Category Archives: Book Reviews

Touched by Lightning Playlist 3

Can y’all hear me counting down from wherever you are? Because it’s almost time for release day. It’s my favorite day ever. Right after nearly every day at RomantiCon, which I’ve registered for. Yay! Just need to call about a hotel room.

Okay, so I’m easily distracted today. Can you blame me? I love release days! They’re better than Christmas and scarier than Valentine’s Day for a single woman. All this pent-up excitement that your baby is going out to the big wide world and all this fear that your baby is going out to the big wide world mingles to make what can only be termed a hot mess.

I already know the drill. I’ll compulsively check my email. Check facebook. Check Amazon. Check Barnes and Noble. Check my email some more (no idea why I’ll do this since all the edits are done). Check the blogs hosting me on Release Day. Rinse and repeat. Normally with a release date like this, I’d go out to dinner with family to celebrate. Just my luck my release date is Valentine’s Day. Twice the reason to be nervous, excited and scared. Meh.

But that isn’t what today’s blog is about. Nope. Today it’s about the music that makes up Touched by Lightning. The last two songs were perfect to get my brain in that dark, gritty mood, but today’s song just screams my hero’s beliefs. When I wrote the original synopsis for this story, which I did before I even started the story, I had plans to make him a guy with a chip on his shoulder, someone who would resist his emotions, resist his soul mate.

Then I started writing and I realized Brit had dark things happen in his past, but he hasn’t let it shape him the way Gyda has. He’s strong, sweet and protective of Gyda in a way that makes me heart him so hard. It’s typical to fall for your own hero, isn’t it? Because I’d have Brit’s babies if I could. That’s normal, right?

Eh. So anyway, today’s song reflects his all-consuming love for Gyda. It doesn’t happen right away of course, but it’s close enough that this song instantly reminds me of them. It’s powerful, dark and yet so sweet it grabs my heart.

If you survived watching that video without crying, stop by Queen Tutt’s World of Escapism to check out this review of Touched by Lightning as well as another chance to enter the Superhero Scavenger Hunt!

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Whisper Your Fear

It’s okay, I won’t judge!

Today is the final day of Horror Novel Week. Tomorrow will be exclusively for an author interview with Shelley Munro who has a brand new gothic paranormal romance out called The Spurned Viscountess. Be sure to check it out and comment because one lucky person will win a copy of her book!

Now for today’s Horror Novel…As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much into horror novels, but the ones I’ve read were guaranteed to leave me with chills or just a sense of being unsettled. Today’s book is one of the few I’ve read that really bothers me.

Whispers by Dean Koontz was released in 1980. Since I was only 4 at the time, it was several years before I read it, but it didn’t take me long to realize this man has a twisted mind. No, I’m sure Koontz is considered more of a suspense novelist, but Whispers is horrifying to me.

Why?

Well, without giving too much of the book away…the villain is mentally disturbed with good reason. Have you ever been scared of something, let’s say…roaches, and no matter how logical you try to be about them, when you see one you freak out? You know what I mean, you can squash them, set your pets on them (my young kitty, Cookie, is a spectacular insect killer), or buy little hotel Californias (cause they can check in any time, but they can never leave!) for them, but you still cringe and whimper when you see one? Well, imagine if you were locked in a basement with millions of them as a “punishment”. Yeah…you’re not going to come out sane, if you know what I mean. Luckily for me, we can’t have basements in south Louisiana (the water, you know), so mom never got to threaten me with the “roach room”. But the villain of this story…well, let’s just say his mom did a number on him and he’s taking it out on the heroine.

Now, back to the roaches. Because…well, I truly can’t stand them. I don’t squeal and run away from them. No, I shudder and look for something to keeeeeel dem with. (It has to be said that way, sorry.) My sister-in-law’s best friend, however, can’t even say the word “roach”. I didn’t believe this and tried to get her to say it, but she couldn’t. She’s so scared of them, she can’t even think about them without freaking out. Now, that’s fear!

I’ve read a whole helluva lot of Koontz’s books because he manages to scare me without bringing in the monster into the story. No, he just reminds me how much people can be monstrous and lets my imagination go from there. By the way, if Mr. Koontz is reading this blog – cause I know he does! – Thanks, Dean, for scaring the hell out of me for so many years.

So what’s your greatest fear? Can you whisper it?

Don’t forget! Tomorrow we’re having Shelley Munro by to talk about her book and writing process. Be sure to comment for your chance to win a copy of The Spurned Viscountess!

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Misery Loves Company

It took me a long time to decide which book I was going to pick today. When it comes to Stephen King, it’s hard to say which of his stories are scarier. I suppose it depends on what your greatest fear is. Are you scared of rabid dogs? Cars that have minds of their own? Strange monsters that know what your biggest fear is? Or are you scared of becoming a famous writer and being kidnapped by your number one fan? Hehehe.

I’ve mentioned Misery before because I really worried I’d pull an Annie Wilkes and stalk my favorite authors at RWA Nationals. I didn’t, to my ever-lasting relief, but there was still that fear.

The hero of the book, Paul Sheldon, finishes his latest novel. It’s a crime novel, as opposed to the Victorian-era romance books he’s written. He gets into an accident and is rescued by Annie Wilkes…who’s his number one fan. And she is not happy about his latest endeavor.

Right, so without getting into the whole story, I have to say this is a scary ass book/movie. As a reader, I could kind of understand Annie’s er, passionate love for the romance series he wrote. I mean, I really get into my books and I used to have very set ideas of how a series should go. I’m not saying I’d find the author and break their ankles with a sledgehammer or anything, but this book made me wonder if I could ever be that passionalte about a celebrity. As a reader, this book was horrifying. You can’t help but think Annie is absolutely nuts.

Now that I’m pursuing a writing career, I see the sheer, unadulterated terror this book represents. Writers, no matter how famous, walk a very fine line with their audience. If you’re well-known for one genre and one genre only, taking a step in a new direction could be equated with jumping off a cliff. What if your fans hate it? What if they send you hate mail? What if you find your child’s pet bunny in a pot of boiling water? What if you find a horse’s head in your bed? Okay, so getting my movies and stuff mixed up, but you get the idea.

So what do you think? Do you fear stepping outside of your comfortable writing zone? Do you worry your fans will hate you for not rising to their expectations? Are you scared, yet strangely attracted, to the idea of becoming as famous as the hero of Misery? Did you cringe and squeeze your eyes shut when she breaks his feet?

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The Spark

Today begins the end of October and day one of Horror Novel Week. I’ll admit, I’m not much on horror stories (I much prefer movies), but there are at least three books I believe fit into this genre. Some of you may not agree with me, but just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so is one woman’s “fears” another’s entertainment.

First on my list is a book that sparked an array of horror movies and is considered one of the first works of science fiction. In 1818 Frankenstein was published. Written by an 18-year-old Mary Shelley, the novel managed to become a literary classic and a story that began a slew of interpretations and reproductions.

I wonder if Mary Shelley had any idea what her story would become. It started off as a way to pass the time. Mary was in Switzerland with her lover (and eventual husband) Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and friends. The weather wasn’t cooperative for outdoor activities they’d planned, so Byron decided everyone should write a short supernatural tale. So Frankenstein was born.

When I was in college, I read this book maybe five times. It was required. I wasn’t enamored of it in any sense. In fact, I hated it. As I mentioned before, I don’t read many “horror” novels, so I wasn’t exactly happy when five different professors made me read this book for a grade. Meh.

However, when I was trying to think of novels that fit the horror genre, this book was first on my list. In deciding to write about it, I tried to put myself in the mind of 19th century readers and thought: ‘Damn that Mary Shelley!’. As a writer, I can’t help but admire her. Mary Shelley…at 18 (I was more concerned with partying than writing) wrote a story that is still being read nearly two hundred years after she wrote it. To compound that admiration, she wrote it at a time when women were considered too fragile to even read about certain subjects, much less write about them.

What’s not to admire? Her book has been made into plays and movies. It’s been spoofed, Frankenstein’s creature has become a Halloween favorite costume, songs have been written about it. You name it, it’s been done. All because one 18-year-old girl had a kernel of an idea at the prompting of a friend. She made a short story a novel with the support and encouragement of Percy.

Now that I’m older, I feel compassion for the creature I hadn’t before. I wonder what would have happened if Frankenstein had shown his creation a little love and care. What if Frankenstein had created a bride for his creation? As a romance writer, I can’t help but be curious as to what their relationship would have been like. I suppose that’s the beauty of her novel, it sparked so many ideas for generations of novelists, screenwriters, musicians, and artists. My absolute favorite of every interpretation of Frankenstein is Young Frankenstein. I can’t help it, I’m a Mel Brooks fan and it’s hilarious.

If you’ve read Frankenstein, what do you think about it? Do you enjoy reading it? Do you loathe it as much as I dislike Charles Dickens? (Sorry Dickens fans, I can’t help it, I’ve disliked Dickens since I was forced to read Hard Times.) What’s your favorite interpretation of it?

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Book Review: Beast Behaving Badly

I almost couldn’t wait to write this…okay, I’ll confess…I wrote it on Friday. I could’ve released it then, but I didn’t want to mess with my one post per day…thingy.

Anyway, here’s the deal: I started Beast Behaving Badly on Thursday afternoon and could not put it down. Seriously. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. I tried to go to bed at the end of one chapter, but after an hour and a half of tossing and turning, I went back to it. I finished this book a little after midnight and never was I so disappointed to see a book end.

Here’s the blurb:

Ten years after Blayne Thorpe first encountered Bo Novikov, she still can’t get the smooth-talking shifter out of her head. Now he’s shadowing her in New York-all seven-plus feet of him-determined to protect her from stalkers who want to use her in shifter dogfights. Even if he has to drag her off to an isolated Maine town where the only neighbors are other bears almost as crazy as he is…

Let sleeping dogs lie. Bo knows it’s good advice, but he can’t leave Blayne be. Blame it on her sweet sexiness — or his hunch that there’s more to this little wolfdog than meets the eye. Blayne has depths he hasn’t yet begun to fathom — much as he’d like to. She may insist Bo’s nothing but a pain in her delectable behind, but polar bears have patience in spades. Soon she’ll realize how good they can be together. And when she does, animal instinct tells him it’ll be worth the wait…

For the first chapter, I was trying to remember who Blayne was. I’ve read a lot of books between this one and The Mane Squeeze, but after one particular sentence, it all clicked. Blayne is the crazy happy wolfdog who’s Gwen’s best friend. I thought she was kooky in The Mane Squeeze, but now I heart her so much I’d marry her if I were a guy.

So Bo (or Bold…seriously? I love that name!) and Blayne met ten years ago, although “met” is a bit of a stretch. She thought he was a serial killer and still does when she sees him again. How many of us have had that reaction to an intense man? *waves her hand* Bo, on the other hand, is just focused and quiet (except when he’s on the ice because he’s a true beast then).

I’m not going into details, but let me just say that what I love so much about Laurenston’s books (Aikens’ books as well) is she has the best character interactions. I don’t know if it’s sad for me to admit it, but I could see myself acting in ways her characters do. They’re the best characters I’ve read in a while. Oh and don’t even get me started on the sibling interaction. LOVE IT. This would be for the whole series, by the way. She just has a way of making her characters seem so real and lifelike that I just know I’d want to be one of their hangers-on. Truly.

Okay, back to the book. Um, what was I about to say? See how excited I am about this series? Wait, there’s a thought coming to me…oh right. So the story is wonderful. It’s fast-paced, interesting, and did I mention hilarious? I seriously had to put my book down a few times because I was laughing too hard to read (squinty eyes you know). Other parts had me chuckling and shaking my head. Her humor just kills me. It kills me. (I use that phrase a lot, but I am a writer, and am prone to exaggeration.)

I loved Bo. Very regimented, very intense, and very, very hot…in spite of the tusks, I mean fangs, which just make him special. Blayne? Blayne is my BFF now. I loved her silliness, her generosity, her kindness, and her kick-ass skillz (Yes, I used a “z”). It was also great to see so many of the characters from the rest of the Pride Stories make cameo appearances. Of course, that meant my loyalty was torn between Mitch and Bo and Lock…but not from Blayne. She’s easily my favorite Laurenston heroine.

All in all, I’m giving Beast Behaving Badly two pucks up and a hip-check because it was that bad-ass. Really.

If you’re looking for some fresh shapeshifter humorous romance, give her Pride Series and Magnus Pack series a try:

Pack Challenge Magnus Pack #1 (Zach & Sara)
Go Fetch! Magnus Pack #2 (Conall & Miki)
Here Kitty, Kitty Magnus Pack #3 (Nikolai & Angelina)

The Mane Event 
Pride Story #1
     Christmas Pride (Brendan & Dez)
Pride Story #2
     Shaw’s Tail (Mace & Ronnie Lee)    
The Beast in Him Pride Story #3 (Bobby Ray & Jessica)
The Mane Attraction Pride Story #4 (Mitch & Sissy Mae)
The Mane Squeeze Pride Story #5 (Lock & Gwen)
Beast Behaving Badly Pride Story #6 (Bo & Blayne)

I hope you give them a try. They really are the one of the best shapeshifter books I’ve read.

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Book Review: Ræliksen

I won a copy of Ræliksen by Renee Vincent from The Naked Hero and finally had a chance to sit down and read it this weekend.

Here’s the blurb:

Mara, the daughter of an Irish clansman, was raised to believe the men of the North are heathens – murderous pagans without a moral bone in their bodies. Despite warnings of the Northmen’s raids, and the growing threat of another incursion, Mara is continually drawn to her favorite place – the River Shannon.

Dægan Ræliksen, a wealthy chieftain from Norway’s frozen fjords, secretly discovers Mara at the water’s edge. He is charmed by her beauty and sensuous grace. As the days pass, his contentment with simply watching her grows thin. He can no longer deny his unabated desire for the young maiden. His search for a wife has ended.

However, Mara and Dægan come face-to-face in a time when Ireland is in turmoil – when every Irishman is being called up to fight against the Nordic foreigners. In these times of upheaval, how can Dægan make peace with Mara’s father and acquire the woman he treasures? Furthermore, can Mara move past her fears and find the noble man within the savage?

Okay, I enjoyed this book. No spoilers, promise!

Vincent painted a beautiful, colorful world with historically accurate information as her backdrop for this love story. Vivid imagery and cleverly written stories-within-the-story keep you hooked as the Irish Mara tries to come to grips with her feelings for Dægan who sort of accidentally kidnaps her to protect her. I love how Dægan isn’t just your average Viking. He’s smart, he’s tired of fighting and looking for peace and he wants Mara.

Mara isn’t just another noble Irish lass, no, no. She’s a princess! Her father is an Irish warlord who is on the fence about joining a group of warlords to push the Vikings out of Ireland. Oy vey. So, our lovely, sexy Dægan has to protect her from marauding Vikings and somehow get her back to her father so he can try to marry her. I was hooked.

Ms. Vincent keeps you enthralled as Dægan and Mara are beset by danger on all sides as well as their own religious differences. The conversion of Pagans to Christianity has always been of great interest to me and I have to commend her on making it seem as difficult and emotionally charged as it had to have been. She also has great secondary characters that you care about, which is always the markings of a wonderful book in my opinion.

It was great. Except…and I’m going to do a bit of foreshadowing here…the end just about killed me. Oh yes, Ms. Vincent, you shocked me to the marrow of my bones. I seem to remember walking into a room and saying “It’s not fair! I’m e-mailing her today!” so if you’re reading this, please look for my e-mail, lol.

All in all, I’m giving Ræliksen two shields up. If you’re looking for a different type of historical romance, give it a read. I also have on good authority, from Ms. Vincent herself, that the sequel is even better. Now, if that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is!

Note: Renee Vincent has just been signed by Turquoise Morning Press http://www.turquoisemorningpress.com/ and the re-release of Ræliksen will be August 2010. Check out this hot new cover! Be sure to look for it this summer!

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Book Review: Lover Mine

I didn’t want it to end. I’m actually…disappointed, not in the book, but that it had to come to an end. J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood has evolved since Dark Lover. I remember when I first read Dark Lover how amazed I was by the richness of Ward’s world and I’m still in awe eight books later.

Here’s the blurb:

In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. Long divided as a terrifying battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

Right…let me just start off by saying I almost felt perverted for wanting to read John Matthew’s story. We met him in Lover Eternal when he was a pre-transitional male. I pictured him as a sensitive teenager and though he’s grown over time, I still saw him that way. I suppose I became emotionally attached to him in his pre-trans form and with his transition, I still saw him as that little male. Sooo not the case in Lover Mine.

John Matthew is…well, he’s been through hell. We know how much he’s been hurt. We’ve lived it. But to see him as a “male of worth”…I still see him in a brotherly light, but my how he’s grown! Xhex is bad ass. She is the ultimate kick ass heroine. She has issues just as painful as John Matthew and you can’t help but wonder how in the hell two such tormented people can get together. But Ward does what she always does: she makes it work and then blows your mind.

There was a lot going on in this book. There’s Darius’s diary entries to read, which at first I was like “What the hell do I want to read this for? Get to the story!”…but then it became so clear! Gah. Ward kills me, she really does. When you read this book, make sure you don’t skip those diary entries. They are important. Very important.

Also, we delve deeper into Blay and Qhuinn’s relationship, or the changing of it. My heart was breaking for both of them. I could seriously attempt to kick Qhuinn’s ass (but we all know how that would turn out), and Blay…Oh Blay. I’m not going to say anymore. Swear. There’s also a human love story playing out and you can’t help but wonder why it’s important to read about until the very end. Damn you, J.R. Ward! You kill me! Seriously, she leaves you hanging until the book is almost over before you find out the true importance of that human love story. Oh, and did I mention Payne gets a big spotlight as well? And Lash?

It was a wrecking ball of a book. There’s so much going on, so much information to follow that even now I’m wondering where all the subplots are going. I don’t mind. I enjoy thinking about “what ifs” and she manages to hand it to me. I wasn’t as emotionally tied to this book as I was with some of the others. It wasn’t a lack of emotional turmoil, or inability to connect with the characters, so much as you know no matter what happens Xhex is going to remain strong and John Matthew will always love her. You find faith in his love, in his knowing what exactly she needs and how to give it to her.

Phew. I feel all wrung out now. And I have to wait forever for the next book. I wish she’d write faster. I want that next book like I want my next breath. She also needs to keep this series going…forever if she can manage it. There seem to be endless possibilities with her world and I just want to sink into it.

I’m giving Lover Mine two switchblades and a fist bump. I loved it and after my brother is finished reading it, I’ll re-read the whole series. (Yes, you heard me. My brother reads the series as well. He likes these books even though he says the heroines are sometimes too indecisive.)

If you’re looking for a new series and haven’t read this one yet, don’t wait. It’s really a great series with some to-die-for men and read them in the following order:

Dark Lover – Wrath & Beth
Lover Eternal – Rhage & Mary
Lover Awakened – Zsadist & Bella (One of my absolute favorite brothers!)
Lover Revealed – Butch & Marissa
Lover Unbound – Vishous & Jane (I heart Vishous!!)
Lover Enshrined – Phury & Cormia (Oh Phury…)
Lover Avenged – Rehvenge & Elhena (Rehv is mad, bad, and gorgeous…mmm)
Lover Mine – John Matthew & Xhex

So now for today’s question, have any of you read Lover Mine yet? What’s your take on it? No spoilers though! Who’s your favorite brother?

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