Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I'm going to try and remember to tell you all about really great book reviews elsewhere in the Blogosphere from now on. You know how it is, so many books, so little time.
I know this Tuesday must seem all about my author Blog Buddies, because I have to tell you I'm reviewing PROTECT AND SERVE by Gwyneth Bolton this Thursday, May 29th.I'm reviewing as many of my ARCs as I can over the next few weeks while I have the time. I call it banking time for later when my schedule's crazier. Anyway, I was delighted to bump Gwyneth's book up a week. I'm really enjoying it. She never fails to deliver. If I could only have half her ability to describe things without dragging down the story, I'd have it made as an author! Gwyneth Bolton also gets her own heading in the directory, so just click on her name there and read all about her.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
A SOLDIER'S PROMISE is set in the All-American town of refuge. Joel is a grown-up little boy who never got over his parents shenanigans with an uncle or his mother's death. He's sure he'd never make a good dad, as a result. Yet, his dearly held traditional values make him want a family of his own, rather than making do with a little hanky-panky on the side. Likewise, Amber is kind of estranged from her father, which makes her mistrustful of the male population in general. I can sooo identify with that! Believe me, Amber is a lot nicer to the male gender than I was as a single girl.
After receiving a letter from a little boy dying of cancer at Amber's school, Joel visit. Bradley, the little boy, is immediately taken with Joel, as well as already having a close bond with Amber. His parents are long gone and his foster-mom just tolerates him. Now, if you're a single guy and you meet a girl who's a nanny (like I was) or a special needs teacher, like Amber, you're really stupid if you don't understand that our maternal nature is more powerful than the beating sun. It's difficult to predict what kind of mother an attorney or a bus driver might be. Most women go totally ballistic with motherliness once the hormones and instincts kick in, but they usually only have patience for their own children. Professional Childcare Providers are born with an extra dimension of maternal instinct. This doesn't make them any better mothers, of course. For example, I may have that extra dimension, but I can't remember my own telephone number. I'd never make it as an accountant. It means we were born suited to a certain profession, just like everyone else. So, Joel really ought to know better than to fall in love with a special-needs teacher, if he doesn't want to be a dad. Ah, but what we think we want and what we really want and need is frequently not the same.
Joel gets shipped out when his unit is sent to help some people whose South American community has been devestated by floods. While there, he emails Bradley and, through that, begins a slow, but steady long-distance romance with Amber.
Amber wants to adopt Bradley and is increasingly disturbed by the foster mother after she fails to take Bradley to his cancer treatments for the third time in a row. But, she doesn't want to marry someone who isn't going to be there for her and her children, like her own father. Soldiers get shipped out and are gone for long periods of time. I know I couldn't handle that. It takes a very strong heart to love a soldier. It takes a very strong soldier to admit he needs the love of a good woman, and their children.
A SOLDIER'S FAMILY is set in the same town and feature the best friends of Joel and Amber. Manny has been a bad, bad boy and he wasn't exactly a gentleman to Celia the first time they met. I won't tell you what happened because it would give away too much about A SOLDIER'S PROMISE which you really should read first, although you don't have to. Suffice it to say, Celia clocked the obnoxious jerk onto his backside. That and hitting the ground a little too hard during a skydiving exhursion has bruised Manny's ego and busted up his backside. He meets Celia again and this time he's all bandaged up in the hospital. She's just there to help her best friend, Amber, and gives no indication she's forgiven him.
Here's a quote to clue you in on Celia's personality: Guilt sucker-punched Celia. She flapped her arms and put resolve in her voice. "Well, fine! Okay. I'm glad he didn't die. Otherwise his dented rear bumper would be on fire right now in the devil's place. Still, what a waste of a perfectly good pine tree." Not that she meant any of the last part, but it amused her to watch Amber's eyes bug out.
Neither side of this couple have had it easy. Manny's first wife OD'd on narcotics after their son drowned while they were too busy arguing to notice. He's a Big, Fat Failure at the Husband/Father Gig. Amber's father was hypocrital deacond and her first husband was shot in a drug raid. Now, she has a son to raise all by herself. There's no way she wants to marry another man in a high-risk occupation, if at all.
So, Joel and Amber take Manny in to recover in their home and, of course, Celia visits often. Manny and Celia pretend to tolerate each other while subconsciously falling in love. But, then, Celia finds a drug pipe in her son's bedroom and he suddenly needs some Mega-Parenting. Will Celia find the strength to let Manny step up to the plate with her?
Both these novels are Sweet with no Violence. They're the kind you want to tuck into your purse before you start a long, hard day. They'll help you remember, through all the dentist's appointments and dinner burning on the stove, that miracles really can happen through the healing power of love.
Pop over to Cheryl Wyatt's website for more information on her books. http://www.cherylwyatt.com If you like A SOLDIER'S PROMISE & A SOLDIER'S FAMILY, you might also like the novels of Brenda Coulter and Jillian Hart.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
THE RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER by Jacqueline Kolosov is Young Adult, but I think it should be stocked with regular adult novels as well. The story twists and turns enough for any grown-up. Also, if you’re sick of having to skip the Standard Issue Sex Scene, you won’t have to worry about it here. There’s plenty of romantic tension. It intertwines with the plot, but the rest is very skillfully left to your imagination. I don’t know about you, Sister, but I got a heck of an imagination! Maybe that’s why I’m so unforgiving of poorly written Romance novels. Anyway, this is NOT a Romance novel. Also, a lot of Fantasy novels for adults these days are too dark & gritty & grotesque for me. Ms. Kolosov manages to pull off all the scary magical stuff without resorting to a lot of blood & guts & making me want to eat worms.
History supposes that Mary, the daughter of Katherine Parr (widow of King Henry VIII) and Thomas Seymour died in early childhood because there is no mention of her after Katherine died six days after giving birth. There’s no proof, of course. It’s a pretty safe assumption since the infant mortality rate was so high. But, Jacqueline’s supposition is so much more interesting.
I don’t know about you other history buffs, but I would not have wanted to live before contraception was widely available and doctors knew to wash their hands before attending a woman giving birth. (Ancient Egypt was better off the Medieval Europe in this respect.) I would have installed myself as a nanny to a wealthy family and married chocolate. A hundred or more years ago may have been ‘the good old days’ for men with over-inflated opinions of their own masculinity, but sex was deadly for women back then. In RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER, Mary knows this all too well. She knows her mother only escaped the fate of two of Henry’s other wives on the head-chopping block because of her intelligence and Henry’s failure to plant the Seed. Still, Mary is sure Romantic Love eventually got the better of her mother when she married Thomas after Henry’s death, because she died in childbirth and Thomas was executed as a traitor to the Crown.
Mary was fostered by two women, a duchess who was a close friend of her mother’s and a lady who comes from a long line of white magicians. Both reinforce Mary’s belief that Romantic Love is a death-trap for women, one she will never allow herself to fall into. The second foster-mother, Lady Strange (Don’t laugh. There really is an English peer whose title is Baroness Strange. It probably has some obscure and ancient origin,) takes it upon herself to train Mary in her natural talent for magic. Much more than that, she impresses on Mary the value of an education during a time when few women could read. The great thing about magic in this Fantasy is that its believable mixed with real science. That was refreshing.
Mary is sent to the court of Queen Elizabeth I at the age of 16. She finds there a 30 year old virgin queen (some scholars doubt the virgin part) and a collection of scheming backstabbers you could find in any public high school today. In fact, it reminded me of PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet that way. The trials of adolescence are universal it seems, because both authors pulled it off without it being contrived. That is, if they were trying to mirror contemporary high school life, it really didn’t show. Neither resorted to being too contemporary to pander to today’s readers. I hate it when Historicals do that. A truly great author doesn’t need to do that and readers are too smart for it.
Soon after arriving, Mary makes the acquaintance of Francis whom she’s told was knocked up by Edmund Seymour. Frances loves a different boy, but Edmund used the magical equivalent of date-rape to do the Deed. He didn’t do it for lust or love, but to destroy Francis’ reputation. Francis, Mary is told, was in a position to marry well and her future husband would be sure to rise up in status. At that time, if a girl got pregnant outside of marriage, she could be shamed, have her head lopped off, get tossed out into the street to be raped and murdered. I know these horrendous crimes are still committed against girls around the world today, but in America we have laws against it and social programs to help the girls. Francis’ parents were counting on her making a marriage which would be politically advantageous for them and that’s where their ‘love’ ended. Unconditional love and compassion were not lavished on this girl, so it’s no wonder she fell in love with a good young man who filled her need for it.
Francis decides to intervene, for that is her role as a white magician in Queen Elizabeth’s court. She’s there to ensure the Queen’s long and good reign. In doing so, she draws the attention of another magic-user, Edmund, and someone else she can’t imagine who. Now, she’s pitted against Edmund whom she’s sure means to destroy her as well. But, there are many ways to destroy a girl in Tudor England. If the Queen returns Katherine Parr’s inheritance to Mary, she will become a very rich young woman and the second most eligible bachelorrette in town (the Queen’s #1). It would be much more advantageous for Edmund to coerce her into marriage before destroying her. Back then, husbands got all their wives’ money upon marriage. Wives lost all power too and this is why Queen Elizabeth never married.
Well, you all know how I feel about Sizzling Hot Villains.
They say little girls tend to grow up to marry men just like their fathers, whether he was a monster or a hero. It’s often true, unless a girl consciously decides she wants *and deserves* someone else. Edmund is a lot like Mary’s father, the traitor Thomas Seymour. Mary finds herself attracted to him and, yanno, I really feel for her, ‘cause he is totally hot. Oh, those bad, bad boys.
The thing about Bad Boys is they’re totally stupid unless they’re in the hands of a skilled author. Thank God Jacqueline Kolosov is one of those authors.
One of the things I really enjoyed about RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER is it followed Mary’s growth. A lot of Fantasy writers take great pains in setting up the fictional world, usually the first 30 to 60 pages. It seems to me even the greats like Mercedes Lackey do this. Jacqueline kind of does that, but if you’re the impatient type you won’t feel it. The first part of the story is Mary remembering the tragic circumstance of her birth, growing up as a foster-child to the Duchess first and then Lady Strange and her unusual education with them. I really liked it because if a Protagonist starts out perfect and mature and powerful, I just can’t relate because there’s no room for them to grow. Booooring. I followed Mary from her birth, through her childhood and all the angst of knowing her mother died after giving birth to her and her father was a traitor, and into her teens as educational and vocational and romantic opportunities opened up to her, all the way up to her as a confident young woman. Loved it.
As I mentioned before, this is not a Romance novel. You’re not promised a Happily Ever After and, really, there’s so much more to life when you’re a teen than just getting married. However, the other thing I liked about this novel is that it does have a satisfying ending which screams, SEQUEL! And I, for one, can’t wait.
To learn more about the novels of Jacqueline Kolosov, pop over to her website. http://www.jacquelinekolosov.com
If you like RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER, I just know you’ll like PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet and anything by Linda Bray or Eva Ibbotson.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
It's the first anniversary of her blog retirement. http://misssnark.blogspot.com/
The celestial Susan Grant has consented to us indulging in lunacy over her new release, MOONSTRUCK, which hits the shelves May 25th.
My copy of the beautiful Gwyneth Bolton's next release, PROTECT AND SERVE, arrived in the mail yesterday.
I'm reading RED QUEEN'S DAUGHTER by Jacqueline Kolosove to review this coming Thursday, but I couldn't help but sneak the first few pages of PROTECT AND SERVE. Awesome! I love Jacqueline's book, but I'm very much looking forward to Friday when I can start Gwyneth's book. I was going to read CRYSTAL RAIN by Tobias S. Buckell next, but Blog Buddy authors get preferential treatment here, yanno. We're hoping to throw a Cyber-Launch Book Party for Gwyneth in July when PROTECT AND SERVE hits the shelves.
EMPRESS by Shana Sa. I love Ancient Chinese history and culture. This is one I'd squeeze into my schedule if the author or her associate offered the ARC. I'm resisting the urge to email and beg for it.
BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle. Tia is reviewing this one at http://fantasydebut.blogspot.com/ right now. I bet Kimber Chin would looooove this one! She goes by 'K' on this blog because our first names are the same. Here's here link: http://businessromance.com/And that's it, Blog Buddies. Thanks for popping in and have a good week.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Or is he? The CIA and the Pentagon want to know, so they have contracted the services of Force du Sable, a private military company based off the West Coast of Angola. They have sent in Emily Carlin, a profiler, to observe him and give her professional opinion on his character and stability.
She can’t complete her mission, though, because the U.S. Embassy has been evacuated after four American geologists have turned up dead- and the bodies were displayed in the same manner that Laroque’s father used to use as warnings. But there’s a hitch: these Americans were agents, and Laroque didn’t kill them. Someone is trying to force him into conflict with the U.S., and he suspects Souleyman is working behind the scenes to regain power.
Emily winds up getting stuck in Ubasi, and becomes the guest of Laroque in his palace. Her cover is in place, but he suspects there’s more to her than she’s saying. Emily is thankful for the chance to observe him up close, but has to find a way to report back to her superiors by a certain time, or they will assassinate Laroque. They know of Souleyman’s plans, and prefer to deal with the devil they know if it seems that Laroque will be as evil as his father was.
Complicating matters is the attraction that runs strong between the two. Emily is fighting her Achilles’ heel- she has a weakness for Alpha males, and Laroque definitely fits that bill. Trying to do her job while protecting her heart is no easy task. Laroque is conflicted as well; he has to deal with his superstitious people who point to a prophecy that says a woman will bring him down. His growing feelings for Emily may well cost him the trust of his countrymen. And he still knows he can’t fully trust her.
Loreth Anne White plots political conspiracy very well; her conflicts were entirely believable and compelling. I am a huge fan of spy stories. And as much as I love an escapist fantasy, I liked the realism- no James Bondish gadgets or Goldfinger villains here.
The inner arguments that Emily and Laroque have were well written; just enough angst to keep you guessing but not so much introspection that the action slows down. Their attraction is believable and may I say, HAWT.
Speaking of heat level, that would be highly sensual, and it totally fits the story. It’s a wonderful addition to the Silhouette line, and won the 2007 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Silhouette Romantic Suspense. Congrats Loreth, and great story!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Patricia Wood had the news today. First of all, her bestselling, debuted-in-hardback-last-Augest novel, LOTTERY, is coming out in paperback on June 3rd. http://pkwood.blogspot.com/
Second of all, Pat is doing a tribute to The Divine Miss Snark at her blog on May 20th. All Snarklings must be there to show proper respect and gin. Miss Snark may have retired from the Blogosphere, but her archives are still with us. Many a published and aspiring author owes much to Miss Snark. http://misssnark.blogspot.com
Friday, May 9, 2008
Linnea Sinclair’s next novel, SHADES OF DARK, is the second in a series of which GABRIEL’S GHOST is the first. I highly recommend you pop over and read my review of that first, then this one. More than that, find a copy of GABRIEL’S GHOST and read it before SHADES OF DARK comes out in July. SHADES stands alone all right, but reading GABRIEL’S first will make it all the better.
In GABRIEL’S GHOST, Sully rescues court-marshaled captain Chas from a prison planet and recruits her to help him track down and destroy the Jukors. These are monsters being illegally bred to destroy humans and other despicable creatures. Besides being nasty dragon-like beings, they’re immune to telepathy. Although Sully is human, he has some telepathic abilities which would make him a target for the guys who hate alien telepaths. Linnea reviews all this and sets up the conflict for SHADES all in the first chapter and without resorting to an info-dump either. I won’t tell you what role Chas’ brother and ex-husband played in GABRIEL’S because I might ruin it for you, if you haven’t read that one yet. Suffice it to say, Chas’ brother, Thad, is arrested in SHADES OF DARK.
Of course, Chas wants to run off and rescue her brother from the corrupt government officials holding him, but Sully realizes Thad is just bait. The baddies really want Chas and him and anyone else who is out to destroy the Jukors and their production.
There’s a saying most Trekkies know- “Never trust an alien when he says he only wants to help.”
No sooner has Chas, Sully, and their capable crew set off when they encounter another renegade officer- Dalby. The baddies want her dead because she knows too much, but her motives for helping out are more than suspect. She thinks Chas has influence with the Imperials which Chas just knows she doesn’t. Soon as she figures out Chas is on Sully’s ship, she cuts out. But, that’s not as freaky as Sully realizing, through telepathy, that a member of their crew, Gregor, wasn’t at all surprised by Dalby’s arrival.
Chas may be out to save her brother, but everybody else is postering and pushing for regime change. No one seems interested in individual freedoms, except Chas and Sully of course, but at this point they don’t seem to think they can do anything about it. They just want to save Thad and get rid of those stinkin’ Jukors. Trouble is, the person responsible for Jukor production is one of those posturing for power and killing Taka women in the process by using them to breed the nasties. Oh, what a mess.
And let’s not forget Chas and Sully are lovers. Sully is a rare human telepath. Chas is alarmed to realize their lovemaking has been taken to a whole new level and worries Sully is taking control of her mind as a result. Is he doing it on purpose? Does he believe it’s a good thing? As wonderful as it is, will Chas lose herself to Sully? He certainly has the advantage. He can wipe people’s minds clean. She has no telepathic ability at all. Doesn’t sound like a marriage of equals to me.
Fear of loss often drives otherwise good men to dominate their women. But, there’s a difference between protection and possession, and that difference is trust. And that which appears to be strength often is not, but…I’d better stop there.
Linnea drives the dagger into the reader’s imagination and twists it around and around until you’re screaming. Is Chas’s Dad really going to make Thad turn state evidence against her? Well, there goes his Father of Year award. Is Phillip another alien who only wants to help or does he have a dagger of his own?
I love this novel on several novels. Lately, I’ve been kick-butted out with heroines. Oh, sure, I love the kick-butt heroine, but she’s become a stereotype, I’m afraid. Chas is not that. Sure, she can kick bad guy alien butkis, but her strength is a reserved one, a balance of passion and reason. The second thing I love about this novel is it’s not a boy-meets-girl romance. Chas and Sully are an established couple maturing together, figuring out how to make Happily Ever After happen. Because, it doesn’t just happen in Real Life, yanno. And third, there’s a sense of family. Chas has a seriously dysfunctional family, but they are present in the story and in her psyche. She didn’t just spring out of nothing like too many stereotypical heroes and heroines. Her love and loyalty for Thad is a strength, but, of course, it can be a weakness. Just like in Real Life.
So, what you get with SHADES OF DARK is a well-balanced, carefully paced story which will carry you through to the end. There is no junk, no extra words, no dangling plot threads, just a fabulous novel indicative of an author who never stops learning her craft.
And I’m not just saying that because I have a cameo in the story either.
“I remembered a silver-haired freighter pilot telling us, her pilot’s braid longer than mine was now. Her name was Kimber An, and she was something of a legend around the pubs on Marker 3, both for her stories and her drinking skills.”
I mean, gee-whiz, you only have to click on Linnea Sinclair’s name in the directory to realize you shouldn’t bother knocking here if you want an objective opinion of her work. I'm a big time fan-girl. Nevertheless, one thing I've learned as an unpaid, unprofessional blogging book reviewer is that enthusiasm cannot be bought.
