*** Please note that various posts will contain affiliate links for Amazon. Purchases from these links will make me a small percentage in store credit. ***

30 June 2016

Rambling, Book Beginnings & Friday 56 - Kitty French's Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency

Book Beginning & 56% Quote from Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French to be released by Bookouture on 14 July 2016. As always, Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader. e-ARC received from NetGalley & Bookouture. Rambley thoughts don't care that the book was free.

*************Rambley Stuff*************

I have to admit that I got a bit giddy when I saw this on NetGalley (well, first on Twitter to say it was on NetGalley) because omigosh that COVER! How freaking fun is THAT? Then, as per my norm, I did some Amazon-ing about Kitty French to see what else she may have written.



If you've been around me for any significant length of time you'll know that I don't do steamy sexy stuff well. (Not written, anyway.) I didn't want to request a book because of its awesomesauce cover only to end up skimming it between my fingers as they mostly covered my eyes hoping for something positive and non-erotic to gently jump out at me.

After I was finished hyperventilating, I saw that Kitty French is also Kat French so Amazon-ed some more and felt a bit more optimistic since Kat writes romantic comedy/chick lits and has been compared to some authors I have come to adore.

So I hit the request button.

From the beginning I laughed so hard that I had to stop drinking my coffee for fear of spurting it all over my desk.
'He's not mum's date, her's mine. Or else, he was,' I mutter, and then I'm distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste. (3%)
Yep, Melody Bittersweet can see and converse with ghosts. Her mother and grandmother are focused on connecting the living and the dead. Melody, much to her mother's dismay, wants to help them move on. They constantly put a cramp on her social life and any attempt she makes at getting a non-ghost-related job. When she turns 27 she decides to do something worthwhile with her life and starts her own ghostbusting business with her best friend, Marina. They also take on the tall and timid Artie as a "trainee" as a favor to his father -- who happens to be dead. Oh, and we mustn't forget Babs -- 1973 Ford Transit.

The Bittersweets aren't the only act in town. Leo Dark, Melody's ex-boyfriend, is a bit of a celebrity ghost whisperer and when Melody and Marina see him on the television at the site of his latest case they decide (with the help of Melody's Magic 8 Ball) to try and nab the job for themselves.
Leo doesn't answer straight away. He's too busy rearranging his features through a speedy cycle of 'hello ex-girlfriend who I dumped acrimoniously, oh shit you've got your vicious sidekick with you,' and 'don't come a step closer, this job has Leo Dark stamped all over it.' (14%)
Needless to say, Leo isn't thrilled when the owner of Scarborough House gives Melody a key to the house and declares that whichever one solves his ghost problem first will be the one who gets paid. On their first official visit to the house Melody encounters the ghosts in residence -- the elderly Isaac and Lloyd, and the young and handsome (and flirtatious) Douglas.

Have I mentioned yet that I have a super huge weakness for hunky ghosts? I blame it on watching movies like The Ghost & Mrs Muir and Topper almost religiously when I was young. Only thing better than a hunky ghost would probably be a hunky pirate ghost. You must know by now how I feel about pirates.

Anyway, the three brothers are cantankerous and hilarious and have been stuck in the house together for 45 years. There's a little question as to which of them actually killed Douglas way back in 1910 and, apparently, none of them are going anywhere until the case is solved.

Of course it won't be so easy as to just get one of them to fess up and *poof* they go. Don't forget there's also Leo butting around and local hot-shot reporter/supernatural-skeptic Fletcher Gunn is determined to prove that it's all just "a load of hokum bollocks."

I failed to mention that Leo and Fletch are also gorgeous and, of course, since Melody supposedly hates both of them you probably know where this is going:

Fasten your seatbelts, kids!
It's a ghostbusting murder mystery love triangle (oh wait -- Douglas. So a love square? rhombus?) romcom!

I'm ridiculously glad that I hit that request button. Along with the whole ghostbusting murder mystery love polygon romcom-ness, we also get Melody's obsession with sweets and superheros, plenty of references to Ghostbusters and Scooby Doo and other nerd-tastic delights, and the oh-so-amazeballs Grandma Dicey (who's still boinking Grandpa Duke even though he died 20 years ago). I seriously can't remember the last time I laughed this hard. The team even ends up getting a dog along the way -- Lestat, the one-eared pug from above. He's absofreakinglutely hilarious in his own right and, possibly, a little bit evil.
I bought new slippers yesterday, fancy knitted boots with fur inside, and I like them enough to sleep with them under my pillow. He knows it, of course. You don’t get to be a mafia boss without knowing everything that’s going down in your manor, and at 6.05 a.m. I feel one of the boots start to slowly slide out from beneath my head. It’s enough. It’s a direct threat. Get up, or the slipper’s history. I open my eyes and there he is, eyeballing me with the pompom of the boot locked firmly between his jaws.
I bare my teeth and growl at him, but he just sits there. I think he’s counting down in his head.(63%)
Now, it's not all a big huge laugh-fest. There are some incredibly emotional moments that had me reaching for my always-present tissue box. Having it not be non-stop hilarity or non-stop heartbreaking made it all that much better. A girl can take only just so much laughter and/or tears, after all. In fact, there really isn't anything I've found to complain about. Well, perhaps a lack of actual pirates (even/especially in ghost form) but it is the first in the series so maybe I'll luck out down the line.

