Book Review – A Christmas Ball (ARC)

A Christmas BallA Christmas Ball
Written by: Jennifer Ashley,
Emily Bryan & Alissa Johnson
Published by: Leisure Books
Date: September 29th, 2009
Pages: 336
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0843962505
(Available NOW!)

A Christmas Ball is a heart-warming anthology that offers you three romantic, historical love stories for the price of one; you can’t beat it!”

Jennifer, Emily & Alissa

The first story in A Christmas Ball is My Lady Below Stairs by Emily Bryan. Emily’s characters are refreshing and unique and the witty dialog between them is just what I’ve come to expect and I have always loved about Emily’s writing.
Jane Tate, the illegitimate daughter of nobility, is coerced into impersonating her legitimate half-sister to save the family from disgrace. It’s no surprise when Jane has the presence of mind and generosity of spirit go along with the plan to impersonate her sister for a short time and hopefully save the Somerville family’s name from disgrace. There is one tiny problem; Jane’s muscular beau Ian, doesn’t like the idea one bit! Tempers flare and adventures abound in this historical romance as Jane and Ian fight for their love and a future together.

The second story in this anthology is The Longest Night by Jennifer Ashley. I have never been a big fan of mixing paranormal elements into historical romances, but I’m sure that this story will still be a big hit with many readers.
Mary Cameron offers to chaperone the daughter of a deceased friend as a generous favor. While her charge is whirling with excitement and anticipation, Mary solemnly does her duty by the girl and accompanies her to a much talked about, Christmas Ball. Never far from her thoughts, the darkly handsome Valentin is the last person she expects to see again; yet here he is. Though some time has passed since their first, fiery encounter; sparks still fly between Mary and Valentin as they rekindle what they once had. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that Valentin has some amazing talents and he has a very colourful heritage.

The third story in the anthology is Traditions by Alissa Johnson. Alissa’s story was truly delightful to read; Traditions is just what I was hoping for!
William Renwick, Earl of Casslebury and Miss Patience Byerly are perhaps the most incompatible couple you could ever hope to find. As the fates would have it, William doesn’t have any interest in the average-looking Patience unless she can get him closer to her best friend and heiress, Miss Caroline Meldrin. As time passes and William gets to know both women better, he finds himself attracted to Patience because of her honesty, her generous nature and her intelligent mind. The sometimes humorous and always witty dialogue creates a touching, deeply sensual and very unique love story that made me smile, laugh and blush.

You won’t be disappointed with this book; I promise! So go on out there and pick up a copy for yourself and maybe grab a few extra copies as stocking stuffers! I recommend this book for historical and paranormal romance fans!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

Read more about A Christmas Ball.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author Websites:
Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson

Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Dorchester Publishing for sending me a copy of this anthology to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Chosen by Desire (ARC)

Chosen by DesireChosen by Desire,
Book 2 in The Guardians of Destiny Series
Written by: Kate Perry
Published by: Forever
Date: October 1st, 2009
Pages: 368
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0446541015
(Available NOW!)

Top Pick

Chosen by Desire is a mouth-watering paranormal romance guaranteed to make you blush; a fast-paced story that pulses with action, emotion and luscious, sensual romance”

Bookish and devoted to her work, Carrie Woods is the last person who you could imagine as a thief; yet here she is, stealing ancient texts and scrolls from a Chinese monastery for her research project. Terrified by her criminal behavior, Carrie is doubly shocked when a monk seems catches her attention. With steely determination, Carrie clutches her bag of stolen goodies even closer to her and carries on her way. Maximillian Prescott knew by her nervous movements that the blond woman had something that didn’t belong to her. In his monk robe he felt that it should be someone elses job to find out what she had taken; unfortunately, Max’s master had other plans. As Max re-joins the outside world he lures the unsuspecting Carrie into a trap; needing to know exactly what she has stolen from the monastery, Max becomes her employer, which puts Carrie in his home, right where he wants her.

