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Summer Reads


A wonderful thing happened in class today.  My students asked me to show them a few summer movie previews.  What is so special about that, you ask?  All three movies were based on books.  Bothey more than half the students had

read!  It inspired a vlog post and was the reason I, for the first time in my 15 year teaching career, has to be kicked out of my own classroom?!  One of the movie previews was of Catching Fire, and as I haven’t read the Hunger Games yet, the kids were adamant I avoid all spoilers.  The book nerd in me was beside herself with joy!  


Please give the vlog a try, and leave me suggestions for my July reads!  I’d love to expand my reading horizons!




Blood, Smoke and Mirrors by Robyn Bachar


blood smoke and mirrors Photobucket

Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.

Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.

Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.

Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian — until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.

Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.

Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.

Please Note: There are some small spoilers in this review. If you want no spoilers at all, please do not read this review.

This book went down the crapper so quickly after 40% that it damn near gave me whiplash. O_o The difference between the two parts of this book are SO VAST that I have separated them: Book I, Part I and Book I, Part II

Book I, Part I (the first 40%) of this book is pretty damn good. There are some points that I issue with, however:

Why is Cat qualified to become Tatiana?? Why is she one of the only few in the world eligible? The author never says.

Cat makes lots of decisions without thinking. She told Lex to screw himself about her becoming Tatiana…but then changes her mind a page later for no reason and runs to do it. No explanation given to the reader for the abrupt 180 change of heart.

WTF is up with Lex turning Cat in to be tried (before book starts)? That isn’t cool. And then for him to get back with her by only saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would go down like that” was total BULLSHIT. Where was he for the last 3 years as she struggled to get by? There was NO GROVELLING. None at all!! Are you freaking SERIOUS?! She became an Outcast because her bf betrayed her and he didn’t even have to grovel?!?!? We had the ‘I love yous” happening by 40%. I call Shenanigans. I also do not buy their relationship. At all. And BTW, I actually kinda hated Lex.

This is the biggest issue I had with Book 1, part 1: Cat is the daughter of a witch and a necromancer. Her father killed her mother and tried to kill her. Her mother/guardian is killed when she was scheduled to be out all night. Her father wants world domination and is willing to go through her to get it. She is the only one able to stop her father. Cat has super strong powers that even she hasn’t explored the limits of.

Did that sound familiar to you? If you’ve ever read the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews then it sounded really, really familiar. But don’t get your hopes up, it’s not in the same league.

Other than the items I listed above…book I, part I is actually a pretty good (and fast) read. I’d give it 3.5 stars.

Then we have Book I, Part II (insert ominous music here)

WTF happened here???! After Cat kills her father and becomes the Tatiana it feels like an entirely new and completely different book starts. The damn thing even changed plot points! WTF. The entire section with the vampire Zach Harrison holding Cat hostage was BS. Why the fuck was she there to begin with? She makes such STUPID decisions!! It is at this point that Cat goes from being a funny, snarky witch with a brain to a TSTL romance heroine without the sense God gave a Nat who finds herself in the middle of [something like] a love triangle with a vampire. Even though she and Lex ‘are in looove.’


I’ll stop ranting about this section now because I’ll end up spoiling the entire thing…but let’s just say it was about 50% of the entire novel and it all SUCKED ASS. I was shocked and saddened by the way this great story wound up in WTFsville so quickly. I spent the rest of the book screaming and yelling at Cat to stop being TSTL.

And the ending. Can it get any more rushed than that??! The ending was so fast and rushed that I felt like I had whiplash.

I don’t think I’ll continue the series.

Romance Shorthand


As I write more reviews for romance novels…I notice that I end up with a lot of abbreviations. The abbreviations come in at the fact that most romance novels have similar tropes and activities that are easily summed up in three words or less…which then lead to abbreviations.

I realize I am not going to stop using these abbreviations – so I thought I’d give you a list to refer to in times of need. 😉

HEA = Happily Ever After
HFN = Happy For Now
TSTL = Too Stupid To Live
H/h = Hero/Heroine (or Heroine/hero)

*Note: This list will be updated as needed. Or requested.

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl



What happens when the girl next door isn’t so innocent?
Molly Jennings might look like the girl next door, but she has one naughty little secret: her job. Molly is a very successful writer of erotic fiction. Until her inspiration runs dry-—thanks to a creepy ex-—and she decides it’s time to move back home to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.

Tumble Creek doesn’t have much going for it, but one look at luscious chief of police Ben Lawson, who starred in her girlhood dreams, and Molly is back in business. But while her fantasies are pouring out on paper, the town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse yet, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bag about her chosen profession, and straight-laced Ben will definitely not approve…

How quickly things go from “the shit” to some shit.

I’ve been reading Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels, gleefully finding new romance authors to fall in love with. When the book mentioned Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl, I immediately went to download a sample. The sample? Wonderful! Funny and sexy and cute. The plotline, the beginning and the author’s voice were all things that really intrigued me about this book. So I went and did my normal silly thing: I bought more than one book in the series by this author, sight unseen.