29 June 2016

Rambling About.. Milkshakes & Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

Title: Milkshakes & Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner
Author: Helen Cox
Publication: 4 July 2016 - HarperCollinsUK/Avon/Maze
First Lines (Prologue):
First Lines (Chapter 1):

Faves on 4s:
4% - Though she was only three years my senior, Mona had a way of standing that made me feel like she was my mother. A hand on her hip and a slouch in one leg.
34% - 'What are you afraid of? Whatever it is, you can tell me.' I shook my head. There was a weighty pause. 'Why are you afraid of happiness?'
54% - Turns out my determination to repel men for the last two years hadn't led to the best shopping choices.
84% - 'Esther, I'm going to say something and you're probably not going to like it.'
           Yep, there it was.
94% - 'I stand by my previous assessment,' I said. 'You are a bloody idiot.'

Ramble: The "Faves on 4s" section was harder this time than most as every time a _4% rolled around I found something that was just oh-so-perfect to share! As it is, it was my main reason for reading the Kindle version I received from NetGalley instead of the epub. My epub reader does pages and not percents and that would have just been way harder to dwindle down to just a handful.

I'm guessing that you've already figured out that I quite love this book. I want to pull up to the counter and order a milkshake. I want to play The Chordettes on the jukebox repeatedly (I have a remix of "Lollipop" as the ringtone on my phone, in fact). I want to help Walt with his crosswords and have Lu whip me up some pancakes and sausage. I want Mona to give me the maternal looks and advice. I want The Starlight Diner to be real.

Esther is a waitress at The Starlight Diner, having arrived in the States just over a year ago. She's from London but left in hopes of being able to pretty much disappear and escape her past. Not being able to let go of her past, though, keeps her from fully embracing her present and possible future. This is all fine and dandy with her until Jack enters the diner and her life. He's also from London and also has things he seems to want to keep hidden. Will they be able to be honest and open with each other and move on together?

It's a rough and rocky road. Jack is an actor with a hot new movie out and another in the works. This, of course, makes him perfect fodder for sleazy "journalists" who love to uncover dirt on the popular -- and on anyone close to them. It's a heartbreaking mess and you end up wanting to drown your sorrows (well, Esther's sorrows) in the biggest milkshake you can find.

Hmmmm....  I guess that's where the title comes in to play, huh?

Although this falls under the whole "Chick Lit" genre where everyone who deserves one gets a happy ending, I still wondered over and over again whether this would be the case for Esther and Jack. And, with so many secrets, was a happy ending even deserved?

How it all plays out is truly magnificent to behold. I know I say that about an awful lot of books but, what can I say? I have remarkably good taste.

Helen Cox is a gem and I'm thrilled that Milkshakes & Heartbreaks is the first in a series. I'm so excited about seeing what comes next and, luckily, I'll have Starlight Diner shorts to get me through the wait! I'm even hoping to be able to get my hands on her non-fiction works (besides her blog -- which is amazing). After all, anyone who loves Grease 2 and can make me cry and snort-laugh in the same minute has to be all around spectacular, right?

Milkshakes & Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner is being released on the 4th of July and I'd love to hear how much you love it and what you're hoping to have happen next after you get it.  You can find me at The Starlight Diner enjoying my milkshake (at least on Twitter).

28 June 2016

Teaser Tuesday - Milkshakes & Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

Of course, there's a lot more to her story than that and I'm having a great time finding out what it is!

Amazon Description
A witty, romantic, New York-inspired novel.
‘With its shades of light and dark, this delicious debut is a page-turner you’d be mad to miss’ SAMANTHA TONGE
Esther Knight is sharp, sarcastic – and hiding something. She waitresses at The Starlight Diner: a retro eatery where Fifties tunes stream out of the jukebox long into the night, and the tastiest milkshakes in New York are served.
Nobody at the diner knows why Esther left London for America – or why she repeatedly resists the charms of their newest regular, actor Jack Faber.
Esther is desperate to start a new life in the land of the free, but despite the warm welcome from the close-knit diner crowd, something from her past is holding her back. Can she ever learn to love and live again?
Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner is a witty, romantic, New York-inspired novel.

27 June 2016

Rambling About.. Adara Flynn Quick's The Dream Protocol

Whenever I get an email from NetGalley recommending a book, I typically ignore it unless I'm already aware of the author or have had good luck with the publishing house. Adara Flynn Quick's The Dream Protocol was self-published in April and I'd never heard of her before the email (though we do share a last name and I now happily follow her on Twitter). Normally I'd "eh" and delete.
But just LOOK at that cover!!!
After snooping around Goodreads for it, though, I decided the book had a few other things going for it besides the gorgeous cover:

  • the aforementioned last name and my lack of a Q so far on my A to Z Author list 
  • the recommendation from another reviewer to read it with an Irish accent 
  • 154 pages doesn't take very long to read most days 
  • the description (particularly the first two lines of it)

In fiery young Deirdre Callaghan's home of Skellig City, no one has dreamt their own dream in over a thousand years."
Wait. What?!? How could that even be?
"Dreams are produced by the Dream Makers and sold by the Ministry, the tyrannical rulers of the city. In Skellig City, years of life are awarded equally and the ruined are cast away beneath the city on their 35th birthday."
Well, balls. I turned 40 in December. Definitely glad I wasn't living in Skellig City!
"Unbeknownst to the Ministry, Deirdre's handsome friend Flynn Brennan is afflicted with a terrible disease - a disease that accelerates the aging process. Knowing his fate if the Ministry should ever discover his illness, Flynn has lived his whole life hiding from their watchful eyes. When Flynn's secret is finally discovered, Deirdre is determined to free him from the Ministry's grasp. But to save him, she will have to reveal herself to a shadowy enemy...one that none of them even knew existed."
I don't typically do dystopian but I was intrigued and 154 pages could get knocked out in a work shift while folding laundry and ignoring spreadsheets. I hit the "Read Now" button.

The book opens in the year 3077 and 15 year old Deirdre is questioning everything. Her close friend and mother-figure, Maeve, has turned 35 and is sent to whatever lies beneath the city (which, by the way, is already underground). Her actual mother is nearing 35 and, even though she's a Dream Maker, will soon be met with the same fate. Everyone will.
Do as your told and everything will be fine.

That always works with 15 year olds, doesn't it?

She and Flynn desperately want to escape along with their friend Antrim and go above ground where the sky is supposedly blue and the grass is real and green. Of course, before they can do that Deirdre has to save Flynn from the Medical Director. He's threatening to find out all about Flynn and why he looks like he's already one of the "ruined" and have him scheduled for an early descent to the under-underworld.

She gets help from unexpected people and faces unexpected complications in unexpected places. And then, before you know it, it's over ... until the next book in the series! Hopefully the wait won't be a long one.

Rambling About.. What Happens At The Beach... by T A Williams

Title: What Happens At The Beach...
Author: T A Williams
Publication: 11 July 2016 -- CarinaUK/Harper Collins
Amazon Description:
For the perfect summer romance…
It’s finally time for Natalie Dryden to decide what she really wants! After ditching her sparkling engagement ring, and her ghastly fiancé, she jets off for the sun-kissed shores of Southern France – the only place that has ever truly felt like home. For the first time ever, Natalie is determined to forget all about men and follow her dreams!
…head to the French coast!
Only, avoiding the male population isn’t quite so easy, especially when she meets smooth-talking Philippe and gorgeous fisherman, Remy! But then Natalie, quite literally, bumps into brooding millionaire Mark whilst swimming in the glittering azure-blue bay – and her life is turned upside-down.
Love might be off the cards for Natalie, yet suddenly she finds herself in her dream job and working with her dream man! But is it all too good to be true…?
First Lines (Prologue): 

First Lines (Chapter 1): 
David's parents' house was one of the most opulent in what was a very opulent part of south-west London. Today the gravel drive in front of the house was choked with smart, expensive cars and the Union Jack hung proudly, if limply, from the flagpole.

Faves on 4s: (epub format -- 243 pages total)
p14 - 'Well, she is quite pretty.' Marjorie even managed to make a  compliment sound like an insult. 'It's just that she's so...' She paused for though. 'So unkempt.'
p44 - Yes, it really was a wonderful place and she determined not to let other matters, particularly men, get in the way of her enjoyment of this well-earned holiday.
p104 - All right, you cow, Natalie thought to herself, I'm going to be so bloody sweet and nice to you tonight, you'll choke on your food.
p164 - 'Now, take a deep breath and look around you. You're sitting in a little bit of paradise and we're very, very lucky people. You need to remind yourself of that.'
p204 - She and Amy, after a trip to the local pub for pie and chips and a few pints of lager, had sat up talking until three in the morning and Natalie had overslept her alarm. As they talked, Amy's awestruck expression had lingered as she listened to Natalie recount the vagaries of her summer in France.

I read my first Williams book, What Happens In The Alps..., back in March and found it to be so delightful that as soon as I saw his newest was available on NetGalley I just had to get it. Once again my 20 (or so) Books of Summer list had to be tweaked (especially since I picked up three other books at the same time), but it was definitely worth it. I may have to bump some more of the Xanth off the list or greatly diminish my planned Christmas in July to only a couple of books, but it's a small sacrifice because What Happens At The Beach... was even more delightful!

Natalie Dryden is 30 years old and recently finished her PhD in Medieval History. After a severe falling out with her fiancé that results in her returning her engagement ring, she heads to her grandmother's place in Southern France to job hunt and focus on her future. She does, of course, fall in love at first sight ... with a dog who frequently visits her grandmother and happens to have a very rich and very handsome owner. Even better is that said owner just happens to be looking for help writing a novel set in the exact time period that Natalie's thesis was about.

Yeah, you can probably see where this is all going from a kilometer away.

In spite of the predictability of a lot of it, this book was exactly what I needed. With all of the angst going on at work and the end of the school year for my son and the Democratic sit-in over gun control and the whole referendum fiasco over the pond, I needed a light escape that didn't make me go through multiple boxes of tissues. (There were a few tears that welled up, but I wasn't turned into a complete wreck.)

What Happens At The Beach... is being released in two weeks, on July 11th. If you're looking for a quick and light read that's perfect for the beach (or recliner ... or bus ... or ...), I highly recommend picking this one up!

24 June 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday 56 - Polly James' Would Like To Meet

Polly James' Would Like To Meet is being released on June 30th by Harper Collins UK/Avon. Thanks to NetGalley I'm getting to read it a little early and snuck it onto my 20 (or so) Books of Summer list along with several other ARCs. I was originally intending on having a fairly ARC-free summer but I'm weak and it just looked so good!

Could the worst thing that’s ever happened to Hannah Pinkman also turn out to be one of the best?
She and her husband Dan have reached the end of the line. Bored with the same gripes, the same old arguments – in fact, bored with everything – they split up after a trivial row turns into something much more serious.
Now Hannah has to make a new life for herself, but that’s not easy. She’s been so busy being a wife and mum that she’s let all her other interests slip away, along with her friends. And when Hannah is persuaded to join a dating site, her ‘best match’ is the very last person she expects it to be . . .
A clever, funny and poignant novel about life after a long relationship, the importance of friendship, and rediscovering your identity.

Book Beginnings & Friday 56
As always, Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader. The top quote is from the beginning of the prologue. The bottom is from page 56 of the epub I received from NetGalley.
It honestly didn't take long for me to fall in love with this book -- in spite of the fact that it also didn't take long for it to rip my heart out of my chest, jump up and down on it while wearing stilettos, and then run over it with a big truck. Lots of laughable moments, too, but by the time I was half-way through my work shift and almost half-way through the book (quiet nights = lots of reading time), I was a wreck.

The split between Hannah and Dan just seemed so sudden and out of the blue even though I had read the description and knew it was coming. It's also one of my greatest fears in life -- that some day it'll just be a "eh, let's not do this any more."


Big huge emotional trainwreck of a wreck.

Hannah is so well-written and everything she goes through is so well laid out that I had to keep reading .... and reading .... and crossing my fingers for that happy ending.

Of course, I'm not going to tell you if there is one. I'm just going to tell you that it's definitely worth reading to find out. Just make sure that you have a box of tissues and a comforting cup of tea nearby when you do.

23 June 2016

Rambling About.. Katie Fforde's Summer of Love

I've been meaning to read something of Katie Fforde's for a while now. It's been on my "to-do list" ever since I fell back into the chick lit spell in December. She has so many books that all look so wonderful, though, that I hadn't been able to decide where to start.

Bookouture to the rescue!

I received my copy of Fforde's Summer of Love for free thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture. It was originally published in 2011, but Bookouture is re-releasing it digitally on July 8! Of course, as always, the freeness of the book has absolutely no bearing on my review -- only the fact that it exists. If it hadn't popped up on NetGalley I would likely still just be playing "eeny-meeny-minie-mo" with her bibliography in hopes of finally picking one to read! Now I just have to play it in order to decide which one to read next.

It's a lovely book even though I found myself more interested in the story of the main character's neighbor than in the main character herself. Fiona is worth five stars and then some! Of course, fifteen years ago when I was a mid-20-something Fiona probably would have seemed like a cute aside to me and Sian would have been the more relatable one. As it is, I kept hoping for more of Fiona's escapades and wanted to shake Sian and tell her to grow up. Luckily, though, their two stories overlap heavily so I never had to go very many pages without my Fiona fix.

Amazon Description (2011):
Sian Bishop has only ever experienced one moment of recklessness - a moment that resulted in her beloved son Rory. It's not that she doesn't love the outcome of that wild night, but since then she has always taken the safer route. So when dependable, devoted Richard suggests a move to the beautiful English countryside, she leaves the hustle and bustle of the city behind, and she throws herself into the picture-postcard cottage garden, her furniture restoration business, and a new life in the country. Her good intentions are torpedoed on a glorious summer's evening with the arrival of Gus Berresford. One-time explorer and full-time heartbreaker, Gus is ridiculously exciting, wonderfully glamorous and a completely inappropriate love interest for a single mum. But Gus and Sian have met before...Sian has no use for a fling, she simply mustn't fall in love with the most unlikely suitor ever to cross her path - even if he has now crossed her path twice. But who knows what can happen in a summer of love...

Amazon Description (2016):
Sian Bishop has left the hustle and bustle of the city to throw herself into an idyllic new life in a charming countryside cottage. 
With her young son, her picture-postcard garden and her furniture restoration business, she's very happy and very busy. She is not - repeat not - looking for love. 
But Sian’s good intentions are torpedoed one glorious summer’s evening with the arrival of Gus Berresford. One-time explorer and full-time heartbreaker, Gus is ridiculously exciting, wonderfully glamorous and a completely inappropriate love interest for a single mother. 
But she and Gus have met before. And, despite Sian's best intentions, it isn't long before she's falling for him all over again ... 

First Lines:
'Er, hello!'
Sian put down her fork and looked over the garden wall. A woman was smiling at her, holding a bottle of wine in one hand and a jam jar full of flowers in the other.

Favorites on 4s:
4% - 'I've trained myself to believe that shop cake isn't worth getting fat for, but I'm not sure I believe it.'
24% - 'I'm possessive about some things, but not about plaything I discarded years ago.' He became serious suddenly. 'I do hope you don't think I discarded you. I never would have done that.'
64% - 'I can be positively daunting if I put my mind to it!'
           'And if you don't, your positively adorable.'
74% - She didn't want to be who she had been. That woman was foolish, romantic and idealistic. Now she wanted to be a bit more pragmatic and sensible.
94% - 'Hmm, well, I suppose if she didn't tell you, I can't blame you for not knowing.'

21 June 2016

Teaser Tuesday -- Katie Fforde's Summer of Love

(p 24 of 285)

Amazon Description
Sian Bishop has left the hustle and bustle of the city to throw herself into an idyllic new life in a charming countryside cottage.

With her young son, her picture-postcard garden and her furniture restoration business, she's very happy and very busy. She is not - repeat not - looking for love.

But Sian’s good intentions are torpedoed one glorious summer’s evening with the arrival of Gus Berresford. One-time explorer and full-time heartbreaker, Gus is ridiculously exciting, wonderfully glamorous and a completely inappropriate love interest for a single mother.

But she and Gus have met before. And, despite Sian's best intentions, it isn't long before she's falling for him all over again ...

17 June 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday56 - Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen

This week for Book Beginnings & Friday 56 I'm highlighting the third book in Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness Mystery series -- and the sixth book of my 20 (or so) Books of Summer!

So far I'm only 24% in to Royal Flush and already poor Georgie has been nearly run over by a motorcycle, mistaken for a prostitute, been chatted up by a gossip columnist and given a top secret mission to help protect her family. 

If you're unfamiliar with the series, Georgie is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie of Glen Garry and Rannoch -- a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and 34th in line to the English throne. She's living alone in London trying to survive without a maid, a steady income or real job skills -- and, it sometimes seems, without common sense. The common sense only appears to apply to social situations, though, as she has previously assisted in solving various mysteries. 

Anyway, after the whole accidental-almost-prostitution fiasco, Scotland Yard ships her back to her brother's home in Scotland in hopes of keeping her out of trouble and scandal -- and, as she later finds out, to help keep an eye on the Prince of Wales and his brothers. This in itself is a mixed blessing for Georgie as she loves Scotland in the summer but she and her sister-in-law, Fig, have never gotten along. She's the main reason Georgie's living in London to begin with. So why does Fig act so thrilled when Georgie finally arrives ... ???

I guess I'll have to keep reading to find out!

As always, Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

16 June 2016

Rambling About.. Ogre, Ogre by Piers Anthony (Xanth #5)

Wednesday my son had his end-of-the-year class picnic at a park near his school and I walked up to join the fun. He told me that it would start at 10:30am ... I arrived at 10:16am ... it didn't actually start until noon. I was more than a little tempted to just stretch out in the grass and snooze (I was, after all, skipping my usual post-work nap in order to be there), but opted to read instead. I ended the day with a killer sunburn and a mostly-finished book and I'm ending my work shift with a completely finished book! There were parts of Ogre, Ogre that I had some difficulty following but I think that's mostly due to the muddled exhausted brain . Even with the muddle, though, it's still highly enjoyable!

One of the things that I love about the Xanth series is how characters met early on keep getting revisited -- either themselves or their offspring (and, I'm sure, further on it'll be their offspring). This time around we've got the story of Dor's friend, the half-ogre Smash. Because of Good Magician Humphrey, he's travelling with Tandy who is the daughter of a nymph named Jewel and the Castle Roogna guard (and friend of Dor's father Bink), Crombie. They also get additional travelling companions along the way and run into more characters we already know from the first four books. Along the way each one learns about themselves and each other. There are always life lessons in Xanth there are twists and turns and oh-so-very many puns. (If you aren't a fan, stay out of Xanth.) It's a lot like some of the towns I lived in growing up -- everyone knows everyone or at least they  know their third cousin twice removed on their step-father's cousin's side of the family.

First Lines: 
Tandy tried to sleep, but it was difficult. The demon had never actually entered her private bedroom, but she was afraid that one night he would.

Faves on 4s:
14% - "Smash - you're not rhyming!"
           "Why - so I am not!" he agreed, startled. "That must be the curse of the Eye Queue; it has disrupted               my natural mechanism of communication."
           "It's done more than that!" Tandy exclaimed. "Smash, you sound smart!"
34% - Smash threw himself into the sheer joy of combat, the fundamental delight of every true ogre.
64% - If brass girls could blush copper, goblin girls blushed tan. "You mean you folk like me?"
74% - Ignorance was not necessarily bliss, as any smart creature would know.
94% - What did he want with ogres anyway? They were dull creatures who crunched the bones on human folk.

14 June 2016

Teaser Tuesday - Heather Blake's The Good, The Bad, and The Witchy

I absolutely adore this series! It's the perfect mix of paranormal, rom-com and cozy mystery. The Good, The Bad and The Witchy is the third book in Blake's Wishcraft Mystery series and each one makes me smile more than the one before. I adore Darcy, her sister Harper, her Aunt Ve, and her friends and neighbors in Enchanted Village. It's a series you should read in order just because of little side storylines that carry through, but I think it would still be enjoyable if you decided to skip ahead. A tad confusing here and there, maybe, but still enjoyable!


Amazon Description
Darcy Merriweather is Enchanted Village’s newest resident Wishcrafter—a witch who can grant wishes for others. But as Darcy prepares a celebration for a magical florist, she discovers that every rose has its thorns… 
When magical florist Harriette Harkette decides to throw a lavish eightieth birthday party for herself, she hires Darcy’s Aunt Ve’s personal concierge service, As You Wish, to plan the soiree. But turning eighty isn’t all Harriette is celebrating—the Floracrafter has recently created the midnight black Witching Hour rose, the first all-natural rose of that color. 

Darcy works hard on planning an extravagant celebration that will make Harriette feel like the belle of the ball. But when cake delivery boy Michael Healey—a former employee at Harriette’s greenhouse—is found dead, the celebration takes a turn. Now Michael’s ghost has imprinted on Darcy, meaning that they’re bonded until she can untangle the thicket surrounding his murder—and what exactly it has to do with the Witching Hour rose….  

10 June 2016

Rambling About.. Liz Tipping's Don't You Forget About Me (with Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Two books done and I'm already adding new titles to my 20 (or so) Books of Summer ... but I can't help it! I totally and completely blame Twitter. You see, during my long and often boring nights at work (11pm-7am New York time -- in case you forgot or didn't know to begin with) I'm glued to electronics at work. Often the computer, my tablet and my phone are all amusing me in one way or another. I'll be watching something on Hulu or some other streaming site on my tablet, putzing around with Instagram and/or Sims FreePlay on my phone, and then the computer typically has multiple tabs open (Facebook, Twitter, the blogs, the great search for the next great coconut flour recipe to try, etc). For much of the night things stay pretty quiet aside from a couple of friends who also work overnights and the random insomniac.

But there's this wonderful little thing called Greenwich Mean Time (and British Summer Time, of course, depending on when we're talking about). Because of this wonderful little thing the last handful of hours of my work shift sees the wonderful folks across the pond getting up and at 'em and starting their days. And, really, who in their right mind doesn't start the day on Twitter? SOOOO I've gotten to "know" quite a handful of absolutely smashing chatty people who just happen to be authors or editors or publishers. Once in a while (actually, it happens quite often) one will mention or retweet another smashing person I wasn't previously aware of and I'll go snooping about and wham bam I've got more titles added to my wishlist or, if I'm really lucky, my NetGalley shelf.

About  a month ago one of my favorite publishing houses, Carina UK, retweeted someone named Liz Tipping about her upcoming book, Don't You Forget About Me, being available to pre-order.

I immediately sang (semi-silently, at least) "Hey hey hey HEY" and the song was imbedded into my brain.

And I told her so.

And I told her not to apologize because it's always a happy earworm to have.

And then we chatted about John Hughes and our mutual love of Some Kind of Wonderful until it was time for me to at least pretend to work again and I added her book to my wishlist.

FINALLY the book was released on June 6th and I received my copy from NetGalley right before it got archived ... and right after I had started to read something else. Luckily that was a fast read because I was so tempted to say to it "eh - you can wait" and carry on with the John Hughes lovefest.

Now, lately I've been doing my Book Beginnings & Friday 56 images together but this deserves a little bit more than that so I'm splitting them up. As always, Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

First, though, the Amazon Description:

An athlete, a princess, a brain, a criminal, a basket case…

Cara Dunham is definitely one of them. But stuck in her small hometown, with no prospects of escape, she's struggling to find her thing. Her life is more book club than Breakfast Club and there is no Judd Nelson in sight!
So when Cara is invited to a school reunion she knows this is her chance to channel her inner Molly Ringwald and grab her John Hughes moment, once and for all. Because her teenage love, Daniel Rose will be there, the coolest boy at school and the one that got away.
But transforming into an 80's icon isn't easy and Cara enlists the help of her oldest friend, Stubbs, to teach her all she needs to know about being cool and quirky – a la Ringwald.
Except Stubbs thinks she’s perfect, just as she is and takes it upon himself to show Cara that her life might not be ‘movie perfect’, but there is always another take to get things right. And maybe the hero she's dreamed of has been under her nose the whole time…

Of course, after seeing the description I knew that Stubbs would be The One to cheer for. I didn't have the book in my possession yet I was obsessing over Stubbs just like Duckie and Watts and every other Hughes underdog who didn't always get the happy ending. (I'm fairly certain that Watts was Hughes' way of making up for Duckie. Duckie was supposed to get the girl, dangit!)

A video rental store still open in 2016?!? Isn't everything done online or via vending machines now? (Do dvd vending machines even exist outside of the US?)

Then we fast forward to the 56% mark with Cara and Stubbs. (He even has the perfect Hughes-Underdog-But-Still-The-One name, doesn't he???) I love her slip at the end of the blurb.

Everything in between the beginning and the 56% is absolutely delightful. -- especially for those of us who can more or less recite the lines to multiple Hughes films like Cara and her best friend Verity can. I haven't made it much further than that at this point thanks to work and sleep and coconut flour, but I already know that Cara had better end up with Duckie .... I mean Stubbs ....

(a bonus tease from the 8% mark ... because it's perfect)

08 June 2016

Rambling About.. Jenn McKinlay's Book, Line & Sinker

Title: Book, Line, and Sinker
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Publication: 4 December 2012 -- Berkley
First Lines: "Daisy Buchanan was an insipid, shallow, soulless woman," Violet LaRue declared. "Jay should have found someone else."
Favorites on 4s:
14% - "Cranky of us, isn't it?" Beth asked. "I mean just because she's pushy, rude, loud, selfish and a complete narcissist, that's no reason to dislike the poor girl."
34% - The news had brought treasure seekers, the media and the merely curious into Briar Creek much like a horde of locusts on a field of crops.
54% - "Librarians are like vampires; we don't sleep," Lindsey said.
84% - "We need to lure him with something he can't resist." They both looked at her and she said, "The map."
Ramble: This is the third book in the Library Lover's Mystery series set in Briar Creek, Connecticut and starring public librarian Lindsey Norris. I loved the first two in the series (the first one read pre-blog, the second I teased about here). This one I loved even more and it may or may not have anything to do with pirates.
Trudi Hargrave, head of the tourism department, is opening up some of the uninhabited islands surrounding Briar Creek to treasure hunters -- specifically Preston Riordan who purchased a treasure map of Captain Kidd's indicating that he had buried there while on the run. Trudi, of course, ends up dead at the dig site and Lindsey butts her nose in with the support of her library craft group, friends and boyfriend to help solve the case and clear the good name of one of their own. As if this wasn't enough, her ex-fiancee has arrived in town to try and win her back.
I'm thinking simple pirates would have been a lot easier to deal with!
I really love how Jenn McKinlay infuses just the perfect amount of humor, suspense and romance into her tales without going overboard with any of them. Sometimes it seems as though a mystery plot is lost to the characters attempting to be too lighthearted or too lovey-dovey. Here we get just enough of everything with some twists and turns tossed in to keep you on your toes.

07 June 2016

Teaser Tuesday - Jenn McKinlay's Book, Line & Sinker


Amazon Description
Lindsey is enjoying her second year in Briar Creek as the library director, meeting with the crafternoon club, and happily dating tour boat captain Mike Sullivan. But when a salvage company arrives in town to dig up treasure buried on Pirate Island over three hundred years ago, the locals are torn between protecting the island and welcoming the publicity. 
In spite of the squabbling, Charlie Peyton, Lindsey’s downstairs neighbor, takes a job with the salvage company. But when Trudi Hargrave, the local tourism director who hired the company, is found murdered at the excavation site, Charlie becomes the chief suspect. To help him, Lindsey must do some digging of her own before the real killer buries the truth for good…

03 June 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday56 - Piers Anthony's Centaur Aisle (Xanth # 4)

And it's back to Xanth we go!
Centaur Aisle takes place four years after Castle Roogna and Dor is now 16 years old and standing in for King Trent while he and the Queen are on a working vacation to Mundania. Since Dor is currently next in line to reign, King Trent thought it would be good practice for him. Dor isn't so sure about this and neither is the princess, Irene ... especially when the royal couple don't return when they're supposed to. 

As always, Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

02 June 2016

Rambling About.. Jenny Colgan's Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

Title: Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe
Author: Jenny Colgan
Amazon Description:
Issy Randall can bake. No, Issy can create stunning, mouthwateringly divine cakes. So when she loses her desk job, she starts her own café and finds life can be tougher, and sweeter, than she ever dreamed.

After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery, Issy has undoubtedly inherited his talent. She's much better at baking than she is at filing so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open her own little café. But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all of her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster.

Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is about how life might not always taste like you expect, but there's always room for dessert!
First Lines:

Faves on 4s:
(format: epub on Windows tablet - Book Bazaar Reader App - 416 pages - 2 page layout landscape)
pg 14 - By the time she was ready to start work, Gramps's bakeries were all sold: victims of getting older and the changing times. And she had an education, he had pointed out (sadly, she sometimes thought); she didn't want to be getting up at sparrow's fart and doing hard manual labor for the rest of her life. She was set for better things.
pg 54 - 'You mean to say you were just tolerating me because of my delicious cakes?' said Issy, stung.
            'No,' said François. 'Also because you were shagging the boss.'
pg 114 - If she would put the hours in, devote her entire life to cakes and nothing but, then it was just ... just about possible. Maybe.
pg 184 - '...So don't think they're all going to gang up against you, they can't even manage to gang up to clean their own toilet, as I noticed when I had to take Darny in there one day in an emergency. Does dreadful things to the digestion, too much vegan food.'
pg 224 - 'Did you know my granddaughter uses an electric whisk on meringues? After everything I've taught her!'
pg 284 - He was sure there was something in the banking manual about not getting too close to your clients. Of course he'd never read the manual.
pg 314 - 'You asked him to spy!'
              'You use a microwave! What next, margarine?'
              'Never,' said Issy vehemently.
pg 384 - 'You have to realize, Issy,' she said, speaking kindly but firmly. It was a voice Issy had heard Helena using when she had to pass on bad news. 'This is normal. This is part of the process.'
pg 404 - Use good-quality ingredients. If you put butter on your bread, why would you put margarine in a cake? If you eat nice chocolate, why would you use cooking chocolate in a cake? A cake can only be as nice as the ingredients going into it.

You know how you pretty much figure out how a book is going to work out when you've read so many in any given genre? Well, a "chick lit" typically has a happy ending after some sort of close call and life altering events. There's almost always at least one good friend who tells it like it is and at least one character who is surprisingly not as hideous as you think they are when they first appear.

Yep. This ticked all the criteria ... but it did so while also making my laugh and cry and swoon and shake my fist in rage. It's not often that all of the emotional boxes are ticked!

I love Issy and her friends and customers, but the part of the story that got to me the most at every turn is that of Grampa Joe.

Issy asked him to provide her with recipes from when she was growing up and almost every chapter begins with one of his recipes. There are others scattered in (including one that I will never ever EVER try since even the two-year-old in the story spit it out), but Grampa Joe's entries are the funniest and most heartbreaking. My grampa was a farmer, not a baker .... but my mom? She was my go-to for all things food related. Eons ago my aunt was given a set of index cards of old family recipes as a wedding present (I believe) by my mom that she has since gifted me. If I had had any warning that my mom was going to pass away as early as she did I would have made sure she had written down more.

Anyway, Grampa Joe is in an assisted living facility and suffering from dementia. The love the two have for each other, as well as the frustrating heartbreak associated with his disease, reminded me of my own grandfather who passed almost exactly 5 years before my mom. Colgan wrote it with such accuracy right to the very end that tears flowed easily. I got a couple of concerned looks from fellow-commuters on the bus but I'm getting used to that.

I've got the sequel already lined up as part of  my Christmas in July so I won't have to wait long to find out what's happening with everyone. Maybe by then I'll even have this as a tablet cover so people just leave me alone: