OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary

If you haven’t read any of the Outlander series from Diana Gabaldon, then now is the time to start. This summer marks the 20th Anniversary of the release of Outlander, the first in this historical/romance series. 


I was introduced to the Outlander series last summer as part of the Kanawha County Public Library’s summer reading program. I only had to read one book, which I did, but I was hooked. I went on to read almost all of the books in this series between August and October. I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Gabaldon at the WV Book Festival in October of 2010 during an author meet-and-greet and hear her speak about her books and works-in-progress. (If you ever get the opportunity to hear Ms. Gabaldon then run and grab a seat because her books are phenomenal and she is a captivating and highly entertaining speaker!).

You can order the 20th anniversary book directly from the publisher, Random House by clicking here OR from a variety of other online sellers including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.


Publisher’s notes on this edition:

Twenty years ago, Diana Gabaldon swept readers into her mesmerizing world brimming with history, romance, and adventure. In celebration of the series that has captured the heart of millions, here is a special 20th anniversary edition of the novel that started it all—including a new essay, a new map, a CD with Outlander the musical, and more.

OUTLANDER

The year is 1945. Claire Randall is traveling with her husband when she touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is hurled back in time to a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord 1743. Catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, she soon realizes that an alliance with James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, might be the only way to survive. Thus begins a work of unrivaled storytelling that has become a modern classic.

Coming This Week…

Coming up tomorrow is a review of Pulled by Amy Lichtenhan. And Wednesday, July 13th will feature a guest post by author Amy Lichtenhan. 


Don’t forget you still have until 12:00 AM ET on 07/13/2011 to enter for your chance to win an ebook copy of Pulled by Ms. Lichtenhan. Don’t have an ereader? Don’t worry…you can read the ebook on your computer. The winner of the ebook giveaway will be posted on 07/14/2011.

Additional reviews coming up this week will be for Sacred Evil by Heather Graham, The Undertaker by William Brown, and In Seconds by Brenda Novak.






Book 156: TENDERFOOT Review

Amy Tupper has provided a slightly different coming-of-age story in Tenderfoot. Julianna, or Jules, is starting college when she notices that her sight has changed. She can read the text in a book from across the room. She can also hear through walls and her sense of taste has gone completely wild (she can actually picture the surroundings of an animal when eating meat and diary products). If that wasn’t weird enough, she can also “hear” the thoughts of others, okay not everyone but just one person . . . Nicholas “Nick” Grimm. Jules learns that Nick is a troll or faery and basically her protector. He was also her mother’s protector and her grandmother’s protector. Nick has been protecting the special women in her family for generations. 


College is hard enough without throwing all of the faery items into the mix but add some romance and Tenderfoot raises the ante. Jules learns to handle college, even the boring aspects. Jules also must come to grips with her “romance” with Andrew, another freshman and fencer extraordinaire. Tenderfoot realistically explores the drama and angst of college while adding first love and Swedish faery lore into the mix. Jules doesn’t weave spells, she can’t fly, and she doesn’t have superhuman strength. She does have grit and determination and is a likable character. 


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 155: MERCILESS Review

Can you keep a secret? Are you willing to lie in order to maintain that secret? Joceline Perry must do just that in order to protect her secrets in Merciless by Diana Palmer.


Joceline works as an administrative assistant at the FBI and is a single mom. Her boss is Jon Blackhawk, an FBI agent, lawyer, and handsome and wealthy young man. Jon knows that he’d be lost without Joceline’s assistance and their work relationship is a strange dance in comraderie and teasing. Joceline does her best to protect Jon from his mother’s matchmaking and keep him on schedule and well-informed on his cases. Things are going reasonably well for both until a bad guy is released on bail. This is unfortunate because this particular bad guy was arrested for participating in the murder of Jon’s sister-in-law and niece a few years ago. Of course the bad guy has threated Jon’s life and now Jon winds up being shot. Then the bad guy threatens Jon’s family and co-workers so Joceline and her son must be protected. And of course, nothing remains a secret forever.


