Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I'd like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year!

On The Porch Swing Reading Challenge 2009

This will be the last one I sign up for (right, I've said it before but this time I mean it - LOL) Another challenge I tried last year and didn't complete. If you'd like to join in, click the button above.

Here is the 2009 On The Porch Swing Reading Challenge. Each challenge should be a different book.

1. Pick a title with the word "marriage" or "marrying" or "married" in it
2. Pick a title with the word "friends" or "friendship" in it

3. Pick a title with the word "summer" or "winter" in it

4. Pick a title with a flower name in it

The intention of this challenge is for those who belong to our online Yahoo book group to participate. If you are not a member of this group, there is no reason why you can't participate. Reading challenges are self-policed anyway so if you are inspired by this, then go for it!

Good luck to all!

Here are my choices:

1. The De Santis Marriage by Michelle Reid Click for review

2. A Marriage Between Friends by Melinda Curtis

3. The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux Click for review

4. Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts

Romance Club Reading Challenge 2009

Okay, so I can't pass up another romance reading challenge. I didn't finish this one last year, but hopefully I'll do better in 2009. If you'd like to join in, click the button above. Here's the info:

Here is the 2009 Romance Club Reading Challenge! Please choose one book for each of the following:

Read a romance by an author whose last name starts with "G"

Read a romance from a sub-genre you don't usually read from: contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, etc.

Read a romance containing a titled name in its title such as viscount, duke, duchess, princess, prince, etc.

Read a romance published in 2009

Happy Reading!!!

These are my choices:

1. Blood Red by Heather Graham (author whose last name starts with a "G")

2. The Mistletoe Wager by Christine Merrill (sub-genre I don't normally
read - Regency)

3. The Prince's Arranged Bride by Susan Stephens (romance with a title in
the name)

4. How To Tame A Modern Rogue by Diana Holquist (romance published in 2009) Click for review

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Today's question: Here is a list of the main areas of Library Thing:
1. Home (, before you log in)
2. Home (once you log in, contains Your Home, Your Profile, Connections, Recommendations, Reviews, Statistics, Clouds, Gallery, Memes)
3. Profile (Recent activity, tags, comments, members with your books)
4. Your Library
5. Your Tags
6. Add Books
7. Talk
8. Groups
9. Local
10. Search
11. Zeitgeist (Stats, Top Lists)
12. Tools (Widgets, Store)
13. Blog

What area are you most familiar with? What area is your favorite? What area are you curious about? Are there any that you have not really looked at?

I'm going to use the answers to help generate some topics for future posts.

My Answer...

First, I'd like to thank Marie for all the hard work she did on making Tuesday Thingers such a huge success. Second, thanks to Wendi for keeping this going! Both of you are greatly appreciated for everything you do!

Now to this week's question...

I'm not as familiar with LT as I'd like to be. I use the Profile the most - I love seeing how many members have the same books I do and what my Friends are adding to their libraries. The groups page is fun. I love seeing what all the groups are talking about. I also use their widget to show what books I'm currently reading. I also you the Library section and adding books alot, too. There's still so much that LT has to offer and I just haven't had the chance to really look at things over there. Maybe with the long weekend ahead, I'll have more of a chance to explore.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Choosing to Be by Kat Tansey

Choosing to Be, Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master

Genre: Fiction

Kat Tansey is looking for a way to overcome her severe bouts of depression. After suffering from a long term illness, she loses her job and is faced with financial difficulties. She looks for help through Buddhist meditation. A topic that happens to be the expertise of her Maine Coon cat, Poohbear. He’s more than willing to be her teacher and help her seek answers she needs so desperately.

This is a fictionalized account of the authors’ tortured journey. She has marvelous talks with Poohbear, who convinces her to acquire a Maine Coon kitty, Catzenbear. Together, they show Ms. Tansey the way. The reader lives through Kat’s experiences and feel both her pain and joy. There are several cute cat antics that will leave a smile on all cat lovers’ faces.

As a cat lover myself, I often have full fledged conversations with my cats and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit it. I know from my own experiences, they do help keep the stress levels down and they are a sounding board that doesn’t judge.

I found this book to be one of the most enjoyable I’ve read in a long time. I practically devoured it in one day. The writing flows well, it’s fast-paced and I hated to see it come to an end. It’s one of the few books I’m passing along to my husband. He’s going to love it as well.

For Reading Challenge: What an animal reading challenge

Books Into Movies Challenge

Here's the challenge...

Books Into Movies Challenge
And last, but definitely not least is the challenge that was inspired by the movie "The Wedding Date": The Books Into Movies Challenge! Obviously, the goal would be to read 2+ books that were made into movies (and, if possible, watch the movie). This can be Shakespeare's plays, Austen's novels (I'm sure some of you know the wonderful BBC movies?), or newer movies like The Wedding Date (after Liz Young's Asking For Trouble)! Actually, even He's Just Not That Into You would count, now that it is being made into a movie...

The challenge will start January 1, 2009 and end December 31, 2009.

The goal is to read 2+ books made into a movie or books that relate to TV series (Murder She Wrote and the likes).

To sign up, click the button above.

Here are my choices:

1. Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks Click here for review
2. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella Click here for review

My 2008 in Review

It's that time of year when everyone goes through their lists of what they read the last year. So, here's my wrap up, although I might have some additions if I can finish any books in the next couple of days (three to be exact)...

Total books read in 2008 - 71

Books I rated the highest (5 stars):

Stealing Home by Sherryl Woods
Catch As Cat Can by Rita Mae Brown
Larceny and Old Lace by Tamara Myers
Murder of A Pink Elephant by Denise Swanson
A Sexy Time of It by Cara Summers
Strike Zone by Kate Angell
Murder of A Smart Cookie by Denise Swanson
Bitter Sweets by G.A. McKevett
Through A Glass, Deadly by Sarah Atwell
All About Evie by Beth Ciotta
Familiar Lullaby by Caroline Burnes
The Host by Stephanie Meyers
Death By Pantyhose by Laura Levine
Back to Life by Kristin Billerbeck
Their Way Home by Melissa Van Rossum
Familiar Oasis by Caroline Burnes
Paint it Red by Carla Cassidy
Cat Stories by James Herriot
The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert
The Exchange by Inga C. Ellzey
Once Upon a Thanksgiving by Holly Jacobs
Love's Nine Lives by Cara Colter and Cassidy Caron
Demarco Empire by J Lou McCartney
Once Upon a Christmas by Holly Jacobs
Choosing to Be by Kat Tansey (review to come soon!)

First book I read in 2008: Strokes of Midnight by Hope Tarr (Harlequin Blaze)
Last book I read in 2008: Choosing to Be by Kat Tansey (but that could change if I fit another book in between now and Wednesday night).

I didn't do well in challenges in 2008, but my excuse is that I didn't discover challenges until late in the year. We'll see how I do when I have the full year to read.

Mysteryreadercafe Reading Challenge 2009, what's one more challenge? Especially when it's for a genre I love? Here's the info about it...

Announcing the 2009 Mysteryreadercafe Reading Challenge:

1. Read a mystery with the word "murder" in the title

2. Read a mystery set in your region

3. Read a mystery that has been on your shelf for at least a year

4. Read a mystery from a "new to you" author

Please remember that each challenge above should be a different book. Although this was created for the reading group I run at Yahoo, anyone can participate. Reading challenges are personal and self-policed. You make the decisions if you want to change the books as the year goes on, etc. What's important is that it's fun and that you get to books you want to read.

Good luck to all!

If you're interested in joining in, click the button above.

Here are my choices, although I might change my mind later in the year...

1. Murder of a Chocolate Covered Cherry by Denise Swanson Click here for review (title with the word "murder" in it)
2. Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle Click for review (mystery set in my region)
3. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis Click for review(book in my TBR for over a year)
4. The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney (new to me author) Click for review

This should be fun!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sunday Salon - Is this really winter?

What crazy weather we are having in New York! Last week it was snowing and now our temperatures are heading up to 60 degrees! I'm not complaining, mind you, I'm just baffled. One minute it feels like winter, the next it feels like spring is on the way.

As far as reading goes, I finished Once Upon A Christmas by Holly Jacobs and posted my review. This is the second of a trilogy and I love it. This is such a "feel good" series. Great comfort reads! Now, I'm reading Choosing to Be by Kat Tansey. I started it this morning and I would have been finished except I got sidetracked by my real life. This is a wonderful book. A joy to read. It's one of the few books I'm going to pass along to my husband to read. After that, I'm not sure what's next on my list. I figure I can get one more book in before 2009 gets here and my reading challenges begin.

I'm also getting ready to put together a list of my likes/dislikes for 2008. I always like taking a quick look back to see what I read over the year. I don't think I did as well as I would have liked in the amount I read, but I do remember reading some good books.

I'm excited about New Year's Eve. We have tickets to a local theater production of Cirque Le Masque. The theater provides food and drinks, then at midnight they show Times Square at midnight. We did this last year and had a great time. It's a nice way to bring in the new year. I hope you all have a very Happy New Year and I hope 2009 brings you everything you wish for.

Once Upon A Christmas by Holly Jacobs

Harlequin American Romance #1238, December 2008

Michelle Hamilton’s worst nightmare comes true, her nephew wants to find his biological father. She remembers back to the day her sister arrived with Brandon on her doorstep pleading for Michelle’s help. What Michelle didn’t realize was that her sister was terminally ill and looking for someone to raise her son, once she was gone. After her sister passed away, Michelle had no choice but to raise Brandon as her own. Although it ruined a relationship she had been in, Michelle has no regrets. In fact, the last thing she wants is some stranger to enter the picture and take the boy away.

Michelle agrees to let Brandon find his father when he reaches 18, but that was five years away. Brandon has no intentions of waiting that long. Going through some of his mother’s belongings, Brandon discovers a possible candidate to be his father. Knowing it would upset Michelle, Brandon secretly visits a man his mother had been involved with. Daniel McLean is shocked when Brandon asks if he could be his dad. When Daniel hears who Brandon’s mother was, he admits it’s a possibility.

As they wait for the return of the paternity test results, Daniel, Michelle and Brandon grow closer and closer. Daniel no longer cares if he is Brandon’s biological father, he already loves the boy and his aunt. He wants to be part of their lives, but they overcome Michelle’s insecurity and fears of losing Brandon? To add to Michelle’s concerns, she’s in charge of the annual school Christmas fair and, against her better judgment, invites Daniel to help out. What was she thinking?

This is the second book of Holly Jacobs holiday trilogy. I loved the first book and the second book is no different. These books are great comfort reads and bring joy to the holidays. A fun way to spend a few hours during the busy holiday months. The next book is Once Upon A Valentine and looks to be even more fun.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot

Genre: Chick Lit

The Queen of Babble returns once more to close out this delightful series. Lizzie Nichols has a tendency to blurt out whatever she's thinking. Not only does she get herself in trouble, but everyone around her as well. Now Lizzie's dreams have come true - the man she loves asks her to marry him. She's stunned and accepts Luc's proposal without a second thought. But, is this really what she wants?

It wasn't too long ago that Luc and Lizzie called it quits because of his lack of willingness to commit to marriage. Suddenly, Luc changes his mind and wants to make Lizzie his wife. Lizzie is sure this is what she's always wanted, but there is one fly in the ointment. During their break, she slept with Luc's best friend and her own best friend's ex-boyfriend Chazz. Lizzie tries to convince hersel that this had been a one shot deal, but every time she sees Chazz with another woman, she's overcome by anger. Could she be in love with Chazz and not Luc after all?

This trilogy has been a joy to listen to. I wasn't sure I'd continue with this series after the first audio book, but I grew to love Lizzie and the crazy cast of characters surrounding her. We've watched Lizzie grow from a college student to a wedding dress designer and a business woman in her own right. I will miss this series and do hope that Meg Cabot gives us a chance to catch up with Lizzie and her antics at some point in the future. This is a series that will leave a smile on your face for a long time.

Friday Fill-Ins #104

1. I must travel the world before I die.

2. You can't stop people from being nasty.

3. I wish I never had to buy medicine again.

4. My hubby has helped me change my life.

5. I know the song - I know alot, but right now can't even think of one - by heart.

6. If I weren't so afraid, I would .

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to chilling out, tomorrow my plans include watching DVDs with my hubby and Sunday, I want to do grocery shopping!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Third Time is A Charm Challenge

This is another one that sounds like fun.

2009 Third Time Is A Charm Challenge

January 1 - December 31, 2009
Hosted by Kim @ A Novel Challenge Yahoo GroupGuidelines:
Choose at least one Trilogy to read (you may choose more than one, but must read at least one trilogy).
Post a list of the books in the trilogy you have chosen to the group via email (this is your sign up for the challenge).

Cross overs from other challenges are permissible.

Progress in the challenge and any wrap up post should be posted to the group via email.
For this one, you have to join A Novel Challenge Yahoo Group at
The trilogy I'm going to read is The Last Stand series by Brenda Novak:

Trust Me
Stop Me
Watch Me

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Themed Reading Challenge

Okay, one more readinng challenge for 2009. Caribousmom is hosting this one. To join, click the button above.

Here's what this one is about...

February 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009

The Themed Reading Challenge is a six month challenge designed to help readers clear books from their to-be-read stacks which center around a common theme or themes. Here are the “rules”:

1. Books should be chosen from the reader’s TBR pile (this may be an actual physical pile or a
virtual pile).

2. The goal is to read 4 to 6 books linked by theme.
3. Overlaps with other challenges are allowed.
4. Readers may change their list of books at any time.
5. Readers may choose three different levels of participation:
Read at least 4 books with the same theme.
Read at least 5 books that share at least TWO themes.
Read at least 6 books that share MORE than two themes.

Themes can be geographic, genre, author, subject matter, or anything in between! Last year’s themes were wonderfully creative and varied and included such things as: books about books, books set in New England, books with a color in the title, books about vampires, books with the word ‘lady’ in the title, Gothic classics, fairy tales retold for adults, highschool classics, Asian culture, feathered friends, WWII, Canada, books in translation, and Beverly Cleary. There were many others I have not listed here!

The only thing limiting your choices is your imagination - so have fun!

Sign-ups for this challenge will close on March 30th.

My theme is going to be cozy mysteries and I'm going to do the second level.

1. Dirty Deeds by Suzanne Price Click for review
2. Back To School Murder by Leslie Meier Click here for review
3. Murder of a Real Bad Boy by Denise Swanson Click here for review
4. Murder of a Botoxed Blonde by Denise Swanson Click here for review
5. Murder of a Chocolate Covered Cherry by Denise Swanson Click here for review

Ellora's Cave Presents On Santa's Naughty List

Stories by Lacey Alexander, Shelby Reed and Melani Blazer

Genre: Erotica

From the back blurb:

These girls don't need coal in their stockings to set their red-hot lovers on fire...



Emily clams up when irrestible Simon mentions anything naughtier than the missionary position, until a college-friend-turned-sex-therapist offers some tantalizingly unconventional erotic instruction...just in time for the holidays.


Holiday Inn

When a freak snowstorm strands Anna and gorgeous, leather-clad biker Jesse together on Christmas Eve, the strangers turn a little of Santa's magic into an unforgettable night of passion.


When I Close My Eyes

Snowed into her vacation cabin, Kenna and Seth share an uncontrollable electric connection. But will the bizarre dreams that haunt them both make this sexy yuletide encounter their last...or is it only the beginning?

My thoughts...

This is the first Ellora's Cave book I've read and it was good - very hot! One story was hotter than the next. Although after reading "Unwrapped" I may never look at a candy cane in quite the same way again. LOL I will definitely be checking out more from this line of books.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Okay, so I don't really like snow, but it's been snowing since yesterday at noon. We only ended up with about 4 inches of snow, but it was compacted by ice, sleet and rain. Yuck! It makes for hazardous road conditions, but I think I can spend all Sunday at home.

As for reading, I finished reading Like Glass by Matthew Corey and participated in the Noontime Chat. That was fun. It was a good book. Then I finished an Ellora's Cave book "On Santa's Naughty List". I still have to write up a review on it, but I enjoyed it. It's the first one I've read from this line of books. Now, I'm reading an Harlequin American Romance "Once Upon A Christmas" by Holly Jacobs. I love Holly Jacobs' books and this is good so far.

Then, I'm planning on going through all the 2009 reading challenges I joined and arranging all my books for it. A couple don't require you make a list now, but I like to so I know what I'm doing. I have to be organized with this or I'll get mixed up. Doesn't really take much to confuse me. LOL

I have a couple of books to review and then I'm caught up in the review world. I'm hoping to concentrate on the reading challenges for 2009. That will help me stay on track and work my way through my TBR.

I wish everyone a happy holiday in whatever holiday you celebrate!

Friday, December 19, 2008

TBR Challenge Lite

Yet another challenge I'm signing up for. Just click the button above to join in.

For those who love the original TBR Challenge, but need a little less “pressure” on their reading, the TBR Challenge *LITE* offers you that option!

You have your choice of ONE of the 3 options:

OPTION A: read 6 books in 12 months ~ your list of books CANNOT be changed, but you are allowed to have an “Alternates” list to choose from (like in the Original TBR Challenge).

OPTION B: read 6 books in 12 months ~ you CAN change your reading list throughout the year

OPTION C: make up a list of however many books you think you could get read in 12 months, as long as they are from your TBR stack/list, and then read them between January 1st and December 31st. You must have at least 3 books on your list.

Some Other General Guidelines:
- You are allowed to overlap with other challenges
- Audiobooks are allowed
- e-Books are allowed, but must still be books that you’ve wanted to read for at least 3, or more, months
- You should still have a list of books posted somewhere for others to see
- You don’t have to read your books in the order you put them on your list

Okay, I'm all set with my list...I'm going to be brave and go with Option A and have 6 books and not change them (although I'm including an alternate 6 list).

1. Naughty Neighbor by Janet Evanovich Click for review
2. Bedlam, Bath and Beyond by J.D. Warren
3. The Suicide Club by Gayle Wilson
4. Lifelines by C.J. Lyons
5. The Perfect Family by Carla Cassidy
6. Her Sexiest Mistake by Jill Shalvis


1. Dirty Deeds by Suzanne Price Click for review
2. Broken Pieces by Carla Cassidy
3. Personal Assets by Emma Holly
4. Hot Flash Holidays by Nancy Thayer
5. The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again by Nancy Thayer
6. The Hot Flash Club Chills Out by Nancy Thayer

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Series Challenge Season 3

I guess I'm officially addicted to reading challenges. I'm signing up with another one. Here's the info:

Series Challenge Season 3

So, I haven't blogged in months, I'm afraid. Sorry about that, but life kept me busy until about two weeks ago.

Anyways, I will be hosting the 3rd season of the Series Challenge. The past two challenges, I never managed to finish all the series I had planned to read, so I hope I'll have more luck this time around.

I still have many, many series to read, so it'll be a tough decision I won't make tonight. This time around, the challenge will take an entire year to give everyone a better chance to finish up the series and to make it easier to keep track of when the challenge starts and ends.

The challenge starts December 1st, 2008 and goes until November 30th, 2009.

The rules are easy:

1) Pick a couple series you already started and now want to finish (meaning, you'll be all up to date with the series when it ends).

2) Read at least 4 books, more are also okay, of course!

3) Post your review of the books on your blog or in the comment section, no matter how long. If you post the review on your blog, please post a link to the review in the comment section so that everyone else can check out your review.

4) Have fun!

To sign up, click here

I decided to finish Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Series. Here are the books I need to read...

1. 74 Seaside Avenue Click for review
2. 8 Sandpiper Way Click for review
3. A Cedar Cove Christmas Click for review
4. 92 Pacific Boulevard (due out in September 2009)Click for review

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question...

Do you give books as gifts?

To everyone? Or only to select people?

How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?

My answer...

No, I don't give books as gifts. I don't really have anyone who would appreciate a book as a gift. I would rather receive a gift card to a bookstore then actually get a book. People don't know what I might already have and what I really like. I enjoy getting the giftcard and going on a book spending spree...browsing the aisles and aisles of books. That's part of the fun for me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2009 Audio Book Challenge

I have no willpower - I signed up with yet another reading challenge. This is an audio book challenge. I've recently become an audio book addict on my way to and from work. So, this seemed like a good one for me. J.Kaye's Book Blog is hosting this one. You can join by clicking the button above. Here's some info about the challenge:

Here are the guidelines:

1) You can join anytime as long as you don’t start listening to your books prior to 2009.

2) This challenge is for 2009 only. The last day to have all your books read is December 31, 2009.

3) You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.

4) When you sign up under Mr. Linky, list the direct link to your post where your audiobooks will be listed. If you list just your blog’s URL, it will be removed. If you don’t have a blog, leave the URL blank.

5) You do not have to list your books ahead of time. If you decide to, you can change them as you go.

6) Our goal is to listen to 12 audiobooks in 2009. No need to list your books now. You can do so as you go.

7) Feel free to post a link to your reviews in the comment section below. That way, we can visit your blog and read your review.

I will list my choices as I go along...

1. The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky Click here for review
2. Sofie Metroplois by Tori Carrington Click here for review
3. The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner Click for review
4. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith Click for review
5. Testimony by Anita Shreve Click for review
6. Chasing Harry Winston by Laura Weisberger Click here for review
7. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner Click here for review
8. Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein Click here for review
9. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah Click here for review
10. Here's the Story by Maureen McCormack Click for review
11. The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: Stories and Other Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg Click for review
12. Blue Smoke and Mirrors by Elizabeth Lowell Click for review

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

This week's question...

Today's Question: The LT Home Page feature. How are you liking it? Or not? Do you go here when you log into LT or do you use your profile page more?

My answer...

I think the home page is great. It has everything I want all on one page. I like having the newest forum discussions listed and it's fun to see what's popular this month. The "On this day section" is also quite interesting to read. I don't really read the reviews section and I don't look at the tag section, but everything else is well organized and it's nice to have it all on one page.

Noontime Book Chat - Like Glass by Matthew Corey

Welcome to today's Noontime Book Chat of Like Glass by Matthew Corey. Yesterday, J. Kaye started us off by discussing the cover and the early chapters of this book. I thought I'd go to the next several chapters.

Rob Jackson fell in love with Janet. They were young and he fell in love very quickly. His brother ended up sleeping with Janet, getting her pregnant and marrying her. Rob felt betrayed. Everyone else seemed to think he was overreacting. Although it could have been a case of "puppy love", I can't blame Rob for feeling betrayed. His own brother slept with his girlfriend, but everyone chalked that up to no big deal.

I felt that Rob's feelings were pushed aside a bit too easily by everyone. Even if Janet wasn't the great love of his life, if Rob felt hurt and in love...well, then he should have been taken seriously. It's not like he was 5 years old and in love with the girl next door.

I totally felt for Rob. I've never been betrayed like that, but I could feel his pain and hurt. How do the rest of you feel about this?

I've already read the entire book and loved it. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week's discussion. Tomorrow we'll be heading over to A Blog of Books and discuss more about this book.

Monday: J. Kaye's Book Blog
Tuesday: Socrates' Book Reviews (Right here!)
Wednesday: A Blog of Books
Thursday: Things We Read
Friday: Cafe of Dreams

Monday, December 15, 2008

Author Interview: J Lou McCartney

I had the great pleasure of receiving De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney to review. J Lou is a brand new author and this is her first book. I loved ever minute of this book and J Lou has graciously agreed to allow me to interview her for Socrates’ Book Review Blog. Welcome, Louise and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Here we go…

1) This is an amazing first book, where did you come up with the idea for your first novel and how long did it take you to complete?

I grew up watching all the great mafia movies, such as The Godfather, Scarface, Good fellas and Carlitos Way. I was always intrigued with the mafia’s lifestyle. Even though the characters were ruthless they still oozed charm and likeability. I wanted to do a modern spin on the mafia and thought it was about time somebody wrote a new take on this subject. I actually had the idea to write the book for about 13 years before I decided to put pen to paper! Katie Saunders was always going to be my leading lady and I knew that it was going to be centred around a nightclub and have an Italian mafia influence. 13 months later ‘De Marco Empire’ was complete.

2) Did you have any favorite characters from your book?

I loved Sasha’s character – she was neurotic and totally psychotic but still had that bit of humour around her personality. I also liked how Katie’s character progressed from a naive young woman to a sophisticated woman of the world. And wouldn’t’t we all just love to be swept off our feet by the dashing and extremely rich Antonio De Marco? He was sexy, charming and handsome but also had that mysterious side to him which made him even more intriguing.

3) Did the story turn out as you intended or did it take any turns you weren’t expecting?

I know it sounds bizarre but once I started writing the novel it seemed to take on a life of its own and it kind of wrote itself – if that makes sense! I did have ideas of which way it should go but it didn’t turn out the way I expected it to – in fact I have to say it turned out much better than I anticipated!