I've almost made enough money in a year off these Amazon ads to buy a cup of coffee now!
Heat Level: Sensual
Gore O'Meter: Violent
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I still feel guilty for the last time I wrote a review with a bad head-cold. That was MASTER OF VERONA by David Blixt last Fall. Yanno, my brain cells are mired down at times like this, but I am feeling better now.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Michelle Moran has cover art for her next novel, THE HERETIC QUEEN, which is due out in September. Beautiful, isn't it? To learn more about the novel, click on the following link- http://michellemoran.com/books.htm For an interesting discussion on how the novel came to have this cover art, click on this link- http://www.historicalfiction.org/forums/showthread.php?t=3118
Also, in case you haven't heard, Michelle's novel, NEFERTITI, will be released in paperback on May 27th. It was released in hardback last July.
Meanwhile, our own Kimber Chin has released her very own very first novel, BREACH OF TRUST, with Champagne Books.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
First Released January, 1998
The day Lonewolf appears out of thin air right before her eyes changes everything.
Working a crime scene in one of the many sacred caves on the reservation, Willow is shaken when a figure appears out of the shadows of the cave - a Navajo warrior of old, complete with leggings, medicine pouch and bow and arrows.
Lonewolf is a Starway Shaman, a Stargazer, with the power to heal and the power to guide his people. He has been sent by the stars 130 years into the future to save the next Starway Shaman, a dying little boy under Willow's guardianship.
Immediately, Willow and Lonewolf clash - Willow unbelieving that Lonewolf had the power to heal little Manuelito, Lonewolf desperate to convince Willow the old ways are valuable and can heal the boy. Along the way, they discover they are the other half to each other's soul, destined to show their people a balance between old and new, destined to save the next Starway Shaman.
Ms. Baker's ability to blend romance, suspense and Native American mysticism into a compelling story is amazing. You can picture the Arizona desert and the colors of the sand and sky as if you were looking right at them. Ms. Baker does a fine job with the development of Willow and Lonewolf into two characters you will find yourself silently rooting for by the end of the story, and woven throughout the novel is the unspoken admonishment that balance is the key to happiness and harmony - balance in life, balance in love, balance in everything we do. Ms. Baker keeps the heat level at sensual, and it definitely serves to further the story along.
You can learn more about Laura Baker and her stories on her website - http://members.aol.com/lbaker10/index.htm
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Now, I know what you’re thinking… it is free, it can’t be that great. If it was that great, it’d be published in print form.
Well, banish those thoughts. The love story of the ruined Eleanor Blakely and rakish Viscount Wroxton is delicious. It is like one of those little chocolates you magically find on your pillow at higher end hotels. Short enough to gobble up during your lunch hour (I saved it for a dreaded Monday).
I love how Something Wicked starts with the two, bored out of their minds, looking for amusement, and finding it in a game of card. Both being proud, stubborn people, the betting quickly escalates out of either of their control (naughty but not too naughty).
Often shorts ignore family members. Not in this case. I love how the hero is very conscious of Eleanor’s five very large brothers. I love how both are attending the card parties with their mothers (Moms are SO important, aren't they?).
No sloppy research here either. Kalen Hughes is known for her historical detail and that shines through in this short.
There are no guts or gore at all in this short. There is the potential for real violence if any of the brothers catch Wroxton with their sister. The naughtiness level is fairly tame, some heavy petting and a standard male reaction to heavy petting.
You can download Something Wicked at http://kalenhughes.com/index.htm.
If you love this short and you haven’t read Lord Sin, well, you’re in for a treat. Oh, and having read the ARC for Lord Scandal (out June 2008), if you liked Something Wicked and you liked Lord Sin, then you're going to LOVE Lord Scandal. Lord Scandal and Lord Sin are very, very, very steamy (did I mention steamy?).