Showing posts from March, 2009

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey was an impulse buy for me. I almost didn't pick up the book because, for whatever reason, the title made me think of the humorous vampire novels, which I don't generally enjoy. Fortunately for me, I bought the book, which I enjoyed, and this isn't one of those funny books.
Jessica Packwood living as a normal American high school senior with her adopted parents when she learns that the new exchange student from Romania, Lucius Vladescu, is a vampire prince that she, a vampire princess, was pledged to wed at birth. Jessica, as the last pureblood vampire in her line, is expected to return to rule her people and combine her clan with Lucius' clan through their marriage. Combine Jessica's natural confusion and concern with Lucius' first opportunity at a "regular" life and the ups-and-downs of high school, and you have a lot of drama.
My favorite parts of the book were the letters that Lucius se…

13 (Plus a Lot) of My Favorite Songs from the '80s

[My mom is recovering well from her quadruple bypass. No surprises and no complications, so far, thank goodness.]

--"White Wedding" & "Rebel Yell" (Billy Idol)--"Purple Rain" & "When Doves Cry" (Prince)--"Cruel Summer" (Bananarama)--"Pink Cadillac" & "I'm on Fire" (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)--"Call Me" & "Heart of Glass" (Blondie)--"Pour Some Sugar on Me" & "Animal" (Def Leppard)--"Tainted Love" (Soft Cell)--"Sweet Dreams (are Made of This)" (The Eurythmics)--"Holiday" & "Like a Virgin" & "Papa Don't Preach" (Madonna)--"I Want Your Sex" & "Father Figure" (George Michael)--"I'm Bad" & "I Need Love" & "Goin' Back to Cali" (L.L. Cool J)--4 [the entire album] (Foreigner)--Everything by George Thorogood and the …

Limited Blogging

Just wanted to let you know that my blogging (and probably reading) will be limited for the next two or three months. My mom is having quadruple bypass surgery tomorrow morning. This is all rather sudden and unexpected. I'm just glad she went in to see the doctor yesterday because she hadn't been feeling right for a few days.

If you have positive thoughts or prayer to send our direction, that would be much appreciated.

Otherwise, I'll at least try to post something on Monday of every week.

Captive by Leda Swann

Captive by Leda Swann is the story of Louisa Clemens, English nanny living in 1876 Italy, and Khair Bey, Moroccan carpet dealer. Originally interested only in an affair with Louisa, Khair soon decides to take her home with him.

I think my age is showing because I'm not sure, in Louisa's place, that I could have so easily forgiven the lengths to which Khair goes to bring her to Morocco after she refuses to marry him and move there voluntarily. Fortunately, Louisa is later able to obtain the opportunity to make her own decision regarding her future.

Overall, there was good chemistry between the characters, and I enjoyed the story and the settings of Italy and Morocco.

WARNING: There are some graphic descriptions of sex in this one.

My overall personal opinion of Captive is a B.

The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

In The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks, fourteen-year-old Reuben Ford and his seventeen-year-old brother Cole are off to find the killer of their nineteen-year-old sister, Rachel. The authorities won't release Rachel's body for their mother to bury until a killer is identified.

The story is told from Reuben's perspective, which is especially interesting because he's able to connect with the thoughts and experiences of his family members, especially brother Cole, the one who is going to do whatever is necessary to find Rachel's murderer. The one family member Reuben wasn't able to connect with in that mystical manner was sister Rachel--until the night she was killed.
p.4 "Some time later I awoke to the pain of a jagged knife ripping open my heart, and I knew without a doubt that Rachel was dead. Her last breath had just left her. I could see it stealing away on the wind. I watched it floating over a ring of stones and through the branches of a stunted thorn …

13 of My Favorite Groups/Singers from/Dating Back to the '80s

--George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers--Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band--Prince--Madonna--Laura Branigan--Def Leppard--Too Short--LL Cool J--Salt 'n Pepa--Foreigner--George Michael--Boy George and Culture Club--Blondie

A Mad Desire to Dance by Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel is one of my mom's favorite authors, so I can't read anything by him without thinking about her. I also have a tendency to judge everything I ready by him against his The Fifth Son, which I love.
A Mad Desire to Dance isn't The Fifth Son, but I enjoyed the book until the ending. Am I on a streak of endings that I don't like? Not sure, but I felt like this was a tacked on, almost "happily ever after" ending, which I wasn't expecting from Wiesel.
Doriel survived the Holocaust and World War II as a child, although other close family members didn't survive, before losing his Resistance-fighter mother and his father in a car crash soon after the end of the war. Now living in New York, Doriel becomes deeply involved in studying Judaism. He soon seeks the assistance of psychoanalyst Therese Goldschmidt because he believes he is possessed by a dybbuk (the soul of a dead person who inhabits a living person and controls his/her behavior). This is, abo…

Wild by Margo Maguire

Wild by Margo Maguire is the retelling of the Tarzan/Jane story with Anthony, Lord Sutton serving in the role of Tarzan/Lord Greystoke and Grace Hawthorne serving as Jane.

Grace is the companion to Lady Sophia Sutton, Anthony's grandmother. Jilted two years earlier due to her mother's illness by a man who has the nerve to try to court her again in the course of the book, Grace became her grandmother's childhood friend's companion at the death of her mother.

At the beginning of the book, Anthony is unwillingly brought from Africa, believed by his captors to be the long-lost grandson of Lady Sophia, who has a significant reward on offer for his return. Her son and Anthony's father, Colin, died about a year after being unable to locate Anthony, swept overboard during a storm on an African adventure.

Lady Sophia, soon to turn 80, is ecstatic at the return of her only grandchild. She gives Grace the task of "civilizing" Anthony in preparation for his presentation…

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

The first book in the Touch Series from Laurie Faria Stolarz, Deadly Little Secret, is about Camelia, your average 16-year-old girl, who becomes interested in Ben, the new boy at high school, who actually saves her life in the school parking lot.

Ben has a special gift, related to touch, which allows him to "see" things. That alone would leave him ostracized by most teens just for being so different. Add to that the rumor that he is somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's death, and Ben becomes a target for harassment.When Camelia and another girl at her school, to a lesser degree, start having weird things happen, is Ben the one responsible? Where will the stalking lead? Should Camelia go back to her ex-boyfriend, Matt, who is still interested in her? I wasn't very happy with the ending, though I assume the second book in the series will start at (or near) that point, removing some of my disappointment. Hopefully. . . .You can learn more about Stolarz and her boo…

Midnight Run by Lisa Marie Rice

Midnight Run by Lisa Marie Rice is the story of Claire Parks, a sheltered 25-year-old who is just starting to live after an adolescent battle with leukemia, and the man she picks up in a bar, Tyler "Bud" Morrison. Being a Rice novel, they spend the entire weekend in bed together. Claire omits telling him that she's the daughter of one of the most powerful men in Portland, and Tyler omits the fact that he's a police detective. Though neither of them realizes it, Tyler actually saved Claire's life ten years earlier in the line of duty.

Since Claire is actually best friends with Suzanne from Midnight Man, and Tyler and John are long-time acquaintances, there's a little overlap to the two books because Tyler stashes an unwilling Claire in a safe house when Suzanne's life is under threat from an unknown source. You could certainly read one without reading the other, still understanding what's happening, though.
So far, my favorite of Rice's novels is Mi…

13 of My Favorite YA Authors

--Kevin Brooks (Candy, Lucas)
--Bette Greene (Summer of My German Soldier, Morning is a Long Time Coming)
--Ellen Hopkins (Burned, Impulse, Glass, Crank)
--Walter Dean Myers (Monster, Fallen Angels, Hoops)
--Judy Blume (Forever, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret)
--Carrie Jones (Need, Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend, Love (And Other Uses for Duct Tape)
--Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)
--Stephenie Meyer (Twilight series)
--S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Tex)
--Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why)
--Sarah Dessen (The Truth about Forever, Someone Like You, Keeping the Moon)
--Alyson Noel (Cruel Summer, Saving Zoe, Kiss & Blog)
--Laura Whitcomb (A Certain Slant of Light, The Fetch)

Night Falls Darkly by Kim Lenox

I found a new author to love, Kim Lenox. Night Falls Darkly is the first in her Shadow Guard series.

Set in Victorian London, the book opens with Archer, Lord Black, saving Elena's life. Turning the care of the young woman he now considers his ward over to his right-hand man, he promptly removes her from his mind. Imagine his surprise when he returns to London 18 months later, only to find the lovely Elena, suffering from "amnesia," living in his home--and even more fascinating than he remembered.

Throw in the fact that Archer is an immortal Shadow Guard, currently in London to find and kill Jack the Ripper, while Elena is a nurse at the Whitechapel (a familiar word if you've read about the Ripper case) hospital, and you have an extra dimension of suspense.

Will Archer be able to focus on finding Jack the Ripper while so fascinated with Elena? Will Elena become one of Jack's victims? What's really going on with Dr. Charles Harcourt, Elena's friend-who-…

Books Read January-February 2009

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (February 2--Comments)

A Warrior's Heart by Margaret Moore (January)

Antonides' Forbidden Wife by Anne McAllister (January)

Bought for the Sicilian Billionaire's Bed by Sharon Kendrick (January)

Claimed by the Rogue Billionaire by Trish Wylie (January)

Cordero's Forced Bride by Kate Walker (January)

Count Maxime's Virgin by Susan Stephens (January)

Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice (February 18--Comments)

Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice (February 25--Comments)

Dead After Dark by Kenyon, Ward, Squires, & Love (January)

Desert Prince, Defiant Virgin by Kim Lawrence (February)

Evermore by Alyson Noel (February 6--Comments)

Evernight by Claudia Gray (February 13--Comments)

Half-assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir by Jennette Fulda (January)

His Captive Lady by Anne Gracie (January)

His Lady Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls (February)

Kiss Me Deadly by Michele Hauf (February)

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole (January, February 1--Comments)

Like No O…

Happy News

I'm so excited, and I want to share the news with the whole world. I finished the first draft of my book!!!!!!

This is a Big Deal for me because I have a hard time following through when I start on projects (well, besides work-related ones). I'm thrilled to just have a finished manuscript, whether or not I ever get published.

I think the result is a decent effort. I haven't hit The Knight in Shining Armor level, of course, but I didn't expect that. I think I'm somewhere in the middle zone because I've definitely read much worse romances in print in addition to much better romance novels. I'll happily take the middle.

Now, to work on that query letter. . . .

Candy by Kevin Brooks

In Candy by Kevin Brooks, Joe, a regular high school kid living with his gynecologist dad and nurse sister, Gina, while playing in a band, takes a wrong turn while on his way to a doctor's appointment in London. By chance he meets Candy, who has to have been drawn to Joe by his regularity and
overall sweetness. Their first chat is interrrupted by Iggy, Candy's pimp, who obviously doesn't want Candy anywhere near a nice kid.
My favorite section of the book is when Candy, who apparently came from a fairly well-to-do background, tells Joe how she fell under Iggy's spell, ultimately becoming addicted to heroin and entering prostitution through him. Iggy as predator casts a strong pall over every section of the book.
By the end of the story, Joe's obsession with Candy seems a great deal like Candy's addiction to heroin--dark, dangerous, and causing an abandonment of previous life interests.
I like the contrast between Iggy and Mike, Gina's boyfriend, who are both de…

Lucas by Kevin Brooks

Caitlin is spending the summer on the windswept island that is her home. She is caught between girlhood and maturity, and feels utterly isolated from the rest of the world. Then she meets Lucas, who is the embodiment of freedom and honesty. She is instantly drawn to him. But Caitlin must also grapple with the darker forces that seem to be confronting her family. Lucas himself further complicates matters when he is hunted for an awful crime that Caitlin herself becomes involved in.
Do you remember how horribly complicated everything was when you were fifteen? Cait is right there in the thick of facing adult decisions while still a child. Her brother, Dom, is back from a year away at college, and does she even know who he is any more? Her father continues to lose himself in the alcohol that has coated his pain and guilt since Cait's mother died in a car accident that he survived ten years' earlier. Her best friend, Bill (a girl), is running around with the guys Dom's…

13 Quotations on Living Life

“Life is what we make it. Always has been, always will be.” ~~Grandma Moses

“Learn as if you are going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.” ~~Mahatma Gandhi

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~~Thomas A. Edison

“To be able to find joy in another’s joy: that is the secret of happiness.” ~~Georges Bernanos

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the right to do the same.” ~~Voltaire

“Life is, for most of us, a continuous process of getting used to things we hadn’t expected.” ~~Anonymous

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless.” ~~Mother Teresa

“The greatest mistake you can make in your life is to continually fear you will make one.” ~~Elbert Hubbard

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths.” ~~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requireme…

Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione

Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione is the second book in The Demonica Series, which I didn't realize when I bought the book at Barnes & Noble. I enjoyed this book enough to plan to purchase the first book, Pleasure Unbound, and to look forward to the release of the third book, Passion Unleashed, on April 1. Each book is about one of three Demon half-brothers.
Desire Unchained is all about Runa, a one-time human turned into a werewolf, and Shade, her one-time Seminus Demon boyfriend. Now held captive by Roag, a fourth half-brother, who is evil incarnate, Shade and Runa are tricked into bonding. Not so terrible for Runa, who has loved Shade since she originally dated him, but very unfortunate for Shade. Living under a love curse, Shade isn't able to fall in love without dire consequences, and now he's stuck having Runa in his life.
As a Seminus Demon, Shade requires frequent sex and is compelled to "service" women in need (hint about the reason Runa left him when s…

Until It's Over by Nicci French

I generally enjoy anything by Nicci French, the pseudonym for married journalists and writing collaborators Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. My favorite, to date, is Killing Me Softly, which is also a 2002 movie with Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes, though the movie is different than the book. Aren't they usually?

Nicci French's Until It's Over is also an entertaining read. Written in two parts, the first told from the first-person viewpoint of Astrid, the second told in the first-person viewpoint of the murderer (you'll have to read the story to find the name), the story is about seven roommates and the mystery that develops when two women vaguely connected to Astrid, one of the roommates, are found dead in two separate murders.

Is one of the roommates the murderer? And why is s/he killing?

My favorite sections involve the story as told through the eyes of the murderer. Sample section (and something to think about if you're a woman who tends to fall for the &q…

Harlequin Free Book

Update 6/3/2009--Sorry, I no longer have the e-mail message with the free download.

I just received my first e-mail as a Harlequin Ambassador offering a free book to download, Triple Threat by Jennifer LaBrecque. The e-mail says, "Forward this e-mail to share this exclusive offer with your friends and family today!" So, drop me a comment or an e-mail to if you want me to forward the free, 62-page PDF book to you.

I haven't read the book yet, but I think the Marines might want to consider adopting the tagline from the front cover of the book:

"The Few. The Proud. The Sexy as Hell."

Why are Romance Novels Perceived in a Negative Light?

Nicola of Alpha Heroes had a blog entry about guilt and reading romance novels earlier this year. As in, why would anyone feel guilty for reading romance novels--or reading, period? Amen. (See for the exact entry.)

Along those same lines, I want to know why reading romance novels has been considered so outside of the norm when they're actually the most popular fiction genre? Why are we almost expected to apologize for reading "trashy novels," "bodice rippers," etc., if not to actually hide that we read them? Is this an example of sexism in that the books focus on what is perceived as the venue of women--love, marriage, having/creating a family--and, consequently, from the perspective of a male-dominated society, they can't be worth reading?

Romance novels provide a safe, entertaining escape from daily reality for most readers--not unlike most personal reading. And they generally follow an expected path, …