Monday, May 31, 2010

Romeo and Juliet: Romance or Satire?

Now, I think we all have read or watched some version of Romeo and Juliet at some point in our lives. I was never a fan of the play or the movies. The whole story seemed absurd to me and I began to believe that perhaps I was a soulless cynic. All the other girls thought it was romantic, was I missing something?

I've given this a lot of thought and come up with some answers.

1) I am, indeed, a soulless cynic.

2) I don't believe this makes me wrong.

My argument, let me show you it:

Shakespeare was a witty, ironic and sarcastic bastard (hence my love of him). I don't know that he really intended Romeo and Juliet to become the icon of true and fated love. To me it's more of a satire on bad parenting and young love (and in this case I think he portrayed it more as young lust and overactive hormones). Apparently, there were angsty emo teens even in Shakespearean times. Take note angsty emo teens that think you are so shiny and new: it has been done before and done better.

If you've read the play you'll find that Romeo and Juliet's parents are self absorb rich people that feud over the stupidest crap and mishandle their young and angsties consistently. They don't listen to what their kids are telling them and they don't pay attention to what their kids are doing. They just expect that because they said, "No. You will not see that boy/girl or go to that party/place and do that thing" that their kids are totally going to obey them and not question them. In short, they are poor parents that are asking for their kids to do something rebellious and stupid.

Then we have the making fun of the young love/lust. Romeo, you will find if you read the play, is a bit of a teenage player. He falls in love with a new set of female attributes every other day. And each time it's the end of life as we know it. He shall surely die if he cannot have his ONE TRUE LOVE (de jour). SURELY DIE. He gets all angsty, emo, suicidal, and mentally unbalanced when talking about his ONE TRUE LURVE at the beginning of the story and guess what, it aint Juliet. It's not until later that he abandons (trades up) his TRUEST OF LURVES when he spots Juliet. Juliet herself is a girl that is overly controlled by immature and selfish parental units that have decreed she shall marry some older dude that she doesn't want to marry, so when some young hotness (who is wise to the wooing of the ladies) comes knocking at her balcony, she throws herself off the proverbial cliff of love and avows her eternal devotion to said hotness.

Now, we have the satire of the church. A Father, who is supposed to give the young and foolish lusters lovers, sound advice and guidance, instead aids and abets them in their plan to lie to and dishonor their parents and run off together to be poor and miserable but have lots of virgin sex happy ever after. The plan itself is not sound. I mean, what could go wrong with poison?

The end of the story saw the bad sad parents realizing the errors of their ways and getting over their feud. They kissed and made up and grew up at the cost of their children's lives. That was the moral of the story. Not the young love conquers all, didn't. It got pwned.

If Romeo and Juliet hadn't died, here's what I think would have happened. In a week (max) Romeo would be bored with Juliet cause she wouldn't put out (that's why he dumped his last lurve) and would be on to freer greener pastures with the discovery of chambermaids and serving wenches and women who love you as long as your coin is good (probably the most honest relationship of his life). Juliet would be all heart broken but learn that men are pigs that want only one thing and Romeo never gave her anything except trouble with her parents. She would marry the rich guy she was supposed to and realize that having the protection of money and position is truly the only way to fly. The Father would realize that he's a hopeless romantic and should never have taken a vow of chastity.  The End.

In my opinion, a far more honestly romantic tale of Sir Bill's was Much Ado About Nothing (omg y'all, you must see the movie! Denzel Washington rocks and emo Shakespearean Keanu Reeves plays his brother. It's a total WIN). In this story, there's a couple that have been involved before but broke up and both are bitter with each other because they still have feelings for each other but they're both too old and too smart to go down that road again. So they have a war of wits at every available chance until they are tricked (in true Shakespearean fashion) into admitting their feelings for each other. Later, when much needless drama ensues (created again by the young and clueless lovers, I'm sensing a theme) they realize to what lengths they are willing to go in the name of their love and devotion. It is funny, romantic and dramatic. It's of the awesome. Truly, watch the movie. It's too fab for words.

Probably it's on Netflix or something, but you can also get it here  Much Ado About Nothing

Well, now that I've ranted on Shakespeare and how it gives me a twitch whenever anyone goes on about how Romeo and Juliet is so romantic.... *shudders* I think I shall go watch my copy of Much Ado About Nothing and stop myself before I start comparing Shakespeare and Jane Austen for who started the archetype romance with the hero/heroine that don't like each other and then fall in love. Really, my mind is a scary and random place.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quickie Review: On A Highland Shore by Kathleen Givens

On a Highland Shore On a Highland Shore by Kathleen Givens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beautiful historical romance. This book came alive like I was watching a very good movie. The characters and settings were so vivid and passionate. The unspoken tension between the hero and heroine for the first part of the book is so thick, it's palpable. I highly recommend this book. Haunting, vivid, and beautiful. You can't go wrong with this one.

View all my reviews >>

Links to purchase:

On a Highland Shore

Book Deopository

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I don't know who this chick is.....

But she drops the f-bomb with panache, wears a flaming (and fabulous) red dress, runs around semi nude in a cemetery all to encourage us to carpe diem (or possibly carpe corpses, but if we get to wear that fabulous dress I don't really care) and go out and get us some. And I like that in a woman. I've just very newly discovered this blog so I'm not sure, but I think I may love it like I love dark chocolate with chili in it.
But seriously my friends, you should check out this post. I enjoyed it and it's a great reminder to do something wild and crazy in life, you know, while we have a life to do it in.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I Read When I'm Sick & Need Comfort

So, as some of you may know I haz the plague. I am working on bronchitis. I have a lovely sinus infection that gave me a lovely set of laser red eyes (conjunctivitis in both eyes) which fortunately makes my blue eyes really stand out. I also have meds now. The lovely dr gave me four prescriptions, so I am sick and drugged and in need of a couple comfort reads. So, here are my last two reads and what I have to say about them.

