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PhoDOGraphy - Special Halloween Edition

It had to be done. 


REVIEW: With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow


Have you ever been a less than perfect friend? To whom does your first loyalty belong—your best friend or your husband? With her trademark wit and empathy, Sally Koslow explores the entangled lives of women in this candid, fast-paced novel.

Quincy, Talia, Chloe, and Jules met in the early nineties after answering a roommate ad for a Manhattan apartment. Despite having little in common, the women became fast friends. A decade later, their lives have diverged, though their ties remain strong.

Quincy, a Midwestern introvert, is trying to overcome a set of tragedies by hunting for the perfect home; Talia, a high-energy Brooklyn wife and mom with an outspoken conscience, is growing resentful of her friends’ greater financial stability and her husband’s lack of ambition; timid Chloe, also a mother, is trying to deflect pressure from her husband, a hedge fund manager, to play the role of trophy wife; while Jules, a fiercely independent actress/entrepreneur with a wicked set of life rules, is confronting her forties alone.

 When Jules gives her new boyfriend the inside scoop on the real estate gem Quincy is lusting after, and Talia chases a lucrative job earmarked for Chloe, the women are forced to wrestle with the challenges of love and motherhood. Will their friendships and marriages survive? And at what price? Punchy yet tender, a high-five to sisterhood, this book will hit an emotional bull’s-eye for anyone who has had—or been—less than a perfect friend.

About the Author

Sally Koslow is the author of With Friends Like These, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx and Little Pink Slips. Her essays have been published in More, O: The Oprah Magazine, and The New York Observer, among other publications. She was the editor in chief of both McCall’s and Lifetime, was an editor at Mademoiselle and Woman’s Day, and teaches creative writing at the Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College. The mother of two sons, she lives in New York City with her husband.


  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345506227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345506221


I was frustrated by the characters in this book.  I thought that there was no way people treat each other that way, but with further examination, the actions are so little, yet develop into life changing consequences for each one, that it turns out it be realistic.  Four roommates become fast friends and try to retain their friendship even though they have all taken different paths and outgrown each other. Overall I have to say, that I really enjoyed the book. 

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: Ecstasy in Darkness by Gena Showalter


New York Times bestselling sensation Gena Showalter enthralls with a dark, tantalizing world of humans, otherworlders, powers beyond imagining, and a seductive vampire undone by his insatiable hunger for one woman. . . .Growing up poor on New Chicago’s meanest streets, Ava Sans had two options: be the predator or be the prey. No contest. Now, working for Alien Investigation and Removal, she’s been ordered to capture the biggest, baddest warrior of all—a vampire too beautiful to be real, with the ability to manipulate time. Once the leader of the entire vampire army, McKell has been deemed savage and unstable, spurned even by his own kind.To McKell, humans should be nothing more than sustenance. Yet the petite, golden-skinned Ava is a fascinating contradiction—vicious yet witty, strong yet vulnerable, lethal but fiercely loyal. Against his better judgment, McKell craves that loyalty, and much more. When the chase leads to seduction, McKell and Ava will race to discover the truth about his past. But the answers will come at a price, even for a woman who thought she had nothing left to lose. . . .

About the Author

GENA SHOWALTER is the New York Times and national bestselling author of more than twenty novels in a wide range of genres, including her acclaimed Alien Huntress series for Pocket Books: Awaken Me Darkly, Enslave Me Sweetly, Savor Me Slowly, Seduce the Darkness, and Ecstasy in Darkness.  Her fiction has appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen and has been nominated for a prestigious RITA, as well as the National Reader’s Choice Award. She is universally acknowledged to be “made of awesome.” Visit her website at


  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; Original edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439175772
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439175774

YUM!  As Gena's Website says she is "made of awesomeness".  I have read almost all of Gena's books and if I haven't read them, they are on my shelf.  I first discovered the Alien Huntress series when I picked up Red Handed, I fell in love with all of the characters.  I know the series was first written for teens and I thought it was optioned for television show, but never heard any more about it.  Fortunately, you can pick up any of the Alien Huntress novels in the series and not be lost with the characters or world they inhabit. 

