Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ensnared by Innocence by Larissa Lyons

Ensnared by Innocence by Larissa Lyons
Paranormal Historical eNovella published 23 Jan 2008 by 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: 6.5" out of 9"

Head over to The Good, the Bad, and the Unread to read my review.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Random...

Why? Just cuz I chuckle every time I look at it...

funny pictures

moar funny pictures

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bonbons Dipped in Chocolate Fondue

This is so freaking cool--- you know who the Dabel Brothers are right? They're the ones who adapted Laurell Hamilton's Guilty Pleasures into a comic book series (now owned by Marvel, but I've collected them all from day one). Well they've announced they've cut a deal with Patricia Briggs to create a comic series PREQUEL to her Mercy Thompson series! Read about it at Newsarama. Those damn Dabel Brothers are going to turn me into a full-out comic geek before too long.

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Zipped down to Border's the other night because they FINALLY called and said my Karen Marie Moning's Kiss of the Highlander audio book was in. Weird, because usually when I preorder through Border's Beta site it's waiting for me on release day. Well, at least I got it in time to get me through the next couple of weeks-- end of month crunch AND end of fiscal year. BLECH! Somehow I don't think it's going to last me until Dark Highlander releases in March.

Oh, and I'm such a fangirl that Sybil took pity on me and let me do a spotlight post for "Kiss" over on TGTBTU. Next time you are over there, check the Coming Attractions on the front page, it WAS the first one listed but Syb decided that the TGTBTU's exclusive on the first 4 chapters of Meljean Brook's upcoming new book, Demon Night, was more important and refused to make "Kiss" a permanent front page feature. *sniffle*

While I was at Borders, I picked up the January print releases and at least one February release (see sidebars). I also picked up the trade re-issue of Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley. My old paperback copy literally has pages that flutter out of it.
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I finally got around to making my hotel reservations for the RT Con in Pittsburgh. I still haven't decided if I'm actually going, but I figure I can always cancel the reservation since, unlike the Con registration fee, it won't cost me anything if I change my mind. Besides, making my own reservation means that I can get into the Executive Tower where I'll have access to the Executive lounge-- the one place where I'm virtually guaranteed to find food. That may seem like a weird statement, but trust me when I tell you that going hungry is par for the course at the Con. Particularly since this one doesn't have the daily breakfast and lunch mixers that they had in Daytona in 2006-- not that what the Daytona Hilton served was exactly edible, you understand, but when you're starving, it just doesn't matter. Plus, Pittsburgh's April weather isn't going to be anywhere NEAR as pleasant for walking excursions as the Daytona beach walk was, so heading out to forage for food at nearby restaurants will not be fun. Piece of advice for RT Con noobs--- bottled water, fruit, crackers, etc. in your room will become the most important part of your Con stay.

I already convinced my husband that it would make more sense for him to just drop me off at the Hilton instead of driving myself and paying the ridiculous parking fees. It'll only take him about 15 minutes longer than dropping me off at the airport would be. At least that's the reason I gave him. In reality, it saves me trying to navigate downtown Pittsburgh by myself. Downtown Pittsburgh is confusing as hell-- one way streets, which aren't unusual for cities, but stop at a traffic light and then realize that you can't go forward because the one way street you're on is now a one way street coming from THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION! ACK!
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Speaking of Rt Con...

I have to say that ONE of the big reasons I'm not anywhere near as excited about this one as I was with Daytona is because of the high cheese factor. There's going to be a cover model reunion, complete with a $100 per head "Dinner with the Cover Models". There's even a "Pose Down" in Club RT on Thursday. UGH! Now, I likes me some eye candy as much as the next pervy old broad, but it doesn't get any cheesier than Fabio and John DeSalvo. I swear, if I were to run into one of them, I don't think I would be able to stop myself from laughing. They are such caricatures-- walking cartoons. And they probably douse themselves in cologne so I'd be sneezing and coughing while laughing and probably end up peeing my pants. Do I really want to expose myself to that kind of humiliation?

Another reason I'm not sure if I'm going is because there just aren't as many interesting things going on as there was in Daytona. It's really kind of a bland schedule. What's up with that? And the few that sound interesting are, of course, scheduled at the same time. Figures. Or maybe it's just seems ho-hum because Daytona was a first for me and it had the added draw that Laurell Hamilton was on several panels.

I suppose I should decide soon if I'm going. At least I don't have to worry about costumes for the balls-- I'll just wear my vampire and faery costumes from Daytona. Assuming my fat ol' self can still fit into them. Well shit, if I decide to go, that means resuming daily visits to the gym to work off all those Peanut M&Ms.
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I've said before that I read very few non-paranormal, straight contemporary romances. Once a story is set in the real world, I expect it to follow real world rules and most contemps just aren't realistic enough for me, but they aren't fantasy enough to serve as escapist fun either. Yes, of course there are exceptions. However, I've found that the relationship dynamics in contemporary gay romance stories usually end up being closer to the friendship based relationships that are often a part of real life STRAIGHT relationships. But thanks to Teddy Pig, one of my favorite gay romance themes-- "I didn't know I was gay!"-- may forever be lost as a source of enjoyment to me. *sniffle*

As you may remember, Teddypig and I teamed up to review Claire Thompson's The Perfect Cover over on TGTBTU. Well, Teddy's now expanded on his thoughts about "I didn't know I was gay" storylines over on his own blog. So now, because of Teddy's insight, I just KNOW I'm going to start being overly critical of gay contemps and will be expecting them to follow real world rules, too. *sigh* Yeah, yeah, I know-- I've now gained new insight and understanding of a group of my fellow human beings. But, DAMN... I lurved me the "I didn't know I was gay!" storylines!
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Last week over on the Bradford Bunch, Marissa Scott posted "six reasons why you should think before you speak". If you are in need of a good screaming laugh, head over and read it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger- How Terribly Sad

His baby girl will probably have no direct memory of him. Hopefully, the rabid dogs with cameras will leave her and the rest of his family alone during this tragic time.

I enjoyed him in Brokeback Mountain, also in The Patriot and 10 Things I Hate About You.

But A Knight's Tale is how I will always remember him best. It's one of my all-time favorite movies and I couldn't guess at how many times I've watched it. I suppose I could get all artsy-fartsy and say that I find the juxtaposition of the modern elements with the medieval setting intriguing and unique. And I did. But the bottom line is that I love this movie because it grabs me and pulls me along for the ride, leaving me with a big smile on my face. And that HEA... *sigh*

And here's my absolute favorite scene in the movie. I just love that moment when we realize that the music has morphed into Bowie's Golden Years. It's just magical and never fails to elicit a huge smile from me...

I just had to post this next video over here. In light of today's tragic news, the music choice in this music video is eerily prophetic-- In the End by Linkin Park. It gave me the chills because it was posted on YouTube a year ago...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Destiny's Warrior by Heather Waters

Book CoverDestiny's Warrior by Heather Waters
Historical fantasy romance published 4 Dec 07 by Berkley

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"

Read my review over at The Good, the Bad, and the Unread

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Morning-After Glow...

Photobucket... yep, still have it. Of course that's also because, as soon as my demon spawn #3 and #4 kids were loaded onto the school bus this morning, I did it two more times.

(For those of you that don't have a clue what I'm swooning about, go here and read through the comments.)

ADDED: Aw, hell, read the comments for this post while you're at it. Gail has also succumbed to the lure of THE VOICE now. BWHAHAHAHA, I'm beginning to feel like a crack dealer, only I use my powers for good instead of evil (most of the time... some of the time... occasionally... okay, so I'm EBIL! There, I admit it!)

But I DO think Gail may be right,

"Be assured, Adam Black tis the one called Phil Gigante. I am convinced of it."
Now that would explain a LOT, wouldn't it?!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Perfect Cover by Claire Thompson

Teddypig and Bev(QB)’s review of The Perfect Cover by Claire Thompson
Contemporary gay romance ebook released by Ellora’s Cave 26 Dec 07

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 of 9"

So what happens when an opinionated, Big City Gay Man with a deliciously wicked sense of humor teams up with an opinionated, pervy, suburban Ohio soccer Mom to dish about a Gay Romance written by a female author?

Head over to The Good, the Bad, and the Unread to read the words of wisdom (*snort*) imparted by Teddypig and I in our Dual Review.

uh... do I need to point out that neither one of us has a reliable "V-Chip"?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Devil's Possession by Heather Waters

Book CoverThe Devil's Possession by Heather Waters
Historical paranormal romance published 7 Aug 07 by Berkley Sensation

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"

Read my review over at The Good, the Bad, and the Unread

Monday, January 14, 2008

At Love's Command by Samantha Kane

Samantha Kane - Brothers in Arms series
(Ellora's Cave)

Series Category: Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Moan-Out-Loud Favorites. (A+)
Flame Height: 9" out of 9"

The Courage to Love1. The Courage to Love - Jason, Tony, Kate (see previous commentary)
Love Under Siege2. Love Under Siege - Phillip, Jonathan, Maggie (see previous commentary)
Love's Strategy3. Love's Strategy - Valentine, Kurt, Leah (see previous commentary)

At Love's Command 4. At Love's Command - Ian, Derek, Sophie

Book Category: Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Moan-Out-Loud Favorites. (A+)
Flame Height: 9" out of 9"

To read my "official" The Good, the Bad, the Unread condensed review of At Love's Command, click here. (Just be warned that it was the innocent victim of TGTBTU's recent template and server changes, so it's a bit wonky and the comments have disappeared. Hopefully, everything at TGTBTU will be working smoothly soon.)

The Brothers in Arms series centers around a group of men who fought together in the Peninsular War. In pairs, they protected each other and saved each other many times over. They love each other but, for some of them, they never considered how much they needed to also physically love each other and could only fulfill that unspoken need by sharing one woman. Once they find a woman they can both love, it also frees them to explore their love for each other.

At Love’s Command is the story of two of the men, Ian and Derek, who have already discovered how much they need each other in every way. But Ian dreams of a new start with someone not associated with the war and all that happened there… Finally they could put the past behind them and live fully in the present, planning for a future. Ian wanted a family. He wanted children. And he wanted to give those things to Derek, too. Unfortunately, Derek neither needs nor wants any part of it. He is convinced that a wife will destroy his life with Ian.

“A child when they were betrothed, Sophia Middleton has been waiting twelve years for Ian Witherspoon to return and marry her. Preyed upon by her vicious father and older brother, Sophie longs for Ian to rescue her.”

In this series, Samantha Kane shows us another reality within the Regency era ton… woman had no rights and were at the mercy and whim of the men in their lives. They either accepted their lot in life or held out hope that yet another man would change their circumstances. From the vantage point of our modern times, it is hard to comprehend that women had so little personal power. And as romance readers, we are accustomed to seeing women of the ton treated as pampered, protected pets or, at worst, neglected and ignored by indifferent parents/guardians.

In At Love's Command, it is truly horrifying to learn what Sophia has endured at the hands of her father and brother, made more so by the fact that she really had no choice but to survive it or take her own life… until Ian sends for her. It was heart wrenching to watch her fear of Ian’s rejection and her willing debasement of herself as she grasped at the only hope she would ever have in her life. From her POV, the fact that Ian already had Derek in his life (I assume her brother told her about them) meant that he would make few demands on her sexually and she would feel some measure of freedom and control for the first time.

When I first read the previous books in this series, they immediately landed on my all time favorites list. It still amazes me that, even with this fourth book, Kane’s mastery of erotic scenes somehow allows us to perceive each erotic act to be unique to that set of participants. But as much as I loved those previous books, they almost pale in comparison to At Love’s Command.

Kane’s writing has matured exponentially with this rich, exquisite, multi-dimensional story. Each of the men reminisces about their history together which makes their bond all the more believable and allows us to see their current situation from both viewpoints. And watching Sophie bloom and discover her true personality and sexuality is a delightful journey. Kane weaves Ian’s dreams of a loving triad, Sophie’s dreams of freedom from men’s cruelty, and Derek’s cynicism together and gradually a pattern of mutual respect and caring starts to appear.

I think At Love’s Command could probably be read as a standalone, but I recommend you read them all just for the enjoyment. Most of the characters from the previous books appear but I don’t think it would be difficult to catch the gist of their stories in relation to Ian, Derek, and Sophie’s story. In fact, Kate, her friend Kitty, and her niece Very (all of whom we meet in book 1, The Courage to Love) play important roles in At Love’s Command, but just enough of their back story is mentioned that their presence would make sense to those who haven't read the previous books. FYI: the Majors Richards and Randall who appear in Derek’s and Ian’s Peninsular War reminiscences are the Tony and Jason from The Courage to Love who also appear here in At Love’s Command.

Kane wisely brings an end to a continuing subplot from the previous books that had run its course, although I feel it was a bit out of place and unnecessary here—Sophie’s family member provided more than enough villainy without the need for the additional villain. Thankfully this subplot makes a relatively brief appearance. And I have to admit to a bit of selfish disappointment that this story ends before the ball. I hope the next story opens there.

A note regarding Kate’s niece Very... Very (Veronica) is extremely likeable and a welcome contrast to the other women in the series who have suffered at the mercy of various men. Considering the circumstances in which we meet her and Kate in The Courage to Love, I will concede that Very might be more worldly than the average teen girl within the ton. But in At Love’s Command, I think her precocious adult insight and sexual knowledge strained credulity.

On a more personal note, her erotic scene with Michael and Wolf had me metaphorically cringing behind my hands and peeking out between my fingers to zip through it (FYI: heavy petting, no intercourse). Yes, I realize that it would not be unheard of for a teenager of that era to be married, but since the adults in the story relate to Very as a child, that is how I relate to her too. So the scene had my squick-o-meter alarms clanging and I fervently hope that Kane allows a few years to pass in Very’s life before the triad consummates their relationship.

You know, one of the joys of having a voice in Romancelandia is that I have a platform which allows me to champion authors and books that I consider “MY” squee-worthy discoveries (I bet you have some you feel the same way about). Samantha Kane is a shining example of the gems offered by ePubs at their very best. As it stands now, NY would never touch her bisexual storylines, yet I assert that At Love’s Command deserves to be front and center on the mass market new releases display at every major bookstore.

I can summarize this book, indeed this entire series, in one word… exquisite.

Read an excerpt.

Piquant Opines: Ecataromance, RJ, Teddy Pig, Euro-Reviews,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Iz Outta Heerz

moar funny pictures

Off for a couple of kid free, quality casino days with my husband.

Damn casino keeps tempting us with comp'd suites, slot dollars, and food dollars.

Add in the very UN-winter-like weather in NE Ohio through Buffalo, and how could we resist the chance to go lose more money?

'Course I doubt the work faery will stop by while we're gone, so all this damn work is still going to be waiting here when we get back.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Remodel has Reached the Demolition Phase

Well, if you look over to the right hand column, you'll see that I've added a button to go to my Index by Author... WOOT!!

What a tedious pain in the ass THAT was to create! I've still got some tweaking and fussing to do on it, but it is now officially in business. I added author website links to it, and links to Amazon searches/sorts by publication date so I could easily find new and upcoming releases. For ePubs, I linked to the author page at each ePub. I have Fictionwise links in there too, but unfortunately, Fictionwise doesn't have linkable searches so I'll have to recreate the search each time I check there.

Now to tackle THIS page. I have to go through each post and delete all the "Pâtissier:" tags since the index replaces them and that lengthy list was the main reason I wanted to create the index. Then I think I'm going to add a "Flavor:" tag to the commentary posts only. Flavor: historical, Flavor: urban_fantasy, etc. I just wish Blogger didn't have that 196 character total tag limit because a lot of books actually fall into more than one Flavor, but I will quickly run out of tag room in each post (like I did with Pâtissiers) if I assign more than one flavor to each book.

Oh well, I guess I'll just dive in and see how it goes. Anyway, this blog is going to get wonky for a while as I gradually replace those tags. In fact, that tag list is going to get much worse before it gets better!

But, hopefully, it will all be worth it when I have a blog that allows me to easily keep track of books again. Damn, I sure have let this thing get away from me until it's now too cumbersome to use.

ADDED: Okay, done. I did some tweaking of the other tags too. Bless Blogger for global label changes.

I'm not so sure I like the Flavor tags. There's just too damn many of them. And I STILL ran over the character limit when assigning those tags to some of the multi-book posts. I think I'll live with it a while and then decide. I can always do a global remove to get rid of them later.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I Am So Screwed...

I think I might need an intervention for my serious addiction. It's taken over my life. Here I am with a shitload and a half of work to do, and do you know what I spent 2-1/2 hours doing online today?

I spent that time desperately trying to find someone... ANYONE... who could sell me the next audio book in Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series-- the one with my favorite Nathan Kamp cover picture-- that I am well aware DOESN'T RELEASE UNTIL JANUARY 20TH!!

Don't these people understand??!!! I've rationed out The Highlander's Touch that released in November, TRYING to make it last until Kiss of the Highlander was released. I tried, I really did. But it's all Phil Gigante's fault. I can no longer work without listening to his narration. And I have soooo much work to do right now... HOW CAN I GO ON WITHOUT MORE OF PHIL'S SCOTTISH BROGUE !! I NEED it... I'm in a complete panic because I'm going to have to wait to hear him again.

None of the downloadable sites will sell it until the 20th. And I found two places that said they had the CDs in stock and would ship in two to three BUSINESS days. Not good enough. I was even willing to pay double the cost of the audio book to have it overnighted to me, or at the latest, here by Monday. But n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, I'd be lucky if they even shipped by Monday. Yes Phil narrates other author's books. Yes, KMM has the Fever series in audio. But it's not the same... not anywhere NEAR the same. And it's the first MacKelter story!! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! *sob*

The Highlander series is so delicious, and hearing it through Phil Gigante's narration, with Nathan Kamp's cover pics sitting right on top of my monitor, allows me to physically be here in this world working diligently, but mentally I've actually been carried far, far away.

God, I feel like a crack whore who will do anything to get her next fix. I can't concentrate on work... all I can think of is how much I miss hearing those Highlander stories delivered in that swoon worthy voice.

Damn you Phil Gigante! Damn you Karen Marie Moning! Look what you've done to me!