2-for-1 Review: Southern Fraud

Okay, I'm putting the reviews for Absolute Liability and Death Benefits in one post, because I read them back-to-back, and they just *go together* ... Especially considering they're the first two novels in JW Becton's Southern Fraud thriller series.

Absolute Liability
JW Becton
Whiteley Press, 2011

Julia Jackson used to be a cop. Now she's an investigator with the Georgia Department of Insurance, fraud division. And she's just heard - on the radio - that she's been abducted at gunpoint. So begins an investigation unlike any Julia has worked before. Not only is she investigating two fraud cases, but she and her new partner - Mark Vincent,  ex-military investigative hunk (er, hulk) - are also doing anything possible to help find the kidnappers. As time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that Julia really was the intended target, and its all somehow connected to one of her fraud investigations. There's something that someone will do anything to keep hidden.

As I've said several times on this blog, I'm not a big fan of mysteries - and I typically figure them out crazy soon. Becton has managed a feat few pull off: I had no clue who the "bad guy" was until it was revealed. I mean, I had my suspicions, but they kept changing back and forth, I was never able to make a firm decision. The story is attention-grabbing and fast-paced, thanks in large part to skillful character development. And the obvious chemistry between Julia and Vincent. Julia's not one of those unearthly "super cops" -- she's just a good investigator with a passion for justice (which is the reason she went into law enforcement: to find her sister's rapist). She gets scared, she gets pissed off, and she has a great sense of humor. Definitely a likeable character, and I look forward to reading more of her adventures. Or misadventures.

eBook provided by my personal library.

Death Benefits
JW Becton
Whiteley Press, 2012

After a brief medical leave to recover from her last investigation, Julia Jackson is back at work - and permanently assigned Mark Vincent as her partner. There are worse fates, and she's particularly grateful for his presence as she wades into the details of her new case. A burned body found in a truck, and a near-instantaneous call to receive the death benefit check from the widow. Yup, definitely smells like insurance fraud. What nobody expected was to uncover a twisted, messy secret that would rock the little Georgia town to its core.

All the great elements of Absolute Liability are present in Death Benefits as well - Julia's a character you can relate to, and Vincent is...well...he's Vincent. You've really got to experience him for yourself. The secondary characters are one colorful group as well, my favorite being Mrs. Twilley - the little old lady whose aunt plays a surprising role in the story. I think that's one thing I really, really enjoy about these books: Becton's portrayal of small, southern town flavor. And it's definitely a flavor. I've lived in the South my whole life, and she's definitely captured the atmosphere. I had a better idea of who was responsible this time, but it was still a bit of a toss-up between which of the two was the sicko. And yes: Death Benefits is creepier than Absolute Liability. Do not read this one late at night (I actually skimmed over some of the crime scenes, because they're that well written).

Once all the loose ends are neatly tracked down and cleaned up (literally, heh heh heh), we're left with the tantalizing promise of a shift between Vincent and Julia, and Julia finally making progress towards catching her sister's rapist -- or at least finding new leads. Definitely looking forward to the next installment, and increasingly amazed that the person who made me actually kind of like Caroline Bingley can write such creeptasticly amazing mysteries...

eARC provided by author for review.


Mr Darcy Forever

Mr Darcy Forever
Victoria Connolly
Sourcebooks, 2012

In this third and final installment of Connolly's Austen Addicts series, we get the best story yet. Based loosely on the story of Sense & Sensibility, Mr Darcy Forever traces the story of two estranged sisters: Sarah and Mia. After a falling out over a very Willoughby-like man, whom they meet while staying in the Barton Cottage, the two sisters do not speak for three years. Our story picks up here, as both find themselves finally brave enough to return to Bath for the Jane Austen Festival they used to attend together. Alternating between Sarah and Mia's individual stories, Connolly manages to weave a tale of love and trust that is simply beautiful. The secret? The characters, of course.

Mia is a free-spirit who dreamed of making a name for herself on the stage. But she's hiding a secret, or several, and struggling to find herself able to trust anyone with the weight of her concerns. Sarah is still reeling from the cause-and-effects of her falling out with Mia, and suffers from OCD (which Connolly has drawn with grace and sensitivity). As each sister faces her own demons in Bath, finding surprising sources of help and strength -- maybe Austen was on to something in terms of finding heroes in Bath! -- they slowly realize that they cannot conquer this battle alone, they must be reunited. Paths cross by chance, then again by intention. Memories are shaken out, secrets bared, and hearts mended. All set against the backdrop of the pageantry and soft comedy of the Jane Austen Festival, and its colorful attendants. (We even see familiar faces from the other Austen addicts novels!) Beautifully written, I'm sad to see the end of the Austen addicts trilogy, but looking forward to exploring Connolly's other works.

eARC provided by publisher for review.