1) Blackwolf's Redemption by Sandra Marlton

Jesse Blackwolf—uncompromising, determined and an undeniable success. He has no desire to deal with the outspoken bundle of femininity he's found trespassing on his land!When Sienna Cummings awakes to find herself pressed against a muscled chest, she's shocked and stunned! Where is she? Who is this man who holds her so possessively with passion glinting in his eyes? It's more than confusion that makes Sienna's heart beat faster—she suspects his untamed wildness hides something that maybe only she can set free…. 

 So, when I'm stressed, tired, sick, don't wanna have to think too much or am just in the mood for a guilty pleasure, I reach for a Harlequin. Depending on my fancy, it could be a Presents, a Desire, or a Blaze. These are just so much literary junk food, and that's not necessarily bad. There are definitely good ones that are both entertaining and emotionally engaging and the writing is good, but even those are like a Chocolate Death Cake. Chocolate cake, luscious dark chocolate mouse filling, chocolate cream cheese icing and giant chocolate buttercream flowers all drizzled with chocolate liquor and raspberry sauce, I mean oh my god, that's ridiculous! And possibly will kill you! But it's so worth it. That's a good Harlequin. Then there are the bad ones, that are so bad that they're funny or so bad that it's like an all night bender of jagerbombs, only to wake up the next day swearing that you're gonna die and if please god you should survive, you will never touch the stuff again. And next weekend you're back for more.

Well, I could have gone to any number of my stash (yes I have a stash, so what?) of HQs to satisfy my need for a short and easy read, but I had recently picked up a new one that I hadn't read yet and I decided to be adventurous and try that one out. I mean, how could I go wrong? An amnesiac heroine, a hot brooding Native American landholder hero, and possessive passion? Cha ching! I'm on that like stank on a monkey. 

Sadly, I have mixed feelings about this one. It's a time travel story which are really not my cup a tea to begin with, although I have read a couple (ok, ONE) that worked for me, so it already had that to work against with me and then.....well....then there was the time we travel to.....the '70s. Yep, you heard me, the 70's. 1970's. Because apparently we don't make men like we used to in the 70's, although after I said that all sarcastic like, I was forced to concede that we really don't make them like that anymore. for thought. Anyhoo, the time travel thing wasn't that bad but honestly it felt more like a device so the author could try to write an 80's romance a la Jayne Ann Krentz (writing as Stephanie James!) and let me tell you, that didn't work for me. I only put up with shit from JAK, because she can do no wrong, amen and amen. 

The heroine starts off in 2010 all "I'm a modern woman with a college edumacation, kiss my ass you cavemen assholes, hear me rawr!" And the moment she goes back in time and sees the hero she transforms into a raging idiot heroine that was perhaps de rigueur circa 1970's and 80's, but it just made me roll my eyes and rant on twitter. But it was late night and no one was listening. *sad sigh*

All my bitching and issues aside, the hero, Jesse was a hottie with disappointments in his past and he was definitely a good guy that any girl would love. He really wasn't much of a true dominating, chest beating male of the 70's (or as the author says they were). He seemed pretty standard hero material though much less of an asshole than most HQ Presents heroes tend to be. The heroine......and I can't be bothered to look up her name right now, was ok. She was annoying in a lot of ways but as we got past the fluttering and stupidness and the "I'm a modern woman and one day you'll have to treat women like people instead of.....(not sure what they were treated like back then)" antics, she had her good qualities. You can tell that these two are star crossed lovers that find comfort and home in each other. There was plenty of obviousness in this one, but it wasn't marred by the usual 'asshole hero stomps all over virgin heroine who then forgives him too easily because either pregnancy killed her brain cells or he said the magical words "I love you" which we all know makes EVERYTHING better' trope which was refreshing. The end was sweet, but left me thinking too much. Like, how could they explain that to the authorities? And, how would they adjust to this?

In conclusion, it wasn't the worst, but it certainly wasn't the best HQ I've ever read and it wasn't all that memorable (see lack of heroine's name in review).

Next up is Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews. I know I talked about this one briefly before as a good example of a short story, but I didn't really give it a review and it's definitely one I read when I want a lil comfort and a guaranteed short, good read.


Old hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.
On Meli Galdes' home planet, the struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport-in business and on the battlefield. For years her lethal skills have been a valuable asset in advancing her family's interests. She's more than earned her right to retire, but her kinsmen have one last favor to ask.
Kill the man who ruined her life.
Celino Carvanna's razor-sharp business acumen-and skills with a blade-won him the freedom to do as he pleases. There's only one thing he can't seem to control-his reaction to the mysterious woman who tantalizes his senses. Her eyes alone set his blood simmering, stirring ridiculous adolescent fantasies about breasts and honey. With a few words she dissects his soul. Who is she? And how does she slide so easily under his well-guarded skin?
It's almost too easy to draw Celino within the kill zone. Meli plans to revel in him. Drink him in. Wring every drop of pleasure out of every moment.
And when she's sure he belongs to her, she will finally repay a decade's worth of pain-in a single, brutal dose of reality.
Warning: Contains a heroine who excels in moving targets, a hero who can't get into her pants fast enough, and implant-enhanced sex (no, not that kind of implant-).

I love this story. Ilona herself described this one as kind of a Harlequin Presents, mafia families, futuristic sci-fi romance (I'm paraphrasing), and it totally works. There's the dramatic plot of the alpha asshole (only way hotter than most asshole alpha heroes, Ilona's great at that) hero and the wronged heroine who's out to make him pay. Except she doesn't half ass it and give up merely because he says, "Sorry, and oh yeah, I love you." Plus you get the futuristic sci-fi aspects with technology that flows seemlessly into this lush world of good food and fine wine (seriously, I wanted a cookbook of what she made in this story), beautiful flowers and passionate people on a new planet that has been colonized and made into a thriving society that feels like a mix of old and new. 

Meli is a great character. She's tough, but you can totally tell that she feels deeply and passionately, she knows it and owns it, she just doesn't let it get in her way. She's earthy and smart. She's both an enigma and yet very real and honest. You believe her lies because they're layered with the truth. She's as much or more dangerous than our hero, Celino and by the end, everyone knows it.
Celino, the hero, is no one to sneeze at. He's rich and powerful and he's also dangerous and deadly in his own right. He's intelligent, ruthless and arrogant. He's very hot, but honestly, I don't think anyone but Meli could handle him. She's definitely his equal. 

