Monday, May 31, 2010

Musing Mondays (5/31)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book settings.

Do you ever read a word or phrase that sparks a specific place or setting in your mind and makes you crave to read a book with that type of place/setting in it?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog).
Thanks!

**MUSING MONDAYS is back to being hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

I don't think that I've ever really read and thought 'I want to go find a book set in blank'. More often I'll be reading and next want to pick up a book with a particular character - or a particular type of personality. As scary as it sounds, I can get burnt out reading. A book can sometimes be too dense or too emotional, and I have to give myself a break before moving on. When I reach this state I'll watch bad TV, maybe bully my roommate into doing something random with me, etc. Sometimes though I'll actually have to reach for another book to get me out of my funk, but there are only certain books that will help.

I'll only wants books with HEA's - and uncomplicated ones at that. The book doesn't have to be romance, I enjoy reading Tamora Pierce's young adult books when I'm in this mood too, but I don't want to have to be so worried about the main character. I want a heroine that's spunky and prepared to take on the world, with the right dose of adventure and humor. In essence, I want a nice, happy, sit in the sun with not a care in the world, read.

Which luckily my bookshelf has to offer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sing-a-Long Fridays (5/28)

Sing-a-Long Fridays is hosted by Dana at Reading Amidst the Chaos.

All you need to do is pick a song from one of your favorite shows, movies, or artists and post it on your blog or comment with the link below so that other people can karaoke away! It's a great way to share the excitement of another Friday and an even better way to get the party started for the weekend!

I am so excited for this week's Sing-a-Long Friday because I LOVE this song. Really love, as in this song is on almost every iPod playlist I have and it's a favorite whenever I want to get hyped up. Because who doesn't love Mulan's 'I'll Make a Man Out of You'?! While Mulan is not the oldest of Disney films, I'd consider this song an instant classic just because it has everything to make it unforgettable outside of its place in the movie. Great lyrics, an easily remembered tune, and the kind of character triumph that has the listener cheering along with the heroine. It reminds me of another Disney favorite, but I think I'll leave that one for next week.....


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Deciding (and Defending) Your Limits

I was going through my blog roll today and came across a very interesting post by The Book Vixen - 'Do You Own Your Reviews?' In it she addresses an issue that I personally had never thought too much about, the question of how do you protect the words that you use for a blog post? This concern doesn't limit itself just to book reviews; other types of product reviews, discussion posts, original work - it all has the possibility of being taken and used out of context if you're not careful.

TBV experienced this issue from a source that shocked me, because it was really hard to understand how Amazon.com could institute a policy that deliberately limits the rights of the people who choose to review through their site. TBV wrote a review for a title on Amazon and then through a Google Alert found the review had been picked up and pasted verbatim on another site. Plus, not only was the site using her review in its entirety, it was using her review with their own affiliate link, meaning that TBV's words were being used without her permission to make money for another party.

Now when you read this I think most people would go 'WTF? That's not fair!' and respond with a completely naturally request to the site to take down their review, with an additional email to Amazon to report the misuse of the review.

Here's where it gets really hinky.

Amazon already knew that third parties were taking the reviews from their website! Not only did they know, it is apparently written into the Terms of Use Agreement for the site that Amazon can release reviews to any affiliates it decides to and a user has no recourse to stop this. No recourse except to delete any and all reviews that they've done for Amazon - which is exactly what the representative instructed her to do if she wasn't comfortable with the agreement. I am appalled and dismayed at Amazon's stance on this issue. The words we reviewers use don't just come out of nowhere. They come from our hard work, effort, and commitment to helping people read the best books out there. When third parties are allowed to use our words all willy nilly without any attempt at obtaining permission it demeans the effort we've put in and is dishonest to the spirit of the review.

I'm not much of a purchaser from Amazon these days anyway, but I'm definitely reconsidering what I do with that company in the future. I've already deleted any book reviews I did in the past and I will not be contributing to them from this point forward. An author who responded to TBV's post did make the suggestion that you can rate the books on the site without actually reviewing them. This is probably what route I'll be taking, if and when I find myself feeling comfortable sharing my opinions with a company that apparently has no respect for its users.

I also went ahead and took TBV's suggestion to sign up for Google Alerts to help myself monitor where and how my words are being used. And since with the first alert I found my reviews had already been put up on sites without my knowledge, I highly recommend that you do the same.

To read The Book Vixen's article ('Do You Own Your Reviews?') in its entirety, please click here. The information in this post and links to her article have been used with TBV's permission.

Thirsty Thursdays (5/27)

Thirsty Thursdays is hosted by Dana at Reading Amidst the Chaos and anyone can join in!

To share in the debauchery just think of one of your favorite alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages and say why you love it and how to make it! You can link to your own blog or leave a comment below with your choice, but please include the mixology of whatever it is so that other people can give it a try!

I decided this week to go with something refreshing without the alcohol and pick a drink that's good to have no matter what mood you're in - the ever so classic Shirley Temple. This used to be my drink
of choice whenever I went out for dinner, I think because while on their own Sprite could be too plain and Grenadine could be too sweet, together they were phenomenal. I linked to the Wikipedia page, but I'm not sure if I agree with adding a maraschino cherry or a slice of orange. I like my Shirley Temple undisturbed by any fruit, mostly because while I like grenadine and cherry flavored things, I hate maraschino cherries.