4) Do you use an outline when planning a book?

Every book is different – with De Marco Empire I did a basic outline of the plot and a description of the main characters and locations, luckily everything else seemed to follow.

5) How did it feel when you heard you’d be published? Did you celebrate?

After trying 4 other publishers I struck lucky with Pegasus. It was an amazing feeling for a publisher to have faith in my writing. I was elated, ecstatic and thrilled. When I received the publishing contract I celebrated with my family and an expensive bottle of champagne!

6) How are you able to juggle both a family and writing?

There’s no pretending on this question – its hard work! But with the love and support of my family along with sheer guts and determination and total belief in myself I achieved a lifelong dream, so much so that I am currently writing my third novel.

7) As an author, do you get to choose your cover and title or does the publisher get that honor?

All the time I was actually writing the book I never thought about the books title, it just didn’t seem that important. However, once I had finished I realised this was vital. The title had to jump out, make the reader want to know more. I made a list of about 13 titles and asked friends and family which they preferred and ‘De Marco Empire’ won! My daughter Tamzin who is an A Level Art student designed the book cover and Pegasus graphics team did a fantastic job on making it as close to her original idea as possible.

8) Did you do any research for your book?

Yes, I researched La Pregheira in Umbria and it just sounded so peaceful and romantic I knew it was an appropriate setting for my book. As I live in Cumbria in the UK Umbria seemed the perfect choice. I also did some research about Italian furniture and one day when I make my fortune I will buy a huge house and furnish it with Italian d├ęcor!

9) What is your favorite genre to read? Do you have any favorite authors?

I love most fiction books. I’m a sucker for a good romance and edge of the seat crime novels. The first chapter has to reel me in. My favourite authors are Martina Cole, Lynda La Plante, Sydney Sheldon, Helen Fielding, Jackie Collins and Emily Bronte who wrote the classic, Wuthering Heights.

10) What kind of setting do you use to do your writing? A home office? An office outside the home?

I tend to lock myself in my bedroom and get out the laptop. I listen to the beautiful tones of Il Divo playing softly in the background to get me in the mood. When writing I don’t like to be disturbed unless it is a dire emergency!

11) Who is your greatest influence?

I have always admired Martina Cole’s gritty and hard hitting novels. She is a huge icon to me and if I have half of her success I will be truly happy.

12) Was writing a lifelong dream or did you have a different career in mind?

I was always a dreamer and never really knew what I wanted out of life. At school my head was always in the clouds and I had a really short attention span - academically I was only really good at Art and the English language, which has obviously come in useful! It wasn’t until years later with a little help from a personal development coach that I discovered what I was born to do and I haven’t looked back since.

13) Do you have any words of advice for the aspiring writers out there?

Writing is a lonely vocation where you are wrapped up in your own world, living and breathing life into your characters and the situations you put them in. I’m on this fantastic journey not knowing what is going to happen from one day to the next. I would say to aspiring writers – expect rejections its par for the course. Just take it on the chin and move on – with self belief in your work and perseverance you will get there in the end – it’s worth it!

14) Can you tell us anything about your next book?

My new novel 'Bella Ella' is centred around sex trafficking with Italian mafia
and Russian gangsters who set up an international sex trafficking ring. It
shows the fate of some of the girls who are abducted and forced into this sordid
existence and the affect it has on the people who they come into contact with.
It's mainly set between Russia, Italy and the UK. There are lots of twists and
turns along the way and some horrific murders. The novel is fast paced and
quite often brutal in places, it's definitely not for the faint hearted! This novel
will leave the reader shocked to their very core and open their eyes to this
profession which is very prevalent in today's society.

15) When can we expect to see Bella Ella published?

That’s a very good question! My current publisher have taken my writing as far
as they can and I feel that the only way forward now is to find a good agent
who can take my writing to the next level. De Marco Empire has been entered
for two prestigious awards The Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Award 2009
and The Orange Broadband Award for New Writers 2009 so who knows what
doors this may open. For more information about my writing check out my
website at

And finally Yvonne I wanted to thank you for your impressive review and will
keep you posted on any further developments.

Once again, Louise, thank you for spending some time with us.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Noontime Chat - Like Glass by Matthew Corey

We are about to begin the noontime chat for Like Glass by Matthew Corey. This is the first time I'm participating in something like this, so I'm excited. We will be hosting Tuesday's chat. Tomorrow kicks off the chat at J. Kaye's Book Blog

Here's the official schedule...

Monday: J. Kaye's Book Blog
Tuesday: Socrates' Book Reviews (Right here!)
Wednesday: A Blog of Books
Thursday: Things We Read
Friday: Cafe of Dreams

Please join us if you can!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunday Salon - A Movies and Reviews Week

Happy Sunday Salon Everyone!!!

This week we've had nothing but alot of rain. The temperatures were warm - in the 50's so at least we didn't get snow. Now the temperatures have dropped to the 20's. Brrr.....good weather for reading, movies and TV :)

As far as reading goes, I finished reading and reviewing Like Glass by Matthew Corey and De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney. I loved both books. They were both filled with so many twists and turns - just what I love! My reviews are already posted on my blog.

I will be participating with J. Kaye's Book Blog in a noontime chat for Like Glass. It's my first chat and I'm looking forward to it.

Right now I'm reading an Ellora's Cave Christmas anthology called "On Santa's Naught List" and I have one more story left to read. Then, it's back to reviewing. I have Gods Misbehaving Badly by Marie Phillips and Choosing to Be: Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master by Kat Tansey.

I watched a couple of movies on DVD today. The first was Hancock with Will Smith, Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman. Will Smith plays a different kind of superhero. I loved this movie. Lots of action and even some romance...a little anyway. I usually love Will Smith's movies, so I was pretty sure I'd love this one too.

The second movie was Get Smart with Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway. It was okay. I wasn't really a big fan of the TV show in the first place, but I love Steve Carrell in The Office and figured he'd be the perfect actor to play Maxwell Smart. He was good, but the movie was just "okay". Kind of silly, but I guess that's what it was supposed to be :)

I hope everyone has a great Sunday and a great week...the holidays are upon us and I'm sure everyone is going to be very busy. I'm hoping to get more reading in, but I'm not counting on it.

Enjoy your week!

Like Glass by Matthew Corey

Genre: Romance, Fiction

When Rob Jackson met Janet during his college days, he had no idea how much this woman would change his life. It’s a case of love at first sight, or at least love in four days. That’s all it took for him to fall head over heels in love. Everything was perfect, or so he thought. Much to Rob’s horror, his beloved brother Bill sweeps Janet off her feet and makes her his wife. Rob couldn’t take the betrayal and cut himself off from his family. He created a successful life in computers and basically lives his life with little or no communication with his family.

One day Rob receives a phone call from his sister-in-law that rocks his world. The brother who destroyed his life was dead. Rob didn’t know how to feel, but it was time for him to see his parents and, most of all, Janet and the children she had with his brother. As much as he tries, it’s next to impossible for Rob to put his hurt behind him and go on with his life. When tragedy strikes, Rob finds himself without anything – not even the job he worked so hard to get.

Janet puts aside her own hurt and grief to help Rob. Together, they try to make sense of their lives and strive for a peaceful co-existence.

This story is an emotional rollercoaster that will have the reader laughing and crying. Matthew Corey’s words flow brilliantly through each page. I found Mr. Corey’s use of flashbacks and dream sequences quite effective. It’s a fast-paced story with realistic characters. Readers will feel each character’s pain and joy. By the end of the book, I found myself in tears. I’m looking forward to the next book by Matthew Corey.

Starting Monday, December 15th Socrates' Book Reviews will be participaing with J. Kaye's Book Blog's noontime chat of this book. I'm looking forward to it. I will post more info when I have the details.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question:

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

My answers:

1. Nope, does anyone? I always have the best of intentions, but something in my real life interfers and I don't read nearly as much as I'd like or planned.

2. I'd go for the comfort reading which is rerally escapism for me. So, I guess I'd choose both of those. I love romance, romantic suspense, mystery and thrillers. Those are what I would read more of if I had more time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney

Genre: Fiction

The de Marco brothers left a tragic past behind in Italy and set up a new life in London. Their exclusive posh nightclub is a huge success with guests clamoring to get in. Two people who are denied admittance are Lucy Carmichael and Katie Saunders. Both young women are dying to get in so they gain access to the club under the guise of applying for jobs as waitresses. Much to their surprise they get the jobs and begin an exciting adventure neither of the girls expected.

Katie falls in love with Antonio de Marco and the feelings are mutual. Sadly, Katie breaks up her romance with Lucy’s older brother, Matt. Meanwhile, Antonio leaves his psychotic girlfriend Sasha. However, Sasha is not one to take this lying down and vows to get revenge on both Katie and Antonio.

Things take a nasty turn when the de Marco brothers’ past comes back and threatens all those closest to them. They desperately try to save their family and friends, but tragedy strikes over and over again. None of their lives will ever be the same.

This is an action-packed drama with characters you will either love or hate. Each character is crafted expertly and realistically. These are people you will come to care about and cheer for. The villains will have the reader craving their own justice. I could not put this book down. It was “edge-of-the-seat” reading with twists and turns that will make your head spin. It is a totally engrossing book that will give readers hours upon hours of enjoyment. J Lou McCartney is a new author and I expect she has a bright future ahead of her.

Tuesday Thingers

This week's question......

Most of us book bloggers like to write book reviews- if we don't love to write book reviews- but here's today's question. When it comes to LT (and your blog), do you review every book you read? Do you just review Early Reviewers or ARCs? Do you review only if you like a book, or only if you feel like you have to? How soon after reading do you post your review? Do you post them other places- other social networking sites, Amazon, etc.?

My answer...

Yes, I do enjoy writing and reviewing books, although sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. However, I do enjoy sharing my thoughts on a book. Since I've been blogging, I write reviews of all the books I read whether it was requested by an author or not.

