Showing posts from February, 2009

Tell Harlequin

I saw the listing in the back of several recent Harlequins about joining their reader panel, but I never got around to doing so. Then I read a post from Dani on Confessions of a Romance Book Addict about how she had received four free books to read and keep in a short time period after joining the panel.

Free books equals extreme motivation on my part. Plus, I love giving my opinion on almost every topic in the world.

I joined today. You, too, can join by going to and completing a relatively short survey about basic demographics (gender, age, race) and reading habits.

Let the e-mail surveys and free books start arriving soon!

Midnight Man by Lisa Marie Rice

From the three books I've read by Lisa Marie Rice so far, Midnight Man is my favorite. Suzanne Barron is an interior designer with a section of her building for rent in Portland, Oregon. Former Navy SEAL Commander John Huntington signs the lease for his security business and living quarters while securing a date with Suzanne. The date leads straight to sex, and Suzanne, not the sex-on- a-first-date or one-night-stand kind of a person, is mortified. Any embarrassment pretty much evaporates when Suzanne's life is threatened by an intruder. Does she call 911? No, she calls John. From there, the two spend time alone in a secluded cabin while waiting to learn who is after Suzanne and why.There's something really appealing about the Alpha nature of the men in Rice's books. Although I don't want quite so much domination and violence in my own life, I can see why the heroines appreciate having men willing to kill to protect them.WARNING: Some seriously steamy sex s…

13 of My Favorite Commercials

Hulu commercial with Alec Baldwin.
Axe Dark Temptation with the man made out of chocolate.

Hallmark Valentine’s Day musical card with the middle-aged couple daydreaming about being an ‘80s rock star and the girl pulled from the crowd.

Ice Age 3 movie trailer about the prehistoric squirrels and the acorn.

Pretty much anything with the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales and Dalmatian.
The Geico Gecko commercials.
The old Bartles and James wine cooler commercials with the older guys.
The old Wendy's commercials with the "Where's the beef?" lady.
Pepsi commercial with Bob Dylan and
The old "I'd like to teach the world to sing" Coke commercials.
Kelly LeBrock's old "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful" commercials. I don't think her agent did her any favors there.
James Dean's old "drive safely" commercial from right before he died in a car accident.
The Keebler elves. They're just cute!!

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

"Was I happy with Alex?"
"Obsessed was more like it. But yeah, I saw you happy. Happier than you've been in a really, really long time. With someone you like that much, the lows are as low as the highs are high. Does that make sense?"
"It does. It also makes me sound bipolar."
"Love will do that to a person."
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is a modern-day romance about two high school seniors from different worlds who fall in love after being partnered in Chemistry class. Alex Fuentes is a Latino Blood from the poor section of town, and Brittany Ellis is the rich blonde who is the most popular girl in school and dating the quarterback.
Each chapter is told from either Brittany or Alex's first-person perspective, so we have plenty of opportunity to see what each lead character is thinking, feeling, and doing. I like having both sides of the story presented simultaneously and very authentically. Alex and Brittany are each able to develop …

Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice

Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice is the story of small town librarian Charity Prewhitt, who becomes the target of the Department of Homeland Security because of her friendship with Vassily Worontzoff, a Russian immigrant author and survivor of the Gulag. Although Charity doesn't realize it, her "friend" happens to be obsessed with her and an international criminal about to aid terrorist activity.
Enter Nicholas Ames, on a mission to seduce Charity in order to get closer to Vassily. Of course, the mission turns into an unexpectedly real, hot relationship.
I'm sorry to report that I didn't enjoy Dangerous Secrets nearly as much as Rice's Dangerous Lover. I think my main problem is because I'm a librarian, and I didn't appreciate the stereotypical portrayal of Charity. I was disappointed that Charity was described as never being busy at work, only having a bachelor's degree, and, basically, trapped. She was introverted, beautiful in a way easy to o…

Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor

My daughter, Maya, is four-and-a-half years old. (Yes, the half definitely counts because she's never four, always either 4 1/2 or almost five, unless she's pretending to be six at that particular moment.) Part of the fun of being a parent to a pre-schooler is the opportunity to immerse her in reading, particularly picture books. Or, as I also say, indoctrinate her young to keep reading alive in this fast-paced world of television, video games, and the various pleasures of the Internet!
One of our current favorites is the Fancy Nancy series by Jane O'Connor. (Illustrators vary by title and include Robin Priess Glasser, Carolyn Bracken, and Ted Enik.) Besides picture books, you can find Fancy Nancy in beginning readers books and on a multitude of products, including a wonderful stationery set. Nancy is our kind of girl--spunky, fashion-forward in an adventurous way, smart, and very much an individual. Nancy's rather less colorful parents and younger sister provide a ni…

Need by Carrie Jones

I'm on a streak of reading YA books recently with the same basic story--young heroine moves to a new place, becomes aware of the existence of paranormal entities of one sort or another, and falls for a seemingly inaccesible guy. Of the ones I've read, Need by Carries Jones is my favorite--and, yes, I'm including the Twilight series in my comparison.

A few months after the death of her stepfather, Zara's mother sends Zara from South Carolina to live in Maine with the stepfather's mother, hoping to jolt Zara from her depression and keep her safe. A man that Zara first sees at the Charleston airport keeps appearing in Maine. He's actually a Pixie king, attempting to lure Zara to him, as she learns with a little help from her new trio of friends, including handsome Nick. Local boys are also disappearing.

Zara is quirky, chanting the names and definitions of various phobias at times of stress, and her chemistry with Nick shines. I also like the way her grief for…

Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly

In Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly, serious, hardworking Maddy Turner is approached by her half-sister Tabby to aid in preventing their latest stepmother from cheating on their wealthy father. Tabby, who is soon to be married, convinces Maddy to go to a charity auction to outbid their stepmother on the "purchase" of an international playboy.

Through a twist of fate, paramedic and all-around nice Chicago guy Jake Wallace's bio is switched with that of the international playboy. And, of course, he was interested in Maddy from the moment he saw her at the auction, so he's thrilled when she pays an outrageous $25,000 for a date with him at a Cubs game, followed by beer and chicken wings.

A cute, though slightly rocky, ride ensues with the mistaken identity, followed by Jake's decision not to reveal his true identity after discovering the error when Maddy eventually reveals that she wants to buy his services for a month of exclusivity.

If you're interested in reading Slow…

13 Conversation Hearts

For this week only, I'm making the same list on both blogs, for a grand total of 26 random conversation hearts, with some duplication between lists.
Remember those from Valentine's Day as a child? When I was little, they came in cute, individual boxes in pink and white with a heart-shaped window at the front for viewing the candy.
My Raggedy Ann doll from childhood, with a pull in the back to make her speak, even says "I love candy hearts."
The conversation hearts we bought to distribute to Maya's pre-school class came in brightly-colored plastic packages. Not quite the same effect, but this is a new time. Even some of the messages are different. LOL (Definitely a new one.)
DON'T TELL (I remember this one from childhood, but it makes me think "stalker" now.) AWESOME XOXO YES MARRY ME FIRST KISS BE TRUE
Now, the pleasure of eating the 26 hearts today. . . .

Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice

Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice is the story of Jack Prescott, a man haunted by his undeclared teenage love for Caroline Lake. Once a homeless teenager befriended by Caroline, Jack is now a former soldier with $20 million worth of blood diamonds in his possession and with a man he thinks imprisoned coming to reclaim those diamonds. His plan is to revisit Summerville just long enough to check on Caroline, who has gone from being the rich girl with a full life to having her parents killed in a car crash that left her younger brother paralyzed for the six years until his own death. Caroline lives alone in the shell of what was a grand home, taking boarders and running a bookstore. Needless to say, Jack arrives at just the right time to be welcomed into Caroline's life, even though he keeps his identity as her former friend a secret.
There's a nice element of tension added to the plot by covering the activities of the man coming for the diamonds throughout the book. The story …

