Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Year in Review

# of books read: Somewhere around 100+. The exact number escapes me because I'm sure some of the books I've read fell through the cracks as I was loading up my lists each month on here.
Based on the monthly book count I ended with... Update: 203 books

# of reviews completed: 80.
Now as to whether the authors enjoyed them or readers found them useful that remains to be seen. What little feedback I have received points to yes-- authors like my reviews. Readers... well, the jury is still out.

# of books--
written: 0
started: 3
edited: 1(still needs more editing)
critiqued: 1

# of critique partners: 1 and she's amazing. Absolute gem that I don't know how I was living without. I know that sounds incredibly stalker-esque and a little creepy. Our respective spouses have claimed that we plan on running away together and we both agree it wouldn't be a bad idea. *smiles*
Now the shameless plug! You have to visit her blog . She has some awesome posts for crafting books, and writing advice in general.

# of blog posts: 94
A random mish-mash of experimentation occurred this year. Everything from guest spots from those with different writer professions, contests that didn't go very far, and reviews posted directly on the blog. I kept up toward the end with my Funday Monday posts, and blog joy Saturday made a small resurgence. Overall, I liked the variety of the blog and hope that I can continue to provide useful content.

Now to the new year 2012-- *drumroll*

I have writing goals. The first being to successfully plot a novel, and devote at least 1 hour per day to plotting until completion. Second, I will improve my grammar skills. I'm whipping out the official book I promise. Future goals will be established once I accomplish at least one of the first two. The second goal will be more difficult to measure lol!

In order to light a fire underneath my butt, the lovely Lori Sizemore and myself will be participating in a weekly roasting post on our blogs. Yes, you can expect me to brag about my writing dedication or wallow in self pity while Lori drags me through the dust. This lambasting will have some sort of sparkling name, though I imagine the posts will be brief. I'm open to naming suggestions. Maybe we should include photos to taunt one another.

Expect more reviews, though I imagine the quantity will diminish. I will continue to post my reading lists for everyone to keep track of. I have no idea what inspiration the lists give other than to show how insane I am for keeping up with nearly 20 books a month. And speaking of reviews expect a big, and I do mean BIG announcement on the 1st.

Reading List December 2011

Cap me off and call me Shirley, it's the end of 2011. I've really outdone myself this year, just a bit I think. I've consumed more books then I dare to imagine though I probably attempt a final count with my Year in Review post coming up tomorrow.

I thought I would get an early start though and post what books I've managed to devour in the last month.

1. King of the Isles by Debbie Mazzuca*
2. Sector C by Phoenix Sullivan
3. Forever and a Day by Delilah Marvelle **
4. Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacy**
5. The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James **
6. Proof of Love by Arabella Stokes **
7. Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
8. Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
9. Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James
10. The French Maid by Sabrina Jefferies
11. Once Upon a Winter's Eve: A Spindle Cove Novella by Tessa Dare
12. Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
13. This is What I Want by Megan Hart
14. Unraveled by Courtney Milan**
15. A Boyfriend Before Christmas by Caedem Marquez
16. All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello
17. All I Want for Christmas by Liliana Hart
18. Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacy**
19. Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl
20. Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl
21. Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

*Review available on The Season
**Review coming soon to the blog! (A lot of them coming soon)

Now, I will say that I kinda cheated this month. Several of the titles on the list are novellas and I'll admit to getting into the Christmas spirit as well. For the future, I'm not sure how many books I'll be reading in the new year. I'm not making a super plans as I have several writing goals I want to put into motion.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: Hot Zone by Catherine Mann

Review: Hot Zone by Catherine Mann

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

For backcover blurb and more information about this book and others in the series visit Catherine Mann's website.

A romantic suspense that grabs you from the second chapter…
Hugh Franco lives on the edge as a pararescueman, and worries more about saving the lives of others rather than forming connections. Hugh’s on the straight and narrow until his rescue mission puts him in contact with Amelia. Now he’s checking on her and her nephew in the hospital; concerned with emotions he hasn’t felt in a long time. When Amelia and her nephew are kidnapped, Hugh doesn’t think twice about jumping onto the back of van and doing his damnedest to save them. Even if embedding them into his life is cracking away the emotional blockade around his heart.

Amelia just wants to keep her nephew safe, at least until she can find his mother and father. The survival instinct is raging, and she can’t stop dwelling on her attraction to Hugh. He’s gone out of his way to help her, in more ways then she can count. As the danger increases and she’s forced into closer quarters with Hugh, Amelia has to decide if her feelings are just spurned by the circumstances or if her heart truly falling for this superman.

The second book in Mann’s Elite Force series is definitely not one to judge by the first pages. At first I didn’t believe I would get into the story. The idea of a romance unfolding at the scene of an earthquake seemed a little far-fetched for me. The setting and background were heart breaking, and emotional; nothing escapist about it. Mann has a penchant for grabbing you with emotion—feelings cold, warm, raw and afflicted. The characters were deep and quickly entangled my thoughts until I had to know if Hugh and Amelia were going to overcome the ridiculous odds. When I say ridiculous, I mean just that because everywhere this pair turned there was trouble—earthquake shakes, gun wielding fanatics, you name it. Regardless of the tension and conflicts Mann does a miraculous job of balancing internal issues with external, giving readers a chance to get lost in the minds of two people focused on survival, while dealing with a ton of emotional baggage from their past.

There is one subplot I could have done without, which involves Hugh’s superior, Liam McCabe. The addition of this added a little too much head jumping. I would have enjoyed just a Hugh and Amelia story versus getting involved in the early directions of McCabe’s story that is coming up in the next book. For me this killed or numbed my emotions, and slowed the story down. I was more enthralled with the direct romance between Hugh and Amelia.

Overall, Mann is excellent at keeping the suspense rolling, and once you get into the story you can’t help but wonder if someone is going to end up severely hurt or worse. A good read if you’re looking for something to start on in the suspense arena.

*As reviewed for The Season, can be seen in the upcoming Jan. issue.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Are you taking care of your best marketing tool?

You're living in the digital age where 13 year-olds have smart phones, and not a day goes by that doesn't involve millions of people searching for the most random things in the world. Visibility is at an all time high! Let's be honest, it's hard to be visible in the land of a billion, advice and image stuffed blogs/websites. Everyone wants to be recognized, seen, heard, and interacted with. Ultimately this means your personal site is the single most important/best marketing tool you have.

Facebook and Twitter have their own merits, but I'm not talking about them. Because not everyone is involved in the social media whirlwind. If they're like me, then they're probably trying to avoid Twitter and Facebook like the plague. That is until someone ultimately sucks them into the vortex of 140 characters posts, and onlinine games that pose as innocent apps-- damn you Farmville!

Back to the point: Your Website! Are you taking care of it? Applying the miracle grow? Doing some fall or spring cleanup? Because if you're not then you're losing my business and my time-- if you think that doesn't sound bad then remember if you're losing me there's more where I came from.

Call it a rant if you will, but I get annoyed when I'm hitting up an author's website and the coming soon features a book released 6 months prior. The site design is a mish-mash of images and red text on black background. Add the inability to see what's coming next, or not being able to access your backlist easily. Guess what? My business has just gone elsewhere.

You're going to say what I would say, "I'm super busy. Day job, family obligations, personal issues, deadlines!" The consumer only says one thing, "Then obviously my money is not important to you." For me the excuses just mean less traffic, for you these excuses could mean dinner is not going to be chicken breast but a slopping heap of sodium-loaded, artery clogging, blubber inducing ramen. Note: Nothing wrong with a little ramen every now and then, but truth be told it's horrible for you.

