Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

It's hard enough to be a teenage girl in love - but what if you fell for two guys? Well, at least in this story, somebody's going to end up dead.

Brit teen "Zoe" is writing letters to a death row inmate in Texas. She figures she can unburden herself to Mr. Harris since he killed his wife - he'll understand that terrible things can happen in the heat of passion. A boy is dead, and Zoe is to blame ... but it's going to take almost a year, a lot of letters, and a complicated backstory before we get to that.

This is a fun, addictive, and frustrating novel. I was completely sucked into the story and I read it in just two sittings - but I had to constantly stop myself from jumping to the end to find out WHICH ONE?!? And about the time you think, "a-ha!" you'll also wonder, "Was that a red herring?"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bare Essentials

by Jill Shalvis and Leslie Kelly

Two books in one is two times the fun. 

I picked this one up because it had Jill Shalvis' name on the cover; Leslie Kelly's story was every bit as fun.  This is just the right mix of funny and tactfully raunchy.  Kate and Cassie come from a long line of women with reputations for liking men a whole lot.

In Naughty but Nice (Shalvis), lingerie model, Cassie, returns to her dreaded hometown to hide from a stalker and exact a little revenge in the process.  Too bad sheriff, Sean "Tag" Taggert quickly catches on while single-handedly upping her car insurance rate.  She hightailed it out of town as a teen after the sheriff hit on her the night of her prom.  Tag's got his work cut out for him to convince the beauty that he won't believe the rumors, even when they come from his own family. 

In Naturally Naughty (Kelly), Kate Jones finds herself back in Pleasantville with the excitement of opening a new store.  She's sure she'll shock the townspeople right into sending her packing for a second time.  Within minutes of arriving she has a brief but sizzling staring contest with Jack.  Hours later it turns into much more.  Frustration sets in when Kate figures out that Jack is the one man she wanted to leave in a miserable puddle: too bad she likes him.  He's got his own reasons for holding back; her mom is one of the most respected people in his life. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Law man

by Kristen Ashley

This book's so hot, my fingers should be scorched from flipping pages.  Sweet Mara has spent a lifetime believing she's low girl on the totem pole when it comes to what makes someone attractive.  That said, she's great at friendships, but any encounter with her sizzling neighbor, Detective Mitch Lawson, sends her running for cover. Quite literally, this gal will trip over her own to feet to avoid the man of her dreams.

Mitch has spent years waiting for Mara to give him just one opening.  It'll take everything he's got to show her how completely whacked Mara world is. 

Following her desperate escape, their worlds collide in order to provide stability for Mara's two young cousins.  Luckily, Mitch has all the skills to get those kids and Mara through the maze of protective services while protecting them from the Russian mob, drug dealers, and the genetic cesspool out of which this adorable trio has risen.

Seriously, CRAP, I've found a new series.  Not only that, it appears the Chaos series has characters tied to some other series in Ms. Ashley's repertoire.  Hmm, maybe I should start to be grateful for this bitterly cold winter and the abundant opportunities to snuggle up with a good book.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress by Lawhon

The real-life disappearance of a New York judge in 1930 spurred this fictional whodunit of political intrigue, crooked cops, and the behind-the-scenes power of women.

Judge Joseph Crater is a slimeball from page one - from every perspective we see, he's got "bad news" written all over him. But where did he end up, and who's behind it all?

His wife has retired to her beloved lake cottage, and isn't going to deal with any of the mess surrounding his disappearance. The maid has seen way more than she lets on, and is desperately trying to get pregnant with her politically compromised police detective husband. And then there's the showgirl who's a mob moll and compromised in a million different ways.

The result is a twisty, sudsy, rumors-and-lies kind of book. I'm always fascinated by unsolved crimes and the idea that SOMEONE knows and doesn't tell - and this is one of those stories. It was a quick read, and I think mystery lovers will enjoy the tale.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quilting Isn't Funny by Megan Dougherty

Are you a quilter? Do you have a quilter in your life? Because this book is hilarious.

I've been a fan of Megan Dougherty since her first column appeared in Quilter's Home magazine years ago. When I read that first column, I knew this was a chick who understood humor - she can look at an everyday situation (like a quilt guild meeting) and mine it for pure comedy gold. It's the familiarity of Megan's comedy that makes it truly shine; you've been in these situations, but somehow you completely overlooked the humor she found there. She's the chick you want to sit next to in the back row to misbehave and snark with. 

This book is a compilation of material previously published in magazines or on her blog ( with a bit of new to keep things fresh. This book is laugh-out-loud funny; read too much in a single sitting and I guarantee it'll build up to tears. I bought copies for all my quilting besties as holiday gifts.

Granted, if you're not a quilter this one's probably not your cup of tea. Don't know a fat quarter from a quarter auction from Fat Tuesday? It's probably going to sail right over your head. But that's the least of your problems - sheesh, I mean, all the cool kids are quilting these days. What's wrong with you?

Caveat: I helped copy-edited this book for Megan pre-production. But seriously - I've read this book multiple times and I LOVE, love, LOVE it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

From the Top: Brief Transmissions From Tent Show Radio by Michael Perry

Whether he's looking at the stars, admiring his young daughters, fixing a fence, humbling himself before his wife, or touring the country pitching his books, Mike Perry does a lot of thinking. Thankfully, he's willing to share his ponderances with us, because they're well turned, medium-deep, and often quite hilarious.

Some of those thoughts turn into books (if you haven't read Perry's books, drop everything and get one NOW!). Others are simply the little bits Perry talks about during intermission on the syndicated Tent Show Radio program; those intermission interludes are what's presented in this volume for the readers' (rather than listeners') enjoyment.

I have long believed Perry is the very best blend of intelligentsia and redneck. He's got an utterly amazing way with words (oh, the vocabulary!), and he certainly isn't hesitant about making himself the butt of jokes. What's especially nice about this book is that you can pick it up and put it down: open to any page, flip around, and it's all good. Since they're essays and ponderances, there's no chronology you have to follow.

Lexicon by Max Barry

As unlikely as it seems, this is a geeky word-nerd action-adventure novel with guns. Seriously!

A secret organization has discovered how to control people simply with language: using the right combination of sounds, and they can instantly hotwire your brain to believe anything or do anything they tell you. They call it "compromising" a person, and the expert practitioners of this art are called poets.

This is a fast-moving, hard to put down book. The story shifts around in time a bit, so you're often uncertain if the events are now, later, or before - which adds to the suspense. What students we meet will eventually become the poets? What on earth did they unleash in Australia? Seriously, a WORD could do that?!?

It's very good, and moves along quickly. Once I finally picked it up, I read it in just 2 days.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

A happenstance meeting, punctuated by a gun, changes the lives of everyone inside the Circle K gas station. Single young mom Shandi becomes smitten with the strong lonely hero who puts himself between her son and the gun. But like real life, things aren't that easy: William's got his own issues, and he isn't likely to simply fall head over heels because Shandi says so. Complicating matters are his best friend, her best friend, and so, so much more.

Jackson is an absolutely wonderful writer - a real reader's delight. She's both funny and emotional, and her characters are genuine and relatable; they're flawed in all the true ways, rendering them three-dimensional. They're practically living breathing people because you recognize in them yourself and others you know.

In addition to the pseudo-romantic storyline, there's another piece to the tale: Shandi coming to terms with her son's conception. She's been in strong denial about what happened that night, but facing a gun makes her realize she owes it to everyone to face down the dragon. Incidentally, William's in a perfect position to help with that, too.

Drop everything, and pick up this book! I'm not one for romance stories, so understand that for me Jackson's name on the cover trumps the word "love" in the title. And I certainly wasn't disappointed. I loved, loved, loved this book.

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson

If having a baby doesn't necessarily make you a mother, what does? For Shandi Pierce, it's an unexpected danger to her 3 year old son that flips a switch in her mind and her heart and turns her into a real mother.

This 75-page short story is a preview of sorts to Jackson's new book, Someone Else's Love Story. It stands alone, but also offers a bit of back-story to the longer novel's characters and plot.

Seriously, this teaser just made me want more. Jackson has such a wonderful voice to her characters and story that I just cannot get enough. I've already moved on to Someone Else's Love Story.