Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

My Thoughts:  I would recommend this book to everyone.   Malala's story speaks to everyone about the importance of education for all and the need for people to stand up to injustices done to their fellow man.  As a young girl, Malaya with her parents' encouragement, made it her goal to bring education to all people including the women of Pakistan who even today are not allowed or encouraged to go to school.  

I also think that Malala's story also is a warning to all who believe in restrictive and "Talliban" like dominance.  In Malala's Swat area, first came laws not allowing women to go out of the home without proper Islam attire to making the girls going to school enter by the backdoor to not allowing boys and girls in the same school to blowing up girls' schools.  

The "Tallibanization" of Swat started with a charismatic radio personality that enticed the people into believing that all of his words were taken from the Koran.   Since many of the people could not read, they did not know that the radio personality was not telling them the truth.

Malala continues to fight for everyone's right to a good education.

Publisher:  Little, Brown & Co.
Copyright:  2013
Pages: 327

"Hard As It Gets" By: Laura Kaye Review

Hard As It Gets
By: Laura Kaye

Tall, dark, and lethal...
Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome--pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.
With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.
Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge…
My Thoughts
   Whew! I feel as if I’ve just finished the fastest ride of my life and I don’t know if I was ready to get off or not! The beginning of a new series full of tattoo artists, military men, and bad asses, Laura Kaye is crafting an amazing new world I know I want to be a part of.
    Becca first comes to Nick when her brother goes missing. Not knowing Nick, and with just a cryptic message from her brother, Becca approaches him for help. Unfortunately for Becca, Nick knows secrets about her family he isn’t keen to share, nor does he want to help the daughter of his greatest enemy.
    Nick finally relents and agrees to take on whatever may be going on in Becca’s life. Ok, now here is where I’m gonna go a little wonky. This first book sets the stage for the entire series and I don’t want to give enough away to ruin it for you as you read it. Rest assured though, Becca had no idea what her Dad had been up to during his time in the military, nor how deadly or diabolical her Father’s enemies truly are. To aid Becca, Nick brings in friends from his Military Unit to come to Becca’s aid, which I’m sure will fill out the rest of Kaye’s Hard Ink series.
     Nick and Becca are fantastic characters. Becca is smart, which matters to me a great deal because it seems like there are so many dumb heroines now adays. She isn’t content to sit back and be a princess that needs rescuing. She actively is participating in the search and rescue of her brother, wherever that may lead. Nick honestly doesn’t know what to do with this forceful woman but he is more than willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
     Full of fun sexy times, great sexual tension, and engaging dialogue, Hard As It Gets is one of my favorite books of the year. A most promising start to a great new series, I’m all for tattooed bad ass heroes fighting for whats right. Kaye can write a heck of a romance and always keeps me coming back for more. Brava!

Hard Ink Series
1. Hard As It Gets (November 2013)
2. Hard As You Can (February 2014)
Book Details
Publisher: Avon
Date of Publication: November 26, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062267887
# of Pages: 368
Source: From Publisher for Review - Avon

This review was originally published at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Dragos Takes a Holiday" By: Thea Harrison Review

Dragos Takes a Holiday (Elder Races, #6.5)
Dragos Takes A Holiday
By: Thea Harrison
The Bermuda Triangle. Pirates. The Peanut. What could possibly go wrong?Dragos Cuelebre needs a vacation. So does Pia, his mate. When the First Family of the Wyr head to Bermuda for some much needed R&R, it's no ordinary undertaking - and no ordinary weekend in the sun. Between hunting for ancient treasure buried beneath the waves and keeping track of their son, Liam—a.k.a. Peanut, whose Wyr abilities are manifesting far ahead of schedule—it’s a miracle that Pia and Dragos can get any time together.
They're determined to make the most of each moment, no matter who tries to get in their way.
And did we mention pirates?
My Thoughts
     I’ve been a fan of Thea Harrison since her first book featuring Dragos and Pia. Those many moons ago when I first read Dragon Bound, I was immersed in her fantastical world with gryphons, harpies and dragons. It has seemed as if the books have slowly lost that spark that brought me to them, I saw that spark again with Dragos Takes a Holiday.
     A short story in the Elder Races universe, the 90 pages are a simple short jaunt into the world of Dragos and his now wife, Pia. After all of the traumatic events that have occurred during and since the previous book, “Lord’s Fall,” featuring this couple, Dragos is exhausted. Tired of fighting for everything he has, tired of defending his lands and his power, he is weary of the future and wants for a simpler life. Pia sees these same issues and suggests they take an easy weekend away from the supernatural and just enjoy life.   
          That’s all this story is, a weekend away from the Elder world but its so much more. A great character piece, I loved the interaction of Dragos and Pia. It brought back the fabulous memories of Dragon Bound and how utterly lovely I once found this world. Smart and funny, you can't help but snort once in a while at how the ancient Dragos views the world. Its been enjoyable to see the characters change and evolve throughout the series and I honestly can say, I would read anything featuring these two people.
     Sweet, short and sexy are the three best words to describe Dragos Takes a Holiday. Another chapter in the great Elder Races saga featuring two beloved characters from the series. No great drama, no new characters, just a simple happy story about characters we already love. Brava Ms. Harrison!

Elder Races
1. Dragon Bound
2. Storm’s Heart 
4. Oracle’s Moon
4.5 Natural Evil 
4.6 Devil’s Gate 
5.5 The Wicked
6. Kinked 
6.5 Dragos Takes a Holiday

Book Details 
Date of Publication: November 28, 2013 
# of Pages: 90 
Source: Netgalley - for Review

This review originally appeared at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Friday, November 22, 2013

"No Good Duke Goes Unpunished" By: Sarah MacLean Review

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (The Rules of Scoundrels, #3)
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
By: Sarah MacLean

In NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED, the mysterious Temple is at best an inveterate womanizer who ruined his father’s future duchess, and at worst, a cold-blooded killer who murdered his future stepmother.
No one has seen Mara Lowe since she disappeared from her bedchamber on the morning of her wedding twelve years ago—leaving behind a drunken Temple.
Despite vehement claims of innocence, Temple was exiled from society, stripped of his funds and left to survive on his own.
He is the brawn behind the Fallen Angel club, and has given up on ever returning to society, until the missing Mara shows up and begs for his help.
My Thoughts
    Sarah MacLean is simply one divine author. I’ve been waiting for the battle hardened Temple to get his own book, and finally after what seems like forever waiting, I finally get my reward! Great characters, fabulous storyline, and sizzling sexual tension create one of the best romances of the year.         Temple has always been the bruiser of the Fallen Angel club. Accused of being a murderer, Temple seems to have lived his life on the fringes of society. No one for sure confirming or disproving the one night Temple woke up covered in blood and a society darling missing.
     Mara Lowe had a good reason for disappearing that fateful night and now must reveal herself or risk her brother being ruined. Understandably, when she visits Temple and he realizes he has been framed for a murder he didn’t commit, there are a few sparks. Temple is furious and will only help Mara’s brother, if Mara herself basically ruins her reputation and comes back to society to clear his name.
   The sexual tension is high in this one and if anything it made me turn the pages faster. How far is Mara willing to go to save her brother, when she has duties that lie elsewhere? How can she balance the two halves of her old and new life. And Temple, whew. He’s a wipe your brow kind of hottie that I absolutely fell in love with. A great couple, Temple and Mara start with a simmer and end with a bonfire that burns bright.
       One of my favorite things about this series is the camaraderie between the owners of the Fallen Angel. Temple is fun loving, ornery, tough, and utterly masculine. Yet you can truly understand these other men are true friends and their friendships are tested to the limit. The dialogue between these rakes and former rakes, will make you laugh, shake your head, or just plain smile. So stinkin’ fun!!
      One of my favorite reads of the year, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished tells the story of professional fighter Temple and the strong, brave misunderstood Mara Lowe. Temple deserved a hell of a book and boy did he get it. Sizzling sexy times abound and only whet your appetite for the finale coming in 2014. All I have left to say is Thank You Sarah MacLean!!

