Thursday, June 28, 2012

Let It Bleed (a gift from Jeri Smith-Ready)

Let It Bleed is a novella that is a transition from Bring On the Night to her upcoming novel Lust for Life being published later this year.  For a synopsis of that title please click here.

There is a description of the arduous process that led to the decision to publish Let It Bleed as a novella at this link.  It is a fascinating (and somewhat intimidating) look at the process of writing something that will be published.  The good news for fans of the series is that Let It Bleed is available as a free download at this link.  There is also a link for contributing to the 'tip jar' as a thank you for all of the author's hard work (-:  My Goodreads review is at this link.

If you have never read any of the series, it is better to start at the is nicely paced and it gives a very different perspective on the impact of being a vampire.  The series starts with Wicked Game, continues with Bad to the Bone, which is followed by Bring On the Night.  I was most fascinated by the presence of the vampire dog but there is a passage on the 'right' way to load a dishwasher that had me in stitches because this has often been a topic of discussion in my household (remember me, the person who reads while doing just about everything?  I figure, if you put it in the will be washed!).  I finally could point to the passage and say..."OCD?"...and have it apply to something other than my inability to be anywhere without a book to read.

It is disheartening to realize how many fascinating series don't get completed because publishers don't think future stories will sell.  I have joined multiple street teams (which is why I often promote upcoming books) and have thereby been getting an inside look at the nail-biting side of being an author.  I had no idea that the 'like' buttons or the 'tags' on Amazon or adding titles to one's shelf on Goodreads really do affect things but, judging by the pleas that I read from various matters to both the publisher and the various sites and the book is promoted or featured differently depending on how much 'buzz' is being, if there are particular books that you like...don't forget to vote for them!

Wicked Game   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Savage Hunger by Shelli Stevens and musings about comfort zones

Savage Hunger  
by Shelli Stevens is a paranormal tale about a woman discovering that shape shifters exist and some are being experimented upon by the company that she is trying to advance in.  A subtext to the story is that she is struggling to live up to the exalted reputation that her father has as a leading researcher yet she doesn't have his spark.  A past connection is rekindled when she gets caught in the middle of a rescue operation but she ultimately (naturally) has a larger role to play than she could have ever dreamed of.  The heroine is a bit weaker than I like and there are inconsistencies in the behavior of some of the secondary characters but I realize that some of it is to move the plot along.  The overall tone of the story is entertaining and undoubtedly subsequent novels will clear up some of the loose threads left dangling in this story.
My Amazon review is at this link under ELF2060 and a 'yes, this was helpful' vote is always appreciated.  I was provided with a copy of this title in return for an honest review.  


Outside of my comfort zone....

I am currently trying to stretch my horizons by taking a writing class but I find myself exhibiting avoidance behavior so I haven't been getting as much out of it as I should, primarily because I haven't been putting as much effort into it as it needs.  The class is designed for authors and one of the reasons I started it was because I was trying to help an author analyze why a story wasn't getting very good reviews and one of my conclusions was that the secondary characters had no depth.  The lessons are designed to help one analyze secondary characters and how to make them less two dimensional and more active in making the story compelling.  Since I don't have my own WIP (work in progress), I am reduced to using other people's writings and analyzing what works and what doesn't.  Unfortunately, I have commitments to read/review five books that are due on the 26th as well as promises to read and review 4 others within the next couple of weeks AND a commitment to finish a proofreading job...which means that I didn't want to pick up an entirely new novel to analyze for the class.  So, I chose a novella that I really liked with the mistaken thought that it would be short and easy to use rather than picking apart (and possibly insulting the author) the novel that started me on this journey.  That worked for the first couple of homework assignments...but it's not going to any, now I have to make the decision what to use...and it's going to require that I create my own scenarios, which I always fear that I lack enough creativity to I have been putting off doing my homework for the past 3 days.  Instead, I have been wandering around the myriad of blogs and reading other people's writings and entering contests. 

