Monday, August 27, 2012

SUNNY: My Favorite Things: Angelfall and Kindle Fire Giveaway

Some of my Favorite Things:

Since getting my Kindle Fire (thank you to my sister for my early Christmas 2011 gift), I don't leave home without it.  I have now taken to carrying bigger purses to accommodate my Kindle Fire.  I love my Kindle Fire.  

Recently, I read and reviewed Angelfall. I loved this book and have been recommending to anyone who will listen.  It begs to be read over and over again.

And now like peanut butter and jelly, pizza and root beer, sushi and saki, red sauce and red wine, here's your chance for a perfect pairing.  Susan Ee, author of Angelfall is giving away a Kindle Fire and Angelfall.  Check out the giveaway:

SUSAN: This is just cover fail...

I could write an entire essay on the effect BOOK COVERS have on me and my desire to read a book.  In fact, Goodreads readers have dedicated shelves of books inspired by covers (My favorites: Bec's lists: Cover Lust I Has It & Cover Nearly Put Me Off)

But today's entry is simply about laziness...and thinking your readers aren't as sharp as they actually are.  

REALLY?!  I mean COME ONE!  

Shame, shame on you Barbara Elsborg (Ellora's Cave Publishing) & Robin Covington (Entangled Publishing).  This is just embarrassing.

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW "Pushing the Limits" by Katie McGarry

So wrong for each other...and yet so right:  No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Pushing the Limits has all the makings of the perfect YA novel.
  • Teens overcoming tragedy.
  • Opposites attract.
  • Trauma of the High School social ecosystem.
  • Parents who don't understand.
  • Equal parts angst and love.
  • Self-discovery.
  • And 2 lead characters, who despite their difficulties, are genuinely good people and you find yourself rooting for them and so satisfied with their HEA!
For avid YA readers, this book is a treat. You'll be reminded of great YA books like "Easy" and "Slammed"/"Point of Retreat" when reading this. And Noah lands right up there with Lucas/Landon and Will Cooper as one of the best YA males you'll come to love.

Pushing the Limits had me smiling at the "smart" dialogue between Noah & Echo; had me crying at the tragedies that both of them had to survive; had me beaming w/ pride at how they fought and DID survive; had me sighing at the love that ultimately blossomed between the 2 of them...

Loved it. Just enough angst and young love but not too much to be annoying. Good for teens 15+ and adults as well.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Ride With Me" by Ruthie Knox

Tom Geiger
Lexie Marshall


Lexie Marshall is living her life long dream of completing the TransAmerica Trail: A bike ride from the shores of Oregon to the beaches of Virginia. Only she doesn’t want to do it alone and advertises for a cycling partner. Tom Geiger works at a bicycle shop as a repairman and is looking forward to taking another one of this extreme bike trips across the US … oh, and his sister has answered the Lexie’s ad on his behalf unbeknownst to him. After a rough beginning, Tom begrudging agrees to temporarily ride with Lexie. And as the saying goes, Beware: That which is temporary often becomes permanent. 


Ruthie Knox is the quintessential romance writer. This book, like the others I’ve read by her, are sweet and satisfying. The drama in this book does not come from a dangerous stalker or a kidnapping. Often times the worst issue facing her characters is that they are too much in their own heads, getting in the way of their own romance. 

I enjoyed this book for the characters and story. Lexie and Tom are extremely likeable characters. As the pages turn, the reader begins to understand why Tom seems so stand-offish, why he keeps himself from living life fully. But as Lexie discovers, sometimes despite himself he is sweet at the core. Don’t get me wrong, he is plenty alpha too, but it doesn’t take too much for that sweet to surface. We also discover why Lexie is so reserved and gunshy with relationships. So, we have two mutually attracted characters holding each other at arms-length. It is wonderful to see them resolve their issues. 


“They were stuck with each other, companions who couldn’t work out how to be more and couldn’t stand to be less.” 

This is a book that is not overdone, but gives the reader a quiet sense of satisfaction.

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Angelfall" by Susan Ee



From GoodreadsIt’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again


Stories about the Apocalypse are not new and neither are stories about Angels, Archangels more specifically. So the beginning of the story is not surprising, but I guess what did get me was how slowly but surely Susan Ee got me involved with her characters, Penryn and Raffe. (On a side note, I have a friend who lives in the little town of Penryn and I think it's a hoot that the character is named after that small area off the I-80). They are brought together by desperate circumstance, two "enemies" that need each other to survive. I appreciate Penryn's courage, determination, maturity, loyalty and survival skills. There is plenty of action and suspense. There are parts of the story that reminded me a little of the movie, The Terminator. 

