Friday, June 29, 2007

Kiss of Crimson - Lara Adrian

Lara Adrian - Midnight Breeds series
1. Kiss of Midnight - Lucan and Gabrielle (see previous commentary)
2. Kiss of Crimson - Dante and Tess

Category: Dark Chocolate - loved by some, just "meh" to me (C-,D+)
Flame Height: 6” out of 9”

Look, if you don't read many paranormals, you'll probably love this series. And I tried to be tactful (well, kinda sorta) in my commentary of Kiss of Midnight. But after reading Kiss of Crimson, the velvet gloves are coming off...

How the hell did they get J.R. Ward to give a cover blurb for what is essentially a retelling of her BDB books with a little Christine Feehan thrown in for good measure?! This plain and simply should be called the Black Dagger Carpathians. Yeah, it’s that close, so close that I found myself playing “How do I copy thee? Let me count the ways…” as I was reading this last one.

Does this sound familiar? Bad-Ass Warrior class of vampires, misunderstood by the “civilian” vampire class; living together in an extravagant mansion whose underground facilities include a training room, separate living suites, an infirmary, and whose hanger sized garage contains top of the line sports cars and SUVs; only certain women with psychic abilities can be Breedmates (aka Carpathian lifemates); coming back in from their nightly patrol (where they hunt vamps who have succumbed to Bloodlust and turned Rogue- Carpathians again) to congregate in the opulent dining room; and now even a “pet” civilian cop who is partnered with the warrior that has visions of the future.

Perversely, I’ll probably continue to buy this series just because that “How do I copy thee?” game is so damn addictive!! Go figure. Hell, I'm not even sure what category to place this book in- I've changed it back and forth a couple of times between M&Ms and Dark Chocolate. The story is entertaining, no question about that, but it's not entertaining enough that I can overlook the complete lack of originality. I need Lara to show me SOMETHING I haven't read before.
Piquant Opines: RT, AAR,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wild Wicked and Wanton by Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton - Wild, Wicked & Wanton

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 8” out of 9”

HOT, HOT, HOT!!! Three friends, a bet, and each allows herself to experience the sex she’s only fantasized about. Only they each gain so much more from their sexual adventures than they thought possible. Did I mention these stories are HOT, HOT, HOT?

The first of the three intertwined stories centers on Abby. For her last year of veterinary school, she’s been interning with established vets and best friends Seth and Mike. On the last day of her internship, they let the relationship wary Abby know that they both want her- separately or together. Can she accept what they’re offering? Goaded on by a bet with her two friends, the answer is “Oh hell yeah!”

Blair only dates men she can control. Which is why she’s never acted on the heat between her and Rand that’s been simmering for 15 years. The bet with her friends gives her no choice but to take what Rand’s been offering for so long. But Rand has no intention of playing by Blair’s rules like the rest of the wimps she’s slept with. In fact, he knows what Blair secretly craves.

Speaking of secret cravings, Callie has mourned the death of her husband for 5 years while rebuilding her life. I thought for sure that a “certain character” (don’t want to spoil) from the first story would reappear here, but Jaci just refuses to do the predictable. (Will we see him in another book, Jaci?) Jack is a high powered attorney who has started each day for the past year at Callie’s coffee shop. Their chats are the high point of the day (and the jumping off point for private fantasies) for both of them. But now it’s Callie’s turn to fulfill the terms of the bet with her friends. Will these two people from vastly different social circles find out they have much more in common than they thought?

Jaci doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence, which, if you’ve read a lot of erotic romance, you KNOW what I’m talking about. The three friends don’t hook up and instantly fall in love with complete strangers, they take the seeds of existing relationships and coax them to full burning bloom. They are believable and they don’t all end with a perfectly neat and tidy HEA, but they DO all end with happiness and hope for the future. In a way, Jaci has written retro stories but has added contemporary heat and situations to them. And keep in mind that I’m not even much of a straight contemporary story fan so you KNOW this must be good stuff!
Piquant Opines: RT, CK2S, Gwen

Breaking News...

This just in:

I have been informed by Luv over on the LKH board that our mystery bit o' hunkaliciousness is Manuel Casella.

And those eyes are REAL, so HAH!

Piercing Alert!

UPDATE: Christine just made my day. Turns out he likes his women older... MUCH older... even older than me. Okay, so she used to be a man... whatevah... did I mention she's older than me?

Come to Mama, Manuel! And all you sweet young bitches can back the hell off cause he doesn't want your firm non-saggy asses.

Yes Virginia, THERE IS A GOD!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews - Magic Bites - Kate Daniels Book 1

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 1” out of 9”

The following was the first draft of my commentary about Magic Bites

WHOA! Good stuff! I’m going to make this short and to the point- Urban Fantasy with completely fresh world building (her vamps are beyond creepy and the stuff of nightmares); tough, gritty, smart-ass, kick-butt heroine; no real romance but I’m hoping the sparks between Curran and Kate get fanned into flames; JUST GO BUY THIS ONE- you can thank me later.

But, days later, I was STILL thinking about this book, so I wanted to make sure I was clear on how much I enjoyed this world flipping story.

When I first saw the release of Magic Bites, I read the blurb and a couple of the comments on Amazon and figured it wasn’t for me. I tend to shy away from books with magic as a central plot device. As with witch stories, it often happens that the hero/ine pulls yet another amazing power out of their ass to save the day (and the plot). But something kept drawing me back to this book and I’ve learned that giving in and going with my Reader Instincts has brought some amazing stories to me. My instincts were right again.

Set in Atlanta, magic has changed the world as we know it. Now, I’m not clear whether this is set in present day and the magic swept through in the past, or whether the magic swept through in present day and the book takes place in the future. Chances are Ilona made that clear in the book and I’ll catch it on my next read through. Anyway, these periodic magic “waves” have made technology unreliable and forever altered the make-up of Atlanta’s skyline and citizens. From the back cover blurb: “When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in it’s wake.

For those of you that think there’s nothing new in Urban Fantasy, you’re wrong. The world building in Magic Bites is rich and amazing. From the way day to day lives are effected by the unpredictable ebb and flow of magic, to the gritty urban landscape that Kate Daniels (a mercenary living paycheck to paycheck who can’t seem to play nice with others) inhabits, to the non-humans she must deal with. Most unexpected is that vampires are not the top of the food chain in Kate’s world. The Masters of the Dead (necromancers) hierarchy controls vamps like puppets. And the vamps are beyond creepy crawly nightmares. I wouldn’t normally include such a long excerpt, but this is our first glimpse of one of the undead…

Something large crawled along the hallway ceiling into the kitchen. I pretended not to see it. It stopped to the left of me and slightly behind, so I didn't have to pretend very hard.

