Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year! Welcome 2012!

I'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!  I personally have been in a bit of a funk this year due to a myriad of things but am really hoping that 2012 will be much improved.  I have learned a lot this past year and have done a bit of soul-searching and have decided that I need to savor life and do things that I enjoy without feeling guilty.  I also am going to avoid making resolutions that I am not going to be able to keep and I will continue trying to do my random acts of kindness to brighten other people's lives.  Here's wishing all of you a brand new year and a chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over with a new attitude and new goals and here's hoping that you have health and happiness.

Drachar's Demons

Drachar's Demons by David and Andrew Burrows is the prequel to David Burrows' trilogy, Prophecy of the Kings.  I have had the good fortune to have read the imaginative novel that details the rise of Drachar, the Eldric sorcerer who alters the course of his entire race.  The author creates a fascinating world populated with dwarves, magic and demons as well as the creepy krell and intimidating grakyn.  This novel gives insight into the conflict that started the struggles that the Eldric have with themselves and shows the rise of a villain to frightening power as he utilizes beings from another world.  My Night Owl review is at this link.

The books are available at a discount for a limited time at this link

Friday, December 30, 2011

SEAL of My Dreams

SEAL of My Dreams is a must read for all who are fans of those amazing men who constantly challenge themselves to form such an elite force.  It is an anthology filled with poignant stories that point out the extreme sacrifice; physically, mentally and emotionally, that these heroes make to help keep the rest of us safe and secure.  The sobering reminder of the damage to psyches as well as the more visible physical injuries that remain is leavened by the romantic stories which primarily have "happy for now" endings.  I couldn't bear to slight any of the authors by not mentioning them and my review became longer and longer so I will post my summary here.  I will warn those tender-hearted readers that I was so touched by the final story that I was unable to tell it to my husband without choking up for days afterward.  My review for Night Owl Romance is at this link

My longer summary: 
‘Coming Home’ by Jami Alden reminds us that the adage “you can’t go home again” rings true for most people so that opportunities must be grasped when they are available and everyone changes somehow over the years.  ‘Baby I’m Back’ by Stephanie Bond vividly reminds us of the pain suffered by the survivors of war, both mentally and physically, and the long road that is often required for rehabilitation and healing to take place.  ‘SEALed Fates’ by Kylie Brant also deals with an injured veteran who must deal with his disabilities even as he uses his specialized training to deal with a more local threat.  ‘Going Dark’ by Helen Brenna conjures up the dangers faced by those who are on the periphery of any conflict and the efforts that those who serve make to protect the bystanders, even at great personal risk.  ‘Finding Home’ by HelenKay Dimon also reminds us of the dangers faced by those in embassies while Cindy Gerard gives an exciting Black Ops, Inc. story with ‘SEALed With a Kiss’ that shows that honeymoons can have their share of danger.   ‘Panama Jack’ by Tara Janzen is a suspense-laden short story that combines a SEAL, an exotic setting and an intrepid CIA agent.  A couple who met a world away under a stressful situation find each other again in ‘Wrapped and SEALed’ by Leslie Kelly.  Elle Kennedy’s ‘Worth the Risk’ and Alison Kent’s ‘Twenty-One Hours’ both deal with missed opportunities and what can be done to rectify the lack.  ‘Not Waving But Drowning’ by Jo Leigh deals with the mental trauma that accompanies the horrors of war and the importance of a support system.  ‘Her Secret Pirate’ by Gennita Low fits into her ‘Crossfire SEAL series’ and gives a heartstopping glimpse of one of the many dangerous missions that SEALs are faced with as does ‘SEALed by Fate’ by Marliss Melton.  ‘Signed, SEALed and Delivered...I’m Yours’ by Christie Ridgway touches on the sacrifices made by those who fall in love with the heroes that continue to face danger daily.  ‘Dog Heart’ by Barbara Samuel explores the damage to psyches that survivors of war experience, whether they walk on two legs or four.  Roxanne St. Claire’s ‘Whirlwind’ combines the chaos of a hurricane with a SEAL who arrives in the nick of time to rescue a hunted woman and Stephanie Tyler tells a tale connected to her ‘Hold’ Series in ‘Holding On’ as one of the  SEAL brothers is about to become a father.  ‘Letters to Ellie’ by Loreth Anne White is the most difficult and poignant tale of the collection as it brings home the inescapable realism of those who are unable to come home again and those who are condemned to wonder and worry about them. 

Quite a breadth of stories and styles.  A fantastic read and a very worthy cause.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Free giveaway title by Ilona Andrews

The publishers and authors have been incredibly generous at this time of year and there is a limited time offer as follows:
Ilona Andrews has a novella which is linked to Magic Slays that she is giving away for the next couple of weeks at this link

Even if you don't have an e-reader, there are usually free apps for the computer that will allow you to read many of the e-books available.   Amazon has tons of free reads as does Baen at this link

Happy reading!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!

I wish all of those who celebrate the holiday a very Merry Christmas and hope that you remember the true meaning of the day.  I also hope there were plenty of books in your stocking!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Lady Awakened and the scents of the season

A Lady Awakened is the debut novel from author Cecilia Grant that tells the tale of a widow who is trying to keep her brother-in-law from gaining the estate that her late husband worked so diligently to protect.  An attractive neighbor is conscripted into her scheme and is stunned to realize that his practiced seduction moves are wasted on the oblivious widow.  I was a bit disturbed that there was so little overt agonizing over the attempt to perpetrate a crime, no matter the good intentions behind it, particularly with the collusion of the housestaff who would undoubtedly know that their mistress was engaging in illicit activities but I think this was a reflection of the hard decisions faced by those with few options at their disposal due to their gender and/or station in life.  The story unfolded gradually but gave a nice exposition on the intricacies involved in the administration of an estate and the disconnect between property owners and those who live on their lands.  An enjoyable tale that gives a fresh twist on the travails of Regency life.  My Goodreads review is at this link

I admit that we don't put up a Christmas tree.  Occasionally I will buy a little one in a pot but it disturbs me to cut down perfectly healthy trees so that they can dry out in my house and be thrown away.  Just my little quirk.  I admit that I am just as bad with the little trees since I never get them into the garden in time but I don't feel quite as badly because they are small.  That being said, I love the scent of pine so I must admit that I was touched to receive a florist's delivery from my younger brother that has a beautiful arrangement, complete with a couple of pine branches.  Hypocritical?  Yes...but at least it's not the whole tree.  We all draw our line in the sand somewhere...and then the waves come and wash them out!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eek...time is running out

It's hard to believe that Christmas is on Sunday.  Sadly, I managed to get Christmas cards to some of the soldiers into the mail but haven't managed to send ones out to everyone else that I owe cards.  Then, there are all of the medical appointments to keep in order to take advantage of the fact that we have surpassed our exorbitant deductible for the year!  Oh well, at least most of my friends are used to the fact that I am a procrastinator and I will eventually get around to giving them their gifts (hopefully by Christmas of 2012!) but I make no promises about the cards, lol.

I read someone else's blog which complained that there was no time to read and I second the emotion!  I am squeezing in a little bit of reading but then I haven't gotten around to writing the reviews for most of them.  Previews of coming attractions...C.J. Cherryh's Deceiver (which is book 11 of the Foreigner series) and reminds us of her dexterity in world-building as she continues the saga of the complicated Atevi society; A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant, a regency romance with a twist (thank you to Goodreads for the giveaway); Sharon Page's novella, Sinful (thank you Ms. Page for the giveaway)My TBR stack is getting higher and many books to drool over, lol.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Celebrity in Death and Dream Zoo by Zynga

Whee!  An excerpt from the new Eve and Roarke book was included in the Nora Roberts newsletter today.  I just love the way Ms. Roberts effortlessly conveys Eve's disdain for the artificialities of those who only care for superficial appearances, bafflement when primping according to instruction and the genuine love and respect between Eve and her inner circle.  Can't wait for the new release in February next year.

Yippee, won a book from a lovely person at Let them readbooks.  How exciting!  A beautiful of these days I will have to learn how to emulate it.

