April Reading Goals and March Wrap-up

In order to help myself tackle more review books, both print and digital, once a month I will be posting a list of books that I hope to read during that month.  I work more efficiently when I have a game plan, so hopefully these monthly posts will keep me focused on my goal of reading and reviewing more books, and will make my TBR not seem so intimidating.  By breaking away chunks of the TBR mountain, I can better manage my reading. In theory, anyway!

I read 15 books in March, which is a good total considering all of the distractions that kept popping up.  I have big plans, again, for this month – Let’s see what I can accomplish.

Storybound by Marissa Burt

A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

Borrowing Abby Grace by Kelly Green

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

Wicked As They Come by Delilah S Dawson

Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockman

The Start Up by Sadie Hayes

Scary School by Derek the Ghost

Baby’s First Homecoming by Cathy McDavid

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

The Galahad Legacy by Dom Testa

Medusa the Mean by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Weekend Agreement by Barbara Wallace

The Marked by Inara Scott

Holiday Affair by Annie Seaton

Blackmailed by the Italian Billionaire by Nina Croft

I had two Holy Crap This is a Good Book in March – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

What are you going to read this month?  What was your favorite March read?

 

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Ready! Set! GO! Bloggiesta 2012

Bloggiesta kicks off today!  While I won’t have much time to work on my to do list today, I am planning on devoting lots of time to blogging activities tomorrow and Sunday.  Here’s my list of activities I plan to tackle:

Create a Facebook page

Continue to figure out how to best use Pinterest

Clean up sidebar

Catch up on interview posts (I have about 7 in various stages)

Get current on reviews (I have 3 to write)

Plan out schedule for April and beginning of May

Prep some of the contests I have planned for April and May

Organize TBR mountain before it falls on me and kills me

Organize digital TBR before my poor Kindle Fire or iPad suffocate on all of the eBooks I keep purchasing

Work out an exercise schedule (because a healthy blogger is a happy blogger!)

Are you participating in Bloggiesta? What are your goals for the weekend?

 

Review: Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire by Rachel Lyndhurst

 

Title: Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire

Author: Rachel Lyndhurst

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

ISBN: B007947U4O

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Kidnapped!

Or that’s what it feels like to Kizzy Dean when a business disagreement with arrogant Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides leaves her no choice but to accompany him to the Greek Isle of Rhodes. It doesn’t help matters this sexy brooding stranger, who is unaccustomed to the word No and the very idea of commitment, shows her what it feels like to be truly desired.

Amidst the ancient myths and alleyways, tensions run high as Kizzy feels an immediate attraction for the man she wants to both ravage and strangle.

Accustomed to gold-digging women, Andreas is mesmerized by Kizzy’s feisty nature and Gypsy beauty. Guilt and sorrow have been his only bedfellows since his sister’s death, but Kizzy stirs up a desire he’s unwilling to succumb to… until she makes him an offer he simply can’t refuse.

Review:

I love series romance, so it’s exciting to see a few new faces in the field.  The latest entrant into the world of wealthy alpha males and headstrong heroines is Entangled Publishing, with their Indulgence line.  For shorter reads, take a look at their Flirts and Ever Afters lines. 

I usually don’t like stories with billionaires, because I have a very hard time relating to the heroes.  They are richer than Midas, and don’t have to worry about things like paying their utility bills or stocking the pantry with food.  They don’t even have to think about cleaning the house or doing their own laundry; they have domestic help to take care of stuff like that.  While I would love to experience the thrills of having someone else clean the bathroom, I admit to having a certain respect for a guy who will scrub his own toilet.

Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire starts off with protagonist Kizzy making an awful first impression on uber busy rich guy, Andreas, a Greek billionaire who is about to ruin her life by demolishing both her home and her dreams.  Having invested most of her life savings into a  restaurant in London, she is dismayed to learn that the new owner is going to have it torn down to make way for a new housing development.  Timi’s has been her safe haven since her mother’s death, and the previous owners were like family to her.  When they retired, they sold their business to Andreas, assuming that he would keep the business operating with Kizzy as the new manager.  Nope!  That plan was never on Andreas’ agenda!

Desperate to change his mind, Kizzy is soon swept into a fiery affair with the passionate Andreas.  Despite her misgivings, Kizzy can’t resist Andreas’ bold advances.  Their relationship is stormy and steamy.  Andreas is Kizzy’s first lover, and as he introduces her to sensual pleasures she hadn’t even dreamed of, she finds herself falling in love with him.  This leads to lots of angst and self-recrimination on Kizzy’s part.  She doubts that Andreas will stay faithful to her, and she knows that he doesn’t want a permanent relationship.  He marriage ended disastrously, and he’s not about to trust another woman.  He’s keeping his tragic past firmly to himself, and Kizzy despairs at his secrecy.

I liked Kizzy from the start, but Andreas was harder to warm up to.  Early in the story he chastises Kizzy and rebuffs her efforts to keep the restaurant open. He tells her everyone is suffering with the poor economy, and that remark just grated on my nerves.  Here is a guy with a luxurious yacht, a private plane, and several residences, and he is lecturing a woman who can barely afford to pay her rent about the realities of a bad economy.  Er….right.  Sorry, Andreas, but it made you sound like a pompous ass, especially when you insisted on purcahsing a whole new wardrobe for Kizzy instead of letting her pop home to pack a suitcase after dragging her off to Greece because you are afraid that she will tell the former owners of the restaurant that you’re going to have the building torn down.  Ugh.

Despite a weak premise and a hero who was occasionally hard to like, I enjoyed my time spent with Kizzy and Andreas.  I loved the exotic setting and probably wouldn’t have protested much if I was dragged to a Greek island.  I think that Andreas should have groveled a bit more before Kizzy forgave him, but because she jumped to conclusions too quickly and refused to communicate with him, I’ll cut him some slack.  Kizzy acted immature near the end of the book, and the wedge that is driven between the couple is based solely on her inability to talk to Andreas.  This was frustrating for me, because it showed that she hadn’t developed much from the start of the story. 

Grade:  Waffling between a B & B-

Review copy provided by publisher

 

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Interview with Rachel Lyndhurst, Author of Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire and Giveaway!

Rachel Lyndhurst is the author of Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire, a recent release from Entangled Publishing under their new Indulgence imprint.  Rachel visited the virtual offices to tell us about her book, and after the interview, you can enter for you chance to win Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Rachel Lyndhurst] English romantic novelist, mother of two and ex accountant. Lover of wine and lipstick. Does not dust. Would like a villa on the Amalfi.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] Here’s the blurb:

Kidnapped!

Or that’s what it feels like to Kizzy Dean when a business disagreement with arrogant Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides leaves her no choice but to accompany him to the Greek Isle of Rhodes. It doesn’t help matters that this sexy brooding stranger, who is unaccustomed to the word No and the very idea of commitment, shows her what it feels like to be truly desired.

Amidst the ancient myths and alleyways, tensions run high as Kizzy feels an immediate attraction for the man she wants to both ravage and strangle.

Accustomed to gold-digging women, Andreas is mesmerized by Kizzy’s feisty nature and Gypsy beauty. Guilt and sorrow have been his only bedfellows since his sister’s death, but Kizzy stirs up a desire he’s unwilling to succumb to . . . until she makes him an offer he simply can’t refuse.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] The main location of the book was inspired by visiting Lindos in Rhodes. I was fascinated by the Greek Legends associated with it; particularly the story of Helios the sun god and his demi-god son, Phaeton. It’s a tale of what can happen if you don’t do as your father tells you, a fiery battle of disobedience and death which inspired Andreas’ background. And naturally, Andreas is Greek.

I’ve been a member of Amnesty International for many years which has raised my awareness of many issues that rarely make the daily news. They send me regular magazines and sometimes I’m brave enough to read them. In one particular issue there was an article about human rights abuse of Roma in Europe. I did some research on the subject and came across a photograph that still haunts me: a small boy playing an accordion, begging for money. He’s featured in the book and it was this subject matter that made me give Kizzy, the heroine, gypsy (Roma) roots. Kizzy comes from an industrial British port as I wanted her world to be as different as possible from that of the billionaire Andreas.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] Finding Greek terms of endearment, expletives and phrases that could be written down in English. I have yet to find a phonetic Greek dictionary – thank goodness for the Internet and Twitter!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Kizzy?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] Alone, beautiful and naughty.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Andreas would never have in his bathroom?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] Anything manufactured by Just For Men. Lad magazines. A rubber duckie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] That would probably be my great granny. She died when I was six, but she taught me to read before I even went to school. She was also a wonderful artist and spent hours telling me stories off the top of her head. And her house smelt of beer!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] Tea. No children within two metres. Hardware (Pen, paper or laptop!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. It still makes me shiver with excitement when I see a copy and I’ve read it to my own children. We’ve a massive tree at the bottom of our garden and I often wonder …

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] I should say jogging or something, but I really do like to rummage around antique shops, lie in the sun, read, and drink wine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Rachel Lyndhurst] My social networking links are:

http://rachellyndhurst.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @RachelLyndhurst

https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100001397409817

http://www.goodreads.com/rachellyndhurst

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thanks!


Rachel brought a digital copy of Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire to give to one of you! To enter for your chance to win, fill out the widget below. Open Internationally.

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Didn’t win?  Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire is available now! You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.

Review: Rules of Negotiation by Inara Scott

 

Title: Rules of Negotiation

Author: Inara Scott

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

ASIN: B007915HAQ

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

He let her make the rules…

NYC’s most eligible bachelor, Brit Bencher, is also known as The Slayer for his reputation in the boardroom…and the bedroom. And he’ll do anything to take care of his family, even seduce high-powered corporate attorney Tori Anderson in the hopes of getting her to reveal confidential information about one of her clients. But for the first time in his life, he finds he’s falling for a woman.

…and then he started to break them.

After juggling the demands of her career and the stress of caring for her ailing mother, Tori Anderson doesn’t have time for relationships—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to feel like a woman. When Brit offers a no-strings attached fling, it sounds like exactly what she needs. But what will she do when Brit decides he won’t take “one night stand” for an answer? When Tori uncovers his lies, will he lose his chance with her forever?

,

Review:

I jumped eagerly into Rules of Negotiation, curious to see if Inara Scott’s transition for YA to adult romance would work for me.  I read The Candidates a few years ago and enjoyed it, though I was getting burned  out on paranormal romances for the teen scene at the time.  As I fired up my iPad and started turning virtual pages, I wondered if I would find the voice of her adult characters as convincing as her teens.  After about 30 pages, I was happy to discover that I liked it better. 

I was immediately engaged in the story, especially after Brit implemented his master plan to get his sister a job by exploiting Tori’s contact list.  Tori has no clue what Brit’s after, but she is immediately suspicious of his attentions.  She doesn’t think she is the type of woman that men start drooling over, and she doesn’t trust that he’s only interested in her.  There’s also the ethical question about a conflict of interest; she is representing a party currently in negotiations to be purchased by Brit’s monster corporation.  Using that as a shield, her defenses are quickly breached when he offers a better deal than expected.  Throwing her reservations to the wind, she allows him to wine and dine her, but stops short of falling completely for his seductions.  It’s a good thing, too, considering his snaky ulterior motives.

What I liked about this read is that no matter how badly I wanted to hate on Brit for trying to take advantage of Tori, I just couldn’t do it.  I liked him too much.  I could easily see the guarded Tori falling for this guy, liar though he is.  While he likes Tori and enjoys her company, his major motivation for trying to get close to her is to get a foot in the door for his jobless sister.  One she doesn’t even want.  I’ll admit that Tori makes his quest easier, because she is so emotionally damaged that she won’t trust anyone.  She is overworked, overstressed, and she’s long overdue to let down her hair and just have some fun.  When she’s with Brit, she has fun, so I could understand her lack of resistance to the guy.

Tori and her mother were abandoned by her father when she was a young girl, and neither she nor her mother have gotten over his betrayal.  Tori thinks that she isn’t worthy of love, because why else would he have left?  Now that her mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she has even more heartache to drag around with her.  This broke my heart.  Tori has nobody to love her, and she hasn’t for a long time.  Her mother doesn’t even know who she is half the time, and she misses the relationship that they had.  Tori’s drive to be successful stems from her need to provide the best care for her mother.  She eats, sleeps, and dreams her job, hoping to be made partner soon, so some of her financial burdens will be eased.   It doesn’t hurt that when she is working 24/7, she doesn’t have time to think about everything that is lacking in her life.

Even though I wanted to strangle Brit for his initial deception, I have to admit that I thought they made a great couple.  Tori didn’t take any crap from him, and he allowed her to let loose and have some of the fun she desperately needed.  When she finally puts two and two together and discovers that it adds up to a rat, she is infuriated.  I was, too!  He didn’t think he had done anything wrong!  It’s a good thing he quickly developed a guilty conscience, because the story would have fallen apart for me if he hadn’t swiftly realized, and tried to mend, the error of his ways.

So what didn’t I like? I thought the resolution to Tori’s problems was a little too pat.  While I believe that Tori and Brit are good for each other, I wish that she hadn’t forgiven him so quickly.  He should have been made to squirm a little more.  So, obviously, she has a more forgiving nature than I do.  And while it was wonderful to see Tori continue to take big emotional risks, I just wish that ending hadn’t been tied up quite so quickly.  Everything fell into place so quickly that my head started to spin. 

Rules of Negotiation offers engaging characters, plenty of hawt and sexy flirting, and a heroine who deserves to find both a happily ever after and the courage to embrace it. 

Grade: Waffling between B and B+

Review copy provided by publisher

 

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Interview with Inara Scott, Author of Rules of Negotiation and Giveaway!

Inara Scott dropped by the virtual offices today to chat about her new Entangled Publishing  contemporary romance, Rules of Negotiation.  Inara is also the author of The Talents, a YA paranormal series published by Disney Hyperion.  She is a return guest at the Cafe, and I wanted to thank her for stopping by again to answer my questions.  Enter for your chance to win a digital copy of Rules of Negotiation after the interview!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Inara Scott] A dog lover, frequent snacker, and occasional jogger who writes about love, magic, faeries, and superpowers. I believe in happily ever after.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Rules of Negotiation?

[Inara Scott] Let me give you the blurb, because that always says it better than I can!

He let her make the rules…

NYC’s most eligible bachelor, Brit Bencher, is also known as The Slayer for his reputation in the boardroom…and the bedroom. And he’ll do anything to take care of his family, even seduce high-powered corporate attorney Tori Anderson in the hopes of getting her to reveal confidential information about one of her clients. But for the first time in his life, he finds he’s falling for a woman.

…and then he started to break them.

After juggling the demands of her career and the stress of caring for her ailing mother, Tori Anderson doesn’t have time for relationships—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to feel like a woman. When Brit offers a no-strings attached fling, it sounds like exactly what she needs. But what will she do when Brit decides he won’t take “one night stand” for an answer? When Tori uncovers his lies, will they lose their chance at love forever?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Inara Scott] I started writing RULES while I was practicing law full time and struggling to balance the demands of job, marriage, and motherhood. I think if I hadn’t started a family before I began my practice, I’d have buried myself in my job and missed out on so much of life. RULES was a little of a, “what might my life have looked like if things had gone a different way?” (and if I had met a sexy CEO at exactly the right time!).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Inara Scott] Tori’s mother has Alzheimer’s, and there are some really heartbreaking scenes with the two of them. I don’t have a parent with Alzheimer’s, but several dear friends do, and as I writer, I had to put myself through those emotions to write those scenes. It was hard–I cried a lot!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You also write YA novels.  What is the biggest adjustment you have to make when writing for an adult audience?

[Inara Scott] Although many YA books are highly romantic, my YAs tend to feature slightly younger heroines and stories that don’t focus as much on romance. So when I write YA, I tend to be more plot-driven, whereas in my adult books I am more character-driven. As you might expect, the YA tends to have more action, while the adult books have more dialog and character exposition.

And, of course, there’s more naughty stuff in my adult books. Just sayin’. ;-)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Tori?

[Inara Scott] Vulnerable, loving, driven.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Brit would never have in his bathroom?

[Inara Scott] Ha! Let’s see…Brit would have very few things in his bathroom—he’s a pretty macho guy! He would never use product in his hair, lotion on his hands, or a nail file.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Inara Scott] I am inspired by a lot of great romance writers, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, and Jenny Crusie, but also by people like my friend and critique partner Susan Sey. She and I wrestle with our manuscripts together, and reading her drafts is really inspirational to me. Whenever I read something that she wrote that makes me smile and feel warm and snuggly inside, I ask myself—how did she DO that? How can I do that?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Inara Scott] Quiet. That’s really it. A cup of coffee is nice, too. J

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

Anne McCaffrey, DRAGONFLIGHT.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Inara Scott] I cuddle a lot with my husband, and hang out with my kids. If I can find the time, I like to get in some yoga or a long walk with my pooch. I hate being cooped up at a desk. I need to be outside for at least some portion of every day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  How can readers connect with you?

[Inara Scott] Readers can always find me on Twitter (@inarascott), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/inarawrites) or at my website (www.inarascott.com). I love reader emails, too! You can contact me directly at Inara.scott@gmail.com.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thanks!


Contest Time!

Inara and Entangled Publishing have a digital copy of Rules of Negotiation up for grabs!  To enter, all you have to do is fill in the widget below!  Open Internationally.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Didn’t win?  Rules of Negotiation is available now!  You can order Rules of Negotiation from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.