Monday, May 27, 2013

The Summer He Came Home- first in a new series by Juliana Stone

Falling asleep in a different bed every night has made it easy for Cain Black to forget his past. It’s been ten years since he packed his guitar and left Crystal Lake to chase his dreams. Now tragedy has forced him home again. And though Cain relishes the freedom of the road, one stolen moment with Maggie O’Rourke makes him wonder if he’s missing out on something bigger than fame.
For Maggie—single mother and newly settled in Crystal Lake—love is a luxury she just can’t afford. Sure, she appreciates the tall, dark and handsome looks of prodigal son Cain Black. But how long can she expect the notorious hellion to stay?
The last thing either of them wants is something complicated. But sometimes love has its own plans. ( synopsis from

Juliana Stones’ series, the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, starts off with a winner. The Summer He Came Home tells the story of Cain Black, a rock star who has come home to attend the funeral of his childhood friend.  His marriage has broken up and he has just found out his band mate was screwing his ex-wife.  After an on-stage fight, Cain finds out about his friend’s death and heads home.  Suffice it to say, he is not at his charming best when he arrives.  Then he sees Maggie O’Rourke and his life takes a turn for the better.
Maggie O’Rourke is a newcomer in town who works as a cleaning lady.  She supports herself and her young son and pretty much keeps to herself. When she meets Cain, she is attracted but wary. She is keeping a secret about her child’s father and has no interest in complicating her life.
Although the story is a romantic classic, bad boy meets downtrodden woman with a secret, it feels fresh in this book.  There are several plots going on at once, some with Cain, some with Maggie, and others with the secondary characters.  The romantic tension between the two main characters is pretty hot and Maggie fights it pretty hard.  I liked that she put her son first before finally letting herself get involved.  I also liked the fact that Cain kept his grouchy, “I’m an island” persona for most of the book.  It just made the ending so much more satisfying!
There were plenty of hints of the stories that will work into the later books and that just made the anticipation that much more.
Next in the series:

Publication date October 1, 2013

The Biscuit Witch by Deborah Smith

Biscuit witches, Mama called them. She’d heard the term as a girl. She’d inherited that talent. My mother could cast spells on total strangers simply by setting a plate of her biscuits in front of them.–Tal MacBride
Welcome back to the Crossroads Cove where new loves, old feuds, and poignant mysteries will challenge siblings Tal, Gabby, and Gus MacBride to fight for the home they lost and to discover just how important their family once was, and still is, to the proud people of the Appalachian highlands.
Tallulah MacBride hasn’t been back to North Carolina since their parents’ tragic deaths, twenty years ago. But now, Tal heads to cousin Delta Whittlespoon’s famous Crossroads Café in the mountains above Asheville, hoping to find a safe hiding place for her young daughter, Eve.
What she finds is Cousin Delta gone, the café in a biscuit crisis, and a Scotsman, who refuses to believe she’s passing through instead of "running from.” He believes she needs a knight in shining flannel.
When a pair of sinister private eyes show up, Tal’s troubles are just beginning.
For Tal’s brother and sister—Gabby, the Pickle Queen, and Gus, the Kitchen Charmer—the next part of the journey will lead down forgotten roads and into beautiful but haunted legacies.( synopsis from BelleBridge

I have been a huge fan of Deborah Smith’s books for years. Her newest book, The Biscuit Witch, takes place in the same small town as one of her previous books.   It’s been about six years since her last book and I was so excited to find out that she is writing a  new series of three novellas about the MacBride siblings. 
In this first book, Tal MacBride and her daughter Eve make their way to the small town where her fellow biscuit witch and cousin Delia owns the Crossroads Café. On the run from her ex-lover and trumped up legal issues, she doesn’t plan to stay in town but merely to make a short visit before moving on.  When the first encounter she has in town is with a bear trying to eat cupcakes out of her back seat and lick frosting off her knees, she has her first inkling that things aren’t going to go as planned.  Tal is saved by local veterinarian Doug Firth, a few hundred sheep, a goat named Teasel and two gay women who run a shelter/farm for abused women.
While in Asheville, Tal finds herself drawn to the easy going Doug and becomes part of the fabric of the town. She discovers that the town holds the key to her future and the answers to some big questions about her family’s past.
I loved this book.  The romance between Tal and Doug is sweet and unfolds perfectly. There are quirky town folk who are part of the healing that happens for both Tal and Doug. There are parts of the book that will just make you laugh out loud (I will never look at fondant in the same way again) and parts where you just feel like you would love to live in Asheville and be part of the community.
Since this is the first book in a trilogy, it sets up the next book by ending with a mini cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the book to come out!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman- LOVED this book!

“My little brother was so wonderstruck by the world around him that never once did I hear him cry. He’d sit in that old buggy with his eyes wide and his ears pricked sharp as a deer’s. It seemed to me that nature spoke to him more plainly than any human voice … as if the wind moving through the trees and the subtle change in a blackbird’s song told him the truth of things.”

Each time Teddi Overman leaves her antiques shop in Charleston, South Carolina and visits the Kentucky farm of her youth, she’s drawn to the mysterious beauty of Red River Gorge where her brother Josh went missing. Though his absence remains unimaginable, Teddi builds a life as unexpected and quirky as the customers who frequent her shop. As she comes to terms with the events that shattered her family and finds love in the most surprising way, Teddi must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

In Looking for Me, bestselling author Beth Hoffman brings forth an evocative, multilayered story that moves between the charms of Charleston and Kentucky’s woodlands while exposing the fragile wounds and strengths of a woman who comes to understand the words once written in a simple note and the remarkable boy who penned them. ( synopsis from

This is such a good book.   When I started reading it, I couldn’t stop, and I read it cover to cover until late in the AM. Teddi Overman is a woman who owns and operates an antiques business. Ever since she was a child in Kentucky, she has been drawn to old things and the inherent beauty within them. She has a complicated relationship with her mother, an embittered widow. She also had or maybe still has a younger brother who disappeared many years ago. In her heart, Teddi feels that Josh is still alive even though common sense would say otherwise.   Josh was a sensitive young man who was intensely connected to the wildlife near their home, especially birds. An episode with an abused dog is the catalyst for Josh’s disappearance.
The love that Teddi has for older things is integral to the story and how she can see the most beat up piece of furniture and find the beauty in it.  Her mother always wanted her to do something more practical and has never even visited her home or shop in Charleston. Fortunately, she has a good relationship with her grandmother who lives in a facility and who gives her the emotional support she needs.   
The other characters in the book are well developed and add color to the story. Reading about how Teddi developed her business and met her employees was interesting and gave the reader more of Teddi’s history. Her friend Olivia is a book restorer and is obsessed with old books much like Teddi is with her antiques.  Teddi has a persistent shoplifting customer who indirectly leads to Teddi finding romance in her life. 
What was interesting to me was the fact that Teddi was able to see the value in older things, but was so blind when it came to her mother. It isn’t until it’s too late that Teddi discovers that there was so much more to her mother’s life the Teddi never knew about and that shaped who her mother was.  Like Teddi’s beloved antiques, her mother had many layers that covered the person within, presenting an old worn out appearance that Teddi couldn’t see behind. Teddi does resolve her issues with her mother in a way that is satisfying but sad at the same time. The mystery of her brother’s disappearance is also resolved on some level.  When the book ended, I wanted more. I wasn’t ready to stop reading. I look forward to reading a future book by this talented author.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I've been a bad blogger!

In the course of raising money to expand our library, reading as much as I can and getting ready for my daughter's wedding, I have neglected this blog for quite a while.  Well, things are settling down, I am still doing all of the above, but I have been trying to carve out the time to write reviews or comments about the books that I really enjoy reading.

I think it is so important to spread the word about authors we enjoy.  I follow quite a few of my favorites on Facebook and I am  getting a picture of how much effort goes into writing, editing and getting their books out to the public.  I see on FB that they have re-writes and publisher meetings, cover decisions and so much work that has to be done before we readers get the book. 

So many times I have read a book and really enjoyed it.  I usually go into the library and tell other people about it and add it to the order list if it isn't already there. The nice thing about blogging is that  I can share my opinion with more people.  I usually use the same review I have given to Amazon, B&N, Goodreads  and Librarything.  I am always thrilled when I get feedback that my review was helpful to someone or an author liked my review. I enjoy that as much as when a patron tells me that they really enjoyed a book I recommended.

If you are reading this blog and you are reading a book you enjoy, please go to one of online sites and give it 4-5 stars and maybe even a line or three about why you liked the book. By doing so, you help make sure that the author you enjoyed can get future books published.  I am going to devote time every week to do the same so I can continue to escape into my favorite fictional places .

Undone by Sara Humphreys (Amoveo # 4)

Party girl Marianna Coltari is an unmated pureblood Amoveo who wants nothing to do with the ongoing war that took her father’s life and continues to consume her brother Dante’s. But when she is targeted by one of the clans, she has little choice but to run and hide in a cabin with Pete Castro, a retired cop from her brother’s security firm. There, Pete and Marianna explore an intensifying attraction between them until danger is at the door and there’s no escape. (synopsis from

The further Ms. Humphreys gets into this series, the more interesting it becomes. In this book, purebred Amoveo Marianna discovers that human Pete is her mate and worries about how that will complicate both their lives. The chemistry between them is hot! The war between the Purists and the more inclusive Amoveo, like Marianna and her brother, really ratchets up in this book. The Purists take their nastiness to a whole new level and in a way that ensnares Marianna. Both Pete and Marianna have some surprises in their road to mating and there is an game changing twist in the end. There are also enough loose ends to make the reader anxious for the next book to see what happens.