**shudder**

I unfortunately don't have as much cause to go to Chili's or Ruby Tuesdays as often as I did in North Carolina, but if you find yourself in a semi-nice sit down restaurant, I recommend that you give the Shirley Temple another chance and let it win your heart away from those oh so simple, unadorned, fountain beverages.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Atlanta would be a nice place to life, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially, as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle- especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community.

When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years- and rode to war at the side of Kate's father.

This book was fantastic and more than surpassed my expectations for the latest in this series. The husband and wife team that is Ilona Andrews do an incredible job writing the kind of urban fantasies that pretty much impossible to set down. I know it sound ridiculous, but seriously - the books in these series consistently have every element to make them both irresistible and memorable. First the world that they've created in alternate reality Atlanta is just so rich. The interaction of old and new, of technology and magic, just makes so much sense that it's hard for the reader to not see its authenticity. The rules for each character are well thought out and understandable, the clashes of culture that arise when different groups interact are never random; they all follow a strict code of guidelines, which lends even more credability to the plot.

But of course no series like this could be as incredible if the characters themselves didn't have the same kind of depth and personality to carry off the intricate environment. Kate and Curran are the kind of heroes that readers long for - they are not perfect. They work hard, they try their best, but bad things happen to them and they do bad things to other people. These are not the squeeky clean herose of myth and legend; the world Kate and Curran inhabit has very few easy answers, saving one often comes at the risk of many, and if anything does look easy it probably means that it's hard as hell. Around them are a cast of supporting characters with their own problems and passions, and I think Ilona Andrews has done a wonderful job at balancing the quandry of having enough characters that the two heros are pushed but not writing in so many that the reader gets lost.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up!! So freaking good I can't really contain myself. It's my favorite thing in the world to have a book I've been waiting so long for be this good, which I'm sure sounds like a cliche, but Magic Bleeds is THAT good!

Series - 1) Magic Bites 2) Magic Burns 3) Magic Strikes 4) Magic Bleeds

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tongue in Chic by Christina Dodd

NEW FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS!

Devlin Fitzwilliam caught Meadow Szarvas red-handed, breaking into his mansion to steal a painting. In sheer desperation, she used a case of amnesia as her excuse. But then he pulled a fast one-and claimed she was his wife. Playing along was the only way for Meadow to get her hands on that painting. But what she doesn't realize is that Devlin has a hidden agenda too-and that someone's keeping an eye on them both.

I picked this up as a random library sale buy, really only because it was a romance I hadn't read before and it was cheap. Probably not the best reason to buy a book, but it worked out well this time!

I haven't read anything by Christina Dodd before, but if this book is indicative of her other work I feel like I'd enjoy them. Her book has the kind of fun character entanglement that keeps me excited right up until the end of the story - which is rarer than you'd think for contemporary romances. The fact that Devlin and Meadow are lying to each other literally from the moment they meet but still manage to finagle themselves around it enough to fall in love and solve a mystery I think says quite a lot about Dodd's ability as an author. In these kinds of situations I find that more often than not the hero becomes such a jerk that he's usually not someone I relate to and definitely not someone I want to get the HEA. This time Devlin is a character with enough depth, and enough good and 'bad' elements in his personality that you're rooting for him even when you're cursing his male stupidity. Meadow is just hippy child enough to be amusing and not irritating, though I guess I'm a sucker for strong females who kick the legs out from underneath stuck up old fogies.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. This book has a great protagonist pair, with neither Devlin or Meadow willing to budge an inch (at least initially) on what is important to them. Their persistence in talking around each others secrets while falling in love is both hilarious and romantic.

Series - 1) Trouble in High Heels 2) Tongue in Chic

Teaser Tuesdays (5/25)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

**I am again flagrantly posting what is really an excerpt in complete disregard for the rules of a teaser. I know, and I'm not sorry. Ok, maybe just a little sorry. **

"Swallowing back her tears, "We both know this" - she pointed to the parchment in his [Gwenvael's] hand- "is, excuse my father's term, elk shit. We both know he doesn't simply want me to convince you to take me to the Southlands just to get this ridiculous letter into the Dragon Queen's hands."

"So?"

"Which means he really wants me there for another reason. Once I'm there, he'll want me to do something to benefit him."

"Probably true...so?"

"And normally, I would jump at the chance. To travel into the Southlands. To meet Queen Annwyl and bargain for a much better deal than I got with
you."

"That was an excellent deal."

"Normally, I'd lie and connive and do whatever necessary to make you take me into the south."

"But..."

More tears began to flow. "But that thing..."

"Thing? What thing?"

"That thing...in one's head...that tells you when something would be wrong to do. It won't let me do it."

Feeling a sudden high level of annoyance, Gwenvael carefully asked, "Do you mean your...conscience?"

Her tears turned into hysterical sobs, and she went down on her side, her head dropping into his lap.

"Dagmar! Everyone has a conscience."

"I don't!"

"Of course you do."

"I'm a politician, Gwenvael! Of course, I don't have a conscience. At least I didn't. Now I'm cursed with one. And it's your fault!"

Somehow he knew that last bit would happen."

--pg 194, What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

Monday, May 24, 2010

Too Wicked to Kiss by Erica Ridley

HIS TOUCH HOLDS HER CAPTIVE...

From the ravens circling its spires to the gargoyles adorning its roof, Blackberry Manor looms ominously over its rambling grounds. And behind its doors, amid the flickering shadows and secret passageways, danger lies in wait.

TOO WICKED TO KISS by Romance Author Erica Ridley TO HIS EVERY DARK DESIRE...

Evangeline Pemberton has been invited to a party at the sprawling estate of reclusive Gavin Lioncroft, who is rumored to have murdered his parents. Initially, Gavin's towering presence and brusque manner instill fear in Evangeline...until his rakish features and seductive attentions profoundly arouse her. But when a guest is murdered, Evangeline is torn. Could the man to whom she is so powerfully drawn, also be a ruthless killer?

This book was part of my Sears haul and boy am I glad I didn't actually end up paying for this. I had really expected to like Ridley's debut more than I did. For most of the book I was so turned off by most of the characters it was a real effort to finish it. Evangeline is young woman who can see the past (or future) when she touches people. She's on the run from her abusive step father, but when she asks for sanctuary from one of her deceased mother's friends she instead finds herself stuck in a plot of trap Lioncroft into marriage. Add in a way sketchy 'house party' and a murder and you've got one mixed up gothic romance.

My ambivalence could be attributed to the fact that I don't read a lot of gothic historical romance, but I still feel like these characters could be better. I don't really love the way Evangeline is so much at the mercy of the people around her, Lady Stanton is a complete b*tch and I feel doesn't get enough of her own commuepance in the end, and finally Lioncroft blows hot and cold throught the whole book, depending of course on how much he misunderstands what's actually going on at any given time.

I know that sounds really bad, but the book does pull it out in the end. The murder mystery comes to a satisfactory ending, with enough intrigue to make you understand just how much complexity each of these characters actually has. Lioncroft finally realizea that he's kind of being a douche and reveals his feelings for Evangeline (I really like the picnic scene where both of them try to avoid looking at each other and he begrudgingly confesses how he feels), plus he gets to be a hero - though not too much of one. Even though Evangeline is scarred by the abuse from her stepfather she's able to pull herself out of her hysteria enough to start the process of escaping on her own. Then when Lioncroft does get there, she's the one who finally takes matters into her own hands to protect him and their future together.

I'd have to say from all that positives and negatives the book comes out okay, and I would like to read Ridley's next book to see where she goes as an author, but I'd definitely categorize this book as a library read.

Overall Feeling - Eh. It pulls itself out of a rut in the end, but for most of the book I was kind of confused why everyone loved it so much.

Series - 1) Too Wicked to Kiss 2) Too Sinful to Deny (Spring 2011)

Reading Related Injuries

Can you hurt your thumb reading? I mean, is that possible? I do seem to remember another book blogger doing a post on book elbow, which I totally understand, but how do you hurt your thumb?

For the past two days the thumb on my right hand has hurt every time I go to bend it or use it in anyway - every time! Not that it really stopped me from reading, but I'm sure my roommate got sick of hearing me complain about it! I don't do injuries well on a good day, and if the injury is one I can't even understand having,it just makes the whole thing worse.

I can't think of anything out of the ordinary that I did with my thumb, so I guess I'm going to have to attribute it to the fact that my right thumb is the one I use to stabilize a book as I'm reading it - especially if the book is hard cover.
And I must admit that this weekend I did end up spending a lot of my time curled up on the couch reading, but I still think this is ridiculous! Who actually gets hurt like this?!

Have any of you experienced a reading related injury?


Friday, May 21, 2010

Sing-a-Long Fridays (5/21)

Sing-a-Long Fridays is hosted by Dana at Reading Amidst the Chaos.

All you need to do is pick a song from one of your favorite shows, movies, or artists and post it on your blog or comment with the link below so that other people can karaoke away! It's a great way to share the excitement of another Friday and an even better way to get the party started for the weekend!

I was having a little trouble coming up with the song for this week, there are just so many choices, but my roomie helped me pick one - 'The Banana Boat Song' from Beetlejuice! It's sad how Beetlejuice has become a forgotten film of the 80's, so please let me remind you: this film is hilariously ridiculous! Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis - even pre-theft Winona Ryder - all make appearances in this film and do a terrific job. This particular scene is one where Alec and Geena, newly deceased and haunting up their old abode, try to scare the new owners into moving. I feel like this film incorporates horror and humorous in a way you just don't see in movies now. Enjoy!




Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thirsty Thursdays (5/20)

Thirsty Thursdays is hosted by Dana at Reading Amidst the Chaos and anyone can join in!

To share in the debauchery just think of one of your favorite alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages and say why you love it and how to make it! You can link to your own blog or leave a comment below with your choice, but please include the mixology of whatever it is so that other people can give it a try!

With all the rain this week I've just been mesmerized by thoughts of the beach, of cruises, of ANYTHING that would
involve me, my bathing suit, and lots of time to relax. Those lovely little daydreams also include drinks most of the time, and unsurprisingly these visions of sand and sun were paired with a very appropriate one, the Sex on the Beach. Again one of my favorites in the early days of my drinking history, it's made with vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, and cranberry juice. Probably as I continue to do these, readers will notice that I do have a theme - fruity. By and large most of my favorite drinks are fruity and a lot of them will contain either vodka or rum. I know I should probably experiment more, but why mess with a good thing?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stormwalker by Allyson James

Half-Navajo Janet Begay comes to Magellan to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the police chief's daughter. But the people of Magellan sense that Janet is not what she seems, and they're right.