Tidewater Inn

Tidewater Inn
Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson, 2012

I'm not big on mysteries, but I enjoyed Blue Moon Promise so much I had to give Tidewater Inn a try. From the beginning, Colleen Coble had a story that caught my attention and gave me the shivers. When Libby witnesses her best friend and business partner's abduction via a webcam, while also discovering that she's just inherited a historic hotel from the father she thought long-dead, her life is suddenly spinning out of control. The dramatic and intense experiences that follow make Libby question everything: her life goals, her priorities, her faith, her heart.

Not only is Libby dealing with an intense investigation into the disappearance of her friend and associate Nicole, but she suddenly finds herself with siblings and a family she never knew existed. And they're none to happy to see her - or hear about her plans to sell the historic Tidewater Inn. Libby doesn't want to sell the old estate, but neither does she see how to keep it, a struggle that just adds more tension to an already stressful time. Through it all however, she finds unexpected help in the form of handsome Coast Guard officer Alec. Not only does he help her investigation, but he helps ease her into the slow-paced, close-knit Outer Banks community. Alec is also a pillar in the faith, and that's something Libby definitely needs as she seeks to fully understand what living for Jesus means.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Alec and Libby, their relationship evolves naturally from strained strangers to friends with the chance for more. Each has something to offer the other, and their differences complement. I also think Coble did a masterful job of weaving the various mysterious threads together - I had a hunch who was ultimately responsible for things, but when the resolutions all came together at the end? Well, I was a little surprised. That is quite an accomplishment to be sure. I'm definitely looking forward to the future novels in the Hope Beach series.

eARC provided by publisher for review.


My Stubborn Heart

My Stubborn Heart
Becky Wade
Bethany House, 2012

When Kate Donovan takes a three-month leave of absence from work, to help her grandmother restore the old family home in Redbud, Pennsylvania, all she knew was that she needed the break and was looking forward to spending time with her Gran. What she discovered was a treasure of an old home to restore and bring back to life, and a handful of colorful characters who would change her life.

Matt Jarreau is a heart-stoppingly handsome, ex-professional hockey player, with a tragic past. Pure heartthrob material. But he's not interested and not available. And Kate's not interested either - she's learned her lesson about really handsome guys. So the fact that he's the contractor for the renovation on her grandmother's home shouldn't present an issue. Except, Gran is an unstoppable matchmaker, and Kate's own stubborn heart won't let her see Matt's obvious suffering without trying to fix it. As the two forge an awkward and unlikely friendship, cemented with hard physical labor on the house, Matt struggles with himself - and Kate struggles with God. Both have to learn all over again what trust really means, and just how powerful Love is.

I enjoyed the story, though I felt like the timeline was a bit rushed at times. The bulk of the story takes place over three months, which isn't long I know, but sometimes in places I felt like novel-time was moving faster than real-time would. If that makes sense. I really liked the characters. Matt's a complex dude on the surface: all broken-heart and brick walls; but underneath is a guy that misses living - and hockey. (Even though I'm not a hockey fan, I loved the athletic slant to the story!) Kate's definitely a girl I can relate to - on so many levels. My Stubborn Heart felt real to me - and wasn't overly "preachy" (which I personally find very annoying), it was a real-to-life example of Christian fiction. Looking forward to Becky Wade's future novels!

Book provided by publisher for review.


Guest Post: Tracie Banister's Top 10 Summer Jams

Today I am handing the blog over to Tracie Banister - you may remember I reviewed her novel In Need of Therapy last week. Since it's still technically summer, and In Need of Therapy is such a summer-y read, Tracie's compiled a list of her Top 10 Summer Jams. And now I'm going to stop chattering, and let you get on to the good stuff, take it away, Tracie!

What would summer be without music? It seems like all of my best summer-related memories involve kickin' tunes - whether I was cruising around town with my friends singing along to the hits playing on the radio, hanging out at a pool party with someone's boom box on full blast, or going to outdoor concerts to rock out to my favorite bands, music played a huge part in my hot weather fun. So, what am I listening to on my iPod
this summer? A very eclectic collection of songs that goes all the way back to the '80s (That was my era, after all!) Read on to find out which tunes made the cut and why I deemed them worthy of my playlist.

1) Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield (Released 3/17/81.)

Working Class Dog was one of the few albums I ever owned (because albums were being replaced by cassettes at the time), and I had such a crush on Rick Springfield! I was too young to see Springfield in concert in his heyday, but I got my chance as an adult when my friend and I went to see him at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in the summer of '03. He put on an amazing show and despite the mosquitoes and broiling temps, I really enjoyed reverting to my teenybopper self for one night!

2) Every Breath You Take - The Police (Released 5/20/83.)
This was the first summer I could drive, and my Synchronicity cassette never left the tape player in my car (a brand new, eggshell-colored Isuzu that I kept for 9 years!) My friends and I were completely obsessed with this song. On the weekends, we would sit in each other's dens/living rooms with snacks for hours waiting for the moody, black-and-white video to play on MTV. Sting had flowing blond hair back then, and he was a total hottie!

3) Simply Irresistible - Robert Palmer (Released 6/22/88.)
A really great song (and iconic video) that got a lot of airplay in the summer of '88. I remember jammin' out to it in the car on the way to (and from) an outing to Six Flags with friends. And yes, I'll admit it, we all tried to copy the dance moves of those pale-faced, red-lipped models who were bopping in the background behind Robert Palmer. They were so cool!

4) Love Shack - B-52s (Released 9/89.)
The B-52s hailed from Athens, Georgia, (Home of the University of Georgia - Go Dawgs!), so they were a big deal in Atlanta, which is where I moved in the mid-'80s. "Love Shack" was such a great party song that I, along with friends and co-workers, would do a "Woohoo!" and start dancing every time we heard it. I kid you not, we actually did this in the break room where I worked, and the deli where we got our sandwiches for lunch, and the car wash, and the . . . you get the idea!

5) Fly - Sugar Ray (Released 6/17/97.)
I always felt a connection to this group since its members first started playing together when they were going to Corona del Mar High in Newport Beach, CA, and I grew up in SoCal and went to high school (El Toro!) there, too. So, I could totally relate to that chill California vibe Sugar Ray had and I adored the mellow, reggae-inspired groove of "Fly." This is the perfect song to listen to when you're lounging at the pool or beach.

6) Walkin' on the Sun - Smash Mouth (Released 7/18/97.)
The title alone makes this tune a must for any summer-themed playlist. This was the debut single off Smash Mouth's album, Fush Yu Mang, and it was a very memorable introduction to music fans. The first few beats of "Walkin' on the Sun" are instantly recognizable, which is the hallmark of any great song.

7) Livin' La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin (Released 3/23/99.)
I love this song! And I was shocked to find out that it was released in the spring of '99 because I remembered it playing non-stop on the radio that summer. An amazingly catchy tune that makes anyone hearing it want to bust out some salsa moves, along with some serious hairography (Listen to the way Martin sings the line, "Her lips . . .are . . .dev-il . . . red," and try to resist the urge to toss your hair around. I tell you, it's impossible.)

8) Smooth - Santana with Rob Thomas (Released 6/29/99.)
With Carlos Santana's red-hot guitar riffs and Rob Thomas' sultry vocals, this song was destined to be a summer classic. The images in the video were so memorable and sexy (Sweaty is a good look for you, Rob!) that they instantly pop into my head whenever I hear this song.

9) California Gurls - Katy Perry (Released 5/11/10.)
Surprise - I do listen to music that's been released this century! And Katy Perry is one of my favorites because her songs are always so cute and bubbly. This particular one takes me back to my teen years in SoCal (Laguna Beach, which was my summer hangout back in the day, even gets a shout-out from Katy in the lyrics.)

10) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 (Released 6/21/11.)
Last but certainly not least since I consider this to be one of the best songs released in the past decade, this tune gets year-round play from me. I’m a huge fan of Adam Levine's vocals, and he got a nice assist from Christina Aguilera on this one. A lot of people feel compelled to try their own Jagger strut when they hear this song, but it's that whistling melody at the beginning of "Moves Like Jagger" that I'm always trying to imitate (with no success!)

Enjoy whatever you're listening to on your iPod, radio, or CD player this summer, and be sure to check out this video playlist of My Top Ten Summer Jams. It's interesting to see how videos have changed over the last 30 years!

Many thanks to Rebecca for letting me drop by A Word's Worth to share my summer jams with all of you today. If you're looking for a fun read to close out your summer with, I invite you to grab a copy of my comedy and romance-filled e-book, In Need of Therapy, which Rebecca gave a wonderful review to last week!

Book blurb:
Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart? 
While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.
When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

Purchase In Need of Therapy at:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/In-Need-of-Therapy-ebook/dp/B008N6Z36Y
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Need-of-Therapy-ebook/dp/B008N6Z36Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342893151&sr=1-1
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-need-of-therapy-tracie-banister/1112265620?ean=2940015006889

Where you can find Tracie:
Blog: http://traciebanister.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/traciebanister
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tracie.banister



Jen Calonita
Poppy, 2012

Two girls - estranged cousins - from vastly different worlds. When circumstances result in the girls being suddenly thrown together, trying to force "family" into working, Isabelle and Mirabelle quickly find out just how different their worlds are.

Izzy has never had it easy, and is used to working hard - fighting - for what she needs. Mira, in contrast, is the only daughter of a well-to-do politician, and is accustomed to the finer things of life. Neither girl would ever dream of dabbling in the world of the other, let alone finding herself somehow connected to it - but that's just what happens when Izzy's grandmother becomes too ill to care for her. Suddenly, Izzy is whisked from her boardwalk beachtown to neighboring Emerald Cove to live with family she never knew existed. What happens next is only to be expected when oil and water are mixed: chaos.

Mira's friends quickly come up with a plan to disgrace Izzy so badly that she'll have to leave their perfectly ordered social realm entirely. Unfortunately, Mira is caught up in the scheme, and even as she grows into herself, the consequences of that involvement could be substantial. Izzy finds her own circle of friends and support, and slowly begins to realize that she can take what's dished out by the social belles of Emerald Cove, or she can fight back and prove them wrong. She fights. And by fighting, she learns that sometimes being strong means trusting other people. Mira also learns some hard lessons, with a little help from her cousin, and realizes that being true to herself will make her not only a happier person, but a better person. As the two girls slowly discover these truths, they tentatively forge a relationship - that is quickly tested by two bombshell revelations during the big fall bash Izzy helped organize for the Butterflies (a social club at the prep school). With everything they ever knew shaken to the core - again - Izzy and Mira must dig down deep and discover the strength that comes from being a Belle.

Calonita has done a masterful job of creating believable tension, and fleshing out intriguing characters. The fact that it's set in my homestate of North Carolina is not too shabby either, especially when you start thinking about the idea of "Southern Belles" and how the title can work in reference to both that concept and the names of Isabelle and Mirabelle. Definitely looking forward to the next installment, and seeing what happens next for Izzy and Mira.

ARC provided by publisher for review.


Girl of Fire and Thorns

Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
Greenwillow, 2011

I've had this ARC on my shelf for a while, I won it from a giveaway back in the winter, and finally took the time to read it after hearing a lot of positive buzz about the upcoming sequel. (Nothing like a sequel forthcoming to make me catch up on a series!) After reading Girl of Fire and Thorns, I have no idea what took me so long.

Elisa is the second princess of Orovalle (a young nation), unremarkable and rather content to float through life munching on tasty foods while her sister handles all affairs of state. But Elisa isn't just another princess - she is a Bearer, marked for greatness by a Godstone in her naval. (A little weird, I know, I kept having mental images of the trolls that were popular back in the day). On Elisa's sixteenth birthday, she's married to the King of neighboring country Joya d'Arena - she thinks she's being shipped away to avoid disgrace, but soon learns she's been married into safety, for her own protection. As Elisa starts to settle into her new life, she learns much about the world - and everything she never knew. When life takes an abrupt turn once more, Elisa finds herself coming to terms with a new reality: that of those struggling on the frontlines. Here, in the refugee hideout so close to enemy territory, and across the desert from her new palace home, Elisa discovers the real truth of her destiny - and her own power. As with all good adventures, the story doesn't end when the story ends, and Carson has done a masterful job of setting things up for the next installment. Elisa's first real adventure may have ended, she may have won the battle, but her war isn't over - as her still-living Godstone testifies.

I have discovered that I really like fantasy, and Carson's fantasy is one of those happy discoveries: a world that's just a little "off" from ours. Light fantasy, with strange people and Godstones and names and places not like ours. But it's not so far removed, the names and bits of the language(s) reminded me of Spanish, and I was able to picture the landscapes and peoples with ease. It's a carefully crafted world, with a history and a literature, with language and tradition. I fell a little in love while reading Girl of Fire and Thorns, and look forward to reading Crown of Embers soon!

ARC provided by my personal library.


In Need of Therapy

In Need of Therapy
Tracie Banister

Pilar Alvarez is a young psychologist in South Beach, fighting to make her fledgling therapy practice a success. Her dedication to her career is fodder for her Cuban-American mother who wants to see her daughters married off quickly and producing granddaughters to spoil. Pilar's her special 'case', since her thirtieth birthday is swiftly approaching. Pilar is less concerned with finding a man, especially since her ex is stubbornly refusing to go away. But these things always seem to happen when you aren't expecting, and soon Pilar finds herself with two very unsuitable men "in her life." What happens next is a fun read that had me laughing out loud, and totally relating to Pilar's frustrations. It's a reading journey you've got to go on for yourself, because the twists pack so much more punch when you don't know what's coming. (Translation: I'm being very particular about not giving up any spoilers!)

What I loved best about In Need of Therapy was the characters. They're fleshed out and colorful. Mitch, Pilar's new patient, is such a card - unfortunately, I've known a few too many guys like him in real life, but that makes him no less entertaining. Ford, the dashing new (psychiatrist) in Pilar's building, has a complicated past and an engaging personality. And Victor, Pilar's rich and gorgeous ex, is one of those smarmy sleazeballs you love to read about but hope you never meet in person. Of course, the women are also splendidly drawn as surprisingly deep and complex. I could definitely relate to Pilar's journey to trust herself - and those around her (particularly the male types) - and the story itself is a fun read.

eBook provided by author for review.


Guest Post: Lisa Becker + Giveaway!

One of the things I love about book blogging is getting to know authors, and letting them share my space. Today I'm thrilled to be hosting a totally fun guest post from Lisa Becker, whose novel Click: An Online Love Story I reviewed Monday. (And at the end of the post, there just might be a giveaway. You know, a friendly hint). So without further ado, here's Lisa's guest post!

I first met my husband while wearing my pajamas. Really! No, we weren't at some kinky singles party. I was sitting comfortably in my apartment and he was hanging out in his. But, I will never forget his email introduction via an online dating service, which invited me to check out his profile. It was sweet, endearing and intriguing enough for me to log on to learn more about him. After a week of emails, followed by a week of phone calls, we met for our first date - a traditional dinner and movie outing. Even before I opened the door to greet him, I knew he was "the one." Considering he lived 30 miles away, I'm not certain our paths would have typically crossed. But after 11 years together - including 9 years of marriage (which in Los
Angeles is apparently no small feat!) and two beautiful daughters, I have no doubt he is my soul mate.
After my now-husband and I met online, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had during the whole online dating experience. How could I forget the guy who started every story (no joke!) with “My buddies and I were out drinking one night.” I decided to capture some of them in writing and, from there and based loosely on my own experiences, my novel Click: An Online Love Story emerged. The entire story is told in emails between our heroine, Renee Greene, her three best friends and the gentlemen suitors she meets online. The format felt like a modern way to tell the story that fit the topic, and allowed readers to develop an
intimate relationship with the characters.
Clearly, I’m a big fan of online dating and find it to be a useful tool for young professionals who are busy working and finding it difficult to make the right connection at the gym, bar, coffee shop or grocery aisle. I say, people today are “married” to their cell phones and laptops, so why not use that technology to really get married, right?

While Click doesn’t end with a wedding (sorry for the spoiler!), during Renee’s road to happiness, we find many advantages to online dating. My five favorite are:

On Your Own Terms – Online dating provides a relaxed, anytime and on your own terms experience. Share as little or as much information as you want. Avoid people you are not interested in. Communicate at your convenience. But, don’t send a message at 2:30 am. Nothing smacks more of desperation than an email from someone trolling the Internet for a date in the wee hours of the morning.

Multi-Tasking Enabled – Flirt while filing your taxes. Chat and trim your nails. Meet a mate while making breakfast. It’s a well-known fact that women are great multi- taskers. Take full advantage of that skill. As Shelley, the over-sexed character in Click says to the about-to-try-online-dating Renee, “A whole host of hot and horny single men that I can review, chat with, judge and mock – all while sitting in my office looking very busy. Maybe I should give it a try myself.”

Trade the “Meat Market” for the “Meet Market” – Now you can avoid the “meat market” scene of bars and clubs and instead enjoy a “meet market” – an international bazaar (but let’s hope not too bizarre) of prospective mates. The Internet allows you to make an online introduction to thousands if not millions of people around the world. So, if you want to meet someone in Katmandu, well then, can do!

Save Time, Money and Energy – Let’s face it. Dating isn’t cheap. It takes time, money and, likely your most valuable and scarce resource, energy. With the “try before you buy” environment of online dating, you don’t have to meet for a drink, grab a coffee or sit through a long dinner only to discover there’s no physical attraction, you have nothing in common, conversation is lacking, etc.

Rejection Made Easy – In Click, Renee gets an email from someone halfway across the world looking to meet someone willing to move for him. After sending a polite and diplomatic “thanks but no thanks” email message, she proclaims to her friend, “It’s so much easier to reject someone over that Internet than in real life. Score one for online dating!” While rejection is easier for both parties when done online, it’s important to
remember that people still have feelings.

As I've said many times before, if it happened for me, there's hope for you. So log on and take a chance. To purchase Click, please click here. To follow updates on Click and share your stories about online dating, visit the Click Facebook fan page.

Thanks for such a fun guest post (and novel), Lisa! While I've never tried online dating, I know a lot of people who have -- some with pretty hilarious stories of their own. It's interesting to me how our novels are changing as our reality is ... Now, you're curious about the giveaway? Lisa has generously offered an eBook copy of Click to one of my readers. To enter, just answer the question in the Rafflecopter form below! I've made it super-simple, and it'll be open a week! Good luck!


Click: An Online Love Story

Click: An Online Love Story
Lisa Becker

I have always had a soft spot for epistolary novels, and with the advent of email and the interwebs, I've opened my reading arms to the world of email-epistolary novels. Click is one of these novels, consisting primarily of the emails between Renee and her best friends Mark, Ashley and the uber-colorful-Shelley. These are people who've been friends for years and years, and that's clear in their uncensored emails. Reading their interactions - dishing on dates, snarking about each other - was like eavesdropping on the table next to you in the Uni cafeteria. I felt like I really got to know these people, and got sucked into their misadventures and relationships.

Which brings me to the other, really major element of emails in Click. Mark has convinced Renee to begin online dating - and we get to see the emails from prospective matches, and enjoy all the rehashing of every disastrous date. Renee's misadventures in the online dating world are just ridiculous enough to be entertaining without stretching "the truth" too far - some of them reminded me of horror stories my friends have shared, actually. Through it all, Renee grows as a person, learning to stand up for herself and fight for the things that are worth fighting for - especially when Love is on the line.

A quick read with colorful characters and a good story, Click is definitely a fun epistolary novel. Stay tuned and make sure you swing by Wednesday for a guest post from Lisa and a giveaway!

eBook provided by author for review.


New Books!

Okay, a little late but not too bad ... July was my birthday month, and I had a lot of books-won that arrived, so it was like a month-long celebration of bookish goodness.


Darth Vader and Son actually came with a crazy-adorable poster and two pins. So fun!
For Review:


Mini Reviews

Alethea Kontis
Harcourt, 2012

I've been wanting to read this one for a while - look at that cover, and tell me you're not intrigued! - so I was very happy when it arrived at my library. (A signed edition, no less!) Sunday is the youngest of the Woodcutter children, and as the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, has quite a future ahead of her. Only, she doesn't realize it. All she knows is that what she writes comes true, and her family has had its unfair share of strange "luck." Oh, and she met an enchanted frog in the woods and fell in love - only to have him disappear the day of a horrible storm that wrought changes of untold scope on Sunday's life.

We're all familiar with the story of "The Frog Prince," but Enchanted is a fun, sometimes strange, take on the story - weaving in other stories and elements that are just begging to be built upon in future novels. I fell in love with Sunday's spunk and free-ness, but the whole cast of characters is quirky and personable. Prince Rumbold is endearingly human in his post-frog incarnation, and his faithful friends are colorful persons in their own right. Enchanted ended too soon, and I dearly hope that more of the Woodcutter stories are told!

Book provided by my local library.

Between the Lines
Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Simon Pulse, 2012

I really, really, really wanted to like this book. The premise was awesome, a true booklover's dream: A favorite character in a book comes to life and interacts with the reader. I mean, come on, who hasn't had the fleeting thought of wishing Mr Darcy or Gilbert Blythe was real? Also, the book itself is gorgeous. It's told in three-parts, with full-color illustrations and different fonts and colors for the three voices (the "actual" fairy tale; Delilah, the reader; and Prince Oliver, the character).

While the development of the story is neatly done, I just had a really hard time getting into it. I'm not sure why either, because the idea was intriguing, and the interweaving of the stories is well done. (I particularly loved Oliver's parts, and the color illustrations). Maybe I just picked it up when I had too many other reading distractions?

Book provided by my local library.