It has been a while since I've been this surprised by a book. Admittedly, I kept pushing this one down on the TBR list because I got it dirt cheap on Amazon. Yes, it's a silly bias since I've read some pretty great books that have been either free or very inexpensive. This one is a little treasure. Just, wow. Susan Ee creates a world that is terrifying where violence, inhumanity, political intrigue and a strong dose of science fiction terror abound. There were times that I had a white-knuckle grip on my Kindle and plenty of instances where I gasped during a scene. Yes, I actually gasped out loud. 

The hardest part about this book is although there is an appropriate ending, know that this is the beginning of a trilogy and so there are plenty of questions left unanswered. Can't wait for the sequel!


If you like dystopian YA stories, this one will leave you wanting for more.  Highly, highly recommended. 

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Surrender" by Pamela Clare

Iain MacKinnon
Anne Burness Campbell

From Goodreads A hand-picked cadre of warriors, they had the fierce courage of their Scots forefathers, combined with the stealth and cunning of the Indians who lived beside them in the wilderness. Battling the French in a no-holds-barred combat, they forged a new brand of honor, became a new breed of men...MacKinnon's Rangers

Iain MacKinnon had been forced to serve the British crown, but compassion urged him to save the lovely lass facing certain death at the hands of the Abenaki. He'd defied his orders, endangered his brothers, his men and his mission, all for a woman. But when he held Annie's sweet body in his arms, he could feel no regret. Though he sensed she was hiding something from him, it was too late to hold back his heart. In love and war, there are times when the only course of action is...Surrender


Warm, rich and satisfying. Sounds like a great cup of coffee or a really good read. 

Pamela Clare has a great skill in balancing the romance with a great story. I haven't read a historical romance in awhile and had forgotten how a reader can be transported into another world. I wouldn't share this with my history professors but some of my knowledge came from my obsession with historical romances as a teen. Ms. Clare writes a truly engrossing story about honor, redemption, betrayal and love. There are plenty of steamy scenes to satisfy this romance junkie; action abounds as it is set in the middle of the French and Indian War and is populated by some hot alpha males mostly in the form of the Mackinnon brothers. 

Perfectly fulfilling. That reminds me I need to load up on some Starbucks after staying up this late and will grab the next book in the series while I'm at it.


If you have never read a historical romance, this is an excellent example of how it is done. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Softly at Sunrise" by Maya Banks

Ethan and Rachel Kelly


This story takes place after the first book in which Rachel and Ethan are reunited after a year-long separation in which they are on their way to a divorce when Rachel is kidnapped by a terrorist group. Ethan spends the year thinking she is dead and regretting every action that led up to him presenting divorce papers to Rachel right before she leaves for her humanitarian mission. Of course, her kidnapping is no accident and soon she is targeted again while on hometurf and it is up to Ethan and his brothers of the Kelly Group International (KGI) to save the day. 

As you can imagine, being held hostage, drugged up for an entire year can leave a girl a little emotionally fragile. Especially since Rachel lost some of her memory, specifically those events leading up to her departure. When she does slowly start to remember, the memories are emotionally fresh and she is stung by their immediacy. She has a difficult time opening up and trusting Ethan and part of their story in the first book is him trying to win her back.

I am so glad that Maya Banks decided that Ethan and Rachel had more to their story to tell. Her KGI series is a favorite and Ethan and Rachel’s story is nearly at the top because of its emotional force. The follow up novella, Softly at Sunrise keeps that punch going. 

If you haven’t already read The Darkest Hour, I highly recommend that you do before reading this sequel. I don’t think that you will appreciate the edgy emotional state of the characters without it. 

The emotional background is why this book is so poignant. I can’t speak about the plot without giving away spoilers, but needless to say, the story works. Rachel still has some uncertainty and Ethan still has residual guilt, but this is a story about redemption and moving forward after an extreme trauma And of course, because this IS part of the KGI series, there has to be a suspense element in it as well. This novella is like getting an extended Epilogue to The Darkest Hour.