I have enjoyed both books in this fantastic series and if anything, book 2 is even better! I loved this story and I adored all the piping-hot sensuality and sexual tension that surrounds Max and Carrie, when they are together. Max is gorgeous, gruff, domineering and guarded while Carrie is open, honest (except for the latest misstep) and generous to a fault; they compliment each other well and I fell in love with their story. There is sizzling erotic bedroom (and other places) scenes; they are descriptive and sexy HOT, HOT, HOT! I enjoyed the witty banter between Carrie and Max as well as the relationship between Carrie & her mother and Carrie & Gabe, from Book 1 in the series.
I very highly recommend this book to Kate Perry fans and to all paranormal romance lovers!!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Read more about Chosen by Desire.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author’s Website
Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Highland Rebel (ARC)

Highland RebelHighland Rebel,
A Tale of a Rebellious Lady and a Traitorous Lord
Written by: Judith James
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date: September 1st, 2009
Pages: 480
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-1402224331
(Available NOW!)

Highland Rebel blends history and fiery romance together in an adventurous story of divided loyalties, betrayal and blazing passion”

Detached and jaded, Jamie Sinclair wants to do nothing more than follow his orders and return home to reap the rewards for his faithful service; until one day on a battlefield, when he meets and mistakes Catherine Drummond for a lad and he is forced to act. Before long, Jamie and the rest of the men realize that the struggling youth is actually a woman. To save Catherine (Cat) from the blood thirsty band of mercenaries, Jamie finds himself married to the daughter of a Highland laird and heiress. Through out all of the confusion, Cat remains suspicious and fears the worst about her captivity and the handsome, aloof Englishman who guards her.

This story grabbed my attention from the first page and held on until the very end! The story is fast-paced, full of intrigue, excitement (bloody battles) and romance. The plot has really good momentum so there is never a dull moment. The camaraderie between Cat and Jamie that made me laugh, smile and really pulled me deeper into the story. The romantic chemistry between the two main characters really sizzles off the page.
I highly recommend this book for romance readers who enjoy lots of romance with their historical adventure stories!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (9 out of 10 Diamonds) – Loved it!
 

Read more about Highland Rebel.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author’s Website
Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Sourcebooks, Inc. for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Earth to Table

Earth to Table,Earth to Table
Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm
Written by: Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann
Published by: Random House Canada
Date: September 15th, 2009
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0307356840

Earth to Table is much more than a cookbook; it covers a wide range of organic, “slow food” topics, delicious and unique recipes that use all-organic ingredients and features several Chief profiles.

A sample of the recipes inside:

Scrambled Eggs with Chives and Caviar
Pesto
Saffron Rice
Rhubarb Fool
Maple Shoofly Pie
New Potatoes Salad with Green Beans and Shallots
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chilies and Cheese
French Vanilla Ice Cream
Shortcakes with Chantilly Cream and Macerated Strawberries
Plum Tarts
French Onion Soup
Pizza Dough
Roasted Pork Loin with Fennel
Braised Short Ribs
Apple Tarts
Double Crispy Onion Rings
Herbed Dumplings
Sticky Toffee Pudding
…and a whole lot more!

Jeff Crump is an Excutive Canadian Chef who has worked in a number of the world’s top restruants; Lumiere in Vancouver B.C., The Fat Duck, Bray, England and at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. Jeff is a Canadian Slow Food pioneer and he promotes the use of seasonal food that is grown locally.

Bettina Schormann is a Pastry Chief who began her career in culinary arts after receiving a degree at the University of Windsor. She has worked in every section of the restaurant, including service. Pastry has since become her passion. Bettina has won numerous awards including the Lindt Chocolate Competition and the OHI Professional Pastry Chef Award. She has studied the pastry arts in Paris, New York and Toronto. Bettina has been pivotal in the unique relationship between the Ancaster Old Mill Restaurant and ManoRun Organic Farm.

