2014 – Book #86


The eighty-sixth book I read in 2014 was The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle. This is the fifteenth book in her Harmony series and the third book in her Rainshadow series. I finished this book on 9/27/14. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Sedona Snow (descendant of Arizona Snow from one of Jayne Ann Krentz’s earlier novels) who was the victim of kidnapping and a subsequent awful medical experiment. After she escapes the mad scientist’s lab in the catacombs, she retreats to the island of Rainshadow to try and start over.

Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss of the newly formed ghost hunter Guild on Rainshadow. While he is exciting to take on this new challenge, he is also there to check up on Sedona Snow. Jones is also a member of the Jones from the Arcane society. Cyrus was sent by Arcane to see if the “formula” worked on Sedona and she has developed some kind of second talent as her ancestor had also done. Multi-talents can sometimes become unstable and dangerous but Cyrus finds Sedona to be not only stable but extremely intriguing.

There’s a lot of other stuff going on in this story, all of which adds to the intrigue of the plot. I do have to say though that if you haven’t read the other Harmony books (or at least one) then this novel might be kind of hard to understand. Harmony is another planet. Apparently at some point in the future a “curtain” will open up between Earth and Harmony. Some people traveled over to Harmony to colonize it and then all of a sudden the curtain closes. The colonists on Harmony are stranded and all of a sudden when the curtain closes all their technology stops working. Also after living on Harmony for awhile amongst the Alien’s psi-strong tunnels, all the citizens of Harmony start to develop natural powers. Most citizens have low-level powers and all citizens need tuned amber to rez their talents, but Sedona and Cyrus are off the charts talents.

Overall I thought this was a really good book. I like this series a lot because its creative and interesting and completely out of the box. Who would ever think of this other planet where everyone has powers and there are underground tunnels that you get lost in unless you have tuned amber on you? Crazy. I would never think of that on my own. So, good book. Nothing outstandingly exciting but overall solid plot, well-paced, and interesting.

Link to author website: http://www.krentz-quick.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Zone-Rainshadow-Jayne-Castle/dp/0515154725/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1411829348&sr=8-2&keywords=hot+zone

2014 – Book #85


The eighty-fifth book I read in 2014 was Serena by Ron Rash. I finished this book on 9/19/14. I rated this book 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5. I decided to read this book because the movie adaptation is coming out at the end of this year (Nov 27) starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. I just love everything Jennifer Lawrence is in, she is an amazing actress and she plays her parts very well. She plays the crazy parts especially well, and I know she’s just going to do an amazing job with the role of Serena.

This book is about George and Serena Pemberton, a newlywed couple who plan to run a timber empire together in North Carolina. George was at the camp long enough before he met Serena to father an illegitimate child. Serena and George share an intense relationship that leaves no room for anyone else, and George, while acknowledging the child is his, does not do anything to care for the mother or the child, and in fact does the opposite in killing the mother’s father. When Serena loses her own baby and learns she will never again be able to bear children, she decides that she will kill the illegitimate child and the mother for being able to give her husband what she can not.

Serena appears to have been unraveling up to this point, but when she learns that George might be protecting his son and the boy’s mother, George and Serena’s intense and passionate marriage begins to crumble and becomes intensely deadly. This book is set in 1929 in the North Carolina mountains. The description of the work done by the timber company along with their day to day lives adds a sufficiently depressing backdrop to the dark place that is Serena’s mind. There is no room for any errors or doubt in her world, she lives in a universe of black and white, no grey area allowed.

Overall this was a very dark novel. There were parts I found depressing, and to be honest within the first 10 pages there’s a description of someone getting gutted in a knife fight that is just gruesome. Other than that though, it was an extremely interesting book and I can’t wait to see Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Serena. She plays such a great crazy person and as I was reading the novel I could just see her in the role. I also really enjoyed the discussion of life during the Depression and the timber worker’s point of view as well as Rachel’s (George’s illegitimate son’s mother). I would definitely recommend this novel to someone who is looking for a good Depression-era novel or to anyone who is planning to see the movie when it comes out!!

Link to movie’s IMDB website (trailer can be found here): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1247690/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Link to Wikipedia website on author: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Rash

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Serena-Novel-P-S-Ron-Rash/dp/0061470848/ref=sr_1_1?


2014 – Book #84


The eighty-fourth book I read in 2014 was Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley. This is book 6.5 in the Highland Pleasures/Mackenzie family series. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5. I finished this book on 9/17/14 (my birthday! :-)). This book tells the story of Steven McBride, brother to Ainsley McBride from book #3 in the series and Elliot McBride from book #5 in the series. Steven is home on leave from the military and spends his first night home getting sloshed in a bar. When he tries to head back to his lodgings, he can’t seem to remember exactly where he’s booked a room for this trip. While trying to figure it out he stumbles (literally) into Rose Barclay, young widow of the Duke of Southdown.

Scandal seems to find Rose wherever she goes, even if most of the supposed scandals are complete falsities made up by the members of the press. When Steven collapses into Rose in the street, she takes him home thinking him a poor homeless veteran. She lets him sleep it off in her guest room and then brings him some breakfast. In return for her kindness, Steven decides to help Rose in her unfortunate situation. It seems that the new Duke (that inherited the title when Rose’s husband died) is contesting the marriage and refuses to pay Rose a widow’s settlement or let her stay in any of the estate’s houses. Steven decides to help her and hires a lawyer to argue her case and also stands up to Albert for her.

Overall I like this book (really more of a short story). I liked the characters a lot, Rose was very compassionate and Steven very alpha male. The plot was interesting if fast paced as one would expect in a novella. I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the next book in the series, Rules for a Proper Governess, due to come out on October 7.

Link to author website: http://www.jenniferashley.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scandal-Duchess-Mackenzies-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00DGZKJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411046652&sr=1-1&keywords=scandal+and+the+duchess

2014 – Book #83


The eighty-third book I read in 2014 was The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee. I finished this book on 9/16/14. I rated this book 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Portia Cuthcart, who discovers she has “the knowing” when she is still only a small child. “The knowing” is a form of future-telling through food that has run in her family for generations. Portia hopes to learn what this gift means through the help of her grandmother, but as the years pass her grandmother doesn’t end up directly teaching her anything about their shared gift. Portia seems to figure most things out on her own though, and muddles through until her fiance tells her that he needs her to give up “the knowing” and be normal. Soon after, her grandmother dies in a very odd way and Portia blames herself, so she shuts herself off from “the knowing” for three long years.

When her husband divorces her because he got her supposedly best friend pregnant though, Portia flees to New York City and it is there that she discovers herself again. She becomes infatuated with her upstairs neighbor, Gabriel, and though she keeps telling herself not to, she can’t help but become involved in his life and his two girls’. Things start sliding downhill though when Portia and her sisters try to open a trial restaurant in Portia’s apartment. And all the while Ariel (one of the daughters) is trying to do a school report on her family and is uncovering some troubling secrets. She’s also trying to cope with the trauma of watching her mother die in a car crash, while also dealing with her fear of becoming invisible herself.

Overall, this was just such a great book. It was touching, emotional, funny, heart-wrenching, and riveting all at once. Though I thought that the bad guys could’ve gotten a harsher punishment, the happy ending was for the most part exactly what I wanted it to be. And I loved the depth of the characters in the story, they came alive to me. This was the first book I’ve read by this author, I’ll definitely have to check out some of her other books!

Link to author website: http://www.lindaleebooks.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Glass-Kitchen-Novel-Sisters/dp/0312382278/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410907140&sr=8-1&keywords=the+glass+kitchen

2014 – Book #82


The eighty-second book I read in 2014 was Love’s Encore by Sandra Brown. I finished this book on 9/14/14. I rated this book 2.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This book was about Camille Jameson, an interior decorator from Atlanta who gets hired to renovate an estate called “Bridal Wreath.” When she arrives at the home she will be renovating/redecorating, she is amazed to discover the man she lost her virginity to two years ago is the son of the homeowner.

Zack Prescott always thought of Camille as the “one who got away” since she slipped out of his condo and left the ski town without a word after he deflowered her over two years ago. So when he walks into his foyer one day to discover her sitting there waiting to meet with his father, I guess he wants to punish her or something.

Honestly, this will not be my most eloquent post. This book was pretty awful. Camille is a scared dumb girl to just disappear like that. And then when they finally see each other again, they both seem determined to punish the other. Camille was all mad that Zack “took her innocence without any thought” but SHE DIDN’T TELL HIM BEFOREHAND. What did she expect? That he would just know? Like he’s got X-ray vision or something? Ridiculous. And Zack is pretty much just a complete asshole to her right up until like the last 5 pages of the book. Just awful. To be fair, this is I believe the first book she ever published, and it was in the early 1980’s so that kind of behavior from bother characters was probably fitting for the time. Wouldn’t recommend for a modern reader though.

Link to author website: http://sandrabrown.net/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Encore-Sandra-Brown/dp/B00C2HI0HE/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1410794696

2014 – Book #81


The eighty-first book I read in 2014 was The Collector by Nora Roberts. I finished this book on 9/13/14. I rated this book 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Lila Emerson, international house-sitter and young-adult paranormal author. While house-sitting in New York City, she witnesses a brutal murder in the apartment across the street from her. Then when she happens to meet the suspected murderer’s brother at the police station (artist Ashton Archer), she hears a new side of the story that makes her questions what she originally believed happened in that apartment. Ashton asks her to help him figure out what happened to his brother.

As they investigate, Ashton realizes that Lila is everything he’s been looking for and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe. When the police realize that the person after Lila and Ashton is a woman wanted is sever countries for murder, they have to come up with a good plan to try and keep Lila safe. As they delve deeper into the investigation, Ashton uncovers a piece of art that his brother was killed over, a Faberge egg. More specifically, one of the lost Imperial eggs.

Overall I was not a huge fan of this book. The hero was FAR too heavy-handed for me and I just couldn’t manage to get involved in the story line. Some parts of the book were interesting but by the time the climax of the book came around I had pretty much lost interest. It was ok but I’m not sure its worth reading the whole 480+ pages.

Link to Faberge Imperial Eggs: http://www.faberge.com/news/49-imperialeggs.aspx

Link to author website: http://www.noraroberts.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Collector-Nora-Roberts/dp/0399164456/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410793306&sr=8-1&keywords=the+collector

Waiting on Wednesday (3): Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson

New WoW

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

This week’s spotlight is on:


Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Blurb from the cover (Amazon):

How do you out-devil the devil? For Vampire queen Betsy Taylor, the answer is relative—literally—as MaryJanice Davidson’s “sexy, steamy, and laugh-out-loud funny” (Booklist) New York Times bestselling series continues…

Why Am I Waiting?

This is the thirteenth book in the Undead/Betsy Taylor series by this author. I have to say I absolutely love this series, it is funny, interesting, and fully entertaining. Since this is the 13th book in the series and October is just the perfect month for it to come out, I’m thinking about doing a marathon and re-reading this series during the month of October before reading the newest book. I read two in the series recently, you can check out those posts here.

Link to author website: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/

Link to Amazon (pre-order): http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Unwary-Queen-Betsy/dp/0425263444/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1410348131&sr=8-1

2014 – Book #80


The eightieth book I read in 2014 was The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. This book is Rieger’s debut novel. I finished this book on 9/8/14. I rated this book 5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book centers mostly around Sophie Diehl, a criminal attorney at a firm in New England. Sophie is asked to do a favor for one of the partners in her office and complete the intake interview for a prominent client’s daughter who was just served with divorce papers by her husband of eighteen years.

As the story develops, we are brought into not only Sophie’s life but also the Durkheim’s and the Meiklejohns’. Told through emails, handwritten letters, memos and legal motions and other documents, this story of divorce and Sophie’s part in it is both riveting and fascinating. As Sophie struggles her way through litigating this divorce (she’s a criminal attorney, not a divorce attorney) she also tries to overcome how much this divorce reminds her of her parents own divorce. She begins to realize how traumatized she was by that experience, so much so that seeing The Durkheims’ daughter Jane go through the same process is heart-breaking to her.

And as Sophie continues to help her client (Mia) through the divorce as best she can, Sophie also has to deal with what has become a relationship issue as well. During the story she meets a man named Harry and forms an attachment to him. Little does she know that he isn’t exactly available. Sophie also deals with her issues with her parents, after an embarrassing encounter and follow-up email to her boss.

Overall, this was just such a great book. I know not many people enjoy books written in this style (epistolary) but I find them to be extremely interesting and fun. Though a little confusing at the beginning, once you get into the story its easier to get a hang of who the players are in this book. I thought Sophie’s character had great depth and I loved diving into her psyche. And Mia’s character was just perfect, she was hilarious and her jumble of emotions was portrayed excellently. While I might not recommend this book to everyone since the style might not be suited for all, I loved this book and was hooked pretty much from beginning to end. I didn’t want to put it down! I hope to see more from this author in the future, very well done!!

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Divorce-Papers-A-Novel/dp/0804137447/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1410261176&sr=8-1

Link to Wikipedia page on epistolary novels: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistolary_novel

The author does not currently have her own website, therefore I will include a little blurb About the Author:

SUSAN RIEGER is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She has worked as a residential college dean at Yale and an associate provost at Columbia. She has taught law to undergraduates at both schools and written frequently about the law for newspapers and magazines. She lives in New York City with her husband. The Divorce Papers is her first novel.


Also I just love it when books have the book discussion questions. I’d love to be a part of a book club again someday, and I love that there are so many books out there now that you can access the book discussion questions online. If anyone who has read the book would like to discuss one of the questions below, please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts!!

1. Is Sophie a good lawyer? Why? Why not?

2. At the beginning of the novel, Sophie feels she’s “treading water.” Why does Sophie seem to be having so much trouble finding her way? How does this change as the novel progresses?

3. Both of Sophie’s parents are European. How has that influenced who she is? 

4. Why does Maggie put up with Sophie? Would you?

5. Is Dr. Durkheim the book’s “villain”? Why do you think he wanted a divorce? Do you think he knew about Jacques? Did your opinion of him change over time? 

6. Mia confesses she initially withheld some information from Sophie. She also has a flair for the dramatic and loves to tell a good story. Do you believe her version of events? In an epistolary novel, how do you decide who is a reliable narrator?

7. Are Mia and Daniel equally to blame for the failure of their marriage? Do you think their marriage could have been saved?

8. Mia loved living and working in New York City, but she moved to New Salem for Daniel and his job. What were the trade-offs at that time? Do they seem worthwhile in retrospect?

9. What do you think was going on at the firm with Fiona? Why was she so hostile toward Sophie at the beginning? Did you agree with Fiona that her reprimand was unfair? Sexist? 

10. Will or Harry?

11. There are three father-daughter relationships, all difficult: Mia and Bruce Meiklejohn; Sophie and John Diehl; Jane and Daniel Durkheim. Do they change over time? If so, what makes the change happen? If not, what is the sticking point?

12. There are two mother-daughter relationships: Elisabeth and Sophie and Mia and Jane. In what ways are these stronger than the father-daughter relationships? Weaker?

13. What do you think of the decision to give custody to Bruce in the event Mia dies before Jane is eighteen? Was Mia right to insist on that? How do you think Daniel felt?

14. Is the separation agreement fair and reasonable? Who came out better, if anyone?

15. What’s next for Mia? For Sophie?

2014 – Book #79


The seventy-ninth book I read in 2014 was When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James. This is the second book in the Fairy Tales series by this author. I finished this book on 9/6/14. I rated this book 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Linnet Thrynne and a man aptly named “the Beast” in polite society, Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant. 

Linnet finds herself in an interesting situation. Due to an unfortunate encounter with Prince Augustus at a party, she is now ruined even though all she did was kiss him. Her mother’s reputation proceeds her though and so in society’s mind she is just as ruined as if she were caught in bed with the prince. Linnet’s father and aunt try to think of a way out of this sticky situation. So they set her up with a duke that needs an already impregnated wife-to-be for his son who is thought to be incapable of getting it up. So Linnet travels to Wales and meets the most surly, insensitive creature she has ever encountered. 

And obviously she falls in love with him. Linnet is a raving beauty. Men follow her around just to see her smile at them. So when she finally meets someone who is seemingly impervious to her charms (Piers) it is refreshing to not have to deal with a slobbering fool. Thinking him incapable of lustful desires, she relaxes with Piers and an odd friendship of sorts forms. Obviously Piers isn’t really incapable though, otherwise this would be a very unusual romance novel. 

Just when things are developing between Piers and Linnet though, a scarlet fever epidemic breaks out in the castle. Piers knows he must send Linnet away in order to protect her. What he doesn’t know though is that she’s already contracted the fever before he sends her away. Linnet ends up in some inn in the middle of nowhere deliriously sick with no one to take care of her. Piers finally realizes somehow that he had to go after  Linnet and save her. 

Overall I thought this was a really good book. I really liked Linnet’s character and how intelligent she was. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales (mostly due to the MASSIVE library in the Beast’s house and how much of a reader Belle is. Probably also because my husband can be slightly beast-like at times.) and this story was a great version of this story. So in light of that, here’s to hoping all us readers get our own dream library. 


Link to author website: http://www.eloisajames.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Tamed-Beast-Fairy-Tales/dp/0062021273/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1410051384&sr=8-1-spell

Waiting on Wednesday (2): Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

This week’s spotlight is on:


Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley
Release Date: October 7, 2014

Blurb from the cover (Amazon):
Scottish barrister Sinclair McBride can face the most sinister criminals in London–but the widower’s two unruly children are a different matter. Little Caitlin and Andrew go through a governess a week, sending the ladies fleeing in tears. There is, however, one woman in town who can hold her own.
Roberta “Bertie” Frasier enters Sinclair’s life by stealing his watch–and then stealing a kiss. Intrigued by the handsome highlander, Bertie winds up saving his children from a dangerous situation and returning them to their father. Impressed with how they listen to her, Sinclair asks the lively beauty to be their governess, never guessing that the uncoventional lady will teach him a lesson or two in love.

Why Am I Waiting?

This is the seventh book in the MacKenzie family series by this author, which is just a great historical romance series. This author is able to put such emotion into her characters that I easily get caught up in each story. I’ve grown attached to the members of this family and am glad that she is continuing the series! You can check out some of my posts on other books in the Mackenzie family / Highland Pleasures series here.


Link to author website: http://www.jennifersromances.com/

Link to Amazon (pre-order): http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Proper-Governess-Mackenzies-Series/dp/0425266036/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1409746868&sr=1-1