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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coming Soon! The Language Of Souls


I am really looking forward to this book. Lena Goldfinch, who is a fellow NECRWA member, has her debut novel coming out October 20. It looks great! Here's the book blurb and an excerpt for this sweet quickie. (It's published under the Faery Line with Wild Rose Press, which is the same line as my Klaus Brothers Series). How gorgeous is this cover! Lucky duck!


Book blurb for The Language of Souls...


Actions speak louder than words...

Solena, a young healer with a generous heart, is desperate to heal her dying grandfather. When she ventures into a hostile territory to find a rare herb, she finds out just how much she’s risked when she’s captured by the enemy and accused of being a spy.

As a soldier, Rundan has struggled all his life to please his father, a ruthless army commander, but when he’s ordered to take the beautiful trespasser to the royal courts, where she’ll be summarily tried and executed, he’s plagued by the most inconvenient desire to protect her at all costs.

Though terrified and anxious to escape, Solena is confused by the handsome young soldier who cruelly captures her and then displays uncommon kindness. When he risks his own life to save her, she discovers she may have risked more than her life… she may have lost her heart.



EXCERPT:

Rundan continued watching her as he ate. When the food was gone, he took a votif stand from his things and set it carefully by the fire. Then he untied his votif from his belt and, after removing its cork, began breathing prayers over it. Solena watched his every inhalation and exhalation in rapt attention. She couldn’t have moved or looked away if she’d wanted to.

After placing his votif in the stand, he glanced at her from under the sweep of unexpectedly dark lashes. After some hesitation, he removed the cork from her votif as well and breathed a quick prayer over it. He reached to place it in the votif stand, stopped mid-reach, and then replaced the cork and tied it again to his belt. With this done, he rubbed the back of his neck for some time and avoided her eyes.

Solena opened and closed her mouth with a snap.

He’d prayed over her votif?

The action was so unexpected, so shocking, she could barely connect her thoughts. What he’d done was the most intimate of acts. What a father might do for his child. Or a husband for his new bride.

Rundan’s unusually pale eyes met hers briefly and the flash of vulnerability in them disconcerted her. The expression fled as quickly as it had come and the cool mask he always seemed to wear slid into place. He was again Rundan: captor, soldier, enemy.

Solena moistened her suddenly dry lips and stared into the fire, desperately trying to make sense of her thoughts—and of the strange tightness in her chest.


Happy Thursday,
Penelope



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lemon Garbanzo Salad



Since I have embarked on my new heart healthy lifestyle, I have been eating a lot of salad! :)

Here's a great recipe for a chick pea salad, adapted from Cooking Light. The chick peas add a lot of protein, which I need since I eat mostly a vegetarian diet. Also, I used couscous instead of bulgur (you could also use whole wheat couscous).

Lemon Garbanzo Salad with Feta

Couscous (or Bulgur)
Fresh lemon juice
1 can chickpeas (I used no-salt added)
1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
1 large celery, finely chopped
2 T. finely chopped red onion (or more if desired)
2 T. feta crumbled
handful fresh dill, chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Cook couscous (or bulgur) according to directions on back of box (for 2 servings). Rinse and drain chickpeas. Gently mix chickpeas, cuke, celery, onion, feta, dill, and pepper together in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle olive oil on top, and squeeze juice from 1 lemon on top. When couscous has cooled, squeeze some lemon juice on top, then add it to the veggie mixture. (If you are so inclined, you could add a pinch of salt!).

You can eat this chilled or at room temperature. It's great stuffed into a whole wheat pita pocket with some lettuce.

Happy Eating!
Penelope



Monday, September 27, 2010

Play Nicely With The Other Children: 7 Rules of Etiquette for Book Bloggers


First let me say that I'm not a big rule gal. Especially about book blogging. None of us are "professional" reviewers, so our blogs should be conducted in any way we want. I love the fact that some blogs are more formal, some more relaxed, some mix it up, and some have special themes. Every blog has a distinct personality, and that's why they're so cool.

Having said that, there are a few things book bloggers should keep in mind that fall under the heading "common courtesy".....

1) Give a heads-up about spoilers. I have a sweeping statement on my sidebar...that all reviews are chock full of spoilers. Readers can decide if they want to proceed.

2) Give a heads-up about ARC reviews. If you are lucky enough to read an ARC, please put "ARC Review" in the title of your post and make sure you include the release date in the review. For the same reason as a spoiler alert. It lets readers decide if they want to proceed.

3) It's a nice idea to respond to comments. If a reader takes the time to visit your blog and leave a comment, give a shout-out. A simple "Thanks for stopping by" or a longer response. It shows you appreciate their visit.

4) It's nice to summarize with a grade. It could be stars, tombstones, smooches, letter grades, etc. Long winded reviews are fine, too....but a grade helps to wrap up your feeling about the book.

5) A lot of author/bloggers only recommend their own books on Goodreads. This pisses off a lot of folks. (It personally doesn't bother me....I just delete the message). However, it might be a good idea to scrap that form of promotion. Authors don't want to irritate the reviewing community.

6) If you have a twitter account, and followers re-tweet your posts, say thanks! It's nice to have good manners. (And re-tweet their posts for the day, too. Reciprocate, reciprocate!)

7) Leave the bad-ass attitude at the door, please. For the love of God, we're book bloggers. Not astrophysicists.

Any other rules of etiquette you want to add onto the list? Let me know!
Penelope

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review of Tied Up, Tied Down by Lorelei James


I finally jumped into the Rough Riders series by Lorelei James. Lots of folks on Goodreads are reading them, and the covers look intriguing. I decided to start with Tied Up, Tied Down even though it's #4 in the series.....the book blurb appealed to me (M/F sex with the H/h instead of mega-multiple-partner stuff like some of the other ones--I was in the mood for a more "old-fashioned" story instead of menage-arama this time). Here are some observations.....

1) You need an Excel spreadsheet to keep the family tree straight. Not only are there 10 million brothers, cousins, in-laws, etc. etc, but everyone's name starts with C or K. Hee hee hee...that is totally hilarious! The party scene in this book, where the heroine Skylar has to meet all the family, is totally out of control. There are so many characters introduced you would need a cheat sheet to keep them all organized.

2) There was a fake gonna-be-a-conflict thing going on. One of Skylar's employees has an abusive husband. It seemed like this story was building up towards some sort of climax...maybe Skylar getting kidnapped, something? There was a dumb let's-punch-each-other-out scene, and that's it. There isn't much external conflict going on in this book. It's mostly about the relationship between Kade and Skylar.

3) I love, love, love stories with babies....and especially when the hero loves his children. I find it a big turn-on (even though some women hate babies in their romance novels, I personally love it). Kade can be a hot hunk of a sexy cowboy in one scene, and then a total love-bug with his daughter in the next. Love that!

4) Even though the book description says it's "kinky" I actually didn't find it that kinky at all. It seemed fairly vanilla to me. Maybe I've been hanging out with my critique group The Quirky Ladies too long!

5) The story is very emotional and very, very sexy. The heroine was just okay, but the hero...Kade....is absolutely delicious. Everything a cowboy should be. A rodeo rider, a rancher, loyal to his family, and madly in love with his baby-mama. And his baby. Cowboys+romance novels=HEA and total reader satisfaction.

6) I'm definitely going to be reading more of this series! (Once I can figure out who is who....hee hee hee!).

In conclusion, I will certainly be reading more of the Rough Riders series. And maybe planning a trip to Texas in the near future. Dude ranch, here I come!

Grade:B+/A-

Happy Reading,
Penelope

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beard of the Day


I've been listening to a lot of Nickelback lately...it's great music for my powerwalk. I LOVE Chad Kroeger's growly, sexy voice. He is definitely channeling the bad boy rock star in this photo. His beard is rough and sexy, just like his voice. Oh yeah!

Hope everyone has a great weekend,
Penelope

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Run-On Sentence Ever


"It was unthinkable that his physical desire for the carnal pleasure afforded by one of those western women who came to the Gulf ready to trade their bodies for the lifestyle they thought their flesh could buy--a woman ready to give herself on the smallest pretext, shamelessly openly--should have driven him to the point where he felt his only escape from it could come from the same place where he had sought solace for the loss of his mother."

Nuff said.

Penelope

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weenie Carrots



Introducing....weenie carrots! Hee hee hee....

This is what happens when you don't thin your seeds properly, and forget you planted carrots under the pumpkin patch. Surprisingly, they are tasty and sweet.

Martha Stewart would heartily disapprove of my crazy, disorganized garden. But hey, I am still harvesting cherry tomatoes (which I didn't plant, they sprouted up from last years' seeds), basil, pumpkins, nasturtiums, mint, etc. My cute little watermelons are coming along nicely, too.

I have no reading update because I have been editing (Sweet Magik) and writing a new quickie story about Sven Klaus (Prologue to Sweet Adventure). I am trying to think of a title....the only thing that popped into my head was Sweet Hell (as in...Sweet Hell! These Klaus boys won't leave me alone!).

Happy Wednesday,
Penelope





Friday, September 17, 2010

A New Book Contract: Go, Oskar!


Yay! The Wild Rose Press has offered me a contract for Sweet Magik, book #2 of the Klaus Brothers Series. It will be coming out for the holiday season in 2011. (For Christmas 2010, Penelope will be stringing cranberries and popcorn for the tree, drinking low-fat eggnog and listening to Celine Dion's xmas album.....bring it on!).

Book #2 is Oskar's story (that's a photo of him.....nice!!!!!!!!!). Here's the book blurb:

***


Sweet Magik


Job Title: Director of Elfin Resources

Location: The North Pole

Employer: St. Nicholas

Description: Babysitting a bunch of ornery, cussing, crotchety elves

Oskar Klaus' job is killing him. Not even his favorite hobbies (extreme snowboarding and browsing old bookstores) are enough to snap him out of his funk. It's not easy living in the shadow of four successful older brothers and a father named Santa. Little does he know that an unexpected kiss on New Year's Eve is about to turn his life upside down.

Kiana Grant's Manhattan life is a world away from her childhood in Oahu. She traded stunning sunsets and bad boy surfers for a respectable career in library science. Oskar Klaus poses a temptation to her heart that's hard to resist. Does she have the courage to take a chance on love? Or will a vengeful elf turn her North Pole adventure into a nightmare?

***

I am going to try and whip off a quick freebie short story about Sven Klaus for this xmas and post it on my website. In the meantime, I am working on L'Araldo di Primavera, my botanical paranormal, and gearing up for the New Jersey RWA conference in Oct.


Happy Weekend, Everyone!

Penelope

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Penelope's Super Quick Impressions About A Whole Bunch Of Books



Virgin River by Robyn Carr. Jack, you are way too good to be true. Where are you? Where? Where? You're an incredible lover, can accessorize a house, fly fish, shoot a bear, are super patient and a handy-dandy carpenter. Plus a war hero. Where are you again? My number is HURRY-UP-AND-FIND-ME!

Wolf! by Marie Beau. Short, sexy and sweet paranormal with a scrum-diddly-icious hero named Wolfe. This book is fast-paced...just the way I like it. Love the animalistic instincts, love the "furry pelt" on the hero. There's just not enough furry pelts in my romance novels...yum!

A Kiss At Midnight by Eloisa James. Still can't finish this sucker. Sigh. I'll keep trying.

Dark Peril by Christine Feehan. There's creamy skin. There are velvet sheaths. (There's a lot of velvet. Enough velvet to reupholster an entire medieval castle). But there's also a really calm, rational and patient Carpathian dude who totally rocks out. Calm, rational, patient Carpathian? Has Hell frozen over? I am digging this new hero. As in digging under the healing earth to find his hidden cave where he's sleeping. Naked. :)

The Sheikh's Virgin Princess by Sarah Morgan. "She couldn't be a virgin-she was a rebel princess who wouldn't be tamed. She was hiding secrets, refusing to do his bidding!" This is an actual sentence from the book blurb. Which is why I read the book. Hilarious. Even includes exclamation points for extra emphasis. A virgin! "Their wedding vows had to be sealed!" Another excellent exclamation point. I should be embarrassed by how much I enjoyed this book. Ridiculously fun.

Petals and Thorns by Jennifer Paris. Naughty, quick BDSM-light take on Beauty and the Beast. Super sexy and the beast is to-die-for. I do like my men hairy.

Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr. A re-read. Oh, Preacher. That bald head, those bushy eyebrows, your sweet gentle giant of a personality. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite re-reads. Preacher is one of the best...heroes....ev-ah!

Ciao!
Penelope

Monday, September 13, 2010

Penelope's Bucket List



After visiting author Mia Marlowe's blog this past week, I was inspired to create my own "bucket list" of goals for the year. (Thanks, Mia!). Mia has two lists--one professional and one personal--of items she would like to accomplish in the next 9 months. I actually think this is a great idea for everyone...it makes you really think about things you want to do, love to do, wish you could do, need to do. After my heart attack scare in early August, I decided to add some things onto my list that I have been wanting to do for years, and just never got around to.

I'm going to add this onto my sidebar like Mia did, and check off the items as I accomplish them. Special thanks to Mia for the inspiration!


Penelope's Bucket List for 2010-2011....

1. Attend the opera with my husband. (Of course I'll need to purchase a rockin' outfit and some stunning jewelry for the event!)

2. Plant hundreds of daffodil bulbs in my garden to enjoy next spring.

3. Write a quickie botanical paranormal story with a bearded hero. (hee hee)

4. Heal my heart. I want to hear these words from my cardiologist "Your heart is back to normal!"

5. Go for a run.

6. Visit the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. (The photo above is one of the glass models of a pitcher plant.)

7. Attend the NJRWA conference this October and the NECRWA conference next spring.

8. Go birding at the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida.

9. Plant a terrarium this winter (and maybe get a turtle to go with it!)

10. Lose 50 more pounds (already lost 30) and reverse my diabetes diagnosis.

11. Go to the Nutcracker ballet with my daughter this Christmas.

12. Finish edits for Sweet Magik and look forward to my 2nd book publication next year.

13. Spend hours puttering around the fantabulous antique mall in Quechee, Vermont, followed up by a glass of sparkling apple cider at Simon Pearce.

14. Walk Sachuest Point in Middletown, Rhode Island and see the harlequin ducks.

15. Become involved in heart health education.


I'm done with putting off the things I want to do...from now on my new attitude is Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)!

Do you have any special things on your bucket list for the upcoming year? Let me know!

Ciao,
Penelope

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Reading Update


I am still half-way through several books I hope to finish this weekend: Dark Peril by Christine Feehan and Anytime Darlin' by Julia Rachel Barrett. I got side-tracked this week by several things.....

1) No school Monday or Thursday. I am so confused. Can't wait until we have a regular the-kids-will-be-in-school-5-days-in-a-row week.

2) I read Blameless and was massively disappointed (see review).

3) I read an ARC by a new debut author (Marie Beau). It's called Wolf! and I loved it! Review coming soon.

4) I had my first cardiology appointment and I am slightly bummed out. For some dumb reason I got it in my head that I would be all better by the beginning of Sept. The doc told me it will take at least 3 months to recuperate. My meds are wiping me out and I find myself falling asleep sitting up in a chair like a little old man. Oy.

5) Biggest distraction of the week: My daughter is trying desperately to convince me to get a new puppy. We have spent hours pouring over puppy photos from New England dachshund breeders. I'm trying to stay strong, but those cute little paws and expressive eyes and pink little tongues (and barking in the middle of the night, poops in the house, chewing up my furniture...). Not sure if getting a new puppy will be heart-healthy or push me over the edge of the abyss.

Well, I hope all of you have a great weekend. I will be reading, walking and eating celery sticks. And possibly getting my face licked by a little bundle of fluff.
Penelope

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Review of Blameless by Gail Carriger


Oh! How I have been waiting with bated breath for the release of Blameless. I adored Soulless and Changeless--both wonderful, funny, sexy, inventive and one-of-a-kind steampunk/paranormal romances. The "romance" at the end of that description is intentional and very, very important in my opinion. The reason those books sparkled, sang, and popped was because of the fantastic chemistry between Alexia and Conall. She is a no-nonsense soulless heroine, primed for adventure and preoccupied with proper manners. Conall is an alpha werewolf, rough and grumbly and sexy and prone to emotional outbursts. They are one of my favorite couples ever.

And that, folks, is the massively huge problem with Blameless. Because Conall and Alexia are not together in this book until the bitter, bitter end. Like, the last page. Criminy! That was an error of epic proportions. All of the other "fun stuff" in Carriger's books...the myriad colorful secondary characters, the creative inventions, and the paranormal politics, fall totally flat without the heated, combustible attraction between our soulless heroine and her werewolf husband. They, together, create the sparkle in these tales. Without Conall as her sidekick, Alexia's antics were not nearly as entertaining. (In fact, the only criticism I had of Changeless was that Carriger kept the hero and heroine apart for too long in that novel. It is much worse here.)

And yes, I agree with other reviewers....Carriger did not adequately address the huge betrayal and consequent conflict resolution. But at that point, I was so disheartened that Alexia and Conall had not been together at all, I didn't really care.

Surprisingly, the best part of this book turned out to be the reaction of Professor Lyall to the young vampire turned werewolf, Biffy. The scene where Lord Akeldama, Biffy and Lyall are all dealing with the ramifications of Biffy's transformation was a fascinating and emotionally charged scene--the best scene in the book. (Which is a problem...when the best scene in the book does not involve the heroine, it's not good). I love the homoerotic undercurrent going on between Biffy and Lyall and I desperately hope that Carriger explores that further.

There was still a lot of great humor in this book. But the reunion at the end between Alexia and her husband was a gigantic let-down. And I just didn't think the plot and action in the rest of the book made up for that.

I am super disappointed. I was looking forward to Alexia and Conall as much as I used to wait for Emerson and Peabody when Elizabeth Peters released a new Amelia Peabody book every year.

I sure hope the hero and heroine of this series finally get back together in the next installment.
Grade: C+

Sadly,
Penelope

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reading Update


I'm looking forward to the holiday weekend....our heat wave should be breaking soon (thanks to the hurricane coming our way!) and we will finally get some cooler, sunny weather. Yay! I have a nice pile of books I am working on right now. I'm half-way through Dark Peril by Christine Feehan. Love Dominic....he is not your typical Carpathian hero, and I'm digging him and Solange together. I am also in the midst of reading Julia Barrett's Anytime Darlin', which I am really enjoying. It is a very touching and emotional read so far. Finally, Blameless is out! Yee haw! Cannot wait to dive into Gail Carriger's latest book. I need me some growly werewolf action.

Hope all of you have a wonderful holiday weekend,
Penelope