Friday, August 31, 2012

REVIEW: Killer Summer by Lynda Curnyn

Title: Killer Summer
Author: Lynda Curnyn
Publisher: Red Dress Ink
Publication Date: June, 2005
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 8/10

Description: Three friends. One dead body.
The summer they'll never forget . . .

Sharing a beach house on Fire Island seems like a killer way for best friends Zoe, Sage and Nick to spend summer together. But just as they're dreaming of sunset margaritas and late-night barbecues, the body of their house hostess washes up on the beach. Talk about a buzz kill . . .

Now all Zoe can think about is why the "grieving" husband is planning parties rather than mourning his wife. Nick suddenly has secrets he can't tell a soul. And Sage is trying to score booty as if it's her last summer on earth . . . which it just might be. Because despite the ocean views and endless parties, Zoe, Sage and Nick have stopped wondering if the good times will last and started wondering if they will . . .

My Thoughts: Another very good offering from the now defunct Red Dress Ink line. I feel like I'm beating the dead horse here, but I can't help it. I am such an obsessed chick-lit girl; I collected every release published by Red Dress Ink that I had missed out on after I signed up for home delivery. Every month, I would literally jump up and down and do the happy dance when my Red Dress Ink shipment arrived. I couldn't be happier when some of the titles began to cross into other genres such as mystery and paranormal. Sadly, as with a lot of good things, it came to an end and I was left with a whole bunch of Red Dress Ink books that I have dragged my feet reading because I want them to last.

I chose Killer Summer this year because this has been a killer summer here in the Pit of H.E Double Hockey Sticks where I live. Perhaps a little respite at the beach is in order. I am sure that's all Zoe, Sage and Nick are looking for. Sage's boss has a beach house on Fire Island and the three best friends agree to timeshare space there for the summer, though Zoe's heart really isn't in to it. She gets stuck in the city picking up items for the dinner party being thrown by the house hostess, Maggie. Zoe doesn't arrive with everyone else but instead takes the last ferry out. When Zoe arrives at the house, it's obvious the dinner party has been canceled as evidenced by Maggie's absence from the house. Unfortunately for Zoe, she takes Maggie's pooch for a walk and discovers Maggie's corpse on the beach.

The majority of the book focuses on Zoe's conviction that Maggie's death is no accident, especially since Maggie's husband does not appear to be grieving. It's always the husband that did it, right? He certainly appeared suspicious to me but as the book unfolds, so did a lot of other people. I enjoy it when a mystery has several layers and isn't obvious. Another aspect of this book that I also thoroughly enjoyed is different points of view. Each chapter has a different point of view from Zoe, Sage, Nick or Maggie. Sometimes too many points of view can confuse a story, but I thought it made this one more intriguing.

I also enjoyed the dynamics of all the different relationships. It made for some very interesting characters. I have only read one other book by this author, but I enjoyed this one more and am looking forward to more from this author. Take a break from your killer summer, kick back with something cold and frosty to drink, kick off your shoes and dive into this book. I think you will enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

REVIEW: A Piece Of My Heart by Kemberlee Shortland

Title: A Piece Of My Heart
Author: Kemberlee Shortland
Publisher: Highland Press
Publication Date: January, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 9/10

Description: Kate hadn't been just the girl next door. She'd been Mick's life, and he hers. When an unforeseen force drives them apart they're left with wounds that refuse to heal. Now, ten years on, Mick's father's will should have been straightforward, except his addendum was like ice water in Mick's face. It's essential Mick and Kate work together to save his family's farm. He doesn't count on his new manager being accused of murder, and she doesn't expect a dangerously seductive woman from Dublin claiming Mick is the father of her child. Kate thought she was falling in love with Mick all over again, but this newest revelation is too much for her. She is determined to say goodbye to her childhood sweetheart forever, but Mick has other plans for her future. And none of them involve goodbye.

My Thoughts: One of the reasons I adore Kemberlee Shortland's books is because she is able to create vibrant characters that come across realistically. If you love the characters, then you are completely entranced with everything they say and do. If you hate the characters, you are riveted on what these despicable people are going to do next. If the characters annoy you, as a reader, you may find yourself talking back to the character and telling him what an idiot he is. Yes, I know, they cannot hear me, but this is what happens when I read a Kemberlee Shortland book. I am so pulled into the story, I sometimes feel like I am right there with the characters seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, and feeling what they feel.

So, let me just get this off my chest. Mick was a class A jerk who did not deserve Kate or to benefit from any goodwill or kindness she demonstrated. It took me a very long time to forgive him for being a selfish nitwit who treated Kate and his family very poorly. His complete lack of regard for his family's farm gave me the impression he is spoiled and childish. Here's the interesting annoyed at Mick as I was, I couldn't stop reading because I had to know what would happen. I kept hoping he would come to his senses and realize what he is missing out on and thankfully he does! Though it still bothered me that he let 10 years go by because of a misunderstanding, Kate never stopped loving him.

Kate was an amazing character. Where Mick was selfish, Kate was selfless in her dedication not only to Mick's parents but to the successful running of their farm. She put her career and love life on hold. She sacrificed her wants and needs to ensure Mick's parents were taken care of like they were her own. Some people would think Kate is your typical doormat but I think if there were people like Kate around, the world would be a much better place.

Happily, Mick redeems himself and does a little growing up to become the man Kate needs. On a side note, I actually felt bad for him when he gets blindsided by some less than pleasant events that have followed him from Dublin.

Another treat for me in this story was reuniting with Kieran and Eilis from Rhythm Of The Heart and catching up on what has been going on in their lives. If you have not read Rhythm Of The Heart, I recommend reading that one before this one so you are not pulled out of the story when Kieran and Eilis make an appearance.

Overall, if you enjoy your books to contain lots of complex characters in complicated relationships and lush Irish settings, I highly recommend A Piece Of My Heart.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

REVIEW: Driving Sideways by Jess Riley

Title: Driving Sideways
Author: Jess Riley
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May, 2008
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 8/10

Description: Leigh Fielding wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.

With her newfound vitality (and Larry's kidney) in tow, Leigh hits the road for an excursion that will carry her from Wisconsin to California, with a few stops in between: Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Rockies, Las Vegas --- and a memorable visit to thank Larry's family for this second chance.

Yet Leigh's itinerary takes a sudden detour when she picks up seventeen year old hitchhiker Denise, a runaway with a bunch of stories and a couple of secrets. Add to the mix a long-lost mother, a loaded gun, an RV full of swingers, and Hall and Oates's Greatest Hits, and Driving Sideways becomes a hilarious and original journey of friendship, hope, and discovery.

My Thoughts: Driving Sideways by Jess Riley is yet another one of those books I acquired on a whim, added it to my "to be read" mountain with every intention of reading it quickly. Instead, it languished for years in the bottomless pit of my reading pile. With Driving Sideways, new to me author Jess Riley introduces us to Leigh Fielding, a dialysis patient who has recently received a kidney transplant and thereby a new lease on life.

I know it doesn't sound very appealing on the surface, but where this story really pulled me in and hooked me is when Leigh decides to hit the road, literally, on a road trip to visit her best friend, meet the kidney donor's family to thank them for the kidney and finally to track down the mother who abandoned Leigh and her brother when they were children.

Along the way, Leigh meets a teenage hitchhiker named Denise, who isn't all she seems but not completely in a bad way. The story is rich in pop culture references that gave me the real sense of being in the car with Leigh and Denise.

The story moved at a good pace, kept me plugged in and interested in what was going on and what was going to happen next. The characters were easy to get to know and felt realistic for their surroundings and place in the story. Don't make the same mistake I did. Get in the car and go on a road trip of your own to the bookstore to get this book. Every journey begins with the first step and I am sure this is one ride you will thoroughly enjoy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

REVIEW: Reality Chick by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Reality Chick
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June, 2006
Genre: Teen Chick-Lit
Rating: 7/10

Description: All-hour study fests . . . all-night parties . . .

Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to watch. On uncensored cable.

Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if school isn't panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old crushes, and learning to live on your own. Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares? Ally's got bigger issues -- like how her long-distance bf can watch her loopy late-night "episode" with a certain housemate. . . .

Freshman year on film.

It's outrageous.

It's juicy.

And like all good reality TV, it's impossible to turn off.

My Thoughts: Freshman year at college is hard. Trying to adjust to the new freedom and responsibilities of managing oneself while living on your own for the first time in your life is a big deal. Making a long distance relationship with your boyfriend of two years work now that he's in college down in Florida carries a lot of stress. Apparently, our protagonist, Ally Cavanaugh, laughs in the face of stress and auditions for and is chosen to appear on a reality TV show with four other freshmen.

Though the logic of this character's decision to do this seems vividly absent, I found it impossible to look away. As with most sordid and uncensored reality shows on the air these days, I find it difficult to stop watching. Why are we drawn to scenarios where a group of strangers are thrown together in a small, confined space and are manipulated so that their behavior and reactions are then recorded for the rest of us to view, comment and speculate on?

It's hard to not like Ally. I felt a lot of empathy for her as she struggles to adjust to college, picking a major, missing her boyfriend and developing friendships with her housemates all the while a cameraman follows her all over the house and campus recording every facial expression, emotion, conversation and act, some of which Ally would rather forget. Personally, being recorded in the bathroom is pushing it, but again, reality TV fans want it realistic and if you knew your words and actions were being recorded, how realistic would it be?

