monday evening around 8 pm, started reading it as soon as I got home and finished it the following morning. Simply put, Perfect Chemistry is a contemporary version of West Side Story meets The Outsiders with a happy ending. Knowing it was just the kind of book to appeal to my teenage daughter, I suggested she read it. She read the back of the book and said, "Wow. This sounds really good!" She opened the book, flipped through a few pages, and was excited to see the chapters alternating between the female and male protagonists first person point of view. She promptly started reading and finished the following morning. So after having only been in our house for 36 hours, Perfect Chemistry was devoured by two happy readers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

REVIEW: Lament: A Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

Published by Flux, October 1, 2008

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception is a young adult urban fantasy novel written by the very talented, Maggie Stiefvater.

From the inside cover:
Sixteen year old Deirdre Monaghan is a prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's a cloverhand--one who can see faeries.
Unexpectedly, Deirdre finds herself infatuated with mysterious boy named Luke who enters her ordinary life, seemingly out of thin air. But his interest in her might be something darker than a summer romance. When a sinister faerie named Aodhan shows up with deadly orders from the Faerie Queen, it forces Dee right into the midst of Faerie. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend.
Deirdre had been wishing her summer weren't so dull, but taking on a centuries-old Faerie Queen isn't exactly what she had in mind.

Lament is author Maggie Stiefvater's debut novel and is simply phenomenal. The story is beautifully written, simultaneously elegant and down to earth. The descriptions of Deirdre Monaghan's world and the curious, beautiful and frightening world of the fae into which she gets thrown come to life right off the pages of the book, immersing the reader full force into the story.

Lament is an engaging story of family, friendship, love and self discovery that griped me from the very first pages and swept me along to the very end. It's a coming of age story for the somewhat introverted and seemingly ordinary Deirdre Monaghan in which she learns her extraordinary place in a dark and whimsical world of Faeirie.

The family relationships between Deirdre, her mom, aunt, her grandmother are seemingly normal, but as Deirdre learns more about herself and the world she lives in, she also gains a greater understanding of the relationships between the women in her family that will change her life forever.

In addition to Deirdre's new found understanding of her familial relationships, she also learns some valuable lessons in friendship. Deirdre's friendship with her long time best friend James experiences some subtle shifts when she becomes infatuated with Luke. She also learns a surprising lesson or two from a new friendship that is almost unintentionally forged between her and Sara--her socially polar opposite classmate and co-worker at Dave's Ice.

Deirdre becomes infatuated with Luke almost as soon as she meets him; he's handsome, charming, and has a musical talent that near matches her own. Luke is fascinated by Deidre and can't help but want to keep company with her, even though he has come into her life for hidden reasons. What I really liked about the love story component of Lament, is that Deirdre doesn't ever mistake infatuation for love. While of course she craves his company and affection, she is rightfully cautious, as there is something dark and dangerous surrounding Deirdre ever since Luke Dillon came into her life.

Maggie Stiefvater has wonderfully crafted a Faerie tale deeply rooted in folklore and strongly connected to the beauty and power of music. The Faerie in Lament are a perfect blend of whimsical and dark and dangerous. Not entirely good or evil, the Faerie are of their own morality and are as elemental as nature itself and equally unpredictable. Lament is a compelling tale of the dark, yet beautiful lures of the Faerie world with the sweet innocence of a forbidden love.

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie is Maggie Stiefvater's next novel set in this gripping world and is to be released on October 1, 2009. my birthday! : )

Check out the beautiful book trailer for Ballad, made by the incredibly talented Maggie Stiefvater. And I mean she "made" it in the truest sense of the word. She drew the "story boards", composed and performed the music, and compiled the video herself. I love this trailer. The music and the imagery is mesmerizing.

You can visit author Maggie Stiefvater at her website and at her blog or

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is currently #3 on the NYT Bestseller list for children's fiction!

