Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bout of Books

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Will be doing this Read-a-Thon again. I got lots of books read last time and hope I can again.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dewey's Read-a-Thon

I totally forgot that I signed up. Thanks Andi, for reminding me! Time to get organized with books and snacks and finding time to actually read. We have meetings with contractors this Saturday as well as my daughter's school auction that night. Ack! I will make it work. At least the little girl will be with her Grandparents that night. That helps.

I have a couple books for review that are currently at the top of my TBR pile, so those will definitely be on my list for Saturday. Also a couple of non-review books that have been reading/listening to, too. They aren't short so finishing them all will not be a goal. I may have to throw in some shorter/easier books.

So, here is what I have:
Before I Wake by C.L. Taylor
Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
Broken Harbor by Tana French
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (audio)

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge


I am taking part in the BookSparks 2014 Summer Reading Challenge. I didn't think I could read all 15 books, but I will be reading one each month. 

First up for May, The One and Only by Emily Giffin. 

Very excited to be participating. There are some great books and some really great prizes, including a Kindle every Friday!

For the full Summer Reading Challenge lineup, click HERE!

Review: Joyland by Stephen King

Joyland by Stephen King
283 pages, paperback
Published June 2013, Hard Case Crime

Source: purchased

Devon Jones goes to work at an amusement park for the summer and discovers an unsolved murder and the ghost of the murdered girl in the haunted house ride. With the help of some fellow college summer workers and a mom and son staying up the beach, Devon investigates in hopes of solving the crime.

Another great King book. Loved the mystery and the thrown in creepy supernatural stuff- just enough to remind you it's a Stephen King story. 

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bad Karma in the Big Easy by DJ Donaldson

Best-Selling Author Serves Up Creole And Crime With
Bad Karma In The Big Easy! 

Astor + Blue Editions is proud to present a heart-pounding new thriller by D.J. Donaldson, Bad Karma in The Big Easy! Available at all major book retailers (ISBN: paperback 979-1-938231-32-2, ePUB 978-1-938231-30-8, ePDF 978-1-938231-31-5; Mystery, Thriller; paperback $12.99, ebook $5.99).

Best-selling mystery author D.J. Donaldson (New Orleans RequiemLouisiana Fever) invites readers back to the Bayou with his latest New Orleans adventure Bad Karma in the Big Easy.Plump and proud medical examiner Andy Broussard reunites with gorgeous psychologist Kit Franklyn as they face off with their most gruesome foe yet.

A killer lurks in The Big Easy, his victims found among the many bodies left in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Katrina. But with the city’s records destroyed, and the police force in complete disarray, Broussard must take matters into his own hands. Soon, he and his courageous sidekick, Kit, find themselves on a dangerous and labyrinthine journey through the storm-ravaged underbelly of the ever-mysterious and intensely seductive city of New Orleans; leading them to a predatory evil the likes of which they’ve never encountered.

Written in his uniquely brusque style, Donaldson’s Bad Karmacombines hard-hitting, action-packed prose with a folksy, sweetly Southern charm. Add Donaldson’s brilliant first-hand knowledge of forensics and the sultry flavor of New Orleans, and the result is a first class forensic procedural within an irresistibly delectable mystery that will leave fans hungry for more.


Don is a retired professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology.  His entire academic career was spent at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where he published dozens of papers on wound healing and taught microscopic anatomy to over 5,000 medical and dental students.  He is also the author of seven published forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his wife and two West Highland Terriers.  In the spring of most years he simply cannot stop buying new flowers and other plants for the couple’s backyard garden.


“D.J. Donaldson is superb at spinning medical fact into gripping suspense.  With his in-depth knowledge of science and medicine, he is one of very few authors who can write with convincing authority.”
– Tess Gerritsen, NY Times best-selling author of the Rizzoli & Isles novels
"With each book, Donaldson peels away a few more layers of these characters and we find ourselves loving the involvement."
“Donaldson has established himself as a master of the Gothic mystery.”


"Delivers...genuinely heart-stopping suspense."
"Broussard tracks the virus…with a winning combination of common sense and epidemiologic legerdemain."
"This series has carved a solid place for itself.  Broussard makes a terrific counterpoint to the Dave Robicheaux ragin' Cajun school of mystery heroes."
"A dazzling tour de force...sheer pulse-pounding reading excitement."
 "The autopsies are detailed enough to make Patricia Cornwell fans move farther south for their forensic fixes...splendidly eccentric local denizens, authentic New Orleans and bayou backgrounds...a very suspenseful tale.”
"Keep(s) the reader on the edge of his chair and likely to finish in one sitting."


