Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Giveaway and Interview with Author Kimberly Van Meter

Please join me in welcoming author Kimberly Van Meter to Socrates’ Book Review Blog. Kimberly is the author of numerous Harlequin book as well as two recently released steamy, sizzling ebook novellas. Check out my reviews of The Reckoning and A Red Hot Mess

Kimberly is also giving away two complete sets of her Mama Jo's Harlequin Superromance series. Details about the giveaway follow the interview!

Now, on to the interview...

1) When did you first begin writing?

I wrote my first book at 16 but didn’t get serious about the craft of writing until my boys were about 3 and 1. And even after that I wasn’t actually published until 10 years later. My first traditionally published book came out in December 2006.

2) What was the first book you had published?

My first book was THE TRUTH ABOUT FAMILY by Harlequin Superromance in 2006.

3) What made you branch out into ebooks and novellas?

Actually, a friend of mine, Samantha Hunter, had told me of her success with some of her cozy mysteries that she’d self-published when she hadn’t been able to find a home for them with a traditional publisher. She was so tickled with the venture that I knew I had to try. I’d had a few pieces of work that I loved but hadn’t found a good home for yet so I thought, “what the heck” and went for it. And I’ve been ecstatic with the results. Indie publishing has reminded me why I started writing – for pure enjoyment.

4) Your novellas are sizzling, a bit different from your Harlequin books. Is it difficult to write different genres?

Nope! I love switching from one genre to the next. I think it keeps my skills sharp. Writing in different genres forces me to think outside of my writing comfort zone and that’s always a good thing!

5) Are you planning to continue writing for Harlequin?

Oh yes! I love writing for Superromance. I have a new series coming out in 2012 that I’m very excited about: it’s set in the Virgin Islands and we’re leaving on a research trip in July! How fun is that?

6) Do you plan to write more novellas for ereaders?

Oh yes! I’m totally hooked! I already have the next vampire novella planned featuring Savannah, the abducted sister in THE RECKONING.

7) Does Harlequin ever allow paranormal aspects in their romances? Do you plan to add any to yours?

Harlequin has a line called Nocturne that is paranormal in nature but the line I write for is straight contemporary. So, I have to save my bump-in-the-night stuff for my Indie adventures. :)

8) Which genres and authors do you like to read?

I love to bounce around when I read for pleasure; however, it does seem that I read a lot of historical and paranormal. Although, right now I’m reading a romantic suspense.

9) What are your feelings about the sudden boom in ebooks in the past couple of years?

It’s very exciting times. While I love the feel of an actual book, I know that the ebook revolution is here and I’m all for whatever medium encourages literacy!

10) Any teasers for your upcoming books? Anything we should be looking forward to seeing from you?

Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming July Romantic Suspense, SWORN TO PROTECT:
"When was the last time you showered?" It'd been a while. She could smell herself and it wasn't pretty, but there was a small comfort in her own stink. Perhaps if she smelled bad enough no one would come near her.

When she didn't answer, he said, "Never mind. I think I can figure that one out on my own. Come on, it's time to get up and get moving again," he announced, the grim tone telling her he wasn't looking forward to the prospect, either.

"Not today," she answered, clutching a pillow to her belly.

"Yes today," he countered, his firm control back in full swing.

He'd always been such a bossy jerk, she noted almost distantly. "First things first, a shower." Because you smell, is what he hadn't said but she heard anyway.

"I don't feel like it. Maybe tomorrow," she said in the hopes of sending him on his way.

"Today," he repeated, going to her bathroom to start the water.

"Go to hell," she muttered, but there was little heat and he called her on it.

"Say it like you mean it or don't waste my time. Now let's go," he said, his stance hard and unyielding, like a drill sergeant with an unruly private. "It's time to get back into the swing of things and that starts with a shower. We'll work our way up from there."

Her eyes stung. Why wouldn't he go away? "You're cruel. Don't you understand I can't just yet?"

If there was a softening in his gaze, it was gone in an instant.

"You're giving up. That's not the Iris I know."

She closed her eyes. "That girl is gone."

"No. She's just buried under the layers of stink you're marinating in. Now, either you can get out of that bed on your own accord or I can haul you out. It's your choice, but you'd better do it within the next three seconds or I'll make the choice for you."

"Go...to...hell." This time she added more heat as anger started to thaw the frozen tundra filling the landscape inside her.

He offered a harsh smile. "That's more like it but I know you can do better. Time's up." He approached her and she shrieked as she surmised his intent. She kicked at him but he managed in one fluid movement to rip her sheet from her body and toss her over his shoulder.

She screamed and pounded his back, tears blinding her. Panic built until it threatened to choke the air from her lungs. She inhaled a sharp, painful breath, her mouth working to produce sound but something from her blank memory of that night broke loose and strangled her vocal cords until only a soft mewling escaped her lips.

"Don't do this," she gasped, kicking her feet, but he held her securely, thwarting her best efforts, which were pretty pathetic given how weak she felt from not eating or sleeping. "Sonny...please..." she whispered, tears flowing down her cheeks to land on the carpet as he carried her to the bathroom that had filled with steam. "I can't..."

"You can," he disagreed, depositing her in the shower, still clothed in her sleep shirt and underwear. She gasped as the water pelted her. It was at once scalding and soothing. She sobbed, flashes of memory coming to her from that night. She'd sat on the floor of the hospital shower after Mya had examined her, watching as the water washed away the blood and dirt but could do nothing to remove the pain and degradation.

She'd remained in that shower until the water ran cold but by that time she'd become numb. That'd been the last time she’d showered. She shuddered as great, racking sobs shook her body. Sundance seemed on autopilot and was unmoved by her total breakdown. He grabbed the shampoo and squirted a modest handful into her shaking hands. "Start with this," he instructed. "I trust you can handle the rest."

And then he left, closing the door behind him. She stared at the green glob in her palm as if it were her enemy. But in truth, the enemy was the sentinel outside her door, demanding she put herself back together.

Damn you, Sundance. I hate you.

If only that were true...maybe none of this would've happened.

Her breath hitching painfully in her chest, she began to scrub until her scalp ached but just as she knew that night...nothing would ever take away the stain of what had been done to her.


Thank you for taking the time to be with us, Kimberly. I appreciate your time and giving me the opportunity to read your books.

Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! It’s been great to be here. If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, please do so! You can sign up on my website! Don’t miss out on future excerpts, news, and contests. www.kimberlyvanmeter.com

Now...the bookgiveaway...

Kimberly is offering two sets of her Mama Jo's Boys Harlequin Superromance series to two luck winners! That's three books in a set!

Here are a few simple rules...

1) Comment here that you want to be entered.

2) Leave a valid email address in your comment (I need a way to contact you! No email address, no entry!)

3) For an extra entry, follow my blog. If you already follow my blog, just mention that in your comment.

4) US only.

5) For an additional entry: If you follow me on twitter, you'll get an extra entry. Just mention it in your comment!

6) Subscribe to my blog and mention that in the comments, too, for another entry! If you already subscribe, mention that in the comments!

7) If you blog about the giveaway on your blog, you get 2 extra entries!

All entries must be submitted by June 10th, midnight est. I will contact the winners by email. If I don't get a response within 3 days, another winner will be chosen.

All winners are picked by Random List.org.

Good Luck!

Teaser Tuesdays - May 31st

If you'd like to play along on Teaser Tuesdays, just click the button above.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week one of the books I'm reading...

I loved the first couple of lines, so that's what I'll post today...

"The smallest feline is a masterpiece," I said, using a trembling finger to gently stroke the newborn kitten curled in the palm of my hand. "And that's not me being brilliant. Those are Leonardo da Vinci's words."

"The Mona Lisa guy, right?" my friend Candace said.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners!


I'm thrilled to announce that the winners from my Blogiversary Book Giveaway have been chosen and contacted. Books will be sent out this week.

The winner of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilynn Jackson is Laurel-Rain Snow and the winner of Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts is Julie!



The Reckoning by Kimberly Van Meter



Release Date:
April 2011

Isabella Beckett is one of the top scientists in her field. After the brutal loss of her family at the hands of vampires, Isabella makes it her life’s mission to study, then destroy them all. When vampire Julien de Valsan is dropped in her lap, she runs many tests and experiments.

However, the tables are turned when Julien escapes and takes Isabella with him. He imprisons her and plans to take his revenge by conducting his own experiments on the human. Much to his own shock, the hatred they feel for each other turns into something else. Something very hot that it sizzles off the page.

This novella is a quick read mixed with suspense, thrills, and steamy sex! You can read it in one sitting – not only is it a short story, but readers just won’t want to put it down. This is only available as an ebook and it’s the second one by this author, who usually writes for Harlequin. I love her novellas and I’m so hoping there will be more to come.

Disclosure: The ebook was sent to me by the author for an honest review.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Salon - Happy Summer and Blogiversary to Me!

If you'd like to participate with The Sunday Salon, just click the button above.

It's a holiday weekend and the start of the summer season. I love this time of year. The sun is shining, we're finished with the dreary winter and rainy spring. Well, officially summer hasn't started yet, but unofficially it's here. Not to mention that it's summer reading time...yay!

Today is also my Blogiversary! I still can't believe it has been 3 years since I started this blog. Where does the time go? This has been a great experience and I'm looking forward to continuing the fun. Midnight ends my book giveaway and I will announce the winners sometime on Monday.

As for my reading, this week I finished...

Eternity Embraced by Larissa Ione
Deadly Reunion by June Shaw
Keepsake Crimes by Laura Childs
You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson

Currently Reading...

The Reckoning by Kimberly Van Meter
Ecstasy by Belle Andre

I'm not sure what I'll be reading after these two...most likely another review book. It really does seem to work out better when I read a review book and then read another book just for fun. I'm enjoying my reading more this way.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend! Have a great week!

funny pictures - THE CAT IS CLOSED. HE WILL REOPEN AT 9 P.M.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Friday, May 27, 2011

You Can Be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles For Keeping Life in Perspective by Dr. Richard Carlson



New World Library

Release Date:
March 2003

Basically this is a self-help book which shows you how thoughts control your emotions. The premise is that if you keep negative thoughts away, you’ll be a happier person. It tries to show readers that happiness is in their own control.

While that’s true, and a lot of the information was pretty much common sense, to just put negative thoughts out of your mind, is much easier said than done. At least it is for me. There are many times when I don’t mean to think of something bad, but it works it’s way into my mind. I find myself more able to put bad things out of my mind when I keep busy doing something like reading :)

It was an interesting book to listen to in the car, though. Unfortunately, I think all the main points went out of my head as soon as the last CD was finished. I just don’t think to simply keep negative thoughts out of your head is the answer, it’s just not always able to be done. A good idea, but just too simplistic an answer for those with serious problems (not that I have really have any - I just thought the topic was an interesting one to listen to).

For reading challenge:

A to Z Reading Challenge

Cozy Mystery Challenge - 2011 - Wrap up!

Another cozy mystery challenge completed by me! I guess I need to concentrate on other genres now, but I so love my cozies. If you'd like to check out this challenge, it's hosted by Kris from Not Enough Books and she has a blog dedicated to the Cozy Mystery Challenge.

Here are the books I read for this challenge...

1. Haunting Jordan by PJ Alderman Click for review
2. Executive Sick Days by Maria E. Schneider Click for review
3. Opal Fire by Barbra Annino Click for review
4. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly Click for review
5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke Click for review
6. Keepsake Crimes by Laura Childs Click for review

Keepsake Crimes by Laura Childs

Cozy Mystery


Release Date:
May 2003


Carmela Bertrand is taken aback when her husband Shamus Meecham walks out on her. In fact, he quits his job at his family’s bank and decides he wants a whole new life. Carmela decides it’s time for her to get a whole new life too. She doesn’t have much choice since Shamus’ family kicks her out of the house. She opens a scrapbooking store and even holds classes for the women in town who would like to learn how to make their own scrapbooks.

When an associate of Shamus’ turns up dead during a Mardi Gras parade, all eyes focus on him as the prime suspect. However, Shamus has gone missing and Carmela is left to face the scrutiny of the police. Although they are separated, she’s still his wife and the locals are already gossiping that she might be involved too. In an attempt to clear his name, as well as her own, Carmela sets out to investigate.

This is a “new-to-me” author and the first book in the scrapbooking mystery series. It’s an interesting cast of characters with a very likeable heroine. I didn’t particularly like Shamus as the motivation of his character’s actions aren’t very sympathetic. The way he walked out on her to “find himself” left me wondering why she’d even bother to clear his name.

The storyline was a quick and light read. I was very interested to see who the culprit was and I was surprised by it. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.

I love starting cozy mysteries from the start of a series and this was a good one to begin. There were many descriptions of New Orleans and Mardi Gras with a few recipes and scrapbooking tips thrown in too. This is a fun book.

3 out of 5 kitties

For reading challenge:

2011 Cozy Mystery Reading Challenge

Cover Art Weekend Blog Hop

Cover Art Weekend Blog Hop

This is a brand new meme to display all those beautiful, funny, crazy and even those that make you think book covers you come across each week. I don't know about the rest of you, but I love looking at different book covers. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but they are sure fun to look at. So, if you'd like to join in the fun, all you have to do is...

1. Take the button at the top of this post and post it on your blog.

2. Chose a book cover of your choice and post it. (You can post as many covers as you'd like.)

3. Sign up with Mr. Linky below. Please use the url that links directly to your cover art post.

4. Visit other blogs on the list to see what covers they are featuring this week.

Instead of just one day, I thought I'd run this through the weekends - from Fridays to Mondays. That gives people more of a chance to blog hop.

Have fun!

In honor of the Memorial Day weekend, which signals the start of summer in the U.S., I'm posting summery books covers...

Eternity Embraced by Larissa Ione



Release Date:
January 2011

Andrea Cole is a demon slayer. She kills all demons, including vampires. When she learns that her lover, Kaden Quinn, was turned into a vampire by an evil monster, she must choose between her love of Kaden or her loyalty to her people.

Kaden is horrified that he has been turned into his worst nightmare, a blood sucking vampire. His horror increases when his lover is tossed into his prison – to be his meal!

Andrea and Kaden work together to figure out a way out of this. They are determined to stay together, but it looks impossible since Kaden hasn’t figure out, yet, how to control his hunger.

This is a short story, about a 100 pages and part of the author’s Demonica series. It’s not a genre I have had a chance to read much of lately, but I’ve always enjoyed books with vampires and other demons. This was a fast-paced read and I enjoyed it. It made me want to read more of the series.

For reading challenge…

2011 Show Me the Free Reading (book received free from Kobo)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cat Thursday - May 26th

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! This fun meme is hosted by The True Book Addict. Go over to her site to join in the fun.

Even though I'm back at work, I still feel like I'm in vacation mode. I thought this picture was perfect for me :)

Cruise Ship Chronicles: Cozumel Cool by James Vaughn




Release Date:
January 2011

This was a fun, short romance set on a cruise ship heading for Cozumel. James and Jodi have always been best friends. Both of them need a break from their everyday busy lives and what better escape than a trip to Mexico? They each have brief romances on board the ship, but it never feels quite right. Is it possible the only romance they really want is with each other? After all these years, it doesn’t seem possible.

I enjoyed this. It was a quick, hot romance. It fit in with my vacation mode. I wasn’t on a cruise ship but I was in Mexico. The characters were likeable and, even though it was a short book, you could get a real feel for these characters. I received this one free from Kobo Books.

I noticed there are a series of books by this author set on cruise ships sailing to different places. I already have them downloaded to my Nook. I intend to read them all. Now that I’m back in reality, I need an escape and these will make a good one.

For reading challenge:

2011 Show Me the Free Reading Challenge

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge 2011 - Wrap Up!

I do love my cozies! I finished this challenge while I was on vacation. These are the books I read...

1. Capable of Murder by Brian Kavanagh Click for review
2. The Embroidered Corpse by Brian Kavanagh Click for review
3. Bloody Ham by Brian Kavanagh Click for review
4. Haunting Jordan by P.J. Alderman Click for review
5. Executive Sick Days by Maria E. Schneider Click for review
6. Opal Fire by Barbra Annino Click for review
7. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly Click for review

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Cozy Mystery



Release Date:
January 2008

At the request of her family, Hannah Swenson moves back to her hometown of Lake Eden, Minnesota where she opens her own shop called “The Cookie Jar”. Besides baking, she spends most of her time avoiding her matchmaking mother and her younger sister, who depends on Hannah for everything, including using her services as a babysitter.

Hannah is stunned when she discovers the local delivery man dead in his truck right next to her shop. Her next discovery isn’t much better as her cookies were found all around him. This could mean a disaster to her business if people think someone died as the result of her eating her products. When her brother-in-law, a local police officer, asks for her assistance in finding the killer, she’s more than happy to lend a hand as it will also benefit her business interests.

She never expected to find so many possible suspects in her small town. She thought the victim was so well-loved, but he had quite a few enemies as well. Toss in Hannah’s meddling mother and the two men she’s trying to fix Hannah with and you get a great mystery and romance all rolled up into one nice package. Not to mention that Hannah also has a beloved cat named Moishe :)

There is also a short story featuring Hannah and a mysterious teenage girl who finds herself away from home at Christmas time. Hannah is determined to reunite the young girl with her family.

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the first book of the Hannah Swenson Mystery series which features recipes and titles with different types of desserts in them. Makes me hungry just reading the titles and I’m suddenly craving cookies now. I immediately loved Hannah and the two men in her life. The secondary characters were really fun, too. This was a real page-turner. I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.

For reading challenge:

2011 Cozy Mystery Challenge

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Deadly Reunion by June Shaw

Cozy Mystery

Five Star Publishing


Release Date:
July 2011

Widow Cealie Gunther is invited to go on a high school cruise reunion with friends she hasn’t seen in years. The cruise is heading towards Alaska where her son lives. So she couldn’t turn down an opportunity to not only reunite with old friends, but have a visit with her son and his family. It also gives her a chance to get some much needed space from her boyfriend, Gil Thurman, before making a decision about their future.

The reunion isn’t all Cealie thought it would be as one of her friends has a serious problem that she isn’t willing to share and one of her former classmates used to be her uncle but now is her aunt. Things take a murderous turn when one of her classmates is seen flirting with a fellow passenger, who ends up dead. Cealie is determined to find out what really happened and prove her friend’s innocence.

Cealie quickly learns that her friends aren’t the same people she knew in high school and have many of secrets of their own. To make matters even more confusing, she runs into Gil onboard. She’s convinced he’s stalking her but learns that he’s really there for business that has nothing to do with her.

When Cealie receives mysterious notes and another dead body turns up, she puts on her investigative hat and tries to discover exactly what’s going on. Even her reunion with her son doesn’t turn out as she thought it would. Suddenly her relaxing, exciting trip is turning into one big disaster.

I loved the heroine of this story. She’s a feisty, older heroine who isn’t content to sit on the sidelines. I fell in love with her right from the start. The rest of the characters were quirky and made me want to know what was going on with them. I wish we had more of a chance to see Cealie with her son, though. They have a falling out which I’m sure will be explored in future books. I guess I wasn’t quite ready for the book to end. I needed and wanted to read more!

This is the third book in the Cealie Gunther series and the first one I read. It didn’t ruin the story at all for me to start with the third book. I’m always so anal about starting series from the start but this one was easy to get into and it really didn’t ruin the book at all. I do want to go back and read the first two, though. It’s a fast-paced book that had everything I love in a cozy mystery. For a change, I didn’t figure out whodunit – that’s always a fun thing!

I'm giving this one 5 kitties and my Socrates' Great Book Alert Award. Why? Because this book made me truly care about the characters and want to know what made them tick. When a book leaves you wanting more, that's definitely a good thing.

FTC Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of this book to review. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

Cozy Mystery



Release Date:
February 2011

When Kathleen Paulson returns after being away for a couple of weeks, he’s a newly married man. Kathleen has no choice but to pull herself together and start her life all over again. She is quick to leave her hometown of Boston and get a brand new job in Mayville Heights, Minnesota. Her new job puts her in charge of renovated the small town’s library.

After she moves in, two beautiful cats decide to maker her home theirs as well. She names the cats Owen and Hercules. Owen is a catnip addict, while Hercules loves Barry Manilow. They also have other “special” traits such as disappearing through walls.

Things are going very well until a special guest of the local music festival turns up dead leaving Kathleen as the prime suspect. Owen and Hercules assist Kathleen in clearing her name. To make matters worse, the renovation project hits a snag as it appears the contractor is determined to sabotage the project. She can’t figure out why he’d want to do such a thing, but she vowed to find out.

As most of you know, I love cozy mysteries and this was a fun one. Not only was it a cozy, but it had cats as two of their main stars. The perfect mystery for me. This is the first book of “A Magical Cats Mystery” and I’m really looking forward to the next book, which is scheduled for September, I believe.

This book was fast-paced and the characters were lively and fun. The cats, of course, were my favorite part of the story but the human characters were very well written, too.

I give this one 5 kitties and my Socrates Great Book Alert.

For reading challenges:

Cruisin’ the Cozies Reading Challenge
2011 Cozy Mystery Reading Challenge
What An Animal Reading Challenge IV