Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Dark Crusade ~ Lori Devoti

Title: Dark Crusade /Unbound Series

Author: Lori Devoti

ISBN: 13: 9780373618095

ISBN: 0373618093

Pages: 288

Publisher: Silhouette

Series: Silhouette Nocturne Series, #62

Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance

Copyright: April 2009

Source: My Personal Library



Exiled rogue shapeshifter Kerr Vik once saw being transported to Gunngar as a fresh start. Until the one person he most regretted leaving behind--captivating witch Heather Moore--stumbles through the portal...and finds herself right in the middle of a witch hunt. Heather has courageously come to Gunngar to redeem herself. But Kerr knows that if she braves it alone...she will die.. He must somehow send her back through the portal. And it's not long before a collision of truth, love and duty complicates Kerr's mission by forcing him to choose sides: should he save this forbidden love or protect his honor?


Lori Devoto is amazingly gifted. This gal's got talent like nobody's business but mine... & yours ;). Dark Crusade is the Fourth in Devoti's Unbound series & held me absolutely spellbound! I was living Heather's life & was mesmerized by the wickedly delicious Kerr. Kerr definitely appeared three dimensional thanks to Devoti's flawless characterization. Brava, Ms. Devoti!

Heather Moore is a witch who was exiled from the human world to Gunngar for her role in helping to overthrow the Garm Council. She must count on Kerr, a garm (wolf shapeshifter) for protection from a malicious elf named Marina ~ who wants all witches dead. Did I mention that the scrumptious Kerr is a wolf shapeshifter?! *Whistle* I am just lovin' the call of the wild & all of nature's beauty ;-)! Ha~ha.

Devoti's alternate world is scintillatingly vibrant & teeming w/ pulse pounding excitement!

Devoti created an unscrupulous cast of characters that will leave you wanting to take them on yourself! She painted them effortlessly w/ a cimmerian & sinister veneer!

Now, let me say the sexual tension... is beyond sizzling! Shameless!

Dark Crusade is definitely a captivating read for packed in under 300 pages... so, my suggestion? Grab the entire Unbound series!

Hurry & grab your copy of Dark Crusade:

Read Excerpt

Barnes & Noble


Check out Lori's website here!

About Lori:
Lori Devoti worked for three different newspapers in two different states before deciding to stay home with her children and begin writing fiction. The author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance and paranormal romance, Lori has been a finalist for many awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and children as well as two dogs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review: Tricks ~ Ellen Hopkins

Title: Tricks
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Pub. Date: August 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 640pp
Age Range: Young Adult
Source: Simon & Schuster


"When all choice is taken from you, life becomes a game of survival."

Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.

Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story -- a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?"


Tricks emotionally siphoned me beyond the point of sheer exhaustion. Once again, Hopkins delivers the goods by fearlessly seizing a tenebrous societal problem. Hopkins doesn't just illuminate the sabulous side of teen prostitution, she amplifies, humanizes & intensifies like the beacon of brilliance emanating from the Great White Way!

Tricks is a disturbingly heartbreaking novel that showcases just why Hopkins is the sovereign virtuoso when it comes to navigating the literary sphere.

is not a sugarcoated attempt @ addressing the increasingly current trend of teenagers coerced into selling themselves to survive. Tricks accurately illustrates the downward spiral of teens in the prostitution or "escort" service realm of sex for money.

I was repulsed to the point of retching not only when I was reading but when images of this electrically charged novel circumnavigated my brain when all I wanted was for the visions to circumvent. My skin crawled, my heart ached, my soul perished, and my spirit was shattered.

No matter how much Philosophy Gingerbread Man hot salt scrub I used, I still felt dirty. I just couldn't shake the grime seared into my very core. I was battered, bruised, broken & all I wanted was to be smothered in love & ensconced in the tenderness of a family just like Ellen's beautifully scribed lost souls.

Hopkins brought me beyond tears, I was raw inside & raging w/ a spectrum of emotions. I just wanted to hug Cody, Eden, Ginger, Seth, and Whitney. I wanted them to know I cared, I wanted to tell them I loved them & everything would be OK!

I am as far removed from the damaged, lost souls living a life of turning tricks & searching for what many take for granted but I understood their execrable actions.