“Lots of Louisiana color, pinpoint plotting and two highly likable characters…smart, convincing solution.”
– PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)
“An…accomplished forensic mystery.  His New Orleans is worth the trip.”
“The tension will keep even the most reluctant young adult readers turning the pages…”


"Action-packed, cleverly plotted topnotch thriller. Another fine entry in a consistently outstanding series. "
"With each book, Donaldson peels away a few more layers of these characters and we find ourselves loving the involvement."
"The pace is pell-mell."
"Exciting and…realistic. Donaldson...starts his action early and sustains it until the final pages."
"A roller-coaster ride…Thoroughly enjoyable."
"The latest outing of a fine series which never disappoints."


(Portly & Proud) Andy Broussard Mysteries

All titles are available for $.99 on Amazon right now!


They reached the store’s kicked-in front door a few seconds later. Flashlight on, Broussard went in first, Kit following closely.

Inside the store, they played their flashlight beams around the dank interior. At first they saw nothing but mud-caked floorboards and walls pockmarked with starbursts of mold, then Kit’s light picked up a chain hanging from the ceiling. Following it up, she saw it was attached to a large screw eye. Walking her beam back down the rope, she discovered a large metal hook on the other end. By now, Broussard was looking at it, too.

“What do you suppose that was used for?” Kit said.

“Hangin’ somethin’.”


But Broussard had already turned away to see what else might be found. His light located some twisted chrome rods and a pair of loose wheels that together, were probably once a rolling wardrobe trolley. It didn’t take much detective work to arrive at that conclusion because the chrome wreckage was lying on a clot of muddy clothing. With Kit supplementing his light with hers, Broussard walked over to the clothes, knelt, and began pulling at the matted, muddy mess to see what kind of clothes they were.

The first piece to come free was apparently a dress. He reached down and worked another edge free.

A much brighter light than either of the ones they carried suddenly blasted them from the doorway. They both turned to see who was there.

“Look,” a mocking voice said. “Looters. I don’t think there’s a lower form of humanity than people who would take advantage of a catastrophe for personal gain. We should instruct them and set them on a better path.”

“The woman’s a major babe,” a second voice said.

With the light shining in her eyes, it was hard to see through it, but Kit thought there were only two of them.

Were they carrying guns? She couldn’t tell. If she reached for hers and pointed it at them, the natural response would be for them to start shooting. If she was going to produce the Ladysmith, better to just start blasting away with it. But what if they weren’t armed? And maybe they’re just kids. Could she live with killing an unarmed kid? Damn it.

The two moved inside. The one with the light shifted it onto Broussard. “What are you dressed up for old man, Halloween?” the second voice said. “Couldn’t you afford a real tie?”  

“I’m the medical examiner,” Broussard said. “I do a lot of my work bendin’ over examinin’ the dead. I found early in my career that a long tie gets in the way. Kind of like what you’re doin’ right now.”
With the light out of her face, Kit played her own light over the two so she could see their hands.

“Ohhh, get him,” the second thug said. 

“He ain’t scared. But you oughtta be old man.”

The thug slipped his hand into his pocket and brought out an object. There was a snicking sound and Kit’s light caught the glint of a knife blade. She saw no guns.

Before she could reach for the Ladysmith, she was grabbed in a bear hug from behind, pinning her arms. Her flashlight clattered to the floor. 
Instinctively, she threw her head back, hoping to drive her skull into her captor’s face, but he must have been expecting that because he moved his head to the side.

“Your hair smells great,” he said breathing into her ear. “I’ll bet your pussy smells even better.”

His breath curled around to the front of her face and went into her nose. Though the odor in the store was bad, his breath was worse. One of his hands slid down between her legs and his fingers began probing.

She stamped on his right foot as hard as she could. But her soft deck shoes didn’t have any effect. She drove her left foot back into his kneecap. That didn’t accomplish anything either. Running out of options, she leaned into him and drove herself backward. He gave ground and they began to move, slowly at first, then faster as she continued to dig in. They hit the back wall a moment later with a thud. She heard the air rush out of him, but he didn’t loosen his hold.

The guy with the knife advanced on Broussard.

“He likes unusual ties,” the guy with the light said. “Cut his throat and pull his tongue through the opening. See how that suits him.”

Kit watched with horror. They were both in trouble, but it was Broussard she was worried about. They were going to kill him and she couldn’t do anything about it. If she could just get free for a second... She struggled in the grip of the geek holding her, but he was too strong.

Broussard shoved his flashlight into his back pocket. Fists raised, he edged forward in a crouch to meet the guy with the knife. The thug moved in closer, his hands making circling motions, trying to confuse Broussard about the direction the attack would come. He lunged.

With surprising quickness, Broussard knocked the knife hand to the side with his left hand. He took a step forward and brought his right fist around in a looping motion that caught the thug hard on the side of the head. Stunned, the thug staggered sideways, turned, and fell on his ass. But he didn’t drop the knife.

