Happy New Year!

Hello! And happy New Year to all! I’m sorry for my lack of posting over the past few weeks, but I took a much needed vacation and decided to unplug from technology for a while.  But, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading, because I was.  And I read some really great books.  I will get to the reviews over the next little bit, because I am going back to work on Monday and the next few months will be insanely busy.  Hence the need to enjoy my time off now.

The new year always brings with it thoughts of resolutions, changes and direction.  Where am I going this year? What do I want to accomplish? What do I want to change about myself and my life?  This year, I’m going to try to focus more on family and less on work.  I’m going to try new things and get some adventure back in my life.  I’m going to be more patient and devote more time to my friendships (although time is a precious commodity in my life).

I’m also going to continue to read.  I LOVE reading.  I read a TON for work, but there’s nothing better than reading something just for you.

Wishing everyone out there a wonderful, healthy, and happy 2013!

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Top Ten Tuesday – December 4, 2012

The topic for this week (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish blog) is the top 10 books I would like Santa (or the Chanukkah fairy) to bring me this holiday season.

1. Amy and Rogers Epic Detour – I have this book on my kindle, but would love a hardcover edition so that I could really appreciate all the cute drawings, and receipts, etc.

2. Quintana of Charyn – If you have visited my blog before you know that I am OBSESSED with Melina Marchetta and that I have been waiting for this book for months and months and months and…. and now it’s out in Australia but won’t be available in Canada until March 2013.  So, if Santa could stop by Australia first, get me a copy and then drop it down my chimney, I would be greatly appreciative!

3. The Complete Jessica Darling Series – Another series I have on my kindle, but would just LOVE to have it sitting on my bookshelf!  I love this series!!

4. Raw Blue by Kristy Eagar – I have heard amazing things about this book, but cannot seem to find it anywhere!  One day I will just suck it up and order the paperback copy to be delivered to me.  Unless someone has a copy to loan me?? Pretty please???

5. Twenty Boy Summer – Another book that I have heard great things about, but haven’t gotten around to downloading because, well, this book is expensive! I have to curb my book spending, so my husband doesn’t toss my kindle (yes, he has threatened to do so on more than one occasion), so I’m trying to wait and (hopefully) the price for the kindle version will go down.

6. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – I’m ashamed to admit that I have not read this book yet.  I keep meaning to read it, honest.  I keep planning to check out my local used bookstore to try to snag a copy, but life has been so super busy lately that I just haven’t had the time.

7. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – This one is for my son.  He will be two in March.  He loves books, just like his mom, and we read together every night before bed.  I’m telling you, I help him into his PJs and then he goes to his bookshelf and picks out books for me to read to him.  If I choose something, he tells me “no” throws the book onto the floor (or at my head) and picks the one he wants.  This is such a beautiful book, and having a hardcover edition would be amazing.

8. Two-Way Street by Laura Barnholdt – I have been meaning to read this book for ages, and if Santa delivered it to me I wouldn’t have any more excuses, now would I?

9. The Reflected in You Series by Sylvia Day – I haven’t read this series, although I do love a good romance novel (the steamier the better!).  The books are just too expensive and I have to be selective.  Wouldn’t want my son to starve just to support my reading addiction!

10. Wild Card/Santa’s Choice – Surprise me, Santa! 

 

Review: Red Zone by Sherri Hayes (Daniels Brothers #2)

Summary: Gage Daniels is a successful NFL quarterback.  He’s got everything going for him  – great career, good friends, financial stability and a seemingly endless line of women throwing themselves at him.  But when he starts getting threatening letters from a stalker who is watching his every move, Gage’s boss insists that he needs protection.  Calling on a favour from an old friend, the team’s owner hires Hansen, former FBI agent, for help.  Hansen in turn enlists the help of his ex-partner, Rebecca Carson, who is on administrative leave from the FBI after her last case ended badly.

Rebecca is climbing the walls and bored out of her mind, so she jumps at the job Hansen offers her.  Too late Hansen tells her that she will be protecting Gage, and posing as his girlfriend to do so.  Oh, and did he forget to mention moving into his house? 