Shiver is Ms. Stiefvater's second full length novel, a romantic tale of a teenage girl and the wolf who has watched over her for years who changes to a boy with the change of seasons. Shiver hit bookshelves on August 1, 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Library Loot I

LIBRARY LOOT is a weekly blog event co-hosted by Marg of Reading Adventures (which is where I learned of it) and Eva of A Striped Armchair. Library Loot encourages readers to share what they've checked out from the library that week. If you want to participate, simply make your Library Loot post on your blog any day of the week and leave the link to your post through the Mr. Linky link at either Marg's or Eva's blogs.

I don't know about you, but I've been trying to borrow from the library more often these days. It's really a great way to stretch your book buying dollars. I'm also taking advantage of inter library loans through other local public libraries when I can't find the book I'm looking for at my own library. Which I'm learning is rather often. Thankfully, it's easy to check library book catalogs online these days. Now my new dilemma is with my book list names. I keep a TBB list that is my "To Be Bought" list, but now that I'm actively searching library catalogs for books I want to read, whatever shall I call my "To Be Borrowed" list?!

Anyway, here's my Library Loot from today's trip to the library:

My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent.
Soul Screamers series, Book 1.
Young Adult

I listened to the audiobook prequel earlier this month and just have to find out what happens to the protagonist, Kaylee Cavanaugh. She senses when someone near her is about to die, as an incredible force builds within her that she can't seem to hold back. A force that compels her to scream. Things start to get out of hand when classmates start dying and interestingly, Kaylee's new boyfriend knows more about her compulsion to scream than she does.

I can't wait to dive into this one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Bestowal of Blog Awards

I've been honored with the gift of some blogging awards recently. I'm both flattered and delighted that other bloggers enjoy my blog and my blogging presence enough to give me these awards. I thank the very kind and generous bloggers who awarded me. :)

One Lovely Blog Award from Desert Rose of Desert Rose Booklogue.

Desert Rose awarded me with this cute award in June, given to new blogs and blogging friends discovered. Thank you so much, Desert Rose. I'm glad to be blogging friends with you, too!

I pass this Lovely Blog Award to some of the newer-to-me blogs I've been visiting lately:

Donna (Fantasy Dreamer) of Fantasy Dreamers Ramblings
Mishel of Mis(h)takes
Michelle G. of Michelle's Book Blog.
nath's blog isn't exactly a new-to-me blog, but have been visiting her more regularly these days. ;)

As always, please do not feel obligated to acknowledge this award on your blog or to pass it on to anyone else. It's yours to do with as you wish. :)

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E blog award for Excellence from Sarai at the Thoughts of an Aspiring Writer blog, given to me last week! Thanks, Sarai. You're so sweet. :)

I pass the E blog award to the following bloggers, whose most excellent blogs I read almost every day for the best book reviews and book talk.

Angie of Angieville
Ana & Thea of The Book Smugglers
KMont of Lurv a la Mode
Amy of Romance BookWyrm

As always, please do not feel obligated to acknowledge this award on your blog or to pass this award on to anyone else. It's yours to do with as you wish. :)

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Kreativ Blogger Award from Kati of Katidom, Amy of Romance BookWyrm, Anna of Anna's Book Blog. Thank you so very much.

I'm passing this award to a handful of bloggers who have a unique, smart, and "kreativ" blogging style and or voice that makes them and their blogs really shine. These three bloggers could write a post on just about anything and it would be witty, informative and engaging.

CarolynCrane of The Thrillionth Page
Jessica of Racy Romance Reviews
Angie of Angieville

As always, please do not feel obligated to acknowledge this award on your blog or to pass this award on to anyone else. It's yours to do with as you wish. :)

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Friendly Blogger Award from Mishel of Mis(h)takes back in July.

This award pretty much speaks for itself and is given to friendly bloggers. Thanks, Mishel. :)

This is a really tough one for me to pass on, because just about everyone I've "met" through blogging is friendly. I would be happy passing this award to everyone, but I suppose that would be a little much. I'm going to single out a few bloggers whom I've noticed always seem to make the extra special effort to leave friendly, upbeat comments on my blog and on book blogs all over.

