Wednesday, January 31

This month's INYIM list...

I promised Sybil I would blog about "The Power of Three" but I'm having a hard time coming up with anything remotely cohesive, so I decided to whine about the books I haven't finished, simply put, I'm stalling.

I started out this month with a bang, 6 books in about 10 days. In the time BC (before child) I would read at least a book a day, somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 pages a day. Which probably explains why I need reading glasses now.

So 13 books into the month I hit a wall and haven't been able to finish anything in over a week. Went to the library picked up 3 fantasy books that came highly recommended and haven't even cracked one of them. I keep trying to finish several book that I started but haven't been able to finish. I can't really explain completely why they're not working for me, and I've decided they may qualify as "It's Not You, It's Me" books. Tipping my hat to Kristie and her RTB post here are my INYIM books for January...
  • Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank, since I've only read 20 pages, I'm sure this deserves another try.
  • Dirty by Megan Hart, I think I reached my monthly limit of erotic stories, neither were good so that probably put me in the wrong frame of mind for this one. It's going back on the TBR pile for a later date.
  • The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett, this one's going to end up a DNF, it's not really horrible, but I'm 2/3 through it and couldn't care less about the story of the characters.
  • For The Love of a Pirate by Edith Layton, this one probably shouldn't be on the list, I've only read 5 pages and decided I wasn't in the mood for an historical.
  • Clandestine by Julia Ross, I'm really struggling with this one I'm 150 pages into it and it's not really working for me, yet I still like JR's voice so I want to keep going.
  • The Abducted Heiress by Claire Thornton, this book is the second in a series, for some reason I'm thinking I need to read the first one before trying this one, it's a convoluted mess and I must be missing something.

If I'd actually finished these books I would have reached 19 for the month. Considering I set a goal of 250 books for the year this would have been a nice start. Hopefully February will be better.

Tuesday, January 30

Grounded in my own reality...why some paranormals will never work for me

Yesterday I spent 2 hours working on a brochure for a Nutritionist, Health/Life Coach and Certified Hypnotist.

A "friend" of my sister. Okay maybe not a true friend, more like a walking acquaintance. What's a walking acquaintance? My sister is an athlete who walks 5-7 miles a day, and also does yoga and pilates on a daily basis. The 5-7 miles she does everyday isn't around a track at the local high school, no she walks/hikes mountains and one of the people she met on a local "hill" is our hypnotist, and somehow my sister and this lady have created an odd friendship. My sister has never been in her house or vice versa, they've never had lunch or gone shopping, but my sister seems to attract odd people who need to talk and my sister is a very good listener, and to be completely honest she's collected quite a few flakes along the way.

So, my sister talks me into doing a brochure for the hypnotist and I head over there yesterday after running a bunch of my Monday errands. We set up the design and one side of the brochure and started on the second side when I come to the Past Life Regression part of the brochure. She's "quite good at Past Life Regression hypnosis" if she says so herself. Okay it's then I realize I'm completely grounded in my own reality. Whether I'm normal or not, whether she's normal or not, I don't buy into this and when she offers to barter her services for mine I'm much more interested in getting paid by check or cash.

I realized this morning it's being grounded in this reality that ruins so many paranormals for me. I can't/don't/wont buy into the stories. I need to see the story from the outside looking in--I never put myself in the story, unless it's written so well in the first person I can feel the emotion, and that's very different from being an observer of something written in the third person. I've never imagined myself the heroine of a book, most books are like watching a movie unfold, I'm viewing it, not an actor in the tale. And if there isn't something that keeps them grounded or makes me believe it's possible I'm not likely to enjoy the story.

If the world building is really good then I can believe the fantasy, but the books that work best for me are the ones that say "What if...?" I heard somewhere that Stephen King's story ideas start from a "what if" POV. What if a small New England town is invaded by vampires, or a toy clown comes to life or an author goes completely crazy because of cabin fever or are the ghosts real... the storytelling flows from the unimaginable happening to the average everyday person.

This is another reason why Demon Angel works for me, Meljean builds a world that fits within our world, it's filled with all things different, good and evil, and yet the story completely unfolds within the world we exist in. It's the "what if demons and guardians are somehow within our world fighting for our souls and we don't know it" that works for me.

I started reading Jacquelyn Frank's Jacob over the weekend. The book opens with the Demon Enforcer hero basically on patrol protecting human kind from out of control demons. Yikes! No initial world building and no feeling of being grounded in some sort of reality. Are demons good or evil or somehow both? Why are there demons in our society? Where do they come from? How do they exist? Why do they exist? Maybe all these questions get answered, maybe I didn't give the book enough time to build any type of context within reality and I should give it more time before deciding it's an INYIM book.

I want my paranormals grounded in some sort of reality. Normal people meeting what if situations that are completely beyond our imaginations, that can scare or at least make you think, "hmmm, maybe it is possible."

What if...

