WELCOME to the Small Book Blog! I am a voracious reader. I love losing myself in books and cannot wait to read myself into my next adventure. It is because of this love for books that I created this blog. I want to share my passion of books with you! I hope you enjoy my recommendations and reviews. My goal is that they will lead you to a new book, series or author, that you can fall in love with and recommend to others as well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gwyn Cready's Flirting with Forever

This book was disappointing to me. Yes, I finished it but it was a trial. It was frustrating, the characters were barely redeemable, and the author piled on trials and tribulations with barely any resolution, furthering the readers displeasure and frustration with the book and storyline.  I think I’ll take a break from reading this author for a while.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lisa Unger's Die For You

“Why?” This was a thrilling novel that had me putting myself in the character’s shoes to see if I thought I would make the same choices. I definitely wouldn’t have the guts for half of Isabel’s choices. This novel shifts perceptions of the various characters so the reader is able to experience what is happening all the time and not missing any details to put together the eternal question of “why.” I found this a fun way to present the story. Another change from the usual thrillers these days is that the author wrote the characters so that it was their past circumstances/motivation/who they are that is driving the story and the decisions made. It is not the characters acting and reacting to the plot that is driving them. This was a refreshing change and had me wanting to continue reading because it made the story more realistic.

This was definitely a exhilarating yarn of love, loss, and getting answers to the most basic question of why.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Breathing Room

Breathing Room is hilarious, poignant, romantic, tense, sexy, has great chemistry, and fun dialog. I found myself laughing out loud at many sections in the story, and when I was done reading it I was ready to re-read it! Ren and Isabel were wonderful characters and I loved their story. The romance was believable and built up gradually, the sex was steamy but not over the top, the secondary characters were fun additions to the story, most of the story takes place in Tuscany.  I felt myself craving to go there to see it, feel it, eat it and drink it in. This is a stand-alone (I think) for SEP. All in all a fantastic romance with all the elements we desire while reading.

Nora Robert’s The Next Always (Book 1)

The Next Always is the first book in a new series by Nora Roberts, the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy. This novel is a classic Nora Roberts book. It is a sweet modern day romance with a few twists and turns to show us how relationships can evolve and the inevitable speed bumps that appear in life. This book focuses on Beckett Montgomery and Clare Brewster. Beckett is one of three brothers, who is the architect in the family, and designer of the Inn BoonsBoro he and his brothers are re-creating in their small town. The Inn is a restored historical building, complete with ghosts. I particularly liked Lizzy haunting the halls of the Inn. It will be fun to see what trouble Lizzy will cause in the future and if they figure out whom she was in life.
One thing that did bother me a little is that the entire series is a bit of a commercial for Roberts. The Inn BoonsBoro is actually her Inn that she designed and built in her hometown, down to the room themes and everything. The bookstore that Clare runs is also one of Roberts. It is normal for authors to use their experiences to create stories but for some reason I just kept thinking about the hordes of people who are going to want to flood her small town now that this trilogy is coming out.

That said, it is going to be a fun trilogy, much like her various Irish series and Wedding series.

Gwyn Cready's A Novel Seduction

Fans of romance novels, Outlander and people who constantly have to justify why romance novels ARE literature and not just smut will enjoy this novel. Gwyn Cready has created cute, funny, realistic characters and painted them in a picture that is relatable on various levels. This novel, unlike some of Cready’s other novels, seemed to be more of an ode or thesis for romance novels and why they are not just smut but that they are literature. The main heroine in this novel, Ellery Sharpe, is a snobbish book critic who works at an elite literary magazine. As a punishment for a scathing review Ellery wrote, her boss forces her to write an ode to romance novels. Ellery is beside herself about what to do because she thinks that the romance genre is the literary equivalent of word search puzzles and an embarrassment. To make matters worse, her photographer for the story is Axel Mackenzie. Axel and Ellery have a past of love, loss and regret that may make the assignment impossible.  

The classic romance novel Outlander, called Kiltlander in this novel, is what makes Ellery a believer in romance. It was fun to wonder with Ellery and Axel, if visiting a place from a favorite novel would open your eyes, allow you to feel the magic, or be a disappointment. The question throughout most of the novel seemed to be “What would Jemmi (Jamie) do.” This created some amusing choices for the characters decision making.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Recommendation: Gwyn Cready’s Seducing Mr. Darcy

Seducing Mr. Darcy is a novel that, while perusing the stacks, looking for the next great read, you stop to glance at the cover to snicker and maybe make a snarky remark about, then keep looking for your next book. However, I personally have a habit of picking up and looking at (and then usually reading) the various Jane Austen spinoff books (and let me tell you there are a lot). When I saw the title was Seducing Mr. Darcy, I couldn’t resist reading the back cover…after reading the blurb of what it was about I knew I had to read it:

Mr. Darcy just isn't Flip Allison's style. She prefers novels with hot sex on the   bathroom sink to the mannerly, high-tension longing of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. That is, until she pays a visit to Madame K, who promises a therapeutic massage with an opportunity to "Imagine Yourself in Your Favorite Book." Somehow, on the way to a sizzling sink-top session with a Venetian Adonis, Flip lands right in the middle of Regency England — and dangerously close to handsome Mr. Darcy. So close, in fact, that she discovers a side of him even Jane Austen couldn't have imagined.

