Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Endgame and the hazards of cookie-making

by Ann Aguirre is the entertaining finish to the mesmerizing 'Sirantha Jax' series that began with Grimspace.  This fascinating universe is populated by intriguing aliens, including the Ithtorian, Vel, who has shared such a complicated relationship with Jax...starting with his contract to kill her.  The evolution of their bond, including their respective tattoos which reflect their tie and the complex communication that they share has been enlightening to follow over the series.  No less fascinating is the just as complicated relationship that Jax has with her lover March, from whom she has been separated yet again as he tries to guide his orphaned nephew through the difficulties of learning how to cope with his formidable mental powers of telekinesis.

Sirantha is embroiled in trying to help Loras free his oppressed planet, La'heng, from its subjugation by making the cure they have discovered available to all of those who want it.  The risks of the cure make it slightly less palatable but the benefits are virtually overwhelming.  Naturally, the oppressors do not want their slaves freed and are used to being in power.  The struggle to start a guerrilla uprising is partially fueled by Sirantha's guilt but also because of her distaste for the way Loras' people are treated.  The gradual evolution of the deeper relationships that have been established throughout the series has been great to watch and it was enlightening to see Jax's maturation after all of her trials.  This is a great science fiction series filled with creative situations in a very well-built universe.  I will miss Sirantha Jax and her allies but I am looking forward to the next intriguing chapter in this author's other two series.


We have been on a cookie baking kick since just before Christmas.  My hubby has a wonderful recipe for oatmeal cookies from one of the America's Test Kitchen's cookbook.  I have never been particularly fond of this type of cookie (I am more of a chocolate chip cookie aficionado) but I have to admit that these are fantastic...although I have discovered that they pretty much disintegrate if you are so clumsy as to drop them on the floor (sigh).  The horrific problem came when I tried to soften my very hard brown sugar by microwaving got soft but I didn't realize that the sugar on the bottom of the plastic package had melted!  Let me tell you, that is not a good experience, but fortunately the pain has subsided and I am just dealing with the blisters, having given myself second degree burns on my thumb and forefinger.  A lesson to just buy a new package of brown sugar next time we make cookies!  A radical way to get out of helping to make up the cookies...but it hasn't stopped me from eating them (and yes, I managed to sneak in chocolate chips for the final batch that went into the oven, lol).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fondled and Gobbled (ADULTS ONLY)


Fondled and Gobbled:  Someone Had To Do It

is an anthology of erotica parodies written by five talented writers who obviously enjoyed wreaking havoc on the popular tropes and descriptions of the genre.  Cassandra Carr does a hilarious thinly-veiled version of a naive yet unflaggingly lusty virgin (reminiscent of the star of a very popular erotica trilogy) appropriately named Steele Ana being initiated into all sorts of things, including some of the less desired sequelae of unhygienic sexual encounters with a “Wild Fantasy Hero”.  Danica Avert’s “Cookie Bound” pokes fun at the feasibility of wildly ripping one’s clothes off and indicates that size does matter if technique does not compensate for it, not to mention the necessity for stamina and lack of muscle cramps to keep one in the proper mood.  “Moonlust Paradise” by Lea Barrymire is a very over-the-top science fiction satire of alien sex stories that includes a being with an unpronounceable name and an overabundance of male equipment that produces remarkably tasty treats.  Ordering fast food has never had such a salacious result as it does in Piper Trace’s “Slave to the Sausage” since the Broadshaft Brothers really believe in delivery service that keeps the customer in ecstasy.  Role reversal in the m/m BDSM story, “Surprise Submissive” by Anya Richards featuring an angora-wearing bespectacled Dom sporting an impressive weapon of his own rounds out this entertaining collection of short stories.  A very fun read that is both stimulating and likely to make water snort out of your nose!

Please join the authors at the Night Owl Chat on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 5:00 PST at this link.  It is sure to be a hilarious 90 minute chat!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife

               The Black Prism      and       The Blinding Knife 


 are two books by Brent Weeks which are part of the remarkable 'Lightbringer' series. These are very hefty books but the action never ceases and the developments that turn the story takes keeps the reader constantly guessing about who to root for.  The creative analysis of the colors that make up the spectrum and the attendant characteristics of each color was fascinating to me.  There are some scenes that aren't for the squeamish but the imagination showcased in these stories is formidable. One of my biggest (literally) problems with this series is that the books are quite large and my wrists are protesting (as well as my eyeballs) because I never want to put them down until I am done.  The events that unfold keep me constantly guessing and I love the surprises that turn things at right angles, just as I think I am following a path.  The second book reminds me of some of the things I most enjoyed with Dave Duncan's 'King's Blades' series because it showcases youngsters being honed into remarkable warriors.  There are breathtaking fight scenes interwoven with a fascinating story that showcases the importance of mental and physical prowess and, while I didn't like some of the choices made by the characters...I could certainly see why certain decisions were made.  Great books but make sure you have plenty of time to absorb them!  My Night Owl reviews are at these links:  The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Iced Chiffon

Iced Chiffon     
by Duffy Brown is part of the ‘Consignment Shop Mystery’ series and features Reagan Summerside (now that her divorce from Hollis Beaumont III is final), her Cher-quoting aunt Kiki and the infuriating lawyer Walker Boone among other quirky characters.  Reagan’s efforts to support herself result in using part of her partially restored Victorian mansion (her only asset after the divorce) to off sell her designer clothes to the fashion-starved Savannah citizens of her acquaintance.  The threat of losing her house due to her ex-husband’s inconsiderate incarceration for the murder of his current lover prompts Reagan to try her hand at being a private investigator.  Unfortunately, Reagan might be better at planning an appropriate outfit to wear than acting as an efficient sleuth, if she lives long enough to do either.

This fun cozy mystery sets the stage for a delightful series that blends the charm of Southern life with a multitude of eccentric characters.  Reagan’s self-deprecating humor and her aunt’s cheerful willingness to aid and abet her cash-strapped niece in her ill-conceived schemes keep the action moving along so artfully that one almost forgets that a murder has occurred and that there is still very real danger lurking.  The myriad of  mysterious characters and their gradual unmasking keeps the reader very entertained while misdirection and extraneous clues keep the villain unobtrusive yet very present.  A great introduction to an undoubtedly entertaining series.

A new title, Killer in Crinolines, in this fun series should be released in May.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cold Days

Cold Days                      
by Jim Butcher is the latest installment in his wonderful 'Dresden Files' series which features that singularly independent wizard Harry Dresden.   If you have never read these stories (or watched the television show during its all too short run) they are a great set of tales that showcase an immensely talented author.  Harry is irreverent and has the most amazing allies and friends, not to mention an irresistible brother who is a White Court vampire.  One of my favorite secondary characters is called 'Bob' who loves salacious literature and inhabits a skull, not to mention the enormous canid known as Mouse who became attached to Harry several books ago.  Harry has become more comfortable with his powers as the series unfolds but his life gets ever more complicated and he is now committed to serving as the Winter Knight under Queen Mab of the Winter Court of the Sidhe.  Her version of rehabilitation would be considered torture by most people's definition but she has a plan, however devious it may be.  It is virtually impossible for Harry to determine who, if any, of the Winter Court will be allies rather than enemies but he knows that he can count on his ties from his previous life.

There are always new and exquisitely fascinating characters introduced in this creative series and the Cat Sith, the malk, is one of those who is highlighted in this particular story.  Just as with any cat, one never knows what mischief will accompany this being who operates according to its own arcane rules.  Harry continues to gingerly traverse that infinitesimally thin line between right and wrong as he struggles to retain his humanity in the face of all of the pressures threatening to undermine him.  An eerie encounter with a being named Kringle gives new fodder to speculation about what happens the other 364 days of the year after the gifts have been delivered, lol.  Another great addition to the series, complete with more unexpected developments that will leave one anxious for the next volume in this exciting series.  My Night Owl review is at this link.

Jim Butcher also has a wonderful action-packed fantasy series known as the 'Codex Alera' which showcases his ability to write enthralling war scenes even as an intricate game of kingdoms is being played, involving fascinating races who have their own rigid structure and code of honor.  Another fun series to read.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Balls to the Wall series and Hearts and Flour (adults only)

For adults only.

Tara Lain has a fascinating m/m romance series set in Laguna Beach, California that is called 'Balls to the Wall'.  All of these novellas feature males who either have overcome prejudice and abuse to reveal their preference for same sex relationships or who are struggling to make that transition and 'come out' of the closet.  There are sizzling hot scenes in these books but I like them because they don't gloss over the difficulties that these men have faced which have made them into the strong people they are now.  Multiple themes are addressed in this inventive series, including the futility of falsely changing to try to be a person you think the other person wants you to be and the pain that you can inflict by trying to force others to conform with your standards.  There are a variety of reactions among the characters' families (from wholehearted support to outright rejection) which accurately reflects our society today.  I don't always agree with the actions of some of the characters (I think that some of them are terrible jerks at first) but I like that there is always hope and of course, my required HEA (happy ever after) is present. 

The first in the series is Volley Balls  and features a couple of Australian hunks and the guy who helps them find the courage to reveal their sexual preferences.  My Amazon review is at this link.

The second is Fire Balls and features a yummy fireman who is out but dealing with harassment at work and the gentle man who feels that he must pretend to be something other than he is in order to attract the firefighter's attention.  My Amazon review is at this link.

Beach Balls centers around an environmentalist and a lawyer who are diametrically opposed about a development project.  Fortunately, they meet without knowing all of the things that could be a problem but reality quickly rears its ugly head.  My Amazon review is at this link.

Most recently, Snow Balls, is the latest story in this series and features a hunky cop who is very reticent to be open about his preferences.  I was a bit annoyed at the way he treated his love interest (a sign of a good author, right, someone who makes me care enough about the character to be disappointed in his actions, lol).  I also was irked by the mannerisms of the love interest.  Even though I have known some pretty flamboyant guys this particular guy just annoyed me with his exclamations.  My Amazon review is at this link.

This talented author also has a new release out called Hearts and Flour which features a health food aficionado and a baker who cross-dresses in secret.  My Amazon review is at this link.


Update 2/19/13
One more thing I forgot to mention...I am delighted to announce that Tara Lain is one of the featured authors at the new releases chat at Writerspace on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 6:00 PST.  Please join us as we discuss books with several intriguing authors at this link.  If you have never attended one of these chats, the only thing to remember is that if you are informed that protocol is being used, this means that you need to type a  question mark ( ? ) and wait until your name is called upon before you ask your question.  Usually it is best if you type your question mark and hit send, then type your question and NOT hit send but wait until you are called before hitting the send button.  That way you are not frantically typing when you are called upon and the rest of us are not twiddling our thumbs waiting around (although we usually find ways to entertain ourselves).  There is a button at the bottom to the right of the emoticon button that allows you to save the chat, just hit it at various times throughout the discussion and you can go back and catch up if you need to.  Come by, enjoy the virtual nutella and libation of your choice and interact with other people who are as enthusiastic about reading as I am (0:

If you have other questions, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog and I will do my best to answer them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Yummy reads


As usual, I am juggling a couple of things (yes, my default mode) so my brain gets scrambled because I tend to focus on my editing jobs and the reviews get piled up.  I have 8 waiting to be written up and I will try to get them done soon but wanted to mention this particular one.  I recently had the opportunity to read Night Blade by JC Daniels and wow, I had to go back and re-read sections and I STILL cried every time I read them.

Now, I have an embarrassing tendency to get emotional (you know, I am one of those people who can see perfect strangers crying and start sniffling myself) but usually I can keep it down to a dull roar.  This was one of those books that I had to really struggle to describe to my hubby without my voice breaking.  How silly is that to get invested in a fictional character to that extent?  But, wow, that shows you the power of this author's writing.  Don't recognize the name?  Ah---perhaps you will recognize the alter-ego....Shiloh Walker.  This is her paranormal series featuring a cantankerous kick-butt heroine and a yummy alpha male shapeshifter and I thought that the initial book in the series, Blade Song, was impressive but this one set the bar even higher.


Now, if you are not familiar with Ms Daniels/Walker's books, I warn you, she doesn't treat her characters with kid gloves...they definitely go through VERY tortuous times...and sometimes I am a little too disturbed by all of the horrendous things that happen so be forewarned, these are NOT light airy paranormal/urban fantasy tales and might be a little hard for some to read.  But wow, what a read.  My Night Owl review is at this link.  The book is being released in March but that gives you plenty of time to pick up Blade Song so you will have the background for this one.  My review for that one is at this link.  I am now impatiently wanting a sequel and know that it will be all too long before there is a new one in the series!

I also had the opportunity to read a short novella called Aspen Shift by Lindsay McFerrin which is also a shapeshifter story by an author whom I have not read before.  I was pleasantly surprised and although there are some inconsistencies in the story, I really enjoyed the writing so I think this author is going to be one to watch out for in the future.


And don't forget, if you love historical romance, Lady Eve's Indiscretion by Grace Burrowes has been released and if you are a military romance fan, ML Buchman's Wait Until Dark is out.

Happy reading!