Monday, January 29

Dear Meljean,

I've decided to write to you a la Dear Author to help allay some of your anxieties over your upcoming release of Demon Angel. First I need to thank you for sending me an ARC, it was very generous of you to email the PDF, of course, I was none too subtle in desperately wanting a copy. I've finally found enough time finish reading it, and it certainly was worth the numb butt caused by sitting for long periods of time in front of my computer.

  1. Many people wont like my book. I for one loved it. It's a page turner. You've a fabulous writing style and distinct voice. And, your world building is amazing. I rarely visualize characters as I read, but everyone of yours came to vivid life.
  2. Many people will make assumptions about me and/or my values because of the books. It's a beautiful tale of Good vs Evil, and the ambiguity that falls between the two. You've created incredibly rich and interesting characters that I fell in love with from the first page--the good and just Hugh, so young and strong yet so eternally old and Lilith, dark and mischievous yet somehow she's good and vulnerable too. The tension between these two is palpable from their first meeting and builds and builds. Don't worry about those who will judge, they will 1. probably not read the book, and 2. if they read it and completely miss that ultimately good has triumphed over evil, then their just plain clueless--LOL.

There is so much more I could write, but I'd sound like a gushing fangirl, can't have that.

Now, I can't wait for the next and I've already placed my order for this one through my local bookstore, it's the first book I plan to (re)read in 2007.

Originally posted 11/13/06, but Jane's looking for it.

Friday, January 26

odds and ends

Junior went back to school today. Though I am glad he stayed home yesterday, by dinnertime he was exhausted and he went to bed very early. Woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and was ready to go back.

He was playing a little before having to get dressed and I could hear there was a "train wreck" in the upstairs hallway and then I heard my little angel say "Holy Sh.. COW" Never quite got out the "Sh.." word. So of course, I asked where he heard that. My first fear was he'd say "Daddy" knowing it isn't an expression I use, but it's also not one the hubby uses very often either, my second was he heard it from his cousin, because he did pick up the wonderful "What the ...?" from him, though his cousin was smart enough not to actually finish the question. It turns out "Br..." at school says it. "Br..." the little brat who told him "Thomas the Tank Engine is for babies." and "You're hair looks stupid that way." And, a whole host of other wonderful things--that "Br..."

After having the warmest winter that I can remember it's officially COLD. When I took Junior to school this morning it was 5 degrees, he looked like Randy from A Christmas Story, he went into school with his arms straight out and announcing "I can't put my arms down."

I went to a meeting at our church last night. The Archdiocese is running a huge fundraiser that each parish will be involved with. The hope is to set up small enowments for each parishes, especially the needier ones like ours to help cover capital improvements. Our parish has a double whammy because our school also has capital improvement needs. Though the goal isn't that extravagant, and honestly I think we need to raise over and above what the archdiocese is setting for a goal, to not only cover the capital improvement needs but to truly set up an endowment that can grow, the parish seems to rely heavily on the parishioners that send children to the parish school. This can be a heavy extra burden, especially considering tuition for next year is up 10% for families with one child and 30% for families with 2 or more children. Add to that our school taxes continue to rise at a similar pace and of course we pay school taxes but don't use the schools. At times is seems as if Cardinal Egan has the heart of an accountant and not a parish priest, but that might be insulting to accountants. Add to all this our Pastor will be retiring in July and he's concerned that our little parish will have a revolving door with different pastors every year because it is a poorer parish and their is a heavy financial burden, and many parish priest don't want to have to deal with this. Oh well, what will be...

I'm in a reading rut, which is rather sad considering I've had 3 differnt book deliveries over the last couple of weeks and I've added 25+/- books to the TBR pile and nothing is remotely interesting me. I'm about 150 pages into Clandestine by Julia Ross, this book is work, it's beautifully written, but the story is moving at a snails pace, with the two main characters slowly dancing around one another, but without any real tension between them. I'd hate for this one to become a INYIM book, because it's too well written to be a DNF.

Okay, I'm done whining for today--LOL.

Have a good one and happy reading.

Thursday, January 25

Milking it for all he's worth...

Junior's home sick today. Woke up this morning and announced he was too sick to go to school. Turned off his night light and because the light was making his "head ache", he must have picked that one up from my migraine earlier in the week. He has the sniffles and a loose cough, but no fever. He probably should have gone to school, but we decided to heed the PSAs we're seeing all over TV and stay home when sick.

Well, our little Barrymore has milked this for all he's worth. Set himself up in our bed with his pillows, lots of blankets and is watching home movies of himself, he particularly likes the ones when "Santa" brought his train table and our trip to Strasburg, PA back in May of 2005.

But, he hasn't yet figured out that to stay home sick when borderline one must milk it a little longer...

At 9:00 he announced he was feeling better, at 10:00 he wanted lunch. I gave him cold medicine at 10:30 and by 11:00 he's "much, much better and ready to go out and play." Right now he's not talking to me because I pointed out there's no going outside to play when you stay home from school sick.

