Thursday, June 28, 2012

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop - June 29-July 5


I've been blogging for 3 years, and I've only had one Giveaway :( 
The biggest reason for my lack of giveaways is that I really use my books...I write in them, highlight, annotate, break the bindings etc. I know for some folks this is sacrilege, but it's just natural to me.
I love my books; they were meant to be loved and read and loved again...kinda like a beloved toy from your childhood :)
Anyhoo, being new to this giveaway thingie, I wasn't sure how other bloggers feel about getting books that have obviously already been read.
So, for my first giveaway prize, I'm offering a book from Amazon up to $20.  As long as Amazon ships to you, I'm game.

All I ask is that you become a Follower of Peppermint Ph.D., GFC or Networked Blogs, and leave a comment telling me how you feel about receiving pre-read books for giveaway prizes :)
Also, leave your email and blog address so I can contact you if you win.
You can pick out your prize after you win :)
That's it.

You're certainly welcome to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, via email and/or Google reader if you want to do those too, and I'll be glad to count those as extra chances to win; just be sure to mention any extra follows in the comments as well.

The hop runs through July 5 so I'll choose a winner the old fashioned way...probably names in a hat kinda thing unless things get too crazy (I can only hope, right?) ;)
I'll post the winner on the afternoon of July 6.

Here are the rules for the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop
.Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Katie @ Mundie Moms
June 29th to July 5th
  • You must host a giveaway on your site, you are responsible for obtaining a prize for giveaway and taking care of the shipping charges. 
  • You must giveaway something a reader, author or blogger would enjoy. 
  • Your giveaway post must include the hop image & linky (or links to the host's sites if you can't get the linky to work). 
  • Please only 1 mandatory entry - all others must be optional - Keep It Simple! No long lists of things for people to do. If you have dozens of things for people to do I will delete your blog from the linky. 
  • Your post must be live by 12:01 EST on June 29th. (That is 9 pm June 28th if you live in California) 
  • The giveaway must be specifically for this hop. 
  • Your site must be family friendly - no erotica or 18+ sites. Your site & giveaway must be free of steamy images and book covers. If it would embarrass me to have my teenagers see it, it can't be on your site. 
  • It is your responsibility to check the linky on June 29th to be sure you are still on the linky and that your link is accurate. Please send me a direct link to your post when it goes live. 
  • If you are using Rafflecopter set it to begin on JUNE 28th and to end on JULY 6th. Do not use the Point Values +4, +5, +10 or +25.

GO AHEAD NOW AND HOP ALL AROUND...IF YOU DON'T HOP, YOU WON'T WIN!!! 




Book Review - Kiss the Dead



Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton
Penguin Books June 2012

Format? Hardback
Source? Auto-shipped from Amazon

Why?  Kiss the Dead is the 21st book in the Anita Blake, vampire hunter series, and I've read them all.  I've liked some better than others...and even disliked a couple. But, I'm a series junkie, and I've liked more books than I've disliked.

What Now?  I'm thowing this one in the trash.  The dog chewed it up anyway...I think she was trying to tell me something.


:(:(

(tarnished) Golden Lines

I wasn't like most of the Marshals; they were humans who just happened to be good at killing monsters.  I was one of the monsters.


He understood that I'd understood that he'd understood.  It took us one sentence, two looks, and a nod - with another woman it would have been at least five minutes of out-loud talking.   Lucky for me I spoke fluent guy.


There's only so many times you can scrub blood out from under your fingernails before you start going all Lady Macbeth and stop believing the blood is ever gone.


"...I know that Blake still has the highest kill count of any Marshal in the service.  I know that every officer I've spoken to would take her as backup in a firefight.  Even the ones who hate her personal life with a vengeance would still take her into a shoot-out and trust her to keep them alive.  If there's a higher praise from one officer to another, I don't know it."