Tricks left me spirtually bankrupt & it all is because Ellen knows how to penetrate the nucleus of human nature.

Tricks did not kick off like a house afire, it took time to simmer as Hopkins excavated the incomparable cast. The character development is unparalleled. Ellen's reprehensible prelude to the demoralizing pilgrimage these dispirited teens endured left me immersed in their orbit... struggling to get out w/a modicum of self-worth.

Tricks is written in Ellen's trademark verse writing. Ellen's striking poetry is seductive.

While I do understand the subject matter in Tricks may not be for everyone, it is definitely not to be missed. We can't continue to bury our heads in the sand & pretend this isn't happening in our neighborhoods. Yes, it is happening, in your town, on your block & it may be going on in your own home!

Grab a copy of Tricks:





Simon & Schuster

Check out Ellen's website

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for the review copy. Thank you, Nicole, most of all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: When You Went Away ~ Michael Baron

Pub. Date: October 2009
Publisher: The Story Plant
Format: Mass Market Paperback


Only a few months ago, Gerry Rubato had everything he thought he needed from life. He was passionately in love with his college sweetheart after nearly twenty years of marriage, he had a bright, independent-minded daughter, and he had the surprising addition of a new child on the way. Then everything changed with stunning rapidity. With little explanation, his daughter ran away with her older boyfriend. Then, only a month after giving birth to their son, his wife died suddenly.

Now, Gerry needs to be everything to his infant child while he contends with two losses he can barely comprehend. And when a woman walks into his life as a friend and their relationship verges on something more, Gerry must redefine all that he knows about himself, about love, about loyalty, and about his dreams.


When You Went Away is simply breathtaking! When You Went Away is a beautifully written novel that will warm you deep inside.

When You Went Away is an extraordinary saga of one man's powerful journey through life from the heartbreaking sorrow & devastating loss of his soul mate, the distressing heartache of his daughter, Tanya, who ran away w/ an older man & raising his infant son, Reese.

When You Went Away is a poignantly written tale that is vibrant in details, crisp in detail and emotionally driven.

Told from Gerry's point of view, the beginning of Baron's brilliant novel focuses on his anguish, ennui & turmoil as he struggles w/ surviving, living for his son, finding his way & moving on.

Baron's writing is fluid. His characters are fully developed, smooth & vivacious . Baron is a gifted scribe who goes deep inside the reader & ignites a spark that electrifies the spirit!

Gerry's communication w/ his daughter, Tanya is genuine, raw & tender. Baron handles the struggles that Gerry endures effortlessly.

When You Went Away is an exquisite literary nugget not to be missed!

Author’s Website

Read an Excerpt

Many thanks to Joy Strazza, Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting, Michael Baron & The Story Plant for sending me a free copy of this book for review.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Silent Killer ~ Beverly Barton

Pub. Date: September 2009
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 384pp


In A Town Full Of Secrets

To most people, men like Mark Cantrell are fine, upstanding pillars of the community, completely beyond reproach. But their killer knows better. They are sinners of the worst kind, and they must burn on earth before they burn in hell. . .

Trusting The Wrong Person

Eighteen months after her husband's unsolved murder, Cathy Cantrell has returned to her Alabama home, eager to build a new life for herself and her son. But pieces of her past are everywhere-including Jackson Perdue, the town's deputy sheriff. The spate of recent deaths-each victim burned in the same horrifying manner-leave Jack and Cathy in no doubt that a serial killer is at work, one whose rage grows more vicious each day. . .

Can Be Fatal. . .

Now as a twisted killer moves in for a final, brutal act of vengeance, buried crimes are coming to light once more. And this time, justice will be swift, merciless, and as silent as the grave. . .


Silent Killer is one exhilarating read. Barton has penned quite a mind-blowing tale.

Cathy & Jackson are intoxicating. I loved them.

Cathy suffered a breakdown after she witnessed her husband, Mark, burn to death. Cathy checked herself into a mental health facility to deal w/ the heinous savagery of her husband's murder.

Cathy also relinquished custody of her son.

Not too long after Cathy returns to town to reunite w/ her son.

Also returning is, Jackson Perdue, a man who once owned Cathy's heart. Jack returns to town, despite vowing never to set foot in Dunmore, Alabama again.

Jack is smart enough to know better than to say never. Jack accepts a position as a deputy.

He is assigned Mark's "cold case". While investigating Mark's barbaric murder, the killer attacks repeatedly. The target? Clergymen.

Barton's narration through the killer's eyes was vividly creepy. I was more than a bit squeamish.

In Silent Killer, Barton deftly shines a light on why she is a force in this genre ~ she just ratchets up the creep factor & delivers skin crawling, menacing, dastardly psycho villains effortlessly.

Brava, Ms. Barton, Brava & thank you!

What I love most about Jack & Cathy is the fact that they are so darn fiery, sensual & oh, so wounded. Their affection, respect, raw emotion & lust singe the pages. This is why I love romantic suspense so much. Not just any romantic suspense, romantic suspense that is well crafted, engaging, wickedly savory & keeps you reading late into the night wee into the morn.

Silent Killer
is a spine-tingling novel teeming w/ thrills, peril & gruesome nuggets.

Silent Killer
is rife w/ suspicion. The danger intensifies. So, is anyone safe in the town of Dunmore? Barton has you hooked from the beginning, wondering who to trust & wondering if so & so was innocent. Definitely the indelible mark of a phenomenal scribe.

Silent Killer is a terrifying, sinister ride.

Hurry! Grab a copy of Silent Killer!

Psst! Double check your locks!

Visit the delightful Beverly Barton's website & enjoy the thrills she is noted for!

Check out the UK cover!

Thank you, Beverly, for the review copy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lovestruck Summer ~ Melissa Walker

Pub. Date: May 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback, 272pp
Age Range: 12 and up
ISBN-13: 9780061715860
ISBN: 0061715867


Austin Music Fest

Yay, summer in Austin!

Good food, good times. Fun for everyone!

Okay, living with my sorority-brainwashed cousin, who willingly goes by "Party Penny," is not exactly what I had in mind.

All your favorite bands

But the cute musicians I've met totally make up for it . . . like Sebastian. Swoon.

All ages welcome

So why can't I stop thinking about Penny's friend All-American Russ and his Texas twang??

Saturday & Sunday, from noon to midnight

Don't wait up!

Sunny days, late nights and a vacation full of possibilities...

This is the story of Quinn, an indie rock girl who came out to Austin, Texas for a music internship.

She also plans to spend long, lazy days in the sun at outdoor concerts--and to meet a hot musician or two. Instead, she's stuck rooming with her sorority brainwashed cousin, who now willingly goes by the name 'Party Penny.' Their personalities clash, big time.

But Sebastian, a gorgeous DJ, definitely makes up for it. Sebastian has it all: looks, charm, and great taste in music. So why can't Quinn keep her mind off Penny's friend cute, All-American Russ and his Texas twang?

One thing's certain: Quinn's in for a summer she'll never forget!


Lovestruck Summer
is one of my all time favorite books. Walker is a genius! This is the way romantic comedy is supposed to be written. Breezy, charming, fun, kicky & memorable.
I feel butterflies flitting in my stomach just thinking about this darling treasure.
Priscilla Quinn Parker ~ Quinn ~ is a fiery, saucy, indie music lovin' chick.

" I live my life in headphones. That way, I can control what I let in."

I just loved this book so much, I didn't want it to end. I was inhaling it until I was closing in on the end. I slowed my reading pace just to savor Walker's delicious nugget.
Walker captured the essence of Quinn & created an impressive spitfire. She is just fun!
I laughed, cried, fell in love & had a blast!

With an industry over saturated w/ paranormal this & paranormal that, Walker's Lovestruck Summer is a refreshing sparkling romantic getaway.

Walker is one gifted writer, she's able to create appealing, invigorating, whimsical three- dimensional characters who rocket off the page.

Quinn is simply remarkable, utterly misguided & thoroughly magnetizing. Quinn’s progression from a snotty show-off into a more unbiased young woman was skillfully devised.

"But really, it's the big picture that overwhelms me: Penny has gone Texas."

Penny aka "Party Penny" is more than Quinn's cousin or your typical sorority babe. She has her own depth, appeal & spunk! I am eager to read more about Penny & hope Walker considers revisiting this character again. *Hint* ; ).