Reality Chick was a fast, enjoyable read that I recommend if you like living vicariously through others. This book was given a makeover and republished in 2010 under the new title, Watch Me.

I personally like the new cover better.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

New Additions To The TBR Pile In July

July saw the arrival of several new additions to the monstrous to be read pile. Yes, I am a book hoarder and am suffering happily with my illness. :o)

Chaos In Death by J.D. Robb

Description: Eve Dallas is the tough lieutenant hot on his trail, but this is unlike any case she’s ever been assigned - or any killer she’s ever pursued. A police sketch based on eye-witness testimony reveals the killer has green skin, swollen red eyes, goblin ears, and a dislocated jaw-structure that defies the human form. Is it a mask? Is it make-up? Or is the explanation more sinister?

Dallas faces off against multiple suspects - all of them students of medicine capable of precisely slicing the ears, noses, and eyes of the three victims. But who had the motive? More importantly, what kind of rogue science are these healers practicing?

Fatal Fortune by Elizabeth Delisi

Description: No one in Cheyenne, ND believes in Lottie Baldwin's psychic abilities; especially not Harlan Erikson, Lottie's boyfriend, and sergeant in the Sheriff's Office. When a friend's husband disappears, Lottie can't leave it to Harlan. Armed with her courage and her tarot cards, she tries to solve the mystery herself, regardless of who attempts to stop her: Harlan, her friend -- or the criminal.

Rhythm Of My Heart by Kemberlee Shortland

Description: Artist Representative, Eilis Kennedy, gave up a singing career so that other women could have a fair chance at having their music heard. Having suffered rejection from callous men in the industry, she thought she would get away from ‘casting couch’ mentality. But when she finds herself in the office of Fergus Manley, all bets are off. Disgusted by his continual come-ons and lewd invitations, Eilis is looking for ‘the one’ who will take her career to the next level, getting out from under Fergus’s controlling thumb.

Aspiring blues guitarist, Kieran Vaughan, is looking for his big break. But after suffering near bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous business partner, Kieran is left picking up the pieces. He’s unsure if the debts will ever be paid or if he’ll ever have a chance to do something with his music. At his whit’s end, he’s about ready to throw in the towel and find a full-time job with real hours.

When Eilis discovers Kieran playing in a seedy pub in Dublin’s Northside, she knows he’s the one rare talent she’s been searching for. With her know-how and his talent, Eilis will finally get everything she’s been waiting for. Neither of them count on the powerful attraction from first meeting. Eilis is so rocked by Keiran’s forthright words that it sends her running. Kieran risks being arrested as he chases Eilis across Ireland.

Seeing what’s happening between Eilis and Kieran, anger wells inside Fergus and he steps up his pursuit of Eilis. Refusing to let Kieran get in his way, Fergus vows to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, whatever it takes.

Will Kieran be able to protect her?

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Description: First in a brand new series about a Chicago graduate student's introduction into a society of vampires. — Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn't exactly glamorous, but it was Merit's. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker -- and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.

Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she's traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan "Lord o' the Manor" Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries' worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude -- and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan's attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone's still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago's nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war -- and there will be blood.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein

Description: Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoƫ at his side.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human only a dog could tell it.

The Rock Star In Seat 3A by Jill Kargman

Description: It's Hazel's thirtieth birthday and she has everything she's ever wanted: a kickass job, a dream apartment in New York City, and the perfect boyfriend -- who's just days away from proposing. Hazel thinks she's happy but isn't quite ready to settle down. So when her most far-fetched fantasy enters the realm of the possible, shouldn't she drop everything to see it through?

The morning after her birthday, Hazel boards a flight to L.A. only to get the surprise of her life. When she's bumped up to first class, extra legroom and free drinks are absolutely the last things on her mind when she catches sight of her seatmate: her all-time biggest celebrity crush, rock star Finn Schiller! Only the night before she'd confessed her infatuation with the gorgeous musician, and her boyfriend joked that she had a free pass if she ever met him. Hazel can't believe fate has actually thrown them together.

Even more unbelievable is that during the flight they genuinely connect. Finn likes her uncensored cursing and wicked sense of humor, and that she's unlike all of his groupies; Hazel likes his killer looks, ripped physique, and soulful music. But what started as a fantasy quickly becomes a real attraction, and after a dream date and taste of the rock-star life with Finn in L.A., Hazel is forced to examine the track her life is on. Indulging in a passionate affair with a rock star seems crazy -- but could she ever forgive herself if she walked away from her wildest dream coming true? And is her wildest dream the stuff that happiness is made of?

A lively novel about a down-to-earth New York City girl who suddenly finds herself in a rock 'n' roll Cinderella fantasy, The Rock Star in Seat 3A is seasoned with Jill Kargman's signature wit and hilarious dialogue. This is a fairy-tale romance with a twist.


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at Happy Reading! :o)