Friday, April 29, 2011

Let Your Imagination Take Flight

Well, I am off to Salem for the NECRWA Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference. Yee haw! I look forward to this every year. The Quirky Ladies and I will be there schmoozing, drinking martinis, yeah, probably attending some workshops. I swear! This year, Annette Blair, Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich will be speaking. I put together a fun giveaway basket....

It's "Penelope's Favorite Things"!!! It includes a book about beards, a High School Musical CD, a small weenie dog (stuffed, not real), chocolate and some of my favorite romance novels. Some very lucky person will be winning this gift. I sure hope she appreciates Zac Efron. :^)

Well, I'm off to Salem! Hope to see some of you there. Please stop by and say hello!

ETA: Snafu already! The hotel kicked me out of my room because it is under renovation! Well, I never....!!! They are "relocating" 10 guests to another hotel and providing a trolley to transport us back and forth. (I'm  hoping the trolley has an open bar.) *grumble, grumble, grumble*


Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Embarrassing Admission From A Romance Lover

I hate weddings.

Yep, it's true. This is a super embarrassing admission for a reader, writer and lover of romantic fiction, but weddings give me hives.

That includes my own wedding. Other people's weddings. Televised weddings. Real weddings. Fake weddings. I can handle Vegas shin-digs with Elvis impersonators, but that's about it.

The only thing I hate worse than weddings would be bridal showers. I would rather have a red hot poker stabbed in my eye than attend a party where 150 women dressed in hot, uncomfortable pantyhose have to "Oooo!" and "Ahhhhh!" about a bunch of dumb wedding gifts. Seriously. If I go to hell when I die, Satan will have a never-ending bridal shower set up just for me for all of eternity.

Which brings to me to the (incredibly irritating) topic at hand. The. Royal. Wedding. The fact that the world is being bombarded by news articles daily about this affair is beyond irritating. The fact that this was an actual headline this week...."Shane Connolly Feels The Pressure As Royal Wedding Florist" is completely meshugana. (OK, so it was in People Magazine, but still......).

In theory, weddings are a lovely and romantic concept. Which is why they always turn out so great in romance novels. In reality, they're about family squabbles, dinner buffets, and how to avoid that drunk Uncle Bobby during the reception. I was a middle schooler when Diana and Charles got married. I woke up and watched with my mom and dad and sister while that poor woman was forced to march down the aisle with fifty thousand pounds of silk train trailing behind her. Even at that young, impressionable age, I knew that looked like a bad idea.

Later in life, it became readily apparent that "weddings" had nothing to do with the bride and groom, but everything to do with family obligations. "Marriage" was something altogether different. "Weddings" were about pastel colored cake and match books with your names embossed on the top, and registering for gifts at Bloomingdale's like you were on Wheel Of Fortune ("I'll take the crystal goblets for $150, Pat!"). "Marriage" was and your new hubby living on a resident's salary in the woods of Vermont. Coping with cancer and the loss of a beloved parent. Dealing with infertility struggles. You know what true romance is? Not the big grandiose affair with trumpets blasting. True romance is getting an unexpected flower bouquet from your spouse after another heart-breaking miscarriage.

So, even though I watched Diana get married many years ago, I will be skipping this year's grand televised event. (My invitation obviously got lost in the mail). I'm not sure how the whole idea of celebrating a marriage transformed into this convoluted Vegas-style show, but I'm of the opinion that less is definitely more. Maybe two people in a quiet little chapel somewhere, whispering vows to each other?

Hmm.....that sounds like a good scene for a romance novel........

Enjoying twenty years of wedded bliss,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not So Fierce: A Review of Dreams Of A Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

This book is #11 in the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. #10, Demon From The Dark, was one of my favorites in this series, and I knew it would be a tough act to follow. Unfortunately, Dreams of a Dark Warrior was not nearly as good as its predecessor.

I think it's pretty apparent that one of the most important elements in a successful romance is the chemistry between the hero and heroine. That'll make or break the book. When Kresley Cole nails it, the chemistry between her leads is super intense, both emotionally and sexually---which makes for a fabulous read. Malkom and Carrow in the last installment of this series were a perfect pair...the sexual tension between them was dynamite, the intensity of their emotional connection was fantastic. I loved that book.

Regin is probably the most outrageous, cocky character in this series. I love her energy, humor and loyalty. Her hero, Declan, is without a doubt a fascinating character. After a horrifying near death experience, he has become a warrior in the "Order" hellbent on destroying members of the Lore. He is also (unbeknownst to him at the beginning of this book) the reincarnation of a berserker, Aidan the Fierce, who is the mate to Regin. Declan, because of his past, is a merciless, cold-hearted, drug-addicted killer. Unfortunately, I found Declan and Regin to be mis-matched in this book. Regin is a cocky, sword-slinging "gunfighter"....she should have been paired with a character who could match that sort of fun energy, not a brooding loner. I wasn't feeling the chemistry between them at all....except when Regin (and every other Lore member) hated his guts. I just didn't buy the transition to devoted lovers.

The pacing of this book was also problematic. Cole excels with high action sequences (and super intense love scenes, which are flat-out amazing). The beginning of this book, when Regin is trapped in the facility, stalled. Declan was a total douche bag at the start of the book, and Regin was stripped of her powers. This totally killed the dynamic between them, and the storyline itself. It took way too long for Declan to become a likable character, and for the action to kick-start the storyline.

Lothaire, the most reviled vampire, was by far the most interesting character in the book, which is a huge red flag. When the secondary characters in a story outshine the primary hero and heroine, it's a problem. The interaction between Nix and Lothaire was quite intriguing, and I can't wait to see what's in store for these two characters.

This book was missing the intense spark/magic/humor I have come to expect in the IAD books. I thought it would be ramped up for Regin's book, but instead the story seemed more subdued than others. The second half of the book was much better--more emotional, the pacing picked up, etc. More satisfying all around, but still not enough for me to categorize this one as one of the best.

After reading a lot of winners this past week, I was disappointed with this book. I still love this series, but the books seem uneven at times. I hope Lothaire's story is a winner.

Grade: B-/C+


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


First sign of Spring at my house....the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata). This tree got chopped in half by a dumpster when we were doing our house renovation, but it's still kickin'!!! In fact, it looks gorgeous every spring, covered with sweetly scented blossoms. I just love it.

"Operation Daffodil" was a success! I planted hundreds of bulbs, and they all came up this spring. Unfortunately, the bunnies ate the crocuses, but everything else looks great. These are Siberian Squill (Scilla) and Short Cup Daffodils.

The courtyard garden is starting to sprout. Chives, oregano, lemon balm, and bleeding heart are coming up. I have buds on the clematis, hydrangea and spirea.

Here is my planter from last summer. The hens-and-chickens are green, and the mint, as always, reappeared. It's a great idea to keep mint in a container so it won't take over the herb garden.

Can't wait to plant veggie seeds and get started on my potager. Hope everyone is enjoying spring and getting excited for planting season!

All My Gardeny Best,

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I Read Over April Vacation...A Bunch of Mini Reviews

Here is what I read over spring vacation (sounds like I'm writing an essay for elementary school, only these are naughty romance novels....hee hee!)

  • The Redhead Revealed by Alice Clayton....Another wonderful addition to this series. I laughed out loud on the airplane reading this baby. It's funny, sexy, and has an addictive on-going storyline. The conflict/tension that crops up between the H/h made me a tad nervous, but the resolution was excellent. One of my favorite themes in romance - "alternate families" - is totally happening here, and I love how the heroine is embracing this part of her life. Grade: B+
  • Cinderella Unmasked by Bonnie Dee and Marie Treanor....This is an erotic version of "Cinderella." I adore funky new twists on fairy tales, and this one is quite good. Dee/Treanor's "twist" on the legend--Prince Charming abandons the kingdom to "take up with" a male pirate (hee that!) and leaves Cinderella in charge--is a kick-ass premise for a book. The authors manage to throw in some sexy adventures for the queen, a hot hero, a fairy godmother, wicked stepmother and stepsisters, and even the return of Charming. This is well written and entertaining, but I felt like the pacing should have been faster. This would have worked better as a shorter story. I will definitely be reading more stories by these authors who are new-to-me. Grade: B+/A-
  • This Side Of The Grave by Jeaniene Frost....I almost DNFed this book at the beginning. It had a very slow start. But once it finally got going, I loved it. Bones and Cat have become an iconic pairing in paranormal romance. This book has a different feel to it than the previous ones, which interestingly enough parallels the changes in Cat's life. She is settling into married life, more stable, more responsible, no longer the wild child. That's not to say her life is still not filled with violence, excitement and hot smoky sex with Bones. Because it is. But this series is also settling down a bit. The high octane feel of the first few books isn't happening here, but I don't mind. I actually really like how the series is "maturing" while still maintaining a very engaging storyline filled with conflict and tension. And I especially love that we are not rehashing Cat and Bones' relationship insecurities, which was driving me nuts. They are finally beyond that, and their relationship continues to grow in the best possible way. Rock on, Jeaniene Frost! Grade: B+/A-
  • St Nacho's by Z A Maxfield....DNF at 2% done (Kindle). Okay, confession time. Mandi gave me an "M/M assignment." I was supposed to read this book and do a review for her. However, after I read the blurb for the book, I knew I would have problems with this one. I don't love emo/angsty contemporary stories, and this sounded painful. In addition to that, I like a lot of romance with my erotica, and this sentence pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks...."I could suck any one of these guys through fifty feet of irrigation pipe, but as it happens, today I'm not looking for love." Ugh. And today, I'm not looking to read this book. I willingly accept my "F'-super failure grade from Mandi, and will attempt another M/M book that is lighter, funnier, sweeter, more romantic.
  • The Bride and The Buccaneer by Darlene Marshall....Thanks, Darlene, for recommending your book to me! This book was indeed the perfect romance novel for a trip to Sanibel-Captiva. It is a charming, well-written historical romance set in 19th century Florida. It combines adventure, fascinating historical tidbits about 19th century Florida (including maritime history, slavery, and cool stuff about the territories and villages of Northeast Florida in the 1800's), very appealing characters, and an intriguing treasure hunt-storyline. The hero is a sexy-as-hell "pirate," the heroine is a spunky treasure hunter, and their love story is sweet if not somewhat predictable. I loved this! Grade: A-
  • Dreams Of A Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole.....Still reading it! I am reserving judgment about this one. Not too thrilled with it yet, but KC has been known to take a slow start and turn it into something spectacular.