I have to write the reviews right after I read the book and definitely before I start the next book. I just like to write them when the story is still fresh in my mind. Sometimes I'll post a review on Amazon, Shelfari or LT as well. Not always.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Heating up the Holidays – Harlequin Blaze

Heating up the Holidays by Jill Shalvis, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Jamie Sobrato

Genre: Romance

Harlequin Blaze #435, December 2008

“All He Wants for Christmas” by Jill Shalvis

Firefighter Cristina Lewis is tough. She isn’t a Christmas person, nor is she a people person. She has no time for a love life, but hunky EMT Dustin Mauer intends to change that and make her fall in love with him.

“My Grown-Up Christmas List” by Jacquie D’Alessandro

Toni Rizzo wants nothing more than to make her flower shop a success. She’s certainly not interested in romance, especially with a firefighter. Brad Griffin isn’t letting that stop him. The handsome fireman is not giving up without a fight for the lady of his dreams.

“Up on the Housetop” by Jamie Sobrato

Dr. Lorelei Gibson is mortified when she is stuck on her roof wearing nothing but her underwear. She is even more mortified when her rescuer is none other than Ryan Quinn. A man she loved in high school, but who walked away from her without a second glance. When she realizes he is once again attracted to her, she wonders if she can use this as a way of getting revenge for his treatment of her or maybe start all over again?

This book is a great treat for the holidays. It’s three separate stories featuring firefighters. Reading these stories will warm your heart on a cold winter’s night. The perfect way to get away from the holiday hustle and bustle and simply relax. A nice cup of hot chocolate would make this even better!

The Sunday Salon - Just hangin' out!

So, another week has flown by! I swear time is flying so fast. It's almost Christmas and almost 2009!

I spent my Saturday relaxing. My husband is home so we watched three movies - The Happening, Deception and Baby Mama. All were good. Baby Mama was really cute. Tomorrow my hubby works, so I'll catch up on my reading. I'm currently reading De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney. It's really good. I, also, have to get my hair done. I'll take the book with me.

My favorite TV show is coming to an end on Monday - Boston Legal. I'm going to miss the show very much and I'm already sad to see it end. I'll really miss my weekly fix of James Spader.

I seem to be getting more and more addicted to TV lately! I just got the first three seasons of Supernatural on DVD and I'm going to give that series a chance.

My reading schedule is mostly filled with reviews and I'm hoping to squeeze in a few holiday Harlequin and Silhouette books, too. Do any of you read holiday books?

Hope you all have a great week!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins #101

1. Snow Day - a day off from work.

2. I'm looking forward to the weekend.

3. Chocolate is the best snack ever!

4. One of my favorite old tv shows is Dallas.

5. I'm done with nasty people on message boards.

6. The most enjoyable thing around the holidays is the decorations.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to unwinding, tomorrow my plans include sleeping late and Sunday, I want to get my hair done!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Today's Questions......

1. Do you have a favorite author?

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

3. Did you LIKE everything?

4. How about a least favorite author?

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

My answers...

1. Do you have a favorite author? I have a lot of them but the first person that came to mind was Janet Evanovich.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written? I've read almost all her Stephanie Plum books except for the last one. I haven't read her other books, but they are all in my TBR. She's an auto-buy author for me.

3. Did you LIKE everything? Yes, some more than others. I tend to like her Plum books better than the shorter series romances.

4. How about a least favorite author? Not really.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t? I wanted to like Diana Gabaladon's Outlander series, but I couldn't even make it through the first book. That's not against the author though. It was that particular book. I wanted to like it because I heard so many good things about it, but just couldn't get into it. However, that doesn't mean I wouldn't like other things she's written.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

This week's question...

What's the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it?

I don't think mine is too surprising. It would be Stephenie Meyer's Twilight with 11,669 sharing it and 630 reviewed it. The next two books in my library that are popular are the two Meyers that follow in the Twilight series.

Have I read it? No, haven't had a chance to read it yet. My TBR is overflowing and now my reviews are overflowing, but eventually I will.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Love’s Nine Lives by Cara Colter, Cassidy Caron

Silhouette Romance #1798, January 2006
Genre: Romance

Bridget Daisy gets the awful news from the veterinarian that her cat needs to be placed on a diet immediately. The big orange cat, Conan, is not too happy with this turn of events. The cat food actually says diet on the package! Does Miss Daisy really expect Conan to eat this stuff? Conan comes up with a plan of his own, he refuses to eat anything.

Bridget worries about her faithful companion. She’s sure he’s suffering from depression. She hires a contractor to build a cat door and fence for her furry friend. He’ll have the freedom to come and go as he pleases. That’s sure to make any cat happy.

Contractor Justin West can’t believe his eyes. Bridget Daisy submits a 12 page prospectus for a cat door! Is she crazy? It’s a cat door! When Justin comes face to face with the demure librarian, the big rugged guy can’t help but turn to mush. He’d not only build the door, but befriend her cat as well.

Just and Bridget’s story is a sweet romance, with a touch of humor and warmth. Part of the story is told from the cat’s point of view which had me rolling in laughter. It’s a cute book and I enjoyed every minute of it. Guaranteed to make the dreariest of days, a bit brighter.