The story centers around Ava and McKell, a vampire that falls for Ava.  Ava is the kick-ass AIR (Alien Investigation Removal) agent-in-training.  She is sent on a suicide mission with her friend, Noelle, to bring in the vampire, McKell. Of course, McKell falls for Ava and they both try to uncover his past while trying to save the world.  There is another twist as well, with another agent , Dallas, trying to track down a zombie queen who is infecting  the population. 

OK, so I don't think I have given too much away.  The story is written with all of the snark and hottestness you have come to expect from this author.  Ava and Noelle's interactions alone are the stuff of one liners you will find yourself writing down to use on that special someone who annoys you.  McKell can be annoying but does redeem himself nicely towards the end. 

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate


Camilla’s Cucinotta: Italian Cooking Classes. Fresh take-home pastas & sauces daily 
Benvenuti! (Welcome!) Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine—a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can’t make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that’s why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla’s Cucinotta, she’s determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother’s legacy.
But Holly’s four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla’s chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter’s heart. Juliet, Holly’s childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can’t find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad, Liam, from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend. As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla’s essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed—and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.

About the Author

Melissa Senate is the author of eight novels, including the bestselling See Jane Date, which was made into an ABC Family TV movie and has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide.  She's published short pieces in Everything I've Always Wanted to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, It's a Wonderful Lie, Flirting with Pride and Prejudice, and American Girls About Town.  A former romance and young adult editor from New York, she now lives on the southern coast of Maine with her son.


  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439107238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439107232

Melissa Senate knows how to craft the perfect Chick Lit book without being cliche, although I think this one would probably fall into the category of Contempory Fiction.  I am pretty sure I proclaimed her last book, The Secret of Joy as her best book ever, but she keeps getting better.  Can you tell how much I enjoy them? 

Holly has her heart broken and in her search to repair it, she starts teaching cooking after inheriting her grandmother's shop.  Camille has a lot to teach Holly and the lessons come through as touching and poignant.  Holly finds true friendship through cooking and sparkles when Juliet, Tamara and Mia (an almost teen) meet up with Simon.  Holly falls for Liam, Mia's dad and tries to work through her past. They all have deep dark secrets and when they learn to share, the story really takes off. This reminded me a lot of The Friday Night Knitting Club, so if you enjoyed that, you will love this one!


REVIEW: Haunted Honeymoon by Marta Acosta

Product Description

THERE’S MORE THAN HER HEART AT STAKE. . . .As the only human to survive vampire infection, Milagro De Los Santos has become quite a celebrity among the blood-drinking elite. Too bad the perks of her condition—increased strength, super-fast healing—don’t pay her condo fees. There are other complications too. She’s feeling guilty about her fling with enigmatic Vampire Council member Ian Ducharme, and pining for her ex-fiancĂ©, Dr. Oswald Grant . . . the fabulous man whose kiss changed her life. It’s when Milagro—irked by Ian’s attentions to his neighbor—travels to London and enjoys a sexy flirtation of her own, that the blood really hits the fan. Suddenly, those around her are dying gruesome deaths and Milagro’s being interrogated. Who would kill to set her up as a murder suspect? Milagro just wants to turn back the clock and have another chance to make things right, but no sooner has she escaped to Oswald’s ranch than an accident obliterates her memory. Will the murderer come after her now? And will amnesia spark a romantic do-over with Oswald—or will she make all the same mistakes before she ever gets to say "I do"?

About the Author

Marta Acosta received a degree in English literature and creative writing from Stanford University. She is a regular contributor to The San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Newspapers. Her debut novel, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, was a Book Sense Pick.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416598871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416598879

ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT  - spoiler alert!

I feel like I am about to write a eulogy since I have just discover that this is the final book about Milagro.  Marta Acosta is one of the best paranormal writers I have ever read and will sadly mourn the passing of the Casa Dracula series.  Fortunately, the books survive the series' demise and you can read them all over and over again.  You can't find a better written vampire series that combines wit, a love of dogs and gardening.  Actually, I don't know of any other series that combines these three.

This story is a wonderful send off for Milagro since she gets to have her honeymoon after all.  Well, honestly, you had to know that much just from the title, so I am not spoiling much.  I won't mention who she ends up with, but it is not Oswald. Getting to the honeymoon is a wacky, snark-filled trip and one that I found immensely enjoyable.  Milagro is never dull or boring and her philosophical discussions just make you smile.  I swear I found a bunch of one liners that I want to use myself.  Nancy (my fav!) makes a few cameos as well and check out Nancy's Theory of Style if you need a fix or find yourself missing Milagro.

I just adore Acosta's writing and hope she has more books planned.  This is one author who could make her grocery list sound witty and literate.

ROCKTOBER REVIEW: Rock and Roll Homicide by RJ McDonnell


Just as the rock band, Doberman's Stub, was about to reach stadium tour status, its leader was brutally murdered when his headphones exploded during a recording session. The widow, who inherits $5 million, is the San Diego Police Department's number one suspect. She hires Jason Duffy, a 27-year-old PI and former musician, in his first year of private practice. Jason learns that the victim was in the middle of an acrimonious renegotiation with the record company at the time of his death. He also finds that the record company has a very unhealthy tie to the Russian Mafia. As an inexperienced detective, Jason does not yet have the contacts within the police department to gather vital information. He is forced to mend fences with his estranged father, an opinionated ex-SDPD detective. While Jason investigates the record company, he also takes a close look at the three surviving members of the victim's band. One is an alcoholic/drug addict drummer, on the verge of being kicked out of the group. The second is a bass player who camouflages his rock star status by living in an ordinary house in a lower middle-class neighborhood. Third is a lead guitarist and writer of half of the band s songs, who lives well beyond his means. Jason has not yet become hardened to the very real dangers of his new profession. We experience his inner conflict as his girlfriend, staff, and family are drawn into the danger zone. After Jason's part-time employee is severely beaten during a stakeout, he sells the story of the Russian Mafia's involvement in the record business to a tabloid journalism TV show in a misguided effort to protect his employer and coworker. This serves to drive the case to new heights of danger and suspense. Jason goes behind the industry veneer of sex & drugs & hedonistic lifestyles. He shows us how the 21st Century world of downloads, file sharing, and image demographics need to be considered in a case of Rock & Roll Homicide.


  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Killeena Publishing with RJ Communications; 1ST edition (2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0981491413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981491417

This review appears on Susan's blog Rocks and Reads on her West of Mars site. 
Be sure to visit her site and check out all of the reviews!

When author RJ McDonnell dropped me a note, I was more than thrilled to hear from him. I’d seen his name around in certain circles and since he writes about a dude who used to be in band, and since his first mystery, Rock and Roll Homicide.
Not the sexiest title out there, but I love the cover shot of a Fender Strat that’s been splattered with blood. Even though the dead guy dies in the preface, and I doubt any residue would make such a lovely pattern on a white strat, it doesn’t matter. And if it did, there’s so much good stuff going on here.
I’m not sure where to start, really, other than to say I loved this tale. I loved the main character, Jason Duffy. I loved his quirky cast of mentally disabled people and helpmeets. I loved Duffy’s narrative voice; it has total character. I loved his dad and the veteran, grizzled cop and the computer geek dude who never wants to use his names.
Maybe we should back up. Our intrepid hero, Jason Duffy, hasn’t been in business very long when he gets a visit from the very wealthy Chelsea Tucker. It turns out it’s her husband’s brains that have been spattered across the aforementioned guitar — among other things. It seems her husband is the famous — but contentious — Terry Tucker, frontman and business genius behind Doberman’s Stub, a band rocketing to the top — and currently recording their third album. This is the one that’s going to push them up to that coveted peak. Everyone knows it.
That’s why Terry was killed, it turns out. He put on a pair of headphones (conveniently given to him by his wife. What a loving woman.) and … kablooey!
The wife needs Jason’s help to clear her name. And Jason dives right in, encountering the Russian Mafia, the Irish Mafia, Orangemen, half-naked women, photographers with Tourette’s Syndrome, and a whole laundry list of surprises and twists and turns that even a experienced knitter couldn’t unravel.
Needless to say, McDonnell pulls it off. Neatly, I might add. And with no small dose of humor — particularly the scene where Jason goes sneaking around a shower. Trust me. It’s the best scene in a good book.
Now, you know I can’t write a review without talking about the downers, and there were some, of course. I’ve yet to read a book without them.
In Rock and Roll Homicide, there are two big ones. First is that the cast of characters is huge. Quirky and well-drawn, sure. But it’s big. Big casts can get confusing, and alliteration never helps. Oh, I’m not talking about the way in which half the characters have Russian names. See above about the Russian mafia.
Rather, there are an awful lot of women whose names start with the letter J. A lot of people with the first initial of C.
It’s a shame, really. These characters are all given such delicious quirks and characters, and then to confuse us with the similar names… talk about torture.

I’ve got McDonnell’s second book here, waiting for me to read it, too. Rock & Roll Rip-Off, it’s called. All I gotta say is that it’ll be a ripoff if there’s no third book in the works.

Waiting on Wednesday: Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster's mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitantsÑand put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging.

About the Author

Joan Bauer has won critical acclaim for her many books, which include the Newbery Honor Book Hope Was Here as well as Rules of the Road, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (February 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670012823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670012824


AND THE WINNER IS: Jack Bruce by Harry Shapiro


An email has been sent to the lucky person named above (first part of their email address in case my note ends up in spam).  They have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
Thanks to all who entered.

Didn't win?  Order your copy from my Amazon link:

AND THE WINNER IS: To Your Dog's Health by Mark Poveromo


An email has been sent to the lucky people named above (first part of their email address in case my note ends up in spam).  They have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
Thanks to all who entered.

Didn't win?  Order your copy from my Amazon link:

AND THE WINNER IS: Demo Tapes Year 1 & 2 by Susan Helene Gottfried


(JHolden also had the most entries -- so if you ever wonder if those extra entries count, they do!)

An email has been sent to the lucky person named above (first part of their email address in case my note ends up in spam).  They have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
Thanks to all who entered.

Didn't win?  Order your copy from my Amazon link:  SUSAN -- WWW.WESTOFMARS.COM

REVIEW: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer


Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

About the Author

Andrea Cremer is a professor of history at Macalester College and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039925482X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399254826


slight spoiler alert!  Please only read the first paragraph if you don't want any hints about the storyline.

This book lives up to all the hype.  I finished it in just two evenings and considering it is well over 500 pages, it was a very fast and easy read.  There were no slow parts at all and it reminded me a lot of the later Harry Potter novels.  I felt the same drive to continue reading this one well into the night. 

Calla, at seventeen, is the alpha wolf of the Nightshade pack and set to marry rival pack leader, Ren, on their eighteenth birthdays.  Shay is the new boy at school and Calla is asked to protect him from harm after rescuing him from a bear attack.   Although Calla is resigned to her fate of  mating with Ren, she doesn't have the same feelings that she discovers she has for Shay.  And there you have the classic love triangle, except that Ren and Calla are only going through the motions.

I found Ren annoying until the very end when he redeemed himself quite nicely by unselfishly rescuing Calla and setting her free to follow her heart.  I have a feeling that Ren will continue to play an important part in Calla's life, but their relationship was more like siblings than lovers.  Calla develops into a wonderfully strong character and again there is more to her than her physical strength and beauty.  Shay is the key to the whole series and it will be interesting to see how this nerdy boy progresses. 

Overall, this book is suitable for anyone over twelve. There are mentions of alcohol, implied sex, but nothing worse than kissing actually takes place.  I didn't get the cover at first, but once I read the book, it all made sense. 


Book Trailer Tuesday: Mosh Potatoes by Steve Seabury

Mosh Potatoes - Recipes, Anecdotes & Mayhem From The Heavyweights of Heavy Metal 

Doesn't everyone need a heavy metal cookbook?