Happy Monday (where's the beach?...wahhhhhh!),

      Saturday, April 23, 2011

      So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Bye

      Good Bye, Captiva! Good bye, beach. Good bye, pool. Good bye, birds. Good bye, frozen coconut-rum-lime cocktails. My heart is filled with sadness.

      I will drown my sorrows in copious romance novels at the airport.


      Friday, April 22, 2011

      Birdy Love

      One of my favorite things about being in Florida is watching the ospreys. There are so many nests here, it is unbelievable. I love it! Every morning when I walk, I pass a nest where Mama Osprey is watching over her chicks. Papa Osprey is off "hunting" for breakfast. Mama calls to him, a sharp keening cry. He responds. If his claws are empty, Mama talks back. I imagine the conversation goes something like this...

      "Harry! The kids are starving! Get with the program, bud. Where is breakfast?"
      "Sorry, Bertha. Fish aren't too plentiful this morning. I'll get right on it."
      "Get going!"
      "Squawk, squawk, squawk!"
      "Do you hear the children? They're about to revolt!"

      Then, Papa Osprey flies off to find some more fish for his family. I love how these birds communicate, look out for each other, take care of each other. It's the ultimate romance. They usually mate for life.

      Yesterday, my son and hubby went paddle boarding. They really enjoyed it. But my son did have a slight freak-out. As he was paddling along, he went over what he thought was a "large rock." Until it started to move. It was actually a huge manatee! My son screamed "Oh My God!" and paddled faster than Superman to give the marine mammal some space. 

      Today is fishing day for my kids and hubby. Can't wait to see what they caught! I just finished reading This Side Of The Grave, another terrific addition to the Night Huntress series, and I am now embarking on my next book, The Bride and The Buccaneer by Darlene Marshall. 


      Thursday, April 21, 2011

      Wildlife Extravaganza and Top Chef Family Fun Time

      We had a wonderful day yesterday....absolute perfection (except for the occasional fight between my 13 year old son and 8 year old daughter when they hurled insults at one another and threatened each other with severe bodily injury). They also played together on the beach like best buds. Kids. Gotta love 'em.

      We had another great drive-through at Ding. We saw this cool lizard (above) who was pretty well camouflaged on the rocks.

      We also enjoyed a wonderful boat cruise and saw tons of dolphins. They were jumping and playful...but it was difficult to get a good photo, obviously. The history of this island and how it was affected by the hurricane of 2004 is fascinating. The storm caused catastrophic damage to Captiva, and the island is still recovering.

      On the way back from the cruise, we saw this rockin' cottage on stilts J.N. "Ding" Darling built for his wife. She hated it! So he used it as an artist studio (he was a cartoonist). Seriously, I would maim and kill to have this cottage as a writer's studio. How cool would that be!

      To finish off a perfect day, we watched the sun set at the beach, ate a bizarre meal at The Bubble Room in Captiva, and the whole fam watched Top Chef Masters together, snuggled on the sofa. Fun!

      Happy Days,

      Wednesday, April 20, 2011

      Hello, Darling!

      We finally got to Ding Darling yesterday! One of my favorite places on earth...serene, peaceful, beautiful and inspiring. Here is a little blue heron we saw right away, just hanging out so we could take his picture. (Photo by my son). Unfortunately, the slide pool was not serene, peaceful and was crowded, noisy and filled with angry children having temper tantrums. My kids, of course, loved it and had a blast. I finished reading Cinderella Unmasked, which I really liked, and I started my next book, This Side Of The Grave by Jeaniene Frost.

      Today, we're trying paddle boarding and heading back to Ding. Can't squeeze in enough birding during this trip!

      All My Best,

      Tuesday, April 19, 2011

      Quick Check-In From Florida!

      I made it to Florida, and I'm doing a whole lotta nothin'. Here is a cool, artsty-fartsy photo my son took of the surf at sunset last night. I already read The Redhead Revealed on the flight down (laughed out loud on the airplane reading this cute story), and I'm now I'm reading Cinderella Unmasked, and I'm liking it a lot. 

      On today's agenda: explore pool with water slides, and go birding at Ding Darling. Hope everyone is having a good week!


      Sunday, April 17, 2011

      Gone Fishin'

      Well, I'm off for a week of spring vacation. Kindle is fully loaded, got some new duds, and I'm ready for my first frozen pina colada. I'll be birding at Ding Darling, and hopefully my hubby and the kids will catch a tarpon and capture the moment with the digital camera so everyone can ooo and ahhhh. I'll be back Monday April 25. Friday and Saturday April 29th and 30th is the NECRWA Spring Conference. Can't wait for that! I hope to see some of you there!

      Happy Patriot's Day, Happy Boston Marathon, Happy Romance Reading To All!

      Saturday, April 16, 2011

      Loincloths For Everyone!

      I love quirky stuff, and Island Heat by Jill Myles certainly fits the bill! This was my first time reading this author, and it won't be the last. She packed a plane wreck, T Rex, posse of marauding cavemen, the Bermuda triangle, a time warp, beautiful tropical island, hot conquistador in a loincloth, lots of romance, and even a sweet HEA into one funky story. (Honestly, she had me at loincloth). The hero of this book, Salvador, is delicious. He's a Spanish Tarzan-y conquistador who keeps popping up to save the damsel in distress, or woo her with a nest filled with tropical flowers (swoon time). The fact that he is a gorgeous specimen of masculinity wearing only a loincloth is just the icing on the deserted island cake. The heroine is okay....I like my heroines a bit spunkier, especially if they are warding off ferocious dinosaurs and stuff. Anyhoo, this was a fun, entertaining read.

      Grade: B+

      Even though I had my Kindle already fully loaded for vacation, due to my impulse buying problem, I now have a few extras. I added Wicked Games by Jill Myles (thanks to KC at Smokinhotbooks for that recommendation) and Cinderella Unmasked by Bonnie Dee. I love new takes on fairy tales!

      Off to get ready for my trip. Laundry! Packing! Purchasing new sandals for my son whose feet are as big as Shaquille O'Neal!


      Friday, April 15, 2011

      Beard of the Day

      Last night, I indulged in one of my favorite activities. Wasting an enormous amount of time watching movie previews for films I will never actually see. It's fun! While perusing the coming soon trailers, I stumbled upon a blond, bearded, muscular hunky dude. Normally, I don't love blonds, but even I must admit that Thor (aka Chris Hemsworth) is an excellent example of alpha male deliciousness. See below...

      Holy Craptastic! Chris was born when I was a junior in high school. Chris is from Australia. Chris has gigantic bulging muscles and a very nice blond Viking-style beard and stache, looking exactly like the Norse god of thunder. This is one movie I am NOT going to miss!

      In addition to this fabulous looking movie, I found another preview that totally rocked my boat. Speaking of lots of hairy dudes....heh heh heh....this looks fantastic! Woo hoo!

      Here is the trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes...rock on!

      Happy Hairy Friday,

      Thursday, April 14, 2011

      A Startling Sequence Of Events

      It all began 24 hours ago....

      1.) Got a recommendation for Marti Talbott's Highlander Series. Enjoyed this immersion into Highlander territory, except for one small problem. It's rated G. Finished it by noon. Started to suffer from smutty-romance withdrawal symptoms almost immediately.

      2.) Early evening.....Feeling slightly jittery and feverish, visited Twitter.

      3.) Saw a tweet from Mandi at Smexybooks with the word "loincloth."

      4.) Followed the link (like a lamb to the slaughter).

      5.) Quickly perused the review for Island Heat by Jill Myles. Saw the words "Tarzan" "T Rex" and "hot smex." Starting shaking uncontrollably.

      6.) Skipped over the "C+" rating, and clicked on the Kindle link.

      7.) Clicked the "Buy now with 1-Click" at Amazon.

      8.) Within a few short minutes I was reading about a Tarzan dude with a loincloth. Breath returned to normal. Heart rate decreased. Anxiety dissolved.

      Time elapse between twitter visit and purchase.....tops, 120 seconds.

      Conclusion: The internet can be a very dangerous place for romance-addicted gals with an Amazon prime time membership and a Twitter account.

      Marti Talbott's Highlander Series I .... Grade: B  (Romantic Highlander setting, interesting characters, slightly confusing storylines, no sex. At all!)

      Jill Myles' Island Heat ... Still reading it. Totally wack! Includes the Bermuda triangle, cavemen, dinosaurs, and a hot dude with a loincloth. Right up my quirky alley!

      Wondering if there is a Romance Anonymous meeting near me,

      Wednesday, April 13, 2011

      Shoe Frenzy

      Weenie dog shoes! Oh! Oh! Oh! Designer Kobi Levi has some incredible shoe creations, but the Miao 2010 is warming my weenie dog-loving heart. Unfortunately, I'm not sure his creations are actually for sale. It's worth checking out his website to see shoes inspired by Madonna (Blond Ambition) among others (some are naughty!).

      Of course, it would suck to pay out the wazoo for these babies, and then have a wayward weenie dog chew the crap out of them.

      Suffering From Severe Shoe Envy,

      Tuesday, April 12, 2011

      Talking To Myself

      When Twitter first came onto my radar, I politely dismissed it. Did I really need to know when people were eating their lunch? Walking the dog? Feeling happy, sad, mad? (And, yes, for the record, I have discussed all these topics in 140 characters or less on Twitter in the last year).

      However, when I finally took a look at it, I realized it was a lot more than that. It is an excellent way to get book recommendations. It also offers a way to connect with other writers while you're at home, working on your WIP and feeling isolated and alone. Wondering if anyone is really out there. They are. They're on Twitter, and they're posting hilarious Youtube video links.

      Anyhow, recently I started getting a bit paranoid about this Twitter thing. Why are some folks not following me? Why are some folks following me and then unfollowing me? Does this dress go with these boots? (I'm channelling my inner 12 year old, since that's what Twitter sometimes feels like.)

      Twitter often feels like a one-sided conversation. Because, in essence, that's what it really is if you are following someone, and that individual is not following you. It's freakin' weird. She/He is talking and you are listening. And she/he hears nothing of what you say. Very strange.

      The ultimate in dastardly twitter etiquette is engaging someone in a conversation, sometimes on numerous occasions, and then realizing at some point (often when you go to send a direct message) that this particular person is not following you. Makes you feel like you're 12 years old at Friendly's, chatting with a group of girls, and then suddenly one of them whips her entire Fribble all over you. You thought you were buds, but no.....not really.

      Here are my critieria for following folks on Twitter....

      1.) Common interests (weenie dogs, beards, plants, etc).
      2.) Colleagues (book bloggers, writers).
      3.) Famous people who don't irritate the sh*t out of me (Spongebob, etc).

      Here are my criteria for not following folks on Twitter....

      1.) Spammers obsessed with chandeliers.
      2.) Call girls named Candi.
      3.) Folks who post links w/ pics of naked guys. (Kids in my house, and I share an office with them).
      4.) People who use Twitter only for promotional purposes. This includes authors who only post announcements about their books and never engage others in conversation.

      When I thought about it, I realized that I actually have no problem with folks unfollowing me. I curse a lot. I am opinionated. I am obsessed with beards, weenie dogs and botany, topics that may potentially be off-putting to certain individuals. So, now when I realize I am following someone who is not following me (who is not a famous cartoon character), I unfollow that person. Having a one-sided conversation is pretty stupid.

      I do it everyday with my own kids, and that's enough for me.

      Signing out,

      Monday, April 11, 2011

      Monday Morning Updates

      Monday morning updates....

      1) My 8 year old daughter had her first soccer game this weekend. She was filled with anxiety. Not about her athletic performance. About how to accessorize her soccer outfit. There were actual tears over the fact that her shin guards and socks did not match. At one point the coach asked "Does everyone have shin guards on?" and Nat answered "Everyone but you." I tried to find a good place to hide but it was a wide open field. Even though Nat's team got creamed, she scored the only goal for the Royals. All in all, a nice season opener.

      2) As most of you may know, my husband has a wee little fly-fishing addiction. He hired a guide for our up-coming trip to Captiva, and Captain So-and-So just happened to mention that he has been catching tarpon. Much to my husband's chagrin, and in spite of countless trips to the Keys and Belize, he has not yet snagged a tarpon. If you ask him if he's ever caught a tarpon, he will ramble on about how "he made eye contact" with the tarpon, and the tarpon "spit out the fly," how they sized each other up for 14 hours until sundown, yada yada yada, and at the end of the story if you ask "So did you catch him?" he'll shoot you a nasty look and answer "You just don't understand fishing, honey." Needless to say, this latest news about tarpon in them there waters has my husband worked up into a tarpon-fishing frenzy. He has been casting on our front lawn in preparation for the trip - I affectionately refer to this activity as "Casting to Nowhere." Our neighbors enjoy driving by and yelling out "Caught anything yet?" My hubs just ignores them.

      3) My preparation for our trip, unfortunately, has involved clothes shopping, one of my most hated activities. Especially if it's for swim suits. Even though I have lost 45 pounds, shopping for swim suits is still a traumatic event. Thank God for Land's End, who has finally figured out that women aren't so keen on wedgies or old-lady skirts. Look what I found in their catalogue this year.....

      It's the answer to my prayers! Surfer-style swim shorts. No more wedgies. No more little old lady skirts. Why didn't they come up with this idea sooner? Huh? 

      Finally, I am compiling my reading list for Florida. Here's what I have so far....

      • Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole
      • Touch of a Thief by Mia Marlowe (ARC)
      • The Redhead Revealed by Alice Clayton
      • Too Perfect by Julie Ortolon
      • Scoundrel by Zoe Archer
      • Rebel by Zoe Archer
      • This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

      That ought to keep me busy! While my husband and children are trying to catch that elusive tarpon, I will be sipping my fruity cocktail near the pool with my trusty Kindle in hand. I would love some recommendations for a couple of extra books to read. Let me know if you've read something spectacular lately! Especially if it's funny. I'm into funny right now.

      All My Best,

      Sunday, April 10, 2011

      Acrostic Poem By Penelope Jr

      Lucky clovers

      Excited leprechaun

      Prepared to capture

      Running after leprechaun

      Emerald shamrock

      Clever little guy

      Having fun

      As lucky as can be
      Unhappy couldn't catch the leprechaun

      Next year, I will catch him

      Saturday, April 9, 2011

      Review of When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer

      When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer

      For some reason, I had the mistaken impression that this book was a screwball comedy-style historical. Funny, snappy banter between the hero and heroine, etc. Some folks loved it, some found the characters irritating. Anyhoo, this was not what I was expecting. I started to read, and was waiting for it to get funny....waiting...still waiting. Finally I realized it was definitely NOT a screwball comedy. It was actually a sweet and very charming wallpaper historical romance.

      (I don't actually think folks used the word "amazing" quite so frequently in 19th century England. But I could be wrong).

      I like wallpaper historicals. I'm not one of those readers who requires copious amounts of back-breaking research for my historical romances. I'm also pretty laid back about plot problems. I do, however, expect a lot from the characters. Here's my take on this book....

      1. The premise for the story was utterly ridiculous. There is no way in holy hell a gently reared lady would agree to pose as a courtesan for a week-long house party. No. Freakin. Way. Also, unless the hero was a real cad, he would not knowingly put her into a potentially disastrous situation like this. (I was especially uncomfortable with the "kissing closet"....Harry assured Molly the extent of her acting responsibilities would be kissing him in front of the others, and within several hours of arriving at the party she was forced into a dark closet with a stranger for three minutes. Harry wasn't really looking like hero material at this point in the game). Even though I am pretty damned easy about letting dumb stuff go in my romance novels, I had a bit of problem with this. But, I let it go. (Cause I'm easy).

      2. In spite of #1, the beginning of the book was still very engaging. I couldn't stop reading it. There is a real charm to the story, and the heroine in particular is wonderful.

      3. I LOVED LOVED LOVED how Molly won over the other mistresses. In fact, I found this part of the story more engaging than the romance. Kramer did a superb job with this storyline. The transformation of the haughty, isolated mistresses into a band of friends was simply wonderful.

      4. So, here's my big problem. This book wasn't a comedy. It was plodding along nicely, with some sexy scenes and excellent female bonding, and then we hit the big kahuna-ballroom climax. If this book had been a comedy, then the farcical climatic scene at the ballroom probably would have worked. I personally love farce. Emily Bryan has a great farcical scene in A Christmas Ball, and Julia Quinn is also a master at this. However, this book wasn't a comedy and this scene was simply preposterous. (But not in a good way). The villain turns up. His long-lost sister turns up. Molly's father is there. Harry's father is there, who has been supporting the villain's sister who didn't really have an affair with Harry but actually was almost attacked by French soldiers, but her husband didn't believe her and divorced her and she was penniless and taken in by Harry's father, who actually realized he was a hero but never told him he knew, etc etc etc etc, and then the mistress who eloped with Molly's would-be husband showed up, and the would-be husband showed up, and then Harry proposed to some other chick, who turned out to be in love with some other dude, and then the villain says that Harry's brother has to fight a duel with Harry, and then.....oh, never mind.  I'm exhausted. I'm gonna stop now. You get the picture. Everybody but the butler turns up in this scene, and it's nutso. Molly and Harry's relationship grew in a slow and steady way. I would have liked a sweet moment between them as a resolution to the conflict instead of the farce-that-didn't-work.

      5. Then, finally, we get the epilogue. After waiting patiently through the entire book for the hero and heroine to "hit a homer" "go all the way" "get down to business" "play hide the salami" etc etc etc, they finally do it. In the kitchen. During their wedding. O-kay. Miss Easy-Peasy Penelope who pretty much lets everything go finally hit the wall. My willing-suspension-of-disbelief had been tapped out already.

      6. Concluding Remarks: Kramer is an excellent writer. This book was at times charming and lovely. The characters were, for the most part, very well done. I will definitely be reading more by this author. But even a wallpaper historical can jump the shark.

      Grade: B/B-


      Friday, April 8, 2011

      Beard of the Day

      Everyone say hello to Aaron Eckhart!

      "Hello, Aaron Eckhart!"

      Aaron is super happy to be chosen as Beard of the Day. (This photo reminds me of Robert Redford from Jeremiah Johnson). Aaron has a nice burly, bristly beard thing happening here. With just a touch of salt-n-peppa, my favorite.

      He has had quite an interesting film career, having starred in such movies as Erin Brockovich, Thank You For Not Smoking, and The Dark Knight. Here are some cool things about Aaron....

      1.) He graduated from Brigham Young University.
      2.) His first introduction to acting was in a school production of Charlie Brown.
      3.) In 1994 he appeared as an extra in....(wait for it)....Beverly Hills, 90210! Brandon! Brenda!

      Aaron doesn't look too shabby clean-shaven either. (See photo below).

      Here's hoping everyone has a lovely weekend,

      ETA: Julia Barrett has a very nice beardy post today, also. :^) Stop by and check it out!

      Thursday, April 7, 2011

      10 Day Countdown

      In ten days, Penelope will be here....Captiva, Florida....

      Activities planned.....

      What? I haven't really thought past this cocktail, okay? Fruit juices are heart healthy.

      All My Best,

      Wednesday, April 6, 2011

      Bite Down Brits, Alpha Chick Werewolves, and Horny Gorillas From Outer Space

      Sometimes, as I'm reading a book, I wonder how the author composed a query letter trying to sell it. Because the premise is so wacky, it's hard to believe a publisher heard the pitch and then said...."This sounds great!" Here's an example.....

      Dear Joe Schmo Publishing Co,

      I hope you will consider publishing my story. It's a 30 page quickie about a super horny alpha male gorilla alien dude from outer space who kidnaps an earth girl to use as a sex slave, chases after her in the jungle, and then she gets trapped by a super horny alien plant that fondles her sex organs and tries to suck her dry until she goes completely insane (hence the title Dementia), but then the "hero" finds her and boinks her for most of the 30 pages, and then they decide they are hopelessly in love with each other.

      I have been a member of the RWA for 14 years, and I live in Ohio with 37 cats and a pot-bellied pig.

      Susi Q Author

      Dear Susi Q,

      We'll take it!

      Joe Schmo

      The super short quickie (took me about 5-10 minutes to read it, and cost me $4, which was irksome) Dementia was recommended as a "Tarzan and Jane" style book on the Amazon boards. Yep, it had a jungle and a super horny "hero"....and it was definitely a sexy story. It's part of a series, and I'm sure if I had read the rest of this series perhaps this book would have made more sense to me. It was a little too wonky, even for Penelope. Grade: C+

      Next update....I read The Art Of Seducing A Naked Werewolf  by Molly Harper. Interesting thing about this new series by Molly Harper....these books are written in first person POV, but the first book is written by Mo (non werewolf with a killer sense of humor), and the second book is written in Maggie's POV (she is now the female alpha leader of her werewolf pack). This is the first time I have seen a series where the books are being told in first person POV by different characters, with very different "voices." Part of the reason that How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf (first book in the series) was so adorable and cute is that the heroine's voice is spunky, sassy, sarcastic and hilarious. There is a real energy and sparkle to that book. Maggie, the heroine of the second book, has quite a different voice. So this book has a different feel to it. Harper's humor still comes through in this one, but it is not as zingy, not as sparkly. I felt like I was slogging through this one at times....places with too many info dumps, and one of my big pet peeves in romance--the hero and heroine were not together for a big chunk of the book. The best part of a romance is the chemistry between the hero and heroine, not the damned plot. If that's missing, so is the sparkle. This one fell flat for me. Other problems I had with it....not nearly as sexy as the first one, and a huge TSTL moment in the book for the heroine that pissed me off. Right after giving her cousin serious crap about running in the woods alone and almost getting killed, Maggie decides to...go off to run in the woods alone. I was disappointed with this one, but still love the humor of this author, and look forward to reading more of her books. Grade: C+

      Finally, huge gigantic thanks to Patti from the blog Book Addict. I was in a foul, horrible mood and asked folks on twitter for a book recommendation to cheer me up, and Patti recommended The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton. This was just what the doctor ordered, baby! So hilarious I could not stop laughing out loud. Alice Clayton accomplished two things with this book that impressed the hell out of me. One, she made her first person POV heroine sassy without being a pain in the arse (I loved her!), and two, she made this book incredibly sexy. It's not easy writing first person POV sex scenes and making them hot. This book was smoking hot, had unbelievably great chemistry between the hero and heroine, fabulous secondary characters, and was chock full of excellent pop culture references that made me swoon. The New Kids On The Block! Cory Haim! So great! I usually hate blond, curly haired heroes, but this Brit was super delish. The scene where they are eating in bed, and she is picking out melba toasts from the chex mix for him, and he is picking out wheat chex for her, and.....OK, you had to be there, but seriously, it's adorable! Any author who can make chex mix romantic is a winner in my book. Grade: A

      Joe Schmo Publisher I mean Penelope

      Tuesday, April 5, 2011

      Romance Trading Cards-Orama!

      I did it....I jumped on the Romance Trading Card bandwagon. I think this is the cutest promo idea ever. I know you are waiting with bated breath to see my cards for Nicholas and Oskar Klaus, sons of Santa, hotties from the North Pole....

      Here they are!

      I love these things! Can't wait to collect them from all of my favorite authors. I will be bringing these with me to the NECRWA meeting in April, as well as the National RWA meeting in NYC (June) and the NJRWA meeting in Oct. To see other trading cards, check out the Romance Trading Card website.

      Hope you are all having a happy Tuesday!

      Monday, April 4, 2011

      It's Not Easy Being Green

      Two excellent things are happening on June 17....

      1.) It's the last day of school. Summer Vacation!
      2.) Green Lantern is out! YEE HAW!

      This preview is stupendous. Tremendous. Portentous. Momentous.


      Happy Verdant Monday,

      Sunday, April 3, 2011

      Best Indie Author Ding Of The Week

      From the Amazon message boards....

      "Enjoy your vampire vibrator reading, bodice rippers and Adventures of Sophisticated Yet Romantically Retarded Women In New York.

      Good day."

      Haaaaaaaaa haaaaa haaaaaaa...

      Oh Lordy! I love this one.

      You just can't make this sh*t up.

      Happy Sunday,

      Saturday, April 2, 2011

      Beard Madness

      Sometimes I think people do things just for make me happy, you know?

      Case in point: there is a "beard madness" tournament going on, and I couldn't be happier. (Especially since I totally sucked at the dabwaha romance tournament.)

      For those of you so inclined, you can vote on twitter for your favorite beards. I especially like Conan O'Brien's photo....he has "crazy" eyes!!!! But he is sporting a very nicely shaped stache and goatee. Super fine.

      Happy Weekend to All!

      Friday, April 1, 2011

      Beard of the Day Special Edition: Lifetime Achievement Award

      Any person doing beard evaluations would certainly be remiss if she forgot to include what amounts to possibly the most stunning, spell-binding examples of bearded beauty in all of the world.

      Namely, ZZ Top.

      Let's look at the quality of these magnificent specimens of beardiness.

      Texture: Frizzy
      Color: A shade of red not commonly found in the natural world
      Size: Freakin' huge and bushy
      Shape: Um. Um. Cylindrical?
      Style: Includes stache, full side-burns, and Grizzly-Adams length bushy beard
      Sexy Meter: Extraordinary. How could a woman resist a guy like this? Makes you want to strip down to your underwear and dance around an old-timey car. Look at those sexy hats. The bad-ass sunglasses. The Texas-style black jackets. Makes you want to have hot, sweaty, beardy sex and belt out La Grange at the top of your lungs! Makes you remember....

      It's APRIL FOOL'S DAY!!!!!!

      For God's sake, you didn't think I was serious, did you? 

      Criminy. Even Penelope has her beardy limits. And ZZ Top is way over the limit.

      In order to erase this disturbing image from your mind, I'll leave you with this photo.....

      Eric would like to wish you and your entire family a very happy April Fool's Day!

      With love,