Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eileen Dreyer's Never A Gentleman Blog Tour & Giveway

Welcome to our blog tour for Never A Gentleman by Eileen Dreyer sponsored by Forever Romance.  The book is historical romance with a strong undercurrent of intrigue.   If you read and recall Eileen Dryer's earlier Barely a Lady, you'll be delighted to find some of the earlier characters return in Never a Gentleman.

Never a Gentleman

Here's the blurb:
Miss Gray Fairchild is under no illusions about her charms.  Painfully plain, she is a soldier's daughter who has spent her life being useful, not learning the treacherous ways of the ton.  She may have been caught in a scandal with society's favorite rogue, but how can she marry him when it means losing herself?

Diccan Hillard doesn't know which of his enemies drugged him and dumped him in Grace's bed, but he does know the outcome.  He and Grace must marry.  To his surprise, a wild, heady passion flares between them.  Yet Diccan is trapped in a deadly game of intrigue Grace knows nothing about.  Will his lies destroy Grace just as he realizes how desperately he needs her?  And how can he hope for a future with her, when an old enemy has set his murderous sights on them both?

I'd read Dryer's earlier novel, Barely a Lady and was drawn in to the plots and political intrigue.  So, when some of the same characters - Diccan and Grace- are caught in a related political plot,  I was eager to follow the story.  This next in the Drake's Rake series gives us Grace, who proves to be a particularly endearing heroine.  Raised by the General and taught to be stoic, practical, and to carry on, she faces all sorts of humiliating and awful situations with grace and character. As her character is revealed through her actions and discipline, she wins Diccan over. 

She's not some scared young girl and she doesn't react with self pity or pettiness. She's plucky, funny, and the sort of person you'd love to have as a friend.

The romance in Never a Gentleman works so well - because of Grace and her loyalty to Diccan.  It's a fun, romantic read!
ISBN-10: 0446542067 - Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Forever (March 29, 2011), 480 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher. 

About the Author:
Born and raised in Brentwood, Missouri and a product of Catholic Schools, she lives in St. Louis County with husband Rick and her two children. She has animals but refuses to subject them to the glare of the limelight.

Dreyer won her first publishing award in 1987, being named the best new Contemporary Romance Author by Romantic Times. Since that time she has also garnered not only five other writing awards from Romantic Times, but five RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, which secures her only the fourth place in the Romance Writers of America prestigious Hall of Fame. Since extending her reach to suspense, she has also garnered a coveted Anthony Award nomination for her last paperback, Bad Medicine.

She has over three million books in print world wide, and has made regular appearances on the Waldenbook and B.Dalton bestsellers list, and now the USA Today list.

A frequent speaker at conferences, she maintains membership in Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and, just in case things go wrong, Emergency Nurses Association and International Association of Forensic Nurses, for which she is the unofficial mascot.

Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world, and admits she sees research as a handy way to salve her insatiable curiosity. She counts film producers, police detectives and Olympic athletes as some of her sources and friends. She's also trained in forensic nursing and death investigation, although she doesn't see herself actively working in the field, unless this writing thing doesn't pan out.

Do you want a free copy of the book?  Forever Books & Hatchette are sponsoring a giveaway - enter it here. The usual rules apply:  Limited to U.S. and Canada residents.  No P.O. boxes please.  One winner per household. You must be a follower of my blog to enter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan Novel
The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan Novel by Laura Lippman

The blurb:
In the third trimester of her pregnancy, Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan is under doctor's orders to remain immobile.  Bored and restless, reduced to watching the world go by outside her window, she take small comfort in the mundane events she observes. . . like the young woman in a green raincoat who walks her dog at the same time every day.  Then on e day the dog is running free and its owner is nowhere to be seen.  Certain that something is terribly wrong, and incapable of leaving well enough alone, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the dog walker's abrupt disappearance, even if she must do so from her own bedroom.  But her inquisitiveness is about to fling open a dangerous Pandora's box of past crimes and troubling deaths. . . and she's not only putting her own life in jeopardy but also her unborn child's.

Previously serialized in the New York Times and now published in book form for the first time, The Girl in the Green Raincoat is a masterful Hitchcockian thriller from one of the very best in the business: multiple award winner Laura Lippman.

The comparison of Laura Lippman's writing to Alfred Hitchcock's approach to cinema works for me.  Without being spare, her writing captures the essentials.   The Girl in the Green Raincoat flows so well that you can't help but notice how well she crafts each part.

In this paragraph Tess Monaghan reflects on her father:
As for her father, Patrick Monaghan, the world's most taciturn Irishman, Tess had once yearned for him to be everything he was not -voluble, dashing, a literary bon vivant who held forth on the work of James Joyce. If she wasn't such a snob then, she might have noticed she'd been graced with Wonder Dad, who could fix or build anything.  Instead, she had taken it all as her due--the sturdy, safe tire swing that drew the neighborhood children to her house, the gleaming bicycles on Christmas morning, which her father put together swiftly and quietly, without any profanity-laden outbursts to waken a sleeping girl from dreams of Santa.  He had, in fact, contributed much of the work to this sun porch where she now spent her days.  Now Tess was thrilled to have a father who could wield a hammer.  She didn't need to talk about Joyce.  The fact was, she really didn't have a lot to say about Joyce, and there were always things that required fixing.
The Girl in the Green Raincoat is brief.  At 158 pages it's more a novella than a novel and had first been serialized for the New York Times.   But it's an engrossing, satisfying read that captures your attention throughout.  If you're looking for an unusual suspense novel, I highly recommend it.

ISBN-10: 006193836X - Paperback
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (January 18, 2011), 176 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Laura Lippman has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction.  The recipient of the first Mayor's Prize, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband David Simon and their family.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grandma's Bag of Tricks: Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks by Sharon Lovejoy

The blurb:
Make leaf rubbings, blow jumbo bubbles, bake Moon Pizzas and Granny-ola in a handmade solar overn, grow a snack pot of radishes and carrots, create a firefly lantern, and on a rainy day make rainsticks.

Illustrated with evocative photographs and the author's watercolors, this magical book shows how to do 130 activities that connect grandmothers and grandchildren through nature -- in the kitchen, the garden, and the art room.

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks is more than an activity book; it's an interactivity book.  It's about being curious, about being adventurous, about noticing and really seeing things, about instilling a sense of wonder.  Sprinkled throughout are Mrs. Lovejoy's inventive grandparenting ideas that help make every visit a memorable one, filled with simple joys and discoveries that will have grandchildren coming back again and again.


Sharon Lovejoy wrote Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks  for grandparents with a variety of activities and treats to share with their grandchildren.  But this is much more than an activity book; from the suggestions that Lovejoy makes, it is clear that she must have had a wonderful relationship with her own grandmothers and that she's established strong bonds with her own grandchildren.

Lovejoy suggests ways to make your home welcoming, to prepare places that will make young grandchildren feel comfortable and special at the same time.   From making special areas and activity spots to compiling baskets of books and bags for outdoor exploration to all sorts of child friendly recipes, Lovejoy shares her secrets.

The book is separated into "activity sections":
  • Preparing Camp Granny
  • The Neighborhood Naturalist
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Kitchen Garbage Garden
  • Kids in the Garden; and
  • Rainy Day Activities
While many of the proposed activities are well suited for families in the suburbs (with access to the outdoors),  they can be adapted for public parks, neighborhood gardens and nearby beaches.  It's a book that grandparents, aunts, uncles,  teachers,  and even parents can use to find ideas and for advice.   The book itself is clearly a labor of love with gorgeous illustrations, carefully selected activities, and even engaging photos of Lovejoy's four grandchildren.    I highly recommend Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks for the activities and advice.   I'll certainly use the suggestions to make my niece feel at home when she visits next month!

For children ages 9-12.
ISBN-10: 0761150439 - Paperback $14.95
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Original edition (February 4, 2010), 205 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Sharon Lovejoy is the author and illustrator of the award-winning children's book Sunflower Houses: Inspiration from the Garden as well as Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots and Trowel and Error. She is a children's garden adviser to the American Horticultural Society and speaks at education conferences and gives keynote addresses at national events.  She has four grandchildren and divides her time between California and Maine.  Her website is

Book Expo America & the Book Blogger's Convention - May 24-27, 2011

BEA and the Book Bloggers Convention is just around the corner!  Will you be heading to NYC to join us?

It'd be great to meet in person - leave me a message here : )

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Isn't this such a beautiful book?   Meg Cabot's Abandon comes out on April 26, 2011.

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.  Anything at all.  One. Two. Three. Blink.  - Abandon by Meg Cabot

The blurb:

Pierce knows what it's like to die because she's done it before.

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it.  Yet she's never alone. . .  because someone is always watching her.  Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back.  She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away. . .  especially sinc he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

I really enjoyed Abandon.  Cabot gives us an unexpected take on the myth of Persephone.  Her heroine, Pierce, is funny, sensitive, and lovable.   The daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the world, Pierce can have almost anything she wants.  Her near death experience tore their family apart.  Her parents have separated; Pierce and her mother have returned to her mother's home town - an island far from her old life.  

Pierce handles this change - and all the difficult situations and strange twists - with sensitivity and humor.  Whether it's the meanness or social climbing of her new schoolmates or her parents' fighting or her encounter with death,  I found myself wanting to know how Pierce felt, what she thought, what she'd do next. 

Cabot gives us a wonderful love story and fascinating characters in Abandon.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to finding out what happens next!

ISBN-10: 0545284104 - Hardcover $17.99
Publisher: Point (April 26, 2011), 329 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Meg Cabot's many series and books for adults and tweens/teens have included multiple #1 New York Times bestsellers and sold over 15 million copies worldwide.  Her Princess Diaries series has been published in more than 38 countries and was made into two hit films by Disney.  Meg also wrote the New York Times bestselling Mediator, Airhead, and Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series, Insatiable, and the award-winning novels All-American Girl and Avalon High.  Meg lives in Key West with her husband and two cat.  Visit Meg online at