Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jaime Rush - New Release

So Many Books, So Little Time

Jaime Rush is On. My. List.

Not in a bad way!  My list of authors to try out!  I really love the looks of this series, and the lovely people at Avon have provided me with utter temptation.  However, the current releases are well into the series, and I want to start at the beginning, so I'm not quite ready for this new release.

Excuses, I know.  But this really is a series I want to try out.  Plus, check out that cover.  Love a man with a really big sword.

Today is release day for number six in the series, and Ms. Rush is hosting a contest with cash prizes-- you don't see that often in the blogosphere.  If you've got a kick-butt* story you want to share with the world... don't worry, all you need to do is share the first line.  Even if you don't want to compete, go read the entries, they're tons of fun.

Here's the blurb for Darkness Becomes Her:

Desperately in need of redemption, Lachlan McLeod has a mission: find the beast who put his brother into a coma. He'll start with Jessie Bellandre, his brother's girlfriend, who's harboring a dark, dangerous secret that could get them all killed. But as they fight the battle of their lives, not falling in love with her will be as hard as staying alive.


 If you're as intrigued as I am, here's the info for the first book, A Perfect Darkness:
A sexy stranger wakes Amy Shane in the dead of night with an urgent warning. He barely has time to whisper a few words before three men burst in and drag him away. But what Lucas Vanderwyck reveals shatters Amy’s safe little world forever.

Lucas and Amy share a connection beyond reality and a psychic gift—a gift that could get them killed. Lucas can come to her dreams, and she must piece together clues to find him as a shadowy government conspiracy tracks her every move. To save Lucas, and find the truth, she must use the psychic ability she abhors, strike up dangerous alliances, and risk not only her heart, but her very life.


A Few Reviews:
Red Hot Books (whoo!  That's a red-hot looking site, too)
Fictional Candy
Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust


Are you reading this series?  What do you think? 


____________
*I would've said "kick-ass" but I'm using the actual contest name. *g*

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Good Father, by Diane Chamberlain - Review

What To Expect 
Diane Chamberlain's books are more "women's fiction" than romance or chick lit.  The stories often center on family issues, and while there is usually a Happily Ever After and often a romantic element, the focus is not typically on a falling-in-love arc.

What Ms. Chamberlain really does best is characters.  The Good Father is told from three different first person viewpoints, and covers about four years of events.  While this could end up being confusing, Chamberlain's deft touch and distinctive voicing keeps the reader perfectly grounded.

The blurb:
A beloved daughter. A devastating choice. And now there's no going back.

Four years ago, nineteen-year-old Travis Brown made a choice: to raise his newborn daughter on his own. While most of his friends were out partying and meeting girls, Travis was at home, changing diapers and worrying about keeping food on the table. But he's never regretted his decision. Bella is the light of his life. The reason behind every move he makes. And so far, she is fed. Cared for. Safe.

But when Travis loses his construction job and his home, the security he's worked so hard to create for Bella begins to crumble...….

Then a miracle. A job in Raleigh has the power to turn their fortunes around. It has to. But when Travis arrives in Raleigh, there is no job, only an offer to participate in a onetime criminal act that promises quick money and no repercussions.

With nowhere else to turn, Travis must make another choice for his daughter's sake. Even if it means he might lose her.
I always enjoy Chamberlain's stories.  There's frequently an element of Southern Gothic to the family relations, and the manipulations that one generation inflicts on the next.  Chunks of the plot and character motivations derive from these manipulations, often rippling down multiple generations.

The Good Father is a fast-paced and absorbing read with three different threads of story.  In the first half, the characters and their situations draw you in and make you wonder how they will touch each other.  In the second half, their interconnections become clear and a suspenseful storyline accelerates the page-turning until the very end.  Among other things, it is also a timely depiction of how close to the edge many of us live in these economic times - one piece of bad luck away from disaster.

Daddy Issues
Unsurprisingly, given the title, the characters and plot in this story are strongly influenced by the father relationships that each are involved in.

...Annnnnnnnnnnd I just deleted a long boring middle-school style analysis of the father-theme for each of the main characters... seriously, you don't need that from me.  The remarkable thing about this story is how the characters circle back on their own themes, finding echoes of their own situations and decisions and new perspectives, which give them the strength to break out of bad patterns.  At times, the coincidence factor here was pretty high; some might find it a bit heavy-handed, but it made for very tidy resolutions.

Bottom Line
A great addition to your beach bag or summer reading list, The Good Father is a page-turning, feel-good read with characters that you'll want to have over for a barbeque.  I felt like I was friends with the three protagonists at the end.


Around the Blogosphere
I received a review copy of this book in return for a fair review.  Please check out what other folks are saying on the Blog Tour sponsored by the tireless folks at Media Muscle.  And if you've got questions that only the author can answer, you will have your chance on May 31, at the online event here:


To participate, you'll need an account at BookTrib, and they offer this tip:
The day of the event: Login to your BookTrib account a few minutes before the chat. On the homepage, click on Diane’s picture. This will take you into the chat. You will see Diane live with a text box located on the right side of your screen. Just type in your questions or comments into the text box and enjoy the chat!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 25: Because of RT



Unsurprisingly, my TBR list jumped up exponentially during and after the Con.  I think I've officially reached the point where I can never catch up, but I will have a helluva time trying.  Here are Thirteen of the new-to-me authors that I hereby swear to read before the end of the year:

Because Jackie of Literary Escapism has threatened me with bodily harm (and I'm pretty sure she could take me),

1. Chloe Neill and
2. Jennifer Estep

top my list.

3. Coreene Callahan, because of that awesome swag.  (Also, I have a dragon related project percolating in the back of my head.)
4. Katharine Ashe, because she was so interesting to listen to at the panels.  Bonus, she's also an Avon Author so I can make the Addicts program people happy too.
5. Kieran Kramer, because "If You Give a Girl a Viscount" has to be the most unbearably cute title ever.
6. Kathryn Kennedy, because "Lords of Illusion" looked pretty yummy.  Hope I can jump in at book 3 without too much lostness.  I've noticed a number of reviews popping up so check it out.
7. Katie Porter, a new project from Carrie Lofty, whom I adore, and Lorelie Brown, who is new to me.  Because?  Because NOM, that's why.
8. Zoe Archer, who's actually been on my list for awhile.  Now I have not one but two actual books in hand, it's time to get cracking on that.
9. Jade Lee, because she was so entertaining and warm at the conference and I promised I would. :-)
10. Jaime Rush,  because all I need is another paranormal series to become addicted to, right?
11. Sophie Jordan, because I've gotten out of the habit of trying new historical authors, and that's just dumb.
12. Kris Tualla, because I feel a little Viking thang coming on.  I confess, I have MISSED Viking romance!
13. Janiene Frost, because now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure she was on Jackie's hit list.  Also, I totally got to have dinner with her one night during the conference and I've hardly bragged about it at all.

Bonus:

Clay and Susan Griffith, because steampunk vampires, bee-yatches.  What else do you need to know?








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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

RT 2012 Swag: The Awards

Now, I know many of you are gearing up for BEA in New York. But I won't be going to that, or AAD, or RomCon, or RWA, so forgive me if I hold the RT experience close, polish it lovingly, and revisit it for weeks or months to come for inspiration. In the three or so weeks since RT ended, I got sent to Sydney, AUS at the last minute for work for week, attended/led an all-weekend Girl Scout Campout, hosted an out-of-town colleague for a week (which meant no lunchtime reading or blogging, boo), hosted a secret chat with two other bloggers for a future hopefully-awesome post, and also gave notice at work. Plus of course that whole mom/wife gig. So while I've continued to read as much as I can, I have had little mental space to get caught up.

However I remain really inspired by RT. I'm going to kick off with an easy and fun one: all about the swag. Now, swag is not why we go to cons. It's a fun side benefit, though. Since I was attending long-distance, I shipped home a good sized box full of books. Being cheap, I shipped them book rate, so they didn't arrive until I was in Sydney, so it just drew out the whole gratification thing for weeks.

The tease:

Mmm. It's a big one. Size matters, in this case, don't you think?

First and foremost, of course, are the books.  These are all signed by the author:


Somewhat frustrating thing about the JR Ward books -- her line was moving VERY VERY fast.  Lover Awakened was supposed to be signed for a friend with just a signature, but I was angling to try to get a photo taken and she signed it before I could say anything.  Plus she signed them both "To Nicole" which isn't actually my name.  Are there any "Nicoles" out there who would like this book?  (I bought a new copy for the original intended recipient.)  I was hoping to pick up a hardback of Dark Lover but she didn't bring those.  Oh well, live and learn.  I didn't take any of my own books to be signed, out of sheer laziness.  I did not want to haul them on the plane.

These books are not signed, but are nevertheless awesome:


There are a couple in there that I could have had signed, if I had had sufficient organization/togetherness.  I ran into Sarah MacLean and Sabrina Jeffries several times, for example.

Bookmarks, cards, and cover flats are the most common souvenirs.  I got lots:


I had a fun time yesterday adding some of them into the scrapbook I brought to collect signatures, along with photos and notes.

Then there are the keyrings, pens, and other trinkety things:


Now, one should not assume by this pile that this was all that was available,  Most of these came with the bags, as I was a little hesitant to pick up a lot of little things that I don't truly have a use for.

*****

Speaking of bags, like any good conference, thanks to Sylvia Day and Shayla Black, RT gave away some well-designed and highly useful tote bags.  Funny story -- I was chatting away with Jackie and Casey from Literary Escapism, and a couple of other attendees on the second day of the con, and they were telling me about some of the previous night's late-in-the-bar antics (which I missed, because I stayed off-site).  Apparently some of the businessmen in the lounge were a bit more, um, adventurous than usual in their... interactions... with the RT attendees, even more so than you might expect from the stereotypical drunk business guy in a hotel bar.  And someone said, "yeah, but did you SEE what is printed on those bags?"  Hmmm, yeah, I can see how that might influence a guy in a bar:


Hee.  Anyway, the bags were very useful. I don't think I'll be taking mine to work though.

*****

My dad's an artist, and quite fond of nudes.  He always had a couple of pin-up calendars over his workbench in the basement.  So I feel I will just be following a family tradition by putting this awesome calendar up in my office:


So amidst much competition, I'm going to give this calendar 

Alpha Heroes Award for Best Eye-Candy Swag: 
Hot Damn Designs Calendar

 *****

One of the evening parties gave away these adorable charms, attached to a bookmark:


I ended up with two.  Now, I have two daughters, so you'd think that would be simple. (I also considered earrings for moi.)  But the older daughter is into a few of the YA authors who were in attendance, so she received some bookish swag, plus a bag with some of her favorite anime characters on it.  The younger one was pretty much out in the cold on that end.  So one of these charms went to a fairy-obsessed niece, and the other is on a pretty silver necklace around Daughter The Younger's neck.  Very successful.  Thus:

Alpha Heroes Award for Prettiest Swag:  
The Magical Highland Fling Silver Charm

*****

Now, as it happened, after the con, I took my rental car and drove downstate about 3 hours to visit my mom & dad.  But I forgot my sunglasses!  (This happens a lot to people from Seattle.)  But never fear, I had these:


 I believe there is some sort of story behind these, but I'm in the dark (ouch, sorry) about it.  Perhaps we'll be lucky and Ms. Aguirre can fill us in?  Now it must be said, these are novelty items and not the most comfortable for hours of wear.  But still -- free, and right there when I needed them, and UV protected (don't wear sunglasses that aren't, very bad for your eyes, no matter how novelty-cool).  Thus:

Alpha Heroes Award for Most Useful Swag: 
Ann Aguirre's Too Cool For School Sunglasses

*****

Now, finally, there was one bit of swag that absolutely cracked me up, and put the author's name and work in front of me in a really memorable way.  Since I also did quite a bit of flying in April, I found the gum quite useful.  I'll be checking out this author just because of how clever this was:


Alpha Heroes Award for All-Around Cleverest Swag: 
Coreene Callahan's Anti-Dragon-Breath Minty-Fresh Gum

*****

And that's my list!  Award winners receive only bragging rights and my sincerest best wishes.  Void where prohibited, restrictions may apply in California and Maryland. Hope you enjoyed this run-down!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Under a Vampire Moon, by Lynsay Sands - Review

More Avon Loot
I tried one of the Argeneau vampire stories a couple of years ago, and I liked it well enough, but for whatever reason, never managed to dive into the series.  This month, the Addicts received a copy of Under a Vampire Moon, along with a beach ball, some margarita mix, and recipes for snacks.  Hmmm.  What is Avon trying to tell us??  There was a Twitter party last week to talk about the story but I was unable to attend, so I'm attempting to make up for it here.

At this point, the series is on to the SIXTEENTH story, with a seventeenth  due out later this summer.  I'm glad I gave the series another try because it was a lot of fun.

Unlike many vampire romances, this story was not terribly dark or angsty (it's like Sands didn't get the memo, heh).  It's paced  like a straight contemporary, moving lightly from one scene to the next.  It's a quick, fun, perfect-for-the-beach read.

 Series Handicap: 0.5 on a scale of 0 to 5
I just made that up.  But you have to wonder if you're going to be completely lost if you jump into a series at book #16.  In my opinion, this is not a worry.  I can't speak for the rest of the series (obviously) but this book stands pretty well alone.  There were a few references that seemed to assume prior knowledge, but they were minor and were explained by the end.  If you haven't read 1-15, don't let that stop you from giving this cute story a whirl.  The only aspect that I would like to understand better is Christian's relationship with his mother.  There was definitely a backstory there, and I would've liked a little more on it.  It didn't keep me from enjoying the romance, but  prologue, maybe, or something might've been nice.

Characters
Christian... ah, Christian Notte.  He's a 500 year old Italian vampire who plays rock violin and does ...something businessy... as a day job.  Which made his internal vocabulary somewhat mystifying.  His voice is pretty much indistinguishable from Carolyn's or anyone else's in the story, right down to the choice of "Cripes" as a swear word.  Really?  Cripes? That was a headscratcher for me.

I did enjoy Carolyn quite a lot, and I identified with her age concerns and some of her general outlook.  I have to say, it wasn't really clear to me exactly what it was about these two that made them perfect for each other, but luckily there are nanos, mind-reading relatives, and a super-nova white-hot attraction so there was no real need to wonder.  OK, that sounds slightly snarky, and it kind of is... the pacing and the humor propel the story forward but I wasn't completely wowed by the characters.

The secondaries-- this was a colorful and entertaining crew.  Marguerite and Julian are on their honeymoon, when Marguerite suddenly realizes that Carolyn is the life-mate for her son Christian.  How does she know this?  I don't know, apparently it's a vampire thing.  Er, immortal thing.  Vampires are a myth.  Anyway, she gets things rolling and between her and Julian and Gia (Christian's cousin), they keep Christian on the right track, not letting him get too far wrong with Carolyn.  If you think too hard about your mom and dad being able to read your and your mate's mind about your explosive sexual attraction, you might... OK, don't think too hard about that.  As long as you stick to the light and funny, which is certainly where this whole book is targeted, it works OK.

Plotline
Basically, the whole story is set up as a farce, with the entire Notte family conspiring to reel Carolyn in.  In order to give Christian time to get to know Carolyn, and keep her from bolting, Gia tells her that Christian is gay and needs a beard.  The story wears suspiciously thin to Carolyn at times, but judicious application of alcohol, special (IYKWIMAITYD) dreams, and mind reading, the goal is pretty much achieved.  If you liked the Friends episodes featuring Ross and Rachel, this story is right in that pocket.

The big reveal is also fairly painless, as those "mortal realizing new boyfriend/girlfriend is a vampire" types of scenes go.  The book in general is rather low-conflict, and more about Carolyn coming out of her shell than a high-drama roller-coaster, which is an unusual choice for a vampire romance IME, but it works.

On The Whole
Under a Vampire Moon probably won't rock your world, but it's a perfect companion for a beachy afternoon with sunglasses, hot sand under your toes, and an icy-tart margarita close by.  Check it out if you're in the market for a beach read.

Around the Blogosphere
Buckeye Girl Reads
Paranormal Haven
Fellow Addict Amy at Unwrapping Romance
The Book Pushers
Helyce at Smexy Books
Fellow Addict Lisarenee at Seduced by a Book

As always, if you have reviewed this book and would like to be added, just let me know in comments or email and I'd be happy to edit you in.

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