My dear friend Becky likes to try out new authors and types of books so I recommended this novel to her, shoving it into her hands (she really wasn’t sure about my taste in books or the book itself when she saw the cover) but she took it anyways. After reading it (and receiving texts praising it while she was reading it) Becky wrote up a fantastic review on her author blog (Author Becky Banks Blog post) saying, “That said, my horizons were expanded this weekend as I delved into the pages of a unique, well written, goofy, complex romance that featured the characters from Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice and a modern day bird researcher. The main character is funny, the story is action packed, the hero is smart and likeable.... Anyway if you have the time and a large glass of wine and an empty couch to lie on - pick it up, it's a good one. I pinky swear.”

If you see this book, read it, especially Austenites and Pride and Prejudice fans.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge!

I set a goal this year to read 100 books in 2011. Today, after updating the reading challenge group I am a member of on Goodreads, I realized that I have now completed that goal! I have read 100 books in 2011 (so far)!

Last year I was overly ambitious and went for 150 books in 2010. I was about 20 books short. Should I go for 100 books or 150 books in 2012?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Laurie Viera Rigler's Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

First off, I am going to apologize in advance for my review of Confessions of  a Jane Austen Addict. I had very high hopes this would be a fun novel. I enjoy combing through the bookstores and seeing the abundance of books having to do with continuations of Austen’s novels and the beloved characters or the books that use Austen herself. I admit I am drawn to them and have read quite a few. When I saw that this one was about Courtney (a depressed women from our time from L.A. nursing a broken engagement) waking up in Regency England as Jane Mansfield. I was intrigued. However, this one though is probably the most disappointing. I did major page skipping and scanning. I was hopeful the ending would salvage the novel a little, it did not.
On a positive note, I really enjoyed the cover art of the novel. I also appreciated that if I were ever to go back in time that the observations made would probably be pretty close to my observations. For example, getting your monthly courses, the smells, the fear of bathing making one sick, talking to a man alone leading to a proposal of marriage, etc. Beyond that though, I could not do it.
I am off to read our beloved Pride and Prejudice by the masterful Austen to purge my poor brain.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Laura Griffin's Snapped (Tracers #4)

Snapped opens with Sophie Barrett (a returning character from previous Tracer novels) trying to get to the college campus to enroll in classes. When she gets there a sniper opens fire on the campus and Sophie is trapped in the middle of the terror. When the shooting is over, three people are dead and dozens more injured. As the investigation ensues, Sophie becomes more convinced there was an accomplice to this horrible crime and that it wasn’t random at all. Jonah and his team investigating the Summer School Shooting hope she is mistaken. As more events jeopardize Sophie’s safety and the investigation gets messier, it is apparent Sophie may be right.

This is the fourth book in the Tracers series and finally, I am not disappointed. Griffin did a terrific job. This is by far my favorite of her books and a romantic suspense I would re-read. With Griffin’s previous Tracer novels there were characters or sections of the novel that just bothered or annoyed me. This does not happen in Snapped. Jonah and Sophie have gritty, sexy and believable chemistry. The pace of the book is great. There is terror and quirkiness. This novel is a great mix of mystery, investigation, romance and action all rolled into one. I also appreciated that Griffin does scenes throughout the novel with other characters that are just as important to the plot and add to the story and the host of characters relationships.

Melissa de la Cruz's Witches of East End (Beauchamp #1)

The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, a little town on a magic seem that people are unable to find without stumbling on it. The Beauchamp women are magical witches, from the beginning of time, whose magic was forbidden by the higher ups at the Salem witch trials in order for them to remain immortal. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, Freya, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache. After hundreds of years of suppressing their magic, each witch decides to start using their magic for various personal reasons. From there the story unravels, the town turns against them (much like Salem), there is a love triangle with Freya and two hot brothers, and mysterious and violent attacks begin to plague the town. It is up to the Beauchamp women to solve the magical mystery.

This was a cute light hearted read. I wished that the 3 main women interacted a little more with each other as the mother/daughter dynamics could have been highlighted a little more. Overall, I enjoyed the book but also was frustrated with it. I feel like the author could have given me more information or more clues throughout the novel for how she actually wanted to end it. At the end of the book you find out that these witches are not just Salem witches but Goddesses from the days of old. The story goes from witches and vampires to an ongoing battle between various Gods and Goddesses. For me that was frustrating because it was squeezed in at the end after expanding on the “witch” side of things for the entire rest of the book. **Spoiler: If you want to read the book without a cliffhanger, do not read the epilogue. It sets up the next book and you can tell it has the possibility of being adventuresome but frustrating. Like an action movie that makes you clench and have to leave the room, is what it sounds like.**

Overall I would continue to read this series to see the author’s writing progress and how the characters develop. It was a fun Halloween read.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

This was an interesting book. Parts of it were original feeling which I appreciated and one of the main reasons I had to read it in the first place. Essentially, the author is the first character in the book you meet. He is living an unfulfilled life with aspirations to be a writer. He is soon given the long lost diary of Abraham Lincoln by a vampire, oddly a former friend of Lincoln. From there the reader travels through the diary of Abraham Lincoln and how he became a vampire hunter, not just a President. (Who was actually assassinated by a disgruntled vampire, not just a man with the name of Booth.) The book is laid out so you have parts that are “obviously from the diary” with the authors additional dialog to keep the story moving. It gets a bit dry and sometimes I just didn’t care and skimmed ahead. Overall, I liked the idea of the novel and skimming the text rather than actually sitting and reading the novel like I would most books. I suppose it was more schoolish than I expected. Also, there was just something lacking. I was engaged although I did want to read to the end (and did). People who like history and biographies will probably enjoy this novel more than I.  

The cover of the book mentions that the book is going to be turned into a Tim Burton movie. I actually think, for me, the movie is going to be much more entertaining and engaging than the novel.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Books vs. Television Series

The CW has two series to watch that are both based on separate book series by L.J. Smith. The first is The Vampire Diaries and this year was the kick off to The Secret Circle. I read The Vampire Diaries first and then became hooked on the show. The show is true to the characters but the plots are completely different. Somehow I have enjoyed that. I can picture the characters’ lives continuing on past the book. I struggle to watch HBO’s Trueblood series, after reading the Sookie Stackhouse book series. HBO has built each season off the next book in the series and uses that as a skeletal structure to stay with the books, however, the characters are soooo different from what I read I struggle to watch the show.

The second series on the CW by L.J. Smith is The Secret Circle. I am reading the books right now and DVRing the series to start watching after I am done with the books. I am staying hopeful.

Does anyone else watch or read these series or any others and struggle with the differences but feels guilty about loving some of the changes?  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lauren Willig's The Masque of the Black Tulip

The Masque of the Black Tulip was a fun read. This was my first experience with the Pink Carnation series and I look forward to future adventures with Eloise. This second novel in the series is about Harvard grad student Eloise Kelly trying to once again unmask a famous historical spy, this time it’s the Black Tulip, the Pink Carnation’s deadly French nemesis. Eloise is pretty sure that her handsome on again, off-again crush, Colin Selwick, has the answers somewhere in his archives. But what she discovers in an old codebook is something juicier than she ever imagined.

 I appreciated that the author gave the historian, Eloise, a flair for the dramatic and whimsical thoughts. Many times the historians are shown as dry or we are immersed in their research of things, but not the fun tidbits, unless they fit in with the present story. This novel is all about finding out more in an adventure seeking way, with the historian guiding us through her findings, musings, conjecture and visualizations of the adventures as she reads them.

 I liked how the plot was laid out to give us, the reader, a classic spy adventure. We are finding the clues with the historian playing the narrator/Nancy Drew. As Eloise finds letters and other historical documents, giving her clues as to who the famous spies may be, we are seeing it as she sees it. I loved how she was able to bring to life the past… I thought Hen and Miles’ story was fun, flirty, romantic and dramatic. I was almost sad when brought back to the present day story and feel the author did a good job projecting that emotion on me the reader and not just me reading about Eloise feeling that way.

 I do wish that there was a little more given to us between Collin and Eloise, but I assume that they will meet again in the next book and the author just wanted us to know that there are sparks there.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry

Be careful what you wish for…When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer; she leaves her London apartment to her mirror-image twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers but with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. From here they start a journey that will forever change and haunt their lives as well as the lives of the neighbors of Elspeth’s flat. For me, this novel was about two main things: Beyond being careful what you wish for and, “She was trying to be your ideal girl, and you were in love with a ghost. Now your ghost is alive and *spoiler* is a ghost.” The ghosts in this story are both the ghosts of our past locked away holding tight to secrets and the visceral ghosts of the dead. Every character in this novel is haunted.
I enjoyed this novel more than The Time Traveler’s Wife but still had issues really caring for the characters and not being disturbed by some of the decisions made. I don’t want to give any spoilers out because everything is weaved in this novel for a reason so mention of one sets off spoilers for the whole. Like TTW, there was also an odd timeline in this book that never really made itself known to me.

The novel is very well written and visual. We can look forward to that in Audrey Niffenegger’s writing. The setting in London and all its proposed gloom added to the ghost story and depression that hangs over the overarching theme of the novel. I think mentioning that the cemetery was especially popular for the Victorian’s was reaching to add a gothic element to the novel. Having ghosts makes it a ghost story, but for me it was not necessarily gothic, especially having ready Anne Radcliffe, the Bronte sisters, and Jane Austen, for me that classic gothic was not there. This was definitely a good read for October though, the perfect setting for ghosts and the introduction of fall to winter weather.

An interesting aspect of this novel is that while there is a main plot, the side stories of neighbors and the cemetery staff are mixed in and do not detract from the main plot. For me it helped create needed breaks in the main storyline and helped water down (just a smidge) the selfishness and almost horror of what was going on with Robert, Julia and Valentina. The side plots were also intriguing because they were the “other side of the story” I always wonder about. In life, when something is happening, I always wonder, “I wonder what this looks like to an outsider” or “I wonder what the neighbors really see or don’t see.” This novel gives various glimpses of that answer for the reader to construct opinions, guesses to the plot and additional information for the main story being weaved.

It is a book about love, loss and betrayal with a backdrop of ghosts, a famous London cemetary and twists and turns that never let you feel completely comfortable. This novel definitely made me feel like I never want to meet any twins in my life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Author Recommendation: Laura Griffin

If you are a romantic suspense reader waiting for the next book by your favorite author(s) to come out, I would recommend trying Laura Griffin while you wait. The series Griffin writes is the Tracer series. So far there are four novels out following the character surrounding the elite workers of the Tracer facility in Texas.  My mother-in-law recommended her to me, knowing I love reading authors like P.D. Martin, Allison Brennan, Karen Rose, James Patterson, Michael Connelly and the list goes on. Griffin, like these mentioned, is a blend of suspense, murder (generally serial killers), and some romance, with characters in law enforcement, PI’s and (special to this series) the elite Tracers. I have to admit that she is not my favorite author and I do not eagerly await her next novel (biting my nails, adding to my wish list, and constantly checking the release date), but as a filler between novels I wasn’t disappointed or ready to throw my book at the wall in disgust or frustration. Griffin falls flat in a few areas of her writing but overall it’s a series worth looking into for those readers that like a blend of suspense, science, and the legal system. I should mention that while I know my recommendation feels a little off, but remember it is an endorsement, looking at the Goodreads reviews most of her readers feel the same, “It may falls flat in a few places, but worth continuing to read between other books overall.”    

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Victoria Dahl's Crazy For Love

Crazy for Love is a fun contemporary romance. True to Dahl’s style it has hot, caring and quirky guys, loveable females despite their flaws, and steamy sexual encounters that may have the reader wondering “Hmm…. I wonder if I would have the guts to try that in a place like they did…” Rather than throwing in the thrills and chills many romance writers rely on today to keep their readers engaged, Dahl is able to weave a plot of secrets. She makes the reader want to find out the secret and even if you have guessed it you have to keep reading to find out how it’s going to unravel. Who’s going to tell, how are they going to find out, will they make it, and with this author is it going to be crazy, dramatic, funny or sad?!
I would recommend Crazy for Love. It is a fun book about friendship, love, and forgiveness. I found myself laughing, cringing, and wishing my husband was home to read a few of the scenes out loud to. TMI, I know, but it’s my review. As an afterthought to that remark, it is not explicit and erotic like Lora Leigh, it’s gracefully done with a rating of “R”.  For fans of this genre I absolutely recommend Dahl’s book Talk Me Down. It is definitely one of my favorite contemporary romance novels and worth re-reading.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

And the winner is...

I apologize for the tardiness, but the winner of the personalized autographed copy of The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks is Angel! Congrats! Please e-mail me your contact info so we can get your book to you!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by for our Legendary Tour. I hope you continue to visit The Small Book Blog.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Author Becky Banks Visits!

A legendary Tour with author Becky banks &
Book Giveaway!
Enter for your chance to win:

Leave your name  for a chance to win a personalized autographed copy of The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks. The drawing will happen on the last day of the Legendary Book Tour . check back on friday when the winners are announced!
Check out the Author Corner for The Small Book Blog’s interview with author Becky Banks!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don’t forget:
A Legendary tour with
Author Becky banks
& Book Giveaway Happens Monday!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lora Leigh's Midnight Sins

This is a very dirty and naughty book. I was actually a little floored by how explicit it is. For a person who has read multiple Lora Leigh books, I was taken by surprise and not necessarily in the “turned on” intended way. About halfway through, after A LOT of explicit “bedroom” scenes (when they made it there) the book starts focusing on the actually plot and not just how creamy Rafer makes Cami or how much Rafer needed Cami to milk him. (Yes, from the book, not me…Don’t even ask my thoughts on the number of times Rafer warns Cami he is going to “paddle that ass”) Once the plot starts getting some focus it was interesting, not great, but I think the seeds are set for readers to want to get the next book to find out who is behind all the evil the Callahan’s have endured and the current terror running amok.

Beyond that I found two other things that were off-putting to my enjoyment of the novel. One is that there seemed to be a redundancy in statements and information that, for me, turned out to be an obnoxious habit in the writing. It has nothing to do with the characters; it's actually how the author wrote it. It read as though the author had written the different scenes separately and pieced them together. They were disjointed enough I wonder about the editing. My other issue was the editing. There were quite a few typos and punctuation missed throughout the novel. It was all I could do to not get a pen and correct them as I found them.
Those being said do not let this novel stop you from reading Lora Leigh if you want something more erotic and thrilling to read.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Kiss An Angel

This was a delightful book. At the very beginning it feels like you are plunged into the middle of the story and feeling a little bit lost, however, as the story progresses you realize it is because that’s how the characters are feeling too…out of sorts and going into unknown territory. Daisy Devreaux is a pretty, flighty and highly underestimated woman with nothing but love and kindness to share with people. She is also terrified of all animals. The story begins with Daisy in the position of either going to jail or marrying a man her father has chosen for her, a man she has barely met once before the wedding. Alex Markov is a handsome, dark, humorless man who has no soul. Alex has no intention of playing the loving groom to a spoiled little feather-head with champagne tastes. He devises a plan, for the six months Daisy and he must be wed, to drag her to the broken down traveling circus he performs in and manages. His plan is to tame Daisy and bend her to his way of thinking. He also wants to make sure Daisy knows nothing about him so they cannot get close. He is a man who does not believe in love.  Little does he know Daisy is tougher, smarter, and more hard-headed than anyone knows, even herself.

Before long, passion sends them flying sky high without a safety net... risking it all in search of a love that could last forever. I loved this book because I could picture all the crazy scenes and characters. Phillips is a fabulous author with a great sense of humor. She also can pull at the heart strings. I was laughing, sighing, getting angry, playing cheerleader and bodyguard to the characters, and almost crying throughout the book. I love the animals, Sinjun the tiger and Tater the baby elephant. They definitely helped Daisy find herself and then as all good animals do, protected their makeshift momma.  
I devoured this book in one day, without any plans to. This is one of my favorite books by this author, which, as her fans know, says quite a bit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Author Corner

Check out the new Author Corner page for upcoming events and interviews with authors! Coming up is:

Reflections: Themed Reading

Do you find your reading patterns changing when the holidays approach, seasons change or loved ones are away? Generally my reading pattern is to rotate between different genres so no one gets burned out. This summer my hubby has been working out of town and I have found that I am only picking books to read that do not have the usual suspense, paranormal, and thrills that I so commonly seek out. I have been submersing myself in contemporary romance, general fiction, and historical fiction. It has been fun. I have been enjoying authors like Lisa Kleypas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Christie Ridgeway, Loretta Chase, and who knows who else. I have been reading about 1-2 books a week while the hubby is away.  
With October coming around the bend I have been trying to come up with a good list for Halloween. Last year I read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (and loved it) as well as Dacre Stoker’s Dracula: Undead. Anyone have good recommendations for Halloween and/or fall reading?

Christie Ridgway’s Then He Kissed Me (Three Kisses #2)

I usually do not like the middle books of a series as much as the first and last book; however, I did like this one more than the first in this Three Kisses trilogy. I think it was the sarcasm in this one. The first book was a cute romance, and mushier (in a good way), this one was spunky, snarky, and just had more flare. I have a feeling the third in this series is going to have fireworks. There are snippets in this second book that show you preview to the third book.
This is a fun series for those of you looking for something light to read that you know has a good old fashioned Jane Austen ending. The trilogy has one book dedicated to each of the Baci sisters. They are on a mission to save their family winery by transforming it into a wedding destination in the famous Napa Valley. While struggling to save their heritage they each find or discover romance and all the ups and downs relating to their stories.
 I also would also recommend this for fans of the Nora Roberts wedding quartet.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Fancy Pants (Wynette, TX #1)

Fancy Pants is one of Phillips earlier novels, I believe it was first published in the 1980’s. The story, the action, the characters, unlike some of her other early novels, are timeless. I had a love/hate relationship with both the main characters Dallas and Francesca the entire book. For me, part of the hate was because I am not accustomed to the amount of fighting, yelling, screaming, kicking, slapping and walking out that occurs throughout the novel. The reader knows that the character will be redeemed, so for me, that wasn’t an issue. This is a novel of two people that are complete opposites meeting under extreme circumstances and trying to figure out where they go from there. Dallas is a second rate pro-golfer who can’t allow himself to win any of the big tournaments and hides his intellect behind his backwoods cowboy persona. Francesca is a beautiful British fluff ball that is used to getting her way, is a spoiled rich girl, and accustomed to being treated like royalty. Due to a tragedy and circumstances Francesca finds herself on the set of a vampire movie in America’s Deep South. Outraged, she leaves the set, broke, without a clue where she is going, dressed in an ugly pink Southern bell’s gown. Dallas ends up driving by and picking up this woebegone character, thinking she will be just another stray. Instead Francesca and Dallas find themselves at odds, they’re firecrackers and a lighted match, and the fireworks begin.  
The beginning of the novel, I would say well into the 100 page mark in my edition, is all background information on Francesca and some on Dallas so that the reader can really understand the characters and their development, their relationship and choices that are made. I had to convince myself to stick with it for a while, but was happy that I did. Phillips introduces subjects and decisions in this novel that are very potent and tough, that affect the characters for the rest of their lives. This is not a novel of a trivial love story or love triangle but one riddled with flawed characters, poor decision making, humbling circumstancing and having to fight for what you most want in the world. This is riches to rags to riches story that has the reader staying up late to see what will happen next.
If you are a Susan Elizabeth Phillips fan this is a definite must read. Dallas and Francesca are in future novels so finally reading their actual history and story was a pleasure. If you have not read Susan Elizabeth Phillips yet, I would not recommend this for your first experience unless it sounds like it’s up your alley. I read her novel Match Me If You Can as my introduction to the witty world of Phillips and fell in love with her.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reflections: Re-reading Books

Devouring a beloved novel...
also known as re-reading.
Do you ever feel the pressing need to re-read a book? You hear a story, see a movie, think of a scene or character and then all you can think about is finding that book and devouring it again? That’s how I’m feeling lately…Today I found myself daydreaming what my re-read list would be. So far I have: A Discovery of Witches, one or more Jane Austen novels (except for Northanger Abbey, I don’t want to re-read it). Those books have been stuck in my mind for weeks!  I am debating if I want to re-read the next Twilight book before the new movie so I can criticize and feel like I “really know what I am talking about”. And the same for The Hunger Games. At some point I want to do a Harry Potter marathon, read the book then watch the movie, repeat…but I’d have to wait till all the DVD’s are out. I just re-read Sugar Daddy so it’s out of my system. There are a few Nora Roberts books that are trying to get my attention but luckily they haven’t made themselves known individually to be added to the list.
Do you have a favorite novel or book you have a hampering to re-read? Suggestions of new or beloved books to try out or re-read? I would love ideas! Who cares how long the list is. You guys should see my wish list on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lisa Kleypas's Sugar Daddy

I love this book. It sucks me in. The author did such a good job from the first page all I want to do is root for Liberty and see where her life is going to take her. This is a contemporary romance, but unlike the harlequins you are picturing right now, this one will not let you down. Another good thing, it’s the first in a series so there is more to devour.

The author starts out with Liberty and her mother when Liberty is just a young girl and you grow up with her through all the joys, trials and tribulations of her life through her adulthood. Most books, to really get to know the character and care, are huge (in size) to encompass everything, but the author has done a good job giving highlights, stories, memories and insightfulness, so all the extra words are not necessary. Liberty lives with her single mother in a trailer park, after her father dies and they move to Welcome, Texas.

The first half of the back is the story of Liberty Jones. We follow her from the age of 14-years-old when her momma moves into a trailer park in Welcome, Texas through her teenage years. When Liberty is only 18-years-old, her momma tragically dies and leaves her the choice of struggling to raise her baby sister, Carrington (named after a famous soap opera star) or give her up to the system. While this has some spoilers, it is the skeletons of the back story. The author gives the reads as much humor and laughter as she does heartache.  

While growing up in the trailer park, Liberty meets Hardy Cates, an ambitious teenager with a bad reputation. Hardy's family is worse off than Liberty's and Hardy is the “man” of the house, helping financially supports his mother and siblings. Hardy is the guy everyone depends on to help out and save them, which he does naturally. Hardy and Liberty's relationship is a unique one and Liberty is heart-broken when Hardy leaves her to work on oil rigs and seek out his fortune.

The story continues with Liberty moving to Houston and working her way through beauty school while caring for her baby sister. She eventually meets mega wealthy investment mogul (which, we know by Texas standards is saying something), Churchill Travis, at a high class beauty salon where she works. She talks Churchill into a manicure and over the years a strong friendship is formed between them. I don’t want to tell you more without getting into some real spoilers but the plot thickens and gets better and better!

Carrington and Churchill are great additions to the plot, especially Churchill. The author left an aura of mystery that needed to be figured out, and while the reader suspects, Liberty doesn’t. It added another layer to an already well layered novel.

The couples in this book are, to me from growing up with Liberty, very believable and had me rooting for them at different times throughout the novel. I didn’t think I would want to switch from Team Hardy to Team Gage but I could not help myself. I felt like I was right there with Liberty trying to help her make her choices between the two loves of her life. Honestly, when it comes to deciding between the love of your past and the possible love of your future, I did not envy Liberty for having to make a decision, but I was rooting for her every step of the way.

I absolutely recommend this novel to anyone in the mood for a good fiction read, romance, wants to fall in love with new fictional characters, or just a book that has laughter and tears. The characters have you wanting to keep reading about them and their family in the next books in the series.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reflections: J.K. Rowling

I watched Lifetimes new movie about J.K. Rowling. It is an unauthorized biography from her childhood to current. It was very interesting. She is an incredible woman. At the end they showed some tid-bits about her achievements and one of them was a statistic that every 30 seconds someone, somewhere in the world, opens a Harry Potter book to read. (That’s as close as I remember the stat.) How incredible is that?! If anyone finds the actual stat or watches the movie and sees it, please correct me if I am off but what a great gift to the world. Every 30 seconds someone reads a book for enjoyment.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Exciting Upcoming Event- Continued

As I mentioned in July, author Becky Banks is going to be visiting The Small Book Blog! We are tentatively looking at September 25th- October 1st, 2011. Please start submitting any questions or comment you have for Ms. Banks. I am compiling a list. In the mean time, here is Ms. Banks book, for those of you who have not read it yet.

The Legend of Lady MacLaoch             
A legendary love, an unforgiving curse, and the discovery of a lifetime ...
Centuries ago a vengeful curse buried itself deep into the history of the MacLaoch clan and become a legendary tale told by all those not cursed by its words.

In present-day Scotland, the laird and chieftain of the MacLaoch clan is an ex-Royal Air Force fighter pilot who has been past the gates of hell and returned a changed man. Rowan MacLaoch does battle with wartime memories and a family curse that threaten to consume him—unaware that his life and that of the history of the clan will be changed forever by the arrival of an American woman.

Cole Baker, a feisty recent graduate of a master’s program, stumbles upon the ancient curse while researching her bloodlines. Moved by the history of the MacLaoch clan and the mystery of its chief, she digs into the legend that had been anything but quiet for centuries.

On their quest for answers, Cole and Rowan travel to places they have never before been and become witnesses to things they have never before fathomed. The legend—one started with blood—will end with more shed as its creator finally exacts her justice.
Here is a link to Ms. Banks blog, which includes how to purchase her fabulous novel.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rebecca Ellen Kurtz's Sons of God

Well, Let me start this off with saying that I enjoyed this book... it was different, and I liked that ALOT. I read this book because I actually won it in the Goodreads giveaway. It’s one of the only things I have ever won.

I was a Religious Studies and English major and I found myself thinking that, while I was reading this, if I was in class but daydreaming during a religious studies history course, this book would possibly be the result of my day dreaming... With that in mind this book could have been ginormous in its textual size trying to give the reader background info and teachings, but it wasn't. It was VERY compact and the history/lore/teaching/knowledge one might need was very abbreviated. At some points I felt a little too abbreviated but that just might be me and my love of the subject.

I was a little upset that when you finally got to the big climax it was rushed. There was a nice pace throughout the book and then it was a quick "wam bam thank you mam, watch for the next book in series" ending. The characters, when you learned their true identities, I felt, deserved a little more respect than that. (**Spoiler** I'm still waiting for the sequal...)

I loved the binding of the book; it fit with the book, kinda old fashioned, string binding and not the usual glued spine. It was made to look like an antiquated text, and the layout of the book was unique. There were images with verses and lore to look like they were still on the ancient texts and the font was a brown rather than black. I will say that the author needs a better editor.

That said, it was a fun little read.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (Hunger Games #1)

This book was great! I loved it! It did not bother me at all that it is a YA book/series (YA= Young Adult) It was written with a great voice, great flare, it left you with nuggets of side plots to want you and tempt you to keep reading the series. It was very clear about what was happening/going to happen and didn't hide away when the deaths came nor did the author shirk her duty in delivering them. The character relationships suck the reader in and automatically have you picking sides, couples, voting life or voting death. I started the series later so I was able to go by the next too books and devour them because I could not wait to see where Katniss was going to take me next!

Here is the jacket write-up from Goodreads for those of you “out of the loop”:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Let the Hunger Games begin!

P.S. I predict, if done well, that when this comes out as a movie it is going to be the next “Harry Potter.”

Book vs. Movie: The Lincoln Lawyer

We watched the Lincoln Lawyer last night and I was very surprised that it was actually spot on with the plot of the novel by Michael Connelly. It was a great adaptation. I found myself really enjoying Matthew McConaughey and, like in the book, he is a smarmy bastard but you still end up caring about and respecting him. The movie does water down some of the relationships, for example, between Mickey Haller and his ex-wives and daughter. The movie also waters down some of the interesting details of how Haller runs his defense attorney business, other than conducting it out of his car. Some of that would have been nice to know but it did not detract from the story the movie presented. I would definitely recommend reading this novel and watching this movie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chevy Stevens' Still Missing

Debut novelist Chevy Stevens delivers a novel that is dark, filled with suspense, and riveting. This is a rare novel and I don’t want to say too much other than if you can handle the subject matter it is a must read. It also makes me re-think my personal safety when I go out. It is chilling (even gave me bad dreams one night), horrific (and detailed), and haunting. The main character, Annie, is talking to her shrink about her present life while intertwining it with her previous kidnapping experience. The reader experiences both this horrible ordeal from her resent past and her present life while reading the novel. I believe the author puts it well when Annie explains, “Something about the stained-glass windows works for me too. If I were to get all deep on you, I could say the idea of all those broken pieces being made into something so damn pretty appeals to me.” I will say this, in a further attempt to get you, dear reader, to read Still Missing, in the end, there is hope and after the journey you read, that makes it worth it.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sharon Sala's Blood Ties (The Searchers #2)

I received this book in a free book club through the mail (you know, those pesky postcards in some books you throw away. I didn’t this time and I even remembered to cancel when the invoice and books came!) It’s possible that I might have enjoyed this book more had I read the first in the series before this one (the second in the series). However, I may not have. The book was okay and it had some scenes that were good. It was like a lifetime movie, everything is there for a fun or great book to get sucked into, but there is just that one element missing and you can’t. I think part of it was that it is listed as a romantic suspense and while there was romance and there was suspense it just didn’t do it for me as a romantic suspense. The main characters, the love interest, are long distance for most of the book, making brief phone calls. When they are together again, the action takes over and shadows the romance. Obviously, the romance is not all the way, but more than many books in this romantic suspense genre. Like I said, it had a “lifetime movie” quality I couldn’t embrace or get past. Like lifetime movies though, I enjoy them from time to time and I would give Sharon Sala another chance, I might try a different series though to see if that helped.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller #1)

I really enjoyed this novel. I did not see the movie before I read it. I find that many of the lawyer-ish books either are too dry or focus on the romance and not the courtroom/plot. Michael Connelly is able to make a flawed character intriguing in and out of the courtroom, causing the reader to want to read the books not only because they are interesting and intriguing by the plot but to see what Mickey has up his sleeve and see how he is going to turn out as a person...Michael Connelly also teaches the reader legalese and court room procedures in an education manner that fits into the pot and dies not dry it up. If you are a Grisham, Baldacci, Clancy fan you will enjoy the Connelly novels. If you need a new change of pace or genre it's a great one. I also just finished the second in the Mickey Haller series and it was good summer reading as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Exciting Upcoming Event!

Exciting news! I am talking with debut author, Becky Banks, to join us on the Small Book Blog to answer questions, talk about her new book The Legend of Lady Maclaoch, and maybe even do a giveaway. Becky and I am hoping to get our calendars together for September or October. Watch for this exciting event!

 A little about author Becky Banks from her Goodreads author profile:

Becky Banks grew up in the Maui countryside, where she spent her childhood running through grassy fields, swimming in the ocean, and learning the time-honored local tradition of “talking story.” She moved to mainland after high school to attend Oregon State University, where she studied forestry, natural resources, and science education.

With a keen understanding of human nature and a knack for vivid narrative, Becky’s writing resonates with power, charm, and wit. Her stories will enchant you, and her characters will become an unforgettable part of part of your life.

Becky lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Keith.

More updates to come regarding this fabulous author, legendary novel, and exciting event!