Friday, October 25, 2013

Three Little Words by Susan Mallery

Synopsis: Isabel Beebe thinks she's cursed in the romance department. Her teenage crush, Ford Hendrix, ignored all her letters. Her husband left her for another…man. So Isabel has come home to dust off her passion for fashion and run the family bridal shop until her parents are ready to sell it. Then she'll pursue her real dreams. At least, that's the plan, until sexy, charming Ford returns and leaves her feeling fourteen all over again…..
Seeing Isabel all grown-up hits bodyguard trainer Ford like a sucker punch. Back when heartbreak made him join the military, her sweet letters kept him sane. Now he can't take his eyes—or his lips—off her. The man who gave up on love has a reason to stay in Fool's Gold forever—if three little words can convince Isabel to do the same.

My Thoughts: After finding Just One Kiss just OK and Two of a Kind a little bit better than that I had high hopes for Three Little Words. Despite that some of the books in Mallery's Fool's Gold series are simply average contemporary romances I found this one to be better than most. Matter of fact, I thought she hit this one out of the park.

What Worked: The characters of Ford and Isabel. Ford's charming sense of humor coupled with Isabel's awkwardness around him make for interesting dynamics and some giggling on my part. Their combustable sexual attraction didn't hurt either. I thought it was great that they both were a bit stunned by it rather than the expected reaction of her being stunned and him getting all cocky saying "of course it's good. I'm the man! High Five!"

Although the plot is basic in it's concept it was nice to read a book where what you see is what you get. There were no uber bad guys threatening children. There were no life threatening illnesses to deal with. The only issues were those between adults who agree to 'fake-date' to throw off a marriage happy mama who find that they were actually 'real-dating' instead.

The setting is also a plus. In the past I have felt that Fool's Gold had a bit of a creepy vibe (Standford Wives kind of creepy) but in this book I felt none of that. Even the ever present and all seeing Mayor Masha seemed less...um...everywhere which was a good thing.

What Didn't Work: Just a few very minor things actually. First would be the secondary romance. I typically love a secondary romance but really, Consuelo is such a strong woman with a lot of background baggage adding her romance as a secondary one is short changing her. Her story should have been more than what it was.

In addition, some may find it a bit weird to have Ford date one sister then eventually date the other. I honestly didn't have an issue with this. I thought Susan handled the situation very well.

One more thing. I do think that a new reader to Fool's Gold may have trouble following along with all the secondary characters. There are quite a few. Some are old having been introduced ages ago and some are actually quite new. This is the only reason I would recommend that this book should get read in order. If you aren't inclined to read all 11 previous Fool's Gold books first at least read Just One Kiss and Two of a Kind first. Susan sets her books up as trilogies with a common connecting theme (the town of Fool's Gold).

In a Nutshell: I truly enjoyed this book. From the witty banter to the smexy parts and everything in between I thought this was a winner of a book. Perhaps not for everyone, as it is a pretty basic concept of a romance but for me it worked.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

***Giveaway!!! First Strike by Pamela Clare***



Yesterday I was super happy to hear that I won an e-copy of First Strike by Pamela Clare from Ruth at Blithely Bookish. Woohoo! Then I found I also won a copy from Pamela Clare herself. Double Woohoo! Since I had already accepted Ruth's gift from amazon I thought, 'What will happen to that other lonely copy....just sitting there not getting read.' Well, after contacting Ms Clare and getting the OK I'm a'gonna give 'er away to one of my lucky followers.

First strike is a novella in her highly recommended I-Team series. Previously written as a prologue to her upcoming release Striking Distance, she cut it and expanded it to become the awesome sauce of a novella it now is. Here is what Pamela had to say about writing First Strike Pamela Says.... If you're too lazy to follow that link (I'm not judging....I often ask for Cliff Notes versions too!) let me just say that this novella ends in a CLIFFHANGER! I know, I know....those can be total bummers but her 6th book Striking Distance comes out on November 5th so there isn't a terrible wait. You could actually wait to read this one on that day because I know you totally are going to buy book 6 anyway!