Tracy of Tracy's Place
Lea of ClosetWriter
Kate a.k.a. Katiebabs of Babbling About Books, and More
azteclady who posts regularly at Karen Knows Best

As always, please do not feel obligated to acknowledge this award on your blog or to pass this award on to anyone else. It's yours to do with as you wish. :)

That about wraps up the latest blog award ceremony here at the happily ever after

Thursday, August 13, 2009

REVIEW: Wed Him Before You Bed Him by Sabrina Jeffries

The School for Heiresses Series, Book 6

Wed Him Before you Bed Him is the sixth and final installment in The School for Heiresses Series by author Sabrina Jeffries and can be read as a stand alone novel. I hopped on this series starting with the previous installment, Don't Bargain With the Devil, and while I thought it was an enjoyable read, it did not overly impress me. What it did do, however, was pique my interest in the school's founder, Miss Charlotte Page Harris and her anonymous benefactor known only to her as "Cousin Michael."

From the back cover:
At eighteen, Charlotte Page made a life-altering mistake. She wronged a man in an impulsive act that she came to deeply regret, though it led her to her present life as Mrs. Charlotte Harris, owner of Mrs. Harris's School for Young Ladies. Unbeknownst to her, that man is now her anonymous benefactor, the mysterious "Cousin Michael." His masquerade began as preparation for a devastating revenge, but became a labor of love. Now Charlotte desperately needs his help. Can he save her from disaster as his real self without revealing the ugly secret behind his charade? Or will the mistakes of both their pasts tear them apart forever?

Over the fourteen years since the inception of Miss Harris' School for Heiresses, Charlotte and her benefactor, Cousin Michael communicate only through a regular exchange of letters via a personal solicitor. Charlotte and Cousin Michael have had professional discussions, friendly chatter, flirtations, and disagreements. At the end of Don't Bargain With the Devil, Cousin Michael became angry with Charlotte for her repeated attempts at determining his true identity and has stopped returning her letters.

For some great insight into the relationship between Miss Charlotte Harris and the mysterious benefactor, "Cousin Michael," I highly recommend you spend a few minutes at the author's website reading snippets of the letters they have exchanged over the years at this link: The letters also give a little background information about some of the other characters, a little bonus if you are reading the novel as a stand alone.

At the start of Wed Him Before You Bed Him, the school is once again in dire straits as there are plans to build a racetrack on the estate adjoining the school, which would be the social and economical ruin of Miss Charlotte Harris' School for Heiresses. Charlotte is in desperate need of Cousin Michael's advice and finances, but he has not been returning her letters. In the meantime, Charlotte is approached by Lord Kirkwood, the widower of one of Charlotte's former students who died recently and left a large sum of money to the school. One would think this a blessing, but there is a stipulation that the money be used to build a new school in another location and the project must be overseen by Lord Kirkwood himself. This throws Charlotte for a loop, because not only does she not want to move the school, but can't even authorize such a thing without her benefactor's approval anyway and he's not answering her letters.

At the beginning of the novel, the reader finally gets a detailed look into Charlotte's past and learns about some lost loves and some life altering decisions she had made that eventually led to her financial ruin. While she may regret some choices she made when she was young, she's mature enough to know that wallowing in the past won't change anything and she does her best to make a better future for herself and help others learn from her mistakes through her school. I came to admire Charlotte very much in this story. Her life has taught her to be strong, smart, and giving.

Cousin Michael's identity is finally revealed in the novel, and it should be no surprise to readers of this series, that they fall in love. They have all kinds of obstacles to overcome, including plots of revenge, anger, misunderstandings and a many regrets. They also have great chemistry, beautiful passion for each other, a mutual longing for having done things differently, and a maturity that only life experiences can bring, all of which bring them together as they come to realize that second chances are sometimes the greatest of gifts. Then it's honesty and true love that finally binds them together forever. An engaging, mature love story and an excellent conclusion to a series.

REVIEW: Don't Bargain With The Devil by Sabrina Jeffries

The School for Heiresses Series, Book 5

I jumped in on this series with this fifth installment of The School for Heiresses series without having read the first four books. I was told it could be read as a stand alone, which turns out is indeed true. I had no problem figuring out the details surrounding the series story arc and while there were a few references to characters and couples who obviously starred in previous novels, it was easy enough to fill in the blanks.