'Tis the run around madly gathering last-minute gifts, to put up the wrong set of lights (I swear they all worked when I plugged them in BEFORE we stapled them to the house), to wonder whether it will rain before we get the groceries into the house...and to snuggle under the covers sipping hot chocolate and...playing Dream Zoo???  Yes, it is taking up more time than I like trying to keep the animals clean and fed and to earn new coins so that I can buy even more animals...what a treadmill!  I have quite a collection (although I am not terribly impressed to include Yeti) but I regret not having enough room to give some of my inhabitants room to stretch their legs.  It turns out that I can have multiples of some animals once they reach Champion status but haven't quite decided what to do about that because I can either crowd them in even more in the limited area that their cohorts are being housed in or start another area away from the first set.  Looking around at other people's zoos, I am amused to notice that I am true to my nature...I have neglected to put in items for the humans and although I do have a cobblestoned path, that is the extent of my expenditures to make visitors comfortable, lol, unlike others who have fancy paths, booths and other things.  The only problem is that this is cutting into my reading time!!!!  No wonder I am reluctant to get on Facebook!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dreaming of the Wolf by Terry Spear

Dreaming of the Wolf by Terry Spear is her newest book in the fascinating werewolf series that she pens.  Ms. Spear is all over the blogosphere, writing great pieces about the importance of fantasy in our lives and giving tantalizing excerpts of her new book.  Visit her blog at  link in order to find out all of the intriguing places she is connecting us to!  Some of the places she is or has been are:  link and paranormal haven     

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Killbox, Sirantha Jax series and growing herbs

Killbox by Ann Aguirre is the fourth installment in her Sirantha Jax series.  The starcrossed pair of Sirantha and March are desperately searching for an answer to the horrific aliens who seem determined to eradicate any human who gets in their way.  A somewhat radical solution seems to have a slight chance of giving hope but the odds seem overwhelming.  A great read although it is always a little disturbing to follow the ups and downs of the Sirantha/March relationship.  The sequel is already out (Aftermath) and promises to be just as exciting a read as the rest of the novels in the series (Grimspace, Wanderlust, Doubleblind).  My Goodreads review for the book that I was fortunate enough to win is at this link.   Aguirre also has another enjoyable series featuring Corine Solomon.

I got this odd urge to try my hand at growing herbs a couple of years ago and asked for some as my secret Santa gift.  I started slowly with parsley and then added basil and chives.  Now, you must understand that I get more entertainment out of seeing a seed sprout and therefore am often my own worst enemy because I tend to dig things up to see what is happening.  There were some tiny sprigs growing in the little pots that came with the growing kit but they remained spindly little things for months.  Research online garnered the advice to remain patient as herbs grow slowly.  Well, I thought that once almost 12 months had elapsed, there should be a luxurious plant.  Hope springs eternal but the pitiful little plants would not enhance the meal for an ant, let alone a human!  I had added some liquid plant food to the water that I was using for another plant and absent-mindedly used that concoction to water the herbs and voila!   Suddenly the parsley leaves and the basil plant increased in size.  Hmm, I wonder if that was in the instructions that I didn't read?  (I love reading fiction but loathe reading instruction sheets). Finally, there are a few leaves that can be seen without a magnifying, if only I can dredge up the courage to add them to a dish.  (0:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Darkness Dawns, The Immortal Guardians series and Christmas contests

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall is an entertaining twist on vampire lore with immortals battling the vampires and attempting to protect humankind.  I enjoyed the heroine, Sarah, who steps up and saves the life of Roland Warbrook when he is endangered by a band of vampires who seek to torture and kill him.  She responds to danger by trying to figure out how she can protect herself better the next time...a sentiment that I wholeheartedly support...and her bloodthirsty response is perfect for her continued relationship with Roland.  Nice twists in the story and plenty of room for additional tales, one of which has been released this month (Night Reigns) and should provide even more entertaining reading.

There are so many amazing book contests available this month...I'm on overload trying to keep up with them.  Fresh Fiction has a nice Harlequin Historical giveaway at this link
Night Owl Romance has a scavenger hunt at this link
and for those who are more interested in spicier reads (18 and over only please) there is this link

These are only a few of the many fascinating contests...however, they are cutting into my reading time!  Also, my thanks to Sharon Page for her lovely novella..Sinful.  Review to follow in a day or so.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Brisket Book: A Love Story

Looking for a cookbook for the barbeque aficionado in your life?  Take a look at The Brisket Book:  A Love Story by Stephanie Pierson.  This is a great book that is filled with anecdotes and droolworthy pictures of brisket as well as recipes.  I never stopped to wonder where corned beef came from nor had I realized that brisket is a comfort food in quite a few cultures.  I am blessed with a spouse who likes grilling and barbequing so I was entertained to see his favorite, the Big Green Egg, mentioned in this book.  There are suggestions for libations to accompany brisket as well as a pretty extensive list of hints for leftovers although I must admit that I can't really imagine brisket omelets.

My Night Owl review is at this link

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Word with Friends Addict

Got distracted tonight by the news that Alec Baldwin was kicked off an airline flight because he refused to turn off his iPad, being in the middle of a game of Word With Friends (my absolute favorite game).  It is my understanding that the plane was actually still at the gate so the man did not seem to be endangering everyone else but I am sure that news will continue to trickle down about the events that led up to the eviction.  Sounds like another tempest in a teapot...but I think that this is another instance of the "pain-body" interaction that Eckart Tolle and Oprah like to discuss.  There are so many people who react hostilely to being told to do something that they think they should be exempt from and then things begin to escalate.  Oh well, I wonder if I'll ever meet the man on the Words With Friends site...I figure I won't run into Oprah because she likes the brand name product but who knows who else I could be trying to trounce?

Back to focusing on the reviews that I should be writing.  I received an ARC that is so poorly proofread that I lose track of the story in some points...really disconcerting to try to read.  Although I am quite aware that there are necessarily some errors in an ARC (advanced reading copy), I think that multiple errors on every page for the first 54 pages is a little excessive.  My only concern is that there are so many errors that there is a greater likelihood that some will be missed during the rush to publication.  Having a really bad case of procrastination so that four reviews had to be written today, good thing all of the books had been read but a tiny bit of a scramble to get a well-crafted review done with so many contests and blogs distracting me.  Gotta run...

Mouse & Dragon and learning new things

Mouse and Dragon (Liaden Universe(r))
Mouse & Dragon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is part of the Liaden Universe series.  I love this universe but it is disconcerting to wait for the new volumes in this series because the frame of reference shifts between generations and I was a little disturbed to realize that I had forgotten reading this one last year!  The current story arc centers on Theo Waitley and started with Fledgling but that one did not immediately remind the reader of the complexities of the venerable Korval clan so I am afraid that I am going to have to look for Saltation (the second in the series) and re-read it in light of the subsequent volumes because I probably underrated it at the time because I was so frustrated.  I have renewed my acquaintance with the series because I have just read Ghost Ship and realize that I am going to have to make time to start the entire series over again so that I can orient myself!  Perhaps I will take my time so that the next volume in the series is about to be published by then because it is so frustrating to wait for what happens next!

I attended a seminar on affiliate marketing and have taken the plunge to add the Amazon widget to the blog.  It's like learning an entire new language to expand past just writing the blog, scary to wade through all of the arcane code and figure out exactly what is being offered.  Now, if only I could figure out how to customize this to feature the book(s) that I am actually talking about!  Hopefully everyone will have patience while I work my way through the process.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The fascination of blog links which leads to Navy SEALs

I am always intrigued by the connections that can be made, especially now that we have the internet to assist us in meeting people world-wide!  I visited Kim's lovely blog at SOS Aloha (found at this link) and naturally, my quick 2 minute scan became a longer commitment because she mentioned another exuberant and warm person Anne Elizabeth (whom she graciously introduced me to at the Romantic Times Reader's Conference earlier this year) and I clicked on that link and was led to a beautiful tribute to the Navy SEAL and states their Ethos/Creed link which is a remarkable statement that shows what goes into the makeup of these amazing individuals.  I have seen various snippets of this credo and there are some wonderful fictional works out that feature the strong-willed, mutli-faceted alpha males that go through an intensive training process that hones them into the dangerous and efficient cohesive forces that do so much to protect all of us.  I was intrigued to scan through the Casablanca Authors blog (link) and discover that not only were they featuring the sequel to the very enjoyable book by Catherine Mann, Cover Me (the new book is titled Hot Zone) but another of the authors in this group gave me one of the biggest thrills of my life when I discovered that she had a snippet from my Night Owl Review contribution printed on the back cover of her book and on her Amazon page.  It is difficult to convince people that it is indeed my quote since only the site itself is cited but I hug the knowledge that those are my words that were printed.  The author is Mary Margret Daughtridge, and the book was SEALed with a Ring and my full review is at this link.  Truly, we now live in a small world.

There is a new book out which is called SEAL of My Dreams.  All proceeds from sales of this book goes to the Veterans Research Corporation, a non-profit fundraiser for veterans' medical research.  I look forward to reading it and will review it over the next few weeks.
Link to Amazon

Envy by J.R. Ward and Zynga's Dream Zoo

J.R. Ward's Envy is the third in the series that started with Covet and Crave and continues the struggle between good and evil epitomized by Jim Heron who is desperate to rescue the sacrificed Sissy, perhaps at the expense of any of his other goals.  Detective Thomas (Veck) del Vecchio has struggled against the stigma of having a infamous father all of his life and becomes the nexus of the next contest between Heron and the demon Devina.  The series necessarily will be seven novels long since that is the number of souls that comprise the "winner takes all" contest that will determine the fate of everyone.  There were several odd detours taken during this tale and I was very disappointed in one of the startling developments.  I don't find this series quite as gripping as Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood (or BDB as it is affectionately labelled) but it is starting to have a greater depth.  There are pretty graphic sex scenes that characterize this author's works but there are some intriguing insights into a couple of the characters revealed.  My Goodreads review is at this link

It's been a hectic week since there is all of the catching up that has to be done when one goes out of town but I have also finally succumbed to the allure of something called "Dream Zoo" by Zynga.  Now, I am already a "Words with Friends" addict and that site keeps adding new games to try but I have mostly resisted (yes, I will play "Hanging with Friends" but reluctantly).  I am not on Facebook yet although I am slowly contemplating joining if only because all of my favorite restaurants seem to be offering their coupons and many authors sponsor contests only on those venues so I have never gotten addicted to Farmville although my best friend is somewhat of a Farmville widow so I know about the game even if I haven't played it.  I had no trouble resisting until Zynga came out with the zoo!  Unfortunately, mine is not designed as well as some others...I thought it would be only logical to position the predators away from the prey animals but evidently geographical zoning is what is considered important.  Nevertheless, I am happy to announce that I have a thriving virtual zoo stocked with giraffes, rhinos, jaguars, cheetahs, bobcats, meerkats, lemurs, baboons, koalas, zebras, monkeys, chameleons, toucans, kangaroos, ostriches and gazelles.  A pretty major collection in only 48 hours if I do say so myself!  Now, if only I could figure out why my back is killing me since all of the work is virtual, lol.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rest in Peace Anne McCaffrey!

