Friday, February 26

Review: The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

This week’s review is The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins. This is a book that both Ames and I were anticipating :) We both jumped at the occasion to buddy review it, because it’s been a while we haven’t read the same book at the same time and reviewed a book together.

***Warning: This review contains spoilers***

The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins
published by HQN Books in February 2010

Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks...

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbeque, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important... someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart...or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges" and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: none

The Story: Lucy Lang lost her beloved husband 6 years ago in a car accident at the young age of 24. After seeing her younger sister give birth to a baby girl, Lucy decides that it’s time for her to move on with her life if she wants a family of her own. Thus she decides to jump back into the dating scene and find someone suitable with whom to share her life and have children. Preferably, the man should be someone healthy, who doesn’t engage in dangerous work or activities (such as riding a motorcycle) and whom she won’t love too much… because she couldn’t go through losing someone she loves again. However, first, she must break off her secret affair with Ethan Mirabelli – her neighbor, best friend and brother -in-law… but what happens if she gives him a chance?

Nath: Okay, first, before we embark into this review, I have to confess something. I did not read the whole book ^_^; Yes, you read that right… but in my defense, I read the beginning and the ending and skimmed through the middle. You’ll understand why later in my review. While I didn’t read every word in the middle, I skimmed it – so I know what happens.

Okay, disclaimers done… Onto the review :)

What did you think of The Next Best Thing, Ames?

Ames: I really enjoyed the Next Best Thing.

I felt bad for Lucy. She really loved her husband and had such a short amount of time with him. Plus with the history of the men in her family dying, I understand that although she wants to move on, she doesn't want to do it with someone she could love, which she knows she could love Ethan. What she doesn't know is that she already loves him. So that's why it worked for me - because she didn't want her heart ripped apart again if her next husband were to die.

As for Ethan, he loved her from the very beginning and it seemed believable to me that he would wait for her. That's how KH writes her heroes. LOL

Nath: I felt sad for Lucy as well. You’re right, she had so little time with him, but they did love each other so much. I can understand the idea of finding someone you don’t love, especially Lucy. You’re right, she really loved her husband and it was really hard for her. I heard somewhere it’s better for you to find someone who loves you more than you love that person… Although I think it’s kind of wrong to think that way.

The thing is, she decided to move on and her actions just didn’t match her words. Of course, it’s going to take time… but I mean, she broke off with Ethan to start dating and what is the first thing she does once she’s alone? Re-watch her wedding DVD… and she did this repeatedly! I just thought she should have taken some steps, changed something to help herself move on. Not just announce: okay, I want to date and wait for something to happen while she still bathe in her previous marriage’s memories. It’s lucky for her that her family and Parker were there to make things happened.

Ames: Of course Lucy's actions weren't going to match what she said. Yeah she thinks she's ready to move on, but we, the readers, know she isn't really. She was still holding onto Jimmy's memory with both hands. Also, she was deluded about her feelings for Ethan.

Nath: And that’s what frustrated me so much!! She and her in-laws put Jimmy’s on a pedestal – I mean, they have a freaking shrine in his memory in the kitchen of the restaurant!! All the while, they take Ethan for granted, never really acknowledging him because all they can think of is Jimmy… it’s almost like hypocrisy.

Yes, Jimmy was perfect for Lucy, but he was not a perfect person. Yet, she cannot even acknowledge the fact that Jimmy was flawed like everyone else. She slapped Doral-Ann when she told Lucy Jimmy and her used to date and Lucy ruined everything. I don’t know… because of this behavior of hers, I simply could not connect with Lucy. Obviously, I've never been a widow, so I don't know how a widow feels... but somehow, it didn’t feel right to me, very unhealthy. I think she should have taken steps to move on after two or three years following Jimmy’s death.

Ames: I also feel Lucy over-reacted a bit to the news about Jimmy and Doral-Ann… and that was one chick I did not like.

I've never lost anyone either, but I think if she had moved on within 2 or 3 years, especially with her brother-in-law, that would have seemed kind of fast. I like the way this worked out. And everyone is different. But Lucy had issues, especially with her father dying and all the men in the family dying as well. Look at her aunts and mother, none of them moved on!

Nath: I don’t necessarily mean she should have moved on with Ethan or any other man. It’s more like moving away from Jimmy’s memory. Not forgetting him, but not obsessing as much any longer. And while her mother and aunts never re-married, the big difference between them and Lucy is they all had kids and were older. Also, none of them idolized their husbands.

You know, this is so unfortunate, because asides from her little obsession with her dead husband and the way treated Ethan which made her appear so selfish in my eyes, at the core, I did like Lucy’s character. She was nice and fun, very similar to Ms Higgins’s previous heroines.

Ames: One part I didn't like - Ethan should have communicated how he felt earlier than he did. Like when she broke off their arrangement (of friends with bennies). He should have said something. But I do recognize if he did, we would not have had a book to read! LOL

Nath: If Ethan would have spoken up when she decided to end the arrangement, Lucy would have spooked and he’d never have a chance. I actually think he did the right choice not speaking up. Because seriously? What would it have done? The thing with Ethan being in love with Lucy is that no matter what he said, she would not have wanted to hear it. She needed to realize it on her own.

Ames: And that's why I say we wouldn't have had a book to read if Ethan spoke up - because for sure Lucy would have spooked. But I still would have liked for him to - he was too willing to do things Lucy's way. And what the heck was up with him talking to Doral-Ann? 

