I love to read. Started blog, Cocktails and Books, to share my love of books.


Riversong - Tess Thompson As a kid, I hated when an adult would always point out a morale to what every story I was engrossed in, whether it was TV or a book. When your nine, you really don't want your parents having the sex talk with your after watching an episode of Joanie Love Chachi. So now being the adult, I find myself doing the same damn things to my kids and asking them what they learned from that episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Sponge Bob. I cringe each time I do it, but sometimes you can't let those little tidbit go by without pointing them out.

What does this have to do with Riversong? This is one of those books where I feel compelled to pass out to all those that complain how bad their life is yet do nothing to change it. Lee Tucker encompasses that life lesson of "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps". Sure she got everything tied up in a pretty bow for her in the end, just like those TV shows of my youth, but she went through some pretty hellish stuff to get that pretty bow and I think she earned it.

The plot points aren't perfect (the loan shark/mafia hit man was a little too over the top for me) but where certain plot points may bug you as a reader, the others more than make up for. The best one for me was Lee coming back home again and finding the place she thought was full of ugly memories was the one place that could make her happy.

Second chances and coming home is what Riversong is all about and I think Tess Hardwick did a good job in bringing those points across. I liked the book and think it's a thought provoking choice for book clubs to read in 2012.

Hellsbane (A Hellsbane Book)

Hellsbane - Paige Cuccaro I wasn't really sure if this was going to be a book that I would enjoy. I'm generally not one for angel books, but I was surprised by this one.

I liked Emma. She's young and somewhat naive, but she has a snarky sense of humor that I could appreciate. She had a lot thrown at her once she found out she was a naphilim, but she took it much better than I know I would.

Eli was a bit of a surprise. He has the superior quality that one would expect an angel to have, but he was also down to earth. Chalk that up to spending so much time amongst humans I guess, but that quality made him much more likeable than I'm sure he would have been otherwise.

The entire Fallen / Naphilim storyline still has me a bit confused. So we have fallen angels running around impregnating unsuspecting women and then if that unlucky soul should touch the sword of another naphilim warrior they become marked and forced into service to kill the Fallen and the demons they have released before they kill more naphilim. It was a vicious circle of WTF, but it did keep your attention. Throw into the mix the weird behavior of some of Eli's fellow angels and your head will be spinning while you're hoping Emma can figure out who is out to kill her.

While I hate the Tommy storyline (boo hiss!!), I'm hoping by then of the series Emma gets her happily ever after (I'm assured by my interview with Paige Cuccaro that she will). That said, I enjoyed this first installment and look forward to the next book to see what awaits Emma Jane.

Holly's First Noel

Holly’s First Noel - Faye Robertson I really enjoyed both Holly and Noel. Even though they had worked together for the past year, they both steered clear of the other, Holly being intimidated by Noel and Noel not sure what to make of Holly. But once those barriers were down, they were absolutely perfect for each other.

Holly was one of those characters that was "out there". She spent a lot of time in her head and then would inadvertently ask questions or statements related to whatever conversation she had been having with herself internally. Most people, including myself, would find that incredibly annoying. But Noel seemed to understand Holly's quirk and was able to roll with it, even if he couldn't figure out who or what she was talking about.

Noel seemed to spent a lot of time apologizing to his dead wife for making strides towards having a life without her. After three years, he finally felt something for a woman. He wanted the wife, the kids, the whole package. But at the same time, he felt as if he was betraying his wife and kept apologizing. It makes you love Noel for being that type of man, but also infuriated that he would think his wife wouldn't want him to have those things after she was gone.

This was a really cute and sweet Christmas story about two people finding the right person in less than perfect conditions (having your long time boyfriend dump you a week before Christmas and still mourning your wife's death three years before definitely fits the "less than perfect condition" bill). But sometimes when you least expect it, the best thing falls in your lap.

Small Town Christmas

Small Town Christmas - Jill Shalvis, Hope Ramsay, Katie Lane I'm not generally one for anthology stories. They're too short for me (I need substance!!), but I got this one because I had to know what happened with Logan after Tara and Ford got back together in Jill Shalvis' Kissing Santa Claus.

For the Jill Shalvis story, this was Jill Shalvis crammed into a tiny box. I love Jill Shalvis, but I need Jill to have lots of space and pages to let the story flow.

Logan and Sandy had some "stuff" to work out before they could get their HEA, but I guess with a Christmas short we can bypass all that messy stuff and skip right to the I love you's and want to marry you's in front of the entire town having Christmas breakfast.

That said, it was Jill Shalvis so I enjoyed it.

The other two stories we further proof that I don't like anthologies. I'll Be Home For Christmas was so rushed that I didn't feel like I could connect or care about any of the characters. And in O Little Town of Bramble I felt like I just walked into the middle of a tornado. There was so much thrown at you so fast without any time to really get a fell for why things were happening that I threw my hands up and said "whatever".

If you're looking for some quick holiday stories, this may be for you. Me, I truly need to stay away from the anthologies because they just don't work for me.

No Such Thing As A Secret: A Brandy Alexander Mystery

No Such Thing As A Secret: A Brandy Alexander Mystery - Shelly Fredman Have you ever finished a book and thought to yourself "How is it I've never heard of this book before?" That's the question I've been asking myself as I search the internet for the rest of the books in this series.

Brandy Alexander is a small time reporter for an LA station on her way back home to Philadelphia for her high school best friend's wedding. She's avoided going back in the four years she's been away because of a certain cop who broke her heart. But her best friend Franny, the bride, has demanded she come home to be in the wedding, so here she comes.

Trouble seems to find Brandy almost as soon as she sets foot back in the city of brotherly love. She has a kid pee his pants in front of her while waiting to buy food at the airport, is almost run over by a van being piloted by eighty year old nuns, takes a drunken tumble off a stage at the sight of her ex-boyfriend (we won't mention the boob that pops out just prior to this incident), believes her best male friend Johnny has been blown to pieces and manages to get her brother's priceless (to him) car towed. This all within a few days of coming home!!

Troubled by what happened to her friend Johnny, she decides to start investigating the story he had told her the day he picked her up. She figures she owes to Johnny to find out why he was blown up and exactly who's responsible. When she takes the obvious route, the police, she's disheartened that no one seems to believe her story, which leads Brandy to start investigating on her own.

While navigating the trouble thrown in her path (or rather what she places in her path), she also must deal with the unresolved issues between her and Bobby (the cop ex-boyfriend), the hideous bridesmaid dresses Franny has picked out and her suddenly very alert labido when she enlists the very sexy and very mysterious Nick Santiago.

This book was a riot. I was laughing out loud at various parts of the book that had me remembering what is was like to grow up back East in an Italian family. It was priceless.

If you enjoy the Stephanie Plum series, you will devour this book. It's what Stephanie was back in the beginning.

Can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Pandora's Box (Immortalis, Book 3)

Pandora's Box (Immortalis, Book 3) - Katie Salidas This series has gotten better with each book. You love the characters and the storyline with each one.

In this third installment, a mysterious package has been delivered to Lysander's home and calls to Fallon to open it. When she does, she releases something that starts attacking the vampires demanding they return it's blood. When a clan member is killed, it forces Lysander to admit he needs to return to Boston to retrieve his original writings and see if there is anything listed about this Pandora's Box they have been sent.

The Boston vampires were an interesting mix. Instead of being the lone vampires that Alyssa has known in Las Vegas, we find a group of individuals that interact the same way humans would interact with each other. They were more willing to "live amongst the humans" and try to fit in, rather than hide away in a house and hope no one will see them. It was good for Alyssa to see that she could have some semblance of her old life back, despite how Lysander has chosen to live.

We also were introduced to the werewolves and witches of the supernatural community in Boston. The werewolves run the show, but work in conjunction with the other supernaturals (including vampires). While they appeared at first unwilling to help Lysander and Alyssa with their problem, Conner the Pack Alpha, decides to impart his knowledge and help our band of Vegas vampires. The werewolves were an interesting addition to the series and I hope we see more of them in the future.

Lysander's maker, while killed in book one, is still wrecking havoc in their lives. This time it's her jilted King, Edmond, dead set on revenge. His revenge is a good one, but his reasoning behind it were incredibly juvenile. I would hope that once one reaches a couple hundred years old the "because she loved you more" defense would disappear. Oh well.

If there was one thing I didn't like about the book, it was the cliffhanger of an ending. I'm not going to say anything here, since I don't want to spoil it for anyone else, but let's just say I an now desperate to have the next book in the series (and sadly don't see anything listed on Katie's web site...booooo!).

Hunters & Prey (Immortalis, Book 2)

Hunters & Prey - Katie Salidas This book picks up a few months after the end of Immortalis Carpe Noctem. It was interesting to see how a few months of immortal life changes Alyssa. No longer concerned with just herself, she's very protective of her clan and Lysander. When Santino Vitale threatens her close to their home, she runs hoping to save her family from him.

Even when she breaks vampire cardinal sin #1 and "tells" her best human friend, Fallon, what she is, she stands her ground and tries to break the old prejudices her clan has against humans. While she understands why they wouldn't want a human around (she would make a tasty treat) Alyssa is determined to prove to them that some humans knowing their secret won't be as bad as they think.

The ancients, Lysander, Nicholas an Rozaline, also learn that they should trust Alyssa's instincts more often. While she does tend to act before thinking, her instincts are generally right and shouldn't be as quickly dismissed.

Lysander and Alyssa's romance heats up in this second installment, but it's also tested. While they both admit to loving one another, Alyssa questions if she can be with a man who would disregard someone who was important to her.

I loved seeing the changes in Alyssa and seeing her spread her vampire wings. If she's allowed to, Alyssa could be one kick ass vampire.

Immortalis Carpe Noctem (Immortalis, Book 1)

Immortalis Carpe Noctem - Katie Salidas Living in Southern California, I take many trips to lovely Las Vegas. After reading this book, I now know why I always hate going down by the Stratosphere. It's a freaking vampire hunting ground!!!

Katie Salidas takes us through Alyssa's awakening as a vampire. She never asked for her new immortal life, but she didn't want to die either. Alyssa must find a way to accept her new life and it's new restrictions while saying goodbye to what she had know the twenty five years before. It isn't always easy for Alyssa. Of course, her sire, Lysander, doesn't always help either. Her stubbornness and anger towards Lysander never results in Alyssa being in a good situation. Trouble seems to follow her everywhere!

Lysander is a two thousand + year old vampire who has been living a solitary life after abandoning his clan centuries before. He closed himself off to almost everything with the exception of his writings and a clan of nomad vampires. He at first feels guilt over having to turn Alyssa, since it was his prey that attacked her and left him with no other alternative to try and save her. But Alyssa stirs feelings in him that he's not felt in centuries and he doesn't always handle Alyssa is the best manor. What he often sees as protection, she sees as a prison and discovers the more he tries to reign her in, the more trouble she gets into.

Throw into the mix an ancient vampire scorned by Lysander and bent on revenge, vampire hunters blessed by the church suddenly showing up in Las Vegas and Alyssa somehow mixed up right in the middle and you have a very entertaining first addition to the Immortalis series.

For Kicks

For Kicks - Jenna Bayley-Burke Look for review on Night Owl Reviews

The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne

The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne - Madeline Hunter Look for review on Night Owl Reviews

Head Games [Buffalo Intimidators 1] (Siren Publishing Menage Amour)

Head Games (Buffalo Intimidators, #1) - Cassandra Carr We have two hot hockey players, Leo and Scott, who are teammates, best friends and roommates who are in love with the same cafe owner, Kelly. They go to Kelly's little bistro after every home game to have dinner and spend time with her. Problem is, Kelly has no idea they have any feelings other than friendship with her.

Scott and Leo pull a complete 180 with Kelly pretty damn fast once they decide it was time to let her know how they feel. They scare with the things they make her want and feel. Kelly's positive no woman, other than a whore, should love these two men and want to have sex with both of them at the same time.

Scott and Leo have shared before and have no issue with building a happily ever after with Kelly. The problem is, neither of them realize that Kelly needed to be brought into the lifestyle slowly and maybe talk about the logistics and how they were going to bring their relationship public. Instead, it was thrust in the spotlight by an investigative reporter, which had Kelly running and hiding from both men faster than a slap shot at the net Scott and Leo protect.

The story was enjoyable and hot as all hell. For those of you who may be a bit squeamish about having sex near prep areas and cooking appliances...take this as your warning!

Cover Me (Elite Force: That Others May Live)

Cover Me (Elite Force: That Others May Live) - Catherine Mann Review to come.

Boyfriend From Hell

Boyfriend From Hell - E. Van Lowe Megan Barnett and her mother, Suze, are best friends. Megan has always been able to share her secrets with her mother and enjoyed all the special girl outings the two went matter what they were. But when her mother decides to dip her toe in the dating pool, Megan sees her life as she knows it changing and not for the better.

While Megan's plans to undermine her mother's first online boyfriend seem to work, she's not so lucky with suave, handsome and mysterious Armando. Being an art dealer, he has an immediate connection with Suze, but Megan feels like something is off with him.

She soon becomes obsessed with coming between Suze and Amando. She's so obsessed that she begins alienating her long time best friends, Matt and Erica. But her obsession does start to reveal that maybe, just maybe her suspicions were correct and Armando really is the boyfriend from hell.

I'm a bit on the fence about this one. Depending on how I look at this, it could be a really good book or one that could be passed up. Why, do you ask?

The premise was good:
Megan having issues with her mom now starting to date and then finding a man who was too good to be true was what any teenager would feel. It begs the questions: where will I fit in with my mom's new life.
Megan feeling things were a bit off with "too good to be true" Armando. Armando was a little to slick and that truly would raise alarm in anyone.
Megan having issues with her two best friends dating....again completely understandable. The dynamics of their little threesome has changed and left Megan wondering where she fit it.
But even with those key plot points pointing us towards a really good book, I got lost in the schizophrenia type twists and turns Megan would make with her thought processes and decisions. Now, I realize she was fifteen and at that age none of us made the wisest decisions, but hers just seemed over the top (ex: she wouldn't sneak out of the house to go meet with ultra hot Guy because she wasn't sure about him, but she'll sneak out of the house to see what's happening at Armando's house where she suspects he's up to no good).

My other issue was with the Guy storyline. It almost felt as if he should have had a more vital part to the whole storyline, but instead he was pushed back to a bit part and left to give us a tiny explanation at the very end.

Now, this is my very adult point of view. I may expect a bit more of my good versus evil showdowns, but that's not to say a YA reader in the appropriate age bracket would not adore this story. It for that teen audience and their ability to connect and appreciate Megan more than I could that I give the three cocktail rating.

Earth Angel

Earth Angel - E. Van Lowe Three weeks after the end of Boyfriend from Hell, Megan is still trying to deal with the fall out. Her best friend Matt is gone, having sacrificed himself to right the wrong he did to Megan and Erin hates her because Matt always loved Megan while only liking Erin. Her mother, Suze, new best friend Maurdrina, and boyfriend Guy are there to help her cope and navigate through the emotions and high school drama around the girl who finds herself without her two best friends and suddenly very popular.

But Evil isn't finished with Megan. Hell wants the book Megan took from Armando and used to send him back to hell. This time, they're sending demons to get what they want and they'll use what Megan loves most to get what they want.

The second installment to the Fallen Angels series was better than it's predecessor. Instead of being the self-absorbed girl that she was in Boyfriend from Hell, Megan matured and thinking of a much bigger picture than her own little world.

She's worried about what would happen with Guy, should he get redeemed and ascend to Heaven again. Sure she's worried about what that will mean for her, but she's also worried about Guy who seems torn between the girl he loves (Megan) and the world he's always known.

She's also worried about Erin and tries to mend the rift between them. Granted, Erin wants nothing to do with Megan, but Megan does continue to try. In the past, she would have gotten mad at Erin and given her the silent treatment rather than trying to get through to her.

When Megan discovered Hell was still coming after the book, which she still had in her possession, she understood the dangers of letting it fall into the wrong hands and took steps to ensure it's safety. And when Beelzebub took what she loved most as a bartering tool for the book, Megan put aside her feelings for a certain incredibly beautiful angel linked to Guy and joined forces with her to save the boy she loves.

The book cliffhangers at the end, leaving us to wait for the final installment, Heaven. Hopefully we'll get our answers to what's going on with Erin and which angel is rising again.

Under the Moon (Goddesses Rising)

Under the Moon  - Natalie J. Damschroder Quinn Caldwell runs a bar, Under the Moon, uses her goddess powers to help others, serves as secretary on the board for the governing body of goddesses, loves her assistant Sam and is in love with her protector Nick. Her life is about to become a lot more complicated when a leech starts stealing goddesses powers and seems hell bent on getting Quinn's.

Nick, Sam and Quinn start their own investigation into the leech and discover that the person responsible for this problem could be a member of Quinn's birth family. They'll cover many miles and have several run ins with the bad guys before this story comes to an end. But along the way, Quinn, Nick and Sam will also learn what they are willing to live without and what they much do to make those they love happy.

I liked Quinn. She was ballsy while being emotionally torn apart by not only her relationship with the two men she loves, but also the family that gave her up when she was a baby. She was the type of woman that people everyone else in front of her if it meant protecting those that she loved. Even with her sister, she was torn between being pissed at her for doing what she'd naively done and wanting to protect her because she didn't know any better.

Nick and Sam both had attributes that I enjoyed, but you could tell each time Nick and Quinn were together that they truly were meant to be together (although a certain male didn't make you feel confident as you read the story that they'd get their happily ever after).

An enjoyable read with a deliciously alpha protector our to ensure his goddess stays safe.

True Surrender

True Surrender - Tracey Cramer-Kelly Aaron Bricewick joined the Army to try and make the world a better place, he never expected that he would need to be rescue by US Forces. Having been kidnapped and tortured, Aaron is flown back to Southern California to be treated at Holbrook Medical Center. It's there that he faces losing his leg and having to readjust to his new way of life. It takes not only Aaron, but his college sweetheart, Holly Rossiter and her son to help Aaron re-evaluate his life.

When I finished this book, I felt extreme gratitude to those serving in our Armed Forces. What Aaron went through both at the hands of the terrorists that kidnapped him and by his own best friend was heartbreaking. He suffered from post traumatic stress and had to battle a possible addiction to pain killers. His only bright spot was rekindling his relationship with Holly Rossiter. His everyday battles seemed incredibly real and made you appreciate the spirit and rebuilding of faith in himself and others that got him to where he was at the end.

Holly had her own share of heartbreak, her husband being killed two years before in a gas station robbery, but she was more of a half glass full, rather than empty type of girl. She knew when to take a tough stance with Aaron and when to open her heart up to him.

A nice read that shows the resilience of the human spirit.

Currently reading

Her Man Flint
Jerri Drennen
Desperate Betrayal
Hildie McQueen