Friday, March 26, 2010

A Reason to Do a Happy Dance

Amazon has finally stated the release date for Dark Road to Darjeeling, Deanna Raybourn's fourth Lady Julia book, and it's on my birthday! Woot! No picture yet but at least I now have an excellent reason to look forward to in becoming a year older :)

An Ode to Karen Marie Moning...No, I'm Not Going to Sing

As someone who has just plowed her way through three of this woman's Highlander books, I can honestly say that Karen Marie Moning gives the good stuff. I have no idea how I managed to overlook the seven books that create some backstory for her Fever series. I LOVE the Fever series! I had read The Dark Highlander, Dageus's story, and The Immortal Highlander, Adam Black's story, a while back so I was familiar with the fellas in this series (do men like this actually exist?) but I must have gotten sidetracked or something. Funny, I don't remember getting hit in the head with a brick...

Rather telling, isn't it?

I'm totally (sort of) getting these books out of order too. Here's the series order:


Beyond the Highland Mist (1)
To Tame a Highland Warrior (2)
The Highlander’s Touch (3)
Kiss of the Highlander (4)
The Dark Highlander (5)
The Immortal Highlander (6)
Spell of the Highlander (7)

First, I read The Dark Highlander. Then The Immortal Highlander. Then Spell of the Highlander. Then Beyond the Highland Mist. The only one I have left that I currently own is The Highlander's Touch; books two and four are on their way. Having loved Adam's book I was surprised at him in Beyond the Highland Mist - he really owns the mischievous, malicious Fae thing and was not at all like the way he was in Immortal. I was kinda disappointed in him :) Cian's book was the most emotional for me though. Being stuck inside a mirror for over a thousand years only to expect to die within a month? Talk about your emotional roller coaster.

I have been attempting to wait patiently for Shadowfever - not until December 28! - and am failing miserably since KMM likes to end her books in those hated cliff-hangers. Is Jericho Barrons going to realize that he can't live without MacKayla Lane in the end? God, I hope so. I also hope she continues to write more Highlander books after the Fever is over. There's got to be plenty of other Keltar men stashed around somewhere, right?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Random stuff...

Yeah, so, my brain hasn't been in the mood to write much lately. Reading yes, writing no. That's the great thing about having your own blog - you're your own boss :)

My boss is a total slacker.

Anyway, I picked up two books from my friendly neighborhood Barnes & Noble today:

Rarely anymore do I let myself go into an actual bookstore since I have no willpower among all the pretty new books. Today, though, I made the trip just to pick up Mind Games by Carolyn Crane. This book is EVERYWHERE on the net and not only is the premise interesting but I've yet to see a negative review. My real reason for buying this book and paying cover price for it that her blog, The Thrillionth Page, is where I caught my first whiff of Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series. I am forever thankful for that. Wraith, however, was in the sale section and since willpower can't penetrate the force field surrounding the sale section, I can have what I want.

As I've mentioned, I've read quite a bit this month. Most of these reads where pretty good too. Here's a few words for the standouts in the crowd:

Julie James's Just the Sexiest Man Alive was great. I started it one night before bed, intending to just get a taste. I ended staying up until 2:30 because I couldn't put it down. Literary crack indeed, Angiegirl :)

Toni McGee Causey now has a special place in my heart that is right next to Janet Evanovich. Bobbie Faye Sumrall is definitely a woman you don't want to mess with and may be even more of a Calamity Jane than Stephanie Plum. The first book, Charmed and Dangerous, was the best of the three IMHO, and I can't wait until more books about Bobbie Faye are available.

Eternal Pleasure by Nina Bangs was a shock to me. What a ridiculous title for a book like that. Dinosaur souls transplanted into men's bodies in today's world? Sure, there were sex scenes in it but I wish the publishers would not conceptualize the titles and covers that way. This book was funny and touching and I liked it.

Jennifer Echols rocks. I've read only two of her books, Major Crush and The Boys Next Door, and am dying to get a hold of more. She has a way of making a YA romance novel so much more than puppy love. I also read two of Sarah Dessen's books, Along for the Ride and Lock and Key. The first one was ok but Lock and Key blew me away.

I've been through a lot of contemporary romance in the past few weeks and it's kinda a relief. I couldn't live in a house without books but mine are (occasionally) starting to feel like a burden. Isn't that awful? I have a hard time searching them to pick something to read because they overwhelm me with that sense of "You have so much to do Jen, so many books to read, how are you going to get through them all?" So getting through the pile of contemporary romances is definitely progress. I read two Susan Crandalls, a Susan Elizabeth Phillips (love all her books so far except for Just Imagine), a Susan Andersen, two Jennifer Crusies, and a Linda Lael Miller. The good news is that I've actually completed my reading challenge for this month! Woot! And it only took me three months :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Go win a nook

The Book Binge is having another win a nook! I don't usually enter contests like this but I'm definitely doing this one. Follow the link on my Blog List to to enter. The conditions are easy too. I've been too cheap to buy an ereader of any type but if I was going to buy one, it would probably have been a nook. Color screen, screensavers, sharing books with friends, and the covers are all very cool reasons to get one of these suckers so what are you waiting for? Head over to the Book Binge and enter!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner

Wow. This was an absolutely beautiful book. Definitely one of the best romances I have ever read.
Fall in love with the first book in the Blood Rose trilogy-a romance of the Old West by a phenomenal new talent

On a stagecoach traveling through New Mexico Territory, Jessica Thornton is a long way from the cool mists and lush gardens of her native England. An authoress and milliner, she carries the weight of a scandalous secret-a horrible shame that has brought her to the West on a desperate search for the only family she can trust: her brother.

No one prepared Jessica for the heat and the hardships. And no one prepared her for a man like Brady Wilkins. For, despite the rancher's rough-hewn appearance and her own misgivings, Jessica must put her life in his hands after their stagecoach crashes. And she begins to see the man behind the callused hands and caustic wit. A man strong enough to carve out a home in the wilderness, brave enough to fight for his own, and passionate enough to restore her faith in herself-and in her heart.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan ***spoilers***

I am so on the fence with this one. Zombie books rate pretty low for me; I prefer a good shifter or vampire story instead. Parts of this book made me anxious and on the edge of my seat, other parts made me think "REALLY?!?" and then shake my head.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Final Prophecy series by Jessica Andersen

I was so totally surprised by this series. I kept reading the back cover of Nightkeepers and shaking my head. The whole thing sounded so farfetched to me that I figured that I wouldn't be able to get very far into it, thereby proving myself right and being able to chuck it into my "outbox." I'm an idiot. Here's the description from Andersen's website:
According to the Mayan doomsday prophecy, time ends on December 21, 2012. In Nightkeepers, the last king of an ancient race of magi must team up with a sexy Miami-Dade narcotics detective in order to reunite his scattered warriors and fight the gods of the Mayan underworld. Wielding ancestral blood magic, the king must choose between his duty to avert the 2012 apocalypse and his love for the woman who is the gods' destined sacrifice.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dead Pan by Gayle Trent

With this ebook, I am now caught up with my Early Reviewers reviews. Not bad for one night, eh?

This is the second book in Trent's Daphne Martin Cake Decorating series. I have not read the first book, Murder Takes the Cake. Daphne is a dessert caterer and because of her Nancy Drew type activities in the first book she has gained a private detective reputation in her little Virginia town. After a local Christmas party, a young man named Fred dies from food poisoning. Or, at least, that's the assumption that gets Daphne involved since she supplied the cake for the party. Worried for her business and that other people will get sick, Daphne starts nosing around to figure out what happened. Then there's a Campylobacter bacteria outbreak in Brea Ridge; random people are getting sick with something that the local pharmaceutical company can quickly cure using one of their new, experimental vaccines. Was Fred's death and the other cases accidental or murder?

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has thought this but this series is very similar to Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Bear series: A divorced woman who left an abusive husband starts a catering business and investigates crimes. I'm a fan of Davidson's series, especially the recipes, and think I still prefer Goldy to Daphne. I liked Daphne; she's warm with a good sense of humor, doesn't exactly know what she thinks of her relationship with Ben, her sorta boyfriend, and makes cakes for a living. Desserts have always been my favorite. The story/mystery wasn't too complicated or too long and I was surprised when I started reading it that I lost track of time since I wasn't expecting much. There are elements of the funky here - middle-aged women playing games like Guitar Hero and such. The technical info about cake making and conventions was interesting but I'm not too sure that I am interested enough to want to read the next one. This review also appears on LibraryThing.

A Home for Christmas by Deborah Grace Staley

I received this ebook from LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers program. I don't think I'll be requesting any more ebooks from them as it takes me forever to get around to read them. I don't have any kind of handheld device that makes ebooks worthwhile so until that day comes...Ok, I'm lazy :)

Anyway, the review. I read the first book in this series (also from LT), Only You, a while back and liked it. It's nice to read a sweet, warm story every now and then when you get used to vampires and their ilk. Well, A Home for Christmas is no different. A lady doctor, Janice Thornton, with family ties to Angel Ridge, Tennessee comes back to give in to nostalgia from the few times she spent there in her grandparents's home. Her mother came from Angel Ridge but turned her back on it when she turned eighteen and left to move on to bigger and better things. Driving past her family's home she sees a man, Blake Ferguson, on a ladder, hanging christmas lights. All of a sudden, he's falling backward off the ladder and landing hard on the ground. She jumps out of her car to help and the rest is history.

Well, not history exactly. There are a few bumps in the road to true happiness of course. She has a hard time trusting people who say they love her since they've always left before. He has issues that involve jealousy when his brother is involved and sometimes he comes on a little too strong. With her great uncle leaving his small town practice to her, Janice has some big decisions to make about her life, career, and Blake.

This was a nice, easy, and quick read. Staley's books remind me a little of a PG version of a Sherryl Woods novel. I was a little disappointed not to revisit the characters from Only You but with just over 200 pages (the ebook was under 200), there's only so much you can cram into a book. I liked Janice and Blake as well as all the other characters. I hope Deborah Grace Staley decides to write more about Angel Ridge. This review will also appear on LibraryThing.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Something very cool happened to me today + a review

I met Kelly Meding today. I think I shocked the hell out of her by walking up to her and asking if she was the author who wrote Three Days to Dead, which is a recently published urban fantasy that is an awesome read, especially for a first novel. I'm usually pretty shy but she was so friendly and approachable that I had no problem talking to her. I never did an actual review of the book so here it is...spoilers, spoilers...

They’ll never see her coming. . . .

When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue—in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there—her troubles are only just beginning. Before that night she and the two other members of her Triad were the city’s star bounty hunters, mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures living in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three of them their lives but also convinced the city’s other Hunters that Evy was a traitor—and she can’t even remember what it was.

Now she’s a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice—and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days Evy will die again—but this time there’s no second chance. . . .

What a neat book. Evy is one of the toughest chicks in fiction, period. How many other heroines have been set up, murdered, resurrected in another woman's body, fallen in love, and still managed to keep her wits since she only has three more days until she's dead again and needs to find out who killed her and why and had that happen in one book. Geez, no pressure or anything.
Evy doesn't know the woman she wakes up in and obviously that adds another layer of impossibility to her task. Her new body comes with a roommate/friend who is now in danger because of her, not to mention that actually walking in someone else's shoes is harder than you think. Evy's boss, Wyatt, and his pledges of love are another. See, Evy knew about Wyatt's feelings before she died and while she cared for him, she didn't love him like he wanted. But in her new body, things are a bit different and she finds herself returning his feelings.

I liked this book for several reasons. First, Evy just rocks. She's a Bad-Ass (capital B, capital A) fighter who doesn't give up and still has compassion. A reader might think that someone who has lived her life would have a cold heart by then. Two, there was a whole Baskin Robbins of supernatural peoples present. It's rare that you see that much diversity in a single urban fantasy book. Three, based on the title, I had different expectations on how it would end but was glad I was wrong. I should know better by now but I think I would still like to see a series that follows that idea (no, I'm not going to explain that.).

Kelly Meding has a difficult job ahead of her: writing a sequel to Three Days to Dead that is on par with her first book. I am definitely looking forward to As Lie the Dead which, according to Kelly, will be out this July. It was such a pleasant surprise to find the author to a book I thoroughly enjoyed existing in the same area where I live. What a kick :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A good day at the library

I made out good at my local library today. See?

Now I just have to find the time to read them :)

Staked and Revamped by J. F. Lewis

I've decided to do my review for Staked and Revamped together. They felt like one big book instead of two. There are spoilers in this review...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Please Stand By

As my blog template code has become impossible to work with I am working to fix the problem but my template has to temporarily change. Cross your fingers :)

Ninety minutes and one headache later, I have decided to give up the book theme template for the time being. Finding free templates online seems like a great idea at first but when you realize that they're not always customizable, things can get sticky. Blogger can be sticky anyway - I can't get the jump break function to work even though I was able to get the page tabs at the top to appear. I give up for today...

NEW: As much as I love the literary template I had, I'm saying goodbye for now. If it hasn't become obvious by now, I am very picky. Elements of that template seemed to go missing a few months ago (entry date headers and other odds and ends) but using a saved version of it made things worse. So, I've switched to something less problematic for now with the intention of coming up with something similar yet different in the future. I thought about switching to wordpress but that was a whole different kettle of fish (or something). So I'm staying at Blogger.

State of the Month

As I am already catching up and have posted my end-of-the-month posts (anybody know if Hell has frozen over?) for February, I'm repeating this post from the end of January when I summarized my month in books. Yesterday, I bought a new laptop and am now not exactly tethered to our desktop to use the internet; I am going to install a network in our house this week when I get five minutes but for now when the connection is free, I'm hooking myself up on the couch. Much more comfy :)

Technically I have failed my challenge again since I didn't manage to read eight of the chosen books. *grumble* So this month I'm not prepicking my books but am just going to work with a quota of eight books. Eight books of my own and they have to be ones that I will give away at the end of March. I would pick a higher number than eight but I seem to be averaging between 25-30 books read each month. One third of that seems to be a good number to me (this does not mean it will absolutely equal eight). The rest will be books I own but will keep and the public library. I've got two Jennifer Echols books waiting for me there, along with book two in Jessica Andersen's series.

I read more short stories in February than I can remember reading for quite a while. I have collected quite the group of anthologies, most of them pararoms. The Eileen Wilks one was my least favorite and The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, while having extra short stories, was more interesting than I expected. I really enjoyed "Newlydeads" since it was a Pete Caldecott and Jack Winter story. It was also printed before Street Magic so I'm thinking that if anyone read it in My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon without any prior knowledge of those particular characters, they may not have liked it as much.

Truly, Madly by Heather Webber was a free book from LibraryThing and I still need to review it. Having this laptop now will (hopefully) make reading ebooks more tolerable. I don't usually like them since I don't have a handheld reader and end up stuck at t he computer. I plan to read the Deborah Grace Staley story I have real soon too.

OK. I'll soon be doing my J. F. Lewis books reviews since I've finished Revamped. I'll try to remember to review the next book in my Lynn Viehl list and this month I will try to read fewer vampire novels than I did in Feb. Ciao.