"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. ...And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything."

~ Edward Cullen

Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: The Peach Keeper

Title: The Peach Keeper
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Listening Time: 7 Hours and 43 Minutes
Challenges: None
Rating: 4/5

Summary from Goodreads:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.

This is the second book that I've listened to by Sarah Addison Allen and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every moment of it.  There's just something about her books that make me feel good.  Plus her writing is absolutely amazing!  I'm hoping to read or listen to Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen in the next few weeks.

One thing that I absolutely adore about Allen's books are her characters.  They're always so uniquely written, with just that touch of magic around them.  Each one carries their own bit of mystery, and it really helps to keep the story fresh and exciting.

I will say that The Peach Keeper doesn't have the same "magic" in it that the other book "The Girl Who Chased the Moon" did.  It's much more subtle and an underlying theme, and I'm not sure if I enjoyed that as much.  However, the writing was still just as superb, and the story moved along at a delicious pace.  The narrator, Karen White, was extremely talented, and brought a great deal to the story.

Fans of Allen's previous work should really give The Peach Keeper on audio a try.  It's well worth the listen, and quite enjoyable!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: Bared to You

Title: Bared to You
Author: Sylvia Day
Pages: 352
Challenges: Contemporary Romance Challenge
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness…
He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily…

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds…and desires.The bonds of his love transformed me, even as i prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart...

I fell into the trap on this one.  I saw it on the shelf at the library, read the back, put it down.  Came home and looked it up on Goodreads, saw all the comparisons to Fifty Shades, went back to the library and checked it out.  What can I say...I'm a sucker.

It took me a long time to finally break down and read the Fifty Shade books and despite my better judgement I really found myself liking them.  When I saw that this one was like Fifty Shades but BETTER I had to check it out.

My thoughts...yes I can see the comparisons to Fifty Shades.  Both have uber rich alpha males with issues.  Both the girls are smart, but naive in ways.  However, the one different is that Eva, the heroine of Bared to You comes with her own set of issues.  That makes the whole thing a bit more different.  However, despite the similarities, both books are extremely different...and for me, Fifty Shades is still my favorite.

The thing that didn't click with me on this one was Gideon Cross.  I'm just not sure if I like him.  He's dark and dangerous with a zip code of issues, much like Christian Grey, but something about him isn't as "likable" or appealing.  Maybe it's all the references to his longish, floppy hair.  I don't know.

I liked Eva.  I think she has a backbone, and she's a well written character.  I just don't get why she's with Gideon Cross.  They don't fit.  She actually fits better with her roommate, but that's a whole other post for a whole other day.

I'm still going to continue with the "Crossfire" series, and already have book two "Reflected in You" on my night stand.  But I don't think this will be a series that I'll be buying and reading again.  We'll see how I feel though after I finish the trilogy...which may actually be more of a series per Day's website...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: Murder at the PTA

Title: Murder at the PTA
Author: Laura Alden
Pages: 311
Challenges: Cozy Mystery Challenge
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

A brand-new series in which murder is anything but elementary After Tarver Elementary School's unpopular principal is murdered, PTA secretary and mother of two Beth Kennedy puts aside bake sales and class trip fund-raisers to catch a killer. And when members of the PTA become suspects, she realizes solving this murder will not be as easy as ABC...

I seem to be drawn to the cozy mysteries with moms and books lately.  I think it is the pregnancy hormones speaking out!  Murder at the PTA was one that I found when I was browsing the Berkley book website looking at the different cozy mysteries.  I really liked the idea of a murder involving the PTA, and the idea of the book intrigued me.  Onto the library request list it went.  I started it soon after picking it up, and to my delight I thought it was a pretty good start to a series.

I loved the main character Beth Kennedy.  She was a great mom, owned a bookstore, and did everything she could to make a good life for her and her children.  When she joined the PTA, it was to get out of her house, and out of the funk she had found herself in since her divorce.  With the encouragement of her best friend (more on her later) she took a big step to move out of her shell.  As a sleuth, I thought Beth was a disaster, but one I really liked.  She was so tentative in everything she did, but it made the mystery really good.  Plus the murderer was well hidden, and this mystery wasn't easily solved which I always find to be enjoyable.  It's always nice to have a little intrigue rather than figuring everything out within the first 100 pages.

Now, the reason why I only gave this one a 3.5 despite my love for our heroine and the good mystery was...the best friend.  I couldn't stand her.  She was an odd character, and her personality really grated on my nerves.  She may be one of those characters that grows on me, and I really hope so because I'd like to continue with this series.  Her over emphasis on certain phrases sounded so overdone, like the author was trying really hard to create a "unique" character.  I just think she could have been more well done.

Overall, Murder at the PTA was a really cute read, and one I would recommend for those looking for a quick read with a cute mystery.
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