May 27, 2010

Review of "Original Sin" by Allison Brennan

Synopsis: Haunted by chilling memories of demonic possession and murder, Moira O’Donnell has spent seven years hunting down her mother, Fiona, whose command of black magic has granted her unprecedented control of the underworld. Now Moira’s global search has led her to a small California town that’s about to become hell on earth.

Tormented by his own terrifying past and driven by powers he can’t explain, ex-seminarian Rafe Cooper joins Moira’s dangerous quest. But Fiona is one devilish step ahead. Hungry for greater power, eternal youth, and stunning beauty, the sorceress is unleashing upon the mortal world the living incarnations of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Together with a demonologist, a tough female sheriff, and a pair of star-crossed teenagers, Moira and Rafe are humanity’s last chance to snatch salvation from the howling jaws of damnation. (from Amazon)

This was my first book by Allison Brennan and she has hooked me for life. In simple terms, I loved this book. Loved it!  I found the perfect balance of a supernatural storyline (witches and demons, anyone?) with a touch of romance, all helmed by a strong, independent and very likable heroine. What could possibly be wrong with it?

While Original Sin was full of supernatural themes, witchery and demonology I found it more suspenseful than terrifying (and I mean that as a compliment). There were more than a few lunch hours that I stretched out because I simply did not want to put the book down, so engrossed with Moira, Fiona, Serena, Rafe and Anthony I had become. I was both impatient to get to the end of the book and dreaded turning that final page.

Ms. Brennan's writing is crisp, descriptive and draws the reader in quickly. I could picture not only the characters but the targeted town of Santa Louisa, as well as the demons and demonic creatures that were peppered throughout the novel.

Moira was perhaps one of the best heroines I have recently had the pleasure of meeting through reading. She's strong and determined and can take care of herself without benefit of a man just fine, thank you. What a nice surprise to have a heroine who doesn't fall apart at the first sign of trouble or danger!

Original Sin certainly isn't the first book to use the Seven Deadly Sins as its basis, nor will it be the last, but how much worse a villain could there be but Satan? I found the central Satan/Seven Deadly Sins storyline fascinating enough but Moira's backstory of being born for a purpose, running from her dangerous mother for seven years and a lost fiance were the blood red cherry on top of this paranormal sundae.

As much as I hated for this book to end, I took some consolation in knowing that Original Sin is but the first book in a three book series.    I simply cannot wait for the next book to be released so I can catch up with Moira in her quest to fight off demonic forces. 

I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys supernatural, horror or thriller genres.  For readers who appreciate a lot of romance, Original Sin may not be your cup of tea.  By the same token, if you are easily offended by crude language and/or scenes of a sexual nature, you might be more offended than interested.  I would also recommend to any television or film producer looking for a good project to look no further - - Original Sin  would make a fantastic movie!

Original Sin, the first book in the new Seven Deadly Sins series, is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Original Sin counts toward my progress in the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.

Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve romantic thrillers, including The Prey, Speak No Evil, Killing Fear and Sudden Death. Original Sin launches her new supernatural thriller series based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Prior to her writing career, she worked for thirteen years as a consultant in the California State Legislature. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Dan, and their five children. A member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and the Horror Writers Association, when she’s not writing or reading, Allison enjoys playing video games and attending her kids' sporting events.  Visit the official Allison Brennan website for more information. 

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

May 25, 2010

Review of "The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House" by Melissa Anderson

Synopsis:  When other girls her age were experiencing their first crushes, Melissa Sue Anderson was receiving handwritten marriage proposals from fans as young, and younger, than she was. When other girls were dreaming of their first kiss, Melissa was struggling through hers in front of a camera. From age eleven in 1974 until she left the show in 1981, Melissa Anderson literally grew up before the viewers of Little House on the Prairie.

Melissa, as Mary, is remembered by many as “the blind sister”—and she was the only actor in the series to be nominated for an Emmy. In Growing Up Mary, she takes readers onto the set and inside the world of the iconic series created by Michael Landon, who, Melissa discovered, was not perfect, as much as he tried to be. In this memoir she also shares her memories of working with guest stars like Todd Bridges, Lou Gossett, Jr., Mariette Hartley, Sean Penn, Patricia Neal, and Johnny Cash.

In addition to stories of life on the set, Melissa offers revealing looks at her relationships off-set with her costars, including the other Melissa (Melissa Gilbert) and Alison Arngrim, who portrayed Nellie Oleson on the show. And she relates stories of her guest appearances on iconic programs such as The Love Boat and The Brady Bunch.

Filled with personal, revealing anecdotes and memorabilia from the Little House years, this book is also a portrait of a child star who became a successful adult actress and a successful adult. These are stories from “the other Ingalls sister” that have never been told.

When I heard about this book, I literally could not wait to dive into it.  I was like a kid on Christmas morning, opening the book with the same type of awe usually afforded to that Red Ryder BB gun or Barbie's deluxe penthouse.  So I should probably begin this review with a disclaimer - - I love Little House on the Prairie.  I loved the books when I was little, I loved the television show and I love reading about production of the show and what went on behind the scenes. 

The Way I See It is Melissa Anderson's tale of growing up on the set of one of the most beloved and iconic television shows of the 1970s, from her initial audition to taping her last episode seven years later.  The book itself is broken into sections for each year of the show, with specific episodes highlighted.  Ms. Anderson recounts behind the scenes tales of everything from a Dinty Moore beef stew overload (what the cast members ate during meal scenes where they had stew) to disputes between co-stars. 

Michael Landon and Karen Grassle (the actress who played Caroline Ingalls) would apparently butt heads throughout much of the run of the show.  Grassle was a classically trained actress who wished to have a more significant role on the show, against Landon's wishes.  Landon himself was revealed as a controlling jokester with a mean streak who could be difficult to work with, particularly once he began an affair with Anderson's stand-in, but who could still remain a compassionate and caring man. 

Ms. Anderson herself did not go without a bit of friction, as she recounted the awkwardness between herself and co-star Radames Pera, who played early love interest John Sanderson, and their first kiss. 

Ms. Anderson recounts these instances with class and grace, without resorting to mudslinging or name calling that is often peppered in Hollywood memoirs.  Also missing from Ms. Anderson's memoir, happily, is the all too tragic tale of alcohol, drugs and other vices that are too common in child actors today.  In fact, Ms. Anderson appears to have escaped unscathed from the downside of the entertainment biz and she comes across as a very level headed and secure adult.  

I finished this book in two or three days.  It was an easy read and fun one, albeit one without dirt and gossip.   I very much enjoyed Ms. Anderson's memories of the show once Mary went blind and appreciated how terrified she herself was to take on such an enormous undertaking (and remember, she herself was only fifteen when she had to portray a newly blind teenager, which she did stunningly).  

Any readers that are looking for a tabloid type of recounting will be disappointed and I encourage those readers not to pick up this book.  For those readers who love and appreciate Little House on the Prairie, this book will be a fun and informative read.  As the title suggests, this is not Melissa Anderson's complete biography so don't approach it as such.  It's her life during the run of Little House, so it does include the performances she gave on films and television shows between 1974 and 1981 but nothing prior or since. 

Was there anything I found disappointing in the book?  I do wish there had been more mentioned about the relationship between Ms. Anderson and Melissa Gilbert, who played sisters, as well as with Allison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson.  I also would have loved reading a behind the scenes recap on each and every single Little House episode but, of course, that would have increased the size of the book exponentially. 

All things considered, I enjoyed my time back on the prairie with Ms. Anderson and wouldn't hesitate to recommend the book.

The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Melissa Anderson is an Emmy–Award winning actress known to millions for playing Mary Ingalls on the NBC television series Little House on the Prairie, which aired from 1974 to 1983. She played First Lady Megan Hollister in the 2006 miniseries 10.5: Apocalypse. Born and raised in California, she lives with her husband, television producer and screenwriter Michael Sloan, and their two children.

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

New Winner of "I Has a Hotdog"!

Since I was not contacted by Erin and she did not leave an email address with her entry, I was forced to draw a new winner for a copy of Professor Happycat's I Has a Hotdog.  Thanks to, the new winner is


Congratulations, Mystee!  If you will forward me your mailing address, I will see that your new book gets out to you.

Thanks again to Anna Balasi and the Hachette Book Group for making this giveaway possible.

May 20, 2010

The Winners of "I Has a Hotdog"!

First, many thanks to all who posted and shared their pet stories.  I loved reading about the little quirks and habits of our beloved furbabies. 

Now, the lucky winners of Professor Happycat's I Has a Hotdog are:


Congratulations, Erin, Princesspeach and Allison! If you will forward me your mailing addresses, I will see that your new book gets out to you.

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and entered the giveaway. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed the comments and appreciate everyone taking the time to post here.  Please stick around for future reviews and giveaways.

Thanks again to Anna Balasi and the Hachette Book Group for making this giveaway possible.

Compliments to for picking the lucky winners. 

May 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: May 18, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme, hosted by mizb17 at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page

* Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away; you don't want to ruin it for other readers)

*Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser for today is . . . .

"So she believed Anthony when he said that the Seven Deadly Sins were more than a fable or religious fairy tale.  If Anthony told her they were demons, then dammit, they were demons, and she had to find a way to save her town, the small piece of the world that Skye had sworn to protect and serve."

Original Sin by Allison Brennan, p. 90.

Please leave me a comment with your teasers if you don't have a blog, or leave me your link if you've posted. Happy reading!

May 17, 2010

Mailbox Monday: May 17, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page where we share what reads we have received in our mailboxes the previous week.

Here are the goodies that arrived for me last week:

Buying Time by Pamela Samuels Young (publicist contact)

"Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he's about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems.

In Waverly's new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there's a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker's fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath.

The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who's bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General. When Waverly's clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson—who has some skeletons of his own to hide—are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder. " (from Amazon)

Darcy's Voyage by Kara Louise (originally published as Pemberley's Promise) (publicist contact)

"Originally self-published with over 1500 copies sold, Darcy's Voyage gives readers a chance to experience this timeless love story in a brand new setting. When Darcy and Elizabeth meet on a ship bound for New York, neither can deny the sparks of attraction that fly between them. And when Elizabeth falls ill during their journey, Darcy will do whatever it takes to save her life, including proposing a shipboard marriage. Once the ship docks in New York, Elizabeth and Darcy will have to overcome an entirely new set of obstacles if they want to save their legendary love..." (from Amazon)

So what goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?

May 13, 2010

Review of "The Darcy Cousins" by Monica Fairview

Synopsis:  A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum...

Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal, Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning!

And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin, to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper" Mrs. Jenkinson, simply...vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man... (published on Amazon)

This is author Monica Fairview's second Pride and Prejudice sequel and the first I've read.  I expected that I would enjoy it, based on the synopsis, but I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.  In short, Monica Fairview has a new fan in this reader. 

Ms. Fairview's writing is warm, engaging and utterly captivates the reader.  I was transfixed by the story from the opening paragraph until the last line.  Ms. Fairview takes Jane Austen's existing and much beloved characters - - Darcy, Elizabeth, Georgiana - - and even those a little less beloved - - Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, Anne deBourgh and Mr. Collins - - and entertwines them with new characters Robert Darcy, Clarissa Darcy, Frederick Darcy, Percy Channing and Henry Gatley, among others. 

What I loved most about these new characters is not only how vividly Ms. Fairview sketches them out but how I could easily imagine them being Jane Austen's own creation.  In this way, Ms. Fairview stayed true to the essence of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen's vision. 

In Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana is very much a secondary character who is primarily given life through her brother's story and personality.  In The Darcy Cousins, Georgiana very much comes into her own and I thoroughly liked her.  She is an enjoyable person, both a socially proper young lady of wealth and status and a determined and spunky fighter. 

Her American cousin Clarissa Darcy is a pleasing addition to the roster of Austen inspired characters.  The fact alone that she raises Lady Catherine's ire makes her a real jewel and I got a chuckle out of how many of her missteps and faux paus were attributed to her American upbringing.  Clarissa's backstory made for an interesting read and I hope that Ms. Fairview will continue her writing with a book on Clarissa's continued story.

Henry Gatley was a wonderful hero and I was happy with the parallels between Mr. Gatley in this book and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.   Throughout the book I was rooting for Mr. Gatley and hoping that all the fictional characters would like him (even love him) as much as I did. 

If there was any part of The Darcy Cousins that I would change it would be Elizabeth's personality, which I felt was a bit underdeveloped and missing that wit and verve that was so spectacular in Pride and Prejudice.  However, Georgiana and Clarissa being major characters and so well developed eradicated any true disappointment I may have had. 

All in all, I devoured this story and hated for it to end.  It was a joy to read and I often found myself lost in this incredibly good book for a splendid week.  Has any producer thought to snap up film rights because in my opinion, The Darcy Cousins would make a fun and entertaining miniseries.

I would highly recommend The Darcy Cousins for anyone who appreciates not only Jane Austen sequels but also historical fiction.

The Darcy Cousins is available for purchase now at major booksellers, inclouding Amazon and Barnes & Noble

For more information about author Monica Fairview, please visit her website here and her blog here.

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

May 9, 2010

Mailbox Monday: May 10, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page where we share what reads we have received in our mailboxes the previous week.

Here are the goodies that arrived for me last week:

What Would Rob Do? by Rob Sachs (publicist contact)

"From rising NPR star Rob Sachs—irreverent takes on handling life's sticky situations based on the popular What Would Rob Do? podcast

What do you do if you get a bad haircut? Do you have trouble remembering people's names? What happens if you clog the toilet at a friend's house? NPR's Rob Sachs has given prudent and entertaining advice for dealing with all sorts of everyday challenges in his successful What Would Rob Do? podcast series, consulting with experts ranging from Fabio to Erik Estrada on dozens of daily dilemmas and common conundrums. Now he brings a wealth of this advice together in a single survival guide to fixing some of life's most vexing minor mishaps and speed bumps.

*Entertaining yet practical advice on what to do in tricky life situations

*Includes tips from interviews Sachs has conducted with celebrity experts

*Written by Rob Sachs, who has been a producer, reporter, and director for NPR shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Day to Day. Sachs also has a successful NPR podcast series.

What Would Rob Do? tackles the full spectrum of life's absurdities and shows how to turn them into an opportunity for adventure, fun, and best of all, laughter."

Conviction by Skylar Hamilton Burris (won through a giveaway at Austenesque Reviews)

"Georgianna Darcy has a flattering array of suitors in this charming continuation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. As the sister of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Georgianna is assured of a large dowry. It's up to her to weed out the fortune hunters amongst her beaus. But can she further determine who loves her for all that she represents in the way of beauty and innocence and who loves her for all of herself? And once she has given her word to one man, can she train her heart to obey? Undertones of choices, convictions and life's ironies feed this engaging romp that introduces the captivating Jacob Markwood and other new characters as well as continuing the lives of favorites Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Mr. Bingley, Kitty, Wickham and Caroline."

Cat Playing Cupid: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (gift)

"Love—and murder—is in the air. . . .  It took Joe Grey's human, Clyde, nearly forever to pop the question to Ryan Flannery, and what more romantic time to tie the knot than on Valentine's Day? But dark secrets from the past, uncovered by Joe and his feline pals, threaten to ruin the happy union.

First, a body discovered many miles away reopens a ten-year-old cold case involving a man who disappeared days before his own wedding. The jilted bride is back in town and eager to find the truth . . . or to hide evidence of her own wrongdoing. Trouble is, she's soon involved with Ryan's father, who is house-sitting and preparing meals for Joe Grey while Clyde and Ryan are on their honeymoon.

Then another body is found closer to home on the grounds of a ruined estate, deserted save for a band of unusual feral cats. Around the wrist of the corpse is a bracelet bearing the image of a rearing cat, and the cats discover a rare literary volume hidden nearby that divulges their own secret: their special ability to speak.

But as the police investigate the two murders, located more than five hundred miles apart, only Joe Grey suspects that the crimes are related. It takes a chase from which the tomcat wonders if he'll emerge alive for anyone to hone in on the connection between the murders. Finally, feline perception and cop sense combine to bring a killer to justice in this delightful new tale involving Shirley Rousseau Murphy's three amazing cats."

So what goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?

May 5, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: May 5, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare
Publication Date:  August 31, 2010
Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Review of "I Has a Hotdog" by Professor Happycat . . . and a Giveaway!

Synopsis:   I HAS A BWAIN!!1!

An you thawt we dint! Now Professor Happycat tells you what's in it and, from I HAS A and beyond, lets over 200 LOLdogs loose on the world, all barking the truth about kibble, toys, and bad kitties. This collection of favorites and never-before-seen photos will have you barking for more!

For all you hoomins, a LOLdog is a kay-nine picture with a funny, misspelled caption.
(synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

I love animals.  Absolutely adore them and am passionate about anything to do with them, whether it be supporting fantastic no-kill shelters like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary or reading through books that feature adorable animal pictures.

I Has a Hotdog will give you warm fuzzies, which surely is its main objective, as well as making you laugh out loud.  I chuckled, giggled and outright bellylaughed over some of the adorable and wisecracking dogs gracing the pages of this book.  Who wouldn't love a sad eyed dog begging for a hotdog, or a dog caught cuddling up with the dreaded cat and looking appropriately shamed (but when it's thundering, rules are meant to be broken, right?)

I Has a Hotdog is the perfect gift for the dog (or animal) lover in your friends and relatives, or even yourself! 

Endorsement from my dog . . .  

Mi hoomin got thiz buk to red and I think it is teh best buk EVER.  Every hoomin shuld have thiz buk so you can no all aboud treats, play time, treats, bad kittehs and treats.  Go to teh stor now!  And take yur goggie with you fer a walk!

I Has a Hotdog is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  

Visit I Has a Hotdog's website for more information and amazingly cute photos!

Also visit I Can Has Cheezburger for the cat's point of view. 

Visit the LOL Mart for a variety of LOL cat and dog themed merchandise.

Author Information:

Ben Hu "Professor Happycat") is the CEO of Cheezburger Network, which owns and operates I Has A Hotdog, I Can Has, Fail Blog, and 38 other popular humor sites. He is a former journalist turned dot com entrepreneur who has a knack for nailing the zeitgeist. Ben has been credited with bringing Internet memes to the mainstream and popularizing Internet culture. The success of his business is attributed to his knowledge of memes, viral content, and crowd sourcing. Ben has been featured in the New York Times, TIME, the LA Times, and Wired magazine, among many publications in print and online.
Follow Ben via his website , Twitter page, or Facebook page.

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!! Thanks to the lovely Anna Balasi at the Hachette Book Group, I have THREE copies of I Has a Hotdog up for grabs.

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know the cutest or funniest thing your pet has done.  If you don't have a pet, just let me know what LOL dog from the photos I posted above or from the website you like best.  Just leave me your name and email address and you're entered to win your own copy of I Has a Hotdog. That's it! U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends) and no P.O. boxes.  No email address with your entry = no entry.  Contest to end on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 11:59 P.M. EST and the lucky winners drawn on Thursday, May 20, 2010.

Good luck!