Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: Pleasure Unbound, Larissa Ione

Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, Book 1)
Author: Larissa Ione
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages

Summary: Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul...

I've been following Larissa Ione on Twitter for awhile now, and her Demonica books were recommended to me over and over. They sounded intriguing; the teasers say the first book involves demon doctors in disguise, and my husband is an RN in an inner city Emergency Department. I'm thinking a couple of the ER people I've met could indeed be demons in disguise. *snicker* Last weekend my copy of Pleasure Unbound arrived from Amazon. I was almost afraid I'd be disappointed because I had heard SO MUCH about this book.

Pleasure Unbound starts out with a scene in the Emergency Department of Underworld General Hospital. (Yes, that's UGH.) The demons aren't in disguise in this hospital because it's run by demons to treat demons, not humans. Right from the start we learn a few things:

All demons are not evil.

Demons tend to have sarcastic wits and quick tempers.

Demons love sex, some WAY more than others.

The book is fun and dark at the same time, but it's not until we meet all the main characters and start to figure out that all is not black and white in the Demonica world that we start to care about what happens to them. Larissa Ione's characters are complex and all is not as it appears to be. At first we see humans vs. demons; hatred on both sides with no room for compromise. The book is not a fast, fun read, but instead a sexy, dark, witty read that takes the reader through many emotions including anger, sadness, relief, frustration and titillation. (Webster defines as "to excite pleasurably" which fits perfectly.) Who IS the bad guy here? Will the plot be about finding a Happily Ever After too, or is this world too dark for that?

I really liked Pleasure Unbound, and it lived up to all the recommendations. Fans of J.R. Ward, Gena Showalter, Lara Adrian and Kresley Cole will love Larissa Ione's books. They each focus on the story of a particular male in the rich cast of characters, but there is also mystery, kick-butt fight scenes, and witty interaction. For me, when a series or book has a dark element , I need humor to offset the fight against evil. I love this exchange between Eilodon and Tayla:

"You eat fast food?"

"Only when there's a shortage of live sheep and small children."

Smartass. At least she hoped he was being a smartass. "I'm fresh out of those things, but I have stale marshmallows and oranges."

Pleasure Unbound has sarcastic, sometimes crude humor, erotic romance, studly demons and humans, but also cringe worthy evil demons, and humans who are just as bad. This book is not for the faint of heart; it's a gritty paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy rolled into one. I know I'll be reading it again, and all the books in the series.

Visit Larissa's website for excerpts, deleted scenes, writing tips and much more! She's here.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pop Quiz: What Supernatural Being Are You?

Jill Myles, the witty author of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi is over on Ilona Andrews blog with a very cool quiz! I took it and lo and behold I am a:



You're a VAMPIRE! Jaded and kind of tired of the stupidity of both your goody-two-shoes Serim brothers and the human race in general, you'd smoke, drink, and squander your Afterlife with hedonistic pleasures. That is, until the Queen gives you something to do.

The World of Jill Myles

Head on over to Ilona's place and take it yourself:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Big Fat Book Order

I really tried to wait longer before buying more books, I really did. I waited through three blog tours, where I read the books and reviewed them. I was a good book blogger, so I rewarded myself. To justify my spending I used Bookcloseout for the biggest order. It's kind of like shopping at Sam's Club or Cosco; they don't always have the same thing, but you can find surprises if you look hard enough. The best deals are on trade paperbacks and hardcovers, and I found some cool books this time. I bought:

Birth of the Pack By Petru Popescu
A YA novel about Weregirls battling evil.

The Visitant by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear
Romantic Times said it was "a wonderful journey of learning and adventure".

Evernight by Claudia Gray
Paranormal YA Novel that I've heard good things about.

Love is Hell, YA Anthology
Melissa Marrr, Scott westerfeld and more

Vampirates, Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper
How could I resist the title? It's a YA title.

Daughter of the Sea by Berlie Doherty
"She was a gift from the sea, but now the ocean wants her back..."

The DarkAngel, Book One by Meredith Ann Pierce
tag line: Can Aeriel Save the Vampyre's Soul?

Woo-hooo on these next two!

Another One Bites the Dust
Biting the Bullet
by Jennifer Rardin

I read book one, Once Bitten, Twice Shy and couldn't wait to read the next books in the series!

Last, but not least, for my almost ten year old I bought Clues for Real Life, The Classic Wit & Wisdom of Nancy Drew in hardcover. She is going to love it!

I also received a small Amazon book order this weekend. I now have:

Pleasure Unbound, Demonica Book 1, by Larissa Ione
City of Souls, Sign of the Zodiac, Book 4, by Vicki Pettersson
Madhouse, Cal Leandros series, by Rob Thurman

All three of these are series I've been reading, or as with Pleasure Unbound, heard so much about it I HAD to start reading it!

For my daughter I bought My Sister the Vampire #2, Fangtastic. We read the first one out loud (she's almost ten and reads to me.) and we are reading this one out loud as well. We started the same day it came in the mail. She LOVES these books.


100+ Reading Challenge

I joined the 100+ Book Challenge as my primary challenge. The basic rules are :

1. The goal is to read 100 or more books. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

2. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Manga, Graphic Novels, Library books, Novellas, Young Reader, Nonfiction – as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts. What doesn't count: Individual short stories or individual books in the Bible.

For the rest of the details visit J.Kaye's Book Blog. I will update on this post as I read books, and link to my review of them if I have it written. I need to do better at adding books as soon as I finish them! I'm also reading two books on Kindle right now, but I haven't finished. The books below were all books, not ebooks, except for The Devil in Merrivale, which was a PDF file due to the publisher sending them out late for a book tour.

Books Read For 2010:

January Reads
1. Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin
2. Gentlemen Prefer Succubi by Jill Myles
3. The Iron Hunt, Hunter Kiss, Book 1 by Marjorie M. Liu
4. Bitten by Cupid (anthology)
5. Inked (anthology)
6. Veracity by Laura Bynum
7. The Devil in Merrivale by Jackie Griffey
8. Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole
9. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (reread)
10. Firespell by Chloe Neill
11. Pleasure Unbound, A Demonica Novel, by Larissa Ione
12. Another One Bites the Dust by Jennifer Rardin
13. Biting the Bullet by Jennifer Rardin

February Reads
14. The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter
15. Truly, Madly by Heather Webber
16.Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione
17. City of Souls by Vicki Pettersson
18. Madhouse by Rob Thurman
19. Stakes & Stilettos by Michelle Rowen
20. Tall, Dark & Fangsome by Michelle Rowen
21. Night Life (Nocturne City, Book 1) by Caitlin Kittredge
22. First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost
23. Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
24. Pride by Rachel Vincent
25. Dead to Me by Anton Strout

March Reads

26.The Devil Inside by Jenna Black
27.Steamed by Katie MacAlister
28.Demon Possessed by Stacia Kane
29.Succubi Like It Hot by Jill Myles
30.My Love Eternal by Liz Strange
31. Crimson City by Liz Maverick
32. Kissing Sin by Keri Arthur
33. Bite Me by Melissa Francis
34. Evernight by Claudia Gray

The books with the links have been reviewed, ones without will be future reviews. Sometimes if it's a series I wait until I read them all before reviewing.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi: Interview & Contest

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi
Author: Jill Myles
Publisher: Pocket Star
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages

Summary: Jackie Brighton woke up in a Dumpster this morning, and her day has only gotten weirder. Her familiar B-cups have somehow become double Ds, her sex drive is insatiable, and apparently she had her first one-night stand ever...with a fallen angel.

The UPS man brought me Gentlemen Prefer Succubi from the publisher, and I have to confess I went around the house repeating the title over and over because it was just so much fun to say. Try saying "Succubi Succubus" ten times really fast. It's not possible to keep a straight face. I'm so glad I signed up for this blog tour because I've been giggling since I started the book. Author Jill Myles has the best sense of humor, and uses it to it's fullest in her writing. When I start a book I always read the acknowledgements. I know many people either skip them or read them afterwards, but I love getting a little glimpse into the author's personality by reading their thank you notes. Jill, and I think she's so cool she wouldn't mind me calling her by her first name, is a hoot. Her enthusiasm in the acknowledgements had me smiling, especially her comment to the cover art team:

The bellybutton sweat on the model nearly did me in.

I flipped to the cover, looked at the guy's belly, sighed, and quickly read through the rest of the acknowledgement so I could start the dang book. I was not disappointed. Jackie, the main character, is a normal gal looking for normal things in life like a good job, a boyfriend and a happy life. So far she hasn't scored too high on the happiness meter, then she takes one night to drown her sorrows in booze and wakes up a succubus. Go figure. The reader goes along for the ride as Jackie's body does it's own thing, and "The Itch" does it's best to control her actions as she tries to figure out what happened to her, who did it, and what it means. Her new friends may or may not be on her side, and a world she didn't know existed is revealed detail by detail.

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi is a fast paced, action filled, witty read. The sex scenes are steamy, but the "almost sex scenes" are just as hot. Forget Team Edward and Team Jacob. Choose between Team Noah and Team Zane! (Note to self: have a Team Zane t-shirt made soon.) This book is a riot of paranormal fun. The author makes us cheer for the unlikely heroine from the first paragraph. The book has mystery, historical intrigue, plot twists and romance.

Fans of paranormal romance such as Chloe Neill, Yasmine Galehorn, Karen Chance and Gena Showalter will love Gentlemen Prefer Succubi.

Jill Myles graciously answered a few deep and compelling questions I had for her:

Any tips on how you learned to write those scorching love scenes? I'm wondering if you had trial love scenes that you wrote and they just didn't do it for you?

I wish I was that organized! It's more like the twelve-year-old girl inside me is shouting out ideas. "MAKE THEM DO IT IN THE CONFESSIONAL! TEE HEE!" Of course, I have no choice but to comply. :) As for writing tips, I think it's important to show how things make the characters feel. It might be as simple as touching a ticklish spot, but if it gets her engine revving, the reader will enjoy it if we realize that the heroine is, if that makes sense.

I have to say that I'm on Team Zane, do you have a preference?

I'm on Team Zane until I write a Noah scene, and then I plot ways to kill him off so Noah and Jackie can be together forever! And then I write a Zane scene and plot ways to kill off Noah so Zane and Jackie can be together forever! And then...well, you get the picture. I lean whichever way the hero drags me. :)

I love your take on vampires, succubi and Serim. Did you know right away that this is how you wanted to portray them or did you make changes along the way?

I knew that I wanted angels and vampires to be flip sides of the same coin, but I wasn't sure how to go about it, so I just started writing. More details came about as I wrote, and when I got to the end, I sat back, regarded it, and thought...people are going to think I'm nuts. No one is going to want to read about angels and VAMPIRES. Come on. But I'm happy to be proven wrong!

Succubi Like It Hot, the second book in The Succubus Diaries came out last week! I love the trailer Jill has for Gentlemen Prefer Succubi:


I'm going with simple again for this blog tour contest. The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one copy of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi. Leave a comment for me answering this question:

Do you like paranormal romance? Do you like humor mixed in with the romance?

If don't have a blog make sure you leave me an email so I can contact you. The contest will end February 7th, and I'll announce the winner on Monday, February 8th, 2010.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Series Review: The Immortals After Dark

Immortals After Dark
Author: Kresley Cole
Publisher: Pocket

Summary: Every creature or being that was thought to be mythical . . . isn’t. They all secretly exist alongside humans and enjoy the gift of immortality. There are hundreds of different kinds: from Vampires to Lykae, from Furies to Shifters, from the Fey to Valkyries. These immortals call their world The Lore.

You may have had a brush with one of Lorekind already. The eccentric billionaire with hypnotic charisma—and an aversion to sunlight. The ethereal waif of impossible beauty—whose fingernails look more like claws. The Highlander with a seventeenth-century Scottish accent and animal magnetism—who can never be penciled in on the night of the full moon.

1. The Warlord Wants Forever (2006)(Novella) Nikolai & Myst
2. A Hunger Like No Other (2006) Lachlain & Emmaline
3. No Rest for the Wicked (2006) Sebastian & Kaderin
4. Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (2007) Bowen & Mariketa
5. Dark Needs at Night's Edge (2008) Conrad & Neomi
6. Dark Desires After Dusk (2008) Cade & Holly
7. Kiss of a Demon King (2009) Rydstrom & Sabine
8. Deep Kiss of Winter Novella: Untouchable (2009) Murdoch & Daniela

9.Pleasure of a Dark Prince (February 2010) Lucia and Garreth's
10.Demon from the Dark (2010)

I started reading The Immortals After Dark Series last summer in my race to catch up with all the awesome Paranormal Romance authors I'd discovered after reading the Twilight books. Don't let that statement fool you into thinking this series is like Twilight, however. I guess you could say it's an erotic kick-ass version on steroids IF you had to go with a comparison, but even that doesn't begin to cover it.

I want to mention something about the reading order of the books. I had missed the novella that started Kresley Cole's series until this week when I read it as a Free PDF file that I downloaded from Amazon. (Go to THIS PAGE and the link is under the box where the edition of the books are listed. Click that link for the free complete novella and excerpts on the books, which comes in a PDF file that you can save to your hard drive. It wasn't available on the Kindle.)

In some ways the first novella and Kiss of a Demon King, which in #7 in the book order have many similarities. I think perhaps they are the most erotic of the books. If you are new to Paranormal Romance I would download the novella and read it first to get a feel for the style of the books. I really wish I had started with the novella instead of A Hunger Like No Other, only because it gives it some really great background on the Valkyrie, the Forebearers and The Fallen, which are the two factions of vampires. That said, let's get down to the nitty gritty of how I feel about the series.

The humor of the Valkyrie women; their love of slang, pop culture, and modern conveniences leave their warriors stunned and gawking. This line from the novella Warlord Wants Forever is a perfect example of this, as Myst "takes over" when brought to Nikolai's room for questioning. She heads straight for the shower, then opens the door afterwards to get the attention of the first person she sees in the hall, while Nikolai watches her in total amazement:

“Psst. Minion. I need these laundered. Very little starch. Don’t just stand there gawking or you’ll anger my good frenemy General Wroth. We’re like this.”

Each book features a soon to be mated couple, and yes, they are HEAs (Happily Ever Afters). Some are more of a fun read than others, depending on the characters and their situations. I'm sure every fan has their favorites. I found Kiss of a Demon more of a difficult read because of the agony Sabine and Rydstrom put each other through. Just when I thought it was going to get worse the last fourth of the book made it all worthwhile. The fact that Ms. Cole can make the reader feel uncomfortable during scenes that are agonizing for the characters is a good thing, because it means that later when there is light at the end of the tunnel we find ourselves cheering for the couple, finally understanding why they acted the way they did.

I think my favorites were the first book, A Hunger Like No Other, the fourth, Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, and the sixth, Dark Desires After Dusk, which was about Cadeon Woede, a rage demon and Holly Ashwin, a math teacher with OCD. Can you imagine? I laughed out loud on and off throughout the entire book.

Who will like The Immortals After Dark Series? Fans of J.R. Ward, Laura Adrian, Gena Showalter, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. If you haven't read any of those authors and wonder if you will still enjoy them, then download the free novella I mentioned above. This series is not for the faint of heart. The sex scenes are erotic, the characters kick ass and take no prisoners, and sarcasm is rampant. I've kept all my copies and will be reading them again and again.

The Immortals After Dark Resources:
-FAQ from the Author
-Free PFD file of Warlord Wants Forever
-Kresley Cole's Forum

The Devil in Merrivale Contest & Blog Tour

The Devil in Merrivale
Author: Jackie Griffey
Zumaya Publications
Trade Paperback, 252 pages

Summary: Murder isn’t the usual order of business in the little town of Merrivale, Tennessee, so the brutal stabbing death of popular high school student Denise Davis sends a shock through the community. Sheriff Cas Larkin is determined to find the killer, and the last thing he needs is distractions like the increasing reports of missing cattle and other livestock.

I read The Devil in Merrivale as a PDF file because the publisher had a delay on the books, and I was too curious to wait for the book itself. Jackie Griffey has an easy going, down to earth, writing style that makes the reader feel comfortable, much like she's telling you the story in your living room while you share coffee and cake.

Jackie shared this with Pump Up Your Book last month:

We live in Cabot, near Little Rock, Arkansas with lots of great places to visit. Hot Springs, Eureka Springs, Memphis, TN, St. Louis and New Orleans are all within easy driving distance. My favorite thing in spring and summer is enjoying our yard, flowers, shrubs, azaleas, and a huge Magnolia tree Jim planted for me thirty years ago. All year long I enjoy shopping with my daughter, we cook and eat out and have a ball in or during the shopping trips.

Her book flows smoothly, and you have confidence that Cas Larkin, the sheriff of Merrivale, will find the killer and solve the mysterious happenings in his small town. I liked him from the first chapter. He reminds me of Sheriff Andy Taylor from Mayberry R.F.D., whom I loved as a kid.

I really liked The Devil in Merrivale because of the author's laid back style which made her book a fun and relaxing read. As a kid I loved mysteries, and Jackie's book reminds me of a grown up version of the books I read back then.

The Devil in Merrivale Contest
My copy did arrive from the publisher yesterday, so I'm going to give it away to one lucky reader! The details are as follows:

Leave a comment sharing with me your favorite mystery book, either as an adult or a kid. Leave your email address if it's not part of your blog profile. If you don't have a blog, that's okay too, as long as I can get hold of you. The contest will end on January 31st, 2010.

You can find more information on The Devil in Merrivale and Jackie HERE.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Veracity Blog Tour and Give-Away

Author: Laura Bynum
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket (1/5/2010)

Summary: Harper Adams was six years old in 2012 when an act of viral terrorism wiped out one-half of the country’s population. Out of the ashes rose a new government, the Confederation of the Willing, dedicated to maintaining order at any cost. The populace is controlled via government-sanctioned sex and drugs, a brutal police force known as the Blue Coats, and a device called the slate, a mandatory implant that monitors every word a person speaks. To utter a forbidden, Red-Listed word is to risk physical punishment, or even death.

I finished Veracity last week the day after the publisher sent it to me. It was a book that made me stop and think about many things: freedoms, family, love, friendship and sacrifice. I noticed on the back cover that it was compared to George Orwell's 1984, and I can understand the comparison, but I don't quite agree with it. It's a 1984 with more hope and less defeatism. In some ways it reminds me of an Ayn Rand book with a spiritual element. Then again, I could just tell you that it's a story of our society in the future where words are controlled, and people are forbidden to sing, love or speak as they wish. It's a cautionary tale; one that the author makes us believe COULD happen in the right circumstances.

I find with books like Veracity there is a danger of the lessons or messages taken precidence over the character development and/or plot. Author Laura Bynum however, did not make this mistake. The characters are vibrant, and reach out of the book to make us either care, fear, hate or cringe, depending on who they are. I'm sure each reader will find a character to identify with as they read Veracity. These characters aren't warriors in the traditional sense of the word, but yet they are just as compelling.

The other amazing thing about Veracity is the author's ability to write this story for all readers, not just those with a particular viewpoint. Whether the reader is liberal, conservative or middle of road they will be able to take something away from this book. I also think teenagers, mature 16 years olds and up, can read Veracity. It will make them ponder how they feel about love, sacrifice, government, religion, loyalty, friendship and making a difference.

The publisher has allowed me to give away a copy of Veracity to one lucky reader! I'm making it extremely easy; leave a comment letting me know if you've read 1984, Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies. I had to read all three when I was in school, and thought Veracity was more thought provoking and readable. Have you read any of those titles?

If you don't have an email linked to your blog, or maybe you aren't a blogger, please leave your email in the comments. You can write it as brenda (at) standbesideher (dot)com if you wish. The contest will end on January 31st, 2010.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why Read Anthologies? Thoughts & Reviews

I always thought of short stories as short books that were wrapped up by the end like the Edgar Allen Poe classics. In the world of paranormal romance and urban fiction I think of them more as a hodge podge, a buffet of paranormal goodness. Readers can try out new authors they haven't read before to get a taste of their style or you can go back and read favorite authors who may have given side characters from their books their own little story. Some authors will write prequels to one of their series as a short story as well. A reader can't go wrong picking up a good anthology! In the last week and a half I've picked up two new anthologies: Inked and Bitten by Cupid. Let's start with Inked.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Berkley; (January 5, 2010)

I bought Inked the week it came out because it had three authors I already liked: Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, and Yasmine Galehorn. Eileen Wilks, the fourth author, is new to me.

Karen Chance's Skin Deep: This is a story about Lia, a feisty, sarcastic gal who has to find her boyfriend Cyrus against the odds since she is recovering from injuries which have made her magic act wonky. I love Karen Chance's writing and her characters. This short story takes place in the same world as her books, so it will give you a glimpse into her writing, her books and her humor. I loved the story, but wondered if Lia was featured in one of her books I hadn't read yet. The answer is in this blurb from her website.

It follows the adventures of Lia, the half-werewolf war mage from our previous short stories "Rogue Elements" (in the Wolfesbane and Mistletoe anthology published last October) and "Vegas Odds" (in the Strange Brew anthology).

Marjorie M. Liu's Armor of Roses is set in the world of her Hunter Kiss books, of which I had recently read the first one, and reviewed it here. This story has Maxine going back in time to her grandmother's generation and we experience The Boys, her demon helpers, in duplicate. It takes place during WWII, and gives a glimpse into a young Jean who is more alone than Maxine; more cynical and dark. I think the story is better after reading the Hunter Kiss books, rather than as in introduction to that world. This is dark fantasy, which for me, always makes me ponder life and the difference we make in our own existence.

Yasmine Galenorn's Etched in Silver is the story of Camille and Trillian meeting for the first time. They partner up to find a bad guy, who's name I've forgotten because I was thinking of Trillian and my mind wandered to words like "sizzle, hot, protective, more sizzle, erotic...". I think you get my meaning. This story is a fantastic introduction to Yasmine's Otherworld series.
Eileen Wilk's Human Nature is set in the world of her Lupus series, which I have not read. The story is about Lily and Rule, weres who are newly mated and need to solve a murder mystery. I loved the story and the characters. Lily is a kick-ass gal and Rule is an alpha who wants to protect her at all costs. I'm buying the Lupus series as soon as I recover from my holiday spending. I can't wait to read the books after being introduced to Lily and Rule!

Inked was just released in January, and it was well worth the money and the read. The stories are urban and/or dark fantasy, mixed with paranormal romance. Fans of the authors involved will love this anthology. If you aren't familiar with these writers, Inked will serve as a great introduction to their writing.

Bitten By Cupid
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon; Original edition (January 12, 2010)
Authors: Lynsay Sands, Pamela Palmer, Jaime Rush

I'll have to confess that I haven't read any of the authors in this anthology, but the cover grabbed me and I bought it. The first story by Lynsay Sands was cute, and funny. For some reason I thought it would be a bit darker, so I kept wait for death and destruction, which weren't part of the equation. I know that fans of her Argeneau vampire series will love this story which features Mirabeau LaRouche and Tiny McGraw. It was a nice introduction to that world, and I'll move the series up on my TBR list.

Pamela Palmer is the author of the Feral Warriors books, which I haven't read. You can take a peek at them on her website. Her story in Bitten by Cupid is a paranormal romance with mystery, romance and sizzle. There are a few glances of the warriors in the story, which is about Julianne and Zeeland. I loved the story and will be running out going out to get her series as soon as possible.

Jaime Rush's contribution to Bitten by Cupid is a fast paced, paranormal romance with a couple who both have a secret, and find themselves drawn together to solve a series of crimes. I really can't give any hints as to the plot without spoilers. Let's just say I loved both characters, the romance sizzled, and fit perfectly with the plot. The world is from the author's Offspring series which has two books that were released in 2009. I really liked the story, and from looking at her website I think it's a good introduction to her other books. Her characters are quirky, and she really drew me into their situation. I will be reading her other books as soon as I can place a massive book order after finding all these new authors!

Bitten by Cupid is a great Valentine's Day themed read. All you need to go with it is bubble bath, wine, chocolate and romance:)


Friday, January 15, 2010

The Crazy Gals & Snugglepups of the 1920's

Last week I ran across this very cool old photo of what appears to be a flapper from the 1920's. It's not copyrighted that I know of so I wanted to share. As a writer when I see old photos I always wonder what their story is. Since I started writing fiction I find myself looking at the photo and thinking what a cool character the person would make in a book.

Today I was sorting through my emails and found a post from Boing Boing where someone shared a small part of this video, but I found the entire thing on YouTube and it's wonderful! Fast forward about half way through to see the all banjo number and then a couple other lively songs. The band is called The Ingenues and this was filmed in 1928.

I am a fan of steampunk, but when I saw these I had a new thought. What if a paranormal romance was set in the 1920's? What if it set a trend? What would it be called? Flapperpunk, perhaps? Flappers had their own slang during that era too. I so want to use these two words in a book:

snugglepup: a man who frequently attends what back then was called a "petting party". Just like it sounds, it was a part where couples made out. Apparently no one yelled out "Get a room!" back then.

barney-mugging: Can you guess? It's a term for having sex. Yes, my friends, if you were going out to party one night and had plans of seducing someone you'd say to your roommate "I'm going to get me some barney-mugging tonight".

I hope you enjoyed our little trip into the 1920's!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Bloggiesta Final Summary

This was my first year participating in Bloggiesta which is sponsored by Maw's Book Blog. I ended up working on my blog for a total of 16 hours, possibly a bit more. Sunday was chaotic with my kids so I worked a little bit at a time. I really accomplished a lot during the entire weekend. Below is what I worked on and finished:

-Removed expire buttons and added new ones.
-Checked Blog roll for inactive blogs and added a couple more.
-I updated my Goodreads widget and posted two reviews there.
-Added a list of blog tours coming up in my sidebar.
-I put on a new background and made a banner.
-I wrote two reviews and joined and posted a new meme.
-I decided to remove my twitter widget, but added a button.
-I added an ABE button. They sell used and out of print books.
-I added a Google Search to the sidebar.

I completed these Bloggiesta Mini Challenges:

1. Copyrights and Footer Info. from Pam from at

2.Backing Up My Blog from Jackie from Farm Lane Books.

3.I made a favicon and a gravatar! I used my little moon avatar and it looks great! This mini-challenge was from Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? I did notice that the favicon has changed back to the Blogger orange favicon, so I'll have to go into the template and see what happened. It was there Saturday and Sunday!

4. Emily from Emily’s Reading Room challenged us to sign up for Google Alerts.

I'm happy with what I accomplished, and I'm going to still do these two things that I didn't get finished during the weekend:

My 2010 Book Challenges
-Put up buttons in sidebar
-Put up individual posts for each challenge to update.
-Add books read so far in 2010.

Create a Cheat Sheet from the template given to us by Danielle from There’s a Book. You can see the information here.

The Bloggiesta really motivated me and helped me improve my blog. I will be participating every year!


Review: A Song For Arbonne

A Song for Arbonne
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Publisher: Roc Trade (November 5, 2002)
Trade Paperback: 512 pages

Summary: Based on the troubadour culture that rose in Provence during the High Middle Ages, this panoramic, absorbing novel beautifully creates an alternate version of the medieval world.

In doing a little research before I started writing this review I looked for a summary of A Song for Arbonne and was astounded at the complicated, pseudo-intellectual descriptions I found. I realized that in itself might frighten a lot of readers off. I've read most of Kay's books and loved them all for different reasons. His writing is rich, vivid and historical in it's subject matter. However, he is also an awesome storyteller. He brings the characters to life for the reader and I would hate to see someone pass up his books because of praise that makes them sound high brow or over complicated.

Actually, I almost didn't read A Song for Arbonne because I'm not a fan of most things French, including literature or history. After reading the prologue I still wasn't convinced, but it was becoming interesting so I read further. Chapter one introduced me to Blaise, the cynical mercenary who doesn't have time for "useless chaff of a patently silly culture". I liked his attitude, so I read on and the story captivated me from then on until the end.

Guy Gavriel Kay writes in a style much like authors such as Mary Stewart, T.H. White and Morgan Llywelyn. A Song for Arbonne has romance, betrayals galore, swords, battles, and an ending that wraps it all up while the reader thinks "Man, I DID NOT see that one coming!". The twists and turns in a society based on France during medieval times is full of intrigue, twists and turns.

A Song for Arbonne doesn't slap the reader in the face, instead it caresses us with a promise of more to come. The writer lures us farther into the story until we can't stop reading because we NEED to find out how it ends. Kay's words cause the reader's emotions to sway from anger, to sadness, back to anger, and finally to a realization that all ends as it is suppose to.

I recommend A Song for Arbonne for fans of historical romance, sword and sorcery and fantasy books. I read the last couple of chapters over before writing this review and found myself drawn into the story again as the author's words worked their magic. I think you will feel the same way if you decide to read this book.

You can learn more about Guy Gavriel Kay at the Bright Weavings website.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Soundtrack Saturday (On Sunday)

I just found this meme at Rating Reads and thought it was SO cool that I had to join in even though it's Sunday. The rules for this new meme are:

-Take your current read or recently finished book.

-Find at least one song that fits the story, characters, whatever.

-Post the book title and song(s) on your blog with a brief explanation of your picks.

I just finished reading Inked this afternoon, and I'll be reviewing it tomorrow. The song I chose with the help of my 16 year old Pseudo Emo Teen is Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold. I chose this song because there are some nasty evil chicks in the Inked stories. I can't give-away who, or in which stories, because my blog is a No Spoiler Zone, but let's just say "When the shoe fits, the bad chicks wear it." *snicker*

I don't believe in fairy tales and no one wants to go to hell.
You've made the wrong decision and it's easy to see.
Now if you wanna serve above or be a king below with us,
You're welcome to the city where your future is set forever.

She's a dwelling place for demons.
She's a cage for every unclean spirit, every filthy bird
and makes us drink the poisoned wine to fornicating with our kings.
Fallen now is Babylon the Great.


Check out Rating Reads for more Soundtrack Saturday posts!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

First Read of 2010: The Iron Hunt

The Iron Hunt (Hunter Kiss, Book 1)
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Publisher: Ace (June 24, 2008)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages

Summary: Living tattoos: demons of the flesh, turned into flesh, the only family demon hunter Maxine Kiss has left—and the only way she can survive, and fight, the imprisoned demonic army waiting to destroy humanity.

I've had The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu on my To Be Read shelf since November, and just got to it last week. Ms. Liu's books are new to me, so I just dived in knowing nothing about the plot or characters. First, I wish I had found her books sooner because she is a unique, talented writer. Her ability to describe a world so different from our own is incredible. At different points in the book she tells the tales of women from three different generations, and does it in a clear, concise manner so full of emotion that I felt as if I was there with the main character, Maxine Kiss.

Maxine is a Hunter, a protector of the Earth. Her tattoos cover her body from the neck down, and they come alive at sunset with her small warrior demons she calls The Boys. The Iron Hunt is a dark fantasy, or at least that's what I would consider it, but The Boys are often a source of comic relief though they are dangerous and sly. This scene had me laughing, and was the first of many:

"They sat beside me, all in a row, legs too short for the leather seat. In unison, they swung their clawed feet, hands clasped in their laps. Deceptively prim. Little smart-asses."

The Boys are family to Maxine and she's known them all of her life, even before they became part of her skin. Maxine also has Grant Cooperson on her side. He's her comfort, the only person that makes her feel close to safe, but she knows one day it's going to kill her. She's not suppose to count on anyone or anything, except for The Boys, and even they have moments where they seem to leave her on her own.

I love Ms. Liu's style of writing. It's dark, descriptive, often sarcastic and sometimes philosophical. Her characters are quirky and sometimes not what they seem. Fans of Vicki Pettersson and Jeanne C. Stein will love this book. It's a gritty, enthralling read. I loved that the author gave us glimpses into the lives of two previous Hunter generations, so we learn about Maxine's mother and grandmother as the story progresses.

There are elements of "romance" in The Iron Hunt as Maxine reveals her feelings about Grant, but there aren't any sex scenes. Honestly, though I won't deny a need to learn more about Grant and Maxine's private moments, it's not necessary in the book. Ms. Liu does a wonderful job conveying the emotion and need between them without the sex scenes.

The Iron Hunt has been put on my To Be Read Again shelf, which is a good thing. I'm ordering the second book in the series, Darkness Calls, this weekend. I will also have a review up soon for Inked, (released January 2010) an anthology which includes a Maxine Kiss novella.

You can read excerpts of The Iron Hunt and find out all kinds of other nifty information on Marjorie M. Liu's website here.


Friday, January 8, 2010

The 2010 Bloggiesta

I've decided to participate in the annual Bloggiesta, despite coming in late. I need some organization folks! I'm hoping this will get me going in the right direction. Since I'm starting late, my goals for today aren't too big. I have been working on some of this earlier before deciding to officially join tonight.

Friday's Goals: 8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Clean up and revamp sidebar

-Remove expire buttons. Add new ones.
-Check Blog roll for inactive blogs.
-Add online bookstore links that I use. (1/2 done)
-Update Goodreads widget.
-Add a list of blog tours coming up.

(I also put on a new background and a header, which I need to lighten a bit yet.)

I think this is about all I can try and get done tonight.

Saturday's Goals: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. then again in evening. (approx. 7-11 pm)

-Write at least 3 reviews (2 done)
-Participate in 3 or more mini challenges.
-Make a graphic button for blog.

Bloggiesta Mini Challenges:
1. Copyrights and Footer Info. from Pam from at Info. Here FINISHED!

2.Backing Up My Blog from Jackie from Farm Lane Books. Info.Here FINISHED!

3.I made a favicon and a gravatar! I used my little moon avatar and it looks great! This mini-challenge was from Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? FINISHED!

4. Emily from Emily’s Reading Room challenged us to sign up for Google Alerts. Information is here. FINISHED!

Sunday Goals: 9 a.m - 3 p.m. then again in evening.

2010 Book Challenges
(moved from Saturday)
-Put up buttons in sidebar
-Put up individual posts for each challenge to update.
-Add books read so far in 2010.


-Write 2 more reviews.
-Participate in 2 or more mini challenges.
-Update my Profile on Blogger

Today's Mini Challenges:
1. Create a Cheat Sheet from Danielle from There’s a Book. Info.Here


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review: Eternal Hunter

Eternal Hunter, Night Watch Series #1
Author: Cynthia Eden
Publisher: Brava (December 2009)
Paperback: 352 pages

I won my copy of Eternal Hunter from a contest the author had on her blog. I didn't know what to expect since she was a new author for me, but this first line had me wanting to read more:

Jude Donovan was used to hunting killers-used to running them down like the damn dogs they were and caging the bastards.

Eternal Hunter is a fast paced, action filled read that kept me on the edge of my seat. Jude is a shapeshifter who just wants to track down the bad guys. No complications allowed, especially a good looking woman who smells like a shapeshifter but denies it. He wants to ignore her, but finds himself protecting her instead. Go figure. Life is full of surprises. I loved the character of Jude. He's an alpha male in all his grumpy glory. Erin Jerome is a shapeshifter who's trying to start over in a new job and a new life. She has issues, and doesn't want to share them. Jude and Erin make a good team, despite both of them being strong and stubborn. Yes, you want to slap them at several points in the book, but they come through in the end.

I would consider Eternal Hunter a paranormal romance, but the mystery and suspense makes it much more. It popped into my head as I was reading that it is a cross between James Patterson and Lara Adrian. The combination works well, and I didn't guess the true bad guy until it was revealed. The side characters are quirky and give us a glimpse into what the series will be like. The bad guy is especially creepy and sly, as he should be.

I loved the characters, the mystery, the romance and the action scenes. Warning to readers about the romance. There are sex scenes, not just romance, but it's a part of the plot, not just stuck in there willy nilly. My only negative about the book is that I thought a few of the lines used during sex were cliche (ex: button of her need). Since I am actually new to the romance genre, things like that stick out to me. I'm more of a literal type of gal, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the steamy scenes between Jude and Erin.

I would recommend Eternal Hunter to fans of paranormal romance and writers such as Lara Adrian, Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the Night Watch series, which is I'll Be Slaying You, due out July 2010.

You can read an excerpt of Eternal Hunter here.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Winners of The Better Part of Darkness!

Happy New Year! The winners of our giveaway for a copy of The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay are:

Scorpio M. said...
I'm new to the Urban Fantasy sub-genre if you don't count all the daydreaming I do at my cubicle...that's my attempt at witty..sorry ;) I do find Kelly's book very intriguing though so please count me in.

ck.twilighter said...
I am a newbie to urban fantasy but I love it. There is always so much action
and I just fall into the pages=)

Thanks to everyone for the follows and comments!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 101 Award From Lily's Bookshelf

I received the Happy 101 Award from Lily over at Lily's Bookshelf. What a better way to start off 2010 than with a sweet award? Thank you so much Lily!

The rules for this award are as follows:

List 10 things that make you happy.
Try and do at least one of them today.
Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.
Link back to the person that tagged you.

Hmmm...ten things that make me happy:

1. A Date Night with my husband.
2. Getting a new book:)
3. Reading a book SO good that I can't wait to get to the next page.
4. My kids smiling and laughing.
5. Snuggling with my niece who is almost 6 months old and seeing her smile.
6. Watching movies with my kids and my husband.
7. Listening to my ten year old daughter read out loud to me.
8. Bubble baths, glass of wine and a good book.
9. Growing flowers and herbs.
10. Taking pictures, especially nature, plants and wildlife.

Ten bloggers that brighten my day, huh? There are so many awesome bloggers, but I'll pick ten and if they don't have this lovely award they can pick it up for themselves. I appreciate you:)

Bibliofreak Blog

Writings Of A Wicked Book Addict

Larissa's Life

Tynga's Reviews

The Neverending Shelf

The Fiction Vixen

Peace, Love & Pat

My Overstuffed Bookshelf

JoJo's Bookcorner

All Things Urban Fantasy