Back to Indigo Bridges & Nostalgia about Lee

My friend Keli and I went to Indigo Bridges, the cute indie bookstore in the Haymarket in Lincoln, yesterday. Besides buying a couple of books, I found a cool set of postcards to mail, one at a time, to my autistic friend in Arizona, a set of mini-journals, and two different boxes of stationery.
The photo is of my daughter Maya enjoying her hot chocolate from our first visit to Indigo Bridges.
I also had the chance to get to the sole remaining location for the indie bookstore Lee Booksellers on Sunday. If I'm remembering correctly, there used to be three locations in Lincoln--East Park Mall, Piedmont, and the remaining location at Edgewood. While not so much in the cute, funky category as Indigo Bridges, Lee has a broader selection and variety of books.
Maya was with me on the Lee visit, and I bought two books for her and several individual cards for me. Yes, impossible though this may be, I'm more addicted to stationery than to books.
At this time when the big chain stores and t…

The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper

I have to confess that the original biggest draw to The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper for me was the fact that the main character was returning to his hometown 17 years after his high school graduation in 1986. Since I graduated in 1988, I assumed there would be some fun, nostalgia-type information in the book, which is absolutely true. I especially loved the connection of Bruce Springsteen songs to the story.
After reading the book, I know I would have enjoyed the story, regardless of my age-related connection, since Tropper's writing style is so entertaining. One brief scene between Joe and the mom of his high school best friend Wayne alone makes the book worth reading.
Basic bones of the story: Joe Goffman writes a tell-all book about his hometown of Bush Falls, Connecticut, describing the events of his senior year in high school that becomes a bestseller and a blockbuster movie. Seventeen years after the events of that senior year, and without a single visit home in the inter…

Evernight by Claudia Gray

[Huge thanks to Kym for pointing out that I originally replaced Bianca's name with the author's name for most of my posting.  Ugh!]
Evernight by Claudia Gray is the story of Bianca Olivier, a grudging new student at Evernight Academy, where her parents have moved to teach. Lucas Ross is the boy she meets the first day, and I don't think saying that he's her "true love" qualifies as a spoiler. Instead of their relationship, most of the book is filled with interactions with other students, Bianca's parents, the head of the school, etc. Bianca doesn't exactly "fit" at the Academy, and that's a struggle.
A few points in the book bothered me. Having parents in the teaching profession, I can honestly say that Bianca's parents wouldn't have been an asset to her in terms of her relationships with the other students by physically being there with her. Going along with her to ease her into the "real world" doesn't seem terribly…

13 Literary Figures that Resonate with Me

As always, no particular order with the list:
Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride & PrejudiceLakshmi from Patricia McCormick's SoldPatty from Bette Greene's Summer of My German Soldier and Morning is a Long Time ComingSusie Salmon from Alice Sebold's The Lovely BonesMulan from the Chinese poem, portrayed in various sourcesHeathcliff from Emily Bronte's Wuthering HeightsCharles Dickens as portrayed in Dan Simmons' DroodCoco Chanel as described in Axel Madsen's Chanel: A Woman of Her OwnDougless Montgomery and Nicholas Stafford from Jude Deveraux's A Knight in Shining ArmorClara from Margo Kaufman's Clara the Early Years: The Story of the Pug who Ruled My LifeAriel from Elie Wiesel's The Fifth Son

More Famous Men who Qualify as Sex on a Stick

I'm expanding my original list of famous men who qualify as Alpha hero types to me.

Again, there's no particular order here.

John Cusack
Michael Hutchence (INXS)
Jamie Foxx (Who knew before the hook on Kanye West's Gold Digger?)
Rodney Grant (Dances with Wolves and a Nebraska native.)
Rod Steiger (I see my mother's influence in that selection.)
Judd Nelson
Michael Ealy (Barbershop)
Paul Le Mat (American Graffiti)
Clive Owen
Liam Neeson

And the two best-looking, "regular" men I've seen in my life were a man in a bar and grill in Canada in 1986 and a man at a combination gift and fruit shop in Israel in 2000.

Free Harlequin Books

"Harlequin celebrates 60 years of pure reading pleasure" this year. In honor of their anniversary, they're providing free downloads of 16 books that capture the variety of what Harlequin has to offer. Just go to and click on the banner at the top of the page, which is the same banner I added to this posting. So far, I've read His Lady Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls (loved it!), Price of Passion by Susan Napier (okay), and Kiss Me Deadly by Michele Hauf (good) for free.

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Ever since reading the beginning of Evermore by Alyson Noel, courtesy of the author and Free Book Friday Teens, I've literally been counting the days until the February 3 release. I pre-ordered the book online from Barnes & Noble, and I gave a little cheer when I came home from a long day at work yesterday to see The Package. Yeah!

Needless to say, I'm bleary-eyed again from staying up way too late to read this book, the first book in The Immortals series.

Without any spoilers, the basic background is that Ever is a teenager who survives a car accident that kills her parents, sister Riley, and family dog Buttercup. Besides survivor guilt and grief, Ever also has to deal with the fact that she now has psychic abilities, including seeing people's auras and having snapshots of their actions and thoughts, and receives regular visits from her sister's ghost. Combine that with adjusting to a new home and school with her aunt in California, and there's plenty of materi…

13 Reasons I'm Writing a Romance Novel

1--I want to see if I can write a decent read.

2--If that **tch who won our ninth-grade short story competition with a story five pages longer than the guidelines allowed can get two books published, why can't I? (Yes, I still hold a grudge that her story wasn't disqualified.)

3--Published or not, being able to say that I've written a book would be Way Too Cool.

4--I actually enjoy the process of writing. I can't say that I "enjoy" most aspects of my job.

5--The characters are almost like real people, and I'm interested in where they're headed.

6--I feel like I'm stretching, or challenging, myself.

7--Inhabiting the characters' world and their thoughts for an hour or two a day is a healthy form of escapism.

8--I've rediscovered the fun of reading Harlequins in an effort at "research."

9--I want to have at least one finished book to share with Maya, my daughter, one day.

10--I ran across my name in the local public library's catalog o…

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

I'm completely bleary-eyed today because I couldn't put this book down until I finished reading the entire story. The list of awards and praise for this YA novel is almost as long as the actual book, and I can only say that every nomination and word of praise for A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly was well-deserved.Mattie Gokey is a sixteen-year-old girl in 1906, struggling to balance the needs of her family, where she serves as a surrogate mother after the real mother's death, and her own needs. She wants to go to college, and she's fortunate to have a best friend, a black boy named Weaver, and a new teacher that encourage her desire to learn. She also has a handsome neighbor boy who wants to marry her, which would leave her right beside her father and younger siblings. What does Mattie do? What can Mattie do?Donnelly provides wonderful descriptions of Mattie's home life, which remind me of the way my own grandparents lived, and the job that Mattie has in the l…

Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long

Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long is one of a connected series of books, though this seems to be another series where you can pick and choose which books to read without compromising your understanding of events in the book you select.

I was a little slow to warm to heroine Cynthia Brightly, fallen from most sought-after debutante by the ton to disgrace after a broken engagement. Left in desperate circumstances, an invitation to a two-week country party by friend Violet Redmond is Cynthia's last chance to snag a husband.

Enter Miles Redmond, brother to Violet and now his father's heir, who fell in love with Cynthia the very first time he saw her at a ball. Of course, he overheard her rather unflattering commentary with a "friend" about her lack of interest in him as a second son, leading him to never meet her or declare his own interest.

Fast-forward to now, when, not only is Miles the heir, but he has just returned from island adventures. Could he be of more inter…

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole

Book number 6 in the Immortals After Dark series, Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole is my favorite in the series so far. This is the story of Rydstrom Woede, fallen Demon king who has been seeking the return to his throne for 500 years, and Sabine, Queen of Illusions and the half-sister of the usurper of Rydstrom's throne. The only search Rydstrom has been on longer than the one to recapture his throne is the 1500-year search for his destined mate, who, of course, is Sabine. I hate giving away stories, so I'll just say that the instant sexual compatibility doesn't translate into a smooth ride to trusting each other. When the time comes, though, Rydstrom and Sabine are both willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for each other. Yes, the women in Cole's books are at least as strong and interesting as the men. No damsels waiting around to be saved when there are other options in these books! And they're also just as apt to save their men as to be saved. I have to adm…