2013 reading goal:
15 new-to-me authors.
1) Stacy Gail
2) Heather Massey
3) Sidney Bristol
4) Ann Mayburn
5) Thea Harrison
6) Virna DePaul
7) Mary Quast
8) Molly Harper
9) Eleri Stone
- ► 2013 (188)
- ► 2012 (464)
- Review: A Clockwork Christmas
- Quickie Review: Succubus, Interrupted
- Year in Review - 2011
- G & U's Top Five Reasons Reviews are Late
- G & U's Top Ten Series to Reread
- Review: The Guardian
- G & U's Top Ten Heroines that Kick A$$
- VampBard's Top 10 ways to Blog About Smut Like a N...
- VampBard's Top Ten Book Hotties
- Nima's Top Ten List of Authors You May Have Missed...
- Sunday Snippet #90
- Happy Holidays & Year in Review
- Review: Daybreak
- Review: Shaedes of Gray
- Contest Winner - Hawaiian Holidays Vol. 1
- Review: Her Christmas Pleasure
- Review: Spells & Stitches
- Review: The Christmas Fantasy
- Review: Lawe's Justice
- AAD Author Spotlight: Melissa Schroeder
- Sunday Snippet #89
- Review: Hot Zone
- Review: Destined Mate
- Contest Winner - Jared
- Review: Ginger Snaps for Two
- AAD Author Spotlight: Eliza Gayle
- Review: Prides of the Moon Series
- Review: Hearts and Swords
- Romance At Random Loveswept Holiday Hop
- AAD Author Spotlight: Cat Johnson
- Sunday Snippet #88
- Contest Winners - Winging It
- Contest Winner - Dreaming of the Wolf
- Contest Winners - December Book Giveaway
- Quickie Review: A Taste of Midnight
- Review: How to Worship a Goddess
- Review: Winging It
- Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Deborah Cooke
- Review: Dreaming of the Wolf
- Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Terry Spear
- Review: Fate's Edge
- December Book Giveaway
- Sunday Snippet #87
- Reviews: 2 Stories by Seleste deLaney
- Review: Immortal Rider
- ▼ December 2011 (45)
Books I've Read
Authors I Enjoy
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Saturday, December 31, 2011
Author: See Below
Release Date: Dec. 5, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Steampunk, Anthology
Book Source: NetGalley
About the book:
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.
What VampBard’s talking about:
Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
Summary: Roderick Coddington is on a mission to make Cornelia Peabody pay. After identifying her as the thief who stole a priceless Faberge egg from his dying sister, he finds her and shackles a deadly timepiece to her arm. If she doesn't return the egg by Christmas morning, she will die.
Normally seven days is more than enough time for Cornelia to carry out the perfect crime, but Roderick's intrusion into her life is beyond distracting. He challenges her mind, and ignites her body with desire she's never felt before. But worst of all, he threatens the independence she values above all else...
As Roderick spends time with Cornelia, he realizes there' a lonely soul hidden beneath her beautiful but criminal veneer. Falling for a thief wasn't part of Roderick's plan, but plans can change and he has no intention of letting another priceless treasure get away from him.
Review: Cornelia Peabody, the independent heroine of our story, has quite the history. Coming from a heritage of opportunists, Cornelia has carved a niche for herself, albeit illegal. She leads a low-profile lifestyle in order to evade suspicion. However, when we catch a glimpse into who the REAL Cornelia is, we learn that she's brilliant and enjoys surrounding herself with items that challenge her mind and infuse beauty into her life. She also prides herself on ensuring safety by utilizing her mind to rig elaborate systems of warning to alert her of intruders to her abode. Caught off-guard by Roderick Coddington, Cornelia finds herself releasing control to a man that is conflicted about his feelings for her...for awhile.
Roderick Coddington, a college professor, takes the law into his own hands when he tracks down the thief that stole more than a trinket from him and his family. With such feelings, it is difficult for Roderick to process his true feelings for Cornelia. After all, there IS a fine line between love and hate. We are led through week in which Roderick pressured Cornelia to retrieve the trinket she stole from his family, while threatening her life. Although it is not difficult to see, we watch the burgeoning love between the two, as well as the internal conflicts presented for both characters as they wrestle with what their heart feels and what their logic dictates.
I really enjoyed the way the author presented these characters, and how she created a wonderful Steampunk environment within which her story took place. Enough detail was present for me to get wonderful images of the settings and actions taking place. I also felt the author tied together technology and the Victorian era quite effectively. As this was my first venture into the Steampunk genre, I didn't really know what to expect. I feel that Ms. Gail has set a high bar for future Steampunk authors to hurdle.
Rating: 4 stars Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Summary: Eight years ago, Ophelia Loenides's husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she was. Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to Dario for help raising the child she never told him about.
Dario is furious that Ophelia has returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son – after all, he thought his wife was barren. But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays at his villa. While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love him back.
But Dario is wrong: Ophelia's emotions are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her. Unsure if she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature...
Review: Loved this story! I would, however, like to see how the story plays out. Definitely thought there was enough material for a novel instead of just a novella! I really liked Ophelia. She is a spunky woman, and is 100% momma-bear. There could have been more done with her, and the story could have been developed into a novel.
Dario... Picture Antonio Banderas on a horse (ala Zorro), and this is the image I get for Dario. Jus' Sayin'. I liked the way Dario's thinking shifted throughout the course of the story. I eneded up LOVING the way he expressed his love for Ophelia. Also dug the way he spent time with his son.
Over-all, I think this was a sweet little Steampunk story, full of technology and things not deemed possible 'back in the day'. The infusion of standard Steampunk schools-of-thought was kind-of nice. Nothing new and twisted or convoluted. Only hesitation with this novella: Seriously. Make it longer. There's enough material. ;)
Rating: 4 stars Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Summary: All suffragette Esme Smith wants is a man. A scoundrel to be precise. Someone who can be persuaded to represent her political views at men-only clubs. As the daughter of the richest man in Australia, Esme can afford to make it worth the right man's while.
Fresh off the boat, American inventor Jed Reeve is intrigued by Esme's proposal, but even more interested in the beauty herself. Amused that she takes him for a man who lives by his wits, he accepts the job – made easier by the fact that he already shares her ideals. Soon, he finds himself caught up in political intrigue, kidnapping and blackmail, and trying to convince his employer he's more than just a scoundrel...
Review: I really REALLY liked this one! Ms. Schwartz totally surprised me at the end of this novella! Suspense and the slow-burn romance without all the bow-chica-wow-wow. Great historical references, too.
Esme, our heroine, is the rock-on, hard-core girl that believes in equality for all. S'all good. She definitely has earned the right to require independence at any given point in her life. Making it legal would be all that much better! Far from the traditional lady of the '20's, Esme has a strong conviction to bring equality to all those in Australia.
Jed, our swarthy hero, does all the right things. Says all the right stuff. Esme thinks he playing her, or he's hiding something. Creative, and thinks-on-his-feet, Jed definitely has something to offer a young lady of marrying age.
When things become complicated through thievery and trickery (not by Jed!), Esme finds out who really cares about her, and who she can trust. Creative minds, ah, they can be dangerous.
Rating: 4.5 stars Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)
Far From Broken by JK Coi
Summary: Soldier. Spymaster. Husband... Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he met his wife. When the prima ballerina swept into his life with her affection, bright laughter and graceful movements, he knew that she was the reason for his existence, and that their love would be forever.
But their world is shattered when Callie is kidnapped and brutally tortured by the foes Jasper has been hunting. Mechanical parts have replaced her legs, her hand, her eye...and possibly her heart. Though she survived, her anger at Jasper consumes her, while Jasper's guilt drives him from the woman he loves. He longs for the chance to show her their love can withstand anything...including her new clockwork parts.
As the holiday season approaches, Jasper realizes he must fight not just for his wife's love and forgiveness...but also her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.
Review: Out of the four novellas in A Clockwork Christmas, I believe that Far from Broken was the most 'Steampunkish'. I also felt that it was 'hotter' than the others. The conflict leading up to the ultimate resolution (yes, there's a HEA...) really tore at me, and I was compelled to finish the story. Eh. Sleep is highly over-rated. ;)
Callie, ballet dancer, is very disciplined and believes that she isn't worthy of Jasper's love after the horrible kidnapping and torture she endured. What she feels even more strongly about is the mechanical trappings that make her able to function independently. This is the one thing that prevented me from giving this story 5 stars: Sure, pity party for the situation... but dang, Callie...you're the Bionic Woman now. You're stronger, faster...able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The mechanical stuff doesn't make you less, Girl. It makes you MORE. OK. Dealing with that might take a minute in the story, but the whole woe-is-me thing, I'm not diggin'. Sure. She can be ticked off at Jasper for what happened, and he SHOULD have to work his way back into her life. That's OK. But the rest? I'm not feelin' it.
Jasper, our hero and member of the militia. Although, I don't know who is the bigger hero in this story, Jasper or Callie. Jasper avenges his wife's torture. He wakes up the dormant part of her that feels emotions. He tries to protect her. Has a great finale at the end of the story. I believe Jasper handled all the situations in the story in the perfect manner. He COULD have been stubborn and harsh with Callie, demanding their reunion, but he went for the soft-sell. The only way to go with a strong female. Besides, earning his way back into her life – the trust factor- was something that should have been explored a bit more, in my opinion.
I really, really liked this novella! Excellent job, Ms. Coi! I felt as though I experienced the time in history, as well as the plot. Fast paced, with several peaks & valleys for a novella. Don't expect to put it down.
Rating: 4.5 stars Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)
A Clockwork Christmas
A Clockwork Christmas
Friday, December 30, 2011
Author: Jill Myles
Release Date: Nov. 2011
Publisher: by author
Succubus Diaries #3.5
Genre: Paranormal Romance, novella
Book Source: Free read from Author
About the book:
Remy's a carefree, easygoing immortal...with a secret. She made a deal with her masters - in exchange for a hundred years of freedom, she'd give them a hundred years of servitude. Pretty sweet deal...until it's time to pay up.
Now, she's about to become enslaved again, and it's up to Jackie to step in and save the day. But will Zane help her? Or will he be happier without Remy at Jackie's side?
What I’m talking about:
This is a great little story for fan’s of Ms. Myles’ excellent Succubus Diaries. This is not a stand alone, so if you haven’t read this series, please start with the first book, Gentlemen Prefer Succubi (review HERE).
When her BFF (and really, her only girl friend) Remy, has to turn herself over to her controlling, egotistical master for a hundred years of servitude, the normally (mostly) self-centered Jackie takes charge to free Remy.
I love seeing this side of Jackie: she is tough, determined and mad-as-hell. With her own life mostly in order, Jackie is a different gal - not a damsel in distress, but a heroine in her own right. But the best part is seeing Zane *swoon* and Jackie together. Their love has blossomed without the stress of love triangle hanging over their heads.
This short story is a must for fans of this fabulous series.
Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
Succubus, Interrupted (The Succubus Diaries)
Well, another year has come and gone. I am happy to report that I have conquered another year blogging and reviewing so many wonderful books. Once again, my total number of books read has declined from 2010 to 2011, I’m guessing it will be roughly 20 fewer books this year than last. However, my total number of blog posts increased dramatically, going from 237 posts in 2010 to over 360 in 2011! The joys of adding to the review team, increasing author visits and more giveaways has all added up to a year of fun!
I really have enjoyed blogging and discussing books with all of you. I hope you have enjoyed our time together as well! Putting aside my failed Reading Challenge and the disappointments of not keeping up, I have had a wonderful year! Below is my TOP TEN for 2011... How did 2011 go for you? What were your favorite reads during the year?
10) One big highlight was adding to the review team, for a total of six of us reading and reviewing books for That’s What I’m Talking About. B started late in 2010, while Una, Gikany, VampBard & Nima all joined me in 2011. I may need to change my blog name to That’s What We’re Talking About!
9) I finally started the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I’ve been hearing what an amazing series this is forever, and I finally got around to reading it... well, the first 5 books or so. Anyhow, at least I started it!
8) STEAMPUNK! After testing the waters with The Iron Duke by Meljean Brooke in 2010, I came across another great steampunk book, Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris (Review HERE) Then later in 2011, was the Meljean’s second steampunk novel: Heart of Steel. I adore the Iron Seas series. I also had the privilege to read Theresa Meyers new wild west steampunk The Hunter. I was in gadget heaven this year!
7) It was the year of the HAWKE, when Nalini Singh released the tenth Psy/Changeling book (in hard cover): Kiss of Snow. (Review HERE) I wasn’t sure if I’d like the pairing with youngling Sienna, but Ms. Singh did not disappoint!
6) I celebrated by one year blogiversary back in January with a huge celebration (and tie in with my 40th birthday), and I also participated in Book Blogger Appreciation Week this year. That was a lot of work, but fun as I got to “meet” so many new (to me) bloggers.
5) Larissa Ione may have ended the most awesome Demonica Series, but her new spin-off series, Lords of Deliverance, had two spectacular releases this year. This series takes her Demonica world to the next level and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next!
4) Kate Daniels. Do I really need to say more? Oh yes... Curran! Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series is the bench mark for urban fantasy series. This year’s release, Magic Slays (review HERE), proved this series gets better as it ages and matures. The only problem with this series? The dear authors cannot keep up with their fans' rabid desire for more Kate!
3) It was time to say goodbye to one of my absolute favorite series, ACRO, by Sydney Croft. In June 2011, the sixth and final book, Taken by Fire (review HERE) concluded one of the hottest, action-packed series around. The writing team of Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler outdid themselves with what I would call the ideal ending to the series.
2) The third book in Allyson James Stormwalker series, Shadow Walker (review HERE) was my favorite read in 2011. At only three books in, this series is definitely in my TOP 5, and this book was the best yet! Motorcycle-driving, tattooed dragon shifter... need I say more?
1) Attending AAD Philly and meeting my favorite authors and blogging sisters. For photos and details about the trip, click HERE. That trip alone has its own Top 10 list, and will be hard to ever beat! But I do have to mention one little thing: werefly! Best. Night. Ever!
Thank you all for stopping by and supporting me and That's What I'm Talking About. Joyous New Year and Happy Reading!!
Thursday, December 29, 2011
We thought we would come clean with all you wonderful blog followers of Twimom so you know when there is a late post or a day without a post….sadly, it’s most likely Gikany and Una’s fault (*Una’s head hangs in shame* mostly me…). However, we humbly request you take a look at our top 5 reasons on why we tend to be late.
4. The little munchkin thinks the book needs to go outside for some play time….with the puppy.
3. What do you mean reading is not a group activity? I’m out here with all of you…
2. My cat (or the munchkin) thought the bookmark was a toy – where did I leave off?
And the most common, err, I mean the number one voted excuse is:
1. What day is it again? What day is it due again? @#$#@$, that was yesterday!?!?!?
It’s a shame…we should just blame it on the fact that Twimom is three hours ahead of us…. hey… do they do daylight savings time over there?!?!
We the addicted to reading, Gikany and Una, have decided to come clean. Everyone has those guilty pleasures. Considering, though, the depth of our addiction, we do not just reread a book…Gikany and Una have a habit of rereading series. *cough* This has no bearing on us being late with our blog posts to Twimom. *cough* The following is a list of our reoccurring guilty pleasures. We thought to share them with you in the off chance that you haven’t read them yet. If you haven’t read them, we seriously recommend you do. Why you ask? Because we like to share our crack, uh, I mean our favorite books/series/authors…just check it out!
- Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
- Psy-Changling series by Nalini Singh
- Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
- Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward
- The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
- Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- Hurog duology by Patricia Briggs
- Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn
- The Deed of Paksenarrion (it’s a trilogy) by Elizabeth Moon
We know we have tried to entice you with the outstanding Patricia Briggs series (Mercy Thompson). We did a review…we gave you snippets from her first book to tease you before her latest book (River Marked) came out. So…in case that teaser wasn’t enough to convince you…we have brought you a NEW teaser from Moon Called because…you just gotta read it!
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
“I’ll give him a call,” I said with relief.
He picked up on the second ring. “Warren, here. Is this you, Mercy? Where have you been? Do you know where Adam and Jesse are?”
“Adam was hurt,” I said. “The people who did it took Jesse.”
“Tell him not to let anyone else know,” Said Samuel.
“Who was that?” Warren’s tone was suddenly cool.
“Samuel,” I told him. “Bran’s son.”
“Is this a coup?” Warren asked.
“No,” answered Adam from the backseat. “At least not on Bran’s part.”
“Excuse me,” I said. “But this is my phone call. Would you all please pretend that it is a private conversation? That includes you, Warren. Quit listening to the other people in my van.”
“All right,” agreed Warren. Having heard Adam, his voice relaxed into its usual lovely south Texas drawl. “How are you today, Mercy?” he asked sweetly, but as he continued his voice became gradually sharper. “And have you heard the startling news that our Alpha’s house was broken into and he and his daughter disappeared? That the only clue is the phone message left on the damned Russian witch’s phone? A message that she has refused to let anyone else listen to? Rumor has it that the message is from you, and no one can find you either.”
Samuel leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and said, “Tell him you’ll explain when we get there.”
I smiled sweetly. “I’m doing better all the time, Warren. Thank you for asking. Montana is nice, but I don’t recommend a November vacation unless you ski.”
“Haven’t put on skis for twenty years,” murmured Warren, sounding a little happier. “Has Adam taken up skiing during this jaunt of yours to Montana?”
“He has skis,” I said, “but his health wasn’t up to it this time. I brought back a doctor, but the two of us found out that we need to go out tonight and were wondering if you were up for a little nursing.”
“Glad to,” said Warren. “I don’t work tonight, anyway. Did you say Jesse’s been kidnapped?”
“Yes. And for right now, we need you to keep it under your hat.”
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Release Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Dark Hunter #21
(Dream Hunter #5)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): Paperback (345 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Library
About the book:
As a Dream-Hunter, Lydia has been charged with the most sacred and dangerous of missions. She’s to descend into the Nether Realm and find the missing god of dreams before he betrays the secrets that could kill all of them. What she never expects is to be taken prisoner by the Realm’s most vicious guardian.
Seth’s time is running out. If he can’t hand over the key to Olympus and the heart of Zeus, then his own life and soul will be forfeit. No matter the torture, he hasn’t been able to break the god in his custody. But when a rescuer appears, he decides to try a new tactic.
When these two lock wills, one of them must give. But Lydia isn’t just guarding the gates of Olympus, she’s holding back the darkest of powers. If she fails, an ancient evil will roam the earth once more and no one...
What I’m talking about:
For those of you that have followed me for a while, you probably know that Ms. Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series is one of my favorites; however, I have been disappointed with the last few books. I feel that the overall story arc has been lost in an ever too-expanding mythology, and that the individual stories were beginning to suffer for it. I was this close to not reading The Guardian, but then I was told by another that this story was worth the read and brought the story back to basics.
Well, I’m sad to say that The Guardian was a big disappointment to me.
Lydia is a sweet, but fierce woman. In an effort to save the only father she’s ever known, Dream God Solin, she travels to a horrible hell dimension where she is captured by the creature tormenting her father. Seth has been lied to, betrayed, used and tortured beyond any of your worse nightmares for 4,000 years. He holds Lydia in hopes that Solin will hand over the one thing that will free them all... “the key.”
In general, I never felt a connection between Seth and Lydia. For me, there was no real romance - heck, they didn’t even really kiss until the book was two-thirds over. I felt that cared about one another, but I never saw a spark ignite. The sizzle factor in this book was pretty non-existent.
Seth has been held captive and misused for so long, it baffled me that he was able to deal with Lydia at all. All too often, Seth seems way too well adjusted: having normal feelings of lust and desire for Lydia, wanting to protect and care for her... It just didn’t seem plausible based on the descriptions of his torture. Then later, when the couple FINALLY get together, he knows how to be gentle and caring with Lydia. I just didn’t buy it.
Lydia had some great moments, but wow - was she a bit whiney and easily antagonized. For example, after the pair final escape from the hell they’ve been in, she gets all bent out of shape when a (stranger) woman asks Seth for directions and was flirting with him. It was ridiculous how badly she overreacted.
As for the overall story, I felt that it never really went anywhere. Malevolent god Noir wants the key to Olympus so he can kill off the Greek pantheon. Some Dream Hunters betray Solin. Bad guys want to kill Lydia. The climax and conclusion of the story was abrupt and I felt didn’t hold many satisfying answers.
I will say that there are parts of this book that were well written and enjoyable to read. And maybe a new-comer to the series would like it more than I. It could be I’m a bit harsher on this book because I loved this series and have been disappointed recently. Whatever the case may be, I have to say The Guardian was a take it or leave it kind of book for me.
Finished it - take it or leave it (C)
Gikany and Una read a LOT of urban fantasy and fantasy since it is our preferred genre (although paranormal romance rates right up there as well). But something we’ve noticed this year in our reading is the increase in women that are not just heroines in the classic Gone With the Wind style, but more like…well, check out our list:
- Xhex (Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward)
- Kate Daniels (Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews)
- Elena Deveraux (The Guild Hunters series by Nalini Singh)
- Lessa (The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
- Catherine “Cat” Crawfield (Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost)
- Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson (Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs)
- Tie between Kitty Norville (Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn) and Agnes Crandall (Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie)
- Tie between Mercy Smith & Indigo Riviere (both from Psy-Changling series by Nalini Singh)
- Jaenelle Angelline (Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop)
- Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins)
We find ourselves drawn to these women, some that choose their “rough” lifestyles and others that find themselves in situations and the inner kick a$$ spirit rises like a phoenix within them. The most delightful part of this is that the majority are in series! So we not only see them in one aspect, one adventure, but see some of the evolve, grow, find love and yet remain scary women you do NOT want to cross. Here is our excerpt from our #1 kick butt gal!
Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward
“You will leave now,” she said softly, “or I will drag you out of here by your hair.”
The man had breath like a day-old tuna sandwich. “I hate dykes. You always think you’re tougher than you really—“
Xhex grabbed the man’s wrist, turned him in a little circle, and cranked his arm up to the middle of his back. Then she clipped her leg around his ankles and shoved him off balance. He landed like a side of beef, the wind getting knocked out of him on a curse, his body plowing into the short-napped carpet.
In a quick move, she bent down, buried one hand in his gelled-up hair, and locked the other on the collar of his suit jacket. As she dragged him face-first to the side exit, she was multitasking: creating a scene, committing both an assault and a battery, and running the risk of a brawl if his buddies in the Hall of Fucktards got involved. But you had to put on a show every once in a while. Every one of the entitled assholes in the VIP section was watching, as were her bouncers, who were edge characters to start with, and the working girls, most of whom had totally understandable anger-management issues.
To keep the peace, you had to get your hands dirty every once in a while.
And, considering all the hair product this bigmouth used, she was so going to need to wash up after this was over.
When she got to the side exit by the Brotherhood’s table, she paused to open the door, but John got there first. Like a total gentleman, he swung the thing wide and held it that way with his long arm.
“Thanks,” she said.
Out on the alley, she flipped the bigmouth asshole over on his back and went through his pockets. As he lay there blinking like a fish in the bottom of a boat, the search was another infraction on her part. She had police powers on club property, but the alley was technically owned by the city of Caldwell. More to the point, though, the zip code of this hand job was irrelevant. The search would have been illegal, as she didn’t have probable cause to believe he had drugs or concealed weapons.
According to the law, you couldn’t frisk someone for just being a cocksucker.
Ah… but, see, this was where instinct paid off. In addition to his wallet, she found a nice load of coke on him, as well as three tabs of X. She dangled the cellophane bas in front of the man’s eyes.
“I could have you arrested.” She smiled as he started to stammer. “Yeah, yeah, not yours. Don’t know how they got there. You’re innocent as a two-year-old. But look up over that door.”
When the guy didn’t respond quickly enough, she clamped a hand on his jowls and pushed his face around.
“See that little red blinking eye? That’s a security camera. So this shit…” She jogged the packets at the camera, then flipped open the wallet. “… this two grams of cocaine and three hits of Ecstasy that came out of the breast pocket of your suit, Mr. … Robert Finlay … has been digitally recorded. Huh … check this out, you have two nice-looking kids. Bet they’d rather have breakfast with you tomorrow morning than eat with a babysitter because your wife is trying to spring you out of jail.”
She put his wallet back in his suit and held on to the drugs. “The way I’d like to suggest we handle this is to go our separate ways. You don’t ever come into my club again. And I don’t send your dime-sized balls to jail. What do you say? Deal or no deal?”
As he pondered whether to take what the Banker offered or open another case, Xhex got to her feet and backed up a little so she had a clear kick shot if she needed it. She didn’t think that shit was going to be necessary, though. People who were going to fight had tense bodies and sharp eyes. Bigmouth was loose as dishwater, clearly having run out of gas and ego.
“Go home,” she said to him.
And he did.
As he lumbered off, Xhex put the drugs in her back pocket.
“You enjoy the show, John Matthew?” she said without turning around.
When she looked over her shoulder, her breath stopped in her throat. John’s eyes were glowing in the darkness . . . as the kid stared at her with the kind of single-minded focus males got when they wanted sex. Hard-core sex.
Holy… shit. This was no little boy she was looking at.
Without being aware she was doing it, she reached into his mind with a lick of her symphath nature. He was thinking of … him on a bed in tangled sheets, his hand between his legs on a gigantic cock, his mind picturing her as he pumped himself off.
He’d done that a lot.
Xhex pivoted and walked over. When she came up to him, he didn’t step back, and she wasn’t surprised. In this raw instant, he was no awkward youngling to cut and run. He was all male animal, meeting her head-on.
Which was … oh, fuck her, it was not attractive. It. Really. Was. Not.
As she looked up at him, she meant to tell him to go train those glowing blue marbles on the human women in the club and leave her out of it. She meant to say that she was beyond off-limits and to let his fantasy go. She meant to warn him off, as she had all others except for the hardened, half-dead Butch O’Neal before he’d become a Brother.
Instead, she said in a low tone, “Next time you think of me like that, say my name when you come. It’ll get you off even better.”
She let her shoulder brush across the front of his chest as she leaned to the side and opened the door to the club.
His harsh suck of breath lingered in her ear.
As she went back to work, she told herself her body was hot because of the effort she’d just expended dragging that dickhead out to the door.
It had absolutely nothing to do with John Mathew.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
When she's not reading books for That's What I'm Talking About, VampBard has a day job that really doesn't need to know what she reads in her spare time.
10. Secretly, my favorite reason to have a Kindle is because I can read paranormal romance in public without using a book cover or wrapping my book in a brown paper bag. Doesn't work for Playboy nor a pint of your favorite liquor; pretty sure someone would have eventually called me out.
9. Avoid discussing what you're reading in public. Someone who knows someone that knows your boss may be listening. If you find yourself in a position where you THINK it's safe to talk books, check again prior to beginning your conversation. Only a Ninja would triple-check a perimeter in that manner.
8. Be sure you have a virtual bookshelf, and that you're using the same pseudonym that you've chosen to use for reviews (if any). Should someone figure out that you enjoy the same type of books, it's OK to work together. Never. NEVER reveal your true identity.
6. Sneak into blogging to justify your book habit. Seriously. That way, you're doing something productive for society whilst perusing your favorite paperback. You can also use your Ninja mind-control skills to persuade people that every book you read is for review, and you're on deadline. Easier if you have an e-reader and don't have to hide covers!
5. Virtually stalk your favorite authors. Get to know them. Their websites and blogs are awesome places to get started. If you're ready to stealthily slip into uber-ninja mode, find an author chat.
4. Be truthful when writing reviews. If you're not, someone may find out your digital hang-outs and taunt you. Maybe. That's the reason I give myself for being honest about what I've read. I'd have more ammunition to fire back, that way :)
3. Figure out your reviewing 'voice'. Try on a few if you're not sure. Writing voice isn't like underwear. You can put it back if you try it on and don't like it.
2. Find a fabulous sister-from-another-mother that's completely into blogging, has a phenomenal blog, and has a content focus in which you're interested. Use your mind control to surreptitiously get her to invite you to write a review or two...or more... each month.
1. Always, always, always... use a pseudonym. Can't be stealthy like a ninja if you're flaunting your original dog-tags on every post ;)
Whether you've read these titles or not, you should. Jus' Sayin'. Whether you agree or not, this is how I picture my main men. Additionally, these are some of my favorite males from 2011 reads. Snag a tall, cool drink or grab a fan, and enjoy the eye candy! Happy Holidays!
10. Arik. The Aegis from Larissa Ione's Immortal Rider. Even though there wasn't the epic description in the book for me, I always pictured him as looking like Jason Lewis.
9. Max. From Of Course I Try by Seleste deLaney. I really loved Max and his mystery. I think he looks a bit like Johnny Depp.
8. Mr. Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice: the Wild and Wanton Edition. (side note: If you've not read this 'smutetized' version, it's worth spending a few bucks to get it digitally when it goes on special!) From the first time I read Pride and Prejudice, I've always had a pretty static image of Mr. Darcy. Then, I see Colin Firth in a movie, **ding**ding**ding** There's Mr. Darcy! … HOWEVER...after reading the Wild and Wanton version, I'm thinking Mr. Darcy is more like Jude Law.
7. Matthias, from Infinite Betrayal by Gayle Donnelly and Robyn Mackenzie. Immediately, upon reading his description, I thought: long-haired version of Christian Bale.
6. Cardus, from Robin D. Owens' novella, Heart and Soul. Not only do I love the world of Celta that Owens has created, I dearly love her character, Cardus. I picture him as a younger Rutger Hauer.
5. Rhage, a.k.a. Hollywood from the world of J. R. Ward. With his 'Hollywood' good looks, how's a girl NOT to love Rhage? To me, he looks like Gabriel Aubrey. (see photo, left)
4. Rio, the dark and dangerous hero from Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series. Viggo Mortensen was the first image that came to mind when I read about Rio.
3. Strider, from Gena Showalter's Lords of the Universe series. While a dearly love all of these tormented souls, Strider is my favorite. Because he is the keeper of Lies, it's always entertaining to see how he gets around his inability to tell the truth. I've always seen him as Ryan Reynolds.
2. Tohrment. This warrior, also from the world of J. R. Ward, is my Brother. Great description of him... and I envision him as a blonde Chris Hemsworth.
1. Wrath, the Blind King from the world of J. R. Ward. Mmmm. Love me some Brothers! I've always pictured Wrath as looking like Oded Fehr.
Monday, December 26, 2011
When I escape my real life into the pages of a book, I like to really escape, like into another dimension. As a female reader, however, even the most fascinating time traveler or brilliant spaceship captain better have a love interest to hold mine. I have yet to figure out what the magic formula is that designates one book as “science fiction/fantasy” and another as “paranormal romance.” The cross-over is so common these days that there is virtually no distinction to me except with marketing. It hasn’t shown up in bookstore banners yet, but I have recently begun to see a classification popping up called Science Fiction Romance or SFR. I have found Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changling series under both banners, even within the same chain of booksellers. Maybe it’s a simple matter of shelf space.
Every year romances far out-sell sci/fi, and yet sci/fi readers adamantly refuse to cross the aisle. (Ever notice they’re always next to each other in bookstores?) I have discovered that many romance readers too refuse to venture where they erroneously believe science will over-power the story of relationships and descriptions of technology will make their brains hurt. They’re both wrong! So for you die-hard romance readers, let me offer you my 2011 Top Ten List of Author’s You May Have Missed Because They Were in the Science Fiction Section:
1. N.K. JEMISIN (Inheritance Trilogy)
Description: Gods and mortals. Power and love. Death and revenge. In the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, gods dwell among mortals and one powerful, corrupt family rules the earth. Three extraordinary people may be the key to humanity’s salvation.
Thoughts: Look for an in-depth review of this series in 2012! Some might say that Jemisin’s series is reminiscent of Greek and Roman mythology. Some will draw connections anywhere they can. For me, Jemisin’s style is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Let me just say that I have no idea why this author and her Inheritance Trilogy have gone nearly completely under the radar, even for sci/fi readers. She has remarkable world-building skills and all three books are completely relationship driven. Perhaps she is too much of both genres to be classified as one or the other. Jemisin’s descriptions are so complete and so creative that if I could, I would love to live inside her head for just a day to see the scope of what she’s imagined before it’s edited and distilled down to the story we have in print.
2. ANN AGUIRRE (Sirantha Jax series)
Description: As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her...for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.
Thoughts: I love a strong female lead. Over the course of the series, told in first person, Sirantha makes the journey from flawed party girl to seasoned navigator with a maturity born of intense experiences. Aquirre’s writing is witty and insightful. Romance readers will appreciate not getting bogged down in heavy techno-babble, but still enjoy the fantasy of space travel and alien worlds. The final book in the series, End Game, is due to be released in September of 2012.
3. LINNEA SINCLAIR (Dock of Five Universe 1-5)
Description: After a decade of piloting interstellar patrol ships, former captain Chasidah Bergren, onetime pride of the Sixth Fleet, finds herself court-martialed for a crime she didn’t commit–and shipped off to a remote prison planet from which no one ever escapes. But when she kills a brutal guard in an act of self-defense, someone even more dangerous emerges from the shadows. Gabriel Sullivan–alpha mercenary, smuggler, and rogue–is supposed to be dead.
Thoughts: Most romance readers who have read Sinclair all say the same thing, “I don’t usually like science fiction, but I couldn’t put this one down!” Sinclair is convincing in her world-building and still makes her headstrong lead characters sympathetic. It’s not hard to care about their stories until you find yourself sucked in. Told in first person from the perspective of Chas, full of action, don’t pass this series up.
4. LOIS McMASTER BUJOLD (Sharing Knife Series 1-4)
Description: Troubled young Fawn Bluefield seeks a life beyond her family’s farm. But on the way to the city, she encounters a patrol of Lakewalkers, nomadic soldier-sorcerers from the northern woodlands. Feared necromancers armed with mysterious knives made of human bone, they wage a secret on-going war against the scourge of the “malices,” immortal entities that draw the life out of their victims, enslaving human and animal alike. It is Dag—a Lakewalker patroller weighed down by past sorrows and present responsibilities—who must come to Fawn’s aid when she is taken captive by a malice.
Thoughts: I realize that in medieval and even Victorian times it was customary for young girls of fifteen or sixteen to marry much older men. In practical terms, such suitors were established and could provide for a wife and family. A younger bride was more likely to survive childbirth and be more submissive. As a modern reader, however, such unions kinda creep me out. We have such a union in the very first book of the Sharing Knife Series between our hero and heroine. The book held an interesting premise and was very well written, but I honestly wasn’t convinced at first. The first books set-up the next so well that I couldn’t leave the story alone. The second book convinced me the unconventional union was a good idea and I completely indulged myself in the rest of the four-book series.
5. JESS GRANGER (Realms Beyond Series)
Description: After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani is ready to retire to her homeworld of Azra as one of the Elite—the celibate warrior sisterhood that rules the planet. But first she must complete one final mission to rescue her fellow Union soldiers. The last thing she expects to find is a prisoner, chained and beaten—but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit.
Thoughts: I had the pleasure of meeting Jess Granger at Lori Foster last May. This quirky new author, only having released two books so far, shows great promise with books a little heavier on the romance than the science. This series is probably more of a cross over into romance for sci/fi readers. Nevertheless it has no shortage of exotic alien worlds and cultures.
6. C.J. Berry (Unforgettable Series 1-5)
Description: Life on Earth was just getting interesting for Tess MacKenzie. She’d postponed her singing career to support the family business and after eight long years, she finally earned her chance to shine. Her band was hot, her songs were rocking and Tess was on her way to becoming a star. Things were definitely looking up. That is until Cohl Travers, alien extraordinaire, swoops out of the night sky and snatches her off her planet. When he says he desperately needs her voice for a dangerous cosmic mission and the fate of two planets hangs on her song, she figures one of them is in for some serious therapy.
Thoughts: You’ll need a non-descript dust jacket for these painfully cheesy covers. It definitely reads more romance, smutty in a good way, than science fiction. The first book is not as strong as those that follow, but all are excellent adventure stories.
7. ROBIN McKINLEY (Blue Sword/Sunshine/Beauty)
Descriptions: The Blue Sword - This is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who becomes Harimad-sol, King's Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman has wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle.
Sunshine - Rae, nicknamed Sunshine by her stepfather, is the baker at her family's coffeehouse. She's happy getting up at 4 am to make cinnamon rolls for the breakfast rush, and dealing with people and food all day. But one evening she needed somewhere she could be alone for a little while, and there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years. She never thought of vampires. Until they found her.
Thoughts: I have largely found Robin McKinley slated into the young adult section, when I can find her at all, where there are generally no distinctions made between genres at all. Her fantasy books have a fairytale flair to them, especially her re-telling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast.” (I wonder if Disney didn’t pull from this 1978 edition in the making of their 1991 award-winning animated feature. It is being re-released in 3D on January 13th.) As YA books, they are not as explicit as adult romances, but let me assure you the relationships are intense because McKinley’s writing style is intense. It is one that you mentally chew on more than flow through. She demands that you think and so the escape comes not in being consumed by the romance, but being consumed by the art of her words. Some readers will find her tedious. I love words so I loved her writing style.
8. AUDREY NIFFENEGGER (The Time Traveler’s Wife)
Description: A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.
Thoughts: You may or may not have already seen the movie. As a book snob, I have to admit the movie was remarkably well done, but if you haven’t read the book, let me assure you it’s completely worth it. I was given a copy of this book long before the movie was even in production and I was stunned by its construction. You start out reading a story that jumps around all around through time and about half way through its hefty 560 pages, you realize it is, in fact, being told in chronological order. I was so in love with Clare and Henry’s romance that I was crying by the climax. I’m stunned that this was written by a first time author.
9. ANNE McCAFFERY (Acorna Series 1-7)
Description: The Acorna series is a lesser known series, written in collaboration with two other authors. Acorna is found in an unusual escape pod by three galactic miners, Gill, Rafik, and Calum. Raised by the three unlikely fathers, Acorna, a unicorn girl, matures almost to adulthood within three years. While she is growing up, the miners discover that their 'daughter' has magical powers such as the ability to clean air and water, heal the sick, and detect the slightest scent. Furthermore, she is extraordinarily smart, picking up everything quickly. However, her unique looks and special powers make her an object of desire by many, be it for scientific studies or a rare-item collection, or sex.
Thoughts: Famous for her Dragon Riders of Pern series of over 20 books, McCaffery is not exactly unknown to romance readers—or to anyone who’s been in a book store in the last thirty years. I’m including her here because she passed away late last month. She was the first female author to receive both the Hugo and Nebula awards for her writing. In a 2004 interview with science fiction magazine Locus she said, “I have always used emotion as a writing tool…The thing is, emotion — if it's visibly felt by the writer — will go through all the processes it takes to publish a story and still hit the reader right in the gut. But you have to really mean it." McCaffery was probably the first of the paranormal/fantasy cross-over writers. She co-wrote the last five Pern books with her son and perhaps, we can hope for more titles from the McCaffery family.
10. JULIAN MAY (The Saga of Pliocene Exile)
Description: When a one-way time tunnel to Earth's distant past, specifically six million B.C., was discovered by folks on the Galactic Milieu, every misfit for light-years around hurried to pass through it. Each sought his own brand of happiness. But none could have guessed what awaited them. Not even in a million years....
Thoughts: The Saga of the Pliocene Exiles is the first of two linked series covering nine volumes. They should absolutely be read in order, but the first book, The Many Colored Land, is now out of print. You should still be able to get it from your local public library. I’m including in this list for two reasons, first because it was released in e-book form this year (with some pretty harsh criticism over lack of proofing) and secondly it’s just outstanding science fiction that paranormal readers have the ability imagine and enjoy.
May follows a group of people who are irrevocably exiled back in time to the Pliocene era during the period between the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of homo sapiens, six million years ago. She was one if the first proponents of the ancient alien astronaut theory of human evolution made so famous now by Eric Daniken and his book and subsequent movie Chariots of the Gods. If you’re inclined to try some straight, make you think science fiction, try this series. It takes readers on an amazing journey from the distant future to the distant past, using unexpected routes all along the way.
Giveaway: Blush by Lauren Jameson
Open 5/17 - 5/22
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Review: A Highland Werewolf Wedding by Terry Spear
Review: Immortal Eclipse by Sherry Soule
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Review: Kiss Across Time by Tracy Cooper-Posey
Review: A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly Harper
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WELCOME to my blog! At That's What I'm Talking About, we discuss romance books and generally review the paranormal and urban fantasy genres, with some other fun topics tossed in. I hope you will stay and visit for a while!
About our reviews: The reviews posted here are the writer's own honest opinion of the book, not a judgement on the subject matter or author. We read for pleasure and at the request of authors and publishers. We do not receive compensation for our reviews, other than the copy of the book to read for the review.
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