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.