Friday, December 31, 2010

Month in Review: December

Here are my reading stats for December!
  • Books read:  13
Books I read (reviewed ones have * and link to review)
  1. Murder on the Down Low* by Pamela Samuels Young
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
  3. Key Lime Pie* by Josi S. Kilpack
  4. House Rules* by Jodi Picoult
  5. Lucia, Lucia* by Adriana Trigiani
  6. A Veiled Deception* by Annette Blair
  7. A Vintage Affair* by Isabel Wolff
  8. Killer Heat* by Brenda Novak
  9. A Royal Likeness* by Christine Trent
  10. The Snow Globe* by Sheila Roberts
  11. A Chesapeake Shores Christmas* by Sherryl Woods
  12. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme* by Krista Davis
  13. The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice

Favorite Book of December :   
  • A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent (review to be published Jan 1 with a giveaway!)

2010 Challenge Update:
  • 100+ Reading Challenge  --  Books Read:  136/100 - (I completed this challenge in September, but am still keeping track of how many books I've read.)
  • Support Your Local Library Challenge --  Books Read:  49/50
  • Anne of Green Gables Reread Challenge  --  Books Read: 3/8+M
  • Fall Into Reading Challenge -- 23/25
  • James Patterson Reading Challenge II -- 4/10+

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis

First line: "My very favorite holiday is Thanksgiving."

From the back cover: Few can compete with the Natasha Smith when it comes to entertaining, but her childhood rival, Sophie Winston, certainly tries. While Natasha is known for her intricate centerpieces and painstakingly prepared gourmet meals, Sophie likes to keep things simple...real simple. Natasha may have stolen the spotlight - and Sophie's husband - but Sophie is determined to take home the prize at the Stupendous Stuffing Shakedown. She just needs the right ingredients...

However, Sophie's search for the perfect turkey takes a basting when she stumbles across a corpse. And when the police find her name and photo inside the victim's car, they think she has some explaining to do. Sophie will have to set her trussing aside to solve the murder or she'll be serving up prison grub - and that definitely wouldn't be a good thing.

My thoughts: This is the first in the Domestic Diva Mystery series and it was a quick read. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme is great fun, with an engaging heroine, Sophie, her sometimes annoying and sometimes adorable extended family, her best friend Nina from across the street, a few neighbors, and a handsome detective with his own mysterious past. To make matters worse, she is thrown face-to-face with her childhood rival, Natasha, more times than she would care to. This cozy mystery delivers a plethora of useful household tips and mouth-watering recipes immersed within a plot that keeps you guessing right up to the very end. Plenty of suspects and red herrings are thrown into the mix and each chapter leaves you wanting to know more, ending with mini-cliff hangers. As for the household tips, it's comical reading Natasha's tips compared to Sophie's - high end vs. practical. While most things are tied up at the end of the book, there are a few that are left hanging to make you want to go right out and get the second book.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Review: A Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods

First line: It was only the second time in the more than twelve years since her divorce that Megan O'Brien had been home in Chesapeake Shores during the holiday season.

From the inside cover: After years apart, Mick and Megan O'Brien are finally ready to make it official...again. Most of their grown children couldn't be happier about their rekindled love and impending marriage this holiday season. Only Connor is a holdout. Driven to become a divorce attorney after what he views as his mother's abandonment of their family, Connor's not about to give his blessing to this reunion romance.

The last thing Megan wants to do is hurt her family again. After all, is she really sure she and Mick can make it this time around? And when an unexpected delivery causes chaos, it seems only a miracle can reunite this family.

Of course, it is Christmas - the season of miracles.

My thoughts: This is the fourth book in the Chesapeake Shores series and once again Sherryl Woods lets us into the lives of the O'Brien clan. A Chesapeake Shores Christmas is a sweet, heartwarming novel of love, forgiveness and a mother's determination to rekindle her relationship with her child. The story is mainly about Mick and Megan, who were divorced some years ago, but are now trying to get back together again and planning a wedding for New Year's Eve - if Mick can convince Megan to let her doubts fall to the side. Both Mick and Megan are determined not to make the same mistakes they made while married even if it is a bit of a struggle. They do, however, have another big obstacle to overcome - while most of their grown children accept their plans to remarry, their son Connor doesn't and his behavior is threatening the upcoming nuptials. What nobody realizes is that Connor himself has a big secret - one that changes everything when it is revealed. The family dynamics are what make this novel so strong - not only the dynamics between Mick and Megan and their children but Mick's relationship with his brothers. The fact that the book takes place during the holidays, makes the family dynamics even stronger and many readers will identify with some of the situations that occur. Connor's secret adds much to the book - while it partly sets up for a sequel to the book it never really feels that way and makes the book stronger. Of course, in her opening letter to readers, Sherryl Woods lets us know that there will be three more books to be published in the Spring of 2011 and I will be anxiously awaiting their release.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Review: The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts

First line: Something drew Kiley Gray to the antique shop.

From the inside cover: On a blustery afternoon, Kiley Gray wanders into an antique shop and buys an enchanting snow globe. "There's a story behind that snow globe," the antique dealer tells her. The original owner, he explains, was a German toymaker who lost his wife and son right before Christmas. When the grieving widower received the handcrafted snow globe as a Christmas gift, he saw the image of a beautiful woman beneath the glass - a woman who would come into his life, mend his broken heart, and bring him back to the world of the living. The dealer also tells Kiley that the snow globe has passed from generation to generation, somehow always landing in the hands of a person in special need of a Christmas miracle.

Kiley could use a miracle herself. Maybe this Christmas the snow globe can bring her a new love. A hopeful shake leads her on an adventure that makes a believer out of her. When Kiley shares the story of the snow globe with her best friends - two women with problems of their own - they don't believe it. But they're about to discover that at Christmastime, sometimes the impossible becomes possible and miracles really do come true.

My thoughts: This was a sweet, quick read that leaves you wanting to believe in Christmas miracles. Kiley has had a tough time lately and when she finds an antique snow globe that's reputed to deal in miracles, she can't resist buying it. Immediately drawn to the globe, she is told how it had been passed down from generation to generation, always bringing hope when someone needed it most. All that remains to be seen is whether or not the globe can deliver for her. Through the holiday season, the globe makes its way amongst three friends:  Kiley, the believer, and her friends, Suzanne, the non-believer and Allison, the I-want-to-believer, and all three women's lives are changed. This is the perfect book to read while the snow is falling and the holiday spirit is still upon us - I read it in one sitting and am looking forward to reading more books by Sheila Roberts.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: Killer Heat by Brenda Novak

First line: Francesca Moretti thought she couldn't be seeing what she was seeing.

From the back cover: The bodies of seven women have been discovered in Skull Valley, Arizona. Jonah Young, a private security operative from Department 6, has been hired by the Yavapai County sheriff to assist in solving these murders. But Jonah's not prepared for the complications that arise when he's forced to work with a woman from his past, private investigator Francesca Moretti.

Jonah betrayed Francesca ten years ago. She hasn't forgiven him and she's pretty sure she never will. But the woman she was hired to find has been murdered in exactly the same way as the seven in Skull Valley, so, Francesca has to work with Jonah. They quickly zero in on the most likely suspect - but questions remain. Questions they have to answer. Because if they bet on the wrong man, it might be the last thing they ever do...

My thoughts: This is the final book in Brenda Novak's Heat trilogy and I am sorry to see it end. Once again, we have Department 6, a private security operation that takes on personal cases as well as aids in police cases when needed, helping out with a case - this time solving the murder of seven women in the desert. Killer Heat is an action-packed, investigative thriller that grips the reader from the opening sequence when Butch comes after Francesca with a bat and never slows down until the final confrontation. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate this strong second chance romantic suspense with solid tough leads and a terrific late twist. Francesca and Jonah must put aside old feelings to work together, and both must learn to forgive. Brenda Novak masterfully deals with their past and present lives while keeping the focus on a tale of grisly murders and multiple suspects. Nothing is certain in this suspenseful story until the very end, which promises a big surprise. Having enjoyed this series so much, I think I will be looking into some of Brenda Novak's other series.

(I purchased this book.)

Review: A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

First line: ", eight-teen...nine-teen...twenty!"

From the inside cover: Her friends are stunned when Phoebe Swift abruptly leaves a plum job at the prestigious Sotheby's auction house to open her own vintage clothing shop in London - but to Phoebe, it's the fulfillment of a dream. In the sunlight-flooded interior of Village Vintage, surrounded by Yves Saint Laurent silk scarves, Vivienne Westwood bustle skirts, cupcake dresses, and satin gowns, Phoebe hopes to make her store the hot new place to shop, even as she deals with two ardent suitors, her increasingly difficult mother, and a secret from her past that casts a shadow over her new venture.

For Phoebe, each vintage garment carries its own precious history. Digging for finds in attics and wardrobes, Phoebe is rewarded whenever she finds something truly unique, for she knows that when you buy a piece of vintage clothing, you're not just buying fabric and thread - you're buying a piece of someone's past. But one particular article of clothing will soon unexpectedly change her life.

Therese Bell, an elderly Frenchwoman, has an impressive clothing collection. But among the array of smart suits and couture gowns, Phoebe finds a child's sky-blue coat - an item with which Mrs. Bell is stubbornly reluctant to part. As the two women become friends, Phoebe will learn the tale of that little blue coat. And she will discover an astonishing connection between herself and Therese Bell - one that will help her heal the pain of her own past and allow her to love again.

My thoughts: This was a beautiful story that I devoured in a day because I just couldn't put it down! It was my first book by Isabel Wolff and won't be my last. Of course, part of what drew me to this book was the beautiful cover! More than just chick lit, this is part Holocaust story, part fashion history lesson and part romance. A Vintage Affair is a story of love, forgiveness and new beginnings. This book has many layers. From Phoebe's past with Emma and Guy, to Mrs. Bell's story, to the story of the cupcake dresses, to the story with Dan, to the story with Miles, there are lots of things going on, and the author's masterful execution makes all of them blend together seamlessly. Each character is properly developed, and we come away with a sense that we know them well. I loved how with every piece of clothing Phoebe acquires for her vintage store, a story would emerge. Some of the stories are in the past, such a tale about the French occupation and a tiny blue coat or a box of unworn lacy slips that never got to experience the light of day- and some of the stories begin when people walk into Phoebe's shop, such as beautiful prom dresses from the 1960's that find new happiness with young, hardworking girls who covet them today. And there is Phoebe's own story, which gets revealed as she shares herself with the people who reveal their stories (and clothing) to her.  Filled with fascinating details about vintage fashion, classic films, vineyards, and World War II in Europe, this is a story that stays with you long after you read the last page.

(I purchased this book.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review: A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair

First line: My father would never have asked me to take a leave of absence from my job in New York City if he could have handled my sister's wedding and the "Jezebel" plotting to preempt it without me.

From the back cover: With years of experience working for a top New York designer, Madeira Cutler has learned to appreciate the clean line, rich texture, and elegant draping of a finely crafted garment. It's not until Maddie goes home to Mystick Falls, Connecticut, for her sister's wedding, however, that she discovers her understanding of fashion goes much deeper...

Before the accessory shopping and fittings can begin, the festivities hit a snag when Maddie finds her sister's nemesis strangled with the bride-to-be's veil. In between opening her own vintage clothing shop and keeping the wedding on track, Maddie's determined to perform her own investigation to clear her family's name. she soon finds that her best witness may be an antique wedding dress that magically unveils to her the secrets of those who have worn it. But if the gown doesn't talk fast enough, the lives of everyone Maddie loves will surely fall apart at the seams.

My thoughts: This is the first in the Vintage Magic Mystery series and I really enjoyed it. A Veiled Deception is a humorous, light, magical story that blends a light romance with a light mystery. Maddie's return home elicits the bitter sweetness of one's hometown as both good and bad memories are both never too far away. Upon her return home, Maddie realizes she has inherited a psychic ability from her deceased mother. Maddie can read vintage clothes, during which dizzying readings she sees snippets of things that happened while the clothes were being worn. It's this ability that helps her in solving the mysterious death of Jasmine, the "Jezebel" that has set her designs on her sister's finance. Being this is the first in a series, we are introduced to a whole cast of characters, from her literary quoting professor dad, to a hundred-year-old spinster privy, to the town's secrets to the now-hunky police chief trying to live down the nickname Maddie christened him with in high school, to a movie-star handsome ghost, along with her sister, her brother, her aunt and her on-again, off-again beau. It is a quick, fun read and I am eager to read the next installment of this series, Larceny and Lace.

(I purchased this book.)