How do you solve this problem? Re-vamp, and re-think (if these are not words then they should be)
Re-vamp: Is your site user friendly? Sure it may be butterfly, fairy tweaking pretty. I love a nice background, and some cool javascript art, but ultimately I want to research your product. I want to know about you. Are you someone I want to give my money to once... multiple times? I need access to your accomplishments, books, and knowledge. I also need to know you care. And the ultimate thing to remember is K.I.S.S- Keep. It. Simple. Suckers.
Organize in a friendly fashion. Don't make your potential customers hunt for info or have to jump through hoops to figure out how to contact you. There's a fine line between too much and too little. And unfortunately you're job to figure out the balance.

Re-think: Is your bio up to date? Blog schedule still the same? Are the blurbs the best you got? It's always good to evaluate your content, and make sure that it's free of typos, grammar issues, etc. I've created 3 websites so far for various ventures. I will say that it doesn't matter how many times you drag the pages with a fine-tooth comb, even an expensive one, you'll find errors. Even better you'll find places where you could have said things better...and take it from the not-yet-landed-an-agent person, you can always word things better.

Bottom Line (because you know I always have one): Websites are your online face, and a toothless smile isn't going to bring in the dough. This is the hub that drives your business. If it's not current, easy to navigate, easy on the eyes, or missing the important stuff, you can bet that me and half a dozen other jabberwocky's are leaving after a few clicks. Those clicks need to transform into a purchase. The better the website, the more likely you'll see some significant ROI (return on investment).

**Note: I'm not an expert, just a person with some experience and over a million hours logged into website searching; including plunder and despair!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: Pride and Passion by Charlotte Featherstone

Review: Pride and Passion by Charlotte Featherstone

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For back cover blurb, excerpt, and more info visit Charlotte Featherstone's website here.

The Brethren are on the hunt for a killer…

Adrian York, Duke of Sussex, is searching for the Brethren enemy Orpheus. His only lead is a handkerchief with the initials of Lucy Stonebrook. The unfortunate thing is that Adrian loves Lucy, desires to marry her, but upon presenting the evidence Lucy claims the article belongs to a previous lover. Adrian doesn’t know what this lover meant to Lucy, but he’s bound and determined to catch the man and ensnare Lucy’s heart and soul one way or another.

Lucy sees the Duke of Sussex as her enemy. The lover she believed to be dead is back, and Lucy feels he’s incapable of committing the murder that Adrian accuses him of. She refuses to marry Adrian based on that fact, and the belief that he is a stuck up prig filled with no passion. Yet passion simmers underneath the surface of Adrian’s control, and Lucy finds out quickly that small missteps only bring it forth. Can Lucy and Adrian overcome the issues of their present or is pride unable to be overcome by passion?

This is Featherstone’s second book in the Brethren Guardian series. It’s a delicious read chock full of mystery, intrigue, and a compelling hero that captivates from the start. I love duke stories. I love seemingly arrogant windbags who turn out to be more than what they seem. Featherstone delivers a duke that fits all those desperate desires of my heart in Adrian York. He’s a man that believes in keeping passion tethered, afraid that if it gets lose then he’s not worthy in the role of a duke. Unfortunately, Lucy sets him afire, dashing his labored attempts to keep his desires under control. Like in this one scene where Adrian has just ended Lucy’s hopes of meeting her previous lover:

“Does your father know what you’re about tonight?”
“Oh, certainly,” she replied mockingly. “I shook him awake and informed him I was going traipsing through Mayfair in the dead of night to meet with the man who took my innocence.”
It was as though an electric bolt lanced through him.
With a savage oath, he picked through the bag until he came across a folded piece of paper. Her eyes widened, but their expression taunted him, dared him to unfold this bit of private correspondence, which did nothing to ease his riled, and feral—not to mention sexually frustrated—mood.
“So this is the damning evidence, is it?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“We’ll see soon enough, won’t we?”
Opening it, he read the contents, and saw red as every vessel in his head began to bleed, leeching blood from his brain, to his eyes, until his vision was swimming in crimson.
“What the devil do you mean by obeying this summons? Alone? In the dark? My God, when I think of what might have happened to you. You’re reckless… a danger to yourself,” he huffed quickly losing his control. “You ought to be tied up for your own good and safety and given to a man who will make it his life’s purpose to keep you out of mischief.”
He reached for the cravat that lay pooled on the table.
“What do you mean by this?” she snapped as he began to bind her hands.
“What does it look like?”
“Untie me at once. Oooh,” she stammered as she stamped her foot against the floor, trying to connect with his foot. The foot wouldn’t hurt half as much as his groin still did. “You cannot do this!”
“I assure you, my love, I can. And I am doing a fine job of it.”

Lucy’s character is a moderately likable, and seems to be filled with enough pride to cover the Eastern seaboard. She’s quick to judge and barely peeks beneath the surface of a person. Lucy is reminiscent of a person so absorbed with their desires and losses that they can’t be brought out of their internal dreams easily. In fact, it took half the book and a shocking revelation to get Lucy to see beyond herself. This made it a tad difficult to find something to like about Lucy, but eventually her pride abated. Once she climbed out of her self-absorbed shell it was easy to see how Adrian could love her.

Overall, the book is a delicious read for those in want of a strong, passion driven hero. I couldn’t put it down, even though Lucy is not the most ideal heroine. One other note, don’t expect full resolutions in this story, as Featherstone seeks to entice rather than satisfy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: A Clockwork Christmas

Review: A Clockwork Christmas by Stacy Gail, PJ Forte, Jenny Schwartz, J.K. Coi

For back cover blurb and more information about this book visit Stacy Gail's Blog here. She has additional posts featuring her anthology sisters from A Clockwork Christmas. This anthology is published by Carina Press and released Monday December 5th, 2011. Get it now!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Nothing says Christmas like clocks, mechanical limbs, tortured souls, and some steamy windows!

Form the ingenious minds of four exciting authors, comes an anthology that will keep you reading until the wee hours of the morn'. These steampunk tales based around the Christmas holiday take readers on a journey across the globe; from the Victorian streets of New England to the shores of Australia, and a couple of other exciting hot spots in between. Fall in love through bitter separations, heart wrenching recoveries, and even a robbery that involves stealing not just an item, but a heart!

Crime Wave in a Corset

Cornelia Peabody thought she was going to steal her way to peace and tranquility, until previous victim, Roderick Coddington, slaps a deadly timepiece on her wrist. With 7 days ‘til to live Cornelia has no choice but to steal back the priceless piece Coddington wants. What neither of them expects is the desirous emotions conjured by their odd partnership or the feelings evoked by the Christmas season.

This Winter Heart

Ophelia is the last person in the world her husband, Dario, wants to see. She’s desperate for funds, and assistance, since her father has passed on and her family has abandoned her. Yet Dario is unwilling to take her back, even with Ophelia’s astounding revelation. Can Dario accept Ophelia for who she is, even if she’s not the typical definition of human?

Wanted: One Scoundrel

Esme Smith, suffragette extraordinaire, is on the hunt for a male to represent her political party ideals. Jed Reeve is captivated by Esme’s strength and desires. He’s not a political activist, but when presented with Esme’s unique opportunity he can’t resist accepting. In the midst of trying to do the job he was hired for, Jed finds himself embroiled in a nefarious scheme, with everything from blackmail to kidnapping. Can he prove he’s more than just a scoundrel and win the girl too?

Far From Broken

Jasper Carlisle was willing to deal with the devil if he could save his wife, appealing to his devious superior was literally the same thing. Callie was saved, but at the cost of having her limbs and body invaded by mechanical limbs and nano technology. She doesn’t believe she’ll ever be whole again and has a hard time forgiving Jasper for forcing her to live rather than die after the deadly attack. In the midst of their reunion a killer waits. Someone who knows what happened to Callie on that unfortunate night, and who’s willing to do anything to destroy them both.

Honestly this is the first anthology where all the stories have equally impressed me. All four stories are unique and compelling in their own right. Each author does an amazing job of evoking emotion and creating characters that are relatable. The Christmas theme is present and endearing, making each tale even more romantic. Another fabulous detail about this anthology is that the stories are based in different locales across the world, proving that the spirit of Christmas can be found everywhere; not just in one country or nation.

My favorite story was Gail’s Crime Wave in a Corset. Peabody and Coddington are a fabulous pair, from their interactions to their potential romance. The story is fast paced and a page turner; one you can’t put down. At the same Forte, and Coi did a phenomenal job of creating a steampunk environment, by allowing characters from their stories to embody the essence of steampunk physically. I found the scientific aspects in both of their stories to be extremely interesting and captivating.

Overall, this anthology gives new perspectives, and adds to the fascinating world of the steampunk genre. I look forward to reading more from each of these authors in the future. If you’re on the hunt for something new in the world of Christmas tales A Clockwork Christmas should be on your purchase list.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: A Midsummer Night's Sin by Kasey Michaels

Review: A Midsummer Night's Sin by Kasey Michaels

For back cover blurb and other information about this book visit Kasey Michaels website.

Rated: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Puck—ever the trickster in clothes and out of them…
In the second installment of Michaels Blackthorn series readers get the pleasure of being introduced to the youngest Blackthorn, Robin Goodfellow or Puck. Puck is the carefree, mischievous brother. Yet where his other brothers have failed, Puck succeeds. The majority of polite society accepts him, even though he’s a bastard, and he merely buys or connives his way to win over any who oppose. When Lady Regina Hackett crosses his path at a masquerade, Puck believes he’s stumbled upon the woman of his dreams, except it will take far more than a simple assignation to win her heart.

Regina Hackett merely wanted an adventure when she agreed to attend the masked ball with her cousin, but she never expected to be tempted to sin in a garden, nor that her cousin would be abducted while she allowed herself to be ravished with kisses. With her mercenary merchant father wanting to sell her off to the highest bidder, and sweep her cousins abduction under the rug, Regina must seek the help of the devilishly attractive, devious Puck. The problem is can she keep her heart from falling for this bastard or will she become his final conquest?

If I had to choose between the heroine and hero, I truly enjoyed Puck the best. What I liked even more was the conflict and the stakes. Michael’s truly stepped it up in this novel. The villains were downright diabolical and I loved how Puck and Regina thwart them together. The dialogue is snappy, and brilliant. With the main characters deftly anticipating and outmaneuvering everyone in their path, including each other, from the moment they meet at the masked ball:
“ What is your name, scarlet lady?” he asked her, looking into her wide, unblinking eyes, feeling himself becoming lost in those clear, swirling depths.
“I’d first know yours. Is it Mister Black or Mister Gold?” she said, showing spirit yet again.
Puck laughed. “It’s neither. My name is Robin Good-fellow.”
The truth was rarely believed, and it wasn’t now.
“Oh yes, I’m quite sure that’s correct. And I am Titania, Queen of the Fairies.”
“Ah, fair Titania,” Puck allowed, quietly surprised that she would know the characters from Shakespeare’s farce until he realized that she must be an actress. He was about to break his most sacred rule and tumble an actress. “Then you do not believe me?”
“No more than you believe me, no. But does it matter? I don’t imagine you’ve brought me out here for an exchange of names.”
“And why have I brought you out here?” he asked, even as he lifted the silken hood back and off her head, revealing a mass of artfully placed curls nearly black in the dim light.
“I’m not entirely certain. I was rather thinking it was to kiss me.”
“To kiss you,” Puck repeated, taken aback. She said the words as if they were dangerous in the extreme. “And you came here to be kissed?” *
How far the kiss goes is a question that can only be answered by buying this wonderful story now. Honestly the first book in this series did not captivate me as much as this one. There's no issue of getting into this story, and even though some of the situations are a little off the beaten path from other historicals, Puck’s antics and attitudes make everything buyable. Regina is his perfect fit in more ways than one, and I found myself draw to her spunk and loyalty.

Definitely for those who enjoy a good historical with a mystery involved this is one to get immediately. For those who read Jacquie D’Alessandro or Stephanie Laurens.
Originally reviewed for The Season.
*excerpt may be altered in final copy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Funday Monday- December 6th, 2011

Greetings everyone! It's Monday, and since it's almost Christmas (19 days and counting) here's a little video of some lights and one of my favorite songs!

Now for other exciting things to do on this Monday. Let's start with a couple of blog contests.

5. The 12 days of Bookmas! The lovely ladies at BookEnds, LLC are hosting their 2nd annual 12 days of Bookmas contest on their blog. Each weekday (business day) there will be a clue posted at noon. Subsequent clues are available on their clients blogs which they have provided a list to here. The first one to guess the book correctly wins a prize. Check it out, but remember you have to be quick!

4. The 12 (Historical) Days of Christmas! Another 12- themed contest is being hosted by Rita at Not Another Romance Blog and Danielle at Ramblings from this Chick blog. This contest is honestly about posting comments and reading some very inventive stories as 24 authors pair up together and provide fun tales based on 12 different themes. For more details check out Rita's post.

3. Continuing on this 12 days theme we have an awesome free read that you can find on The Season. The 12 days of Christmas anthology is a collaboration of 12 authors (who would've guessed) each with a story based on 1 of the 12 days of Christmas. Originally released in 2008, it's still a fun holiday read. Get it here. Featured authors include: Jackie Barbosa, Kay Gregory, Kate Austin, and Sherryl Hoyt. 

2. Got a Geek Story? Well, Entangled publishing is holding open submissions for Romance+Geek= Happily Ever After. Dust off the typewriter, and grab you a 24-pack of Dr. Pepper, Mt. Dew and a little spiked eggnog. Deadline for submission is Jan. 15th, 2012. So, there's time to take a couple of days off for a little Christmas feast. More details can be found here.

1. Finally let's talk flash mobs. I knew they existed but never spent enough time researching them on YouTube. Let's just say today is a good time to check it out. There are tons of videos- some good, some bad- available and you can't help but marvel at the power of music. People from all walks getting involved to dance, sing, or both. If you're a music lover like me then some of these videos may just give you a little feel good this Monday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reading List for November 2011

So, no slow down. Let me be the first to say that I didn't plan on reading much this month. Then on Black Friday I went to the bookstore... my mistake! Not really a mistake, and I did get a compliment from the lovely cashier that I was their number 1 customer of the day. That's right I'm a big spender. Unfortunately, if you follow this blog then you know once I get going I typically can't stop. Add in a couple of contest wins, and more reviews to write and you get 18 books or so read in a month.

1. Spells & Stiches by Barbara Bretton*
2. Hell to Pay by Wendy Corsi Staub (DNF)
3. Immortal Rider by Larissa Ione*
4. Lessons in Seduction by Sandra Hyatt *
5. The Man Every Woman Wants by Miranda Lee *
6. The Savage Heart by Diana Palmer*
7. My Ruthless Prince by Gaelen Foley**
8. Gift of Magic by Lynn Kurland*
9. King of the Isles by Debbie Mazzuca
10. Jacob Marley by R. William Bennet**
11. A Clockwork Heart by Stacy Gail, PG Forte, Jenny Schwartz, J.K. Koi**
12. Not Wicked Enough by Carolyn Jewel**
13. Visions of Sugar Plums by Jennifer Blake**
14. Naughty Can Be Nice by Cynthia Selwyn**
15. Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis**
16. Waking Up With The Duke by Lorraine Heath
17. Because You're Mine by Lisa Kleypas
18. A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

*Review will be available on The Season E-Zine.
**Review will be available on this blog.

I have no idea what December will hold, and 4 days in I've already ate up 4 books. I've got a big TBR pile, and I'm sure more will get added. Definitely look for a lot of reviews popping up over the next 30 days. With a big announcement coming right before Christmas!

Review: Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett

Review: Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett

For back cover blurb and more information about this book visit R. William Bennett's website.

Rated: 3 out of 5 stars

A Christmas Carol through a new set of eyes…

Just about everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carol and the tale of redemption that changes the miser Scrooge into a giving man. Yet how often do you wonder about the man behind the miser, Jacob T. Marley? Do you wish to know if this man helped turn Scrooge into a stone-hearted person? What mistakes did Marley make to carry the chains that he did?

Bennett weaves a tale about the history of Scrooge’s partner, and carries readers on a journey through the life of Marley; even beyond his death. The story is filled with the memorable characters from the original Dickens tale, with a few new twists and turns. To be completely honest, this reader didn’t know what to expect, and hoped for a story told wholly in the life before Marley’s death that would help justify the Scrooge readers are introduced to in A Christmas Carol.

Surprisingly, the book took an unexpected route and not only told of Marley’s past, but his present and future. Intimate details of Marley’s life are shared, and told in a classical way that inspires and reminds readers of the Dickens style. Bennett does a decent job of blending the original story with his alternate universe, in which, we see events unfold via a narrator and through Marley’s eyes.

The author also provided a wonderful sense of setting and period; with multiple details that were pleasing and acted as a transport into his world. Additionally, this reader was pleased at the end of the tale as there were no wondering questions, and the story was told to completion.

The majority of disappointment in this book came from what felt to be a sagging middle. The development of the beginning of the story, and the wonderful ending made the middle lack. This reader wanted to know more details behind some of Marley’s journey, and felt bereft at not being able to share in more of his trials. This reader felt an additional fifty pages or so would not have hurt the story, but added more enticement and depth. The book is about redemption and suffering, let the reader live it!

Overall, the story was satisfactory, and makes a nice read for those wanting to get into the Christmas spirit or if you’re looking for something different than traditional holiday stories.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Desired by Nicola Cornick

Review: Desired by Nicola Cornick
Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

For back cover info visit Nicola Cornick's site

She’s considered one the most scandalous women in society…

Tess Darent is not the most impeccable member of the ton. A widow three times over, and known for her unusual tastes, every man in London seems to desire an opportunity with her behind closed doors. Yet, Tess has secrets that would do far more then ruin her reputation and all is about to be revealed.

Owen Purchase, recently named Viscount Rothbury, is on the hunt for a traitor to the crown and potentially a wife. When clues point him in the direction of Tess, she makes a tempting offer—marriage. Tess may think she’s getting a complacent husband willing to acquiesce to her every wish, but Owen has other ideas. Tess may find that secrets aren’t worth keeping, and what she truly desires is what she least expected.

I loved Owen. He’s intelligent, witty, and absolutely refuses to be run roughshod by anyone. He is literally a savior for Tess, since she has a mountain of baggage trailing behind her. Tess is definitely a multi-layered character, and you get to see two sides to a woman that was probably not a favorite in previous novels. The underlying theme I got from this book was that people use masks to hide their true selves or weaknesses. Owen and Tess come together and strip away those masks from each other. The journey the pair takes is filled with intrigue, emotion and definitely sexual tension; which is something Tess is desperately trying to avoid. A good tense-filled moment is after Tess asks Owen to marry her, he agrees but there’s a question as to whether Tess will commit or back out:

“And I will call on you tomorrow,” Owen finished, with a great deal of satisfaction.

A tiny frown wrinkled her brow. “Call on me?”

“Unless,” Owen said, powerless to prevent the heavy irony that now coloured his voice, “you prefer me simply to send you a note with the wedding date so that you can meet me in church?”

“Oh…” She smiled deliciously, an echo of the superficially charming Tess Darent who was all pretence. “Yes, that would be extremely helpful of you. As this is a marriage of convenience I don’t think we need see each other a great deal before the ceremony.”

She started to walk towards the door. Owen took two strides backwards and reached for the handle just before she did. Her body collided with his. She felt warm, soft and yielding; Owen’s senses clouded with the scent of her and the heat of her skin. Desire flowered through him again as fiercely as it had done the previous night. He caught her wrist.

“I will not be a conformable husband, Lady Darent,” he warned. “You do not issue me with tasks and expect me to obey without question. I am not reversing the wedding vows along with everything else.”

Beneath his fingers he could feel her pulse racing. Her glove was no protection against the insistence of his touch.
And it just gets better. I loved the way these characters interacted with each other. Both have forthright natures that clash consistently, but create the most wonderful romantically charged moments.

This book is the fifth in Cornick’s Scandalous Women of the Ton series, and the second one I’ve read. I can honestly say that Cornick does not disappoint. Another character arc is wrapped up in this story, and for faithful readers of the series you may or may not be happy to know that the villainous Tom returns. Of course, other series characters are present throughout the story, and help create some interesting situations for Owen and Tess. The only thing that threw me off is the last quarter of the book went extremely different from what I envisioned. Although I was happy with the end, I expected a little more leading up to it.

Overall, a good read and fans of Courtney Milan are sure to enjoy this one.

*Original reviewed for The Season online E-zine. Be sure to check out other topic picks for December in the Historical Romance category at The Season site.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Funday Monday November 28th, 2011

It's time for another Funday Monday! I've been absent the last week due to the holiday, some personal business, and a little seclusion for my reading mind.
Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time to turn my mind to the season of giving! Of course with the season there is music, books, activities, decorating and so much more. Don't forget the fondness of the colors red and green to add a sparkle. This Funday Monday is a little bit of mish mash of things so bear with me.

5. Center for Writing Excellence Fiction in Five- You like short stories? Like deadlines? Enjoy straining your creative abilities or challenging yourself? Then this contest may be for you. Fiction in Five is a chance to write a 700-1,000 word short story in 5 days. There is an entry fee of $5 to submit, and multiple entries are allowed. As always I'm not a fan of entry fees but sometimes they serve a purpose. The prizes vary but there are several. Deadline for entry fees and registration is midnight on December 2nd, 2011.

4. Eclat Fiction- something new and bright is available in the world of fiction anthologies. Eclat Fiction is based in the UK and plans on publishing fiction anthologies (10 stories per issue) online and available for free. Submission has no entry and rules can be found by clicking the link. The deadline for submission is December 5th, 2011 and stories must be at 1,000 words or under. You heard that right, flash fiction fans unite! This publication is all about showcasing unknown talent. So if you're looking for an opportunity of getting your work out in the open for the first time since the light bulb was invented then take a chance.

3. Christmas Music- I love Christmas music. Since the early years of my childhood the day after Thanksgiving always meant one thing to me-- time to break out the Christmas CD's. Not many in my family understand my insistence at listening to carols and songs all through the season. I can't tell why I do it. But when I went back to a 9-5 job and the Christmas season hit, I knew I would need my music. Luckily I found this awesome directory online. It lists radio stations across the country that play Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas day.

2. Operation Awesome Mystery Agent Contest- Break out the 1 sentence pitches, and hone them until your fingers crack. This Thursday, December 1st, 2011 Operation Awesome blog will be hosting another Mystery Agent Contest. No 250 blurb or query entry here. Just 1 sentence that tells the awesome sauce of your story. Get ready to pitch away. Contest opens at 9am and they go until they get 50 entries. Be ready!

1. The Polar Express- I love the book, love the movie, and love the music. Nothing says Christmas like The Polar Express. Recently I discovered the website while doing research for work (don't ask because it would be a long story). Anyhoo, what I found on the website were games, recipes, crafts and activities that you can complete at home with the children and the family. How much fun is that? To me boatloads. Anything that can turn a couple of magical hours into an entire magical evening! If you're looking for something fun to do on a Friday night this site may spark some ideas.

There you have it. Everything I provided above should keep you busy for the rest of the day. Between hunting for that Christmas radio station, downloading craft activities, and gathering your writing wits to enter a few contests! Ready yourselves for the countdown to the most wonderful day of the year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Evil Editor- Urp! Halt!

We interrupt this week's regular programming to bring you an important announcement. Evil Editor, affectionately known to his minions as EE or His Holy Eminence Muttonchop the III, is proposing an end to his infamous blog due to lack of participation.

For those who are not aware Evil Editor has been delighting the blogging masses for 5 years with book chats, query lambasting, writing exercises, cartoon caption submissions, and new openings (which involve a chance to show your creative ability and for author's to laugh at the continuation of their story).

In one of his most recent posts- The Decline of the Blog- EE states how participation has lagged over the last several months. It's most distressing to hear that the first query critiquing blog I ever found is suffering so. I've even had my pitiful query ripped apart by EE, which sent me pummeling my husband and friends for telling me the dang thing sounded good. Support is one thing, but don't lie to me people!

Back to my point- Evil Editor is now proposing moving to a Twitter based function, which has me screaming 'Yes' and 'No' simultaneously. FYI, screaming words simultaneously is difficult and I don't recommend it to anyone unless you are ambidextrous, have consumed at least 1 dozen cookies, or you have multiple personalities. While I like the idea of EE moving into the tweeting platform, if he ends the blog I will spontaneously combust.

That being said I'm posting to issue a plea... more like begging, but you get the point.
Come one, come all and gather your queries, your book openings, your creative flogging thoughts and submit to Evil Editor. Become a minion. Become active again. I know that twitter feed is calling. I know you're working on your latest masterpiece. But come back dang it!

For those who've never been try it, you might find yourself possessed by the beauty of EE's devilish wit, razor sharp tongue, and ridiculously long muttonchops. Not saying that those muttonchops aren't attractive in some demented, diabolical way that makes me want to grab ahold of them and stare deeply into his eyes. Forget I said that.

Bottom line if you're anyone who's anyone that's an oxymoron, or I am. Come to the blog, Evil Editor's blog and submit to the carnage, join in the limb foraging and heart harvesting. Nothing says writing like taking a bite out of a query or hacking up a fake plot.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blog Joy Saturday- November 12, 2011

Just realized the automaton never posted this like it was supposed to. *Shakes fist at computer screen* Devils, I say. Sorry for the delay... I'm calm now. Moving onward.

Today's blog joy is for the Romance Book blogs. These book blogs either review, giveaway, and/or interview romance authors about their latest releases. Most of the blogs are must subscribe or visit daily as there is always something good going on.

Let's start with the Romance Bandits! I talk about these ladies a lot. Some of my favorite romance writers blog with them including Anna Campbell, who guested on my Writing Profession series. They have a new website, the blogger site is now shutdown. Except the new site is even better, more links, more fun, and just more everything. Check it out here.

Next up The Season. This blog has the best giveaways I've ever seen. Books just fly from this blog on a continuous basis. Plus there is a huge amount of reviews, free reads, publishing info and more. To be honest I currently review for this site and love it! Of course I'm going to tell you all to go and visit. I can promise that you won't regret it if you're a romance lover.

Finally two other review blogs make it to BJS. Both are romance review blogs and awesome of course!

We have the lovely Rita Jett on Not Another Romance Blog . Now the posts are not as hot and heavy this year as in previous ones because the lovely blog creator is busy and toiling away at schooling. Regardless she does tend to get some of the best on dits and I still recommend that you put the site on your radar.

Then there's Romancing Rakes. Ran by the ever naughty and wicked Kati R. You can find her on twitter but her review blog is completely enchanting. By enchanting I mean that Kati is honest and wonderful. She reviews a lot of different books and there's always some good recommendations on her site. I easily get lost for at least an hour whenever I visit.

Now these are my topic picks, but as always I'm open to trying new sites and things. Do you have a favorite review blog for romance, sci-fi, YA, or other genres? Where should I go? Tell me! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Friday! - Guest Blogging and jazz


That's what I'm thinking, but the thought is slowly becoming lost as I look at my long to do list for the day. Definitely wish this particular Friday involved more relaxation versus work. Good news is some of my blogging work is already done for me!

My baby afflicted, twitter pal @Saint_Upid (follow him on Twitter) otherwise known as Chad Thomas Johnston has me guest posting on his blog today. I'm basically helping out so he can spend time with his new little one. So check me out over there for today.

I'll be back tomorrow with another book review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Content Writer

*big announcer voice*
It's time for another addition of the Writing Profession Series. This week I'm featuring The Content Writer.
You better be applauding.... yes, I'm speaking to you sitting in the Starbucks looking at your Dell Laptop Screen.
Being a content writer is an interesting job. It's also a position getting a lot of attention recently. Including a spot in All You magazine, which lists the position of content writer as a suitable job for those wishing to stay at home with the kids. So for all you mom's out there or those just wanting to bring in a little extra spending money pay attention.

My guest is Michelle Travis with Samuraiko Productions. Michelle is a technical writer by trade, but has experience in the content writing world as well. She's friendly and extremely knowledgeable. For those author's out there looking for book trailers, Michelle creates those too.
As far as content writing here's what she has to say:

Being a Content Writer can be a tricky business, as the 'content' you're expected to produce from one job to another can vary widely. Barring specialized fields, there's no real certifications involved, no specialized training or college courses you can take to become a Content Writer (although classes in journalism, English, technical/business writing, or anything else that hones your actual writing skills are always useful). You'll find yourself writing anything from marketing copy to game dialogue to the latest blog from your local hospital on its blood drive that month. Sometimes you have to produce the content yourself; other times, you're given a bunch of documents (marketing copy, a case study, a series of images, and a topic) and told, "Put this together in one cohesive piece." One boss will want your distinctive voice and writing style, while another will want the entire writing team to sound like the same person.

So how do you get started as a Content Writer? Here are some of the most important things you'll need:

** KNOWLEDGE - If you don't have it, find it and get it. (And if you don't know, ask someone who does.) And this doesn't just mean about your subject matter, either. If you're producing content for a company with multiple audiences, know whom you're writing for and what you are and aren't allowed to say. (Writing a procedure for a developer is very different than writing it for Joe Average who can barely use a computer.) If security clearances or legal compliance is involved, make sure to confer with 'those in the know' about what can and cannot be included.

** FLEXIBILITY - Depending on your employer's needs, you may need to produce anything from a 1-2 paragraph article to a 26-page white paper. Granted, if your real talents lie in a particular type of writing, they may restrict your duties to that, but adaptability improves your hiring chances.

** HTML/XML - With so much writing taking place on the Web, knowing how to write your own code has its advantages. Few things are more irritating than writing a terrific piece that ends up horribly formatted because the coding went wonky. The W3SChools Online Web Tutorials site ( is a terrific resource for this - the more you know, the more easily you can write for web format, and how to make the web designer's life easier.

** STYLE GUIDES - Note the plural there. In twenty years of writing, I've used the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style Manual, the American Psychological Association (APA) guide, the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications. Some employers don't care which format you use as long as it's readable; others hold everyone to the same guidelines. Many guides have a quick-reference online version available for use; however, if you intend to specialize in a field, invest in the actual book and keep it handy.
Most importantly of all, your writing portfolio and resume should always reflect the best of you and your work. Whether you're a Jill-of-all-trades or a specialist, show it. And polish it within an inch of its life - there is nothing so embarrassing as being a writer who finds typos or bad formatting in her portfolio. EVERYTHING must be right. And as always, like the directions say for how to get to Carnegie Hall... practice, practice, practice!
Zowza! Content writing seems to be very similar to technical, from the detailed knowledge a writer must have about the subject to the variety of formats and requests. Obviously it pays to be have experience in multiple fields, not just one, when writing content.

Thank you Michelle for sharing the information. I'm now going to go have a look at my resume and just about every other piece of content I've wrote for typos, and other errors. The whole 'polish it within an inch of its life' is making me wonder how often I've made a mistake. :)

If you're interested in tapping into Michelle's knowledge bank for a project stop by her website. Also you can find Michelle roaming the Twitterverse. Just look for @samuraiko

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Funday Monday - November 7, 2011

Another Funday Monday is here! I'm too chipper, I know, but if it makes you feel any better I'm singing the Mickey Mouse themed "Monday Sucks" song.

Now that I've made you feel rotten with the Monday anthem, let's see if I can cheer you up. Here's my top 4 for Monday. Seeing that we're now in the throes of NaNoWriMo the theme for this week is based on idea generators.

1. Language is a Virus- This site has tons of writing exercises, tips, and idea generators. I got a good case of the giggles when I clicked on their name generator. I tend to laugh at the idea of calling my character Lovie Starbuck Lorene. But to each their own, it could be useful. There are lots of process suggestions and other things to check out. I recommend that you do not visit this site until you have time to waste... simply because I found myself peeking at things for more than an hour.

2. Seventh Sanctum- Generators for just about anything and everything. I'm a geek for comics, superheroes, and fantasy. For those out there wanting to explore their geek-gene this site will let you do it. Character Generators to names of Equipment or Candies-- this particular site has just about everything. It's chock full of creative goodness. *Caution* I have no clue how often generated ideas are repeated so it's likely that others may stumble upon the same things. Still it could spawn some latent ideas in your brain.

3. Mad Libs World- I threw this in just for fun. Simply because I love the wacky combinations that come from a Mad Lib. They're hilarious; especially when you let the kids fill 'em in. This site has several including a Christmas Carol one. If you're stuck coming up with the next scene unwind with a little Mad Lib.

4. One Hundred Bad NaNoWriMo Ideas- Alrighty this is a list that made me laugh. Honestly I wanted to share with everyone else and encourage others to come up with an equally giggle worthy bad idea. I really laughed because this list almost crossed out every idea I had (not really, but close). There are a few moments of  "eh?". But it's all in good fun. So tell me... what's your seriously bad NaNoWriMo Idea??

That wraps my opportunity to cheer you up! Here's to National Novel Writing Month. I hope that everyone's attempt is well worth the struggle... that sounded horrible : > p
Good Luck and good day!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blog Joy Saturday- Nov. 5, 2011

I'm bringing it back!

Here we go! This weeks blogs are dedicated towards foodies! I've decided that it makes sense to have a theme each week-- kinda like Man Candy Monday. So I'm dedicating this blog joy Saturday to the foodies. These blogs talk about food, share recipes, etc.

First up is Mama's Fixins. Personally I'm a big fan of anything sweet, but I love classic recipes for favs that my grandma makes. From Gingersnaps to the fancy things like scones this blog has some recipes I'm definitely trying out.

Next on list is (a) Musing Foodie. Her recipes are divine, and she's funny to boot. Plus there are contests and all sorts of crazy things to get involved in. I heartily encourage that every chocolate loving person who exists check out this particular recipe. You'll thank me after you eat it, and yes... of course it's fat free. Anything you want to eat is fat free in my book.

Okay, imagine that your strapped for cash. Wait a minute! Who isn't strapped for a little cash? Never mind, bad analogy. Moving onward... this last foodie blog is all for the frugal, people with big families or just those who like to get the most bang for their buck at the grocery store.
Frugal Family Recipes helps you do that. There are recipes for every meal, plus you can share your own via email.

That wraps blog joy Saturday. Let me know if you try any recipes that are good. I'm always on the hunt for new things to eat and inspire me. Next week it's all about Romance.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: Christmas in Lucky Harber by Jill Shalvis

Christmas in Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
4 out of 5 stars

For backcover info visit Jill Shalvis' website-- Christmas in Lucky Harbor
Shalvis delivers a double shot of romance right in time for the Holidays.

First up is Simply Irresistible, the first book in the Lucky Harbor Series. When Maddie arrives in Lucky Harbor, unemployed and recovering from a break-up, she’s hoping to make the best of the inn willed to her and her sisters. She doesn’t expect to find herself intimately drawn to Jax, a local contractor that seems to read her mind. Maddie doesn’t know what to think of this handsome man that desires to help her, and her heart’s falling fast.

Followed by The Sweetest Thing— the story of Maddie’s older sister, Tara. She ran away from Lucky Harbor years ago on the heels of the biggest mistake of her life, only to return to help her sister with their inherited inn. Tara’s using the project as a way to move beyond her failed marriage, and focus on finding herself again. Unfortunately, a sexy sailor wants to join her on the soul-searching journey, and ignites a sensual passion Tara hasn’t felt in years. Too bad her ex-husband has shown up wanting to win her back. The competition is on and Tara has one more life changing decision to make.

I was hooked from the first pages, and I can’t wait for the additional books in this series. Shalvis does an amazing job of building a town and characters that you can’t help but love. The focus of these stories is healing and relationships with a ton of sensual tension and action thrown in. Humor plays a big role too. There were multiple instances in both books where the lead females found themselves in awkward positions, and I was laughing aloud.

My favorite of the two books was the first. Maddie and Jax were phenomenal, even the emotional baggage that both characters carried held appeal. I enjoyed the back stories of both characters and how the weakness they had were supported by the opposite strengths. The second story is good in its own right. I had a little trouble getting moved by sub-plots, and felt that both Tara and her hunk of sailor made some odd decisions at times. Also, Tara’s character is also a little harder to love because she kept fighting what she wanted instead of grabbing a hold of it with both hands.

The secondary characters are phenomenal, and without them the stories wouldn’t have been as entertaining. Of course stories based in small towns rarely leave their characters separate from the community, and private knowledge is quickly public. As far as villains go there are a couple, but most of the villainy comes from the personal demons each of the main characters suffer from.

Overall, if you’re looking for a little humor, romance, and a great cast Christmas in Lucky Harbor should be the top of your buy list.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reading List for October 2011

I really did  a doozy on October. I guess I felt I need to play catchup after having such a lackluster September in the reading department. Not that the books were lackluster, just that I needed to read more. As we head into Nanowrimo month I have a feeling that I will be reading less and writing more. Ideally anyway. With Halloween behind us I'm also looking forward to that wonderful day of days that involves turkey, stuffing, and a dozen other things to add more inches to my waistline.

1. Mistress by Marriage by Maggie Robinson
2. Any Wicked Thing by Margaret Rowe
3. Avenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden*
4. Bride for a Night by Rosemary Rogers
5. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa*
6. Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany*
7. The Secret Desires of a Governess by Tiffany Clare
8. Adam by Jacquelyn Frank*
9. Death Magic by Eileen Wilks*
10. Werewolf in the North Woods by Vicki Lewis Thompson*
11. Cemetery Girl by David Bell*
12. A Very Vampy Christmas by Kerrelyn Sparks
13. Jewel in His Crown by Lynne Graham*
14. The Ice Prince by Julie Marton *
15. Christmas in Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
17. Silver Tongued Devil by Jennifer Blake*
18. The Price of Temptation by Lecia Cornwall*

*Review available or upcoming on The Season E-Zine

I will also be posting some of these reviews here on my blog periodically. So, be on the lookout! Bwahahahaha.... my evil laugh.

Traditional Marketing in a Digital World

I'm a marketer at heart. Heck, I've got a fancy piece of printed paper on the wall that says I should know all about the topic. Top that off with 8 years of promotional marketing day job work, and I would say that I'm fully immersed in spreading the word on products and services.
Side note** Let  me be clear that marketing is completely different from sales. I don't work in sales. Sales people will shove a product down your throat until you choke. I market or educate people about a product and then let them make their own decision. I won't spend time convincing them they need the product, the product just sells itself.
Now to the point of my post.
Traditional Marketing can work in the digital world. Everyone has to emerge from their computer reality at some point. I may sit in front of this life sucking, radiation leaching machine 8 hours/7 days a week, but I have to go to the grocery store, the bank, the post office and a myriad of other little chores that require interacting with folk. Reality Bites!

When I'm writing that check for the groceries it's the perfect time to whip out a pen with a book plastered all over it... might spark interest. If not the cashier, then the gal in line behind me with her 3 inch heels and mini, or the co-worker watching me jot down notes on Dr. Pepper stained paper at the Monday morning meeting. I'll get questions, and either I'll say "I don't know" or "Yeah, I read that book. This was a gift I got from the author and it was a great read." Boom! Conversation about your story is taking place and not a single person was on a computer.

Branding is everything and as an author everything should be branded. I've learned this through years of being in the marketing world. If somethings branded at some point you'll get the question. Especially if it's out of the norm and eye popping. Someone will want to know about that significant name you decided to wear, or the catchy slogan adorning your writing utensil. I don't officially have any pens with books on them *hint, hint* But if you send me one I would use it all the time.

Another reason I like the branding route is because as a voracious reader I'm always on the lookout for other readers. Heck, I got my bank teller addicted to new author Laurie London just because I noticed she had a hard cover of a Vampire dairies book. I brought up her interest in the series and then said "You should really check out a couple of authors who write paranormal romance." On we went from there.
She had a book, but imagine someone carrying around a notebook with the front cover a dead match for your book cover. How cool would that be? The conversations would fly.

Marketing in the digital world is typically cheap. A few tweet posts here and there, random lengthy spurt of blah about your latest on Facebook. Followed with the random giveaway. Problem is how many of those talking or participating in those marketing ploys are carrying the rabid monkey tactics into the real world. To get that carry over you need branding, and it needs to be on items of use- especially notebooks and pens. Bookmarks are cheap but notebooks and pens have a longer shelf life. I lose a bookmark once a month. My notebook goes everywhere with me and I always have at least 2 pens in my purse.

Bottom Line: By going outside the box and investing in branded items you will allow fans of your work to generate conversation without having to try. The return may not be huge numbers, but just one person can easily addict 3 more to the purchasing cause. I've been successful in doing that just by talking about stories; with uber insane enthusiasm I might add. What can I say I like books? The branded item will give your fans more confidence to discuss the novel because people will ask them about it, versus said fan having to strike up the conversation.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

5 out of 5 stars
*It's not often I have a Top Pick, but this one took the cake for creativity and wonderful story crafting.

For the back cover visit Courtney Milan's website- Unclaimed

Never was there such a tale of woe between a seasoned courtesan and her… virgin.
Sir Mark Turner is the epitome of masculinity. His vow of chastity until marriage has sparked men to hail him as a leading example to all society. Women see him as the ultimate prize in holy matrimony. Sir Mark simply refuses to subject to baser instincts, and seeks solace from his celebrity image amidst the quiet countryside of his childhood home. What he doesn’t expect is to feel desire beyond reason, but when Jessica Farley sashays her way into his sight that’s exactly what happens.

Yet, Jessica’s no virginal queen, and her mission is to remove all traces of chaste and innocence from Sir Mark’s character. Facing destitution Jessica was left with little choice but to accept the contract proposed by Mark’s enemies. All she has to do now is get him to let go of his lofty ideals, though she never thought the man behind the celebrity image would be a man she could easily come to love.

Hail to Milan for an absolute stunner. The entire story was completely unexpected. There is something special about a virginal hero pitted against the sinful courtesan. I found both Jessica and Mark endearing because neither one is exactly how they seem to be in the eyes of outsiders. To most Jessica is evil incarnate, and at times I could swear she should have been walking around with an ‘S’ sewn into her clothes. Though Jessica tries hard to pretend she is not affected by the way people treat her, internally she hates being the villain. She merely wants her own personal chance at happiness. At the same time happiness always has a price.

Mark on the other hand is considered a man incapable of impure thoughts—the chastity king, who only thinks of peace and serenity and doing well by his fellow man. I love how he’s built up by others in the book and set onto a pedestal. Honestly, I was waiting for him to fall, and at the same time hoping he wouldn’t succumb. Also Mark knows that he isn’t perfect and completely chaste, and he’s not afraid to admit it. Like in this one scene with Jessica:

“I don’t want you to cover yourself to withdraw my temptation.” And then—he wasn’t precisely sure why—he dropped his voice to a whisper. “More clothing would hardly signify in any event. I could not possibly forget a single curve of your skin, and when I take myself to bed tonight I doubt I will see anything else.”

She’d been reaching for his jacket. But she froze at that, her hand held rigidly an inch away. Her eyes widened.

“No,” he continued, “the reason I offer is not because I want to avoid my sins, but rather that I must own up to them.”

“Sins?” she repeated.

“We’ve already discussed my sins, Mrs. Farleigh. I am greedy. I am covetous. I am selfish. And one other thing.” He leaned in. “I absolutely do not share.”

“I—But I haven’t—We—“ Her eyes fell from his in discomfort.

“Just because I happen to be a virgin does not mean I am content to share my fantasies at night with other men.”

She exhaled slowly. “If you were any other man,” she said softly, “I would think that you had just threatened to seduce me.”

“Worse.” He leaned down, close enough to whisper. “I threatened to like you. “

That honest streak of Mark’s was just another character trait that made me swoon, and his tongue is sharp and sensual at all the right moments. The story has the other Turner brother’s from Milan’s series popping up, and several interesting characters that make the book complete. I found the scenarios and plot refreshing, different then typical historical novels. Surprises abound, romance formed from the barest of embraces—Unclaimed is a sure win!

*Additional review is available on The Season E-Zine

Blog award- You Love me! You really love me!

Okay, I'm finished channeling Sally Fields. It's a tough job, but someones got to do it. As you can tell I'm a little kooky today, more so then the usual kookiness. Things are heating up in the writing world. The Baker's Dozen contest is in full swing over at MSFV, Nanowrimo is only a couple of weeks away, and I'm itching to read more books.

Between all of that I got a Blog Award from Beckah-Rah! Shocking, I know. For my keeping on the blog skills are sorely lacking. I have about half a dozen posts in the 'Edit Posts' tab half written or half empty; depending on how you look at it. 

Back to the blog award *pretty picture time*
"The purpose of this award is to ask bloggers to identify their own blog posts in certain categories."
I admit the questions aren't easy. But I'll give it my best go anyway.

Most Beautiful Post: Thank you Dad! I'd have to say this post was my most beautiful. Because it stirred up a world of wonderful memories that I have of time spent with my father. Being an adult usually means you see your family less, and that's the truth. Plus, I made my dad blush.

Most Popular Post: DABWAHA Rap This post was all about inspiration. Sometimes I parody songs when I get a wild hair in my shirt. Surprisingly tons of people flocked to read my hilarious ode to the DAWAHA contest for 2011. For those who don't know DABWAHA is a contest for romance readers and works similar to March Madness, except we don't play games- instead people vote for their favorite books. It'll be coming around again in 2012 and I'll be sure to post lots of links and info.

Most Controversial Post: A bathroom emergency I would say this is my most controversial because I rarely post about my children on the blog. I typically keep to safer subjects and since no one commented on this post, I got a feeling either a. Too Taboo or b. Difficult to relate to. So controversial in the fact that I probably won't mention children again or at least the odd random things that happen.

Most Helpful Post: The Devil Inside I say this was my most helpful post because I believe it, whether others do or not is left up to the whispers in the wind. But two commenter's found it helpful.

Most Suprisingly Successful Post: Blog Joy Saturday This post had a ton of views, where subsequent posts of a similar nature rarely get that kind of traffic. I just assumed that originally people were interested and then interest dwindled... or I didn't mention the right ones so I stopped Blog Joy Sat. If people are interested maybe I'll resume.

Post that didn't get the attention it deserved: My Paranormal Secret This post was all big, showy, and I even included pictures. Plus this post was about peeling back another layer in the mystery of me. I like attention, but those who know me know that I am extremely shy. It's a double edged sword really, and I don't typically like to throw myself out in front visually. I'm like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz- I prefer to stay behind a curtain, while projecting the image I want people to see.

Post I'm most proud of: Review: Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan I know it's a review, but let me just say that I'm a reviewer writer and every time I read one of my reviews I'm shocked, proud, and elated. Not to sound egotistical, but honestly when I write a review my initial thought is that I wrote a few paragraphs of junk. Then I go back and read the review a day or week later and surprisingly I think the entire time, "Wow! I wrote that."

Now to pass along this tasty morsel to other blogs. I have to pick 3 winners. So I pick:
1. Confessions of an Animal Junkie
2. The Ink Diva Diaries
3. Two Left Shoes

And back to the grindstone....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Funday Monday- October 17, 2011

My life's been a little bit like a crack-addled hamster running a wheel. Regardless here I am trying to bring some fun to this wonderful Monday. My reason for the Monday being wonderful-- My car is running again. If you've ever lost your flex pipe and catalytic converter in one day then you'll know why I'm so joyous.

Now, to the top 4 (there was 5, but the website didn't work... grrr, people fix your sites).

4. NANOWRIMO- the countdown is on! Personally, I've never participated in the official Nanowrimo contest, but I do believe that National Writing Month should be a time for writers to diligently dedicate that 20 minutes to writing on their novel. I will say if you haven't checked out the site yet there are a ton of resources, even resources for young writers. It would be great to see writing classes at colleges and high schools get involved in something like this.

3. Concord Free Press- Like free books. Well, Concord Free Press has cornered the market. This particular publishing company allows you to get a free book when you donate to a local charity. Now, you can't pick and choose the book you want. They offer so many copies of a particular book and then switch to a new one. If you want to know the why? click here

2. Romance Bandits- This particular group of ladies has been featured on my Funday Monday posts before. I enjoyed their blog when it was stationed here in the blogger world. Now they've upgraded to their own website. Romance Bandits features 19 authors and 1 out of control rooster... a golden rooster that is.

1. Tee Fury- This is a great site. They carry exclusive, obscure, limited edition cheap t-shirt. They sell 1 t-shirt at a time for 24 hours only. Yep, that's right you can only buy each shirt for 24 hours. How's that for being one of few to have something unique and special. Today's shirt was from the movie Labyrinth, which is a personal favorite of mine. Who knows what's in store for tomorrow. I encourage you to check it out. P.S. the Labyrinth Tee is still available for another hour.

That wraps it. I'm working away on too many things to count, but know that there's more where this came from. *Side note- I have no idea where that came from.

Big thanks to @delilahsdawson, @janet_reid, and @annacampbelloz for assisting, unknowingly to this week's Funday Monday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum by Stephen Prosapio

Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum by Stephen Prosapio

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover: Zach Kalusky, host of Sci-D TV's Xavier Paranormal Investigators, is ecstatic when he’s given the opportunity to explore the most haunted site in Chicago for a Halloween Special: Rosewood Asylum, a place long made off-limits by the local government, plagued by decades of mysterious fires and unexplained events, and Zach’s dream investigation. But there's a catch: the network forces Xavier Paranormal Investigators to partner with the more dramatic—but less ethical—Demon Hunters. Now, Zach must fight for his show’s integrity and his team’s loyalty while trying to protect his own secret: that he, himself, is possessed.
As they investigate Rosewood Asylum, Zach’s team of college science geeks square off against the showy Goth freak Demon Hunters, and the two teams experience more tangible paranormal activity than either has previously documented—apparitions swirl on video footage, Electromagnetic Field meters zing, and the smell of peaches wafts from room 217. But are the occurrences authentic or staged? Even members of Zach’s team are not above suspicion of sabotage.

With the clock ticking towards the 48-hour investigation deadline, it becomes clear that Rosewood’s actual history differs vastly from the written record. To put the pieces together, Zach must–at the risk of his own life–induce an episode, while at the same time pushing his team to find answers. But once Rosewood’s secret is uncovered, an outburst of supernatural activity threatens the lives of all the investigators–not to mention the surrounding neighborhood. Now, science and entertainment must take a backseat…to survival.

Review: Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum is the first paranormal book I’ve read that has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves, and spirit romance. The story is 100% ghosts and paranormal investigation. There is action, thrills and chills, and a ghost tale that hooks into you from the first page.

Prosapio does a great job at portraying both investigation teams--the serious Xavier Paranormal Investigators, and the flamboyant, dramatic prone Demon Hunters. I liked the dueling team premise and found the plot intriguing. The characters were memorable, and all the players are realistic. I easily fell into stride among the XPI team, and held a little love to hate attitude towards the Demon Hunters. I was also pleasantly surprised by Prosapio’s ability to give an individual voice to each of his characters, as the cast is quite large.

The story is mainly told from Zach’s point of view, and I quickly admired this character’s tenacity, and ethical standards. As someone involved with the paranormal field, my views are of a scientific bent, and Zach’s own beliefs are similar. Even if you’re not involved in the paranormal though, Zach personality is likable but reflects a person who has experienced too much in a short time span. He’s definitely not the typical guy, and that’s not counting the fact that he’s possessed. The possession is only one of many interesting subplots to the story.

The historical aspect and the ghostly story is well thought out and developed. Prosapio is meticulous with crafting a location so real that I couldn’t believe the Rosewood Asylum depicted didn’t exist in reality. This level of diligence to the story made this more than a work of fiction in my mind, and I could easily relate to the situations and locations the characters were experiencing because of it. There is a ton of fine print (details), and I do recommend that readers pay close attention to the little things.

Overall, Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum is a book that I recommend to anyone with a love for paranormal or horror books. It's definitely a good pick with Halloween season being in full swing. With a sequel in the works, I’m anxious for the next haunting challenge that will encompass the XPI team.

Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. *Clicks the links to head straight there*
To learn more about Stephen you can find him on Facebook (Stephen Prosapio-novelist) or visit his website at 

Also, if you want to know more about this fantastic author and get inside his head a little then join me on my paranormal show The Beyond Natural this Wednesday night at 9pm CST on Paranormal TV Network . I'll be interviewing Stephen, about his book and much more.