Was my issue with Cynric not him personally, but just being overwhelmed with all my lovers?  I collected them they way a crazy cat lady found strays to bring home, except I could afford to feed and take care of all of them, I was just running low on emotional resources, or so I told myself.


"You have never mentioned this," Jean-Claude said.
"I did not think that Anita would be able to do it.  She is not a true vampire...She..."
"I am master here, Asher; you should have told me and let me decide what ma petite needed to know."


I went through the door, leaving Claudia looking at him as if she'd never quite seen him before.  In the midst of catching bad guys maybe we could have a little romance, and for once, it wouldn't be mine. Cool.


I felt Jean-Claude wake for the day, felt him draw the first breath, and then his voice in my head, asking, "Ma petite, what has happened?"
For some reason, that was what made me cry.

Summary

An old vampire named Benjamin heads up a new group of vampires who choose to be free...that is, not tethered in any way to a Master Vampire.  Because of the very nature of vampires, in order to keep all of them safe and able to contine to live with humans, this arrangment is not normal and is heavily frowned upon by other Master Vampires.  A rogue vampire or group of vampires is a threat to all vampires.  Anita is called in to help SWAT and other preternatural law enforcement with containing a large group who've broken away from Benjamin and want to start a war. 


What I Liked 

Jean-Claude - the 5 pages that were actually devoted to him anyway :(
I actually feel a little tricked bc somewhere over the last year, I got the impression that this book was going to be more Jean-Claude than we've had in several books.  I think it was less!  The only thing less would be nothing.

Micah and Nathaniel - Anita has my permission to keep these two...they are there for her, when she needs them and they don't whine like babies.  They each have their own comfortable lives and responsibilities outside her house; they do their own things and come home to her and they don't question her about what she does or where she goes.

The premise of the story...what could have been a very interesting plotline...just wasn't...but it was bc the plot wasn't given time to develop, and the connections (if there were any) weren't made in between the beginning and the end and all the extra-curriculuar activity in the middle.

What I Didn't Like

The F bomb - I don't necessarily have an aversion to the "F" word (and I ain't talkin' about "fruit"), but geez Louise...I honestly started rolling my eyes every time it was used.  And then I got an eye cramp.  Ok, ok, ok, I got it.  Things are bad.

The sex - sex as a part of a storyline, I'm ok with...sex as just sex thrown in so that you feel like you're reading a porno novel...not so much :p

The cliches - I got so tired of the Anita-isms - her "live-in sweeties," "girls do this; guys do that; I'm so guy," "main honey-bun," everybody gets "pissy," her collection of penguins, "my second yummy boy," "we're police; we run toward the trouble, not away from it, silly ringtones, dressing in a thong and 9 inch heels and falling down where everybody can see her undies" and on and on and on and on and on and on...

# of Characters - We are so way past too many characters...I cannot in any way imaginable keep up with who's who...how am I supposed to remember which animal is Anita's to call when, who came from where, how old everybody is, why who needs who, who's which personality, and for Heaven sake, just how many lovers am I supposed to believe are ok with sharing her.  Really now?  Seriously??
Jean-Claude, Micah, Nathaniel, Cin, Nicky, Devil, Richard, Asher, Jade, Damian, Ethan, Crispin...I can't even remotely begin to remember even their names!

Plot - Hello? Could we please have a plot??  We learned about the rogue vampires in the very beginning...then sex, sex, and more sex, a little violence in between and then finally in the last chapters (pg. 327 out of 359) we returned to the plot.  Ahem.

Cynrick - Sin - whatever he wants to be called...kick his whiney hiney out the door, Anita...I just cannot take any more.

Repeitition, repetition, repetition, repetition...and did I say repetition????
Where the heck was Hamilton's editor??  She explained the elevator being a killing box and whether or not she knew about Jean Claude taking power from lesser vampires in at least 2 places close together...I swear, I wondered if Hamilton worked on these chapters out of order and then forgot where she mentioned what.

Overall Recommendation


I am not a negative reviewer.  You can take a look at my review archives and see that I would come closer to being accused of at least liking something about everything I've read and reviewed.  That's because I purposely only read books that I think I'll like.  I don't care how high on the Bestseller list something floats; if it doesn't sound good to me, I'm not gonna read it.  Most importantly, because I just don't want to.  But almost as important is the questions I have in my mind about whether or not I can give that book an honest read.
I like the Anita Blake series...I hated Kiss the Dead.
I really did.
So, I can't recommend it to anybody.  I think even a lot of Anita fans will be disappointed in this one.
I'm not going away though...I'll be here when Hamilton publishes the next one, but two stinkers in a row will have to be my limit. :( 
I'm sorry for the snark, but I really felt cheated by this one.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

James Lee Burke caught my attention the first time with his Dave Robicheaux mystery detective series installment The Tin Roof Blowdown set in New Orleans during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina.  I don't live in New Orleans, but I live in South Mississippi...it takes about 1 1/2 hrs to get to New Orleans from my house, and Katrina took out much of the Mississippi coast and communities straight up the Interstate for hundreds of miles.  I don't normally read series out of order, but our faculty book club chose this one, we were still Katrina wounded, and I wanted to participate...so there you go...peer pressure ;)

Burke's written so many in this series that I didn't immediately try to catch up and kindof forgot him along the way...until I read two of his daughter's books this week, 
Dead Connection and Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke.

I've become a family fan, and it turns out that James Lee Burke's got another one on its way on July 17, Creole Belle...and guess what?  It's also set in New Orleans :) 
I decided what the heck.
Who's gonna care if I read another one out of order :) 


From Amazon:

Languishing in a recovery unit on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Dave Robicheaux is fighting an enemy more insidious than the one who put a bullet in his back a month earlier in a shootout on Bayou Teche. The morphine meant to dull his pain is steadily gnawing away at his resolve, playing tricks on his mind, and luring him back into the addict mentality that once threatened to destroy his life and family. With the soporific Indian summer air wafting through the louvered shutters of his hospital room, and the demons fighting for space in his head, Dave can’t be sure whether his latest visitor is flesh and blood or a spectral reminder of his Louisiana youth. Tee Jolie Melton, a young woman with a troubled past, glides to his bedside and leaves him with an iPod that plays the old country blues song “My Creole Belle.”
What Dave doesn’t know is that Tee Jolie disappeared weeks ago, and no one believes she reappeared to comfort an old man with a bullet wound. Dave becomes obsessed with the song and the vivid memory of Tee Jolie, and when he learns that her sister has turned up dead inside a block of ice floating in the Gulf, he believes that putting the evils of the past to rest is more urgent than ever before.
Meanwhile, an oil spill in the Gulf brings back intense feelings for Dave of losing his father to a rig explosion years ago. As the oil companies continue to risk human lives in pursuit of wealth and power, Dave begins to see links to the Melton sisters, even when no one else shares his suspicions. Dave’s expartner Clete Purcel helps him search for Tee Jolie, though Clete fears for his friend’s mental health and safety. But Clete has his own troubles, too; he’s discovered an illegitimate daughter who may be working as a contract killer—and may have set her sights on someone he loves.
Creole Belle is a resurrection story for the ages, with James Lee Burke at the peak of his masterful career and Dave Robicheaux facing his most intense and personal battle yet, against the known and unknown forces that corrupt and destroy even the best of men.




Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TLC Book Review - Angel's Tip



Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke
Harper-Collins 2008
Format? Oversized paperback
Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
FTC Disclosure: I was provided a courtesy copy of Angel's Tip from the publisher via TLC Book tours in exchange for a review; however, the opinions are my own.

Why?  Alafair Burke was a new author for me when Angel's Tip came around on the TLC Book Tours for the month of June.  I'm a sucker for a fast paced mystery/detective/serial killer story, with a tough female protagonist so this is a natural match for me.

What Now?  After recommending this one to my firstborn, I'll be moving right along to 212, and Never Tell, the 3rd and 4th Ellie Hatcher novels :)

Golden Lines

Following Jordan out the double doors of Pulse, Stefanie tried to settle the uneasy feeling she still carried.  Last call was in an hour.  What was the worst that could happen?


Ellie shook her head at the stupidity of it all.  Attractive girl, scantily clad, underage.  Blasted out of her mind.  Wandering the streets of Manhattan alone in the middle of the night.  A few times a year, a handful of girls were killed after making the identical mistake.  And no one seemed to learn.


Ellie wanted to jump on Rogan's wheelchair and give him a big bear hug.  Instead, she nodded.  Nodding was always an acceptable way for cops to communicate with each other.


Ellie had spent her entire adult life chasing the normalcy that came to others as naturally and effortlessly as breathing.  Since the day her father's body was found, Ellie had been convinced that her darkest thoughts would someday be put to rest, once she finally uncovered the true circumstances surrounding his death.  But she had returned from Kansas with a new acceptance of the possibility that serenity would never be a part of her makeup.  She would always wake up with nightmares.  She would never learn to turn the job off.

Summary

On their morning run, Detective Ellie Hatcher and her brother Jess arrive first on the scene of a dumped body, the body of a young woman, Chelsea Hart, last seen partying with friends their last night in NYC on a Spring Break trip.  Ellie sees a possible pattern to the murder of Chesea and two older murders and has to decide whether to trust her instincts and follow the evidence or take the "by the book" safe and easy road.  Three days later, the killer strikes again, and Ellie has to act quickly.  Navigating the opinions, wants and directions of her partner Rogan, Lieutenant Eckels, the media, the DA's office, the dead girls' families and her own gut, Ellie has to eventually contend with a serial killer who begins sending her direct messages via the dead women. 
What I Liked
The partnership between Ellie and Rogan - Ellie's a little like Brenda Johnson in the first season of tv's The Closer because she is fighting for respect in her precinct.  Her partner, an African American, independently wealthy male, knows what that's like.  Their partnership is not perfect, but they shoot straight with one another and have those tough conversations rather than skimming over them and building up resentment. 
The setting - NYC - Manhattan, the surrounding neighborhoods, visuals, the directions provided...I'm certainly not a NYC expert, but I've been enough times to have a run-down of the general areas with which Burke tells this story...I felt like I was there with Ellie on the street at night, in the clubs, and during the day walking through and visiting suspects.

Up to date mentions - Natalee Holloway, CSI society, etc...Ellie talks about the kinds of things all of us talk about...crime related anyway.  I think Burke pulls you into the story with well known cases and societal expectations of the criminal justice system and law enforcement.

Moralistic nature - without being preachy, Burke talks to young women who are at that time in their lives where they are truly enjoying life...the time where for whatever reason, fueled by alcohol and drugs, they trust those they shouldn't and put themselves into situations they always said they wouldn't.  They separate from their friends and become prey.  Is it fair? No.  Should it happen? No.  Do they ask for it? Hell no!  Just bc a girl goes partying doesn't mean she wants to be raped or die.
  Unfortunately, the reality is that there are sick people in the world just waiting for any of us to make a mistake.  Young women must learn to stick together, set limits, and get home safely. 

What I Didn't Like
Peter - Peter made it onto my "What I Liked" category after reading the first Ellie Hatcher book, Dead Connection...and now he's sooooo in the "What I Didn't Like" category that it's not even funny.  I actually feel kinda stupid for liking him in the first place :/ I can't tell you why though bc there are spoilers involved in any explanation I could come up with :(

This case went in a lot of different directions, and by the time it was all put together, I had to actually read a few things again to fully make the connections...that's probably just my mushy brain, but wow, Burke can really spin an intricate web :)  I'll be interested to see what others thought of this.

Overall Recommendation


Burke hits women's issues with Angel's Tip.  Even the title refers to a dessert type cocktail ordered frequently by the first murdered girl.  Another fast-paced thriller, with an intelligent female detective at the wheel...if you enjoy this kind of read with a NYC background, you'll like Burke's Ellie Hatcher novels.

Other Tour Stops

Also, visit Alafair on Facebook, Twitter and/or her website.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review - Dead Connection


Dead Connection by Alafair Burke
St. Martin's Press 2007

Format?  Nook book
Source?  I ordered this one from Barnes and Noble online bc I had a leftover giftcard...I so love the way I can own a book in a couple of seconds with one click.
Why?  I'm reviewing Angel's Tip, the 2nd Ellie Hatcher novel, on Tuesday, and I'm really weird about needing to read things in order.
What Now?  I'm ready for Angel's Tip!! I'm excited about Ellie Hatcher reading and may even check out Alafair Burke's other heroine, Samantha Kincaid :)  I've also recommended this to my middle daughter, who by choice is not a reader.  She's very into the computer end of things and is addicted to the tv show CSI.  I hope she'll give Dead Connection a chance.

Golden Lines

The man wondered if Caroline Hunter had any regrets as those two bullets tore through her body.  Maybe for some women it took dying in the street like a dog to reflect upon one's decisions and the effects they have on others.

The one and only time she'd received a surprise call from the police about a dead body, she had been fourteen years old, and the body had been her father's.

Witchita, Kansas, Roberta Hatcher was doing exactly what she did every night.  She was watching her shows on a console television set and pouring herself a vodka on the rocks from a bottle of Smirnoff that rested on the tray table next to her reclining chair.

Ellie let the whiskey warm her chest and stomach, untangling the knots she'd felt since Evelyn and Hampton Davis arrived at the precinct.  They were good people, but like a lot of parents, they knew nothing about their adult child.  They still saw her as a precocious little girl, an ingenue just out of college - not as a woman who was already lying about her age on an Internet dating site.  They were naive enough to believe their daughter would be safe forever.

Ellie was a woman who expected men to value the same things she did.  She expected men to want not just a lover, but a friend, a challenge, and an equal.  The problem, Jess always told her, wasn't in her expectations.  Plenty of men out there met them.  The problem was that Ellie, despite all her intuitive strengths, had absolutely no ability to distinguish the poseurs from the real thing.

So, that whole thing I just said about not being able to see you again?
"I think I remember that," Peter said, nodding.
"There's no reason our one night has to be over yet.  I've got a bit of a soft spot for Lifetime myself."

"A nice girl never goes to a man's house without her Kevlar."

Summary

Detective Ellie Hatcher's father Jerry was on the trail of a serial killer in Witchita, Kansas when he allegedly committed suicide. Ellie's mother was left with no pension, no safety net, and no hope, except for Ellie.  After moving to New York and falling in love with the city, Ellie decides to follow in her father's footsteps and try to rid the world of its injustices while fighting for her mother and brother Jess by proving that her father was actually murdered.
In the midst of this fight, Ellie is noticed by Homicide Detective Flann McIlroy who asks specifically for her help on a new case involving murdered women who have a connection with an online dating service called First Date.com.
Ellie dives into the world of Internet dating and finds a killer who holds grudges and likes to play games, not just with his victims, and the Russian mob, but with her as well...all safely hidden away, untouchable it seems, behind his computer screen.

What I Liked

Ellie Hatcher - no whiner here, not perfect, but very responsible and a little OCD...when she gets going on something, she just can't put it down. 

Peter  - one of the most likeable romantic interests of a tough heroine in a long time...his humor, his honesty, his standoffishness and his maturity are all refreshing.

