Feet in the Sand and a Good Book in Hand (My Top 10 Summer Reads)

Since it is coming up on vacationing season I figured I would lay out my top 10 books I want to read while on vacation or just throughout the summer.   For me it’s probably more likely hanging out by the baby pool, but either way I have some reading to do.

I have chosen a wide variety from Non-fiction to Young Adult.  When I was coming up with my list I actually felt like it was a bit daunting especially when I have plans to do some re-reading. But, that is another post entirely.  I hope you enjoy my choices.  It wasn’t easy to narrow my long list down to just 10 but I think these are a good variety to keep me entertained while trying to avoid getting splashed.

10.  The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff-At thirty-five, Gabriella “Ella” Graham is a successful portrait artist in London. She captures the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalizes it on canvas. But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait. (see more at www.bn.com)

9.  The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins-On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. (see more at www.bn.com)

8.  Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough-Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin’s magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

7. The Irish Princess by Karen Harper-Born into a first family of Ireland, with royal ties on both sides, Elizabeth Fitzgerald-known as Gera-finds her world overturned when Henry VIII imprisons her father, the Earl of Kildare, and brutally destroys her family. Torn from the home she loves, her remaining family scattered, Gera dares not deny the refuge offered her in England’s glittering royal court. There she must navigate ever-shifting alliances even as she nurtures her secret desire for revenge. From County Kildare’s lush green fields to London’s rough-and-tumble streets and the royal court’s luxurious pageantry, The Irish Princess follows the journey of a daring woman whose will cannot be tamed, and who won’t be satisfied until she restores her family to its rightful place in Ireland.

6. Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie-Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor “Nell” Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it’s the duchess’s dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell’s heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower’s gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye…

5.  Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost (June 26, 2012)-After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: a terrifying ability to channel electricity and to see a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire..(see more at www.bn.com)

4.  Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire-Once peaceful and prosperous, the spectacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy. (see more at www.bn.com)

3.  The Watchers by John Steele-Beneath Lausanne Cathedral, in Switzerland, there is a secret buried before time began, something unknown to angels and men, until now…

Marc Rochat watches over the city at night from the belfry of the cathedral. He lives ina world of shadows and “beforetimes” and imaginary beings.
Katherine Taylor, call girl and daydreamer, is about to discover that her real-life fairy tale is too good to be true.
Jay Harper, private detective, wakes up in a crummy hotel room with no memory. When the telephone rings and he’s offered a job, he knows he has no choice but to accept.

Three lives, one purpose: save what’s left of paradise before all hell breaks loose.

2.  The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton-The novels of New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton take readers into the dangerous life of Anita Blake, animator and vampire hunter—a woman as good at raising the dead as she is at slaying the undead. Now, a creature from beyond the grave is tearing a swath of murder through St. Louis. And Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried—and some people better off dead…(see more at www.bn.com)

1.  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (July 10, 2012)-Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. 

***All overviews came from www.bn.com.

For additional information on the above books you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other Book retailer.  For more books on my To Be Read list you can go to my Goodreads list.

Review: Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione

This weekend I finished the third book in Larissa Ione’s Lords of Deliverance series.  This was a highly anticipated continuation of the Four Horseman Saga.  Reader’s were given a little taste of what would be in this book  in her previous book, Immortal Rider.  Reader’s knew coming into the book that the Aegis sent Regan to have sex with Thanatos (Death) to get pregnant.  The snippet from that book left us with Thanatos incapacitated after decimating Greenland and Regan running out of his house and into Aegis arms.

Lethal Rider begins with Regan eight months pregnant with Thanatos’s child.  While Regan is sequestered away at the  Aegis headquarters, Thanatos is being held captive by his own siblings with hell-hound saliva.  Thanatos is finally freed when a dose of the saliva is not given in a timely manner and he escapes.  The thought foremost in his mind is to find Regan and kill her.  In the meantime, Regan finds herself being pursued by freed vampires in the Aegis headquarters.  Just before things can get lethal Thanatos storms in and kidnaps Regan.  This is where the story really begins.  Regan is about two weeks till her due date and Thanatos is floored by her plans with the baby after it is born.  While Thanatos and Regan are fighting each other yet still starting anew they have to also fight Pestilence and his many assassins.  Pestilence’s goal is to kill Thanatos’s child and by doing so breaking his seal making him Death to usher in the Apocalypse.

All in all this was an excellent continuation of the Lords of Deliverance series.  Like many of these books you know they are going to get together in the end but its the getting there that is the most fun and interesting.  The perilous situations, tragic endings and new beginnings make for a fantastic read.  I can’t wait to find out how Ms. Ione will wrap up this series.  I would recommend reading the first in her series Eternal Rider before jumping to this one.  You will understand the story much better. It has also been recommend to me to read her Demonica series before this one, but I personally did not do that. I do know that you see a lot of the characters from that series in the Lords of Deliverance series.

For more information about Lethal Rider, the Lords of Deliverance Series or the Demonica series by Larissa Ione you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

Memorial Day, Picnics and Cupcakes…Oh my!!!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and Memorial Day.  Most people celebrate by going to picnics or lounging by the pool.  What did I do you may ask on an 85 degree day?  I baked cupcakes.  That’s write I said cupcakes.  Hot oven and all.  I did do the picnic thing on Sunday, but on the actual day where we are supposed to be celebrating those who have served this nation.  I was baking to bring to work on Tuesday.  I do believe I am a bit crazy for doing so, but I thought why not?  I did not bake all day though. I also got the lounging by the pool (kiddie) and some reading and writing in that day.  I have recently finished a few new books and am currently writing a piece of my own.  Keep your eyes peeled and I may be posting some of it as a series on here.  But, we shall see about that.  You will see below my tribute to our Veterans.  Pineapple Upside Down cupcakes, German Chocolate cupcakes and Red Velvet Cheesecake cupcakes.  If you are interested in any of these recipes let me know.  So far the reviews of the cupcakes have all been 4 stars.  I hope you all enjoy.  I will have my regular book review back up tomorrow.  🙂

German Chocolate Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Author Profile: Deborah Harkness

As a follow-up to my book review about A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to focus on Deborah Harkness.  I wanted to find out how a History professor dives into a Historical/Paranormal Romance book and becomes very successful on her first try.

Deborah Harkness grew up outside Philadelphia, Pa.  She has lived in New England, California, Illinois and England.  In the last 28 years she has become an accomplished scholar.  She has received degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis.  During her years of scholarly work she worked in many different and prestigious libraries.  Libraries from the Bodleian at Oxford University to the Newberry Library.  Having acquainted herself so intimately with the inner workings of these prestigious libraries she developed a love and affinity for all libraries.  She is currently teaching at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

According to Ms. Harkness, her best-selling novel A Discovery of Witches came about when she wondered “if there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?”  This simple statement catapulted her into writing her first book in the All Saints trilogy.  Her writing style is very visually descriptive. Yet, Ms. Harkness’s writing  flows in a way that makes every word important to the plot.   She can bring you into her world so very easily.  Her descriptions of the surroundings brings you into the story in a way that few authors can.    Once drawn in you don’t want to leave.  You fee the need to find out what is going to happen next.  As, a history teacher myself I enjoyed all of the historical tidbits in her book.  The historical parts do not weigh the story down, but enhance it.  Not only are they accurate but they added an element of realism that only a story grounded in truth can.  I must say that I envy her students.  If her lectures are half as good as her book I really wish she had been one of my professors in College.  I would have loved to have gotten into historical discussions with her and be able to pick her brain.

Ms. Harkness’s next book Shadow of Night, continues the story of Matthew and Diana.   Here is a small excerpt from Shadow of Night due to hit bookstores July 10th:

“My eyes adjusted to the dim light as I surveyed the room. A substantial bed, small table, narrow benches, and a single chair came into focus. Through the carved uprights supporting the bed’s canopy I spied a doorframe that connected this chamber to another room. Light spilled from it onto the coverlet and floor in a misshapen golden rectangle. The walls were covered with the linen-fold panelling that I remembered from the few times I’d visited Matthew’s home in present-day Woodstock. Elaborately herringboned bricks lined the chimney, their outlines sharpened by the fire’s flames. They looked right, too. Such ornate brickwork would appeal to the stonemason Matthew had once been. Tipping my head back, I saw the ceiling – thickly plastered, coffered into squares, with a splashy red-and-white Tudor rose picked out in gilt in each recess.

‘The roses were obligatory when the house was built,’ Matthew commented drily. ‘I can’t stand them. We’ll paint them all white at the first opportunity.’

My gaze returned to my husband and I smiled with sudden excitement. ‘I really did it. I didn’t mess it up, or take us somewhere else like Monticello, or-‘

‘No,’ he said with an answering smile, ‘you did beautifully. Welcome to Elizabethan England…'”

 After reading A Discovery of Witches and now the small excerpt from Shadow of Night I know Ms. Harkness will have yet another hit on her hands.  I recommend you running out and getting A Discovery of Witches now before Shadow of Night comes out.  That way you can be ready for Shadow of Night.  I for one already have it pre-ordered and plan on attending a signing for Shadow of Night in July.  I can’t wait and if you read Ms. Harkness’s books then you too will end up in the same boat as myself.  Waiting with twitchy fingers, anxious to get your hands on the next installment of the All Saints Trilogy. 
 
For more about Ms. Harkness you can go to her website: deborahharkness.com.   For more information about A Discovery of Witches or Shadow of Night you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer. 

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Today’s review is about a book that could easily become a modern classic, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  This has easily become one of my favorite books and I have re-read it at least 3 times.  I plan to re-read it yet again right before the next installment in the series comes out in July.

A Discovery of Witches starts with just a small unintentional slip that will propel the story.  Diana Bishop is a witch, but most importantly in her mind she is a scholar.  She has always resisted using her powers and instead has put herself full force into her scholarly work of Scientific History.  The story begins in Oxford’s library where Diana unintentionally calls an elusive book, Ashmole 782.  This one act sends the whole story into motion. By summoning this book, even unknowingly, Diana brings down upon her trouble from witches, vampires and daemons.  Diana soon meets a vampire, Matthew Clairmont,  and they begin a journey of discovery for both her and him.

Matthew is a very notable scientist himself and when he hears about the re-appearance of Ashmole 782 he realizes he must find who has summoned it.  He becomes intrigued by Diana.  As Matthew and Diana become closer Diana’s control on her powers becomes less controlled and more erratic.  Matthew and Diana discover that their connection is less and less about the book and more about their destiny.  Their story intertwines in ways that neither of them could have thought possible.  Their enemies begin to come out of nowhere and everywhere.  Matthew and Diana realize that they must work together and with their friends and family to survive the trials that the discovery of Ashmole 782 has caused.

Overall, this is a phenomenal book.  It incorporates historical facts with paranormal.  Deborah Harkness really did her research when it came to the history and the science.  She not only brings in a realism with the characters of Matthew and Diana but she is also accurate in what she is talking about.  The love story of Matthew and Diana’s is one of my favorite parts.  I enjoy the star-crossed lovers aspect of their love story.  Diana being a witch and Matthew a vampire is illegal in their society.  Ms. Harkness weaves a story that will be enduring and makes you want to re-read it again and again just to find out what you missed from before.  I can’t wait for the next installment, Shadow of Night coming out in July.  If it is written half as well as A Discovery of Witches then Ms. Harkness will have another hit on her hands.

For more information or to purchase A Discovery of Witches you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

You Know Your Popular When Your Being Spoofed

The old adage is that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  I have often noticed this is true when it comes to Movies and Television shows.  Well, I have started to see that videos of parodies of popular books are popping up all over youtube.  This was brought to my attention most recently when a friend forwarded to me the 50 Shades of Blue parody.

50 Shades of Blue is a take on the very popular and widely criticized 50 Shades of Gray.  This is quite a funny imitation of the book.  I was actually laughing out loud with this video.  I was impressed they actually got a notable actress to star in this parody.

When I was doing some research for this blog, which entailed watching funny and not so funny videos of parodies, I also came across The Hunger Pains.  This one of course is a parody of The Hunger Games.  I was quite impressed with this one also.  They really attempted to imitate the actual trailers of The Hunger Games.  Of course they take liberties to make fun of the movie/books, but overall it’s quite accurate while poking fun at the book.

I would definitely say that imitation is a sign of success and popularity.  When a video of your book pops up on youtube and it’s actually quite a good rendition with the twist of humor you have a hit.  I was quite surprised to also find that there are book parodies also, The Game of Groans and The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo to name a few.  I am going to end today’s post with just one really funny SNL skit.  It’s not really a parody of a book but of those who read it.  I hope you enjoy…I know I laughed so hard I was crying.  🙂

What book do you think would make a good parody?  And, if you were the author would you be flattered or insulted? 

Review: Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

I just recently finished a surprisingly good book, Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay.  I say surprisingly because I never really know what I am going to get when I am reading Young Adult fiction.  Sometimes like that with the Hunger Games and Twilight they are well written and mature.  Other times they can read very infantile and can’t keep the attention of an adult.  So, that brings me to Juliet Immortal.

Juliet Immortal is a new twist on the Romeo and Juliet story.  It pits Romeo and Juliet against each other.  One is trying to fight for soul mates and the other is trying to destroy them.  We begin the story with the scene from Romeo and Juliet where Romeo is climbing into Juliet’s bedroom after they are married.  In general, this is probably one of the most memorable and happiest scenes in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  The story then jumps to find Juliet in the body of a young girl who has just pulled the wheel of the car her date was driving causing them to careen into a ravine.  We soon discover that Juliet, a member of the Ambassadors of Light and Romeo, a member of the Mercenaries are on their own without any guidance. This is a first for them.   While they are trying to adapt to their new “freedom” they must also search for the soul mates they were sent to either protect or destroy.

Juliet’s goal is to protect the soul mates that are in danger of doing what her and Romeo did.  Sacrificing one another for “true love”.  Romeo’s goal is to get them to do this.  I thought this was a fantastically inventive take on the classic Romeo and Juliet tale.  Stacey Jay weaves a masterful story.  You are cheering for Juliet and want her to be happy and successful.  You are hating Romeo with all his lies and dishonesty. You question who the real soul mates are and how in the end it will all work out.   There are quite a few twists and turns that you don’t necessarily expect.  But, in the end you feel that all is right with the ending and Ms. Jay sets up her next book in the series, Romeo Redeemed.

I would recommend this book for all readers.  If you have read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (most of us had to in high school or college) then you will enjoy this twist on the classic hero and heroine.  One of which becomes quite a good villain.  I can’t wait for Romeo’s story, Romeo Redeemed.

For more information about Juliet Immortal or Romeo Redeemed go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any other book retailer.

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