Penny's dog, Miss Tiara is a riot!

" Oh, Miss. Tiara's a boy" whispers Penny, lowering the dog's ears. "He just likes to be in drag, and he prefers to be referred to as 'she'. There's a really cool cross-dresser named Leslie who walks around town, and Miss. Tiara has just taken to him as a role model."

Penny’s irritating frat-boy/wannabe-cowboy friend & next door neighbor, Russ (sigh) is the guy that no matter how hard Quinn tries she just can't seem to shake. Russ is the one who stimulates her senses, makes her question her beliefs & makes her feel. Russ is always calling Quinn "Priscilla" which steams her to no end. When he starts calling her "Cilla", I am in love ; 9! Let me just say, I so wanted to be Quinn ; )!

Here are a few quotes that made me feel those butterflies in my stomach go bananas:

" You know, when you smile I just want to kiss you," he says.
"I'm sorry I said that," he says, "about the kiss."

"Okay," I say, not sure how to respond.

"I meant it," he says softly. his face hovering just inches above mine. He pauses for a moment there and I stare at his big blue eyes.

Two beats later, he pulls back, sits up, and says, "But I'm sorry I said it."

Chrissy, Penny's friend & neighbor ~ Russ's roommate ~ is more than a buxom, dippy blonde. She definitely is the definition of "never judge a book by its cover".

Walker delivered a striking punch in this feel good read. Walker filled this 272 page light read w/ more substance than a 500 page tome. Brava, Walker!

There has been a bit of buzz on the cover. Some love the bubble gum cover others roll their eyes @ the cutesy presentation; the cover depicts summer romance in the HarperTeen "Beach Reads" category. I love it! I love the "beachy" look & the colors are darling! Afterall, it captures the essence of Austin's Barton Springs perfectly.

You really should grab a copy of Lovestruck Summer. Whenever you need a pick me up, escape or to just feel good inside, Walker's Lovestruck Summer is the perfect prescription.

Psst! If you usually rebuff romance, please give this book a chance to illustrate it is Walker's characters that make Lovestruck Summer radiate.

Check out Melissa Walker's website


Benny & Shrimp ~ Karen Mazetti, Sarah Death (Translator)

Pub. Date: July 2009
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Paperback, 224pp
ISBN-13: 9780143115991
ISBN: 0143115995


Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Shrimp, a young widowed librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order; Benny, a gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village's Old Bachelor; and an unlikely love that should not be as complicated as it seems.


How much are you willing to sacrifice for love? What would you give up for happiness? Would you compromise -- meet half way for that one individual that stirs your soul? Caresses your spirit?

Allow me to introduce you to Benny & Shrimp. Benny's a Swedish farmer, a 30 year old country boy, w/ cows, calves & sheep. Shrimp ~ Desiree ~ is a widowed Swedish librarian, who happens to be a vegetarian.

Benny's searching for a farmer's wife & Shrimp wants someone cultured.

Enter a cemetery of all places.

Benny's grieving the devastating loss of his mother & Shrimp's mourning the painful loss of her husband.

So, how on earth did these two to get together??? One day she smiled @ him & he smiled back...

Told in alternating viewpoints w/ heartache & hilarity, Benny & Shrimp deliver their story from their own standpoint.

Mazetti brilliantly crafted the short chapters showcasing Benny & Shrimp's outlook.

Kudos to Mazetti for describing the same moment they remembered things but just like in "real" life it was somewhat different.

Mazetti's writing is extraordinary. Sarah translated Mazetti's Swedish prose to English phenomenally w/o losing any of the mettle or vibrancy of the genuine love, frustration, pride, fear & tenderness these two wounded spirits feel.

As Shrimp voices, "Love makes others into doves, gazelles, cats, peacocks, but I -- quivering, wet and transparent - am your jellyfish."

I couldn't put down this quirky novel & found myself wondering what was going to happen next to the charming Benny & delightful Shrimp.

The cliffhanger ending leaves me eager for more...

This is a heartwarming story that proves love is for everyone!

