Secrets and Lies by Tracy James Jones is a novel of a different kind. Tracy weaves an unusual love story between a man confused about what he wants and who he loves and woman seeking true love. But the story isn’t that simple. Not by a long shot. It’s complex in a soap opera kind of way. You see the train wreck coming and can’t look away.
Kennedy Jordan loves a woman...a different kind of woman named Bren. He loved her, yet on a basic level, he wasn’t sure she would be enough to satisfy his needs...forever. Bren knew it and because of her secret, she overlooked his “affairs” as nothing more than his efforts at confirming his affections for her. Yes, it’s complicated all right.
Enter Camilla Vargas...the young woman with an agenda of her own. High on her list was finding an upwardly mobile business man to marry. She baited her trap (no pun-intended) and Jordan fell hard. But, did he fall hard enough to forget his feelings for Bren?
This story is not what I expected. Miss Jones addressed a contemporary love triangle with a completely different angle. It is not about being homo-sexual, hetero-sexual, or straight. It’s about love...just loving who you love despite societal prejudice. It’s about the struggle to be loyal, to be honest about your purpose, and to be honest with yourself. Fantastic read for a summer by the pool, the river or the beach.
You can find Tracy James Jones at her Facebook page and twitter.Facebook: http://facebook.com/tracyjamesjones
You can also find her blogging @ http://tracyjamesjones.wordpress.com/
I jumped into Stacey Rourke’s Gryphon Series books with the novel Sacrifice. The book opens with the heroine, Celeste Garrett training with her mentor a grumpy little gnome. Yes, a walking, talking garden variety gnome. Celeste is charged with protecting humanity from the maliciousness of Titans...demons shaped like fire tornados with flaming whips, Bat-bulls and my favorite creepy one...land sharks like Great Whites! (Just the idea of a shark on land freaked me out.)
Celeste’s boyfriend is a devilishly handsome demon named Caleb. He is the quintessential tall-dark-haired-dreamy-eyed Irishman. He wants to shed his immortality for humanity, and Celeste has the potion to make it happen. What he thinks will bring them closer is really a ruse to make him disappear for his own safety. The aftermath of Celeste’s decision leaves her with the hollowness of grief that she attempts to fill with a rogue...a tattooed rascal pirate demon named Rowan. (Ah, he was my favorite! Go team Rowan!) I love a story where the bad-boy gets to be sexy, funny and scoundrel-ish. Celeste allowed Rowan to fill the gap left by Caleb’s “disappearance”...much to Rowan’s chagrin. Because Rowan has a secret of his own, although it should have been obvious to everyone, especially to Celeste. (Again, go team Rowan!) But, I’m not going to tell you how that little scenario plays out, as that would be a *spa-oiler*!
Amidst all the demon and Titan fighting, a wedding is being prepared. Celeste’s brother is getting married to the love of his life in a luxurious and beyond rich estate, courtesy of Rowan’s mind-bending powers. He has the ability to make people do things he wants them to do, like a “Jedi-mind trick” and the helpful power to mask Celeste’s painful feelings of missing Caleb. He also has the ability to make Celeste swoon against her will, but that’s all I’m saying about that. You’ll have to read it to find out what happens between them. I don’t think it’s over...not yet, at least.
I liked this novel for several reasons, not just because I liked Rowan more than Caleb (Go team Rowan!) Stacey created some really quirky, funny, and witty characters that live in a world shadowed by our own. She writes quick witty dialogue matching her quick witted characters. I liked that. I could hear Celeste’s voice in my head. The world of demons with flaming irises that travel in a puff of black smoke, a haughty High Council with a hidden agenda, fast paced fight choreography makes Sacrifice a fantastic paranormal adventure romance read. Stacey develops her characters, shows them love, and then yanks them away from you! Argh! Although I didn't scream out loud like I did watching the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones, BUT I kept reading into the wee hours of morning to finish the last twists and turns. Then, Stacey left me hanging....again...so, here’s to the next book...maybe she will have it out by the time I go back a read the first part of the series!
You can find Stacey Rourke at her Facebook page:
and her webpage:
and her twitter: Twitter @Rourkewrites
(everyone knows i love tweeting)
Mark of the Princess by B.C. Morin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I just finished reading Mark of the Princess from Kingdom Chronicles. I remember when the author B.C. Morin first started posting teasers about her novel series. She has created a very colorful world of faeries and mythical beings. In her fae world, the faeries carry marks on their skin, like a tattoo, that emerges as they develop their particular talent or power. The first novel revolves around Princess Alannah, whose mark is steeped in mystery. She is frustrated that she is maturing and doesn't know what her power is supposed to be. She has light hearted adventures with her companions Evyette, Tristan and Kaleb.
But life becomes dangerous and complicated by the dark forces of Miligo and Samil. Alannah needs protection which is unexpectedly provided by a brooding warrior named Brennus. He's darkly handsome and just aloof enough so that you want him to be the guy that gets the girl! Life gets emotionally complicated, as Alannah finds her passions drawing her to Brennus. In the end, their choices are stripped from them and the path to happy-ever-after for Alannah and Brennus appears to be a dead end. B.C. Morin left me wanting to know what happens next. On to book two!
Kingdom Chronicles reminded me of Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I think the characters in the book are sweet enough for young teens and YA with plenty of adventure. Lots of talk about clothing and the excitement of young love will appeal to this crowd. Some formatting issues detracted from the story, but I already peeked at book two on Amazon and it appears the second book addressed those kinds of issues. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. I need to know what happens to Brennus and Alannah! Well done first novel.
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Graceling by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was hooked by the middle of the book. This is a fantasy story about a girl named Katsa who is "graced" (born with) a special ability to "kill". Her uncle, King Randa, uses her ability to his advantage. Katsa is his personal killing machine. Soon, she meets "Po" who is also "graced". They set off on an adventure to find Po's grandfather. It was their story that hooked me. Kristin Cashore built the tension between Katsa and Po so slowly, it felt like I was watching a pot boil, and you know how painfully slow that is...yet you watch anyway! And once the simmering started, I couldn't stop reading.
The world Cashore created felt real, believable, like Middle Earth (although not so detailed and steeped in ancient lore). The main characters were rounded, full of spunk. The twists through the forest were well worth waiting for. It's certainly a YA book, with one "sexy" scene that sort of through me off (I wasn't expecting it), however, it was handled very tastefully and appropriate for high school. Can we say YA-14? I'm sure I will be reading the rest of her books. Graceling
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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thought this simple story about a young man's search for treasure was deeply profound. The message so simple that you catch yourself thinking..."I know this from somewhere..." It is a fast read that makes you pause as you place your book marker on the page. Loved it.
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Danielle's portrayal of angels was quite the deviation from the romantic idea...her ability to tell this story was thought provoking. I loved it.
I had the pleasure of reading Brandon Herbert's Walking Wolf Road this week. There are several things that struck me as I read, and the first was Herbert's ability to create a strong, compelling teen boy voice in his hero, Jimmy Walker. Through this character, Herbert explored the realm of family relationships, high school drama, and the paranormal world of Native American shapeshifters. These are heavy, complex issues that Herbert dealt with satisfactorily and sometimes with surprisely unexpected twists. **No Spoilers** here!!!!
Jimmy Walker is being raised by his mother and stepfather, who seems at times overly critical and demanding of Jimmy. This perceived rejection by his stepfather is part of the fuel that feeds the fire with Jimmy, the dark fire that consumes, which Jimmy calls his "dragon." To make matters worse, Jimmy's stepfather moves the family around quite a bit. Jimmy has just landed, in chapter 1 in a new town at the beginning of his senior year in high school. He hates the fake high school culture that drives most of the drama and
encourages a group of jocks to be bullies. Herbert's hero is the unlikely type: over-weight, depressed and totally unaware of his talents, or dormant courage. The story unfolds and we get the pleasure of watching Jimmy discover new aspects of himelf develop with a new found group of friends, The Pack.
The premise: loner boy, Jimmy Walker, meets strange new friends, Fen, Loki, and Geri, and finds a place he belongs. They are werewolves who bring Jimmy into the Pack. When a dead boy speaks to Jimmy and a dark shadow haunts his dreams, he is propelled on a mission of self discovery as well as a mission of truth. With his Pack mates at his back, he begins the journey. But life is rarely what you expect and loss changes everything.
Jimmy's best friend is the beautiful, but creepy Fen, who opens Jimmy's eyes to the world of the paranormal and WOLVES, or werewolves that is! In the "Pack" is a dark-haired beauty named Loki and the quiet Geri. They play like wolves, order their relationships like wolves and explore the world like wolves. The relationship between Jimmy, new Pack pup, and Fen, the Alpha dog, is perhaps where Herbert does some of his best teen relationship exploration and it has intense momemts...you'll have to read to find out what happens and why. The romantic triangulations will make your eyebrows raise...
I appreciated his take on the "werewolf" concept. Herbert incorporated just enough Native
American culture as to create a believable "otherworld" complete with rules of engagement and mystical characters. His descriptions were vivid and beautiful. As the hero, Jimmy, explores his connection to his personal, inner wolf, he discovers that much of what he thought was true about life, his family and his friends was actually ...different, not wrong, but different. Herbert takes on the teen world with great confidence. He creates a world where werewolves live among humans. A world where you never know if someone is a wolf in sheep's clothing or a Wolf in a man's body. I loved it. This is a great, fast-paced read you can really sink your teeth into, no pun intended:)
The other day, I sat with a friend sipping our afternoon lemon drop martinis. She showed me a photoalbum of her three month trip all over Europe. We reminisced about life. It was all good until we got the warm buzz and she said, "Vacations can be sheet splitters." I asked what the hell that meant. It's when you go on vacation and you break up or it's the last hurrah before you break up. OK, I got it. Another friend I know used to take all his girlfriends to Disneyland. The inevitable always followed: he broke up with them. It was a running joke to warn any of his dates from going to Mickey's town. Then it occurred to me, the joke was on me, too. I lived that in 2008. Crap! The biggest, stupidest conversation (argument) I endured with my ex, during our ridiculously drawn out divorce was his anger over our trips to NYC. He said he shouldn’t have to pay for any residual bills remaining from going to New York the previous year and he wanted compensation for having to spend any money on those vacations. He told me it was always my trip, he just went along... You know what Billy Bob? Screw you! New York was our "sheet-splitter" and I didn't even know it. I freaking hate that! The old lady card reader, who took me for 100 bucks, told me I was headed for divorce. I didn’t believe her. I just kept walking down Motte Street in Little Italy. My ex even got MY NAME tattooed on his arm. We both ignored all the stereotypical red flags. Instead, we went to Yankee games, drank in every Irish pub we could find, walked to Ground Zero, walked every inch of MY favorite city. He was just along for the ride? I guess he hated the restaurants, the Yankee games, the beer, the food...the Bubble Lounge.
I took this picture on my last trip to NYC in 2008. It's a bridge portal in Central Park. I love that city. I love the smell. I love walking back to my hotel room buzzed and laughing at 2 am. I love drinking coffee in the park every morning. All my wonderful memories collected in digital photos or imprinted on my mind contain the shadow of my ex-husband. "Sheet-splitter" vacation or not, it can't erase my love for those lights, the skyline and the energy. Someday NYC, I'm gonna live all over you. Me, my new and improved husband and my dogs. Yea. I better tatoo over my ex's name before we go:)