(Review) A Secret In Salem

TITLE: A Secret in Salem
AUTHOR: Sheri Anderson
PUB DATE: November 2010
PUBLISHER: Soourcebooks
PAGES: 309
SOURCE: Received from publisher

On the winding roads leading to Monaco, a convertible careens off the road and over the cliffs-killing a mother and leaving her distraught daughter Amelia in critical condition. Amelia’s accident reveals that she is not truly her father’s daughter. Against her aristocratic fiance’s wishes, Amelia sets out on a quest to find her biological parents that leads her to Salem. She begins a determined investigation of the denizens of the city and tracks down the possibilities- Patch and Kayla, Bo and Hope, John and Marlena-gobbling up every bit of history she can find. As she uncovers secrets and scandals, she finds herself growing dangerously close to the truth. (From Good Reads)

Marlena & John have never been so close, and yet so far apart…

Marlena’s love, John, has been paralyzed for two years, and she is becoming desperate. Although her love for him has never waned, she must find a cure before they drift too far apart as man and wife. But John’s illness may not be all that it seems, and the truth could tear them apart forever.

On the winding roads leading to Monte Carlo…

Charlotte Gaines, daughter of one of the world’s richest men and one of the hottest fashion designers, discovers a hidden truth about her family that she never suspected. It sets her on a quest that will uncover long-buried secrets, hidden passions, and dangerous mysteries…all leading to a city called Salem, and a revelation that will change all of their lives forever. (From Publisher’s Website)

I have to send out a huge THANK YOU to Liz from Sourcebooks (who I got to meet at BEA and when I was in Naperville this summer) who emailed to ask if I would be interested in reading A Secret In Salem. She didn’t have to ask me twice. I think that might have been one of the fastest email replies.

Days of Our Lives is one of my favorite all time Soap Operas and I started watching it back in 1988. I watch it all the time and its sad to see your favorite characters leave the show either by death (Alice Horton on the show and in real life) or their contracts expire.

The reason I started to watch it back in 1988 was because of Mathew Ashford, who played Jack Devereaux. I thought I would include this picture taken roughly around 1990 or so when I got to meet him when he came to Montreal. He was so sweet.

Anyways, back to my review. I LOVED, LOVED this book. You don’t have to be a fan of Days to read this but if you are you will realize that the book takes off where the characters left such as John and Marlena, Belle, Shawn and Claire, and Abby and Chelsea. Do you remember when John and Marlena left? Well we find out that they are living in Switzerland and John was paralized when he left and no idea why. Well the answers will be revealed. Plus John has a few secrets of his own that as your reading the book you wonder what John is up too and could it possibly ruin his relationship with Marlena. I mean what man makes his workers sign a confidentally agreement about his treatment and Marlena isn’t to know? Well John Black does. I was curious to see what John was doing.

Belle, Shawn and Claire left Salem and decided to see the world aboard the Fancy Face IV. They are in Monte Carlo when life changes from them. Belle has a secret that could possibly tear up hers and Shawn’s relationship. Plus she has some good news to share with Shawn which the reader can almost guess right away what it is but then as you are reading you wonder more about it.

WE are introduced to some new characters, siblings Charlotte, Chance and Jackson, their rich parents Olivia and Richie. They are the couple behind OMG a fashion design label.

I was curious to see how they would play into the storyline and it kept me reading and turning the pages to find out plus a few late late nights.

When Olivia suddenly dies in a car crash The Gaines secrets are revealed and they especially hurt Olivia the most because she begins to question her life and changes her world as she knows it.

So, if your a fan of Days then I have to say you must read this. You won’t be disappointed. I am already looking forward to the next book in the series called A Stirring in Salem (February 2011) and A Scandel in Salem (May 2011). I am not sure if all the books are linked together but from the sounds of it A Stirring in Salem might pick up where this one finished.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

(Review) iDrakula

TITLE: iDrakula
AUTHOR: Becca Black
PUB DATE: October 2010
PAGES: 160
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire

SOURCE: I bought this book at Chapters.

The classic vampire story that started it all gets new life for a generation of connected teens

18-year-old Jonathan Harker is diagnosed with a rare blood disorder after visiting a Romanian Count. His girlfriend Mina and a pre-med student named Van Helsing team up to investigate the source of the disease. The teenagers discover a horrifying truth: the Count is a vampire. The harrowing events unfold through emails, text messages, web pages, Twitter feeds, and instant messaging-the natural modernization of Bram Stoker”s original Dracula, which was written in letters, diary entries, and news clippings.

I have never read Drakula by Bram Stoker but I heard that Bram did it in diary and letters form.

Bekka Black brings a modern twist to this classic story by doing it in the form of text messages, emails and browser pages. Bekka also included pictures of various things such as the Castle the count lives in, the gates to Bellevue Hospital and the back of a gown that Mina wore.

Having not read Drakula I have to say I wasnt’ worried about not knowing what was going on because this is a book that covers it all in a short amount of time. After finishing the book I thought all the key points were touched on and the story wasn’t lost.

I picked this up when I was at Chapters the other night because I have had this on my wishlist for awhile since I first heard about it. It was a quick and easy read and I actually read this in about an hour last night.

I think this might appeal to the younger crowd and it just might make them pick up the classic to read. As for me I don’t see me reading Drakula anytime soon.

One of my favorite text messages was early in the book (page 14) was one Jonathan sent to Mina and it was:

Ate paprika hendl aka chicken paprikash. Tasty. U should get recipe.

I have eaten chicken paprikash many times and love it. My in laws are hungarian so its a staple for them.

Here is the recipe from the book:
Paprika Hendl

3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds of chicken cooked and cut into strips (my mother in law does chunks)
1/2 cup butter
1 onion diced (mother in laws chops)
3 tablespoons of paprika
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
4 cups of spatzle noodles cooked (mother in law uses egg noodles)

Saute onion, garlic and chicken in butter. Add the broth and paprika to pan. Slowly add flour to the pan to thicken. Simmer 30 minutes and then add half the sour cream. Serve over cooked noodles and dallop sour cream on top. (You don’t have to add the dallop of sour cream if you don’t want. I never do.)

When I was on Bekka Black’s website I discovered that there is an app for iDrakula for your iPhone/iPad which apparently adds to the book even more. Sadly I don’t have an iphone or iPad so I can’t be sure on this.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

(Review) A Scary Tale

TITLE: RBI Fact or Fiction A Scary Tale
PAGES: 128
PUBLISHER: Ripley’s Books
PUB DATE: May 2010

SOURCE: I picked up a ARC of this book when I was at BEA in May/10.

Mission: Believe it or not, sightings of a strange reptilian creature have been reported by witnesses in the Florida Everglades. Investigate the accuracy of these accounts and collect factual information for the Ripley database.

Location: Florida, USA

The Florida swamplands are home to hungry gators, wild electrical storms, and a most unusual creature. Sightings of a strange lizard-like animal reach Ripley High and the RBI are sent to investigate. During their search, the RBI agents find themselves in the middle of a high-speed air boat chase, a swarm of rats, a mysterious treasure hunt, and DUL agents in disguise. But then, that’s nothing unusual when you’re a member of the RBI!

This is the first book in a ten book series. I think this would be a great series of books for the middle graders.

The main characters Kobe, Zia, Max, Kate, Alek, Li, and Jack all attend Ripley High which is a school for kids with special abilities as we discovery slowly in the books. In this first book A Scary Tale we see that three of the characters (Zia, Kobe and Jack) have special abilities which are talking to animals, and dealing with the weather. I think that the kids with the most powerful abilities are granted permission to take part in missions because at the beginning of the book Max is talking about wishing he was on another mission and Zia tells him to be quiet so no one will hear him.

In each of the books the kids will travel all over the world to investigate strange sightings.

In A Scary Tale, Zia, Kobe and Jack all travel to Florida to go to the Everglades to investigate a sighting of a lizard like creature. While there they encounter some problems with another school called the DUL (Department of Unbelievable Lies). They are out to show and prove that all the strange sightings are all lies.

Before the kids leave for their mission they research their location and get as much info as they can. One teacher will provide the geography and another will be their electronic expert providing them with night vision goggles and thermal imager. Once there they will ride an air boat. Its the only way into the Everglades.

Upon interviewing some witnesses they team realizes something isn’t right and quickly realize that DUL is behind it. Will they be able to find this lizard like creature before DUL can prove that there is nothing there?

I managed to read this book rather quickly because at the end of every chapter there was a little cliff hanger and for me it left me wanting to read more to find out what was going to happen next.

Another thing I loved about the book was through out the book there was a drawing of the R-phone and it gave strange facts along the way such as:

The Florida Everglades are home to over 1 million alligators! The longest recorded length for an alligator in that area is 17 feet 6 inches that as long as a giraffe is tall. It is estimated that there are also 500 rare American crocodiles living in the Everglades.

Lightening strikes Florida more than any other state in the US about 12 strikes per square kilometer per year. Of all the US recorded hurricanes 36% hit Florida.

At the end of the book there is a section called Enter the Strange World of Ripley’s and there is information about the Everglades and the real people behind the story. There is also some collector cards included. Which Michael loved.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

(Review) The Allegra Biscotti Collection

TITLE: The Allegra Biscotti Collection book 1
AUTHOR: Olivia Bennett
PAGES: 256
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
PUB DATE: November 2010

SOURCE: I obtained an ARC of the book when I went on a tour of Sourcebooks. Thanks to Paul for putting this book in my hands.

Emma Rose is SO not a diva.

She doesn’t want her turn on the catwalk—she’d rather be behind the scenes creating fabulous outfits! So when a famous fashionista discovers Emma’s designs and offers her the opportunity of a lifetime—a feature in Madison magazine (squeal!)—Emma sort of, well, panics. She has only one option: to create a secret identity.

And so Allegra Biscotti is born.

Allegra is worldly, sophisticated, and bold—everything Emma is not. But the pressure is on. And Emma quickly discovers juggling school, a new crush, friends, and a secret identity might not be as glamorous as she thought.

This is the first book in a new series by Olivia Bennett. I am not sure how many books are planned for the series but I did find out that book two Allegra Biscotti: Who What Wear comes out in June 2011.

When I first got this book in August I wanted to read it right away because it sounded good but I managed to put it away so that I could read it closer to the release date.

I just have to say that my ARC cover is the same as the finished copy. I love the cover and it goes so very well with the book. Looking at it you see that its just like a sketch pad. Specking of sketching through out the book there is sketches and doodles on all the pages which I loved.

Well I picked up this book this morning and read it all today. I had a hard time to put it down.

I also loved that along with the chapters being numbered they were also titled so it gave you some what of an idea what the chapter would be about.

Okay about the book, Emma Rose is a grade eight student at a private school that her mother teaches at. Emma is like your typical girl who loves clothes and being unique and creative in what she wears but the thing that sets her apart is that one day she is hoping to make it big and become a designer. We learn right away that she has a game she plays every morning when she is on the subway to school and that is to design an outfit from the time she gets on the subway until her stop for school. She must take one item from people to make it an wow outfit. So Emma is always sketching.

At her father’s company Laceland she has a little studio set up where she puts her drawings into real pieces of clothing. One day Paige Young, who is a senior fashion editor of her favorite magazine, Madison, is in her father’s company looking at laces for her wedding dress. On her way out she spots Emma’s creations. She loves them and is curious to know the designer. A panicked Emma makes up a name and hopes that will be the end of it but its not Paige is intrigued by the pieces and wants to work with the designer.

What will Emma do? Can she pull of the scheme before its too late? What will happen when she is found out?

When Emma is not creating and designing she is at school. Struggling with her grades, a crush on a popular boy (Jackson) and loosing her best friend Holly to the popular girls known as the Ivana Bees. Will Emma be able to keep it all or will the secret identity and the secrets blow up?

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

(Review) Alexis

TITLE: Alexis (My True Story of Being Seduced by an Online Predator)
AUTHOR: Alexis Singer
PUB DATE: July 2010
PAGES: 168

SOURCE: I received this from Tina at Bookshipper at one of our recent meet ups.

In six words, an instant message changed Alexis forever.

After a rocky junior year of high school, Alexis Singer was lonely, stressed out, and vulnerable–the ideal target for an older man with bad intentions. When a message popped up on her computer screen one night from a message board acquaintance, she could never have known that by responding she was making a choice that would change her forever.

By posing as a friend and confidant, the man gave Alexis the attention she desperately craved and weaseled his way into her life in an unimaginable way. Within weeks, Alexis was sucked into an emotionally dependent relationship, engaging in cybersex and sending him explicit photos of herself. Somewhere along the way, she lost who she was and put her dreams for the future, relationships with friends and family, and psychological well-being on the line.

‘Not much about that first online conversation we had sticks out in my head except for his surprising interest in me. I probably would have forgotten about it if it weren’t for that. I would have dismissed him as just another creep.’

I think I first heard about these books was right around the time BEA was about to happen. I have to say I was and I am really curious about the books because HCI Books has decided to come out with a series of books (6 to date)actually teen authored memoirs. Each book tackles a different teen issue such as mental issues, online predators, dealing with a horrific death of a parent and an illness. I think teens will be able to relate well to these books because they are books for teens written by teens.

The first book I picked up to read was Alexis’s story. I have to say my growing up is so much different then kids today. We didn’t have the Internet then so we never had this to deal online predators like the kids do today.

Alexis is your typical teenager. She is sixteen years old and having a horrible summer, she has just finished her junior year of high school and she is stressed out (college applications) then to top it off she is still struggling about the break up with her boyfriend, Chris.

I felt for Alexis because she has so much on her plate and dealing with alot and the friends she had are no longer there as they are all drifting apart. Alexis spends alot of her time on the computer as so many kids do. Being on the computer she finds a site that has people on it that share her interest, the arts. She goes to the site and escapes from the daily grind of life. She loved that site because on there she was accepted and finally had a place and friends to fit in with.

On the site called The Board she talked and left messages. It was on there that she met her online predator. He was the popular guy but also very rude. It was a hate/hate relationship at first. He always left rude comments about Alexis. One day that changed when he IM’ed her with this message ‘yer not 18 yet, are ya?’ (pg 7).

The man behind this message was a 37 year old guy who she later found out was named Phil and he is married.

I have to say from reading the book that Alexis wasn’t stupid she knew about online predators because she has seen the shows and knew the warning signs but having someone give her the attention she craved she caved like most teens would do. I mean honestly if you are a person and feel as though the world is against you and someone magically appears and tells you just what you want to hear wouldn’t you to?

I really think that more kids should read this book because they don’t seem to realize the dangers of being online and that accepting an IM (instant message) from a complete stranger could change their lives forever.

As a parent I am always cautious when I let Michael online and I am constantly monitoring when he is on. Thankfully he is young and doesn’t really go anywhere dangerous apart from lego and web kinzs world. Although after reading this book I was talking to Michael about the computer and the dangers of the Internet, he told me some of his friends (seven year olds) are on the computer all the time and that one boy sneaks online when his parents busy doing other things (their computer is in the family room in the basement) and I have to say that scared me to hear this.

I don’t think kids/teen agers realize the dangers of the internet and that they don’t realize that there is consequences to their actions. In Alexis’s case she was struggling and having someone say all the right things to her made her feel okay even though she knew it was wrong. Her gut instinct was telling her so but she didn’t listen. Thankfully she got caught before something serious could have happened to her.

I think kids need to realize that once you put it online its out there FOREVER no matter that you delete it from your phone, camera or computer its out there and god only knows what the other person will do with that info or pics.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

(Review) Tweet Heart

TITLE: Tweet Heart
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Rudnick
PUB DATE: June 2010
PUBLISHER: Hyperion Book CH
PAGES: 272

SOURCE: I bought this book when I was on vacation this summer in Illinois at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville. I scored big on this because it was actually a signed copy that had a bookmark in it.

Claire is a #hopeless romantic. Lottie is determined to set up her BFF with Mr. Perfect. Will wants his #secret crush to finally notice him. Bennett is a man with a plan. Claire can’t believe it when her dream guy starts following her on Twitter. She never thought he noticed her, and suddenly he seems to understand her better than almost anyone. But the Twitter verse can be a confusing place, especially when friends act differently online than they do in person. Things get even more complicated when Claire realizes she’s falling for someone else, the last person she ever would have expected?. Told in an innovative format combining tweets, emails, and blogs, Tweet Heart is a contemporary romantic comedy that will set your heart atwitter.


This is a debut novel by Elizabeth Rudnick and when I first heard about the book it went on my wish list. I have tried to look for it here in Montreal and no one was selling it. I would have to order it online so I figured when I was in the US that I would check there and I spotted it right away and picked it up. I quickly noticed the sticker on the cover that said Autographed Copy.

This was a super quick read and I managed to read it one afternoon when we took the boys (Michael and his cousin) to the local pool. It was a great pool read since the boys were constantly distracting me I didn’t have to worry about missing parts.

Tweet Hearts is done in the format of tweets, blog posts, and emails. All are things I love to do and read.

Even though it was done in this format Elizabeth managed to weave it all together to make a great plot that left you wanting to read more and more. Even though there was alot of characters it all worked out and it didn’t leave the reader confused.

It was funny as I was reading it, it brought back memories of when I was in high school except back then we didn’t have the computer and to talk with others we passed notes (which I still have some of the important ones that mean alot to me). Do you remember doing that?

Claire is really the main character and she is a regular high school girl who has a crush on one of the most popular guys in school, JD (something of which I could relate to) and she has had this crush on him since she was little basically. In her circle of friends is her best friend Lottie (the one that always has the guys) and her two male friends Will and Bennett.

As the book goes we see that Will actually has a secret crush on Claire. Trying to figure out how to get her attention he ends up taking advise from Bennett which could cost him everything. Will his plan going to far?

Will Claire take the chance or will she possible loose her friend in it?

I really enjoyed reading this book. I would sit and almost laugh at parts and then other parts I felt like I was yelling into the book at Will because I could so relate to what he was feeling and thinking.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

(Review) Take a Chance on me

TITLE: Take A Chance On Me
AUTHOR: Jill Mansell
PUB DATE October 2010
PAGES: 432
SOURCE: I received an ARC from the publisher. Thank You Danielle.

Cleo Quinn doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to men, but now Will’s come along. Handsome and attentive, he could be her Mr Right. Things are definitely looking up for Cleo… apart from one small problem with a rather large ego. Johnny LaVenture, sculptor extraordinaire and her personal childhood nemesis, is back in Channing’s Hill and tormenting her as if he’d never been away.

Meanwhile Cleo’s sister Abbie has a problem of her own—husband Tom has become distant and withdrawn, and she’s determined to find out why. But will the shocking truth mean the end of their idyllically happy marriage?

The sisters are about to discover that the past can come back to haunt you, and that love can flourish in the unlikeliest of places…

I must point out firstly that the cover that I have shown is the arc version and the final copy cover from Sourcebooks (US cover). Sadly the Canadian cover is totally different and I don’t really like it and prefer the US one much more.

I believe this is my fifth Jill Mansell that I have read since Sourcebooks was given the US rights too. I have to say that I am yet to be disappointed in them. They are funny, entertaining and quick reads. I love them and looking forward to the next Jill Mansell book to come out in the US.

One of the things that I think I enjoy from the books is that in someway I can relate to the characters. This time I thought I could relate well with Cleo. She is almost 30 and still living in the same little town she grew up in, Channings Hill. She is working as a limo driver. She is dating this guy Will and he seems to be the perfect guy and even though they have only been dating a short time Cleo thinks she has met the perfect guy but quickly realizes that he isn’t so perfect. His has a deep dark secret that will tear them apart.

Then if that wasn’t enough someone approaches her and what she thinks could be the worst thing to happen quickly turns into the best thing that could have happen not only to her but perhaps to Ash as well.

The other character I have to say I loved was Ash. He is Cleo’s best friend and next door neighbor. Ash is just your typical guy in the real world he has a hard time talking to the ladies but once he is on air working as a DJ he has women drooling over him. I can actually say I knew someone who was like Ash. You could listen to him on the radio and practically drool over this guy but upon meeting him was completely different. So when I was reading this I automatically thought of him and knew he was Ash in my eyes.

Cleo soon realizes through the course of the book that an old arch enemy has come back to town to try and sell the house he grew up in but quickly realises that Cleo has managed to ruin the one and only offer he might have gotten. Can old arch enemies be able to bury the hatchet and let by gones be by gones?

Another main character in the book is Abbie, Cleo’s sister. Reading the book you see that Abbie has the perfect husband and perfect marriage. We all know that in fiction that doesn’t always happen and this is a case of that being true. Abbie has to stumble on a letter that makes her question her husband and marriage? Is it what it is or something else?

My favorite quote in the book is:

They can give the impression on the surface of being really nice. But deep down, they’re capable of all sorts.

Is that the truth?

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.