Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Semi-Sweet by Roisin Meaney (and CONTEST)

Semi-Sweet
by Roisin Meaney

Genre: Foodie Fiction with Romantic Elements
Publisher: Grand Central
Cost: $10.95

CONTEST: See here.

What I Liked:
First of all, I'm a sucker for anything foodie-romance related. While this isn't really a romance novel, it is definitely a love story. I would say a'la Nicholas Sparks, only it's not depressing. Also, more interesting. But I have no affinity for Nick Sparks. Also known as The Spork. He gives love stories a bad name. This book will give them a good one.

I appreciated the uncomplicated voice of this book. It's a story that could so easily be a trainwreck, because there's so much going on, but the author pulls off an engaging, complex tale. And the food. Well, like I said, I love the food. This book is one of those novels that will entertain you, but leave you with a sense that this story could as easily have happened to you. Very unlike most foodie books I've read, but still worth the read. Well-written, and couldn't have been happier with the ending if I'd tried. Love books like this!

Book Blurb:
Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when out of the blue her boyfriend Patrick announces that he's leaving her for another woman. Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare. So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline - seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in her new business, she soon discovers that she's too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend ...or to notice an increasingly regular customer who has recently developed a sweet tooth for all things cupcake. But while Hannah is slowly piecing her life back together, family friend Alice's is falling apart. Her husband Tom's drinking is getting out of control and things are about to get a whole lot worse. As the seven-month milestone approaches, Hannah must decide her future. And while she's figuring out what's really important, it becomes clear to everyone that happiness in life, and in love, is all in the making.

CONTEST
I will be giving away two copies of this book on my foodie romance blog. Come on over and check it out!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Writing & Philanthropy

Hello there everyone! Today I'm blogging about writing and philanthropy. Philanthropy is defined as "the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed by the donation of money to good causes."

If you've seen the movie Toy Story 3, then you're familiar with the part where Barbie and Ken meet for the first time and then say, "It's like we were made for each other."


Well that's how Writing and Philanthropy are, too - made for each other. On the one hand, you've got writing. In a way, writing is a dialogue that a person enters into with the world. On the other side of things is philanthropy, an act of dialogue with the world that a person enters into in an attempt to bring about positive change.

Many publishing houses are philanthropic and have causes that they support. Individual writers have causes that they support as well. My own personal quest for several months has been to find a good diabetes charity organization to work with. I didn't know where to begin. I'm fairly new both to writing and to philanthropy, so I expected to just pick out a charity organization, say "I'm a writer" and be directed to an author liaison, or something of the sort. How wrong I was! I cam to find that this is not in fact how things work in the real world.

After tirelessly searching and feeling like I'd just been calling out into a void (a lot of the writing process tends to feel like that) I finally gave up my ego and posted the question up on an author discussion group that I'm a part of. One of my author friends quickly replied, directing me to author Brenda Novak, who runs a huge online auction supporting diabetes research. I sent Brenda Novak an e-mail, with a bit of trepidation since she's a big-name author and I'm (Eep!) just Leslie. But Brenda Novak wrote back to me that same day.

The reason I chose diabetes as my own little philanthropic "pet project" is that my stepfather, Richard A. Anderson, died from diabetes back in 2002. So to me, supporting the cause of diabetes philanthropy is like a personal vendetta against my stepfather's killer. Also, it's an act that's opening my heart as well.

Check out the Brenda Novak Online Auction at  http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com - the site will go live on May 1st.

And check out my stepfather's novel, The Temple of the Heart!!!




Friday, April 22, 2011

Introducing well known English Children's Author Jacqueline Wilson (2 reviews)

I don't usually review children's books here on ER, but today I thought I'd introduce everyone here to a well known English children's author, Jacqueline Wilson. I know that her books are sold everywhere, so I'm guessing they've made it across the pond. Jacqueline is a big force for children. In my view, she is known because her books tackle lots of difficult issues in a way that is both funny and serious at the same time. I read a few of her books when I was little. I love her books even more now, because I have a wider knowledge of the issues, I realise more than I did in the past how important her stories are to children. You can find out more on her website, including details of various awards.

On with the first review!

Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson



February 2011, Hardback (UK, unsure of USA)
Review copy, Children's, 9+

Summary from Random House Children's Books
Lily isn't home ALONE - but she sort of wishes she was; looking after her three younger siblings is a lot of responsibility. 

When Mum goes off on holiday with her new boyfriend and her stepdad fails to show up, Lily is determined to keep the family together and show they can cope without any grown-ups. But taking care of 6-year-old twins, her 3-year-old sister and the family's flat feels overwhelming and Lily is worried that school or social services might discover their situation and break up the family. What could be better than to take all the little ones for a camping adventure in the park? Plenty of space to run about, no carpet to vacuum, and surely no chance anyone will guess they're there . . .


I read Lily Alone when I needed a light read. That might seem a contradiction in terms considering the subject matter (parental neglect), but what I clung to was the humour that's dispersed throughout the story. Some books are solid heavy going. Having read Jaqueline's books before, I knew that this was the right blend for me in that particular mood.

Unfortunately Lily's mother's actions aren't unusual. Similar cases happen throughout the world each week (probably every day). Children should be at the heart of a family, and parents have an obligation (which is mostly enjoyed and not seen as a chore) to look after their children. Lily's mother's emotions are pretty up and down, and she seems more like a child than an adult. It's up to Lily to sort things out. Lily loves her mother. If she didn't, she would have spoken out when she and her siblings were left alone. She kept quiet and tried to do the right thing. It's an emotional book, with me wishing to take Lily and her siblings somewhere safe and warm. It's all from Lily's pov, and it's clear that she is mature for her age. The way her siblings view the situation is realistic. There is a lot of drama and strong emotions, so I recommend having tissues ready at this and the next book. I give it 9/10

The Longest Whale Song by Jaqueline Wilson



September 2010, Hardback (UK, not sure of USA)
Review copy, Children's 8+

Summary from Random House Children's Books 
Ella’s mum’s in a deep coma having just had a new baby. That means Ella has to live with Jack, her hopeless stepfather and cope with her tiny newborn brother, as well as worrying about Mum. The only thing that’s going right is her school project. It’s all about whales and how they sing out to each other to attract a mate – sometimes for hours. Maybe a whale song could reach Mum, wherever she is, and bring her back to Ella and baby Samson. Surely it’s worth a try?

Ella's story deals with several issues at once. Ella struggles to live with her stepdad. She doesn't like him, wishes he wasn't there, and that her mother was with her biological father. It's very clear from her voice exactly how she feels about him. It makes her mother's new situation a nightmare. She's so attached to her mother that you will need tissues as she tries to get her mother to react to her. Although the situation isn't a pleasant one, I liked how it helped her form new friendships at school, and learn to love research. It shows that when there is a major family incident schools are quite understanding (although there is a limit to how far the child in question can slack off). It shows there is always something everyone can do during difficult times Equally it helps deal with the tricky issue of a loved one being ill, and all the fear and anger emotions which go hand in hand with illness.

It's a sweet book because it reveals how over time Ella actually starts liking her stepfather. It's a very slow process, and she never adores him as much as her mother. She discovers that her own father doesn't always meet her expectations, which in turn brings about a new understanding for her stepfather. She also discovers that she loves her little brother dearly, and shows signs of being an awesome older sister. You'll have to read it to find out what happens when Ella plays the whale song to her mother - it's a moving scene. I've give this one 10/10

I hope you've enjoyed learning a little bit about Jacqueline's work, and please do check out her books.

(I forgot to say that both books have illustrations by Nick Sharratt, who often illustrates Jacqueline's work. His illustrations are distinctive and add volumes to the stories.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: Dark Kiss of the Reaper by Kristen Painter

Dark Kiss of the Reaper
by Kristen Painter

Genre: Paranormal Romance (Contemporary)
Cost: $3.99 (Kindle)

What I Liked:
Well, I'm a big fan of Kristen Painter's work in general, so I had a leg up already on that one. Not a huge fan of these angel stories, so it took some getting used to. But I'm glad I stuck through it, becuase as always, I adored her hero and thought even the heroine was worth reading (I'm notoriously hard on heroines).

This is not your typical Angel of Death story. In fact, I thought the world-building that Kristen Painter accomplished in this book was unique enough that I would be able to distinguish it from other more commonplace angel stories. I loved the setup and their romantic trajectory. I thought it was well-written and engaging. While it wasn't my favorite book of hers (will anything ever live up to Heart of Fire? ::sigh::), I did thoroughly enjoy it and will read it again.

I will say, if you like angel stories, I think you'll really enjoy this. Kristen Painter has a lyrical voice, she does great world-building, and writes heroes very well. And the story.... it's heartbreaking and beautiful.

Book Blurb:
He'll steal her heart, then take her soul...

The angel of death has a name: Azrael. He also has a purpose, to soothe the souls of the suffering into the peaceful passage of the after life. But in his twilight existence, Azrael has never known peace or pleasure...

Until he meets Sara, the first mortal who can see him in his Reaper form. Charming and spirited despite bearing her own burdens, she intoxicates him with the pleasures of life, even taming his brutal dark side with her fearlessness. But Azrael’s new happiness is short-lived when he realizes Sara’s health is fading. The bright flame of her life is about to be blown out.

And he’s to blame.

~ review by Rebecca Lynn

Monday, April 18, 2011

Four Stars for CRUSHED at Night Owl!

CRUSHED at Night Owl

Unrequested ARCs

Good morning, Blog Buds!
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Just a reminder, the policy here on Unrequested ARCs is you send them at your own risk.  We only review books we like or love here, so it's much cheaper to ask us if we want a book before sending it.
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Also, I, Kimber An, no longer review books.  Since my first book, SUGAR RUSH, was accepted for publication last year, I just don't have time.  Oh, sure, once in a while I'll get sick and have the time and sudden urge to read, but mostly I just can't.  Besides novel-writing, I also have FOUR children.  Count 'em, FOUR.  So, once again, not such a good idea to send me an ARC, if you're pinching pennies these days.
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Now, if the ARC happens to be Young Adult, I might pass it on to Kimber, Jr.  Or not.  I still reserve the right to be a neurotically overprotective mother.  But, I certainly don't have the time or money to stand in line at the post office and mail a paper ARC to any of the other reviewers here.
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So, please, ask first. 

Nevertheless, Enduring Romance is on a few of the Big Boy Publishers mailing lists and I still get ARCs out of the blue, just automatic sends, I guess.  I figure it's not the authors' faults the publishers didn't check out our policy here and, being an author, I know authors got to eat and usually have a few hungry mouths to feed.  So, I'll tell you about their books anyway, if I have time.
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DEPARTMENT NINETEEN by Will Hill.  Here's a review-   http://bookzone4boys.blogspot.com/2011/02/review-department-19-by-will-hill.html
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EONA by Alison Goodman.  Here's a review-
http://thebooksmugglers.com/2011/04/book-review-eona-by-alison-goodman.html
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Okay, guys, got to get back to writing SWEET BYTES.  I was just getting to an exciting part too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Bee Told Me...

...that Decadent Publishing may open to general submissions for a few days this week.  Keep an eye on this page- Decadent Submissions

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Siobhan Reviews SUGAR RUSH!

SUGAR RUSH at LoveFantasySciFiNovels

Dottie Reviews CRUSHED!

At Tink's Place

Review: Lois Lane Tells All

Lois Lane Tells All
by Karen Hawkins

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Pocket
Cost: $7.99

What I Liked:
I love Karen Hawkins' voice. She's got that special something. In fact, I picked this book up to read for a "killer openings" class, and ended up finishing it, a couple of hours later. She sucked me right into this story with great voice from page one. The story is great as well, and a lot of suspense elements, although I wouldn't call this a straight suspense.

The plot is intriguing, and if you're a Superman fan, you're going to love this book. But my favorite part was the hero, Mark. He's definitely the Clark Kent we've all wanted to find. Listen to this line, from page 365: "Mark rubbed his cheek against her hair, settling into the couch to engulf her deeper into his embrace. When the time was right, he'd tell her he loved her. For now, he'd just show her." ::melting:: I just adore this guy. It's worth it to read, just to get into his beautiful mind.

If you're a fan of contemporary romance, of Superman, or of the Sophie-Kinsella-type romantic comedies, you should check out this book. It won't disappoint.

Book Blurb (from Amazon.com):
New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins returns to Glory, North Carolina, for another delightful story of love and laughter.

She thinks she’s Lois Lane . . .Susan Collins always wanted to be a hard-hitting reporter, but there’s not much call for her talents in sleepy Glory, North Carolina. Then the Murder Mystery Club—a trio of enterprising octogenarians—decides to open their own CSI lab at the assisted-living center. And when strange "accidents" begin to happen around town, Susan senses she could be on to the news story of her dreams.

He doesn’t want to be her Superman . . .Mark Tremayne has returned to Glory to take over as CFO of The Glory Examiner. His job is to keep the newspaper profitable, which means covering the annual Baptist Church Bake-Off and selling ads for the county fair—not allowing his too-sexy-for-her-own-good reporter to hare off after a wild story that could alienate some of the townspeople.

Together . . . they’re Kryptonite.Mark’s and Susan’s viewpoints could be from different planets, but their mutual attraction is in total alignment. Despite their arguments, the indomitable redhead and the hot accountant are a sexual explosion waiting to happen. And when it does, Glory had better watch out!  

~ Rebecca Lynn

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Buy Back Books

My husband and I went on a hot date this weekend to Title Wave Books in Anchorage, Alaska and I had the chance to buy back a couple of favorite books which I'd given away. 

It just doesn't seem right to ask for books back that I let people borrow.  If they love 'em as much as I do then they ought to keep them forever.  I was able to buy back NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran and MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND by Lisa Shearin.

Of course, my daughter, known here as Kimber Jr, immediatelly reappropriated by new copy of NEFERTITI, so I'll have to buy it back yet again. 
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Here are some more I'm looking to buy back when I can
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CONTACT by Susan Grant
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THE KING'S DAUGHTERS by Nathalie Mallet
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APOCOLYPSE BLUES by Walter Greatshell
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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND by Allegra Goodman. 

RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU by Jana Deleon
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I've reviewed all of these.  Google or do a search in the box at the top of the blog page.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yotsuba& volume 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma

Thanks to those germ gremlins, I haven't been able to read the book I planned to review today. However, I'd like to over you something a  little different. I adore anime and manga, so jumped at the chance to feature in the translation month over on Mostly Reading YA



Please check out my review of Yotsuba& vol 1 which is the start of a sweet, funny series. It isn't an anime, but I can recommend Azumanga Daioh as being something similar.