Monday, January 25, 2010

Revamping my review rating

I am working on a new rating system - the 5 star thing works, but I really didn't have much method behind it. Granted a 5 star book is a 5 star book, but I want to do something now that has a formula behind it. So take my rating for what you will and read the review - it gives more than the rating does anyway (at least I hope so).

Here is my new method that I will follow for forthcoming book reviews: A total score of 10 is possible and I will divide the score by two for rating sites that have 5 stars (which is most of them). But on here my reviews will be a ?/10 and here is the guidelines along with some general explanations:

2 pts characters - do they grip me, feel like I am with them, in romance do sparks fly b/w them
2 pts plot - well plotted, everything flows, is there a message and is it well presented  (if no real message in the book - it will not be penalized unless it was supposed to have a message)
2 pts writing - not stilted, conversations flow along with other writing, not too wordy or too sparse
1 pt attention holding ability - enough said
1 pt ending - not meaning acceptable to me but is everything tied up as it should be (if part of a series does it tie it up enough for the one book knowing there will be loose ends)
1 pt believable - if it's fiction is it too over-the-top - paranormal is a whole new world, so I'm not talking normal - just is it too much or not
1 pt romance/tension/suspense/etc - this is left open according to genre - how well does it match it's genre, is the romance good, is the suspense suspenseful, is it really geared towards young adults?

So there it is - I reserve the right to tweak this as I go along.  I will also take suggestions of what you like to know about in a review - I'm still learning here and want to provide the best reviews I can, knowing the whole time that reviews are subjective.

So please offer suggestions if you have them, if not I will start my new ratings on Wednesday with my next fiction review (tomorrow's review is  non-fiction and I really don't put ratings on them - I need to work out a system for that too).

Review, Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Black Tie Affair by Sherrill Bodine

 My Review:

Rating: 3.5/5.0
I really like the concept behind this book - the look into vintage couture dresses and jewelry fascinates me.  I am a home sewer and love vintage wear and live for stories about couture.  I could envision the beautiful dresses and wanted to see them myself.  The story of how Athena runs into Drew again after all these years and the problem with the dresses from his family vault is great in concept.  Most of the book had me enthralled.  But overall I was left feeling kind of ho-hum about it.  I think the execution was hurried by the end - most of the book was spent developing a wonderful story, but not enough time was given to concluding it.  It was really hurried.

That said - I did enjoy this book and look forward to reading more by Ms. Bodine.  I am guessing there are more stories in this series coming since Athena has two more sisters.  I also want to read Talk of the Town.  The characters in A Black Tie Affair are great - I loved Athena, she is struggling with her feelings for Drew and her own self-confidence which is somewhat linked to Drew.  Drew truthfully hasn't forgotten Athena but he still feels betrayed by her actions from long ago.  The attraction starts right back up when they meet but they are both fighting it and each other.  There is great tension and mystery in the book and the romance is good.  It is a good book - I just wish it had been a little longer.

However I suggest you check it out for yourself as this is just my opinion. 

 About the Book:
Fashion curator Athena Smith will do anything to get her hands on the Clayworth family's couture collection for her exhibit. So she's thrilled when she's called in to authenticate the gowns...until she falls ill while examining them and wakes up face-to-face with notorious Chicago bachelor Drew Clayworth.

Drew doesn't trust Athena one bit. He still believes she betrayed him years ago. So when his family's gowns go missing and Athena offers her help in exchange for the dresses, he reluctantly accepts. But they're both taken off guard by the barely restrained passion that's still between them...and the memories that are both bitter and sweet. As they work together to find the dresses, can they resist the sparks between them?

Find out more about the Author:
Follow @SherrillBodine on Twitter 



I have three copies of A Black Tie Affair by Sherrill Bodine to giveaway.  To enter simply leave your email address in the comment.  Additional entries for being a follower (RSS/Blogger/email) or a Twitter follower and for tweets (1 per day).  Giveaway open to the US/Canada only and ends on 2/8/2010.

Blog Tour Participants: Review, Giveaway, Q&A 1/18/2010 Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Giveaway, Guest Post 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway, Q&A 1/19/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/20/2010 Review 1/20/2010 Giveaway, Guest post 1/20/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/21/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/21/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/22/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/22/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/22/2010
http://therempels4.blogspot Review, Givewaway 1/22/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/23/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/25/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/25/2010 Review, Giveaway, Guest post 1/26/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/27/2010 Guest post and giveaway 1/27/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/27/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/28/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/29/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/29/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/29/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/29/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/29/2010

What are you Reading Monday - January 25

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see J.Kaye's Book Blog and join in!

Books Completed Last Week:
  • Poseur by Rachel Maude
  • Smash Cut by Sandra Brown
  • Us: A User's Guide by Dan Tocchini
  • The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher
  •  Let Them Eat Fruitcake by Melody Carlson 
  •  Black Tie Affair by Sherrill Bodin
Reading Now:
  • Invitation Only by Kate Brian (ebook) 
  • Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris (audiobook)
  • Points of Power by Yolanda Adams
  • Lone Star Legend by Gwendolyn Zepeda
  • Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater
  • 50 Ways to Feel Great Today by David Biebel, James Dill MD, and Bobbie Dill
  • The Courteous Cad by Catherine Palmer
Reviews Completed this week:
Reviews to do:

  • Don't You Forget About Me by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Let Them Eat Fruitcake by Melody Carlson
  • Smash Cut by Sandra Brown
Summary -
Another great reading and reviewing week.  I managed to keep up even with returning to work.  I hope I can continue.  I have a stack of review books, a stack of library books, a bunch of new ebooks and too many to count on my bookshelf.  So I won't be bored any time soon.

Mailbox Monday - January 25

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. To see this weeks list of participants go here.  I had another good week, check out what I received and feel free to leave your links so I can see what you received also and add to my wishlist.

ARC/Review Copies of:

Arcadia Falls
Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Release Date: March 9, 2010

There once was a girl who liked to pretend she was lost. . . .

Meg Rosenthal is driving toward the next chapter in her life. Winding along a wooded roadway, her car moves through a dense forest setting not unlike one in the bedtime stories Meg used to read to her daughter, Sally. But the girl riding beside Meg is a teenager now, and has exchanged the land of make-believe for an iPod and some personal space. Too much space, it seems, as the chasm between them has grown since the sudden, unexpected death of Meg’s husband.

    Dire financial straits and a desire for a fresh start take Meg and Sally from a comfortable life on Long Island to a tucked-away hamlet in upstate New York: Arcadia Falls, where Meg has accepted a teaching position at a boarding school. The creaky, neglected cottage Meg and Sally are to call home feels like an ill portent of things to come, but Meg is determined to make the best of it—and to make a good impression on the school’s dean, the diminutive, elegant Ivy St. Clare.

St. Claire, however, is distracted by a shocking crisis: During Arcadia’s First Night bonfire, one of Meg’s folklore students, Isabel Cheney, plunges to her death in a campus gorge. Sheriff Callum Reade finds Isabel’s death suspicious, but then, he is a man with secrets and a dark past himself.

Meg is unnerved by Reade’s interest in the girl’s death, and as long-buried secrets emerge, she must face down her own demons and the danger threatening to envelop Sally. As the past clings tight to the present, the shadows, as if in a terrifying fairy tale, grow longer and deadlier.

In Arcadia Falls, award-winning author Carol Goodman deftly weaves a mesmerizing narrative of passion: for revenge, for art, for love.
 Then Came the Evening: A Novel
Then Came the Evening by Brian Hart
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release: December 22, 2009

A riveting, psychologically rich family drama set in the American West, from a writer who has been compared to Cormac McCarthy.

Bandy Dorner, home from Vietnam, awakes with his car mired in a canal, his cabin reduced to ashes, and his pregnant wife preparing to leave town with her lover. Within moments, a cop lies bleeding on the road.

Eighteen years later, Bandy is released from prison. His parents are gone, but on the derelict family ranch, Bandy faces a different reunion. Tracy, his now teenaged son, has come to claim the father he’s never known. Iona, Bandy’s ex-wife, has returned on the heels of her son. All three are damaged, hardened, haunted. But warily, desperately, they move in a slow dance around each other, trying to piece back together a family that never was; trying to discover if they belong together at all.

With unflinching honesty and restrained beauty, Brian Hart explores the possibilities and limitations of his characters as they struggle toward a shared future. Like a traditional Greek tragedy, suffused with the mud, ice, and rock of the raw I daho landscape, Then Came the Evening is tautly plotted and emotionally complex—a stunning debut.

Desert Fire: A Novel
Desert Fire by Shannon Van Roekel 
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release: September 22, 2009
For FIRST Wild Card Tours

Personal turmoil amid horrific conflict-these are the elements of a career-making headline. . . and a journey toward healing

On assignment in Darfur, journalist Julia Keegan is determined to open the eyes of average Americans to the atrocities taking place there-and to distance herself from the dark shadow cast by her father, a man she's never really known. So when Joel Maartens, her father's young lawyer, shows up in Sudan, Julia is completely unprepared to respond. She has steeled herself against the horrors of genocide, but she isn't prepared to face her own past.

As Joel's and Julia's lives are redefined by the injustice and violence around them, both are forced to face truths they would rather leave concealed. Fighting for justice is no easy task, but learning to forgive in the face of hatred may be the resolution that Joel and Julia both desperately need.

The Imposter - How a Juvenile Criminal Succeeded in Business and Life
The Imposter?  How a Juvenile Criminal Succeeded in Business and Life by Kip Kreiling
Publisher:  Brigham Distributing
Release: September 30, 2009
received from the author - I will also be having a giveaway for this book in the next few weeks

LEARN the secret to Benjamin Franklin's success

DISCOVER how Abraham Lincoln turned enemies into friends

SEE the evidence that proves human beings are not primarily driven by instincts - that we can chance

LEARN how Hernan Cortez launched one of the most successful military conquests in history and how that insight can help you

DISCOVER the real reason why the Iron Curtain fell

SEE why rats weaned themselves off of heroine - on their own!

FIND out how a hardened, modern-day Juvenile Criminal found lasting happiness

Am I dead? I watch from above as my abused body lay motionless on the shoddy bed below me. My mind does not want to face the truth . . . As a result of a drug overdose the author experienced an epiphany on how people can beat addiction, which he describes in chapter Two.

Each chapter is filled with visceral accounts of modern day challenges, both personal and professional, and how you can overcome them. From the slums of Georgia to the castles of Europe, be entertained and inspired at the same time.

Is someone you love struggling with the challenges of our modern times: addiction, weight control, a troubled child, or an overwhelming business challenge? Do you need to change something in your life but don t know how to start or how to finish? Have you wondered if people can really change? If they can, are there steps or methods that can propel the change? If so, The Imposter will inspire you.

The Imposter describes how the author, Kip Kreiling, transformed from a hardened juvenile criminal to a highly successful corporate executive, husband, and father. Through his journey, he discovered 8 principles of human transformation that will help anyone achieve their aspirations.
 Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists, A: 100+ Lists to Save You Time, Money, and Sanity
A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists by Michelle LaRowe
Publisher:  Revell
Release: January 1, 2010
For a Revell Book Tour

Grocery lists. Checklists. To-do lists. Lots of people love--and live by--lists. And parents are no exception. Today's families are busier than ever, and moms don't have the time or energy to search and scramble for the parenting information they are desperately seeking: How much should my child be sleeping at this age? What toys will most benefit my child? What items are truly essential in furnishing a nursery? What questions should I ask a potential caregiver? What are the signs of a family-friendly restaurant? The answers to these questions and more than a hundred others are at a mom's fingertips with A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists. This handy, practical reference guide will save time, money, and sanity for today's busy women.
A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists is your one-stop resource for more than 100 lists to live by, including: When to Call the Doctor Questions to Ask before Choosing a Pediatrician Sleep Training Your Baby Top Toys for the First Year Terrific Activities Toddlers Love Easy Steps for Taming Tantrums Feeding a Picky Eater Signs of a Family-Friendly Restaurant Common Childhood Allergies and Illnesses Instant Pick-Me-Ups and so much more Start saving your time, money, and sanity today!

Michelle LaRowe is a national speaker, parenting consultant, and author of the Nanny to the Rescue! series and Working Mom's 411. She is the 2004 International Nanny Association "Nanny of the Year" and a credentialed career nanny with more than fifteen years of experience. LaRowe is often featured on television and in print as a nanny expert and has been lauded for her dedication to improving the quality of in-home child care. To learn more, visit

Swinging on a Star: A Novel (Weddings by Bella)
Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson
Publisher: Revell
Release:  January 1, 2010
For a Revell Book Tour on February 15

Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. She's got the perfect guy, she's running a successful business, and she's about to plan her most ambitious wedding yet, a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's just one hitch. The best man just happens to be Brock Benson, Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at the Rossi house to avoid the paparazzi? With all the pressure surrounding this wedding, Bella's not sure she's going to make it through. Add her starstruck sister, her feuding aunt and uncle, and a trio of large, sequined church ladies with even bigger personalities, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs. This hilarious romantic comedy is sure to delight both fans and new readers alike.