Thank you, Caitlin @ FSB Associates for the review copy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Turn Up the Heat: Jessica Conant~Park & Susan Conant

Pub. Date: March 2008
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Format: Hardcover, 288pp
Series: Gourmet Girl Series, #3


Chloe Carter has a lot on her plate-exams for grad school are coming up, and her chef boyfriend needs her support as his fledgling trendy restaurant comes into its own. The staff of Simmer gets along like petits pois in a pod, everyone pulling pranks on one another now and then. Everyone, that is, except for Leandra, a waitress who treats the busboys like chopped liver-and can never take a joke. One morning, Leandra's dead body is found in a fish truck. So people start to wonder: was this just a prank gone awry? Or did somebody actually want her to sleep with the fishes?


Turn Up the Heat is the 3rd adventure in the savory Gourmet Girl culinary mystery series by noted mother-daughter scribes, Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant.

Turn Up the Heat shines a light on the restaurant industry & what goes on behind the scenes in our neighborhood kitchens by showcasing the lush, elegant, Simmer.

Jessica & Susan do a steller job sketching restaurant life & this is the best installment yet.
Turn Up the Heat is on fire w/ juicy tidbits on what makes or breaks a restaurant. Yummy goodness.

The whimsical cast enriches the series & are in no way padding for Chloe.

Appaulse to the talented duo for illustrating just how essential the characters are to making the Gourmet Girl series meld.

Chloe is an engaging, fiery, irresistible & fun character. She is definitely one of my favorites.

Now as much as I adore Chloe, I also love reading about the other quirky players.

Adrianna is a sheer delight. I'd love to spend the day just hanging out w/ her. I love the warm bond Chloe & Adrianna share ~ Lucy & Ethel comes to mind, as does Grace & Karen. I look forward to an even bigger role as the series progresses because she is just too much fun.

Owen. Owen. Yes, he is definitely one capricious spirit. I must say, he keeps me on my toes.

Psst! Love the name "Daily Catch", guys.

I enjoy the vibrant atmosphere the Gourmet Girl series has going on. I always feel like I'm on vacation visiting friends in trendy Beantown.

Turn Up the Heat is expertly plotted & brimming w/ red herrings. Love it! I just love a good 'ole fashioned whodunit where everyone is a suspect & you haven't got a clue. Kudos, ladies for this absorbing tale.

Turn Up the Heat is wickedly ambrosial, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Simmer Down ~ Jessica Conant~Park & Susan Conant

Pub. Date: March 2008
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 304pp
Series: Gourmet Girl Series, #2


Chloe Carter's boyfriend, Josh Driscoll, is prepping for the opening of Simmer, Boston's hottest new restaurant. But at a fund-raiser featuring samples of Josh's cuisine, a trendy club owner is found bludgeoned to death-by Josh's state-of-the-art, professional-grade food processor, the ominously-named Robocoupe.

By opening night at Simmer, the list of suspects is almost longer than the line to get in. And Chloe is struggling to solve the crime before the final course is served.


How do you spell fun? S-i-m-m-e-r D-o-w-n! The 2nd installment in the delightful Gourmet Girl series is even zanier than the first. Conant~Park & Conant are more in sync & @ ease w/ their hilarious heroine Chloe. Let me tell you, friends, she is definitely full of energy. Spending time w/ Chloe is like hanging out w/ your bestie. I do my best not to sip anything while flipping the pages for fear of ruining the book... just a lil' warning ; ).

Simmer Down is as yummy as a brownie straight from the oven. It is a fast-paced read filled w/ hijinks. I just lose myself in the pages & consider the Gourmet Girl series one of my all time favorite comfort reads.

I am a moody reader & when I just can't find something to whet my appetite, I reach for a Gourmet Girl Mystery. I just adore Chloe.

Simmer Down is an animated adventure bubbling w/ humor, charm & straight out screwball comedy. You will bolt from your seat as soon as the last page is read to devour the next whimsical stew Chloe has gotten herself into.

Chloe is a well developed protagonist. Where this mother & daughter team shine is in creating engaging characters. Every character is entertaining, witty & just riotous. From the most charismatic cast member to the most unruly, these ladies keep you turning the pages.

What this duo does best is endear Chloe to the readers, foibles & all. Chloe is not your "cookie cutter" heroine, you know, all pulled together & just waiting for a body to "appear". No, she's authentic, appealing, intelligent, unassuming, self-conscious, whimsical, vacillating & exposed. She is me, she is you ~ she is every woman riding this wave we call life.

The writing is smooth, the witticism skillfully crafted & Josh... well decadent!

I think they are the perfect recipe like REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS!

When I first read Steamed, I thought Lindsay Lohan would make an excellent Chloe but unfortunately, she would be more of a hindrance & I want to see this series thrive on the screen.

Isla Fisher would make one fantastic Chloe on the big screen but if Lifetime or Hallmark did a TV verison, Amy Davidson has it hands down!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

City of Ashes ~ Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: March 2008
Age Range: Young Adult
Series: Mortal Instruments Series, #2


Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?


City of Ashes is the 2nd installment in Cassandra Clare’s enticing young adult Mortal Instruments trilogy.

City of Ashes picks up where City of Bones ends.

Warning: If you haven’t already read City of Bones, I highly suggest reading it first, rather than starting with City of Ashes since it’s not really a story that is considered a stand-alone.

I will do my best not to pepper this review w/ spoilers because I don't think it is fair to ruin your reading pleasure.

City of Ashes kicks off like the fireworks during a Macy's 4th of July celebration! Clare grabs hold of you & pulls you into the whirlwind supernatural adventure that is this astounding read.

Clare delivers City of Ashes in 3rd person but is mostly from the delightful & empowering Clary's perspective. Clare does a phenomenal job showcasing Clary's perplexity @ all that is going on around her Shadowhunter sphere.

Let me warn you, City of Ashes is an enthralling read & you will be hard pressed to put it down. Simply, Clare's Mortal Instruments Series reads like an epic flick ~ electrifying!

What I love about Clare's writing is the delectable vibrancy sprinkled through out this fetching novel. City of Bones is stuffed w/ explosive action, dripping w/ topnotch tension & juicy goodness. The world of the Shadowhunters is charged w/ titillating nuggets that is not just breathtaking but makes your head spin.

Clary's bff, Simon, definitely is one riveting member in this launching. He really did shatter the mold. Clare took the term "bring it" for the intriguing Simon & certainly did.

The brother & sister Shadowhunter team , Alec & Isabelle are utterly enthralling. I truly enjoy reading about them.

Magnus Bane is a mesmerizing player & one of my faves.

Now, I will address the pink elephant in the room by saying everything isn’t always what it seems (thank you, Cassandra).

I have to be honest, the incestuous tones between Clary & Jace made my stomach roil & my skin crawl but things aren't always what they seem.

Hurry up & grab a copy of City of Ashes!

Check out
Cassandra Clare's website.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Coffeehouse Angel ~ Suzanne Selfors

Pub. Date: July 2009
Publisher: Walker & Company
Format: Hardcover, 288pp
Age Range: Young Adult


When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother’s coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. And he won’t leave until he can reward Katrina’s selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Now if only she could decide what that might be . . .

Coffehouse Angel is a fairy-tale nestled between the pages of Selfors charming novel.

Katrina is absolutely captivating. Selfors' setup showcasing Katrina's heart, soul & desires was sensational. Selfors not only delivered the goods, but made me acknowledge my own hidden aspirations.

Katrina is a sweetheart & her emotions are so precise you actually experience her distress for the coffeehouse’s growth & well-being.

Selfors' touching prose is so authentic, you find yourself feeling powerless because you want to help keep grandma's coffeehouse afloat & you just can't jump inside the book to do it.
Selfors did a topnotch undertaking describing the picturesque town & its capricious dwellers.

Psst! I wanted to destroy the nefarious Java Heaven.

I'll admit as much as I adored Katrina, there were times I became frustrated @ her ennui.

I just wanted to shake tell her she had the capability to do things on her own ~ w/0 depending on others to come to the rescue & Selfors exhibits it effortlessly. Hats off to Selfors for this uneasy feat!

Coffeehouse Angel is an irresistible read for teens, tweens & anyone in search of a tale as scrumptious as hot cocoa loaded w/ marshmallows!

Quick! Grab a copy of Coffeehouse Angel & feel the magic envelop you!

I love this cover! Thank you to the art department for doing a remarkable job casting the model ~ she definitely captures the Scandinavian essence of Katrina.

The model is beautiful & I am curious to know who she is. I am also going to keep my eye out for future covers she may grace.

Thank you so much to Anna & Walker books for the review copy!

Give Up the Ghost ~ Megan Crewe

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pub. Date: September 15, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780805089301
Age Range: Young Adult


Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts to “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable. They know the dirt on everybody . . . and Cass loves dirt.

She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of all of the poseurs in her school. But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Timwants her help to contact his recently deceasedmother, but Cass is less than enthusiastic.

Kicking and screaming, Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life. And she’s more surprised than anyone when she realizes that maybe some living people aren’t so bad if she’d only give them a chance.


Give Up the Ghost is an impressive debut. Give up the Ghost isn't just a "ghost story" filled w/ boo & spook.

Crewe's spectacular jaunt into Young Adult territory is a fascinating sojourn about a teenage girl as she struggles w/ teenage angst & blossoms into her own.

Crewe's flawless writing is displayed as Cass not only deals w/ but accepts her heartbreaking past.

Crewe knocks it out of the park w/ her authentic teen dialogue & situations ~ I wonder if Crewe is secretly a teen poising as an adult.

Give Up the Ghost illustrates Cass's brittle family dynamics. Crewe eloquently handled Cass's role in the family after the death of her sister, Paige.

Paige is a brilliantly written character who is a standout on her own. The scenes between Cass & Paige were raw, authentic, heartrending & substantial.

Crewe's literary strength shines when Cass begins to muster the courage to be herself & to genuinely care about something in her world.

Tim was a well drawn character who made my heart ache. He was so heartfelt you just endured his emotions.

Bitzy & Norris were also intriguing players & I think the book would of been deeply enhanced if Crewe delved further into their background.

Bitzy & Norris were delightful, whimsical & they shined in every single scene.

Crewe's Give Up the Ghost flows like hot lava oozing over a Hawaiian volcano!

Give up the Ghost is a fresh, fast-paced, fun read that introduces us to the sassy & charming Cass.

The only reason it didn't receive a 5 was because I wanted just a little more to happen between Cass & Tim. I waited w/ bated breath but... the scene didn't arrive. Grrr...

I want to say, thank you to Henry Holt for the review copy & Megan for the awesome read.

I want to acknowledge the art department for the incredible job they did on the cover, it is stunning ~ absolutely GORGEOUS!!!

Quick! Grab a copy of Give Up the Ghost!

Check out Megan Crewe's website!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Swim the Fly ~ Don Calame

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub. Date: April 2009
Age Range: Young Adult


Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year's? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time — quite a challenge, given that none of the guys has the nerve to even ask a girl out on a date. But catching a girl in the buff starts to look easy compared to Matt's other summertime aspiration: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) as a way to impress Kelly West, the sizzling new star of the swim team. In the spirit of Hollywood’s blockbuster comedies, screenwriter-turned-YA-novelist Don Calame unleashes a true ode to the adolescent male: characters who are side-splittingly funny, sometimes crude, yet always full of heart.

Oh, my! Don Calame is one of the most humorous writers to walk this universe. Swim the Fly knocked me out. I was so immersed in Calame's witty prose, I just found myself turning the pages rapidly & it still didn't seem fast enough.

Swim the Fly is a must read for both males & females. Matt & his lovable cohorts get themselves into so many priceless scenarios you will be rolling so much your sides will ache. You will shake your head @ their hijinks, nod as their shenanigans ebb & flow & you find yourself relating to their comical teenage adventures.

Calame is an artisan when it comes to creating characters. Each individual had an unrivaled
trait & a voice that was intrinsic to each personality. Don't let me get started on Matt's grandfather ~ he alone delivered uproarious scenes that made my sides throb.
Swim the Fly is a phenomenal novel. I was so engaged w/ the adventures of the Calame's sidesplitting players, I was reluctant to reach the ending. It. Was. That. Hilarious.

I can't wait to get my hands on the next whimsical treat Calame delivers!

Run, don't walk , to grab a copy of Swim the Fly!

Check out my interview w/ the campy Don Calame here.

Visit Don's website.

Thank you, Candlewick, for this awesome book to review.