But Ethan was a great hero. I like the flashbacks we got on how him and Lucy hooked up. And "check the toast." LOL I thought that was funny.

Nath: Don’t know what was up with Doral-Ann… but Ethan? I loved Ethan!! He was the perfect man and has been waiting for Lucy forever. I mean, he’s right there, with her. He’s her lover, her closest friend, her confident… but she never, ever considered him as a candidate when she decided she was ready to move on! Right away, she was like: I have to break off with him. Finally, he gets his chance and she treats him as if he was a dirty secret, not telling anyone, not having the guts to admit they were together. I understand that the situation is awkward considering that Ethan’s her brother-in-law... but I thought she didn't try enough and it was unfair for Ethan :(

I think that’s actually why I had so much trouble reading this book. I loved Ethan so much and felt so bad for him because of the way everyone treated him. Always playing second fiddle behind Jimmy in Lucy and his parents’s eyes. Especially after learning that Jimmy called up Lucy on the exact day Ethan introduced them, knowing full well that Ethan had a crush on her. Once again, it showed how great of a guy Ethan was for not holding a grudge and wishing them happiness. I mean, I've read books where brothers fought for a lot less.

Ames: I think Jimmy was genuinely attracted to Lucy - I don't think he went after her to spite his brother. Especially since he was kind of with another lady. Jimmy is not perfect, but it was Lucy's fairytale, love at first sight almost. And yeah that didn't work out, but that's reality. Ethan had more than enough chances to make a move on Lucy, but he never did. His brother went after her right away - can't fault a guy for that.

Nath: Oh, I never thought that Jimmy went after Lucy to spite Ethan. It’s just that the way he handled everything was very callous in my opinion. Even if he could see that Ethan had no chance with Lucy, perhaps he could have waited a little, especially given he was kind of in a relationship. Ah well…

Ames: You know, I feel kind of bad for Mark though. Poor guy. I'm glad he wasn't portrayed as a jerk.

Nath: Yeah, Mark was the unlucky one because from the beginning, she was never interested in him. I don't think she saw past the fact that he looked like Jimmy. Although this was lucky for Ethan... because I don't think he would finally had told Lucy the whole truth if it wasn't his feeling of losing Lucy again to his brother. If she had chosen someone else, he wouldn't have been happy, but he would have respected her choice I think.

Ames: I also liked Lucy's family. I thought the Black Widows were awesome. That's why I like Kristan Higgins's books - all the characters are fleshed out and really add to the story. It's not just about two people falling in love, it's about all the people around them and how they're affected by the developing relationship. And wasn't Nicky so cute? I liked him.

Nath: Oh yeah, I liked the family. I feel Ms Higgins always does a great job at building a cast around the H/H and The Next Best Thing was no exception. I like the idea of Ethan having a kid :)

So what grade would you give The Next Best Thing?

Ames: All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Lucy and Ethan, you know how I love friends to lovers. That was good. I like when the hero is a little bit jealous too - and that was definitely going on here. However, this isn't my favorite Kristan Higgins novel, that would have to be Just One of the Guys. :P I give The Next Best Thing a B+.

Nath: As a whole, I thought The Next Best Thing could have been a very good book. The storyline had a lot of potential and I really liked that Lucy and Ethan interacted a lot with each other. This has been one of my complaints in Ms Higgins’s previous books, so I felt like she listened to me :P And wow, I was really very surprised when I found out that Ethan was not only Lucy’s friend with benefits, but also her brother-in-law! Talk about a gutsy move. But I definitively had issues with Lucy and how the story developed and that’s so unfortunate :(

The Next Best Thing is a C for me. All I can think is that Lily was very, very, very, extremely lucky that Ethan waited for her and gave her another chance :P

Wednesday, February 17

Moon Craving by Lucy Monroe

Today's review of Moon Craving is with Holly from Book Binge. We are both big fans of this author, and I was thrilled when Holly said she would chat with me about the book.

As always, there are spoilers.

Moon Craving by LucyMonroe
Book 2 of Children of the Moon series

If it were up to him, Talorc—laird of the Sinclair clan and leader of his werewolf pack— would never marry. But when the king orders that Talorc wed an Englishwoman, the lone wolf is shocked to find his mate in the strong-willed Abigail. And after an intensely climactic wedding night, the two fiercely independent souls sense an unbreakable bond…

Deaf since childhood, Abigail hopes to keep her affliction from Talorc as long as possible. And for his part, he has no intention of telling her about being a werewolf. But when Abigail learns that the husband she’s begun to love has deceived her, it will take all of his warrior’s strength—and his wolf’s cunning—to win his wife back. And Talorc will have to face his biggest challenge yet: the vulnerability of a man in love.

Holly: Finished!

It really was easy to fall into the story. I kept getting annoyed at my family for interrupting my reading time.

Chantal: Yay! Did you cry when he exposed her secret in front of his men? And yeah, LOL! I told my dogs to "just go on the floor" when they barked to be let out while I was reading.

Holly: I definitely got teary eyed. That was such a heartbreaking scene.

I was annoyed that Talorc never realized what a double standard he was setting by keeping secrets from her but being angry that she didn't reveal hers.

Chantal: Yeah, I know, I was thinking the same thing. Like, you jerk, you have your own secret!
You know how Lairds are. They think that the rules don't apply to them.

Holly: Is it just me, or did Talorc seem like a different person from the first book? Maybe I only noticed because I read Moon Awakening immediately before starting this book, but he seems a lot less bitter in this book.

