Friday, June 29, 2012

Here (On the Otherside, Book #1)

"Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from." - Goodreads Blurb

*May Contain Spoilers*

Denise Grover Swank really outdoes herself with this spectacular novel, Here. It was absolutely amazing! I literally couldn't put it down. Until I finished it, that is. 

Julia Phillips is character that readers will really connect with. She's an average girl who lost her best friend in a car accident and can't forgive herself. Julia's pain and feelings of guilt are understandable, while Swank makes them completely believable. Not to mention she's a typical teenager (a part of life everyone suffers through). She's sarcastic, witty, scared, hopeful, unable to hold her tongue, and down right tough. Swank's writing style takes the reader into Julia's world, without even a backward glance. 

Then, the plot thickens and things really heat up... enter more cliches here for added enjoyment, and the reader is swept away with Julia to an alternate world where history doesn't coincide with any textbook. The feelings that Julia has throughout the novel make the reader kin to her. And Swank does an outstanding job at keeping everything in line. With a plot that involves an alternate reality, it could easily become incredibly confusing, but Swank doesn't allow that to happen. 

And just when you think everything's going to end up just peachy... the book ends, leaving all readers gasping, fighting for breath, and searching voraciously for the next installment.

on Amazon
rating: 4/5 cups

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Glamorous Illusions

It’s the summer of 1913 and Cora Kensington’s life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, but someone dear to Cora is failing as well.

In one fateful afternoon, a stranger comes to call, and Cora discovers a terrible secret about her past…a secret that will radically change her future.

Cora is invited to take the “Grand Tour” of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person’s eduction, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France, with kin she’s never known, Cora encounters the blessings of a family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning… -Goodreads Blurb

*May Contain Spoilers*

Lisa T. Bergren explores the idea of discovering one's identity in her novel, Glamorous Illusions. The main character, Cora, is a farm raised girl who doesn't mind getting her hands dirty. A character who is very easy to like. The connection that Bergren creates between Cora and the reader is one of strength, built with hope and faith for Cora's future. 

Bergren does a great job in showing Cora's personality and determination, which will allow readers to immediately respect Cora. Especially when she faces the hardships of discovering her birth right. 

The plot, I must say, is what intrigued me the least. It was a slow moving story line. A train chugging along with only enough coal to barely keep it going. At times, the plot seemed to speed up a little causing me to read faster, but, sadly it only fell further behind. 

I'm determined to look into the series that this novel is a part of to see if Cora's story continues. It disappointed me that the novel ends in the middle of their trip, perhaps actually closer to the beginning. I was hoping that the entire tour of Europe would be included in the book, but it was not. 

I also felt a little cheated at the end. Don't get me wrong, I was proud of Cora for stepping into the shoes she was forced to don. But what about Pierre and Will? These two completely different gentlemen were the main men who were pursuing Cora. However, at the end, Bergren gives no hint as to what will transpire between Cora and either one of them. 

Hopefully, the series will continue with Cora's journey so that all readers will be able to know the full story of our dear Miss Diehl Kensington. 

on Amazon
rating: 3/5 cups

WWW-Wednesday (8)

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?

• What did you recently finish reading?

• What do you think you’ll read next?

01. Currently Reading:
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren. When Cora finds out that her Papa isn't her real father, her life is thrown into a chaotic upheaval. Especially when her newly found father demands that she take a tour of Europe with her half-siblings, who don't exactly play nice. So far it's been a little slow in the excitement department, but it's getting better. :)

02. Recently Finished:
Just The Way You Are by Barbara Freethy. This book stole my heart! A man torn between two sisters, one he used to love and one he married. On the last page I thought about reading it again right away, but then decided that I'll wait for a rainy day.

03. Reading Next:
Here (On the Other Side) by Denise Grover Swank is next in my TBR list. The main character accidentally kills her best friend and wakes up with memories that never happened, where she died instead. This novel sounds spooky and mysterious. Two qualities I love in a book. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (16)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Glamorous Illusions (p.136)
        - Lisa T. Bergren

I was making my way to a chair on the edge of the parquet floor in the sprawling, grand room, which was modeled after Versailles, when Will took my hand. "May I have the first dance, Cora?"

"I, uh...I am rather new to dancing," I said.

Should be Reading @ Wordpress

Monday, June 25, 2012

Release of The Turned

My novel, The Turned, is officially up on Amazon for purchase. I'm getting great feedback so far and am thoroughly pleased that readers are enjoying it! I've heard there were a few typos, which I'm working on getting fixed.

The novel is only $2.99 and I'm currently working on a few promotions that will allow readers to download it for free! :D Below is a little blurb about the novel, but don't worry, no spoilers! I want you to be as surprised as the main characters when things really heat up below the ocean...

"Thomas Winters, world-renowned marine biologist, disappeared on a life changing expedition that he told no one about. With Thomas presumed dead, the Winters family struggled to go on living.

Ten years later, his daughter, Lana, receives a birthday present in the mail -- her father's lost logbook. After years of searching and finding nothing, could this logbook be the key to her father's whereabouts?

Determined to rescue her father, Lana attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding his disappearance. Where it will lead her, Lana will never expect.

All she knows is that her father is alive, and she won't stop until she finds him. "

Just the Way You Are

"A baby brought them together -- and even though Alli has always loved her strong, sexy husband Sam and the life they've built together, she has decided to set him free to follow his youthful dreams. It is no longer enough for her to be wife and lover when she knows she holds so little of his heart.

Sam has always dreamed of a life away from the close-knit world of Tucker's Landing, but marriage and fatherhood ended all that. Now Sam is torn between what was and what was meant to be. He must decide if it's time to rekindle the dreams of the past ... or accept Alli, and her love, just the way she is.

Don't miss this heartwrenching tale of a man torn between two sisters, the one he loved, the one he married ..."

*May Contain Spoilers*

Barbara Freethy's novel, Just the Way You Are, stole my heart and my full box of tissues. It was an absolute great vacation read and I couldn't put it down, even with the beach calling my name. Freethy's writing style had me laughing, crying, sniffling, smiling, and frowning. My heart was at odds with itself because I wasn't sure which sister I wanted to win Sam. (Who is an exceptionally great character!) 

He's the kind of guy who puts others needs before his own. He accepts responsibility, doesn't look to change his past, and loves his daughter with all that he is. It was refreshing how Sam didn't have the answers for Tessa and Alli. He acted on his own feelings but still allowed the sisters to figure out how they really felt without his input. 

After halfway through I knew how I wanted the story to end, but sometimes they don't go the way you imagine, which forced me to keep reading. Tricky author... But, goodness, was it worth it? YES! 

Readers can connect with either of the sisters and this gives the reader a chance to root for the sister they want to win. And what exactly they want to win. Because, in the middle, what each sister should get and what she wants become two different things. 

Alli is the younger sister, a great mom who never gives up, always remains calm, handles emergencies well, and is head over heels in love with her husband. But she's taking the high road and giving Sam a divorce that she thinks he wants. Mainly because, Tessa (older sister who seems to have it all) has always been between them. At least, Alli thinks so. And Sam doesn't exactly contradict her. Afterall, Sam and Tessa were high school sweet hearts. 

But the past is the past. It can't be changed. And the present doesn't abide by the same rules. So it's up to Alli, Sam, and Tessa to realize what they want and go after it. Even if it does bring about an oyster being chucked at someone's head. 

on Amazon
rating: 5/5 cups

The Last Good Man

"Gorgeous, famous Savannah Stephens is back, and no one in her hometown, Sunbonnet, Wyoming, really knows why. Especially not Clay Keogh, the good-hearted rancher who has loved her from afar since they were kids. Savannah's young daughter looks just like Savannah's first love: local bad boy Kole Kills Crow, Clay's half-brother.

Has Savannah come home to start a new relationship with Kole?Whatever her secrets, it's clear that she's deeply troubled and needs a shoulder to lean on. Clay is there for her, and she soon realizes that he's a very special man. But until she can bring herself to share the painful truth about her fall from stardom, the emotional distance between her and Clay may separate them forever."

*May Contain Spoilers*
Kathleen Eagle tells a love story that will last a life time in her novel, The Last Good Man. The character connection throughout the entire novel is simply amazing. Eagle describes the characters and their motives in such a way that readers couldn't not connect with them. 

Savannah was once a famous model, but now she's returned to her hometown without much to say to anyone. After fighting breast cancer and surviving, Savannah has a hard time accepting that she's alive. Savannah was face to face with death and she won, thanks to her radical decisions and no-nonsense attitude toward beating cancer. 

But now, she doesn't know how to live without being afraid of death. Eagle writes Savannah's story in such a deep and believable way that readers will completely understand why she's having such a difficult time dealing with her survival. 

The Last Good Man is a love story, but it's also more than that. It's about trying to find a reason to live, to love, and to keep going when you're surrounded with nothing but obstacles. It also focuses on how the people around you can help if only you'd let them. 

The supporting cast of characters include Savannah's daughter, Clay (childhood friend/hero), Aunt Billie, and a few others who pop in later in the novel. The supporting characters all play a role in helping Savannah find her life again. Eagle shows the reader that without help from others around you, it's easy to lose the hope and faith that life requires. 

on Amazon
rating: 4/5 cups

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The End of the World

"Accustomed to a life of cosseted seclusion at home with his parents, Valentine is suddenly faced with making his own way in the world. His new life is quickly upended, however, when he's mugged at gunpoint. Finding shelter at a mysterious inn run by the dour Mrs. Anna, he soon encounters a Bosnian woman with a hole where her stomach used to be, an American entrepreneur with a scheme to implant televisions into people's foreheads, and a Catholic priest who attempts to lure him down inside a kitchen sink. Then things start getting strange...

In this story based loosely around the state of Bardo from The Tibetan Book of the Dead - an intermediate state where the dead arrive prior to rebirth - dying is the easy part. Getting out of Bardo and returning to the land of the living is a far more perilous proposition, and unless you know what you're doing…you might never leave.

An odd, yet oddly touching tale of life, death, and the space in-between."

*May Contain Spoilers*

The End of the World by Andrew Biss is an amazing short novella that explores the life after life. It's basis from The Tibetan Book of the Dead is what drew me to this novel. I've never read anything like it before and the intrigue it created forced me to read it. 

This novella doesn't focus on character connection, but on accepting death so that the character can move on, into a new life. I was disappointed at the lack of connection with Valentine, the main character. But the story was so interesting, I'll let it slide. 

I think the best part of the novel was the interaction between Valentine and the other deceased persons at The End of the World house. Each of the characters had their own back-stories and connections with Valentine. Biss did a wonderful job at depicting the life of the characters even though they were between lives. All though, Biss did fall a little short at showing the reader Valentine's reaction to finding out he had died. I wanted more from Valentine. It seemed eerily and unbelievably easy for him to accept that he had died. 

The language Biss used for this novella was another one of the best aspects. And the dictionary feature of Kindle was definitely put to good use throughout the reading. The fresh vocabulary presented the intelligence of the author and the characters in book. 

on Amazon
rating: 2/5 cups

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spring Into Reading 2012 - Results

This reading challenge was so much fun! As you all know, this is the first one that The Coffee Pot has ever participated in. It was so good to interact with other book bloggers during this challenge, visiting other sites and seeing if they were enjoying the novels that they picked for their challenge.

The results for my book list: completed! I finished with two weeks to spare, which is impressive because George R.R. Martin's books are anything but short. I can't wait to take part in another reading challenge.

Thank you to Callapidder Days for hosting this challenge! I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it.

You can click below for the complete list of my reading challenge which also gives links to the reviews. :) Happy Summer Reading!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Haunted on Bourbon Street

Jade loves her new apartment-until a ghost joins her in the shower.

When empath Jade Calhoun moves into an apartment above a strip bar on Bourbon Street, she expects life to get interesting. What she doesn't count on is making friends with an exotic dancer, attracting a powerful spirit, and developing feelings for Kane, her sexy landlord.

Being an empath has never been easy on Jade's relationships. It's no wonder she keeps her gift a secret. But when the ghost moves from spooking Jade, to terrorizing Pyper, the dancer, it's up to Jade to use her unique ability to save her. Except she'll need Kane's help-and he's betrayed her with a secret of his own-to do it. Can she find a way to trust him and herself before Pyper is lost?

* *

Deanna Chase gives off the essence of New Orleans in her novel, Haunted on Bourbon Street, the first in the Jade Calhoun Series. 

Moving to the French Quarter from Idaho, Jade is in for more than she believed when she heard her apartment was haunted. 

As an empath, Jade is more in tune with people's emotions. She has the ability to read them, use them, and even affect them. But when a ghost shows up and won't leave her alone, she's going to need more than just her own abilities to cleanse her apartment. 

Chase writes Jade's past in a way that readers can use that to connect with her. She's had a semi-difficult life living as an outsider because of her ability. Trust issues and past relationships also mold her to be a woman who guards her heart. But, overall, I wanted her to be a stronger character. 

When Jade receives, gives, or uses emotions of other people it wears her down, exhausting her body. Often times it causes her to black out. This is understandable but it also gives Jade a weak side. It's her kryptonite. This weakness forces her to rely on other people and ultimately pushes Jade through her fears of what others will think about her when they know her ability. 

Although Jade is headstrong woman, I wanted her to be stronger in her ability than she was. 

The other characters in the novel all have their quirks. Pyper is an insomniac coffee shop owner. Kat, Jade's best friend, is a little blind in the ways of love. Kane only wants to give love and be loved in return (since he has his own secret abilities). And Ian is a ghost hunting fanatic, emphasis on the fanatic part. Chase's cast of characters all add up to a very interesting plot. I wouldn't be surprised if certain readers connect with the other characters before connecting with Jade. 

The story line itself was a little slow at times, but when readers reach the halfway point, there's no turning back. Chase's plot is unpredictable, complete with mouth falling into an "O" more than once. The honest writing style and first hand look in to the mind of Jade Calhoun has me adding the second book to my TBR pile. 

on Amazon
rating: 4/5 cups

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WWW-Wednesday (7)

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?

• What did you recently finish reading?

• What do you think you’ll read next?

01. Currently Reading:
I'm working my way through Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase. The main character is an "empath," someone who can hone in on the feelings of others and use them, with a ghost in her new apartment. I'm excited to see where Chase is taking this plot. So far, everything seems a little unpredictable. :)

02. Recently Finished:
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking was the last novel I read, or consumed rather. It was a short read (only took me about 3 and 1/2 hours) and I loved it! Ignoring the small editing mistakes, this novel was nothing short of spectacular.

03. Reading Next:
Up next for this book-a-holic is The End of the World by Andrew Biss. This book is loosely tied to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The main scheme is that after people die they go to Bardo, a place between one life and the next. And "unless you know what you're doing... you may never leave."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (15)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Haunted on Bourbon Street (Kindle Loc. 229-30)
         - Deanna Chase

Ice numbed my hands and moved up my arms, make me shiver. I pointed to a shadow, black as coal, moving across the far wall. We stood, paralyzed, while the image grew larger and moved toward us.

Hollowland (The Hollows, #1)

"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies. - Goodreads Blurb

* *

As an Amanda Hocking fan, as soon as I saw Hollowland on Amazon, I bought it without another thought. It's a rather short book and a very easy read. Three and a half hours of my time were spent devouring it completely. I couldn't stop reading and it was such an exhilarating ride through the waste lands of Zombie Conquered America. 

The main character, Remy, is, for lack of a better word, a badass. She isn't afraid to get her hands dirty or covered in greenish zombie blood goo. She's such a strong character that it isn't a surprise the other characters want to stay with her, wherever she goes. If someone's going to survive this zombie infested world - it will be Remy. 

The thing I like most is that Remy has a soft side, even if she refuses to show it. Remy acknowledges that if she lets her emotions take over then she might as well stop fighting. Throughout her journey across America to find her little brother (who is said to be in a quarantine), Remy loses a lot of people that she had started to care about. She admits that if she took the time to grieve, she'd give up. So she keeps going. 

Amanda Hocking's plot throughout this novel was incredible. Remy's quarantine is attacked by zombies and in an attempt to find her brother amidst the chaos, she escapes death. She learns that her brother was taken to another quarantine and Remy vows that she will find him. Along her way, Remy teams up with others who join her trek hoping to find somewhere safe to live. Which allows Hocking to add a sideline romance to her twisting plot. 

The only negative thing I have to say about this novel is the editing. There were more than a few places where words didn't make sense or were completely left out. But I'm trying not to hold it against the novel. It was an action packed thrill ride that consumed me. And there's a second one... 

on Amazon
rating: 4/5 cups

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chasing Darkness

The most dangerous place to hide is in the dark...

A tough special-agent with the Department of Justice, and a dedicated single mother to her orphaned nephews, Samantha Chase is unbreakable. Until two women, both from the shadows of Sam’s past, are discovered strangled. For Sam, the most unnerving detail is the eucalyptus branch tucked behind the victims’ ears—the signature of a notorious serial murder already convicted and executed for his crimes.

To detective Nick Thomas, the only link to the copycat killings is Sam herself. And when she becomes the target of threats—each one more menacing than the last—his feelings for her just might jeopardize the case. But to understand the killer’s twisted motive is to explore Sam’s past—and a crime she’s spent a lifetime trying to bury...

* *

Danielle Girard does an amazing job at bringing her readers into the thick of a crime scene. Chasing Darkness, newly republished as an e-book, investigates the motives of a copy cat killer while equally introducing Samantha Chase's life and haunted past. 

Samantha Chase's character is determined, tough, scared, vulnerable, hard, and a great cop. Her mixture of characteristics and flaws make her real to the reader. The murder cases that this novel revolves around connects readers to Samantha's past. The victims being people Chase tried to prosecute in earlier years of her career. The narrator is omniscient and gives readers exactly what the character's are thinking which allows bonds to be formed almost instantly. 

Readers will learn of Samantha's rough childhood, how she became a mom, how she handled her divorce, and what makes her the woman she is. The most amazing thing is that Girard tells the story in such a way that everyone gets a voice, even if they aren't the main characters. The narrator doesn't even need to be describing them, because the characters comment on each other. They share information with the reader without giving away the story line.  

And the story line was great. The plot wasn't predictable. Girard didn't rush through everything, which created a little downtime and places to pause, but kept the reader intrigued. It was like she allowed readers to pause so they could consider what would happen next. Only to continue reading and feel the surprise. Over and over. 

However, I'd have to recommend the in-print version, rather than the e-book version due to the few mistakes that I spotted throughout reading. 

on Amazon
rating: 3/5 cups