Review: Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

First line: From her window Kit Zanetti can see absolutely everything that happens on Commerce Street.

From the back cover: It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. The postwar boom is rife with opportunities for talented girls with ambition, and Lucia becomes an apprentice to an up-and-coming designer at chic B. Altman department store on Fifth Avenue. Engaged to her childhood sweetheart, the steadfast Dante DeMartino, Lucia is torn when she meets a handsome stranger who promises a life of uptown luxury that career girls like her only read about in the society pages. Forced to choose between duty to her family and her own dreams, Lucia finds herself in the midst of a sizzling scandal in which secrets are revealed, her beloved career is jeopardized, and the Santori's honor is tested.

My thoughts: I have only read two other Adriana Trigiani books (Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine), both of which I loved. This one was certainly no exception. Lucia, Lucia centers around an older Lucia reminiscing of her younger days in the 1950's. She had the glamorous life that she was determined to keep, no matter what. This story is about lost loves and the paths that were taken to maintain her career dream, quite a deal for a woman in the 1950's! Adriana Trigiani has a rare gift for gently sweeping her readers into a world that is filled with rich characters, inviting us into a story that feels like family. It is a tender and sweet story that is neither overly sentimental nor unrealistically dramatic. Adriana has woven together family relationships, romance, tragedy and nostalgia in a way that is comforting in its familiarity. She has beautifully recreated and drawn the reader into the glamorous and dream-like New York fashion world of the 1950's. Lucia, Lucia was a bit of a sentimental read for me as it reminded me of when I used to drive my great-aunt back home after a holiday dinner. She would tell stories about her life growing up in New York City. She even lived in a walk-up like Lucia does. I can't wait to read more books by Adriana Trigiani - she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!

(I got this book from PaperbackSwap.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (12.27.10)

It’s Monday What Are you Reading is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

Books Completed last week:
  • A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent (review)
Reading Now:
  • The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts (library book)
  • The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice (library audio-book)
  • Anne of Windy Poplars by LM Montgomery (library book)
Reviews completed this past week:
  • None
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling (mine)
  • Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (mine)
  • A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair (mine)
  • A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff (mine) 
  • Killer Heat by Brenda Novak (mine)
  • A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent (review)
Contest information:
  • No contests right now - more coming soon!

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (35) 12.26.10

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.

For Review (2)
Scones and Bones by Laura Childs
Bedeviled Eggs by Laura Childs

Library (4)
The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts
Anne of Windy Poplars by LM Montgomery
Anne's House of Dreams by LM Montgomery
Anne of Ingleside by LM Montgomery

Purchased (4) 
By Royal Decree by Kate Emerson
Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs
Larceny and Lace by Annette Blair
Death by Diamonds by Annette Blair

Borrowed from family member (0)

From Paperback Swap - (0)

Won (0) 

***I also got a NOOKcolor from my husband for Christmas...I can't wait to start downloading some good books to it!!!


What's in your mailbox?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 Challenge - Finish Line

Another challenge has come to a close. As you can see from my list, I finished reading 23 out of the 25 books I had listed and I am in the middle of reading one right now. I was also able to read an additional 11 books  during this time that were not on my original list. That puts my total number of books read from September 22 to December 20 to 34 books!!!

Here's my original list:
  1. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
  2. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapri
  3. Love Means Zero by Daisy Jordan
  4. Let's Eat by Denise Burroughs
  5. Devil's Foodcake by Josi S. Kilpack
  6. Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack
  7. What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen
  8. Killer Heat by Brenda Novak
  9. A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent READING NOW
  10. Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
  11. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
  12. A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair
  13. Kiss Me if You Can by Carly Phillips
  14. Love Me if You Dare by Carly Phillips
  15. A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
  16. House Rules by Jodi Piccoult
  17. Honeymoon by James Patterson
  18. Don't Blink by James Patterson
  19. Cross Fire by James Patterson
  20. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs - DID NOT READ YET
  21. 1022 Evergreen Place by Debbie Macomber
  22. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
  23. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
  24. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
  25. Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
Additionally I read the following:
  1. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
  2. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
  3. The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen
  4. Perfection by Julie Metz
  5. The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate
  6. Hollywood Ending by Lucie Simone
  7. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  8. Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young
  9. Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky
  10. Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery
  11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Thank you to Katrina over at Callapidder Days for hosting this challenge!!! I got a lot of books read that have been sitting on my bookshelves, in addition to all the review books I had to read. I particularly enjoyed the weekly questions that Katrina came up with each week. It was a great way to get to know the other participants a little better. 

I read a lot of great books this time around and it's hard to pick one favorite, but some of the top books were: American Wife, A Vintage Affair, and A Royal Likeness (which I am still reading). 

In order to get through more books this time, I started listening to audio books and have to say I am now hooked. While I was only able to listen to 2 audio books that were on my list, I did manage to listen to 2 addition audio books not on my list. 

This is the second reading challenge I have participated in where I listed the books to be read beforehand and it's the second time I did not finish the entire list, although I came very close. I did manage to read quite a few additional books not on my original list, so I ended up reading more than I initially planned. I guess you could call it a wash...and that's just fine with me!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (12.20.10)

It’s Monday What Are you Reading is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

Books Completed last week:
  • Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (mine)
  • A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair (mine)
  • A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff (library audio-book)
  • Killer Heat by Brenda Novak (mine)
Reading Now:
  • A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent (review)
  • The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice (library audio-book)
  • On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts (mine)
  • Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs (mine)
Reviews completed this past week:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling (mine)
  • Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (mine)
  • A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair (mine)
  • A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff (mine) 
  • Killer Heat by Brenda Novak (mine)
Contest information:
  • No contests right now - more coming soon!

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (34) 12.19.10

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.

For Review (1)
Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso

Library (1)
The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice (audio book)

Purchased (0) 

Borrowed from family member (0)

From Paperback Swap - (0)

Won (0) 

What's in your mailbox?

Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult (audio book)

From the back of the audio case: One of America's most popular authors, Jodi Picoult has earned a reputation for crafting riveting, topical fiction. With House Rules she delivers a note-perfect blend of entertainment and social commentary.

Teenager Jacob Hunt has Asperger's syndrome. A forensic science wizard, he follows his police scanner to crime scenes and gives law enforcement officials brilliant advice. But when he is accused of murder, his Asperger's traits - not looking people in the eye, tics and twitches - look more like guilt to investigators. Suddenly Jacob and his mother are caught up in America's maddening legal system, which favors those who communicate a particular way.

As Picoult vividly depicts, being different can have dire consequences, and justice isn't blind for everyone. The tension mounts through a breathtaking, full-case performance of this provocative novel.

Read by: Mark Turetsky, Nicole Poole, Andy Paris, Rich Orlow, and Christopher Evan Welch

My thoughts: I only started reading Jodi Picoult's books recently and have only read a few of them - all of which I have enjoyed. This one was no different. I did listen to the audio version, and I have to say, it added to the enjoyment of it. House Rules tells the story of a mother, Emma, whose son, Jacob, has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. It is also a story about brotherly love and the love of a mother. Jacob is accused of committing murder and put on trial. There are several family and moral issues that are tossed around, the plot includes a little twist and there's even a sprinkle of romance. Jodi Picoult tells the family's story through the eyes of five people: Mom, Jacob, younger brother Theo, a policeman, and the man who becomes both Mom's love interest and her son's defense attorney. This allows the story to move ahead, leaving space for the family members to expound on the intricacies of Asperger's, and the outsiders to demonstrate their reactions to Jacob's behavior. Jodi Picoult goes into great depth on the day to day life of Asperger's such as the funny things which are taken literally, the foods each day of a certain color, the obsession with one subject, etc. Jacob's obsession is on forensic science. He watches a television show called `Crimebusters' and keeps a detailed journal of each episode. Because he has a police scanner, he sometimes turns up at crime scenes where he tells the police what they need to do. He also frequently stages his own mock crime scenes at home, complete with fake blood made from corn syrup and fingerprints. There were many times when I found myself laughing out loud as I listened to this, especially when Jacob was speaking, using movie quotes when he was uncomfortable or just coming out with quirky things to say about life. I highly recommend this book to those who want to learn more about Asperger's, who like stories about real issues facing real people, and for those who just like a good story about family life.

(I borrowed this audio book from the library.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review: Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack

First line: "Hey."

From the back cover:
Name: Megan Burton
Age: 25
Description: dark hair, blue eyes; no identifiable scars; wearing a diamond tennis bracelet
Last seen three years ago in Key West, Florida
If you have any information, please contact the police immediately

When Sadie Hoffmiller's new friend, Eric Burton, receives work that his missing daughter's body may have been found in Florida, he immediately packs his bags, but Sadie is determined to stay home and prove to everyone that she is not a busybody.

But when she senses Eric is hiding something, Sadie is compelled to take action. Before she knows it, she's in the heart of Miami, trying to piece together a trail littered with broken relationships, mysterious strangers, and forged documents that might just provide Eric the answers he's been desperately searching for - or reveal a truth he may not be ready to face.

Sadie must also face a difficult question: Where is her heart leading her? Onward into Eric's adventurous arms? Or back home to the stable and steady Pete Cunningham? If only love was as easy as following a recipe. 

Once again, Sadie finds herself in the company of some colorful characters and on the hunt for some good old-fashioned Southern cooking. but despite the drama and intrigue, all Sadie really wants is to go home ... as soon as she does just one more thing.

My thoughts: This is the fourth in the Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mysteries. Sadie once again has found herself involved in a murder mystery - despite the fact that this one is Florida and she lives in Colorado! Doing her best to not get involved when asked to accompany Eric to Florida, her desire to know all wins out when he asks her to send him a box he has at his house. Between her getting involved in the murder and the constant battle in her head of which man, Eric or Pete, she wants to be with, I found myself laughing out loud many times. I love Sadie's character. She truly is a busybody but at the same time she is so sweet that you can forgive her for being in everyone's business. The characters that we meet in Key Lime Pie are interesting, unique, and quirky--especially Sadie. The plot has lots of twists and turns. Several times I thought I had it all figured out, only to have the story spin off into another layer of intrigue and mystery. Of course, my favorite part of this series is looking at all the recipes included. The Butterfinger Cookies and the Key Lime Pie with Sadie's favorite crumb crust are ones I hope to try soon!

(I purchased this book.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FIR '10: Reading Question #12 (the last one!)

FIR is hosted by Katrina at Callapidderdays.
Every Tuesday this fall, Katrina will be posting a question about reading. 
This is the last question, as the challenge ends next Tuesday. I want to thank Katrina for hosting this challenge and for adding this fun spin to it...I have looked forward to reading everyone's answers that participate each week.

Today's question - there are actual 4 questions to choose from this week:
  1. Do you write in your books?
  2. Can you read in the car?
  3. Does the rest of your family enjoy reading?
  4. What’s the longest you’ve gone without reading?
I am going to answer each one briefly.

1. No, I don't write in my books. If I find a passage or quote I like, I will put in a sticky note to mark it, so that I can refer to it quickly.

2. Yes, I can and often do read in the car, especially when my husband and I are traveling long distances - although I have been known to read in the car even if we are just driving 20 minutes!

3. Yes, I am fortunate to come from a family of readers. Both my parents are avid readers, as are most of my six siblings. My husband and his family are huge readers, too. Even my aunts and grandmother are all readers which is nice because there are always lots of people to talk to about books or to share books with!

4. I honestly do not know what the longest is that I've gone without reading...maybe a day or two but that's it. I usually read while eating my breakfast, then again while eating lunch and I almost always read in bed before going to sleep. If I'm lucky, I find more time to read during the day.

What about you? Which question(s) are you going to answer?

Teaser Tuesdays (12.14.10)

MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesday. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's a tease of what I am currently reading:

That was the difference between a brother and a sometimes lover. One treated you like - well - a brat, and the other gently conveyed a message.

From A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair, pg. 24.

Please leave a comment with a link to your teaser so I can stop by.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (12.13.10)

It’s Monday What Are you Reading is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

Books Completed last week:
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling (mine)
  • Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack (mine)
  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult (library audio-book)
Reading Now:
  • Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (mine)
  • A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff (mine)
  • A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent (review)
  • A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair (mine)
Reviews completed this past week:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling (mine)
  • Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack (mine)
  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult (library audio-book)
Contest information:
  • No contests right now - more coming soon!

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox (33) 12.12.10 - Plus My Secret Santa Goodies!!!

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.

For Review (0)

Library (0)

Purchased (1) 
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

Borrowed from family member (1)
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

From Paperback Swap - (0)

Won (0) 

This weekend I received my Secret Santa gift from the Book Blogger Holiday Swap...and I loved it. The only problem is that I do not know who sent it, so I will have to put a THANK YOU here and hope my Secret Santa sees this post!

Here are my goodies:

 The books were all on my wishlist and I am excited to read them. The chocolate will certainly not go to waste as I am a huge chocoholic! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Secret Santa...I love my goodies!!!

What's in your mailbox?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Virtual Tour and Guest Post: Pamela Samuels Young

Please join me in welcoming Pamela Samuels Young, author of  Murder on the Down Low to Always With a Book! If you missed my review, you can read it here. Today Pamela guest blogs about pursuing your passion.

Today is a new day, which means you have a fresh opportunity to pursue your passion.

Have you been thinking about changing careers? Perhaps you’d like to go back to school or start your own consulting firm. Maybe being a stay-at-home mom is your dream job. Unfortunately, every time you think about taking the first step, the fear of leaving the virtual security of your current job floods your head with dozens of sound reasons why you should stay put.

Whether your dream is to write a novel, become an interior decorator or start your own catering business, you can make it happen. Here are five tips that will help you begin your journey.

1. Find Time To Plan Your Career Move

With the demands of work, family, church and community activities, you may think you don’t have a spare moment to even think about, much less pursue, your dream career. You’re wrong. If someone had told me I could’ve published four novels in four years while still practicing law, I would’ve said, “No way.” The key is having a passion and a plan.

It won’t be easy, but you can find free time where you least expect it. The next time you’re taking a neighborhood jog or walking on the treadmill, use the time to think about possible locations for the day spa you’ve dreamed of opening or mull over the plot for that book you’ve wanted to write. Instead of listening to your favorite CD during your morning and evening commute, use the time to work on the business plan for your jewelry-making business. A Dictaphone can be a pretty handy tool in that situation. Your lunch break and the two to three hours you spend in the beauty shop can also be put to good use. With your family’s support, you might even find an evening or two to run off to your local library or a nearby Starbucks for some business-planning time. Even if it’s only an hour a week, use it.

2. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

You may not realize it, but you have a multitude of resources all around you -- family, friends, colleagues, church members, sorority sisters, and even strangers. Don’t be afraid to request an informational interview. If you want to run a bed ‘n breakfast, call up the owners of a similar establishment in another community, invite them to lunch and tap their brain. People love to talk about themselves and many will be flattered that you want to ask them for advice. The Internet is also a valuable resource. You can enter a few key words on Google and thousands of helpful articles will appear right before your eyes. Just remember: research, research, research!

3. Join Professional Organizations

It’s a good idea to surround yourself with others who share your interests and passion. There are hundreds of professional groups whose sole function is to help their members develop their creative talents and realize their business goals. As a writer, I belong to Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. I rarely make many of the meetings, but when I do, I always learn something or make some contact that helps me along in my writing career. No matter what your passion is, there’s bound to be a networking group you can join.

Organizations like Minority and Women Business Owners, Women Entrepreneurs, Inc., and, just to name a few, provide information, support and networking opportunities. Find the organizations that can be most helpful to you and join them.

4. Understand That It Won’t Happen Overnight

Unfortunately, entrepreneurial ventures don’t come with the guarantee of a regular paycheck. I assumed that after releasing my first novel in 2006, Oprah would call and the rest would be history. That has yet to happen. Somehow, I’m still balancing both my legal practice and my passion: writing legal thrillers. It can sometimes be quite stressful, but each time I have a new book that hits the stores, I’m re-energized and more committed than ever about reaching my goal of becoming a full-time writer.

There will no doubt be disappointments when things don’t happen in accordance with your time schedule. But if you remain faithful and focused on your goal, it will happen.

5. Ignore The Naysayers

We all know people who believe you should find a good job, work as hard as you can for 30 years, then retire at 65 and enjoy life. For them, the thought of leaving a secure, well-paying position for the uncertainties of entrepreneurial life is unthinkable. That kind of limited thinking won’t help you realize your dream.

When I proudly tell people I hope to one day give up practicing law to become a full-time novelist, they smile and look as if they want to pat me on top of my head and say, “That’s nice. Now run along back to your briefs.”

You have to decide what you want to do and go for it. And don’t be surprised if you turn out to be your biggest obstacle. When that happens, just look your self-doubt squarely in the face and command it to go away. The same degree of preparation and persistence that helped you land your current position will also help you smoothly transition into your dream career.

So don’t just dream about pursuing your passion, make it happen!

About the author: Pamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and bestselling author or legal thrillers, Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, and Buying Time.

In addition to writing legal thrillers and working as an in-house attorney for a major corporation, Pamela is the fiction writing expert for and is on the Board of Directors of the Southern California  Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. The former journalist and Compton native is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law. 
You can find more information about Pamela Samuels Young at her website.

Thank you Pamela for contributing this great guest post, and thanks to Tracee at  Pump Up Your Book  for coordinating it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Virtual Tour and Review: Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young

First line: Dr. Quentin Banks was a man's man.

From the back cover: Savvy L.A. attorney Vernetta Henderson takes center stage in another fast-paced legal thriller that erupts into a scandalous tale of vengeance.

Prominent African-American men are being gunned down on the streets of Los Angeles, leaving police completely baffled. The victims are all quintessential family men. Well-Educated. Attractive. Successful. But appearances can be deceiving.

At the same time, Vernetta and her outrageous sidekick, Special, lead the charge for revenge against a young lawyer whose deception caused his fiancee's death. For Special, hauling the man into court and suing him for wrongful death just isn't good enough. While she exacts her own brand of justice, a shocking revelation connects the contentious lawsuit and the puzzling murders. 

Soon, Special's quest for payback goes way too far, and this time ... it appears that not even Vernetta can save her.

My thoughts: Pamela Samuels Young takes readers on a wild ride with this legal thriller. She spins an intriguing tale of infidelity, lies, hate and murder. Murder on the Down Low hooks you from the opening page and doesn't let go until the last. In this book, a spotlight is shone on the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the African American community. The author adds suspense, drama and deceit as her tale takes readers from one surprise to the next. It's not a book to be read lightly, as it has some powerful messages. It destroys common myths about HIV/AIDS and educates woman that they need to protect them self. Even married women are in danger of contracting this disease if they are dealing with an untruthful mate. Murder On The Down Low will keep you guessing as to what is going to happen next, and you will not be able to read each page fast enough to get to the next page. This is the third book in the Vernetta Henderson Mystery series and while I usually read series in order, because this was a review book, I decided to start with this one. Because I enjoyed this book, I will be going back to read the first two in the series and will be on the lookout for more from this author.

About the author: Corporate attorney Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. Fed up with never seeing women or people of color depicted as savvy, hot shot attorneys in the legal thrillers she read, Pamela decided to create her own characters. Despite the demands of a busy legal career, Pamela accomplished her ambitious goal by rising at four in the morning to write before work, dedicating her weekends to writing and even spending her vacation time glued to her laptop for ten or more hours a day.

The Essence magazine bestselling author now has four fast-paced legal thrillers to show for her efforts: Every Reasonable Doubt (BET Books, February 2006), In Firm Pursuit (Harlequin, January 2007), Murder on the Down Low (Goldman House Publishing, September 2008) and Buying Time (Goldman House Publishing, November 2009). New York Times bestselling author Sheldon Siegel described Buying Time, Pamela’s first stand-alone novel, as a “deftly plotted thriller that combines the best of Lisa Scottoline and Robert Crais.”

Pamela has achieved a successful writing career while working as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for a large corporation in Southern California. Prior to that, she served as Employment Law Counsel for Raytheon Company and spent several years with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP in Los Angeles. A former journalist, Pamela began her broadcasting career as a production assistant at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, where she was quickly promoted to news writer. To escape the chilly Detroit winters, she returned home to Los Angeles and worked at KCBS-TV as a news writer and associate producer.

Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC, a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received her law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is the Fiction Expert for

Pamela is a frequent speaker on the topics of discrimination law, diversity, writing and pursuing your passion. She is married and lives in the Los Angeles area. To contact Pamela or to read an excerpt of her books, visit

I received a complimentary copy of Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Giveaway Winners - Not My Daughter




winners of
Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky selected the winners.
Thanks to all who entered the giveaway!

Giveaway Winner - Hollywood Ending



Karen K

winner of
Hollywood Ending by Lucie Simone selected the winner.
Thanks to all who entered the giveaway!
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