Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's Here!!! Clean Sweep ARC Challenge (Mini Challenge Schedule/Rafflecopter)

 Clean Sweep ARC Challenge for May 2013

Together with Kimberly @ The Windy Pages we will be helping you clean up those ARCs. The challenge begins on May 1 and ends on the 31st. 

The goal: to read and review as many ARC's as we can. We will have fun challenges each Saturday hosted by some wonderful bloggers and a prize for two luck participants at the end of the challenge. So gather your ARCs and your brooms and lets have some fun! 
  • Must be read during May 1st and May 31st, 2013
  • Starts and ends at midnight in your local time zone
  • Physical, audio and digital ARCs are eligible, in any length and genre! (for this challenge an ARC is any book given for review purposes, regardless of release date.)
  • Linky will close on May 15th so sign up before you miss out!
  • When you post your sign up post, please include the challenge button or links back to the hosting blogs.
  • Challenges will be hosted each Saturday with a change to win additional prize
  • Grand Prize- TWO winners will be chosen to pick a book of their choice from The Book Depository. (Up to $15 value per book)
  • Please post your recap by June 3rd. This is the day that the Rafflecopter will close. Recap post should include a link to the review or Goodreads review with date it will be posted on your blog. (This is for readers who may be reading books way ahead of schedule and don't want to post a review yet!)
  • Rafflecopter entries will be awarded for each book review linked, posting about challenge, recap post, participation in challenges, and following.
Challenge Schedule and Rafflecopter will post on April 30th at 4pm (EST) Rafflecopter will  close on June 3 at 11:59 (EST)
It's not too late to join! 
Grab the Button and Link Up! 

Sign-up HERE
Mini-Challenge Schedule 
You will have all weekend long to complete these challenges and win prizes!  
Saturday May 4th
Saturday May 11th 
Saturday May 18th 
Saturday May 25th 
Clean Sweep ARC Rafflecopter 

Good Luck, and lets clean up those ARCS! 
Be sure to stop in daily to update your books on the rafflecopter. You can only add two books a day.

My reading list for the challenge
The Seduction 
Dare to You
Girl with the Iron Touch
Billion Dollar Cowboy
Day After
All That Is Necessary
Surprising Lord Jack
I Do or Die
The Night is Watching
What the Duke Desires
Sea of Tranquility
Big Summer Sky
The Best Man
The Testing
The Newcomer
The Best Man
The Registry
The Look of Love
As She Left (DNF)
A Human Element
Immortal Eclipse
A Penny Saved A Murder Earned
5th Wave

Did you post a goals post?
*leave me a link so I can visit!*

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Release Day Review: Against the Edge by Kat Martin

Against the Edge
by Kat Martin
Series: Raines of Wind Canyon #8
Publisher: Harlequin- Mira 
Publication date: April 30, 2013
Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
ARC received in exchange for unbiased review
*purchase through buy links supports this blog

 A child he's never met. A danger he's never known.  Deep in the humid, rank heart of the Louisiana bayou, a survivalist group has something that belongs to former navy SEAL Ben Slocum: his son.  That he's a father is news Ben Slocum was not expecting. But once the initial shock wears off for the confirmed bachelor, he takes in the rest of what social worker Claire Chastain tells him: that Sam is in the custody of an abusive degenerate, that they've disappeared...and that Ben is now the child's only hope.  As Ben and Claire band together to track the two down, their concern for the boy draws them closer, each fighting feelings there's no time to explore. Because when their search takes them too close to Sam's abductor and his cohorts, the danger hits home-the son he's desperate to save, the woman he's desperate to love... Ben's got one chance to take back what's his, and in one gunshot he could lose it all.
Each book in the Raines of Wind Canyon features an ex-military alpha-male who is perfect in every way but slightly flawed in the commitment department. They work in security or as private investigators and ultimately fall for a strong, independent woman. Kat Martin dishes up great suspense virtually guaranteeing me an engaging read with swoon worthy characters. She mixes in some romance, a little heat and a few giggles. She raised the bar with Against the Edge,  this was intense, sweet and kept me on edge. I literally consumed this as I slipped into the world she created and I was thoroughly entertained.  

Ben Slocum is a former navy SEAL, lives in Houston and works with his former buddies at a security firm. When he returns home from his friend’s wedding he is surprised to find a pretty woman standing on his porch and so not in the mood to deal with whatever it is. He wants a shower and coffee, lots of coffee. Claire Chastain is a social worker from LA and she takes one look at Ben in his wrinkled tux, smelling of woman’s perfume and things she knows exactly who Ben Slocum is. Over a cup of coffee Ben’s life is about to change and in a big way. He learns his ex-fiancé Laura has passed away and he is father to a nine year old boy named Sam. As if this isn’t enough to absorb, his son is missing and Claire believes he was kidnapped by Laura’s ex’s boyfriend. The tale that unfolds is suspenseful and has Ben and Claire crossing state lines to find his son and maybe a little something more.

I adored Ben with his piercing blue eyes and smexy dark features. His former navy buddies nicknamed him the “Icepick” and I found it quite fitting. He is this sweet combination of naughty and nice that was just delicious. He totally has commitment issues, but can he own it? Heck no, instead he does one nighters and then claims he likes it that way. Men! Claire made a promise to take care of her friend’s son and she is determined to find him. She is smart, witty and is not afraid to admit she is wrong. The woman in Martin's books are strong, independent and never needy which I really appreciate. Beloved characters and couples from the security firm make an appearance in this book and it was nice getting updates. I love all the wives and how they look out for couple. I found them to be delightfully meddlesome. There were many conversations that made me laugh between Ben and Claire and the other characters as well. Martin makes the entire cast of characters feel unique from who they are and how they act.  I'd love to have friends who had my back like this group. We meet Ty Brodie the hero in our next book and he was smexy, smart and brave. Sam was adorable with his dog, and of course he stole my heart. The villains and other characters were memorable and added to the overall suspense. 

The hunt to find Sam was action packed, with plenty of twists to keep me entertained. Martin takes us from Houston, to LA to Louisiana and I enjoyed the chase. The investigation and the way this couple interacted had me completely engaged. As connections and clues unfolded the relationship began to develop and it felt natural. Claire and Ben had this chemistry from the start and I loved the slow build, the fall back and the steamy scenes. We see growth in both characters and I just loved when Ben finally got the big picture. I was fascinated with the criminals and extremist they encountered. I am not sure if it was the interaction between the couple or the chase to find Ben’s son but I completely slipped into this book and before I knew it I was over half done and could not put it down.   

Fans of romantic suspense and swoon-worthy heroes will enjoy Against the Edge. Fans of Lori Foster and her Love Uncover Series, will find Martin’s series delightful. Against the Mark the next book in the Raines of Wind Canyon will be released August 27, 2013. This series is an auto-buy for me and I cannot wait.

Four and half cups of Mocha coffee out of five
Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba The Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

by Andrea Cremer and David Levitan
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
ARC provided in exchange for unbiased review
*purchase through buy links supports this blog

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.
I have enjoyed David Levithan’s previous works and so I was excited to read Invisibility his collaboration with Andre Cremer. He takes his readers on a journey that leaves them in awe at the close of the book(s). From magic, to romance to friendship I was completely caught up in the tale and its characters. While I clearly heard Levithan’s voice throughout the novel, I was equally impressed by Cremer and look forward to explore more of her works.  Invisibility is a book to be both devoured and savored.

The tale begins when we meet a single mom and her two teenage children as they move into an apartment building in NYC. Recently relocated from Minnesota they are fragile and rebuilding their lives after a vicious hate crime tore their family apart. Laurie is attending summer school, Mom is adjusting to her new job and that leaves Elizabeth to unpack the apartment. While trying to open the door and unload packages she spies Stephen and no one is more surprised that she can see him, then Stephen. Stephen was born invisible; no one not even his mother has ever seen him. The tale that unfolds is filled with romance, danger and acceptance.

The tale is told in dual POV’s going back and forth between chapters giving us an intimate look into the minds of Elizabeth and Stephen. Elizabeth is struggling after her brother’s attack and betrayal from people in her life. She immediately connects with Stephen, and while at first it felt a little like insta-love the romance settled and gained more substance. She is really trying to discover herself or reinvent herself and we see this from simple things like trying to change her name to the way she is drawn to Stephen. While I didn’t always agree with her, I understood what drove her. She has moments of kick-ass-ery which I adored, she can be selfish and in the next moment put others ahead of herself. In a nut-shell she is complicated, and felt fleshed-out and genuine. Stephen is strong, an island unto himself and doesn’t realize how lonely his existence has been until Elizabeth and her world collide with his. A part of him embraces all of it and another wants to keep a bubble around himself and Elizabeth. Their romance was pure, slow, tender, and bittersweet. You cannot help but wish them a happy ending. Laurie is a shining star, an optimist and a survivor. He is there for both of them and I adored this young man. Millie, Saul and Stephen’s grandfather help us understand the curse and magical aspects of the tale and added to the overall suspense.

Invisibility is a tale you want to savor, and the tale flows beautifully. It’s the type of book where you slide right into the world, look up and realize you’ve consumed a hundred or more pages. I did not find myself rushing towards the conclusion and instead basked in the unfolding of the tale. The curse, spellbinders, spellcasters and cursecasters were all fascinating. The authors did an excellent job of providing enough history to make it feel plausible and yet I craved more. I loved the descriptive style used to describe the curses afflicting victims and the way Elizabeth was able to see them. There are intense battles, and scenes which were vividly described and I felt like I was right there in the middle of it all. There were lessons to be learned, questions to be asked and ideas to be pondered as I weaved further into the tale. The ending gives us both resolution and unanswered questions but most of all hope. Another book could easily be created and this tale continued or the author(s) can leave us to create our own idea of happily-ever-after.

For fans of Levithan’s Every Day, Invisibility is a must read. If you are seeking an original paranormal with fleshed-out characters that will make you ponder some of life’s biggest questions then this book is for you. Andrea Creamer is the author of the popular NightShade series and I look forward to exploring more of her works.  

Four and half cups of NYC finest coffee out of five
Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba The Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Sunday Post #53 ~sharing blog news and book haul

The Sunday Post ~ 53rd Edition
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 
I cannot believe its the last weekend of April! Thank you for all of your warm get well wishes, everyday I am feeling a little better and hope to return to work next Wednesday. The blog reached another milestone; 300,000 page views and I cannot thank you all enough. Be sure to enter the giveaways going on here at the Caffeinated Reviewer and have an awesome book filled week! 
Last week on the blog we brought you
This week on the blog look for
  • Invisibility by David Levithan and Andrea Cremer (review)
  • Against the Edge by Kat Martin (review)
  • Unveiled by Lauren Grimley (cover reveal-giveaway)
  • Clean Sweep Raffle and Challenge Schedule!! 
  • Waiting on Wednesday- Penguin books
  • Bare It All by Lori Foster (review-tour stop)
  • Sealed with a Curse by Cece Robson (review)
  • Tempting Cameron by Karen Erickson (review) 
Around the Blogosphere 

  • Have ya all signed up for the Clean Sweep ARC Challenge in May? Clean up those arcs and enter cool weekend challenges. Two lucky grand prize winners will receive a book of their choice valued at up to 15.00. Sign-Up
  • Christina @ A Reader of Fiction does this really cool Cover Snark post, check it out:) 
New arrivals to the Caffeinated Cafe
For Review Consideration

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan
thanks to Random House

45 Pounds by K.A. Barson & 
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 
by April Genevieve Tucholke thanks to Penguin USA

No Easy Way Out by Dayna Lorentz
and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
thanks to Penguin USA

Won or Gifted 

Cherry Tucker Swag Prize package I won from the Cozy Mystery Tour

Swag for one of my favorite trilogies The Famished Trilogy
and they are all signed!!! Thank you Annie Walls :)
 Look for a giveaway on May 15th peeps! 


Follow on Bloglovin

That's my news..what's happening in your world? 

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Caffeinated Confessions #4 Are You a Cover Whore?

Welcome to Caffeinated Confessions

I wanted a forum where we could talk about bookish subjects from swoon-worthy covers to the price of eBooks. I hope to share my thoughts on a different subject each month. So that we can all chat and share opinions. In the process I hope we get to know each other a little better. I made a pot of french roast coffee and have some peppermint tea so grab a cup and let's chat:

Are you a Cover Whore?

Cover Whore *giggles* It sounds so dirty doesn't it? But I must confess I have a cover whore living inside me. It was in my late teens that I first started hearing her and her insatiable desire to own those pretties. What is a cover whore you ask? It's those book shoppers who love shiny, pretty, smexy, freaky, stunning, drool worth covers. Who run to touch it and immediately want it without really caring what is on the inside!

My cover whore has a personality all of her own, and is quite childlike in her behavior, with her "must have, buy now, me, me, me" attitude. She is also a snob walking past plain Janes, unattractive, or ugly covers in search of the shiny books she wants. I have tried to override her *nods head* by picking up unattractive books and reading the synopsis all while she is screaming and tugging at me saying, "Eew not that one are you crazy?".

Have I missed wonderful books because of this her? *nods head* Probably. Sometimes I am embarrassed by it or even annoyed to think I am that shallow, but honestly I don't think I will ever change. * "That's because of all the shiny covers!" replies my inner cover whore, "Aren't they pretty, must have, want!!!" * 

Why am I such a cover who? Dunno, If I were a brilliant scholar I might talk about how my brain and eye work in conjunction and suggest a theory regarding Pavlov's dog or symmetry and our desire for perfection, yada, yada, yada but that's not happening. Those covers get me to pick up a book and explore its synopsis. They literally speak to me! *Oh yeah, like a freakin' siren they call me!* There have been times when I have bought a book simply for the cover. Seriously! Crazy right?  These are usually in moments of weakness when my cover whore gets the upper hand. My blogger buddy Danielle@ The Book Whore does a post on Mondays called Book Blind Date. She showcases the synopsis of two books and asks you to choose which one you would read without showing you the cover. Clever right? I am often surprised once the cover is revealed, because I wouldn't have look twice at the book. *wrinkles nose in disgust*

When I am in control *ha* I let my cover whore find books for us, and then I  read the synopsis and decide from there. Sadly, there aren't too many books that make it past her, which means I probably miss out on some good reads. I over ride her completely if its an author I know but what about the ones I don't? As a young teen some of my favorite books had absolutely no covers. They were cloth bound with gold lettering which consisted of the title and author's name. I coveted and loved such books as Gone with the Wind, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice. Then I discovered shiny books and well the rest is history. 

So my question is..are you a cover whore? Does a cover draw you to or away from a book? Do you sometimes feel ashamed like me or do you let your inner cover whore rule? Ever by a book just for the cover? 

~ confessions of a book addict

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Friday, April 26, 2013

How The Heck Did You Do That?!? Blogger Tips and Tricks #9

Commenting Systems and Responding to Comments 

There are several different types of commenting systems you can install on your blog depending on whether or not you use blogger or wordpress. Each system has it pros and cons. Some popular ones are Disqus, IntenseDebate, Livefrye and CommentLuv. All of them encourage interaction, and eliminate spam removing the need for captcha.

Disqus- allows editing of comments, eliminates captcha, sends your response to comments to users email. Allows you to moderate comments, block users, whitelist users and works on all platforms. Followers can choose to follow topic threads and each other. Has an easy auto-install feature for blogger and wordpress users. You can decide whether to allow html codes and links from commenters. Allows users to vote up comments, add profile picture and links to twitter, facebook, their blog and google+.

IntenseDebate- offers the same features as Disqus. Can be installed on all platforms but requires some coding for Blogger users. Allows users to follow conversations, and choose to receive replies to comments. Cannot edit your comment once submitted. 

Livefrye- offers the same features as Disqus but currently only available for Wordpress. Tricky setup for users who are bombarded with all comments to a post unless they click not to receive feed. Cannot edit your comment once submitted. 

CommentLuv- A plugin for wordpress, shows blog owner's last post and offers the same features as Discus with the exception of editing comment.  

Regardless of which one you choose based on your platform experts agree that they increase interaction between you and your followers. Unlike blogger's commenting system where a follower won't see your response unless they return to your page, the commenting systems allow your response to appear in the follower's mailbox giving the opportunity for further dialogue. A commenter can choose to follow a thread and comment on other comments further engaging your readers. 

I currently utilize Disqus and love the interaction it allows me to have with my followers, spam never appears on my blog, and I avoid using the dreaded Captcha. Believe me nothing screams avoid commenting like word verification. 

Installation of all of these platforms are relatively easy, and some like Disqus will transfer old comments to the new system with the push of a button. 

Bloggers you should have a profile on every system! 

Yeah I know it's a pain in the arse, and all those passwords, I-yi-yi! If you comment on other blogs you should have a profile on every commenting system you run across. Why?? The simplest answer is that as a blogger you want people to find your blog. 

You want me to comment back and visit your blog. Right? You my friend are not the only Lisa L or Andrea!  So why do you think your first name and email is enough. Download your blogger icon, add your blog url or twitter to the profile. Use the same name on GFC, Disqus, CommentLuv, Wordpress etc. It should be universal so peeps recognize you. (like my coffee cup icon and user name kimbacaffeinate)

Now, if you comment on my blog and do not have a profile I will try to google search you, especially if you say something like, "Ooh I reviewed this last week and agree on some aspects but not all." Obviously you blog and have thoughts on a book and hey I'd like to engage with you. But, sometimes I cannot find you and I can guarantee you most do not bother even trying.

I have discovered some wonderful followers and blogs to follow while visiting my favorite blogs. How? The commenters!! People who are engaging with the blogger, it tells me they are like me but if there is no profile they miss out on a potential follower. 

Responding to Comments on Your Blog

Should you comment back when followers leave comments? Abso-friggin-loutely! Engage with your followers and they will come back..I promise.

I know sometimes it feels weird, especially for those that say, "great review hun!" I mean what do you say to that?!? AWKWARD! Keep it simple and say what you mean, "thanks for stopping by and checking out my review I'm glad you enjoyed it!" Guess what..they come back and the next time they say more *nods head* 

I know some folks reply to most comments, but not for giveaways or memes but I respond to all of them! Let me tell you why: I want to engage them and I am not going to miss an opportunity  If they took five seconds to say thanks for the giveaway..I can take five seconds and say, you are welcome, good luck and thanks for following. For every ten, I may get one really awesome follower who comments regularly and that my friends makes it all worth it. *happy dance* Did I mention that I adore comments and chatting with ya all? 

For me the end result after a year and half of blogging is that I get comments on my posts daily. Wonderful, meaningful interaction with fellow book lovers on a daily basis. Loyal peeps who visit even when I am unplugged and on vacation and that my friends makes it all worth it. Truly it's of my favorite things about blogging. 

So that's my take on Commenting systems and comments!
Do you use a system I didn't mention? Let me know:)

Do you have a question or tip you'd like me to discuss?
Please email me or leave the question in the comments below.

update: Some of you who use IE or have followers who cannot comment because they have IE issues (remember this is some not all) This link offers a quick, easy fix for both parties: Starr Guide

Guest Post : Author Elise K. Ackers

Today I am excited to share a guest post from author Elise K. Ackers. Enjoy her post and check out her new book Ask Me to Stay:

Guest Post 
Rushing to Relax

I’m writing this blog post whilst sitting in a crowded food hall in the middle of ever-exciting Melbourne. My heart’s still beating a little fast because I just bustled through the supermarket, hurried through the self-checkout and made a bee-line for one of the few empty seats. All for the purpose of a relaxing lunch break away from the office.

I left my desk wanting a change of pace, but honestly, I’ve done more charging than recharging.

I can’t remember the last time I just sat and thought. I always have my laptop or smart phone with me, or I’m in front of the television, or I’m doing something for the sole purpose of getting something out of it. I was sitting and thinking this morning, but I was at the gym. Even in the car I multi-task. 

I listen to audio books.

This isn’t to say that I wish I didn’t write my books on the train, or watch TV on the cross-trainer. And I love listening to books in the car – sometimes it’s the only way I have time to read. What I’m trying to say is that singular tasks have become a luxury for me.

Even walking the dog is about exercising, isn’t it?

But, when I can carve out time between being here and there and doing this and that to read a book; that is all I am doing. I am going exactly where the writer wants me to go and hopefully feeling exactly what the writer wants me to feel. I am in a whole new world. A world that, with any luck, affords me a little downtime.

I’ve taken to reading books which have a slower pace – books about the country, and the unhurried, more deliberate way of life there. Books about quests, because they take longer. Basically, I’ve given the fiction world ultimate responsibility for chilling me out.

Maybe it is because of the frenetic pace of my life at the moment that I wrote the Homeland books. The first in the series, Ask Me To Stay, has just been published with Destiny Romance, and it’s full of the country linger that I crave right now.

So if you're like me and you're rushing from one place to the next, wishing for more time and a chance to take a deep, cleansing breath, then this series might be for you. Ask Me To Stay is a novella – it’s a quick read with a strong focus on family, redemption, reputation and love. There’s romantic elements, a quaint country town in New South Wales Australia, and a cast of characters who may be just what you need to turn your eyes from the clock for awhile.
Me? I’m about to rush back to work. Then I’m going to the gym. Then a movie. But somewhere in there, I’m going to escape to the country again.

Ask Me To Stay
by Elise K. Ackers
Series: Homeland
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: April 10, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon
*purchase through buy links supports this blog

When family tragedy brings bad boy Ethan Foster home, he doesn't expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything - and Ethan's was ruined long ago. Nobody wants him around, particularly not Sam O'Hara, the girl he left behind. There's still a powerful spark between them, but Sam is afraid to risk her heart again. And Ethan is hiding a secret that will have repercussions for his whole family. Will the townspeople ever forgive him? More importantly, will those he loves the most find it in their hearts to take him back? This tender tale of love and redemption is the first in a brilliant new series by Elise K. Ackers, author of Small Town Storm and the bestselling The Man Plan.

About the author:
Elise K. Ackers is from Melbourne, Australia. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense and is published with Destiny Romance and Escape Publishing. Elise is an animal foster carer, a magnet for unusual accidents and an enthusiastic couch commentator. Ask Me To Stay: A Homeland Book is her fourth book. The second title in the Homeland series will be available in July 2013. 

Are you rushing to relax? 

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review/#Giveaway: A Wedding in Springtime by Amanda Forester

A Wedding in Springtime
by Amanda Forester
Series: Marriage Mart #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Genre: Historical Romance
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
ARC provided for unbiased review
*purchase through buy links supports this blog

Five minutes into Miss Eugenia Talbot's presentation at court, notorious rogue Mr. William Grant made her laugh, ruining her debut. To hush up the scandal, Eugenia's aunt hires a matchmaker to quickly find a suitor— anyone except the infamous William Grant—to help restore Eugenia's reputation. But amiable Eugenia shows a disturbing tendency to follow her heart, and is again caught in the company of notorious Grant. When a traitor creeps closer, threatening to ruin more than just Eugenia's reputation, her kindheartedness may be her ultimate undoing..
Take a debutante being presented to the Queen, a notorious rake, a reluctant second son who inherits the dukedom and the marriage arrangement that came with it. Then you add in a meddlesome dowager, a misled brother and traitors to the crown and what do you get? Why tons of mischief and a tale that is sure to delight. A Wedding in Springtime is the first book in the Marriage Mart series by Amanda Forester and her wonderful characters and action packed plot kept me thoroughly entertained.

The tale begins when Miss Eugenia “Genie” Talbot is being presented in court. An untimely noise and a wink from the notorious rouge Mr. William Grant cause Genie to lose her composure and burst out laughing. She is ruined, simply ruined. In order to hush the impending scandal her Aunt hires a mysterious matchmaker to quickly marry the girl off. As Genie’s tale unfolds we meet several secondary characters with stories to capture our hearts, make us giggle and add to the suspense.

Forester delivered such bright, outspoken female characters that the men of the Ton should just secede now, for these woman are formidable. Genie is delightful, she really tries to please her aunt, but she is an original and it's hard to hide. She tends to say what she thinks and she is quite witty in an innocent sort of way. I adored her humorous side as she dealt with the whims of the ton.  Her Aunt Lady Bremerton is one of those women who lives and dies by her social standing and at times I wanted to shoot her. Her daughter is Lady Louisa and she is the Duke of Marchford’s intended. The marriage contracts were drawn up for the first Duke and are iron-clad. Lady Bremerton is determined to seeing them honored. Lady Louisa is quite quiet but her story is a good one. My mother always said, “Watch out for the quiet ones” and so you should. Penelope is the new companion to the dowager of Marchford and I simply adored her. She dresses down the Duke when he deserves it, is sharp, observant and aids without calling attention to herself. I am hoping we get her story, I know just the man for her. *fingers-crossed* Ooo let’s not forget her grace, the dowager duchess of Marchford. She is in battle with her grandson. He wishes for her to leave the manor and retire to the countryside and of course she simply refuses. This causes some delightful banter, and mischief. A young street urchin named Jem stole my heart and is sure to steal yours too. It seems like all I’ve talked about is women, but let me assure you the book is filled with some swoon-worthy, hopelessly flawed rogue’s who you will absolutely adore, feel sorry for, occasional want to smack on the head and ultimately love.

A Wedding in Springtime had many different threads all working together to create a fun, witty, sweet, romantic tale filled with a little intrigue.  The pacing is well done and I never felt the need to skim or set down the book. In all honestly I read this in two sittings stopping long enough to feed my family dinner. The heat level is very low in this tale, the banter, tension and overall romance made it successful without it. I giggled at the conversations between Grant and the Duke; Grant and Genie; Penelope and the dowager. The characters were fleshed out and their interactions felt genuine.  Grant and Genie had chemistry from the beginning and it was such fun watching their dance. Throughout the tale there is a threat against the crown as traitors try to steal codes and intercept messages. This aspect of the tale and how Forester weaved our young heroine into it was well done and kept me highly entertained.

A Wedding in Springtime is the perfect feel good read for fans of clean historical romances. I am looking forward to the second book; A Midsummer Bride set to release in November of 2013. 

Four cups of Crown coffee out of five 
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

The Kissing Booth
by Beth Reekles
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: May 14, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
ARC provided by publisher for unbiased review
*purchase through buy links supports this blog

A cool, sexy romance novel  written by seventeen-year-old British sensation Beth Reekles. Meet Rochelle “Elle” Evans: pretty, popular—and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile—and a total player. When Elle decides to run a kissing booth at her school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer. This romance seems far from a fairy tale. Is Elle headed for heartbreak or will she get her happily ever after?
I first heard about Beth Reekles the seventeen year British high school student on the Today Show when it was announced that she landed a three-book, seven figure contract with Random House which includes her first novel the Kissing Booth. It was a sensation on the writer-reader Wattpad community and had over 20 million reads. I found myself curious so when Random House asked me to review the book I jumped at the chance.  I am delighted that I did and very excited to see what this young author has in store for us next. The Kissing Booth offered us fleshed out, lovable characters, a swoon-worthy bad boy, friendship and first love. 

The tale begins when we meet Rochelle “Ella Evans who is almost seventeen and never been kissed. Her best friend since forever is Lee, and he happens to share the same birthday. There Mom’s were best friends, they live around the corner from each other and the families interact. Now Lee has an older brother, the smexy, hot-head jock Noah Flynn. His friends all call him Flynn. He is a bad-ass, popular, a player and academically brilliant. Elle has crushed on him forever but he’s never treated her like anything but a kid sister that is until the Kissing Booth at the high school carnival. The tale that unfolds is sweet, complicated and one girl's experience with first love.

Reekles does a wonderful job of fleshing out the main characters of Ella, Lee and Noah. While the secondary characters easily fell into normal high school stereotypes, the main characters offered up something more. Ella is sweet, and in a lot of ways a typical teenager she is confused by her feelings and her loyalties. At times she wavers back and forth as she tries to please everyone. She likes Noah but worries about how it will affect her friendship with Lee. While at times I wanted to shake her for all of her contemplating and secrets she really behaved the way one would expect someone her age to act. At times she showed a level of maturity I appreciated it. Ella and Lee together are a riot; two peas in a pod and all that. They really march to their own drum and make even silly ideas seem cool. Noah is complicated and smexy and oh boy does he know it. He flies off the handle and gets into fights but somehow avoids suspension. I really wanted to understand where some of his volatile personality came from and wish there was a tad more depth there. He is very protective of Ella and was at times almost possessive, but slowly we begin to see why or rather he does. We see growth in him and in all of the characters and how they communicate. The parents were present but as a parent I cringed at some of their parental decisions and discussions.

The tale itself is your typical high school romance, complicated by Ella and Lee’s friendship and of course Noah’s bad boy image. Were there any surprise? Nope. Instead it was a wonderfully paced coming of age tale about first love, friendship and growth. The chemistry between Noah and Ella felt real, and while it started off physical it developed into something more. So often these tales have the girl drastically changing and it was refreshing that Ella didn’t go all gaga over Noah. Watching Ella discover her true feelings and dealing with the relationship was fun to watch unfold. There is implied sex and underage drinking. The parents seem to condone this behavior with remarks like “don’t drink too much” which made me want to rip my hair out!  I guess if I were a seventeen year old writing about perfect parents this is how I'd want them to act instead of going all parental on me. I easily consumed this book in two sittings as it flowed easily, and the character interaction were engaging. The ending was beautifully done, and very realistic.  

The Kissing Booth offers a sweet, funny, complicated tale of first love and friendship. It's a light, fun read and highly entertaining.  Beth Reekles will be an interesting author to watch. Kudos to Random House for signing this young author.

Three and half cups of double espresso out of five

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Release Day Review: A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate
by Susanna Calkins
Publisher: Macmillan 
Publication date: April 23, 2013
Genre: Adult Historical Mystery
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
ARC provided in exchange for unbiased review
*purchase through buy links supports this blog

For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and someone close to Lucy falls under suspicion. Lucy can’t believe it, but in a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers aren’t permitted to defend their clients, and—if the plague doesn't kill the suspect first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never find out what really happened. Unless, that is, she can uncover the truth herself. Determined to do just that, Lucy finds herself venturing out of her expected station and into raucous printers’ shops, secretive gypsy camps, the foul streets of London, and even the bowels of Newgate prison on a trail that might lead her straight into the arms of the killer. In her debut novel Murder at Rosamund's Gate, Susanna Calkins seamlessly blends historical detail, romance, and mystery in a moving and highly entertaining tale.
The cover of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate spoke to me and the synopsis with its promise of a mystery sealed the deal.  Susanna Calkins debut novel shares a wonderful murder mystery set in 1665 London with a Nancy Drew vibe. A young chambermaid unearths clues regarding a serial killer who is goes after young woman.

Lucy Campion is a chambermaid in the Hargraves home and she and the other servants are truly blessed to live in a home where the residents treat them more like family at a time period when young ladies are accosted and a servant can be fired at the drop of a hat. Her employer is the local Magistrate and his son a young lawyer. The tale shares with us the murders of young woman, the London courts and the horrors of the plague all through the eyes of our young maid. Lucy becomes someone of a young Nancy Drew as she tries to clear a loved one’s name and discover who killed her friend. There is a little side romance which I found quite interesting. The tale that unfolds was suspenseful with clever twists as Lucy uncovered clues and suspects.  

The Hargraves home is quite an unusual one especially for the time period but I’d like to think that this occurred more often than those of society at the time let on. The servants are almost regarded as family, indeed taking meals with the family when guests are not present. While this is certainly not the norm I find it hard to believe that all households treated their servants as property, beat them and that young ladies regularly fell victim to the master’s advances. The Magistrate read to his servants at night, and Lucy loved these moments, in fact she asked questions and voice opinions. She has an inquisitive mind, and questions the workings of the legal system, the local law enforcement and decides to look into the murders herself. Adam the magistrate’s son, a young lawyer delighted and confused me all at the same time. His treatment of Lucy wavered like a flag blowing in the wind and the author explains him rather well but I wanted to throttle him more than once. We had a delightful list of suspects, servants and secondary characters that helped keep me guessing regarding the serial killer. The characters were nicely developed and Lucy herself felt very real.

This tale is a story within a story within a story. On one hand we have a murder mystery and a romance and in the other we have London with its political time period, the plague and its flawed court systems. While the author did a wonderful job of weaving them all together and the pacing was well done, it also left some of the threads thin. She beautifully described London, the markets, and the feelings of the people but the mystery did not always take center stage as these side stories got in the way. While for the most part historically accurate the author readily admits to using some modern language and changing some dates and I think her reasoning was valid although at first I did find these things jarring. The twists and turns regarding suspects were suspenseful and perhaps my favorite thread throughout the tale. I found Lucy’s detective work clever and often feared she would be discovered. The romance was sweet, complicated and appealed to my romantic side. The tale accurately depicted the upper classes opinions of servants; Quakers, the courts and the church giving us an inside look at the Restoration period. Calkins did a nice job with the murder, adding clever twists. I solved this before Lucy but had to wait for the motive to be revealed. The reveal was quite climatic, as were other threads as they closed keeping me turning the pages late into the night. The ending closed most threads allowing the reader to comfortably fill in the pieces.

Historical fiction fans who enjoy a little side mystery will find A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate engaging. A nice debut I will certainly try this author again. 

Three and half cups of coffee out of five 

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