It's time to buckle down and do my homework!  My only consolation is that last time I checked...nobody else in the class has done their homework either, lol.  Maybe I'm not the only one working outside of my comfort zone but this certainly gives me more sympathy for authors and their journey to produce a work suitable for publication.  Wish me luck as I flounder around...if all else fails, it probably will make me a better reviewer since I will be better able to identify what irks me about some of the works I dislike.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adults only....Contests! Updated 7/10/12 if I am not already juggling a few too many things...there are an incredible number of contests going on right now.  I still haven't gotten around to throwing my hat in the ring for some of the others that I have mentioned in this post from a few days ago BUT, there are even more available right now, especially for those of us who like the spicier tales.   As you go through some of the requirements make sure you take a look around at the other offerings on the various blogs because there are literally hundreds of sites that are holding contests (and no, I didn't enter most of them because I do actually have to step away from the keyboard occasionally, lol).

July 10, 2012
I haven't had the time to visit all of the links to find out what is still available but I do know that the following two links are for active contests.

The Romance Reviews site is holding its Sizzling Summer Reads Party 2012  at this link.  There are always tons of prizes available and I always end up adding titles to my TBR pile!

And there's the Cocked & Loaded, Shootin' Stars, & Blasting Giveaway Hop at this link  There seem to be an incredible number of participants but of course the draw for me is the Kindle Fire!!!!

Good luck and happy surfing (-:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Crystal Gardens

Crystal Gardens    

by Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle) introduces the 'Ladies of Lantern Street' series which centers around resourceful women who parlay their paranormal talents into an unconventional vocation.  I enjoy the exploration of the paranormal that is depicted in the different series penned by this author under her varied pseudonyms although the stories are getting slightly predictable to long-time fans familiar with the series.  The tales told using the Amanda Quick pseudonym tend to be suspenseful historical romances but it is my understanding that the author is going to give up her 'split personalities' and begin penning all of the books in the series under one name.  Ms Castle/Krentz/Quick has a fun website at this link that allows the reader to explore the various series.

I grumble about the roses in my garden attacking me but the garden in this tale is much more deadly to the unwary and forms part of the mystery facing the main characters.  As is typical with these books, the hero and heroine must learn to lower their barriers and allow someone into their respective lives who is familiar with the issues that they have overcome.  Together, they form a formidable team with remarkable abilities.  My Goodreads review is at this link.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sexy Little Surprises

Sexy Little Surprises  

by J.C. Daniels (Shiloh Walker's new pen-name) is a beautifully developed short novella that delves into the problems facing a couple who have grown apart.  The reason I love this author's works so much is the way she can conjure up deeply felt emotions in her tortured characters who yet retain their ability to love intensely.  I am not sure why she is writing under a different name but she definitely has not lost her ability to create an intense tale.  She is also about to release an urban fantasy title which I have also had the great pleasure to read and will review in a few days.  Those who enjoy strong heroines who find an equivalently strong male should put Blade Song on their TBR list.  A link to Shiloh's post about the book is here.

My Amazon review for Sexy Little Surprises is at this link under ELF2060.  A 'yes, this was helpful vote' is always appreciated if appropriate.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Care packages for soldiers

Those of you who are able, please consider sending care packages to the soldiers.  I recently saw a post on Shiloh Walker's site that there is an urgent need for basic supplies such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste.  Please view at this link.  Shiloh has a nice link that explains what can and cannot be sent. 

Please be advised that packages should be well wrapped, I usually put potential leaky items like shampoo and conditioner in ziplock bags and food items in a different bag so there is no chance of cross-contamination.  I tend to be paranoid so the whole thing goes into a clean plastic trashbag before I put it into the flat rate box.  The post office gives a discount for the packages being sent to the soldiers via an APO address but you do have to fill out a customs form for the items (the clerk was really entertained to read 'air fresheners' on my last list...but I explained that my soldier told me that when 7 smelly guys are sharing a  Please be advised that postage is about $14.00 but you can pack an incredible amount of material in the largest flat rate box. 

I usually include the toothpaste samples and toothbrushes that I get from my dentist, travel soaps and shampoos from hotel stays, freebie samples that I get and then I add in some of the supplies that we have around the house (full-sized bars of soap, lotion, etc.).  I usually buy from my local warehouse store and divide up different things to send (of course, I buy things I like to eat as well!) such as the individually packaged beef (NOT PORK) jerky, fruit chews, granola bars, etc.  No chocolate at this time of wouldn't make it without becoming a glop.  Current magazines are appreciated as well.  It is my understanding that they really like the powders you add to water to make it more palatable (although it offends my sense of thriftiness to see what these companies charge for those little packets).  No aerosol or anything else that the post office frowns upon.  All food must be pre-packaged so don't send home-baked items. 

Be forewarned, I rarely get a response but you can always include an e-mail address and you might get lucky.  My cheetah picture is from one of my soldiers who shared several pictures from a cheetah refuge in Afghanistan.  If you have any other questions about how to adopt a soldier or what to send, please feel free to contact me.

Contests and giveaways update June 25, 2012

Those of you who like Coach bags...there is a contest for a Coach purse wristlet on Lisa Renee Jones' website at this link to promote her sale of The Legend of Michael (part of her Zodius series).

Admittedly, some of these take more time than others (no, I will not comment on how much time I have wasted on these...let's just say that I had to renew a couple of my library books, lol).

Night Owl Reviews has a daily contest, blog contests (2 different blogs, don't forget to look at both).  Link to contest page. And a scavenger hunt! Link

The Romance Reviews has e-book giveaways regularly at this link.

Fresh Fiction has monthly and sometimes daily contests at this link.

Author Bronwyn Evans has a pretty impressive blog hop with a very nice contest to promote her new book, Invitation to ScandalLink.  (sorry, haven't read that one yet...but it does sound delightful)

Writerspace has monthly contests at this link.

There's also a Sharing My Favorite Book blog hop taking place at this link.

This doesn't begin to address the countless other blog contests that are out there...however one does have to leave a few hours to actually read!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Geared for Pleasure

Geared for Pleasure   
by Rachel Grace (R.G. Alexander) is her very entertaining steampunk novel that starts her 'Elemental Steam Romance' series.  The author does a great job of conjuring up images of Captain Nemo and his fantastical ship a la Jules Verne while adding in elements of magic and slinky sensuous characters with prehensile tails.  The gradually unfolding mystery that links a cast of intriguing characters is sprinkled with sensual scenes and vivid descriptions of mechanical marvels.  This was a very enjoyable read and will undoubtedly appeal to any reader who likes creativity and spicy romance in their tales and if you are not already a steampunk fan, this will probably encourage you to broaden your horizons.  I find myself impatiently awaiting more tales of this world from a talented author who is also credited with the deliciously steamy 'Children of the Goddess' series among other works.

My Amazon review is at this link under ELF2060.  I am always grateful for a 'yes, this was helpful' vote.

I am grateful to the Seductive Musings blogster for the opportunity to read this title in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



by Cheryl Holt is the tale of Emeline Wilson who seeks to convince Captain Nicholas Price, earl of Stafford, to come to his inherited estate and take an interest in its management.  She travels to London with the intention of forcing a confrontation with the hedonistic man who is  determined to thumb his nose at society and the return to army life when his furlough is up.  Nicholas has serious issues with the estate that he reluctantly visits but is unaware of everything that has been perpetrated in his name by the manager, Mr. Mason, whereas his brother Stephen is strongly tempted to cash out of the army and retire to the very place that Nicholas despises.  Emeline is desperate to find a way to support herself and her younger sisters but she has to deal with the attraction that she feels for the commitment-phobic Nicholas.  She finds a kindred spirit in her friend, the widowed Josephine (Jo) Merrick, who is trapped in her position as her brother’s companion but also attracted to a Price brother.  Are both women doomed to have their affections unrequited?  It depends on how they deal with the significant pre-existing commitments that each brother already has.  The problem is that there are others who have their own ideas of the appropriate destiny for each woman which does not include either Price male.  Who will prevail?  Only the strong willed.

This was a somewhat unconventional love story that was slightly disappointing to my personal criteria for romance.  I am not comfortable that both of the brothers are manipulative and self-serving and to me, wishy-washy.  One of the things that most attracts me to historical romance is the strong sense of honor and responsibility that most of the positive characters display and I felt that most of the major players in this tale were reluctantly forced into their roles.  There are lovely sensual scenes and the overall premise is entertaining but the resolutions to some of the conflicts seem a bit too contrived or stilted to me.  An adequate light read.

I was provided a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.  I had signed up for a particular date of a blog tour but somehow did not receive the print copy that I was offered before my chosen posting date therefore I offer my apologies to anyone who looked for my review several days ago.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adults only titles for limited time

For adults only

For a limited time the following titles are free:
Ral's Woman by Laurann Dohner and

Desire's Sirocco by Charlotte Boyett-Compo

Devil's Gate

Devil’s Gate   

is the new novella by Thea Harrison which is set in her Elder World series.  I fell in love with the very first book of this series because I thought it was so appropriate that a covetous dragon should be obsessive about his hoard to the extent that he knew when a single penny had been removed.  I am in awe at this author’s ability to make mythological beings realistic and even more memorable yet retain that spark that makes them attractive as lovers and mates.  It is fascinating that she has shifted the view of a medusa from the horrific snake-haired villain to a female who became tipsy because her snake tresses were sneaking an alcoholic drink and she gives new meaning to the concept of having unmanageable ‘hair’.  The story itself was not as intense as some of the previous in the series but the descriptions are exquisite and I have a couple of new favorite quotes to add to my collection, one of which refers to the vampyre Duncan’s sense of control and the other that offers the perfect description of accepting someone for exactly who they are. (p 92  “I don’t want you to curb yourself, deny yourself, cover up your face or head or any part of your body.  I don’t want you to lose or gain weight, or watch what you say, or deny how you feel, or try to be anything but who you are, because who you are is the most beautiful person in the world to me’.)  and the other quote that also makes me sigh... (p. 31  “It said his exquisite gentleness was no accident.  It said he had to be intimately aware of the placement and position of her body to achieve such a delicate, butterfly touch.  It said he touched her because he wanted to touch her, and that he knew how to be gentle and tender, that he was confident and didn’t shy away from scrutiny, and that he could hold steady when he needed to.)  Yum...these are just a couple of examples of this author's beautiful imagery that permeate her wonderful stories!  (and thank you, Ms Harrison, for permission to post the quotes!)

 For best appreciation, one should start with the first book in the series, Dragon Bound or, if a short read is preferred, start with the first novella, True Colors and continue with my favorite in that mini-series Natural Evil (which I have re-read at least 5 times now!).  And yes, Mary, read them even though a couple of the covers are missing their faces--they are well worth the 'sacrifice', lol.

 My Amazon review is at this link (with the title 'Medusae with a Thea Harrison flair') under ELF2060.   I appreciate 'yes, this was helpful' votes if appropriate!

Elder Race Novellas:


Elder Race Novels:

Learning curves

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will notice that the title is not just a figure of speech.  My life has revolved around books since my mom taught me how to read at the tender age of 4.  I was raised as an only child and found solace and companionship in books.  My birthday is in the spring so the wonderfully obtuse educational system did not allow me to enter kindergarten until I was 5 1/2 so by that time I shocked my teacher by already knowing how to read those silly baby books and they moved me up to the first grade in a matter of months.  Consequently, I have always been socially awkward and covered that by retreating into books.  It is safe to say that I have read thousands of books and it has sometimes been difficult to support my habit.  My friends got tired of giving me books as gifts because they felt that they didn't last long enough.  What they didn't understand was that a good book is the gift that keeps on giving since I will reread favorite titles endlessly.  That is the hardest thing about having gotten so heavily involved with reviewing...I generally don't have time to revisit my old friends in print.  If you ever look at my Goodreads shelf you may notice that I don't always get all of my Night Owl reviews onto that shelf but I am slowly improving.  I tend to put the library books that I am reading on that shelf and I try to be good about putting the books for the authors that I am on the 'street teams' for on there but somehow there never seem to be enough hours to get everything on all of the sites.  Which leads me to the subject of this post...

I have started branching out and am slowly picking up proofreading and/or copyediting jobs.  I have a few authors that I have had the honor of working with and am slowly obtaining prospects for several more.  Each of them has taught me more about the craft and I have been thrilled to be involved with the process of helping polish these works of art.  I have always had this anal retentive habit of picking out the typos and inconsistencies as I read and have scribbled notes to myself countless times.  The internet has made it easier to approach authors and ask whether they want errors brought to their attention and in this miraculous age of e-books, many authors do take the time to correct errors but of course nothing can be done about books that are already in print.  Unfortunately, some are offended by my overtures and others are apathetic.  It really ruins my enjoyment when there are a lot of errors and I tend to avoid that author's works in the future.  I have been honored to have met (virtually) and work with several authors who care about their presentation and hope to continue the trend.

I have recently started working with a smaller publisher and have had the opportunity to see manuscripts in a very raw state.  I have learned that my word processing program has more bells and whistles than I ever realized and I have also been reminded that I should be better about checking my own work more than once!  I am learning that there are many long hours which have to go into producing a quality piece of writing and also that I had better keep my odd sense of humor in check so that I don't inadvertently offend someone.  It's a great learning opportunity and I hope that it leads to even more contacts.

I am also taking a writing class taught by an author whom I greatly respect and once again am learning so much more about the hard work and thought that goes into producing a quality manuscript.  So much to learn and so many distractions!  All of this long-windedness is to explain that if my posts get a little sparse over the next few weeks, it is because I am learning to juggle my tasks a little better.  I am still committed to a plethora of reviews but there is necessarily a lag time between my submission and their posting on Night Owl so please be patient.  I did get a chance to read the latest Thea Harrison novella, Devil's Gate, and was enthralled with her imagery as usual and will post my review in a few days and I am in the middle of Michael J. Sullivan's Heir of Novron but the author threw a twist in that I REALLY don't like so I am going to take a break and 'cleanse my palate' with a couple of other titles before finishing while I grumble to myself.  Now I have to go do my homework (-:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fascinated: For Adults Only


by Marissa Day (who also writes as Sarah Zettel) is the third title in her entertaining series that mixes historical romance, erotica and magic.  The intriguing concept of a struggle being waged against the Fae (ruled by Titania and Oberon) who are striving to oppress humans set in Regency England attendant with all of its strictures and ritualistic behaviors appealed to my love of two different genres.  Add in the very spicy nature of the stories and I was even more intrigued.  Each of the books can stand alone but there are some allusions to recurring characters so it would be nice to start with The Seduction of Miranda Prosper and continue with The Surrender of Lady Jane before reading this title although not absolutely necessary.

My Amazon review for Fascinated is at this link, The Seduction of Miranda Prosper is at this link, and The Surrender of Lady Jane is at this link under ELF2060.  I am always very appreciative of a 'yes, this was helpful' vote.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lies & Omens

Lies & Omens  
by Lyn Benedict is part of her 'Shadow Inquiries' series which features private investigator Sylvie Lightner and her VERY complicated life.  Ideally, one should read the first few volumes in the series in order to understand the backstory for this heroine who tries to 'do the right thing' but nevertheless runs afoul of the various factions in her world.  I find the series a little confusing because multiple pantheons of gods are fighting which naturally means their respective followers are wreaking havoc with the world and with each other.  There is also the issue with everyone in Sylvie's life being pretty much tortured in one respect or another, not to mention what has happened to the physical world after any conflict that Sylvie has been involved in.  Those who have read my "What Makes an Awesome Book" post (link) will understand when I say that these books definitely don't fit into the criteria for number 6, lol.  I definitely don't have a warm fuzzy feeling after reading these but I AM impressed with the imagination that goes into the melding of all of these pantheons and paranormal creatures.

Again, I think that this is another series that would be best read from the beginning to appreciate the nuances but speaking from personal experience, I am not sure that one would be totally clear on what is going on even having read all of the books (which I have).  I am thrilled that my Night Owl reviews were quoted in a couple of the books (it is always startling to read reviews and think, hmm...that sounds familiar) even though I don't get credited as an individual except on the website itself. The series starts with Sins & Shadows and continues with Ghosts & Echoes then Gods & Monsters.  You probably will need to take a break between them to let your brain stop buzzing at all of the action and the difficulty of deciding whether you have sympathy or irritation with some of the characters.

My Amazon review for this title is at this link under ELF2060.  As usual, I appreciate 'yes, this was helpful' votes.  My Night Owl reviews for the previous titles in the series are available at this link.