Monday, November 30, 2009

The Maverick by Diana Palmer

Always in the middle of trouble, be it during roundup or at Jacobsville county dances, Harley Fowler emerges unscathed. Until he meets whirlwind, top-notch investigator Alice Jones, who is trying to solve a murder involving the one family Harley doesn't want to talk about—his own. Suddenly he's in the midst of mayhem—and all he can think about is protecting Alice. But the stubborn woman is unappreciative of his efforts. What's a confirmed maverick to do? Is seduction the solution?

There are a couple things I want to start out saying with this review - 1) this cover description is one of the lamest, most misleading ones ever, and 2) finally Diana Palmer has come out with a Long, Tall, Texan Novel that has a different plot. Before this book I could have described to you quite succinctly how any of Palmer's books went: first, older man meets younger, virginal woman. Second, after being scared by his feelings for her, older man treats younger woman horribly to run her off. Finally, younger woman forgives older man for his shitty attitude and sex, love, and happiness ensue: The End (ask me sometime about Bertrice Small books - I can do the same thing). This novel, as you would never tell from the description is different. Alice might be a virgin, but it is her wit and feelings for Harley that take the forefront, from the beginning she uses humor and kids him about marrying her. That attitude helps Harley overlook the disappointing relationships he's had in the past and makes him that much more anxious to spend time with her. The only thing that I would say is negative about this book is that it seemed to really need to be almost twice as long. They start bringing in a criminal/mystery element to this book that isn't fleshed out enough and is definitely left hanging. Hopefully this means that Palmer has a full sized novel coming out soon or at least there are going to be some more Silhouette Desire books to round out the suspense!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A fun book that definitely deserves to be added to shelves, and one that claims its place as the latest release in this well known, and well loved, series.

Series - Started in 1988, there are almost 30 books in this series, so please check out Diana Palmer's website for the list!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful

While we should of course all be thankful to the good things in our life all the time, it's really on this day that we think of all those things that make life worth living. Friends, family, all the loved and dear ones that make where ever you are the best place you can be. I've had a lot of personal upheaval the past few months, losing a parent is never easy, but it's through the love and support of those around me that I'm able to look ahead. That I'm able to laugh and sing and be joyful about the wonderful opportunities I've had. I don't think I could have imagined how great my move to DC would be, all I could see after graduation was a bunch of question marks, but now I can't imagine being anywhere else. There is tremendous love and hope here in America's capital, love and hope that has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with connections. So on this Thanksgiving I want to remember those connections and all the people at the end of those strings. THANK YOU for being you- and helping me be me.

With love and gratitude,


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Vampires in My Life

I hate to have to admit inspiration from an E! countdown, but the other day I saw them do 'Top 10 Vampires We Love' and I just couldn't take it. Some of their picks I agreed with but because they were only focusing on TV/Movie vampires I feel like they left out a lot. And, since I'm a girl (duh!) and my vampires don't have to appeal to anyone other than me, I've decided to do a list with just male vampires. Different ages and genres, along with a wide range of different methods of distribution to the public, but here is a list of the Top Vampires in My Life, along with a couple runners up that I thought were definitely worth mentioning.

11. Simon, The Silver Kiss - People love to talk about Twilight as the epitome of teen vampire romance and angst, but I think that's mainly because they haven't read about Zoe and Simon in The Silver Kiss. I think there is no truer expression of love then in this book, where in spite of her desire to be changed, Simon sticks to his guns and his understanding of what being a vampire actually means and refuses to make Zoe a vampire. Instead, in one of the most poignant goodbyes ever, he sits with her to see his last sunrise.

10. James, Secret Vampire - James and Poppy are a good example of when, if the heroine is DYING, I can see making a teenager a vampire. Plus the whole series features younger heroes and heroines so it's not too much of a surprise that this storyline makes an appearance.

9. Louie, Interview With the Vampire - Louie was probably my first 'grown up' vampire - who wowed me with the tall, dark, and handsome bit. With his crazy eyes (contacts were never so attractive) and Brad Pitt's lips who couldn't love Louie?!?! Plus he was so kick ass and tormented in a non-whimpy way.

8. Wrath, Dark Lover - In Ward's first book on her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Wrath makes his appearance as the ruler and savior of his species. Definitely one of the best examples of a H-O-T alpha male, it is his complete devotion to Beth and the reality that his life is only complete with her in it that makes him so easy love and totally irresistible.