Gage has never met a woman as buttoned up as Rebecca – he can’t help but push her buttons.  And as he pushes her, he sees a spark of something in her eyes and with that he sets off to challenge Rebecca with everything he has.  As the two become closer, the lines begin to blend between “pretend” girlfriend and their “real-life” feelings for one another.  As the stalker’s threatening behaviour continues to escalate, Rebecca must protect Gage while also protecting her heart.

*I read this book as a standalone, and I was completely fine in terms of following the story and the characters.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reasons:  I enjoyed this book much more than I was expecting.  Although the premise is a bit of a cliché, the story really worked for me.  I really liked Rebecca’s character.  Sure she was straight-laced, but as you learn more about her and her past the reader begins to understand why she is so closed off.  And as she began to open up, I liked her even more.  And Gage…. I will never get tired of the playboy athlete makes good.  Although he did enjoy women, he wasn’t a jerk at all and, surprisingly, ended up being a great guy!  He was a real sweetheart but still maintained his masculinity – he was hot!  I especially loved how he was with Rebecca: patient and attentive but then forceful alpha male when she needed a push. 

I liked how their relationship developed in the book.  I didn’t find it forced or rushed like so many other, similar novels.  I felt that the book flowed nicely, especially with the action of the stalker.  I honestly didn’t figure it out until the characters did.  While I do enjoy a good HEA, I found the ending to the book a little cheesy.  I know, I know, who doesn’t love a happy ending?  I do! I swear!

This book is also filled with a group of fun, hilarious supporting characters.  I loved Megan, Rebecca’s sister.  And Gage’s brothers and his whole family were great.  I am assuming that there will be more books in this series, which I will definitely read in the future.

* I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! Thank you!!

Review: Blaze of Winter by Elisabeth Barrett (Star Harbor #2)

Summary: In the second book of the Star Harbor Series, Seb’s twin brother, Theo, returns to Star Harbor in an effort to shake his writer’s block.  Theo is a widely successful author of fiction and his editor has been breathing down his neck.  Feeling stifled by his life in San Fransisco, he decides some time in his hometown might be just what he needs to gain some perspective and refocus on his work.  After a tragedy at work, social worker Avery takes a leave from her job in Boston to travel to Star Harbor to help her aunt run the Inn.  She meets Theo when he takes a room at the Inn and sparks fly from their first meeting.  Theo is immediately intrigued by Avery and pursues her relentlessly, convinced that if Avery would just open up that they could have something magical.  But, despite her deep attraction to him, Avery refuses to let Theo in, which might cause her to lose him forever.  Add some bumps in the night (is the Inn haunted?) and the return of the hilarious cast of characters from the first book in the series (including 3 more hot Grayson brothers) and you get a fast-pased and entertaining contemorary romance novel.

Rating: 4/5

Reasons: I really liked this book! The second book in the Star Harbor series, this book picks right up where the last one left off.  And if you liked Seb Grayson, you will LOVE his twin brother Theo!  He was such a great guy – honest, direct, romantic and a really sweet guy.  But, like all “alpha males” he knew what he wanted and went for it – Avery.  I also really enjoyed Avery’s character.  She was strongwilled, dedicated to her job and her clients, and focussed on helping her aunt through a difficult time.  She was awesome.

I really enjoyed the return of all of our favourite characters, including the last 2 Grayson brothers.  The author was already setting us up for the next installment, which I will definitely read. 

The author added in some “action” to keep things moving, and I found that this helped with the pacing of the book.

Overall, it was a great read and I would definitely recommend this book (and series) to anyone looking for a good contemporary romance.

*This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Three Stages of Love:Lust by T.C. Anthony

Summary: Evangeline Chase has everything she ever wanted: she has a high-powered job in finance, close friends, and the financial freedom to do what she wants without having to ask anyone for permission.  Eva has always been determined, hardworking and solely focussed on her career.  She doesn’t have room in her life for a serious relationship.  Out at a bar for her birthday, Eva falls (literally) into the arms of Alexander Mason, whom she later learns will be her boss.  Eva feels a strong attraction toward Alexander, but her singular focus on her work has her running away from her feelings for him.  Can Alexander break through her outer shell, or will Eva push him away to guard her heart and her future?

Rating: 2.5/5

Reasons: I felt that this book had a lot of promise, but didn’t quite deliver.  When I first started reading it, I really enjoyed Eva’s character.  A smart, determined, successful, non-virgin woman.  What’s not to love?  As a working mom I really understood her struggle with reconciling her career goals with the expectations placed on women who get married and have children.  I think this is a very real issue, especially for women in high-level jobs, and I could totally relate to Eva’s feelings.  Should she risk her career to pursue love, and then if she finds love will she have to give up her career for her relationship? 

But, and it’s a pretty big but, after a while I found Eva really irritating.  Firstly, I found it grating how she talks about herself all the time.  Maybe that was because the book is written in first-person from Eva’s perspective, but even so I found it off-putting.  Also, one minute Eva’s a strong career woman, the next she’s a crying, blubbering idiot, and then she’s back to being cold.  I thought she flip-flopped too much.  And then she makes all these comments that Alexander must really like how she can be hard and then soft, professional and then personal.  I don’t know about that, but she gave me whiplash! And I found it really annoying!  She could have been this strong character, but then she turned into a mess.  Maybe I became disappointed because I related to her so much in the beginning? I’m not sure.

NOTE: I wanted to add that I also found it totally unrealistic that Eva was an executive and still left the office at 5 p.m. to go out drinking every night.  Working in a similar industry, and with a number of friends who work in finance, I know that in reality her character should have been working at least 12-14 hour days.  There’s no way she would have been able to work 9-5 in that industry, and keep moving up in her company.

I also wasn’t sold on Alexander’s character.  Again, perhaps the limitation was the narrative voice, so we never really got to know him.  But, I just didn’t see what he saw in Eva, and I didn’t find him as swoonworthy as other male characters in some of the recent books I read.  He just wasn’t memorable to me.  She also kept describing him as “giggling” which stripped him of a LOT of masculinity in my books.

One other minor issue was that I didn’t understand the relationship between Samantha and Marcus.  They knew each other for like 5 minutes? It just didn’t seem very authentic to me.  But, again, it was a minor point.

I thought the tragedy in the book which led to the conflict between the main characters to be very well written.  I felt that Eva’s reaction was realistic, and I could understand her motivations and her actions.  Although it was quite sad, I actually felt that part of the book was the most authentic and real.

Overall, it wasn’t horrible, but certainly not the best book I’ve read in the past little while.  I thought it had promise, but something was missing in the final delivery.

*This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Top 10 Tuesday – November 27, 2012

Thank you to the ladies at the Broke and the Bookish for another great Top Ten Tuesday.  This week’s topic is Top 10 books that are coming out in 2013. 

1. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta – For those of you who have checked out my blog before, you know that this is one my most anticipated books of 2013.  The third installment of one of my favourite series, ever!  I cannot wait.   I have already planned to re-read the first two books in the week before Quintana is released in Canada.

2. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – I LOVED Anna and the French kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, and have been eagerly awaiting Perkins’s new book.  The release date has been pushed back, but I am anxiously awaiting its release!

3. Hot Ticket and Snared by Olivia Cunning (Sinners #3 and #4) – I (very luckily) received an advance copy of Hot Ticket (to be released in Feb 2013).  Wow.  I LOVED this book.  Hot rock stars, passion, heat and some kink – what’s not to love?  Snared is the 4th book in the Sinners Series, and focusses on Eric.  Let’s just say that after reading Hot Ticket, I CANNOT wait to read Snared, which is set to be released later in 2013.

4. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi – Set to be released January 8, 2013, this book is already pre-ordered to my kindle.  I cannot wait to see what happens to Aria and Perry.  And Roar.  So excited!

5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman –  I absolutely loved If I Stay and Where She Went (Oh, Adam and Mia – how I love you!), so it goes without saying that I cannot wait to read Forman’s next book.  Early buzz is already amazing, and I am counting down the days until I get my hands on a copy.

6. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith – This book looks great! It’s described on Goodreads as a YA “You’ve Got Mail” and what can you possibly not like about that?  Expected release date is in April 2013, so I’ve got to be patient waiting for this one!

7. It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis (Lucky Harbor #7) – Yes, this is the 7th book in this series and I seriously cannot wait!  I have read all 6 books in the Lucky Harbor Series, plus the 3 books in the Wilder Series AND the 2 books in the Berkeley Heat Series by Jill Shalvis.  So, ummmm, yeah, I kind of have a MAJOR boner for Jill Shalvis’ books.

8. Wethering the Storm by Samantha Towle (TMS #2) – I really liked The Mighty Storm and I can’t wait to see what happens to Tru and Jake (Yummm… Jake….) in the next installment of this series.

9. Reckless by S.C. Stephens (3rd book after Thoughtless and Effortless) – I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this series.  I didn’t love Thoughtless (cheating books just aren’t my thing), but I LOVED Kellan Kyle (the female lead, not so much), so I went on to read Effortless.   I liked Effortless a lot more, so I’m interested to see what happens in the third book.  I am told that we also get to see things from Kellan’s POV, which would be great.  Can’t wait!

10. Divergent #3 by Veronica Roth – I cannot wait to get my hands on the third installment of this amazing series.  I will definitely have to re-read the first books so I’m ready to go.  I’ve missed Tris and Four!

11. Requiem by Lauren Oliver (Delirium #3) – Another hotly anticipated final book in a series.  I will have a lot of re-reading to do in anticipation of all of them! I cannot wait to see what happens to Lena and Alex.  Oh Alex! The end of book 2 nearly broke my heart!

What are your thoughts? What books are you dyeing to read??

 

Review: Deep Autumn Heat (Star Harbor #1) by Elisabeth Barrett

Summary: In order to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend, Lexie Meyers moves across the country from California to Star Harbor, Massachusetts.  An amazing chef and baker, Lexie opens her own restaurant and begins to build a new life for herself.  Sebastian Grayson, celebrity chef and major player, returns to Star Harbor from New York City for a long weekend to reconnect with his 3 brothers.  When the two meet, Seb decides to extend his trip, claiming that he wants to focus on his new restaurant and television show.  In his heart, though, he knows that he wants more time getting to know the intriguing Lexie.  But, Lexie has been burned in the past, and she’s not willing to give her heart away a second time.  As Lexie’s past comes back to haunt her, will she allow Seb close enough to reveal his true feelings for her?  Is she strong enough to admit that she has feelings for him too?

Rating: 4/5

Reasons:  This was an easy, light, romantic read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was in the mood for something “fluffy” and this book hit the spot.  I enjoyed the author’s description of the small town and the people living in it.  Lexie was a great female lead – strong, determined, a survivor definitely.  She was so afraid to get hurt again that she tried to bury the feelings she was developing for Seb.  Oh, Seb.  You were kind of obnoxious but I loved you anyways.  Not afraid to tell Lexie what you were feeling, you captured her (and my) heart.  I mean, a tall, dark, handsome, sexy man on a motorcycle who can cook you an amazing breakfast in the morning – what else could a woman need or want?

I know this book is part of a series, so it was interesting to see how the author introduced the other Grayson brothers in this first installment.  The next book is about Seb’s twin, Theo, and I will read that soon.  I really liked how the brothers were such a tight family unit.  I also really loved how they were such troublemakers as children, and all their pranks were hilarious.

My only negative, which isn’t really a negative at all, is that this book reminded me of Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbour Series, which I have already read and absolutely LOVED.  So, I guess compared to those books, this book fell a little flat – BUT I still really, really enjoyed Deep Autumn Heat and plan on reading the next book in the series.

**NOTE: This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.