Archive for March, 2011

I really try to always find an upbeat, happy way to approach every situation. Unfortunately, there are times when horrible things happen, and my silly outlook takes a backseat to heartbreak.

Last week, a horrible crime was committed, and left a much loved and respected member of the reviewing/blogging community to raise her children without their father. This is from the Operation Auction official site:

Fatin has been an integral part of the romance community for years – she owns and runs the RR@H Novel Thoughts and Book Talk blog, is an administrator of the WriteMinded loop, an author assistant and a tireless advocate for romance novels. She is also a friend to many in this community.

On Tuesday, March 8th, she lost her husband in a senseless act of violence, leaving her alone with four children. You can read more about the tragedy here: http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/9233067/

The romance community would like to rally around her. Therefore, we will be holding auctions on ebay the last week of March. More information on exact days and donations will follow.

There are TONS of things to bid on. Autographed books, autographed ARCs, professional critiques of original submissions, group packages to conventions, dinners and phone calls with authors, characters named after you, guest appearances in future books… you name it, it’s probably there to bid on.

Some things are daily (and will be ending VERY SOON… TONIGHT) and some will be available until the end of the auction, which appears to be April 1st. Some items are still very reasonable for those without much $ to bid with, while other items are creating major bidding wars. There is also a “donate here” link on the official website for those who would like to simply donate to the cause. The graphic below will take you to the official site with a link to the ebay store to start your bidding.

Operation Auction

Here is a very real, very important chance for people to reach out to a family that is hurting, in a community that we all love and appreciate. Please… look at the list… bid on something that catches your eye, or just donate what you can spare.

Please pass the link to the official Operation Auction website on… as well as the ebay store link. A little generosity from each of us will go a long way to bringing happiness back to a family it was stolen so horrifically from. Thank you.

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“BLANK” Makes Me Happy – Sarah Addison Allen

Posted March 23, 2011 By Jennifer

Hi there!

This month’s feature is with one of my very favorite authors. I discovered Sarah’s books early last year and she immediately moved to my “must read everything she ever wrote right this minute… now… now… now” list. I think I would love to live next door to her, and have lunch with her once a week just to see what amazing things she’s come up with.

Here’s a list she sent me with some things that made her happy on a day not long ago…

Five Things that Made Me Happy Today:

  • Hitting three green lights in a row. It’s like they knew.
  • Overhearing a kid in the grocery store say, “I can hear the chocolate from here. It’s calling me.”
  • Having my cat greet me when I came in the door. You have no idea how rare this is. Most of the time he doesn’t even know I’m gone. I think this had something to do with the fact that I was carrying his food.
  • The ding my computer makes when I have a new e-mail.
  • The Olive and Cocoa (www.oliveandcocoa.com) candy care package a friend just sent me. Grapefruit jellies and pink gumballs. How could that not make you happy?

**Can I just say that I LOVE she sent a list! When you read The Peach Keeper, you’ll know why that tickles me, lol.**

After I got the list, and read the new book… I had a few questions for her…

1) Did you blow at the lights to make them change (a la Whoopie Goldberg in the movie Corrina, Corrina)?

  • No, but I did hold my breath.  Maybe that helped.
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 2) Do you have a standard “ding” when you get email, or have you customized your sounds so a sexy-man-voice (or other lovely sound) introduces your incoming correspondence?

  • I had no idea you could customize the sound!  I just switched computers from PC to Mac.  There’s nothing like trying to learn a new computer to make you feel about a hundred years old.

3) If you were to visit Au Natural Sporting Goods and Cafe, what drink would you order from Rachel, and what would she think your order said about you?

  • Rachel would have a field day with me.  I don’t actually like coffee.

 4) There seems to be a good ending point for The Peach Keeper two chapters before the book actually ends. (Not to say I don’t appreciate the last two chapters, because I absolutely do. Just that it would have kept the secret a secret.) Was there ever a chance you would end the story WITHOUT the details in chapter eighteen?

  • The only trouble I had with that secret was where to put it in the story — reveal it early or leave it until the end?  But there was never a question of leaving it out.  I thought it was too important.
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 5) I literally clapped a little when Claire Waverley showed up at Moira’s event. This is the first time, I think, that you’ve crossed a character over from another story. Was this something you intended to do, or did Claire just “appear” in the story? If it was planned, will we see more crossovers in future books?

  • I didn’t plan it, but as soon as that party scene appeared, I knew who catered it.  It was so much fun writing those characters from Garden Spells into The Peach Keeper.  I don’t know if there will be more crossovers in future books, but if the opportunity presents itself, it could happen!
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 7) Can you give us a one sentence teaser from your WIP?

  • “Never underestimate the power of scent.  Just a whiff of something has the power to change someone’s mind.”

OOOHHHH… I love sneak peeks 🙂 Not a lot to go on, but I know whatever Sarah’s got up her sleeve is going to be fantastic!

Before we get to the part where you can WIN SOMETHING FROM ME… here are a few awesome things Sarah has to offer…

And in case you missed them…

Now is when I get to share this incredible story with one of YOU!! The major theme of The Peach Keeper is friendship. So… to win a brand new, hard cover copy of the book, tell me something about your best friend that makes you happy. Please also include your first name and email address so I can notify you if you win. Winner will be chosen by random drawing among all qualifying commenters. Deadline to comment is Thursday, March 24th, at midnight. Winner will have one week to respond or another will be randomly chosen.

I can’t wait to hear what you all think about Sarah’s books, and especially about The Peach Keeper! Be sure to come back after you’ve read it. Happy reading… and GOOD LUCK!

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Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Posted March 23, 2011 By Jennifer

Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 273
Original Release Date: March 22, 2011
ISBN #: 9780553807226
FTC Disclaimer: Finished copy received from author rep for the purpose of review.

From Chapter Five of The Peach Keeper…
“… dreaming of warmer months, of kingfisher-blue skies and leaves so green they looked like they’d just been painted, as if the color would smear if you touched it.”

That’s how you know you’re reading a book by Sarah Addison Allen. While you’re reading, the words create a story so real you feel like you could reach out and hug the characters. Their pain makes your eyes tear and your heart ache, and their joy makes you giddy. Sarah doesn’t just write stories about a journey that’s being traveled,  she hands you a suitcase and coat and welcomes you along for the ride. And the ride is ALWAYS worth taking.

The Peach Keeper is a book about friendships. About nurturing old ones, about creating new ones, about losing them and finding them, and how being true to yourself is the only way to be a real friend to someone else.

In 1936, Georgie Jackson and Agatha Osgood were girlhood friends in Walls of Water, North Carolina. 75 Years later, their granddaughters, Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood find themselves in the awkward position of trying to uncover what tragedy changed that friendship, and their town, all those years ago. Awkward because they are NOT friends.

Sparked by a gruesome discovery during the renovation of a town landmark, the Walls of Water High School Joker and the president of the Women’s Society Club find that not everything, or everyone, is as it seems. Willa has spent her entire adult life trying to live down the reputation she worked diligently in high school to earn. Paxton is the reluctant face of Walls of Water high society. They’ve both fallen into the daily routine of being what they think people want from them, instead of being true to themselves. It takes a skeleton, some quality time with a spunky old lady, and a little push from a “wiser than they realize” cast of side characters to put the women on the right track.

I love that Sarah brought front and center the importance of embracing and preserving family history. This story is built on the foundation that Georgie and Agatha created with the strength of their friendship. I also love that Sarah’s characters are so much like people we all know in our own lives. The support that Willa and Paxton get comes from a well-rounded, engaging group of friends and family.  We all know someone like Rachel, the nature lover and health nut… or Sophie, the mother who’s trying desperately to hold on to the glamour of her youth by living vicariously through her daughter.

And let’s not forget the men in their lives. Colin Osgood, who’s been successfully running a business, and running from his family, returns to finish up the renovation of the historic Blue Ridge Madam. He’s also been harboring admiration for the girl Willa was when they were in school, and is surprised and confused by who she’s become. Paxton’s best friend, Sebastian Rogers, delivers a bit of confusion and surprise of his own. And not in the ways you might think. Both Colin and Sebastian have choices to make for themselves, in addition to figuring out if they can be what Willa and Paxton need. The blend of attraction, tension, sweetness, and wowza! is enough to make any romance fan swoon.

So far, this all sounds very serious. There ARE very serious threads making up the fabric of this story. The town’s mysterious secrets, and the growth the characters go through are told in a very real, very thoughtful way. But one of my favorite aspects of Sarah’s writing is how she brings humor, whimsy, and of course magic, into her stories. For every harrowing moment outside the Gas Me Up, there is a Women’s Society Club meeting that reads like a scene from the movie  Liar, Liar. For every unearthed murder weapon, there’s a barista who can guess your personality by your drink order. And for every uncomfortable situation the main characters find themselves in romantically… there is a happily ever after. The balance of heavy to light, heart-breaking to heart-warming, and serious to silly makes the story so much stronger.

The Peach Keeper did surprise me in one interesting way. In previous books, the magical element has been a dedicated trait of one or more characters. It was also something that, to me, was lovely and sing-song-y and pure. This time, the magic in the story started as a part of the town’s past, attributed to a shady character who chose to use his charms against those who trusted him. Later, it seemed to evolve into something that encompassed the town. The birds, the trees, the clouds, the mail, even the air itself was magical. In it’s new form, the magic became the embodiment of  goodness I’m used to.

Speaking of goodness, we get a cameo by Claire Waverley in The Peach Keeper! I love love LOVE that she made an appearance. I really hope this is the beginning of a new trend for Sarah’s books. I know I’m not the only one who’s anxious to know what’s happening with the friends we made in Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and The Girl Who Chased The Moon.

This all boils down to the fact that I got exactly what I hoped for from a Sarah Addison Allen tale. Amazing, real characters who lived out a story that was both gripping and fanciful. I know you’ll be as enchanted by the goings on in Walls of Water, North Carolina as I was. But watch out… the air is turning white… and you just might find you have paint on your fingers.

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Author: Kate Pearce
Series: The Tudor Vampire Chronicles
Other Titles In Series: Kiss of the Rose (#1), Mark of the Rose (#3)
Format: MMPaperback, eBook
Pages: 320
Original Release Date: February 1, 2011
ISBN #: 978-0451232489

Rosalind Llewellyn and Christopher Ellis are back to kick more Vampire butt in Kate Pearce’s second installment of The Tudor Vampire Chronicles, Blood of the Rose. This time their enemy happens to be one history’s most intriguing and infamous women, Anne Boleyn.

King Henry has set aside Queen Katharine and is seeking an annulment so that he may wed Anne. His lady love, however, is not exactly who she appears to be, and has her own agenda. One that makes Henry a pawn in her quest for power. Rosalind struggles with how to protect the King, and keep her head, since she knows he would not tolerate anyone deliberately speaking out against his beautiful (but deadly) betrothed. The fighting is a little more fierce in this book. Rosalind and Christopher also have to deal with more personal issues and quite a few very messy misunderstandings.

I LOVED this book. Kate did a spectacular job of fleshing out Christopher and Rosalind and letting the reader get more of a peek into their inner turmoils. I enjoy the scenes that Rosalind and Christopher share because their relationship seems so real. They bicker and argue like an old married couple. As their love grows stronger, the obstacles they face become harder to overcome. And their make-ups are steamy! I can see genuine feelings between the two of them and the tender moments they share absolutely melt my heart. I am thrilled that Rosalind is so much  stronger in this book. She really blossoms [in more ways than one ;-)] and owns who she is. My one complaint is that I have to wait until August for Mark of the Rose!

Review of the first book in The Tudor Vampire Chronicles, Kiss of the Rose, CLICK HERE.

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ShadowKissed.net Contest!!

Posted March 3, 2011 By Jennifer

When you love books… like I do, and like you all do… you find yourself loving book STUFF. Stuff like t-shirts with the best quotes on them. Stuff like bookmarks and posters with favorite characters on them. Stuff like AMAZING jewelry based on the themes and ideas from some of our favorite series.

ShadowKissed.net is having a contest based on, you guessed it, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. Their site is fantastic for anyone looking for Richelle news, VA news, or the NEW series, BLOODLINES! Right now, their contest is up and running, and the prize is beautiful!! A bracelet, based on the series and approved by Richelle, designed by artisan Psynde:

So… all of you Vampire Academy fans (and I know there are LOTS of you out there) run… do not walk… to ShadowKissed.net and enter. (CLICK HERE TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE CONTEST POST) It’s a multi-day contest, so pay attention to the rules. 🙂 I’m entering, as well… so good luck to us all!!

🙂 Jennifer

 Too bad there aren’t enough bracelets for everyone, right? Or… wait… there ARE!  If you aren’t the lucky winner of the contest… you can STILL get your hands on some incredible, artistic jewelry from the series. Psynde’s Vampire Academy designs are sanctioned by Richelle Mead. She’s also got other pieces based on other book series, and approved by the authors. Check out her online store, Cemetary Cat Designs.

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