Chantal: Yes! I thought to myself that he was different. He was much moodier and reserved in Moon Awakening.

I loved the book, Lucy Monroe is one of the few authors who make me feel like I am part of the story, like *I'm* the heroine living that life, however, as much as I adored this book I found the epilogue to be disappointing. Sure, it wrapped up a few questions I had, but it felt like it was thrown in there at the last minute. Almost as if somewhere down the line someone realized that there were things left unanswered, so they made the author take a few seconds to write that epilogue.
At least that is how it felt to me.
Maybe I am just bitter that I didn't get to see Talorc banish Una or that Osgard was left unpunished after almost killing Abigail--twice!

Holly: I don't think you're bitter. I was really annoyed over the way it ended. I wanted to see Abigail stand up for herself with both of them and then have Talorc back her up. That epilogue was frustrating.

Chantal: Did you find the goat thing started to get over used? I did.
Yes, it was funny the first time we were reminded that Emily called him a goat, but it was mentioned several times. It lost its appeal.

Holly: Yes I did think the goat thing was overused. It was funny the first time, but I was over it.

Chantal: One of my favourite things about this author is that she writes great protectors. The Hero is there to save the day and stand up for his woman. We didn't get to see that with this book. He was a good Hero, I just wish we could have been shown more of it instead of that peek in the epi.

Holly: I agree that we didn't get to see Talorc in the protector role, but I like that he was willing to let Abigail work things out for herself. I do think the fact that they were mates was used as a crutch to help the story along. For example: When Talorc reveals Abigail's secret I expected that to be a major thing. But the fact that she was his true mate took most of his anger away. That seemed kind of convenient to me.

Chantal: That reminds me. Her thinking that 'mate' was friend, and the looks they would give her when she brought up the word 'friend' LOL.

Holly: The mate thing was funny, until the end that is. Then I just felt bad for her.

Chantal: I was pleased to see a little bit of m/m in this one.

Holly: The mm was a pleasant surprise.

I liked Abigail's friendship with Niall and Guaire too. It isn't very often that the heroines befriend members of the opposite sex in historicals.

Chantal: Yeah, that friendship was surprising, and I am glad that Talorc didn't try to end it.

Normally when there are secrets I get upset when they don't just communicate with each other, but this time I understood both sides for not coming clean. Abi's mother was such a bitch. All that stuff that she said about not letting her husband find out about her being deaf or else he would banish her, mixed in with the letters that Emily sent explaining Talorc's demeanor. I understood her fear about not telling.

Same with Talorc's secret. He had his reasons for keeping mum, but I don't forgive him as easily for not telling as much as I do with Abigail. Abi had a genuin fear of being thrown away. Talorc was just being bullheaded.

Holly: I agree on all accounts. I also think it was harder to forgive Talorc because of the double standard. He knew he was keeping a secret from Abi even as he got pissed at her for keeping a secret.

Chantal: Yeah. Typical pig headed male.

Holly: What did you think of Abi overall? I really liked her. I thought she'd be kind of annoying based on her description in the first book, but she wasn't.

Chantal: Oh, I liked her! I tend to find fault in heroines, but I thought she was great.
One of my favourite parts was the first time Abi heard Talorc's voice in her head. She grabbed his face and said "say my name again."

I also liked when Abi's mother was demanding they consummate the marriage, so Talroc cut his hand to show blood on the sheet, and then Abi said to cut her hand too because they are in it together.

Holly: Those were two of my favorite parts. Especially when she demanded he add her blood to his. His reaction was priceless.

I'm still annoyed over the Una thing.

Chantal: Yes. I so wish we could have seen Talorc go off on her. Sigh.

Holly: So, what are your overall thoughts and grade?

I liked it a lot. I know it seems like I complained a lot about it, but truthfully it totally sucked me in. I was emotionally invested in both main characters and really wanted things to work between them. I love the Highland setting and the love story. It was flawed, but worked. I'd give it a 4.25 out of 5.

Chantal: I couldn't have said it better. It's a B from me. If issues had been cleared up outside of that epilogue it would have been perfect--An A+, but that epi... not good.

Sunday, February 14

Contest winner!

2'nd Annual Anti-Valentine's Day contest Winner!

Us gals here at Breezing Through would like to thank you all for your interest in our 2'nd annual anti-Valentine's day contest. Its been a great turn out! If you haven't won then we hope it at least made you interested enough to seek out the books we have put up for the contest, because they are all books that were on our own wish lists this month.

Our winner is,

jeanette has won the following,

jeanette8042,you have until Feb 16'th at 11:59 Eastern time to contact us at breezingthroughbooks @ (minus the spaces). A new winner will be chosen if you don't contact us.

To everyone, have a Very Happy Valentine's Day, but remember, treat your spouse like a King or Queen every day, not just today.

Wednesday, February 10

Succubi Like It Hot by Jill Myles

So Monroe, Chantal and I enjoyed Gentlemen Prefer Succubi so much, we just had to read the sequel as soon as it was available.

Unfortunately, I am sick and it was my turn to put our review together. I somehow got it into my head (I blame my sickness) that the review magically put itself up. I completely blanked!

Fortunately, I have wonderful friends who smack me around and told me I was derelict in my buddy review duties and so here you have it, our review, FINALLY. LOL

Also, as usual, there are spoilers.

With a hot new figure, her dream job as an archaeologist, and two gorgeous boyfriends to scratch her seductive Itch — an angel and a vampire — Jackie Brighton is totally getting the hang of life as a succubus. Then she accidentally knocks the pizza guy unconscious with her touch. Great — she's cursed. After striking a deal to get the curse lifted by a crafty demon, Jackie and her best friend Remy take a road trip to deliver a cryptic message to the nation's oldest succubus. Unfortunately, neither of her jealous lovers is talking to Jackie right now, and due to the curse, she's desperate to get her Itch scratched very soon. Their journey gets weirder with every mile — demonic possession, a charming stalker, a cryptic warning — and when they get to New Orleans, Jackie discovers a dangerous catch to her supernatural bargain. Someone wants her dead — again. Can a brainy vixen in a miniskirt outsmart the forces of evil?

Ames: I'm finished!

Monroe: I'm done, too. I had tears in my eyes at the end.

Chantal: I'm finished too.

So I remember you said that you were mad at the guys around chapter two? Probably because they were not there for her?

I wasn’t mad at them. Noah didn’t know that she was forced to scratch her itch more often. If he did then he would have helped her, no matter how pissed or green he was about Zane.

It didn’t bother me that Zane was out all night doing whatever he does.

Also, I knew that when Zane took off and left the note that he was gone to try and help her. I wanted to shake Jackie for her woe is me attitude.

She should know him better by now and she needs to stop holding the past against him. Really, get over it you lucky bitch. If you don’t trust him then dump him! (and then give him to me) it’s that simple.

Ames: Ok, the reason I was pissed off at both guys is because neither of them were communicating with her! Noah didn't tell her about the trouble he was in for making her and Zane said zilch about the vampire queen. So of course Jackie gets in trouble because of lack of information and then the guys come in at the last minute and she forgives them. Seriously, Jackie needs to make them realize she's their equal, not just a sexual play thing for them. GRRR.

That's why I was mad at the guys.

I knew Zane was doing something to help, but it still pissed me off that he just took off. Why couldn't he take the time to tell Jackie that he was going back to help her?

Monroe: Well I was upset like Jackie! Lol She was scared of dying and felt abandoned. Now I think she should’ve told Noah when he asked what was wrong and we know he would’ve helped! Now as for Zane…I just feel he should’ve told her. Opened up to her so she wouldn’t have any doubt as to his intentions.

That’s one thing that killed me in this book…the guys expect her to live this long life and get used to what she is YET they can’t trust her at all to take on what’s going on around her! They want her to act like a big girl, they need to treat her like one! Lol

So were y’all happy to see more of Noah? I totally was!!! And ya that shower scene…OMG! ;o)

Chantal: I still like Zane better. Noah is cool, but Zane in my man. He sacrificed everything for her. *sniff*

Oh that shower scene wasn't at all as hot as I thought it would be. Come on, oral in the shower is a given (at least here it is, LOL) I was expecting something different.

Ames: I was very happy with Noah in this book. :P That shower scene was yum.

And that scene when he catches up to her in the hotel? When her hair is falling out and she's freaking out? I was really touched by how caring Noah was. I heart Noah.

However, neither guy is on top right now. I'm pissed at both of them. LOL

Monroe: Ya I loved that shower scene! And I’m glad we got SO MANY tender moments with him. We really got to see how much he loves Jackie! :*) I think its funny how she is scared to love them! UGH I’m like how could you NOT?!?!?

I’m ok with both the guys now I just hate it ended how it did and I DIDN’T read the excerpt to the 3rd book…too much of a tease for me! lol

Ames: Oh, I only read part of the excerpt. Her and Noah are on that dig.

I liked how her new boss was defending her to Noah, like she can sleep with whoever she wants to, even him if that's her choice. LMAO

Monroe: Ya! Lol I liked how her boss was all into her! And did y’all think her boss was gonna walk in on them in the beginning? I TOTALLY DID! Lol

Oh and how sad was it for Noah to look at the pic of the fallen angel? SO SAD! Just like when they were in the shower and she soaped up where his wings were and he was like “not there”!

Speaking of wings, I love how Zane always wraps his around Jackie for protection etc! YUM!

Chantal: I liked that part, when Zane wrapped his wings around her.

Did either of you wonder why Zane was so worried about the other succubus hurting Jackie? He seemed to think that Jackie would be harmed by her.

I LOL'ed when Jackie was trying to pull the demon off of her and she gave her the finger, LOL!

Monroe: What other succubus? The one who helped-I forget her name? Maybe he thought that b/c she has powers??? Idk?!?!

Ya I laughed when she gave the finger too! Lol

I kept feeling bad for poor Remy! That demon inside of her…UGH! I wanted more of funny Remy!

Chantal: Yeah, the old one. I forget her name, too.

Ames: Delilah

I laughed at the giving of the finger too. I bookmarked it! And poor Remy! Ewww, that truck driver!

I liked how Noah was showing Delilah he was with Jackie now. :P Cuz sometimes guys act dumb when another girl is after them. But not our dear sweet Noah. LOL

Chantal: Yes! I liked that part. Delilah was totally bitchy, so I liked that Noah just pulled Jackie closer and showed that they were indeed an item.

Monroe: Oh I loved that Noah clearly showed Jackie and him were an item! :o) I love my Noah!

Ames: OH MY GOD! I totally forgot to mention this - remember when she was coming out of the woods in the middle of nowhere? I was like, how the heck is she gonna get herself out of this mess?? And then she used her Suck powers and did it! I was so impressed with her for that.

AND I found Remy switching up vehicles kind of inconsistent. She comes off as street smart and for her to give away a hummer for another car and get taken in by those guys saying that it never broke down on them? That kind of bugged me.