This securely bound, hardcover cookbook is just the thing for cooks who are very selective and prefer to use organic foods; it is also a very functional cookbook for those of us who are non-organic cooks and food consumers. Each of the seasonal recipe sections is prefaced with an introduction that talks about the foods available during that particular season; the flavorful and imaginative recipes are easy to understand and easy to follow with a clear layout that makes this a great cookbook for beginners, right on up to experienced cooks. There are several enlightening profiles that feature Chiefs from around the world; they add some of their feelings and explain some of their personal ideas about food and the restaurant business. There are lots of gorgeous, full-colour photographs that enhance an already enjoyable cookbook. There is a concluding section at the back of the cookbook that includes 18 extra, basic recipes that every cook needs to know, followed by an appendix and an index. Some of the recipes are a little too trendy and modern for my tastes, but I’m really old fashioned when it comes to food so don’t let it stop YOU from picking up a copy of Earth to Table.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Read more about Earth to Table.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author’s Website
Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Haunted

HauntedHaunted
Written by: Barbara Haworth-Attard
Published by: Harper Trophy Canada
(HarperCollins Canada)
Date: August 18th, 2009
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0002008211

Top Pick

Product Description – From Amazon.ca
“Dee is feeding the chickens the morning that bones are discovered on the mountain. Something doesn’t feel right–and her feeling is confirmed when local police show her a ring that they found with the bones, a ring belonging to Mary Ann Simpson, who disappeared four years earlier. Other girls, Dee learns, have disappeared too, unusual for a small town nestled in the shadow of the Bruce Peninsula’s rugged escarpment, the “mountain” that Dee loves.
Like her Gran, Dee has “the Sight,” an ability not only to see spirits from the afterlife but also to experience their deaths–a quality that becomes more horrifying as the story takes darker turns. While trying to help with the investigation, Dee is drawn into a deepening mystery that soon strikes terrifyingly close to home.”

Haunted is one of my favourite books of 2009! Barbara Haworth-Attard  is the author of more than 13 children’s books and she is a Canadian author. While reading the story about 14-year-old Defiance or “Dee” as she is known to her friends, I was immediately taken in by the convincing, evocative tale. Set in the early 1900’s, Haunted takes the reader on a journey through history, into the realm of the supernatural. Dee’s “gift” allows her to see and feel good and evil in many forms. As a reader, I am very sceptical about “ghost stories”, but I have to admit that I was blown-away by the outstanding writing and skilful telling of Haunted; I cannot say enough great things about it! The story flows smoothly with mesmerizing tension that builds slowly with bursts of emotion and tension so thick that you could cut it with a knife; there is a suspenseful pull that keeps the reader tuned into the story and makes this book VERY difficult to put down. I really enjoyed the build up and the pace of the story; it changed momentum often and heightened moments to the point where I felt MY heart pounding with fear for the characters as they were endangered by the murderer. Each of the characters are unique and all too human…even those in a ghostly form. The forest/mountain setting was used very imaginatively by the author to enhance the atmosphere and the mood of the story. I must commend Barbara Haworth-Attard on her writing skills and her ability to bring the story of Haunted, to life. I know that I haven’t talked very much about the story itself, but I don’t want to say too much and ruin it for you; suffice it to say that I simply loved this book and enjoyed every single minute that I spent reading it! This is NOT a story for children, though it will be enjoyed  by YA readers and adult fiction readers.
I very highly recommend it!!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Read more about Haunted.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author’s Website
Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to HarperCollins Canada for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Ripley’s Believe It or Not! 2009

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Seeing Is Believingripleys seeing is believing
Edited by: Rebecca Miles (Managing Editor), Judy Barratt and Sally McFall
Published by: Ripley Publishing a Jim Pattison Company
Date: August 4th, 2009
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1893951457

The latest Ripley’s Believe It or Not! hardcover volume is the 6th in the series and it certainly seems to go the extra mile. The cover is vibrant with a very eye-catching (pun intended) hologram on the front cover. With hundreds of full-colour pictures and photographs, most of which are highlighting some of the bizarre content inside, you are not going to get bored with this book. The majority of the tidbits or factoids are inside are in point form with some of the more outrageous ones highlighted or spotlighted on partial or full-page spreads with really big photographs. Each page is printed in full colour (unless they are black and white photographs). With 31 museums all over the world, you’ll definitely want to plan a visit for your family; you will all have fun trying to figure out if the outlandish displays, claims and interactive features are real or not. Or, you could just save some of your money and buy this book instead!

