Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Atlantis Awakening

Title: Atlantis Awakening
Author: Alyssa Day
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Warriors of Poseidon/Book 2

Published: November 2007
Nath's Re-Read Challenge

From the back cover ~

To rescue the world from an overwhelming evil, Poseidon's warriors have risen from Atlantis. Chief among them is Ven, serving as the King's Vengeance by birthright and by battle challenge. None can conquer him-except perhaps for one human female.

The warrior...
Ven's mind is filled with duty. He must serve as Atlantean liaison to the humans in a war waged against the vampires. A sword is his weapon - not diplomacy. But on a mission to recover the Nereid's Heart--a ruby of immense power--it will take every ounce of strength he possess to resist the sexual allure of the beautiful with chosen to work with him.

And the witch...
Erin's heart is filled with vengeance. She lives only for the chance to punish those who murdered her family. Now she must partner with a legendary Atlantean warrior whose dark desire threatens to crash through the barriers she built around her emotions--and her heart. Caught in a trap of shifting alliances, how long can Ven and Erin resist their awakening passion?

I had a hard time chose a book for this challenge, again. It seems that each month when I try to pick a book I start with my old favorites of Roberta Gellis, Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Kathleen Woodiwiss etc. but their books are so darn big. And the fact that I wait until the last minute to pick the book causes me to shy away from the longer novels. Then there's the scare factor. Will my long time favorite author still be a long time favorite?

The reason I chose Atlantis Awakening is because the third book in the series, Atlantis Unleashed will be out this Tuesday. It was scheduled to be release a year ago so I have been waiting for what seems like a long time for this book. Since this is a PNR series I thought it would be a good idea for a re-read to refresh my memory of the world building and rules of that world. And the fact that it was just under 300 pages didn't hurt either. :)

A group of warriors from the sunken world of Atlantis protect humans from all the monsters that are out to get them. The humans don't know of the existence of the warriors but they are very much aware of the vampires and shape shifters in their world. The vampires even have their own house of Congress and the shape shifters control much of the media in this world similar to ours yet very different. There is also a rebel group who is out to stop the vampires from gaining more control. The rebel group is mainly comprised of humans, witches and shape shifters who are working together to take out the bad guys.

One of the warriors is the King's Vengence or Ven. He is the younger brother of High Prince Conlan who is the heir to the throne. Conlan's story was told in the first book, Atlantis Rising. Ven must work with the witch Erin Connors in finding the vampire Caligula. He's the same Caligula that the Romans feared. He's just as evil and sadistic but now he's a very old vampire that isn't easily defeated and is determined form a new empire to rule.

Erin Connors is a very powerful witch who, along with Ven, is determined stop Caligula and gain revenge on the monster that killed her family 10 years ago. Erin does have a problem with her magic. She has in her what is considered dark magic called "the Wilding." Not everyone who has this type of magic can control it. In Erin's case she is still learning that control. If that wasn't enough to deal with Erin finds out she is what the Atlantean's call a "gem singer". She can use the power of her voice to harness the power of the gems in her possession and those in Atlantis.

The fact that the females in this series have powers and play an important role regarding the antagonist(s) is very appealing. Erin uses her magic through out the book to protect herself, others and fight the vampires. Ven is good with his sword but has that alpha trait of wanting to protect the women even when they are capable of protecting themselves. Erin shows him that she can not only protect herself but is a true asset in a fight. That aspect is maintained throughout the book.

The warriors are all brave, courageous fighters but they are each portrayed as individuals. Each with their own specific obstacle that must be dealt with before they can get their HEA. I never get a sense of these warriors being carbon copies. Day is able to make each one of them unique not only in looks but in temperament and how they deal with situations. Ven is the smart-ass. The one that is always quick with a comment to break the tension and try to relieve the stress. It's his way of dealing with a life of fighting and killing.

Erin's abilities as a gem singer are new to her and Ven, along with the rest of the Atlantean's, help Erin discover what a gem singer is and how her abilities can help others. She also gets to go down to Atlantis and Day does a good job of describing the beautiful undersea world. It's a paradise filled with beautiful beings who are extremely long lived. This is where Erin meets the warriors along with Riley, Conlan's fiancé. Riley is human and is also an emotional empath. Riley's sister Quinn, who is also an empath, is the leader of the rebel forces. Having strong female characters seems to be a trademark in this series. The men are still strong, brave alpha types but the women are no push-overs and used their various abilities to help the warriors rather than waiting on the sidelines.

Ven was a good match for Erin. He doesn't try to stop her from using her magic. He preferred she use it to protect herself rather than fight but there were times when he was glad she used it to fight. He still did his best to keep her out of the fighting and keep her as safe as possible. Erin didn't back down and let Ven take over when she felt she was needed. She was there when he needed her help and they worked well as a team.

The main problem I had with this book is that I was more interested in the secondary characters. I liked Ven and Erin together but they just didn't hold my attention as much as my need for more scenes with a few of the secondary characters.

My favorite couple Quinn and the warrior priest Alaric have been attracted to each other since they met in the first book. But with Alaric being a priest he must remain celibate or lose his powers. He wields extremely powerful magic and he can't chance losing all that power. But the pull of Quinn is getting stronger. Quinn for her part does okay with resisting Alaric. She understands sacrifice and also has some fierce demons in her closet to fight. When these two are on the page I can't help but long for their book.

The other two characters I want more of is Jack, Quinn's shape shifting partner. He's interesting as well as dangerous but we don't know that much about him. Then there's Daniel/Drakos. He's a vampire but on the side of the good guys I think. There's more to him than being a vampire but I'm not sure what.

So while I liked the book and the plot of Ven and Erin finding and defeating Caligula kept the story moving, I found myself wondering what the other characters were doing and when will we get more of them. Atlantis Awakening is still a solid read with the series arc moving along and setting up for the rest of the warriors' stories. It does end with a bit of a cliff-hanger and so my need to keep reading the series is secure.

Alyssa Day and information about the warriors can be found here. There are also two novellas in the series ~ Wild Hearts in Atlantis in the Wild Thing anthology and Shifter's Lady in the Shifter anthology. Both are part of the series but can be read as stand alones.

Rating: B+

Friday, May 29, 2009

Awards, Friends and Scary Little Girls...

I was working on my review for nath's re-read challenge when my evil good friend Brie from one of my favorite blogs Musings of a Bibliophile gave me the scariest award in blogland the most coveted award in blogland.

Isn't Little CJ a lovely child? From the bow in her hair to the flowers in her nonexistent hands. And lets not forget those creepy eyes that follow you wherever you go. *cue scary music*

Words can not express the emotions that went through me when I realized what award Brie had given me. She's such a generous soul with a wonderful blog. I can't begin to describe my feelings at this moment. Something like shear terror that crazy Little CJ will work her voodoo on me and I will end up a pile of pain and misery.

The two bloggers that I want to share the terror love with are two amazing women that I met on the message board The Phade ~

Hilcia ~ Hilcia started her blog recently and I thought what better way to welcome her to the world of blogging by giving her this award. Hils enjoys a variety of reading genres from historicals to M/M. I look forward to reading more of her thoughts and reviews on her blog as well as her posts on Brie's blog.

KMont ~ Who doesn't love Kenda's crazy sense of humor and her thought provoking posts? You never know what you're going to get at Lurv a la Mode but you can bet it will be interesting. From her in depth reviews to her unique polls and discussions her blog is one of the best out there.

Little CJ discusses the award and the rules here. Please read carefully or you might end up in excruciating pain. Just saying...

*Wanted to mention that my Internet went out twice during the writing of this post. Coincidence or something else at work? You decide.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

YotC Review: Burning Up

Title: Burning Up
Author: Sarah Mayberry
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: February 2008/Harlequin Blaze
Year of the Category Challenge

From the back cover ~

Somebody get some ice... it's steamy in here!

Spending a month as personal chef for an overindulged-and mouthwatering -man? Sophie Gallagher is so up for the challenge. She's immune to charm... or so she thinks. Because when being screen start Lucas Grant turns up the temptation, she discovers -up close and personal-he's earned the name hottest man alive.

Sophie is fun, vivacious and couldn't be further from Lucas's bimbo bombshell type. Much to his surprise, she's captivated him. But as sizzling as they are between the sheets, once his hiatus is over, the credits will roll on this fling. Saying goodbye, however, isn't as easy as he'd thought. Will this production be The End of the Affair... or Love Actually?

The Cover: This one's not bad at all. His chest looks like it could use a good wiping down but I do like the way his arm is positioned, showing off the muscle. The heroine on our fine cover has normal looking legs, i.e. they're not sticks. Which is appropriate since Sophie isn't a super skinny model type. I do have a bit of a problem with the shirt. It's his shirt she's wearing but damn, he's not a giant! Judging by the shirt you would think he's Paul fricking Bunyan!

One thing I like about these challenges is getting to read new authors. Before the category challenge I would have only considered reading category romances by authors that I already enjoyed ~ Nalini Singh, Linda Howard and Suzanne Brockmann to name a few. So far I've found three authors that I plan to read more of their categories: Maya Banks, Linda Winstead Jones and Sarah Mayberry.

I haven't read many book that have the heroine as a chef and there were times that I got hungry while reading this one. :) Sophie Gallagher is a gifted chef who has been working at the same restaurant ever since she graduated culinary school. The restaurant is owned by her boyfriend Brandon's family and Brandon also works there. Sophie has also been with Brandon for 14 years, since she was 17 years old. She leads a safe, steady life of predictability. Then all that changes overnight. Sophie is set adrift and isn't sure how to get back on course. She takes the job as personal chef to Lucas Grant out of desperation. What Lucas expects and what he actually gets with Sophie are two very different things.

On the surface Lucas was a stereo-typical movie star. Expecting first class treatment and he definitely expects to get his way. He's used to having women practically fall at his feet. In fact the book opens with a woman in his hot tub waiting for him in nothing, her swimsuit removed for his viewing pleasure. Lucas wasn't exactly surprised to find her there. He might have been more surprised if there hadn't been a woman, or two, waiting for him. This is his world so when that world changes overnight and he's forced to take refuge at a mountain cabin he doesn't expect his star treatment to change. But he's in for a rude awakening when Sophie rebuffs his offer of spending some time between the sheets.

Sophie isn't immune to Lucas' gorgeous looks and smooth ways. I like the fact that she's honest enough to admit that she finds him attractive but she still has unresolved issues with Brandon to work through. Lucas also has issues from his past that are about to come to light when he would prefer they stay buried.

Sophie and Lucas had an intriguing relationship because neither thought the other was their type. Lucas was so used to movie starlets and cover models that he was surprised that he was so attracted to Sophie. Physically she was the opposite of what he thought he wanted in a woman. Emotionally Lucas doesn't do long term relationships. Sophie was used to steady, safe Brandon. Not someone who lived in the limelight and did things on the spur of the moment. Once they did give in to their attraction Lucas just assumes that the end will come when their time at the cabin ends. Sophie knows this but it doesn't make it any easier when she starts to care for Lucas.

I really like the way Mayberry writes. I'm not sure how to explain it other than to say that she writes the way people talk. There is some Aussie lingo/words in there but the dialogue and emotions are incredibly genuine. Sophie and Lucas are very real, flaws and all. And with the short format there was still lots of story packed into this book. No short-changing of the character development or the environments where these two remarkably different people came from. I think that's something that I expected when I started this challenge (the short-changing) and have been pleasantly surprised at the depth of the characters in these shorter novels.

There was one part towards the end when I thought Lucas was a first class jerk. I know why he did what he did but it still royally pissed me off and I felt such overwhelming sympathy for Sophie. I can't tell you how mad I was at him. I swear if I had been there I would have told him off! (Yeah, I know it's a book but you guys know what I mean.)

And the end, it was perfect how they came together after their time at the cabin. Don't want to spoil it but it worked for me. :)

Sarah Mayberry and her books can be found here.

Rating: A

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: The Mystery of Grace

Title: The Mystery of Grace
Author: Charles de Lint
Genre: Fantasy
Published: March 2009

From the inside cover ~

Altagracia—her friends call her Grace—has a tattoo of Nuestra Señora de Altagracia on her shoulder; she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg; and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that'll never wash out.

Grace works at Sanchez Motor Works, customizing hot rods. A few blocks around her small apartment building is all her world—from the grocery store where she buys beans, tamales and cigarettes to the library, the little record shop, and the Solona Music Hall. Which is where she meets John Burns, just two weeks too late.

Grace and John fall for one another, and that would be wonderful, except that they're both haunted by unfinished business. Before their relationship can be resolved, they're both going to have to learn things they don't know about the world of the living and the world beyond. About why it's necessary to let some things go.

My very first Charles de Lint. What a reading experience this was. For the mind and the senses. Not at all what I was expecting but exactly what I wanted. I truly had a "WTF - Oh No" moment with this story but after I recovered I had to know where de Lint was going and how he was getting there. I didn't read any spoilers before picking up this book and I am thankful for that.

Why did I read Charles de Lint? I blame author Ann Aguirre. :) During her recent blog tour promoting her latest release, Blue Diablo, I read a interview she did on a blog (sorry, don't remember the blog) where Charles de Lint was mentioned and others also agreed as to what a gifted author he was. That got my attention because I'm always curious as to who my favorite authors enjoy reading. So I looked up de Lint and saw that he had a new book coming out. Requested it from the library, it's hardcover, then waited for it to come in.

Once I started reading I was completely sucked into Grace's world. If you are looking for a romance with a traditional HEA ~ you won't find that here. What you will find is a fascinatingly different story with such distinctly written characters that the phrase "leaps off the page" could certainly be applied. The secondary characters and Grace's relationships with them were authentic and well developed. Yes, there is a romance between Grace and John, it's far from traditional but still had me wanting them to somehow be together in the end.

The scenes with Grace and John getting to know each other, learning each others' likes and dislikes, etc. Those scenes generated such strong emotions because I didn't know how they could possibly have anything close to a HEA. John was an easy character to like. He was this mellow, kind hearted gentleman that was attracted to Grace in spite of her different appearance. I got the impression that Grace was not his type and he wasn't a player either, picking up women in bars was not his style. Even though Grace and John had very little in common de Lint made them seem like they were meant to be together. They just clicked.

Grace is not at all what I would call a mainstream heroine. She does have the tats that seems to be popular with the UF heroines but that's about it. She's Hispanic, lives in a lower middle class neighborhood, has a high school education, doesn't have any special powers, i.e. no shape shifting or fangs. :) She does know how to take care of her self and is not the type of woman to depend on anyone. She tries to do the best she can. That's one of the things that I liked about Grace. She's certainly no saint but she does try to do the best she can and treat people with kindness.

This is definitely Grace's story, her journey. It's a journey that neither Grace or I was expecting but sometimes it's good to get the unexpected. For Grace it was the best she could have hoped for given the circumstances. This story is very different from my usual reads but I'm glad I got out of my comfort zone and explored new ideas. The Mystery of Grace is not the type of story for everyone and it's possible I might not have liked it as much had I been in a different reading mood.

One of the odd things about this book is that it's only 269 pages. I find it odd because it felt much longer. Not that it took me a long time to read it but because it felt so complete. Like there was nothing left out of this story that should have been there. It was written as it should have been with the end coming precisely when it should. Would I like to read more about Grace? Find out what happens after "The End"? Yes and no. :)

So, for Charles de Lint fans, lucky you. For me ~ I'm thankful he has a back list that I can dig into and explore. Mr. de Lint and his writings can be found here.

Rating: A

Monday, May 25, 2009


Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Thank you to all who have served and given their lives. You are not forgotten.

A Brief History of Memorial Day (from PBS.ORG)

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.

During the first national celebration, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there. This event was inspired by local observances of the day that had taken place in several towns throughout America in the three years since the Civil War. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities had begun to observe Memorial Day, and after World War I, it became a occasion for honoring those who had died in all America’s wars.

Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery each year with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Traditionally, the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Several southern states, however, have an additional, separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas; April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Star Trek, Will Ferrell and moving seats...

The plan was to see Night at the Museum. My 7 year old changed the plan as in he changed his mind. So Alpha Guy and I went to see Star Trek. We even got in the first showing, only $5.50 each. Add in popcorn and soda put us around $20 ~ not bad. Guess I'm a cheap date. :)

I'm not a trekkie - need to make that disclaimer. In fact I never like the original Star Trek. My brother always wanted to watch it and for that fact alone I didn't like it. Thought it was lame. Same thing with Batman. He liked it so I didn't. Simple kid logic.

Fast forward to Star Trek TNG. Now this one I liked. Had a secret crush on Worf. ;) Never did get into any of the other Star Trek series. Just wasn't the same without Picard.

The movie ~ liked it a whole bunch. I went ahead to get seats while dh got the snacks. I started laughing when I got in the theater. I was the only one there! It was 25 minutes before the show started so we did end up with about 12 people total but still a vast improvement over the previous week of long lines and crowded theaters.

There were a few parts that bugged me, the beginning for one. But overall a very enjoyable show. Kirk was a real likable smart ass and Spock was well, Spock. He did have a big nose, that's what I noticed first. *shrugs* Oh, I liked Bones a lot. He was perfect. His interactions with Kirk were classic! And with Uhura I kept thinking she was Jada Pinkett Smith but she's not. Uhura is played by Zoe Saldana. Never heard of her but she was good. Chekov was adorable - talk about jail bait! And Winona Ryder was Spock's mom?! Didn't recognize her at all.

We also saw the preview for Land of the Lost. Does anyone remember the TV series? The one from the 70's from the creative (scary) minds of Sid and Marty Krofft. I used to watch it when I was a kid. Watched Krofft shows every Saturday morning. H. R. Puffnstuff and Electra Woman and Dynagirl along with Land of the Lost and some others that I've apparently block from my mind.

The Will Ferrell version has potential or the previews showed the best parts - could go either way. The kids might want to see it or maybe I could find a copy of the original on ebay...

And saw the DBox seats. They do move - also cost $8 extra. I don't think it would be worth it. More info here if you're interested.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Movie Experience...

When I was checking out movie times, we're going to see the latest Night at the Museum movie, I noticed that for Terminator Salvation (must see soon) it's being shown in D-Box.

Here's the info on D-Box ~

Live the Action. Online ticket holders will need to check in at box office for seating assignment prior to performance start time. Price will include an upcharge.

Live the action as you experiance this highly anticipated new installment of "The Terminator" film franchise in the DBOX motion Chair Technology. You will be blown away as you watch John Connor lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators.

Has anyone ever experienced this "D-Box" and is it worth the extra charge? We don't go to the movies that much and I've never heard of this. Is it like IMAX? Does the chair move?

We're also going to attempt once again to see Star Trek. We went last Sunday, got there 20 minutes before the show and the only seats left were in the first two rows. Yikes! No thanks. We decided to skip it since the rest of the showings would also be packed, even if we didn't have to sit in the first two rows. I'm hoping this weekend won't be as bad since the Terminator movie is out so maybe people will go to that one instead. *fingers crossed*

Just in case you haven't seen it here's a trailer for Terminator Salvation. I sill remember seeing the first Terminator movie. Didn't know anyone in it except for Arnold from his Conan movie. Got a crush on Michael Biehn, loved him later in Aliens. And Linda Hamilton went on to fame by playing beauty to Ron Pearlman's beast.

This installment of the franchise looks a whole lot better than the last and with Christian Bale it's hard to go wrong. And there is a Terminator 5 listed at IMDB. Dated for 2011. No other info unless you subscribe to IMDBPro.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Review: Practice Makes Perfect

Title: Practice Makes Perfect
Author: Julie James
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: March 2009

Contemporary Romance Challenge 2009


Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson are lawyers who know the meaning of objection. A feminist to the bone, Payton has fought hard to succeed in a profession dominated by men. Born wealthy, privileged, and cocky, J.D. has fought hard to ignore her. Face to face, they’re perfectly civil. They have to be. For eight years they’ve kept a safe distance and tolerated each other as co-workers for one reason only: to make partner at the firm.


But all bets are off when they’re asked to join forces on a major case. At first apprehensive, they begin to appreciate each other’s dedication to the law—and the sparks between them quickly turn into attraction. But the increasingly hot connection doesn’t last long when they discover that only one of them will be named partner. Now it’s an all out war. And the battle between the sexes is bound to make these lawyers hot under the collar . . .

What a fun, laugh out loud read. This is Julie James' sophomore effort and she is going strong with no signs of letting up. Payton and J.D. are a case of opposites attract and play off each other quite well. In Practice Makes Perfect the hero and heroine have been working at the same law firm for eight years and have had time to practice and perfect their razor-sharp banter. When in public they are cordial and polite to each other but behind closed doors the gloves come off! With the decision of who will make partner closing in on them they are willing to do just about anything to succeed. Watching them try to out do the other and still be professional was a delight.

Payton Kendall may come off as a hard working, driven woman in what is a predominately man's world and while she is all those things she's still very female. What I mean by that is that while she does dress for business she wears slim-fit skirts, Jimmy Choo heels and the occasional thong. :) She's not a woman trying to be more "manly" simply to fit into a man's world. She holds her own and capitalizes on her strengths and downplays any weaknesses. I really liked Payton and the fact that Ms. James didn't make her, how should I put it, the more "intellectually challenged" in the relationship. I would put Payton up against J.D. in a courtroom any day.

Speaking of J.D.... I liked him. Which surprised me since he started out with a stick up his ass. :) He was funny in his somewhat "caveman" type outlook on women in the workplace. I didn't find his views insulting so much as more the views of a man who really doesn't know as much as he thingks he does about women. He may think he knows women well but I have a feeling his good looks have gotten him far. It's not that he isn't smart, he is but I think he's only touched the surface in discovering what makes a woman tick. Payton definitely helped J. D. see the light concerning women. That they are more than capable of doing the same job as a man. And once J.D., with a push from his amusing sidekick Tyler, decides to be nice to Payton he not only surprises her but he surprises himself by how much he enjoys being with her.

Payton and J.D.'s relationship evolved in a way that was not only believable, given their history but also showed how each one gradually changed their views of the other. At the beginning they both had very set ideas of what the other was like, what their priorities were and even what their hangs up were. By the end of the book they had gotten to know each other and respect each other. That to me was so important, more so than the strong physical attraction that I think was always there but denied by both.

Practice Makes Perfect is an enjoyable romantic comedy. The situations the h/h find themselves in, while not always of their own making, were fun to read and watch how J.D. and Payton reacted. There were some emotional scenes and you do get below the surface of each character. You get to see them interact with their parents and get an understanding of how their were raised. Very different upbringings that make them both so driven. Even given that depth there is still a distinct comedic flair to the story.

But all was not perfect. The problem I had with the story was the "big misunderstanding" and how it was so anti-climatic. Even Payton thought it was lame. When it was revealed my reaction was "That's it?! That's why they've spent the past eight years bickering?" And eight years? They're both smart, good-looking, single, work for the same company and spent at least part of those years in offices across from each other. So why did it take eight years for them to get together? Yes, I'm a bit hung up on the eight years. ;)

Even given the problems, they were not what I would consider major. Overall, I would recommend Ms. James if you're looking for a funny, quick contemporary read. The book came in at just under 300 pages and the writing was easy to get into and get lost in the story. Kind of like a relaxing Saturday matinee. All kinds of author info can be found on Julie James' website.

Rating: B++

ETA: You can read my reviw of Ms. James first book, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doctors and books = Good medicine...

I'm almost finished with Charles De Lint's The Mystery of Grace. My first from this author but not my last. It's fantasy with a very authentic feel to it. Different from my usual reads but in a good way. I also have de Lint's The Onion Girl and The Wild Wood on my TBR pile.

Tomorrow I should have my review posted of Julie James' Practice Makes Perfect. I say should have it posted because RL has been very unpredictable lately. My youngest had a follow up doctor visit today. I took him two weeks ago because of a cough that would not go away. Pediatrician said lungs didn't sound clear so off we go to get an x-ray. That came back fine so he was given medicine to try to clear up the cough. But he's still not better so back to the doctor we go. Now he's taking Claritin in addition to the Singular he already takes plus the doc gave him a nebulizer for Albuterol. And we've got a referral to see a pediatric pulmonologist. But the pediatrician kept telling me that she doesn't think it's asthma. *sigh* He doesn't like the breathing treatments but they do seem to help.

Then my mom called today with the date for her surgery. She has been having abdominal pains since last summer. I bugged her to go to the doctor until she finally went. Then after some tests she was referred to a gynecologist who did more tests and an ultra-sound. A cyst the size of a softball was found to be causing the pain. Then mom was referred to a gynecological oncologist who confirmed surgery was needed. The good news is that the doctors don't think it's cancer. So we're trying to stay positive but I still worry, she's 82.

And the ever so patient nath :) from Books, books and more books asked me to do a buddy review with her. This was my first attempt at a buddy review and it was a lot of fun. The review for The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie should be up at nath's blog soon.

So at this point I'm very thankful for good health care and books. I take my book bag with me to all the doctor appointments and believe me they really help to pass all the time spent in the waiting rooms. I've tried to get my mom to bring a book when I take her to her appointments but she's too nervous to read. :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lord Ian Winner...


Mary ~ please send me your snail mail address to and I'll get the book out to you. Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kate Daniels Book 4 Prologue...

There is a contest at Bitten By Books for favorite shapeshifter and Ilona Andrews said if Curran won (as if there was any doubt) she would post the prologue for the next Kate Daniels book! It's up and you can read it here. This is a spoiler if you haven't read the last book.

*Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Click on the bookcover on the left to go to the blog post to enter. I'll post the winner sometime tomorrow. Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gerard Butler ~ GAMER Movie Trailer...

Synopsis: Game is a near-future action/thriller starring Gerard Butler (Kable) as the champion of an on-line game called "Slayers". Mind-control technology has taken society by storm and "Slayers" allows humans to control other humans in mass-scale, multi player online game. With his every move tracked by millions, Kable's ultimate challenge becomes regaining his identity and launching an attack on the system that has imprisoned him.

This looks intense. And Gerry Butler is in fine form as always. It's got that guy from Dexter looking suitably creepy. And if you watched Gilmore Girls you might recognize Milo Ventimiglia. I really like the whole concept - hope they can pull it off. Release date is September 9th.

ETA: Pause video at 2:03. Delicious!

*Alpha guy has agreed to see Star Trek with me. :) The kids don't want to see it so it'll be like a real date. Yeah! I was hoping we could see it at the IMAX theater but no such luck. Still, it should be tons of fun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Review: To Beguile A Beast

Title: To Beguile A Beast
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Genre: Historical Romance (1765)
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers/Book 3
Published: May 2009


Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he's kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.


Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won't let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away.


Beneath Helen's beautiful façade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn't back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen's secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find--a happy ever after.

The third book in Elizabeth Hoyt's Four Soldiers series is about the reclusive Sir Alistair and Helen Fitzwilliam, the former mistress of a duke. If you haven't given Hoyt's books a try I would definitely recommend them. She doesn't write your typical historical heroes and heroines but instead writes of the odd couples that don't always seems to fit.

We first met Helen Fitzwilliam in the previous book, To Seduce a Sinner. Helen became friends with the heroine of TSaS, Melisande Fleming a.k.a. Viscountess Vale. Helen is the mistress of the Duke of Lister but he hasn't shown any interest in her for some years. He has in fact taken other mistresses but still keeps Helen and her two children under his control. It was Melisande that had the idea of sending Helen to Scotland to be the housekeeper for Alistair. Helen had tried to leave the duke before but he is very powerful and threaten to take the children from her if she tried to leave him. She's become afraid of the duke and what he may do to the children. So out of desperation she agrees to go to Scotland in the hopes it's far enough away that the duke won't look for her there. So Helen and her children, Abigail and Jamie, arrive on Alistair's doorstep without any warning and receive a less than warm welcome.

Alistair was not what I was expecting. I expected him to be more moody, broody and just plain grumpier. He seemed as if he was waiting for someone to force themselves into his life. While he put up a bit of a fight, in the end he gave in fairly quickly IMO. Alistair was full of a lot of bluster but what he really needed someone to care for and in return care about him. Once Helen and the children were installed in the castle, Alistair insisted they dine with him even though she was his housekeeper and should take her meals with the rest of the staff. He also took them fishing and even got a puppy for the children. Not really the actions of a recluse but more that of a man who doesn't know how to go about in life after what had been done to him. So he chose to stay in his dreary, old castle rather than face his demons.

I did like Alistair and totally got why he had no desire to go out in public. He had been taken prisoner and tortured while in the colonies and bore terribly scares on his face. In additions to that his eye had been removed causing him to wear an eye patch. This was back in the time when women swooned and children screamed if they saw someone disfigured. So knowing what waited for him in society it's no wonder he stayed away. Helen and the children helped Alistair grown accustomed to being around people again and learning to enjoy their company.

Helen and her relationship with her children was interesting and odd at times. While under the patronage of the duke the children were taken care of by a governess and basically Helen saw them at scheduled times during the day. If there was a problem with either child the governess was there to take care of the problem. Helen's time spent with her children was to be pleasant and problem free. In Scotland it's just Helen and the kids. And Helen does well taking care of them and stepping into the full-time role of mother and caregiver. Realistic, maybe not but I do think she had no choice in the matter so she did what needed to be done. It was interesting to see how her role in her children's lives change along with greater responsibility for them.

The love story of Alistair and Helen progressed at a fairly decent pace but did stall a bit in the middle. Sort of a lull in the midst of the chaos. Alistair never thought Helen would stay with him so he took the attitude of simply enjoying his time with her while he could. Helen was still worried about the duke finding her and forcing her back to London or worse, taking the children from her. When fate did intervene Alistair had to make tough decisions and face his demons head on.

One problem I did have was Helen's relationship with the duke. I really didn't understand why Helen and the children still lived in London under the protection of the duke. Helen and Lister hadn't been intimate in years, most likely since her son was conceived, so why did he continue to keep her as his mistress? Why not pay her off her send her to wherever former mistresses go? Some cottage by the seaside perhaps? Maybe continue paying her because of the children but not keeping her in a house in London. I can understand Lister wanting to be responsible for the children even if he didn't acknowledge them publicly. They were his and he held on to what was his. But I don't understand why Helen and kids were still in London with her acting the part of mistress but not actually playing the role.

I did like To Beguile a Beast and will certainly read the next/last book in the series but it wasn't my favorite of the series and did have a few problems with it. Ms. Hoyt has a lovely website with excerpts from all her books as well as a free novella.

Rating: B+

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kristie + Lord Ian = Giveaway...

Anyone who knows Kristie from Ramblings on Romance, knows how excited she gets when she reads a book that she really, really loves. Reading her posts about these books, you can't help but get excited too. It's like when someone starts laughing and you just start laughing along with them but you're not even sure why you're laughing. With Kristie you just can't help but get caught up in the excitement.

Kristie's latest find is the novel by Jennifer Ashley ~ The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. You can read Kristie's review here. And she's also posted about it here.

About a week ago Kristie's posted about the books she wanted to buy but brave woman that she is she made this rule about not buying anymore books until she read 5 from her TBR pile. (I could never do that) She mentioned the Jennifer Ashley book so I went looking for the book at Borders. They didn't have it.

So, I figured I'd spot it somewhere else plus I've still got a mountain of a TBR pile myself to get through. As it turns out this book wasn't going to be as easy to find as I thought. Target didn't have it either. Tried at the BX/PX on base, no luck.

So when I did find it (Borders finally got some in) I thought why not get two? One for me and one for someone else. So if you trust Kristie like I do go ahead and leave a comment on this post by midnight Friday, May 15 and I'll pick a winner next Saturday, May 16. Contest is open to residents of the US and Canada.

Now I'm going to spend some time with this Lord Ian that Kristie's so crazy about. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review: Relentless

Title: Relentless
Author: Lauren Dane
Genre: Futuristic Erotic Romance
Published: May 2009
ARC Review

In this erotic universe, passion knows no rank…

Since the first settlers came through the portals from Earth, fifteen Families have held the rule of the Federated Universes in their hands. There’s never been a better time than now to throw out the old and usher in a new order. Give voice to the unranked. Abbie Haws has spent her life battling the system. A fighter, she’s always been too busy and driven to pay much attention to finding love. But when she’s granted audience with Roman Lyons, the head of House Lyons, who stands for everything she hates, her instant attraction catches Abbie off-guard…

It’s common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around Ravena—and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant—if stunning—rabble-rouser. But, sometimes, headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private….

Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn’t otherwise get to see. And he’ll give her a glimpse of the Families’ age old tradition and unleash a sexuality he’d never given rein to before.

This is only the second book by Ms. Dane that I have read. The first one was Undercover which I completely enjoyed (sorry, no review). Both books take place in the same futuristic world and while there are characters from Undercover that make appearances in Relentless they are each complete stories within themselves. The world building begins in Undercover but Ms. Dane does an excellent job of filling in any previous events. So while I would recommend reading Undercover prior to reading Relentless, it isn't absolutely necessary. Relentless works as a stand-alone.

So, having got that info out of the way ~ WOW, what a wonderful book! The hero and heroine, Roman and Abbie, were so well developed. Not only in the relationship between the two of them but in their lives with regards to their families, friendships and business associates. This was such a full, well rounded story from beginning to end.

Abbie is a barrister and the founder of the Movement for Representative Democracy (MRD). She works hard representing her clients and trying to change how the unranked are governed. She is smart, tenacious, sexy and has a real strong sense of who she is. I loved the way she was around Roman. She didn't back down from her political views regardless of how he made her feel. She has a strong attraction for him but doesn't let that stop her from moving forward in her quest for democracy for the 'Verses. She never wimps out or becomes less than she was before she met him. To me that is so important to her character.

Roman became the head of House Lyons at a very young age. He also wed and became a father to his two sons while still in his teens. He's now 40 and has grown accustomed to the responsibilities that come with being House Lyons. Roman also had to deal with his younger brother and the strain of their difficult relationship. Through trial and error Roman has become a great leader and guide for Ravena and the 'Verses. While he's been widowed for some time he has never felt for a woman anything close to what he feels for Abbie. He knows their relationship can never be permanent. He can't marry an unranked and Abbie would never agree to be his mistress. Knowing that their relationship needs to end and he needs to make a political marriage leaves Roman in utter despair.

The Ranked, with Roman as their leader, are at the center, the core. They have the best of everything and are well taken care of in every manner. The farther you get from the Ranked or center, less privileges and conveniences you find. And the less power. Abbie wants to change that but she must convince not only Roman but the Council that what she proposes is for the good of all.

Abbie and Roman may seem like they don't have much in common but when we see them interact with their family members you see how important family is to both of them. How the importance of their family is at the core of who they are. They each grew up in such different circumstances and yet have very similar values when it comes down to the basics of family, honesty and integrity. They are able to learn from each other about the differences and similarities of the Ranked and unranked. And the learning doesn't stop there but continues into the bedroom.

This is an erotic romance and the sex scenes are certainly erotic in nature. No alluding to body parts, it's all spelled out but it's more than just sex. The scenes with Roman and Abbie are extremely hot but they don't just have sex, they're communicating more than just their physical needs. At times when they were having sex it's as if this whole other dialogue is going on. And they each gradually allowed themselves to be vulnerable to the other which given their backgrounds was very important. I found it interesting that Abbie was the one who was the more open about sex. It wasn't that Roman didn't want her desperately but he could be almost a bit shy in saying what he wanted. Abbie pulled him out of his shell. She had no problem letting Roman know what she liked and how much she enjoyed his body. It was very refreshing to have the female character be the aggressor at times and make no apologizes for being so.

There is so much going on in this book and yet the main plot and the subplots never get away from Dane. She handles them well, switching between Abbie and Roman's story and Abbie and her family dynamics, Roman and his relationships with his sons, both Abbie and Roman's careers. Lots of stuff going on but I never felt overwhelmed or like I had to backtrack to figure out what had just happened. Dane held the various plots together and still kept a brisk pace. Towards the end of the book I found myself cheering for Abbie and Roman and wanting these two to be together. They belonged together and after everything they went through deserved their HEA.

There are certainly secondary characters that have potential for their own stories. I'm personally hoping that Abbie's brother Daniel and Roman's brother Alexander each get their own books. So overall a very enjoyable, well written story. I would certainly recommend Relentless as well as the previous book, Undercover. And the good news is that today is the official release date of Relentless so it should be available in stores.

For more on Ms. Dane's writing check out her website. She has a shapeshifter series that I've got my eye on.

Rating: A

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lara Adrian Freebie...

If you've been thinking of trying Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series you can get a free download of the first book Kiss of Midnight here.

The next book in the series, Ashes of Midnight, hits bookstores this month on May 26.

This is a series that I have really enjoyed. The world building makes sense and IMO, she writes some of the best heroines in PNR.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Review: Touched by Fire

Title: Touched by Fire
Author: Catherine Spangler
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Sentinels/Book 2
Published: October 2007

Nath's Re-Read Challenge 2009

Since a brutal attack on her sister eleven years ago, Marla Reynolds has been emotionally frozen - but one man's passion could melt her defenses...

For the past eleven years, Marla has avoided relationships with men. Then she meets Luke Paxton in a Houston bar and is upended by an intense attraction she doesn't understand. But Luke does - it is an energy he must harness to achieve his goals. He is a Sentinel, a member of an ancient superhuman race. His purpose on Earth is to track unimaginable evil, and he needs Marla - willing or not - to help him focus his psychic powers. But as Luke draws Marla deeper into a supernatural world, he finds himself torn between protecting humanity - or yielding to the fire of her touch...

I choose this one for Nath's Re-read challenge because the third book in the series, Touched by Light, is finally coming out this June. It's been over a year and a half since Touched by Fire was released and I feel like I've been waiting for this next book a very long time. I enjoyed Marla and Luke's story and hope to see them again in the next book. Marla in particular I really liked for her realism and her determination.

Structure and control. Those are some things Marla truly values. She needs her life to be structured and predictable. She needs to feel in control of every aspect of her life. Being an accountant fits right in. It's not a job that lends itself to spontaneity and Marla is not the type for having flings or taking off on a moments notice. She enjoys planning. So when she meets Luke Paxton in a bar the last thing she wants is a one-night stand. And the fact that she thinks Luke is gorgeous while she considers herself "plain and brainy" makes it hard for her to believe that he's interested in her. The only reason she's in the bar to begin with is to give a co-worker a ride home. Otherwise, Marla would have been home with her pooch, Bryony.

Luke Paxton is hunting a killer. The killer happens to also be a Belian. The Belians are the bad guys that are being reincarnated into humans. Their purpose is to spill blood, lots of blood, as offerings to Belial, who they worship. Luke is has also been reincarnated into human form but he's the good guy, a Sentinel. He has some super powers but is still in a mortal body so he can be killed. His powers allow him to track the killer but those powers are enhanced when he is connected with a Conductor. Conductors are not exactly plentiful and finding a good match between Sentinel and Conductor isn't always easy. Lucky for Luke, Marla is a Conductor and a great match for him. He just has to convince her to help him and he's very short on time.

As I read this again it reminded me why I enjoy Ms. Spangler's writing so much. She writes smart, witty characters with all the flaws and quirks that make them seem real. Not only do Luke and Marla have wonderful scenes together the secondary characters make this a fully developed world. Luke and Marla both have family members in the story and they not only give insight into what makes the hero and heroine tick they also show the couple in different situations rather than it being just the two of them always alone. Seeing how Luke and Marla are when around each other's family members adds more complexity to their characters. They both care deeply for their family and have some funny and tender moments with them. Luke's dry humor was a treat to read and his interaction with Marla's dog just added a comedic flare to the story.

The killer that Luke and Marla are trying to find wasn't at all funny but a really sick psycho. The author lets the reader into the killer's head as he plans his next target. He also has Belial in his head, guiding him and encouraging him to cause more destruction. It's like a tremendous high for the killer to please his master. I love when an author creates a worthy antagonist for the hero/heroine to battle. Spangler has certainly done that here.

The plot moves at a well orchestrated pace with Luke, Marla and gang traveling around Texas trying to get ahead of the killer before he strikes again. The relationship between Marla and Luke begins with them being forced to work together. Since they are spending so much time together they eventually get to know a lot about each other. The sexual attraction is very strong, especially with them being an excellent match. And while they try to maintain a non-sexual relationship because of Marla's past experience it's no surprise that they eventually give in to the attraction.

There is a glossary in the front of the book that gives brief descriptions of the specific terms and beings in the series. It's not too complex but fairly easy to follow. Ms. Spangler is also the author of the futuristic Shielder series. I haven't read it yet but have heard some great things about it. More info can be found at the author's website. Definitely glad I read this one again and June can't get here soon enough.

Rating: A-

YotC Review: Valentino's Love-Child

Title: Valentino's Love-Child
Author: Lucy Monroe
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: May 2009
Harlequin Presents #2820
Year of the Category Challenge

Under the Sicilian sun, Valentino’s mistress tempts him like no other!

Their relationship is scorching, its intensity unmatched, the desire indescribable. Only, love can never be mentioned....

But Faith, his stunning, intriguing American lover, is testing his resolve. He said he’d never marry again, that his principles won’t allow it.

The one person to tame the untamable Valentino is Faith—the woman who’s carrying his child....

What do you think of the title? No too bad, I've certainly heard worse. And the cover? It's not bad either. I like the colors of the brown and teal, they go well together. And you might not be able to tell but she has a little baby bump. But way the sheet is bunched at Valentino's rear it looks like a giant bow. I guess you could say he's got his essentials gift wrapped!

The story is about an American artist, Faith Williams, who meets the handsome Sicilian that she can't seem to resist. They spend their time together have wild, passionate sex but keep their relationship a secret. It's a type of arrangement that seems to suit them both at the beginning. But things rarely stay constant when dealing with men and women and feelings begin to change as it becomes more than just sex.

Valentino loves having Faith in his bed. But that's where the relationship ends. He believes it's convenient arrangement of mutual physical need. Faith is not a woman he wouldn't consider having a long term emotional relationship with. She is not Sicilian and nothing like Renata, his deceased wife whom he loved very much. If he were to ever marry again it would be to give his young son a mother. One like Renata so that his son will be raised the way she would have raised him. This is what Valentino believes regardless of his deepening feelings for Faith. He's surprisingly stubborn about this.

Faith, who is also widowed, cares very much for Valentino or Tino as she calls him. She knows that he considers the relationship only physical and the only place they have sex is his apartment in the city. His real home is at the vineyard where his son and parents live. A place that Faith has never been to or expects to be invited to. While she tries to understand Tino's feelings it's still hard for her to accept it. But when she finds out she's pregnant her life changes dramatically not only in the very real sense of the coming birth but also her relationship with Tino.

This book surprised me. It's a short 185 pages but Monroe managed to pack a fairly adequate story. It wasn't without it's share of problems. I wasn't crazy about Tino, geez, talk about needing to move into the 21st century. He thinks of Faith as his mistress even though he doesn't pay her bills etc. but he basically keeps their relationship hidden. Something only to bring out at night when he can satisfy his need for her. And without giving any spoilers some of the coincidences in the story were a little too coincidental. But considering the length I'd say Monroe does a decent job of developing the characters particularly the character of Faith. The reader was given enough background to get a sense of who she is and how her past experiences have brought her to where she is now.

So overall a satisfactory read but not one I'll pick up again. But I do plan on reading more of Lucy Monroe, next time I'll give her one of her trade paperbacks a try. Ms. Monroe's website.

Rating: B

And speaking of picking up a book I've got a little info to share about these category books. It's quite possible I'm the only one that didn't know this but I went looking for some category novels by Sarah Mayberry since she has come highly recommend by many in this challenge. I get to the UBS, head to the back wall where the categories are shelved, lots of those blue ones, don't remember what those are. Anyway, I spot the lovely red Blaze books and start looking for Mayberry. Oops! They're not in alphabetical order. They're shelved by number - the number is on the spine. Not knowing this ahead of time I didn't bother to write down any numbers. Luckily, there were only about 50 or so Blaze titles so I just started with the most recent releases. Found and bought Burning Up, Harlequin Blaze #380. I'll read that for the May challenge.