March 31, 2009

Giveaway: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

WINNERS: Teresa and Vanessa in Canada, Genevieve in California, Carrie in Washington & Donna in Missouri

Giveaway courtesy of Hachette Book Group

Author's Website

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Sarah Walters, the narrator of GIRLS IN TRUCKS, is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the rococo ways of Southern womanhood and family, and is anxious to shake the bonds of her youth. Still, she follows the traditional path laid out for her. This is Charleston, and in this beautiful, dark, segregated town, established rules and manners mean everything.

But as Sarah grows older, she finds that her Camellia lessons fail her, particularly as she goes to college, moves North, and navigates love and life in New York. There, Sarah and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, addiction, disappointing jobs and death fail to live up to the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers and sisters.

When some unexpected bumps in the road--an unplanned birth, a family death--lead Sarah back home, she's forced to take another long look at the fading empire of her youth. It takes a strange turn of events to finally ground Sarah enough to make some serious choices. And only then does she realize that as much as she tried to deny it, where she comes from will always affect where she ends up. The motto of her girlhood cotillion society, "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia," may turn out to have more wisdom and pull to it than she ever could have guessed.

For your chance to win one of FIVE COPIES fill out the form below.

For 2 extra chances to win, Tweet the following message:

Enter to win Girls in Trucks at Reading With Monie:

Giveaway open to US and Canada only. Sorry no PO boxes. Ends Saturday April 11th. Winners will be posted as soon as confirmed.

Winners will have 48 hours to respond to winning email or a new winner will be selected.

March 30, 2009

Review: The Big Dirt Nap by Rosemary Harris

Courtesy of LibraryThing

Paula Holliday’s friend Lucy has invited her for an all-expense-paid trip to the Titans Hotel. Lucy is there to do an investigative story on the hotel and Paula, who owns Dirty Business gardening and landscape company, is there to see the famed corpse flower on display at the hotel.

Shortly after Paula arrives she runs into Nick Vigoriti. A good looking ladies man who refuses to accept the brush off and doggedly tries to pick her up. Next thing you know the police are knocking on Paula’s door because Nick is dead. And worse yet, Lucy is missing. Somehow the two are tied together but when the police refuse to investigate the disappearance Paula starts asking questions that make people nervous.

Judging a book by the cover is supposed to be a no-no but I did and I was not all that excited about reading this book. Boy was I mistaken. This book is hilarious. Paula cracked me up from the opening line to the very end.

I’ll share my favorite scene so you get an idea… With both Paula and Lucy in full Goth make up (don’t ask LOL) they scare the heck out of a convenience store clerk. Paula then terrifies him further when she calls him by name.

“Chill. You name’s on your shirt.” I peeled off a few dollars,
then hurried Lucy out of the store, but not before sticking my
head back in and telling the frightened clerk to have a nice day.

The book is filled with those kinds of witty interactions and I couldn’t get enough. The characters are well described that I could easily picture each and every one. This was the second book in the Dirty Business mystery series and it stands alone as I have not yet read book one, Pushing Up Daisies, which is now on my wish list. I highly recommend this one to all cozy mystery lovers.

March 29, 2009

New Design ... again

I couldn't resist. I know I just re-did my blog a few months ago I've been wanting a change to something a little more colorful. I kept messing with my test blog but couldn't get it exactly how I pictured it. So once again I turned to Cynthia at NW Designs and within 2 days she had an all new blog for me. AWESOME!

I'm still tweaking my sidebar and just a couple more things so if you have any suggestions I'd welcome them.

March 28, 2009

Review: Peppermint Twisted by Sammi Carter

Former corporate lawyer and recent candy shop owner, Abby Shaw, has her hands full when a spiteful cousin orders way too much peppermint that can’t be returned. Figuring out what to do with 100 gallons of peppermint oil becomes the least of her problems when Felicity Asbury is found dead in the parking lot of Divinity.

The much despised Felicity was recently named the new director of the local arts festival and none of the artists were too happy about it but was one of them mad enough to kill over it? When fingers start pointing and tongues begin wagging in Abby’s direction she breaks her promise to the hunky police detective Jawarski and begins her own investigation into the murder that just might be a fatal mistake.

