Saturday, November 22, 2014

Road Trip!

Reading Into Paranormal Book Group has invited us to join them for their discussion of Summer Moon by Jan DeLima.

They meet at Gardiner Public Library at 6pm on the first Tuesday of every month and will be discussing Jan’s book on December 2nd. Jan should be there to answer any burning questions, or you could save them for OUR discussion on the 11th! This might also be a good time to revisit the first book in the series, Celtic Moon, which is also available on the Nooks.

I’m afraid that both Sarah and I will be unable to make the trip, so we expect a full report when we see you at our next meeting.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Books For December

The books for December are "Hard Magic" by Larry Correia and "Summer Moon" by Jan DeLima. Orr next meeting is schedules for December 11th at 6:00 in the Lecture Hall.

Here is a brief description of the two choices:

Hard Magic 
by Larry Correia
(Urban Fantasy/Mystery)

Jake Sullivan is a licensed Private Eye—with a seriously hardboiled attitude. He also possesses raw magical talent and the ability to make objects in his vicinity light as a feather or as heavy as depleted uranium, all with a magical thought. It's no wonder the G-men turn to Jake when they need someone to go after a suspected killer who's been knocking off banks in a magic-enhanced crime spree. Problems arise when Jake discovers the bad girl behind the robberies is an old friend, and he happens to know her magic is just as powerful as his, and the Feds have plunged Jake into a secret battle between powerful cartels of magic-users--a cartel whose ruthless leaders have decided that Jake is far too dangerous to live.

Summer Moon
by Jan DeLima
(Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance) 

Rosa Alban has been obedient her entire life. But when her alpha husband dies, she seizes the opportunity to flee the oppressive Guardians—the rulers of the secret shapeshifter world. Her flight instantly brands her as a pack traitor, and she has no choice but to seek protection from a neighboring tribe by marrying one of their sons.

Known as the Beast of Merin, Luc Black loyally plays the part of unwanted son and devoted brother. He realizes marrying Rosa will strengthen his tribe’s territory, but he has no intention of loving ever again. Still, he’s unprepared for the intense physical need the wild she-wolf awakens in him.

When the Guardians hone in on Rosa, Luc must fight to protect his new bride. And as war descends, the unlikely allies discover their destinies are irrevocably entwined.

Monday, October 20, 2014

November's Books

The books for November are "World War Z" by Max Brooks and "Whiskey Beach" by Nora Roberts. The next meeting is Thursday, November 13th at 6:00 pm.  For right now we are scheduled for the Lecture Hall, but that could change and we could get bumped to a different room.  

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
by Max Brooks

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. "World War Z" is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years. 

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. 

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, "By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as 'the living dead'?"

Whiskey Beach 
by Nora Roberts
(Contemporary Romance)

For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore - and its secrets.

To summer tourists, it's the crown jewel of the town's stunning scenery. To the residents of Whiskey Beach, it's landmark and legend. To Eli Landon, it's home...

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigation after being accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife. And though there was never enough evidence to have him arrested, his reputation is in tatters as well as his soul. He need sanctuary. He needs Bluff House.

While Eli's beloved grandmother is in Boston, recuperating from a nasty fall, Abra Walsh has card for Bluff House, among her other jobs as yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist. She is a woman with an open heart and a wide embrace, and no one is safe from her special, some would say over-bearing, brand of nurturing - including Eli.

He begins to count on Abra for far more than her cooking, cleaning, and massage skills, and starts to feel less like a victim - and more like the kind of man who can finally solve the murder of his wife and clear his name. But Bluff House's many mysteries are a siren song to someone intent on destroying Eli and reaping the rewards. He and Abra will become entangled in a centuries-old net of rumors and half-truths that could pull them under the thunderous waters of Whiskey Beach...

Passion and obsession, humor and heart flow together in a novel about two people opening themselves up to the truth - and to each other.

Friday, September 19, 2014

October's Books

The books that I picked for October are "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt and "The Bride" by Julie Garwood.  "The Secret History" is somewhat of a departure from our usual reads.  It literary fiction and quite dark.  It is one of my favorite books and I want to see what others think about this book.  The other book "The Bride" is "old school" historical romance.

The Secret History
By Donna Tartt

(Literary Fiction)

Richard Papen arrived at Hampden College in New England and was quickly seduced by an elite group of five students, all Greek scholars, all worldly, self-assured, and, at first glance, all highly unapproachable. As Richard is drawn into their inner circle, he learns a terrifying secret that binds them to one another...a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life...and led to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning...

The Bride
By Julie Garwood

(Historical Romance)

By the king's edict, Alec Kincaid, mightiest of the Scottish lairds, must take an English bride. And Jamie the youngest daughter of Baron Jamison, is his choice. From his first glimpse of the proud and beautiful English lady, Alec felt a burning hunger stir within him. This was a woman worthy of his fearless warrior's spirit. And he aches to touch her, tame her, possess her...forever.
But with the wedding vows, Jamie pledges her own secret oath: She will never surrender her love to this Highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned her against -- an arrogant, brooding scoundrel whose rough good looks and seductive embrace fire her blood. But when strange accidents begin to threaten Jamie's life and an old rumor that Alec killed his first wife spreads anew, something far more dangerous than desire threatens to conquer her senses.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review of "Somebody to Love" by Kristan Higgins

So it has been a long time since I felt like writing a review of a book, let alone a contemporary romance review.  A few weekends ago I needed something to read so I checked out the MaineInfo Download Library.  I came across a Kristan Higgins book set here in Maine.  I have been meaning to read one of her books since last year when I heard her speak at the RWA conference.  I was even lucky enough to ride to the airport with her and her husband. 

I don’t even remember the last time that I read a contemporary romance.  I have pretty much been sticking to paranormal/urban fantasy and historical romance genres. 

I decided to pick “Somebody to Love” to download seeing that it takes place in a small Maine coastal town.  This is the third book in her Gideon’s Cove series, but I didn't feel like I was missing much by not having read the first or second book in the series.
We meet Parker Harrington, reading from her wildly successful, children’s series “The Holy Rollers.”  The premise is that six children who have died come back to Earth as angels and travel around via magical roller skates, thus the “Holy Rollers”.  She has just finished writing the last book in the series.  The books are so sweet that even she is nauseated by her books.  She can’t believe that she invented the term “Warm Fuzzles.” The only reason that she kept writing the series is that all of the profits go to a charity for children, seeing that Parker comes from money, with a capital “M”. 

That is about to change.  Her father is going away to prison for insider trading, and he had to empty Parker’s and her son’s trust funds to make restitution.  Her father, accompanied by his lawyers (which Parker refers to as “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”) informs her of her new situation the night before he enters federal prison.  Also she needs to move out of the family mansion, seeing that it has been sold.  She is informed by “Thing 1” or James that she does own property up in Gideon’s Cove, Maine.

She had forgotten that an elderly relative had left her a house, so she hopes that she might able to sell it and make a profit to buy a house back in Rhode Island.  While her son is on vacation with his dad, she decides to head to Maine and flip her house.  When she arrives in Maine she finds that her “cottage” is more or less a seaside shanty.  Shortly after she arrives in Maine, James or “Thing 1,” arrives to help her renovate the house.  And this is where the fun begins, Parker thinks that the only reason that James is there is the fact that he is being paid. He is in fact out of a job and figures that he might as well help Parker, plus he has feeling for her.

This was over all a fun, light, and funny read.  Ms. Higgins crafts likable funny and realistic characters.  You complete believe where the two main characters are coming from.  So if you haven’t read a contemporary romance in a while I would suggest picking up one of Ms. Higgins books. 

September Meeting

We will have our first meeting of the fall this Thursday, September 18th at 6:00 PM.  This meeting will take place in the small conference room on the second floor.  It should make for a very cozy meeting.  We will discuss "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion and I will let folks know what we will be reading for October.  I don't think that I will be having an online vote this year. Our Circulation staff is spread pretty thin and I don't have enough time to change the voting webpage.  I think for October's books I may just make the choice. And hopefully we can come up with a away for the book group members to help choose in the future.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"No Good Duke Goes Unpunished" by Sarah Maclean

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah Maclean

Twelve years prior, Mara Lowe faked her death to avoid a marriage to an aging duke, but her scheme went astray when the duke’s son was blamed for her death.  Temple, now known as the “Killer Duke” has made his way as a fighter and part owner of London’s most notorious gambling club.  Temple would like nothing more than to reclaim his title and rightful place in society as the Duke of Lamont.  After twelve years in hiding, Mara’s younger brother loses all their money at the gambling club.  Now a proprietor of an orphanage, Mara is forced to come out of hiding to offer the one trade Temple can’t refuse.  In order to regain her funds to support the orphanage, she will reveal herself to society and clear his name.

This is the third installment of Maclean’s Rules of Scoundrels series, and the second to win a RITA.  Historical romances are my guilty pleasure reads, and Maclean weaves a fun story filled with witty banter. Like eating chocolate cake, I’m never challenged to finish until the very last crumb is gone, even if it is a tad too sweet at times.  This one had more angst than the others, and in a few ways it reminded me of a Judith McNaught romance, with grand betrayals and heavy emotional situations the couple must overcome to find their happy ever after.

Chili Pepper Rating:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

NYOBG Member Review-Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Miranda Ellis, the heroine, has a secret ability to create fire, and as a child she unwittingly destroyed her family’s fortune.  Her guilt haunts her as much as her ability frightens her.  Years later, destitute and turning to thievery to survive, her father unkindly persuades her to accept a marriage offer from an infamous nobleman.  Lord Archer, the hero, also hides a terrible secret, wearing masks to cover his disfigurement from a curse that has plagued him for almost a century.   Dramatic mystery abounds, and these two lonely souls fight an attraction that becomes an undeniable love as secrets unravel and curses are revealed.    

I’m recommending this simply because it’s unusual.  Firelight is the first book in Callihan’s Darkest London series.  I’ve been hearing quite a few raves about this series, and each book has received top reviews, so I finally picked it up when Shadowdance, the fourth in the series, became a finalist for a RITA.

  It’s being pushed as a paranormal romance, and I do think that is where this series belongs, because the core of this story is a genre romance with a happy ending.  However, it does have a steampunk edge.  In many ways, it reminded me of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, set in the late 1800’s as if some humans have supernatural abilities/afflictions that they need to hide from the general population, sort of X-men meets Phantom of the Opera, and it does have its melodramatic moments—the hero hiding behind a mask for starters.

I tend to think of steampunk as the past, present, and/or future that never was.  At certain points, this book fell into that category.   With that said, I found it a fun read.  Again, it’s unusual.  The author has a wonderful voice and great imagination, and the romance was spectacular.  If you read paranormal/historical/steampunk romances, you’ll enjoy this book.  There were a few segments where I wanted the hero and heroine to just communicate instead of going off on their own, but it did heighten the tension and kept those pages turning.  I’m hooked.  I just downloaded the second book, and I’m thrilled to have found a new series to devour over the summer.

Chili Pepper Rating: 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Charming by Elliott James

Many of us benefit from a change every now and then, and if you've been reading what feels like the "same old, same old" in the urban fantasy genre, I encourage you to give "Charming" by Elliott James a try. The lead character, John Charming, isn't a run-of-the-mill romantic hero. Although he comes from a long line of Charmings, they're not exactly the storybook princes one might expect. In fact, they're Knights Templar, whose job it is to maintain the barrier between the supernatural races and the mundane world. And although vampires and werewolves, arguably overused in recent years, are among those supernatural beings, so are others whom I haven't encountered in quite a while, if at all.

That variety was one of the things I enjoyed most about this book. I welcomed the chance to meet new types of characters — and even the vampires, the primary baddies here, had a different feel to them. Since Charming is living the racially-lengthened life of a kind of enforcer, he knows a lot about the backgrounds of assorted races and how they interact, and that information is shared with the reader. While some may not care for the "world-building", I found it interesting, like snippets from a good (and very wry) documentary. It often explained things that many authors gloss over. If it's really not your style, don't worry, it's only support structure, not the main focus. You can skip some of it if you absolutely must, just make sure you pay attention to the concept of the Pax Arcana.

If I were to pick my favorite aspect of the book, it would be how authentic Charming sounded. I admit to having gotten a bit disenchanted lately (small pun intended), feeling that a fair number of the first-person narrators I'd been reading sounded interchangeable. Worse, the snarky attitudes that many authors were trying to convey simply sounded labored and affected. Not here! Charming sounds like an actual person, not a construct. If he makes a snide observation, there's a good reason for it, and that reason isn't because an author is struggling to make a character seem "cool". What's more, Charming talks and thinks like a man, not like a masculinized woman. I'm reluctant to attribute that to the fact that his author is also male (if his brief, pseudonymous bio is to be trusted), in contrast to the more numerous female authors of urban fantasy whose work I've read, but I may possibly have to concede that point. At any rate, I found Charming's voice to be delightfully recognizable, slyly funny, appropriately gritty, believably incisive, and consistently genuine. What a pleasant and refreshing surprise.

While I was reading the book, I had a reaction that demonstrated to me how real that voice had become. Charming was facing a dilemma and had determined that a certain course of action was the way to deal with the situation. I instantly thought, "That means he's going to do such-and-such instead" (I don't want to give it away), and on the very next page, he did precisely what I had guessed. That's when I knew I was living in his head. Or perhaps he was living in mine. Either way, it's been a long time since I felt I knew a character's personality so fully.

The nature of the fantasy genre these days, whether urban or otherwise, frequently means that titles are published as part of a series. I have found myself getting more selective about which series I pursue beyond the first book. The time factor alone may cause me to cut candidates as if they were underperforming athletes on a professional sports team. There is no hesitation for me in this case, however. I am absolutely looking forward to reading the sequel, "Daring", which is due this September.

Incidentally, although our book group is "ladies only", I'd venture a guess that men can safely read and enjoy this selection without being embarrassed. With equal opportunity for equal fun, all are invited to have a Charming time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Recommended Summer Reads from NYOBG Members

I’ve been hearing some great recommendations from our NYOBG members over the summer, so I asked them to share their recent favorite reads and why they liked them.

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts  

This is a romantic suspense set in an old family beach home in Massachusetts.  There’s a bit of romance, mystery, intrigue, and even a treasure hunt.  NR has a special way of drawing you into her characters, and she really hits the mark with this one.  This story begins with Eli Landon, a former lawyer suspected of killing his wife, going back to his childhood summer home in Whiskey Beach to rebuild his life.  Bluff House is owned by his tenacious grandmother, but she recently fell down the stairs in a “suspicious” accident and is recuperating with Eli’s parents.  There wasn’t enough evidence to convict Eli of his wife’s murder but that hasn’t stopped the investigating officer from hounding him.  For Eli, an empty Bluff House is the perfect place to regroup after a tragic year. 
I think what drew me in the most was Eli, because his character is so broken when you first meet him.  Abra, the love interest, is his grandmother’s house cleaner at Bluff House.  Abra has her own ugly past and now does an assortment of odd jobs that make her happy, from cleaning, to teaching yoga, to massage, to waitressing.  She wears yoga pants, T-shirts, and Crocs, and it was difficult not to like her.  Slowly, she brings Eli around to the living world once again, amongst more murders, someone digging in the basement, and the cop that refuses to search for the real killer of Eli’s wife. 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end.

Chili Pepper Rating:


Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

This is a paranormal romance and the twelfth book in Singh’s Psy-Challenging Series.  We read Slave to Sensation quite a while ago, and I read a few more in the series and then moved on to other books because there’s so many out there that I have to read!  But I've been hearing raves about this one, so I gave it a try.  I could tell there were some Psy-Net events that I missed, and a few characters that must have had their own story, but I didn't feel like I needed to read each book before this one.  Singh did a good job with small details without overstating everything. If you've read the first few and know the world you’ll be able to dive right in.
 So, with that said---I couldn't put this book down! It was incredible, the kind where you tell the hubby to order take-out and the kids to leave you alone--because mommy’s reading and she doesn't want to be disturbed.
It has a psy-fi feel like the rest of the series.  You meet the heroine the day she’s been broken out of a mental holding facility.  She’s rescued by the hero, of course.  J  You learn she has powers that even the Psy Council fears.  You learn that she created a labyrinth in her brain so that their torture wouldn't break her, and that she mentally rigged it to unravel as soon as she felt safe.  The reader gets to take her journey of confusion to revelations of who she is, who the hero is, and what their past relationship was---and WOW, what a journey!
This book is simply wonderful. Just read it. If I hadn't downloaded this to my Kindle I would've given it to Sarah as she’s given me so many awesome books.

Chili Pepper Rating:


Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter

Every once in a while I need my historical romance fix.  Do they have a predictable happy ever after? Absolutely, but I’ve found that Hunter’s has some real historical meat in there as well, as do Jane Feather’s books, who also has a new series out that I must try.  Dangerous in Diamonds is Hunter’s fourth book in her Rarest Blooms series, but they all can be read separately, though they’re all enjoyable so why not start from the beginning?  (I believe Ravishing in Red is the first installment.)  Castleford is the hero in Dangerous in Diamonds, and a bit of a rascal.  The banter between him and Daphne, the heroine, was witty and fun, while she had some real fears and challenges to overcome, so there is depth to this story as well.  It brings you into the lives of the less wealthy, and their precarious positions in this society.  It’s a fun book with poignant moments, and the reader gets to escape into a romantic world for an evening.  A lovely summer read. 
Chili Pepper Rating: