Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday 56: Week 42 - House Justice by Mike Lawson

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

I recently started on House Justice by Mike Lawson and haven't been able to put it down! 

House Justice: A Joe DeMarco Thriller
Here's mine from House Justice: A Joe DeMarco Thriller by Mike Lawson  
Here's the blurb:
An American defense contractor goes to Iran to sell top secret missile technology, and the CIA knows all about it thanks to a spy in Tehran.  But someone in Washington leaks the story to an ambitious journalist and the spy is captured, brutally tortured, and executed.

The director of the CIA isn't about to let the death of his agent go unpunished.  A valuable asset has been callously sacrificed, and he's going to get the person responsible, no matter how many rules he has to break.  Hard-drinking Speaker of the House John Fitzpatrick Mahoney has his own reason to get to the bottom of the leak: it may have come from Congress.  Moreover, Mahoney once had an affair with the journalist, and now she's in jail for refusing to reveal her source, she is threatening to tell the tabloids all about their affair unless he helps her.  

DeMarco, Mahoney's reluctant fixer, is tasked with getting the journalist off his boss's back, but he soon discovers that he and the CIA aren't the only ones looking for the journalist's source.  An assassin is following DeMarco's every move, hoping DeMarco will lead him to his prey.

In four thrillers starring Joe DeMarco, Make Lawson has made a name for himself as one of the most entertaining and insightful writers focusing on the dirty games played in our nation's capital.  House Justice is a classic Mike Lawson, filled with fascinating characters, inside-the-beltway intrigue, and a gripping plot packed with surprises.

Here's my Friday 56:
There wasn't anything else for him to do in New York and if the traffic wasn't too bad, he might be able to catch the next shuttle to D.C.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review of The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick

Elizabeth Chadwick recently came out with the sequel to The Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's ChampionThe Scarlet Lion continues the story of William Marshall and his wife Isabelle de Clare.

    The Scarlet Lion                        The Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion
The blurb:
Wiliam Marshall's skill with a sword and loyalty to his word have earned him the company of kings, the land of a magnate, and the hand of Isabelle de Clare, one of England's wealthiest heiresses.  But he is thrust back into the chaos of court when King Richard dies.  Vindictive King John clashes with William, claims the family lands for the Crown -- and takes two of the Marshall sons hostage.  The conflict between obeying his king and rebelling over the roayal injustices threatens the very heart of William and Isabelle's family.  Fiercely intelligent and courageous, fearing for the man and marriage that light her life, Isabelle plunges with her husband down a precarious path that will lead William to more power than he ever expected.

The Scarlet Lion is a strong sequel to The Greatest Knight.  Although William Marshall is no longer the young knight, he is still a formidable warrior and has grown into his role of statesman.  Still unwilling to play the part of courtier, Marshall's honesty wins him powerful enemies and loyal friends. Marshall's marriage to Isabelle has weathered the years well and their partnership has brought them  riches, power, and contentment.  When they're together, the years fall away and it's easy to forget that they're old enough to have grown children.  As the country suffers the loss of its king and the nation becomes unstable, Marshall takes on his hardest challenge. 

It is a pleasure to observe Isabelle and William Marshall later in life. Though the romance and uncertainty has receded, The Scarlet Lion offers plenty of tension and action in the form of political intrigue.  The book continues the interesting saga of William Marshall's life as he faces betrayal, the loss of his children, and the death of his King.  Although I preferred reading about William Marshall's earlier years, The Scarlet Lion will surely satisfy fans of The Greatest Knight and Elizabeth Chadwick, and readers of historical fiction.

ISBN-10: 1402229992 - Trade Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Original edition (March 1, 2010), 576 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Elizabeth Chadwick is a best selling, award winning author of historical fiction. A born storyteller, her first novel The Wild Hunt won a Betty Trask Award in 1990. She has been four times shortlisted for the RNA Award in the UK for the best mainstream romantic novel. Her book The Scarlet Lion was selected as one of the top ten works of historical fiction of the decade by Richard Lee, founder of The Historical Novel Society.

Book Blog Tour of And One Last Thing by Mollie Harper

 If this were a Renee Zellweger movie, my girlfriends would rush over here, alcohol and chocolates in hand, to assure me that everything was Mike's fault, that I was perfect and that I would find a better-looking, richer, more sexually expressive man in no time.  The problem was that I didn't have a lot of friends.  Well, not any real friends. I knew some ladies from our Sunday school class.  And I was friendly with the women in Junior League.  We had couples we went to dinner with, clients that we entertained, but I didn't have any girlfriends of my own.  When you're a couple, it's hard finding friends that you and your husband agree on.  Generally, you try to hang out with couples so no one feels left out or weird.  But maybe the husbands get along but the wives hate each other.  Or the wives get along great, but the husbands have nothing to talk about.  It was just so much easier to hang around with Mike's friends and their wives.  It was the simplest way to get him to agree to socialize.  -- And One Last Thing by Mollie Harper
And One Last Thing ...

And One Last Thing ... by Mollie Harper

The blurb:
Lacey Terwilliger's shock and humiliation over her husband's philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike's company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him.  The detailed mass e-mail to Mike's family, friends, and clients blows up in her face, and before once can say "instant urban legend," Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town, a media punch line, and the defendant in Mike's defamation lawsuit.

Her seemingly perfect life up in flames, Lacey retreats to her family's lakeside cabin, only to encounter an aggravating neighbor named Monroe.  A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe is not thrilled about a newly divorced woman moving in next door.  But with time, beer, and a screen door to the nose, a cautious friendship develops into something infinitely more satisfying.

Lacey has to make a decision about her long-term living arrangement arrangements, though.  Should she take a job writing caustic divorce newletters for paying clients, or move on with her own life, pursuing more literary aspirations?  Can she find happiness with a man who tells her what he thinks and not what she wants to hear?  And will she ever be able to resist saying one. . . last. . .thing?

And One Last Thing ... is what it appears to be -- a light, funny, novel about a marriage that goes wrong and the heroine that picks herself up and goes on.  Lacey had always worked to keep everyone around her happy: from her parents to her husband and his colleagues.  But the effort and the loss of self didn't prevent her husband from taking her for granted or the big blowout that announced the end of their marriage.

Molly Harper's latest novel is in the tradition of married chicklit -- funny, cathartic, and vengeful, in the best possible way.  There's Lacey and her philandering husband Mike.  Plus, his young, tanned, and available "receptionist."  Post-breakup Lacey rebuilds her life with the help of her brother Emmett and her attractive and reclusive neighbor Monroe.

And One Last Thing ... is the sort of book to bring to the beach or the park -- a fast, fun read!

ISBN-10: 1439168776 - Trade Paperback $15.00
Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (July 27, 2010), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Molly Harper worked for six years as a reporter and humor columnist for The Paducah Sun. Her reporting duties included covering courts, school board meetings, quilt shows, and once, the arrest of a Florida man who faked his suicide by shark attack and spent the next few months tossing pies at a local pizzeria. Molly lives in western Kentucky with her family.

Thank you so much to Gallery Books for this review opportunity!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review of To Conquer a Highlander by Mary Wine

To Conquer a Highlander

Looking for a fun highlander romance full of blood feuds, intrigue, and political upheaval?  If you prefer feisty leading ladies,  you might enjoy  To Conquer a Highlander by Mary Wine.

The blurb:
A fierce highland laird ready to kill for King and country...Torin McLeren is outraged when he learns of his neighbor's plot against the king.  To foil the McBoyle's scheme, he takes his enemy's daughter hostage.  But kidnapping Shannon McBoyd stirs up far more trouble than the rugged Highlander could ever have imagined. . .

A stolen bride who's as much trouble as she is temptation. . .  Shannon fights tooth and nail, only to be captivated by the Highalnder who treats her like a lady, rather than with the scorn and derision she expects.

She can't resist his high ideals and her fiery spirit enflames him, but consorting with the enemy could be a fatal mistake. . . .

I thoroughly enjoyed To Conquer a Highlander -- it has just the mix of action, danger, intrigue and romance that I look for in historical romances.

The book opens with the McBoyds violating the peace and needlessly slaughtering their neighbors.  It's meant to be a political act, but it's clearly one of greed and envy.  It doesn't sit well with Shannon and we quickly learn that Shannon has a strong sense of honor and loyalty.  She makes for a likable heroine with her quick wit and courage.  Her captor is quick to recognize her strengths and to treat her fairly -- there are few needless misunderstandings and temper tantrums.   Shannon and Torin face real danger and obstacles to being together -- which makes for an engaging and satisfying read!

ISBN-10: 1402237375 - Mass Market Paperback $6.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 6, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Mary Wine is a multi-published author in romantic suspense, fantasy, and Western romance; now her interest in historical reenactment and costuming has inspired her to turn her pen to historical romance.  She lives with her husband and sons in Southern California, where the whole family enjoys participating in historical reenactment.

Book Review and Giveaway of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I'd been seeing The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender everywhere and had been dying to read it.   When Judy and DoubleDay offered the chance to review it and to sponsor a giveaway, I jumped at the chance.   DoubleDay is generously sponsoring a giveaway of 2 copies -- read more about it below!

I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do, so I just unwrapped it and took a bite.  It was a homemade ham-and-cheese-and-mustard sandwich, on white bread, with a thin piece of lettuce in the middle.  Not bad, in the food part. Good ham, flat mustard from a functional bakery.  Ordinary bread.  Tired lettuce-pickers.  But in the sandwich as a whole, I tasted a kind of yelling, almost.  Like the sandwich itself was yelling at me, yelling love me, love me, really loud. - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel
The blurb:
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotion in the slice.

She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother -- her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother--tastes of despair and desperation.  Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.  Anything can be revealed at any meal.  She can't eat her brother Joseph's toast, a cookie at the local bakery is laced with rage; grape jelly is packed with acidic resentment.

Rose's gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden -- truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment, Joseph's clash with the world.

Yet as Rose grows up, she realizes there are some secrets that even her taste buds can't discern.

While the idea behind the book is intriguing, it is the execution that really drew me in.  The book is told from Rose's point of view and the story begins when Rose is 9 years old.  She tells us the comfort that she gets when she returns home from school and finds her mother in the kitchen.  Her mother bakes as special treat while Rose does her homework -- and Rose's sense of well being is palpable.

It's clear that Rose is warm and affectionate and that her genius older brother considers her to be a pest.  But as we read on, Joseph's coldness seems stronger than the usual disdain of an elder sibling.  And no one sees how this affects Rose.  Joseph is a genius and is allowed these quirks.  Even as their mother showers Rose with affection, it is clear that her focus and affection center around her older child. Not that Rose complains, she takes it as given and carries on.  It's Rose's voice -- full of understanding, humor and hope -- that pulls you into the book.

I worried about Rose as she struggled with the feelings and information that would come with each bite of food.  And admired the way that Rose coped. On the one hand,  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake  is a story about family, love, friendship and about finding your place in the world.  More than anything, it is fun, touching and hard-to-put down!

ISBN-10: 0385501129 - Hardcover $25.95
Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (June 1, 2010), 304 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Aimee Bender is the author of the novel  An Invisible Sign of My Own and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures.  Her work has been widely anthologized and has been translated into ten languages.  She lives in Los Angeles.
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The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on August 23, 2010.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review of Farm Fatale by Wendy Holden

Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country ManorsFarm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors by Wendy Holden is light, fun, and a perfect example of British chicklit.

The blurb:
A witty, beloved novel of heart and heartland, Farm Fatale skewers the culture clash of city vs. country in the snappy, observant style that made Wendy Holden famous.

Cash-strapped Rosie and her boyfriend mark are city folk longing for a country cottage.  Rampant nouveaux riches Samantha and Guy are also searching for rustic bliss -- in the biggest mansion money can buy.  The village of Eight Mile Bottom seems quiet enough, despite a nosy postman, a reclusive rock star, a glamorous Bond Girl, and a ghost with a knife in its back.  But there are unexpected thrills in the hills, and Rosie is rapidly discovering that country life isn't so simple after all.

Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors opens in present day London which sounds busy, exhausting, and expensive.  We're seeing the city from the point of view of Rosie, an illustrator, disillusioned with what the City has to offer.

Rosie is tired of London -- the expensive and cramped apartment, the crowded subways, and the noise. She dreams of moving to the country, having a small cottage and a garden, but unfortunately, her boyfriend Mark prefers living in the City.  Mark isn't interested in moving -- he's far more interested in his career as a journalist and eventually getting his own column.

When Mark sells his editor on a new column "Green-er Pastures" where Mark will write about swapping city life for "rural heaven," Rosie gets her wish.   The couple searches for the ideal home on their tiny budget -- the real estate journey fun on its own. But the real adventure begins when they settle into the village of Eight Mile Bottom.

Eight Mile Bottom has a fun crew of characters  - here are a few that you'll meet:

Samantha - wealthy B-movie actress who has an A+ ego. Samantha's got an eye on the headlines and is eager to be one of the celebrities "escaping to the countryside."  Samantha buys Bottoms, one of the oldest and largest estates in Eight Mile Bottom, and "modernizes" the place using her unique taste and a team of decorators.

Guy - Samantha's meal ticket.  He's loud, crude and a whiz at finance.  As Guy spends more time with Samantha in their new home (Bottoms) he starts to see her more clearly - and it's not a pretty sight.

Matt - a superstar musician whose first two albums went platinum.  Something happened and Matt fled from the public eyes -- he's become a hermit.  His neighbors and the press keep an eye out for celebrity sightings!

Duffy - the postman with no respect for the privacy of the Royal Mail.  He's also the Village's biggest gossip.  Duffy had wanted to be a journalist -- and his perseverance and questions indicate he would have been a good fit.

John - a dairy and sheep farmer in the neighborhood.  He's tall, well-built, good looking and seems to be developing an interest in Rosie.

 Mrs. Womersley - Mark and Rosie's elderly neighbor who is very good with her hands: cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, etc.  She's also John's aunt and isn't above match-making.

Add to this mix a former Bond Girl, a posh best friend and her spoiled child, and a series of misunderstandings and you have Farm Fatale.  Rosie is flighty, funny, kind, unlucky in love and a likable character - can't help but cheer for her.  Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manors is a fun, romantic comedy - British style.

ISBN-10: 1402237162 - Trade Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (July 1, 2010), 432 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Wendy Holden wanted to be a writer from an early age,  and Yorkshire, where she was born, was a great inspiration in this respect. A few miles away from where she'd lived as a child was Haworth Parsonage, home of the Bronte sisters.

Wendy read English at Cambridge in 1983. She met her husband Jon; he was studying French and Russian at King’s College.   Her first job was on the art magazine Apollo; after this she went to work on a magazine for foreign diplomats in London. She also worked as deputy editor of the Sunday Times Style section.  Her first novel, Simply Divine, was published in 1999.  Learn more on Wendy Holden's website at