The School for Heiresses is a series that centers around the women who attend and teach a unique, private school for heiresses at which these impressionable, young women are taught to make wise decisions about the men who will inevitably pursue their hand in marriage. In other words, how young heiresses can avoid fortune hunters.

The school was founded by Miss Charlotte Page Harris, a young widow whose husband had spent her inheritance, leaving her with nothing upon his death a few brief years later and now she wishes to educate young women from making the same mistakes. In addition to learning to steer clear of men determined to acquire the heiresses fortunes, the girls are taught arts such as music, dance, needlepoint, and so on, as well as academic subjects, a rare endeavor for a school in the early 1800s. Miss Charlotte Harris was able to establish this school only because of the help of her anonymous benefactor who refers himself to her as "Cousin Michael" and communicates with her only through letters. Her school would not be as successful as it is without the financial help of "Cousin Michael" or his experience, knowledge and support through their frequent exchange of letters. He is probably Miss Charlotte's dearest friend and confidant, despite the fact that she could pass him on the street and never know it.

Lucinda Seton is a recent graduate of Miss Harris' School for Heiresses and has recently had her heart broken by the man she had been expecting to marry. Lucy isn't just broken hearted, she's angry, for her suitor claimed she is not suitable to be his wife because of her Spanish heritage on her mother's side and because of her outspoken tendencies, but he would, however, be willing to keep her as his mistress. Outraged, she ends their courtship and accepts a temporary position as art teacher in the School for Heiresses.

The story begins when Lucinda takes a walk along the edge of the school's property and wanders to the orchard in the adjacent property. Lucy is a free spirited young woman and can't resist the opportunity to lay under the trees with her hair splayed about her and daydream for a spell. Of course, her hoyden behavior is discovered by a mysterious man who turns out to be the school's new neighbor and herein begins the trouble for the school . . . and Lucy. Her fiery spirit and sweet innocence immediately attracts the attention of this man, and in turn, Lucy is equally intrigued and attracted to him, even though she tries desperately to fight it.

It turns out the new, mysterious neighbor is none other than the famous Spanish illusionist, Diego Montalvo who reveals intentions of opening a pleasure garden (an amusement park of sorts for adults) on the property. Miss Harris and her peers are outraged at this prospect, fearing it will be the ruin of both the school and its students and attempt to thwart Senior Montalvo's plans at all costs.

Unbeknown to anyone but his butler, Diego Montalvo has ulterior motives for taking up residency next door to the school. In truth, he is on a mission to reclaim his family's estate in Spain by locating the long lost granddaughter of a wealthy and influential Spanish Marques to whom he is in debt and returning this heiress to her family in Spain. It just so happens that clues of this woman's possible whereabouts lead him to this area.

As Lucy works hard at stopping Diego's apparent plans to build the pleasure garden, she also struggles to resist his charms. Diego, in the meantime, is searching for the missing Spanish heiress and as he falls for Lucy, he fears she is the one he has been looking for but cannot ever have.

Don't Bargain With the Devil is a fun and fast paced, albeit fairly straightforward romance between a kind, open hearted young woman and an entertaining man who fell for the woman he couldn't have and would only end up hurting in order to fulfill promises made in his past. Most of all, I admired Lucy throughout the story for her strength and her resolve to stay true to herself and those she cares about. Her kind heartedness allowed her to give those she cared about the benefit of the doubt when it appeared they didn't have her best interests in heart. Plus I thought she had a great sense of humor.

Diego's honor and good intentions fell a little short for me. I understood his attraction to Lucy and his desire to have her as his wife, but at the same time, I wanted him to work harder at deserving her. He started his acquaintance with her with grand lies and soon resorted to trickery--and some really cheesy lines-- to keep her attention. He wasn't a mean or cruel man and didn't want to hurt Lucy, but he did it anyway. I understood the honor and importance in keeping the promises he made to his deceased father and those he made with the Spanish Marques to whom he is indebted, but if he loved Lucy, even if he thought he couldn't have her, I wanted him to come straight with her much earlier on than he did.

Sadly, Diego was not the only man who lied to Lucy. Other important men in her life lied to her or about her and while they all thought they had her best interests at heart, no one truly considered being truthful with her until they got caught up in their lies.

