Monday, November 30, 2009

Awards and my November reads.

I was awarded the Kick-Ass Blog award from Danielle at ALPHA Reader! Thanks Danielle, I think you're pretty Kick-Ass too! The rules are as follows:

- Accept this award, add the badge above and post about it on your blog with the name (link) of the person who granted it to you.

- Name 5 Blogs you think are Kick-Ass and write why. Don't forget to let them know that you have Awarded them.

Rachel (my fellow New Orleans book blogger) over at Parajunkee's View thinks my blog is Over the Top! Thank you Rachel!! (Hey, if I win your contest can we meet instead of mailing?)

This award comes with rules and a questionairre:

1. Thank and post URL to the blog that gave the award.
2. Pass the award along to 6 brilliantly over the top blogs. Alert them so they know to receive the award.
3 Copy and paste this quiz... Change the answers, ONE word only. (2 are acceptable!)

1. Where is your cell phone? purse

2. Your hair? Brown

3. Your mother? Smile

4. Your father? Deacon

5. Your favorite food? Spring rolls

6. Your dream last night? kidnapped

7. Your favorite drink? non-alcoholic: diet coke / alcoholic: margarita

8. Your dream/goal? visit Ireland

9. What room are you in? *sshhh* work!

10. Your hobby? reading

11. Your fear? bugs

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Traveling

13. Where were you last night? reading

14. Something that you aren't? turtle

15. Muffins? cupcakes? Totally cupcakes!

16. Wish list item? books?

17. Where did you grow up? Southeast

18. Last thing you did? work

19. What are you wearing? skirt, twinset

20. Your TV? flatscreen?

21. Your pets? 2 kittehs

22. Friends? moved

23. Your life? happy

24. Your mood? antsy

25. Missing someone? brother, SIL (*waves* Hi H1 and SIL!!!)

26. Vehicle? Saturn Vue

27. Something you're not wearing? socks

28. Your favorite store? Barnes & Noble

29. Your favorite color? Pink

30. When was the last time you laughed? today

31. Last time you cried? Can't remember

32. Your best friend? Hannah

I don't know who hasn't received these awards yet, so if you haven't, I'm passing them to YOU!


AND, because I know you were on the edge of your seat wondering, here are my November reads:

1. Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
2. Too Good to be True - Kristan Higgins
3. Stranger - Megan Hart*
4. Deal With This - Lucy Monroe
5. Bending the Rules - Susan Andersen*
6. Start Me Up - Victoria Dahl*
7. Talk Me Down - Victoria Dahl
8. Girls Night - Stef Ann Holm
9. Be With Me - Maya Banks*
10. Fair Game - Jasmine Haynes
11. Bound to Shadows - Keri Arthur
12. Just One of the Guys - Kristan Higgins
13. Fools Rush In - Kristan Higgins
14. Just the Sexiest Man Alive - Julie James*
15. Mortal Danger - Eileen Wilkes*
16. Tempting Danger - Eileen Wilkes
17. Year of Living Shamelessly - Susanna Carr
18. I'm In No Mood for Love - Rachel Gibson*
19. Wolf Unbound - Lauren Dane
20. For Her Pleasure - Maya Banks
21. Wicked Ties - Shayla Black
22. How to Tame A Modern Rogue - Diana Holquist
23. Tangled Up In You - Rachel Gibson
24. Undercover - Lauren Dane
25. Night's Cold Kiss - Tracey O'Hara
26. Naked In Death - JD Robb

*New to me authors now on my favorites list!

Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins

After reading Too Good To Be True and Just One of the Guys, I was sooo ready to settle in for a good time with this book. Mmmm...Not so much.

This is the story of Millie Barnes, a new doctor who moves back to her hometown to live and work. Her plan is to snag the guy of her dreams - Joe Carpenter. She's crushed on him since 9th grade. In a stalker way. I will admit I was warned, the first words in the book are: "I'm a stalker. The good kind." (Is there a good kind of stalker? Really?)

While the writing was good and I liked the characters, I couldn't get past Millie's stalking. She knew when he went to the post office, she knew where he'd be working, she went to his house at 5am to be sure of what time he left for work so she could jog by when he'd be leaving. She got a dog so their dogs could play together. If this was a guy doing this to a girl it would not be okay. And her friends enabled her!

Eventually she did catch Joe's eye, and surprise, surprise, he wasn't what she thought he'd be. Gorgeous? Yes. But Joe the Person was nothing like Joe the Fantasy. I actually felt bad for Joe.

Millie's older sister, Trish, was just evil. I did like her brother-in-law (Trish's ex husband) Sam, and Trish and Sam's son, Danny. Eventually, as Millie realizes Joe's not what she thought, she realizes Sam is everything she thought Joe was. But she knows she can't fall for her sister's ex-husband, can she? Oh yeah - it's possible - and I will say the way Trish found out was totally unexpected!

I think I would have liked this story without the stalker bit. I liked Millie's friends, even if they did enable her weird obsession with Joe, and they were there for her when she really needed them. Just because I didn't care for this particular book won't stop me from reading more of Ms. Higgins' books - her writing is just that good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We're a household that reads...

Even naked Barbies!
(It appears everyone has their own book!)

Missing True Blood

Because I miss True Blood (and that yummy Eric goodness):
(Found these here)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wicked Ties by Shayla Black

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book, I hadn't read anything by Ms. Black before. Morgan O'Malley is the host of a cable sex show, and she's looking for ideas for the second season. She's also got a stalker who has apparently followed her from her home in LA to her half-brother Brandon's home in Houston. No one knows they're related, so he's posing as her fiancee.

She meets with Jack Cole in Lafayette, Louisiana to interview him about being a guest on her show. He's a Dominant, and she's interested in showcasing that lifestyle. When they meet for the interview, someone starts shooting at her, and Jack helps her escape. When she explains she has a stalker, he tells her he's going to protect her - he's former special ops and does bodyguard work on the side.

Morgan reluctantly agrees, and he takes her to his cabin in the middle of the swamp. What she doesn't know if that Jack arranged the meeting because he wanted to seduce her and send video of them having sex to Brandon, his former best friend who betrayed him. Megan and Jack end up having D/s sex and she likes it. Jack sends the video to Brandon.

Later in the story we meet Jack's grandfather, a little old Cajun man who knows Morgan is the one for Jack because Jack's been dreaming about her and it's a family legend that the men dream of their true love. We also meet Jack's partner, Deke. Deke seems to be a typical special-ops type guy too, and he is also into BDSM. I think you know where this is going so I'm not going to say anything more about that (it was very hot).

While Morgan is wrestling with her secret desire to be dominated, the stalker is still out there and Jack and Deke are trying to find out who it is.
It was a good story, but I had a few problems with it. My main issue is that Jack went on and on about how D/s was about trusting the other person, yet after their first sexual encounter he sent a video of them having sex to Brandon! For the rest of the book I just could not get past that. Also, when Jack asked his grandfather to bring Morgan clothes, he brought her skanky lingerie. His grandfather - really?!

I liked Morgan's half-brother Brandon, and I liked Deke and would like to read stories about them. Deke's story is Decadent, which I need to go out and buy; I don't think Ms. Black has done Brandon's story - yet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins

This was the second book I've read by Ms. Higgins and I loved it! Chastity O'Neill (Chas) is a journalist who returns to her hometown to work at the local paper. She's got four older brothers and her dad who all work at the Fire Department. Then there's Trevor - her family "adopted" him after the death of his sister and his parent's subsequent failure to be there for him. Trevor is her brother's best friend and idolizes her father. Chas loves Trevor but can't do anything about it.

While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a doctor, Ryan. The way they meet - oh, man, I was wincing and laughing at the same time! They end up dating, and things move pretty fast. Meanwhile, Trevor's old flame, Hayden (Chas calls her Perfect Hayden) is coming back into the picture. Chas knows she needs to move on and get over Trevor and thinks even if Ryan isn't the man of her dreams at least he's there and he wants her.

While I loved Chas' story, there was a lot going on to love with the secondary characters too- her brother Mark and his wife (Chas' best friend) are separated and there's a lot going on there, her parents are divorced and her mother starts dating but her father is still in denial, someone is targeting Chas in weird ways (sabotoging the online paper, moving things on her desk).

I was rooting for Chas to have a HEA, and Ms. Higgins did not disappoint. Her internal monologues had me snickering all through the book, as well as her aversion to blood (she ends up taking an EMT class to try to get over it with mixed results). This one's a keeper for when I need a pick-me-up read!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twilight Nerdiness

My brother called this afternoon and talked me into going to the midnight showing of New Moon, so in honor of New Moon's release, here's a tiny dose of my Twilight Nerdiness:

I may have mentioned before that both of my bathrooms are decorated in apples. Which is kind of weird because I don't particularly like to eat apples. Anyhoo, here's a picture of the kids bathroom (this is the view over the toilet), I really do have apples everywhere!

This is the wall next to my sink in the other bathroom (MY bathroom). I have a bit of twilight nerdiness - can you spot it?

Yes, it's a framed twilight cover. Actually, it's the cover off a Godiva chocolate bar from B&N that my sister in law had given me as a thank you last year.

So anyway, that's a tiny peek into my nerdiness - enjoy!

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

I actually read the 2nd book in this series, Start Me Up, first. I liked it enough that I bought this one to see the back story on some of the characters.

Molly Jennings has returned home to the small town of Tumble Creek, Colorado. During her years in the city, she's just left a manipulative ex boyfriend, Cameron, so when she inherited her aunt's house in Tumble Creek, she decides it's a good time to leave the big city and go back home. Her brother Quinn, lives nearby in Aspen, and his best friend, Ben Lawson, is the town Sheriff. Molly had a childhood crush on Ben that never went away.

Molly does have a secret, though. She's hidden her occupation from her friends and family for years. When she starts dating Ben, he worries about what her job could be, even though she promises him it's not illegal. Ben's family had some scandal when he was a child and he is very concerned about appearances as a result, plus, as Sheriff he's worried she might be doing something illegal but can't imagine what it could be.

On several occasions, Molly finds her doors unlocked, and at one point finds someone staring at her through her window in the middle of the night. She's afraid to tell Ben about Cameron, a big-city cop who is a master manipulator. He's befriended her last few boyfriends and convinced them that she was not over him. Her family loves him and wants to know why she doesn't marry him. Molly is afraid that as soon as Ben meets Cameron he'll get chummy with Cameron and drop Molly like her last few boyfriends, and Molly really likes Ben and doesn't want to give him up.

Ms. Dahl winds a great story here. Molly's occupation is hysterical; I loved it! When Ben (and the rest of the town) find out what it is, it does make life difficult for Ben for awhile, but Molly is willing to fight for him. I love the bet they wagered over who the stalker could be - it was not who I expected...exactly. I definitely recommend this book for a fun contemporary read.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix

I found this book on Dirty Sexy Books. Rebecca has some great Top 10 lists (seriously, if you haven't checked out her site - it's smart and witty, go now! Well, after you finish this post, I guess.) and a lot of my favorites are on her lists, so I decided to give this one a go. (I'll just ignore that Red and Scarlet are on one of her lists!)

Anyhoo, I bought A Rush of Wings at B&N, and had the 2nd book, In the Blood, in my hands but put it back because I was nervous I wouldn't like it. *hits head - stupid, stupid, stupid!* Ok, better now...

A Rush of Wings is set in New Orleans (you know how much I love books set here!). F.B.I. Special Agent Heather Wallace has tracked a serial killer to New Orleans. During the course of her investigation she meets Dante Prejean, a bar owner and singer. He's a suspect but Heather doesn't believe he's the killer, she thinks he's the target. Dante is famous for being a vampire, but Heather doesn't believe in vampires. Dante gets migraines - he can't be a vampire!

Dante is a very tortured hero, literally. He can't remember his past,but he knows it's not good. He's got a close group of friends who protect him; some of whom have secrets - big secrets. He's got a rap sheet a mile long and has weird hallucinations. Heather is pretty cut and dry - she's there to catch a killer and protect the innocent, no matter what. But she is drawn to Dante and she's not sure why. She goes from suspecting him to trying to protect him.

This book has it all - crooked cops, brooding vampires, fallen angels, psychopathic scientists, and some vampire sexytime. The story was complex - Ms. Phoenix takes us down some twisty turns to get to the end. In a few spots I found myself wishing it would pick up a bit, but overall a good read.
I wanted to start book 2, but alas, I didn't have it yet. (edit - I just got it in Monday - yay!!!!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Edge by Ilona Andrews - Quickie Review

I follow Ilona Andrews' blog religiously (see sidebar at right). I'm a huge fangirl of her Kate Daniels series and am anxiously awaiting book 4. I wasn't sure what to expect from this new series, but it was getting such great reviews I decided to give it a go. I liked it!

Rose Drayton is kind of like a magical hilbilly. She lives in the Edge with her two younger brothers and grandmother. The Edge is where a magical magical reality (The Weird) overlaps with our normal reality (the Broken). There is some magic in the Edge, but not much. Magic users and "bluebloods" (royalty) live in the Weird, and regular, non-magic people live in the Broken. All magic ceases to work in the Broken. People who live in the Edge can travel to the Weird or the Broken with just a small amount of pain involved, but people from the Broken can't travel into the Edge and people from the Weird can travel into the Broken but it is very painful.

Rose has a special power that makes her very attractive to other magical people and is very protective of herself and her brothers. When a stranger from the Weird shows up on her doorstep (Declan), she tells him she will not marry him. He offers to perform three challenges of her selection to win her. While this is going on, Rose is having some other issues: There's a stranger in the Broken who's taken an interst in her as well (William), and some pretty creepy monsterdogthings are starting to kill her fellow Edge dwellers.

This book had a lot going on - I'm impressed at how Ms. Andrews managed to tie it all up. I liked Rose and Declan. I also liked her brothers; usually kids in stories annoy me but these two were different. And Grandpa - I don't know what to say about him! Yuck?

While the Kate series is still my favorite, I did enjoy this book very much and am watching her progress on Book 2 (William's story). Now, in addition to tapping my fingers impatiently waiting for the next Kate Daniels installment, I'll be tapping the fingers of my other hand waiting for the next Edge story!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl

I've been in the mood for contemporaries, and I remembered seeing a few reviews about this book, so when I saw it on the shelf I grabbed it. I'm glad I did, I enjoyed it.

Lori Love is a mechanic/body shop owner in small town Tumble Creak, near Aspen. She had gone off to college and dreamed of traveling the world, but her dad was injured and she had to come home and take care of him - for 10 years. During that time she ended up taking over the auto shop, and when he died she stayed. It's been a year, and she's tired of being alone but doesn't want the stress of a boyfriend. Her best friend Molly (in Talk Me Down, which I haven't read yet) writes erotic books, and over drinks Lori tells Molly she needs an uncomplicated fling.

Molly's brother Quinn is a rich architect who is back in town building his dream home. He asks Lori to come over and fix his backhoe. The next day, he stopped by her house to talk about it, and Lori jumped to the conclusion that Molly had told Quinn she was looking for a fling - so she told him she would not have a fling with him. Quinn had no idea what she was talking about, so then Lori is embarassed and Quinn starts thinking it's a great idea, as he gets forgetful when he's busy and a "friends with benefits" kind of thing would work for him too.

At first Lori says no, they've known each other too long, but he convinces her to give it a try, so they start datin' and sexin' and it seems to be working, except when they run into an ex-girlfriend. And Quinn wants to get serious, but Lori doesn't. In addition to her regular job obligations, Ben, the town sheriff and Molly's boyfriend, has re-opened her father's file and is investigating his death as a murder instead of an accident. Then someone starts breaking into Lori's shop and vandalizing it. Lori thinks it must be someone trying to get her to sell the piece of land her father bought right before he was injured, she's been getting a lot of offers recently. Conveniently, dating Quinn puts her in the right place to try to get some clues about why anyone would be interested in her land.

I liked this book. I felt bad for Quinn - he was a nice guy and Lori seemed to not give him a chance through most of the book. They argued a lot, but I think that was supposed to up the sexual tension a bit. I enjoyed the part the Paranormal/Erotic Romance books played in this story - Lori liked to read them and Quinn stole a few for "homework"; I will say that he's a good student!

I would recommend this book if you're looking for a fun, light read.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stranger by Megan Hart

A couple of people recommended Megan Hart, and Mandi suggested I start with Stranger. This book was an emotional roller coaster; I liked it.

The story opens with Grace, a funeral director, walking into a hotel bar to pick up a "stranger". She'd arranged through a service for someone to meet her and have sex, but she'd not met them before. Sam walks up and they banter back and forth and go upstairs to "conduct business". The next day when she checks her voice mail she realizes Sam was not the professional and she really did have sex with a stranger. Even so, she can't get him out of her mind.

She goes on with her day to day life, and a few days/weeks later a Jewish family wants to bury their father, so someone must sit with him all night. Grace lives on the third floor of the funeral home, and while she's watching a scary movie, forgets that someone is downstairs with the deceased. She hears noise, and goes down to investigate. To her utter surprise, it's Sam, sitting with his dead father. Thus begins an interesting relationship. Grace is attracted to Sam but she doesn't want a relationship - that's why she hires men to fulfill her needs. Sam is attracted to Grace and is persistent in trying to date her. His actions are almost like that of a boxer - getting in close to get her attention, then backing off so she loses some of her reluctance and thinks about dating him.

While this is going on, she does end up rescheduling with the professional, Jack. Jack is new at this job and Grace ends up giving him tips when they meet for appointments. Her times with Jack throughout the book are interesting - she likes to roleplay and it's different every time. I think she really does like Jack. It was interesting to watch Jack grow into himself and gain confidence with himself and his work. I really liked Jack's character. Her relationship with Sam as opposed to her "relationship" with Jack was eye-opening; you really got a good look into Grace's mindset - how she used these "rentboys" not only to de-stress but to hold up her protective emotional wall.

Ms. Hart really rounds out all her secondary characters well. As the mother of small children, I identified Grace's sister quite a bit; Grace's relationship with her father was difficult - he was retired but wanted to be involved with the business. One of the most surreal spots in the book was what happened after her father took her computer to check the funeral home's books and got more than he expected. Even Grace's employees' characters grew and changed as the story moved along.

It was intersting to read the different people who came into the funeral home. Their reactions to death were varied and Grace handled them all like a pro. There was one scene that had me almost in tears it was so moving. I wanted to hug Grace and tell her it would be okay. Even with that I really liked this book. The ending was sweet but not saccharine and you had to put your trustin Ms. Hart's writing that she would bring you to a satisfying ending, which she did. I absolutely recommend this book.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Danielle from Alpha Reader kindly suggested this book when I asked for Contemporary recommendations. I had mixed feelings about this book in the beginning -I didn't realize it would span so many years, but I liked it. Thanks Danielle!

I don't know how to review this book without spoilers, so let me just say: Spoilers Ahead! I'll try to only do a few small ones.

Sugar Daddy starts out with 14-year-old Liberty Jones and her mother moving into a trailer park in Welcome, Texas. (Her father died when Liberty was very young) There she meets Hardy Cates when she is almost attacked by pit bulls. He's an older boy but she is immediately attracted to him. Over the next few months, she doesn't see him much. She goes to school, hangs out with friends, and as she gets a bit older she gets contacts, plucks her eyebrows, and cuts her hair. The boys start to notice her, but she only wants Hardy to notice her. He tells her he's too bad for her.

While this is going on, her mother is working to support them and ends up pregnant. Baby Carrington becomes the center of Liberty's life. Judging from the events in the book, it sounds like her mom might have had post-partum depression, and Liberty took over. Her grades were falling and she was exhausted from getting up at night to care for the baby. On one particularly bad night, Hardy comes to help. That night, her mother tells her she doesn't want her seeing Hardy anymore and Hardy agrees.

Soon after that her mother dies in a car crash and Liberty is left alone to care for Carrington. She's never had a job and only has a high school diploma. She gets custody of her sister, and enrolls in beauty school. There she lands a job in a fancy Houston salon. She moves to Houston to be closer to work and so Carrington can go to a good school. At the salon, an exceedingly rich client, Churchill Travis, comes in for a haircut and they end up talking. He starts to ask for her whenever he comes in, and they begin to meet away from work. It's a totally platonic relationship, although other people think they're sleeping together. Her relationship with Churchill becomes a father/daughter type of relationship and they talk about everything. He ends up asking her to be his personal assistant, and Liberty and Carrington move into his mansion.

During this time, Liberty has done a bit of dating but no one can make her feel like she did when Hardy was around. She figures she's doomed be miserble and alone.

Churchill has three sons and a daughter. The oldest son, Gage, went into the family business and is in the mansion a lot. He thinks Liberty is sleeping with his father and resents her for it. He's rude and Liberty doesn't like him. Gradually their relationship takes a turn and they start dating. Then she runs into Hardy, who is now rich and successful. Liberty is conflicted because she has feelings for Gage and their romance is new, but can't forget how she felt about Hardy. While she's sorting out her feelings, she also learns some disturbing news about Carrington's father.

I enjoyed this story, but I was frustrated the build up to her adult life took so long. I will concede that it was important to the story and we needed it to understand Liberty's choices as an adult. I felt bad for Liberty - she had some tough breaks, and when her mother died I wanted to cry for her. I liked her secondary characters, especially Churchill, and Gage too, once she got to know him. I was mad at Hardy at the end of the book, and except for that I liked the ending.

All in all, it was a good read. I will definitely read the other books in this series. Thanks Danielle!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too Good to be True by Kristan Higgins

Awhile back I asked for contemporary recommendations. I got some great recommendations - this book was one of them, sort of. Christine recommended "anything by Kristan Higgins" and when I went to the bookstore this was the only title of hers they had. All I can say is...Wow!

This book was bittersweet but full of laugh out loud moments. I think the best way to tell you about this book is to give you a run-down of the main characters:

Grace Emerson - Cute, young history teacher, likes to perform at Civil War reinactments, teaches Dancing to the Oldies at the local old folks' home, spends time reading to the elderly who don't get visitors. Loves Project Runway. Is dating Wyatt Dunn, a pediatric surgeon she made up so her family wouldn't feel sorry for her because her sister is engaged to her ex-fiance.

Wyatt Dunn - Imaginary pediatric surgeon who rescues cats in his spare time; currently dating Grace Emerson.

Callahan O'Shea- Ex-con, moved into the house next door to Grace. When he couldn't find the keys to his house the night he went in, he went over to her house to ask to use the phone and she mistook him for a burgeler, slamming him in the head with a hockey stick. Seems to be a pretty decent guy, prison record notwithstanding. Grace and Callahan exchange some pretty fun dialogue about his past.

Julian - Grace's best friend; he's gay. Together they commiserate about the difficulties of finding a good man. Occasionally helps her fend off her overbearing family and watches Project Runway with Grace.

Natalie Emerson - Grace's younger sister. Grace and Natalie have always been close, more so since Natalie almost died while she was in college. Fell in love at first sight with Andrew, Grace's then-fiance but tried to ignore her feelings for Andrew. Has lots of guilt about it.

Andrew Carson - Grace's ex-fiance, currently engaged to Natalie.

Margaret Emerson (forget her married name)- Grace's older sister. Dry, biting wit. Is a lawyer, married to Stuart who teaches at the same school as Grace. Margaret is looking for some excitement in her marriage but doesn't think Stuart is up to it.

Meme- Grace's grandmother. Seriously mean old biddy. Delivers some pretty good lines. She has a scene with Callahan that had me laughing so hard people turned around to see what I was laughing at!

Angus McFangus - the cutest dog in a story ever! He was adorable!

I really liked this book. I felt like I was there with the characters and was disappointed when I got to the last page and there was no more book to read. There were several laugh-out-loud moments in this book, I will definitely be searching out more of Ms. Higgins' books. Thanks Christine!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Meeting Charlaine Harris

Although we didn't get to go to the True Blood Ball, I was able to meet Charlaine Harris on Halloween!!! The signing was for 1pm, so we got there around 10:30. They assigned you a number when you bought your books; we were numbers 3, 4, 5, and 6!! I came with my sister-in-law, my future sister-in-law, and my 16-year-old son (AKA Book Mule). I brought the Book Mule for two reasons: 1. She would sign 2 books/person, and 2. He's read the books and I thought it would be fun for him to meet the author (he's dabbling in writing).

Here we are waiting in line. Note the matching Fangtasia t-shirts (no, we're not book nerds!) Book Mule took the picture: SIL, future SIL, and me:

See how close we were?!? The lady leaning against the wall is BFF Paula. She seemed surprised we knew who she was. (Maybe we are book nerds? Nah.)

Here's future SIL - she's the one who convinced me to give True Blood a second try after Episode 1 didn't really grab me. (That's Book Mule standing in the background):

Here's SIL Hannah, who I frequently mention on this site and she is my Mistress of All Things Web. We spend a good portion of our free time arguing over who Eric belongs to (hint: Eric is mine.):

And here's me, all giddy with happiness at meeting Charlaine:

Ms. Harris was so sweet and gracious. She answered questions and chatted while she signed. I thanked her for sharing her stories and she said she was blessed to be able to do what she loved doing. She also said that after Dead in the Family she's contracted for 3 more Sookie books (through 2014), Pam is her favorite character in the books, and she thought Nelson Ellis should have gotten an award at the Emmys.

Heart of the Wolf, Destiny of the Wolf, and To Tempt the Wolf by Terry Spear

I had seen Ms. Spear's To Tempt the Wolf all over the blogosphere recently. I thought it looked intersting, and added it to my TBR. Then, while perusing the aisles at Borders, they had Heart of the Wolf free if you bought two other romance books. Perfect!

Heart of the Wolf was the shortest of the three. It was an entertaining story of Bella, a red wolf, who ran away from the grey wolf pack that adopted her as a child to avoid being forcibly taken by the Alpha, Volan. She successfully lives alone for decades, until she accidentally gets caught in wolf form and taken to a zoo to breed with a real red wolf! Her childhood crush from her pack, Devlyn, comes to rescue her and take her back to Volan. But Devlyn wants her just as bad as she wants him. Add to that the problem of a local wolf killing humans, and the local pack realizing she's been living in their area, unmated. Good story, lots of action and romance. My only complaint was that they seemed to take a lot of naps. I kid you not, Bella and Devlyn probably napped at least a dozen times in this book!

Destiny of the Wolf is the story of Lelandi, a female red wolf who is searching for the killer of her sister, Larissa. Larissa was mated to a brutal red wolf and beaten repeatedly, then ran away. Lelandi heads into Darrien's grey wolf pack to investigate. Darrien is still grieving the loss of his wife, Larissa; he thinks she died from suicide, not murder. When the pack sees Lelandi, things start to happen almost immediately: she gets shot at and almost strangled and other wolves in the pack are killed. This story had girl-fights, Alpha posturing, deception, murder, blackmail, and suspense galore; I was suspicious of everyone! I liked Larissa and Darrien, and there were some surprises at the end that left me happy.

The latest book, To Tempt the Wolf, did not disappoint. Tessa is a human nature photographer who specializes in photographs of wolves. Her brother has just gone to prison for a crime he says he didn't commit. Hunter is a pack Alpha who has just fled his area with his siter due to forest fires and relocated at his uncles home. The rest of his pack did not follow, but went to Portland instead to "get a taste of city life". He comes home from an errand and his sister is gone and he can smell three male wolves. He sets out after them, and next thing the reader knows, his naked body is discovered on the icy beach by Tessa. Garret cannot remember anything other than his first name. Garret is attracted to Tessa, although she's a human, there's something different about her. When they get to her house, they realize someone broke in while she was out, Garret can tell it's a wolf, and the wolf rolled around in her bed. This book had a couple of mysteries going on at the same time: Trying to free Tessa's brother, figuring out what happened to Garret's sister, trying to track down Tessa's stalker, and what to do about Garet's wayward pack. It was fast-paced and enjoyable. Ms. Spear introduced some character that were unlikeable at first but soon became an enjoyable part of the story, and reintroduced some peripheral characters from previous books (although you can read this as a stand-alone).

I liked this series and it looks like she's got at least three more books planned - yay!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini

I saw the blurb for this book and knew I had to have it. I love Jane Austen spinoffs. I'm sure there are Austen purists googling my address now with pitchforks and torches in hand, but I can't help it - I'm a sucker for a spinoff! I guess it's just that I love her works so much I don't want them to be done...or something like that. This book did not disappoint. It's hard to review because there was a lot going on - this storyline just keeps moving (in a good way!).

Elizabeth Bennett is an attorney who is working in San Francisco. Darcy is a judge presiding over some of her cases. Elizabeth is young and fun. Her sister Jane is a surgical resident, working in the hospital where Charles Bingley is a surgeon. Elizabeth's friend Charlotte is also an attorney, and her best friend Lou is gay. (Lou had some great scenes in this book.)

When the book opens, Darcy notices the new attorney but thinks she's there to pay a ticket or something, he's surprised to see her in court. Darcy has a reputation as a curmodgeonly judge - the attorneys know they'd better have their stuff in order if they're going before him. Although he's not old, he acts older than he is to maintain the respect of the attorneys that appear before him - he's actually the youngest judge in San Francisco. After work at a local lawyer hangout, Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Lou overhear Darcy talking about Elizabeth, saying "She's alright but not pretty enough to tempt me." Elizabeth is annoyed but says she doesn't care because it's Darcy.

Jane and Bingley start dating, and it becomes serious quickly. Elizabeth has a few terse run-ins with Darcy, and they both annoy each other. She hasn't forgotten his insult at the bar. Then Jane and Bingley become engaged, and they travel to England for a vacation, and convince Elizabeth to come; they'll be staying at a friend's place and Elizabeth can attend a legal conference while she's there. Both she and Darcy are surprised when she arrives on his doorstep! She didn't know he was the "friend" who owned the house, and Darcy didn't get the message that Jane and Bingley were bringing a guest. They agree to get along for the two weeks they'll all be together, and even agree to attend the conference together.

They spend a bit of time in each other's company and end up together. They agree that since they're not in the US, they don't fall under the proprietary rules, and become involved intimately; possibly falling in love. The scenes over the two weeks they were in England were wonderful, watching them get to know each other and explore their feelings.

Then it's time to come back to the US and things are immediately put back into a formal relationship. Both parties are miserable, but can't see how they could make it work without jeapordizing one or both of their careers.

I really enjoyed this book. At first, I thought a couple of times, "Elizabeth wouldn't do that", but then I realized, Elizabeth probably wouldn't do that in the 18th century, but she might in THIS century! The characters were fun - her mother was spot-on, and I loved Lou, he was a great best friend. I loved the strip tease near the end of the book - very, very creative!

This story was sweet and funny and I'm putting it on my keeper shelf for when I need a "pick up my spirits" read.

Disclaimer: I won this book from Pop Culture Nerd.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

Frostbitten is Kelley Armstrong's latest book in her Women of the Otherworld series. In Frostbitten, we get to see Elena and Clay again (yay - they are my favorites!). We met some new characters that I wonder if we'll see in further books, and got brief glimpses of previous characters from some of ther other books.

There's a lot going on here - The book begins with Elena tracking down a mutt (non-pack werewolf) trying to save his life. The problem is the mutt thinks Elena and Clay are trying to kill him for crimes he didn't commit. The chase ends up in Alaska, where some murders are suspiciously werewolfy (is that a word?). Elena and Clay have to track down these mutts, find former pack mates (one of whom has a surprise) and deal with an issue from Elena's past that comes front and center and could affect her ability to stay alive.

I really enjoyed this book. Elena and Clay make a good team, but Elena is plenty capable of kicking ass all by herself. Her ability to see the whole picture and figure out a plan for survival is one of the things I like about her character. Her love for her family and her pack is another and those two things were in abundance throughout this book.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Highland Rebel by Judith James

I thought this was going to be an epic highland love story. It was but it wasn't. My overall reaction to this book is conflicted; I liked it but it made me frustrated.

Catherine is a highland woman who's father was laird and she was supposed to take his place but due to some family "issues" her cousin is laird but she owns the land and fortunes. Her family wants to marry her off to strengthen political ties but she doesn't want to be married; she wants control of her own destiny.

Jamie is an Englishman who was abandoned as a child and is currently working to get into and stay in the good graces of the new King of England. He's always looked out for himself and won't allow himself to get close to anyone.

When the story opens, Catherine's just been taken captive by a group of Englishmen who'd mistaken her for a young man fighting in a skirmish near her home. When it's discovered she's a woman, they immediately change their plans for her. When Jamie sees what the soldiers he's traveling with plan to do to Catherine, he marries her to save her, planning to get an annullment as soon as possible so they can go on about their separate lives.

The problem with Jamie's plan is that Catherine ends up escaping later that night and goes back to her home and kinsmen. When she tells them she's married, they're upset that they can't marry her to the laird they'd arrainged for her. Once he realizes she's gone, Jamie follows her, ends up captured and beaten by her relatives, and Catherine secretly nurses him back to health then sends him back home to England. She doesn't want her family to know he's her husband or they'll kill him so they can marry her off again. Approximately a year passes when Catherine shows up on Jamie's doorstep proposing a deal. She needs to prove to her kinsmen that there really is a husband, and Jamie needs money. She'll pay him a third of her fortune if he'll give her an annullment, but upon learning of his current situation she agrees to act as husband and wife for a year to bolster his reputation with the King and his court.

The story was interesting, but frustrating. They would be civil with each other, then get a bit closer and do things together like take rides in the park and go to shows. Then their relationship would frost over again due to lack of communication, or sometimes for no apparent reason. Several times one would attempt to seduce the other, only the timing was wrong. I enjoyed their outings when Catherine was dressed as a man, but those scenes were few and far between. I felt like this book would almost bring them together, but they kept missing each other due to either other people or events or politics. There were a lot of misunderstandings between the two main characters.

It was a nice story, and I liked the characters and wished for a HEA for both of them all through the book. It was also a frustrating read - I spent alot of time mentally slapping one or the other and saying "don't be so stubborn!". I know this is a very mixed review, but as I said before, this book really brought out mixed reactions from me. Would I recommend it? Sure. Will I read it again? No.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My October Reads

Wow, November already! When I was a kid and I'd hear the adults talk about how time flies I thought they were I understand.

Here's my list of October reads (I some point I quit writing them down and hope I remember them all!)

1. To Tempt the Wolf - Terry Spear

2. Big Bad Wolf - Christine Warren

3. Beware a Scot's Revenge - Sabina Jefferies

4. Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill (re-read)

5. Friday Night Bites - Chloe Neill

6. Highland Rebel - Judith James

7. Frostbitten - Kelley Armstrong

8. Austenland - Shannon Hale

9. Border Lass - Amanda Scott

10. Practice Makes Perfect - Julie James

11. According to Jane - Marilyn Brant

12. A Rush of Wings - Adrien Phoenix

13. On the Edge - Ilona Andrews

14. Cry Sanctuary - Moira Rogers

15. The Trials of the Hon. F. Darcy - Sara Angelini

16. Start Me Up - Victoria Dahl

17 - ???? I read the first 12 or 13 Breeds books by Lora Leigh (some were short stories). I have to say, although after a while the plot does get formulaic, Book 11 - Jacob's Faith - had me cracking up over her BOBs (battery operated boyfriends)!

I also started An Echo in a Bone, but haven't finished it. It's good, but As you can see from my list, I haven't been in the mood for a historical lately.