7. Eric, Sookie Stackhouse Series - Eric squeeks by on my list and not Bill because I think Eric is just a lot more real. He's always been up front with Sookie about how he feels and reading (I don't watch the show!) through the transformation where physical attraction leads into real feelings is so engaging, it's just one more place for Charlaine Harris shines in this series.

6. Constantine, Sunshine - Constantine is probably the most unusual hero to place on this list just because McKinley doesn't write the stereotypical vampire figure. All of the vampires in this book are hugely 'other' and their existence is very antithetical to the existence of humans. Sunshine and Constantine banding together and their attraction is not typically romantic. It just is, as something that can't be changed by any outside forces. That connection and the unique world and storyline of the novel is what places him so high on my list.

5. Jean-Claude, Anita Blake Series - No vampire list could really be complete without Jean-Claude. The very essence of temptation and sin from Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books, he's just incredible. Alive for centuries you always get the feeling that he's done just about anything and could teach you things you've never even dreamed of - all without breaking a sweat. How is that not sexy?!?!

4. (x2) Spike and Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Number 4/3 had to be a tie because even after all these years I still cannot choose between Angel and Spike. When I was younger, and the TV series was younger, Angel of course was the winner, with all his brooding sexiness. But as seasons went by and Spike went from just a cute bad guy to a soul toting hero in his own right my feelings changed. I could have sworn that after he attacked Buffy that there was no way he was worming his way back into
my affection but he just loved her so much. Even when he knows that she doesn't love him. And at the end when sacrifices himself for her and for the world it just sealed his place on this list. So yeah - I couldn't decide between the two, so Angel and Spike make it high up on this list.

2. Rhage, Lover Eternal - Rhage makes it higher on my list I think because it was even more touching to read about his falling in love with Mary who had cancer and enough emotional issues to fill an issue. And of course, he had his addiction to sex caused by a curse he couldn't seem to get a handle of. Plus the story itself was so atypical with Mary doing a very good case of emotional emptiness due to her diagnosis and in Rhage being a very atypical hero when he goes to have sex with another woman in the middle of the book - after he's identified Mary as his true love. Nothing is easy in this book and these two people, brought together after so much hardship, make a story that I will read over and over again.

1. Thierry, Soulmate - Thierry wins because he loves Hannah so much that he commits himself to their love even knowing that he will be forced to watch her die over and over again. As an old soul Hannah is reborn, but instead of halting her destiny, instead of forcing her into one body forever, he devotes himself to her, to their eternity together. But it's going to be hard. To be with her and watch her grow old and eventually die - and then wait. Wait for her to be reborn and for him to find her again, all knowing that the cycle is going to repeat itself. AHH! SO ROMANTIC! I know I'm a fool but this just gets to me!

Honorable Mentions
1. Mikhail, Christine Feehan's Dark Series - I love Mikhail but to be fair to the category he's not a vampire, he's a Carpathian so he get's an honorable mention.
2. Ash, Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters Series - Same thing with Ash, he's not a vampire and actually only really drinks Artemis's blood, but he's so cool that he also gets a shout out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Excerpt - Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

"I find it horrific."

"Why? I've seen you kill before, Kate. Granted, you do it with considerably more skill."

"I kill because I have to. I kill to protect myself or others. I won't take a life to titillate a crowd. Nor would I torture a man for the pleasure of it."

Saiman shrugged. "You kill to survive and to appease your own misguided conscience. Those in the Pit kill for money and the gratification of knowing they are better than the corpse at their feet. At the core, our motives are always self-serving, Kate. Altruism is a fog created by sly minds seeking to benefit from the energy and skill of others. Nothing more."

"You're like a god from Greek myth, Saiman. You have no empathy. You have no concept of the world beyond your ego. Wanting something gives you an automatic right to obtain it my any means necessary with no regard to the damage it may do. I would be careful if I were you. Friends and objects of deities' desires dropped like flies. In the end the gods always ended up miserable and alone."

Saiman gave me a stunned look and fell silent.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How I Keep Track aka Why I'm a Huge Nerd

So I've decided to reveal a deep dark secret - I'm a complete nerd when it comes to books (and some select other things). It used to just be the fact that when I was younger I tried to catalog all my books. Created my own little spreadsheet that had the title, author, if a book was part of series, and so on. But then as I grew older the symptoms of my nerd-ity grew worse. The more I worked in libraries the more OCD I became - I couldn't just catalog my books; they needed to be shelved in such a way that made sense. Everything had to be in alphabetical order by author's last name and within an author, in order by series. And then came Google Calendar.

I had tried many different ways to organize my lists of what books were coming out when. Amazon Wishlists, about a zillion different kinds of notebooks, even post-it notes around my computer screen. Finally last year about this time I gave in to complete absurdity and created something that does the job better than all of those combined - a Google Calendar that shows me the release date, book title, and author of everything I'm interested in. Oh god! I said it! Yes I'm
that nerdy. I have a Google Calendar just for book releases (in fact, that's the the calendar's title: Book Releases)! As much as I'm in awe of my own ridiculousness every time I look at my full monthly calendar and see all those green reminders, I can't be all that regretful. IT JUST WORKS SO WELL! I can go months, years if the date is available, ahead of time and input the books I'm looking at purchasing. Of course this has now led to days where I spend a good chunk of time just browsing through author pages to see if I can update my calendar further....yeah there's really no end in site for how bad this can get. Hahaha!

Either way I hope this helps you learn a little bit more about me and the neuroses that make me who I am today. My calendar is public and you should be able to search for it if you're interested in keeping up with what I'm reading, but feel free to email me if you want a personal invite!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

First Give Away Winners!

Sorry for the lateness of this post, but it was my birthday weekend and things got a little away from me, you understand? Either way I just went to and have picked the two winners: commenters #6 and #3!!! Which translates to -drum roll please - NJ and TonicRDT! Both of you should see an email from me soon and with your mailing addresses your books will quickly be on their way from Wiredset.

Thank to everyone for entering and I hope if nothing else you've found a new site that will help you pick some great reads!
Look for my next contest/give away soon!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For Remembrance

Thank you to every man and woman who risks their life for our freedom. At home or abroad, whether you're seeing action now or did 20 years ago - Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Lightning-struck sleuth Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver take a break from looking for the dead to visit the two little girls they both think of as sisters. But, as always happens when they travel to Texas, memories of their horrible childhood resurface.

To make matters worse, Tolliver learns from his older brother that their father is out of jail and trying to reestablish contact with other family members. Tolliver wants no part of the man- but he may not have a choice in the matter.

Soon, family secrets ensnare them both, as Harper finally discovers what happened to her missing sister, Cameron, so many years before.

And what she finds out will change her world forever.

Ok I'm going to try to write this review without any spoilers - because that's not fair to anyone and I like being fair. This latest novel was really interesting for the series mainly due to all the real life applications of many different individuals' decisions. Harper, Tolliver, her step-father Matthew, step-brother Mark, and more - so many people making world altering decisions that affect everyone around them. In the last book Harper and Tolliver finally find each other in a romantic sense, moving beyond the more 'brother-sister' type relationship they had before. Yes, I know that sounds weird; read the books and it'll all make sense and with, in my opinion, no implications of inappropriateness. I've always thought that Harris writes a terrific mystery book, and this is no different, though perhaps for me the overlapping nature of crimes in the past and present sometimes became a little confusing. Definitely pick it up if you have the chance, it's a book where the paranormal is just another facet to a mystery more intrinsically based in the darkness and confusion of people's minds. That sounds a bit heavy because this book is - good people die and though the bad guys get it in the end I was still left with a mix of melancholy and hope.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs Up. A great page turner with an intricate mystery that makes you excited about the answer while dreading what that answer will do.

Series - 1) Grave Sight 2) Grave Surprise 3) An Ice Cold Grave 4) Grave Secret

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

Love blooms in the second novel in Nora Roberts's celebrated Bride Quartet series.

As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet shares each woman's emotionally magical journey to romance.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion—kiss for blistering kiss—they must trust in their history…and in their hearts.

I thought this book was a lot better than Roberts last Bride Quartet book. Emma and Jack definitely have more spunk and their romance just seems more emotionally satisfying. I still wouldn't say it's incredibly unique for Roberts, I mean this isn't a big leap when in comparison to what she's done before, but it's good - and the future relationship implications that Roberts makes in this novel makes me excited to see how the last two remaining women find love. BUT I still do not think these books are worth the price of a trade paperback - these totally should have been published at the normal mass market price ($7.99). They're just not long enough or special enough to be worth the more expensive price - I don't care how 'artistic' or 'unique' the covers might look.

Overall Feeling- Thumbs Up. This book had really good characters, both who showed entertaining personal growth that results in the happy ending.

Series - 1) Vision in White 2) Bed of Roses 3) Savor the Moment (April 2010) 4) Happily Ever After (Unknown)

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Highlander Christmas by Janet Chapman

Camry MacKeage has absolutely no intention of telling her parents that she left her job as a NASA physicist for the small-town life of a dog-sitter -- which is why she's spending the holidays alone in coastal Maine with her furry friends Tigger and Max. Unfortunately, her irresistibly handsome rival, scientist Luke Pascal, accidentally spilled the beans. Now he's on a mission from her mother to tempt Camry home for the family's annual winter solstice celebration. But Luke is hiding his own secret, and he'll need a little bit of magic to earn Camry's trust...and a whole lot of mistletoe to seduce his way into her heart.

Chapman has pulled out another cute little Christmas romance. The other books of hers that I've read have concentrated on the historical twist shes adds to this series, but the contemporary feel to this particular novel, mixed in with a few magical elements, makes it stand out. I was really amused by the idea of a nuclear physicist throwing her hands up at it all and becoming a dog walker - Chapman just pulls it off well and definitely gets the reader rooting for Camry. Luke is another great leading man, someone who after spending most of his life firmly in reality gets a taste of what life can offer those who look beyond their noses. Together they make a very cute couple and their journey from career nemeses to husband and wife is a good one.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Not incredible but still a lot of fun and a somewhat atypical Christmas romance.

Series - 1) Charming the Highlander 2) Loving the Highlander 3) Wedding the Highlander 4) Tempting the Highlander 5) Only with a Highlander 6) Secrets of the Highlander 7) A Highlander Christmas

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens presents a brash, bold new series.

They're battle-hardened, sinfully wealthy, completely unstoppable—and all male: Four officers of the Crown, fighting against a deadly foe known only as the Black Cobra.

He is a man who has faced peril without flinching, determined to fight for king and country.

She is a bold, beautiful woman with a scandalous past, destined to become an untamed bride.

Together they must vanquish the ruthless enemy, while confronting the dangers of the heart . . .

It might have taken me a few days, but I've finally finished The Untamed Bride - and it was great! It was a definitely a departure from some of her other works with its extended prologue and the death of a friend RIGHT in the beginning - significantly before you meet the heroine. But still, the elements that make a Laurens book such a joy to read are all still there. Strong male and female characters, interesting environments, and most importantly enough suspense and mystery to keep everyone happy. Rarely are books by Laurens just romances. You usually have action, suspense, adventure, mystery, etc. all wrapped up in the path to a happily ever after. That's what keeps her readers coming, the fact that it's not just the romance at the heart of the book, there is so much that goes on, especially in a series, that it's a lot of fun and an incredible journey.

Thanks again to Wiredset for sending me a copy to review!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up! Another great one by Laurens and I can't wait for the next one!

Series - 1) The Untamed Bride 2) The Elusive Bride (Feb 2010)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Never After by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, and Sharon Shinn

#1 New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton spins a story of a princess who decides to take her own destiny in hand and rescue a pampered Prince Charming from an evil sorceress in 'Can He Bake a Cherry Pie?'

A selkie on the run from a century-old broken marriage arrangement has finally found true love- only to have the darkness from her past return to threaten both her and her dearly beloved in New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn's 'The Shadow of Mist.'

New York Times bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu tells the tale of a young princess who escapes bethrothal to a warlord by entering a magical forest. But when an evil queen sends her on a quest to 'The Tangleroot Palace', she faces dangers more perilous than marriage.

When a princess refuses her boring betrothed, the king holds a competition to see who will win his daughter's hand. But in matters of the heart, is a winner truly worthy- or can a loser offer even more in national bestselling author Sharon Shinn's 'The Wrong Bridegroom'.

This was actually a really disappointing anthology. I'm a big fan of Ms. Hamilton, Ms. Galenorn, and Ms. Liu but the stories were just unsatisfying. They all just felt short and unfinished, kind of like these authors were asked at the last minute to throw something together and this is what was given to the audience. OR I could see this as being a kind of publicity vehicle for the last author, Sharon Shinn. Even as a relative new comer to me, her story offered a kind of depth and character development that the others lacked (though this could also be attributed to her story being twice as long as almost everyone elses). I could see readers picking up this anthology because of the bigger names and being introduced to Shinn in a very flattering light.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs down. It's just not that great and 1 enjoyable story out of 4 does not a good anthology make. Either get it from the library or don't even bother - especially for the too high price of $9.99.

Series - None