Of course just as with any other cozy the main character solves the murder and narrowly avoids being the next victim but Peppermint Twisted gives this tried and true formula a sweet story to keep you entertained.

My one gripe is that Abby’s investigating didn’t flow with the rest of the series. In Candy Apple Dead and Chocolate Dipped Death it was more just asking questions that led to her revealing the true murderer. Here she was too aggressive even to the point of harassment and that didn’t sit well with my characterization of Abby.

Other than that I recommend this book and series to all cozy fans and look forward to reading the next installments: Goody Goody Gunshots which is out now and Sucker Punch due out in June.

March 25, 2009

Review: Sail by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Courtesy of Hachette Audio

Since the death of their father Katherine Dunne’s three children have been drifting further and further apart from her and each other. In a last ditch effort to bring her family closer together Katherine plans a two month long sailing trip aboard their boat, The Family Dunne, along with their uncle Jake Dunne.

Almost immediately things start to go wrong. The boat springs a leak, 16-year Mark is smoking marijuana, 18-year old Carrie is recovering from an eating disorder but throws herself overboard in a suicide attempt and 10-year old Ernie is overweight as a result of his own self-diagnosed “stress eating”. Shortly after Jake saves Carrie, the family is awakened by an approaching storm. Caught in the middle of the storm the family fights for their lives and get through it only to be faced with another catastrophic disaster.

Meanwhile Katherine’s new husband of less than one year, Peter, is betting on the fact that the family never returns and is scheming behind the scenes.

The book opens with instantaneous action and intrigue. Throughout the whole book just when you think the drama is over a new wave (snicker) of trouble rolls in. From the very beginning we learn that Peter is a villain but there’s still a lot more revelations to come and I found the action kept me on the edge of my seat.

My review is based on the unabridged audio and it was narrated by both Dylan Baker and Jennifer Van Dyck. I’ve always thought the male/female approach to an audio book would make the book more interesting and I loved it. I hope to hear more this way soon.

My vote is that this is another Patterson winner. It doesn’t have the same depth as the Cross series but it’s one of the better collaborations from him that I’ve read. I recommend this one for all action and thriller lovers.

March 23, 2009

Q&A with Laura Griffin and Giveaways

WINNERS: Patricia in California, Vikke in Idaho & Lily in Nevada

I've been very excited about my Q&A with Laura Griffin. She is one of the best suspense authors I've read in a while and her latest, Whisper of Warning, hits the shelves Tuesday March 31st. Please join me in welcoming Laura to Reading With Monie.

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog, Monie!

1. What books do you have in the pipeline?

The big focus for me right now is WHISPER OF WARNING, which hits bookshelves March 31. Later this year, will be UNTRACEABLE, the first book in my new Tracers Series.

2. Do you base any of your characters on people you know?

My characters are all fictional, but many have traits or foibles from people I’ve met over the years. I’m constantly people watching and listening for good anecdotes, interesting turns of phrase.

3. How did you pick a forensic artist as Fiona’s job in Thread of Fear? How much time was spent researching that field?

The character of Fiona Glass started taking shape after I caught a news broadcast about a high-profile kidnapping in Utah. I was fascinated by how a forensic artist stepped in to help solve the case, and I decided my next heroine would be a forensic artist. The work is so challenging, and the people who do it well have an amazing gift.

4. Do you schedule your writing time daily or do you just write when the ideas come?

Mornings are great for me. Sometimes I wake up with snippets in my head. By nighttime, I usually find it hard to be creative. That’s when I’d rather curl up with a book.

5. How did you choose romantic suspense as the genre you write in?

Ever since my journalism days, I’ve liked writing hard news stories. I guess mysteries come easier to me than other kinds of fiction.

6. What's the biggest obstacle you face when writing and how do you overcome it?

For me, the hardest part is letting go when the manuscript is finished. No matter how much time I spend on it, I always want to add and fine-tune things.

7. Do you have someone you share your work with as you go along or do you wait to the end to reveal it?

I share my work with my agent, then my editor. I don’t have a critique partner.

8. Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading now?

My tastes are all over the map! I just started ATONEMENT, by Ian McEwan. I enjoy literary fiction, but commercial fiction is my favorite—Linda Howard, Tami Hoag, Lisa Gardner, Lee Child, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, the list goes on. When I have time to read for pleasure, I want to be swept into an exciting story and really feel my pulse pound.

9. Do you have any special writing quirks? Hmm… I’m sure I do. You should probably ask my editor.

10. What’s your best reader story?

It’s always so gratifying to hear from readers. One woman told me my books provided her with a much-needed escape while she was undergoing cancer treatments. That really made my day. I love to read to get a break from the stress of day-to-day, so if I can help other people do that, I feel like I’ve done my job.

11. Has your family read all your books and what do they think?

My family has been so supportive. But I’m sure they haven’t all read everything. I’ve got a lot of engineers and computer nerds in the family, so you’d be more likely to catch some of them with a mathematics tome. My mom, bless her, reads everything the instant it comes out.

12. What character from your books would you say is your favorite and why?

I don’t have a favorite. I relate to each heroine and hero in a different way. Courtney from WHISPER OF WARNING was a roller coaster ride to write because of her larger-than-life personality. It was challenging, but also fun. And I guess that’s the point. If the writer has fun with the story, hopefully the reader will, too.

If you missed them here are my reviews of Thread of Fear and Whisper of Warning.

Laura has graciously donated 3 sets of both Thread of Fear and Whisper of Warning to be given away.

For your chance to win visit Laura's Website and enter the name of the college newspaper she wrote and edited for in the form below

For 2 extra chances to win, Tweet the message below:

Enter to win Thread of Fear and Whisper of Warning at Reading With Monie:

For 3 more chances to win, Follow (using the sidebar widget) or Subscribe to my blog. Current followers and subscribers will also earns extra entries.

Giveaway open worldwide. Winners will be selected and announced on March 30th (that way you can run out a buy your copies on March 31st if you're not the lucky winner).

Winners will have 48 hours to respond to winning email or a new winner will be selected.

March 22, 2009

Review: Secrets Unveiled by Sheshena Pledger

The Harris family is one of America’s most ruthless crime families. It’s a family of stone cold killers with secrets. The Miller family is seemingly an average family with no secrets but when Nick Miller’s father is killed Nick learns that his family has secrets too.

The story is told from the point of view of both the protagonist and antagonist. At first it was very disconcerting and it would take me a few pages to realize who was talking but once I got more into the book it was easier based on who the characters were talking to. One other thing that bothered me was the grammar. In a few instances words weren’t used correctly such as meat instead of meet and when I ran across them it was very distracting. I guess that’s just one of the downfalls of a self published book.

The writing was real gritty and street but it played well with the story. The characters are a bit unlikable but this also works for the storyline. This was not my typical read but found it an interesting step out of my favorite genres.

March 21, 2009

Review: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Half vampire, half mage Sabina Kane is an assassin working for the Dominae vampire council. Her latest job is to infiltrate the renegade group of vampires led by Clovis Trakiya who is recruiting vampires and other paranormal beings to ultimately overthrow the Dominae.

Raised by her grandmother, a powerful leader in the Dominae council, Sabina has always been required to suppress the mage side of her abilities. In the midst of infiltrating Clovis’ group she’s approached by a mage who has some interesting information for her. Unsure of who to trust she tentatively listens to what he has to say and learns quite a few things that rock her to the core and changes her life forever.

I’d been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this book ever since I first read about it a couple of months ago. Initially the first few chapters had my head spinning with the different names, beings and groups but once I got the hang of who and what everyone was the rest of the story fell into place.

I love that it was a darker type of fantasy tale but still had a lot of humor and plenty of sarcasm from the characters. Sabina is a kick-ass heroine who’s been lied to for most of her life. You kind of feel sorry for her in a way but can’t help admiring her for the way she soldiers on. Throw in a demon who’s addicted to infomercial shopping and you have the makings of an excellent read.

This is the first book in a new series about Sabina but this story arc is tied up nicely in the end. The only downside of reading this is that I’m going to have to wait so long for the next book. Highly recommended for all urban fantasy and paranormal lovers.

March 20, 2009

Guest post, review and giveaway: My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

WINNER: Jennifer in Mississippi

Book Website

When I learned Reading With Monie was going to be a part of Ms. Nalebuff's blog tour I asked her the question, "What's the weirdest story you received while collecting stories for your book?" and her response is below.

This is tough. There are many contenders. There is one surreal story about a girl who dreams about being impregnated and having five children. And, strangely enough, she wakes up to discover her first period!

I recently received a fictional story written from the perspective of a settler, traveling westwards towards California. Her family decides to build a home on the exact spot where she first bleeds.

I’m not sure exactly what to do with the story, but I like the idea! Something tells me, though, that settlers would not have been that enthusiastic about periods. I mean, getting your period on the road back in the 1800’s must have been a huge pain, right? And they didn’t even have tampons!

Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

RACHEL KAUDER-NALEBUFF is a recent graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall, and will soon attend Yale University. In Choate's annual Pratt-Packard oratory contest, she adapted her own first-period experience and other stories from MY LITTLE RED BOOK to an audience of 1,000 classmates: "This is a speech about first periods, and I don't mean your 8:00 AM class," the speech began. The inspiration to begin collecting first period stories arose out of a conversation with her mother.

Of course this post would not be complete if I didn't share my own first period experience....

I was thirteen and from what I recall I don't think my mom had talked to me about my period. I'd seen her pads in the bathroom and asked about it but never got a real answer. I found out years later that best friend had started her period a year earlier but she was too embarrassed to tell me so I had no clue what getting your period meant.

Growing up I was a real tomboy and one sunny afternoon I was cruising the neighborhood on my bike when I hit a pot hole. My feet fell off the pedals, I slipped off the seat and my poor little "flower" hit the pole in the middle of the bike. I was sore and embarrassed as quite a few of my friends saw me but thought no more of the accident and went on my way.

A couple of mornings later I woke up to find my underwear full of blood. I just knew it was because my bike incident and being a tomboy meant I had plenty of experience cleaning and bandaging my numerous cuts and scratches. So I washed out my underwear, took a shower, put a wad of toilet paper in my underwear went on with my day (I'm glad I didn't try to bandage my "flower", lol).

The day wore on and after I went through a couple of toilet paper changes I started to worry. The blood wasn't stopping as it usually did. I finally gathered up my courage and told my mom about the incident on my bike. I let her know that I thought it was pretty serious and I might need stitches because it won't stop bleeding. She busted up laughing and told me, "You just started your period."

My Little Red Book is a cute and quick read. The stories range from one sentence to a couple of pages. I liked knowing that I wasn't the only young girl who had no clue what was going on and promise that if I ever have a daughter I'll be sure to give her a heads up. This is a great book to share with the women in your life.

To enter to win a copy of My Little Red Book simply leave a comment on this post and the best part is you don't even have to share your first period story. LOL

The giveaway is open worldwide and I will draw a winner on Tuesday March 24th.

Good Luck!

March 17, 2009

Review: The Blonde on the Train by Eleanor Lerman

Author's Website

Book Website

Product Description:
This stunning collection of short stories is a testament to the talent of Eleanor Lerman. From Greenwich Village in the '60s or rooftops in Manhattan to an airport in the Midwest, these everyday adventures explore the disenchantment of this world accompanied by love and hope and humor. Joan Larkin comments: "Equally attentive to the odd details of human behavior and the deep longings at their source, Lerman's stories make me want to go on reading, and leave me somehow hopeful." The Blonde on the Train evokes memories and emotions while creating new imaginings, and inspires readers to create their own adventures. Open this book you’ll be hooked!

My Review:
From the description above I really had no idea what to expect from the book other than a collection of short stories. What I found was a pretty good set of stories that are all standalone but mostly revolve around a common theme. From loving stories of friendship to a strange brush with a psychic the stories offer a peek into the lives of several different people.

One thing that happened is that after each story I had to pause and really think deeply on what I just read. The stories got better as the book progressed and I felt that each one was more meaningful than the next. My two favorite stories were the title story, The Blonde on the Train and Woodstock Again. They each shared a story of friendship but in hugely different ways. I recommend this for anyone who loves short stories with meaning.

Be sure to stop by the book website when you’re done with the book. The excerpts tab offers an extra little tidbit about each story that I really enjoyed.

March 15, 2009

Giveaway: Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien

WINNER: Becky in Texas

My Review

Giveaway open worldwide.
  • For your chance to win, please enter your name and email in the form below.

  • For 2 extra entries, Tweet about the giveaway using the message below and enter your Twitter name in the entry form.

  • Win a copy of Elijah's Coin at
    Reading With Monie.

    I will take entries until 8:00pm CST Thursday, March 19th and the winner will be announced Friday, March 20th.

    Winner must respond to notification email within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected.

    Good Luck!!

    Thank you to Sweeties Sweeps for listing my blog giveaway.

    Review: Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure DVD

    Courtesy of Thomas Nelson

    In the process of bringing his friend Hermie some delicious raspberries, Skeeter crashed into a tree with a mysterious symbol. He doesn't realize the significance of the symboland continues on. Once he gets to the garden he learns that Sir Sinclair M. Skeeto is scheduled to visit and share his tales of great adventure with everyone.

    Sinclair is Skeeter's brother and Skeeter is none to happy that he's visiting. Sinclair has always made Skeeter feel ashamed about his crooked nose. Once Sinclair arrives the real truth behind his visit is revealed. Sinclair is looking for a treasure and the only clue he has is a mysterious symbol. Skeeter remembers seeing it but doesn't remember where and they begin the search.

    During the search Skeeter learns the truth. All the time Skeeter felt ashamed of his crooked nose he thought their father loved Sinclair more. On the other hand Sinclair can't fly and because of that he thought their father always loved Skeeter more.

    Once they find the tree with the symbol they work together to unlock the hiding place and find a surprise from their father worth more than all the treasure in the world.

    This was a great family DVD. The moral of the story is to love yourself no matter how you look and this is taught subtly with entertainment instead of a lesson. The graphics were incredible and as good as any big screen movie. I was happy to share this movie with my nieces aged one and two who sat through the entire movie which is rare. I recommend this for all families with small children.

    Bonus Features

    • Trivia Quiz
    • The Sounds of Hermie
    • Super Skeeter Sing Along
    • DVD-Rom
    • The Word of Promise Next Generation Preview
    • Trailers

      March 14, 2009

      Review: Dork Diaries: Tales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell

      Eighth grader Nikki Maxwell candidly shares with us the journaling of her no-so-fabulous days at her new private school Westchester Day School. Nikki's father, being the new exterminator, earned her a scholarship to a school where she doesn't fit in with the rich and snobby CCP (Cute, Cool & Popular) clique led by the snarky Mackenzie.

      Nikki knows that in order to dazzle the new crowd into accepting her she needs a new iPhone but her `rents stubbornly refuse to buy her one. Her Mom even goes so far as to tell her that if she really wants one she'll have to save up and buy it with her own money. Ugh!

      Just when everything seems to be doomed the school announces a school-wide art competition where the first prize is $500!! Nikki knows she's totally got this since she's an artist with plenty art camp experience. Nikki runs to the school office to sign up and who does she run into??? None other than Mackenzie. No way is she brave enough to compete against the queen bee of WDS. Can she turn one disaster after another into triumph?

      Dork Diaries is simply fabulous! I've been in Nikki's shoes a time or two as I changed schools 8 different times while growing up so I can totally sympathize with being new girl on the block. At least my Dad didn't drive me to school with a giant roach on top of his van.

      The entire book is Nikki's diary filled with hilarious stories and amazing drawings (also illustrated by Rachel Renee Russell). It's the perfect read for young girls who agonize over not being part of the in-crowd like I used to. Nikki goes from the zero to a hero and then finally settles nicely into her niche as a typical teen. I recommend this read for all YA lovers.