“I could be wrong, but I think you missed him, Chato,” the guy with the light said. 
“Try again.”

Chato got awkwardly to his feet. Grinding his teeth and growling, he charged again. This time he swung the knife from Broussard’s left to his right in a huge underhand slicing motion. Broussard leaned back so the knife barely missed his face. He grabbed the thug’s arm and used the momentum of the guy’s charge to spin him around. Broussard then sent him sprawling onto the floor with a kick in the glutes.

The guy with the light played the beam over his embarrassed lackey, then turned it back onto Broussard. “You’re not an easy mark, I’ll say that for you, old man. And I’ve enjoyed your performance. But now it’s time you were dead…”  

Review: The Medici Boy by Jon L'Heureux

The Medici Boy by Jon L'Heureux
346 pages, Hardcover
Astor + Blue Productions, April 2014

Source: Provided by publisher for review

This has been quite the entertaining read.  It follows Luca from the dying house, to a monastery and into the bottega of Donatello. We get to see into the complicated, artistic lives of the mastersculpter, models, his assistants and patrons. Jealousy, money and dangerous relationships make for lots of intrigue and entertainment. 

I enjoyed the setting immensely. Fifteenth century Florence is brought to life by L'HEUREUX. You can almost smell the Arno and the blood of the executed, and feel the heat of the summer. I loved reading about the making of these pieces of art that I saw in Florence on my visit to the city in 2008. 

A great read for anyone interested in Renaissance art and artists. 


Barnes & Noble:


the book’s free reader’s guide (great for book clubs):

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
256 pages, Hardcover
Delacorte Press, April 2014

Source: NetGalley
I really didn't know what to expect with this one. It was written by Ann Brasheres who wrote the ever popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. It was a totally different type of story. It reminded me more of the Terminator actually, without the scary Terminator that is. 
Prenna and her community have time traveled from a future where climate change and disease has desolated the population. She thinks they are coming back to change things for the better but is surprised to learn from a mysterious stranger that that might be the last thing they are planning on doing.  With the help of Ethan, a "time native" she meets in school, she sets out to try and change the future herself. 

I enjoyed the story but wasn't surprised by the twists. I figured out a lot of them ahead of time but that didn't keep me from reading and enjoying. It was a good thriller mixed with a bit of romance. I believe kids really will love this and hope for more books about Prenna and Ethan.

For more info about the author and her other books visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Blast and GIVEAWAY: The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and author Carol M. Cram are excited to announce The Towers of Tuscany Book Blast! Join us from April 7-13 as The Towers of Tuscany is featured around the blogosphere, along with a chance to win one of three copies of this amazing new novel! Called “a beautifully crafted masterpiece of historical fiction“, “lush”, and “page-turning” Cram’s debut novel will appeal to readers who enjoy a strong female lead who, against great odds, dares to follow a dream. The Towers of Tuscany includes a Reader’s Guide making it a perfect Book Club pick! In honor of the Book Blast we are giving away three copies to three lucky readers, see below to enter.

About the book
The Towers of TuscanyPublication Date: January 23, 2014
New Arcadia Publishing
Formats: Paperback, Ebook
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter’s workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia’s desire for freedom from her father’s workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.
In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion—both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.
The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe’s most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes.
The Towers of Tuscany

Praise for The Towers of Tuscany

“The Towers of Tuscany is a delightful escape to the Siena we all love. Carol Cram has crafted a delicious story about a strong woman torn between her secret past, her love of painting and the forbidden charms of her rich patron. Hard to resist and highly recommended!” – Anne Fortier, Author of The Lost Sisterhood and the New York Times bestseller, Juliet
“Carol Cram’s lush descriptions and intriguing characters bring this dramatic tale of medieval Tuscany to life. If you love Italian art, a feisty heroine, and a page-turning plot, you will adore this novel.” – Deborah Swift, Author of A Divided Inheritance
“The Towers of Tuscany has all the elements of a wonderful historical novel―a talented, frustrated heroine, a treacherous, feckless husband, and a promise to a dying, much loved father who orders the heroine on a dangerous mission. Carol is a first rate storyteller. The research is well done. Every chapter displays a fine knowledge of painting technique of the 14th century, and customs and mores of the age. The details of dress, fabric, food, are flawless. The clever dialogue and fast pace make the novel zing along.” – Roberta Rich, Author of The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife
“Sofia will set your heart racing as she attempts to find what we all, in our own ways, strive to seek: love, resolution, and artistic freedom. The legacy of this story will leave you yearning for more.” – Cathleen With, award-winning author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison

Buy the Book

About the Author

Carol Cram

Carol M. Cram has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist.
She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.

Author Links

Book Blast Schedule


To enter to win one of 3 copies of The Towers of Tuscany please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on April 14th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The London Eye: London with the 3 yo

And the weekend continued. 

Sunday we went back to the London Eye since it closed on us Saturday. I have to say, I am so glad it didn't breakdown while we were on it. Can you imagine? Trapped in a little compartment with a 3 yo way up high and no way to get out. What if she would have had to go bathroom? Yeah, happy we were still in line. 

No need to worry. We had a very uneventful ride. The little girl got a little antsy, but she liked it. For Easter, they had large colorful bunnies all over Jubilee Gardens. The little girl entertained herself by searching the landscape for all of them. 

She had spotted the playground there so we let her play there for a bit after getting off the London Eye. Nice little place for me to have a sit down while the hubby and little girl played. 

From here we walked across the Thames to Covent Garden area to get lunch. Home Slice was this little pizza place down a small alley way. Josh Brolin was there, as well, so I guess we chose well. ;)

We got seated right away and had a really good thin crust pizza. Half margharita and half lamb shoulder and goat cheese. Yum! 

Shorter day today, and yet the little girl crashed in the stroller on the walk back to the flat after our lunch. The hubby went for a bike ride while we snoozed. 

Westminster: London with the 3 year old

We had a lovely weekend full of sight seeing and lots of walking. We walked across Blackfriars bridge both Saturday and Sunday to Southbank, then all the way round to Westminster bridge and the London Eye along the Queen's Walk. Then all the way back to Farringdon. 

Yes, my feet hurt. Today I am sitting on the couch. It's raining. Good excuse to stay in. 

Saturday's plan was to ride the London Eye then see the Westminster sites. The large wheel had other plans. It stopped working as we neared the front of the line. They closed it down so we left. The little girl was sad but we promised to come back. 

We headed across the bridge with the very large crowds of people and saw Big Ben, or as the little girl calls it, "Big Jack". No clue why. We then walked past Westminster Abbey. 

Buckingham palace was next on our list. Instead of walking along the Mall, we strolled through St. James park. Beautiful day for it. Lots of flowers, green grass and ducks. The little girl loved running around here. 

A quick walk by the palace and into Green park where the little girl played and ran around again. We couldn't go in, so of course she wasn't too interested. 

On our walk to lunch, we passed Bond St and Saville Row. Lots of fancy, expensive shops. Very posh. Saw a Lamberghini or two. 

We were going to eat at Honest burger but the wait was a little longer than we could handle so went next door to Wahaca. Mexican food. It wasn't bad. We were pleasantly surprised. 

We collapsed on the couch back in our rented flat after walking back. I grabbed a glass of wine and we watched Saturday Night Takeaway before all going to bed. 

I think I will save Sunday for a separate post. 


Friday, April 4, 2014

The Tower of London: London with the Three Year Old, cont.

I wasn't sure if the little girl would enjoy the Tower of London or not after chatting with the hubby's coworker. His girls were not too interested in it and were a little scared actually. 

We had no need to worry. The little girl was very excited about seeing the tower, the Beefeaters, the Crown Jewels and the ravens. She knew all about these things before going so she was well prepared. 

We went in the afternoon when the hubby was free to join us. That was great. So much easier for him to carry her when needed. Especially on the windy stairs in the keep when pushy teens want to rush by a slow three year old. 

There was a new cafe within the walls that made for a nice snack and coffee break. It was a good thing we did, too, since we didn't eat until almost 8! Dinner was at an Indian restaurant in Whitechapel. Not where we had planned on going but still good. 

As you can imagine, I really wanted to walk around and find the sites where one of the most notorious serial killer haunted the streets and alleys. I have always been fascinated with Jack the Ripper, but didn't think it appropriate with a 3 and 2 year old. Dinner was with another coworker and his family here from India. 

Jack the Ripper walking tour will just have to wait for my next trip minus the little girl. 

Vacation books: Faithful Place by Tana French, The Medici Boy by John l'Heureux

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
384 pages, Hardcover
Atria Books, April 2014

Source: Provided by publisher/NetGalley in exchange for review

Jaq is back! This time a little more open to the possibility that she has lived past lives. She is dealing with a great loss but is determined to finish the work of her brother. In a strange home with strange people and only one friend to depend on, Jaq delves into the past and the power of perfume once again. 

Absolutely loved this new chapter in Rose's Reincarnationist series. Jaq seems stronger and more open to what she doesn't understand. The history of Rene, the perfumer of Catherine of Aragon, was engrossing and Griffin is back on the scene. Rene's story and his pursuit for the "elixir of life" using the last breaths of the dying was my favorite part of the book. It is a time period I am really interested in so it made for a very enjoyable read. 

For more information on the book and author visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.