New Giveaway @ Linda Weaver Clarke

Halloween Book Give Away
Come join the Halloween Party at my blog. Book Give-Away October 25 – November 1: for those interested in Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail at U.S. and Canada.
Have you ever wondered how Halloween got started? Did you know that the Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America in the 1800s? In celebration of Halloween, I'm having a book give away for a historical romance novel. All my books are “sweet” romances for teens and adults. Listen to the video and read the sample chapter and then list one thing that grabs your attention. By the way, the excerpt doesn’t reveal who the mysterious stranger is, just in case you're wondering.
With mysterious letters, cattle rustlers, a spunky woman, the liar's fire, Halloween, and young love, there is always something happening.

Linda Weaver Clarke

REVIEW: Healer by Carol Cassella


From national bestselling author Carol Cassella comes the story of one doctor’s struggle to hold her family together through a storm of broken trust and questioned ethics.Claire is at the start of her medical career when she falls in love with Addison Boehning, a biochemist with blazing genius and big dreams. A complicated pregnancy deflects Claire’s professional path, and she is forced to drop out of her residency. Soon thereafter Addison invents a simple blood test for ovarian cancer, and his biotech start-up lands a fortune. Overnight the Boehnings are catapulted into a financial and social tier they had never anticipated or sought: they move into a gracious Seattle home and buy an old ranch in the high desert mountains of eastern Washington, and Claire drifts away from medicine to become a full-time wife and mother. Then Addison gambles everything on a cutting-edge cancer drug, and when the studies go awry, their comfortable life is swept away. Claire and her daughter, Jory, move to a dilapidated ranch house in rural Hallum, where Claire has to find a job until Addison can salvage his discredited lab. Her only offer for employment comes from a struggling public health clinic, but Claire gets more than a second chance at medicine when she meets Miguela, a bright Nicaraguan immigrant and orphan of the contra war who has come to the United States on a secret quest to find the family she has lost. As their friendship develops, a new mystery unfolds that threatens to destroy Claire’s family and forces her to question what it truly means to heal.
Healer exposes the vulnerabilities of the American family, provoking questions of choice versus fate, desire versus need, and the duplicitous power of money. 

About the Author

Carol Wiley Cassella majored in English Literature at Duke University and graduated from medical school in 1986. She currently practices anesthesiology in Seattle and was a freelance medical writer specializing in global public health advocacy for the developing world. She is the mother of two sets of twins and is working on her next novel. Visit the author at


  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416556125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416556121


I enjoyed Oxygen, the author debut and Cassella sticks to what she knows.  The family is living the American dream and when it is all swept away, the Boehnings must learn to regroup and return to their roots.  Parts of this book ring really true since so many people spend money that they should be saving.  Addison creates a mess when he gambles their life savings on a new cancer treatment without Claire's knowledge. This is never a good thing in a marriage.  The story is well paced and although I didn't agree with some of it, I could see where the author was going.  She really painted a complete picture of the family's strife.


The Familiars -- Official Halloween Blog Tour Stop

We are also having a special Familiars-themed Halloween Scavenger Hunt! At each stop along the blog tour, we will be asking a trivia question from our book. After you fill in your answer, the letter that falls in the place of the * can be placed in the corresponding number of the larger puzzle. So for example, since this is question number 10, the letter that lands in the space where the * is can be filled in where the 10 is in the larger puzzle. The larger puzzle will form yet another clue, and anyone who answers it correctly will be entered into a drawing for an autographed book as well as a few other Halloween treats!

Be sure to visit The Familiars blog at to find links to all other blog stops and find out where to send in your answers! All entries must be entered by November 15.

10. Aldwyn uses a ___ ___ ___ ___ - ___ _*_ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ to curse the octopot in Agdaleen's lair.

Hint: Chapter Eight, Page 155

11 5 18 8 15 1 9
__ __ __ __ __ __ ' __

7 19 14 23 2 25 16 10 12 20
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

17 3 22 6

__ __ __ __

21 4 24 13
__ __ __ __ (official website) (book trailer)

Happy Halloween everyone!
Andrew & Adam


AND THE WINNER IS: The Wave by Susan Casey

An email has been sent to the lucky people named above (first part of their email address in case my note ends up in spam).  They have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
Thanks to all who entered.

Didn't win?  Order your copy from my Amazon link: