Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quickie Sunday Updates

Cool movie alert! Last night my family watched Earth (2007), a Disney Nature documentary, narrated by James Earl Jones. This is a gorgeous film with some incredible footage of animal migrations, including polar bears, elephants in south Africa, humpback whales, and stunning views of the tropical rain forests. The shots of the Aurora Australis light show are so amazing, I couldn't believe it was real. This is a great film for the whole family (my kids were spellbound) or for adults. I always find these nature shows help to put everything else in our lives into perspective, reminding us of our place within the universe. I highly recommend this lovely film. Grade: A

I just finished reading Firefae, a very short erotic story written by Deborah Panger, and published by The Wild Rose Press. It's a super fun, hot and lusty quickie. Gunner, a hunkalicious fireman, is abducted to fairy world by Sera, a fiery little humdinger of a fairy. In a few short pages, Panger introduces two cute characters, creates a sweet paranormal setting (I especially liked the garnet-studded cave, reflecting Sera's fiery nature...excellent!), gives us just a touch of their personalities, and a whole lot of lusty loving. And, I had to look up a word in the dictionary (I just love it when I learn new vocabulary words when I read). The word: incalescent, which means increasing in heat or ardor. Well, all right! Grade: A-

Happy Sunday,

Friday, January 29, 2010

Beard of the Day and Why I Hate Reading Challenges

First, beard of the day.....Liev Schreiber. In addition to this nice scruff, he has gorgeous eyes, and a ton of sex appeal. Every time I see him act, I am mesmerized by this guy. Lucky Naomi!

Second, what's up with all of these reading challenges? I swore after completing the oral exams for my graduate program (and writing that damned thesis), that I would never take a class again! As God is my witness, I have stuck faithfully to this decision. Life is hard. Reading romance novels is fun. Why take something fun and turn it into an academic endeavor? This is why I very rarely accept ARCs to read....I don't want a freakin' assignment, I just want to read whatever I want, whenever I want. I know, I sound selfish. But the truth is, reading romantic fiction is one of the true joys of my life, and I don't want anything messing it up. My have-to-do list is long and laborious every day. The best part of that list is....#57) sneak into the bathroom and read a fun romance novel! Viva romance!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by L.R. Hieber

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

I love reading the unexpected. I love reading something that is beautifully written. And, I love funky paranormal business. This book, which is beautifully, beautifully written, totally unlike anything else I have ever read, and chock full of great paranormal scenes, is a unique addition to the world of "historical paranormal gothic romance"? Not exactly sure how to categorize this baby, especially since I think the romance in this book is probably the weakest part.

Let's start with the good stuff. Leanna Renee Hieber (tres romantic name, n'est-ce pas?) can write with the big boys. Her voice is lovely, her prose is excellent. I don't remember the last time I read something so well written. Bravo, Ms. Hieber! She does a remarkably good job building the suspense in this book, as well as weaving the paranormal aspect into the story line. Percy Parker, an albino cast-off from a convent, is a one-of-a-kind heroine, truly unique. But it felt as if she spent most of the book in a muddle, confused about who she is, what she is supposed to do, what her visions really mean, etc. etc. Right up to the last page she is still confused. Professor Alexi Rychman is the ultimate gothic hero, complete with sweeping black cape. Hieber's imagery describing her hero is excellent! Dark, brooding, intense. Awesome! His band of cohorts has a nice chemistry, and they are definitely intriguing.

Unfortunately, Percy and Alexi's relationship creeped me out a little bit. She is only 18/19 years old, and his student. Their "love" felt more like a teenage infatuation on her part, and a strange, unexpected fascination on his part. The few times they kiss (and when Alexi is struggling with a physical attraction to her) were the only times in the book I felt the narrative became strained and awkward. Their "love" worked better on a metaphysical level.

My biggest concern with the book was the "black" moment of Percy and Alexi's relationship, and its resolution. Alexi is horribly cruel to Percy, and she is devastated beyond belief. After all this intense melodrama and the subsequent over-the-top paranormal climax, Percy regains consciousness and forgives him so easily, it's fairly ridiculous. A few lines of dialogue and they are professing their love for each other. Oh well!

I wanted to post a snippet from one of my favorite scenes, when Percy is dancing in Alexi's office to Mozart's Requiem, with the ghosts surrounding her...

"Like a butterfly shedding its chrysalis, Percy tossed her shawl, glasses and gloves upon the desk and abandoned herself, as the spirits did, to the music, sharing a bond with them that went beyond colouration. Her skirts spun out around her." Love that simile!!!!

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is strange, and beautiful, and a breath of fresh air in the romance industry. I am looking forward to reading more of Leanna Hieber's work. Grade: B+


Monday, January 25, 2010

2 Weeks Until Penelope's Valentine Celebration!

Starting on Monday, Feb. 8, Penelope is hosting a week-long celebration for the most holy of all romance holidays....St. Valentine's Day! I will be giving away Amazon gift cards, gourmet chocolates, doing mini reviews of my favorite romantic stories, and posting a quiz on romance heroes. Oh yeah, I'll also be discussing a rather serious topic...the MRB (Most Romantic Beard). Hope you'll join me.

Wondering if my hubby is going to splurge on a kick-ass floral arrangement,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beard of the Day

Today I'm chatting with Mandi at Smexy Books about hunky, hairy guys in romance. Stop by and say hello! Mandi loves cowboys, so I decided to post this scruff-diddly-icious photo of Tim Daly from The Outsider. Nice. I'll bet his mustache twitches just fine.

Happy Hairy Friday To All,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quickie Kindle Reviews: Forbidden Thunder, Seducing Simon and Not Just Make Believe

Here are three mini-reviews of e-books I've read on my kindle recently.

Forbidden Thunder
by Kathleen Lash

This is the most bizarre combination of topics in a romance novel I have read in my life. An in-depth look at the trucking and towing industry with romance. Hee hee....sounds crazy? Well, for some bizarre and unknown reason I was really digging it! I think I could start my own trucking company right now after all of the stuff I learned reading this book. There is WAY too much detail about the trucking business in this story, including financial stuff, running a company, etc. But I was strangely fascinated about the whole thing. Maybe I'm a bigger nerd than I thought. Good things about this book...characters were awesome, sex was hot, story about Caila's family is heart-breaking and very, very emotional. John Thunder is a great hero. The love and camaraderie within the McKenna family is fabulous. Bad things: too many got ludicrous by the end. But I still really enjoyed this book anyway! Grade: B

This is the first book I have read by this author. She is an excellent storyteller...right from the start I was engrossed by the premise for this book and tore through it to find out what would happen. I also think she did a fantastic job describing the emotional POV of the heroine. But the way things played out at the end of this book killed it for me. First of all, there were too many typos (confident and about using spell check???), the ending was horribly abrupt and unsatisfying, the big black moment was awful...the hero comes off looking like a gigantic ass, it pissed me off that no one seem concerned that the heroine's loss of virginity came after a night of drunken (him), unprotected sex with the hero. Her best friends and even her brother are mad at her!!!! instead of questioning what Simon has done? Are you kidding me? And finally, having a group of firefighters is just screaming out for some yummy, sexy brotherhood-style camaraderie (one of my favorite things!) and Banks didn't tap into this at all. Big disappointment. This book sort of has me scratching my head. Up until the end it was heading for an A or B rating, but the end was a killer for me. Grade: C+

This is a short, "sweet" (as in, no sex!) story told in the first person by a super sarcastic, incredibly clumsy, but kind-hearted heroine. There is a lot of physical comedy in this story, and Sandra Sookoo has a wicked funny sense of humor. In fact, I laughed out loud repeatedly reading this cute story. The beginning was my favorite part...great pacing, hilarious one-liners, and I found the POV enjoyable, and not irritating as I often do with sarcastic first person heroines. This new author has two biggies going for her....1) the woman can write, and 2) her voice is great...I loved it! The end of the story turned into more of a chick lit deal, with a lot of emotional journey stuff, conflict and decisions about the Jekyll and Hyde hero. My super shallowness would have much preferred a hot sex scene and to skip all of that! I'm keeping my eye on this new author...there is nothing I love better than a big heaping dose of humor with my romance! And Sandra Sookoo's sense of humor is right up my alley. (Oh more thing....the cover of this book is absolutely adorable!) Grade: B+

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Everyone,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quickie Reviews: Skin Game by Ava Gray

Skin Game by Ava Gray

Have you ever eaten something spicy that started out with just a hint of heat and you're thinking...Well, that's not too bad....and then the spice starts to really kick in, and after a couple of minutes you're sweating and guzzling a gallon of milk? Well, that's my best analogy for Ava Gray's Skin Game. Slow burn, finished strong. And I do mean strong. Holy Hell, this woman can write. Wasn't sure I loved it when it started out. The characters seemed interesting, but it's hard to identify with a cold-blooded killer and a chameleon-like con woman. She seemed sort of slutty, and he scared the crap out of me. And I'm thinking...this is the hero and heroine of this book? Really? Well, Jiminy H. Cricket, Gray's approach to characterization is freakin' brilliant. By the end of the book, you are literally dying for an HEA, praying that the vulnerable/sassy/sexy/sneaky/blood-thirsty con woman and the hit man from heaven and hell get together. Gray makes you cheer for this unlikely pair, wondering how the heck is she going to pull it off. This book is seriously the perfect package...fascinating characters, excellent pacing and story line, tons of nail-biting suspense (break out the prilosec, baby!), and off the charts hot sexual encounters. Be forewarned, this is not your granny's romance novel. It's gory and violent in parts, although if I can take it (you know I'm a wuss) then anybody can. My favorite authors make the characters come alive. And Gray has accomplished this in a truly unique and unexpected fashion. Grade: A

Peeved I have to wait until June 1 for the next book in the series...(long suffering sigh),

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review of Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz

Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz

Wow! JAK has fired off another awesome Arcane Novel! Fired Up is an incredibly well-paced, fascinating paranormal romantic suspense. Even though the romance is the least well-developed part of this book, and the characters are not fleshed out as well as I usually like, I was completely, happily absorbed by this story. JAK is fabulous at weaving together separate story lines and building the tension. I love how she is jumping around in history, and connecting the stories of her historical paranormal romances and now the modern descendants of these characters. Her paranormal descriptions are among the best you will find anywhere in romance...she really knows how to paint an eerie, powerful and mysterious paranormal setting. Fired Up is very well-written, has excellent dialogue, masterful description of setting, and a fast-paced romance (which I personally like, although some people might be irritated with this). After reading several books recently that really struggled with the pacing, this book was a breath of fresh air. The pacing was perfection. The hero and heroine were interesting characters, but Fallon Jones is the one I am "jonesing" for...sorry, couldn't help myself. I cannot wait for his book, and JAK did a fantastic job setting up the next story. I am a sucker for a mathematical genius. There's something really hot about a pumped-up....brain. For any JAK fans, this story is a must-read. Grade: A

P.S. I read this on my kindle, and it was soooooo great. And the addiction continues....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Review of Street Game by Christine Feehan

Street Game by Christine Feehan

First let me say that this book broke me out of my recent reading funk. Although it was uneven in certain spots, overall this was a very enjoyable book. In fact, for the first time in a very long time, I became so absorbed in this story, that I forgot I was reading. It was only when my family started harassing me for dinner (for the love of God, couldn't they go to McDonald's or something??), that I was popped back into reality.

Street Game is the latest installment of Feehan's Ghostwalker Series, which I have really been enjoying. Here's my take on this series and Street Game....

1) Feehan is a master of paranormal. The characters' abilities are incredibly cool....invisibility, reading people's locations/emotions from their energy patterns, telepathic brain surgery...and the list goes on. How's this for romantic? Everyone has an energy pattern that displays certain textures and colors, but the hero and heroines' pattern, according to one of the Ghostwalkers, is woven together. Sigh.

2) The male bonding/camaraderie scenes with the Ghostwalkers are superb! Superb! Trash talking, super loyal, sometimes aggressive...yummy alpha male testosterone-jacked stuff! Seriously, JR Ward's got nothing on Christine. Maybe Christine will dye her hair blond, start wearing all black, and sport some stylin' black sunglasses. Hee hee. :)

3) There is a great build up of suspense and anticipation during their missions, in particular when they have to grab Sergeant Major Griffen--I literally could not put the book down. The final mission of the book is also excellent, and exhilarating to finally see Jaimie using and enjoying her powers.

4) The first scene where Jaimie and Mack make love is this really cool fusion of psychic paranormal powers and the physical response between them. I loved it.

5) Now onto the "uneven" parts....I am getting sort of tired of the whole Whitney thing. I realize this is the over-riding story arc that is supposed to tie all of the books together, but I'm sick of Whitney, and I just wish someone would blow him up or something.

6) Feehan loves deep POV. The heroine spends pages thinking about how she lost herself with Mack, how much she loves him, how scared she is of his possession....and the hero is thinking about how he can't live without her, she is the light of his life, she destroyed him when she left...etc etc. It's just too repetitive. Enough already. We got it the first time. Stick with the action!

7) I was not feeling the emotional connection between the hero and heroine as much as past Ghostwalker couples for one simple reason. Their relationship was in the past. Feehan forgot the golden, don't tell. We need to feel their connection now, not hear about the past ad nauseam. Even the sex scenes were not as hot or intense as others in the series.

8) I was totally irritated with the scene where Mack is "interrogating" Jaimie while she is diligently working at the computer, and he is forcing her to take her clothes off. This was just plain ridiculous. Oy!

My overall take on this was uneven, but still a great read for Feehan fans. Fabulous at spots, slow and repetitive in others. Feehan did an awesome job getting us primed for the other Ghostwalker stories. I personally can't wait for Kane's book, and I really liked Javier, too.

Grade: B


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beard of the Day

I personally think Viggo Mortensen is one of the hottest actors around. Just look at that scruff. He is an alpha male all the way. Yay for alphas!

I have read quite a few books on my new kindle. However, I don't feel like writing any reviews since they were okay, not stellar. I am having a problem with the "light" BDSM erotica stories. My feeling is that most of the authors jumping into this genre are using the BDSM as a titillation device, without really understanding the lifestyle and emotional and physical ramifications of what that means. I need to read a few historicals to "cleanse my palate"-- hee hee. :)

I just downloaded Christine Feehan's newest Ghostwalker book, Street Game. I'm hoping it will bust me out of my funk. In the meantime, I am finally back to work on Sweet Magik, the second of the Klaus Brothers Series. It's great to be working on a new book. Sweet Inspiration continues to climb the charts of the e-bookstores. It is currently #2 at eBookwise and Readerwise, and #3 at Fictionwise and eReader (on the romance bestseller lists). Huge thanks to everyone who has supported me and this debut novel!

Stay warm,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I'm Hangin' With Steve...You Know, Stephen King.

Updates from the Peanut Gallery....

1) I got a kindle for Christmas. Hee hee hee heeeeeee..... I am in love. I will never buy a print book again. My husband gets big-time brownie points for the next decade.

2) Corollary to number 1: Gotta work on my kindle addiction. Sigh.

3) Much to my surprise, my debut novel Sweet Inspiration is cropping up on some bestseller lists. Seriously, seeing my half-naked Santa book cover next to Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol is pretty hilarious. And totally cool. And completely unexpected. Here is the latest bestseller list from Fictionwise....

Top eBooks, Fictionwise, Sat Jan. 2


Blame It On The Mistletoe by Lily Graison [ROM]


Divine Misdemeanors [Meredith Gentry Series #8] by Laurell K. Hamilton [DARKFANT]


Shades of Midnight [Midnight Breed Series Book 7] by Lara Adrian [ROM]


Under the Dome: A Novel by Stephen King [SF]


Altar of Eden by James Rollins [SUSP/THRILL]


Night Watch [Tall, Dark, and Dangerous Series Book 11] by Suzanne Brockmann [ROM]


Witch and Wizard by James Patterson [SUSP/THRILL]


Sweet Inspiration by Penny Watson [ROM]


Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas [ROM]


Street Game (Game/Ghostwalker) by Christine Feehan [FIC]

I am on a top 10 list with Stephen King. Un-freakin-believable. Sweet Inspiration is also rated #2 on the romance bestseller list for I am amazed and humbled and completely appreciative of all the folks who took a chance on this book. And totally pumped and inspired to work on my WIP....which leads us to....

4) Goals for 2010: Finish/publish Sweet Magik, #2 of the Klaus Brothers Series. Finish Diabolical, my botanical mystery/romance. Travel to a new, exciting place with my family (already have the reservations for Jackson Hole, Wyoming...Yellowstone and Grand Tetons! Yay!). Work on my fitness before August so I can hike the Tetons without requiring oxygen.

5) One more update...I emailed Christine Feehan to ask her when she was writing Skyler and Dimitri's story, and she said...."I don't know"--- Criminy!!!!!!! She is killing me.

6) New books coming up for 2010....Julie Garwood's Sizzle, Christine Feehan's Street Game, A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh, and Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz. I can't wait to read these on my new kindle! Weeeee!

I hope everyone had a festive holiday season, and that 2010 will bring you exciting and wonderful adventures!