Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Day, Another Challenge

Last year, I participated in several challenges, unfortunately I didn't keep lists of all of the books I read in each challenge.  This year I am going to do that so I know which book I read for each one!

Since this is a romance and mystery blog, it only makes sense that I would join a romance challenge. This challenge is hosted by the Reading Romances blog and asks participants to read a variety of romance genres not a specific quantity. If you would like to join go to

Sounds like fun to me!

Friday, December 30, 2011

January is Netgalley Month Read-a-thon

One of the advantages of being a librarian, besides meeting lots of readers and having access to tons of books, is being able to be a member of Netgalley. is a site that allows librarians and bloggers to request egalleys-electronic advanced copies-of  upcoming books.  The egalley can come out up to 3 months in advance of the books actual publication date. I read the galleys on my Nook.

I love that I can read a book in advance so I can talk about it with patrons when it first comes out.  Getting the egalley also means RPL orders books that we might not have because one of us read it and loved it. It also means that I myself have bought books for my personal collection after reading it on Netgalley. There is also a bit of nyah nyah, I can read this book before you can- but only a little.......

I am going to join the read-a-thon and review as many as possible on this blog. January is going to be fun!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hidden Summit ( Virgin River # 15) by Robyn Carr

Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.
Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women…although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.
According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly! (synopsis from B&

Mira, paperback, 351 pages

Hidden Summit is Robyn Carr’s latest visit to Virgin River.  Connor Danson is in town under a false identity while he waits to testify in a murder trial.  He is the only witness to the crime and his custom carpentry business was torched in an attempt to intimidate him.  He decides to work for Haggarty Construction while in town.
Leslie Petruso has also come to Virgin River to get away from something- her ex-husband. I enjoyed the little twist Ms. Carr put in this relationship-rather than a nasty ex, Leslie has a too friendly ex.  She worked for Haggarty at a different branch and ends up in the same office as Connor.
Visiting VR is always fun. Readers of the whole series enjoy seeing what is new with familiar characters from past books.  New readers will enjoy the story of two people who think that love and life have chewed them up and spit them out. Both Connor and Leslie know that they should not get involved, but for different reasons. Reading the story, you know that this romance is going to have a major problem at some point but you root for this couple anyway. The chemistry between them is strong and they decide to throw caution to the wind and get involved. Connor’s real life will intrude on them and Leslie’s fear of betrayal will only be greater when the story comes out.  The whole situation with her wacko ex-husband doesn’t help keep things either.
Once I started this book, I couldn’t stop reading. There is a side story going with Connor’s sister and her children and you can see that it is the set up for the next book. Goody! I can’t wait!! I have read this series from the beginning and enjoy each new addition.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

Number one bestselling author Janet Evanovich teams up with award-winning author Dorien Kelly to deliver a sparkling novel of romantic suspense, small-town antics, secretive sabotage, and lots and lots of beer  Kate Appleton needs a job. Her husband has left her, she’s been fired from her position as a magazine editor, and the only place she wants to go is to her parents’ summer house, The Nutshell, in Keene’s Harbor, Michigan. Kate’s plan is to turn The Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast. Problem is, she needs cash, and the only job she can land is less than savory.
Matt Culhane wants Kate to spy on his brewery employees. Someone has been sabotaging his company, and Kate is just new enough in town that she can insert herself into Culhane’s business and snoop around for him. If Kate finds the culprit, Matt will pay her a $20,000 bonus. Needless to say, Kate is highly motivated. But several problems present themselves. Kate despises beer. No one seems to trust her. And she is falling hard for her boss.
Can these two smoke out a saboteur, save Kate’s family home, and keep a killer from closing in…all while resisting their undeniable attraction to one another? Filled with humor, heart, and loveable characters, Love in a Nutshell is delicious fun. (Synopsis from B&

St. Martin’s, Hardcover, 310 pages.

This was a nice light romance from the team of Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly. For readers used to the craziness of Ms. Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, this might seem a little tame, but it is an enjoyable read.  The two main characters are normal everyday people who find that they need help from each other to get their lives back on track. It is refreshing to read a book that is just plain fun to read.
Kate is divorced and trying to keep her family home so she can start a new life and career. Matt is focused on keeping his career successful and not interested in a relationship. He comes off as a genuinely nice guy, trying to help other business owners and not a cut throat kind of guy.  The reason why someone is trying to ruin his business is not immediately obvious. The story unfolds at an easy pace with just enough activity to keep the reader interested. Kate also seems fairly  normal, not a walking catastrophe, who finds herself attracted to her boss even though she knows it is not a good idea. There are supporting characters that are interesting but the main focus stays on Matt and Kate.
This is a great book to just sit in a comfy chair with it, drink a nice glass of wine (or hot chocolate), and spend a few hours enjoying a story that will make you feel good at the end.

Spice level- mild/moderate

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sleepwalker by Karen Robards

It’s not that Micayla Lange is afraid of the clinking she hears coming from the first floor of the empty McMansion she’s housesitting for her uncle Nicco. She’s a cop, after all. It’s just that finding out her boyfriend was cheating on her was enough drama for one night. Now she’s alone on New Year’s Eve, wearing flannel pajamas and wielding a Glock 22 as she zeroes in on the unmistakable source of the sound: Uncle Nicco’s private office.
Jason Davis steals things for a living, so unexpected developments are a natural part of the job. Getting caught red-handed by a hot, pigtail-sporting police officer in what is supposed to be a gangster’s deserted house is just one more twist in the game. Kind of like finding incriminating photos in Nicco Marino’s safe, only to discover the cop — and the security cameras — have gotten a real good look at his face.
Unfortunately for Mick, she also got a good look at the damned pictures. Her “uncle” might love her like family, but if he knows she’s seen evidence that implicates him in the murder of a city councilman, she doesn’t like her chances. Which is why she’s having a hard time reconciling her professional instincts with what she is rapidly concluding is an inescapable fact: She’s about to help a criminal get away with a suitcase full of stolen money. And she’s going with him. ( synopsis from B& N .com)

Simon& Schuster, hardcover, 370 pages

I wasn’t sure that I would like Sleepwalker because I am not a big fan of books where the main characters are on the run through the book.  Boy was I wrong about this one.  This book will keep you on your toes with suspense from beginning to end.
Micayla (Mike) Lange is a cop spending New Years at her Uncle Nicco’s house, when she wakes up after a nightmare. She is about ready to go back to sleep when she hears an odd noise.  When she goes to investigate it, she walks into a crime scene.  Jason Davis sees Mike and knows the plan has gone sour.  Over the next few minutes, Mike sees pictures that changes her life as she knows it.  Forced to make a run for it together, the two are in deep trouble with their lives in danger and not a lot of resources.  The trust issue looms large between them which isn't good when you are trying to outrun people who want to kill you.
Ms. Robards does a great job keeping the suspense level high throughout the book. The chemistry between Mike and Jason is hot but in a sense somewhat forbidden. Mike is a cop and an honest one to boot, so the reader wonders how a relationship will work between the two characters.  It is a romantic suspense book so you know that a romance will develop. I kept wondering how this was going to be resolved and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  There are twists and a big red herring before it all ends. I started the book and couldn’t stop.  A great new book from one of my favorite authors!
RPL Notes: This book will be available in the Adult New Fiction section after 12-27-11. Ms. Robards is a popular author so it is likely there will be a waiting list for this book. Other books by this author are available in the Adult fiction section.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spells and Stitches by Barbara Bretton

In the latest novel from the USA Today bestselling author, raising a baby is hard, but raising one with magical powers is even harder...
Sugar Maple, Vermont, knitting store owner Chloe Hobbs couldn't be happier about her pregnancy. But with the arrival of the town's newest resident, things are about to get a lot more magical.
Baby Laria is six pounds, eleven ounces of perfect, and Chloe and Luke are over the moon. But when they learn that Laria takes after her mom in the sorcery department, it becomes clear that their baby might have more power than even a pro like Chloe can handle... ( Synopsis from B&

This is the fourth book in the Sugar Maple series and it keeps getting better with each one. The premise of the series is that the town of Sugar Maple is populated with magical creatures of all kinds who have transplanted their village to Vermont after the Salem Witchcraft trials. Chloe Hobbs is half human and pregnant by her human lover, Luke, a policeman who has moved to the town.  She is the last in a line of Hobbs women who are the key to keeping Sugar Maple safe.
I love the varied people who live in the town and how Luke deals with them and they with him.  Chloe is a great character with her pregnancy hormones causing random disasters all around her. I would recommend reading the earlier books but the backstory is skillfully interwoven into this book and the reader is able to follow the relationships with no problem. Elspeth, the troll, is a riot, going around being a major meanie to human and "magick" folk alike. The stress of imminent child birth, meeting Luke's family, and keeping herself from wrecking things makes Chloe's story so much fun to read.  That said there are moments of suspense in the book and there lurks through the whole book portents of future trouble. The ending is big and emotional.I hope there will be more tales of the folks from Sugar Maple in the future.

RPL NOTES:  This book will be available in the Adult New Fiction section after December 26, 2011. The earlier books in the series are available in Adult Fiction.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You Dropped a Blonde on Me by Dakota Cassidy

She was the perfect party-planning, haute-to-the max trophy wife. Now Maxine Cambridge is broke, unemployable and living with her mother and teenage son in a retirement village, with her self-esteem kicked to the curb.
Until her geeky former classmate Campbell Barker returns, all grown-up- and off-the-scale smokin' hot. Campbell refuses to believe Max isn't that smart, funny girl he's crushed on since high school. The more Max tries to show him he's wrong, the more she rediscovers her long-retired mojo. Now, she's ready to throw down some payback on her ex-life and fight for what she deserves.( Synopsis from
Penguin, Trade Paperback, 357 pages
Romance level-Spicy
I recently saw a notice for a blog ARC tour featuring a book by Dakota Cassidy.  My little blog doesn’t have enough followers for me to be able to participate so I passed on entering.  However, it made me think about the first book in the series   You Dropped a Blonde on Me.  I remembered reading it and donating the book to RPL after I was finished. I decided to re-read the book and order the second book in the series so I could read that as well.
You Dropped a Blonde on Me is the story of Maxine Cambridge, the onetime trophy wife of Finley Cambridge, a major car dealer.  Maxine was once the face of the dealership commercials but found herself out when she began to show too much mileage. The final crack in the marriage was discovering that her husband was cheating on her again with his secretary who is also the sister of Maxine’s best friend.  Now, Maxine is living with her mother and desperate for a job to support herself and her son.  She runs into Campbell Barker, formerly geeky classmate, on her way out of Cluck-Cluck after she has humiliated herself in her job quest.
If this sounds familiar, it is because it is a tried and true romance novel plotline, but this book is still very enjoyable to read.  Maxine is not the typical spunky soon to be ex wife, full of fight and ready to take on the world.  She has been beaten down by years of putting her needs behind her husband’s and trying to be perfect to keep him happy.  Maxine has so little self worth that she is afraid to fight for what is rightfully hers and her son’s  because she cannot stand up to her bullying ex. Campbell remembers her as a strong, confident girl and can’t understand how she has changed so much.  Campbell has ex issues of his own but he has been able to put his bad experience behind him.  Their romance is full of misunderstandings and hurt feelings but they find that something inside to keep it alive.
There is a secondary plot involving Lenore, Max’s best friend and a mysterious man named Adam.  Lenore went through her own version of losing her trophy wife status and she is just a fearful as Max about relationships.  
It is a testament to Ms. Cassidy’s writing skills that a story that has been told before was still interesting. The characters were well drawn and you cared about their lives.  I am excited to start the second book, which I will also donate to RPL.
RPL NOTE: This book is available in Adult New Fiction.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's All Greek to Me by Katie MacAlister

Billionaire Greek playboy Iakovos Papaioannou knew his sister hired her favorite band to perform at her birthday party. He's just not sure how their six-foot tall, wild-haired, tempestuous manager has already ended up in his bed-and in his heart. Eglantine "Harry" Knight is so not his type. She's as infuriating as she is intriguing, and she's can't keep her hands off of him. But she just may be the woman who knocks him off the world's most eligible bachelor list for good...

Signet Paperback 352 pages

Katie MacAlister has a winner in her newest book. Eglantine (Harry) Knight is filling in for a friend and managing a singing group playing at a birthday party on a small Greek island. The party is being held for the sister of hunky billionaire Iakovos Papaioannou. When the two meet, sparks fly and they embark on a spicy affair.  The relationship starts early and heats up fast in this book, and I wondered how Ms. MacAlister would sustain the reader’s interest. It wasn’t a problem, I couldn’t stop reading. In the middle of the book, it seemed as though the story was going to use an old romance novel plot but it was tweaked enough to keep the story going. I really enjoyed Harry’s inability to remember “Yacky’s” real names.  All through the book she comes up with some really ingenious versions. Although there is some conflict in the book, it is handled maturely with none of the annoying misunderstandings that drive the couple apart and really frustrate the reader. The secondary characters are fleshed out enough to drive the story and create interest. I hope a future book will focus on Theo, the troublemaking younger brother in the family.
All in all, an enjoyable book that is a departure from the usual paranormal books that Ms. MacAlister writes. (I am a big fan of her Dragon series).  It would be great if this is the first in a trilogy about the Papaioannou siblings.

RPL Note: This book will be available in the Adult New Paperback section. We also have several of her paranormal novels.