This book’s content is sorted into the following categories:

Strange But True
Extreme Earth
Incredible Feats
Unusual Customs
Crazy Creatures
Travel Tales
Fantastic Food
Body Oddity
Strange Sites
Artistic Licence
Amazing Science
Beyond Belief

Here’s a tiny sample of what’s in store for you:

Big BurgerPlaying Scrabble While Skidiving, Guy Blows Up Baloons With His Eyes, A 9 year old’s $10,000 5-day Shopping Spree, Edible Organs, Exploding Toilets, 9,000 lb. Ball Made From Rubber Bands, Elephant Man, Lava Surfer, 100 Person-Strong CheeseHuman Kite, Toilet Paper Wedding Gown, Two-Faced Kitten, 2,000 lb. Cheese Sculpture, 15 lb. Burger, Barnum and Bailey “Freakshow” Showcase, Magnetic Man, Pulls A Van With His Eyelids and much, much more!!!

Scrabble Skydiving

You, your family and friends are going to have hours upon hours of hackenwerth-balloonsenjoyment from Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Seeing Is Believing. You’ll be grossed-out, amazed, disgusted, surprised and just plain shocked by some of the foolish, idiotic, imaginative and hard-to-believe stuff inside; most of all, you’ll be getting your money’s worth!
I’m not sure if I personally believe all of the claims and pictures, but I’ve enjoyed this book, regardless!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Read more about Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Seeing Is Believing.
Find out where to buy this book.

Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Wellons Communications for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Tall, Dark & Fangsome (ARC)

Tall, Dark & FangsomeTall, Dark & Fangsome
Immortality Bites, Book #5
Written by: Michelle Rowen
Published by: Forever
Date: September 2009
Pages: 352
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0446505857
(Available NOW!)

Top Pick

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“Sarah Dearly’s vampire life is not all B-positive cocktails. A curse made her a nightwalker, the most vicious vamp there is; the charm she wears to curb her deadly tendencies is losing its juice; and a hunter from hell is turning up the heat. Gideon Chase will kill the ones she loves most if she doesn’t obey his orders. That includes breaking up with master vampire Thierry and turning Gideon into an immortal vamp so he can escape a doom of eternal hellfire.
Making things worse are Sarah’s growing feelings for Gideon, a bad boy who keeps showing a vulnerable side . . . but is it for real? Will Sarah’s dark side take over? Or can she cure herself of the nightwalker curse in time to stop Gideon and finally live happily ever after with Thierry . . . forever?”

Tall, Dark & Fangsome is something else; in a good way of course! Set in Toronto, Ontario this story has the appearance of a contemporary romance novel…until you start reading. I haven’t read books 1-4, but this final volume in the Immortality Bites series is a winner in my books! There are so many colourful, well-developed characters in this story that it was hard to choose a favourite. With a fast-paced, action-filled plot the reader is going to have a really hard time putting the book down. There is a wealth of romance in this story even though there isn’t any graphic sexual content; there are some super-HOT, romantic moments that sizzle. Sarah Dearly was turned into a vampire by Thierry de Bennicoeur in one of the earlier books so one could say that she has “grown into her fangs” by book 5. Her life seems to be confrontation after confrontation but Sarah does her best to persevere through it all with scathing wit, sarcastic humour and a deadly sense of purpose. Thierry and Sarah have a strong connection to one another despite the fact that Sarah was forced to end their relationship in an attempt to protect everyone she loves. With a cast of humans, vampires, demons, vampire hunters and a nightwalker, the reader is guaranteed a good time. Hold on to your seats and prepare yourself for a paranormal romance that will take you for one WILD ride.
I very highly recommend this book!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Read more about Tall, Dark & Fangsome.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author’s Website
Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy