Book Review: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES,THE AWAKENING AND THE STRUGGLE by L. J. Smith

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle by L. J. Smith
HarperTeen, 2007, 512 pgs.

What can I say, I'm on a vampire kick this week, must be the New Moon movie poster that keeps popping up on the Internet! Yesterday I finished Volume 1 of The Vampire Diaries right after I finished Bitten and Smitten (my review)! I really didn't know these books are 18 years old, so they were published waaayyyy before the Twilight craze, I should have been reading these books years ago!

The Vampire Diaries Volume 1 contains the first two of four books from the series, The Awakening and The Struggle. The main characters are pretty, popular Elena and the brooding, dangerous and darkly handsome vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon. Elena feels immediate attraction to Stefan and is determined to catch his eye especially since he doesn't seem interested. Elena always gets what she wants but this time she just might get more than she bargained for. Damon, in a centuries old feud with his younger brother Stefan, is determined to have Elena no matter the cost to her, her family, or the town. Nothing will stand in his way...or so he believes.

Since this book contains only the first two of four books, I was left hanging. I really want to know what's going to happen to Elena and who she will choose. I really enjoyed this book because it just wasn't about vampires but life as a high school student as well. Of course, since Elena is the "queen" of her school she has to fight to keep her title out of the hands of devious ex-friend, Caroline. I also liked the back story of Stefan and Damon and how they came to be vampires, which really explains a lot about their fascination with Elena. This is YA fiction, but it's not tame, there's drinking, murder, and a little bit of language but this is a good read for anyone who likes a good vampire drama/romance!

For more information on L. J. Smith and her other books visit her website:http://www.ljanesmith.net/index.php

Book Review: BITTEN AND SMITTEN by Michelle Rowen

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowen
Warner Books, 2006, pgs. 390

As most of you know I usually read Christian fiction or YA fiction and tend to stay away from adult romances as they usually contain more graphic elements that I really don't need to read. However when I came across Bitten and Smitten as a suggestion on one of my swap sites, swaptree.com, I decided to take a chance on it (I love swap sites because I can get books I'm not "sure" of for free rather than full cover price) I put it on my bookmooch wishlist and just last week I received it in the mail. I got started on it right away and...loved it from the get go!

Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowen is the first book in the Immortality Bites series released in 2006, by Warner Books. It is the story of a twenty something executive assistant, Sarah Dearly who after a blind date from hell (literally!) finds her life changed forever. So thanks to her best friend Amy's "cupid" tendencies, she is now a member of the living dead...as a vampire!

The hilarious antics of Sarah curing her vampire blues with retail therapy in the form of designer shoes and a potential love interest in the form of 600+ year old dark, brooding, and frightfully handsome Thierry de Bennicoeur is a mix of Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. Maybe that's why I like it so much since it combines elements from two of my favorite books!

If you're looking for a light vampire read to slip in your beach bag, I recommend this book. While there is some language and blood (hello, it IS a vampire book) I'd say this book would be okay for an older teen even though it is marketed towards adults. I have not read the other books in the series but when I do I will be sure to let you know if they're worth the time!

For more information about Bitten and Smitten and Michelle Rowen visit her website:
http://www.michellerowen.com/home/

New book!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Okay I just HAD to tell everyone because I'm SOOOO excited for this book! I just found out today that Tracey Bateman is going to release a new book entitled Thirsty in the Fall of this year that's both Christian fiction and PARANORMAL...specifically featuring a vampire! What?! I know right!!!! Combining my two favorite genres, what more could a girl ask for? I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Thirsty and I'll most definitely let you know what I think of it on this blog!

For more information visit: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=457150&netp_id=613046&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers

Book Review: A PASSION DENIED by Julie Lessman

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm always on the lookout for books that look a little different from what I normally read, last year when I saw the cover for Julie Lessman's first book A Passion Most Pure I was VERY interested...how often do you see Passion in the title of a Christian romance? It's almost taboo, I think. So naturally I HAD to buy the book and I wasn't disappointed, so when the third book was released early this month I HAD to get it!!! I was lucky enough to win a copy from Lena Nelson Dooley's blog (terrific blog you should check it out) so when it came in the mail Saturday I started it immediately...and wasn't surprised that I LOVED it!

A Passion Denied is the coming of age story of Elizabeth (aka Lizzie to her friends and Beth to a certain someone ;-)) and her love for spiritual mentor and friend John Brady (aka Brady). Lizzie has been in love with Brady since she was 13 years old but unfortunately Brady thinks of her only as a sister. As Brady begins to realize his feelings have changed, his past catches up with him and he is faced with hurting Lizzie and losing all he holds dear. Read the book to find out if Lizzie's dreams of romance will become reality. :-)

I really enjoyed this book because first of all, it's NEVER boring, and second it continues with the stories of Lizzie's family from the previous two books. The great thing about A Passion Denied is that FINALLY all of the sisters get along...I was getting a little miffed at the sisters for being so...dare I say...cutthroat?! It was really great to see Lizzie, Faith, and Charity devising a plot to help Lizzie "catch" her man and also venting about marriage issues and friendship. It's what I imagine I'd be jabbering about with my sister...if I had one.

From the title you can guess that this book is full of passion. I don't find it offensive at all, as it is a NATURAL part of life but I'd definitely suggest this as a read for older teens and above. Don't get too worried though, there's no sex, just some steamy kisses but it does deal with some issues between married couples. The spiritual message in this book and the first two are very strong and relevant to what a lot of young adults are facing today. I'd definitely recommend this book to someone just starting out in a relationship or maybe starting to date simply because it does deal with those "feelings" that we all have and how to deal with them in a godly manner. Overall I was very impressed with A Passion Denied and would say definitely go pick up the entire series and read it this summer!

To learn more about Julie Lessman and her books visit her website at: http://www.julielessman.com/
HINT: Visit her calendar page for links to various sites to enter to win her books...just like I did!

Blog Holiday

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hello all, this is just a note to let you all know that I haven't forgotten my blog! I've just been away from my computer all weekend, visiting family! I haven't even had a chance to read or review a book this weekend! I hope to be back up and running with a new review tomorrow! Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

:-) Renee

Book Review: Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yesterday's Embers (copyright 2009) by Deborah Raney

Yesterday's Embers is one of the best contemporary fiction books I've read in a long time. I mostly stick with historical fiction but if I hear good reviews or recommendations for contemporary authors I'll give them a try. However, I hadn't really heard of Deborah Raney so I pretty much picked this book up on a whim. I saw the cover, read an excerpt and put it on my wish list on Bookmooch (thank you Ruth) and a few days later it came in the mail. I was not disappointed when I finished this book and I don't think you will be either.

Yesterday's Embers is the story of single, 30 year old, daycare teacher Mickey Valdez and recently widowed father of five children, Douglas DeVore. One Thanksgiving Day changed the life of Doug and his family in ways they never thought possible, with the sudden loss of his wife and daughter, Rachel. The hasty decisions made afterwards have lasting effects on Doug, Mickey and their family.

This book is so full of loss but also life and the struggle to continue amidst grief and love lost. Also addressed are the consequences of making important life decisions about relationships without consulting God first and also what happens when you listen to what He has to say. I was hooked from the first pages. I really felt for Doug's young teenage daughter, Kayeleigh. I could only imagine what it must be like to deal with the difficulties of being a teen AND losing a mother when you need her most. Ms. Raney really captured the emotion and struggle well, making me want to cry right along with her. I wish there were a few more details about Doug's changing feelings towards Mickey at the end of the book but other than that I really enjoyed this book, which is something for me because contemporary fiction is often difficult for me to get through. If you want a light, fun read you might want to save this book for a later date...but definitely make sure you read it...'cause it's good :-)

For more information on Deborah Raney and her other books and where to purchase them go to:
http://www.deborahraney.com/
http://www.simonandschuster.com/

Exciting Week of Passion!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Head's up to everyone who is a reader of Christian Romance! I just found this great contest on My Friend Amy's blog to win copies of books from Julie Lessman's, Daughters of Boston series.

Let me tell you, I loved these books, they're chock full of romance, faith and other issues of the heart and they're unlike any Christian romance I've read before...and I read A LOT of it, so I know!!! So if you have time, check out the contest here and read the great blog articles and reviews posted by Amy throughout the week!

You can also stop by Julie's website to learn more about this wonderful series!

Book Review: MARRIED IN BLACK by Christina Cordaire

Monday, May 18, 2009

Every so often a book comes along that I just can't wait to read. More often than not however, the book disappoints. I don't know if it's because my expectations are so high or it's the fact that after I'm finished there's nothing to look forward to until another pretty cover photo or interesting cover blurb catches my eye. The book I received today and read all the way through in one sitting was an exception.

Married In Black by Christina Cordaire, released exclusively through the Crossings Book Club in the Fall of 2008 is the story of Civil War widow, Virginia Davenport and Texas rancher, David Norris. Looking for a new start away from Boston society and a domineering mother, Virginia answers an advertisement for a mail-order bride placed by wealthy rancher, David who's looking for a genteel lady to make his home complete. Believing that David is a Christian she readily accepts his proposal of marriage and the two are married in Boston soon after he arrives. However on the trip home Virginia sees a different side of David that leads her to believe that he's not a Christian. The problems with being on a ranch, including being separated from her husband, and assaults by ruthless enemies make matters worse.

I really did enjoy this book as it's been a while since I've read a Civil War novel...or at least a book based very close to that time period. I love the main characters. Virginia, even though she grew up in wealth and affluence isn't a snob and David is the caring, ruggedly handsome rancher. I like that he doesn't coddle his wife like most heroes we see in a lot of historical romances today. There is also a strong spiritual message in this book with a devout heroine and the redemption of many of the characters by the end of the story.


The beef (no pun intended) that I have with this book is the development of the secondary characters. David's estranged father is introduced towards the end of the book with really no mention of him at all earlier and the reason for the strained relationship between David and himself. I think David's father plays such an important role in David's lack of faith that I wish I knew more about him.

If you're looking for a romance that's a quick, easy to follow read this might be one to pick up. I don't know about you, but I just haven't been seeing a lot of inspirational trade paper Civil War novels lately. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

If you're a member of Crossings bookclub you can purchase the book from there or purchase it for a few dollars from Amazon or other online sites!

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Friend Amy asked this question:

I often read blogs and reviews where people mention that they think of Christian fiction as being good clean reads. A lot of people turn to Christian fiction to avoid foul language, explicit sex, or violence whether or not they are Christians. Blog reviews are the best place to find out which category a book falls into (strongly spiritual or just a good clean read) and because I read a great deal of general market fiction I try to include that information about those books as well. So...do you have any recommendations of general market fiction books for people looking for books in the good clean reads category?

Renee's response:

I don't usually read a lot of general market fiction other than YA books, but like Ruth from This That and the Other Thing, I like Debbie Macomber. Her romances are pretty clean as far as sex, and language go and they're just all-around good stories. My favorite so far is The Matchmakers (my review.)

Author Denise Hunter's books may also appeal to those who usually read general market fiction. Convenient Groom is one of my FAVORITE stories, the Christian principles are implied, and not really blatantly stated in the book. For more suggestions please stop by Amy's blog to see what she has to say about general market fiction :-)

Book Review: CHASING CHARITY by Marcia Gruver

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I rarely have to buy books these days, between Swaptree, Bookmooch, and different blogs I've got books coming out the wazoo! One of these books I was lucky enough to get from an author's blog, arrived yesterday via the UPS guy and it didn't leave my hands until I finished it at 1 AM this morning! This book is Chasing Charity by Marcia Gruver.

Chasing Charity is book 2 of a 3 book series, the first book Diamond Duo was released late last year with the third book, Emmy's Equal to be released in the fall of this year. I haven't had the chance to read the first book, Diamond Duo but I am DEFINITELY going to pick it up at some point and if it's anything like Chasing Charity it will be worth reading!

Charity and her mama, Bertha live alone in the oil boom town of Humble, Texas. Charity, all set to marry is left at the altar by her groom, Daniel Clark and betrayed by her best friend, Emily "Emmy" Dane who chases after him. A few days later Charity happens upon charming, handsome, roughneck Buddy Pierce, who discovers oil on their land. He wants to help them rise above the poverty in which they are living, but where oil is concerned things are never that easy! With the return of her ex-fiance, Daniel, things gets even more complicated! Who will Charity choose?

When I started this book I was looking forward to reading the "typical" romance but was pleasantly surprised! Instead of just boy meets girl, falls in love, something bad happens but is resolved, they get married, the end... it was so much more! The main female characters were terrific and such an important part to the story. The dialogue back and forth between Bertha and Magda (the 2 mothers) was hilarious, especially when it came to talk about Bertha's shoes...er...well lack there of! The relationship between Emmy and Charity was equally as interesting although you don't really see that until the latter parts of the book. I really loved this story because it focused on the importance of friends and it dealt with issues that can come between them: men, money, etc. This book is also Christian fiction so it deals with the characters re-evaluating their relationships with God and what is truly important when living a Christian life. So if you like stories about the strong bonds of friendship as well as a cute romance, and some inspiration this book is definitely one you should go pick up!

Check out Marcia's website at: http://www.marciagruver.com/

Book Review: The Matchmakers by Debbie Macomber

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I FINALLY got around to finishing a book! Between enjoying the lovely weather outside, doing housework, and reading other people's blogs, I just haven't had the time to sit down and really enjoy a book! A few weeks ago however, I received a free book in one of my Bookmooch packages, it wasn't the type I usually read (it was a Harlequin) but I decided to give it a shot and...SURPRISE I actually liked it!

The book is The Matchmakers by well know author, Debbie Macomber. It is actually a part of the Harlequin Famous Firsts collection, celebrating some of the publishers bestselling authors and the first books they released through Harlequin. I can see why Harlequin chose to re-release this book, it's such a cute story! It's also a quick read, about 180 pages, and small enough to slip in any purse so you can take it to work and read on your lunch break or at the doctor's office.

The basic premise of the story is a young boy, Danny, wants a new dad and a husband for his widowed Mom, Dori, so he tries to find her a suitable match. Literally "by accident" he meets Melissa a young girl who wants a wife for her ex-Pro Football player dad, Gavin, and a mom for herself. Like most romances you can guess what happens from there.

I really liked this book because, Ms. Macomber included the children in the story and it felt like I got to know them as well as their parents. I couldn't wait to see what those precocious children would do next to try to throw their parents together! Since I'm used to reading Christian fiction, I was really happy to see that this book didn't have any sex or crude language, there is some drinking and one scene with a bit of sensuality so if you don't like that you may not want to read this. However, I thought that this book was better than some "Christian" fiction I have read in the past. So if you want a light, romantic, and at times funny read I suggest you pick up a copy of The Matchmakers by Debbie Macomber, it's not a must read but I think it's worth the $4.99 cover price!

Blog in Progress

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hello everyone, I'm in the process of getting my blog more organized so please be patient, if you stop by and see something "weird" on it just ignore it, chances are I'm in the process of adding or editing. Thanks to my new friend Ruth I'm slowly but surely getting things figured out and improving the appearance of this blog! Please swing by Ruth's blog, it's terrific! She reviews many different types of books including some nonfiction. I hope my blog can look half as good as hers!!!

Ruth's blog:

http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com/