Review: Feel the Heat by Kate Meader

20140131-073947.jpg I felt the heat, alright! This book was full of passion – people passionate for love, food, family, sex, cooking, loyalty, and reputation. Jack was hot for Lili, Laurent was hot for anything with a skirt, the DeLucas got excited over their restaurant, and — after much encouragement from family and friends — Lili reclaimed her passion for life.

Kate Meader did such a wonderful job making these characters come to life. I felt like I was in the Deluca kitchen listening to the yelling and watching the hugging. The dialogue rang true, the sex scenes were fun but realistic (yep, sometimes people talk during sex, and sometimes they don’t have on a lacy thong), and the combination of an Italian-American, a Brit, and a Frenchman all in the same kitchen was dynamite.

The book had a chick lit feel instead of a traditional romance. The supporting cast was necessary, the hero and heroine were part of a group more often than alone together, and the book was funny. I laughed … and I cried … and there was a happily-ever-after … sure signs of a winner.

The characters in Feel the Heat live large, and it makes for a fun, upbeat, exciting read. There will be a sequel featuring more cooking and cocky-as-all-get-out Shane the Irishman. Can’t wait.

-Calliope

Feel the Heat

Review: At the River’s Edge by Mariah Stewart

20140128-102744.jpg I’ve got to stop reading new books in a series when I haven’t read the previous books in that series. I’m just so confused by the number of characters and I can’t keep the relationships straight! At the River’s Edge is the seventh book in the Chesapeake Diaries series. It’s a fun read, but I would’ve enjoyed the subplots more had I been familiar with all the secondary characters.

The main plot is terrific! Sophie leaves her old life in Ohio, moves south, joins the family law firm, and buys an old restaurant. In the process she meets handsome Jason, a new local landscaper who has become close friends with Sophie’s grandfather.

I had fun reading about the challenges of Sophie’s and Jason’s respective businesses, the small-town friendships they forged, and the community spirit they made themselves part of. Their romance seemed secondary to their positions in the community, but that was okay. I love a good, sweet, hometown story, and the Sophie-Jason romance was icing on the cake.

Because I like an easy read, I enjoyed the positive, predictable plot direction. Sophie and Jason practicing forgiveness and humility (after their selfishness got in the way) brought a tear to my eye. The happy ending… Well… *sigh* … I love a happy ending.

-Calliope

Buy At the River’s Edge

Review: Golden State by Michelle Richmond

goldenstate***Sneak Peek Review! “Golden State” will be released on February 4, 2014***

I picked up a book years ago that was entitled “The Year of The Fog”. I devoured it in hours. I absolutely loved it. I rushed out, purchased multiple copies and sent them out in the mail to the only readers I knew at the time. I then proceeded to read her other works. Sadly, that’s been over 7 years ago! I’ve never forgotten how much I enjoyed TYotF and I often browse looking for a new release from Richmond. I joined up for her newsletter via her website and heard very little. Then FINALLY!!! I got an email that said she had a new book coming out! I quickly checked my ARC websites and saw the book in both NetGalley and Edelweiss….I quickly applied to both sites to snag my copy…and surprisingly enough I was approved by both websites. I can’t remember being so excited about a book for a while now.

It wasn’t soon that I was completely worn out from hooting and hollering and dancing around the house from all of my excitement. Suddenly, as I sat down to catch my breath, I was dejected. I had waited so long for this book to be written, now it was here…what if I hate it? What if the love I felt for TYotF was just a fluke? What if I am so disappointed in this novel that it even takes away from my previous feelings of obsession to getting to my next Michelle Richmond read? What if the writing is so awful that I start to doubt what I felt in the past? I was torn….to start the book or to stare at its cover for a time and just imagine what might be between the covers?

Heck!!!!!!! You guys know me, RIGHT???????? I ripped into this baby so fast!!!!! I couldn’t wait to start it! Was I disappointed? Heck no!!!!!! It’s a Michelle Richmond novel! I absolutely loved it from start to finish!

I think I might have loved it even a bit more than TYotF….

This novel is a day in the life of Doctor Julie Walker. Of course, it’s no ordinary day. California is in the midst of a game changing election day. Her sister needs her help pronto. Her Jeep is broken into. And two men in her life are not where she needs them to be. And this ladies and gentlemen is only the beginning….

Now let me forthright and honest here for just a moment….I wish there was a bit more to the ending…that Richmond had taken it just a little bit further…I wanted to see just a smidgen more of the side story of the novel (and for sake of spoilers, that’s all I will say on that subject)

Also, it needs pointed out that Richmond has a unique writing style. She doesn’t blurt out the plots. They are just there…yes, you sort of know what they are, but at the same time, you’re not 100% sure. All the while, Richmond drops bread crumbs along the trail and confirms her story or throws in a small twist that has you wondering….

At the same time, she jumps back and forth. It can be frustrating if you want things laid out in a straight path to follow. One moment, the main character is in the present, the next second she is 3 hours earlier or a decade earlier. The only way you have to follow is to simply LISTEN to thoughts of the main character. Soon enough, if you just relax, you can follow along just fine.

I was sitting there after I finished the book, pondering it all (did I mention I LOVED the book?) and I realised, really, think about it, isn’t that how we really are? We jump from the present to what we had for breakfast this morning…and then a moment later a song, or a smell, or for some reason we don’t even know, think back to a time in our past. To a memory. Pondering how we got to this place in time. Memories are a great tool. They help us live our current lives and they help shape our futures as well. Memories are not just something that we leave behind and forget. We never know when they are going to hit us.

I think that is why I love Richmond so much. She has a way of writing that I really feel like I can connect with the character. I am there with them, confronting the memories. Dealing with their guilt. Or their anger. Or their confusion. I am there feeling them realise their imperfections. Accepting their blame. I am the one trying to find forgiveness. I am the one who is trying to change for the better. I can’t recommend this book enough. I really can’t. I won’t say that it’s a perfect format for writing. I won’t say this is a literary gem that will challenge all the writings throughout time. But I will say, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT YOU HOLD HOLY, DO NOT MAKE ME WAIT ANOTHER 7 YEARS FOR THE NEXT BOOK, MICHELLE RICHMOND!!!!

Bwhahahahahahaahahahaha….go get this book!!!! As fast as you can! Still not convinced? Maybe a few quotes will do for you…

I understand how families become estranged, not by design, but by embarrassment. You come to a point when so much time has passed that it seems impossible to make the first move.

We tend to see life as a continuum, Julie, but really, it’s a series of phases, generating a series of different selves. You leave one life behind and start another. And each time, a different version of yourself emerges.

I guess I’m just stuck on the idea that there’s this monumental machine, and we’re all part of it. Most of the time, we don’t even stop to think about how it works. We just go about our business, doing our part, trusting that everyone else will do their part, and the machine will keep functioning. But all it takes is for someone to come along who isn’t thinking straight, some who’s not paying attention, or worse, hell-bent on self-destruction and everything turns to shit.

Go on then! Buy the book!!!!

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Golden State

ARC provided by NetGalley and Edelweiss for an honest review.

Review: Up From the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost

010 It’s over!!!! I am so sad. I tried to read slow, so as to prolong the ending. But alas, it is done. This is the last in the Night Huntress series and it’s been so fun and now it is bittersweet to see it end. I will miss Cat and Bones and their sizzling chemistry, Ian and his warped sexual humor and the many others that tugged at my heart. I truly never wanted it to end. But I am so very happy with the way it did. Nothing was left open. Everyone lived happily ever after.

I was shocked to find myself tearing up twice in this book. Don’t remember crying in any of the other books, but this one kinda killed me in parts. After the first time, I spent a few chapters being quite mad. I was utterly shocked. I couldn’t believe it. Pissed off was the theme around my fellow book lovers. I kept thinking, “This is how she’s ending it?!?!?” I was sure I was reading it wrong. In fact I reread the same page three times, hoping my mind was playing tricks on me. Sadly, I was not mistaken.

Cat and Bones, and their friends have to save the world from war, again. Seems like they were always doing that. Just when they were starting to enjoy the simple life, one extra player would set off the whole game. It took a lot of strength, on both Cat and Bones’ part, and with the help of their friends, to bring everything back to the right side. But of course things never go smoothly as you would hope. Hence the tears. ๐Ÿ™‚

But, luckily, this story did have the usual comic relief, in the form of Ian, mostly. But I was thankful for it, nonetheless. It can get quite intense without it. But I will never look at my metal spatulas the same again. ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all, very good series. I’m very glad I listened to my friends, when they told me I needed to read this. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good paranormal, with a bit of sauce.

~Melpomene

Buy Up From the Grave: A Night Huntress Novel

Blog Tour w/ Author Guest Post & Review: Live by Mary Ann Rivers

Live-Mary-Ann-Rivers

Mary Ann Rivers (2)

Mary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son.

Ten Things About Mary Ann Rivers

*I have never really decided what to do with my hair, though I pine for a statement look.
*I sometimes listen to the same song all day long.
*I play the cello.
*I’ve kept some kind of journal or diary for thirty years (I am 39).
*I’ve gone to see all the presidential candidates I’ve voted for speak in person.
*I’d rather have drinks with three or fewer people than go to a party.
*I once surprised a burglar in the process of breaking into our home. I had got up to go to the bathroom. He ran away, so I assume I was completely terrifying in my t-shirt and underpants.
*Writing is the primary way I entertain myself, if I have a choice. I’m always writing something.
*I’ve been reading romance since I was ten-years-old. When I was eighteen, I wrote to Jude Deveraux, and she wrote back (this was before the internet, so I wrote her in care of her publisher).
*I’m married to a Shakespeare scholar who is semi-famous (for Shakespeare scholarship).

BOOK REVIEW

18630722 Mary Ann River has a way with words. Yes I know she’s an author and that should be kind of obvious but her way of words just kind of leaves me breathless. They work their way deep inside you and just kind of settle there and resonate with you. I’m still thinking of The Story Guy and Snowfall – her first 2 novellas I read last year. Every once in a while a particular scene of Brian and Carrie pops in my head because it was so beautiful or I think of Jenny and Evan and their scene in the car. So when her first full length novel came out I was so freaking excited!

The Burnside Series is about a family of siblings in a town in Ohio, both parents have passed away and they are generally pretty close. Destiny, who goes by Des, is feeling pretty broken at this point in her life. Her father passed away last year, her sister’s health is getting scarily bad and her unemployment is also reach the dangerous point. Des has even begun driving her father’s old limo around to pick up some extra money. She spends most of her free time at the library, looking for jobs. During that time she falls in lust with a gorgeous Welsh man, whom she would never dream of approaching. But when he approaches her to help stop her tears one day she’s startled.

Hefin is some sort of Welsh god. For some reason I just fell in love with everything about him immediately. This is not always true of all romance heroes – many times that needs to be kind of drawn out but not with Hefin. He comes across as quiet, charming and sweet but without the cockiness of some typical romantic tropes. But from the beginning he is also just as broken as Des seems to be – he came to the US to get married, not knowing anyone. The marriage did not work out and left Hefin feeling homesick. To that end he is leaving and Des and he both are completely aware of this at the outset of their romance.

Their romance is tentative and beautiful, made more so on both parts because they set out on the journey both knowing it would end with Hefin leaving Des in Ohio. From here we get to see different parts of Des and her interacting with people both in her neighborhood and in her family. I’ve read that Rivers wanted to make both of those an integral part of the whole series and I’m so glad because the interactions with neighbors and the history that will bring going forward is definitely something I look forward to.

What makes this whole book work overall is the writing style and the characters. The writing is lyrical and poetic and touches on different topics such as grief, divorce and illness. I was thrilled not to be disappointed since I had such ridiculous high hopes for this book. I look forward to the next book in this series which comes out in May and will be Sam’s book – Love.

I received this ARC via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

5 Stars

~Clio

Buy it Now Live (The Burnside Series): The Burnside Series

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Review: Louisiana Longshot by Jana DeLeon

20140118-075431.jpgReading is a lot like eating. Sometimes you need an appetizer, something to whet your appetite for bigger things to come. Sometimes you need something more meaty and substantial, like a hearty filet of mignon. And sometimes you need something sweet and fluffy, like a delicious tiramisu. This wonderful little book by Jana DeLeon filled my craving for dessert perfectly.

Welcome to Sinful, Louisiana. Such a quaint, picturesque little town where everybody knows your name. Just the place for a CIA agent in hiding to lie low. Secret agent Fortune Redding has a price on her head after killing the brother of an international arms dealer. To make matters worse, there’s an internal leak at the CIA. When her superiors decide she needs to go into hiding until matters are resolved, Sinful is chosen as the perfect hideaway. It’s quiet, peaceful, and safe. The perfect place for her cover as a former beauty queen turned librarian. But as luck would have it, she arrives in Sinful right in the middle of decade old murder mystery. Helped by a not-so-harmless duo of grey haired ladies, she naturally attempts to help solve the mystery while at the same time not blowing her cover.

This was such a fun book to read. The characters are hilarious and had me laughing out loud. The author nailed the descriptions of small town life and southern life in particular. It’s not going to win awards for being thought-provoking or life-changing but it was a highly enjoyable read for me. I’ll definitely be reading the next two books in the series very soon!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: Louisiana Longshot (A Miss Fortune Mystery)

Review: Cider Brook by Carla Neggers

20140124-152113.jpg It’s kind of funny – when I love a book and it’s perfect for me, the review is easy and fun to write. But when I am ambivalent, a review is much more difficult to write. My sentences don’t flow as well, my organization is off. So, the writing of this review reflects some of the disjointedness I perceived in Cider Brook.

Cider Brook got me curious about pirates and the Quabbin and all kinds of New England history that I’ve never been interested in before. I wished for more facts and some closure regarding the pirate part of the story. I loved the reserved personalities of Samantha and Justin. I got a kick out of the vocabulary – words like “parse” make me happy. As a fellow New Englander, I recognized many of the places mentioned in the book, and enjoyed the local flavor.

The love story was just okay. There was chemistry, there was banter, there was flirtation, but there wasn’t a whole lot of substance. There’s a happy ending, but for two people who kept their feelings hidden, they certainly surprised the reader getting from point A to point C, bypassing point B. It just wasn’t believable.

There were also too many characters, in my estimation, but that could be because I didn’t read the series from the beginning. The only other flaw was that I felt like the story set me up for a romantic suspense… But it wasn’t really a suspense novel at all. Again, maybe I’d have been better off reading from the beginning of the series. ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all, I did enjoy the writing, plot, and characters, but the story development just didn’t flow for me.

–Calliope

Combo review post…and yet, not

OK, I have such a slacker in my postings. I would like to blame it one my fellow book lovers/enablers. And perhaps a bit of my OCD is leaking out. But these “friends” of mine tell me about series and then I get sucked in, and have to read every book in the series. I can’t seem to stop and post about any of them. I literally go from one book to the next, without even a breather. My poor family misses me.

Over the past month, I’ve been sucked into three separate series. All very good. All very addicting.

The first was the Kowalski series, by Shannon Stacey.
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Those were freaking hilarious!!! I mean it’s all this crazy loving family who do activities “of doom” and are super crazy, while doing them. They have just the right amount of sauce for me and I even shed a few tears. Perfect.

The next was The Outlander series.
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I’ve only read the first three books, so far. I started it on January 1, and I’m totally addicted now. I’m one of those crazy Heughligans!! I even have the shirt!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I loved the story so much I even made a pin and keychain for it. Reading these make me wish I could walk through stones and meet Jamie Fraser. Although I;d miss my family dearly, IT’S JAMIE FRASER!!!! Sorry, spouse. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, if you haven’t read at least the first one, you should give it a whirl. But fair warning, toward the end, you may die just a smidgen. But it’s a series, so you know it will get better, even though it doesn’t look like it. As for Dragonfly in Amber, I wanted to quite. I was getting so confused. But I held on and then lost my mind at the ending. Seriously, sobbed my frickin’ eyes out. Which made me go straight to book #3, Voyager. Now I was happy with the way this one ended and decided to take a break for a bit. Did I mention that they are 800+, 900+, and 1000+ pages each?? You can see why I needed the break.

I needed a mental vacation and decided to try out the Rock Chick books.

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Let me tell you, Kristen Ashley is an awesome author. She can make me cry, swoon, make me laugh and of course make me need to cool off a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I absolutely adored all these characters. I love seeing hot guys fall hard for their women. And these slammed. The chicks got into trouble all the time and the men just rolled with it. They’d do anything for them, including some not so legal things. Every book featured a new chick with new problems. Some were very hard to read about, but the guys always got revenge. So it all works out.

So now that I’ve got these out of my system, I hope to be on the straight and narrow now. NUTS!!! I just remembered the last Cat and Bones book release Tuesday!! So that means I have to do a reread of that whole series!! I am never getting back to normal. See ya on the flipside.

~Melpomene

Buy Exclusively Yours (The Kowalskis)

Buy Outlander: with Bonus Content

Buy Rock Chick

Review – Is It Just Me? By Miranda Hart.

15733346It’s fair to say that I probably read too many (or not enough) depressing books in my spare time. So with this in mind, I decided to go for a bit of comedy this time. Yes, comedy. No, the world hasn’t ended, well, not that I’m aware of at least.
This light-hearted read from British comedian, Miranda Hart, takes a look at her life 20 years ago, and her life now. If you were to meet yourself from 20 years ago, what would you say? What advice would you give? Well, this is the premise of the book. Told in an almost vignette style, Hart attempts to explain to her younger self such things as the Internet, emailing, mobile phones, and office shenanigans. In the chapter about technology for example, Hart tries to describe the concept of email, and with this explanation, includes several funny tales of company wide inappropriate emails, issues of miss-communication, and general hilarity. Each chapter talks about a different topic such as Dating, Technology, Early careers etc, etc…
What I found particularly great about this book was the fact that you could actually hear Hart saying the words. The humor is very British, so I would Youtube a few videos of her before you read, just so you can get her style of delivery, which is rather unique! I didn’t realise this before I purchased the e-book, but Hart has recorded an audio of her book, which is far better, in my opinion, because she is a stand up comedian by trade, and so her audio delivery is spot on. However, if you don’t want to get it on audio just yet, you can get it for a good price on the kindle
~ Pegasus.

Is It Just Me?

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905 In my little twitter-sphere and Facebook world this book has a TON of hype behind it and in general I really hate to read books with a lot of hype. Because almost always I end up feeling just meh about the book or movie and then think well there is obviously something wrong with all of these other people because that was just not that great! So I tend to just read my own thing and it all works out just fine. But there was an insanely good price drop and I couldn’t resist buying it because that IS the way into this book lover’s kindle. Also I did read Attachments at the recommendation of Vi who has about a 98.4% track record of recs for me (and I loved it). Then I read Eleanor and Park and I loved it too. All that to say basically fine, I succumbed to the hype, I’m weak. Whatevs.

How do you not like the Internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.’

I started to read and fell in love with Cath, the main character, immediately. But it wasn’t fair because the author somehow made her exactly like me in every way but completely different at the same time. Cath and her twin sister, Wren, go to college after spending their whole lives being together. When Wren decides not to be roommates with her Cath is kind of crushed but finds solace in her hobby of writing fan fiction for the series Simon Snow. But not just any fan fiction, like really epic fan fiction that has hundreds and hundreds of followers online.

So while her college life is just not going that great – her roommate seems to hate her and has a boyfriend(ish) who is always around, Cath’s professor thinks fan fiction is plagiarism, and she can’t seem to make any friends – her fan fiction is the only thing that seems to make any sense. Like always.

โ€œI feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.โ€

There is so much going on in this book it would be so easy for it to just fall apart if something wasn’t done well but it was, just ridiculously done well! There is a beautiful family story being told here. Partly with the twins and dealing with going to college and the ramifications of being apart for the first time. Cath can’t understand what Wren is doing and can’t comprehend why she doesn’t want to be around her anymore. But at the same time she can’t see what Wren herself is going through. They’re both grappling with bigger issues of leaving their father at home alone, and dealing with their mother who left them and how they want to handle her possibly entering their lives again. Neither can understand how the other wants to deal with it.

On top of that is the coming to college story, Cath dealing with being introverted and not being able to even go to the cafeteria by herself to eat. This was part of the book that made my heart ache for her because I was having flashbacks to my freshman year in college, dealing with a hated roommate of my own. Going hand in hand with the college and coming of age story is of course the falling in love for the first time which was so awkwardly well done. Cath falling in love and acknowledging how incredibly weird yet awesome this was for her was hilarious and heart breaking to see.

โ€œYouโ€™ve read the books?โ€
โ€œIโ€™ve seen the movies.โ€
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. (Actually.) (Maybe because she was still on the edge of tears. On the edge, period.) โ€œSo you havenโ€™t read the books.โ€
โ€œIโ€™m not really a book person.โ€
โ€œThat might be the most idiotic thing youโ€™ve ever said to meโ€

โ€œHow do you feel when I smile at you?” he asked – and then he did smile at her, just a little.
Not like myself, Cath thought.
“Like an idiot,” she said softly. “And I never want it to stop.โ€

All of this being tied together of course was the fan fiction. I’ve never written fan fiction and barely read some so I’m not super familiar with that world but wow does the author just pull you right into it and make you feel like you’ve lived in it your whole life. There have been comparisons made of Simon Snow to Harry Potter and that is obviously what my mind went to as well. I loved the snippets and I loved reading pieces of what Cath wrote throughout the book.

Somehow Rainbow Rowell managed to take all of these different pieces of these huge stories together into one and make a complex book that made total sense. I’ve seen many books fall apart trying to tie just two of these themes together so I’m still not quite sure how she managed to do this but in my opinion she was very successful. Besides combining all of these into one she also made me laugh. This is an extremely quotable book and I love that.
5 Stars

~Clio

Buy it Now Fangirl