It is with great sadness that I read that Anne McCaffrey has passed on at the age of 85, following a stroke.  A wondrous and prolific author, her books gave me countless hours of entertainment and imaginative expansion of my universe from her beloved dragons (yes, I still have a statue of Ramoth hatching looking over my shoulder as I type this) to the amazing psychics such as the Rowan and the charismatic entities who peopled her brain and brawn ships, the Petaybee inhabitants and the lovely Acorna and all of her good works.  Her dragon trilogy comforted me when I was hospitalized for pneumonia and I used to re-read it once a year for at least a decade.  The woman definitely had a way with words and I offer my sincere condolences to her family and wish her son continued success with his continuation of her writing legacy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Desiree Holt's "Delicious Danger" and Uh-oh moments

Wow!  I have been wandering around various sites and was thrilled to win a backlist title from Desiree Holt!  I have read some of her Sentinel titles and know that she writes very spicy and entertaining tales.  I am fond of her paranormal works but have never read any of her Phoenix Agency series so I agonized over which to request.  I finally asked for Delicious Danger even though I was really intrigued by the excerpts from all three, despite the fact that normally I like to start at the beginning of a series!  I have to admit that I was swayed by the description of one of the characters...who weighs about 130 pounds, is psychic a Caucasian Ovcharka named Xena.  No, I am not being racist...she's a dog and evidently plays a big role in the story.  I made the mistake of starting the story and it is enthralling but I really don't have the time to finish it right now so I am going to have to exert some willpower and do the things I am supposed to be doing...which leads me to...

Oprah has her "a-ha" moments, my life is full of "uh-oh" moments (or as those who know me are used to "oh s**t" moments).   It has slowly dawned on me that not only is Thanksgiving on Thursday...and we are traveling on Weds. but I am also going to be at the mom-in-law's house tomorrow night because we have to help her with her own travel plans on Tuesday and we are supposed to go to the Auto show on Tuesday!  Yikes!  That means that not only do I have a pre-arranged luncheon date and multiple errands to accomplish before we tackle the L.A. freeways tomorrow afternoon but all of those things that I was supposed to finish (including the Christmas cards for the 9 soldiers that I have to get into the mail before Thanksgiving) need to be expedited.  Hmm, that includes trying to read some of the 8 books that are due to be reviewed by Dec. 6 and finish the book that I am trying to help edit but still have 8 chapters to go (because, what happens in Vegas for me is not a heck of a lot of work---too much to see and do---) you know why I shouldn't be reading Delicious Danger right now (-:

My wishes for a happy holiday for all of you that celebrate Thanksgiving and a great week to all of the rest of you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Romance Reviews year end splash contest

Ok, I admit it.  I have been wandering around (gasp) another review site!  I think that I have already mentioned that I am incurable about entering contests and boy, is this a contest.  Unfortunately, it is a very time-consuming contest but they caught my attention with the cover-matching game that you can't actually win unless you answer some of the trivia questions underneath it.  They have some arcane point accruing system that multiplies your points and your entries for the matching game and one thing leads to another until, voila, you have just spent an hour or so reading about new authors and their newest works and have added to your TBR list.  An insidiously effective ploy!  However, I have won two new titles over the past two weeks (woo-hoo) and there are still the major prizes that I am in the running for.  So, as much as I hate to add to my competition (0:
here is the link....
Romance Reviews YES contest

Happy exploring!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Too much of a good thing & Don't forget to vote on Goodreads!

Being under the weather is a great excuse to snuggle in bed with a book (and it helps to realize that you have to key the settings properly on the iPad to get it to not shift orientation every time you wiggle) but unfortunately, it means that the books pile up without the reviews being done.  Beth Kery's very spicy Silken Rapture, Alison Sinclair's intriguing Shadowborn (the conclusion to the fascinating trilogy started with Darkborn and Lightborn), Tamora Pierce's fantastic Mastiff, Qwillia Rain's erotic and suspenseful In a Lover's Silence and my foray into m/m erotica, the anthology Frat Boys, an eye-opening and blush-inducing volume edited by Shane Allison, Kaylea Cross' thrilling Deadly Descent and last, but not least, J.R. Ward's Envy which is part of her "Fallen Angels" series.  Almost all but the last two are review books for Night Owl Reviews so it will be a few days before the reviews are written and the links are live but it must be said that they all kept me it's time for a recharging of my batteries (figuratively and literally!).

In case you didn't know, it's time for the Goodreads Choice Awards, the narrowing down process is going on...where the top three in each category are chosen.  Get over there and make your voice heard if you haven't already!  Vote!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lord of Rage, Royal House of Shadows #2 and Mastiff!

I managed to read Jill Monroe's Lord of Rage although I seem to have been reading the series somewhat out of order.  I received Nalini Singh's Lord of the Abyss and Jessica Andersen's Lord of the Wolfyn through Netgalley and mentioned them in my blog a few days ago but I had originally forgotten that I had won Lord of Rage through a chat held by the Knight Agency (which was a complete shock since I am usually too slow to get the answers to the trivia questions in quickly enough--very frustrating, I wish they would use a drawing or something since one person won most of their Christmas prizes last year).  I still have not read Gena Showalter's contribution to the quartet and that may be a goal for the distant future.  This was a play on Goldilocks and entertaining but I still think that Lord of the Abyss is still my favorite of the three that I have read although I wished it was longer.  I was pretty bummed to discover that the remaining pages in the e-book was an entirely different story---it's amazing how tunnel vision keeps you from noticing the entirely separate title that is listed!  My Goodreads review of Lord of Rage is at this link

I should also mention that I finally received Tamora Pierce's Mastiff (which I have been impatiently awaiting for far too long).  I started last night and must say that it was worth the wait although I was really upset by the twist.  It is always embarrassing to try to explain to one's spouse why one is reading quietly in bed and suddenly needs loads of Kleenex!  I have offered to review it for Night Owl Reviews so I will hold off on additional comments for now except to say that I was pretty disappointed with since I had it on pre-order and they still didn't ship it until the beginning of November even though it was supposed to have been released Oct. 25 or so!

Death Magic and 'star miserliness'

Eileen Wilks returns to The World of the Lupi with Death Magic and reminds us why the series is such a favorite with her readers.  Lily and Rule are getting closer to their wedding, trying to please her family and his pack but there are many external forces that they have to deal with as well, especially given Rule's high profile as the "face" of the werewolves.  I love this series, if only because the meld of cultures is so fascinating...I really liked the book that featured Lily's grandmother changing into the tiger and showing everyone else a thing or two!  Adding dragons to the mix and the issues of the werewolves "coming out" give such an intriguing flavor to the series.  The secondary characters all have such interesting backstories of their own that it is tempting to hope that they will continue to be featured in their own books rather than having such brief cameos.  My Night Owl Review is at this link

I read a blurb on Goodreads the other day asking whether you are a 5 star miser.  I most definitely am.  It is relatively rare that I will assign that rating to a book and for me, it will only be given to books that I would (gulp) pay to purchase in hardcover format and read over and over again.  I used to have certain books that I would faithfully read every year (e.g. the Lord of the Rings trilogy) but somehow don't seem to have the time to do that any longer.  Most of the hardbacks that I read are checked out from the library unless I have received them to review so I have to REALLY like an author to be willing to purchase (and fill up my overburdened bookshelves) a book in that format.  I am still very old-fashioned in that I prefer to have a print copy of a book because I just can't seem to bookmark and get comfortable with scanning through my e-books.  Anyway, the books that I really like are usually given a 4 1/2 star rating...those that I am caught re-reading long passages even as I am trying to write the reviews get a 4 3/4 and those that I sit down and start over as soon as I finish the first time get 5 stars!  That's my idiosyncratic system...I am sure that everyone has a different version.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Royal House of Shadows Quartet and good news for my friend

Four very popular authors combined their talents to contribute to a series of books about the Royal House of Shadows, each story loosely based on a familiar fairy tale which is given a paranormal twist.  Gena Showalter's Lord of the Vampires started the series, followed by Jill Monroe's Lord of Rage, then Jessica Andersen contributed Lord of the Wolfyn and Nalini Singh very nicely tied up the series with Lord of the Abyss.  This was an inventive way to showcase the talents of four different authors although I have not managed to read the first two as yet, I do already have Lord of Rage on my TBR pile (thanks to the Knight Agency) and I did enjoy the alternate versions of Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast depicted by Andersen and Singh.  An intriguing bonus was Ms. Singh's Desert Warrior which conjured up the lovely Harlequin series romances popular in past decades with its exotic location and intriguing sheik.  My Night Owl Reviews links are:  Lord of the WolfynLord of the Abyss 
Desert Warrior

We had excellent news from our friend in Maine who was in the running to win a special truck from CAT.  The contest was open to residents of the United States and Canada and it was based on receiving the winning number of votes and we received the ecstatic news that he WON!!!  We have been so thrilled on his behalf and consider it mind-boggling that he was able to generate enough vote but it just goes to show you that it's always worthwhile to throw your hat in the ring...never know what you'll get unless you try.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Motivational seminar

Wow!  I attended a motivational seminar yesterday which was provided at a very nominal cost.  It was pretty mind-boggling to be able to listen to such luminaries as Generals Colin Powell and Stanley McChrystal, former First Lady Laura Bush, retired Coach Lou Holtz (coached at Notre Dame), Joe Montana, Bill Cosby, Rudy Giuliani, and three people I had no prior knowledge of:  Rick Belluzzo (former president of Microsoft), Marry Buffett (Warren Buffett's daughter-in-law) and Krish Dhanam ( amazingly charismatic speaker).  There were the requisite commercials (they had to pay to rent the Staples Center somehow) but I must say that I was most impressed that all of the speakers reminded us that success can be measured in many ways but being an ethical person who treats EVERYONE with respect and compassion is the biggest key.  Everyone had an anecdote from their past painting them in a less than flattering light but the overall message was that they overcame that negativity and have gone on to bigger and better things.  A wonderful reminder that even when things look dark and depressing, it is important to keep going and find a way to get past those things and not allow them to chain us down.  Another pervasive theme was to let go of the grudges and other negative feelings from your past that hold you down because they aren't helping you but rather are harming you.  A difficult lesson but one I'm going to try to work on (-:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Frost Moon and Blood Rock and reader perceptions

Dr. Anthony Francis is an inventive author who has created a fascinating alternate Atlanta filled with a paranormal underworld that includes vampires, werewolves and...magical tattooists!  Dakota Frost is a master of her art and one of those unusual people, an ethical magic wielder.  Her tattoos are much sought after and the power for them comes from within her.  She has an interesting coterie of friends and associates to call upon that give a wonderful flair to the tales that are presented in Frost Moon and Blood Rock and both of these books are quite entertaining.  My favorite scene is her manipulation of the watch tattoo (yes, you will just have to read the story).  My NOR review for the former is still pending (will update when it is posted) but the latter is at this link

The following is a mini-rant so if you are not in the mood, it might behoove you to move on to something else.  (-:

Now, occasionally I wander around looking for new releases or alternate pseudonyms for the author that I am currently reading and out of professional curiosity I sometimes look at the general trend of reviews.  I am always very startled to discover those that are diametrically opposed to my views so naturally I scan through to see what the issues are for that particular reader.  I guess that personally I tend to skim past items that I consider a little icky (e.g. I am not really fond of gory scenes and will avoid movies that have blood spurting everywhere--much to my younger brother's chagrin-- but I just speed through that kind of description in the books that I read without dwelling on the scene).  I am afraid that the scenes in these works that several readers found quite offensive didn't even impinge on my radar.  Part of the issue seems to be that the main character is, gasp, bisexual!  And her former lover is into kinky sex scenes.  Then, she is propositioned by a young weretiger whom she scares off by pretending to reciprocate her attention.  And....that evidently equated to the author being some kind of agenda-promoting pedophile?  NOT!  I am not sure how people forget that these are stories they are reading, not biographies or encyclopedias or reference works.  Do bad things happen in the stories?  Yes, otherwise there is no conflict or problem to be solved or whatever.  Do people in our society have all ranges of sexual preferences?  Yes, of course they do.  Are some of them objectionable?  Of course.  But to tie in bisexuality with pedophilia?  How did we go there?  Fans of Joey Hill, Kim Harrison, etc. would be pretty surprised to discover that strange fact about their favorite characters.  I guess we'll just have to continue saying, "different strokes for different folks" but I may have to start taking the time to do Amazon reviews as well so that there are alternate viewpoints posted as well, lol.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Succubus Revealed plus perceptions and preconceptions

Richelle Mead’s latest tale is Succubus Revealed and it was a great addition to the inventive Georgia Kincaid series.  The oddity of a succubus who has reservations about the requirements of her job as well as a permanent relationship with a lover who is willing to give up portions of his life essence in order to be with her gives individuality to this series.  The conflicts between what Georgia is being told by her superiors and what is actually happening provides a mystery that her interesting coterie of friends (who include vampires, an angel, and a nephilim among others) decide they must investigate.  I’m a little disappointed in the ending but hopefully things will change somewhat in the next in the series.  My Goodreads review is at link 

I have been on a glut of paranormal romance for the past few months.  The genre has exploded and it is getting pretty difficult to keep up with my regular favorites while adding new authors who each have their own series underway.  Part of it is my own fault because I try (try, not necessarily succeed) to read at least some of the previous works in a particular series so that I am not reviewing the current novel completely lost when references are made to past events.  Many of the books can stand alone and are enhanced by having read the prequels and others are just so intricate that one is pretty much lost when thrown into the middle.  This desire for completion keeps my library requests pretty active so it’s a good thing that I have two different library systems to draw upon.  Then there are the other newly released books that I am not fortunate enough to capture for review that I try to catch as the library catalogues them.  I really hate to read a book after someone has eaten their snacks or even worse, smoked while reading it so I try hard to be first in line for new releases.  The drawback is that the books can’t be renewed because there is usually a long line waiting for them...which becomes an issue when there are several to be read within the two week or three week checkout time...and there are others to be reviewed.  Yes, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew! 

Please only continue if you are over 18 years old.

Ok, I have gotten off on a tangent (as usual).  I was starting to say that I had been reading a preponderance of paranormal romance (PNR) although I always have the occasional Regency Romance, Science Fiction or Suspense and plenty of Erotica in my TBR pile.  I tend to read relatively spicy Erotica but even though there has seemed to be an increase in the number of menage stories in my recent reading pile, I have shied away from strictly M/M or F/F stories because I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would be with those type of stories.  Looking at the selections of books awaiting reviews, I have noticed that there seem to be a large number of works characterized as GLBTQ (which I think stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or queer) which reflect that the relationships are not traditional heterosexual ones and although they do get reviewed, sometimes it takes awhile.  So, gulp, I requested a M/M anthology.  I then attended a chat which featured several erotica authors and became interested in the works of a particular author who serendipitously had a work up for review in the next week which was listed as M/M.  It was a good story but had some inconsistencies which tend to irk me when I am reading so I contacted the author and asked if he would be interested in corrections.  He said yes and I sent them off but his response to them was so abrupt that I was a bit depressed because I really didn’t want to give offense, just to help improve the story.  The next day he actually contacted me again because he wanted to thank me for my review and told me that he had other things going on the day before that made him a bit abrupt.  I think I was worried about his reaction and he may have been worried that I was going to trash him in my review, especially since this was outside of my normal comfort zone.  Anyway, water under the bridge...

It is always a little dicey criticizing somebody’s hard work...and I am a terrible busybody...but when I wear my reader’s hat, if I run into too many errors, I sometimes give up and don’t finish (unless it’s a review book that I have to finish) but I certainly try not to read more books by the same author.  So I mean well and often my overtures are rebuffed but occasionally someone pays attention to my suggestions.  I even have the honor to have been specifically requested by a published author to help with his editing/proofreading for his next novel!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cover Me and writing tasks

Just finished Cover Me by Catherine Mann.  Wow!  Great story, engaging characters and I'm still cold from all of the harsh weather in Alaska (even though it's in the high 80's where I am).  A wonderful example of military romance that I learned about from reading the SOS Aloha Blog when Kim featured this book ( link ), prior to that I had never heard of PJs (pararescue jumpers) outside of something that I steal from my husband to wear to bed!  Ms. Mann has obviously done extensive research and provides mutliple intriguing tidbits (green footprint tattoos in honor of the big green helicopters used initially) to give realistic details in her exciting romances.  Can't wait until the next one, Hot Zone (no, not the disease-laden one) comes out in December 2011, not to mention the next one after that which features a dog trainer!   My Goodreads review link

For those interested in the writing is a blast!  I can't believe how little has been charged because Linnea Sinclair puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into helping us learn to dissect what's important in a novel.  I still feel like a fish out of water amongst all of these published authors but Ms. Sinclair is helping me understand why I am so fond of her own books as well as how to analyze why I am immediately caught up by some novels yet easily disenchanted with others.  Thus far we have analyzed tropes and opening paragraphs (it is startling to realize that many agents/publishers/critics can tell by the first 3 paragraphs whether a work is going to be worth reading!) and are now moving on to telling vs. showing.  Ms. Sinclair has an engaging teaching style and provides pertinent references (there goes the book budget) and concrete examples and I highly recommend her classes to anyone interested in writing or refining their writing skills.  Kudos to her also for the upcoming movie based on her book The Down Home Zombie Blues!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Contests, giveaways and surveys...oh my!