Janet possesses extraordinary power which is tied to the storms that waft across the desert. The only person who can control her when she's caught in the storm's evocative power is Mick, a dark-haired, blue-eyed biker Janet can't seem to touch with her powers. He can wield fire and not get burned, and Janet's never sure where he goes when they're not together.

Together they investigate mysterious disappearances, which Janet fears are tied to her mother's people, the mythical gods from below the earth. They are helped along the way by Coyote and Crow, but these shapeshifting gods have their own agendas.

I finished up this book yesterday and I'd have to say that it was good, definitely worth the read, but I'm not sure if this series is going to be a stand out one or not. I don't want to imply that the book isn't fun - I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that there have been a lot of 'mixed heritage' paranormals thrown out into the market lately. I'm sure it's a factor of what's selling and what's not, but it does imply that one has to be more discerning in their tastes to decide which books are their favorites.

For this particular series, Janet and Mick are what help me place it higher up in the rankings. They have a relationship with a serious amount of sparks, and his mysterious past and present keep the reader guessing throughout. Nash is a little annoying in the beginning, but I think that's James writing true to character for this unbelieving sheriff. In general I'd have to say that the supporting cast of characters is pretty good all around, and that their motivations help keep the more mundane mysteries hidden till the end.

I hate to say it, but this might be a library read. I just can't decide how this series is going to develop and with it having so many similar elements to other ones that are already out there, I recommend trying before buying.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A good beginning to a new series, but I'm going to wait and see if this series really lives up to some of the other paranormal/urban fantasy romances that are out there.

Series - 1) Stormwalker 2) Firewalker (November 2010)

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

If you think your family relationships are complicated, think again: you haven't seen anything like the ones in Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric's vampire sire, an ancient being who arrives with Eric's 'brother' in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie's tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbor (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton.

In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favor,and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favor for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.

Charlaine Harris, I must tell you that your books are starting to get to me. 10 books in to your series Sookie is a much more complex character than when she started. She's gone through a lot of life changes, and had to reassess her feelings about the people around her and how she thinks about herself as a person - which is all well and good for the continuation of a series.

But it is not good for my peace of mind as a reader!

Dead in the Family is a very good book. How Sookie tries to cope with her torture and the changes in the world around her are interesting, lifelike, and help push Sookie even more as a human representative in an environment that isn't always so safe for them. It's hard for me to see her go through so much actually, because I feel like I've been reading about her trials forever and I wish that sometimes life wasn't so hard. But Harris doesn't take the easy road, her books are complex with a lot of characters who have their individual motivations for what makes them act the way they do. This isn't a book you can just jump into, the series has too much going on for that, but it's an engaging, realistic look at what can happen to a world that thinks it's 'normal' when there's not a whole lot 'normal' left.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. I still love this series and I recommend them far above the TV series TruBlood, but these pseudo-cliff hangers are killing me! I need a little bit more resolution in my life to allow me to not feel so desperate for the next book.

Series - 1) Dead Until Dark 2) Living Dead in Dallas 3) Club Dead 4) Dead to the World 5) Dead as a Doornail 6) Definitely Dead 7) All Together Dead 8) From Dead to Worse 9) Dead and Gone 10) Dead in the Family

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

How can a sexy marketing manager join forces with an Alpha Centauri male in Armani to save the planet-using hairspray, a Mont Blanc pen, and rock n' roll? Easy... She's Touched by an Alien

Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down. In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the "agency" to perform crowd control. He's Kitty's kind of guy, no matter what planet he's from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world.

There has been a lot of hype about Koch's first release, but after reading it for myself I can see why it's been getting such kudos. A real sci-fi romance is rare in my opinion; currently the market is inundated with paranormal and fantasy oriented romances. A book of this particular bent is a refreshing change and makes me excited to see what other first time authors have to add to the genre.

I could go on about the Men in Black similarities that other reviewers have brought up (and are very true), but I'd rather talk about Koch's ability to fool the reader.

***SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT***

The first alien that we as the reader get to know well is Jeff Martini. He's smooth, handsome, and has an instantly like-able charm. The second alien is Christopher, Jeff's cousin, who spends the majority of the first part of the novel teasing Kitty and generally being a dick in almost every way possible. Everyone around Kitty picks up on the fact that Christopher is being a jerk because he likes her, but she's distracted by her feelings for Jeff and the chaos of superbeings trying to take over the world. Which makes a lot of sense in my opinion.

Now, why I was fooled - I was really worried that Jeff was going to get the boot as the romantic interest for being the good guy! So many romances these days have heroines ending up with the slight jerkwad who, while intially misguided in his execution, sincerely likes the heroine. Rarely do guys like Jeff, the honest-to-goodness good guys who have been clear with their intentions from the beginning, win the girl. I went through almost half the book expecting Kitty to end up with Christopher, and I almost jumped with joy when I realized Jeff was going to be rewarded for all his good behavior by actually GETTING THE GIRL. Woohoo!


***SLIGHT SPOILER OVER***

So yes, this is a fun book that I hope can keep up the momentum of its intriguingly efficient and witty heroine. I like Kitty a lot, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Koch is going to be able to keep her personality from going overboard.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up! I haven't come across a real sci-fi romance in a while, but Koch has created a great one in which both the technology and her characters' feelings seem very real.

Series - 1) Touched by an Alien 2) Alien Tango (December 2010)

Teaser Tuesdays (5/18)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"His eyes focused on her neck. He bent his head as he carefully pulled her sweater away from the spot that intrigued him so much. Then he breathed in the scent of her. His lips pressed against her skin, and his tongue got the taste of her.

He raised his head and looked at her, seeing something different. Something wonderful.

Mine."

--pg 209, The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop


Monday, May 17, 2010

Love in the time of Dragons by Katie MacAlister

If you found out you were a famous fire-breather, you’d be freaked out too.

Tully Sullivan is just like any other suburban mom – unless you count the days every year that she zones out and turns base metals in to gold. Those are weird.

And now she’s woken up in a strange place surrounded by strange people who keep insisting they’re dragons – and that she’s one too. But not just any dragon. She’s Ysolde de Bouchier, a famed figure from dragon history.

Tully can’t shape-shift or breathe fire, and she’s definitely not happy being sentenced to death for the misdeeds of a dragon mate she can’t remember. All Tully knows is that she wants her son back. So she’ll have to find a way to solve the crimes of a past she has no memory of living…

It's so great to have a fall back author like Katie MacAlister in the wings. You can always count on her books to be amusing with just the right amount of wit and romance to ensure that you're enjoying herself. This latest publication is the beginning of a new series, the Light Dragon Novels, but it takes place in same world as MacAlister's Aisling Grey books, which means there is always a great combination of magic, mischief, and heat which keeps each of her romances original and exciting to read.

I was worried when I first began reading her books that MacAlister might go the way of MaryJanice Davidson for me, in that her witty characters might become too formulaic and lose their entertainment value. I think what MacAlister has done, in leaving one main character behind to focus on others, is keeping all of her books fresh and constantly relevant to the world she's created. Which means that I'm a lucky reader and get to keep enjoying all of her books for a while yet.

I highly recommend these books, if nothing else for a good laugh, and this particular release - with Ysolde and her 'sexual perversions'- is a particularly hilarious addition.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. The beginning of the story of another great group of dragons, MacAlister keeps her series fresh while still bringing back some familiar faces.

Series - 1) Love in the Time of Dragons

Musing Mondays (5/17)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about movies based on books.

What happens when you see a movie based on a book/story, especially one you’ve not read? Do you feel the need to track it down and read it?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.
Thanks!

**MUSING MONDAYS is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page...

If I see a movie based on a book I haven't read I probably wouldn't bother tracking down the book after the fact. This is mostly due to the reality that most of the time a book is significantly better than its movie counterpart- and reminding myself of that fact just makes the movie worse. It's for this same reason that I will rarely see a movie of a book I've already read. Blood and Chocolate, Eragon, Bridge to Terabithia - all books that were recently made into movies that I didn't even bother wasting my time on. These books were incredibly well done and I could tell right from the previews that the movies were not going to measure up. I think the only reason I could enjoy the Lord of the Rings trilogy as much as I did is the fact that I hadn't read the books. The movies stood on their own as incredible cinema productions and I didn't worry about how they held up in comparison to the books.

I don't really see my opinion changing in the near future either. Movies are getting less and less original, while reproductions of books are not seeing any significant improvements in quality (I don't count Twilight - the book was bad and the movie was worse). I think the only way I'll survive is through the 'ignorance is bliss' route, because in the case of movies based on books? Ignorance really is bliss.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

bonk by Mary Roach

The study of sexual physiology—what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better—has been going on for centuries, behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, Alfred Kinsey's attic, and, more recently, MRI centers, pig farms, and sex-toy R&D labs. I spent two years wheedling and conniving my way behind those doors to bring you the answers to the questions Dr. Ruth never asked. Is your penis three inches longer than you think? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Can a dead man get an erection? Why doesn't Viagra help women—or, for that matter, pandas?

This was a roommate recommendation and while not one of my usuals, I'm really glad I gave it a try. I think with all the romances and erotica that I read I don't give a lot of thought to the inner workings between all that bumping and grinding. Roach on the other hand has gone out of her way to investigate not only the why of sex but the why of sex researchers. In my experience people don't really go around thinking about how doctors know the answers to sexual function questions. I certainly didn't, so reading this book was a big wake up call to that whole arena.

On the writing end I have to say that Roach has a very approachable style for what is basically a really long research paper. She doesn't use too many big words (where they're not necessary) and the dumb questions she asks people are usually the dumb questions I would ask. She's very witty and add into that some very funny footnotes (tangent city let me tell you) and you've got a collection of tales and personal stories that are a breeze to get through. I read bonk as I do anything else, something to be read straight through until you're finished, but it would also work well as a bedside table book, where you only read a few chapters before you go to bed.

And just to give you a clue, one of the very memorable things I learned from this book? Women chimpanzees are definitely getting the short end of the stick because while they can have orgasms they're only going to happen if there's a REALLY committed grad student around. A grad student with gloves. And lube.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. It's filled with all of this random but incredibly interesting information that I'm not sure if I ever wanted to know, but I think I benefit from knowing now.

Series - None, but you can check out more information about her other novels on her website, here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sing-a-Long Fridays (5/14)

Sing-a-Long Fridays is hosted by Dana at Reading Amidst the Chaos.

All you need to do is pick a song from one of your favorite shows, movies, or artists and post it on your blog or comment with the link below so that other people can karaoke away! It's a great way to share the excitement of another Friday and an even better way to get the party started for the weekend!

Forever one of my favorites, no one could do a sing-a-long series without talking about Robin Hood: Men in Tights. If you haven't seen it, I am so sorry for you because this movie is HILARIOUS, a true Mel Brooks masterpiece, and showcases some of the best comedic acting. Cary Elwes does a terrific job as Robin Hood, incorporating all the charm and swashbuckling that the character is known for. Amy Yasbeck plays Maid Marion and her combination of sensuality and naivete brings the character alive in this adaptation. While it's hard to choose just one song from this movie, I decided to go with Robin's song for Marion, "The Night is Young". Enjoy!



Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Best Welcome Home

Look what I came home and found in front of my door:


NEW BOOKS!!!! TIME FOR A HAPPY DANCE!!!

............now if only I had an emoticon that did that. Damn.

Sears hadn't even sent me an email saying that anything had been shipped, but I came home to all the books having already arrived on my doorstep (well mostly, I'm still missing one). This is fantastic! I went from not even knowing Sears.com sold books to buying some and getting them within three days - all with $.99 shipping! They are definitely getting an A++++++ in my book because this was a fantastic turn around. Maybe it's because there are more Sears warehouses than Amazon ones? Hmph. Something to think about I guess.









I first talked about buying new books on the RAtChaos Facebook page (not a fan? Click here), but talking is so much less exciting than actually receiving! Here's what I ordered after much calculating and agonizing over the TBR list:

1) Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
2) Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
3) Love in the Time of Dragons by Katie MacAlister
4) Stormwalker by Allyson James
5) A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
6) Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch
7) Too Wicked to Kiss by Erica Ridley

All of these were books that I wanted to buy the DAY that they came out but due to low funds I was not able to make it happen. Thus, when I realized that Sears sold books AND sold them for the same prices (if not cheaper) that were listed on Amazon I about had screaming fit in the middle of the work day. Hahaha, books are not simple things for me! They keep me sane and functioning in a sometimes not so sane world, so being able to finally get all the ones I wanted for keeps (and not borrowed from the library) was just incredible. Which is why I went straight for the scissors instead of waiting to take a picture of the pristine, just delivered, box.









Even at the speed I read I expect it'll take me a little while to get through all of these. There's a precarious balance between not having anything you want to read and having too many new things in front of you. Does that make any sense? I think I can get a little overwhelmed trying to decide which title to dive into first and it makes me hesitate to pick anything at all. Luckily I can say that right now I'm tired, I'm going to bed, and I'll decide in the morning what new book, or books, come with me to work.

Thirsty Thursdays (5/13)

Thirsty Thursdays is hosted by Dana at Reading Amidst the Chaos and anyone can join in!

To share in the debauchery just think of one of your favorite alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages and say why you love it and how to make it! You can link to your own blog or leave a comment below with your choice, but please include the mixology of whatever it is so that other people can give it a try!


This week I'm going to highlight the first drink I liked after turning 21 - the Amaretto Sour. I know, I know - it's heralded as one of those too sweet girly drinks most of the time, but I still think it deserves some love! Who says that whatever alcoholic beverage you're indulging in can't also taste good? Beer might, *might*, have it's time and place but I always think a good, tart, amaretto sour can definitely hit the spot.

P.S - I have tried many other brands of amaretto besides the much hyped Disaronno, so don't be afraid to experiment with something less pricey!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts

New Love takes the cake in the third novel in Nora Roberts's new Bride Quartet-in a stunning French flap edition

Wedding baker Laurel McBane is surrounded by romance working at Vows wedding planning company with her best friends Parker, Emma, and Mac. But she's too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that their clients seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker's older brother Delaney, on whom she's had a mega-crush since childhood.

But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her-or so she thinks. When Laurel's quicksilver moods get the better of her-leading to an angry, hot, all-together mind-blowing kiss with Del-she'll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever...

I'm so excited to be able to say that this series is starting to pick up for me. I'm going to say upfront that I have higher standards for Nora Roberts- she is one of the queens of romance authors and I just feel that with all of the great books that she has written that mediocre releases don't cut it. Vision in White was mediocre. It just was. It didn't have the spark, the emotional tug, that most of Roberts books have. It certainly didn't have the type of reader engagement that a series starter should have to keep the audience buying - especially when the quartet is going to be released in trade paper.

I bought (and kept) it more as a lark, as something that was automatic because of who Roberts' is. Luckily that first book wasn't a true indicator of the series and as each successive book has come out, the romances have become more believable and the stories more enjoyable. Laurel and Del are a wonderful to read about and have a fantastic chemistry. Instead of feeling like I had to force myself to finish, I found myself worried that the big 'conflict' that they had to get over was going to be too big! I wanted them to have their happy ending NOW and not one moment later! At this point I highly recommend the books to others, though the first is more background than anything else and I still wish the books had been released in mass market.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. This series is improving with age and really starting to distinguish itself as one of Roberts' most memorable.

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

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Code Name: Baby by Christina Skye

Battle-honed Navy SEAL Wolfe Houston is on a mission of national security: protect valuable government assets targeted by hostiles. But tracking down four genetically enhanced service dogs and guarding their furry backs 24/7 is going to take all of Wolfe's tactical skills.

The dogs' unsuspecting civilian trainer, Kit O'Halloran, doesn't know that deadly mercernaries are determined to kidnap her charges. With puppies to find and bullets to dodge, there's no time to waste--so why is Kit pressed against an adobe wall by moonlight, reveling in the hot magic of Wolfe's slow, skillful hands?

Wolfe is fascinated by Kit's devotion to her puppies, especially Baby, the incorrigible runt of the litter. But two other civilian trainers have died under strange circumstances—and a foreign government has just posted a staggering bounty for Kit's capture. Before Wolfe can explore their white hot attraction, the two are on the run, forced to guess which of their secret contacts is friend...and which is deadliest foe. Only Baby can lead them through the storm to safe haven in each other's arms. Good dog!

I picked this book up kind of randomly at a library book sale a few weeks ago - it sounded like books I'd read before the and the author's name was familiar to me, though I hadn't actually read anything by her. After finishing it I'm so glad I spent my $.50! This book is definitely better than the 'fluff'-ness I think the cover implies. It's more of a military/paranormal romance because Wolfe and the dogs have been enhanced by military means and have various extraordinary powers because of that.

Also the relationship between Kit and Wolfe is nice and complex. While they might have known each other when they were younger, at this point Kit is not willing to trust that Wolfe just showed up at this time for no reason other than to 'check up on her'. Instead her dog training abilities have drawn her into an espionage filled game of cat and mouse and Wolfe is the only one who can possibly get her out of it! Hahahaha, I sound like the book jacket now don't I?

Whatever - what matters is that the book is a lot of fun and a quick read. I'd definitely recommend that you give it a try!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up! This was a great book, unexpectedly full of depth and with the kind of stand out characters that distinguish a contemporary romance from the rest of the pack.

Series - 1) Code Name: Nanny 2) Code Name: Princess 3) Code Name: Baby 4) Code Name: Blondie

Teaser Tuesdays (5/11)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"He wanted to know what was going on with the cervix and the vagina during a typical round of bonk. Obviously, there are logistical problems here. You can't see the hangar when the airship's in the building. William Masters needed a penis that could see.

And so he had one built."

--pg 44, bonk by Mary Roach


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Musing Mondays (5/10)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about finding time to read.

Do you have to carve out time in your day for reading (due to work and other obligations), or does your reading just happen naturally? (Question courtesy of MizB)

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

**MUSING MONDAYS is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page...

I think it depends. I've found that lately that reading is sometimes the only thing that holds me together in the midst of crazy, stressful times. Normally I don't have to carve out time to read. I'll do it at my desk (luckily I have a job that allows that) or when I'm waiting for the bus, on the bus, before I go to bed....there are a lot of times I find myself able to read.

When things are REALLY bad though, when I actually don't have time to read like I regularly do, I notice the change in my mood almost immediately. I'm moodier and just generally unhappier than usual. I'm sure this has to do with my ability to lose myself in what I'm reading - even when things around me suck, I can trust that a good book with a happy ending will bring me out of it. I think other than that, the only time that I feel like I have to carve out time to read it's because I feel bad that I don't like a book and want to try to finish it anyway.

I get it now!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sing-a-Long Fridays (5/7)

I've decided that everyone enjoys a little pick me up on Fridays. It's the end of the week, a lot of us are stuck in the office with little to no time to ourselves, and it's hard to remember why we ever cared about the work we have to finish. Well to help us all down that road to the weekend, I decided a sing-a-long was in order - because who can be snoozing when they're already grooving?

The inaugural song to Sing-a-Long Fridays is one that has always been a favorite of mine: "If I Never Knew You" from Pocahontas. While not technically in the movie, it's featured on the Special Edition version of the DVD and is my pick for one of the most romantic songs ever.



What are your favorite romantic songs?


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thirsty Thursdays (5/6)

In honor of long ago college Thursdays, nights spent with friends in Armadillo Grill eating chicken nachos and consuming mixed drinks (Adult Kool-Aid anyone?) I've decided to implement Thirsty Thurdays. These posts are going to highlight some of my favorite shots/shooters/mixed drinks and include links so you can make them on your own time!

**DISCLAIMER: Any type of alcoholic beverage should be consumed in safe amounts and no one should ever attempt to drive a car or any other type of machinery while intoxicated.***

This week I'm going to talk about a shooter I had for the first time in Dublin that is really sweet but REALLY good - The Baby Guinness. It's called a 'Guinness' because the combination of coffee liquor and Baileys creates a shooter with a dark bottom and a light, cream colored head: just like an actual Guinness.

I was taught to make this with
Tia Maria but I think any coffee liquor will work - and changing up the flavor of Baileys you use is another way to customize this to your tastes. I love making this drink with regular Baileys, but I've got to admit that caramel flavored is the BOMB!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wild Fire by Christine Feehan

Called on a dangerous assignment, leopard shifter Conner Vega returns to the Panama rainforest of his homeland, looking every bit the civilized male. But as a member of the most lethal of the shifter tribes, he doesn’t have a civilized bone in his body. He carries the scent of a wild animal in its prime, he bears the soul-crushing sins of past kills--and he’s branded by the scars of shame inflicted by the woman he betrayed.

Isabeau Chandler’s a Borneo shifter who’s never forgiven Conner--or forgotten him. The mating urge is still with her, and when she crosses Connor’s path, passions run like wild fire. But as Connor’s mission draws Isabeau closer, another betrayal lies waiting in the shadows--and it’s the most perilous and intimate one of all.

Christine Feehan always knows how to write me a good book. I've always been partial to paranormals, and shapeshifters are probably my favorite when featured in a romance, and Feehan knows how to do them oh so well. Her Leopard series features Alpha men with hearts and women who won't take anybody's sh*t. In this particular book I'd have to say that Feehan definitely ups the violence level, though it is completely appropriate to the storyline. Not only does Connor get a beating on multiple occasions, Isabeau also gets pretty mangled by one of the bad guys. I'd have to say that with time I've seen Feehan's heroes get much more drawn into the line of fire in her books, and I think while it's hard for me to read at the time it's an example of the growth that she shows as an author that her characters are forced to overcome those types of harrowing experiences (Hidden Currents anyone?).

And still Feehan doesn't forget the romance that is for me the reason I pick up her books. Even though Connor and Isabeau get off to a rocky start, their attraction and emotional attachment is palpable from the beginning. Throughout the story they are forced to confront not only bad guys but how they interact with each other. It's a great book and a fantastic series, and while you don't have to read the ones that come before Wild Fire, I feel like your enjoyment would be that much more if you took the time.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. This might start overtaking Feehan's other books as my favorite series, because every installment is always fantastic!

Series - 1) Fantasy (anthology) 2) Wild Rain 3) Fever 4) Burning Wild 5) Wild Fire

Teaser Tuesday (5/4)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"The club reeked of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll."

--pg 1, Touch of Surrender by Rhyannon Byrd


Monday, May 3, 2010

On my Radar

Here's just a random post with a couple of e-books by Maya Banks that I can't wait to read!!

Musing Mondays (5/3)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about used books.

Do you frequent second hand book stores? Have you ever bought a book home only to find anything interesting within their pages?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

**MUSING MONDAYS is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page...

I frequent used book stores quite a bit - though I've never gotten as lucky as you Rebecca! I usually consider myself lucky if I happen upon the latest in a series or that book I've been wanting to read but refused to pay full price for! No hidden money - especially not foreign money!

Lately I've been having a lot of fun visiting library book sales. The books are usually in better condition than normal, I think because people who donate to libraries are those who are more inclined to treat their books well. The first sale I went to had books for half-off the original used price and then the one I stumbled upon on Saturday was $5/bag of books! Per bag! If I hadn't been on a mission and walking around with no hope of a ride, I would definitely have been greedier with that one.

No Greater Pleasure by Megan Hart

From the national bestselling author of Pleasure and Purpose, a provocative new novel of a woman who lives to serve...

It was at the request of Lord Gabriel Delessan that a handmaiden of the Order of Solace be delivered to his manor house. For young and ingenuous Tranquilla Caden, it would be her new position of service - devoted as she was to fulfilling every demand of her new master, to stimulating his mind, stirring his soul, and arousing his body. Yet something happens that Quilla never counted on: she was falling hopelessly, dangerously in love with the enigmatic - and very married - man she was required only to service.

I picked this book up for two reasons - I recognized the author from DHABA's Book Bracket and because Borders had it for $3.99. I'm so glad that I went for it because it was an incredible read and very different from what I was expecting. Yes it was in the romance section, but I figured I was picking up an erotica - one with a different type of premise maybe, but an erotica just the same. Instead I picked up a very well written book with unique character interactions and a relationship that was more than just physical.

Now don't get me wrong; I enjoy erotica just as much as the next girl, but this book was so much more than that. Quilla is not a woman called for just to assuage a physical ache - she is there to try and offer true solace, incorporating the full meaning of that word. Not only is it hard enough to do that when there's a wife in the picture, it's even harder when the person who called you doesn't really understand the type of solace he needs. Adding to that picture, as I continued to read the book I was frequently reminded of Jane Eyre. I think it was the combination of Quilla's semi-submissive air with Gabriel's gruff but appealing exterior. Combine that with a crazy wife and a dark, almost depressive air, over the entire house and it all just made me think of Jane Eyre! I want everyone to understand that the sentiment is a compliment to Hart because that book is one of my all time favorites.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Not what I was expecting, but the emotional connection between Quilla and Gabriel is very compelling and makes for a VERY interesting read!

Series - 1) Pleasure and Purpose 2) No Greater Pleasure 3) Selfish is the Heart (October 2010)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Looking Back: April in Review

I know it's still a couple days late, but I should still get some credit right? This summary post is a lot more recent than last month's. I think that's mostly because my life is finally calming down a bit (happy dance!).

In other news, I've actually been visiting a couple different library book sales this month and I specifically picked up titles for giveaways! I know that they're not brand spanking new but some of them definitely look that way - plus, it's the thought that counts right? And who can resist a free good book that you didn't even have to pay shipping for? Keep checking back for more information!

Summer in Eclipse Bay by Jayne Ann Krentz
Dawn in Eclipse Bay by Jayne Ann Krentz
The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop
The Donovan Legacy by Nora Roberts
Enchanted by Nora Roberts
Lion's Heat by Lora Leigh
The Devil's Playground by Jenna Black
Touch of Seduction by Rhyannon Byrd
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
Changes by Jim Butcher
The Royal Treatment by MaryJanice Davidson
The Royal Mess by MaryJanice Davidson
Storm Warning by Mercedes Lackey
Storm Rising by Mercedes Lackey
Storm Breaking by Mercedes Lackey
The Good, The Bad, and the Uncanny by Simon R. Green
Family Man by Jayne Ann Krentz
Wishes by Jude Deveraux
The Invitation by Jude Deveraux
No Greater Pleasure by Megan Hart
Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson