Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pimping Megan Hart

Or maybe I should have used 'promoting' instead of 'pimping'?

Naaah... pimping is definitely more eye-catching! I like it. (I just hope Megan doesn't mind...). Besides, the regulars to my blog know what I mean. Other random hitters will quickly realize there is no sex for sale here at the happily ever after.

Got it? No sex for sale here! I'm just pimping (as in promoting) author Megan Hart's blog and books. Here we go....

I read a very amusing rant on Megan Hart's blog this evening about how we, the female adult of the home, have to constantly nag the other people in the house to flush the toilet, turn off the lights and pick up their stuff, etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, I got such a kick out of Megan's post. She occasionally does these neat video blogs and so I've gotten to know her voice and intonations and subtle gestures (Okay, Megan, if you read this, don't freak out... I'm not stalker material. Besides, gas is way too expensive for me to be traipsing across state lines right now, so you're safe...). So when I read Megan's written posts on her blog now, it really feels like she's just talking to me. Personal. Yeah, so I was reading the post, nodding my head, thinking, "Yup. That's my house, too!" Let me just say its pretty darned comforting to see that leaving their shizz shit strewn throughout the house isn't exclusive to my family unit, you know?

But then it got better. One of the comments-- by Sandy-- was this awesome google joke and I just had to share:

What a woman says:
This place is a mess! C’mon, you and I need to clean up. Your stuff is lying on the floor and you’ll have no clothes to wear if we don’t do laundry right now!

What a man hears:
Blah, blah, blah, blah, C’MON, blah, blah, YOU AND I, blah, blah, blah, blah, ON THE FLOOR, blah, blah, blah, blah, NO CLOTHES, blah, blah, blah, blah, RIGHT NOW.

Oh man. I wish. As long as he put his shit away first. Then he can give me all the jizz he wants.

Okaaaaay..... where was I?

Oh yeah!

I had something else from Megan's blog to share with you! She's running a contest on her blog and the prize is a free copy of her Spice novel Tempted! Go read my Tempted review and if you think it's a story you might be interested in, enter Megan's Tempted contest.

Yeah, so I read and reviewed Tempted earlier this year and liked it so much that I decided to glom Megan's backlist. Well, I haven't glommed very well yet. Since Tempted I've only bought and read her novella This Is What I Want. I have both Dirty and Broken on my wish list, though, and I've read a few great reviews on Megan's recent novella, Reason Enough, which is a story on the main characters from Dirty, so I know I'm going to end up reading that as well.

Megan's next full length Spice novel, Stranger will be available January 2009. You can get a glimpse of the sexy cover here and read an excerpt here.

You can visit Megan Hart's website at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden by Eve Kenin

Eve Silver writes historical gothics and contemporary paranormals. Under the pseudonym Eve Kenin, she writes speculative romance for Shomi Fiction.

Eve's first action romance novel, Driven, takes place in the frozen Tundra of the Northern Hemisphere, called the Northern Waste during a post apocalyptic future. In Driven, we met trucker Raina Bowen and a mercenary named Wizard who worked together to take down their common enemy, the powerful and despicable businessman Duncan Bane. Having been born and raised in a lab by computers, Wizard and his sister Yuriko barely escaped the evil clutches of Duncan Bane. Their sister Tatiana never made it out and is assumed dead.

Hidden is Eve Kenin's second action romance novel written for Shomi Fiction, and the sequel to Driven. In Hidden, readers return to the Northern Waste as Tatiana has escaped from her captor Gavin Ward. Even more evil and despicable than Duncan Bane, Ward acquired Tatiana from Bane when she was barely a teen and has been abusing her emotionally and genetically in order to use her as the genome for a deadly plague he wants to use with nefarious intent. At the opening of the story, Tatiana has recently escaped from her prison at Ward's headquarters and has set out to find and destroy his research lab in the Northern Waste. The only lead she has is the name of Ward's lead geneticist--Tolliver.

Despite having lived her entire life locked away and experimented on by first Bane and then Ward, Tatiana has honed some rather amazing genetic enhancements. While she has had the ability to read the emotions and intentions of most people she comes in contact with since birth, there are other abilities that start developing only after she gained her freedom. These new abilities include the ability to withstand the frigid temperatures, see in the dark, heal rapidly from the most severe injuries and the strength to tear through human flesh and bone with her bare hands--all making her quite the kick ass heroine.

In order to make some cash to pay for food and supplies, Tatiana is on a job to reclaim a stolen ring from a pair of dangerous thieves at a remote truck stop when she crosses paths an enigmatic and alluring settler named Tristan. Tatiana then crosses paths with Tristan days later after witnessing what looks like a vigilante attack on a rabid and maniacal man in the middle of nowhere. In need of fuel for her snowscooter and hoping for some answers about Tolliver, Tatiana accepts Tristan's invitation to his settlement. Wary of the underground facility, Tatiana soon suspects that there is more that meets the eye than within this remote settlement and perhaps she has stumbled upon Ward's hidden lab.

Hidden certainly lives up to its claim as an action romance. The action is intense and often gruesome with numerous life threatening scenarios played out--all very unpredictable, and the romance is sweet and convincing. Hidden also has a strong sci fi vibe to it as the premise revolves around a genetically enhanced Tatiana and the genetic warfare created by Ward's minion Tolliver. There were a few things, however that left me questioning. How exactly did Tatiana finally manage to escape from her cell under Ward's hold? And why were her genetic enhancements only blooming after she escaped? Coincidence? Or some other factor? Why didn't Tristan ever question Tatiana's motives for finding Tolliver and his lab? Or how she even knew about it?

Tatiana totally steals the show in this story. From the beginning, the reader empathizes with Tatiana's torturous past and lack of emotional attachment. Everything Tatiana knows of human relations was learned through video holograms or from reading the emotions and thoughts of the few people she came in contact with, which doesn't say a lot as the only people she came in contact with were the vile likes of Bane and Ward or other tortured humans. But Tatiana is not weak or self pitying. She's smart, angry, and determined--not to mention she has these amazing new superhuman skills. So while I felt sad for all the good things in life she has missed, I mostly felt hopeful and excited for all that she can learn and accomplish now that she is free. Tatiana is quite endearing, actually, as she comes to understand her own emotions and figure out what love is for the first time in her life.

Tristan is definitely intriguing. While I sensed he was the good guy all along and acted with the best interests of humanity and others in mind, there was so much about him and his past that remained a mystery until practically the very end. He had this meditative way of controlling his negative emotions and often provided very profound insights to human nature. Which amusingly confused the heck out of Tatiana and her literal way of thinking.

Both Tatiana and Tristan are somewhat broken by their past, yet by the end of the story, they both learn that love is an opportunity not to be missed. Whether or not you are whole or healed.... you deserve love.

I enjoyed reading Hidden and hope that Eve Kenin continues writing action romance set in this world. I would love to see Wizard and Tatiana's sister Yuriko live happily ever after as well.


Other reader reviews:

As a side note, if I had written a review for
Eve's first action romance novel, Driven:

Grade: A

Tag! You're It!

Pretty much irrelevant to the topic at hand here, but the movie titled "Five Children and It" (2004) popped into my head when I started writing this post.  Has anyone else seen it? The film was received with mixed reviews, but I think it is quite charming.  It is based on the book by the same title written in 1902 by Edith Nesbit about five children who move from London to the countryside in Kent where they meet a sand fairy at the beach who grants them each one wish that lasts a day and invariably deals with a lesson in consequences. 

Anyway.... I've been tagged by Ana & Thea from The Book Smugglers

Open the book nearest to you and open to page 123.  Then post the 5th sentence.  Very simple. 

Is it odd that it bugs me that we don't have to do anything with the number 4?      

Okay then. The closest book to me right now is Hidden by Eve Kenin.  Just finished it today, actually. 
Now, years later, he understood at least a part of the reason he had survived when his comrades had died.
  His telomeres--little stretches of DNA at the ends of his chromosomes--never shortened, no matter how many times his cells divided.

This is Eve's second novel written for Dorchester's Shomi line of 'action romance' and is the sequel to her August 2007 novel, Driven.  

I tag the following people:

Tracy at Ahhhhh romance 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Peer Pressure

First... I entered the name of my blog, because, well... that's what 'everyone else' did. 

Then.... I entered my given name because, well... I was curious: 

Okaaaaaaaay.  Quentin Tarantino it is then. 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Someone just won THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer!

The winner to my giveway drawing for The Host by Stephenie Meyer is .....


Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the novel as much as I did! Email me at with your postal mailing address and I'll send the book to you asap.

I also implore everyone else who entered to get their hands on The Host whether it be from the bookstore or the library and read this thought provoking story of love, hope, and survival.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

REVIEW: Weddings From Hell by Maggie Shayne, Jeaniene Frost, Terri Garey, and Kathryn Smith

Published: May 2008

"Till Death" by Maggie Shayne.

As a young child, Kira McLellan witnesses her mother's tragic death and learns of the rumored curse set upon the females on her mother's side of the family. All her life, Kira refused to believe in curses. Until she gets called on by her mother's mysterious family for the reading of her recently deceased aunt's will and is off for Scotland to visit the family she's never met. During her stay, Kira learns more about the curse on McLellan brides that curses the women to die at her husbands had should he ever cheat on her. Kira also ends up falling in love with a long time friend of the family, Ian Stewart, and makes it her priority to break the curse on the McLellan women once and for all.

This is the first story by Shayne that I have ever read. I enjoyed Kira's character--a confident modern woman and despite her disbelief in curses at the beginning, her acceptance of ghosts and the curse was well paced. I also admired her determination to solve the mystery of the curse and to break it once and for all. Despite the appropriate pacing with Kira and the curse, however, I felt the pacing of the relationship between Kira and Ian was not at all realistic. They practically fell in love with each other just from hearing each other's voice during a long distance phone call. And when they finally do meet it was an obvious case of love at first sight. I just don't buy that. Lust at first sight? Oh yeah. But not love. Sorry. So despite the fairly neat tale of the curse on the McLellan brides, the rushed, unrealistic and sugar coated love story component of this short was less than satisfactory.


"Happily Never After" by Jeaniene Frost.
I have read both of Frost's full length paranormal romance novels in her Night Huntress series, Halfway to the Grave and One Foot in the Grave featuring the vampire huntress Cat Crawford and her vampire lover named Bones. "Happily Never After" is a short story set in the same world as the Night Huntress series, but is about Bones' trusted friend and fellow vampire named Chance and a human woman named Isabella Spaga.

A friend of Bones' from a long time ago, asks him to help out her grandchildren--Isabella and Fraizer Spaga-- who seem to have gotten into some trouble with a local mobster named Robert Bertini. Bones sends Chance to check up on the grandchildren and finds Fraizer missing and Isabella being forced to marry Bertini in order to apparently ensure the safety of her missing brother. Chance soon finds himself falling for Isabella and decides to do whatever it takes to save her from the likes of Bertini and to find her brother as well.

"Happily Never After" is a fun read. The antics of mafia wannabe Bertini and his two goons were a bit cliche, but if nothing else, it provided Isabella the perfect platform for her to showcase her sassy attitude and charming sense of humor.

Chance is a great hero. He's calm, cool, collected and confident, yet not arrogant. He's respectful and patient with Isabella and her feelings for him and will protect and save her regardless of her affections for him. Both Chance and Isabella were likable characters and their relationship was sweet. Overall, "Happily Never After" was a satisfying read both for the characters and the conflict resolution.


"Gouls Night Out" by Terri Garey.

"Gouls Night Out" is a story is about a goth styled city girl named Nicki Styx who has the ability to see dead people and how she gets involved in solving a wedding inspired murder. Nicki's redneck cousin Debbie is about get married but suddenly finds herself short a bridesmaid when she has a fight with her best friend Michelle who in turn bails on the wedding. So Debbie asks Nicki to take Michelle's place in the wedding party. Thanks to Nicki's ability to see the dead, Michelle appears to her and the two set about trying to solve how Michelle died and of course seeking justice.

This story was my least favorite story of the lot for a few reasons. One is that while I really liked Nicki and thought she was strong, smart and sassy, the author had her boyfriend show up on the scene to save her from the bad guy when she had thus far proved herself quite the capable young woman. I can appreciate the boyfriend's role in the justice part, but Nicki should have been the one to kick the bad guy's ass for sure.

I also found the story arc rather commonplace. Heroine sees dead victim; dead victim slowly remembers details of her death; heroine and dead victim work together to figure out the murder; use scare tactics to make murderer confess to authorities; dead victim is able to leave this realm to a better place; and all is good in the world. Just too simple and predictable for me--I prefer a story with more originality.

This story was also chock full of redneck mentality and lifestyle stereotyping, which might be offensive to some readers.


"Wedding Knight" by Kathryn Smith.

This story is the prequel to Kathryn Smith's Brotherhood of Blood series, which is a historical paranormal romance series featuring a band of good guy vampires whose existence is tied to the Templar Knights and the Blood Grail. When Brotherhood vampire Payen Carr discovers that his past lover, Violet Wynston-Jones is about to wed a member of the Order of the Silver Palm--the Brotherhood's worst enemy-- he crashes the wedding in attempt to stop her from saying "I do." Convinced that Payen came back because he still loves her, Violet sets out to show him not to fear love, but accept and embrace it. But it is enough to make him hers forever?

"Wedding Knight" was my favorite story in this collection. While readers who have not read Smith's Brotherhood of Blood series might not completely understand the mythology surrounding the vampires and their enemies, the story is still well developed and the conflicts are well presented. The action and tension throughout the story was realistic and developed at an appropriate pace. There were conflicts in the plot relating to both the Order as well as the hero and heroine's personal relationship, all resolving nicely within the 100 pages. Payen and Violet were both very likable characters and very hot together. I enjoyed the fact that Violet was the romantically and sexually assertive one and the icing on the cake for this couple was a perfect happily ever after ending.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TBR Challenge: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

February 2006

Moon Called is Ms. Briggs' first novel in her urban fantasy Mercedes Thompson series. Mercedes Thompson, or Mercy, is a young, independent woman who makes ends meet through the garage she owns where she specializes in repairing German cars. And she's a rare coyote shapechanger.

Mercy was raised by foster parents who were werewolves under the dominion of the nation's number one alpha, Bran Cornick. At the age of sixteen, Bran asked Mercy to leave the community when Bran's son Samuel--and the object of Mercy's teenage love-- wanted to claim Mercy as his mate. Bran sent Mercy away not because he felt she was unworthy, but because he felt she was too young to understand Samuel's motives for mating with her. Although Samuel did care for her, he wanted Mercy as his mate because she would be able to successfully bear his children, not because he loved her like a man loves a woman.

Mercy eventually settled in Twin-Cities Washington where she took over ownership of Zee's garage. Zee is Mercy's friend and mentor who also happens to be fae or a gremlin as his kind is sometimes referred to as. One of Mercy's faithful customers is a vampire named Stefan and she also happens to live next door to the area's alpha werewolf, Adam Hauptman. She's also friends with a human cop. Seemingly a plain jane kind of girl, Mercy's relationships with this eclectic mix of beings makes for quite an interesting life.

Moon Called begins with Mercy befriending a young, newly turned werewolf named Mac. When Mercy stumbles upon Mac in an antagonistic confrontation with strangers, she defends Mac and accidentally kills a werewolf which sets a series of deadly events into motion and establishes the conflict of this story. No sooner is the death of this werewolf cleaned up so to speak, that the Alpha's home is attacked, leaving Adam with life threatening injuries and his human daughter Jesse kidnapped by the perpetrators. Suspecting betrayal within Adam's pack, Mercy brings the severely injured Adam to Bran's pack for help before embarking on a rescue mission to save Jesse. Of course lots of complications arise, including having her old love Samuel back in her life again.

I've noticed my gravitation to female-centered urban fantasy lately, and I'm totally loving it. Ms. Briggs' Mercedes Thompson series is based on an interesting and well thought out mythology that includes were-creatures, fae, vampires and the rare walkers and humans. Information on the mythology and the world is not dumped on the reader all at once in this first novel, but carefully embedded throughout the story as warranted.  I do admit, however, that at times I did want to rush through the informative parts to get to the impending action scenes.  In the end, I'm glad I didn't rush through it, because the world building is quite good. 

The premise of Moon Called is based on well developed conflict that had me guessing culprit and motive until the very end. My only complaint, however, is that when the culprit of the conflict was finally revealed, I couldn't help but wonder if his motivations were truly strong enough to justify the lengths that had to be met to make his plan come to fruition. Perhaps if I reread the last few chapters it will make more sense.

Mercy Thompson is a very likeable and realistic heroine. She's smart and confident, yet unpretentious. She's sometimes gutsy and impulsive, but always looking to do right by others. She's somewhat of a loner, yet has the attention and loyalty of very interesting 'people' in rather prominent places who would do anything to protect her. And while she is tough and fairly assertive, Mercy knows her limitations and isn't afraid to ask for help when she needs it. Her motivations and actions are with purpose. She just makes sense. I love that.

Mercy has two potentially romantic interests in her life at this point. Her former teenage love, Dr. Samuel Cornick, who still manages to stir feelings in her, and her Alpha neighbor Adam Hauptman. I'm not a very big fan of love triangles, but Mercy's relationship with these two men is different. She genuinely cares about them, and they her, but Mercy isn't sleeping with either of these men and is in no rush to do so. She's careful with her emotions and I think also with decisions regarding her love life. While I will always crave romance and happy endings, when an author is able to develop their characters as richly as Briggs does in a series like this , I'm more than just satisfied--I'm totally hooked. When the characters and their inter-relationships are developed slowly over an entire series, the love and emotional conflicts between the characters are even more realistic and relatable. I definitely hope Mercy finds the steadfast love and devotion of a lifetime mate that she deserves. But in the meantime, I will truly enjoy reading about Mercy and her life.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Host by Stephenie Meyer


Author of the best selling teenage vampire romance novels known as the Twilight saga, Stephenie Meyer has branched out to adult literature with her latest novel, The Host. In The Host, an alien parasitic species has ventured to Earth in search of living hosts. This alien species essentially survives by traveling the universe and inserting themselves into viable living organisms, be it plants or animals. The alien being then takes over the body of its host and basically conquers the soul that inhabited the host into non-existence.

The Host is the story of the alien known as Wanderer and her host, Melanie Stryder. Wanderer knew humans exhibited an incredible range of emotions and that the memories of her human host would be vivid. What Wanderer did not expect, however, was the inability to conquer the soul of her host. Melanie exhibits rare and incredible strength and determination and resists completely succumbing to Wanderer's invasion into her body. The two souls therefore exist side by side within one body. While Wanderer dominates and controls the body, Melanie uses every ounce of her power to influence Wanderer's decisions through suggested thoughts, shared memories and dreams.

Hiding emotions and thoughts from each other is near impossible--including the intense love Melanie has for her younger brother Jamie and her one true love, Jared. The intensity of Melanie's love for Jamie and Jared is incredibly strong, and soon Wanderer finds herself loving these two young men as her own. Ultimately, it is this love that drives Wanderer into the desert in search of her and Melanie's loved ones. Wanderer's search is not in vain and she 'finds' Jamie and Jared living unbeknownst to Wanderer's kind in a hidden shelter with a small group of other rebel humans. The presence of an alien is most unwelcome within the shelter, so Wanderer's arrival stirs quite an upheaval within the human colony. Obviously tremendous complications arise for Wanderer and Melanie and a tale of unparalleled moral and emotional dilemmas ensues.

The Host claims to be the "science fiction novel for people who don't like science fiction," and I whole heartedly agree with that claim. While the basis of the story's premise is clearly rooted in science fiction, The Host is more a story about love, compassion, and understanding more than it is about anything else. Meyer takes the reader on an amazing roller coaster ride of emotion and drama that explores the complications of human love through various forms of relationships-- family, friends, and lovers.

In the beginning of The Host, I, like Melanie, resented Wanderer's presence in Melanie's body, finding it to be a rather disturbing violation of another living soul. I empathized with Melanie's extreme sadness she grieved for Jamie and Jared and the life she shared with them. I felt her frustration over not having control over her body and now essentially being a part of the enemy, worrying that she would betray Jamie and Jared to the aliens always seeking host bodies. And although I still wanted Melanie to have her life back, I didn't want Wanderer to suffer, either as I soon began to care about Wanderer as she began to demonstrate strong human emotions such as guilt, fear, compassion, loyalty, and love. Surprisingly, Wanderer became a soul who truly exemplified humanity and deserved life as well.

The Host is an emotionally deep, poignant story that roused a huge range of emotions in me. I was often sad, frustrated, angry and worried for both Melanie and Wanderer. Several times I found a stray tear roll down my cheek before I even realized I was crying, it moved me so strongly. Yet for every tearful moment throughout this story, there is an equally uplifting and hopeful one. This thought provoking story teaches compassion, sacrifice, and unconditional human love in ways I never imagined.



I'm giving away a brand new hardcover copy of The Host by Stephenie Meyer, compliments of the Hatchette Book Group Publishers. The rules are as follows:
  • To be entered in the drawing for the book, leave a comment about why you would like to receive this book.
  • Comment must be posted by Sunday, June 22, 9:00 pm EST.
  • One commenter will then be selected at random from the comments.
  • You must leave a name. Anonymous entries will not be qualified.
  • Prize must be claimed by Sunday, June 29, 9:00 pm EST or it will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Dance Divas!

I've recently survived a crazy whirlwind of end of year activities for my girls that left me a bit breathless for a while there. In the last two weeks, we've had school concerts, end of year parties for girl scouts, a girl scout bridging ceremony, school olympics, dance rehearsals, dance recitals, and a girl scout camping trip. Imagine taking thirteen 9 year olds camping for the first time ever.... in tents!   <-- Me, last weekend. 

My thirteen year old also had the amazing opportunity to celebrate National Tap Day in late May by attending a full day lecture, workshop and performance with world renowned tap dancer, Savion Glover. So so cool. Man, the dude can DANCE!  

So dance is a pretty big deal in our house and consumes a lot of our time (... and money). But its been awesome. This past year, both of my girls were members of their dance studio's competition team making this year quite a busy year!  In addition to a few group numbers, My teen was given a tap solo this year and earned a Platinum Award (highest achievement) at her last competition in April. We are proud of her accomplishments regardless of what placement she earned, but to see the sheer joy and pride on her face when she received this award made us so incredibly happy. 

And then there's my nine year old daughter who grew so much this year, both physically and emotionally. My little one is my shy and quiet one and rarely cracks a smile for pictures or compliments. She is especially reserved when dealing with adults whether it be teachers, friends of the family, or even relatives! So for her to willingly attend dance classes week after week all year long and perform at dance competitions and the recitals was a wonderful accomplishment for her.  And she did it all so well- we're so proud of her! 

I selected about 30 photos out of the the hundreds of photos my husband took over recital weekend to make the slideshow below.  Photography is one of his hobbies, and he took all of these photos without a flash using a high speed lens from our seats in the audience.  He captured some pretty amazing shots of the girls.  

If you hold the cursor over the bottom portion of the slideshow, you can read the captions I wrote in on some of the pictures. :) 

Hey, dance divas! This year has been awesome, but it's time to take five. This Dance Mom is ready for a break!