Note: No good Duke Goes Unpunished is the third book in the The Rules of Scoundrels series. Be warned, if you haven’t read the others some aspects of this story may not make sense. I’m not saying you have to read the others, but it does help.

Book Details
Publisher: Avon
Date of Publication: November 26, 2013
# of Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-0062068545
Source: Edelweiss - for Review
This blog post was originally published at the Brunette Librarian's Blog
A little blurry but here's Sarah! Isn't she sweet?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Stealing Home" By: Jennifer Seasons Review

Stealing Home (Diamonds and Dugouts, #1)
Stealing Home
By: Jennifer Seasons
Love may be just a game, but the baseball players in Jennifer Seasons' sexy diamonds and dugouts series— they're playing for keeps!
Mark Cutter has it all: a lucrative baseball career, fast cars, and faster women—and all thanks to his priceless good luck charm. At least, that's what he thinks before Lorelei Littleton shows up. Next thing he knows, he's waking up alone, the sexy brunette has vanished, and his good luck charm is gone. More than a little curious about the wicked-hot cat burglar and determined to get his property back, Mark's going to track down the thief and make her pay—big time.
Maybe Lorelei feels a tiny bit guilty for stealing Mark's good luck charm, but when it's worth $100,000 and the money could save her niece's life? She's not losing sleep over it . . . but him? Lorelei can't get the ballplayer with the bad attitude out of her head. And now he's come after her with more than just revenge in his eyes. Lorelei has a choice: turn over the charm and lose the money, or keep it and risk losing everything . . . including her heart.

My Thoughts
     When I was thinking of ways to describe Stealing Home, one thought kept going through my head...this book is just plain fun. I had actually read the second book  Playing the Field, first, and I enjoyed it so much I came back to pick this one up. A great book for an afternoon read, filled with fantastic characters, a hot romance and a feel good ending.
     Mark Cutter is one the biggest baseball players in the sport today. He has the money, he has the women, he has the fame. It isn’t until a woman he meets in a bar steals his lucky charm that he actually even begins to question that life may not be as wonderful as he thinks it is.
    Enter the mysterious woman who stole said lucky charm - Lorelei. Desperate to get her niece the surgery she needs, Lorelei finds a way to get the money; by stealing hot shot Mark’s lucky charm and giving it to his evil ex-wife. It isn’t until she gets to know Mark that she realizes the robbery may not be as easy as she once thought. As she slowly falls in love with Mark, Lorelei finds herself with conflicting feelings of right and wrong and realizes things may not be as black and white as she once thought.
      This book sounds kind of convoluted but it really isn't. Lorelei needs that money and even though she sounds like a bad person, you the reader love her. She’s kind of like a Robin Hood, trying to save her family. If she has to steal from the rich, so be it. Mark is kind of a dumb jock but evolved throughout the romance to become the man Lorelei needed.
     The Diamonds and Dugouts Series is easily going to become a favorite of many romance readers. Filled with laugh out loud moments and solid characters, you find yourself drawn into the story and emotionally connected to the characters. A great read for a summer afternoon, be sure to checkout the sequel, Playing the Field with the same great characters and amazing chemistry!

Diamonds and Dugouts Series
1. Stealing Home (April 2013)
2. Playing the Field (July 2013)

Book Details
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Date of Publication: April 2, 2013
# of Pages: 100
ISBN: 9780062271440
Source: Personal Purchase

Originally Published at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

Publisher:  Dutton Adult
Pages:  736

A tale of love, passion, and betrayal.  This is the 18th Inspector Lynley novel from bestseller George This books spotlights Det. Sgt. Barbara Havers. Taymullah Azhar, a science professor who's a friend and neighbor of Havers in North London, is devastated to come home one day and discover that his nine-year-old daughter, Hadiyyah, and most of her possessions are gone. Hadiyyah's mother, Angelina Upman, to whom Azhar was never married, has gone to Italy with the little girl. A grateful Azhar accepts Havers's offer to act as a private detective, though her superiors resist her request for a leave of absence. Months later, when kidnappers take Hadiyyah from Angelina in an Italian marketplace, Lynley travels to Lucca, Tuscany, to look into the matter. Havers later goes AWOL to Lucca, where she seizes the initiative in the case and risks her career to persuade Scotland Yard to get involved. Fully realized Italian characters, from a lover whose face cannot hide his emotions to the charming Chief Insp. Salvatore Lo Bianco, add to the rich ensemble cast. 

My Opinion:  I "read" the book as an audiobook.  This very long story was 24 cds long, but I enjoyed the story very much.  After watching Masterpiece Theatre's Lynley series and reading other novels in the series, I feel that I know the characters and I like to read about what they are "up too".   "Steady as a rock" DI Lynley and "Fly by the Seat of Your Pants" Barabara Havers are always working on solving the latest crime and doing it in the most unorthodox ways.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Hock
Publisher:  Hogarth
Pages:  292

One evening in Amsterdam, two brothers and their wives get together for dinner at a fashionable restaurant. The evening begins with the usual casual conversations but leads to a very intensive conclusion.  

Each couple has a 15 year-old son who are untied in a very horrible act and as the dinner goes from appetizer to dessert we learn what the parents will do to protect their sons from themselves.  

My Opinion - Publishers Weekly gave this a starred review and called it a "cunningly crafted thriller", I did not find any of the characters likable and all were deeply flawed.  The story at times was hard to follow and contrived.   The manager of the restaurant in his effort to please the couples, explained every morsel of food that they were receiving and this did not add anything to the story but became an annoyance to me.   The mystery/conflict of the story was only, in my opinion, interrupted by the manager and his meal dialogues.

Not my favorite book.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"God got a dog"  by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Marla Frazee.

It is hard to be God. You have to, well, be God.  So God is looking out at the world one day and decides to see what it is like to be a part of it all.  A since he is God, he can do that.  So he does.

A book for all ages, God Got a Dog celebrates the simple things in our world while taking a long, close look at what it means to be human. The soft, reflective, and often humorous words and pictures create a glimpse into everyday life through wide and wondering eyes that blends the familiar with the profoundly spiritual.

I enjoyed this children's book very much.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Roman Holiday 1: Chained" By: Ruthie Knox Review

Roman Holiday 1: Chained
Roman Holiday 1: Chained
By: Ruthie Knox
Ashley Bowman is having a bad week. Reeling from the death of her beloved grandmother, she returns to the Florida Keys only to learn that a heartless Miami developer has gotten hold of the crappy vacation rentals she calls home. Ashley has one day to clear out before Roman Díaz destroys the only place in the world that matters to her. Chaining herself to a palm tree in the bulldozers’ path seems like a good way to stop him . . . until she realizes she should’ve brought food and water. And pants. Also, it would help if the evil developer weren’t so ridiculously hot.
The last thing Roman Díaz needs is some sun-kissed blond protester getting her picture in the newspaper and messing up his plans. He bought the property fair and square, and the resort he wants to build on the site is the key to realizing his highest ambitions. But when a hurricane blows through, Roman has to hustle Ashley to safety if he wants to protect his reputation—and that means giving in to her unreasonable demands. Roman needs to learn a little compassion, and Ashley’s decided to teach it to him . .  even if she has to drag him all over the Eastern Seaboard to do it.
My Thoughts
     I am totally starting this review off with this simple statement: I cannot wait to get my hands on Part 2. With that said, Ruthie Knox is at the top of her game with Roman Holiday 1: Chained. As always, she gives us great character development, steamy scenes, and an enticing story line that leaves us wanting for more.
      Ashley Bowman begins the story strapped around a tree fighting evil real estate mogul, Roman Diaz. Roman is bulldozing her Grandmother’s prized vacation rentals, with her grandmother’s permission mind you, but Ashley feels they are being torn down unjustly. To battle the evil Roman, Ashley think its a good idea to protest.
      As with all of Ruthie’s characters, both Roman and Ashley are more than what they seem. Chaining herself to a palm tree seems like a good idea to Ashley, a way to make a difference when her world is falling apart. Roman is uber-successful and used to things falling into place; when faced with this protester, he thinks she will fall easily under his will. Unfortunately for him, Ashley is more than a simple protester, and before he knows it, she has talked him into a road trip in exchange for her stopping her protest.
      I’m so stinkin’ excited about Part 2 I could do a dance. Great characterization means fantastic characters that I desperately want to read about. Honestly, there are five parts so I’m only 20% done and I can’t wait, when I’m usually still trying to get into a story. I don’t know if I like the serialization of the story, but all in all, a great beginning to another Knox classic! 

Book Details
Publisher: Loveswept
Date of Publication: November 11th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0345546970
# of pages: 40
Source: Netgalley - for review

Originally published at the Brunette Librarian's Blog

Friday, November 8, 2013

Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

Carnton Plantation, 1894: Carrie McGavock is an old woman who tends the graves of the almost 1,500 soldiers buried there. As she walks among the dead, an elderly man appears--the same soldier she met that fateful day long ago. Today, he asks if the cemetery has room for one more.

Based on an extraordinary true story, this brilliant, meticulously researched novel flashes back to 1864 and the afternoon of the Civil War. While the fierce fighting rages on Carrie's land, her plantation turns into a Confederate army hospital; four generals lie dead on her back porch; the pile of amputated limbs rises as tall as the smoke house. But when a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrives at her house, he awakens feelings she had thought long dead--and inspires a passion as powerful and unforgettable as the war that consumes a nation.

  As I read this book I was never sure if I liked it or not.  All I know is that I couldn't quit reading the book.  I had to know the story of Carrie and the Carnton Plantation.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Neighbors" By: L.S. Murphy Review

By: L.S. Murphy
Rena Woods has a great life. She recently landed the contract to decorate the home of basketball wife, Cecilia Hood, her business is growing, and this contract could make her the elite decorator in St. Louis. Rena’s sacrificed her personal life for her company without a single regret. When Staff Sergeant C.J. Riker moves in across the hall, Rena can’t stand to be around him. He may be on the volcanic side of hot, but his attitude sucks. Riker does whatever he can to get under Rena’s skin.
After a massive blow to her business sends Rena on a self-destructive binge, Riker is there to save her from doing something she might regret. Could there be more to Riker than meets the eye? And will he open up enough to Rena to tell her how he lost his leg or shut out love forever?
My Thoughts
     Neighbors is my first book from Ms. Murphy but definitely won’t be my last. This is a novella done right, with plenty of character background, a riveting romance, and a satisfying and richly romantic ending. Adorably dorky in places and heart wrenching in others, Rena and Riker’s story took me away for an enjoyable evening.
    Rena is unimpressed when ex-Marine C.J. Riker moves in across the hall from her. A serious interior designer in St. Louis, Rena is working hard to build her business and she just doesn’t have time for the new surly neighbor. Over laundry and a few boring evenings, Rena finds that there may be more to her neighbor than a bad attitude.
    Riker has moved to St. Louis after several tours in the Marines. Horribly hurt during an attack, Riker has lost one of his legs. A bad attitude and a negative outlook on life have become the norm, until the neighbor across the hall, seems to challenge his views.
    Murphy does a lot of storytelling in her 65 pages and it doesn’t seem as if any word is wasted. Rena is smart and independent, and doesn’t give Riker any sympathy for missing his leg. Sure he’s went through traumatic events, but life is for the living. Riker is mad, bad, and strong but with Rena he’s different. She doesn’t take his gruff and understands his need to be normal.
    Fun and smart, Murphy’s Neighbors is an excellent novella length romance. Moving along nicely, you find the characters to be both sweet and fierce, and never seem to get bogged down by unnecessary details. As opposed to most of the romances I read, I would rate this one as a G, so no naughtiness but plenty of sexy. A great offering from a fabulous Missouri author, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for L.S. Murphy!

Book Details
Publisher: Entangled: Flirt
Date of Publication: November 11, 2013
# of Pages: 65
Source: From the Publisher for Review

This book was originally reviewed at The Brunette Librarian's Blog