Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

TITLE Book CoverKaren Marie Moning - Fever Series

1. Darkfever (see previous)
2. Bloodfever (see previous)
3. Faefever

The Fever series is also available as audio books narrated by Joyce Bean. Listen to a free podcast of book 1, Darkfever.
See index for more.

Category: Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Favorites (A+)
Flame Height: 3" out of 9"

The very first thing I noticed about Faefever is that Mac is now aware she has an audience. By that I mean that in the earlier books, particularly in the Prologues, we’re never sure if Mac is telling us the story, we’re reading her journal, or we are looking over the shoulder of someone who is reading her journal, possibly after her death.

But now, in Faefever, the tone changes,

“for those of you just joining me, my name is MacKayla Lane, Mac for short... Don’t settle into your chair and relax. It’s not just my world that’s in trouble; it’s your world, too. It’s happening, right now, while you’re sitting there, munching a snack, getting ready to immerse yourself in a fictional escape. Guess what? It’s not fiction, and there’s no escape.
Holy Crap! Now I don’t have ANY idea what we are reading!

In this book, we learn MUCH more about the Dark Book, or Sinsar Dubh and its history, and much more about the Fae, particularly Sidhe royalty. I have a feeling that the info is going to turn out to be VERY important, so stick bookmarks in at those points. I also have a feeling that The Four Stones will be showing up and playing a major role in future books (they are in Faefever’s glossary, but not mentioned in the book).

Faefever is a good place to start if you haven’t read the previous two Fever books because Moning DOES recap quite extensively. Maybe TOO extensively. Honestly, as much as I love these books, I think she would have been better off breaking the complete story up into 4 instead of 5 books. There’s too much recapping, and too much of a feeling of repetition of the scenes between Mac and Barrons and Mac and the Shades.

We do meet up with the Keltar Druids from the Highlander series in Faefever. Well sorta indirectly through Christian MacKeltar. And it’s confirmed that he IS the same Christian MacKeltar we met as the then teenaged son of Christopher MacKeltar, the modern day MacKeltar from Kiss of the Highlander. He refers to Drustan, Dageus and Cian as his uncles. It’s also confirmed that it was Cian (it's not confirmed but I suspect he was with Dageus), at the mansion that was the scene of the slaughter in Bloodfever.

It’s also confirmed that the Lord Master is Darroc-- the Seelie Sidhe from The Immortal Highlander, whose punishment for working with the Unseelie Wild Hunt to overthrow the Seelie Queen was to be made a mortal. Furthermore, though it’s not confirmed, I strongly suspect Darroc is also the one who was trying to sell pages from the Sinsar Dubh to Cian’s nemesis, Lucan. From Spell of the Highlander:
"...an unusual man with long coppery hair and shimmering copper eyes had sought him out, claiming to have knowledge of the ciphers in which the Dark Book was written. The man had dripped a deep seated arrogance that could only have been born of some kind of power—either his own, or close association with someone who made him fearless... But then the man had told him that he’d actually lived among the Fae for a time, he’d been familiar with the runes on the Hallows, and he’d spoken a tongue he’d alleged was that of the Tuatha De themselves. He’d also displayed an intimate knowledge of the Seelie and Unseelie courts. "
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We also learn much more about the sidhe-seers and we learn who has been the guardian of the Dark Book up until 20 years ago.

Now, the OMGHOLYSHIT! ending and the apocalyptic events leading up to it: I won’t be sure how I feel about it until I read how it’s dealt with in the subsequent books. And deal with it she must. It can’t be ignored, and KMM can’t brush it off with a Druid memory erase. Actually, I wonder if the prologue to Darkfever and Faefever’s glossary are telling us how it’s dealt with? In any case I DO have to give kudos to KMM for going out on that limb with the ending. First of all, it proves she’s definitely not writing a Highlanders Romance, and secondly, it’s a brave author who makes it clear that NOBODY, even her heroine, is safe; that sometimes no one comes to the rescue at the last minute. I know that the ending is a hot button for some readers ::coughKMONTcough::, but if handled right, I think it can be powerful.
♥ ♥ ♥

I finished the audio books of the Highlander stories right before Faefever was released and it turns out it was a perfect time to refresh my memory since the first time I read the Highlander books, I didn’t really pay much attention to the Fae lore and intrigues. After all, it was the ROMANCE that counted in that series, right?

So the following is just my rambling questions and speculations. If you haven’t read the Highlanders, it may not make much sense. Aw hell, even if you DID read them, my long-winded babbling probably won’t make much sense! I’m sure the Moning Maniacs will laugh at me (not really, they're too nice to do that) because they somehow can remember every single minute detail of every single book and therefore they put all these pieces together as soon as they read book 1, Darkfever. How do they DO that?! *sigh* I quit visiting the KMM board long ago because I always felt soooo stupid in the face of their awesome memories.

Anyway... here goes. There's a few Fever spoilers and a whole lot of Highlander spoilers ahead:

Theories on Barrons: What is he?

Definitely has Druid abilities, including Voice, but claims there is no spell that can protect from the Shades, yet he IS protected from them, indeed, they seem to be afraid of him. Also, notice that Barrons told the Lord Master to leave Mac alone and he did as Barrons asked. And what’s the story with the animosity between V’Lane and Barrons? Was V’Lane actually afraid of Barrons in Faefever?

Unseelie cannot touch Seelie Hallows, yet he held the Seelie Spear. However, was he able to control his reaction to it? Mac observed no effect, yet he put his hands in his pockets right after holding it. Possibly to hide burns or wounds of some kind? Would the Unseelie King, the most powerful Unseelie, be able to touch it?

Barron’s tattoos: In Bloodfever, Mac mentions tattoos on Barrons’ torso—a search of the ebooks didn’t turn up any more identifying info on that—which bugs me because I swear somewhere in one of the books, Mac sees a tattoo or mark on Barrons and tells us what it looks like. GRRRR, frustrating, because I can’t remember if she saw something that could be a winged serpent or not which would mean he is/was a follower of the Draghar (from Dark Highlander).

Does his having a tattoo mean that he’s at least dabbled in the Dark Druid arts like Cian (Spell of the Highlander)? Either of those explanations would also account for the animosity towards the MacKeltars we learn of in Faefever that started in Bloodfever when they were also at the mansion to retrieve the amulet.

Mac’s tattoo from him is: “an intricate pattern of black and red ink with a faintly luminescent Z in the middle, a mystical bar code, a sorcerous brand.” My understanding of the combo of black and red runes meant it was created through Druid Dark Arts. Barrons had this to say about Cian’s tattoos in Bloodfever: “Although one of the men was versed in the Black Arts, both were Druid trained.” Mac: “How do you know one of them was into black magic?” Barrons: “He was heavily tattooed. Black magic calls a price, Ms. Lane, that can be... diminished by working protection runes into the skin.”

Barrons owns tattooing equipment, and by his own admission knows how to use it and what the price of the Dark Arts is, so can we infer from that that he does have runes tattooed somewhere on him that would indicate that he has performed Black Magic?

Remember Into the Dreaming, the Highlander novella? What if the Unseelie King decided to torture and train a Druid to be his Hand of Vengeance this time? In some ways, Barrons echoes Aedan MacKinnon’s behavior-- cold, unfeeling, yet occasional glimpses of humanity break through—will loving and being loved in return break his contract with the Unseelie King too?

Remember also that the Unseelie king would send Aedan on missions during his training. In Faefever, Christian shows Mac pictures of Barrons at different points in recent history. In one he is with wealthy and presumably influential socialites 71 years ago; in another, he was with military men, including the Irish revolutionary Michael Collins in 1922. Druids are NOT immortal, yet in all the pictures, Barrons looks exactly the same. That could be explained if Barrons is indeed the new Vengence for the Unseelie king. His missions have been to find the Hallows, particularly the Dark Book.

Now, one more piece to ponder. In Faefever, Barrons is, in his usual harsh, humiliating way, trying to teach Mac to withstand the effects of the Druid Voice. At one point she says to him,
"'You might as well have raped me. In fact, that’s exactly what you did!' He rolled hard and fast, and I was on my back beneath him, with my hands pinned above my head, the weight of his body crushing me to the floor, his face inches from mine. He was breathing harder than the exertion merited. 'Make no mistake, Ms. Lane, I didn’t rape you. You can lie there on your pretty little P.C. ass and claim with your idealistic little P.C. arguments that any violation of your will is rape and that I’m a big, bad bastard, and I’ll tell you that you’re full of shit, and you’ve obviously never been raped. Rape is much, much worse. Rape isn’t something you walk away from. You crawl.'"
Words from a man that has endured ALL kinds of torture from the Unseelie king?

Did that story (Into the Dreaming) play out immediately before the same period as the Fever series, or maybe the king had more than one Vengence-in-training? No one has seen either the Unseelie King nor the Seelie Queen in quite some time (Darkfever), and she has not appeared to help the MacKeltars reinforce the walls between worlds (Faefever). So are the King and Queen together as they are at the end of Into the Dreaming? She does refer to him as her ex-consort and as an ancient in Spell, and in Dreaming, the king does mention that he’d been with the young (to him) queen before. So it’s quite possible that the two of them are together and as you’ll see below with the quote from Spell, maybe the current events of Fever happen because they are together and not paying attention to what’s going on. After all, from that quote from Spell, you can see that she never thought Darroc would be a threat. So, according to Spell, she’s had to go back in time and set things up so that the worlds can be saved this time.

Oh, and that THING under Barrons’ garage that Mac hears? Maybe it’s Barrons! When he is not with her searching for the Dark Book, where does he go? Maybe nowhere? Maybe the Unseelie king has ordered him chained back up and orders his continued torture that will turn him completely into his Hand of Vengence. The fact that we find out in Faefaver that the Dark Mirrors (as in Cian’s prison; as in the mirrors in the Lord Master’s house) were originally created by the Unseelie King and used as a way to travel between realms, and Barrons not only has one but USES it, might be an indication that he is traveling at the behest of the Unseelie King, including returning to the lower levels of his garage that are seemingly inaccessible.

As I said above, we learn in Faefever that Barrons is MUCH older than he looks—so he's either not human or possibly being kept alive by the Unseelie king like Aedan was. Unless of course he IS the Unseelie king . Would the Unseelie King, the most powerful Unseelie, be able to touch a Seelie hallow? I admit that that idea IS far-fetched, but what the hell... even Mac wonders the same thing, and he DOES put his hands in his pockets after touching the Spear.

Still with me? Because I'm not done with my speculations yet.

From Spell of the Highlander:
[This is actually the scene from the ending of The Dark Highlander and the beginning of The Immortal Highlander but from Queen Aoibheal's POV]


Aoibheal, queen of the Fae stood in the catacombs beneath The Belthew Building, concealed by countless layers of illusion, a formless projection of herself, beyond any Sidhe-seer’s vision, beyond even her own race’s perception.

In the dimly lit labyrinthine tombs, Adam Black was pacing furiously, holding his ears and cursing a wailing Chloe Zanders.

But it was not Adam’s plight that concerned her now.

It was her own.

Tonight she’d wielded the formidable magic of the Queen of the Tuatha Dé Danaan to destroy the Druid sect of the Draghar.

But it was not for that purpose alone she’d done it. As ever, she had motives within motives. Her use of the full power of the High Queen of the Seelie Court of the Light had caused a blackout of all mortal magic throughout Britain, part of Scotland and a fair portion of Wales.

It had shattered wards humans believed unbreakable, voided protections spells, and temporarily leeched all sacred mortal relics of any power they possessed.

Closing her eyes, Aoibheal turned her far-vision outward, analyzing the weft and weck of the fabric of her world. She’d pulled a thread here, tugged a thread there, and the infinitesimal changes she sought had begun.

Somewhere in Tibet an ancient sorcerer was seeking the unholiest of Dark Hallows.

Somewhere in London a thief was casing a wealthy residence reputed to contain unimaginable treasures within.

Somewhere a Keltar was biding his time, waiting for a vengeance long overdue.

Ah, yes, it had begun. . . .

And here’s the... well, I guess it’s the ending of Spell of the Highlander, but it serves as an Epilogue.

“—nicity,” Queen Aoibheal of the Tuatha Dé Danaan murmured, her iridescent eyes shimmering.

A collision of possibles so incalculably improbable that it would appear to imply divine intervention.

The corners of her lips lifted in a faint smile. She smoothed them. She’d been employing a mortal form so much of late that she was beginning to mimic their expressions.

Humans were forever attributing the meddling of the Fae to the divine. As well they should, for handling so many threads, subtly altering the weft and weck of the world, truly required something of the divine.

They were here now.

Her players, her pieces on the board. More than pawns, less than kings.

The catastrophe that had occurred in the seventeenth century hadn’t taken place after all, not since she’d rearranged events to get the Keltar’s underground chamber sealed. The one in the twentieth century hadn’t come to fruition either, for the same reason. Nor had the other two, though for different reasons.

“J’adoube,” she whispered. I touch. I adjust.

Seven times now she’d prevented the extinction of the purest and most potent of the Druid lines.

And positioned the five most powerful Druids that had ever lived precisely where she wanted them. Where they could ally her.

Where they could save her.

There was Dageus, possessing far more knowledge than any one Druid should have: all the knowledge of the Draghar, the thirteen ancients. The memories she’d left in him were doing things to him he wasn’t admitting. Not to Drustan, not to his mate.

There was Cian, possessing far more power than any one Druid should have: the genetic fluke, the unexpected mutation born once in a bloodline. The things Dageus and Cian could do together if they put their minds to it worried even her.

Then there was Drustan: compared to his dangerously endowed kin, modest of power, modest of knowledge, yet superior in a way they could never be. Dageus and Cian could go either way, good or evil. Drustan MacKeltar was that unique kind of man whose name lived forever in legends of men—a warrior so pure of heart that he was beyond corrupting. A man who would die for his beliefs, not just once but ten thousand times over if necessary.

As for her other two chosen, she would be seeing them soon.

Below her, in Castle Keltar’s great hall, the humans stood talking, oblivious to her presence. Blissfully unaware that a little over five years in their future, their world was in chaos, the walls between Man and Faery were down, and the Unseelie ruled with an icy, brutal hand. The Shades were feeding again, the Hunters were enforcing compliance, calling death sentences for the slightest infraction, and the exquisite Unseelie Princes were indulging their insatiable appetite for mortal women, brutally raping, leaving mindless shells.

And she?

Ah, that was the problem.

Her gaze shifted inward from the tableau below.

Though her race could move at will through the past, they could not penetrate a future that had not yet occurred. If one attempted to go forward beyond one’s present existence, one encountered an oppressive white mist, nothing more. If one went too far back in the past, one encountered the same mist. Not even the Tuatha Dé Danaan understood time. They knew how to traverse only the simplest facet of it.

She’d sifted back countless times now, from five and a half years in Earth’s future—her present—delicately altering events while trying not to change too much. Concealing from all, even those of her own court, that she was temporally displaced while doing it. Worlds were fragile; one could destroy an entire planet inadvertently. She already carried the weight of such an error. It was a heavy burden. As did her long-ago consort, though the unfathomably ancient Dark King cared nothing about the blood of billions.

She’d been alive for over sixty thousand years. Many of her kind wearied of existence long before that.

Not she. She had no wish to cease. Though the loss of Adam Black to his mortal mate grieved her, and she’d considered undoing that as well, she’d learned that there was a human element that was highly dangerous to meddle with. Love’s power was violently unpredictable; it affected events in ways her Tuatha Dé mind had failed to anticipate on more than one occasion.

She could not hope to predict what she could not understand. There were times when she suspected human love harbored a power more elemental and greater than any her race possessed. It infused things with strength in impossible excess of the sum of its parts. Indeed, it had been the matching of each Keltar below with his mate that had tempered them, given them cores of steel, and made her Druids into allies worthy of a queen.

The room below fell into a sudden hush. The silence drew her gaze back to the small group of men and women.

Dageus, Chloe, Drustan, Gwen, and Jessica were all staring at Cian, who had a startled expression on his face and was gazing directly up at her, where she stood beyond the balustrade.

She stiffened. Impossible! She wasn’t even truly there, but a projection of herself, concealed by countless layers of illusion, beyond an impenetrable Fae veil. Not even the most adept of Sidhe-seers would be able to isolate her formless form within the dimensional deception she’d created!

Ah, yes, this Druid had power beyond any other.

“What is it, Cian?” Drustan said, glancing over his shoulder in the direction Cian was looking. “Is aught amiss? Do you see something, kinsman?”

Aoibheal stared at the Highlander, her lips tightening. She smoothed them again. Waited for him to betray her presence.

No, no, no, it was not time yet—it could too drastically alter things—it could destroy what chance they had!

She’d attained a tenuous balance of possibles at best. She needed more time.

She held his gaze, used her human eyes to convey a mute plea. Say nothing, Keltar-mine.

The ninth-century Highlander regarded her silently. After a moment he inclined his head in the barest nod, then turned and glanced at Drustan.

“Nay,” he said. “ ’Tis nothing, Drustan. Nothing at all.”

So we knew the apocalyptic ending was coming, we just weren't sure which book KMM would end up placing it in.
"And positioned the five most powerful Druids that had ever lived precisely where she wanted them"

Who are the five? In Faefever we find out that they are also mentioned in a sidhe-seer prophecy. So who are they? We know Drustan, Dageus, Cian. But who are the other two? Neither Alina nor Mac are Druids, so that leaves them out. Barrons? Quite possibly, even if he turns out to be Vengence or a follower of the Draghar, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t manipulate his presence too. Christian MacKeltar? We know that Christopher, as a MacKeltar, IS a Druid, so therefore we can assume that Christian is too. However, Christian is still very young, so would even HE know how powerful he is? We know he can tell if someone is lying, like Dageus and Drustan’s father could. And we never really got to know ANYTHING about his father Christopher in the Highlander books, did we? So he’s still a possibility, although I don’t believe he is anywhere near as powerful as the time-traveling Keltar Druids.

BTW, what’s up with the “dreamy-eyed” guy that works with Christian? I think there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is the fact that she refers to his eyes a clue? Are his eyes blue? Didn't Grimm (To Tame a Highland Warrior) have blue eyes? So is the "dreamy-eyed" guy a Berserker like Grimm or is he just an innocent bystander used as a red herring? Doesn't seem far-fetched to me that KMM might tie in the earlier Highlander books too.

And what about other Druid families? In Spell, Cian says that he presumes that a different Druid family serves as guardians of the Dark Book. But in Faefever, we learn who the guardians were, and they weren’t Druids. So are there other powerful Druid families out there?

And what about Adam and his son Circenn? Aoibheal granted their wish to be mortal in The Immortal Highlander, but who is to say she took ALL their powers away? Could she have made them mortal but Druid? And she said at the time that she couldn’t undo Adam’s transformation into mortal but at the end of Spell she says "she’d considered undoing that as well". Aoibheal’s powers are definitely the wild card here.

Oh, and since Adam’s wife, Gabby, is a sidhe-seer, can we expect her to appear? It seems likely that Aoibheal would want Adam nearby to help. BTW, just why WERE all the sidhe showing up in Cincinnati in The Immortal Highlander?

New mystery question raised in Faefever: What happened a little over 20 years ago? For that matter, I'd like to know about all seven times that Aoibheal saved the Keltars. The ending of The Dark Highlander brought down all kinds of wards worldwide, but that was about 5 ½ years ago. Did Aoibheal cause something else to happen 20 years ago or did she have to save us from something else back then? She DOES mention the other times she intervened to prevent catastrophes. Whatever it was, I suspect that Alina and Mac were sent to America as a direct result of it. Those that were guarding the Dark Book lost possession of it that night. "Terrible things happened" and it vanished. But WHAT happened? And was this something that Aoibheal could not go back and prevent, but could only get the two girls away in hopes that they would one day return and be part of saving both realms?

Oh, and a bit more speculation about the ending: Where and WHO is the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse? Could it be V’Lane? Was Mac right way back when she suspected him of being an Unseelie Prince? Did the Unseelie King forbid Barrons to reveal who V’Lane really is (assuming my speculation above has any merit)?

And who booby-trapped the Orb?

Mac told Inspecter Jayne to get his family away from Dublin. How did she know that the walls between realms would only come down in Dublin? Or DID they only come down in Dublin? And, if so, WHY only Dublin? Or will it be like a domino effect where the walls STARTED coming down there but will then ripple out until the walls are down over the entire world?

PHEW! I’m exhausted! And my brain hurts.

Piquant Opines: Kmont, Darque Reviews, Romance Rookie, RT

Have you read this book? Feel free to review or link to a review in the comments. Even if you don't agree!

Do you agree or disagree with my speculations? Feel free to share your own theories.

Monday, September 29, 2008

When She's Right, She's Right

Since it's been all about long term marriages around here lately-- my 25th anniversary last week, and Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's story over the weekend, I'd thought I'd share this bit from Laurell K. Hamilton's blog today on the occasion of her 7th anniversary to Jon:

To love successfully, is to love more today than yesterday. It is knowing that sometimes the most romantics words in the world are not, I love you, or sweet nothings, but, "Don’t worry about it, I’ll do it." For love, true love, is a partnership. It is two individuals who together make a bigger whole, and a better person together than they were apart. To be truly, madly, deeply, in love is to understand that romance consists not just of lingerie and sweaty forgetfulness between the sheets, but in getting up each day and being there for each other. Being there on days when nothing goes right, and everything goes wrong, but even at the worst of times you’d rather be with this man, this person, beside you, than anyone else. Love is working together when it’s hard, so that on the days when it seems effortless and more beautiful than seems possible you know you earned this moment. You know that both of you, worked, and sweated, and loved, and earned it. You fall into love, like a trip down the stairs. You stay in love by being able to catch each other, and make sure the accident is worth the bruises.

Yeah, that's EXACTLY what it is... Every. Single. Word.

funny pictures
more animals

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Love Story We'll Always Remember...

...50 years married, and I just know it wasn't nearly enough.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Highlanders Audio Series by Karen Marie Moning

Karen Marie Moning - Highlanders Series
Audio Books narrated by Phil Gigante

The Dark Highlander The Immortal Highlander Spell of the Highlander

All the Highlander audio books are available as audio CDs/MP3CDs directly from Brilliance Audio (AudioBookStand and AudioBookStandDL), or sources such as Amazon, Borders, B&N, Walmart, etc. They are also now available as downloadable audio from Audible, either directly (with member pricing) or through Amazon.

1- Beyond the Highland Mist - Sidheach James Lyon (Hawk) Douglas, Earl of Dalkeith and Adrienne de Simone, (see previous)
2- To Tame a Highland Warrior - Gavrael McIllioch (Grimm) and Jillian St. Clair, (see previous)
3- The Highlander's Touch - Circenn Brodie and Lisa Stone
4- Kiss of the Highlander - Drustan MacKeltar and Gwen Cassidy (see previous)
5- The Dark Highlander - Dageus MacKeltar and Chloe Zanders, also downloadable from Audible
6- The Immortal Highlander - Adam Black and Gabrielle O'Callaghan, also downloadable from Audible
7- Spell of the Highlander - Cian MacKeltar and Jessi St. James, also downloadable from Audible
8- Into the Dreaming (standalone novella, originally published in the 2002 anthology Tapestry; not available in audio) - Aedan MacKinnon and Jane Sillee

See INDEX for more info.

Series Category: Lava Cake - reads like warm Chocolate Lava Cake... à la Mode... sprinkled with nuts (A,A-)
Flame Height: 6"-7" out of 9"

Because of the length of time that’s passed since I read this series and the fact that the Fae lore and intrigue was secondary to the romance, I'd completely forgotten about all the foreshadowing and clues leading up to Moning's more recent Fever series. But more on that when I do my Faefever commentary; for now, I’m going to concentrate on Phil Gigante and his Highlanders.

For those of you that have never read this classic time travel/fantasy romance series, I would suggest that Highlander books 4 (Kiss), 5 (Dark), 6 (Immortal), and 7 (Spell) be read/listened to in order. While Aoibheal, queen of the Fae, or Tuatha Dé Danaan, and her fool/confidante Amadam (Adam Black) do appear in the earlier books, the Keltar Druids story arc begun in Kiss is not dependent on those previous books, but from that book on, the stories do build on one another.

In my previous Highlander commentaries (see index), I’ve proclaimed that Phil Gigante’s eargasmic performances are the perfect mating of story and storyteller and I can’t imagine merely reading these stories from a printed page ever again. In my review of Kiss, I pointed out that “Often, when a man attempts a woman’s voice, it comes off as mocking. However, while no one will ever mistake Phil’s voice for a woman’s, I quickly was no longer conscious that a man was voicing the female characters. Yes, he uses a higher pitched voice for women, but there’s something else there too… a softness, a vulnerability… something… that does not scream “man mocking woman”.”

However, keep in mind that, as a man, even Phil G’s talent can only produce so many believable 20-something female voices. So in Immortal and Spell he differentiates the wives from previous books by giving them each a very slight accent and changing the cadence of their speech patterns. If you don’t listen to the books back-to-back you probably won’t even notice, but it was an exceptionally sound solution since it allowed Phil to retain the quality of his female voices.

Now the men’s voices? OCH! I’m pretty sure that the scenes where they are all together should carry embedded warnings, “Warning: the following scenes carry serious risk of Death by Eargasm”! Drustan’s voice is my favorite- Gigante uses a deep growling brogue imbued with Drustan’s complete confidence in himself. Dageus’ Scottish brogue by way of Liverpool reflects his mischievous, “Hail fellow, well met” personality- when he isn’t possessed by a baker's dozen of ancient evil Druids, of course. Phil gives Adam both a sidhe and a human voice that never quite loses his seductive sidhe arrogance. Cian’s sexy brogue contains an underlying anger and iciness which, considering he’s been trapped in a mirror for hundreds of years, seems more than appropriate, but gradually one can detect a subtle thawing and underlying warmth.

In addition to bringing the main characters alive, Phil G. puts just as much effort into making the secondary characters seem real to the listener. Whether voicing an old woman, one of the villains, or even a child, Phil plays his voice like the fine instrument it is to make every character distinctive and believable.

Phil takes his performances one step further than just using his gifted voice abilities; he adds special effects that bring the story to life. For instance, if someone is on the other end of a phone conversation, the other side of a door, or in the case of Cian, on the other side of a mirror, Phil uses a special effect that makes it sound like their voice is coming from that source. Wait till you hear the effect he uses to portray the power of the Druid “Voice”—it’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up the first time you hear it.

Those entertaining extra touches, what Phil once referred to as that extra “inch”, mean that Phil Gigante’s performances are not to be missed!

So why doesn’t this series end up in my Crème Brûlée category? Phil G.’s performances certainly do, but the stories themselves are Peanut M&Ms. They are highly enjoyable escapist fantasy romance that became auto-buy book crack for me. But KMM’s heroines are just too similar—nearly identical overachieving virgins—and her love scenes are just a bit too over the top dramatic. My inner 12-year-old giggled more than once in embarrassment for poor Phil, and I have to wonder just how often he busted up with laughter. However, I think listening to the books back-to-back like I did just spotlighted those flaws even more. But nonetheless, thanks to Phil Gigante, the Highlander audio book series remains firmly on my list of all-time favorites.

Piquant Opines (audio book): Audiofile (book 1), BNet (book 5)
Piquant Opines (print): The Dark Highlander, The Immortal Highlander, Spell of the Highlander

Have you listened to any of these audio books? Read the print books? Feel free to review or link to a review in the comments. Even if you don't agree!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On This Date in History...

25 years ago today,
September 24th, 1983

Our Wedding

And you know what? 25 years, 4 kids, umpteen pounds later, I can honestly say that 25 MORE still wouldn't be anywhere near enough.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Voices from the Past

David Cook Memba this cutie patootie? David Cook, American Idol 2008. His first album releases in November and the first single was just made available for listening on AOL.

Listen to LIGHT ON (if that doesn't work, and it didn't when I posted this, try here and scroll down to find it).

Whatcha think? I think it's a bit of Foreigner and Cat Stevens mixed with a bit of Eagles style country-rock (although those of you who listen to more contemporary Pop than I do can probably come up with better comparisons). I like it, not sure I can say I LOVE it, but I still love his voice. I'm definitely looking forward to the entire album.

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Darius RuckerSpeaking of Voices from the Past, this isn't exactly breaking news, but memba Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish? Well, he's gone Country and he's DAMN GOOD! Watch the video of his hit single Don't Think I Don't Think About It or listen to the ENTIRE album, LEARN TO LIVE. Love his voice, too.

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And continuing with this completely non-book related post theme...

Predictions for Black Friday 2008 can be found here. That's the abso-freakin-lutely bugfucking insane Day-After-Thanksgiving "official" kick-off of the holiday shopping season here in the U.S. If these predictions come true, it could make for an exciting shopping season since, in the past, the number of these types of deals gets better and better as the season progresses.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Well, Aren't We Just the All-American Family (Updated)

My husband drove over to St. Louis, MO for an Ace Hardware Convention this past weekend. Okay, fine. He wanted me to go, but it's just too hard for both of us to go anywhere during the school year. It feels really weird when we're not together, but I lived.

Unfortunately, about a week ago, the significance of the weekend he'd be gone dawned on me. OMG! That's HOMECOMING WEEKEND! Me... with the 16 year old demon spawn... alone... getting her ready for... THE HOMECOMING DANCE! Nooooooooooooo! This could get very, VERY ugly! Fortunately, my oldest demon spawn decided to come home for the weekend. PHEW! Another bloody battle averted.

Back to the dance in a minute... This is what I did for my 12 year old son at 6:30 Friday morning for Ultimate Spirit Day:


Then that night we went to the Homecoming Game. I am sooooo not a sports fan, but the 16 year old is a cheerleader and each cheerleader has to make a scrapbook for one of the senior football players. So my task at the games is to take a bazillion pics of someone else's kid!

Then Saturday was the Homecoming Dance. GAK! I seriously paid way too much for the 16 year old's dress just because we found something she liked and the extra $50 or so meant no more shopping. Her date doesn't go to her school, so that meant I had to shell out another $70 for tickets (on top of dress, shoes, tanning, photographer). So I told her I wasn't paying for her to get her hair done too. Oldest daughter to the rescue again! She did the 16 year old's hair beautifully. Anyway, here's the gang meeting up before the dance. No, sorry, I won't point out which one is my very own demon spawn.

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A quick update to the Amazon saga of the sofa bed for my oldest son (detailed here and here): it arrived with no problems! The cover is actually more tan than the green as shown in the pic, but it still looks okay. At least that's what the demon spawn told me... he's yet to send me the pic I told him to take on his camera phone so I could see it too.

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I've won a couple of giveaways lately- WOOT and HUGE Thank Yous!

Running from the Past

Over at the DIK blog, I won Sarai's "identify the abs" contest (no surprise there) and scored a copy of Katie Reus' Running from the Past (cowboys!).

The Lost Duke of Wyndham Mr. Cavendish, I Presume

And over on The Book Smugglers, I won BOTH The Lost Duke of Wyndham AND Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn. I've been hearing so much buzz about these two books!

Lord and Master 2Jules Jones also sent me a review copy of her latest, Lord and Master 2: Taking Work Home (I'm getting to it, Jules!). It's been way too long since I've had a Jules Jones fix- I love her characters! (Must get eInk eReader to save my tired old eyes from my PDA or computer screen; I've really been missing a lot of good eBooks). Some of you may notice that this is the cover art inspired by the 2nd pic down in this post. Don't ya just love it?!

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Hokay, back to work for me. I'm hoping to get my commentaries for the rest of the Highlanders audio books and Faefever posted within the next couple of days.

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UPDATE: Oh Good Grief! I forgot to mention this even though it's sitting about a foot and a half from my head!

The Darkest TouchI also won a review ARC of book 3 in Jaci Burton's Demon hunter series, The Darkest Touch. It doesn't release until October 28th, which gives everyone plenty of time to catch up with this series. See my index for links to Commentaries on the first two books. And expect a Commentary on book 3 right before the release date.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Want a Piece of Me?

BBAW continues over on MyFriendAmy's blog. Good stuff happening today, author Andromeda Romano-Lax talks about what book bloggers mean to her as an author. Follow Amy's link or just click here to learn about an upcoming auction of "marked-up books by authors and other notable people."

Today's Mr. Linky assignment was to link to a post that shows our blog at our best. Which post did I submit? Well, check out today's Mr. Linky and find out. I chose one that I think shows WHY I don't call what I do "Reviews" but instead refer to them as "Commentaries", plus, with all the BBAW participants who are Inspirational fans and might visit, I didn't want to pick a book that had too much smexoring in it. If you're one of my regular visitor's, do you agree with my pick?

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Since I've been getting new visitors thanks to BBAW, I'd thought I'd take a minute and explain what Cubie's Confections is all about.

funny picturesI'm a northeastern Ohio (halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh) soccer/football Mom of 4, oldest son (meteorology major) and daughter (communications major) are twins, almost 22 and in college, a 16 year old varsity cheerleader daughter (she's a flyer- EEK!) who's a junior in high school, and a 12 year old football/soccer playing son who just started 7th grade.

Next week is the 25th anniversary of my marriage to the love of my life. We own a hardware store and my husband runs the day to day operations. I handle the back office stuff even though my degree is actually in Computer Science. But since I haven't programmed for anyone since shortly after PCs were first mass produced (I specialized in IBM Superminis), I claim no expertise and, in fact, consider myself kind of a technotard when it comes to most things PC related. I had baby #4 on a Thursday evening and was back at the office Monday morning nursing him in one arm while keying with the other because it was end of month crunch time and it had to be done. After a couple of weeks of THAT, plus watching the clock to get home before the bus dropped off the older kids, I moved my office permanently home, which is why I can be found around the intertubes so often.

I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't read voraciously. Since I don't really have anyone around who shares my love of books, the internet, and specifically other bloggers, has given me a wonderful opportunity to discuss books for the first time with people that share my love of reading. And there's not much that makes me more kinds of happy than when I rec a book and someone tells me that they bought it and love it too!

Okay, so now the blog. First of all, Cubie is the pronunciation of QB, the acronym for Queen Bitch. See, my husband absolutely cannot say no to any of our kids, so that leaves me in the role of the wicked witch. Whenever I lay the law down on the demon spawn, he mumbles in my ear "You're such a bitch", to which I reply "That's QUEEN Bitch to YOU, Bucko!". So thanks to that running gag, you'll see me around the blogosphere as BevQB, which I suppose I should also explain: Back when I first discovered blogs, I used the ID "BevL", well when I created this blog, I automatically created the ID "QB" not realizing that any Google blog I left a comment on would show me as "QB" also (duh), so there I was commenting on some blogs as "BevL" and others as "QB". To prevent confusion and/or sock puppet accusations, I created a new ID, BevQB that incorporated the two IDs.funny pictures

Now CONFECTIONS? That refers to the man candy pics that I knew would occasionally pop up around here. And once I came up with the confections concept, I ran with it right over the top! See that background? It's a close-up of a chocolate wedding cake scattered with cherry blossoms. And I scoop up pics of chocolatey goodness whenever I come across them. Believe it or not, I have even more chocolate pics stored away than the ones I have scattered all through here!

The juxtaposition between the over the top girly look of my blog versus the dark, gritty and/or erotic stories that I comment on, just plain appeals to my sense of the unexpected and absurd. Let's face it, your first thought when you see a book blog this over the top would NOT be the urban fantasies and paranormal romances that make up about 80% of what I read, right?

Reviews--- they aren't many here. See, I prefer to call them Commentaries because the term "review" is usually associated with a set type of format and I didn't want to lock myself into anything. I just wanted to say whatever I wanted to say. In fact, that's my mantra around here-- "It's my blog and it's here first and foremost to entertain and organize ME (although lately I haven't found much time to blog as much as I used to). If anyone else finds it interesting, amusing, or helpful, that just makes it all the more fun!" And it really does amaze and tickle me that some people DO visit me! But that mantra is why you'll see all those lists in the sidebar, and why I created an entire index. I needed a way to keep track of books!

Oh, one more thing I guess I should explain-- my Commentary Categories.
Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Favorites (A+)
Lava Cake - reads like warm Chocolate Lava Cake... à la Mode... sprinkled with nuts (A,A-)
Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. (A-,B+,B)
M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Dark Chocolate - by some, just "meh" to me (C-,D+)
Coconut Truffles - SO not for me! (D,D-,F)

I've always placed books into those types of groups in my head instead of an A-F or 1-10 grading scale. So when I created this blog, all I had to do was come up with names for those groupings. Of course, those names had to be as over the top as my blog theme, so I started with Peanut M&Ms. The candy has been all that stands between me and menopausal meltdown. So it seemed right that the base category was named for my daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. From there, I just moved up and down coming up with names that reflected my tastes (hee) in both confections and books. I can't emphasize enough that, even though the category NAMES are over the top, those groupings are the natural, instinctive way I've ALWAYS grouped books in my head.

So, assuming you're still awake, Welcome to Cubie's Confections! Feel free to take a look around. My header and sidebars should give you a pretty good idea of what types of books you'll see around here. And, if you check out my index by author name, you'll see the books I've already posted commentaries on. There's a button near the top of the sidebar or you can just click here to visit it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Of Friends and Fever...

BBAW continues, so don't forget to stop by MyFriendAmy's for today's games and prizes!

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Faefever Book CoverI made a run for the Border(s) today. Imagine my panic when I walked in and saw a display for the paperback of Bloodfever (which I bought to go with the hardcover and audio versions), BUT NO FAEFEVER! ZOMGWTF?!

So I raced strolled back to the Romance section and found 5 copies back there. When I got to the register I told the cashier that I was surprised there was no new-release display for Faefever since it came out today, particularly since there was such a big front and center display for Bloodfever. She told me that
"We didn't get many copies in, so there wasn't enough for a display. We have no idea why we were only sent those few copies."

OH THE HORROR! A shortage of Faefever books?! Say it ain't so!

But in any case, I DID score a copy (pulled from the back of the shelf, of course; I try to only buy virgins because I want to be the first to spread open that spine). But damned if tonight isn't game night for my football playin' youngest demon spawn. Ya think my hubby would be a bit pissed off at me if I sat and read Faefever through the game?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Marta Acosta – The Bride of Casa Dracula

The Bride of Casa DraculaMarta Acosta - Casa Dracula (Milagro De Los Santos) series

Be sure to check out Marta's not be missed VampireWire.

1. Happy Hour at Casa Dracula (see previous) Watch the trailor.
2. Midnight Brunch (see previous)
3. The Bride of Casa Dracula Sept. 16, 2008 release date

Watch the book trailor. No, really, watch the book trailor then finish reading. Hell, watch it twice, it's THAT good-- and note the use of the Jonesian Effect®.

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 4.5" out of 9"

Milagro de los Santos is having serious problems planning her wedding to fabulous Oswald Grant, M.D. Her future in-laws loathe her, her dog just died, and Oswald’s family has a genetic anomaly that makes them crave blood. Then her extravagant best friend hijacks the role of wedding coordinator, and the secretive Vampire Council assigns conniving Cornelia Ducharme to guide the couple through the ancient vampire marriage rituals.

To top it all off, Milagro’s career is on the skids. She’s reduced to ghostwriting the memoirs of a loony little man who claims to be a shapeshifter. And why does Cornelia’s decadent, way too attractive brother, Ian, always show up whenever Milagro is away from Oswald?

When a series of accidents interferes with wedding plans, Oswald worries that Milagro is cracking under the pressure. Is she just paranoid, or is a hidden enemy trying to make sure Milagro doesn't wed the undead?

The pressure’s on for Milagro in this third book of the highly entertaining and engrossing Casa Dracula series. The story opens with a different Casa Dracula... er, Grant household than we’ve seen before— the family she’s come to love is no longer around. Edna, Oswald’s grandmother, is off with her new boy-toy, Thomas Cook (from book 2), cousin Sam and his wife Winnie are living in their own home with their baby, cousin Gabriel is off doing whatever his security work requires, and her plastic surgeon fiance, Oswald, is working long hours with little time or patience for Milagro.

So that leaves Milagro pretty much on her own to begin planning her upcoming nuptials to not-a-vampire Oswald and meeting with the Vampire Council’s Rules Committee to get their approval for the wedding.

Milagro’s friend, Nancy, sabotages Milagro’s attempts to hire a wedding planner so that she (Nancy) can get the gig instead. And after Milagro refuses some of the Councils demands, they send Cornelia, dangerous sister of debauched cousin Ian, to guide Milagro through the traditions and requirements of the marriage rites. Add in frequent run-ins with the seductive Ian (her ex-lover), the eccentrics she seems to collect, and odd incidents that endanger her life and sanity, and Milagro has her hands full in this book.

This was my favorite book of the series, but I don’t know if I could say that if I hadn’t read the previous books. (Duh!) I THINK it could be read as a standalone, however emotional investment in the characters might be considerably less by doing so. I don’t know if Acosta plans more Milagro stories, but this book was an enjoyable and often emotional continuation of and conclusion to the journey started in the previous two books.

Not too long ago, in a Yahoo Group that I occasionally visit (I think it was PNR), a librarian needed recommendations for paranormals that she could put on the shelves for her patrons; specifically, she was having trouble finding paranormals that were not full of graphic sex. Well, the Casa Dracula series immediately came to mind (it's sexy, but not sex filled; trust me, you won't miss it), and after I posted about this witty and warm series, it turns out I was not alone.

As in the previous books, Bride is multi-layered— there’s witty dialogue, eccentric characters and often oddball situations. Acosta’s crazy whodunits are not to be missed because even though you might guess the WHO, the REAL fun is trying to figure out WHICH Who done WHICH What! And let me be clear that even if you think you’ve figured it all out—you haven’t.

But underlying all is Milagro’s (often subconscious) quest for belonging and finding her place in this world. In Bride, she thinks she’s found it, but then starts to question what’s right... and what’s wrong; who she is... and who she isn’t; what love is... and what it isn’t; what she wants... and what she doesn’t.

Several times while reading Bride, I wanted to put my arm around her and say “Girlfriend, we need to talk.”, but you know what? Milagro figures out a lot of the answers to those questions all on her own. And even though she draws the right conclusions, it doesn’t make it any less emotional for her AND the Reader. [Note: I reviewed an ARC and Marta told me that some minor changes were made to the ending of Bride after the ARC was printed.]

I’m going to do something virtually unheard of in the world of reviews. I’m going to quote the ending of Bride. But don’t worry, there’s no spoilers, it's just that Milagro summarizes this entire series beautifully.

“I’m going to tell you a story about an ordinary human chica who wanted to be a sincere and serious person and how she met a truly fabulous man and a nest of vampires who became her dear friends. This story has villains and heroes, madmen and con men, schemers and dreamers, urbanites and socialites. There is a beautiful and loyal dog named Daisy. There’s adventure and passion and danger and love and laughter, too. She made mistakes, some foolish and some terrible, but she always tried to make amends.”
“The story may be a transformation.”
“No, it’s not tragedy. For though the girl wanted to be sincere and serious, she adored silliness, and luckily for her, tragedy has no interest in the silly.”

Piquant Opines: RT, Love Vampires, Darque Reviews, Bitten by Books, The Fab & the Furious, SciFiGuy, Crystal, PNR

Have you read this book or series? Feel free to review or link to a review in the comments. Even if you don't agree!

Bloggers and Blowhards and Blood.. OH MY!

Today's the day! Book Blooger Appreciation Week starts today! Created and tirelessly spearheaded by Amy (YEAH AMY!) over at MyFriendAmy, BBAW links a bazillion (okay, that's a wee bit of an overstatement) reader blogs together to celebrate our love of reading. And it's not just books in the Romance genre, there's everything from Inspirational, to Sci-fi, to Horror, to Mystery, to general fiction, and everything in between. A HUGE thanks, also, to the entertaining and informative ladies over at Book Binge, for pointing me in Amy's direction.

And there's prize givaways... LOTS and LOTS of PRIZES.

So start over at Amy's blog with her Official BBAW GIveaway List

And here is the list of blogs participating in BBAW. I believe Amy will be keeping this as a permanent reader blog directory long after BBAW week is over. I've already found a couple to revisit and Jill D. has been added to my Google Reader- she's got Faefever booklust too..

Now, watch Amy's blog for regular BBAW posts, such as today's WELCOME. And don't forget to explore new blogs using Mr. Linky, and watch for raffles just like this one running over at Amy's right now.

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Ike blew through here yesterday. Now, keep in mind that I'm clear up in northeast Ohio, about halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and yet the winds were so strong that power is still out for a large portion of the area and schools are closed. We're lucky because our power came back on right before midnight, and surprisingly, so did our cable (which usually goes out if someone farts or sneezes too close to their equipment). And we're REALLY lucky that Ike's rain bands that went through the Chicago area moved well to the north of us, we've had more than enough rain over the past week. So only high winds, no rain. Which is odd because we almost always get heavy rains from hurricanes that hit the Gulf coast and often outer bands from the east coast storms, but I don't ever remember one that had this much wind force still left in it by the time it reached us- even Katrina.

Now, lest the above be mistaken for a whine... it's not. My point is that I truly cannot comprehend what Ike at full strength was like. To be that strong clear up here, it had to be packing a wallop not just in Galveston, where most of the news crews are at, but there must be devastation throughout the central U.S. My son, who is in western Indiana near Chicago, said there is flooding throughout that whole area. And according to LKH's blog, the St. Louis area got hit pretty hard too.

So my heart, prayers and positive thoughts go out to all throughout the country who are dealing with the aftermath of this storm.

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With no power, I missed the 9 PM airing of True Blood episode 2, but since the power came back on 10 minutes before the midnight re-airing, and since I was wide awake, I did get to see it after all.

Did you catch the boo-boos? Here's the two I noticed, although there could be more:

1. When Sookie arrived at the site of the overturned trailor, she had to duck under the crime scene tape. But when the Sheriff arrived, he had a clear path through the barricades.

2. After Sookie realized she was healed from drinking Bill's blood, he said that they were trying to keep that side effect of drinking Vamp blood quiet. Um... wouldn't one of those V-Juice junkies have noticed and mentioned that side effect?

As much as I've been enjoying the hell outta this HBO series, last night I realized what's missing- When Sookie gives Bill those confused, or scared, or fascinated, or blank stares, we as viewers don't know what's going through her mind. So, for someone who hasn't read the books, I can see how they would perceive those expressions as vacant or goofy. But in the books, we know her thoughts and know WHY she has a particular look on her face. And in other parts of the books, Sookie outwardly acts with perceived cowardice by walking away from fights, but inwardly her dialogue lets us know that either she doesn't think the person or argument is worth it, or it costs her nothing to let the other person be right, or she's so mad she knows she won't be able to control what she says. To me, a little more dialogue would seem to be in order.

Oh, and see that True Blood promo that I've had in my sidebar for awhile now? The past two days it only shows that it's loading, yet never loads. Is that just for me? Is it loading for anyone else? I even deleted the code and recopied it from the site, but it's still not working and I need more sweepstakes codes, dammit!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Stooopid... UR Doin' It Right (Update #3)

more animals

Remember my Amazon shopping saga from the other day? The one where I ordered a sofa bed for my son and the shipper tried to con me out of more money?

I guess since I wasn't reeled in on their first try, they thought they'd sweeten the bait and try again. I just received this email from Easy Shopping Furniture. Note that I screwed up the first time they contacted me last week. I didn't notice that they had emailed me through Amazon and I hit the reply button when I emailed them back to tell them that I would be awaiting Amazon's customer service ruling in the matter. My subsequent email after Amazon replied was sent through the order's "Contact Seller" button. But it was too late... they've got my email and they're determined to use it. However, Amazon will not accept emails as proof unless they are sent through them. Anyway, here's today's SPESHUL offer:

Hi Beverly I apologize that your order was canceled because the item was out of stock Item: (1 of Home Line 3 Position Sleeper Sofa S302 ) .But good news we just have it again .Well Like I told you an previous email the shipping cost with a special carrier was going to be $ 405.34. But because we want to keep you as our customer I spoke with my supervisor so we will charge you only $ 60.00 for the shipping instead of $ 405.34.Again thanks for shopping with us.
For further questions please feel free to contact me.

So first of all, I guess Amazon jumped right on the investigation after I filed that TOS violation report, huh? [note sarcasm] I'm beginning to wonder if these people are as deceptive as I thought or they are merely guilty of being just plain stupid. Hmmm... maybe a bucketful of both. Read on for more proof of that.

So note that first Easy Home Shopper blamed me for not adding shipping charges, then they canceled the order when I informed them I expected it at the original price. And now they are saying they canceled the order because the sofa bed was sold out even though for the two days AFTER I placed my order it was still showing that one was available.

And remember how they kept changing the shipping charges in the listing then pulled the item completely after 3 days? Well now the sofa bed has reappeared on Amazon, but (and I'm laughing like a loon at this), the asswipes forgot to include shipping charges AGAIN!

Good Grief, does Darwin's Theory no longer apply to the modern world?! Also note that they've offered me no coupon code or any other way to purchase the sofa bed through Amazon. Nope, I'd have to pay them directly wouldn't I?

So attempted con? Too stupid to run a business? Confused by American English? All of the above?

I think I'll email them back and request a code that I can use through Amazon to receive their oh-so-generous discount shipping offer. Can't wait to read their response to that request. Although, I have to admit that, if they agree to do everything through Amazon, I'm tempted to go ahead and place the order. Once they ship it, I'm covered by Amazon's guarantees. Then again, maybe I'M too stupid to live.

UPDATE #1: I sent them an email through Amazon, quoted and accepted their offer, and asked them to advise me on how to proceed. I just got this answer back. Note the latest shipping total has gone from SHIPPING INCLUDED, to $94, to $105, and now $142.88 (which they finally have added to the item's listing):

Hi Beverly,
Thanks for your feedback now to get your order you will have to go to Amazon now and place your order again you will see the shipping will be 142 .88 but after we received the order we will refund you back 82.88 ."

They again did not send this through Amazon. So I guess my next step is to point out that Amazon can not guarantee the order if we do it that way and I'll need some kind of promo or discount code that can be used when I place the order.

UPDATE #2: Here's the response to my request for a promo or discount code to be used when I place the order.

Hi Beverly,
I do understand your point but we do not have a promo code for this item It’s just we want to keep you as a customer that’s why you are getting that big discount. Also your refund of 82.88 will be done trough Amazon with 100% guarantee.
Remember we have only one available.
Please advise
Have a great day.

Uh... yeah... so Amazon will guarantee that I get my shipping refunded from you when, on every seller's page, they warn against sending payment diectly to sellers and make it clear that the transaction will NOT be covered by their guarantee if you do so.

Also, note their attempt to create a sense of urgency: "Remember we have only one available."

Sounds like it's time for another Amazon TOS violation report. Although I'm beginning to wonder why I should even bother.

UPDATE #3: Yesterday, Dennis from Easy Shopping Furniture called me... CALLED me... and told me that if I ordered the sofa bed with the $142.88 shipping, they would then give me a partial refund. I told him "No thanks" because Amazon couldn't guarantee that refund.

Then about an hour later, he called AGAIN and said he lowered the price of the sofa bed so that the total cost would be equal to the original price plus $60 dollars shipping.

So, it may now be my turn for "Stoopid... UR Doin' It Right", but I went ahead and ordered it. I figure, once THIS order is placed, I'm covered by Amazon's guarantee. I'm also a little optimistic because today I received confirmation from Amazon that the order has shipped--- well sorta--- at least UPS has been notified to pick it up.

BTW, I was right about one thing, English is apparently not their first language.

Now, everyone cross your fingers that I don't have to RETURN this damn thing for any reason! GAK!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More 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.

The Bleeding DuskWhen Twilight BurnsColleen Gleason – The Gardella Vampire Chronicles

1. The Rest Falls Away (see previous)
2. Rises the Night (see previous)
3. The Bleeding Dusk
4. When Twilight Burns

Series Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 5.5" out of 9"

Interesting twists and turns in both most recent books of this historical urban fantasy series, with The Bleeding Dusk being the more action-packed, OMGHOLYSHIT of the two, whereas When Twilight Burns has more OhNoSheD'int action. Victoria’s sex life heats up, but by the end of book 4, her LOVE life gets both more complicated and yet more clear. Hmmm... not sure I’m happy about it either.
Piquant Opines: RT, RT, Book Binge (Brie), Ramblings (Katiebabs), DA (Jia), Bam, SB (Sarah)

Demon’s FireEmma Holly - Demon’s Fire, Demon World 6

See INDEX for previous books.
Watch book trailor.

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: 9" out of 9"

With Fairyville (see previous) and now Demon’s Fire, Emma Holly is back in top form and playing to her strengths. The Demon series has been up and down for me and I had considered dropping it. I’m glad I didn’t because Demon’s Fire was worth the read. It is centered around Prince Pahndir (from Prince of Ice) and follows his story after he is given his freedom. However, it is absolutely NOT necessary to have read any of the previous books in this series to enjoy this one. If you HAVE read them, you’ll see some familiar names (even Queen Tou!), but their presence is explained well enough for first-timers to the series to enjoy this book as well. While Holly’s traditional m/f relationships often seem to be lacking some depth and heat, to me it seems that Holly’s writing is far more engaging when she includes non-traditional male sexual practices (including male subs, m/m and/or m/m/f relationships) in her books. So keep ‘em comin’, Emma!

Although, I have to admit that the Demon World series is often a bit disorienting to me. It’s set just close enough to the real Victorian society that when she throws out a mention of something that isn’t historically accurate I have to shake it off and remind myself that this series takes place in a world only SIMILAR to the Victorian era. Oh, and words to note for those who aren’t familiar with this series--- they aren’t really demons. They are an advanced race, isolated in what I guess would be the equivalent of Asia, whose looks are dissimilar enough from (Victorian English) humans that they are referred to as demons.
Piquant Opines: RipMyBodice, DA (Jane), RT, CTR

LyonElizabeth Amber - Lords of Satyr

1. Nicholas (see previous)
2. Raine (see previous)
3. Lyon

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"

This fantasy historical series is a bit uneven for me. While I give Amber kudos for the different setting, unique characters, and unusual world building (not to mention the manalicious covers), the first book, Nicholas, was sort of fascinating but I can't say that it was an entirely engrossing read. The second book, Raine, was original, and unforgettable. Like Nicholas, this third book, Lyon, is also interesting but missing that extra spark to keep me engrossed. Don’t get me wrong, I DID enjoy it, and it DID have some unique elements, but it just wasn’t the intense story I was hoping for.

I think part of my problem was that I believe Amber was setting up a mystery involving two female characters, but she didn’t give enough details or clues to pique my curiosity enough to try and figure it out. So her veiled references became something I wanted her to just explain and get it over with so I wouldn’t have to be bothered by the odd, unexplained statements/scenes scattered here and there throughout the story..

Nonetheless, I will be picking up the next one in the series, Dominic (Feb. 2009). I have no clue who Dominic is since I don’t recall him ever being mentioned. My best guess is that, based on events at the ending of Lyon, that his story takes place in Elseworld.
Piquant Opines: RT, PNR,CTR

Have you read any of these books? Feel free to review or link to a review in the comments. Even if you don't agree!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

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.

Lover EnshrinedJ.R. Ward - Lover Enshrined, Black Dagger Brotherhood book 6

See INDEX for previous books.
Video: Ward discusses LE.

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 5.5" out of 9"

Yes, OF COURSE, I read this as soon as it was released! But does it really come as a surprise how far behind I am in writing QB's Commentaries? I'm now on a mission to catch up!

I know there was a lot of bitching throughout Romancelandia because the romance between Phury and Cormia was more or less a secondary plot in this one. But people, really... this is CORMIA we’re talking about here. I would have gone into an irreversible coma if I had to read an entire book centered around her! GAK! Is there a word that means more ho-hum than boring? More blah than bland?

Besides, Ward has finally done something in this one that actually makes the Lessers sorta INTERESTING... hooda thunk it?! And maybe, just maybe, she’s also trying to make amends for the Butch/V coitus interruptus. Let’s hope she’s got the balls to run with it this time. Oh, and WOOT! A big ol' bowl of John/Xhex comin’ right up! Fingers crossed that Ward doesn't give Xhex a bland-over. Thumbs-up also for the return of a familiar face, but who the hell is that Lassiter? I read somewhere that he was introduced over on Ward's website, but I hope she remembers that not all of us can be arsed to hang out over there.
Piquant Opines (WHOA! LOTS of Google Reader opines about this one, hope GReader Search didn't miss anyone): Sula, Seneca, DA (Jia), Karen Scott (Azteclady), Book Binge (Casee), Kmont, Kris, SB discussion, Bam, Ciaralira, RipMyBodice, RT

Magic BurnsIlona Andrews - Kate Daniels series

1. Magic Bites (see previous)
2. Magic Burns

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 4" out of 9"

Now THIS is how you do a follow-up to a successful first story! Kate is even more snarkity in this one, yet we also get to see more of her humanity and warmth (yes, she DOES have some). The sparks between her and Curan are getting more obvious to everyone around them... even Kate is noticing them now. With much of the world building taken care of in Magic Bites, Andrews was free to use that foundation to create a more complex storyline in this one. Consider this series a must-read for urban fantasy fans.
Piquant Opines (a few of these are dual reviews for books 1 & 2): Ramblings (Katiebabs), Kmont, Ciaralira, Tumperkin, Book Smugglers (Thea), Sarai, Karen Scott (Azteclady), Urban Fantasy Land, DA (Jia), Darque Reviews, RT

The Touch of TwilightVicki Pettersson - Signs of the Zodiac

1. The Scent of Shadows (see previous)
2. The Taste of Night (see previous)
3. The Touch of Twilight

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

Mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, the whole doppelganger storyline was riveting, but on the other, its resolution and the storyline involving the kids at the comic store gave me a Woo-Woo headache. Even when Joanna finally gets laid, it’s an excuse for MORE Woo-Woo.

Overall though, this one was just as unputdownable (IS a word, so sez I) as the previous books. But the ending... OMG... I GASPED! And then wanted to bawl my eyes out because my heart ached for her sacrifice.
Piquant Opines: RT, Darque Reviews,SciFiChick

Have you read any of these books? Feel free to review or link to a review in the comments. Even if you don't agree!