Thursday, December 27, 2007

BOOK OF THE YEAR 2007

Choosing my favorite book of 2007 was no easy task. It always comes down to personal preferences. I loved all the novels on my Top Ten List, each for different reasons. Choosing NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran from the Final Three was even more difficult, of course. Although all three were written most excellently with elements I love, NEFERTITI had absolutely everything I love in a story.

I've always been a history buff. I majored in it and I home educate my children with the Classical Method which has history as its backbone. I go through phases of fascination and right now I'm fascinated with Ancient History. NEFERTITI is set in Ancient Egypt. Quite simply, that's what put it over the edge from the rest of the list. The funny thing is I can't imagine writing a story set during ancient times myself! Well, okay, I do have a couple in the back of the head, but I am no where near ready to flesh them out.
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So, NEFERTITI is set in Ancient Egypt. What I also love about it is the variety of characters. Michelle once told me she has a hard time with characterization. You can't tell by reading her novel. Other authors probably know when we have a weakness we work twice as hard to overcome it, right? I know I certainly do. It really shows. Yes, there is Nefertiti, the ambitious, almost totally self-absorbed teenaged queen who grows into a paranoid, possessive pharoah wanna-be. The story is told by her level-headed sister, Mutny, who is two years younger. There's romance, but not for Nefertiti. As Mutny says, "Nefertiti doesn't fall in love. Men fall in love with Nefertiti." There's a domineering mother-in-law, Mutny's hardworking, altruistic parents, the Other Woman Kiya who's constantly threatening Nefertiti's position as Number One, lots of babies (gotta have babies!), and a sexy, self-absorbed Psycho Prince.


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No! Not him!


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Akhenaten The Heretic King. He starts out as a totally buff 17 year old, who flunked out of Megalomaniacs Anonymous I'm sure.


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Ooh, but there are a lot of nice kilts in this story (Kimber sighs and rests hand in chin to gaze at Yul Brynner's picture.)

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Oh, wait! Sorry. Back to NEFERTITI. One of the very nice kilts belongs to Mutny's true love, in fact. So, you see, the girl who deserves the romance, gets it.

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The plot twists around itself and esculates from Mutny's relationship with her sister and her sister's path to destruction. There is a Happily Ever After, but it comes at great cost. I think this makes it more believable.




NEFERTITI made the L.A. Times Bestsellers' List and went back for a second printing lickety-split.
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Michelle's next novel, THE HERETIC QUEEN is due out Autumn 2008.
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The deal for the next novel after that, CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER, has just been negotiated. It's about Cleopatra's three surviving children with Marc Antony. Naturally, I always wanted to know what happened to them myself!
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Michelle's had a stellar year! Way to go, Michelle.
;)
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Michelle's website: http://michellemoran.com/
Michelle's blog: http://michellemoran.blogspot.com/



I reviewed NEFERTITI on May 16th. You can click on May or on Michelle Moran's heading in the directory. The review is at the bottom of her list of columns.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Updated Directory

If you look to the left side of this blog, you'll see I've updated the directory. These include the books I've reviewed, but not yet Lady Bronco's. I've put Science Fiction Romance under Science Fiction, because I figure it's put under Romance everywhere else and I think (?) most of the SFR readers who come here like their books more on the Sci-Fi end of the spectrum than the Romance end. The authors who've generously advised and encouraged me get their own headings. This is my way of saying, "Thank you!"
;)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

THE LUXE by Anna Godbersen

*This is NOT a complete review! This novel will be reviewed the first week of January 2008.*

Still trying to figure out what to give the romantics in your life? You might consider THE LUXE by Anna Godbersen. It's labeled a Young Adult Historical, but I'm sure Romance and/or Historical lovers of all ages will enjoy it.
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It's been a few years since I went through my fascination with the Victorian/Edwardian Era. I read a book called 'To Marry An English Lord.' It was all about American heiresses basically buying noble husbands to boost their families' prestige. The noble husbands had titles and lands, but very little money. The biggest such wedding was between Consuelo Vanderbilt and the Duke of Marlborough. If you read THE LUXE and you know about that real-life story, you'll see the similarities. The Heroine of THE LUXE is a bit more resourceful though, I'd say.
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I tried to speed-read THE LUXE and was sure I could, since I'm not particularly fascinated with the turn of the 20th century anymore. However, Ms. Godbersen's writing style is so gripping that I could not. I've only read the prologue and skipped ahead to a couple of scenes.
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I have one word of caution. If the recipient is under 17 and you don't know her well or know her mother well enough to ask if this book's okay to give, don't give it. Although the Hero and Heroine are over the age of consent, deeply in love, and committed to each other, there is no mention of contraception that I've seen. (And, yes, there was contraception available in that time period.) I haven't read far enough to know if there is a realistic portrayel of the consequences (good or bad) of unprotected sex. For an adult book, I have no problem with this. In fact, after being pregnant four times, I'm sick of the topic. I also know there are just as many naive 17 year olds as there are 14 year olds who know better, and that is why we ought to be considerate when giving or recommending any book to a young person. I know the media would have us believe all teens are 'active,' but my younger friends tell me it just isn't so. Assume nothing. Have respect for the family's values. 'Kay?
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THE LUXE is described as THE GOSSIP GIRLS of the Gilded Age. However, considering that all my younger friends I've asked say they are disinterested, dislike, or absolutely loathe the Gossip Girls, I have to believe this is NOT a good hook to use here. Rather, this is a fun book to read for anyone who loves Historical Romance, particularly those set around 1900. If you loved the movie, TITANIC, for example, you'll love this book - arranged marriage, true love with a poor boy, and fabulous wealth. You can read other reviews at Amazon.com but take them and mine with a grain of salt.
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P.S. If you're curious about what young people are saying about books these days, pop over to http://kimberan7.tripod.com/kimberannebula and go to the Compelling Profiles page. Some of my younger on-line acquintances were kind enough to enlighten me.
;)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And another new ARC

Another publisher has contacted me to review another new ARC! I am so incredibly flattered. All you aspiring authors really ought to think about reviewing books. I've found it an extremely educational experience.
;)
You know the drill. If I like this ARC or love it, I'll review it. If not, I won't.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Got a New ARC

A publisher contacted me last month and offered to send an ARC. This is a first for me! If you want the full story (or at least what I can tell you at this point), pop over to my personal blog. http://starcaptainsdaughter.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 13, 2007

THE FINAL THREE!

I know you're all just dying to know the Enduring Romance Book of the Year 2007.
;)
I posted my Top Ten on December 4th. Scroll down to read about them. I loved all of them, but for different reasons. This is what makes choosing just one so hard.
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And so, without further a-do (drum roll please) here are the Final Three in no particular order:
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GAMES OF COMMAND by Linnea Sinclair. Linnea was competing with herself for Book of the Year because DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES was just as awesome as GAMES. However, in the end I went with GAMES simply because I'm a Space Opera kind of girl.

NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran. Oh, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I picked this Ancient Egyptian tale just because of my fascination with Yul Brynner.
Well...let's just say it didn't hurt.
MASTER OF VERONA by David Blixt. What can I say? Reading this novel is like sitting front row in a theater watching a Shakespeare play performed live the way it was meant to be.
I'll be re-reading these novels between now and December 31st when I will announce the Book of the Year.
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I won't be reviewing anymore books this year, unless something phenomenal comes in. I'll probably babble about something here on Thursdays though. Now, pop over to Amazon.com and finish your holiday shopping!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

THE FINNISH LINE by Linda Gerber

THE FINNISH LINE is the second in the S.A.S.S. series by Linda Gerber. This series does not have the same characters every book, so you don't need to worry about reading out of order. What binds these books together is they're all about girls taking part in the Students Across the Seven Seas exchange program. The first one, NOW AND ZEN, was set in Japan. This one is set in Finland.

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Mo (short for Maureen) comes from a high-falootin skiing family in Utah. Her dad is a famous champion. Olympic medals are a home decorating motif. As the youngest of this large family, she has no identity of her own and she's had enough. By going on a student exchange program to Finland, she hopes to get away from her father's fame and what she feels is over-involvement in her life. He even coaches her coach!

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Mo is nuts about skiing too and she's decided the best way to earn her own name in the sport is by breaking down the barriers which still keep women from competing in ski-jumping with the same rights and accolades as the men. She settles into life in Finland as an exchange student living with a host family. Her host "sister," Kirsti, is cold as ice to her. She has a guide at school who's outgoing enough to be put on Ritilin if she was American. And then there are the boys. Tapio is like a Viking prince and his charm doesn't score points with Mo. But, "bad boy" Leevi does. And he's a fabulous ski-jumper too.

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Mo doesn't progress so well in her ski-jumping. The plot starts twisting like crazy when Leevi offers to help her do better if she'll arrange for him to get some publicity through her famous father. He thinks it will look good on his resume when he starts applying to American universities. At first, she's seriously annoyed. The fact that Leevi is so darkly cute only adds to her upset. But, then, she finds out she has something painfully in common with Leevi. Will she set aside her aversion to accepting help from a member of the male gender to attain skiing greatness?

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I could relate a lot to this story. Finland is up there around the Arctic Circle just like Alaska. I know what the biting cold is like and it gets dark around three in the afternoon in the winter here too. And, well, you can imagine how popular skiing is here! Linda really did her homework with the skiing. You can feel the powder hit your nose. Linda does a great job conveying Finnish culture too. I love stories which explore different cultures.

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Linda makes the teen experience real without falling into cliches and stereotypes. She does the parent/teen relationship well too. While Mo resents her father's over-involvement in her life, Kirsti relates how her father doesn't even notice she's there unless she wins something. "I'm not a child. I'm an investment," says Kirsti. There are all kinds of parents out there and just as many different kinds of teens who must relate to them.

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The S.A.S.S. series is a great one to give for the holidays. There's even a dogsled team on the cover of FINNISH LINE! http://lindagerber.com/

FINNISH LINE by Linda Gerber will...

...be reviewed by tonight.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Books of the Year 2007

On December 31st, I'll be choosing my Book of the Year 2007. I'm not sure if Lady Bronco will be or not. Got to talk to that girl, I guess. Some of my books are new releases and some are simply new to me. Here are my favorite books I read this year in no particular order:
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1)SWEET SENSATION by Gwyneth Bolton. Why It Should Win: This is a Romance novel, but it's not your standard issue. It's a Secret Baby Story turned on it's head. You know how I adore babies! The one in this book is actually a teen and she gets a Point-Of-View too. She's not consigned to the shadows where most young people lurk if they're in Romance novels at all. I can't understand why grown-ups don't like young people. Also, Gwyneth Bolton is the Queen Author of the Sensual Love Scene. You know how I think the Standard Issue Sex Scene is ridiculous, regardless of Heat Level. This novel is an excellent example of love scenes done right, I think.
2) MASTER OF VERONA by David Blixt. Why It Should Win: Mr. Blixt is a Shakespearean actor and it shows in this debut novel. If you're like me, you were taught to hate Shakespeare in high school by being forced to read his plays. In college, I learned Shakespeare's plays were not meant to be read. They were meant to be performed. When I witnessed a play performed, it was magic! Mr. Blixt captures that performing magic in the novel form and makes it a riveting read. He even includes a Commando Nanny (a baby's nurse who saves his life) and you know how that scores huge points with me!
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3) GAMES OF COMMAND by Linnea Sinclair. Why It Should Win: Brandon Kel-Paten is part human and part machine, and hopelessly and secretly in love with Captain Sebastian, a.k.a. Sass. Between him and Tank the Furzel, this story is a rollicking good space opera read. I own the GAMES' "No-No Bad Captain" sweatshirt.
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4) NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran. Why It Should Win: This novel has everything I love in a good story - a riveting plot, a variety of characters and not just a Hero and Heroine, a setting far away from my contemporary reality, a heroine I can relate to despite the time warp, conflicted bad guys, gorgeous men in Egyptian kilts (yowsa, Yul Brynner!), fabulous art and fashion, and lots of babies. And a believable Happily Ever After. In Real Life, HEA is a lot of work and always comes at great cost. Michelle captures that too. No Standard Issue anything in this debut novel!
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5) LOTTERY by Patricia Wood. Why It Should Win: Because Pat'll give me a free trip to Hawaii if I pick her - JUST KIDDING! Actually, I can fly there from Alaska pretty cheap. Really Why It Should Win: The Characters. There's a wide variety of them, they're real, and we've all walked in at least one of their shoes. Perry is one point up from being considered retarded and anyone who's been treated like crap will relate to him. The lead female character is plus-sized. The ensemble of friends close ranks to protect Perry when he wins the Lottery while everyone else tries to take the money from him. It's the kind of story that can change you on a spiritual level.
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6) STAR WARS DARK FORCE RISING by Timothy Zahn. Why It Should Win: Mommies are rare in Science Fiction. In this second volume of the Thrawn Trilogy, Princess Leia gives birth to twins and has a fabulous nanny, Winter. It's all done so believably well. Besides the gripping space opera plot, daddy Han Solo and his enduring romance with the Princess brings this story to life. Mr. Zahn does them better than the movies, in my opinion.

7) CONTACT by Susan Grant. Why It Should Win: Susan's an airline pilot and a mommy and so is the Heroine in this story. The passion and knowledge she brings to the story is akin to the magic David Blixt brings to MASTER OF VERONA.
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8) SAVE THE CAT! by Blake Snyder. This is our only non-fiction book on the list. Why It Should Win: As a writer, I've had a terrible time corralling all the images in my head into a comprehensible story. Structure has been a pox on my imaginary house. Jacqueline Lichtenberg suggested this book on screenwriting and it's made a huge difference! This is the only one on the list I haven't actually reviewed too.
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9) DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair. As you can see, Linnea is competing with herself for Book of the Year on this blog. Hey, Linnea, don't slap yourself silly trying to win! Why It Should Win: Sure, Jorie's an alien hunting zombies, but she also has a sweet vulnerability. She was a biracial Pat Benetar in my head, probably because of the cultural barriers she crosses falling in love with Greek American Theo. The pace of the story was gripping.
10) THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak. Why It Should Win: Death literally tells the tale of a young girl surviving World War II Europe by stealing books and losing herself in them. The way the story is told is as spellbinding as the tale itself.
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And that's it, unless I find another book which makes the cut before December 31st. I'll narrow the list down and re-read the short-list books between now and New Year's Eve. Maybe you should jot a few of these down on your holiday gift-giving list.
;)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Second Cyber-Launch Winner!

My poor Sweet Josephine was working so hard with her term papers and other Real Life stuff that she had no idea she was the second winner of the Cyber-Launch drawing. I was finally able to get a hold of her through MySpace and now she knows.
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Congratulations, Jospephine Damian! http://josephinedamian.blogspot.com/ She's an aspiring author of suspense fiction. Even though that's something I know absolutely nothing about, we bump into each other regularly in cyberspace. This only goes to prove we miss out on good friends and good stories when we lock our minds into only one kind of thing.



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This is Josephine's avatar. Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cyber-Launch Winners!


I'm so happy to announce the first winner of the Cyber-Launch Book Party drawing - Laurie! http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com/ This planetoid is her avatar.
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Laurie has been a Crunchy Critter of mine for almost two years. Has it really been that long? She critted all of STAR CAPTAINS' DAUGHTER and part of THE HOLY BENNU. I like to take credit for introducing her to Linnea's books, but now I can't remember if I really did. Did I, Laurie?
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By the way, Linnea's sending me the autographed copy of DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES like I wanted. Ain't she sweet?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cyber-Launch Book Party for DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair!

This is it! You've found it! Watch out for Zombie doo-doo. Jorie really has a way of shoving people's noses in it.






The glorious day for the the Cyber-Launch has finally arrived. Actually, the party runs all day today AND all day Friday. A drawing for zombie-related goodies will be held Friday night, 7 p.m. Alaska Time. I've been waiting since June because that's when I received the Advanced Reader's Copy and reviewed it. If you pop over to read the review, you'll notice it still had the old cover. Scroll down to the Archives on the left to find it in June 2007.
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2007 has been a stellar year for Linnea Sinclair as an author, I think. She released GAMES OF COMMAND in March. I reviewed it on the old Star Captains' daughter blog. You can find it by scrolling down the left side of this blog to the link 'Kimber An's Blog.' Once on the Star Captains' Daughter blog, scroll down the right side until you find the link 'Star Captains' Log.' Click on that and look for the Games of Command Cyber-Launch in March 2007. My book reviewing really took off after that, so I created the Enduring Romance blog just for that. I reviewed GAMES OF COMMAND right here in April. Scroll down to the Archives to find it. GAMES OF COMMAND has one of my favorite heroes of all time, Branden Kel-Paton. Hey, I even have a Games of Command sweatshirt! I've talked to about five people about the book because of that shirt. Just last month I was in the grocery store with my little darlings and a lady kept looking at me funny. Finally, she said, "I love your shirt!" Loved the book, so I was eager to read and review DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES. Both novels are excellent! Even though there aren't any babies (Kimber winks at Linnea.)


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I asked Linnea to answer a few interview-type questions and this is what she said:
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Kimber asked- Can you share the journey you took in creating DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES? What first inspired you? How long has this story been in your head? Did it flesh out right away or did the details come later? How did the characters reveal themselves to you?
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Linnea replied- Before I wrote science fiction romance for Bantam, I was a private detective in the St. Petersburg, FL area (before that, I was news reporter, but that’s another story…). I loved being a PI—research and puzzle-solving are two of my favorite things (well, after hitting the clearance racks at TJ Maxx or Steinmart). The Down Home Zombie Blues gave me a chance to play at being a detective again and bring in the science fiction romance part of me.
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I started writing ZOMBIE about four years ago. I have a very clear recollection of sitting upstairs in my (then) office in my (then) house in Palm Beach, FL (moved since then), pounding out chapters as my husband’s twenty-something year old daughter, Jaime, sat on the floor, reading them as they came out of the printer. Jaime makes a cameo appearance, by the way, as Homeland Security Secretary Jaime Warren in the end of the book. I felt it only fitting.
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But I never finished writing ZOMBIE because shortly thereafter I was contracted by Bantam and then I was in edits and such for the books they bought from me, including FINDERS KEEPERS and GABRIEL’S GHOST. I’m not one of those authors who can write two books at the same time. So ZOMBIE sat until the next time Bantam wanted books from me and I included several chapters with the proposal.
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My stories and characters flesh out pretty easily and quickly. That doesn’t mean there aren’t surprises. But what I end up with is very close to what I start with. I generally know most of what I need to know by the first chapter or two. Jorie and Theo were no exception. I do some freewriting before, kind of a “tell me about yourself and why I you here?”. But I learn best about my characters in action.
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I had an absolute blast writing Zombie and excellent input from some real live police officers and detectives, including Sgt. Steve Huskisson of the Plantation (FL) Police Department and Detective Sgt. Scott Peterson of the Collier County (FL) Sheriff’s Department. I’m sure they thought I was a bona-fide Signal 20 (mentally unstable person) with some of my questions, including having them theorize what they would do if they were abducted to an alien starship. But it gave me a better understanding not only of procedures that would have to be followed through the plot but also of the training and mindset Theo would have.
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What’s also fun about the book is that is went on sale November 27th. The actual action takes place starting mid-December. So the reader ostensibly could be reading the story on the day that action actually take place. Okay, not making myself clear here but I think you get the drift.
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I think of the books as “Men In Black meets CSI: Miami”. I hope readers of all genres find it a fun and fast-paced read.
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Kimber asked- Some of our guests are writers. Can you share your process for? What's your best advice on how they can improve the craft of writing to meet publication standards?
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Linnea replied- Pre-Bantam or post-Bantam? Yeah, there’s a difference. Right now my process from taking a story from rough draft to submission-ready manuscript is don’t sleep, drink lots of coffee, ignore the husband, miss a month’s worth of hockey games and write. Before that, I had a life.
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But basically, writing to contract has made me damn the fact the I’m a pantser and I try to spend the time I’m not writing, learning to plot. I really don’t recommend how I write books to any sane person. Learn to plot, however you want to define that. It doesn’t have to be a formal outline. It can be freewriting. It can be 3x5 cards. It can be using one of those writing programs like PowerWriter or WriteWay. It doesn’t matter what method. The point is to do it.
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Right now I’m using PowerWriter but I’ve used WriteWay and both are really good. PowerWriter is saving my patootie with SHADES OF DARK (sequel to GABRIEL’S GHOST). It’s forcing me to at least sketch out what is likely to happen for the next two or more chapters. It’s invaluable in keeping my notes in one place, which is really why I bought it to begin with. I build cities, worlds, star systems, cultures, political systems, interiors and exteriors of starships and space stations in addition to the usual characters and such. I was writing all this down on various scraps of paper, which I ‘d subsequently lose. Or the cat would barf up a jellied chameleon (because they never really digest those lizards) on my notes and there was no way to recover what I’d written.
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But plotting comes pretty much after you’ve learned to write. To improve your WRITING (not necessarily your book production), Dwight V Swain’s TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER is the answer. If you read only one how-to, that’s it. It’s my “Desert Isle Keeper” as AAR says.
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For me, as a reader and a writer, the crux of the story is conflict. The protagonist wants something, the antagonist prevents him from getting it. Or as excellent SF author Jacqueline Lichtenberg puts it (and her site—www.simegen.com—has a free writer’s school chock full of great tips): an urgent and undeniable I MUST slammed flat up against an equally as formidable YOU CANNOT. I’m paraphrasing that here but I hope you get the drift.
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So if you’re looking to get bought by an agent or a major publishing house, working the conflict is your story is critical. Learn the difference between conflict and complication (Jacqueline taught me that). My agent, Kristin Nelson, and I were talking about that a few months back and she said she realized that she rejects a lot of very nicely written manuscripts because the writer uses complication, and not conflict. Briefly, if Kimberly and Brad Pitt go on a picnic and ants show up, that’s complication. If Kimberly and Brad Pitt go on a picnic and Angelina Jolie shows up, that’s complication. The ants don’t care what Kimberly and Brad are doing. Angelina very sincerely gives a damn and will take action based on her feelings. {Kimber's Note: Don't worry, Angelina, I'm happily married and my husband's cuter anyway.}
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Kimber asked- What experience do you hope readers will take away from reading DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES?
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Linnea replied- The same thing I’d want them to take away from any of my books: fun. I try to write what one would watch in the old “Saturday Afternoon At The Movies” mode. Fun, fast-paced, exciting, romantic. Characters you want to cheer for. I noticed a comment by a blogger/poster on one of those more literary, foo-foo kind of book forums (where books with deep, hidden symbolism and existential angst are rated highly) and one poster sniffed down his nose that my books were “good for beach reads.” Well, golly gee gosh-almightly. Yeah, they are. That’s exactly what I want to write: good, fun beach reads. Damned with faint praise, as they say.
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But specific to ZOMBIE, I hope readers also take away a little more respect for law enforcement. As I mentioned above, I worked very closely with a number of police officers and detectives. Their jobs are to a great extent, thankless. At one point in the story, Theo notes what he was taught by his field training officer: Be courteous and polite but never forget that the next person you meet you might have to kill. Most people find that quote amusing but the truth in it is what law enforcement deals with every day. So ZOMBIE is my tip of the hat in thanks to all the men and women in blue out there.
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Kimber asked- Here’s a question I’m just curious about: If the powers-that-be asked you to write a Star Wars or Star Trek novel, would you? Why or why not?
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Linnea replied- I’d definitely think hard and long about it but I would be concerned with my ability to render someone else’s characters correctly. If I could invent my own characters for their world, sure. But I don’t know if I could properly write Leia or Kirk.
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Kimber asked- Can you tell us a little bit about your next novel? What’s the title? When is it due out?
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Linnea replied- SHADES OF DARK is due out late July, 2008. It’s the closing of Chaz and Sully’s story with started in GABRIEL’S GHOST (2006 RITA award winner.) I get asked to go into details on SHADES a lot but I’m reluctant to because it’s a bit difficult to do so without revealing spoilers for GABRIEL’S. I know. What? Not everyone on the planet’s read GABRIEL’S GHOST. Shocks me, too. But they haven’t. I’ve been shelved in science fiction and, in spite of the RITA win, a lot of romance readers aren’t familiar with my books. SHADES will be shelved in romance (I’m told) and pitched as a romance novel (some of my books are shelved in romance but that’s because store managers know my readership. I’m technically not listed as a romance author with the chain bookstores). Suffice it to say, SHADES is just as intense as GABRIEL’S. Just a lot more steamy. Yeah, I see Kimberly sitting back in shock. Me, too. I love to write sexual tension, flirtations, the longing… the chase interests me more than the capture, as they say, and my books reflect that. While I don’t slam the bedroom door shut, I don’t put my characters intimate moments under klieg lights, either. {Kimber's Note: Shocked? Me? And just how do you think I got pregnant four times? They weren't Immaculate Conceptions, Bub!}


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But SHADES, well, it’s steamy. My critique partners went….wow. I didn’t know you would write like that. ::fans self::
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I think why I can with SHADES is that Sully and Chaz are an established couple, for all intents and purposes, married. This is not wild passion exploding in the first ten minutes of meeting (something that sometimes gives me pause as to its plausibility). This is a committed relationship. Plus, Sully being Sully (see, I can’t get into spoilers here) and being a bit unique, well, making love to Chaz has a special purpose and meaning. And a very special purpose to the plot.
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I’m dancing around facts, I know. Best I can do. Here’s Bantam official back cover blurb, per latest update:
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For two fugitive lovers, space has no haven,
no mercy, no light—only...
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SHADES OF DARK
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LINNEA SINCLAIR
Award-winning author of The Down Home Zombie Blues
and Gabriel’s Ghost
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Before her court-martial, Captain Chasidah “Chaz” Bergren was the pride of the Sixth Fleet. Now she’s a fugitive from the “justice” of a corrupt Empire. Along with her lover, the former monk, mercenary, and telepath Gabriel Ross Sullivan, Chaz hoped to leave the past light-years behind—until the news of her brother Thad’s arrest and upcoming execution for treason. It’s a ploy by Sully’s cousin Hayden Burke to force them out of hiding and it works.
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With a killer targeting human females and a renegade gen lab breeding jukor war machines, Chaz and Sully already had their hands full of treachery, betrayal—not to mention each other. Throw in Chaz’s ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, and a Kyi-Ragkiril mentor out to seduce Sully and not just loyalties but lives are at stake. For when Sully makes a fateful choice changing their relationship forever, Chaz must also choose—between what duty demands and what her heart tells her she must do.
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Kimber asked- Wow! Sounds like more rip-roaring good fun! Is there anything else you want to share about DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES?
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Linnea replied- Well, if readers buy it RIGHT NOW they can be reading the action as if it was happening in real time. The story starts mid-December and involves the December holiday season (though it’s NOT a “Christmas story” by any means). So you could be reading what Theo and Jorie are doing on the day before Christmas, actually ON the day before Christmas. I think that’s kind of fun.
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Linnea Sinclairhttp://www.linneasinclair.com/ -- www.myspace.com/linneasinclairRITA(c) Award Winning SF Romance from Bantam Spectra2005: FINDERS KEEPERS, GABRIEL'S GHOST, AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESSComing 2007-08: GAMES OF COMMAND, THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, SHADES OF DARK
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Speaking of rip-roaring good fun, I really must go finish putting together the party. Linnea will give away a prize in the drawing Friday night. If you want to enter, just make sure to comment and that your username is linked to same way for me to contact you.
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"All right! Who let Junior have coffee?"



P.S. Please be respectful of my younger friends at the party. Thank you.
;)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Children's Books for Christmas, Part 4

This is the last Sunday I'll be posting my recommendations for Children's books for holiday gift-giving.
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First up, for babies through Kindergarteners, we have IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA by Deborah Guarino. One of my children loves this one so much, she loves it to shreds and we have to buy a new copy about every six months. This has been going on since she was a baby. We always buy the copies new, so the author and illustrator should be very pleased we're funding their retirement.

Second, we have another book for the toddlers through Kindergarteners. My son absolutely loves this one. Maybe it's because it's a father/son story and he just adores his Dad. Oh, and he loves pizza too! LITTLE NINO'S PIZZARIA by Karen Barbour.



Dads are doing great today. Here's another Dad story my children love - PAPA PICCALO by Carol Talley. This is the story of a bachelor cat who gets adopted by two orphan kittens. It's a great affirmation of the value and importance of Great Dads.

For age eight and above, THE CHRONOCLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis is a necessity of childhood. Get the boxed set. I'm highly critical of good Fantasy for any age group and I think this series is the best place for a child to start in that genre. I'm also one who is extremely careful about when my children start reading what. This depends on the child's level of comprehension and that's why it's vital to really know the child in question.

Finally, if you didn't find what you were looking for in this series of Sunday recommendations, I suggest popping over to the PBS website and accessing the web page for the show, READING RAINBOW, which is hosted by LeVar Burton. He's the actor who portrayed Geordi LeForge on STAR TREK ENTERPRISE. This is a show that's been running for over a decade, I think. You will find tons of book recommendations there!
http://www.pbskids.org/

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Favorite Early Childhood Education Books

Instead of a book review this week, I thought I'd list my favorite Early Childhood Education Books for parents, grandparents, caregivers, and anyone who wants to help children ages birth to about four years.

I'll list them in order of age appropriateness.
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YOUR SELF-CONFIDENT BABY
MONTESORRI FROM THE START by Paula Polk Lillard
ACTIVE LEARNING FOR INFANTS (this series has manuals for toddlers, two year olds, three year olds, and four year olds)
TODDLER THEME-A-SAURUS
BEFORE FIVE IN A ROW (This is a literature-based homeschool curriculum. Almost all the books are secular, but the authors are Christian.)
MONTESSORI PLAY & LEARN
THEME-A-SAURUS (there are several of these manuels)
ACTIVE LEARNING FOR THREE YEAR OLDS (remember this is a series of manuels for each age group)
FIVE IN A ROW (This is a literature-based homeschooling curriculum for preschoolers and Kindergarteners. Almost all the books are secular, but the authors are Christian)
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The authors of FIVE IN A ROW have a website with supportive message boards. Bear in mind, they are Christian. http://www.fiveinarow.com/
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One of the most important goals of Early Childhood is the child learning to read. Here are my favorite manuels for that.
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HOW TO MULTIPLY YOUR BABY'S INTELLIGENCE (I followed this loosely.)
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS
PHONICS PATHWAYS
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Additionally, there are several good books on baby sign language. I only teach that if a child's thinking skills are advancing faster than her verbal language skills.
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Here are some videos for language development:
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BILINGUAL BABY

LYRICAL LANGUAGE
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We use these to help our children become familiar with German which is formally taught in later childhood. Both programs have videos for many different languages.
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That's all I can think of for now. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Children's Book Recommendations for the Holiday, 3rd Sunday

Good morning! As some of you know, I'm filling in for Lady Bronco on Sundays for November. This is the third Sunday I'm giving my suggestions for holiday gift-giving for children. These are books which I have read a bazillion times to children as a Certified Professional Nanny (one class at nanny school was on choosing books for children) and as a Homeschool Mom who uses literature-based and history-based curriculum.

One of my proudest moments as a mother is when I find a child asleep with an open book on her head. In case you're curious, that's JESSE BEAR, WHAT WILL YOU WEAR?

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I read to my children from birth. My eldest child started phonetically sounding out words a month before her second birthday. My second child did the same thing at age four. My third hasn't learned yet, but loves to be read to and sits in on lessons. I believe in teaching children to read as soon as they are able and want to. Considering that, I thought maybe some of you would like recommendations for teaching children how to read. It really is very easy and you don't need expensive curriculum. First of all, you need to read out loud to the child every day. Nurture the passion for learning they're born with. Share the love. Secondly, get a good book on the teaching children how to read. Here are my favorites:
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TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS by Siegfried Engelman



PHONICS PATHWAYS by Dolores G. Hiskes



I think it's important to find a good program and stick with it. Don't just try and give up after a few days. Don't push your child. Make it a fun, quality-time activity you do every day. Also, contrary to what many programs claim, your child does NOT have to learn to write at the same time. Actually, children vary on their handwriting ability based on their fine motor skills. Each child matures differently in this area and I don't worry about any lag in skills until about age eight.
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On with the children's book recommendations!
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For babies through about age six, I suggest SNOW BALLS by Lois Ehlert. Ms. Ehlert is one of those authors you can buy any book by and know you're getting a winner without cracking it open. Her stories are compelling and her illustrations vivid. Her words are in large print, which is great for early readers. Run your finger under them as you read out loud.



Patricia Pollaco is another author whose books you can buy without even looking and know you got a winner.


This is one of our favorites for the preschool through about age seven group. Other Patricia Polacco favorites at our house include THUNDER CAKE and MRS. KATZ AND TUSH, both of which are loved up to about age nine.

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Finally, for the older children, check out the Step-Into-Reading, Step 4 books by Random House publishers. This non-fiction series covers everything from the Titanic to Pompeii. My eldest child couldn't get enough of them!



That's it for this Sunday, Blog Buds! Now, go out there and make a difference in a child's life by getting her a new book for Christmas.

;)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cyber-Launch Book Parties

As some of you already know, we're throwing a Cyber-Launch Book Party for DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair right here on the Enduring Romance blog November 29th and 30th.
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To get an idea of the lunacy involved, you may want to look to the left hand side of this blog and click on the link 'Cyber-Launch Book Parties' under the heading 'Special Blog Columns.' That link will take you to the parties for NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran, MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND by Lisa Shearin, and LOTTERY by Patricia Wood.
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Can't get enough hot goblins and mummies singing Kum-bah-yah around a campfire on a beach in Hawaii? Pop over to my blog http://starcaptainsdaughter.blogspot.com/ . Scroll down to the low-lower right hand side to the heading 'Star Captains' Log' and go searching the old archives for the Cyber-Launch Book Parties for SWEET SENSATION by Gwyneth Bolton, GAMES OF COMMAND by Linnea Sinclair, and MY FAVORITE EARTHLING by Susan Grant.

Well, gotta go. I usually take Sundays off the Internet, except email and responding to blog comments. However, I'm covering for Lady Bronco on Sundays for November. Check back here in the morning for great books to buy for children. The holidays are coming! Give a gift which will impact a child for life.
;)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

THE BURIED AGE by Christopher L. Bennett

I've mentioned how I don't usually read STAR TREK novels, except for novelizations of the movies or big episodes. My reason has been there's little room for character growth, which is important to me as a reader. For forty years, the Star Trek universe has been growing. The frachise had to be careful about how authors were allowed to grow the characters in the novels. This is because they had television series and moves still in production. Right now, there is a movie in production involving the original television story. I'm skeptical because the characters from the original Star Trek show are cultural icons, dearly loved by fans all over the world. It's going to be a monumental task doing them justice in a re-make. There are no Star Trek television shows in production at this time.

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I was drawn to the cover of BURIED AGE and induced by it to read the back cover. The idea of Picard going on an archaelogy dig on an alien planet intrigued me, so I thought I'd give Star Trek novels one last try. It seems the lull in television series-making has allowed the novels to really grow. While there is nothing really new about Captain Picard in this novel, his character is expanded upon and given substance and reason for.

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THE BURIED AGE starts with the destruction of the USS Stargazer by the Ferengi. Picard destroys the Ferengi ship and saves most of crew by carrying out a brilliant tactical maneuver. However, Starfleet still feels compelled to investigate him for negligence and such. Losing a starship is devestating for a captain like a Picard and he considers leaving Starfleet. Instead, he takes a leave of absence and explores his interest in archaelogy.

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This is where it gets interesting. For all his courage and might, we learn Picard isn't quite as brave as all that. He meets up with Guinan, the lady who will be his bartender on the Enterprise one day and you know her nack for turning people inside out. Good listeners are like that, you know.

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The thing about Picard is he's afraid of romantic relationships. Oh, sure, he gets laid almost as often as Kirk did, but he's completely incapable of maintaining a romantic relationship. He's inept and scared. Thank goodness for Guinan, a spiritual big sister to him, or he would have no womanly balance in his life at all. Of course, he develops a sisterly relationship with Counselor Troi eventually too. Troi is another one of my favorite female characters because she's another wonderful listener. Guinan and Troi are non-threatening because they are trusted sisters - not potential sexual partners who might learn enough to be an emotional threat. Without them, Picard would be half a man.

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So, Picard gets involved in an archaeological expedition to an alien world. This is where a lot of people complain there's too much detail and techno-babble. I agree there's a lot, but I can speed-read. Besides, it stretches the brain to read more technical Sci-Fi once in a while.

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Poor Picard. A couple of his team members bring their children. It's no surprise to me that a man who fears and is inept at romantic relationships would also be terrified of children. There is no creature more honest, basic, and intuitive than a child. No one can lay a man emotionally bare faster than a child! Being a former trained nanny and now a mother, I absolutely enjoy being around young people all the time. There is nothing more amazing than seeing the universe through their eyes. So, it's no surprise that I had enormous pity for Picard at this point in the story. There's such a joy he missed by being bottled up in fear.

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Despite these faults coming forth in THE BURIED AGE, Picard isn't diminished as a character because most of us know we're all human and we all have faults. Picard is made real by all this.

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In any case, during the process of exploring the ruins of the alien planet, Picard's team de-ices a woman frozen in time. Of course, she falls in love with Picard. At this point, the female reader might think, "Oh, berrruther, here we go again with the zitty teenage boy fantasy of having alien women wanting to jump into the sack every other page." This is, like, the third time a woman's jumped Picard in the story and, of course, she has wide and uplifting breasts. You knew this wasn't a Romance novel, right? Give teenage boys a break. After all, they're just venturing forth into a universe of women. At about fifty years of age or so, Picard really ought to know better. Besides, don't call teenage boys zitty unless you're willing to be called a wrinkled old prune too!

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Where was I? Oh, right, Picard getting jumped by hot alien women. Needless to say, things get really complicated from this point in the story. Besides Guinan and Troi, Picard also benefits from the steady wisdom of Lieutenant Kathryn Janeway. Yes, she's the future Captain Kathryn Janeway of Voyager fame. So, yanno, cut Picard some slack. Sure, I can't understand what's so attractive about a bald white guy...




Um, well, okay, maybe I can understand the appeal just a little bit...

Hmmm...oooh...yeah...

"He's dead, Kim."

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I know that! (sigh) But, what a wonderful legacy Yul Brynner left us. {Note to Self: Sew an Egyptian kilt for husband.}

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Okay, I'm back. All silliness aside, this is a great novel for Trekkies who miss their beloved characters, especially Picard, Guinan, Troi, and Janeway. There's a lot more dimension to them than I found in Star Trek novels a few years ago and a great adventure too. Now, I'm inclined to buy some of the other new ones out this year too.




Sunday, November 11, 2007

Children's Book Recommendations for Holiday Gift-Giving, Part 2

Hey there, Blog Buds! This is the second Sunday of children's book recommendations whilst I fill in for Lady Bronco who is taking November off book reviewing for a myriad of real life reasons. First up, we have a fabulous book for the babies and toddlers you know. Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle team up for POLOR BEAR, POLAR BEAR,WHAT DO YOU HEAR? They've teamed up for several children's books, but really you can go into any bookstore and find a book by Eric Carle and know you have a winner without even cracking it open.
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For the preschool through about third grade children in your life, pick up BARN DANCE by Bill Martin Jr and John Archanbault. It's a rythmic story you can almost sing to.
To expand the horizons of the little girls with too many Disney princess dolls, get MUFARO'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS by John Steptoe. The Cinderella story can be found in many cultures throughout the world. This one is from Africa.

For children starting to read chapter books or seven to 10 year olds, try the MAGIC TREEHOUSE series by Mary Pope Osborne.

My children gobble them up! She sends two beloved characters through a new adventure each book. These adventures cover topics from history and science, everything from the Titanic to gorillas.

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One word of advice, you might want to ask the parents if the children you're giving books to already owns them. These are all popular children's books. The Magic Treehouse books are a series with new ones coming out all the time. It's a good idea to find out which ones the child might already own.

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Happy Sunday and Happy Shopping, All. Pop over to Amazon.com if you can't wait.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

UNLUCKY by Jana Deleon

You know I only post positive reviews, so take what I'm about to say in context. I'm not interested in the Mystery genre. Nearly all of the Romantic Suspense novels I've tried to read bored me. The characters were stamped out with cookie cutters, the plots followed tired formulas like a paint-by-the number picture, and, of course, there was always the Standard Issue Sex Scene. I steer wide around those sections of the bookstore.
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Unless Jana Deleon's name is on the cover, or she recommends a book.
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So, why does Jana Deleon grab me with her blend of Romance and Mystery when so few authors of similar flavor do? Why did I choose her debut novel, RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU, as my Book of the Year for 2006 over my usual fare of Historicals and Science Fiction?
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Jana Deleon has an original voice as an author. Some people don't get her brand of humor, but I totally do. Her characters go multi-dimensional the first time they step onto the page. I can't stand predictable plots which Romance and Mystery are infamous for, but she keeps me glued into the story. She's also strong on secondary characters. Most Romances I read focus totally on the Hero and Heroine and the secondary characters are cardboard. This bores me. In real life, there's so much more to a romance. We all have weird friends and family members.
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UNLUCKY starts out with the heroine, Mallory, stopping into JT's Bar for a cold one after a long, hard day at work in the construction business. Did I mention Jana's tendency to mix totally hot babes who would be stereotypical Romance Heroines if not for their totally non-traditional Romance Heroine jobs? Mallory has the standard tiny waist, perfectly sculpted legs, and boobs which stand up on their own, but, believe me, you don't want to meet this lady in a dark alley with a nail gun! If she didn't nail you with it, her bad luck would probably drop a piano on your head. One of her previous boyfriends brought along extra protection (and I'm not talking about a c-o-n-d-o-m here) on a date and accidentally blasted a rather important part of his male anatomy. Needless to say, she has a hard time getting a date, gorgeous though she may be.
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Anyway...where was I? Oh, popping into JT's for a cold one. So, she pops into JT's and is bribed into cooling a pool game because Scooter bet two hundred on the town drunk who happens to be a priest. Cooling means Mallory hangs out with the guy they want to lose so her bad luck rubs off on him. Sure, other women can destract male gamblers, but they have nothing on Mallory.
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The plot starts twisting when Mallory learns her uncle, Harry, who owns the construction business she works with and is like a father to her is putting together a big gambling tournament with some major shady characters - a politician, several criminals, and such. He's about to lose his business due to medical bills. Determined to save her uncle's keester, Mallory signs on to 'cool' the cards. She intends to get together the money he needs to keep from going under.
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What Mallory doesn't know is one of the dealers, a damn Yankee no less, is an undercover agent. His name's Jake and he's there to find out what happened to his partner and who made it happen. Jake's partner left behind a wife and child. Mallory is too caught up to really notice him at first, but Jake wouldn't be a man if he didn't notice her. And, of course, he is a man.
;)
The tournament gets going and things heat up. All the baddies show up and Mallory can't believe her uncle actually invited them. Then, Jake gets assigned to her table. The two lines of determination collide and allign and sparks fly.
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I won't say anymore, except that the Heat Level is Highly Sensual. The book's in the stores now or you can order it off Amazon.com.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Children's Books for Christmas

Surprise! It's Kimber An filling in for Lady Bronco on Sundays for all of November. With the holidays fast approaching, I thought I would share my favorite children's books with you. It's time to think about shopping for all the children in your life, whether you personally gave birth or adopted them yourself. The fastest way into a parent's heart is to do something thoughtful for his or her child. These are books which I have read a bazillion times to many children as a nanny and as a mother. Today's books are suitable for boys and girls. I've arranged them by age group. Today's books have rhyme and/or meter. Got your pen and paper handy? Here goes!
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HAND, HAND, FINGERS, THUMB by Al Perkins. This one's great for babies and toddlers. It comes as a board book too, which I highly recommend because the littluns will love it to shreds.








THE WIDE-MOUTHED FROG by Keith Faulkner. The frog in his book is very proud to be a wide-mouthed frog who eats flies...until he runs into an alligator who eats wide-mouthed frogs! This one's great for toddlers and preschoolers.











WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT by Michael Rosen. To do this one properly, you really must clap or slap your knee. My children especially love the part with the wind, "Wooo-wooo! Woooo-woooo!" This one will hold on to toddlers through Kindergarteners.

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BRINGING THE RAIN TO KAPITI PLAIN by Verna Aardema. This one is based on an African folktale. It's excellent anyway, but if you want to be completely blown away you must buy or check out from your local library the Reading Rainbow video for it. That's the PBS kids' program hosted by LeVar Burton (Geordi LeForge on Star Trek The Next Generation.) The reader for it is James Earl Jones. You know, he's the guy who did the voice for Darth Vader in the original trilogy. Oh my goodness, it's mesmerizing! This book will enthrall all ages, but is especially loved by Kindergarteners through Fourth Graders.




I won't be doing books for Middle Grade or Young Adult. They warrent their own individual reviews just like grown-ups. Happy shopping, Everyone!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Historicals & Picture Books

Hungering for Historicals? Pop over to Clean Reads (link's on the sidebar.) The past several reviews have been historicals.
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I've decided to talk about my favorite children's picture books on Sundays throughout November while Lady Bronco takes her break from reviews. Even if you don't have children, you'll benefit from this because the holidays are coming. People are making babies all over the place these days. Odds are good you have grandchildren, neices, nephews, or children of friends you want to buy presents for. Besides books being adored by children, you can draw some satisfaction in knowing you played a small part in a child's potential for greatness by giving him or her an excellent book. So, pop in Sunday with pen and paper handy.
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This won't be any extra work for me. After years as a nanny and a homeschooling mom, I can quote these books in my sleep. "Yertle the Turtle was kind of the pond. A nice little pond, it was clean, it was neat..."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

FUSION FIRE by Kathy Tyers

So I was looking for more variety in my Science Fiction Romance and it occurred to me that there could be Science Fiction with strong romantic elements. I remember reading Kathy Tyers' Star Wars novel, TRUCE AT BAKURA. I thought she handled Han and Leia post-Return of the Jedi but pre-marriage pretty well in that. I found her website and looked up her booklist. She's not an incredibly prolific author, but she has won acclaim for the books she has written. In recent years, she's been widowed and returned to college, so her output of Science Fiction has slowed down even more. Nevermind that.
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I wanted FIREBIRD, but it wasn't readily availible to me here in Alaska. I didn't want to wait around for Amazon to deliver so I grabbed FUSION FIRE off the shelf. FUSION FIRE is the sequel to FIREBIRD. Now, I really need FIREBIRD!
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FUSION FIRE picks up where FIREBIRD leaves off. There's a synopsis of the first novel at the beginning and it's just wonderful, but I still think FUSION FIRE would be most enjoyable if the first book is read first. Anyway, Lady Firebird is newly married and pregnant, the result of her romance in FIREBIRD. It's rare to find a married romance, a pregnant heroine, less-than-graphic-nookie, and a powerful couple all in one novel. To say nothing of finding all that in a Science Fiction novel.
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FUSION FIRE is darker than I like my Science Fiction to be. I prefer fun and adventure. However, Kathy Tyers' ability to bring out the dimension of her characters and their motivations and such makes up for that.
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The story starts with Firebird wondering her house because, like many pregnant women, she can't sleep. You can tell the author has been through this herself. No fakey Padme-pregnancy ala Revenge of the Sith in this extraterrestrial yarn! She takes on an assassin in the dark and I believed it. She shares a telepathic bond with her husband which is typical when his species mates, but it's not typical for her species. She's adjusting to it, however. It's interesting to follow how they interact. The whole telepathy thing is carefully done, consistant, and believable.
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Firebird has no choice but to adjust. She has nowhere else to go. Going back to FIREBIRD, the heroine was supposed to carry out a suicide mission. She's a princess, but there's no tiara for her. The royal family she was born into lives under a law which considers all royal children beyond the heir and the spare to be 'wastlings.' It is the wastlings' duty to die gloriously for their gods in battle. This is to prevent family members from contesting succession to the Throne. However, she chose Life even though she has no political ambitions. Now, she's been tried, convicted, and sentenced to die a horrible death. Worse yet, this law also forbids anyone in the royal family besides the Queen from having children. The spare heir may have children only if the Queen fails to produce. And, as mentioned, Firebird is pregnant. With Twins!
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Firebird's husband, Brennen, isn't exactly a carefree soul either. Another powerful family is convinced by a prophacy that Brennen's family will destroy theirs.
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So, there are two major intergalactic factions who want this couple dead. The ante is upped when Brennen's brother and his wife and his three children are murdered in their beds. The youngest, a pre-teen girl, is forced to kneel for her execution while the murderer telepathically shows her what he intends to do to the rest of her family. This part really sent chills up my spine.
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As anyone who's ever been pregnant can empathize, Firebird feels exceptionally vulnerable anyway. What the assassins all seem to be completely stupid about is that it's really stupid to threaten a Mother Bear. All Alaskans know this. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs. Stay far, far away. Never surprise her. Never, ever annoy her. Especially when she's packing heat.
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One of Firebird's sisters tries to use her new throne to loosen up the old laws which could lead to Firebird's reconcilation. Another sister plots Firebird's murder to prevent this from happening. Talk about a dysfunctional family! Will forgiveness and peace win out? You won't know because this is not genre Romance. You're not promised a 'Happily Ever After.' However, you'll really want one with each page you turn.
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The underlying theme of this novel seems to be how some people twist religion to suit their own purpose, even to the point of twisting it to justify the murder of innocent children. While espousing devotion to their religion, they're actually using it to gain power for themselves. Meanwhile, those of pure faith struggle to hold onto it in the face of this evil. Very pertinent to our times, I think.
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I still recommend you read FIREBIRD first, but you don't have to. It's obvious Firebird and Brennen enjoy, ahem, 'Wedded Bliss.' However, the romance is demonstrated by the deep emotional bond which empowers a couple to lay down their lives for each other. The sweeping intergalactic epic tale will keep you going from start to finish with plenty of high-tech gadgetry and really cool space battles, slinking assassins, nasty scum the likes of which Han Solo would know all about, and intriguing alien species.
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And you won't be horrified if your ten year old reads it either. There is violence, but no gore. Lovemaking takes place behind closed doors making the Heat Level Sweet.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lady Bronco is Taking a Break

Lady Bronco is taking November off from reviewing books here on Enduring Romance. She's back in college and has massive homework right now! She's also going to do NaNo. Hang in there, Lady B!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Cover Art for Susan Grant and Other Stuff

Susan Grant just posted the cover art for her next novel, MOONSTRUCK. Pop over to http://susangrant.blogspot.com/ to learn more about her next adventure through Science Fiction Romance.

"Ahhh! Kimber! No. I can't do Science Fiction. I'm a girl. Girls are bad at science, yanno." You say?

Oh, get over it already. If you can use a cell phone, you can enjoy Science Fiction Romance. Trust me. My husband won't even let me use his cell phone because I can't remember how to use it from one day to the other, and I love Science Fiction Romance.
;)

In other news, you may notice I'm a little off-schedule these days because we just moved house. I posted the review of NOW AND ZEN by Linda Gerber this Tuesday which I was supposed to post last week. And now I'm only a quarter of the way through FUSION FIRE by Kathy Tyers, which is supposed to be this week's review. I really am starting to climb the heaps & piles. I actually updated the Kimber An Nebula and the Enduring Romance websites today.

Did I mention Linnea Sinclair's upcoming Cyber-Launch Book Party? End of November. Hold on to your favorite undead Halloween costumes.

I also have an Advanced Reader's Copy of a novel on the way. I've decided not to tell you the titles in advance just in case I have to decline doing the review. We only give positive reviews here at Enduring Romance. So, if I don't like or love a book, I don't review it. I let the authors know this up front now. This includes authors whose books I've reviewed before. As much as I love them, the simple fact is I don't love every single last one of their books.

I'm starting to think about the Enduring Romance Book of the Year. I guess there will be two Books of the Year, since Lady Bronco reads a lot of books I don't. These are books I've read this year. Some are new releases and some are new-to-me. Bearing in mind this is only October, here is my list:

SWEET SENSATION by Gwyneth Bolton
GAMES OF COMMAND by Linnea Sinclair
NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran
LOTTERY by Patricia Wood
MASTER OF VERONA by David Blixt
THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair (This one isn't due out until November 27th, but I read the ARC and reviewed it here in May.)
STAR WARS HEIR TO THE EMPIRE by Timothy Zahn
STAR WARS THE LAST COMMAND by Timothy Zahn
STAR WARS DARK FORCE RISING by Timothy Zahn

As you can see, Linnea Sinclair and Timothy Zahn are competing against themselves! I love each of these books for such different reasons. It's going to be so difficult to choose when the time comes.

That's it. Must return to tackling my runaway household now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NOW AND ZEN by Linda Gerber

I rarely read contemporary fiction. I never read it as a teenager. I like to escape reality when I read. If it doesn't have warp drive or ringwraiths, I'm just not interested. Usually. There are two things which can get me to read contemporary fiction - excellent storytelling and a multi-cultural theme. NOW AND ZEN is all that.
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Nori is a Japanese American teen on the fast track to college. But, that's not why she's padding her resume with a student exchange program. She wants to spend time away from her parents in the hope they'll spend more time together. She isn't particularly interested in Japan.
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Nori lands in Japan with her student group and finds all the non-Japanese people expecting her to know everything from the language to the customs. Of course, she doesn't. She has to contend with a couple of Barbie Dolls, one mean as a snake and another so sweet she could just gag. On the hottie front there's Atsushi, the Japanese boy whom she assumes is just being polite. And there's Erik Sussmann who looks like a Viking prince. He's from Germany. Oooh-la-la. Guten tag, eich libe dich. (That means, "Good day, I love you." I think.) I'm not sure if I was meant to, but I was cheering for Atsushi. He's adorable. And poor Nori doesn't have a clue.
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Besides that, Nori's parents show no sign of getting their act together and Mom decides Nori needs to spend time with their long-lost Japanese relatives. And she doesn't take Nori's opinion into the decision-making either. No wonder Mom's not getting along with Dad these days. She's not the best listener.
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So, everyone's thinking Nori's Japanese, except the real Japanese. That really annoys her, but then Erik finally notices her BECAUSE he thinks she's Japanese! Oh, dear. Before you can shout, "Danger, Nori! Danger!" she's letting him think that.
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You know I love culture-shock-fish-out-of-water stories anyway, but the other great thing about NOW AND ZEN is that it captures all the normal adolescent angst. Without slipping into cliche. I hate how my fellow adults tend to stereotype teenagers into self-absorbed parent-haters who only care about shoes and boys. Or girls. All the ones I know are intelligent, considerate and on their way to greatness. Anyway, get NOW AND ZEN for an escape from reality which will bring you all the way home.
;)
NOW AND ZEN is a book in the S.A.S.S series by Linda Gerb. S.A.S.S. stands for Students Across the Seven Seas, a student exchange program. The other book in the series, THE FINNISH LINE, is set in - you guessed it - Finland. I'm hoping there will be many more in this series. It's a gem.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday's Oldies but Goodies...

Good Morning!

This week's Oldie but Goodie is...

First released in the U.S. September 1999

I am going to assume you all know how much I love romance novels.

Historical, fantasy, sci-fi, vampire - you name it, and I love the genre of romance.

What you may not know is that I have a passion for action-packed stories. Adrenaline-laced, action-packed, hero-kickin'-ass, all-kinds-of-stuff-blowing-up action novels. The faster-paced the better. But I also like to give a damn about the characters within the pages of said action-adventure book.

Well, folks - meet Scarecrow. He is Marine Corps Lieutenant Shane Schofield, in charge of a team of Marines sent to investigate a frantic distress signal sent by the team of American scientists currently inhabiting Wilkes Ice Station on the harsh continent of Antarctica.

Scarecrow and his team figure they are going on a wild goose chase - going down to that frozen wasteland to check on a bunch of scientists who are probably suffering from cabin fever. When they arrive, however, what they find is so much more worse then they could imagine. The distress signal had been sent after a team of divers, exploring the underside of the ice shelf, discovered a cavern under the ice. When they signaled the discovery of some sort of spacecraft, the team of divers came under attack, and all vanished without a trace. But that's not the only wrinkle in the appearance of Scarecrow & Co.

A few other countries with stations in Antarctica heard the distress call as well, and they figured the tech buried under the ice was up for grabs to whoever could fight their way to it first & claim it - using any means necessary.

Before long, not only are the Marines fighting off foreign soldiers hell-bent on recovering the technology, they discover a faction within the American ranks who will stop at nothing to recover the tech for the American government - even if it means sacrificing every Marine and scientist inside the Ice Station.

Matthew Reilly has created a story that moves at lightning speed, but you don't realize it as you are reading it. His world-building skill is absolutely astounding, and believe me, you will be cheering on Scarecrow and his Marines before you are 1/4 of the way through the story. And the best part? the twists and turns all throughout the story do not, in any way, serve as distractions to the storyline - they make you want to find out what the hell is going on before it's all over.

If you love action-packed stories, you cannot miss this one. And the best part is the Scarecrow returns in several other stories by Mr. Reilly. You can find out more about the author & take a gander at his book list on his website http://www.matthewreilly.com/

Happy reading!

Friday, October 19, 2007

ARMED & MAGICAL cover is out!

The cover art of Lisa Shearin's second book is out. Isn't it gorgeous? Wow, Lisa's two-for-two in the Great Cover War. Good for you, Lisa!http://www.lisashearin.comMeanwhile, I know I'm late on my book review this week. We just moved house. I am so insanely busy. In any case, the book I will be reviewing when I have a chance to catch my breath is NOW AND ZEN by Linda Gerber. It truly is wonderful too. It's about a Japanese American girl who visits Japan knowing very little about Japan and everyone there thinks she's Japanese and assume she knows everything about Japan. It's a lot of fun. I love multi-cultural/cultural clash adventure-type stories, yanno.
;)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday's Oldies but Goodies...

Good Morning!

Today's Oldie but Goodie is...

Black Ice
by Anne Stuart

Released May 2005


I do not often read romance that has a thriller/intrigue/spy sort of edge to it. It's no secret that I love my romance with a touch of action/sci-fi, or vampires/zombies, that sort of thing.
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Imagine my shock when I began reading Black Ice, and the next thing I knew I had looked up from the book and it was almost 2 hours later.
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Black Ice tells the story of American Chloe Underwood. Chloe lives in Paris, and works as an American book translator. She shares an apartment with a fellow female translator, who offers Chloe the opportunity to fill-in for her over the weekend for some high-powered businessmen who need an English-French translator for a large business meeting taking place in the French countryside.
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Little did Chloe know this meeting had little to do with legitimate business, and that going to this meeting would jeopardize her very life.
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When Chloe meets Bastien Toussaint, he has been sent to eliminate her, but for whatever reason, something about Chloe wakes up his conscience - something he thought had died a long time ago.
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Instead of killing Chloe, Bastien decides to take a chance and get Chloe out of the deadly situation she finds herself in. Now Chloe has more than one problem to deal with. Not only are the two of them on the run from some of the most ruthless individuals Chloe has ever met, the motives of one Bastien Toussaint are continually in question. Why did he rescue her, and what does he really want?
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Ms. Stuart has skillfully written a tale that will have you hooked almost from page one. While the heat level is sensual in this tale, it is a very integral part of the story, and the intimacy reveals a lot about our hero Bastien we might have never learned otherwise. Ms. Stuart has created two characters you will be able ti identify with, and you will care about what happens to them by the end of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the thriller/action/romance tale spun within the pages of 'Black Ice' and you will also be happy to know it is one of a series Ms. Stuart has written. You can find out more about on the author's website - www.anne-stuart.com
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Happy Reading!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

MY INVISIBLE HUSBAND by Shelia M. Goss

This is a novel I've been wanting since last February. I couldn't find it anywhere in Alaska. I finally ordered it off Amazon.com. New, of course.


Remember the sacred Enduring Romance oath? "I, Kimber An, do solemnly swear to always buy my favorite authors' books new." Buying new is the only way authors make money and publishers pay attention to the kind of books you like. But, I digress.
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Nikki is on the other side of thirty and her family and friends nag her relentless about when she's going to find a nice man and get married. Ug. I really know how that feels because I went through the same thing. Finding a loving, faithful husband can take a while, yanno.
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Sick of all the nagging, Nikki does something I never thought of. She pretends to get married. She flies to Las Vegas for the supposed wedding/honeymoon and has a nice solo vacation. Oh, yes, she does feel guilt and worries how long she can pull it off before she has to tell everyone it didn't work out and she got divorced. But, then, on the flight back she meets Byron.
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Byron's been waiting a long time for a loving and faithful spouse too. One of his misfires is a psycho ex.
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Byron is so taken with Nikki that he plays along with her charade when he finds out that she's claimed him as her Invisible Husband to her friends and family. How far will they go? How long can they pull the wool over everyone's eyes? Will love make the charade irrelevent?
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You'd better buy this book and find out. ;) http://www.sheliagoss.com/


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday's Oldies but Goodies...

Good Morning!
This week's Oldie but Goodie is...

Houston, We Have A Problem
by Erin McCarthy

Released September 2004

Meet Josie Adkins. She's a surgical resident, but she also happens to be a grade-A klutz. More than a little self-conscious of her short and curvy frame, her nerves go into overdrive everytime Dr. Houston Hayes comes anywhere near her.
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Dr. Houston Hayes is a no-nonsense orthopedic surgeon. He has no desire to get into any long-term relationship - too risky. He is, however, at a loss when it comes to Dr. Adkins. He drives her crazy, and not just because she is always dropping x-rays and charts every time she is around him. He is so attracted to her that it's becoming a distraction, and he can't have that. His solution? Offer one night together to get rid of the tension between them.
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Yeah, cause that always works.
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Not.
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Houston is in for a big surprise. Not only does Josie turn out to be someone he is actually comfortable talking to, she turns out to be so much more than the clumsy resident who drives him crazy. And Josie? Well, she is discovering there is more than meets the eye where houston is concerned. Behind the 10-ft walls he has erected around himself is a man who is in some desprate need of a little TLC.
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Slowly, Josie manages to find a way around Houston's walls, and when Houston is badly hurt, Josie grabs on with both hands and refuses to let go, even when Houston tries his best, in his misery, to push her away.
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Erin McCarthy definitely manages to create two characters you can identify with. If you have never read a novel by Ms. McCarthy, this is an excellent story to start with. Her stories are always a treat to read, and her writing style always manages to blend a perfet balance of humor and wit, and her character-building skills are awesome. If you are looking for an author who writes in a style you will be comfortable with, Ms. McCarthy is definitely your woman.
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For more information on the author, and a complete list of her books, pease visit her website at
Happy reading!