Chantal: Yup, much impressed with how she handled herself in several situations. She is taking charge, but not being stupid about it and putting herself or others in danger.

Remy confused me, too. The Hummer thing wasn't that smart of her. Sure, switch the cars, but make sure it runs.

Monroe: YES I too was happy that Jackie was owning up to what she is and taking control! She got herself out of a tight spot and thought quick! Just like later on when she called the demon when she was with Luc!

Ya Remy was off when she took the clunker in place of her Hummer!

How funny though was it when she started to lick the guys at her signing! Lol I DIED! She wanted to EAT THEM! ROAR!

Chantal: Oh! Let's talk about Luc. I was totally fooled! I thought he was going to be a good guy. I thought he was going to shower Jackie with attention and then Noah and Zane would get jealous, etc.

I kinda figured that wasn't going to happen after she freaked out in the car.

Sooo funny how she got off and just left him hanging, LOL!!

Ames: I at first thought that about Luc too! Because he warned her she was being followed. So I thought maybe he'd watch over her from someone else! He seemed so hot. But it came to me in a flash - he's gotta be an incubus.

Chantal: I never thought Luc was a Incubus, but after he acted weird in the car I thought that he was a Warlock. Which he turned out to be, an incubus AND a warlock. There has got to be a neat story behind that.

Monroe: Lol ya I liked Luc ALL THE WAY until he kept wanting to force her to say she liked what he was doing to her…he kinda creeped me out then! Lol Do you think we will see him again? Remember Zane was saying the Queen would want him back! He was a hottie though FO SHO!

I just thought he was a warlock! I had never figured him to be an Incubus…and you figure he would take pity on Jackie. I mean she’s sorta in the same position. Ok she’s not TOTALLY ruled by her masters BUT she’s a Suck and she’s a prisoner to sex and living forever etc.

Oh and what up about Zane being a prince! Lol YIPES!

Chantal: I already miss Zane :-(

He probably wont be in the next book to much. At least Jackie will have Noah there to cheer her up.

Monroe: True…I’m wondering (and don’t hurt me) if one of them will die…or maybe we think he’s dead and get worried that if the other dies so will Jackie?!?!

Chantal: *GASP* Don't even!

Ames: What is it with you and trying to get rid of one of the guys? Deal with it! There are two men in Jackie's life! LOL

Monroe: Lol I’m always the downer with you two! ;op~

Hey it could happen!

Chantal: You stop it or else I will break a halo over your head and you'll be possessed!

Monroe: I’m not trying to get rid of them I just look for what will worry us down the road! Lol I’m a worrier at heart!

Oh one more thing…Zane and Jackie in the bathroom right before he left! WOOWEE! Lol Even though it wasn’t a full blown interaction it was effing HOT!

Alrighty grades…? I give it an
A! I loved this little book and can’t wait to read the 3rd!

Chantal: I'm going with a B+.

It's going to be a long wait for the next book. Maybe we should beg for an ARC.

Ames: I'm giving it a B+ too. I can't wait for the next one.

Friday, February 5

Review: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Did you miss me? My reviewing muse has been on an extended vacation, which pretty much sucked. It was pretty sad, because the discussion for the buddy review was done, but I just couldn't muster the motivation to put the review together. So a big, big thank you to Christine from The Happily Ever After... for being so patient with me!

What did we review? The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz! Enjoy :D

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
published by Simon & Schuster in March 2007

Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

Genre: Mystery
Series: The Spellman, Book #1

The Story: The Spellman Files is the first book of a series of 4 and introduces us to the Spellman family, most specifically the heroine, Isabel. In this book, Isabel is investigating the disappearance of her younger sister, Rae. At the same time, we find out more about the Spellman and their past via old cases and Isabel’s memories.

Nath: So what did you think of The Spellman Files? We are definitively introduced to an interesting family :D

Christine: Oh yes! The Spellman Family is definitely an interesting family. Each and every one of them are quite quirky and the family is rather dysfunctional, don't you think? The way they spy on each other and treat each other with a bit of disrespect is kind of bizarre, but it's their way of life. It's what they know. They may not be completely honest and open with each other, but they're always there for one another, no questions asked. Well, that's not true. They ask a TON of questions! LOL! They definitely care about and love each other, there's no doubt about that. They just have a . . . . "different" way of showing it.

Nath: I agree with you. I love their dynamism and interactions. They are not your typical family… I would say, they are quite eccentric, but that’s who they are. .. and that what makes them stand out so much. And under all that fighting and spying, they do love and care for each other and that what matters :)

I enjoyed Isabel’s character and her narration. She’s a fun person, although most of the time, the laugh is at her expense :P and I liked her voice. She’s not the most mature person around, but that’s part of who she is. She might never get her act together, still she has guts. I do admire her for turning over a new leaf for the sake of her family.

What did you think of the format of the book? It’s not exactly an epistolary format, but close enough. I do think the change of font was a neat idea, although it did require some getting used to.

Christine: I liked the format of the book and think it worked really well for this story. The change in font helped me get used to Izzy's flip flopping thoughts between the past, the present, and her own inner dialogues on random tangents.

Nath: What was your favorite part?

Christine: My favorite part? Oh gosh. That's difficult to pinpoint. The story is quirky, fun and humorous, but there's also some rather serious undertones, too. Let's see .... from the funny side of the story, I think I liked when Izzy met Ex-boyfriend # 9 at the tennis club and then everything she did to keep that relationship going. Learning to play tennis, the lies about her profession, getting her brother involved in the ruse. I don't know, I just found those scenes were both funny and also revealing about Izzy's true self. They showed the person she is to her family and also the person she wants to be to the world--and maybe to herself.

From the more serious part of the book, I really liked the part toward the end when Izzy finds out the truth behind the mystery of the missing person case she was working on. I didn't expect that kind of emotional punch, which was a nice surprise, and in the end, I really liked how the case was resolved.

And you?

Nath: Ugh, this is bad, but I don’t remember the case you’re mentioning ^_^; Must have read the book a bit too fast ^_^;

I thought all her encounters with ex-boyfriends were quite funny LOL. However, my favorite part would be the ending when Izzy finds Rae... and she's all like: I'll kill you... and you have the police and they're trying protect Rae, but Rae is like: No, I need to go with her. LOL :) I thought it was pretty funny, but at the same time, quite realistic. In my opinion, the relationship between Izzy and Rae is quite central to the series :D

Christine: I'm going to agree with you on that scene. It was very funny. Also quite a classic display of how the Spellmans operate. They have their own unique style of tough love. LOL

Nath: From the reviews I’ve seen, there have been many comparisons between this series and the Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich. What do you think? Are there a lot of similarities between the two series? I understand the comparison because this is a comedic mystery, but overall, I think that Izzy is less klutzy than Stephanie and the series a slightly more serious. Also, Izzy appears more competent to me and the series is actually much heavier on family relationships.

Christine: There's no denying they have a fundamental similarity. The tone of the two stories is quite similar with that entertaining combination of a somewhat serious mystery plot laced with quirky humor, driven by an awkward female lead and her entourage of misfit secondary characters. LOL I don't know if they're misfits, per se, but all sort of . . . unusual in their own way?

I'm definitely planning on reading the rest of the series, how about you?

Nath: I am planning on reading the rest of the series. What is nice is that the series is supposed to be only 4 books long. I’m glad to know it won’t be drawn out forever. In addition, I heard from Li that the second book gets better :)

Overall, I think that the first book was very heavy on background information and introducing the family. Yes, there was a case, but it wasn’t really the focus of The Spellman Files. The objective of The Spellman Files was really to introduce us to the family members… and while It did accomplish this, when you put everything together, the book felt a little sketchy and wasn't very fluid. It was a little bit hard to get into because of the mismatched stories and different fonts…

Christine: Once I got the hang of Izzy's style of narration, particularly the way she so easily goes off on tangents, I thought the story moved quickly. There was enough mystery and family drama to keep me turning the pages wanting to see what would happen next. And you have to admit, the dialogue is quite snappy.

Nath: True. The book itself is quite entertaining and I did have a couple of LOL moments :) I'm giving it a B-. I still want to see where the other books will lead us :D

Christine: As far a grade goes, I give The Spellman Files a B.

By the way, did you know there are plans to make The Spellman Files into a movie? It's currently in development, which makes me think filming hasn't even started, but it is projected for 2011. I'm rather excited about that.

Nath: Oh, this would be a fun movie!! And much easier to adapt into screenplay than Stephanie Plum… Of course, it’s all going to depend on the cast…

Tuesday, February 2

February New Releases

All right, us Breezing Through ladies have come together again to discuss which new releases we're looking forward to this month. I don't know about you, but February has got some goodies in store... which is a great build-up to what's coming in March, April and May. I'm SUPER excited for those months. LOL

February 1

The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins
After losing the love of her life, young widow Lucy Lang is looking for a nice, decent man--but one who won't stir her heart. So it's goodbye to her friend with privileges Ethan Mirabelli. Too bad Ethan isn't planning on going anywhere.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: None

Nath: I love Kristan Higgins' style and I'm really looking forward to this book. Plus, I think the cover is gorgeous! Love the color and the image :D

Ames: I really enjoy Kristan Higgins too. And the plot appeals to me. They were friends first! LOL

February 2

Moon Craving by Lucy Monroe

When Talorc-laird of the Sinclair clan and leader of his werewolf pack- must wed an Englishwoman, he's shocked to find that she is his mate. Deaf since childhood, Abigail hopes to keep her affliction from Talorc as long as possible, just as he has no intention of telling her that he's a werewolf. But when Abigail learns that the husband she's begun to love has deceived her, it will take all his warrior's strength-and his wolf's cunning-to win his wife back.

Genre: Historical highlander, paranormal
Series: Children of the Moon, Book #2

Chantal: I've had it pre ordered for over a month, I'm soooo excited for it.

Ames: Since I read and enjoyed Moon Awakening (to which this is a sequel), I'm looking forward to reading this too.

Some Like it Kilted by Allie Mackay
A woman's heart needs a loving home...

Even if it's a little bit haunted.

Mindy Menlove lives in a castle that was transported stone-by-stone from Scotland. But when her fiancé dies in scandal and Mindy decides to sell the gloomy estate, her plans unravel. She must travel to the Hebrides, where she's confronted by the castle's original builder-who happens to be maddeningly irresistible and seven hundred years young.

Bran of Barra was a legendary chieftain. Since then he's enjoyed his ghostly pleasures, until Mindy's appearance disrupts them. Now, if the roguish Bran doesn't change Mindy's mind about his bonny homeland-and himself-neither of them will ever find any peace.
Genre: Contemporary romance with ghost
Series: None

Chantal: This is a new author for me, but I like the sound of the book.

Monroe: I think this book sounds great! I wanna try this one out! :o)

Steamed by Katie Macalister

When one of Jack Fletcher's nanoelectromechanical system experiments is jostled in his lab, the resulting explosion sends him into the world of his favorite novel-a seemingly Victorian-era world of steampower, aether guns, corsets, and goggles. A world where the lovely and intrepid Octavia Pye captains her airship straight into his heart...
Genre: Steampunk romance
Series: ?, Book #1

Chantal: It's the start of a new series, and since I have loved all but one of Katie's books, this is a for sure auto buy for me.

Ames: I like Katie's writing (not everything mind you) but since this is steampunk, I'm really interested in this. :P

Nath: This author has been hit and miss with me and I had no idea she had a new series coming out. Apparently, steampunk romance is going to be the new hit genre... I think I'd like to try this book :D

Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis
Baseball player Wade O'Riley's bad-boy image is about to be cleaned up by publicist Samantha McNead. But the sexual tension between them is about to drive Wade to his knees.
Genre: Sport romance, contemporary
Series: Pacific Heat, Book #2

Monroe: I LOVED the first book in this series and have been counting the days till the second one comes out! This story should be just as, or even hotter than the first! WOOWEE look at that cover!

Ames: Ooh, I'm looking forward to this one too. I really liked Double Play and I love Jill Shalvis's books. She rocks!

Nath: I was surprised to enjoy the first book. Now, I'm very curious about this couple, so the book is on my list to buy :D

Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find that she has become an angel-and that her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, likes having her under his control. But almost immediately, Raphael must ready Elena for a flight to Beijing, to attend a ball thrown by the archangel Lijuan. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan's power lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena...
Genre: Urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Series: Guild Hunter, Book #2 (not counting novellas)

Nath: It's Nalini Singh and I heard the series is getting better. If I like this one, I'll be continuing the series, if not... well too bad.

Monroe: Oh I second Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh because I just bought the first book to this series last night because everyone has loved it and I love the Psy/Changeling books! Can’t wait to start it!!!

Ames: Monroe, the first book was good. Nath, Chantal and I all had differing views on it! LOL Raphael is hot hot hot!

Chantal: I'll be reading this. I hope it is better than the first, if not... what Nath said.

Truly Madly by Heather Webber
Lucy Valentine is as smart as can be, as single as you can get, and so "not" qualified to run a matchmaking service. But when her parents temporarily step down from the family business, Valentine, Inc., it's Lucy's turn to step up and help out--in the name of love.

Plus, her rent is due.

Here's the problem: Lucy doesn't have the knack for matchmaking. According to family legend, every Valentine has been blessed by Cupid with the ability to read "auras" and pair up perfect couples. But not Lucy. Her skills were zapped away years ago in an electrical surge, and now all she can do is find lost objects. What good is that in the matchmaking world? You'd be surprised. In a city like Boston, everyone's looking for "something." So when Lucy locates a missing wedding ring--on a dead body--she asks the sexy private eye who lives upstairs to help her solve the perfect crime. And who knows? Maybe she'll find the perfect "love" while she's at it...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: ?

Nath: Never read this author, but the book sounds cute and Kris enjoyed it. I think it's probably the perfect book for Valentine :D

Monroe: Ya I think so too Nath! I really want to read this one!!!

Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee

As children, Eliza Blacknall and William Denton ran wild over the fields of southern Ireland and swore they would be friends forever. Then fate took Will away to England, while Eliza stayed behind to become a proper Irish countess.

Years later, Will finally makes his way home-as an English soldier sent to crush the Irish uprising. When he spies the lovely Eliza, he is captivated by the passionate woman she has become. But Eliza's passions have led her to join the Irish rebel cause, and Will and Eliza now find themselves on opposite sides of a dangerous conflict.

When Ireland explodes in bloody rebellion, Will's regiment is ordered to the front lines, and he is forced to choose between his duty to the English king and his love for Eliza and their Irish homeland.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: ?

Ames: Ok two things are going for this one. Friends to lovers (could eat this theme for breakfast EVERY DAY) and I am interested in the politics of this one.

Chantal: I want to read it based on the cover alone.

Monroe: It is a pretty cover!

Nath: Ohh, I've seen this one going around... Though I'm probably going to wait for reviews...

Promise Me Tonight by Sara Lindsey
Isabella is determined to marry James...

Isabella Weston has loved James Sheffield for as long as she can remember. Her come-out ball seems the perfect chance to make him see her in a new light.

James is determined never to marry...

James is stunned to find that the impish girl he once knew has blossomed into a sensual goddess. And if he remember his lessons correctly, goddesses always spell trouble for mortal men.

A compromise is clearly necessary...

When Izzie kisses James, her artless ardor turns to a masterful seduction that drives him mad with desire. But, no stranger to heartbreak, James is determined never to love, and thus never to lose. Can Isabella convince him that a life without love might be the biggest loss of all?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Weston, Book #1

Ames: Looks likes another friends to lovers! LOL

February 16

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole


Lucia the Huntress: as mysterious as she is exquisite, she harbors secrets that threaten to destroy her — and those she loves.


Garreth MacRieve, Prince of the Lykae: the brutal Highland warrior who burns to finally claim this maddeningly sensual creature as his own.


From the shadows, Garreth has long watched over Lucia. Now, the only way to keep the proud huntress safe from harm is to convince her to accept him as her guardian. To do this, Garreth will ruthlessly exploit Lucia's greatest weakness — her wanton desire for him.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Immortals After Dark, Book #12 (counting novellas)

Nath: This is a series I've been following and have enjoyed... and finally, Garreth and Lucia get their book! Hopefully, it'll match the expectations :D

Ames: I'll be getting this one too. LOL I've only read the first two books in this series, and yet I have them all. I guess I'll work on that this year!

February 18

Improper Relations
by Janet Mullany
Compromising liaisons, crossed wires and conflicting loyalties -- it's another gem from Regency star Janet Mullany. After losing best friend and distant cousin Ann Weller in marriage to the Earl of Beresford, sharp-witted Charlotte Hayden feels inclined to be even ruder than usual to potential suitors. But after a compromising liaison with Beresford's wicked, wayward cousin, Shad, she's suddenly propelled into a reluctant marriage, and finds herself missing Ann more than ever. But when Ann returns from her honeymoon, she drops a bombshell -- not only is she not sure she loves Beresford, she also has a child out of wedlock, and is planning to betray her husband with her former lover. Charlotte's realisation that she's falling in love with Shad only serves to make her dilemma even worse: should she keep Ann's secret, or tell her husband the truth?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: None

Ames: Janet rocks! I pre-ordered this book from Book Depository the minute I found out about it.

February 23

Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

Bart Minnock, founder of the computer-gaming giant U-Play, enters his private playroom, and eagerly can't wait to lose himself in an imaginary world, to play the role of a sword-wielding warrior king, in his company's latest top-secret project, Fantastical.

The next morning, he is found in the same locked room, in a pool of blood, his head separated from his body. It is the most puzzling case Eve Dallas has ever faced, and it is not a game. . . .

NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is having as much trouble figuring out how Bart Minnock was murdered as who did the murdering. The victim's girlfriend seems sincerely grief-stricken, and his quirky-but-brilliant partners at U-Play appear equally shocked. No one seemed to have a prob lem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire. Of course, success can attract jealousy, and gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks-as Eve's husband, Roarke, one of U- Play's competitors, knows well. But Minnock was not naive, and quite capable of fighting back in the real world as well as the virtual one.

Eve and her team are about to enter the next level of police work, in a world where fantasy is the ultimate seduction-and the price of defeat is death...
Genre: Romantic suspense/Mystery/Futuristic
Series: In Death, Book #37 (counting novellas)

Nath: It's self-explanatory, right? :)

An Impossible Attraction by Brenda Joyce

With her mother's passing, Alexandra Bolton gave up on love to take care of her family. Now, with the Bolton name in disgrace due to her father's profligate ways, marrying an elderly squire might be the only way to save her family from absolute ruin. But when she meets the infamous Duke of Clarewood, old dreams—and old passions—are awakened as never before. Yet she cannot accept his shocking proposition!

He is the wealthiest, most powerful peer in the realm, and having witnessed the cold horror of marriage as a child, he has vowed never to wed. But Alexandra Bolton inflames him as no woman has ever done, and she also serves him his first rejection! Now Clarewood—who always gets what he wants—will choose which rules to play by. But when passion finally brings them together, a terrible secret threatens to tear them apart...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The de Warenne Dynasty, Book #12

Chantal:Brenda Joyce is an auto buy when it comes to her Historicals.

Secrets of a Scandalous Bride by Sophia Nash
Her first secret: She is not a widow.
Elizabeth Ashburton has never even married, and at this rate, she never will. But pretending to be a bereaved young wife was the only way she could escape her horrid fate-being forced to marry the man who destroyed her father.
Her second secret: She is not a prim young lady.
Her third secret: She's willing to risk all.
Elizabeth knows she is playing a dangerous game, for her dreaded suitor will not give her up without a fight. Now she needs Rowland more than ever-to rescue her from a life of desperation, to drive her wild with desire, and to make her his scandalous bride.
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Widows Club #4

Ames: I like Sophia Nash so this is a no brainer. LOL
Nice long post! LOL So what about you, what books are you looking forward to this month?

Monday, February 1

2nd annual anti-Valentine's contest!

-Contest now closed-

We welcome you to our 2nd Annual Anti-Valentine's Day Contest!

-this is a sticky post. Scroll down for new reviews-

Last year our contest, We Don't Need Valentine's Day to Celebrate Romance, was such a huge success that we decided to do it again. Yay!

For those readers who are new to our blog, it's like this; at Breezing Through we believe that love and romance should be celebrated every day. Lovey dovey cards, flowers, candy, special meals, etc., should be shared with our man or woman more often than once a year. So, we are again taking Valentine's Day back and we want you to take part in it.

This year we have four categories of books for you to pick and choose from. Please choose one book from each category.

Category 1
(you may choose either print or e-book in this category)
1. Moon Craving by Lucy Monroe
2. An Impossible Attraction by Brenda Joyce
3. Some Like It Kilted by Allie Mackay

Category 2
1. Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
2. Truly, Madly by Heather Webber
3. Angel's Peak by Robyn Carr

Category 3
(you may choose either print or e-book in this category)
1. Promise Me Tonight by Sara Lindsey
2. Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee
3. Secrets of a Scandalous Bride by Sophia Nash

Category 4
1. Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis
2. Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
3. Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl

The Rules,
  1. Save the above logo to your own computer. No hotlinking.
  2. Please post the logo on your blog and link back to this post.
  3. After you have posted on your blog, come back to Breezing Through and paste your blog addy in our comments section.
  4. Be sure to tell us which four books you want to win.
  5. Contest will be closed February 13'th. Winner will be announced February 14'th.