This book touches the heart and leaves us fans with a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that this couple is going to continue their Happily Ever After.

Friday, August 17, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "If You Hear Her" by Shiloh Walker

Lena Riddle
Ezra King (Love the name Ezra)

Ezra King is a detective with the Kentucky State Police on leave recuperating from a near fatal shooting in which his partner and lover are killed. He continues to try and heal his mind as well as his body. Lena Riddle is a independent, well-liked chef and long time resident of Ash, who is also blind.

One night, Lena wakes up to sound of screams for help coming from the woods near her home. She reports it to police, but they are skeptical that it is more than just Lena’s dreams. The truth is that there is a serial killer on the loose and now it’s a game of cat and mouse to find him/her before it is too late.

I loved, loved, this book. This is the near perfect romantic suspense novel. It is well balanced and so satisfying. If You Hear Her is Book 1 in the Ash Trilogy.  Being the first book in a trilogy, there are more than a few characters introduced in this story. Not only do we have the main characters, but also the leads in the next two books - Remy Jennings and Hope Carson (If You See Her) and Law Reilly and Nia Hollister (If You Know Her). They are somewhat quirky characters representing the privileged, the battered and beaten, the guilt-ridden and the crazy, paranoid, scattered mind of a creative writer. Because of the underlying story that runs through all three books, instead of Book 1, it feels like Act 1 in a play. I expect that we will see the entire story unfold over the next two books and with this start, I highly anticipate an explosive conclusion.

I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Lena and Ezra. They both bring baggage into their union. Lena, being completely blind since her teenage years, is fiercely independent and has fought hard to be that way. Ezra is guarded and feels damaged because of his trauma that almost killed him. He has crazy nightmares that keep him in a constant state of fatigue. But he is also fiercely protective of and attracted to Lena. After a few stumbling stops and starts, their mutual attraction leads to some sizzling interactions that left my Kindle on fire and me needing to stand in front of an A/C.

Ash, Kentucky becomes a minor character in itself. From the dense dark woods surrounding the town, to the people who live in it, the place plays a role in setting the tone. And to me, one of the most memorable elements of the book is the moody, eerie tone of the book. Maybe because although we are involved in the story of Lena and Ezra, when we read about the serial killer, it is through his/her eyes in the first person perspective. It is a little creepy but it keeps the story taut and suspenseful.

For a deeply satisfying, suspenseful read, get yourself in a well air-conditioned room and read this book!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Under Fire" by Rita Henuber

The Characters:
Olivia Carter
Rico Cortez


Coast Guard Commander Olivia Carter is a kick-ass, spunky, controlled and smart helicopter pilot who is determined to find the killer of her twin brother, a cop who is killed in the line of duty while undercover investigating a major drug kingpin. Olivia meets Rico Cortez as an informant who might help her get information on her brother's death. What she doesn't know at the time is that he's also an undercover DEA agent. When his cover is blown, they engage in an off-the-books ops that has consequences for both of them. 


This book surprised me. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I like books that feature smart, competent, courageous, strong, skilled women as lead characters. You can find them in abundance in paranormal and in science fiction but less so in military stories. Often times women in these books have some sort of weakness or fatal flaw that require the male lead to rescue them or they have been brainwashed to become sociopathic assassins. Not in this case. 

     Things that had me smiling:

  • Their initial meeting is flirty and scorching hot 
  • Although, Rico is as alpha as the best of them, he also has a lot of "sweet" in him. His "sweet" is tender
  • Olivia's determination- she decided she wanted to be a pilot as a kid and let nothing get in her way; in preparation of applying for an elite flying unit, she enrolled herself in a month-long mercenary course to learn how to employ aggressive flying techniques
  • Thank God Olivia does NOT have any TSTL moments and she darn well holds her own in the fight scenes. 
  • There is a ton of hold-your-breath action!
  • Finally, there are lots of nice little surprises along the way. 

    Things that left me thinking:

  • This could definitely be the start of a series. I hope the author has more planned. Whether we follow the stories of some of the other characters, Hunter perhaps, or learn more about Olivia and Rico this story screams for MORE! 
Memorable Quote

“(Rico) “What’s it going to take to get you to dance with me?”
She crooked her index finger and motioned him to come close. “A million in your bank account and seven inches in your pants.”
Without missing a beat he replied, “The million I have, but even for a woman as beautiful as you, I won’t cut off three inches.”
Olivia’s eyes went wide and she burst out laughing.”

In A Nutshell:

It is not always easy to balance to alpha characters in a Team Commando/Team Lawman story. Rita Henuber does with ease and finesse resulting in a heart-satisfying read. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "The Hunter" by Gennita Low

The Hunter is Book 2 in the Crossfire series.  The book picks up where The Protector left off.  Navy SEAL Commander Hawk McMillan is deep undercover trying to locate stolen United States' military grade weapons including a new special weapon with new technology that can avoid detection.  His target is slave trader, weapons dealer, and all around bad mobster, Dragan Dilaver, a Kosovo kingpin.  Hawk "saves" Dragan in Asia (book 1) and escorts him back home to Velesta, Macedonia.  Needing help to navigate around this unfamiliar territory, McMillan is partnered with Amber Hutchens a contractor for the intelligence community.  

From the get go, The Hunter is a smart, suspenseful and sexy story - everything a reader would want in a romantic suspense.   Hawk McMillan is not only capable, well-trained, and well-sculpted (after all, he is a SEAL). He is also intelligent, kind, compassionate and loving.  As a dealer in information, she is not only a contract operative but a street smart, cheeky, smart-ass heroine.  The highlight of the book is the give and take in their relationship.  There is a balance to the relationship and it is fun.  Did I mention that there interactions are also very sexy and hot?  Yup, definitely scorching.

This is also a story of the on-going exploitation of women and the white slavery trade in the international community.  Gennita Low writes about it in necessary and sometimes uncomfortable detail.  Some of the scenes are bound to stay with me for months.  Her characters spotlight the frustration at the complicity of international forces/organization in the proliferation of sexual slavery.  It is an important story and one that needs and deserves to be told over and over again.

In a Nutshell;
This is a sexy, entertaining and relevant read.  

SUSAN: What NOT to Read on an Airplane

I travel a lot for work.  My e-reader has become my savior for these trips...especially my 5+ hour cross country or international flights.  But, I've come to find that there are certain books you should avoid on such travels:

  • You'll always be glancing at your neighbor next to you hoping he doesn't see what you're reading.
  • The steamy scenes can cause for some "uncomfortable" moments where quick escapes to the lavatory are necessary but difficult to accomplish
  • It's not attractive to sit with your mouth open, jaw dropped in front of strangers
  • We don't always carry kleenex and those airplane cocktail napkins are tiny
  • Ugly crying face...'nuff said
  • You forgot you're wearing headphones...and everyone can hear you laugh! You don't want to be "that crazy woman" in seat ##.
  • Between the take off and landing issues when you have to power down, it's like torture having to leave your story in the middle of the BEST part. *sigh*

I think everything else is fair game.  

SPECIAL ALERT: You may find yourself tempted, but at all costs, stay away from "Fifty Shades" and "The Siren" while traveling.  Learn from my mistakes.  Trust me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "The Restorer" by Amanda Stevens

This is the first book in the Graveyard Queen series.  Amelia Gray can see ghosts. But ghosts are not innocuous, they suck your vitality and life-force away. Since the time she saw her first ghost at 9 years old, she has been living by four strict rules as dictated by her father:

Rule 1 - Never acknowledge the dead

Rule 2 - Never stray too far from hallowed ground
Rule 3 - Keep your distance from those who are haunted
Rule 4 - Never, ever tempt fate.

The rules are given to keep her safe, but it also makes her a guarded, introverted, lonely person. Until, there is a dead body found in the cemetery in which she is restoring that puts her into direct contact with Detective John Devlin. She is immediately drawn to him. Unfortunately, he is surrounded by two ghosts that cling to him. As she is pulled into the mystery of the dead body, Amelia keeps putting herself at risk by helping to pursue the killer and by breaking the rules to be with Devlin. 


Several years ago I visited Charleston, South Carolina in the middle of summer. The weather was hot, the humidity was oppressive and the pace, well, people took their time. I signed up for a graveyard ghost tour, not my normal vacation time activity. But it was Charleston, and being a Southern history fan, I couldn’t resist. This was the center of antebellum South, where the cruelty of slavery and the genteel manners of Southern folks co-existed. I loved my tour and I loved imagining the life and hardship of those who walked those streets before me. This book reminded me of my trip, both in the places described and the pace of the book.

Things I loved:
  • Cemetery restorer? Really, who knew there was such a profession? It is a combination of historian, detective,art historian, gardener and garbage collector. I thought context of the story was unique and compelling.
  • New words learned
  • Fan-wanking - Arranging a story to meet personal needs.
  • Taphophiles - A person who has a passion and enjoyment for cemeteries. (Again, who knew?)
  • Reminds me of ….Karen Moning’s Fever series. John Devlin has a bit of Jericho Z. Barrons in him. He has piercing eyes, brooding demeanor, is taciturn and oozes sexual tension.
  • Characters and setting - Charleston is a character in the book.  It adds a flavor of the South.  Charleston has an abundance of churches and graveyards which adds an eeriness to book. I thought it was the perfect setting. Stevens’ descriptions of the garden, the smell of flowers, quiet of the afternoon sun was very appealing. It made me want to drink some sweet tea and go sit out on my patio. (Unfortunately, I have no plants and am surrounded by the concrete jungle) . We also get a the peek into Creole culture, of witches and superstition. I hope this gets more flushed out in future books.
Like the Fever series, this books takes it time to tell the story. (I was more than 60% into the story and there was very little movement). Also, unfortunately, there is limited interaction between Amelia and John, which is why their “romance” less believable to me. I didn’t understand the source of their deep attraction. However, because of how this book is written, I believe this mystery will unravel itself out in the sequels and really, I can’t wait to start.

In A Nutshell:  

If you are interested in a paranormal mystery with a touch of romance in an eerie setting with a heroine in an unusual occupation, you gotta read this book. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW - "Within Reach" by Sarah Mayberry

"Being a single dad was never on Michael Young's agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that's exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst… Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.

Lately, though, something has changed.

Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She's constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything—including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!"

What a beautiful, beautiful book...

If you can look past the cheesy cover, I can promise you, it's the only cheesiness you'll find here. This story about Michael (god, I love this man!), a widower, and Angie, his wife's best friend was really lovely. If you don't think too much on anything but on how great the characters were, how real their developing relationship was, how likable from start to finish every part of this book'll find yourself so connected to this pair and so happy to have been there, reading through their lives. No huge dramas. No real suspense. No actual bad guys. Just 2 people trying to figure out life and figure out how their feelings for each other fit into it all. 

Really, really enjoyed it.

In a Nutshell:

Surprisingly "real" for a Harlequin book; nice slower pace; sweet, simple, life-affirming w/ completely likable characters.

SUSAN: Goodreads - Social Network for Book Nerds :)

Working in digital media, and being an enthusiast of all-things digital start-ups, I quickly latched onto once my reading itch became an epidemic. Despite its terrible UX design, it's "over capacity" issues, and a host of other bugs, Goodreads is a godsend to those looking for a social connection to other readers.  

Thanks to Oprah, book clubs have sprung up all over the world and taken on lives of their own!  Readers are deeply effected by books and they want to talk about it and share with others and be rest-assured that they're not crazy by being so deeply connected to characters and stories!

Goodreads allows for this.  I've found lots of other "friends" around the globe who share my interest in romance books...and have even opened me up to genres I didn't know I would/could enjoy!  I've found tons of book recommendations and have even befriended authors themselves...who also seem to be big readers...go figure!

Here are the links to our Goodreads pages: 


SUSAN: Why I read...

I moved to NY at the beginning of 2012. It was a huge move for me. I didn't know a single person here, leaving behind a very rich, full, fun life in San Francisco.  But, it was a great job opportunity for me and I rarely shy away from a challenge that requires relocation...I'm a bit of a gypsy that way.  

But, NY is not the easiest place to call home. Between working long hours and just not feeling very "connected", I've retreated a bit. I don't mind it, actually...the quiet of life in a very loud city.  

Along came a friend named Kindle Fire. :)  ...and a very eager, borderline obsessed, sister...who was getting VERY entrenched into reading romance novels.  She recommended a trilogy: Fifty Shades (shocker) and I was engrossed.  I'd never really read romance books...and definitely not erotica.  It was pretty cool opening up myself to things that I would normally be embarrassed about.  But, I was hooked.  

I've moved past the bruhaha that is Fifty Shades and found myself really enjoying diving into all-things romance.  8 months and 100+ books later, I'm still hooked.  It's been liberating, comforting, entertaining...

Read on...