Just so you know, Striking Distance is available for pre-order at a discounted rate. The Mass Market Paperback is actually cheaper than the kindle ebook but both are a great deal (yes I already pre-ordered mine!) Oh and if you're looking for a deal, book #5 in the I-Team series Breaking Point is on sale right now on kindle for only $1.99 Just click on the titles there and you'll go to their amazon.com links for ebook.

Rules of My Giveaway

Yes there always has to be rules...what a pain.
  • Because this series is classified as erotic I have to insist that only followers 18 years or older are eligible.
  • The ebook is offered through Smashwords and is available for various ereaders in Mobi, EPub, PDF etc. I honestly don't know if the coupon code will work for outside the USA. I'm assuming it will. If you can order from Smashwords from another country the code should work for you.
  • Giveaway ends on November 1st at Midnight CST
  • To enter leave a comment on this post along with your email address so I can contact you
  • The winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org
  • The winner will have 24 hours to contact me to accept their prize
  • If that winner does not respond another winner will be chosen
  • If you share my giveaway on your blog, facebook, twitter etc. you'll earn a second entry. I'd appreciate the exposure with multiple shares but only 1 (one) extra entry is available per person. If you share my giveaway make sure to mention it in your comment along with the link where it can be seen
I guess that is all. Good luck everyone!
Book #1

Book #2

Book#3

Book #4

Book #5

Book #6


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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein by Minda Webber

Synopsis (aka Back Blurb): The problem, Clair realizes, is that she’s a Frankenstein. Everyone in the family is a success, while all she’s managed is a humiliating misadventure with pigs. But her spirits are rising. The Journal of Scientific Discovery promises to publish a paper on the Discovery of the Decade, and she has a doozy. She simply has to prove Baron Huntsley—man of distinction—is a vampire. With his midnight-black hair, soul-piercing eyes and shiny white teeth, what else could he be? Oh yes, the Baron wants a bite of her or she’s no scientist. Pretty soon she’ll expose him, and on everybody’s lips will be… THE REMARKABLE MISS FRANKENSTEIN

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book. I truly did. How could I not like it? It's paranormal. It's historical. It's funny. I like all of those things. So, what could possibly be the problem? A heroine who is truly an idiot and humor that is so in your face on every page within the book that by page 60 pages the reader is so tired of the puns we are no longer finding the book funny.

What Worked: The set up is actually quite entertaining and early on (while we readers are still oblivious to the depth at which the author will go to make a pun) our heroine appears quite clever and refreshing. In addition to the beginning there were a few references that I completely adored. How could I not love a shout out to Young Frankenstein?
"Victor Frankenstein was brilliant, but he was also a card-carrying lunatic. He was most famous for his forays into animating dead flesh--queer work which had created widespread controversy, not to mention chaos when his creation escaped and roamed the countryside, eating up blind men's food and setting fire to the Ritz after a particularly bohemian display of dancing."

Another thing that I believe belongs in the plus column is that some of the sexual encounters are actually not bad (when compared to the rest of the book.)

What Didn't Work: Clair. Clair. Clair. Minda Webber told us repeatedly that Clair is an intelligent, inquisitive scientist yet her actions prove otherwise. She draws conclusions from hearsay and gossip without any shred of proof. Her idea of proving her theories (which she boldly calls her hypothesis...because she's a brilliant scientist and all) is to break into people's homes to witness their paranormal debauchery. She broke into no less than 3 homes and almost as many men's bedchambers trying to catch a vampire or werewolf in the act of being not human based solely on the fact people told her that they were not human. Except for Asher, the Earl of Wolverton. She used her brain on that one and decided that he was a werewolf because he was the Earl of WOLVErton and his coat of arms is the image of a wolf.

Just a couple more things to point out and I'll be done: Although this book appears to be set in regency England the author does not attach a time frame on the book so the timeline seems to be quite ambiguous. The balls, the dress and the coaches all seem period in appearance yet the dialogue and writing are so clearly modernized. If the author had left those markers out I would have argued this was actually a contemporary romance and not historical.
"...she would set her cap for him in a London minute." 
"Ian wanted to worship at the shrine of those magnificent breasts."  



Also, when making a joke by introducing characters named Dr Durlock Homes and Professor Whutson, who are known for their crime solving abilities, it is important to make sure the names Holmes and Watson do not accidentally make their way into the story by accident. Oh, and Artie Doyle? By the time his name was dropped into the story I had already decided this book was to the literary world what Scary Movie is to the Oscars (only worse.)

In a Nutshell: I disliked this book more than I liked it. I knew I was only supposed to take it with a grain of salt and just have fun but there was so much that just got on my nerves I wasn't able to get over that hump. I found I could only read this book 20-30 pages at a time before I wanted to throw the book against the wall and knowing what I know now I'm really regretting purchasing Minda Webber's other book (The Reluctant Miss Van Helsing) at the same time I bought this one.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak

Synopsis: Welcome to Whiskey Creek— Heart of the Gold Country!

One day, Callie Vanetta receives devastating news…

She needs a liver transplant. But her doctors warn that, in her case, the chances of finding a compatible donor aren't good.

Determined to spend whatever time she has left on her own terms, she keeps the diagnosis to herself and moves out to her late grandparents' farm. She's always wanted to live there. But the farm hasn't been worked in years and she begins to fear she can't manage it, that she'll have to return to town.

One night, a stranger comes knocking at her door…

He's an attractive and mysterious drifter by the name of Levi McCloud, and he offers to trade work for a few nights' shelter. Callie figures she doesn't have anything to lose. He needs a place to stay until he can fix his motorcycle; she needs an extra pair of hands. The arrangement seems ideal until what was supposed to be temporary starts to look more and more permanent. Then she realizes she does have something to lose—her heart. And, although he doesn't yet know it, Levi stands to lose even more.


My Thoughts: I actually started this  book ages ago as my first look at Brenda Novak's writing. After reading over half the book and finding myself hating the heroine, confused by the large cast of secondary characters and their importance within the heroine's life and annoyed by the hero's undying love for a woman from his past I thought I'd give up on this book. A friend of mine suggested I go back and read the first books in the series because the cast of characters would make more sense. I did this and enjoyed them enough to give this book a second try. 

What Worked: The beginning of the book was quite exciting with a late night visit from an injured stranger, getting the local veterinarian, who lived next door, to patch him up and the following incidents regarding some less then upstanding renters in the area. The initial chemistry between our hero and heroine had great potential also. Oh and I liked Callie's dog, Rifle too.

What didn't work: As Callie is dealing with her mortality and knowing that without a new liver her time is short she decides to not tell anyone so she can have one last summer without being coddled and surrounded by looks of pity. In addition she also justifies not telling as a way of saving her friends and family months of sadness. What could have been a story of a strong independent woman ended up being one about a martyr. It is evident during the course of the book she needs a support system in place for doctors visits and emergencies yet she chooses to leave 12 people in the dark to protect them. 

In addition to the issues I had with Callie, Levi was not a whole lot better. His underlying 'fear' of the police and living under an assumed name felt a bit ridiculous as did his undying love for a dead girlfriend. 

Now lets talk about diuretic spironolactone. There were a few medical jargon words thrown into the book to authenticate Callie's condition and her need for a lot of medications. If the book had been written in a way that coming across a phrase like diuretic spironolactone would have felt natural I wouldn't have been pulled out of the book long enough to say "What?" and highlight the phrase in my kindle. Yes I did highlight it, it's one of the things I love about my kindle. Anyway, "she could claim the diuretic spironolactone, or the lactulose, which she had to take four times a day to inhibit the buildup of ammonia in her blood, were for a harmless condition like premenstrual cramps." She not only decided not to tell anyone of her impending doom but she went out of her way to lie about it while telling everyone that nothing was wrong!!! She ended up hiding her box full of medicines under the porch. In the middle of summer. Outside. Just want to point out that storing medications in the summer heat outdoors is generally frowned upon. Oh and she gets her medications filled in another town much further away because "She couldn't use the one inside Nature's Way--a locally owned grocery store not far from Whiskey Creek--unless she wanted everyone to know about her condition...." Really? Even small town pharmacies have to comply with HIPAA laws and regulations. 

Now lets talk about transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts. Just kidding. Since I really disliked Callie and didn't like Levi any better one could hope the secondary characters were worth reading about. Not so much. Once again I found her large close knit group of friends nothing more than busy body gossip whores who judge books by their covers. Their continual treatment of a woman in the group (yet not quite part of the group) is horrifying despite their constant justification of their rudeness being based on the woman's 'mean girl' attitude when they were in high school. Good Gravy people. It's been a decade. Grow the Hell up!

So where does that leave us? The ending. It was all wrapped up in a nice big unrealistic bow where the good guys or girls don't die (or go to jail) and the bad guys get run out of town by Deputy Dawg (aka Office Stacy). How lovely.

In a Nutshell: I still maintain that I like this series or rather, I like the idea of the series. I think fans of the series will find this an ok read and I'd never encourage anyone to not read this book. However, for new readers of Brenda Novak and/or this series I'd recommend you go back to the beginning and read the first book When Lightning Strikes first. Because there is such a large cast of secondary characters it is impossible to understand their impact on the Whiskey Creek storyline as a whole without their back stories and there isn't enough time or space to spell it all out as a recap.
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Feature and Follow #2

Hey all! It's the weekend again and I thought it would be nice to participate in Parajunkee and Allison Can Read's Feature and Follow meme.
Click on the button to head to Parajunkee's blog for more instructions!

This week the question that was asked was:

What book (or TV show or movie) have you not read that seemingly everyone else has? Super simple answer....Twilight and Shades of Grey. Never read either one..Probably won't either.

 

A little more about my blog. I read mainly romances. Any kinds of romances. I love Paranormal the most but historical romances are right up there. I do occasionally read YA and Mysteries/Thrillers with an odd ball book thrown in (like the time I read Who Moved My Cheese?)  My ratings are directly correlated by how much I enjoy a book not how much I think someone else might like it. I am also very character driven so, a book with great characters but a week plot may still get high marks from me. I really prefer everyone to use Bloglovin' to follow me. You'll find the clickable link over there--------------------}

 



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When Snow Falls by Brenda Novak

Synopsis: After growing up in cheap motels, moving from town to town with her sister and mother, Cheyenne Christensen is grateful to be on her own. She's grateful, too, for the friends she found once her family settled in California. But she's troubled by the mystery of her earliest memories, most of which feature a smiling blonde woman. A woman who isn't her mother.

Although Cheyenne has repeatedly asked for explanations, the people who could help aren't talking. Cheyenne is set on finding answers, but without so much as a birth certificate, it won't be easy.
Things get even more complicated when her closest friend is attracted to the man Cheyenne has secretly loved for years. For Eve's sake, she decides to step aside — which lands her right in the arms of Dylan Amos, oldest and baddest of the hell-raising Amos brothers. He's the kind of guy she's sworn to avoid. She can't afford to make a mistake, not when she finally has a chance to learn who she really is and change her life for the better. But . . . maybe there's more to Dylan than she thought. Maybe letting him go would be a bigger mistake.

My Thoughts: While I maintain that I really love this series I have to admit this is my least favorite book so far.

What Worked: Oh darn, for the life of me I can't think of anything that worked in this book yet despite the issues I had with it I still enjoyed reading it. It could be Novak's way of writing. She is my new go-to comfort read author. Her style is non-taxing and very enjoyable for me. The group of friends that make up our Whiskey Creek experience is an interesting dynamic and I'm now pretty attached to them so I need to read all of their happily ever afters.

What Didn't Work: Oh darn, where do I start? Let's start with the inconsistencies of Cheyenne herself. For one, I have issues with a 31 year old virgin (Um really?) who is saving herself for someone special but has sex with a stranger for no better reason than...well, I don't even know why....because he propositioned her, I suppose. (Disclaimer: Cheyenne knew OF said stranger but didn't really KNOW said stranger.) Throughout the book, her character's virtues are shoved down our throats yet she A) does naughty things with a man she doesn't really know, B) when it becomes apparent the stranger has feelings for her and has for a long time (from afar) she uses him for sex and then basically tells him he isn't good enough for her (repeatedly) and C) covers up a potential murder. So, this girl who is supposed to be so much better than her part time prostituting mother and drug addicted sister has just as many issues as they do.

What else didn't work? The fact that Cheyenne wanted to date her friend's older brother forever and the book spends 100 pages pursuing this train of thought only to have it change course abruptly with the introduction of the hot bad boy (that Cheyenne does naughty things with).

Oh yeah, this also didn't work....The group of friends that I truly enjoy reading about has a nasty habit of exhibiting intolerance and very judgmental attitudes. In the novella, When We Touch, Gail tells Kyle he is making the biggest mistake of his life by marrying Noelle (yes it was founded but go with me on this journey anyway). In When Lightning Strikes, Callie tells Gail she is making the biggest mistake of her life (not founded since Callie had yet to meet or get to know Gail's husband). In this book it was Eve who informed Cheyenne that she was making the biggest mistake of her life (before getting to know the hot bad boy). Even Cheyenne says "Can't you just...support me even if I'm wrong?" The group of friends were even planning an intervention to stop Cheyenne from dating sexy bad boy.....With. Out. Getting. To. Know. Him. ARG!!!! (oh and by the way, I've read half of the next book and this same thing happens....again.)

One more thing that didn't work and then I'll wrap it up....Those nasty things that Cheyenne does with hot sexy bad boy that no one likes? We didn't witness any of them. Oh sure Cheyenne and her sex toy talked about the passion they had but we readers only see the old time movie "Fade to Black" scenes when they start getting busy. I'm not saying a romance has to have hot monkey sex in every book but a series really needs to be consistent. Since the first book and the novella do have sex scenes Novak really made an error to not include them in this one. It makes this book feel out of place within the series.

Ok I lied. This didn't work either....There were several different plot threads interwoven throughout this book with multiple different view points. This muddled the story quiet a bit because we were expecting Cheyenne's story to be primary, yet one of her plot threads was dangling through the whole book only to have it wrap up virtually 'off camera' while we focused on her hot mess of a sister.

In a Nutshell: Oh boy, sounds like a horrible book, doesn't it? It truly wasn't awful. However, it is a weak link in the series and I can only recommend that fans of the series read it because you can't read all the other books and leave this one unread. I ended up giving it 3.5 stars only because I actually did like hot sexy boy toy Dylan. BUT, if you are a Novak newbie steer clear of this one it will only disappoint you, which will only lead to too many Oreos and the government shutting down.


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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bad Nights by Rebecca York

Synopsis: When Professor Morgan Rains goes out to investigate a strange sound coming from her backyard, the last thing she expects to see is a naked man covered with burns and bruises. Jack Brandt is a former Navy SEAL on an undercover mission, and he's barely managed to escape from a terrorist militia's torture. When his torturers come back to claim him, he and Morgan are thrown into a pressure cooker of danger and intrigue, and they soon find themselves falling in love. When Morgan is captured, Jack must rescue the woman whose life now means more to him than his own.

My Thoughts: A book with a great premise that just didn't live up to it's potential.

What Worked: The set up for this book was really great. An ex-Navy SEAL who goes undercover to investigate a militia group is compromised and tortured, barely escaping with his life. How awesome does that sound? This really could have been touted as a thriller similar to the likes of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books yet it falls so very flat on every aspect that finishing it was a chore. Which leads me into.....

What Didn't Work: A series of unlikely events compromised the integrity of the book. We're to suspend our disbelief that a man tortured so severely he can barely see, walk or even maintain consciousness is able to rally after only a few hours of sleep to escape a burning cabin, traipse through the woods, take out an enemy soldier and fight off a mountain lion. We also have to believe that a professor of Psychology doesn't know the difference between a psychopath, a sociopath or someone with an antisocial personality. "Did that mean she was in the clutches of a psychopath? Or sociopath? Or someone with an antisocial personality? Whatever you wanted to call it." (straight from said professor's thoughts.) We also have to believe that a security firm made up of an ex-Navy SEAL, an ex-Army MP and an ex-cop would take a job without investigating their new client, after they all agree isn't telling them the full truth and know he didn't even tell them his real name. We also have to believe that the money man behind the militia is waging war on Washington DC and planning on killing hundreds if not thousands because he lost his son at war. And yes, we are also to believe that a woman still mourning her husband who died a year and a half earlier (yes we know she is because that is all she thinks about and is actually watching old video tapes of them together just prior to finding Naked Man outside her cabin) is no longer thinking of her dead husband but hoping to make a relationship work with said Naked Man a mere 48 hours after meeting him.

In addition to this we have inconsistencies with a ladies button down long sleeve shirt which Gail had to take off so Naked Man can inspect her forearm because her button down shirt didn't have buttons on her cuffs to which she could simply undo and roll up her sleeve. A situation where those crazy kids were soaked with rain yet their shirts were stiff with blood (wet blood does not get stiff), Gail's unusual forearm that happens to be above her elbow. "The animal had left teeth marks in her forearm, above her elbow." and her amazing ability to hypnotize someone by simply saying "Relax now. Relax now. We're going back to that beach." because she took a class once in college.

In a Nutshell: A series of unbelievable events, inept professionals and insta-love makes Bad Nights just, well, bad. I couldn't recommend this in good conscience to fans of Romantic Suspense which is a darn shame. I have read several of York's Harlequin Intrigue Rom/Susp books and I very much enjoyed them. Too bad this wasn't one of those. If it had been it would have been 100 pages shorter and less taxing to read.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Undead by Kirsty McKay

Synopsis: Out of sight, out of their minds: It's a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby.
The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.
Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.
But they've changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they're zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin' fast, because that's the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates' next meal. It's kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.

My Thoughts: A disappointing YA book that even my love of zombies couldn't fix.

What Worked: There were some parts I actually did find humorous. For example this quote: “I saw a bear once. I was peeing then, too.”(for some reason that really cracked me up!) and this one: “I grab at Smitty and he at me, and, for one horrible, desperately embarrassing second we fly into each others arms like Shaggy and Scooby Don't.”

The zombies were sufficiently gross and zombie like (no super fast uber zombies here) which was nice that it was traditional in that sense. It was also nice that the ending was a big shout out to cheesy horror flicks of yesteryear where the characters think they're safe and (cue the ominous music) Dum-dum-DUUUUMMMMM.....oh no they aren't...the end?

What Didn't Work: The humor...OK I know I said I thought some parts were funny but for the most part they weren't. Our 'heroine', Bobby is so snarky that after awhile of being in her head I kind of wanted to choke her. Her humor was her entire reaction to the zombie outbreak. Not many other emotions were involved in regards to her. Which leads me to....

The characters....Not one of them was interesting enough to make me want them to survive the zombie apocalypse. Not. A. One. Our 4 teenage 'heroes' are not friends and their constant bickering should have got them killed right away. In addition, these kids should have some knowledge about surviving a zombie outbreak. Granted, it's not a subject taught in school but when the opportunity arose to gather supplies and food they all sat around to watch surveillance tape of the last 24 hours. Um...Hello!!! Food and supplies first...then television. Any good teenager knows television comes after chores!

The first person present tense narrative also worked against this book because spending so many hours in Bobby's head was just annoying. This also lead to a big debate I had on Facebook with my friends on "Do teens today really use text talk in conversation?" I've heard people using OMG (oh em gee) a lot but do they really say "LOLZ" and "ROFL" in conversation? After talking with real teens I was told only douche-canoes do. Don't be a douche-canoe!

Two more things that worked against this book. 1) the gestation period on becoming a zombie was inconsistent. Those who ingested the 'virus' turned to zombie at different rates depending on the amount of zombie virus they ingested. This ranged from immediately to 2 days. OK got it. Now those who did not ingest but who were ingested (aka bitten) also seemed to gestate from immediate to 2 days. Consistency would have been great but sadly, it just wasn't there. AND B) No matter the situation, the kids managed to escape from being killed by extremely convenient circumstances. The topping on the flesh eating cake was when Bobby's mom, who apparently was not worried that her daughter was in the middle of ZombieFest for days, swooped in at the end and saved the day just in time, providing her daughter could follow through with getting her what she wanted first. Way to go mom! Gold Star for parenting!

In A Nutshell: Perhaps a teenager could enjoy this book, I am, after all, a grown-up. However, I have to mention that there are far better YA paranormal books out there that are written better and are more interesting. Zombie factor aside, if you're looking for a paranormal YA I'd check out Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor or The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting before Undead.
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak



Synopsis: Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all — sexy and unpredictable Simon O'Neal. But Simon, who's just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self-destructing he won't listen to anything she says. She drops him from her list — and he retaliates by taking the rest of her clients with him.

Desperate to save her company, Gail has to humble herself by making a deal with Simon. The one thing he wants is custody of his son, but that's going to require a whole new image. He needs to marry some squeaky-clean girl who'll drag him off to some small, obscure place like Whiskey Creek. . .
Gail's the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife — reluctantly. But she isn't reluctant because he's too hard to like. It's because he's too hard not to love!

My Thoughts: Although I was initially afraid that I wouldn't be able to connect to Gail or Simon because of their Hollywood lifestyles I was pleasantly surprised that I not only connected but became emotionally invested in their HEA.

What Worked: The cast of characters are well developed and interesting. Despite Gail's small town roots she is a smart and savvy business woman. In a business full of phony people getting to know her and her caring personality was a treat. I admired Gail almost from the start and when she thought her business was crumbling around her, her first thoughts were for her employees and how much they needed their jobs. She couldn't walk away from any of them any more than she could walk away from Simon.

Simon's struggles were not evident from the beginning. Who he appears to be is not who he actually is. When an author can take a man who appears to have very few morals, an alcohol problem and one who is an adulterer and make me care about him and root for him, she has mad writing skills.

Novak's writing flows very well throughout the book even though the plot was a fairly simple one. I was completely involved in the story, never even noticing that I was staying up way too late to finish it.

What Didn't Work: Not much, to tell the truth. Just a few minor points.
1)Novak's writes her 'villains' so that there is no mistaking that she wants the reader to hate them. No redeeming qualities and from early on we are aware that they are not going to be likable. Also one of Gail's 'friends' is written in a way that the readers are to feel sorry for her. I prefer to draw my own conclusions regarding my feelings for the characters and I don't necessarily like this high-handed approach.
2)One of Gail's friends was quite nasty about Gail's marriage to Simon yet we are to believe that she is kind-hearted and very giving. She has her own book (#3 When Summer Comes) where she will get a HEA but at this point I'm not sure I like her much.
3)Simon's way of wrapping up who posted a doctored video of him and his ex-wife was way too convenient. I would have liked to see the authorities involved especially since there was a big custody battle going on.
4)Simon's realization of love was nice and gradual but I wanted more of an epiphany (maybe with fireworks LOL).

In a Nutshell: Despite the minor issues this truly was a great book. Novak's Whiskey Creek series is my new go-to Mac n' Cheese comfort reads. If you like contemporary romance series like Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold or Robyn Carr's Virgin River you will be delighted with Whiskey Creek. Make sure you read them in order so you can get the full impact of all the gang and their personalities. It's well worth it!
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