While the story was fairly straightforward and at times predictable, it was an enjoyable read and made me think how fun it would have been to be reading this series since it's first installment. I was happy that Lucy got the happily ever after that she wanted and deserved, but I hope the men in her life realize what an amazing woman she is to have forgiven them so easily for lying to her.

The relationship between the Miss Charlotte Harris and her anonymous benefactor, "Cousin Michael," as revealed in letters exchanged between them throughout the story, was very intriguing and certainly raised my curiosity about the outcome of their relationship, enough so that I picked up their story and the final novel in The School for Heiresses Series, Wed Him Before You Bed Him.

You can visit the author's website at .

Friday, August 7, 2009

Play FreeRice and feed the hungry.

FreeRice is a non-profit website founded by John Breen in October 2007 who donated the site to the United Nations World Food Program in March 2009. It's an educational online vocabulary game that generates donations from sponsors the more it gets played. I played it once or twice over a year ago, and then forgot it for a while. Then I was at LeeAnn's blog a few days ago and saw she had a link to FreeRice on her sidebar. Of course, I clicked straightaway to play. I've been playing on and off for the last couple of days, generating free rice for hungry people around the world. My vocabulary level is improving, too! I'm currently at level 42 out of 60 and determined to raise it.

All money raised by the site goes toward feeding the hungry. You can find information about FreeRice in the FAQ section at the FreeRice website and at the UN World Food Program website. Want an abbreviated version of the FreeRice program and it's success? Read this article.

Go play! Click here on FreeRice or click on the FreeRice graphic on my my sidebar. It's fun, easy, educational and you're helping to feed the hungry.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

REVIEW: My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent

Audiobook. Narrated by Amanda Ronconi
1 hour 48 minutes.

This is the novella prequel to Rachel Vincent's new young adult series called Soul Screamers. It is currently available as a FREE audiobook on and a FREE Kindle ebook at that can be downloaded to your Kindle or to your iPhone Kindle App. (The iPhone Kindle App is available free at iTunes).

Book review:

Book blurb:

It was supposed to be a fun day, shopping at the mall with her best friend. Then the panic attack started and Kaylee Cavanaugh finds herself screaming, unable to stop. Her secret fears are exposed and it's the worst day of her life.

Until she wakes up in the psychiatric unit.

She tries to convince everyone she's fine--despite the shadows she sees forming around another patient and the urge to scream which comes burbling up again and again. Everyone thinks she's crazy. Everyone except Lydia, that is. Another patient with some special abilities....

The book blurb accurately explains to what takes place in My Soul to Lose. The story is the prequel novella to the Soul Screamers series, and is best read if you intend on continuing with the series as it is akin to a several chapter prologue to the next novel.

My Soul to Lose is a story of the awakening of Kaylee's ability to sense death or the shadows that appear around someone before they die. It starts as a panic attack, but soon she feels despair and fear deep in her soul. And as much as she tries to resist the urge to scream, she can't fight it and its as though her vocal cords take over on their own and she can't help but scream.

My Soul to Lose is an introduction to Kaylee and her "curse" and has established a premise to what sounds like a very interesting series. I felt empathy for Kaylee--knowing what she experiences is very real, but also knowing no one would believe she sees and feels shadows of death. I hope that in the next book she finds some answers to what she experiences, is able to take command of it, and possibly use her ability to help people. I plan on continuing Kaylee's story with My Soul to Take, the first full length novel to the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent.

My Soul to Take My Soul to Save
Published August 1, 2009. Available January, 1, 2010

Visit author Rachel Vincent at

My first audiobook experience:
I downloaded the audiobook of My Soul to Lose about three weeks ago onto my iPhone from and finally listened to it this morning. As this was my first time listening to an audiobook, I wasn't really sure what to expect or if I'd even enjoy listening to a book when I could be reading it. I ended up listening to the first few minutes of the book three or four times. At first I found it disconcerting, I think in part because I had to get the character names straightened out in my head. I had to hear the names a couple of times and who was what character... the main character, the friend, the boyfriend, the cousin, and so on. It's not that the story is confusing at all, but rather I needed it repeated a couple of times so I got my bearings. It was entirely my own issue, I think, after being so used to reading names that get imprinted in my mind immediately as opposed to hearing them and them not sinking in.

Then once I repeated the first few minutes a couple of times, it took a few minutes for me to get used to the narrators voice and her rhythm. I don't think it was more than five minutes and the narrator successfully brought me into the story and I was listening with the same concentration and comprehension that I would have if I were reading it myself. I have to say, I really enjoyed my first audiobook experience and I'm definitely open to listening to more audiobooks in the future.

I'll also add that listening to an audiobook is really conducive to multitasking, too! I weeded my entire front and side yard landscaping while listening to the book. At one point I was so into the book, that one scene made my eyes tear up and it took me a second to realize I couldn't see the weeds at my finger tips. ;)

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Loving Larissa Ione! Part II

I made a post back in March titled Loving Larissa Ione! (Part I) about loving author Larissa Ione's work, specifically her Demonica Series. In case you've been living under a paranormal romance rock, you've probably already at least heard of Larissa's Demonica series by now. Today, Larissa unveiled her newly renovated website and that's loaded with new Demonica content. 

If you're new to the Demonica series, it's an exciting, dark paranormal romance series that has a full cast of interesting characters, great dialogue, and heart wrenching story lines. The series is based on the goings on at Underground General Hospital (UGH)--  a hospital established just for demons and other beings who go bump in the night and sometimes in the day. For the most part, demons and their fellow non human beings live unbeknown to humans, although there is a select group of humans called Aegis who act as the protectors of human kind. At first, the sole mission of the Aegis is to indiscriminately kill all demons, vampires, weres and fallen angels. By the end of the third book in the series, however, the Aegis are at least a bit more discriminating in who they kill, so there is some hope for a peaceful co-existence between species. In the meantime, there's a lot going on in this world to keep the good demons (et. al.), the bad demons (et. al.), the good humans and the bad humans quite busy. Which in turn keeps Larissa busy writing more Demonica novels. 

The next Demonica novel, and the fourth in the series, is Ecstasy Unveiled due out on January 26, 2010. I'm not going to mention whose book it is in this post for the benefit of anyone who hasn't yet read the first three books in the series, because I think it is a bit spoilerish. If you really want to know, you can find out at Larissa's newly renovated website at where Larissa has some great new Demonica content, including an excerpt of Ecstasy Unveiled, several deleted scenes from the first books and a new Readers Page. 

Larissa's blog now has a new look, too, and to celebrate, Larissa's holding a fantastic giveaway on her blog with some really excellent prizes. Check it out at

Larissa also has a story in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 due out on September 21, 2009. The story is titled Eternity Embraced and is set in the Demonica world. Poke around the website for an excerpt. It sounds great. 

I'd love to find out what other authors are featured in this anthology besides the few authors listed on the cover--Jennifer Ashley, Dawn Cook, Caitlin Kittredge, Diane Whiteside, Eileen Wilks, and Larissa Ione. Does anyone know more? 

If you enjoy gritty, intense paranormal romance and haven't yet read a Demonica novel, I urge you to read one now. The reading order is Pleasure Unbound, Desire Unchained, and then Passion Unleashed

Monday, August 3, 2009

Christmas in July II GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog and entered my Christmas in July giveaway. It's great to see readers interested in used books. I used to be a little obsessive about having my books all shiny and new, but over the last year or so I've come to appreciate a well worn book almost more.  

Twenty-seven readers left entries in the giveaway and I entered them in the list randomizer at to randomly select the three lucky winners (see details at end of post):



Please email me your two book selections from my Shelfari prize shelf and I'll get them out to you this week. You can find my email address on my blogger profile page. In case two or more of you request the same book, it'll be first come, first served. Of course, if the book was already claimed, I'll let you know and you can select something else.

Thanks again to everyone who entered.

Happy Reading! :)

List Randomizer

There were 27 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

Pam P
cathy M
I heart book gossip
Amy M
Mary G
michelle G
Sweet Vernal Zephyr
shooting stars mag

Timestamp: 2009-08-03 16:27:09 UTC