Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Desert Island Keeper Book Tour

Last night, I was chatting with a few of my romance reading blogging friends (I heart AIM.  And YIM.) and in a matter of seconds the discussion was focused on books. Duh. Then in a matter of minutes we were declaring our DIK or Desert Island Keepers. The whirlwind discussion ensued and all of a sudden we were all stranded on this said island, each of us having six books in our waterproof survival bag, and none of us carrying a book that someone else brought. 

I feel compelled to confess that I was slowest to claim my DIK books in the chat, and alas, Lisabea, CarolynJean and Katiebabs claimed Meljean's books before I got to grab one. So there is no Meljean book in my ziploc, which I feel terribly awful about. I even tried to trade a book with CarolynJean, but she would not relinquish claim on Demon Night, so I will just have to covet everyone else's Meljean books on the island. Because I heart Meljean and her Guardians. 

Here is my list of six books for the DIK library: 

1. Dark Lover by JR Ward. 
2. Lover Revealed by JR Ward.
3. Lover Unbound by JR Ward. 

'Nuff said. We had to have the complete set of BDB crack. Seriously.

4. The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne. 

I don't read much historical romance. Not that I don't like it, I'm just generally not drawn to it. But this one got so much positive buzz, that I did pick it up and was so glad that I did. The Spymaster's Lady was sooooo good. Just like everyone said. Wonderfully developed characters. The heroine was fantastic... I loved her. Lots of intrigue and emotions layered within a really wonderful love story. 

5. Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas.

*sigh* I don't even know where to begin or what to say about this story. I read it the week it was released and have already declared it my favorite book of 2008. It is absolutely wonderful and moved me so deeply. 

6. The Smoke Thief  by Shana Abe. 
This is one of my most favorite paranormal romance novels--and can be considered historical, too. The writing style is beautiful, the mythology and plot are unique and compelling, and the love story was wonderful. I enjoy rereading this one now and then, so it comes along, too. 

What six books would you choose to add to the DIK bookshelf if you were stranded, too? And no repeats! 

To discover the rest of our Desert Island Keeper bookshelf, go here to see what Katie(babs) chose. If you just started your island tour here, don't miss checking out the DIK selections of Kristie(J), Sula, Lisabea, and CarolynJean

Friday, April 25, 2008

REVIEW: One Foot In The Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Night Huntress Novel, BOOK 2

One Foot In The Grave is the second novel in The Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost. Half human, half vampire Cat Crawfield works for a secret government agency that was established in order to track and kill rogue vampires. Because a half human, half vampire is extremely rare, vampires are unable to sense her true nature, yet Cat is still able to detect them by their aura. This unique trait puts Cat at a great advantage as she is able to hunt vampires by baiting herself, and then using the element of surprise along with her part-vampire enhanced strength to go in for the kill. It is for this valuable trait, and her kick ass fighting skills, that the government hired Cat as leader of this new agency's field team four years ago. It was also four years ago that Cat claimed to have killed the master vampire called Bones. Unbeknownst to the agency, Bones was both her personal trainer, partner and lover. By making that claim, Cat walked away from their love forever, thinking she was protecting his life. She has not seen or heard from him since.

In the four years since Halfway to the Grave, Cat has settled into her job and has dedicated herself unconditionally to her men and the agency, despite the fact that some of them doubt her. At the opening of One Foot in the Grave, Cat is on assignment and about to make her kill when in a moment of despair her victim reveals his true name-- that of Bones' sire. In a moment of reverence for he who gave Bones the immortality to have lived long enough to have eventually come into her life as the only man she has ever loved, Cat allows him to escape. This act may prove to be a life threatening mistake, as Cat then becomes the target of several assassination attempts. Shortly thereafter, Bones returns to Cat's life and will stop at nothing to be at her side. Still on personal mission to hunt and kill her father, and in need of serious protection, Cat may have no choice but to accept his help, and in the end his love, too. He's that irresistible.

One Foot In The Grave is full of surprises and plot twists that had me at one moment wanting to rush through to find out how all the complications got sorted out, and at the next moment wanting to read it slowly so that I could savor Cat and Bones and all their predicaments. Cat is a fighter and a survivor, but often impulsive which usually gets her into trouble. Which in turn usually brings out her frankness and sarcasm, interjecting a good dose of humor into the otherwise tense story line.

Cat has also grown more mature and less discriminatory against any and all vampires or other creatures of the night. She is learning to judge individuals on their actions, not soley on whether they're human or other. In fact, in a heated discussion with one of Bones' ex-lovers, Cat defends Bones by stating, "We are who we become, not who we start out as." And the best part is that I think she finally believes this about herself, too.

Bones is a fantastic hero. As a master vampire, he is one of the most powerful and impressive vampires, yet he never flaunts it-- especially to Cat. He never uses his power as a means to win her over, and in fact, he actually holds back whenever possible, just to make her feel comfortable. His love for Cat is steadfast and unconditional. He's sexy, romantic and will do anything to protect her. And let's not forget that he is an amazing lover. ;)

One Foot In The Grave is an entertaining combination of intense action and sexy romance splashed with laugh out loud witticisms. Surprise turn of events and Cat's stubbornness to let Bones back in her heart kept me captivated by the story. At times, though, I did find myself waiting for the conflict of the story to have a more profound impact on the vampire-human world and the mission of the agency--not just on Cat's personal well being and agenda. However, it is a Night Huntress novel, hence centered on Cat and even told from her point of view, so it does make sense that the storyline would focus strongly on Cat. Still, I do look forward to future conflicts in the series that threaten their entire world and put Cat and her team into action. I also look forward to Cat and Bones' relationship getting more intense, which I'm sure is inevitable because there's already a whole new complication between them by the end of this story. I can't wait to find out what's next on the horizon for the endearing Cat Crawfield, the delicious Bones and Cat's supercharged team!


Edited to Add: Jeaniene Frost's third Night Huntress novel titled At Grave's End is scheduled to be released in January 2009!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kate & Christine do NY ComicCon :)

As the Romantic Times Convention was drawing near last week, I started lamenting on the good times I'd be missing... meeting favorite authors and blogging friends and attending panel discussions. I was even considering driving 5 1/2 hours each way to go to to the author signing that took place last Saturday, but really couldn't justify the travel time and expense for such a short visit. So when I heard that Sherrilyn Kenyon was going to be at NY Comic Con in Manhattan promoting her Lords of Avalon series in comic form and the much anticipated novel, Acheron, I thought it would be a fun alternative to RT. I mentioned my idea, somewhat in passing, to my fellow romance reading friend, and Jersey girl, Katiebabs, and she was instantly enthusiastic about said NY Comic Con adventure. Kate told me that Melissa Marr, NYT and LA Times best selling author of Wicked Lovely was a last minute add on for a panel discussion at Comic Con, and that pretty much sealed the deal for us. If you haven't yet read Wicked Lovely, I recommend you do... its an awesome urban fantasy romance. I loved it.

For anyone who has never been to the Jacob Javitz Center in Manhattan, it is a huge convention center. Huge. Eleven thousand people roamed the floors on Saturday, attending discussion panels, sneak previews of upcoming movies, visiting vendor booths, publisher booths, artist galleries, demonstrations, gaming tables, costume contests, and so on. Overwhelmed upon our arrival, we decided to first stake out where Melissa's panel was going to be since she was a short notice addition, we had no information at all other than her panel was at 4:00 pm. The staff was friendly and considerate, but still not able to tell us which panel Melissa was on. So we sat in on a panel discussion on NYC through its authors. Then we ventured up two levels to the program floor. So many people, so many booths, so little time. Being the voracious readers we are, we decided to hit a few publisher booths.

Our first stop was the Penguin booth where we bumped into (almost literally) Anton Strout, author of recently released urban fantasy novel, Dead to Me. He is also a member of the League of Reluctant Adults site and the Fangs, Fur & Fey LiveJournal community. He is such a sweet guy. Friendly, witty and laid back, Kate and I had a fun time chatting with him. Anton had had a signing at Comic Con the day before and sold all the books he had there (way to go, Anton!), so we got a postcard signed instead.

We finally found Melissa Marr's panel, which was a discussion on today's voices in graphic novels and got a few minutes to chat with Melissa afterward. We asked a few quick questions about her writing, she got to sign my copy of Wicked Lovely that I brought along, and she gave us some beautiful temporary tattoos that Melissa's own personal tattoo artist designed, inspired by the art for Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange.
Ink Exchange is Melissa Marr's next novel, scheduled for release on April 29, 2008. Melissa was so warm and humbled that we sought her out--I really wish we had more time to talk with her. She just had this aura about her that made me feel comfortable enough to want to sit and chat with her over coffee, tea, or something stronger! Maybe next time. Melissa even gave us the heads up about Ink Exchange being available at the Harper booth so Kate and I could get a copy. I'll be reading it this week!

Supercool sidenote: While getting the link to Melissa's site and blog .... I noticed Melissa mentions meeting Kate and me at Comic Con in her blog post today! Yay!!! :)

Kate and I make it back to Sherrilyn Kenyon's booth where we got free books and other neat promo stuff, including an exclusive excerpt to Ash's story, and a handful of intriguing quotes from Acheron, scheduled for release on August 8, 2008. Here's one of my favorites: (hmm... I hope I'm allowed to post this... :s )

"He's willing to end the world for you. You should be impressed. I am." ~Nick Gautier

Sherrilyn said she'll be back in Manhattan in August for Ash's book tour.

I'm sure you all can imagine that New York City is a prime location for people watching. Well, go to a comic convention in New York City and it is people watching haven. At first, I tried not to stare, ogle and gawk. Then I woke up and realized these people dressed like they did because they want to express their affection for their favorite characters and they absolutely revel in the attention. So I eventually got over my concerns about not staring, kept my camera out and started snapping pictures. As you can see, fans really get into their roles. They even have poses and actions rehearsed!

Of course, I couldn't help but stage some pics of Kate groping Superman and Batman. I mean... its important for a girl to weigh her options, right? (pun intended)

For the rest of Kate's search for the perfect superhero, you'll have to........

TUNE IN TOMORROW TONIGHT! ...errr... its more like later tonight

SAME BAT-TIME! ...well, actually in an hour or so....

SAME BAT-CHANNEL no. not here. at kate's blog HERE

""" da na na na na na na na na na na na na BAT MAaaaaan! ""

POW Kazam! POP


Our last panel of the day was a Spotlight on Gail Simone. Gail Simone is a critically acclaimed and award winning comic writer, having written countless works, possibly her most famous work being Birds of Prey. Gail is currently the writer of DC's Wonder Woman comic. She is the first permanent, ongoing female writer of Wonder Woman. How cool is that? Kate and I stood on line for awhile for Gail's panel, exhausted as we were, we were lucky to have gotten seats in the crowded room. But it was well worth it. Gail was gracious, and funny, and clearly loves her job. I'm so glad we stuck it out to hear her speak.

What a fun day. I have a feeling this was the first of many future annual Kate-and-Christine-do NY-Comic-Con adventures!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TBR Challenge: The Dream Thief by Shana Abe

The Dream Thief by Shana Abe

Bantam Books - Random House, Inc.,
Hardcover edition October 2006
Mass market edition September 2007

In a remote region of northern England, hidden from humans, there exists a species of shapeshifters called the drakon, who can shift from human to smoke to dragon. Since the dawn of time, the stones of the earth have called to the drakon, who have mined some of the most precious and rare stones of all time. Shana Abe's first drakon novel, The Smoke Thief, takes place in the mid 18th century and is the love story of the drakon's alpha male, the Marquess Christoff Langford who claimed his mate, the elusive and rebellious 'smoke thief,' Clarissa 'Rue' Hawthorne. The first chapter of The Dream Thief takes place seventeen years later, to a time when Christoff and Rue have five children of their own, all who have matured to young adults and now have the ability to Turn, or shift to smoke and dragon. That is, all except their youngest child, Amalia, or Lia, who shows no signs of ever being able to Turn. Lia does, however, possess two very powerful gifts that she has kept secret since she was a small child. One gift is her ability to clearly hear the song of the dangerously powerful and alluring stone, the Dramur from its resting place in a faraway land. The other gift is that of precognitive dreams. Dreams in which she has broken tribal rules by taking a human lover and traveling far from drakon territory to seek the Dramur. The Dramur is a large diamond that sings to the drakon and is in fact so alluring and mesmerizing to the drakon, that it can be used to control them. If it feel into the wrong hands, the Dramur could be used against the drakon.

Five years later, other drakon finally begin to hear the faint song of the Dramur that Lia has been hearing for years. As the alphas of the drakon tribe, Christoff and Rue decide the stone must be sought out and protected from being discovered by others. They subsequently hire Zane, former street urchin turned professional thief, and sole human friend of the drakon, to travel the depths of eastern Europe to retrieve the Dramur. Unbeknownst to her tribe or even her family, Lia leaves her boarding school to seek the stone and soon convinces Zane that they should search for Dramur together. Their corroborative effort to find the stone brings them together romantically but also puts them great risk of disaster. For Lia is dangerously susceptible to the enslaving powers of the dramur, and Zane is one of the world's greatest thieves after all.

Once again, Ms. Abe enchanted me with her mysterious dragon filled world set in historical Europe. The Dream Thief is a beautifully written, magical tale with believable love story. Lia was a determined, intelligent and resourceful young woman and at times somewhat naive, which was quite endearing. The sexual tension that builds up between Lia and Zane throughout the book is sexy and realistic, and when they finally give in to their desires, their passion is honest and raw. Throughout their journey, Lia and Zane face many dangers, including several that put them near death. These scenes were both suspenseful and emotional.

Having meet Zane when he was a mere street urchin in The Smoke Thief, I was so pleased that Ms. Abe was able to keep Zane true to his character throughout this tale. Zane never made apologies for his nefarious ways nor did he pretend he was anything more than a mere human thief. I admired his 'what you see is what you get' attitude about himself and that he didn't glorify himself to be anything different in Lia's eyes.

The combination of Abe's beautiful writing style, the creative mythology of the drakon, the historical setting, and the passionate love story between Lia and Zane make The Dream Thief a fantastic read. The third novel, Queen of Dragons, was released in hardcover in December 2007.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

HELP!!! My girl's a teenager!

It's official.
I have a teenager.
My daughter turned 13 today.
I can't believe I'm the mother of a teenager.
I'm too young to be the mother of a teenager.
Way too young.
..... this is where you say, "RIGHT!"....

*crickets chirping*

*deep breath*

I will not panic.
I will remain calm.
I will continue to act like I know exactly what I'm doing.
Heh... its fooled everyone so far!

It really is remarkable, and a bit unfair, how quickly they grow up. Thirteen years. THIRTEEN YEARS. Seriously, where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday our tiny little bundle of joy came into our lives. And now.... she's a teenager! So while part of me is in shock and perhaps a bit sad that she's done so much growing up in such a short time, another part of me is so incredibly proud of the young woman she is becoming. She is truly one of the most good natured, patient, thoughtful, empathetic, and helpful people I know. She is a good student, a passionate dancer, an active girl scout, and she loves to read!

Since we are both avid readers, and often read the same young adult novels, we decided to start a blog together where we could share our thoughts on the books with other readers. And we thought her 13th birthday would be a great day to start! Our mommy daughter book blog is called Bookalicious and tonight we posted our first duo review of Anna Godbersen's debut novel, The Luxe.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sometimes it's all in the delivery...

Seeing authors give away prizes on their blogs is practically a daily occurrence in the blogosphere. Readers have fun participating in book discussions, learning about authors and their books, and its a great way for authors to promote some buzz about their work or the work of a colleague.  But tonight, Mark Henry made the most awesome presentation of a prize package EVER!  ... and I'm not just saying that because I won. Seriously, Mark is awesome.  Go check it out HERE.  I mean... the dude dedicated a song to me.  Sort of.  Well, I'm thinking of it that way, anyway.   Because honestly, why not?  It feels good. Thanks, Mark! :)

And psssst!  The prize package included not one, but two vials of genuine zombie plague!   Whoo hoo! I wonder what I could use that for.... 

The League of Reluctant Adults is a really fun blog run by urban fantasy authors Mark Henry,  Anton Strout,  Jill Myles, and Stacia Kane.  Last week Stacia hosted a Book Club for Mark's novel, The Happy Hour of the Damned for which she posted a discussion topic each day of the week.  Readers discussed all sorts of fun aspects of the novel with Mark.  If you haven't yet read his novel, go check out the posts and get a glimpse of Mark's fun sense of  humor and his entertaining zomedy style (zomedy = zombie comedy).   Be forewarned, though.  You're going to want to read his book! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Enter The Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes

Enter the Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes
Ann Aguirre, author of the very cool novel, Grimspace, is raving about the newly released novel, The Duke of Shadows by debut author Meredith Duran.

Book description:

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything...and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces...

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé's betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London...

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous -- and that a single decision can alter one's life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned...and some passions never die.

After reading the book description, I'm already interested in reading this novel. Then I read what Ann Aguirre has to say about it, and I'm completely sold.

Ann says,

The Duke of Shadows was pitch-perfect, not a single wrong note. This book ravished me. The writing is lovely and luminous, bedizened with subtle poetry. It hit me like a fist in the chest, rousing a sudden, shocking ache. In reading this, you will be permeated with yearning. Some sentences are so lovely, they make you say, “Oh,” in quiet, helpless admiration. This book is pure beauty married to elegance and simplicity.

Admit it, you know you want to read it now, too! You can win a copy of your own... and maybe some extra book spending money, too by entering a really awesome sweepstakes on Ann Aguirre's blog. She loves The Duke of Shadows so much that she's hosting the contest to spread the word about her new favorite novel. If you enter, you can win one of her very generous prize packages. She's awarding Barnes & Noble and Amazon gift certificates, as well as copies of The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. Click on the image of The Duke of Shadows in this post to bring you to the contest details so you can enter. I just did. :)