The intruder hesitated, turned, and anchored itself in the corner, where the ceiling met the wall. It sat there, fastened to the paneling by enormous yellow talons, still and silent like a gargoyle in full sunlight. I took a swig from the bottle and set it so I could see the creature's reflection. Nude and hairless, it didn't carry a single ounce of fat on its skeletal frame and every dry, hard cord of muscle was clearly visible beneath its taut pallid hide.

Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

The creature raised its left hand. The dagger talons diced the empty air, back and forth, like curved knitting needles. It turned its head doglike and studied me with eyes luminescent with a particular kind of madness, born of bestial blood thirst and free of any thought or restraint.

In a single motion I whipped around and hurled the dagger. The black blade sliced cleanly into the creature's throat.

The vampire froze. Its yellow claws stopped moving.

Thick, almost purplish blood swelled around the blade and slowly slid down the naked flesh of the vampire's neck, staining its chest and dripping on the floor. The vampire's features twisted, trying to morph into a different face. It opened its maw, displaying twin fangs that glistened with yellow like miniature ivory sickles.

'That was extremely inconsiderate, Kate,' Ghastek's
[QB: Ghastek is the necromancer controlling the vamp] voice said from the vampire's throat. 'Now I have to feed him.'

See what I mean? It made my skin crawl. Now add in the Pack (the paramilitary-like clan of Shapeshifters) and the political maneuvering within The Order of Merciful Aid (who officially are supposed to protect humanity against all harm by magic) and you’ve got one hellaciously good story!

So to sum up, let me repeat myself…
JUST GO BUY THIS ONE- you can thank me later.
Piquant Opines: RT, CK2S,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Even MORE Blog Karma

I love Blog Karma! I've just won a signed ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of Lora Leigh's Hidden Agendas (released today) from The Good, The Bad, and the Unread


Thanks Sybil! Thanks Lora!

WOO to the HOO! I AM ARCworthy!

Pssst... go see what I just added at the end of my Tuesday Trio...

Tuesday Trio

Since I spend so much time talking about the books that have given me such mental enjoyment, I thought I should further expand my mind through the Art of Photography. So every Tuesday I will present a trio of studies of the human anatomy.

What? Why, yes! You're absolutely right. How astutely observant you are. They DO all happen to be the study of the MALE human anatomy. And your point would be...?

The subject of this week's study will be Eyes that enchant you into their depths as your fingers are compelled to rise and ever so softly trace the lips before leaning in to sip from them. The Features of the Face...

Bonus Study... Why? My blog, my Josh.

ADDED: We need to find out who that amazing guy in the top picture is! So BAM has made it an official mission.

Denizens of Romancelandia, here's your assignment...
"If you don’t know who this guy is, post his picture on your blog, then come back here and post the link in the comments. Maybe one of our readers out there will know who this mystery man is."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blog Karma

So let us now allow Blog Karma to float us out of the unpleasant Land of Over-Stroked Divas and carry us away to the Realm of Class Acts...

Class Act I: Michele Hauf
Back in March, I was squeein' all over the internet about Michele's upcoming book Wicked Angels and Triskelion's agreement to use the guys from Thunder From Down Under as cover models. (See "*Fangirl Scream*" and "The Power of the Mighty Fangirls") At the time, Michele said she wanted to send me a copy of Wicked Angels when it came out as thanks for starting the fangirl ball rolling. An unexpected, but totally appreciated gesture.

Well, as many of you know, first Triskelion announced that they were placing a temporary hold on print books- their plans just outpaced their abilities. But that left authors like Michele in limbo and, for many of them, also out the costs for the promo materials that they'd already paid for. Any planned joint events with TFDU were also abandoned. Then rumors started spreading that authors were no longer receiving royalties due them. After the first announcement about the print books, I was just going to go ahead and buy the ebook of Wicked Angels from Trisk, but after the later royalties rumors, I decided to wait and let the dust settle first.

Well, last week, Trisk's death knell sounded and they will be filing for bankruptcy on July 2. The best way I've found to follow what's been happening is through Dear Author. In addition to the links I've provided below, you'll find more events leading up to this announcement on the right side of the page these posts appear on:
06/20/2007 Triskelion Publishing Closes Its Doors
06/20/2007 Triskelion Bankruptcy Update- Contract Clause
06/23/2007 Triskelion Update: RWA Responds to Closing
06/24/2007 Author's Rights When a Publisher Files Bankruptcy

So, as it stands right now, it will be up to the bankruptcy court whether any authors receive royalties due them. And, depending on their specific contract, the court can also decide whether individual authors get the rights to their books back or whether those rights will now be owned by any successors of Trisk.

Today I received a package in the mail from Michele. It contained a lovely jeweled book thong that she handmade AND a signed copy of her upcoming Silhouette Nocturne release, Familiar Stranger (August 1, 2007) which sounds like a story I'm going to really enjoy. In the midst of all this frustration and heartbreak with Trisk, she remembered me. THAT'S a class act! I have high hopes that someway, someWHERE she will soon be re-releasing Wicked Angels. And I will be watching for it.

Class Act II: Jaci Burton
Last week, Jaci blogged "What I need is to hear from those of you interested in receiving an ARC of Hunting the Demon. First, you need to have a (verifiable) blog. Second, you need to vow not to blog about it until close to release date (August 28th). Third, you have to promise to read the book before then. (Duh).
So if you’re game, post here and when I get back in town after this coming weekend, I’ll choose some winners. How many? Don’t really know yet. I’ll see how many people are interested.

Here's today's blog post, "Okay, here’s the deal. If you posted on my Hunting the Demon ARC contest blog entry that you have a blog and you’re willing to read the ARC and post your thoughts about it, you win!"

That's it. No promises or expectations for a favorable review. No requirements for minimum blog readership. Hell, she didn't even ask if we had read and/or enjoyed the first book Surviving Demon Island (although I DID find it very enjoyable- see my Jaci pimpage). Her only requirements to be deemed ARCworthy were that we post our comments on our blog close to the August 28th release date and that we WANT to read Hunting the Demon. Another class act.

♥ BTW, I finished Jaci's Wild Wicked and Wanton and will pimp it post my commentary in the next day or two as soon as I can quit panting out loud long enough to write about it.

♥ And speaking of Class Acts, Annie Dean's new book, Your Alibi, released today over at Liquid Silver. It sounds delish, although she'll probably make me cry again, dammit!
ADDED: ACK! I almost forgot, have you read Annie's freakin' brilliant anti-promo, 13 Reasons Why You SHOULDN'T Buy "Your Alibi" ?

Author Writes Perfect Books; No Advice Necessary

This showed up over on another (successful) author's board...

Fledgling Author:
"Goggling my name...was a mistake.

The most interesting part of it all was reading a list of mistakes that I made, followed by a statement of how much they'd like to read the next book....Oweeeee....As if I'd have any confidence to attmept it!!! LOL...

Housework is sounding quite right today!! I believe I'll tackle that bathroom!

Here's a sampling of some of the responses she received:
"...I wouldn't listen to them. I for one and know many others who happen to love your books. If all someone can do while reading is pick apart a book then they have no need to be reading. I read to enjoy, I don't read and make a list of mistakes...unless asked to that is. *hugs* you'd better write more books lol"

"I want your next book, especially if it's the sequel... I've been hounding you about. You give me that little sniveling sneak's name and I'll bug the ever-living crap out of 'em. It's something I truly excel at. Let me at 'em. Jackass. No, not you, the sniveling sneak who dares to bash you."

"And I'll help! Cuz I love your books, which means those other freaks just got put on my "time to get ugly" list!!"

Fledgling Author:
"Ah no...I found it rather enlightening. Bloging has taken flight, I see. There are a couple that I do believe, I'd pray never buy another one of my's clear I'm not up to their high standards!

I do hate to disappoint, you understand.

Going to do the second shower now...since I'm in the mood to attack!

More responses to her:
"Well okay .... if you don't want them hurt, I'll refrain.

But if you change your mind, you let me know, okay? Cuz I can take 'em!! "

"Pay no attention to the idiots! I've read everyone of your books and loved them all!"

"How can they pick it apart with one hand and be waiting for the next one desperately?


What do they read that they enjoyed (and want to buy the sequel)? Or do they HAVE to find fault?

I love to pull apart a review."

Hmmm... the description of that review sounds VERY familiar. Let me google her name and see how far up in the results it is. Why, yes, it DOES appear that she just might be referring to MY review of her book. The one where I also mention the other (successful) author's board (that fledgling author only posts on when she has something to pimp) and she could reasonably assume I would see her comments AND THE RESPONSES they provoked. And the way she worded her posts, together with the fact that she did not point anyone specifically to the review, suggests to me the possibility that she KNEW it and posted deliberately to provoke me and/or to attempt to polarize the board.

Frankly, I believe the fairness of my review is beyond reproach and she needs to accept the fact that she just is NOT going to always get glowing reviews. Hell, EVERY author worth their salt says they can accept bad reviews if they are constructive, and I made sure mine was- I even read the damn book TWICE to be fair! In fact, I'd say she's lucky the review was done by someone like me rather than the nasty snark-for-snark's-sake reviewers whose opinions carry much more weight than mine does.

I bent over backwards to give a fair, constructive critique of that book, dammit! I listed the three things that did NOT work for me and WHY they didn't work (and therefore prevented me from fully enjoying the book) and said I felt that her beta/writer's group/editor should have caught those inconsistencies. I also listed what DID work for me and why AND I mentioned the glowing recommendations from the members of the other author's board AND the high ratings from a couple of review sites. How much fairer could I POSSIBLY have been? Should I have said "OH WOW! This is the BEST BOOK EVAH!" even though it wasn't?

So will those that responded to her post feel they've been duped into turning on one of their own (me)? Or will they feel she was justified in her anger at me (I suspect this will be the case)? Does she need to pull up her big girl panties and accept that not everyone will EVER love everything she writes? Was she justified in her nastiness towards me? Could there have been some OTHER way to write that review and still be honest? Even if by some odd coincidence it WASN'T my review she's snarking about, what is that woman girl going to do if/when she ever gets a TRULY negative review?

I did not respond to her on the other author's board because, first of all, I don't feel it's the place for it, and secondly, because I KNOW the other author does not want any smack downs between the board members. I DID email two members of the board whose opinions I trusted (and who had responded to the fledgling author) and asked them whether they thought I should post and try to clear the air or just let it go. They both basically said that I had a right to my honest opinion, but that, since fledgling author does not actually identify the reviewer and it might not be me, it might be best to let it go.

So, I'm taking their advice. I even took the authors' names out of this post. But her behavior still pisses me off. I can only hope that, once fledgling author gets over her snit, she might re-read my review and wonder if it has any merit. In the meantime, I guess I really am the bad guy in this and should probably assume I'm no longer welcome on that board or at the get together weekend in September. Fuck it. That's what I get for trying to be honest AND fair AND sensitive to the author's feelings. Maybe I should just stick with honest in the future, then I won't have to read books like that twice.

It turns out that fledgling author has her very own little message board. Seems to me that, if she only posted her snit on successful author's board to get support for her hurt feelings and had no ulterior motives, wouldn't her OWN board be the best place for it? But then the sniveling sneak, odd freak jackass who wrote the review might never have got her message.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

QB's Quickies

"So, read any good books lately?"
"What did you think of...?"

Here's the Quickie answers to those questions. Click on the Links for more info.

Colleen Gleason - The Gardella Vampire Chronicles
1. The Rest Falls Away (see previous commentary)
2. Rises the Night

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 5” out of 9”

I have to say first off that I did not find Rises the Night quite as enjoyable as The Rest Falls Away. For me, the juxtaposition between Victoria’s traditional role as a member of the veddy proper Ton and her kick-ass role as a Venator is what gave the first book it’s unique appeal. This second book focuses almost exclusively on vampire slaying and the Venators. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this one, on the contrary, Colleen delivers some jaw-dropping twists, turns, and Holy Shit shocks. Oh, and those sparks that flew between Victoria and bad boy Sebastian from book 1? They get fanned into full flame in this one.
Piquant Opines: Bam, RT, RJ, AAR,

Angela Knight - Mageverse
1. Seductions Gift- Hot Blooded anthology- Lancelot and Grace
2. Master of the Night - Reece and Erin
3. Galahad- Bite anthology- Galahad and Caroline
4. Master of the Moon- Llyr and Diana
5. Master of Wolves- Jim and Faith
6. Master of Swords- Gawain and Lark
7. Moon Dance- Over the Moon anthology- Lucas and Elena
8. Master of Dragons - Kel and Nineva

Series Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 7” out of 9”

Is this the last book in the Mageverse? I don’t want it to be, but this book was so damn good, I don’t know where else Angela could possibly take this series! We revisit old friends, we see the defeat of old enemies. We get a buttload of satisfying and wondrous HEAs. What magic can Angela possibly pull out of her pen to top all that?! Has there ever been a more original paranormal series? My only problem? That unfortunate Sandra-Hill-like cover pic on this newest one. GAK! Kel deserved better.
Piquant Opines: RT, RJ, AAR,

Jacquelyn Frank - The Nightwalkers
1. Jacob - Jacob and Isabella; Kane And Corinne
2. Gideon - Gideon and Magdelegna

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 6" out of 9”

Honestly, I really enjoyed the first book, Jacob, and appreciated what an intelligent, unique heroine Isabella was. The first part of Gideon, however, was tedious to read through. I actually had to force myself to continue reading. It got a bit better as the story unfolded but it just wasn’t the enjoyable read that Jacob was. Gideon was introduced as a character in Jacob and I found him very intriguing and was looking forward to his story with Legna, but he seemed to have lost some of his appeal to me in this one. I think the main problem with this book, for me, was that there was very little dialogue or action relative to the endless third person descriptions of what Gideon and/or Legna were thinking or feeling. If one of them asked a question or made a statement, it was followed by pages of internal angst so that by the time a response was given, I had forgotten what the conversation was about. And, frankly, Legna was just a confusing character to me.

Nonetheless, the included excerpt from the upcoming Elijah sounds like it’s going to be a good one. And I can’t wait to meet the woman that Noah loses his heart to!
Piquant Opines: RT, RJ, AAR,

Yasmine Galenorn - Sisters of the Moon
1. Witchling - Camille
2. Changeling - Delilah

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 6” out of 9”

I’m not much of a witch story reader. It seems witches as heroines are portrayed as either omnipotent and able to pull powers out of their ass as the story needs them, or else they are portrayed as bumbling, yet earnest, airheads. This series combines both. On the surface, this story shouldn’t appeal to me at all- 3 sisters (a sultry witch, an flighty shifter, an angry vampire) who are Otherworld (elves, trolls, fae, etc.) agents assigned Earthside as a sort of punishment for their incompetence. Yet they come through and save the day. Sounds completely light and silly yet somehow it all works and even has depth, heart, and drama. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Witchling and have now found Changeling just as enjoyable.
Piquant Opines: RT, AAR,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday Trio (Wednesday Edition)

Since I spend so much time talking about the books that have given me such mental enjoyment, I thought I should further expand my mind through the Art of Photography. So every Tuesday I will present a trio of studies of the human anatomy.

What? Why, yes! You're absolutely right. How astutely observant you are. They DO all happen to be the study of the MALE human anatomy. And your point would be...?

The subject of this week's study will be Perspective...

I'm B-a-a-a-a-ck...

The Seneca Niagara Casino was way nicer than we thought it would be. Not as opulent as The Venetian, Bellagio, or Wyn in Vegas, but exponentially more than NYNY in Vegas. We will definitely go again.

So, as usual, we'd win 2 then lose 4. As long as we win enough to keep having fun, we're happy. Of course we'd be WAY happier to win more than we lose, but I doubt that will EVER happen. The important thing is that my DH and I spent some fun, kid free, quality time together.

Well, now to catch up on work and try to find time to catch up on what's happening in the blogosphere...

Sunday, June 17, 2007


As I mentioned before, I'm off for some much needed KID FREE quality time with my husband to The Seneca Niagara Casino. He says we're going to win big this time. I figure just having a couple of nights where we don't have to be quiet makes us big winners.

See y'all in a few days. Play nice while I'm gone, grasshoppers!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

QB's Quickies

"So, read any good books lately?"
"What did you think of...?"

Here's the Quickie answers to those questions. Click on the Links for more info.

Anne Douglas - The McCabes:
1.0 Persuading Jo
1.5. Making Out

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 7" out 9"

Persuading Jo is a short, hot contemporary ménage story with really likeable characters. However, BECAUSE they were so likeable, I would very much liked to have read their backstory as it unfolded. Instead, we got brief glimpses of these backstories as told or remembered by the characters. Matt and Brian are two straight men (except with each other) and an established couple- how did that happen, who made the first move, what obstacles did they have to overcome? Jo roomed with them her first year of college, they saved her from abuse by her cousin who became her guardian after her parents died- what had she endured, how did they save her, how did their relationship grow to the point that they realized they both needed her in their lives, when did she realize she wanted to be part of their relationship? Watching all that unfold would have made me care more for and become more involved with the characters. Besides, all that build-up would have made already smoking’ erotic scenes feel like a bonfire!

Making Out is what I refer to as a little gift from an author to their readers. It’s a VERY short story that lets us catch up with the characters from Persuading Jo and reassures us they’re still together and doing just fine. Thanks, Anne!
Piquant Opines: RT, JERR,

Rachel Vincent - Stray - Faythe and Marc

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 5" out of 9"

WHOA!! Shape shifting panthers… and Urban Fantasy done RIGHT!! This book rocked! I thought it was a standalone because, unlike most Urban Fantasy series, Stray seemed to have a satisfying ending. But Rachel is already working on the next two- Rogue (in revisions) and Pride (awaiting rewrites). I really, REALLY hope one of those is about Jace, I just wanted to cry for his hurt. And I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of Andrew. An added warning: there's a couple of intensely tough scenes to read, probably not for the squeamish.
Piquant Opines: RT, RRT,

Carrie Vaughn - Kitty Norville series
1. Kitty and the Midnight Hour (see previous commentary)
2. Kitty Goes to Washington
3. Kitty Takes a Holiday

Series Category: Lava Cake - reads like warm Chocolate Lava Cake... à la Mode... sprinkled with nuts. (A,A-)
Flame height: 5" out of 9"

After recently reading book 1, I said that I never picked these up before because I thought they were silly chick-lit instead of the unique Urban Fantasy that they are. Well, I’m now caught up with the series to date and I can’t thank my friend enough for bitchin’ at me bugging me to read them. A werewolf story without an alpha male (or female) hero; completely unpredictable- every time I think I know where Carrie is going to take us, she finds a completely different path to pull us down; rich and satisfying. Maybe TOO satisfying because, after finishing book 3 (the best one), I kept picking up other books from my Soon to Be Savored pile and then putting them back down because I just wasn’t ready to shake Kitty and her world out of my head. Brava, Carrie Vaughn- now write faster, please!
Piquant Opines: RT, RT, RJ,

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Fondue

♥ Head over to read Gwen's Sybil's interview with Lora Leigh (that Gwen totally took credit for *snicker*)- Lora also answered some of the reader's questions too. You know I'm a complete Breeds addict! How that woman keeps track of all her series I cannot even imagine!

♥I'm such an idiot. I pop over to Jaci Burton's blog and she mention's that last week's winner of Free Book Friday hasn't contacted her yet. So, out of curiosity, I roll down to see who it was. Turns out it was ME!!! How the hell did I miss THAT!! Thanks Jaci! And, because I'm still pimping for her, if you haven't read Surviving Demon Island yet (which landed in my Lava Cake category), what are you waiting for? It's sequel, Hunting the Demon, will be released August 28, so you've still got a little time to catch up. And, even though (as you know) I'm not a big fan of contemporaries, her latest book, Wild, Wicked, and Wanton, is being pimped by readers all over Romancelandia so I couldn't resist picking it up last week.

And, if missing winning wasn't enough, after I emailed Jaci and heard back from her, one of the books she offered to me was Out of the Darkness (EC)which she cowrote with Charlie. Now, how the hell did I miss a werewolf/vamp/menage?! And by Jaci, no less!! Geesh, at this rate, I'm going to have to demote myself from Reader (with a capital R) down to just a reader!!

♥ I know I've not had any new blog posts for a couple of days. And I'm sure it's been quite a hardship for you to have to continue studying the Art of Photography (*snort*), but I'm trying to get ahead of some work (in addition to the normal chaos that is my life). Why? Because my husband and I are heading off for a few KID-FREE casino days up at the Seneca Casino in New York. We've never been there, but we've had several people tell us how nice it is- not Venetian in Vegas (where we stayed last year) nice, but drinks are free like in Vegas (just the $1 per drink we tip the servers), and they win often enough that it keeps it fun. Win? That'd be nice for a change, although we never take more cash than what we're willing to lose.

I've got a QB's Quickie filled up, hopefully I'll have time to fill in all the links and post it before we leave. And, since I won't be around on Tuesday, I'm hoping I'll have time to post a new Tuesday Trio, too.

♥Turns out I'm going to miss the launch of a new group author blog- The Bradford Bunch launches Sunday with freebies and contests. Annie explains who the Bradford bunch is on her blog today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday Trio

Since I spend so much time talking about the books that have given me such mental enjoyment, I thought I should further expand my mind through the Art of Photography. So every Tuesday I will present a trio of studies of the human anatomy.

What? Why, yes! You're absolutely right. How astutely observant you are. They DO all happen to be the study of the MALE human anatomy. And your point would be...?

The subject of this week's study will be the reclining human torso...

Bonus Study: It's appeared here before, but I still find it endlessly fascinating...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lest We Forget...

Here in Romancelandia, we sometimes need reminding that all those sigh-worthy historical Romances are, in fact, FICTION. Most of us wouldn't last a week if we were suddenly transported back to those "romantic" times!

Here are some facts about the 1500s (courtesy of one of my BIL, Jeff's, numerous forwarded emails):

"Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Houses had thatched roofs- thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, It's raining cats and dogs.

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor.

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence, a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

Now, whoever said History was boring?!"

Thanks, Jeff!

Since it's wedding season here in the USA, here's a couple of other things I've picked up along the way...

Here's how to remember which side of the groom the bride stands on and thus, which side of the church her family sits on- Since most people are right-handed, the bride stands on the groom's left side so as not to impede his ability to wield his sword in his right hand should they be attacked.

Bridesmaids and veils were originally employed to confuse anyone attempting to kidnap the bride on the way to the church. Obviously, the groomsmen's role was for protection.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Immortals Series

The Immortals Series Web Site (trust me, it IS worth a browse or two)

My first response upon seeing the whole concept behind this series was FUGETABOUTIT!! Various authors, each writing a sequel to the previous one (I learned my lesson about THOSE from Crimson City) and, WARNING: GIMMICK ALERT... when all four covers are placed together in order, they form a pentagram! ACK!!! GAG!! HURL!!

Yeah, yeah, I hear you- so WTF did I go ahead and read them??!!

Well, because I starting hearing buzz (thanks, Sybil) about the first one, The Calling, and was intrigued enough to give it a try.

So anyway, the goddess Isis decided that she and a some of her goddess posse needed to boink some high-powered mortal men to create this group of immortal demi-god half-brothers. Their purpose is to keep evil in check (dark, evil=vampires, demons, etc; light,good=witches, shifters, etc.) so that the balance between good and evil is maintained. Oh, and the brothers got in each other's faces and pissed each other off, so now they stay far away from each other. One of them was kidnapped and tortured by a demon and is now so bugfucked nuts, he wants to destroy the world since that's the only way he can die. So, the series is ultimately about finding this bugfucked nuts brother and stopping him while also destroying the male/female demon he loves, who still tortures him regularly in one of the most fucked up psycho torture scenes I've ever read. *shivers*

Jennifer Ashley - The Immortals: The Calling (Book 1) - Adrian and Amber

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 6" out of 9"

Now in the first book, The Calling, we learn about the boys and their world. Adrian is still feeling a major guilt trip for not saving his brother from the demon a few hundred years ago. Amber's older sister (an edgier witch than Amber) was murdered by the same demon just a month prior to the start of this book because, as she wrote in her journals, she saw the bugfucked nuts brother while cruising between the astral planes or some such.

So yada, yada, yada, they search for the bugfucked nuts brother, we find shit out, Amber and Adrian fall in love and have wild monkey sex where Amber feels the burn from Adrian's demi-god size Cockzilla.

Then they attempt a ritual where they become the embodiment of the god and goddess. Now, assuming I'm understanding this right, am I the only one that finds it completely creepy and Oedipal that Isis, Adrian's MOTHER, was inhabiting Amber's body to boink her god (still not clear on who, but I think Adrian's father) who was inhabiting Adrian, HER SON'S, body??!!! EEEEWWWW,YUK!!!

Then some other shit happens and the other brothers, summoned through an ancient Calling ritual performed simultaneously by witches around the world, are now going to be forced to join in the search for the bugfucked nuts brother.

So, are you getting the idea that so far this series is a wee bit different than most Paranormal Romances I've been reading lately?

Robin T. Popp - Immortals: The Darkening (Book 2)- Darius and Lexi

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 6" out of 9"

The next Immortal, Cockzilla wielding, demi-god brother hasn’t been back to Earth in 300 years. Why? His goddess/mommy, Sekhmet, has been keeping his life-force in an amulet hung around her neck so he can’t leave and succumb to the pleasures of the flesh like his demi-god half brothers have. THEY never come visit their mamas anymore because they’re too busy boinking and she couldn’t bear for her baby boy to do the same.

Then, when he realizes he’s being Called to Earth because he’s needed to fight evil, he begs Mommy Dearest to let him go. She decides it would be too dangerous for her precious baby boy and refuses. So, in desperation, Darius grabs his life force amulet, smashes it and is immediately zapped to Earth. Except, he goes back not-quite-immortal. Since his life force wasn’t replaced right and becomes a golden serpent tat on his chest, any wound to this new tattoo could be fatal. Now, to make sure his time on Earth is loaded with chuckles, Mommy Dearest tries to throw a hastily created spell on him as he’s zooming away, except the only words that come through create a spell that gives him complete amnesia if he boinks until he releases his luv juices.

Seriously. I swear to you I did NOT just make all that up. These people have ISSUES!

Anyway, Darius is plopped into NYC in front of Lexi, a witch who recognizes Darius from the Calling ritual. She hooks him up by phone with his brother Adrian (from the first book), who explains all the shit that’s been going down on Earth with the demon and their bugfucked nuts brother, Tain. Lexi gives him her business card and they part ways.

Well, Darius, who has 300 years of horny to release and doesn’t know about Mommy Dearest’s fucked-up spell, heads to a vamp club and gets his groove on in a back room with a hot little pink haired chickie. Two problems- as soon as Cockzilla starts to sputter, he realizes that little miss pink hair is actually a succubus who is intent on draining his life force and then he loses all his memories. Doesn’t have a clue who he is, where he is, or why he’s there. All he’s got is Lexi’s business card and he shows up at her office.

Lexi, in addition to being a witch, is a leather clad, badass, bounter hunter, and a werewolf who needs to burn off some of her approaching full moon magic overload with wild monkey sex. Darius, whom Lexi describes as resembling The Rock (*yum*), has some more way cool tattoos besides his new life-force serpent. If he needs a dagger, he touches the dagger tat on his arm and it becomes one. Broadsword? Just pulls the tat on his back off. A key to any lock? Yep, he’s got a tat for that, too. He’s also got a dragon tat on his chest that turns out to be the last of the Bucca demons. Seems the Bucca, Fury, is addicted to feeding off Darius’ life force, and so hangs out on his chest until Darius needs him to kick some ass.

So, after one of Lexi’s witch friends creates a spell that will gradually allow Darius to regain his memories, he hangs out with Lexi and helps her catch bail jumpers like the alcoholic leprechaun, Paddy. And together they save Lexi’s best friend, a TSTL reporter and horny wood nymph, from an evil vampire gang (not to be confused with the not-completely-evil vamp gang that Lexi usually sates her full moon madness with). You know, of course, that eventually they are going to end up bumpin’ uglies and Lexi will have never been filled so full. Only, right in the middle of it, Darius falls asleep. Yep, you read that right. Mommy Dearest chose that time to pull her Precious into the dream plane and have her servant/lover explain about him being not-quite-immortal and about that blow your wad/blow your mind spell.

When he wakes up, Lexi is pissed because he fell asleep and she now thinks she bored him. Darius is too embarrassed to tell her what happened and about the spell. Oh no! Is this the end of their relationship? Yeah, riiiight.

Anyway, a bunch of shit happens, Darius can’t believe his bugfucked nuts brother IS bugfucked nuts and keeps trusting him. Neither the demon or the bugfucked nuts brother is captured and the brothers’ quest to stop their spread of evil continues.

Then we get one of the mushiest HEAs I’ve read in a long time. Almost sweet enough to have me doing the finger-down-the-throat universal sign for "gag me", particularly since it was between two badasses.

I’ve been having a bit of fun writing about these books but, note that, out of all the books that were released this week, THIS was the one I picked up before any of the others.

Since the next book in this series won’t be released until the end of July, that gives all of you plenty of time to catch up. I personally can’t wait for the next installment of The Cockzilla Brothers and the Mommies Who Luuuv Them.

Piquant Opines: RT, RT, Sybil, Sybil,

The rest of the series has already landed in my Constant Cravings list:
3. Immortals: The Awakening by Joy Nash (07/31/07)
4. Immortals: The Gathering by Jennifer Ashley (08/28/07)

UPDATE: Over on The Good, The Bad and the Unread, I asked Jennifer Ashley about the scene that I interpreted as Oedipal. Here's her answer:

"QB: LOL–No, the God and Goddess who embody Amber and Adrian in Chapter 21 are not Isis and his father. I wasn’t thinking that at all. No, no, no.

I was thinking in Wicca terms–the Goddess who takes over Amber is the universal goddess (nature, childbirth, etc.), not a specific goddess like Isis, and the God is the horned god (of virility, growth etc.) Adrian’s father was a mortal priest from Egypt, dead long ago, so it wouldn’t have been him."

The Lost Immortal Brother

Notice the family resemblence? Yes, as you can see, only an Immortal demi-god could wield that mighty Cockzilla. A mere mortal would surely die from the diversion of blood flow.

The Immortal Brothers are eternally grateful to the Smart Bitches for finding their long lost (and up till now unknown) baby brother, Angus Hungwell.

Mystery Solved! I Can Now Move On With My Life!

AHA!!!! The Magic Gopher has been defeated!! I just received an email from Oleta and can now dub her...

The Second Most Smartest Person in the Known Universe and Fearless Dispeller of Gopher Magic!!

Who's the first smartest? The creator of that damn gopher, of course!!

So what's the secret? Right click and drag to highlight and read what Oleta wrote...

"I think I have figured out how this works. When you do the math the number that you come up with is some combination of 9 (i.e., 9, 18, 27, 36, 45 etc.). If you will notice that every time you do the puzzle the symbols rotate. The symbols for the combinations of 9 are all the same. So no matter what the total is answer is always some combination of 9 and all those symbols are the same."

And Annie? You KNOW I luffs you, right? You know I think you're creative, and funny, right? But math just might not be your strong suit, darlin'. That's why calculators were invented.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Alright, how does this damn Gopher DO this? It's making me crazy- I keep going back to try to stump the little rodent and he ALWAYS GETS IT RIGHT!!! How, dammit, HOW?!

Even MORE Fangirl Squees!! (In which QB has her say!!)

I just need to let loose with a real quick *Fangirl Squee*

I intended to go buy Laurell Hamilton's new book, The Harlequin, but since I had already read the ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) TWICE, I figured I'd wait until I was done with my end-of-month-crunch work. But a friend told me this morning that Laurell mentions me in the Acknowledgements!! *Fangirl Squee* So off to Waldens I went and yep, there I am! *Fangirl Squee*

It's funny, back when I won that ebay auction to have my name used in the book, I expected nothing more than my very own personal thrill of being some part of Anita's world. My family was bewildered as they stood by and watched me truly shaking as the auction ended. They didn't understand it, but they were thrilled FOR me, because they knew how important it was to me. This was months before I ever even lurked on LKH's board and later joined it. In fact, it was months after joining that I even let anyone there know who I was. And I've continued to keep it fairly low key, but I eventually DID hope that some of the other LKH fans would share in the thrill with me, and I only prefaced my review on the board with the auction details to explain how I obtained an ARC.

And some of them do understand how thrilled I am and are thrilled FOR me, but of course, there are the nasty ones who've let their claws come out because it wasn't THEM or because they need to feel more important in their sad little lives. Of course these are the same people at both extremes of the LKH fandom- the ones who's only thrill in life is to denigrate LKH's books, her and her family personally (usually using facts pulled out of their asses), and anyone who enjoys her books. And the ones at the other extreme- the ones who've befriended and/or sucked up/off Laurell's joke of a bodyguard in hopes of becoming Laurell's BFF. I wonder how long it will be before someone truly wacko, instead of just pathetic, figures out that sucking up/off the skanky bodyguard allows them free access to Laurell at public events?

So, since this is MY blog, I'm going to have my say. First of all, yes, the auction WAS for a good chunk of change for the Granite City APA (animal shelter), they were going to close because of the state of their water holding tank and this money allowed them to install water and sewer lines so that they could continue their fantastic work. But I assure you that, in a year that saw the Tsunami and Katrina relief efforts, I did not contribute to animals INSTEAD of putting the money to "better" use for humans... this was in ADDITION TO what I donated to human causes. So that snark towards me and Laurell doesn't hold water. And on Laurell's end, she had to allow a little piece of Real Life to intrude into Anita's world. Since I didn't want her agonizing over offending me, I wrote her a letter and told her that I'd consider ANYTHING she did with my name to be a complete hoot- corpse, murder vic, slut puppy, whatever- I'd be thrilled no matter what!

The actual auction terms were to have my name used for a character (of Laurell's choosing) in a future ABVH book, and I would receive a signed copy of that book. That's it. And I understood those terms completely. Now, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I secretly hoped that a minor, but recurring character got my name. But soon after the auction's end, Laurell blogged that "I'd" probably be a corpse. Was I a little let down? Yep! But at RT Con 2006, she explained to me that she had talked to other authors that had some problems with winners in auctions like this. So she had been advised to make sure to kill off the winner's character because other authors had their winners hounding them and criticizing them for not giving "their" characters more "screen time" or they didn't like their placement, etc. Would I have done that? Absolutely not! But Laurell has only met me twice and doesn't know me from Adam, so how would SHE know what I'm really like?

I said above that I never expected anything more from this auction than my own personal thrill at being part of Anita's world. My name doesn't mean squat to anyone outside of my friends and family, and I don't expect it to. I guess maybe someday I might end up in a trivia question on the LKH board, but that's as close to a claim to fame as I ever intend to get.

But I did get MUCH more from the auction. First of all, I've had the opportunity to meet Laurell and her husband Jon twice. Unfortunately, the night before RT Con, Darla Cook (LKH's PA and right hand) fell at home and wasn't able to attend. So, while I have corresponded with Darla a few times, I've yet to meet her- and I was sooo hoping I could learn from observing her legendary organizational skills (she's my hero)! Although, I have to admit that, thanks to Darla's mishap, I was able to help out at that Saturday's booksigning. I considered that honor and all the fun I had talking to other LKH fans to be more than thanks enough for what little I did, but then Jon (a self admitted sci-fi/comic geek), created The Order of the Penguin- with cool medals and proclamations and everything!! Those of us that helped out at the con, and the mods from the board have been inducted into it. Okay, yeah, I know, it's sorta geeky, but it just tickles me pink. Unfortunately, some people view it as some secret, conspiratorial "troo fan" society. They just don't believe that not much ever happens in the "exclusive" Penguin section of the board. Hell, some of us can't even stand some of the others!

Laurell is a fascinating woman. I've mentioned before that I could sit and happily be mesmerized for hours listening to her talk. Her husband, Jon, has never met a stranger. And it's weird, but before meeting them, they were Laurell Hamilton and, oh, she has a husband, Jon. But within minutes of meeting them, they become LaurellandJon. It's impossible to think of one without the other. I've talked to other fans that say they had exactly that same reaction to them. Laurell and Jon seem to always be aware of where the other is and what they're doing/saying, like they are touchstones for each other. Jon is very gregarious yet you sense his protectiveness towards Laurell. You can sense Laurell's fierce intelligence burning through, yet at the same time, she seems ethereal and that brought out my own mama hen protectiveness towards her. And they really seem to appreciate their fans. Months after meeting them at Rt Con, I happened to be in Las Vegas at the same time she was doing a Danse Macabre signing there. Even though they'd met hundreds (thousands?) of fans during the book tour, they immediately recognized me- even called on me for the first question of the evening! And I hear from other fans, that it's typical of Laurell and Jon to remember people from signing to signing. That just boggles my mind that they care enough to do that.

Now, lest I continue to be lumped in with the pathetic bodyguard suck-ups, let me just say that, even though I just wrote all that lovefest, I have never had delusions of being Laurell's pal or part of the "inner circle". I could never be so presumptuous that I felt her knowing my name gave me the right to intrude in her life! I'm a fan of her work. I admire and like Laurell, Darla, and Jon personally, from what little I know of them. I hope to someday meet them again. Period. So trust me when I say that I consider it an infuriating insult when someone sees no difference between me and that group of no-life Eddie Haskell hanger-ons.

I've also received far more tangible benefits from the auction. I assumed I would be receiving just the hard cover release of that future ABVH book. A couple months ago, I received an email from Darla asking me if I wanted my ARC personalized. I had no idea I was even in The Harlequin AND it never occurred to me that I would be ARCworthy! And now, Laurell has placed me in the Acknowledgements! Reader Heaven, I tell ya, Reader Heaven!!

But, let me tell you a secret that neither Laurell or Anita are aware of. In The Harlequin, instead of being sucked dry by one of the nummy male vamps in Anita's world, Laurell has me killed by a female vamp. But here's what REALLY happens-

That female vamp used her vamp mojo on me so I switched teams before she killed me. But I died with a big ol' smile on my face!! Three days later I arose as a newly made baby vamp and am happily living at the Circus right now. Of course, my unlife would be far more fun if my master, Jean Claude, would let me have a little sip of that swoonworthy Ulfric, or the nummy Nimar-Raj, or even that bad boy new Rex! Of course, he WAS nice enough to give me gainful employment. I'm now the wardrobe mistress at Guilty Pleasures where it's my job to make sure I personally fit and adjust each of my boy's stripper costumes. Hey, it's tough work, but someone's got to do it!

Wh-a-a-a-at??!! No, I said before that I was born without a creative writing gene- I NEVER said I was born without a FANTASY gene!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Damn Her! Annie Dean Made Me Cry!

Annie Dean - The Average Girl’s Guide to Getting Laid

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 6” out of 9”

During a night sharing too many pitchers of beer with friends, Ellie, the “average” girl from the title with too much back and rack, proclaims that she can write more than (as her friends tease) boring travel books. In fact, she makes a bet with them that she can write a sex book and, while still buzzed, dashes off a proposal to her editor for a book on “making pleasure readily accessible for average women, making it easier for them to find partners without stressing over rejection or commitment.” So, choosing the road (for her) not taken, the Cairo, Illinois girl whose sex life could best be summed up with “If her vibrator made coffee, she’d marry it.”, who describes sex with her ex-boyfriend as “the man didn’t even have kinks in his pubic hair,” sets off to NYC where “Two roads diverge in pursuit of wood and that has made all the difference.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy Annie’s blog and was eager to hear her voice as an author, too. Well, that’s true, but I was also a bit apprehensive about reading this book because what if I didn’t like it? I’ve come to consider Annie an online friend, and I know she would want honesty from me, but what if this book sucked? First of all, I don’t read very many straight, vanilla contemporaries- they just don’t trip my trigger. And I knew that this was about an interracial couple, but what if it was all jungle fever, K-Fed stuff? That just sooo wouldn’t work for me!

Well, as it turns out, this book had me laughing, smiling, cringing in empathy, and even crying- TWICE!

Upon first meeting Ash- “Her gaze fastened on his earring. Her heart plummeted. I bet he’s gay. She wished she could remember left or right side, what meant what. No straight guy who looked this good would have any reason to give her the time of day... she was pretty sure gay guys were just more social or something. This reality relieved her of the need to be intriguing, flirtatious, and irresistible. Just as well, since she was none of those things.”

Here, she’s talking about her head-turning best friend- “It wasn’t that she didn’t love Deanna. Life wouldn’t be the same without her. But in every friendship, there was the pretty girl and the plain one... She hated beer commercials that glorified the mighty wingman. For each one, there was a fat girl wishing she could kill him with her cardboard coaster.

Back in the day, I was skinny, flat-chested and could best be described as “I don’t turn heads, but then again, I don’t turn stomachs”. Annie painfully nails the universal experiences of all us “average” girls. While I never had the gaydar questions (over 25 years ago in small town Ohio), I did get more relaxed around unattainable men (or men I wasn’t attracted to) and I think that was the main reason I ended up hitting it off with a couple of wingmen, resulting in relationships that lasted longer than those of our better looking friends! HAH! Take that, bitches! OH.. AHEM… ah… back to Ash and Ellie then, shall we?

Ellie’s new attitude is “Stop seeing every man you meet as a potential husband... Don’t gauge their long-term potential. Instead, measure their PQ -- pleasure quotient. Don’t look at his car; check out his crotch. Objectify. Every man is a mobile dildo, some better made than others”, but, as many of us discovered, relationships have a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass only AFTER you stop looking for them.

What starts out as casual and temporary with absolutely NO expectations, very slowly grows into more without any conscious effort from either Ellie or Ash. And, as a Reader, I was there every step of the way with them, smiling, laughing and getting pissed off at them when they were being asshats (the ballpark, Ellie? You were WRONG!) I CARED about what happened with these two. And that whole jungle fever thing I was worried about? Not an issue, not even a plot device. A couple of friends and family expressed their disapproval and/or concern, as would probably happen in real life, but there was no Romeo/Juliet angst.

The thing is, I’m having trouble explaining why this book is so heartwarming and enjoyable (my fault, not Annie's). There are no mysteries to solve. No blood pounding danger. There IS a family crisis, but it’s the kind that thousands of us face, and it shows us what these two are made of. There’s none of that love-at-first-sight, destined soul mates longing. Ash is not a chest thumping, possessive, uber alpha, wealthy male who lives in a penthouse- he's the assistant manager of IT for a law firm. They are simply two basically good people who meet, are attracted to each other (okay, they have the frickin‘ HOTS for each other), enjoy each other’s company (and bodies- *pant pant*), and gradually get to know and care about each other- and sometimes even piss each other off. The characters ARE the story.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Ash and Ellie could be real people we know. At it’s heart, their story is a story shared by many of us. This is the way alot of relationships form. This is how a lot of people live out their lives. They are people I could be friends with and I loved getting to know them.

Ya did good, Annie. Damn good.

Geez, the next thing I know, you’ll have me reading futuristic sci-fi fantasy! For those of you that don’t know, Annie, writing as
Ann Aguirre, has just sold a book, Grimspace: Sirantha Jax 1, to Ace, who also publishes authors like Laurell Hamilton and Patricia Biggs. She is currently writing Wanderlust: Sirantha Jax 2.
Piquant Opine: RRTE,

Monday, June 4, 2007

QB's Quickies

"So, read any good books lately?"
"What did you think of...?"

Here's the Quickie answers to those questions. Click on the Links for more info.

Stephanie Rowe - Immortally Sexy series
1. Date Me , Baby, One More Time - Justine and Derek
2. Must Love Dragons - Theresa and Zeke
3. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot - Becca and Nick

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 5" out of 9"

Look, this oh-so-zany paranormal series is lighter than air, silly as can be, AND I HAVEN'T MET THESE CHARACTERS IN 9,999 OTHER PARANORMAL BOOKS! So it's staying on my auto-buy list... mainly because Becca and Nick's story (the best so far) had a bit more "weight" to it than the first two.
Piquant Opines: RT, RT, RT, CK2S

Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John)- Kiss of Midnight - Midnight Breeds 1

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 6" out of 9"

Here's the thing- I barely remembered this Paranormal Romance just a couple of days after reading it. It's not that I DIDN'T like it, I DID, because it was a good, solid story. It's just that I've read it before, by other authors, over and over again. This book didn't bring me engaging characters I've never seen, fresh new world building, or an edge-of-my-seat storyline. It DID give me a cover that screamed "This is an IMPORTANT RELEASE! You MUST buy it!"

Five years ago, maybe even 2 or 3 years ago, I would have been singing this book's praises, but I've been hanging out way too long in the Paranormal Romance section, I guess. A book has to have at least one of the traits I mentioned above to survive in this overcrowded market. Or else market it to Paranormal Romance virgins. As for me, I'll probably buy the next one, but it will hang out in my 2nd or 3rd tier TBR pile.
Piquant Opines: RT, RJ

Maggie Shayne, Marjorie M. Liu, Alyssa Day, Meljean Brook - Wild Thing

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 5" out of 9"

Maggie Shayne's Animal Magnetism kicked butt- when did Maggie start writing such pant-out-loud scenes, anyway? But the other stories were just "alright" to me. Although, to be fair, I think they are part of series that I have not read. Oh, and it has a lickable cover, too! *g*
Piquant Opines: RT,

Alexa and Patrick Silver - Animal Attraction - Ellora's Cave

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 6" out of 9"

This is an EC Valentine Quickie, so I expected, and RECEIVED, nothing more or less than a short, light, entertaining read. The fact that the three characters happened to be feline shifters just added to the fun. Although, I wouldn't mind a more in depth glimpse someday into the shifter hierarchy these two first time authors have created.
Piquant Opines: RT, RRTE,