James Lee Burke connection - I've only read one other book by James Lee Burke, The Tin Roof Blowdown, but I'm such a doofus I didn't realize Alafair Burke was his daughter.  Now that in itself wouldn't have been "a Like" in my review, but at one point in the story Ellie makes a connection with James Lee Burke's male protagonist Dave Robicheaux...It's never fully mentioned, and if you don't know anything about James Lee Burkes' books, you won't catch it.  But, if you do, it's really a cool little strategy :) 

Speed - this was a fast read for me...I read it in just a few hours...but it was as enjoyable as watching a fast paced murder mystery on tv or in the movie theatre...I didn't feel like I was sitting there for a few hours...I just couldn't take my eyes off.  I never knew who the murderer was until Ellie realized it, and I almost dropped my Nook when she dropped her phone.  To say I was involved in this story would be an understatement. :)

What I Didn't Like

Fear factor - this one gave me the chills from time to time...and my teenagers keep asking me why all of a sudden I'm so worried about their Internet activities :/

Techie talk - there's a little bit of talk about cookies, IP addresses, etc. as you would certainly expect there to be in a case like this one.  I don't think it's over the top at all, but it's difficult for me to wrap my mind around just how easy it is for someone to hack into your computer...the technology is so beyond my comprehension...but is enough to scare the bejeebies out of me :(

Overall Recommendation

If you like a fast paced mystery/detective series with a gutsy heroine in the lead role, you'll like Ellie.  This one's about Internet hacking and the Russian mob too so put on your thinking caps :)


Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sunday Salon



Summertime has been good to me so far...both older daughters have jobs (Praise God! Can I get an Amen??), so most days it's just the youngest and me.  We sleep in, cook some breakfast, watch t.v. (her), read books, blog (me), fold a few clothes, wash some dishes, tackle a project or two till we get bored, walk the dogs interspersed throughout the morning and early afternoon (bc there is no way to go on an extended walk in MS in the summertime), and then hit the pool.  The husband arrives home from work, hits the pool with us, we grill up something easy and we're off to bed.
See...pure bliss! 

Except for one thing.  
My Low Carb/Low Sugar Diet


Let me explain.  My entire life I have never had to worry about what I eat.  Never.  I've eaten what I wanted, when I wanted, how much I wanted, yada, yada, yada.  If I put on a few pounds, I cut back for a few days and poof, the extra is gone.  That's some serious metabolism.
Well, my metabolism moved out.
Just left.
I took my metabolism for granted and never learned how to eat.  Now I get to learn whether I like it or not.
And, I not.
About 6-9 months ago I began noticing this extra fluff around my waist.  I'd pinch it, pull my pants tighter and go on with life, eating my Peanut M&M's and drinking my Barq's root beer.
I couldn't figure out, while stuffing my mouth with Frosted Flakes and Texas Toast, where the extra "stuffing" was coming from.
When it actually became difficult for me to lean over to tie my shoes, I finally woke up.
After I woke up, I realized nothing in my closet fit anymore.
Whoa, Nelly! Wait just a second here.  The usual cutbacks weren't going to work this time.
This is war.

Belly fat is the most unhealthy fat there is...and I don't want to be unhealthy.  I want to set an example for my daughters that healthy is beautiful, but also healthy doesn't equate with skinny or starving yourself.

I sure do want some french fries though :/
Oy.

The week in review on the blog:

Monday - Media Monday - "I Have a Confession to Make" in which I discussed my addiction to True Blood (the t.v. show)
Friday - Feature and Follow Friday in which I discuss the book I would "unread" if I could, featuring Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton
Saturday - Saturday Snapshot - "Layla the Water Shepherd"


The week ahead on the blog:

Monday - Book Review - Dead Connection by Alafair Burke
Tuesday - Book Review for TLC Book Tours - Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke
Friday - Freedom to Read Giveaway
Saturday Snapshot - We'll be taking a little mini vacation with the kids this week to the mountains, so look for vacay pics @ At Home with Books next week.

Up next to read:

Gone Missing by Linda Castillo