I am an incurable contest entrant.  The problem is the intermittent reinforcement.  I am sure that the percentage of contests that I win is relatively low...but that occasional prize more than reinforces my addiction.  My most startling prize was a trip to a NASCAR race in Brooklyn, Michigan.  My husband and I joined other prize winners on a private plane that whisked us off to a place that I had never heard of and introduced me to a sport that I had only tangentially been aware of.  My only explanation is that I must have been aiming for the second prize (which I assume was a television)!  It was an interesting experience and I was able to get through quite a few books while watching the cars go 'round and 'round and people-watching. 

I also complete surveys but have reached a saturation point.  It seems that every store and fast food restaurant provides a receipt that offers a bribe for feedback and then there are the online survey companies...Toluna, Zoom Panel, e-rewards, etc.  and the mystery shopping (I particularly like Mysteryguestinc. but became disenchanted with most of the others I have tried--a blog for another day).  It's funny, I can write my opinion very assertively but very rarely do I initiate face-to-face confrontations.

Which leads me to book giveaways.  Not only are there the blogs that I have become interested in but most of the author's mailing lists include a link back to their site and a large percentage of them offer a monthly contest.  Then there are all of the sites that have multi-author offerings, e.g. Night Owl Review blogs link1 and link2   Fresh Fiction link  Writerspace link  and the Goodreads First Reads giveaway link to name only a few.

However can a person carve out enough time to read???

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue

First I should offer the warning that I am a Stephanie Laurens fan.  I probably have most, if not all of her books, and have been collecting them since she first began writing about the Cynster family many years ago.  Her latest series is a trilogy about the Cynster sisters and the first volume is called Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue.  It was sweetly romantic just as most of her books are and I thought about the reasons I am such a fan of her tales.  I enjoy the fact that her heroines like to think for themselves and are determined to have their way without worrying too much about Society's dictates.  The reader is guaranteed that deep love is going to be the basis for the relationship between any couple and the males are just automatically tailored to be over-protective and alpha males who can be "trained" with the right incentives.  Some people get tired of the formulaic trends but I think that Ms. Laurens does a wonderful job of creating new conflicts and interesting situations as the Cynster family continues to grow exponentially.  I do admit that I don't really have the pedigrees mapped out but there is a chart in the beginning of most of the books for those who are concerned with that sort of thing.  I just enjoy the chance to sigh over a wonderful romance for a few hours and I look forward to the next in the series.   My Night Owl review is at this link

Monday, October 17, 2011

Learning opportunities and Lightborn

I have previously posted about some of the wonderful resources available through the library (link) and one of those is for learning foreign languages (I am trying to learn French) but I recently read about a different online program at which uses a gardening analogy for teaching a new language.  It is still in the beta stage for some things and I am not sure how many languages are available but it is quite interesting to work with.  It starts with the premise that new words are seeds and they gradually morph into plants that move into the greenhouse and out to the garden.  So far, I am much better at reading the French and translating into the English definition but much poorer at the reverse!   My biggest obstacle is the tendency to revert to the high school Spanish vocabulary that I am much more comfortable with but I do feel that I am making some progress.

I have also signed up for a writing class being taught by a favorite author, Linnea Sinclair.  I feel sadly out of place because as far as I can tell, the majority of participants are published authors and although I have the thrill of having seen a couple of my reviews on the cover of a book, my name is not cited...I am not in the same league as most of these people.  We started today and it was startling how much the first homework assignment panicked me. 

Now the question is, why did I take on both of these tasks at the same time?  I have French words swirling around in my brain which is fretting about learning how to refine my writing style and I also have to write reviews for five books due within the next four days!  Somehow, I don't think that I am going to get my other library books read before they are due.  Which brings me to Alison Sinclair's Lightborn, the sequel to Darkborn.  I enjoyed it immensely but was very disappointed to reach the end and relieved that I have the final book in the series (Shadowborn) to be reviewed in the near future. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta and other cat detectives

I think that Carole Nelson Douglas struggled a bit to come up with the title that started with a "v" for the newest Midnight Louie story but I guess that she didn't want to use vanilla since it would contrast so starkly with the noir theme.  Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta continues with Max Kinsella's search for his missing memories and I find it ironic that two different mystery series are at the "v" stage (Kinsey Milhone seems to be searching for Vengeance) but their main characters are at such different stages of their lives.  The series is getting a bit too convoluted with its dangling threads that seem to be getting more tangled instead of smoothing out. 

I always enjoy the antics of the felines in Douglas' tales but their travels are getting a bit too farfetched and the condition of the Persian sisters was appalling and uncharacteristic given how attached Savannah Ashleigh was to them previously.  The furry detectives of this series are quite distinct from the pampered and vocal felines (Koko and Yum Yum) that populate the Lilian Jackson Braun tales, the Rita Mae Brown trio (Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Corgi friend Tee Tucker) that talk amongst themselves while they help their human or the truly communicative trio (Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit) from Shirley Rousseau Murphy.  The human element keeps Midnight Louie busy trying to keep his roommate safe and happy but he uses his customary efficiency to marshal whatever resources he can generate in order to rescue his less fortunate brethren in yet another noir Vegas mystery. 

My Night Owl Review is at Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Unquiet and anthologies

Lately, I seem to have been reading several anthologies...which makes it really difficult to keep track of storylines!  Usually I try to read different genres so that I can keep the characters apart but there are so many great anthologies out lately that it's difficult to focus on just one.  The Unquiet features five excellent authors who are able to pen stand-alone tales that still fit into their ongoing series.  J.D. Robb has her inimitable police detective of the future, Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who is so intriguing because she has risen from the ashes of her horrible childhood and become a formidable investigator who is so very competent at investigating crimes yet endearingly baffled by social interactions.  My favorite quote from the series is in this short story....(Eve) “What do you want?”  (Nadine Furst) “A man of amazing sexual prowess, great sensitivity, stupendous abs, and the face of an angel.  Toss in a wicked sense of humor and stupendous wealth, who adores the very ground I walk on.  Oh wait, you already have him.”   What a wonderful description of that hunk of manhood...Roarke! 

All of the tales conjure up lovely tales that have that eerie elements yet still are richly romantic.  It is difficult for authors to cram enough into a short story to make it interesting enough to tempt one to look for the series or other works by that person without being so confusing that the reader is overwhelmed by details.  Each of these authors does a great job of continuing to write entertaining stories within the theme of this anthology series (which also includes The Other Side, The Lost, Suite 606, Dead of Night, Bump In the Night).  I really enjoyed McComas' His Brother's Keeper as a frustrated ghost tries to get his message across and I was really entertained by the "psychic" in Gaffney's Dear One
My NOR review:  The Unquiet

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gamble and Dick and Felix Francis

I fell in love with Dick Francis' books while attending college and worked my way through the series expeditiously.  I waited impatiently every year for his new gift to the Queen and Queen Mother so that he could continue to educate me about occurrences behind-the-scenes in British racing even as he tantalized with his sometimes uncomfortably graphic torture scenes.  I admired his phlegmatic heroes who faced hard decisions and continued to do the "right" thing without agonizing over their actions even as I was enlightened about the grit and determination required to be a successful jockey in a very competitive sport.  I have always wanted to learn to ride a horse but unfortunately am very afraid of the fall that I could experience from such a height since I have the stature, if not the personality, of a jockey.  My mind boggles at the idea of trying to saddle a being who can knock me over with its head, let alone control where we are going!  Maybe one of these days I will muster up the courage to get on a small pony...

Gamble is an intriguing look at the world of finance (with a few pithy comments about the state of America's self-regulation or lack thereof) with the author's trademark flavoring of the British racing world.  The gradual buildup of tension even as the main character fears his personal life is about to crash and burn is mesmerizing even as one feels the loss of his chosen vocation and how it flavors his life since he continues to visit his beloved racetracks even though he can no longer experience them up close and personal the way he used to.  Another enjoyable tale.
Goodreads review:  Gamble

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spider's Revenge and the Elemental Assassin series

Jennifer Estep has a fascinating set of characters in her "Elemental Assassin" series and Spider's Revenge is the conclusion to this story arc that includes Spider's Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, and Tangled Threads.  Gin Blanco is the main character and was trained as an assassin by her mentor who also encouraged her to learn about the art of cooking which she has honed at the diner called the Pork Pit.  The main characters have the ability to manipulate various elements such as ice, stone, air and fire and Gin can go from chilling a drink using her hand to blocking a bullet or a punch by changing her skin texture.  Estep has a deft hand at creating interesting situations and can make the reader crave a delicious barbeque sandwich even while marvelling at such things as a goth dwarf or her sister who has a beauty parlor/healing salon.  The overall unifying theme of spiders travels through the stories from the rune that is burned into Gin's palms which gave her the alias that she uses as well as the incentive to seek revenge for the tragedy that shaped her life.  There is significant tragedy in the backgrounds of many of the characters and the final book does a very nice job of tying together the threads that make up the web of Gin's life without making this a final ending point.  My Night Owl Reviews can be found at:
Spider's Bite
Web of Lies
Tangled Threads
Spider's Revenge

I highly recommend these tales if you like kick-butt heroines who can love just as fiercely as they fight and have plenty of characters around them who deserve their own tales even as they enrich the life of the main character.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Allyson James' Dragon Heat and Mortal Temptations and follow-up on Daring

It was an Allyson James day...for some reason both titles arrived at my local library at the same time although I usually try to space different books by the same author out more  (unless they're part of the same series) so that I don't get too jaded about the story.  She is a prolific author and actually writes under several pseudonyms, including Jennifer Ashley and Ashley Gardner.  I had not read other works written by her in this persona and confess that I wasn't terribly fond of a couple of titles I had read by her Jennifer Ashley persona so I was a little apprehensive but I am glad that I tried other of her works.  Mortal Temptations (my Goodreads review) starts with a great scene (after all, who wouldn't be fascinated to find an injured winged being who looks like a hunk and is readily accepted by one's cat) and continues with an intriguing story that blends eroticism and paranormal elements and features a hunky snow-leopard as well.  I thought it jumped around a bit too much and the villains are pretty two-dimensional but it was a good light read as was Dragon Heat (my Goodreads review).  I have been a dragon fan since Anne McCaffrey converted me in the mid 1980s and Allyson James' version are sensual and entertaining...after all, who wouldn't be fascinated with a dragon who is addicted to late night television?  I thought Malcolm was a bit inconsistent but will have to read his story before passing final judgement.

I was tickled to receive a response to my Night Owl Review of Mike Shepherd's most recent novel, Kris Longknife: Daring from the author himself because he indicated that he approved of my analysis although he was disappointed that I hadn't mentioned the budding romance so that is evidently going to be further addressed in subsequent works.  I was conflicted about it so I decided that the less I said in the review itself, the better.  It always flabbergasts me to hear from authors although most of them have been more than gracious when I stand in front of them tongue-tied.  Kim (from the SOS Aloha blog) told me that authors are flattered when one approaches them with compliments about their works but I always worry about impinging on their privacy (projecting, I guess).  Having grown up in Southern California, there are plenty of "personalities" around but I have never been an autograph hound, preferring to take photographs instead.  Then there's also the fear that they'll remember when I've given a less than flattering review and throw something at me...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kris Longknife: Daring and space opera

Ok, I confess, I am still exhibiting avoidance behavior and not finishing the onerous task that I have been procrastinating about for months (yes, I have not finished my taxes!).  I did manage to finish my review books although my moderator very kindly extended the deadline on one of them since I was really set back by the migraines this week...can you say psychosomatic influences?  I did manage to finish reading about the latest adventures of Midnight Louie and get the review finished but it ruined my almost perfect record of on-time submissions.  Enough about that, the latest Mike Shepherd tale of Kris Longknife: Daring was another example of rollicking good space opera.  Kris is up to her usual exploits, exploring space and turning preconceived notions on their heads but this time she has a far greater mix of factions openly involved rather than delivering her information second or third-hand through the spy network.  There is a bit too much carnage for me in this tale (a frequent problem with space operas) but I enjoyed the self-deprecating humor and the repartee that is characteristic of the princess and her shipmates.  I am not quite sure I think that the budding romance is believable but I will withhold judgement right now.  My Night Owl Review is at:

I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with another excellent sci-fi author, Linnea Sinclair, when she came to town for the Romantic Times Reader's Conference this year and she dismayed me with the statement that females tend not to read science-fiction because they don't think they will understand it.  Aaarggh!  How do we expect to get ahead in science and technology if half of our population thinks like that?  I thought we had made great advances when authors no longer had to pretend they were male (e.g. Andre or Andrew Norton) to get published in the sci-fi field.  I began reading Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke in junior high (that will date me since it is an outdated term) and never quit.  I admit that I skip over the sections in current novels that are devoted to describing the armament and how much of what was required to blow up what quantity of beings/ships/buildings, etc.  but I do that whether I am reading sci-fi or an action adventure tale.  It saddens me to think about that vicious cycle...fewer readers means a smaller audience for really good authors which means fewer minds are stimulated to think outside of the box...where will we go from there? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Basilisk and Chimera by Rob Thurman

I'm going to cheat and just post links to my reviews...enjoyed both books immensely.  Read them in order, it does make a difference.

Ms. Thurman was in a serious accident but is thankfully home and recovering according to her website.  I wish her a speedy recovery and hope for more of her wonderful tales as soon as she can crank them out!



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Elder Race Series

I have really enjoyed the first three books in the "Elder Races Series" by Thea Harrison.  She has a refreshing perspective on certain mythological creatures such as dragons, vampires and griffins and each book has spotlighted a different aspect of these fascinating creatures.  The most recent is Serpent's Kiss and delves into the aging process of vampires with glimpses into the politics of that world.  My favorite thus far is still the first in the series, Dragon Bound, just because it appeals to my own sense of obsession and gives insight into a dragon's love for his/her hoard.  My review of Serpent's Kiss for Night Owl Reviews can be found at:

I am a little behind in my review books and have two due in the next two days so will probably be unable to post for the next couple of days as other obligations will take precedence so my apologies, I will try to compensate next week by catching up on some of the reviews that have been neglected for awhile.  Happy reading!

Split Second

Split Second by Catherine Coulter is another of her stories that combines the mystical with the hard-boiled realism of the FBI and the horrendous cases it deals with.  It is always heartwarming to get a glimpse of the deep love and adoration that exists between Savitch and Sherlock and their adorable son.  The three different mysteries are deftly interwoven even as the intriguing legacy that Carlyle inherits exacts its own form of payment.  An interesting look at the potential handicaps that agents face when trying to apprehend their perpetrator even while trying to protect the innocent (or not so innocent) bystanders.  An enjoyable and suspenseful read as usual.

I always enjoy reading Ms. Coulter’s work and I think that it is partly because her heroines have smart mouths (much like myself), no matter what genre she is writing in.  They tend to snap out a comeback without filtering it and often get themselves in trouble  but their sunny personalities tend to redeem them.  Many people are disturbed by the psychic elements that seem to be permeating the series but I think that is what helps set them apart from other romantic suspense tales.  I am not positive that I would have had the strength to make the same decision that Lucy does by the end of the book but I certainly understand her reasoning.  Anyway, I really enjoyed the tale and look forward to many more.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Release, Fetish, When Alex Was Bad and wasting Time was that kind of a weekend.  I have a task that I hate doing that I have procrastinated taking care of until the absolutely last possible moment.  So, of course, the plan was to spend the entire weekend taking care of it.  Ha ha!  Of course I jinxed myself when I posted in another blog that I hadn't been having my infrequent migraines.  I get an aura before they start, somewhat like the heat waves you can see shimmering off of hot pavement...and it grows until it begins to interfere with my I know that the intense pain in my head is about to show up.  Therefore, I was not very pleased to have that appear yesterday morning as I was starting my day.  I quickly took my medication and went back to bed and was pleasantly surprised to wake up with only a mild headache that, although annoying, was not incapacitating.  I didn't want to jump up and push my luck, so I read instead...yes, the minute I can focus, I read.  Why do you think the blog is called the "addict" and not the fan or aficionado?  Of course, the day was pretty much wasted by the time I was done so I figured, with true procrastinator's logic, better to start fresh today.  Unfortunately today was a replay of yesterday with the leftover headache being a little worse (which means it's a problem as I try to take care of the laundry or do anything else which increases pressure in my head like coughing or laughing).  Oh well, we'll practice mind over matter tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I went on an erotica rampage...I actually had read Release by Beth Kery a couple of weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised.  I have not read her works before but she can write a smoking love scene and she has a nice touch with the suspense element as well.  My only complaint is that I don't really like obtuse heroines and Genny is a bit slow to realize the danger that she is in for my tastes.

Fetish by Sherri L. King is a bit of a fluffy erotica tale combining an overweight woman and her search for her sexuality.  It's an adequate light read with some sensual scenes.

When Alex Was Bad by Jo Davis is a bit hotter than her Firefighters series and was quite an enjoyable erotic read even though I personally was not impressed by their solution to a troubled marriage.  That said, the characters and scenes were hot and it was an entertaining story.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Perceptions and Seduce Me In Flames

I have what is probably an overdeveloped sense of personal space meaning that I don't really like people too close to me.  Of course, once I get to know someone the space shrinks somewhat but it is a quirk left over from childhood traumas.  I was waiting in line for a free concert sponsored by the local jazz radio station and sitting on the floor, reading a book (of course), did not want to be stepped on by the gentlemen in front of me and left a three foot space between us since I was waiting for my husband and mother-in-law to join me.  There was no rush since the doors wouldn't open for another 90 minutes so people were wandering off to eat dinner, including a pair of couples who were directly behind me and asked the woman behind them to save their place.  A security guard came by about 20 minutes later and told me that I couldn't sit on the floor (a surprise to me since it's the first time they have told me this and I have been to this place 3 times prior) and I was startled to hear the woman behind me exclaim "good!".  I, of course, stood up in the same spot that I had been sitting, i.e., I didn't move forward.  About 15 minutes later, this selfsame woman began verbally attacking me because she wanted me to move forward...I was flabbergasted!  She tried to enforce her desires by standing 4 inches away from me with her back to me, close enough that she was leaning on the book that I was holding in my hand!  I felt like I was dealing with a 2 year old.   Her response to anything I said was to hold her hand up in front of my face and tell me that she didn't want to hear it, to "shh"...what in the world does one do when something like that happens?  Her perception was that I was unfairly holding space.  Mine was that she was getting all bent out of shape for nothing...we weren't going anywhere for at least an hour and her closing up any empty spaces was a ludicrous operation since at least 6 more bodies (my 2 and the two missing couples) would still have to fit into the area.  I am not normally a physical person but I was sorely tempted to smack her...except, that would have meant that I would miss the concert and my husband wouldn't know where to find me.  Well, it did a nice job of raising my blood pressure and my poor husband got to hear my harangue as soon as he showed up to exchange places with me so I could go change.  He of course, ended up chatting amicably with the crazy woman's husband briefly.  (Which leads me to the difference in perception between men and women since he didn't understand why that annoyed me as well).  So what was the big deal?  Was her perception that I was taking up more space than I should have?  Is it like the freeways where I think I am following the 3 second rule and leaving enough space to brake in unforeseen circumstances while other idiots (excuse me, I mean drivers) see that as space to cut in?  I am sure that each of us thinks the other is a jerk and this is over as about a trivial a circumstance as is possible.  Now magnify that into people in positions of extreme's frightening, isn't it?
Anyway, that leads me to Jacquelyn Frank's Seduce Me in Flames, the sequel to her novel, Seduce Me in Dreams.  It occurs to me that I forgot to review that one as well.  The main character is a Tarian.  The female lead is a princess in a land that considers Tarians barbarians and savages.  He thinks she must be some protected royal being divorced from reality.  Part of the growth in their relationship is getting past the perceptions and learning about their true natures...but of course, that is the essential part of any relationship, isn't it?  Anyway, it was an enjoyable read despite a few inconsistencies (I thought the uncle acted out of character at the end and there was something about a weapon/undiscovered threat close to the princess which must have been a red herring because I don't recall finding out who/what it was). I will definitely look for the next in the series as soon as I can work my way through some of my TBRs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coping with bad things and Vampire Instinct

Vampire Instinct
is not a read for the faint of heart but fans of Joey Hill already know of her penchant for dark sexual tales filled with BDSM elements.  It continues the saga of characters introduced in the story of Dev and Lady Daniela (Danny) (A Vampire's Claim) but after even more horrific acts have been perpetrated by the fledgling vampires created by Ruskin and his cronies.  Readers should be aware that there are multiple rapes and severe violent crimes described in addition to the “normal” kinky activities associated with multi-vampire meetings in this series but there is also a very emotional tale conveyed which centers around coping with inconceivable trauma as everyone tries to help Elisa and because of her, the remaining fledglings as well.  The decision to send them all to an island where they come under the supervision of a relatively young made vampire named Malachi is tempered by the knowledge that this is a last-ditch effort to salvage the fledglings and by extension, their champion Elisa.  Malachi has himself been damaged by his past and has carved out a niche where he is able to isolate himself with those he is comfortable around and rehabilitate the wild felids that he has rescued.  He has a ruthless determination that is ill-prepared for the deceptively weak and mild-mannered human that accompanies the potentially irredeemable fledglings.  The epic battles between the two as they find an unexpected solace in each other are entertaining and enlightening.

Each of us has had bad things happen to us, some of us have experienced more horrific traumas than others but it is how we have coped that shapes us as individuals.  Sometimes there is a multistage process that continues to percolate over the years and sometimes we are arrested at one phase...whether it be avoidance, resentment, acceptance, ongoing pain or any other of the myriad of responses.  Sometimes scars are physical and sometimes they are non-tangible but real nevertheless.  Our support system is invaluable and it can be an additional burden if we don’t have anyone to help bring us out of the darkness that we can fall into but it is important to realize that ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves how we are going to respond.  A beautiful quote in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Retribution is ascribed to the Tsalagi, and reminds us that “you should never allow your yesterday to use up too much of today.  The past is gone and tomorrow is at best a maybe.  Live for this moment because it may be all you’ll ever have. “  I think that this reminds us that we have to decide for ourselves whether we are going to allow things that have been done to us to swallow up our future or whether we will make the decision to live each day to its fullest potential and go on from where we are at this moment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Levels of gratitude and Earl of Darkness

I am grateful for multiplicities of things every day...from the little things such as being able to move around without significant soreness (having had severe neck pain problems in the past it is always great to not need to visit the chiropractor in order to turn my head), absence of my intermittent migraines, appreciation for having air conditioning in 100+ degree summer heat, having a roof over my head and food in the house, my life...the list could go on forever.  I am humbled by the fact that one of the soldiers that I have met through the website thinks that she should be grateful to me.  I read that she and her fellow soldiers are tolerating heat that is 120 during the day with lows that are in the 90s and I feel that I should quit whining about it being summer in the high desert.

I became acquainted with her because she has started a library to give some of our brave soldiers paperbacks to read.  I sent her a couple of boxes of books and read about some of the other items that were being requested therefore I sent a small care package as well.  This brave woman is unable to see her family for months on end, has no store to run out and pick up a few things from when she runs out of toothpaste or shampoo and faces her conditions with cheerful tolerance.  She told me that she volunteers at a cheetah rescue facility and the picture on this blog is one of those that she sent me.  When I thanked her for sharing the pictures, she told me that this was the least she could do!  Such humility...from someone who shows us the meaning of selflessness and sacrifice.  And what do they ask for?  Snack cakes, something called Swedish fish...and dark colored hairbands (which, I discovered, are harder to find in local stores than I had expected).  I am humbled by making her acquaintance and by the knowledge that she is one of multitudes that make it safer for us to live our lives as we do.  I encourage others to take the time to adopt a pen pal and share good thoughts even if your circumstances don't allow you to send goody boxes.

Earl of Darkness by Alix Rickloff is the beginning of a series which combines the concept of humans with Fey blood and a plan to bring King Arthur back.  It starts with an earl who is desperately trying to save his estate and recoup his finances by marrying a rich bride.  An unreadable diary which is about to be stolen by a female burglar seems to be the key to the plan and causes the earl to become distracted by the one person who is able to read the diary, the burglar herself.  I am glad that I read the second book in the series first because I would have been really reluctant to do so given the horrendous villain named Lazarus who is introduced here and featured in the second book.  I couldn't establish a rapport with the main characters in this book because the hero is terribly hardheaded, has no qualms about establishing a sexual liaison with someone he has no intentions of marrying and is quite willing to force her to help him whether she is willing or not and the heroine is complicit in her own downfall even as she repeats her patterns but is singularly ineffectual at pretty much everything.

Darkborn and vision

One of the questions I saw on one of the blogs (I think it was erotica author Delilah Devlin's) that I visited today asked what you would do if you were only able to see for 1 hour a month which was ironic considering I was reading Darkborn by Alison Sinclair at the time.  The intriguing premise to this story is that there are two societies coexisting but never crossing paths because one cannot tolerate the light and implied but not yet stated, the other cannot tolerate the dark.  Those who exist during the dark hours are necessarily the Darkborn and are physically blind yet can "sonn" which allows them to perceive far more than mere sight would allow.  The presence of two babies who are ostensibly Darkborn yet possibly sighted forms the nexus for the upheaval and violence that permeates the entire book.  A complicated relationship between mages and the Darkborn populace as well as a nebulous threat from beings known as the Shadowborn gives depth to the story which follows the Hearne family as it becomes the center of a whirlpool of upheaval and potential destruction of society as they know it.  Great secondary characters as well as a nice facility for world-building make this an intriguing read and whets the appetite for the other two books in the trilogy.  My Goodreads review:

I have always had a secret fear that I will lose my vision and be unable to read therefore the story resonated with me on a visceral level because these people use their own version of Braille and operate independently through the use of a different sense so they are by no means handicapped in the strictest sense of the word.  I did not enjoy the one or two audiobooks that I tried because they seemed so slow and I always fear that the voice of the narrator will destroy the story for me because I will find it to be inadequate or inappropriate for the story that I am reading.  I already find it irksome to compensate for my bifocals and often end up removing my eyeglasses entirely when I read.  Anyway, if I only had an hour of vision per month, I probably would spend it outdoors, reading and staring at my loved ones.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Forgetfulness as well as the benefits of libraries

I think that I mentioned that I am new to the blogging world and feeling my way along.  I have skimmed other people's blogs but have decided that I am going to have to limit my exposure because I am losing so much time between trying to write reviews for Night Owl Reviews, Goodreads, writing entries for my blog and playing Word With Friends (my terrible addiction to the Scrabble analog) that I am eating into my reading time for books when I get lost on the 5 or 6 blogs that I have become interested in!  I reviewed some of my previous entries and I am tickled to be slowly receiving comments and startled to have a follower (thanks and welcome Mary K!) and have discovered that I intended to talk about a couple of books and then promptly forgot about them.  I will state in my defense that I am uncomfortable posting anything until my Night Owl Review gets published because I feel that this is the proper etiquette...after all, I wouldn't have the book if not for the site so they should be entitled to the first review.  I have had the pleasure of reviewing about 100 books for them this year and am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to read so many great new titles.

I just finished Basilisk so I will try to post my comments about it over the next two weeks.  I have to get some of my library books read so I am going to tackle Darkborn  and Lightborn over the next few days to prepare for my review of Shadowborn but I probably will stray into a different genre somewhere along the way because too many in the same genre tends to give me literary indigestion...I get bored and satiated!   I have 3 more review books due over the next couple of weeks so have to get to those as well.

I am fortunate in the fact that the Los Angeles County library system gets a large number of current books and those that I can't get from that library are often available at the Palmdale Library.  Yes, some weeks we just make the rounds from one library to another but they are such great resources!  I use the online catalog to request my books and also to keep up with the new titles being cataloged...I hate reading books after a smoker or a messy nibbler has contaminated it so I really like to be one of the first in line to read the book.  Thus far, I was keeping my Night Owl reviews separate from my borrowed or purchased reviews on Goodreads but I am finally going to try to add everything to the Goodreads shelves.  One more thing to be aware of if you don't already know about it, the County Library system has made Freegal available to its patrons so that one can legally download 3 different songs per week (of the catalog that they have from Sony) and Palmdale Library (I am not sure about the other library system) has a foreign language training course through Mango so just remember that libraries are not just for books!

Friday, September 16, 2011

TGIF and Chimera

It's been a long week and I am very much looking forward to the weekend and catching up on my reading.  I am afraid that I have a few library books that need to be read before they are due as well as the giant stack of TBRs that are teetering in several different rooms.  I try to read the previous books in a series if the one that I am supposed to review is part of a sequence that I have not read.  Easier said than done sometimes but often gives much more insight than the brief synopses or offhand explanations that are often confusing if one doesn't know the entire series.

One example of the importance of being familiar with the series can be seen if one reads Rob Thurman's Basilisk without reading Chimera first.  Thurman always writes somewhat uncomfortable scenarios but not to the point where I have to stop reading.  Her talent lies in her ability to make a disturbing character personable and appealing.  She sucks you in with the first paragraph and chews you up and spits you out still wishing for more.  Chimera introduces the Korsak brothers, Stefan and Lukas, who were separated 10 years in the past when Lukas was kidnapped.  Scions of an infamous Russian mobster, the two are reunited after Stefan has devoted the intervening years to finding out what has happened to his younger sibling.  The young man that he rescues has no memory of their history and has been honed into a weapon but is ill-prepared to exist in a normal life.  Stefan wants to atone for what he sees as his culpability in all that happened to his brother but they each have secrets and baggage that have to be addressed.  A startling ending which makes me quite happy that I already have the next in the series to read!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A plethora of blogs, Kim from SOS Aloha and Retribution

I had the pleasure of meeting Kim at the Romantic Times readers’ conference when it was in Los Angeles this year.  She is a remarkable combination of empathetic warmth and enthusiastic avalanche.  She emanates such a welcoming and positive energy that one cannot help but respond in like manner but she looks so casual and laid-back that one fails to immediately realize how inexorable she is at achieving her goals.  My world has expanded geometrically since I have met her and now I have been sucked into the maelstrom of the blog world.  Reading the posts on her blog yesterday (SOS Aloha) wherein she requested that people either introduce their own blogs or list some of their favorites made my head spin even more at the concept that there are so many of us out there sharing our thoughts even as I was grateful to her for the opportunity to slowly creep out of my shell and throw myself out for public perusal.  My mind has been boggling since MySpace became popular and I still fail to understand where all of this data is being housed...Tweets, blogs, Google, etc.--does it all get converted to some esoteric pool of energy which we sip from periodically?  Is there some gradually evolving sentience that will become revealed such as in Nailini Singh’s or Orson Scott Card’s universe?  The question that I frequently pose to those that know me is...who really cares what I am saying?  Maybe if you know me already then you might be interested in my viewpoint but otherwise what does it matter?  Then I started thinking about why I write reviews...not only does it give me an amazing opportunity to read an incredible variety of books...but I  try to share my opinion so that like-minded individuals can have their interest piqued (or not, as the case may be) so I guess that my blog will just be an extension of that while it gives more of a flavor to my personality than my rather technical reviews.

Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon tells of Abigail Yager who was indoctrinated by the Daimons at a young age and has been trained to hunt and kill Dark-Hunters while she searches for the one who killed her parents.  Unfortunately, she thinks that William Jessup (Jess) Brady is that person despite the fact that he was tragically enamored of and separated from her ancestress Matilda but has never lost the love that he has for her, despite the paternal source of her descendants.  I was less than enthralled by this book but I am not a strong fan of the series which is imaginative but just doesn’t gel enough for me.  It is somewhat formulaic to me and it is important that the reader is very familiar with all of the interconnections among the beings in order to follow the stories.  I really admire Ms. Kenyon’s ability to create a wide variety of beings but I just don’t form the strong connection to her characters that I do with other series.  Ironically, I kept waiting to see the horses that Jess was so fond of and that he gave as his excuse for the extensive house that he purchased in Las Vegas and that is just one of the dangling ends that I wanted tied up in a neat bow.  I just have one of those minds that likes things to be orderly and to me the stories tend to meander around---but that doesn’t mean I don’t read them as time permits and that I don’t think the series is not worth just isn’t one of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blogs, blogs everywhere and Enthralled

One of the puzzles that I have constantly faced with the explosion of social media is why in the world would anybody care what I have to say or what I am doing a particular day.  I admit to being relatively faithful about entering books on my Goodreads shelf but that is more of a selfish act because I read so many stories that I am likely to forget the premise of a particular series no matter how much I like it.  There is only so much room on my mental “shelf” and as I age, the shelf seems to be decreasing in size.  I am always amazed by the breadth of information that our brains are capable of holding, just think of the songs that you remember from your late teens that you can hear the first few notes of and know immediately whether the melody line is correct, let alone the artist singing or the words being sung.  Just think of how much information that is and how many songs that you learned in a single year!  And we are not even beginning to use the potential capacity of our brains.  But, as usual, I digress.  Each blog that I have looked at has links to several others.  Clicking on the links leads me to other sites and giveaways that require comments which necessitate your logging in or registering on yet another site...which leads to additional e-mail...and one could spend hours lost in the blogiverse without appreciably accomplishing everything.  However, I am a person who enters contests for everything...which one year led us to actually traveling to Michigan on a private plane (with the other winners) and watching a NASCAR race...I can only surmise that I must have been aiming for the second prize (probably a large screen television) because that is not a prize I would have ever been aiming for.  Anyway, what I am getting at is that not only do blogs give you interesting snippets about the blogger but the bribes for reading and commenting can be quite entertaining...but that is not a characteristic of my blog...yet.  One of these days I may actually get a follower but of course I will have to let people know it exists and link it to my Goodreads, Night Owl Reviews and LibraryThing accounts.  I seem to be acquiring “friends” on Goodreads somehow without really trying so maybe this will eventually take on a life of its own since I am usually relatively reticent about trying to attract attention.

Enthralled is an anthology edited by the prolific and entertaining Kelley Armstrong and new to me author Melissa Marr.  I have read and enjoyed most of Armstrong’s works since she began the Otherworld series and leapt at the chance to review this work when I noted that both she and Rachel Caine (another author that I have followed since her Weather Warden series started) were contributors.  This is a work that is virtually impossible to swallow at a single sitting and I had to take breaks and allow my mind to uncrinkle enough to absorb the next story since each conjures up its own reality and disparate characters.  Very thought-provoking and sometimes icky (to me) storylines...being bait for cannibalistic Girl Scouts who are trying to earn their badges, vampires in drag, harpies who want a finger as payment, etc. but always entertaining and well-written.  A great addition to several young adult series without being essential to the series themselves, i.e. a nice bonus to read but there will not be a significant gap in the series if you miss this work (temporarily, I hope).   Ok, hopefully I will get back before the week is up to post my thoughts on the new anthology featuring J.D. Robb and friends, The Unquiet, but let me say that I was really sad to get to the end of the book...all of those tales were quite enjoyable as well!