Their history and present circumstances are believably constructed and their passionate relationship is wonderful to read.
All this is handled in the context of a short story. The amazing thing is, even though I could easily have read a full novel filled with these characters and set in this world, I never felt like I was shortchanged or cheated out of anything in this story. The plot is there, the romance is there, the character development is there and it's all done in a way that feels effortless. 

My final grade for Blackwolf's Redemption would be a C+
Final grade for Silent Blade would be an A

Well, thanks for playing along with my sick induced ramblings, and happy reading!


Winner of Touched By An Alien Announced

We have a winner of Touched By An Alien by the lovely Gini Koch.

Stella (Ex Libris)! Congrats Stella! I will be contacting you at the e-mail address you provided in your comment.

Thank you to all who entered and commented. It was loads of fun to interview Gini and you all had some good comments and questions for her.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Friend Me or Perish!

Ok, not really. Seriously, though, I am on Goodreads now (better late than never, lol) so if you want, swing on by and FRIEND ME OR PERISH! Apparently I'm feeling dramatic today and perhaps a bit frisky. Or this head cold could be making me loopy and delusional.......well in either case here's my Goodreads link: ta da!!

In other random news, I haven't been sleeping well because of aforementioned plague, and I stayed up late watching 10 Things I Hate About You for like the first time ever and I'm wondering how the hell this escaped my radar back in the day!?! I mean, it's so great! Another one of those Shakespeare redone for the 90's/early 2000's and it has Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles (who was like queen of those Shakespeare remakes *"O" anyone?*) in it. *sigh* This made me miss Heath. So bad. It kinda made me miss Julia, too, to be honest. I mean, where the hell is that girl? I know she did the Bourne movies for a bit, but........I don't know. She kinda fell off the earth and it gives me a sad.
Anyway, have you seen that movie? What movies take you back to teens/20s/sometime big in your life and give a big dose of nostalgia?

I leave you with a lil love from back "in the day"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews and a GIVEAWAY!!

Kate Daniels cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to deal with-especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community.

And now there's a new player in town-a foe that may be too much for even Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family.

Note: I received a copy of this book to review from the publisher.

It's no secret that I have much love for this series and this author duo. I don't like everything that even my most favorite authors write. I just don't and I don't expect to. However, I honestly don't think there is one thing that Ilona Andrews has written that I haven't liked and in most cases LOVED.

Magic Bleeds is an important book in the series. Kate has been in hiding for years but she's played it a bit fast and loose in the last books, taking chances with her secrets to protect the growing number of people that she considers friends. Kate is a protector by nature. She's willing to fight and die to keep the ones she is loyal to safe. That's one of the things that I've loved about her from the beginning. And in this book she has to decide if her secrets are worth risking those she loves. She has to decide if she should cut and run or if she should stand and fight and take a chance on a real future. It's emotional and sometimes hard to read, but like the hard choices Kate makes, it's worth it in the end.

Kate is one of my favorite protags out there. She's prickly, she's tough, she kills the shit outta bad guys and she LIKES it. I respect that. She doesn't pretend to be something she's not. She doesn't spend pages and chapters bemoaning what she is and isn't. She knows her strengths and her weaknesses and works with them. Yeah, she's stubborn as hell and sometimes noble to a fault, but she's real and relatable and you can't help rooting for her to kick ass and win the day. She's also vulnerable and conflicted at times. She's loving and protective and loyal. You do not want her for an enemy but you would be so lucky to have her as a friend. She's not perfect at the whole relationships thing, but then she's never had them before. She's learning as she goes and she makes mistakes but it's not for lack of trying. Kate is an all in kinda girl. She will never love or hate you half way. You'll always know where you stand with her.

Kate and Curran go through a lot in this book. Do they have what it takes to come out on top? Well, one thing you can be sure of, they're not going out without a fight. And I love that. They are so alike and different enough to make for challenges and to compliment each other.

The villain in this one is fabulously done. I have a real problem with cheesetastic villains and I have called authors out on it before, but this was definitely not the case here. Readers will not be disappointed with how this book plays out.

The support cast of secondary characters are present and accounted for in this one. In my opinion, Jim really shines in MB. It's really awesome to see Jim and Kate together. I love their scenes.

I'm going to end without hopefully giving too much away and simply say that Ilona and Gordon do not disappoint in Magic Bleeds. It is dark, funny (I laughed out loud at some parts), gritty, romantic and leaves you staring at the calendar and counting down the days til the next one.

My final grade: A

Now, I happen to be in possession of a signed set of the Kate Daniels series which also includes a copy of Magic Bleeds (that may or may not be signed, we'll see).

I am giving away the set of four books to a lucky commenter.

Rules: This is going to be open only to the continental US, sorry guys.
You need to be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post.
Contest is open until 6/4 at 11:59 PM PST.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Heh, I did not know that about myself.....

So, I've been evaluating my reading preferences and habits and comparing them to other readers' and bloggers' recommendations and I've come to a startling conclusion: I don't seem to read male authors.....dun dun duuuuuun.

Being the curious and slightly anal retentive person that I am, I find I must question why this is. I also seem to listen to more female singers than male although, I do listen to more male performers than I read male authors (this feels like the whole set up for a psychoanalysis right here) and I want to rectify the situation. I even once read a western romance written by a man. Yessir, I did. But that was a while ago and other than classics I read when I was younger, I'm not remembering many male authors that I've read.

So, I come to you, my faithful friends, to help me rectify this situation. What male authors do you read and recommend? I'm probably looking more for UF, but I can also do other genres if you peak my interest enough (ha! That sounds dirty). Help me out here and give me an excuse to add to my scary tbr pile. :P

Monday, May 17, 2010

Because Today Kinda Sucked And I Need A Giggle

These always crack me up. A little warning: Lots of bleeped f words and it's funny as hell.

So, Jimmy Kimmel's girlfriend (maybe ex, I don't remember now) went on his show with this lil gem:

Which Jimmy and half of Hollywood countered with this:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Dead In The Family by Charlaine Harris (In which I ramble and piss people off)

After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she's angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he's under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie's connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry...

Ok, this is the ummmm....10th? book of the series now and the last one was not universally loved so it's going to be a bit difficult to avoid spoilers, ranting, nostalgia and finger wagging in this review. So, you have been warned. Read on at your own peril.

Alright, Sookie number 9 was.....well, it was a disappointment to me, to put it mildly. Crazy ass rant version: SHE PHONED THAT BITCH IN. Ahem, anyhoo, in number 9, Sookie felt like she wasn't herself. She was a shell of herself. The whole book seemed like it was in a fog or on the other side of the looking glass and no one was acting like themselves and VERY little made sense. The violence, which normally doesn't bother me, felt pointless and oddly detached like, "Oh, look I'm having horrible shit happen to me. La de da de da. I wonder if I left the iron on." It was crazy. I didn't feel like it was even supposed to feel like that. You know how sometimes there's a transitional book and it's supposed to feel a bit awkward or sad or uncomfortable or be slightly out of character but it makes sense? Yeah, this lacked sense or even a plot as far as I could tell. I lost a lot of trust in Charlaine Harris in that one....and for some other reasons that I won't drag into this review.

Now, in this review I also wish to address some complaints and criticisms I'm hearing out in the land of readers and bloggers. I want to tell you what I think of this one. What I did and didn't like and also what I think are reasonable and unreasonable demands from the author and the series.

First up let me address something that's been bothering me because I've been hearing it a lot: People are very upset that there may not be a HEA for Sookie. Ok, I do believe she'll end up with someone that's been Charlaine's m.o. in a lot of her books and frankly she's spoken before about "who Sookie'll end up with" and how she won't say who it is. Also, the most important thing for people to remember: This series is categorized as Urban Fantasy and in some stores it's even shelved under Horror. IT IS NOT A PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES. So, there was never a guarantee of a romantic and sunshine and roses ending FROM THE GET GO. Yes, her romantic entanglements have shaped her character development and her life from the first book; however, that's kinda like life. Our relationships and experiences shape us, but ultimately the books aren't about her love life and who she ends up with. The books are about her adventures and experiences, good and bad and her development as a person. She started out as a shy, sheltered, virginal and somewhat mentally beat up by her own abilities character that kinda had life happening to her and she is becoming a stronger (mentally and physically), more confident, more bold, more experienced and yes, harder person. You try getting beat to crap by friends, family and enemies over the last couple of years and tell me you wouldn't be tougher and snarkier, too. And I'd call BS.

What I thought of this book: Overall, I liked it. It was much, much better than the last and I honestly felt like we were getting back to a version of the earlier books, but with characters that have walked through fire and come out the other side changed. The book even points this out when Alcide and Sookie have a conversation and they both point out how much they've changed from a year ago. Sam was more prevalent in this one and he felt stronger and more steady. His relationship with Sookie may change in the future, but for now they're stable and strong and that was nice to see. He's been there for her from the get go and it's nice to see him get more face time and better lines, frankly. Alcide is in it, he's less asshole-y than he was in tomes past and he's pretty true to form. He's still a bit of a user but he's not so whiny pain in the ass as before. No Quinn, to which I say THANK GOD. Do you all remember the WTF five minute Quinn show up in the last book? You know, so we didn't forget about him or some shit. God that was terrible and pointless. Thankfully, none of that in this one. Bill, ahhh Bill. I liked when Bill and Sookie were together but I knew it wouldn't last. He wasn't right for her in the long run and I was ok with their break up. Then his character took a nose dive. Now, he was.....nice to see again. It made me nostalgic thinking of when we first met him and the things that I liked about him. It was a nice feeling. Instead of going Who the fuck are these characters, I remembered all the things that led up to where they are now, the good and the bad, but the good mostly. It was a nice feeling.

Eric and Sookie: 'Mkay, I'm gonna open up a hornets' nest but I'm gonna call it like I've always seen it. Eric was, imho, set up to be a romantic interest almost from the beginning. He's been with her through some rough stuff, and they've always had a bond and a kinship. I have never believed that their relationship would last forever and ever amen, but it doesn't have to if it's done well and made to count while it lasts. After the blatant character assassination of Eric in the last book, I was very nervous that after waiting so long for this to come to be Ms. Harris would promptly assassinate the relationship between Sookie and Eric to make Bill or hell, even Quinn look better. I can safely and happily say, that was not so in this book. Was it everything I'd hoped for by book 3 or 4? No. But considering what all they've gone through and the fact that Eric was never going to be easy to be with with his larger than life personality and his entrenchment in vampire politics, it was realistic and pretty good. I really saw in this one that Sookie would make an awesome vampire and I think that's why she never will be one. The events of the previous books have hardened her and although she's still a core good person, she's not putting up with any shit and she's willing to make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen to her. I had this moment where I thought, "Damn! Sookie, Pam and Eric would be a force to be reckoned with if she turned vamp." Of course they kinda are already, which is fabulous. Pam is awesome, as usual and I loved seeing her and Sookie together. Sookie and Eric are actually a lot alike, but they are still fundamentally different and I think that's what is eventually going to drive them apart. Eric truly loves her as best he can and she cares for and loves him and Pam, but she needs to come first with her life partner and with Eric that will never be possible. I hope that even after they go their separate ways that they'll still be friends. The bonds between the three of them are just too great.

I have to say I loved Claude in this one. The bad guy was less awesomely bad than some of the others but the introduction of some of Eric's "family" made up for that fact.

Like Nat at Wicked Little Pixie said in her review, this was a calmer book. There was action and mayhem but there was more character development and interrelationship development and you're not going to hear me complain about that. After the free for all that the last book was, I needed this book to ground things and make sense and I think it did. Do I have complete faith in CH again? No. For one thing, her constant need to pander to the True Blood series which is just basically really bad fan fic, in my opinion, and has very little if anything to do with her series, is a big red flag for me. I don't think she's been as true to this series as she should be and I know she is very busy and works very hard, but phoning in the last book was so unacceptable and I am CAUTIOUSLY optimistic about the series from here on out. She introduced some interesting developments that may refresh the series a bit in this book, but I don't have complete faith in her not to fail to follow through on it.

Now, I could go on with the good and bad of her writing history, but I'm going to stop this from turning into more of a rant than it already is.

My final grade for this is a B. And that makes me happy considering what I was expecting out of this one. It's slow to start but it makes sense. She has a lot of healing to do and once she does, we start seeing the old Sookie, just older, wiser and battle hardened.

And yes, I realize I blatantly abused commas in this review but I had a hard enough time writing this to go back and fix commas now :P

ETA: For those that are unfamiliar with the term "Phone it in" here is the definition as given by Perform an act in a perfunctory, uncommitted fashion, as if it didn't matter.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This always makes me LMAO.

I love the bit with Ryan Reynolds and the hobbit....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guest Review: Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap

Today we have a guest review from my fab sis-in-law ,Jen, of Jen's Corner blog. So without further ado, take it away Jen!

Anastasia's Secret tells the story of how a chance meeting can change a life forever. Anastasia meets Sasha in her palace garden and they quickly form a bond. They fall in love as Russia goes to war. When Sasha is among those sent to fight Anastasia is forced to see the world as she had never seen it before. As time goes by, Sasha becomes her only link to the world beyond hers. Through him, Anastasia has to face the realities of being the daughter of an unwanted Tsar. As the years pass life for Anastasia and her family ceases to exist as it once did. Sasha becomes the one thing, beyond her family, that she clings to. Can he save her and her family from an unthinkable fate?

I loved this book! From the first page to the last I was glued. I didn't want the story to end, but I wanted to see how it turned out. Susanne Dunlap did a phenomenal job of depicting the family as they really were, not as they were perceived to be. She made the blending of history and imagination appear seamless and easy. She gave you enough details to paint the picture she wanted you to see, but didn't overwhelm you with them.

The amount of research that went into this book shines throughout it. Susanne was meticulously accurate with everything from clothes characters worn, to games the family played, to depicting the lives of Russian soldiers. She included the roles the daughters and their mother played in the palace hospitals that they set up including which of them did what job. She even used the nicknames the family had for each other.

Susanne did an amazing job at bringing the characters I've heard of to life and making them human. Anastasia's family was always viewed as cold and insensitive to the plight of the Russians they ruled over. In Anastasia's Secret you see for yourself how far from the truth that theory was. As Anastasia herself did, I questioned whether Sasha was the ultimate hero trying to save the day or the devil in disguise. His character played both roles very well.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Susanne Dunlap wrote a touching and moving love story that couldn't help but get drawn into. Having spent several years researching this family myself I thoroughly enjoyed reading all that I learned, both good and bad, come to life. It was a privilege to read this book and it's one I'll read more than once, I have no doubt.

Rating: Buy it!!!

Thanks for joining us Jen! This book sounds like a great read.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Interview With Gini Koch. Author of Touched By An Alien. And A Contest. Can I Get A What What?!

Touched by an Alien
Today, we have the pleasure of the lovely and talented author of the debut Sci-fi (or sci-fi lite as I lovingly call it) novel Touched By An Alien.

To start off our little chat, let’s break the ice with a personal and perhaps no-no question, cause that’s how I roll.

I’ve noticed that you seem to have an interest in both religion and history, which plays a bit of a roll in Touched By An Alien and has led to some interesting convos between us.
Care to tell us a bit about that?

I do have an interest in both, for different reasons. My mother and grandmother always had an interest in every religion out there, and they studied them, along with astrology, numerology, and biorhythm, as well as anything else that popped up (yeah, it was a party at my house), so I studied them. I was raised as a Quaker (to forestall a lot of inaccuracies -- Ben Franklin/Friendly Persuasion, not the Puritans) but found out a few years ago that my entire family on my mother's side is Jewish, making all that religious study suddenly seem to make a little more sense. I think it's fascinating, what we do for and because of religion, how it motivates both our best and our worst actions, how religions come into being, change, die or succeed. Religion and/or spirituality always manages to creep into my writing. Sometimes in a big way, sometimes not. (So does sex, but that's a whole 'nother discussion.)The Queen B:*cheers for sex*

As for history, I'm married to a history buff, and I find it fascinating, too. The hubs reads huge history books for pleasure (and why not?) so we're loaded with them. I also was resentful of how I was taught history in school -- to me, we should start at the beginning and work forward, not jump around. There were so many fascinating people and events in the past, you could people entire novels with them or facsimiles of them and never run out. And as an author, research is necessary, even if you're writing science fiction that's taking place today or in the future. Have to know where things have come from to know where they could be going. Of course, it's easy to spend all day on the research and not get to the writing, but I do my best to balance the two.

Awesome answers. I feel like we could go off on a whole tangent here, but that would only be interesting to you, me and the two hubs, lol.

LOL, too true. And give the impression that TBAA is a religious meditation when, in reality, that’s only a small part of it.

Now, I read in another interview with you that you write very fast and as we've talked on Twitter you've mentioned how writing is very organic for you. Do you basically go with what comes out in the story the first time? Or does the story ever wander too far off course and you have to beat it into submission nudge it gently back onto the path?

I tend to write what comes, and most of the time, what comes is what SHOULD come. I edit as I go, which makes what we laughingly call “my process” easier. I will let a story go, re-read the chapters, and then kill my darlings wantonly, if they need killing. I will also leave them alone if they are what they should be, as is.

“Touched by an Alien” was supposed to be a dark short story. By the time Martini hit the page, it was clearly not going to be dark or short. The dark short story did try to reassert itself twice, once during the pivotal scene where Kitty figures out that what’s going on is NOT what it seems, and once during the big fight with the in-control fuglies. I let both get written, re-read them, realized the scenes were completely altering the tone of the book, cut them, started them over, went on my merry way.

I don’t angst about cutting. I don’t angst about writing. I just do it, review it, cut or leave it be as seems right, and move on. I have had to beat things into submission, but if that’s happening, it’s usually a sign of something else going on -- book’s not working right, I’ve contradicted myself or have a character acting out of character, I’m distracted, etc. Not to say that I don’t rewrite things (I do, all the time), but not every time. For me, the easier they come, the happier I am.

Wow, I both admire that and am insanely envious of it. It’s a good thing, I like you….

On to the important stuff: I loved the romance in Touched By An Alien. It was nice to see Martini know what he wanted and go for it. He's a bit of a nice guy character which is really refreshing from all the constant assholes bad boys that sci-fi/fantasy and romance are often populated with. I recently had a bit of a discussion with another author about good guy heroes and their appeal and I think that a lot more people are starting to get on that bandwagon. I loooove a nice guy who's willing to get down and dirty and be a little bad for his girl. That's kinda how Martini read to me (and hence the drool over here). Did I read him right? Is all that inner passion on tap for Kitty? *coughelevatorscenecough*

I’m really glad that most readers seem to be positively responding to Martini as the romantic hero. Most of my beta readers were Christopher fans. I love him, but he’s not the right guy for Kitty, and I did wonder if I was going to get push-back because of it. (Thankfully, my awesome editor at DAW had no issues about that whatsoever.) And yes, I see Martini like you see Martini.

Martini’s an empath, so he’s very able to spot when he’s finally made that connection. As Kitty says, he’d been searching for her all of his life. So when she finally appeared, he wasn’t going to waste any time staking his claim.

I’m all for bad boys, but I’d like them to be decent people, particularly to the heroine. (The hubs was a bad boy in a way (certainly per all my friends) but he never treated me badly; just the opposite, which is why I fell in love with him.) And, yes, Martini is a nice guy who’s willing to do what he has to in order to protect his girl, his people, and the planet. He’s also very much in control in the bedroom, and not just because he’s empathic, though that, of course, helps.

Martini is an extremely passionate person -- all the empaths are -- but they have to control it or go insane, so their blocks tend to make them seem less passionate than others around them. Martini doesn’t have to control that with Kitty, which is yet another reason why he’s crazy about her. And another reason why he was so pissed about “the incident”, and also why he chose what he did, and how he did it, to completely re-stake his claim and ensure said claim wasn’t going anywhere but right back into bed with him.
::thud:: Sorry, I’ll be good in a minute…… ::picks self off floor. Wipes drool::

Shall we continue then?

In the story, Kitty is a big comic book buff and sci-fi fan. How much do you love comics and sci-fi, too? *shout out to your hubs, btw for excellent taste in Star Trek*

I love science fiction and fantasy, too. My grandmother was a HUGE science fiction buff, and a passionate Trekkie, and she felt that if a science fiction writer could come up with the idea, man could create said idea. To her, the science fiction writers led the way into the future. So, needless to say, it’s a higher calling for me. (As laughably pretentious as that sounds, particularly coming from someone who is in no way writing hard SF.)

I love science fiction, but I ADORE the comics. Far more than I should, I’m sure. But I can’t help it. You have never seen a more hilarious happy dance than the one I did when I found out I was accepted to go to this year’s Comic-Con as a professional. I’ll do my best to act like a professional while there, but I wouldn’t place money on my achieving it. (I’m goin’ to COMIC-CON, baby! AS A PROFESSIONAL! WHOO-EE!) *cough* Um, yeah, you see how it’s going to be. The hubs, aka Mr. Old School Star Trek, is equally jazzed, and sends a ‘the New Star Trek movie was evil to alter the sacred timeline’ holla right back to you. (Going to Comic-Con? Lemme know and let’s geek out together! Send an email to to coordinate.)

I love the comics for what you can do with them, the different ways you can address issues and propose solutions, and just how generally cool they are. I am a passionate X-Men fan (Wolverine RULES) and I do love me some Batman. I’m all over both Marvel and DC, and I do like many of the other, smaller imprints as well. One of my fave movies of all time is “Mystery Men”, and “Men In Black”, also a fave, was a comic before it was a movie. The original “The Tick” comics may have been the funniest things ever done, and I loved the animated series, too. I love animation as well as comics (to me they go hand-in-hand), and I’m not too proud to say that I love “Kim Possible”. “Watchmen” is not only the greatest graphic novel ever created, it’s also one of the best novels ever written.

Gads, I’m gonna stop here. CLEARLY I could run the yap about comics, graphic novels, and their related movies and TV shows all month long.

My hubs would love you. Batman and Wolverine. That makes you good people in his book ;)

Your hubs clearly has as good a taste in comics as he does in wives. (Mine too ;-D)

*blushes* Oh you flatterer, you.

Martini and Kitty are a great fit together and I love how they fight, banter, and things together. Any hints on how their relationship will develop as the books progress?

Kitty and Martini will hit a major bump in the road in “Alien Tango”, and for a variety of reasons, Martini is always going to be a jealous dude. But overall, if you like Kitty and Martini together, you will be happy campers as the books go on. If you don’t, well, I have a couple alternate universe books planned for later, so we shall see, won’t we?

But, not to worry, the great sex will continue. ;-D

Thank God……

It seems that Kitty was the only one not aware of Christopher’s interest in her. Reader, her mom, Martini (course he's an empath), pretty much everyone knew that Christopher had the hots for her and it took a long time for her to figure that out. Why is that?

Kitty is dense in some ways, but very astute in others. She can tell you every CD and song in her iPod, when she got them, what condition the cases are in, and so on. But she's lost in the Dulce Science Center and may remain so. She can identify which comic book had which situation she loved or hated in it. If it interests her -- like gentics, animal life sciences, music and comics do -- then she's all over the details. If it doesn't, then she learns enough to get by and goes on her merry way.

Kitty isn't really into the whole dating subterfuge thing. As readers will see in "Alien Tango", she hums along (and has hummed along for years) without noticing key clues. She's not overwhelmingly good with romantic innuendo. If you say, "I don't like you," she assumes, hey, you don't like her. She's a very open, straightforward person, and therefore expects those close to her to be the same. (In other words, Martini knows what he's doing. LOL) She knows bad guys lie, but does expect that her nearest and dearest will tell her the truth. As we find out, that's not exactly the case, but Kitty always finds a way to deal.

That said, why she's just what Centaurion Division needs is her ability to look at things from her own completely skewed perspective. She may not pay attention to some things, but she's fully capable of pulling it together when it matters. She's the outsider in the entire situation, and she's a human, who doesn't know what's going on -- and hasn't grown up/spent a lot of years assuming things are 'one way only' -- and who has a very different world view and set of experiences than anyone who's been dealing with the A-Cs and the parasitic threat, so she's looking at everything differently than those who've been dealing with the parasites for their entire lives.

Basically, the sum of what she's done and how she thinks -- which is different from how almost everyone else in and working with Centaurion thinks -- is why Kitty manages to solve issues and save the day. Well, that and her musical choices, her willingness to try the crazy, and her inclination to never go out without her hairspray.

Personally, I appreciate that in a woman. Ladies, take note: Always be prepared.

How many books are we looking at in this series?

As many as DAW lets me write. I could, and would, happily write books in this series for a long time, possibly forever. I see no end to what the characters can get up to and into, and there’s always some fugly monster, evil megalomaniac, or out-of-control psychopath ready to destroy the world and everyone in it.

Basically, if the books sell well, the Alien Series will continue on. So, if you know someone who doesn’t own “Touched by an Alien”, get them to buy a copy, pronto. LOL

Now, when you say that you could write the series pretty much into infinity and beyond (I make myself giggle sometimes), that may make some readers a little head shy. I can definitely see where this series has a lot of potential and there is definitely room for lots more books with solid action and plot and character development. Having said that, there are some series, that shall remain nameless (but I think you know who you are *glares*) that have gone on for so long without any real direction anymore and with little to no character development. I, as a reader, will gladly fork over the cash and continue to support a favorite series and wish that it will never end, but I do start to get resentful if I feel like the author is just milking it for the moolah (heh, I used that in a sentence) and I begin to wish that they would just wrap it up already.

So, after that very long preface, my question is: Do you have a definite stopping point in mind? Is there a time when you would know that the series had "jumped the shark" so to speak and needed to end gracefully? Is there an overall character arc for the series?

Definite stopping point? No. I'm very clear on where the characters -- all the ones you've met and all the ones you will meet in subsequent books -- are going. I don't foresee running out of situations any time in the near future. (And, wait, there is moolah in this equation? I will get moolah? When, I wonder...LOL) To me, if you, as an author, treat your characters as if they're real, living beings, well, they can continue to grow and change, can't they? I mean (and thank God), I'm a very different person now than I was when I was 22, but that doesn't mean I'm no longer interesting and vital -- and I'm still ME, too. I resent the idea that someone might think I plan to keep Kitty aged 27 for the rest of the series. Kitty, along with everyone else, will be growing and changing as her world and life expand and grow. This is the main reason I don't see myself running out of ideas -- what you do when you're 27 and single and what you'll do when you're 30 and married with children may be different, but you can still be awesome about it and still manage to save the day. (I'll put a minivan up against a roadster any day when it comes to ramming power. ;-D)

As for jumping the shark, well, that's all a matter of perspective, and that perspective is in the eye of each individual. There are some series where I stopped reading because the main character just seemed incapable of making a romantic choice, and therefore, to me, the series stalled out. But then there are other series (Terry Pratchett's "Discworld", for example) that keep on going, book after awesome book. I may not love some as much as others, but overall, the series isn't jumping any shark anytime soon.

There are people out there who won't like "Touched by an Alien" and will tell you it jumped the moment they opened the cover. There are those who will follow it (I certainly hope) until I decide to end it. But "Touched by an Alien" is the first in what I hope to be a long series, and, frankly, it's too early for me to be able to say, "Oh, here, exactly here is where I end it."

Rest assured, when it's time to be done, the characters will tell me. They tell me everything else, I can assure you they'll tell me when they're ready to call it a day.

I just have to say that I appreciate that point of view. I love watching my fave characters grow and change and I resent the idea that just because they get married, change careers, have kids or whatever that they can no longer be interesting or have adventures. I, personally, would love to see all these characters grow and face real life issues right along with their out of this world bad guy fighting drama.

Amen, sister. It’s like you’re reading my mind and ahead in the series.

Now, onto one of my fave characters in the book.

It's all about Reader, baby. I want to be a Reader/Me/Gower sandwich. I loved the relationship between Reader and Kitty. They were like friend/soul mates and their sassy banter had me rolling, mixed with their obvious loyalty to each other made for fab reading. What does the future have in store for our hunky and sassy Mr. Reader? Are we going to get more awesome scenes with Reader and Kitty? *makes puppy dog eyes*

I love Reader, and I do mean LOVE him. He’s one of my favorite characters, ever. Kitty has two soul mates, both of whom will be clearly revealed as the series goes on, and yes, Reader is one of them. (Ha! I called that one, beyotches! *pumps fist*)

Honestly, I’ve been surprised that Reader hasn’t gotten more play in terms of reviews and reader reactions -- I think your review of “Touched by an Alien” was the first to mention the character at all (I could be wrong, and if I am, whoever mentioned him first, don’t hate me). But, you know, to each their own, right?

Reader will remain a vital part of the Alien Series. He will also, as far as I can tell down the road, remain with Gower -- they have a very stable, healthy relationship. Gower has a lot of fascinating stuff that’s going to happen to him in “Alien Tango”, courtesy of Kitty, too. I really enjoy both characters, even while I put them into dangerous situations with people trying to destroy them. Of course, that’s business as usual for the entire cast of the Alien Series, so they’re only dealing with their fair share.

Reader and Kitty joke about it, but it’s true -- if he was straight, she WOULD be his girl. But, he’s not, and while they joke, neither he nor Gower are turning straight or even bi any time soon. But there will be plenty of Reader and Gower in “Alien Tango” for sure. (And alligators. But I digress…)

As for the sandwich idea, well, girl, put it this way -- you’re not the only one who’d like that. Maybe as a special treat, somewhere down the line...

I would have your babies if you did that. Just sayin. And I think we could start a whole movement. No lie.

LOL. (The hubs says no babies, no pets, but he’s all over the idea of some other kind of bribe.) Well, I’d be willing to negotiate, if there was enough interest. And by “enough” I mean, “more than just you”. So, let me know who else is hoping for the ‘one off’ stories and we shall see what may be done.

Woo hoo, People! You hear that? I defy you to read this book and not want more Reader and possibly more Reader shirtless and oiled up with Gower and Me Kitty there, lol.

I want to thank you for coming out and playin with me today.

It was a blast. Great questions and I love your work, babe, so it was a joy to be here.

Gini is loads of fun, y’all. Follow her on Twitter: @GiniKoch. You can also find her at her blog, her website and Facebook.

Now, on to the good part. I am giving away a copy of Touched By An Alien to a lucky commenter. You just need to be a follower and leave a comment on this post for Gini or me or both. We'd love to hear what you're looking forward to in Touched By An Alien or in the next book, Alien Tango, that comes out December 7, 2010. Contest is international. I'll be shipping from book depository so check that you're on their list of countries they ship to here. So stop on by and show some love. ;)
Contest ends on 5/24 at 11:59 PM PST.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

When College Guys Do Gaga......

This is so many kinds of awesome. These guys are really talented. I have to wonder, though, how many date nights were sacrificed in the making of this video.....

Friday, May 7, 2010

We have a winner!!

Ok, my lovelies! I want to thank everyone that entered the Random Giveaway. We had 29 entries from all over the world. Aaaaand, According to, the winner is..................... Glory, whose entry comment was:

i just return to Monaco (Germany) and i see a funny giveaway, LOL!
Ya count on me, too!!!

Way to go Glory!! I'm going to e-mail you at the address you provided in your comment. If you don't hear from me, please e-mail me yourself at

I need to hear from you by May 9, or I will have to draw for another winner.

Thanks all for playing. If you didn't win, don't feel bad. We'll have more contests coming up throughout the year.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Promised More Robot Chicken Love

Once Again, A Warning: These clips contain bad language and other possibly offensive material.
First up is a great clip tackling the stages of denial. P.S. This would totes be me if I were in that situation.

Here we have the death of He Man. So wrong, but so funny.

Captain Texas. This is just too good. I almost wish he was really like this.

Sarah Michelle Gellar's best work outside of Buffy:

Ok, I'll stop here with Emperor Palpatine as basically Stewie Griffin.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's Out!!!!

Dead in the Family: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)
Dead in the Family by Charlain Harris is out today my pretties. I am cautiously optimistic about this one and I'm in love with the cover. My darling one is bringing home a copy for me after work today since I'm in charge of sick kid and can't leave the house. He's my hero ;)

If you want to check out a review for this one, my girl ,Wicked Little Pixie, has one up on her blog. It's good and not too spoilery and gives a good feel of wanting to read it without getting your hopes up too high.

Now here are some links if you still need to get your copy:

Dead in the Family: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)

barnes and noble

And if you're in the San Diego area (or just like to support local stores) check it out at Mysterious Galaxy

Happy reading!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: Ravished By A Highlander by Paula Quinn


Davina Montgomery is no ordinary English lady. For her own protection, she’s been locked away from society, her true identity the Crown’s most closely guarded secret. Until a shocking betrayal—and a bold rescue—land her in the arms of a fierce Highlander, a powerful warrior whose searing gaze and tantalizing touch awaken her body and soul.


As the firstborn son of a powerful Scottish laird, Robert MacGregor has no loyalty to the English throne, but he’s not the kind of man to leave a woman in distress, even if she is English. He vows to deliver Davina to safety, unharmed and untouched. Yet one stolen kiss leaves them both smoldering with desire… and desperate for more. With Davina’s secret threatening to destroy his clan, Rob must choose between everything he holds dear and the one woman he can’t live without.

Note: I received this book to review from the author.

I have to admit that I'm a big fan of Ms. Quinn's other historical novels that I read a few years back, Lord of Seduction and Lord of Desire (Warner Forever), so I was very excited to start up this new series by her focusing on a clan of passionate Highlanders.

Ravished By A Highlander was a bit of a slow starter for me. This may have more to do with me, though, than the book so I kept with it and I was not disappointed with the ending. The last 2/3 of the book was very good. It was intense and emotional and action packed and the ending was very satisfying.

Ms. Quinn does tend to have a bit of politics in her book, not as heavy as some historicals but the politics of the day do tend to play a big role in the characters' development and the plot. She handled it quite well in this book and I felt that the ending was believable for the set up she'd created. I do have to admit that although she handles historical settings very well, the brogue of the Highlanders got on my nerves just a bit. It's not the terrible cheesy brogue that some authors unfortunately feel compelled to use, but it was still a bit jarring at some points and it might honestly be because it was a more historically accurate one, which would be a bit ironic really. I think it's hard for writers writing historicals, we want them to be accurate enough to be believable, but yet not so accurate that they're unrelatable to our modern sensibilities. I think overall, the author handles that balancing act very well.

There isn't anything shockingly new about this book. It has a lot of standard tropes for the genre, the tight knit highland family filled with hot brothers for possible sequels, the betrayal you could see coming from page one, the sweet and guiless heroine that can also shoot a bow, the fearsome and noble hero.....yeah, it's been done before.....a lot, but it's an enjoyable read and Ms. Quinn always seems to handle the relationship of a father and daughter in a way that always leaves me a bit emotional. The loyalty the characters feel for each other and their duties always feels real and they are likable characters in a world filled with vivid emotion and action and adventure.

I do have to confess that our hero, Robert, was a bit too noble sometimes to really engage me, but when it came to the heroine, Davina, he was not above getting down and dirty and violent and that was verra, verra hawt ;)

Ravished By A Highlander is a good read when you want something comforting. You know basically how it's going to go, and that's what you want. Along with some hot scenes and real emotion, it makes for a somewhat predictable but entertaining read all the same.

Final grade: B-

I also recommend Lord of Desire, Lord of Temptation and Lord of Seduction by Paula Quinn. They have strong political plots and are very good reads of passionate people living in a world of danger and political maneuvering.

Happy Reading!

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