Regrettably I must be a little “merciless” about Merciless. The story was somewhat formulaic and nothing that happened was really a surprise. I didn’t like the wealthy boss and penniless and subservient but hardworking worker scheme and felt it was overdone (perhaps my cynicism is showing). Having said that…if you prefer a light, romantic HEA quick read then Merciless may work for you.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 154: DARKHOUSE Review

Is it normal to have had imaginary friends and an overactive imagination? Perry Palamino lives with these questions in the paranormal/horror story Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1) by Karina Halle.


In some ways Darkhouse seems to be a coming-of-age story with Perry learning to deal with her differences. The problem is that Perry apparently sees dead people and always has. Her younger sister, Ada, the fashionista, makes reference to Perry scaring her with this ability as a young child. Although Perry is 22 years old and gainfully employed — as a receptionist at an advertising agency, she feels unsure of herself and where she needs to be and go in life. To make matters worse, she was an extremely troubled teen and dabbled in drugs, alcohol and even cutting to help deal with her inner pains. Perry now feels that she owes her parents some normalcy. But Perry isn’t “abnormal” she just has an ability that others don’t have and can’t quite understand . . . the ability to see ghosts.


During a trip to the coast to visit family, Perry decides to explore an old, defunct lighthouse. Of course she’s exploring it late at night and no one knows where she’s gone (wouldn’t be as dramatic otherwise). She’s spent the day photographing nature and still has her camera, which is a good thing, because her dreams (or rather nightmares) have just come to life. Fortunately she is able to film some of her ghostly encounters but she also encounters Declan “Dex” Foray, a cameraman/producer of webcasts. Perry has the opportunity to write about this incident when Ada is down-and-out due to a virus and unable to post to her fashion blog. Perry’s ghostly encounter video becomes viral and Dex returns with the offer to host a webcast on ghost hunting. 


What follows are a series of unfortunate encounters with an elderly woman that only Dex and Perry can see, and this serves to heighten the fear factor when they return to the lighthouse. Is the lighthouse haunted or is it simply evil? Are Dex and Perry “crazy” or simply in touch with energies other’s can’t see or feel? Where will these abilities lead them? Ms. Halle has crafted a dark story filled with horrifying moments. For me this was simply an okay read (I didn’t connect to this story). Darkhouse is well written and the characters are believable with all of their idiosyncracies and eccentricities. If you’ve read Darkhouse and are looking for more paranormal/horror, then note that Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) is now available.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 153: THE ORPHAN SISTER Review

I think that there are periods in our lives when we all may feel out of step with our siblings and/or family. We simply feel as if we don’t fit in for some reason. This appears to be the underlying theme of The Orphan Sister by Gwendolen Gross. 


Clementine Lord feels out-of-step with her sisters, even though she is a triplet. It doesn’t help that they are identical twins and she is simply the “sister.” Or at least that how it feels to her at times. Clem’s sisters are high achievers and have beautiful names, Odette and Olivia. Their mother’s name is Octavia so of course Clem feel’s left out with something as simple as just her name. The twins were accepted to Harvard and went to medical school, ultimately specializing in obstetrics and pediatrics. They got married at the same time and even had their children within days of one another. Clem fell in love first but her boyfriend died during college. As a result of his death, it took Clem three years to complete her final year of college. She’s unsure of what she wants to do with her life but thinks she wants to become a vet…which is as close to medicine as she’ll get. 


Clem loves her sisters, as well as her mother and father but she just feels that there’s something that puts her out of sync with the rest. All three sisters desperately want the approval of their father, and seem to subconsciously compete for that approval. Just when Clem is starting to feel comfortable with her life and where its heading her father disappears. Then it is revealed that he had another wife. The drama quotient is upped tremendously by this news. Clem is at first worried about her father’s absence and then just pissed that he would leave and remain incommunicado. 


Ms. Gross has provided characters that are recognizable and likable because of their faults and blemishes. The Orphan Sister is a delightful story about learning to like your family not just love them and about accepting our individual differences. 


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Reviews Coming Soon…

I know…I’m a little behind in posting reviews, but thankfully not behind in my reading. I’ll be posting reviews of the following titles over the weekend: Darkhouse by Karina Halle, The Orphan Sister by Gwendolen Gross, Merciless by Diana Palmer, Tenderfoot by Amy Tupper and possibly Sacred Evil by Heather Graham (told you I’ve been reading.)

Of course next week will feature a review of Pulled by Amy Lichtenhan posting on 07/12/11. Ms. Lichtenhan will be providing a guest post on 07/13/11. Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win the ebook version of Pulled (you can read the ebook on a computer even if you don’t have an ereader); winner will be announced on 07/14/11.

Here’s a sneak peek at books I’ll be reading over the next week: The Undertaker by William Brown, The Saints Go Dying by Erik Hanberg, In Seconds by Brenda Novak, and You’re Next by Gregg Hurwitz.

So what have you been reading and what’s next on your TBR list?

Goodreads.com and a Good Cause…Literacy

Goodreads.com is promoting literacy by offering to give away a minimum of 5000 books through the First Book literacy program. How can you participate? Simple, join GoodReads.com (if you haven’t already), join the GoodReads Book Club and pledge to read A Visit From the Goon Squad to your shelves (read, to be read, or currently reading) by August 2, 2011. GoodReads.com will be donating 1000 books to children in need for every 10000 members that add A Visit From the Goon Squad to their shelves. Want to learn more? Visit GoodReads.com for more information. A great book, a great website and a great cause.

Ebook giveaway and coming soon…

I’m pleased to announce another giveaway! I will be giving away the ebook of Pulled by Amy Lichtenhan. To enter this giveaway please click here and fill out the form. Entries are allowed through 12:00 AM ET on Wednesday, July 13th. The winner will be announced and posted on July 14, 2011.


Now for the really big news…author Amy Lichtenhan will be providing a guest author post on Wednesday July 13. My review of Pulled will be posting on Tuesday, July 12th. 


Make sure you mark your calendars and come back on Wednesday July 13th and enter today for your chance to get Pulled in ebook format.

Book 152: RELEASING GILLIAN’S WOLVES Review

There are many cliches that can be applied to crooked politicians and their antics, such as politics makes for strange bedfellows or, my personal favorite, “in politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” The sad truth is that politicians (business moguls, professional athletes, and other celebrities) often think that they can do whatever they want, especially if it’s illegal or immoral, and no one will ever know or say anything. When the dirt comes out, whether its about fiscal improprieties, adultery or both, the question arises as to why the wives stand by their men. Isn’t that taking “for better or worse” a little too far? That is the question that Tara Woolpy asks, and answers, in Releasing Gillian’s Wolves.


Gillian Wolf Sachs is a 49-year-old socially inept (her words) wife, mother, grandmother and artist. Her husband is a 53-year-old Congressman running for reelection, Jack Sachs. Due to Gillian’s social ineptitude she usually hides behind food, no not eating herself into oblivion, but providing food to others. Gillian is a nurturer at heart. She has put up with her husband’s escapades for years and tolerated it because she didn’t want to cause a media frenzy. She also thinks that she’s protecting her children . . . her grown children. Her daughter Aurora no longer even has a relationship with her father because of his sexual escapades. Her son John is a little more forgiving and even comes home to help with the reelection campaign. This is when things get dicey. John falls for a campaign intern that is younger than he is and apparently this intern had a relationship with his father. When this is confirmed, John has a meltdown and Gillian decides to leave town. The truly sad part is that Gillian’s friends and even Jack’s mother, Gillian’s mother-in-law, are all advocating her divorcing Jack and moving on with her life.


Releasing Gillian’s Wolves seems to be about self-discovery and discerning one’s self worth. Gillian must find that she is worthy as an individual, not only of love and affection, but simply as a human being. That might sound simple when you’re relatively young, but it is often a difficult message to grasp when you’re more than 40 and have never worked outside of the home. Ms. Woolpy’s characters are all too believable in that none of them are without human faults and insecurities. All of the characters are searching in their own way to find happiness or to hold onto it for as long as possible. It is this all-too realistic struggle that provides one possible answer as to why these women stay . . . and better yet, why they may leave. Look for Releasing Gillian’s Wolves to be released in August 2011.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”