If he's not really sick tomorrow it's back to school.

Wednesday, January 24

The Word Of Mouth Thing...

While blog hopping this morning I discovered Nath picked up Laura Florand's Blame It on Paris, because she liked my review. I picked it up because Jayne's review made it sound like such a fun book (which it is). Now I'm wondering how many people will pick it up because Nath enjoyed it... and so on and so on... Word of mouth at it's best.

When I look at the list of books I've read this month 6 of the 13 are word of mouth recommendations. Books I might not have picked up or noticed without someone somewhere commenting on how good they were. And all 6 of these books I rated "good" or better--not bad.

Now I realize not everything lives up to word of mouth recommendations. I can think of a few that I've almost thrown at a wall or two, but I've learned along the way there are people who have similar tastes to mine and other's who are polar opposites, the trick is to remember this when I'm buying books, and not to buy a book in the heat of a warm and fuzzy review, especially ones by those who have different reading tastes

I finished Kathleen O'Reilly's Beyond Breathless this morning, though I didn't like it as much as the Ja(y)ne's I did like it enough to look for the next in the series, Beyond Daring which is due out in March. How many people picked up Beyond Breathless because of Jayn'es review? I know I wasn't the only person who picked it up.

I'm searching out Beverly Jenkin's backlist thanks to Rosario's thoughts about Sexy/Dangerous.

As of right now I can probably come up with a decent sized list of books I'll be looking for simply from word of mouth of other bloggers. I can also think of several I'll completely avoid also because of word of mouth--some because other bloggers hated them, some because a polar opposite liked them. I'm sure I could come up with a few that fall under the "Can it really be that bad" category, but I've posted about those before.

My TBR pile is filled with books I've discovered through word of mouth. How many of the books on your TBR pile are curtesy of word of mouth?

Have a good one and happy reading.

Tuesday, January 23

Yesterday: Migraine

Today: Bingo

The migraine was actually Sunday night into Monday morning, but I spent most of yesterday with a migraine hangover. Today I've got to work bingo, so I wont be around during the day.

Hope everyone is reading something exciting.

One more thing ** The hubby is reading Son of the Morning!! ** I'll post his thoughts when he finishes it.

Saturday, January 20

A little bit of rambling, because I've got nothing really to say--LOL

I can't seem to decide what's next up on my TBR pile, I've got enough books to choose from, but nothing is screaming Read me!! We went to the library yesterday and I found a Sharon Shinn Archangel, I've seen lots of wonderful reviews and yet now that I have it I'm not that interested, but I've got it for 3 weeks so hopefully the urge will come back soon.

I decided to start reading the ...In Death books again. I'm 178 in the queue at the library for Born in Death. I'm also 25 in the queue for Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Natural Born Charmer, it's not due out for a couple more weeks. I had actually pre-ordered this one from B&N, but it screwed up my December order and I decided to cancel it. I'm also 132 in the queue for Shadow Dance by Julie Garwood because honestly I refuse to actually spend money on one of her romantic suspenses, but feel somehow like I need to finish this god awful series.

I'm not loving the ebook thing, not that there's a problem with the books, but 1. I hate that the damn eBookMan isn't backlit, it's a royal pain in the behind, 2. I don't like not being able to tuck bookmarks in for different passages I want to come back to, I've got to write down the page number and a 200 page book turns into 1200+ pages on the stupid thing and 3. My hand cramps up while I'm holding it, but part of that is because I'm constantly moving it around to fight the glare caused by not having a backlight. I really should have paid greater attention to all of
Jane's Sunday Posts
on Dear Author
. Of course, most of those read like Greek to me so I probably would have been lost anyway.

So what's everyone else reading? Maybe I'll get inspired. Have a good one and happy reading.

Friday, January 19

Review requests...

Over the last couple of months I've started to receive review requests from authors. I'll gladly review just about anything that falls within the romance genre and historical fiction. Which kind of surprises me because only about half of what I post here are reviews, and I don't even review everything I read. But, when I write a review I am honest about my thoughts, good or bad.

If you would like me to review a book please email me at, I have no idea whether or not that link will automatically open up an email form--LOL.

I'll also post this information in my sidebar for future reference.

Have a great day and happy reading.


Finally, we got some snow, a whole 1/2 an inch. I can't remember going this late into winter without snow, gee we usually get snow before winter even starts.

Thursday, January 18

A few books and a piano lesson...

My son's first piano lesson was a success. Let's see how long it lasts once we start practicing today--LOL. Because he's young, it's going to be like I'm taking the lessons with him. I'll need to know what he's supposed to be practicing, so I'll need to pay attention. Which isn't a bad thing, it's like taking the piano lessons I passed on in order to take horseback riding when I was a kid.

I've finished 3 books in the last 2 days...
  1. Sexy/Dangerous by Beverly Jenkins. She's a new author for me, of course it's book number 4 in a series so I felt a little confused by some of the characters, but I like her writing voice. The story needed a little suspension of belief but then I decided it's supposed to, it's kind of Bondesque and a fun read.
  2. Sizzling by Susan Mallery. Book three in the Buchanan series. It was good, Susan Mallery is a good writer, strong distinctive voice, but she's not a favorite. Reid Buchanan is a whore, plain and simple, not my favorite type of hero, experience is one thing but he was doing the one night stand thing through the first two books of the series. Lori needs a life. The grandmother's transformation is a bit extreme given what a major bitch she is in the first two books. A nice solid story.
  3. The Master of Shilden by Lucinda Carrington. I'm finding when it comes to ER I prefer Black Lace, their story lines seem stronger than what I've read from Ellora's Cave, but then my experience with ER as a whole is probably a little wanting.

I haven't decided what to read next. I've had enough ER for one month so it's probably going to be an historical.

Have a good one and happy reading.

Tuesday, January 16

Going Blind... And a few other things...

I'm not really going blind, but between books with really small print and that eBookMan, I'm in desperate need of a new prescription for my glasses. I managed to get an appointment for today. I think I also have a clogged tear duct and I'm hoping the eye doctor can save me a trip to my GP.

Junior starts piano lessons tomorrow. We're not real sure how this is going to turn out. He'd rather take the cello, yes, I said the cello. He loves the Charlie Brown Christmas special--we've got it on tape, and he thinks that big tall instrument is a cello, it doesn't matter how many times I tell him it's actually a base, he insists it's a cello and that's what he wants to learn how to play. He's not even 4 feet tall, do they even make cellos that small?

I'm currently reading Beverly Jenkins' Sexy/Dangerous which I am thoroughly enjoying, she has an incredible voice and style. I'll be searching out her backlist at the UBS sometime this week. I have one issue, I'm a little creeped out by how Max talks to the dogs. I keep wondering what Cesar Milan (The Dog Whisperer from NGC) would think of them, though I do love the names Ruby and Ossie.

Have a good one and happy reading.

Monday, January 15

I'm up on RTB today.

Laura Florand's Blame It on Paris

Have you ever read a review and thought "I have to get that book!!"? Jayne's review of Laura Florand's Blame It on Paris did just this. It's been on my TBR pile for a couple of weeks. What a wonderful book to simply curl up on the sofa and enjoy.

Can an insecure American woman find happiness with a sexy Parisian waiter--even if she doesn't like the French?

Laura has spent most of her adult life avoiding serious relationships, flitting around the world, and keeping her romantic expectations comfortably low. The last thing she wants is to have her globe-trotting ways curtailed by a messy emotional entanglement. As far as she's concerned, chocolate is just as satisfying as true love--and a lot less complicated.

So how, in the name of all that is romantic, has she managed to get involved with a dangerously charming Frenchman named Sebastien? And only weeks before she's scheduled to leave Paris for good?

Everyone knows that Frenchmen are chain-smoking, manic-depressive, faithless, male chauvinistic, perfectionist snobs. What's worse, they live in France.

The cultural differences alone are enough to kill any relationship, even if Laura wanted one. She's from small-town Georgia. He's a sophisticated Parisian. They go together like grits and escargot.

But Sebastien isn't just any Frenchman. He's a gorgeous, sweet, sexy, graphic artist who seems to find Laura adorable for reasons she can't begin to comprehend. As the days slip by, she's finding it harder and harder to say adieu.

Unless she comes to her senses soon, she could end up ruining her life with a beautiful romance. . . .
I'm so glad I spent yesterday reading this book. My husband kept asking me what I was smiling at. It's a wonderfully witty book that takes an interesting and funny American look at Paris and then turns that witty view on America from a very funny French point of view.

It's a delightful look at what I hope are average American and French families. Her dealings with bureaucracies on both sides of the Atlantic are priceless. The interesting Catholic Priests she's encountered remind me of some from my childhood. And apparently septic tanks in France aren't any better than those in the States. I want to spend the 4th of July with Mrs. Florand's family in Georgia and I want to visit Mr. Florand's for the next fetes villageoises.

Just a few random thought...
  • Mayonnaise needs to be refrigerated as does uncooked and cooked chicken, no matter what the French think.
  • 11 year olds shouldn't be allowed to work a crane.
  • "Mamie" reminded me of my grandmother, that was her nickname.
  • "mon petite chou" reminded me of my grandfather, that's what he called us when we were little.
  • Being a chocoholic Paris might be worth visiting.
  • America needs PACS.
  • Paris needs a little more green space if someone raised there is so easily impressed by squirrels.

A delightful, witty and sweet tale, and a really good read.

Friday, January 12

So, what did I learn while meandering through my list of books for my Favorites of 2006...

Strong character driven stories will suck me in, add good dialogue, I don't even need a strong plot to be completely entertained, I'll just follow the characters around until there seems to be some sort of ending, Eloisa James' Pleasure for Pleasure is proof of that--LOL.

I prefer paranormal romances that really lean toward the dark side. I know some people don't think horror and romance work together, but they do for me.

I take my Romantic Suspense light on the romance, strong on the suspense. Now you would think I should just read straight suspense or mystery, ah but no, I still want a hint of romance and a HEA.

Give me a historical with an interesting time period (take that as anything other than Regency) and I'm likely to enjoy it.

I can reread favorites over and over and over and over and over again--LOL.

Okay, so can any of the grammar experts tell me is it "a historical" or "an historical"?

Have a great weekend, and happy reading.

The Favorites...

I was going to do a Top 10 From 2006 but decided to just list my favorites, I had a hard time cutting it down to 10, on any given day the list might change anyway--LOL.
  • Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare--the time period was so refreshing, story telling and writing strong.
  • Lady of Sin by Madeline Hunter--character driven
  • Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth--character driven
  • Pleasure for Pleasure by Eloisa James--character driven
  • The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt--Georgian!! a really good debut novel
  • Angel Falls by Nora Roberts--loved the heroines insecurities and the heros firm belief in the her despite all her anxieties and obsessions.
  • Vanquished by Hope Tarr--this may be my favorite book from last year and I didn't rate it a "Great", this was one of those books that stuck with me long after I read it.
  • Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh--wonderful writing voice and world building
  • Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas--love an ambiguous hero
  • Demon Angel by Meljean Brook--amazing world building, amazing couple
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyers--excellent YA book
  • The Gladiator's Honor by Michelle Styles--fantastic time period and really strong storytelling
  • The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout--nice debut novel, paranormal with a horror feel
  • Dark Need by Lynn Viehl--paranormal romance that borders on horror
  • I See You by Holly Lisle--nice suspense, interesting paranormal twist
  • Simply Unforgettable by Mary Balogh--well, gee it's a Balogh of course it's good
  • The Devil's Waltz Anne Stuart--ambiguous hero, strong heroine--really good book
  • Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmers--P & P from Darcy's point of view--love that.

Favorite series/trilogy--Susan Carroll--The Courtesan, Dark Queen and The Silver Rose--actually I read the first 2 in 2005, but the series finished with The Silver Rose in 2006, she did an amazing job redeeming a questionable hero.

Favorite catergory--Goes Down Easy by Alison Kent, I don't read many category romances, but this one worked completely for me.

The book that stuck with me even though I gave it an "okay" grade--Entertaining Mr. Stone by Portia DaCosta--there's something about Maria and Mr. Stone (Clever Bobby) that really work for me as a couple, maybe it's the May/December thing--I don't know--LOL.

Favorite Re-reads:

  • Open Season by Linda Howard--If I'm honest I probably reread this 10 times last year. It sat on my nightstand and I picked up whenever I had "nothing" to read.
  • His Wicked Ways by Eloisa James--either you love it or hate it, it works for me. I'll also admit I read Pleasure for Pleasure three times in December--LOL.
  • Mackenzies... by Lida Howard--what can I say I love the Mackenzies.
  • Years by Lavryle Spencer--one of my all time favorite books--Teddy and Linnea--I may have to reread it again.
  • Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase--Rupert is probably one of my absolutely favorite heros.
  • The Laird by Juliana Garnett--I think this was published in 1998, one of my favorite authors, love her style, voice and storytelling.
  • Night in Eden by Candice Proctor--my favorite Proctor, wish she was still writing romance.

That's it, I'm done boring you with my favorites--LOL.

Thursday, January 11

Romance vs Love Story...

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I needed to get this out.

I posted this comment over on Dear Author's mega column about mislabeling romance...
I was going to save this for a RTB column but here goes...

Romance vs. Love Story:

Romance: To qualify as a romance right before "The End" there needs to be an invisible and THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER, it must have some sort of HEA, whatever type of HEA that works for you is fine. That doesn't mean they're happily married with 3 kids, a dog and a picket fence. It means the main characters have found some sort of happiness together now and in the future.

Love Story: a romantic story that may or may not have a HEA. The book Love Story is a perfect example, true love tragically doomed by death, it's filled with romantic elements, but misses the main one that would make it a ROMANCE--a Happily Ever After ending.
Why is this so hard to understand?

Much further down in the discussion was the following...
I hung out on an sff board for a while and people were regularly dumbfounded that romance required that the hero and heroine end up happily alive and together at the end. They usually felt that this requirement must stifle for the writer...

How the heck does this stifle the author? Nobody is strong arming an author into writing a HEA. The author can write whatever the heck they want, they can end the story with charcters dying all over the place to save man kind or the one they love.

Not stifling, nothing to be dumbfounded over, it's not difficult to understand.

For crying out loud it's not brain surgery...

To qualify as a ROMANCE, to be marketed to ROMANCE readers as a ROMANCE the book needs a Happily Ever After ending.

Wednesday, January 10

The Test of Time...

I had decided against doing a 2006 Year in Review. But after seeing so many interesting statistics (thanks to Rosario) I changed my mind

Decided to start with the grade breakdown:

Great - - - - - - - 17 books -- 8%
Very Good - - - - 49 books -- 25%
Good - - - - - - - 68 books -- 35%
Okay- - - - - - - -49 books -- 25%
NWMT - - - - - - 12 books --- 6%
DNF- - - - - - - - - 2 books --- 1%

Totals - - - - - - 197 books (176 if you take out the rereads)

21% were rereads
Looks pretty good and sounds about right, most of what I read falls between very good, good and okay.

Next I decided to lists My Favorites... there I ran into a problem.

Greats consisted of 17 books, 7 of which were rereads. Taking out the rereads drops my "great" total down to 5%--could that be right? And then I looked a the list of books...
The Devil's Waltz -- Anne Stuart
Simply Unforgetable -- Mary Balogh
Devil in Winter -- Lisa Kleypas ???
Winter Garden -- Adele Ashworth
Ride the Fire -- Pamela Clare
Darcy's Story -- Janet Aylmer
Twilight -- Stephanie Meyers
Slave to Sensation -- Nalini Singh
Lover Awakened -- J R Ward
Demon Angel -- Meljean Brook ???
I crossed out the books I decided probably never belonged in the "Great" column to start with and probably should have been rated "Very Good" and I'm still a little undecided about the ones with the question marks. So out of 176 "new" books read I have 5 new/possible keepers: 3 historicals, 1 paranormal and 1 YA.

I think I need to revamp my grading system...
A/A+ = Keeper
A- = Possible Keeper
B+ = Very Good
B/B- = Good
C-/C/C+ = Okay
D = Not Worth My Time (NWMT)
I realized as a I was going through the list there are probably a some books I rated "Very Good" that are "Possible Keepers", but that will have to be another post. I also realized I'm much tougher on a book after the glow of a new exciting read wears off--LOL.

Tuesday, January 9

Samantha Winston's Angels on Crusade

Samantha Winston's Angels on Crusade is one of those books I normally avoid reviewing, I liked it but it's hard to explain why. I'm not even sure what genre I'd consider this--I'll say fantasy sci fi, not necessarily romance, though there is a HEA, but it's not a really a romance.
A condemned criminal in the far future is sent to the past to try to save the crown of France. Isobel was a carefree student one day, and in prison the next for the accidental murder of a child. Her fate, life in prison. But she's offered a way out - through time. The crown of France is in peril. A young boy, who never should have left Paris, has gone to join the ill-fated 8th Crusade. Isobel's task is to talk young Jean de Bourbon-Dampierre out of joining the Crusade so that he can sire a dynasty. Isobel chooses to go back to the twelfth century, although she knows she will be left to spend the rest of her life there. At least it will give her a chance to redeem herself, she believes. If she's erasure and certain death, and someone else will be sent. In any case, she will never see her own time again.
I love the concept a 25th Century journalists traveling back in time to interview historical figures. But when one of these time traveling journalists makes a mistake and somehow alters history a convict is trained and returned to the past to correct the mistake. If they correct history they are allowed to live in whatever time they are sent to, which I'm not sure I completely understand because by leaving them there aren't they changing history if only in a small way, if they fail... well, it's not pretty.

When Isobel realizes she's not going to stop Jean from going on Crusade she travels with him in the hope she can change his mind and protect him. He's not as young as the blurb leads you to believe--16 and determined to prove to his father he's a man.

What worked...
  • The story's told in the 1st person and I like this, seeing and feeling what's going on through Isobel's eyes and emotions.
  • The storytelling--it's simply a fascinating tale that starts with the 25th Century backstory. Once Isobel travels back in time the story moves at a quick pace.
  • Sam pulls no punches with the gritty details of history. 13th Century France isn't a pretty place. The dirt, the squalor the inequity of society it's all there in at times grim detail.
  • Isobel is a survivor, she an interesting heroine and the secondary characters are very vivid even though we're not privy to their thoughts.

What didn't work...

  • I wasn't completely comfortable with the details of the 25th Century. I'd like to think society wouldn't go backward that much as to condemn a comatose woman to prison for the rest of her life for the accidental death of a child. And a few other things I wont go into.
  • The trials and tribulations that Isobel goes through are incredible, I realize times are hard but at times it's a little overwhelming and honestly if one more thing went wrong for this poor woman I may have thrown my little eBookMan a la Jane.
  • I found the gritty details of the past interesting until the detailed description of one of the character's death--beyond gruesome, it was simply too much.
  • I don't care if it's historically accurate Jean was too young.

Simply put I liked the story. The first half of the book is sometimes a bit too gritty, but it makes the story seem that much more realistic, and makes it very different from most medievals.

Can you hear me now?

Blogger was down for a good part of the day.

This is a test.

Can you hear me now?

Sam, I promise to post your review sometime tomorrow.

Monday, January 8

Even after rereading it's still good...

I spent the weekend rereading Meljean's Demon Angel and guess what? It's still an excellent read. There's a passage on page 68 that sums up so much of why this book works for me...

Guardian's milled about--men and women, some with wings, some in human garb, some nude--and he searched the faces for the one who had come for him, saved him.

And did not see her.

"Where is she?" He blushed as Michael raised his brows. Would the Doyen think his intentions toward the woman impure? But still he asked, "My angel."

Michael did not reply.

Hugh swallowed and looked at the ground. Pure, clean--no dirt or rot. "'Twas Lilith?"


How could it be? Except that there must be good in her, must be something within her that resists the demon. "Can she be saved?" Did he not owe it to her to try?

Michael studied him with obsidian eyes. "I can not save her."

Hugh nodded. If a place like Caelum could exist, then it surely possible to save a demon. "Then I will."
"Then I will."

I love that.

Good vs Evil and the gray that falls between.

It takes 800 years, but they save each other.

Saturday, January 6

Karen Ranney's Autumn in Scotland

Have you ever read a book and said "Yikes!!"

Because you can't quite figure out what went wrong?

Yesterday was one of those day that I just wanted to curl up with a good book and read. Was going to pick up Demon Angel for a reread, but realized my mood wasn't going to put me in the right frame of mind to read something that complicated. I settled on Karen Ranney's Autumn in Scotland, figuring it would be a nice historical read.

Abandoned by a rogue

Betrothed to an earl she had never met, Charlotte Haversham arrived at Balfurin, hoping to find love at the legendary Scottish castle. Instead she found decaying towers and no husband among the ruins. So Charlotte worked a miracle, transforming the rotting fortress into a prestigious girls' school. And now, five years later, her life is filled with purpose-until . . .

Seduced by a stranger

A man storms Charlotte's castle-and he is not the reprehensible Earl of Marne, the one who stole her dowry and dignity, but rather the absent lord's handsome, worldly cousin Dixon MacKinnon. Mesmerized by the fiery Charlotte, Dixon is reluctant to correct her mistake. And though she's determined not to play the fool again, Charlotte finds herself strangely thrilled by the scoundrel's amorous attentions. But a dangerous intrigue has drawn Dixon to Balfurin. And if his ruse is prematurely revealed, a passionate, blossoming love affair could crumble into ruin.

What a strange book, umm, this may contain spoilers...

First, the blurb is incorrect--Betrothed to an earl she had never met... Not only had she met him, she married him and then he took off with her dowry after a week of marriage. How can the publisher screw up the blurb? This must be incredibly frustrating for authors.

It's a mistaken identity book, the heroine thinks the hero is her husband who disappeared after 1 week of marriage and never came back. It's now 5 years later and apparantly the missing husband and his cousin look more like identical twins than cousins. Gee, I remember there was an old tv series that used this as a premise--I'm showing my age remembering Patty Duke reruns--LOL.

The identity thing isn't resolved until page 335. And, that's part of the problem you never completely understand why Dixon pretends to be George for so long.

Ms. Ranney ends many of her dialogue sentences with names... "But don't think there's any chance of reconciliation for us, George."... "Do you find it easy to live alone, then, Charlotte."... "I have no intention of answering you, George."... "Ah, but then I'd welcome you home with open arms, Charlotte." This is all part of the same conversation, all of which is found on one page. I'm not sure if she's doing this for emphasis or she's not sure the reader can keep track of the conversation. This happens in just about every section of dialogue in the book, after a while it became incredibly distracting.

The most entertaining part of the book are the passages that include the Ladies of The Edification Society. Apparantly they've decided it's their responsibility to explain certain sex acts in rather explicit detail and terms, and help other women realize that sex is their friend. Actually I think they're the most intersting and funny parts of the book. And, some how their completely superfluous to the actual story. I'd love to quote from some of their dialogue, but I think it would increase my google porn searches--I get enough of those already.

There's a lot of dishonesty and half truths going on throughout the book. The George/Dixon identity thing; Matthew, Dixon's "servant" knows the truth, but never tells; other secondary characters already know/think George is dead, but never tell anyone.

What really makes it a Yikes book--I liked it, well kind of--LOL. The hero and heroine are interesting, but the secondary characters are more so. I enjoyed the servants' conversations and interactions much more than the main characters, even though they also had the name tags thing going on. And I think that's part of the problem, I'm not sure I even liked the hero and heroine and I had an overall feeling of detatchment toward them.

Found this quote from the closing of Mrs. Giggles review and she's nailed it...

Autumn In Scotland is well-written and far from a bad book. It's just that this book is too... I don't know, flawed in a very predictable and ordinary manner, if I am making sense here, to stand out in my mind.

I'm still a fan of Ms. Ranney's writing, her voice and style work for me, but this is the technical part of writing. And for a book to work the technical needs to work with the creative storytelling and for me this one didn't.

I think it's rather hard to explain--LOL.

Friday, January 5

So, I'm curious is it okay to be deliberately obtuse when you're in a horribly cranky mood? I probably should apologize to Diana Peterfreund for picking at a part of her theory without admitting the whole wasn't really a bad idea.

I'd like to blame the hubby for starting a fight before we even had breakfast, but I guess that doesn't justify rude behavior.

Preaching to the choir...

I've always loved that expression...

It was the first thing I thought when I read today's RTB column. Every romance reader already knows 1. outside the romance reading world romance novels are considered literature's pathetic little cousin, two or three times removed, 2. romance readers have been fighting this battle forever.

Instead of preaching to the choir and telling us "Let’s try holding up the mirror every time we see this meme coming into play."--no kidding--how about we look at the reasons why and continue combating it from within, or shut up about needing respect and realize we don't need validation from the clueless.

So how do we combat ignorance and stupidity? My first thought is education. But honestly how many times do people need to be told that 50% of the mass paperback market is romance? How many times must a person be told "Don't judge a book by it's cover?" How many times do we have to ask "Have you ever read a romance?"

I've reached the point in my life where I don't care what people think about my choice in reading material. Each and every time an uniformed critic slanders the genre they show their ignorance not mine.

Thursday, January 4


So are Undecorating and Dedecorating real words? My day so far has consisted of taking down the Christmas decorations from around the interior of the house and putting back the normal decorations. I've still got the outside things and the Christmas tree to tackle. The tree will come down on Monday and the outside things some time between now and then. I love putting out the Christmas stuff, but hate putting it away, it's makes Christmas season officially over.

Got to go, I've still got a ton of clean laundry to put away and a sink full of dishes to do before and picking up the boy at school by 2:55.

Have a good one and happy reading (hoping to finish Angels on Crusade and Hard Evidence today).

Tuesday, January 2

A bunch of firsts

It turns out Joyce Ellen Armond's Bond's of Darkness is an important part of several new firsts for me...

  • It's the first book I finished in 2007
  • It's the first book I read on my new ebook device
  • And it's the first book published by Liquid Silver Books that I've read.

It also is Ms. Armond's first book--that's a bunch of firsts--LOL.

And I'm glad I can say the first book I read on my new eBookMan was a Good one. First the book review then the device.

Everything's going wrong for victim's advocate Kate Scott.

Her job's a mess, her hair's a mess, and her love life is stuck in perpetual flirt with the mysterious Paul.

Whether she admits it or not, Paul's her Mr. Right. His jokes make her laugh. His touch makes her shiver.

He's perfect-except for his curse. And the sorcerer who cursed him. And the demon.

Kate Scott is a victim's advocate having a rough time with one particular victim. For the past year she's been having breakfast every day with "Breakfast Paul" and her best friends have decided it's time for her and Paul to move their relationship forward.

Paul's been cursed and has lived 100 years with a deep dark secret.

Sander Wald is the sorcerer who has controlled Paul for all this time and he's decided it's time to take even greater control, torture Paul a little bit more.

In the past Paul has reached out to a local coven of witches for help in breaking the curse. This ended in disaster and he's very leery to risk anyone elses life.

Because this is a paranormal it's hard to go into too much detail without giving away parts of the story.

What worked...

  1. Kate and Paul have an existing relationship slowly built on friendship and desire.
  2. Paul's and Sander Wald's backstories aren't dumped in the beginning of the book each unfold as the story is told.
  3. It's a paranormal that doesn't include vampires or werewolves but rather good witches, an evil sorcerer and a demon who is both frightening and itself frightened--nice touch.
  4. The character development is good and pretty consistent.
  5. The pacing good, writing voice and style fairly smooth.
  6. There's a nice balance between the paranormal and romance!

What didn't work...

  1. There are a few editing issues, little inconsistencies, not horrible, but I did notice them.
  2. Kate sometimes annoyed me, which isn't unusual with heroines--LOL
  3. Paul is at times a little to resigned to his situation, but of course he's had 100 years of dealing with it.
  4. The demon's identiy is easily figured out and sometime over the last 100 years Paul probably should have realized what was going on.
  5. I'd have liked more backstory on Paul and the two witches, Laurie and Vern, relationship.

The Device--eBookMan EBM-900...

  • It's easy to use.
  • It isn't backlite, so there's a lot of reflection when reading in light.
  • It's a little small--a 170+ page book turns into 1400+ pages on this little unit.
  • It's never going to replace real books, but it is very portable and a bit of a space saver.

So there you have it, my first eBook was a success. Congratulations Ms. Armond on a good first book.