Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tis the season...

... to watch movies. Holiday movies. They engender in the viewer a feeling of contentedness and joy. Whether it be Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty, White Christmas, or It's a Wonderful Life, everyone has their favorites. December can not come to an end in my house without a viewing of White Christmas. The singing and dancing alone make it a classic. Here in Chicago there is even an annual sing along viewing at The Music Box theater. What can be better than a room full of people singing along "Sisters, sister, never been two more devoted sisters..."

Another one of my favorite holiday movies is one that I must confess to watching year round. Whenever I am feeling melancholy or romantic or bored or am cleaning or... well, you get the point. This movie isn't just a holiday favorite, it is one of my all time favorite films.

What movie is this, you ask? Why Love Actually, of course.

Why do I love it? It is not one specific reason, but a collection of many. Love Actually contains romance, comedy, serious moments, fabulous actors, and sharp, realistic dialogue. Here are some of my highlights:

Liam Neeson. He may not be conventionally handsome, but there is something so compelling about him. His interactions with the boy playing his stepson are fabulous. They have a great chemistry and report. The emotion he shows as a grieving husband is touching. There is a moment between him and Emma Thompson in his kitchen where he suddenly starts to cry. The emotions ambush him. It is believable and real. Emma's response is classic. "If you keep crying all the time no one will ever want to shag you."

Alan Rickman. I love him. Seriously, ever since I was in junior high and watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. He was so evil. In Love Actually he is... well, kinda stupid. He and Emma Thompson play a husband and wife. Watching them, you actually believe they are a married couple in real life, it's so natural. It is a testament to their acting abilities. When they are sitting in their family room and Emma is picking out gifts for her daughter's friend, I always laugh out loud. "Should we give her little friend the one that looks like a transvestite or a dominatrix?"

Billy Mack/Nighy. Oh man, he is such a highlight of this film. His skeezy former rocker is lovable and reprehensible. He gets extra points for the slight against Britney Spears. The song he sings in the movie is on my Christmas playlist. Cheesy? Yes. Fabulous? Most definitely.

Colin Frizzle. "And he has a big knob!!!" heehee! It makes me giggle like a 13 year old boy every time. I love that he goes to Wisconsin, of all places. In the commentary, Richard Curtis admits that he didn't realize what the state was like when he wrote the film. It wasn't until after filming it that he realized how unintentionally funny that is. I remember leaning over to my friend in the theater when we saw it and agreeing with Colin's assessment that he could come to America and get a girl simply because of his accent. We silly girls are a sucker for an accent. There once was this Kiwi that I knew.... ::sigh::

Karl and Sarah. Their story is heartbreakingly sad. It was the love that should have been. The truly sad part is that so many times in life outside circumstances impact your romance in a negative way. Everyone has experienced that at some level in their lifetime. I think that is why this plot line rang so true.

I love that the most innocent of all the couples is the one that we see naked together. This was such an odd, random story. So cute. When he leaps off her front stairs after their first date I wanted to squish him. "All I want for Christmas is you."

Speaking of, little Sam and his crush on Joanna? Adorable!!!!

Lastly (for this post since it is getting long, but not the last thing I love about the film): the unrequited love. Not just the story, but his declaration. If any man ever did this for me I would cry like a baby and then be all his. It is sweet and funny and romantic. I just love it.


Chicago, IL

It has been reported that local music teacher and avid bibliophile Shannon M- has been reported missing.  A regular visitor at book blogs and local tea shops, her presence has dwindled to non-existence in the past month.  Concern has been expressed over her whereabouts. 

One individual, who chose to remain annonymous, said tearfully, "She kept talking about Nano.  Nano this, Nano that... I don't know who this Nano is, but he is not good for her!" 

Allegedly, shortly after beginning her involvement with the mysterious Nano, Shannon became reclusive, eschewing social functions and interactions.  The normally outgoing young woman transformed into a mere shadow of herself.  It is unknown whether this Nano person is responsible for her disapearance, or if it is merely a coincidence.  Officials are not ruling him out as a person of interest.

If anyone has information as to the whereabouts of Shannon or the identity of Nano, please contact the local authorities. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Powering through

I have hit a wall. The free flow of words has ended and the head-banging, teeth-pulling phase of writing has begun. I love my characters and story... I think. I feel like I have lost them a bit. I am completely freaked over the timing of the story. The time frame should be about a year (to fit with the plot line), but my characters are only four months in and are ready for things to move along already. Damn.

I am a bit behind schedule when it comes to word count. That is freaking me out. I wrote about 1700 words this morning, but I am still behind. I had wanted to reach 40,000 by the end of the day tomorrow. Not sure that is going to happen. I need inspiration. Big time.

I took a little time for myself and RL last week, which is what has set me back a bit. That being said, I was actually able to do some reading. I finished Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Gurhke and am over halfway through Demon Moon by Meljean Brook. Two very different books. Once I finish reading and NaNo is done I will put my reactions to the books up here.

I the mean time, I need to get back to my WIP. It sure ain't gonna write itself.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holy hotness, Batman!

I have decided that I must write a scene like this into my NaNo book.  Yup.  Definitely need to.  ::fans self::

Just one more reason why Kevin McKidd deserves to play Jamie in the Outlander movie. Yum!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Writerly things

Last night I attended my second RWA chapter meeting. I have to say it is tons of fun and great seeing other folks who are working at the same goal as me (some far more successfully.) I am starting to wonder if God/Fate/the GoogleMap wizards don't want me to attend. This was my second meeting and the second time I have gotten lost. Oy. But I digress.

The Chicago North group is a critique heavy chapter. Members read excerpts from their current projects aloud and the other give feedback and suggestions. I can see why so many of the Chicago North writers are published. Having that many individuals provide feedback (in the nicest possible way) would be amazingly helpful. Not that I am jumping at the chance to be in the spotlight. There is a waiting period for new members to share, but I would completely freak out. ZOMG!

One of the things they did last night was to have the published writers in the group read from their contracted work. I have to say, I was impressed and now have titles to add to me TBE pile. A couple that really stuck out in my mind were...

Title: What a Scoundrel Wants
Author: Carrie Lofty
The quick and dirty: Will Scarlet. Need I say more?
Seriously, you all need to purchase this book. I will be released the first week of December. Christmas present to self, anyone? Her language and descriptions were fabulous. "flacid corpse" Ew!!!
Title: The Brass Bed
Author: Jennifer Stevenon
Why should you read it?: There is magic and pigeons that smoke cigarettes. Also, the author is on the local roller derby team. How cool (and slightly scary) is that?
Title: Girl of My Dreams
Author: Morgan Mandel
Plot device: Boss/secretary. Add in a Bachelor type reality show and highjinx will ensue. It is also an ugly duckling story. I'm a sucker for both.
There were a few more and others will be reading from their published work next time. Apparenty, the chapter has something like a 46% publication rate. Amazing.
If I ever want to be one of the folks reading aloud at a meeting I need to get cracking here. This darn book isn't going to write itself. I need to get 2000-4000 words written today. No school means butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. I just need to figure out what my hero is going to do when he turns around and sees the heroine staring at his naked, sweaty chest... "we're just friends, really!"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Writing soundtrack

I've seen it mentioned numerous times and by numerous writers: the writing soundtrack. I didn't really get it at first. Being a music teacher, when I hear music I am conditioned to listen. I can't tune it out. I have found music to be a hindrance rather than a help when trying to write.

This has all changed.

I don't know if it is the particular story that I am writing, but this puppy has a list of songs that is continuing to grow. It all started as I completed the first chapter. By the end of it I knew my H/h theme song: Bleeding Love. Yup, this is one angsty couple. As the words have been flowing, so have the song ideas.

For those interested, here is what the ever growing list currently contains:

Bleeding Love/ Leona Lewis
Taking Chances/ Celine Dion
Look After You/ The Fray
What's Left of Me/ Nick Lachey
Almost Lovers/ A Fine Frenzy
Apologize/ Timaland & One Republic
Dancing/ Elisa
Fix You/ Coldplay
Dreaming With a Broken Heart/ John Mayer
Feeling Good/ Michael Buble
Gravity/ Sara Bareilles
Lost Without You/ Robin Thicke
Love Song/ 311

Yeah. Super emo. But it fits for the story. With the music going, the words are flowing. I am currently 17,667 words and 55 pages into this bad boy (just since Nov. 1st Woohoo, NaNoWriMo!) My other WIP was going alright, but this one has a momentum that is simply stunning. I am just holding on for the ride. Hopefully I survive. Hopefully it doesn't suck. Let me tell you, it is putting me through the ringer emotionally. Sometimes writing what you know is not an easy thing.

UPDATE: 20,253 words!!! More than I have ever written on one story ever!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Review: Lord of Scoundrels

Title: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Genre: Historical Romance

I read this book months ago. I am not sure why or how I got away with not writing up a review, because this a a book I want to pimp to one and all.

They call him many names, but Angelic isn't one of them . . .
Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain, is big, bad, and dangerous to know. No respectable woman would have anything to do with the "Bane and Blight of the Ballisters"—and he wants nothing to do with respectable women. He's determined to continue doing what he does best—sin and sin again—and all that's going swimmingly, thank you . . . until the day a shop door opens and she walks in.

She's too intelligent to fall for the worst man in the world . . .
Jessica Trent is a determined young woman, and she's going to drag her imbecile brother off the road to ruin, no matter what it takes. If saving him—and with him, her family and future—means taking on the devil himself, she won't back down. The trouble is, the devil in question is so shockingly irresistible, and the person who needs the most saving is—herself!

It is my opinion that Sebastian, Lord Dain, now has the title of most tortured hero in Romance. Like many heroes, he had a father who was distant and, quite frankly, hated him. After being subjected to enough hatred, he chose to embrace the image his father had of him. Deviltry and meanness became his coping device. Stuck in that cycle of bullying, he grew to become a man who valued little. He was rude, vice riddled. He flaunted conventions simply to gain a reaction. If he began to meet someone’s expectations (good or bad) he would take steps to ensure that they gained no satisfaction. It would take extraordinary circumstances and an extraordinary woman to effect a change. He had no interest in Jessica’s brother, Bertie, but her concern for the wastrel lit the fire of challenge in him. He wanted to see how far he could push her, if he could break her. It ended up being Sebastian, a bigger historical Alpha I have yet to read, who would break.

I find myself often saying that I like a heroine because she is strong and feisty. That she does not let the men in her life, no matter how Alpha, dictate the decisions she should make for her life. This is true. I can not abide a weak willed or TSTL heroine. There comes a point where I no longer feel she deserves the hero. The two should be a match for one another. Jessica Trent goes beyond my expectations for a heroine. Yes, she is strong and feisty, but she is more than that. Jessica is not just strong, she is the foundation. For her family, for her relationship. She provided the stability and security her loved ones needed, yet she did not allow herself to sacrifice who she was. Instead of sitting by as her brother ran them into bankruptcy, she found a way to use her talents to support them both, if not in the style he preferred. When she saw that Bertie’s association with Lord Dain was going to be detrimental to his life and her own, she did not simply tell her brother to stop and sit back wringing her hands. Oh no, she knew her fool of a brother would pay no heed, and walked right into the lion’s den. She knew her strengths and accepted her limitations. She acknowledged her attraction to Sebastian, but did not expect him to equate lust with love. Frankly, she knew he was a rake and wanted no part of it. Not that he gave her much of a choice (in the best possible way!)

It was heartbreaking to see Sebastian project his own self loathing onto his son later in the book. He was allowing his father, and his hurtful actions, to impact his ability to reach out to his own child. He was aware of this, yet was nearly unable to stop it from happening. Jessica, loving Sebastian wholly and completely, saw the young boy as the scared, hurt soul that truly was. That was not difficult for her since she saw shadows of that same child in Sebastian’s eyes every time she looked at him. His belief that he was not worthy of love, especially hers, was what took a nasty bastard of a character and made him into a redeemable hero.

This book was like a wonderful stew. Rich and satisfying, leaving you wanting just one more bowl despite the fact that you are full. The ingredients were well blended and hearty, yet peppered with just the right amount of seasoning. Lord of Scoundrels was peppered with just the perfect seasoning of secondary characters. Bertie, the brother you want to strangle. Jessica’s grandmother. Sebastian’s ridiculous cohorts. His former mistress and mother of his child. And that poor boy. Misunderstood, used as a pawn.

Things I loved: The scene in the rain up against the lamp post. Delicious! Jessica storming in like an avenging god and shooting Sebastian. Yes, our heroine shoots the hero. With a gun. Every time they argued, which happened all the time. The arguing was foreplay. Actually, their contentious relationship reminds me of another of my favorite H/h pairings: Sam and Jaine from Mr. Perfect. I would go so far as to say that if you like one of these books you will likely enjoy the other. The same intense chemistry, bickering foreplay. Magic, both of them.

Things I disliked: Um... I’m not sure there was anything. If I had to isolate one thing it was how blind Sebastian was towards his son. Here was a chance to make up for all the evil his father perpetrated on him throughout his life, and he could not see past the surface. True, the story gave us Sebastian journey to a place in his life, with Jessica’s love, that he could let go of the past enough to make room in his heart for his son. He was redeemed. So I guess this is not really something I disliked, since I can see the validity of this subplot.

This book is an absolute MUST READ for anyone who likes historical romance. I would go so far as the say it is a must read for an romance reader. Period. This is without a doubt on my list of Best Romances Written.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Book Club: The Rest Falls Away

Happy Halloween!!!!!

The fabulous day of fun, fright, costumes, candy, and parties has arrived. It is also the day of the book club deadline. I hope you were all able to get your hands on a copy of The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason.

So what did you think?

Did you feel that the book was more like a romance novel or an Urban Fantasy? Will you be reading on to book 2?

What did you think of her Scooby Gang (her maid and maid's cousin)?

I know I have to ask... Max or Sebatian? Or are you the one sitting there loving deLacy?

Highlights? Lowlights?

Share with us, please. But whatever you do, NO SPOILERS FOR FUTURE BOOKS IN THE SERIES. If you do I will be forced to go Gardella on your ass and stake you. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am SOOOOO not ready for NaNoWriMo to begin. Hell, I can't seem to focus on my current WIP. I need to buckle down and get some serious planning done tonight and tomorrow. I want to make November worth the insanity.

That being said, I will probably disappear a bit while immersed in the NaNo challenge. I hope you will all forgive the likely neglect here at What Women Read. For a while life is going to be all about what this woman is writing. I will try to keep you updated.

No worries, though. The book club post goes up tomorrow and I have a review of Lord of Scoundrels scheduled the first week of November. Man, I loved that book!

See y'all when I surface!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meljean love

I heart Meljean. I do! I know many of you do, too. There is just something so lush about her writing. The characters she creates and the world in which they live are vibrant and real. Reading her work leaves me inspired to write, yet completely intimidated. Seriously, the girl is frickin' unreal!

I admit that I am late to the party where Meljean is concerned. Then again, when am I ever on the ball with book releases and trends in the industry? Never. That being said, I have only read Falling For Anthony, Demon Angel, and Paradise. I just finished Paradise (from the Wild Thing anthology) last night. The need to finish it may have contributed to me being late to a meeting (more about that meeting later.) I just could not put it down. Usually a novella leaves be feeling unfulfilled. I want more from the characters or the plot. Not so with this story. Lucas and Selah were wonderful. I completely believed the passion that developed between them, no matter how fast it happened. The vampire community in Ashland was hilarious. I have had vast experience with theater people. The fact that they were vampire theater people made me smile.

I am finding it difficult to be coherent with my thoughts on the book. I loved it. Lucas was this great, intense hero. He had the angst and tortured guilt that I just love in a romance. He was all that, and a vamp, yet managed to not be an Alpha hero. AND I STILL LOVED HIM! Me, the "I only break for Alphas" gal. The fact that he is not an Alpha is actually quite important when it comes to the nature of the vamp community that he leads. Selah is this combination of tough warrior and vulnerable woman. She is conflicted. She is being pulled in two different directions and it is killing her. She is 100% committed to the role of a Guardian, but something doesn't seem to fit.

I think the thing that I enjoy most about Meljean's books is that she doesn't take the easy way out with the HEA. It would be so easy to make all of the characters into Guardians at the end or to have all of the Guardians fall. With Hugh and Lilith (Demon Angel), they still have ties to their past. Lilith does not want to get married. In the end love wins out, but it is not a typical HEA. Lucas and Selah get their HEA (or perhaps more of a HFN), but it is not all tied up with a pretty, shiny bow. The book is a paranormal, but the HEA rings more true to me than those in many Contemporary Romances. There is an honesty to it that I appreciate as a reader. (Of course, I still love the rosy endings with the wedding and baby. I just like some realistic love endings, too. Gives a practical yet romantic single girl some hope.)
This novella is a must-read for me. If you have not yet jumped on the Mejean bandwagon... what are you waiting for?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Book club reminder!

Hey everyone. I just wanted to drop a quick reminder that the deadline for the WWR Book Club is next Friday. I will post a discussion thread for anyone who is/had read the book by that day. I am about 2/3 of the way through the book and can't wait to see what you all thought.

Happy reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Haunted Reading Recs from Those Who Write

We bibliophiles devour books by our favorite authors. But what are those authors reading? I took a deep breath and asked that exact question to some local and not so local authors. But being me I couldn't simply ask what books they like. Oh no, I had to keep with my theme of the month: Paranormal/Haunted Books. So here you are, the paranormal books that rocked our authors' socks.

Larissa Ione, author of Pleasure Unbound, recommends:

Full Moon Rising, by Keri Arthur – I picked this as a Haunted Reading Recommendation because it's gritty, scary, and each page is bursting with vampires, shapeshifters, and werebeasts. With all those creatures running around causing trouble, the book is absolute Halloween fun!

Kiss of Midnight, by Lara Adrian – I love the gothic feel of this book, the shadowy, dark details, the incredibly textured description. Then there are the vampires….yum! How can a Halloween read get much better than this?

If Angels Burn, by Lynn Viehl – I simply adore the atmosphere in this book. A scarred, scary hero, a strong heroine suddenly dumped into a dark, frightening world. The book is intense and mysterious, and again…vampires!

Jenna Petersen/Jess Michaels (Lessons From a Courtesan) says:

As a historical writer and fan, I rarely dip my toes into paranormal, but the books in that genre I’ve loved the most seem to all be written by Kathryn Smith. Her Victorian vampire series is spectacular (start with BE MINE TONIGHT) and her new Dream series is also outstanding (BEFORE I WAKE is out now, but I’ve already read the second… haha!).

Jade Lee (The Dragon Earl) shared:

It’s not romance, but I have been reading Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. It’s adventure urban fantasy. Dresden is a wizard in Chicago, and he’s funny, touching, and grip your pages exciting. I started ages ago with the short lived television show which I really enjoyed. Then I tried the first book, now a Dabel Bros comic (with an awesome prequel). Anyway, the first book was Storm Front, and it was good. The second book was Fool Moon, and it was better. After that…they just blew me away. He just gets better and better. I’m now on White Night, which is ninth in the series, and it’s still incredible. Awesome, awesome books and an amazing talent!

Also under the not-romance category the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine is really good. I’ve really enjoyed that. Same thing: adventure urban fantasy, but she’s got a bit more romance in there than Butcher. Actually, a lot more, but the series grows and it’s fabulous.

Under the romance side: I’ve also been reading Gena Showalter’s Lords of The Underworld series. Darkest Night, Darkest Kiss, and Darkest Pleasure are the first three books. If you enjoy alpha males and the “I see you, I want you, you are my destiny” thing, then these are the books for you. I do enjoy that type of set-up at times, so I really got into this series.

And finally, don’t forget my series! Dragonborn is a fantasy romance where a dragon hunter is tracking the last dragon egg to kill it and its owner. Then he falls in love with the woman who’s got it. He’s supposed to kill her, he has to kill her, he needs to kill her. Oops! Sort of puts a crimp in the love story! *grin* The next book Dragonbound comes out in April!

Jaci Burton (Riding Temptation) encourages us to read:

Jackie Kessler's Hells Belles - A wonderfully fun paranormal urban fantasy about a demon succubus on the run in human form trying to escape eternal damnation. I loved this book because it was funny, sexy, had a strong, kickass heroine who loves fashion (what's not to love about that?), plus a unique twist on Hell at the end that I found mind boggling. First in Jackie's Hell on Earth series.

Melani Blazer's Hot Rod Heaven - It's like Stephen King's Christine, only sexy and romantic instead of scary. A woman thinks her dead boyfriend is back, and that a car is stalking her. A seriously great read, with chills and beautiful, hot and sexy romance. (Available at Ellora's Cave in ebook and in print).

Meljean Brook's Demon Night. I know it's book 5 of Meljean's Guardian series (Really, if you haven't read this series yet you're missing out on something magical), but it's my favorite. Why? One word - Ethan.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween meme

Naida over at The Bookworm is doing a month of Haunted posts ::waves!:: She just posted this meme and I thought it fit right on with my month of paranormal and Halloween lovin'. So here I go. You will now see just how big of a wimp I am.

Halloween Meme:

1. Do you watch scary films? Which are your favorites? I have to admit, I am a big wimp. I usually avoid scary movies like the plague. I blame my brother. I would come home from school and be ambushed by Freddy or Jason on the television. Eeek! I do enjoy suspenseful movies. Silence of the Lambs. Scared the crap out of me, and I loved it. The Exorcist is still one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. It is not about monsters of a serial killer. It connects to faith and religion. Depending on your beliefs, the possibility can be all too real.

2. What is your favorite scary book? I have not read that many scary books. I tried reading a Dean Koontz book once and had to put it down. I never finished it. Yup, wimpiest wimp alive. Otherwise I would have to say Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is my all time favorite scary book. We had to read it in 8th grade English class. It has stuck with me all these years later. It is creepy, psychological, and had Carnies!

3. What scary book to film adaptation is your favorite? I loved the book and movie of Something Wicked This Way Comes. More creepy than scary, but damn good.

4. What type of scary films do you think are better...the older ones like Psycho or the newer ones like Saw? Definitely the older ones. Alfred Hitchcock was brilliant in his ability to scare the audience without explicit gore. The fear was all about the psychological aspects of the film. It is much more difficult to do this successfully. You don't rely on blood and body parts.

5. What is your fav Halloween treat? chocolate and caramel apples

6. What is your favorite Halloween costume? Do you still dress up for Halloween? Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I dress up every year. My friends always have a party, and I get to dress up for work since I teach in an elementary school. The mother of one of my students is a costume designer for local theater companies. She made my costume last year and is making one for me this year. I will be a fairy. :) My favorite costume was the one she made for me last year. I was Inara from Firefly/Serenity. She made the exact same costume that the character wore in the episode "Jaynestown". I absolutely adored it! See why:

Want to do this meme? Consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vamps on Screen

My love of the paranormal, especially vampires, is not limited to the written word. Oh no, I love vampires in all mediums. Books, television, films. I enjoy them all. So today I give to you some of my favorite vamps of the big and small screen. Enjoy the pretties!

Buffy and Angel (of course!)

Mick and Beth (Moonlight... man, I miss that show)

Selene, because she is the most ass kickin'est female vamp out there

Do you have a favorite "live action vampire"?

Review: Vamps and the City

Book:  Vamps and the City
Author:  Kerrelyn Sparks
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Darcy Newhart was a reporter for a local New York news station.  She had dreams of covering the big stories, but like all newbies was assigned to the human interest stories.  She was a talented reporter who was able to bring wit and charm to the most boring or demeaning situations.  New York loved her.  And one Halloween night she went missing. 
Surviving the attack that night brought her into the world of vampires, and into the harem of vampire leader, Roman Dragenesti.  With Roman's impending wedding, the members of his harem are at loose ends.  What will become of them.  Darcy sees this as her chance to once again gain some of the freedom she lost four years ago.  To that end she seeks employment at the only vampire run television station, DVN.  The throwback of a station manager agrees to hire her if she can come up with a unique programming idea for their stale evening lineup.  Thus the first vampire reality show is born, The Sexiest Man Alive.

Sick of the sexism she faces in the vampire community, she decides to really throw a wrench into the works.  Contestants on her show will be competing for the title of sexiest man alive, a large cash prize, and the role of master to the harem.  How best to shake things up in the vampire community?  Cast five contestants that are mortal! 

When Sean Whelan, the leader of the CIA faction the Stake Out team, discovers this news he immediately orders his two male agents to audition for the show.  At the audition Darcy meet Austin Erickson, the embodiment of her male fantasy.  The attraction and chemistry is instant.  She knows he is human, but he does not realize she is a vampire, the evil scourge that he is fighting against.  Madcap folly ensues.

I found this book to be a fun, light read.  I would catagorize it along with paranormals written by Lynsay Sands and Katie McAllister.  Fluffy and fun, but not a whole lot to sink your teeth into.  While I was reading it I was engaged in the story.  When I put the book down I could completely forget about it and go days without picking it up again.    I'm not saying it was bad or boring or anything negative.  I think that my tastes are evolving.  Books like this one used to be my go-to for an entertaining read.  I want more intensity and eroticism in a paranormal these days. 

Things that I liked:  The plot with the reality television show.  It was silly and fun.  I enjoyed how the women of the harem grew as individuals during that time.  I particularly liked the fact that Darcy hated being a vamp. It made me happy to read about a character who wanted more out of life than what they were allowing her to have.  She was a victim, but she was working to change the status quo.  Her friendship with Gregori was sweet.  He was so protective of her.

Things I did not care for:  From the first mention of it, I knew exactly what was going to happen at the end.  There was very little mystery.  The end felt a little to pat and perfect.  It was a little too fairy tale, wave a magic wand and all is better.  That being said, it definitely gave me the HEA I demand in a romance.

Overall:  It was a cute book.  I think it would be a good paranormal romance to give to someone who is new to the (sub)genre, or even new to romance.  The heat was about moderate, the action was relatively tame.  A boy-meets-girl-but-thinks-he-can't-have-girl story.  Not fabulous, not horrible.  A decent middle ground book.  I think the best word to describe it is inoffensive.  It won't send you into raptures, but you aren't going to throw it against the wall. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Club: The Halloween Edition

I asked and you answered. The book club this month shall be...

The Rest Falls Away
by Colleen Gleason

The deadline will be October 31st (of course!) at which point I will publish a discussion post where we can comment and argue over which gentleman we think should be the hero. (Warning: I hear that there is not a HEA, perhaps more of a HFN or a Happily Some Day since it is the first book in a series.) I hope you will all read with me. I look forward to seeing what you think of the book.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I can haz bookclub?

I know, I know, I have completely dropped the ball on the What Women Read Book Club.  That's because this woman has not been reading all that much with school and writing sucking up my time.  So what better way to dive back into my TBR pile than to choose a title for the WWR book club?  Since it is October and I have been posting around a paranormal theme, this month's selection will be a Haunted Read.  I am posting this a bit late, so I am going to let you all help choose the book (if you have already read it or have it in your TBR this is great!)  The reading deadline would be October 31st (could I really pick a day other than Halloween?)  Here are the titles I would like to choose from:

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover by Linda Wisdom

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason

A Taste of Crimson by Marjorie M. Liu  (yes, I know this is the 2nd book in a series. Each book is written by a different author, so I will pretend I don't know this and maybe my series OCD will not pitch a fit.)

What do you say, my friends?  Which book shall we all read?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pick your predator

In continuation of my Halloween theme I have a question for you today.

As you may have figured out by my recent posts, I have a thing for vampires. If you write a book with a main character (especially the hero) as a vampire, I am yours. Truly. I have read some really not great books simply because there were vamps in it. Werewolves? I like 'em, but I can pass on their story. Demons and angels? I have only recently started to read those. I blame Meljean for this. Until I read Demon Angel I had no desire to read a sexy scene the included a woman with horns or a man with a tail. Lilith has ruined me.

But I will still pick a vamps over these other paranormal creatures any day of the week. Vampire Urban Fantasy? Yup! Vampire historical romance? You bet! Vampire contemporary? Absolutely! I just love vamps. Why is that, you ask? I think it is the versatility of the vamp mythos. Each author has created their own world. Sometimes vamps are the walking undead. Other authors have their vamps originate from Atlantis or even an alien race. It might be a virus that has infected the vamp or they are simply another race living amongst humans. Some can walk in the sun with ill effects, while others will incinerate upon UV contact. Vamps in certain mythos drink blood from bags (blood banks). There are almost always laws dictating the acceptable behavior of vamps living along side humans. There are politics, societal norms, and the illicit love they feel for the woman or man who is not one of their own kind. These vamps are strong, passionate, possessive, determined, haunted, damaged, gorgeous (of course), tortured, primal, demanding... Alpha in every sense of the word. And damn if I don't love it.

How about you? Are you a fellow vamp lover or does another otherworldly being get your knickers in a twist? What is it about them that sucks you in every time?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Feelin' the Love

The super sweet and fabulous Wendy from Kicks and Giggles was sharin' the love earlier this week and bestowed upon me this award.  Thanks, Wendy!  It really means a lot to me, especially since I have only been part of this wonderful book blogging world since March.  I still feel like such a newbie sometimes.  This award makes me smile and makes me feel like I need to get on top of things over here.  No, not like that, you dirty birds!  I meant, you know, get organized and maybe post with some consistancy.  Of course, this means reading and actually writing a review.  I really need to finish that latest vamp novel I started.

Anyhow, it is now my turn to pass out the awards.  I think most every blog I visit has already received this award.  With that in mind, I am simply going to recongize those blogs I consider a "must visit" on days when I am strapped for time.  Here are the blogs I can't miss:

Stacy- My local book pimp
Sarai- She who has volunteered to suffer through my writing attempts
Smart Bitches- They were my intro into the world of romance book blogs/sites. If not for them I would still be clueless.
DIK Ladies- Yes, I know I am part of it, but there are so many of you involved and I just feel honored to be part of such a great group and blog.
Meljean Brook- Cracks my shit up. 'nuf said.
Ripmybodice- I never laugh more than while reading their reviews. Frickin' hilarious.
JenB- WTF Wednesdays.  She dares to ask the questions, we dare to share too much.

So you want to participate? Here are the rules:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 5 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Taking the plunge

Yes, that's right my friends, I am taking the plunge into NaNoWriMo.  For the past few years I had seen my friends (both of the RL and Internet variety) blogging about participating in this mysterious NaNoWriMo thing.  I was not sure what it was.  Eventually I figured out it had to do with writing, but that was about it.  Now, since entering the wonderful world of book blogging, I have finally figured it out.  So here I am officially signed up for my first year of participation.  At first I was excited that I would have a challenge that could help me finish my book.  Then I read the fine print (you really should do that before signing up for things.)  I can't use my current writing project for NaNo!  I have to start fresh with something new.  Oh noes!!!  My lighthearted paranormal romp needs more work.  It is not nearly done.  I am focused.  I am determined. And they want me to start something new?  Crazy talk! 

::deep breath::

OK, I can do this.  I can make this work.  So now I have a plan for the month of October: write the heck out of my current project (let's see how many words I can get up to) and plan out writing project #2 for NaNoWriMo.  That is a ton of writing.  I just hope I don't burn out before November 1st.  I wrote a little over 4500 words over the past two days.  Tonight I have decreed that there will be no writing.  I will take a break and work on developing my hero for the NaNo project.  Tomorrow?  Writing.  Thursday?  Develop heroine.  Friday?  Fun time with the girls!  Saturday?  See Friday :)  And then back to the writing.  A little bit of fun. A little bit of planning. Some decent writing time.  Hopefully it will all balance out to me being ready to go full tilt on November 1st.

The really exciting part is that I think I have convinced a couple of the teachers at my school to have their students participate in the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Program.  It looks like tons of fun.  The kids get to set a personal word count goals.  There is a writing workbooks that even I want to use to plan my book.  Seriously, this thing has writing activities to develop their characters, setting, internal and external conflict, plot, and just about anything else you can think of.  The only drawback is that they only have a PDF file of the workbook.  You can't purchase hard copies for the students.  Each book is 85 pages long.  That is a whole lot of copies to make.  It will take some creative planning, but I think it is doable between using the overhead projector, power point, and selective copying.  I am considering telling the students that I am participating and challenging them to try and beat my word count.  It would certainly give me the drive I need to write.  How embarrassing would it be to be out-written by a 6th grader?

Monday, October 6, 2008

A writing question

OK, my friends, I need your help.  I have been playing with a story for a couple of months now and I am finally getting some words down on paper (over 10,500 now!)  I'm in the groove a bit and realize I need some feedback.  Sarai was fabulous and looked over things when I first started (thanks, hon!), but I think I am ready to enlist a critique partner.  This question goes out to all of you currently writing, how did you go about finding your CP?  How exactly does this all work?  Any advice for a writing newbie?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Paranormal influx: good or bad?

Vampires. Oh, how I love them. I think my fascination began back in high school when I first read The Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith. The angst. The love. The hot vamp guys. There is just something so compelling and sexy about a vampire hero. Yes, I know that there are books out there where the vampire character is not gorgeous and heroic. Frankly, I like to ignore those books (unless it is a para rom or UF with other fabulous men in it.) Give me a book with a tortured "other" in the spotlight and I am your devoted reader.

Since pickings used to be so slim in terms of para rom (see my previous post), I used to devour any dark romance that came my way. With the exponential explosion in para rom and UF offerings I have found myself in a bit of a pickle. I actually have to make choices about the books I read. Crazy, I know. I no longer have to settle for what the publishing houses release. There is a multitude of offerings every week. This is a seemingly wonderful problem to have. Too many choices can't be a bad thing, can it? Actually, it can.
Because reader demand for para rom is at it's highest in years, the publishing houses are releasing floods of books for our consumption. When they only offered a handful of selections, the publishers would be more selective about the stories they released. Today, I fear that there is more of a focus on quantity than quality. It used to be a much rarer occurrence for me to buy a vamp or werewolf novel and end up disappointed. Nearly all of the books were well written with interesting, well thought out plots. I am sad to say that is not the truth today. Don't get me wrong, I know not all of the para rom novels released ten years ago were of the highest quality, but the percentage of high quality para rom books has seemed to decrease as this recent trend has built.

Or it can be explained in a different way. Perhaps the benchmark has been set higher. In days past I was ecstatic to snag new titles by the likes of Lynsay Sands and Susan Sizemore. These authors are still writing, still giving us the same style and plot that they have for years. This is neither good or bad, just a statement of fact. I just finished reading The Rogue Hunter by Lynsay Sands. It was pretty much what I expected from her: light, easy read, a sprinkle of vamp angst (although really more like worry than angst), some misunderstandings, and lurv. As is typical of her vampire series the H&h meet in an unexpected way. He can not read her thoughts and... life mate! How to tell her? I am beginning to view her books more like a contemporary romance where the hero or heroine just happens to be a vampire. The focus is more about the interactions between the main characters and how they will overcome the fact that he/she is different. Heck, take away vampire and insert a different religion or ethnicity and you have a contemp. Again, this is neither good nor bad. It really depends on what you are looking for in your paranormal romances. Lately, I have been wanting more.

Maybe I can lay blame at the feet of such authors as J.R. Ward, Larissa Ione, Lara Adrian, and Meljean Brooks, but I expect more out of a para rom novel these days. I demand angst. I expect suspense. I want a Big Bad that makes you cringe. There must be some damn good chemistry and that HEA better make my heart speed up. (The Rogue Hunter seemed to have more of a HFN, which I don't accept in a romance novel, thank you very much.) I finished reading Pleasure Unbound (Larissa Ione) earlier this week. I put it down and immediately went to my computer to find out when the next book was going to be released. THAT is what I am talking about. Eidolon was all I could ask for in a hero: smart, sexy, wrestling with his own inner demon (pun slightly intended.) He had his own set of morals, yet was tempted to break them, or realign them, in order to be with Tayla. He was drawn to her, despite being enemies. He wanted to help and protect her despite knowing that she fought against and killed his people. Tayla was a great heroine. She was tough (could match Eidolon in a fight), smart, troubled, and dealing with her own torments. Not only did she have to work through a crisis of conscience, but had to face the realities of her past and her future. These were not small issues. I love that Ms. Ione had two opposing sides (demons and Guardians), both of whom could be considered the good guys in some way. Each was misinformed about the other, causing confusion and enmity that was not necessary. I think this made the novel even better. It would have been easy to make one side right and one side wrong. These shades of gray are what kept the reader intrigued. The Big Bad was committing crimes that justified the reactions of all the characters. No one seemed to be overreacting or blowing the events out of proportion. The terror and worry were well matched with the actions of the Evil. You could understand why everyone was so angry and frightened (sorry Ms. Ward, but your baby powder smelling guys just don't invoke that fear in me. Love your men, though!)

I think the publishing houses need to take note. We readers love the wider availability of paranormal romances, but our benchmark for quality has not lowered. Neither should their standards. I would rather a smaller selection of high quality reads, then a plethora of lackluster demons and fae. Give me one or two decadent Vosges chocolate truffles. You can keep the 5lbs. box of school fundraiser chocolate crisp bars.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vampires and werewolves and fae, oh my!

I love October.  The temps begin to dip.  The trees along the street change their wardrobes from green to fiery orange and yellow.  I get to pull my sweaters out of storage.  My favorite boots are in season again.  We have made it through that first month of school and the students are settling into their routine.  Halloween is fast approaching, which means costume plans are in motion (or will be very soon!) 
Every year at this time I start to get the urge to participate in certain activities.  New crochet projects are planned.  Pumpkin and apple picking is considered (I will do it this year. For serious!)  My menu planning turns from cold salads and BBQ to hot soups, stews and roasts. 

It used to be that during the month of October I would be hit with a sudden desire for paranormal romance.  This was the time of year that publishers would release a sudden tsunami of books featuring vampires, werewolves, and other creatures that go bump in the night.  While their selection in May might be sparse, October was the time to indulge your inner Gothic side.  This year, and even last year, I have noticed a change.  I have not been stocking up on tales of vamp lovin'.  I was perplexed at first.  Why would this be?  It is almost a tradition for me.  October = paranormal plot line.  Then it hit me.  There was not a noticeable increase in PR offerings prior to Halloween.  Not that publishers had decided to stop releasing these titles.  Quite the contrary.  The February or May drought of werewolf or vamp tales was no more.  Paranormal romances have become such the rage in the industry that there now seems to be new releases every week.  Demand for these stories has gone through the roof.  Publishing companies no longer feel the need to hold their release dates until Halloween approaches.  Readers are looking for that vampiric thrill year round.  I admit, I am one of these readers. 

I know this is a trend.  Every industry has them.  I know that some day we will go back to the pre-Halloween paranormal influx.  For now, though, paranormal junkies like me can indulge themselves any time they please. No longer are we forced to be seasonal readers.  Yet, someday it will return again. 

October = paranormal romance  
December = holiday anthologies
July = beach and cottage books

Do the seasons ever impact your reading selections?  Are there particular genres or author or even books that you are drawn to at specific times of the year? 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Banned Book Meme

Nicola tagged me for this meme.  Yay! I love this sort of thing.

How many have YOU read?

Celebrating Banned Book Week 2008, here is the ALA's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990 through 2000.

How to Play:

1: Copy this list.
2: Highlight the ones you have read (or at least remember reading) in RED.
3: Tag five people to play.

The List:

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Total: 19

That's more than I had expected. Nice.  I need to read more of these.  As for the rest of you, I know many of you have done this meme. If you have not, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, September 29, 2008

From stage to screen

On Friday I was driving home from work grooving to tunes on my iPod. The wind was blowing through my hair, the sun glinting off my sunglasses. OK, I will admit it, I was sitting in stand still traffic listening to musical theater. Suddenly, "Past the Point of No Return" came throbbing through my speaker. (Yes, I actually typed that sentence. Get over it.) Anyhow, the angst of the Phantom and Christine triggered a yearning. At that moment I absolutely HAD TO WATCH the cheesy over-the-top movie version of the stage musical. After stopping at more stores that I want to admit, I had my very own copy. Oh, it is so very bad. I love it! The best part? Gerard Butler. Oh, baby!

Watching the movie got me to thinking: what other stage musical needs to be brought to the silver screen? Who would be cast as those classic characters?

Personally, I would love to see Les Miserables made into a movie. Gerard Butler and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers (the inn keepers). William Petersen as Jean Valjean. Hmmm... who else? I must think upon this.

So what do you think? What show should be given special movie treatment? Who should play your beloved characters?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Review: A Fist Full of Charms

I have two loves in reading: romance and urban fantasy. Romance is... romantic. I just love a book with a HEA. It makes me feel all warm and gooey inside. Urban Fantasy, on the other hand, feeds my love of the paranormal. It gives me a world where good and bad are not always clear cut, the heroes may not be heroic, and heroines can kick ass in a major way without losing their romantic allure. So you might not get a HEA. That’s fine because the book is usually part of a series. It might happen next time. Or the time after that. The possibility is there, without the promise of it that you get in romance. **Proceed carefully, spoilerish references made**

I have a few favorite UF authors. As you all know, I am crazy for Patricia Briggs. If I could, I would have babies with all of her heroes. Yes please and thank you. Adam, Charles, Bran... oh yeah. Heck, even Zee is fabulous. More recently I have been reading the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison. I just finished A Fist Full of Charms. It was... interesting. Honestly, this may be where Ms. Harrison jumped the shark. I have to read the next book to see what happens, see if it gets back to a place that I can love. Don’t get me wrong, this was a good book. Not as good as the previous installments, but still a good book. I just did not enjoy the direction she took with some of the characters, namely Rachel and Ivy. Their friendship/relationship went down a path I was hoping it wouldn’t. Rachel’s choices regarding magic made me cringe. She wasn’t a heroine I could root for in this book. I felt like she wandered off the path. She needs to find her way back. The whole "needs danger to get off" thing kinda pissed me off. Made me not like Rachel at times.
The plot with the focus and the Weres was actually quite interesting. It shed some more light on the politics of Inderland society. I think this will give the series more depth in the long run. I will be interested to see if this trickles over into any future plots and how she deals with the issue of Brett.

I loved Jenks. Full sized Jenks? Break me off a piece of that! It was all of his snarky, fun personality in a 6'4" package of gorgeousness. He was big and beautiful and still fabulously in love with Matilina. Completely devoted, hunky man. Kisten was barely there. Sad. Nick. Ooh, baby. I did not particularly care for him as Rachel’s boyfriend. Am I glad! It was so easy to hate him in this book (as you were supposed to). I just could not believe what happened in the end with Nick and Jax. Poor Jenks.

Here is my one big gripe about the book: NO TRENT! What??!!?!?!!!? I think this is what made this book fall a bit flat for me. SO much of what I love about this series has to do with the interactions between Rachel and Trent. Without him there, the book felt a little dull. OK, dull is the wrong word, but you could tell something was missing.

Like I said, this was a decent book, just not up to the standards I expect from this author and series. Maybe it is unfair to hold her to a separate set of expectations, but that’s how it is. I would do the same to Ms. Briggs if I felt one of her books was of lesser quality than her previous releases. If I were still doing ratings or grades, I suppose I would give this book a 3.5/5, whereas the previous books in the series earned 4 or 4.5.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Givin' the blog some lovin'

::snuggles blog::

Don't worry, my love, I still adore you. It's just that things have been so busy lately, what with school starting and having a student teacher. What? No, no! I don't love her more than you. You will always be my favorite. Yes, I know I should be spending time with you in the evening. I would. I truly would if my Internet connection at home would just work. Please, baby, don't be sad. I love you long time. Promise.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review: Body Language

I am a sucker for the unrequited love/best friends yearning for one another storyline. It gets me every time. Doesn't matter if the writing is mediocre, I will read it. There is just something about a story where two people have know one another for such a long time, have played major roles in each others lives, and never figured out they are the perfect match. Suddenly one day there is a spark. Perhaps they have each secretly longed for one another but have never admitted it. Maybe it involves a second chance at love. Whatever the case, I get suckered in every time. There have been good and not so good books along the way, but recently I read a fantastic little book about best friends who finally figure it out.

Title: Body Language
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: Contemporary Romance (category)

While there is not a SEAL, FBI agent, or Special Ops member in sight, Ms. Brockmann has done it again. Body Language is one of her earlier category releases focused on two friends, Clint McCade and Sandy Kirk. These two have been friends since grade school, the two misfit poor kids in the ritzy neighborhood. Constant companions and friends, Sandy has been in love with Clint forever. Clint, the roaming free spirit, has only recently realized that everything he wants in life can be found in his best pal. But how to tell her? He shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night only to find that she has met the man of her dreams. Only problem? The guy barely knows she exists. Clint has the "brilliant", if unoriginal idea to offer to help Sandy by tutoring her on flirting, while he works his own angle. Oh baby, do the sparks fly. Soon Sandy has forgotten that she decided to put her feelings for Clint behind her and all she can think about is how much she wants him to kiss her and love her. At one point there is a misunderstanding (what romance is without one?) and tons of prototypical angst, but it works here. I just love this book. It has a permanent place on my bookshelf. This one will not be sold back, given away, or even lent away. It will remain safely in my keeping to be read over and over again. I can see this rising to the ranks of a comfort read.

This book gets big thumbs up, innumerable heart twinges, heartbreaking tears, and the hope that the situation in my life can turn out so good.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Midnight Breed question

I just finished reading Kiss of Crimson, which I loved 100 times more that Kiss of Midnight (not that KoM was bad, just not as good.)  The H&h were strong, complex characters.  Tess was a heroine that you could cheer for, that you actually liked (yeah, I'm giving you a baleful look, Marrisa!)  Then there was Dante.  Oh, Dante, you must come live in my hut!  I completely bought his change from die-hard-bachelor-warrior to die-for-his-woman-Alpha-lover.  Oh baby!  I am thoroughly enjoying the world building and writing that Ms. Adrian gives us readers.  The Rogues are a real and scary threat, and Adrian does not hesitate to sacrifice likable characters to ratchet up the intensity.  Sure there were a few WTF moments.  I mean, seriously, Tess must have been pretty damn flexible to be able to sit on the bathroom counter while giving Dante some oral lovin'.  I know he is tall, but not that tall.

Here is my question for those of you who have read past book 2:  Ms. Adrian develops these great heroines for our heros to fall in love with.  They are smart, sexy, independent and talented (at their jobs and psychically.)  Once they become a Breedmate and give up their lives for the men they love (because this is essentially what they have to do) what do these women do?  There is no mention of Savannah having a job.  Does Gabrielle still do her photography?  Does Tess continue to practice veterinary medicine?  Or do they all just hide away in the compound all day, too terrified to leave without their men?  Someone please tell me the Breedmates aren't completely stripped of their identities once they have bonded!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kiss of Midnight: my failure at reading challenges

I took on the Ban On Buying Book Challenge. I made my list. I have been slowly whittling away at the TRB pile. I was doing good.Then I picked up Kiss of Crimson and realized it was book 2 in the series. WAIT! No! I can't read this! My series order OCD started throwing a temper tantrum. Big time. I just couldn't do it. So I was in a pickle. I had two choices: 1) I would have to complete the challenge without actually finishing my TBR list OR 2) I could break the rules of the challenge in order to fulfill the challenge. What do you think I did? Yup. No willpower. I went out and bought Kiss of Midnight. Since I was there and they happened to have one copy of Jade Lee's newest release, The Dragon Earl, I had to snag that one, too. Technically I had already started reading it since she gave me a sneak peek pamphlet at the signing last month. :) (Isn't it amazing how I can justify this?)

So I finished Kiss of Midnight before bed last night. It was a well written book with a great Big Bad. The heroine was complex and the hero perfectly angsty. Yet I finished this book and felt a little meh. Objectively, I know that this was a good book. Here's the problem: I read the BDB first. I think if I had read Lara Adrian's books first and then moved on to the BDB I would have loved KoM. Instead I was already a BDB crackhead. Ms. Adrian's vamps and world seemed to pale in comparison. Lucan was like the less attractive, slightly chubby-but-nice guy whose brother you lust after (the BDB). I felt kind of bad as I read the book that I did not love it/him the way I love the BDB/Zsadist. I know this is my issue, not a fault with the book. If you love the vamp story line you should definitely give it a shot, especially if you have yet to read any of Ms. Ward's crack-like novels.

That is not to say the book is inferior to the BDB. I actually like the Big Bad in the Midnight Breed series far more than I like the Lessening Society. The Omega? meh. The Rogue Master? Bad ass.

Now if only we could ditch Marrissa, allow Butch and V to fulfill their destiny together and send them after the Rogue Master, we would have one freakin' amazing book, my brother.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Because I am a dirty, dirty bird...

... I just couldn't pass up this quiz. I saw it over on Cubie's Confections and knew I needed to waste some time oggling the hot menz completeing this incredibly scientific test.

Your result for The What type of MAN turns you on Test...

Classic scorcher

You have picked my personal favorite type of man. Yes, man, not boy. The all-American and then some. You admire a buff body and manly features but someone who knows how to bathe himself and even though he's a scorcher, you could still bring him home to mom - as long as she keeps her hands off! Someone this hot would be......Victor Webster. But let's face it, the whole point of this was to look at a bunch of hot guys. If you liked what you saw, please rate my test!
Take The What type of MAN turns you on Test at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Whittling away at the TBR

You know it is the beginning of the school year when I completely disappear from bloglandia. So many details to take care of: curriculum, seating charts, grade books, etc. Sadly, that means I don't get to read as much as I do during the summer. Not to fear, though, I have slowly but steadily been chipping away at the TBR pile, attempting to achieve the goal I set for the Ban On Spending Book Challenge. I have reread two books on that list and finished a couple more that were new to me. Right now I am in the middle of No Ordinary Man by Suzanne Brockmann. It was one of her earlier categories. Not a SEAL in sight :( It is still pretty good, I am just not sure what the deal is with the hero. I suppose that is the point, though.
One book I did want to mention and suggest to everyone is Open Season by Linda Howard. I really do love most of her books. This was classic Howard with a strong alpha hero, a quirky heroine, and steamy chemistry. Don't forget the mysterious bad guy lurking in the background causing trouble. The thing I love about this book is that it is an ugly duckling book. Better yet, the hero already found her attractive pre-transformation. For any of you who (like me) were late bloomers, this is a must read. I love that Daisy starts out as the stereotypical small town librarian and, despite a rather drastic transformation, still remains that geeky gal at heart. As you read and experience the changes she is making, you really want to cheer her on. Daisy finds herself in a rut and does what few people have the courage to do: she steps completely outside her comfort zone and makes solid changes. The external changes happen quickly, but the internal ones happen a bit slower and more naturally. I appreciated this. It made the character more real.

Jack is tough and strong and hot. I love that Daisy is at first adverse to him because he is so attractive. He has left behind a high stress job on a task force in Chicago to become the Chief of Police in a little Southern town. He is protective of the sweet awkward town librarian. When she suddenly breaks out of her shell he finds himself having to protect others from her (oh lord, the scene in the bar when the guy pulls her on him lap!) Jack's confident, charismatic personality strikes sparks off of Daisy's practical, small town sensibilities. Oooh boy, those sparks are hot. In typical Linda Howard fashion there are moments of intense passion and other moments that are painfully funny. If you have read this book then you know exactly what I mean when I say "party pack."

Seriously, go read this book. If you like Ms. Howard's style, but are not a fan of the serial killer plot (Nicola, I am looking at you!) this is a good one for you. There is crime, but not the "inside the crazy killer's head" passages. I give this some big thumbs up, lots of stars, a decadent chocolate truffle, or whatever rating system you all like. It's simply good reading.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A recipe for romance

I love to cook. More to the point, I love to try cooking something new. I take a little of this and mix it with a little of that. I throw it in a pot with a dash or a sprinkle of whatever sounds good, give it a mix and cook until done. Sometimes it is a complete flop. Usually, the dish just misses the mark by a small margin. It either is too spicy or too bland. Maybe there is too much onion, or not enough shrimp. Something is just a little bit off. Then there are those wondrous times when all of the ingredients come together in a perfect balance. It is hearty and savory without being too spicy. The tomatoes don't get too watery and the garlic permeates the entire dish. (Can you tell I am anxiously waiting on my homemade spaghetti sauce to finish cooking? I have a long wait ahead.) This precise balance of ingredients, seasonings, heat and time produces an end product that you want to sit back and savor.

I think this is also true in writing. It is all about balance. Character development, action, smexin', and plot. Each element needs it's time in the spotlight. It is the author's job, just like the chef's, to make sure that each one is measured out just enough to allow it to come to its full flavor. This is what sets successful authors apart from less successful authors. Those who have become master chefs at the craft of writing are the authors whose books make us want to turn back to page 1 after finishing the epilogue.

For me, one author who manages this balancing act time and again is Elizabeth Hoyt. I just love her writing. I have already read and reviewed The Raven Prince and Hot. Both were fabulous. Within the past two weeks I bought and read The Leopard Prince and To Taste Temptation. (I still need to hunt down The Serpent Prince.) Ms. Hoyt gives you interesting, well developed characters whose interactions are by turns amusing and intense. There is always an intrigue or mystery, something to get the characters moving or fighting or planning. When her heroes and heroines come together the sparks fly. Hot, sexy, and (my fave) very few flowery euphemisms. Damn hot sex. Her stories are just plain fun and interesting.
In The Leopard Prince we see Harry Pye once again. He was first introduced to readers in The Raven Prince. As a land steward, Harry knows that Georgina Maitland is far above his station. To want her is to reach for the sky. Georgina is 28 years old and owns the estate on which she lives. What could she possibly need a man for? Oh right... that. Well, Harry Pye is a man, and what a man he is! Suddenly, sheep are dying and folks are blaming Harry. It seems that there is bad blood between Harry and Georgina's neighbor. But is it bad enough for Harry to enact a long await revenge by killing the livestock on the neighbor's lands? Georgina does not believe so.

Ms. Hoyt's heroines are among my favorite in historical romances. Strong, mature, self-assured, experienced, outspoken. They are very contemporary women who live in historical times, yet not to the point where it in unbelievable. Her heroes are one thing that is often difficult to find from a single author: diverse. Edward was a physically scarred Earl who would far prefer to stay in the country and study agriculture. Harry is a commoner, a land steward whose past haunts him and drives him to succeed. Samuel was a brash American colonial soldier-turned-business man who disdains English society and snubs his nose at the ton by ignoring convention (and wearing moccasins to grand balls.) The chemistry she creates between her H&h is flaming hot.

In To Taste Temptation Ms. Hoyt begins a new series based around a fairy tale about four soldiers. Samuel has come to London in search of answers to what happened one fateful day to the 28th Regiment. His former commanding officer perished as a result of that day, but his sister was alive and well in London. When the two meet they mix like oil and water. Samuel is uncouth, arrogant, and mysterious. Lady Emeline is cultures, aristocratic, and just a bit uptight. Oh baby, do these two clash, and the results are fantastic. Trust me. Go read it. Yes, she is kind of awful to him in the beginning, but trust me, you want to keep reading. Two words: country party. Oh, two more words: linen closet. ::fans self::

I am such a fan that, when I found out I had the opportunity to meet Ms Hoyt at a signing this past weekend I knew I had to ask her for an interview. Such a gracious woman, she said yes. What did she say in the interview? Well that, my friends, is something you will have to wait for. In the meantime, I am going to go check on my spaghetti sauce. The aroma of garlic and basil is just starting to waft through my apartment. Mmmmm...