Wow. I should stop doing that. I waste a lot of money that way.

My major issue with Talk Me Down was the TSTL heroine, Molly. By the end of the book I was so freaking SICK and TIRED of her unnecessary secrets and lies that I didn’t know what to do with myself. She claimed how much she’d fantasized about Ben (the hero) for the last ten years and how he’s starred in her sexual fantasies and in her written work (she is an erotic romance author)…but as soon as he tries to have a real relationship with her she tells him how she’s just fucking. Wow.

To go along with her callous attitude she has a stalker ex-boyfriend who’s been stalking her for months…but she refuses to tell Ben about the stalking. She refuses to tell him she’s an erotic romance writer as well – even though her first (and widely sold) book was obviously about HIM. And he had a very bad experience growing up with his parents and sex scandals. But she says nothing. Cause she’s TSTL. And this is a book that has the “if only we had talked sooner” plot line as the big misunderstanding. WTF. I hate those kinds of books.

I really didn’t believe in the HEA because I couldn’t imagine having a real relationship with someone who refuses to tell me about their everyday life. Secret here, secret there, I don’t see trust anywhere. By the end, I was cranky and tired to death of Molly.

Ben, on the other hand, was a great hero. Kind, patient, sexy and came with no baggage that Molly didn’t already know about. Thank you for that. There’s nothing else to say about him other than I felt bad for him in the future. God bless…being stuck with a chick like Molly.

I couldn’t enjoy the sex scenes because I was too busy RAGING at how horrible a person Molly was being.


3 stars for Ben (he was hot, now to find him a good woman)
1 star for the sex scenes (the ones I did read were hot)
-1.5 stars for Molly and her TSTL self

2 ½ stars!

Review: Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer



“Okay, Shane,” Agnes said as Brenda’s clock gonged midnight. “I got Joey in the kitchen, a cop in the front hall, a dead body in the basement, and you in my bedroom. Where do you want to start?”
— Agnes and the Hitman, page 23

What happens when you take a cranky, homicidal cook with anger issues who loves to swing cast iron skillets, a hitman with family issues, an unsolved murder and a crazy ex-mobster’s wife and put them all together at a mob princess’ wedding? Lots of laughs, death and great food!

Agnes (AKA Cranky Agnes) is a nationally syndicated gourmet food columnist who is trying to plan her god-daughter’s wedding in her back yard. Agnes has staked her entire net worth in making sure this wedding goes off without a hitch so everything needs to be perfect. Unfortunately for Agnes, a crazy man with a gun breaks into her house one night trying to steal her dog – and Agnes finds herself in the middle of a downward spiral of murder, mayhem, and mother-of-the-bride hell.

Luckily for Agnes, hitman Shane is called in. Shane shows up to protect Agnes but as he inspects the dead body in her basement, he realizes he needs to protect more than just Agnes – he also has to protect the people that make Agnes angry.

“Angry welts on the face. Agnes and her hot raspberry sauce.
Blood underneath the dirty hair. Agnes and her frying pan.
Neck twisted and broken. Agnes and her unknown basement with no stairs.
Joey’s Little Agnes didn’t need protecting, but he might stay and put up some warning signs for unsuspecting intruders. Something like BEWARE OF THE COOK or AGNESS KILLS.”

As time goes by, several people die and Shane gets to taste Agnes’ cooking, he realized that he’s found the love of his life: someone who cooks a mean rib and has just as many homicidal tendencies as he does. And she doesn’t make him talk about his feelings, lol.

“…Agnes came around the counter, her arms full of food, looking like she had every dish in the refrigerator, and dumped it all on the table between them.

“This is my kitchen,” she said, an edge of hysteria in her voice, “and enough goddamn people have been shot in it. You are my family, you’re the only family I’ve got, so you’re going to put those guns away and eat something right now. Or there’s going to be hell to pay.”

She slapped a loaf of bread down on the table and looked at them both, blood in her eyes, and Joey and Frankie both hesitated. “You do not want me angry,” Agnes said, and then both nodded once and, like the unhappy, dysfunctional family they were, they put the guns away together.”

I loved this book! Very funny and different. It reminds me – in some ways – of the movie Grosse Point Blank at a wedding but the characters are all related in some way (except for the romantic ones!)

I could see this as a movie, actually! It’s also more of a novel than a romance – meaning that I could see a guy reading it…especially if he got it in ebook format. 🙂 I think the pink flamingos might just scare a few guys off.

This book has it all. There is romance, comedy, guns, hitmen, strippers, cash, mobsters, death, missing persons, rocket launchers and things (and people) getting blown up. And a wedding. So, don’t judge a book by its cover, ignore the pink flamingos (who wish they weren’t there, either) and read this book!