This Side of the Grave and other Frost news

I'm counting the days now until the 5th Cat and Bones book, This Side of the Grave, is released. February 22nd is the official release day!!

And since I now have my  husband completely addicted to the audio versions read by Tavia Gilbert, I checked Blackstone Audio's site. The audio version has the same release date...but I haven't found a listing for it yet on Audible. That's not so unusual, since Audible tends to do a less than stellar job of posting not-yet-released titles there. The last two books from the Night Huntress World series were on Audible on release day, so I'm crossing my fingers.

According to Jeaniene Frost's website FAQs, there are now going to be 9 Cat and Bones books instead of 7. And she has at least 2 books planned (contracted) for Vlad, with the first tentatively scheduled for release in 2012!


Challenger: 25 Years Later

There aren't many events where we can pinpoint exactly where we were when something happened. For me, there are just two. September 11th, 2001 and the explosion of the Challenger Shuttle on January 28, 1986.

I was sitting in my 3rd grade classroom watching the launch. One of our elementary school's teachers had been on the short list of teachers who were vying to  become the first teacher in space. Everyone was very excited, even if we didn't really understand the science, or danger, the astronauts faced.

And then the shuttle exploded. (Or at least, looked as though it had).

Being 3rd graders, we really didn't understand what had happened. The first clue that something was very wrong was the look of horror on our teacher's face. Right before she shut off the television.

It's easy to forget that our astronauts put their lives in very real danger in their quest for a better understanding of our world and universe. But even with the loss of another shuttle in 2003, we still tend to take launches, and space shuttle missions, for granted.

To this day, I can't watch space shuttle launches. And it boggles my mind that a whole generation has gone by. My oldest is in 2nd grade. I was in 3rd.  The shuttles are slated for retirement now, with much political wrangling over the next phase of space exploration.  I hope in the struggle to define NASA's future, we don't forget the sacrifices of the astronauts who make up the past.

For those whose memories aren't as clear as mine, NASA has compiled an information page with links and archived coverage of the disaster.

Follow Friday

I can't believe it's Friday already! Welcome everyone.

Follow My Book Blog Friday is a weekly event hosted over at Parajunkee's View. It gives everyone a chance to get out there and mingle with other book bloggers (or find new-to-you book blogs).

This week's question is: What was your favorite school subject?

I'm going to cop out and say I didn't really have one. I loved school. It's easier to say which wasn't my favorite (Math). I really stunk at it. I had about a 3 week learning curve where the lightbulb would go on about 3 weeks after we'd taken the test. I ended up majoring in history when I went to college, so I guess that would probably rank pretty highly.


Gasp! You Haven't Read That Author Yet?

There are a few well known authors out there whose books I haven't read. Even though *everyone* says they're fabulous. Or, at least, part of a romance lexicon. It makes me feel a tiny bit illiterate sometimes.  Now most of these yet-to-be-read authors aren't a deliberate omission on my part. I'm often so overwhelmed with new releases that I rarely get a chance to read older ones. And I admit, I'm easily distracted by the shiny new release shelves.

It's a bit depressing, really, when I start listing all of the authors I haven't had a chance to read yet. Here are just a few of them!

Lora Leigh*
Kate Noble
Loretta Chase
Joss Ware*
Larissa Ione*
Nalini Singh
Carolyn Jewel*
Patricia Briggs*
Anne Stuart
Diana Gabaldon*
Ilona Andrews
Gail Carriger

*Denotes at least one book, usually the 1st in a series, lurking somewhere in my TBR.

So...once a month I'm going to try to read one of these authors (or some of the others I can't recall at the moment). Who should be first? Who is on *your* need to read list?

Hump Day Classic Movie:The Day of the Triffids (1962)

Yes, I know it's Thursday. Wednesday just got away from me.

Today's belated Hump Day movie is The Day if the Triffids. That's right, glory in the artistic brilliance of murderous trees (alien plants...whatever).

Based on a sci-fi novel of the same name, this was one of those movies featured at the drive-in. And scared the bejeezus out of my mom when she was about 10 or 11. Apparently, she and her brothers had to walk past a wooded area on their way home from the movie. And their overactive imaginations got the better of them.

From a modern horror perspective, this is prime so-bad-it's-funny material. Enjoy! You can watch the trailer on Youtube here.

Oh! And I found a 2009 British version starring Dougray Scott! Yea for more evil plant things!


Waiting on Wednesday: The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that highlights upcoming releases we're impatiently waiting to read.

My book this week is
The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis
(#2 in the Lucky Harbor series)
Release Date: March 29, 2011
ISBN: 9780446571623

From Amazon:

Two Men Are One Too Many . . .

Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn,
anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she
can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor. 

I read the first book in the series back in October and loved it. What books are you looking forward to reading this year?


Quickie Review: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

Format: read as ebook, print version is a hardcover
Pub Date: January 18, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
FTC: Purchased myself

I'm definitely in the minority on this one. I didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Just feel kind of...meh. There may be spoilers below (although I'll try to keep this both short and vague).

Main observations:
1. Tense and POV. The book switches between 1st person past and 1st person present. With a little of Dani's POV thrown in. I found this extremely annoying. I am NOT a fan of 1st person present. And I honestly don't think Karen Marie Moning (KMM) does a good job with it. She does much better with 1st person past.

(For those wondering, 1st person present is : I walk to the store and open the door. 1st person past is I walked to the store and opened the door.)

But mainly, I wish she'd pick a tense and stick the hell with it. It yanked me out of the story each time she switched. 

2. Barrons. According to Katiebabs, Barrons is a douche. I wholeheartedly agree with that description. He's an ass. And while I don't get the appeal, I appreciated that KMM kept him consistent until the very last book. When, apparently, he turns from annoyingly taciturn to irritatingly loquacious. I didn't buy that he'd open up that quickly and thoroughly after all that time keeping Mac in the dark.

3. Pacing. Part of my problem with the book comes down to pacing. And I think this goes directly back to the switching of tenses, POVs etc. It throws off the entire stride of the book. It made some parts drag so badly, I skimmed.

Overall, I was disappointed in this book. It answered most of what I wanted answered, but didn't hold my attention as well as it should have. The tenses shift really affected my enjoyment of the book. And the lack of consistency with the characters seemed odd. It felt like KMM compromised some of the essence of the characters to finagle the ending she did. Her loyal fans will probably be happy with this, but as someone who only sometimes liked the series, this just wasn't that great.

My Grade: C+*

*I'm in the minority on this one. Everyone else seems to love it.


Review: Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey

Format: ebook
Publisher: Carina Press
Pub Date: December 6, 2010
FTC: Purchased myself

The Blurb:
House-sitting for her parents seemed like a good idea, until the microwave blew up and the lights went out.
Now Chloe Burke thinks upgrading the electrical system of her childhood home while they are away would make the perfect Christmas gift. Fortunately, there’s an electrician in town who can get the job done by the holidays.
Scott Quinn has wanted to get his hands on the Burkes’ wiring for almost as long as he’s wanted to get his hands on their daughter. Chloe didn’t notice Scott back in high school, but she’s noticing him now, and soon they’re indulging in a little festive fun: no strings, no expectations. After all, Chloe plans to get out of this goldfish bowl of a town and back to her real life in Boston by New Year’s.
But Chloe and Scott discover they enjoy each other’s company just as much out of bed. Could their holiday fling turn out to be the real thing?

I read this holiday novella a few weeks ago, but never got around to reviewing it. I loved this story while reading it, but a few weeks later? Small details are bugging me.

Normally, I love the small town, successful girl returns home trope. And I did this time, too. But this just seemed to lack the sizzle and wit of some of Shannon Stacey's earlier works. I know it's a novella, and thus limited in length/scope, but I would have liked more banter. I'm shallow that way.

The fact that the heroine works from home negates most (not all) of the potential conflict about the big city girl and the home town boy. Clearly, if they choose to make it work, they can without her having to give up her career or him having to relocate his  business. I actually would have preferred to see more small town gossip or meddling. Something to remind Chloe about the drawbacks of small town life in a negative way. Which would have made her decision a little more complicated and angsty.

[On an unrelated side note, this cover bugs me. I normally love Carina's covers. They are some of the best ebook covers out there (and way better than most of Harlequin's print covers). But the position of this guy's hand seems off. ]

Still, it's a sweet little holiday novella.

My Grade: B-


TBR Challenge Review: Thief of Hearts by Tess Gerritsen

Harlequin Intrigue #328
Publisher: Harlequin
Pub Date: 1995 (OOP but available in a reissued Kindle version)
FTC: Purchased myself...a distressingly long time ago

The Blurb:
Reformed cat burglar Clea Rice has witnessed enough crimes to put her on the straight and narrow. But little does she suspect that her search for justice will land her in the arms of wealthy English gentleman Jordan Tavistock. As their attraction grows, so does the danger. Now their biggest concern isn't whether a proper gentleman and a cat burglar can find happiness...it's whether they'll survive long enough to find out.

As part of the TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian, I chose to read a category novel (this month's theme) by a very well known author. I've never managed to read a book by Tess Gerritsen so I don't know how it compares to her more recent full length thrillers. And it's been a long, long time since I've read a category romance.


Shadowfever: Yeah, you can't escape it. Not even here.

Everyone should know that today is Shadowfever release day. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning is the long awaited conclusion to the Fever series.

I hadn't read the Fever series before last month. And while I don't have the OMG mad love that so many others seem to for this series, I can see why it is so compelling. The concept is highly original. The story is gritty. And the plot is intricate. Oh, and KMM is the queen of cliffhangers.

I feel for those who have been waiting for this book. I really do. Nothing sucks more than being left hanging, not knowing the fate of characters you're rooting for (or against).

I don't think I'm going to be hanging out on Twitter or Facebook today. Or visiting blogs. Because I am in the I Hate Spoilers camp. I don't expect readers to keep silent post-release about the book, but I want to find out what happens on my own.

Happy Reading!


What's in a Name?

Most of us know the reasons behind the use of pseudonyms, especially when dealing with the romance and erotic romance genres. Or, really, fiction in general. And, most of us are ok with authors not using their real names.

But what about authors who change names mid-career? Who build up a (questionably) loyal following only to dump their well known name in favor of a new one. Or those who seem to have a different pseudonym for every possible subgenre of romance out there?

Are we, as readers, ok with that, too?


Hump Day Classic Movie: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

In today's world of CGI, this movie might seem unimpressive. But considering it was made in the 1980s, what the filmakers managed to to accomplish in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is pretty amazing. Blending live action with cartoons had been done before, but never quite this well.

Apart from the technological achievements, I think this movie is also pretty clever. Playing up the film noir and giving a wink to the history of cartoons, the plot, characters, and concept are original and often very adult.

This is one of my favorite movies from the 1980s. If you haven't yet seen it, you should give it a try.


Quickie Review: The Lady Most Likely... by Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway, and Eloisa James

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pub Date: December 28, 2010
Publisher: Avon/Harper Collins
FTC: Purchased myself
Blurb: At end of review due to length

I have to admit, I was more than a little nervous about reading this one. I used to be a big fan of Julia Quinn, but her more recent efforts have fallen very flat with me. It's been a long time since I've read either Eloisa James or Connie Brockway, too. But I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

This is technically not an anthology, but given the fact that it's a novel written in three parts about three different couples, I'm going to review it as one.

Julia Quinn

Surprisingly, my favorite part of the story. The shy heroine is a favorite trope of mine, and while this one does not bring anything startling new, it is still charming without losing heart and substance.

Connie Brockway

It's been so long since I've read a book by Connie Brockway. I remember liking them, but that's about it. This was another solid story in the book, even if the plot was pretty tired and overused. I really liked Captain Oakes.

Eloisa James

My least favorite of the three, and I'm not sure why. Maybe because Hugh didn't seem like the same character from the first two novellas. It's the smuttiest (not in a bad way) of the three, but I just didn't see Georgie's capitulation as believable. I think it would take far, far more than an afternoon with Hugh to change her mind.

Bottom line: If you usually like all or any of these authors, you'll probably like this one. But if they aren't usually your cup of tea, this will not change that. There's a necessary sketchiness that comes from the novella length of each story, too, so be prepared for that.

Overall Grade: B/B-

The Blurb:
Three of the brightest stars of historical romance invite you to a party at the country home of the Honorable Marquess of Finchley
Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them— and a few other gentlemen—to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season.
Hugh will have time to woo whichever lady he most desires . . . Unless someone else snatches her first.
The invitation list includes:
  • The horse-mad but irresistibly handsome Earl of Briarly
  • The always outspoken Miss Katherine Peyton
  • The dashing war hero Captain Neill Oakes
  • The impossibly beautiful (and painfully shy) Miss Gwendolyn Passmore
  • The terribly eligible new Earl of Charters
  • The widowed Lady Georgina Sorrell (who has no plans to marry, ever)
And your hostess, Lady Carolyn Finchley, an irrepressible matchmaker who plans to find the lady most likely . . . to capture her brother’s untamed heart.


Review: All She Wrote by Josh Lanyon (Holmes and Moriarity #2)

Format: ebook
Pub Date:December 28, 2010
Publisher: Samhain
FTC: Purchased myself

The Blurb:

Giving screwball mystery a whole deadly new meaning.
Holmes and Moriarity, Book 2

A murderous fall down icy stairs is nearly the death of Anna Hitchcock, the much-beloved “American Agatha Christie” and Christopher Holmes’s former mentor. Anna’s plea for him to host her annual winter writing retreat touches all Kit’s sore spots—traveling, teaching writing classes, and separation from his new lover, J.X. Moriarity.

For J.X., Kit’s cancellation of yet another romantic weekend is the death knell of a relationship that has been limping along for months. But that’s just as well, right? Kit isn’t ready for anything serious and besides, Kit owes Anna far too much to refuse.

Faster than you can say “Miss Marple wears boxer shorts”, Kit is snooping around Anna’s elegant, snowbound mansion in the Berkshires for clues as to who’s trying to kill her. A tough task with six amateur sleuths underfoot. Six budding writers with a tangled web of dark undercurrents running among them.

Slowly, Kit gets the uneasy feeling that the secret may lie between the pages of someone’s fictional past. Unfortunately, a clever killer is one step ahead. And it may be too late for J.X. to ride to the rescue.

I am a big fan of Josh Lanyon. He writes some of the smartest, funniest romance/mystery/capers out there. This one was no exception.

I read the original Holmes and Moriarity book, Somebody Killed His Editor, sometime early last year. I loved it. And when KC from Smokinhotbooks tweeted a link to an early review and clued me in that a sequel had been released, I fired up the Kindle and pre-ordered it.

It did not disappoint. In fact, I think I liked this one even more than the first book.


Hump Day Classic Movie: The Worst Movie Ever Made aka The Conqueror (1956)

I count this as the worst movie ever made. And I do mean ever. John Wayne as Genghis Khan is OMG awful. The script is laughingly bad. I can't make it more than a few minutes into The Conqueror without wincing. Even worse, this was filmed near the Nevada Test Site and many of the crew developed and died from cancer later in life.

This is so staggeringly bad that I think everyone should see it once. And probably only once. And should get some kind of merit badge proving they've watched it and survived.


Don't Mess with My History (Rant)

For those who missed it, Publishers Weekly has announced that NewSouth publishers are going to be putting out a politically correct version of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  They are removing the "n-word" and replacing it with "slave." You can read the Publishers Weekly article here.

Those who read the sanitized version of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn* are, in my ever so humble opinion, not reading Huckleberry Finn. This offends me on so many levels, I can't see straight. It's capitulating to the narrow minded masses. It's messing with our cultural history. And it's not going to do a darn thing to make this book more accessible to modern readers.

I read this book in high school. Then I read it in an American literature course. Then I read it again, 6 times for a literary criticism class. I don't think it's literary genius. But I do consider it to be important for those seeking to understand life in America in the 19th century.

What's next? Putting a diaper on Michelangelo's statue of David because we find his package offensive? Painting clothes on the Birth of Venus where her hair just doesn't cover that left breast? I'm not comparing Mark Twain to Botticelli or Michelangelo, but I am comparing art to art. You can't just mess with art because some piece of it offends you. Don't look at it or read it if you can't handle it in its entirety. But for crying out loud, don't butcher it to make it fit your own level of comfort.

Political correctness should be about moving forward. Not about rewriting the past.

Are those 219 instances of the word "nigger" important? If they were so unimportant, there wouldn't be a controversy. They are important for the very reason so many want them removed: they are offensive. They make an impact. And they show us just how ugly that word and all it represented could be. Changing the word to slave may pacify the uptight parents who challenge Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and get it removed from classrooms. But it fails to convey the very thing Huck Finn should teach us. That our history was not pretty. That language can hurt. And that we have come a long, long way from the days of Mark Twain.

*Notice the lack of "the." The first edition [and all scholarly editions] did not have a "The." Hey, I did learn something during all of those rereads.

Review: Winter Wishes (anthology) by Vivian Arend, Vivi Andrews, and Moira Rogers

Format: ebook
Pub Date: December 6, 2010
Publisher: Carina Press
FTC: Digital copy received through Netgalley

The Blurb:
A Twist on Tradition
A woman has the Christmas Eve from Hell. Two cat shifters play naughty games. And a witch brings out the beast inside the man. The magic of the season takes on a whole new meaning in these three fantastic—and festive—novellas from some of the best voices in paranormal romance.

I know I'm a bit tardy getting this one published. The holidays are over, but I am one of those readers who can read holiday stories any time of year.

I don't think I've read a holiday novella collection quite like this one. I'm a big anthology fan in general. Anthos allow me to sample new-to-me authors without the time commitment of an entire full-length book. And the inclusion of a better known author will help get me to pick up the book...something the marketing pros at the publishers clearly know.

I was familiar with Moira Rogers' writing, but had never read either of the other two authors featured here. While I enjoyed all 3 stories, I was surprised that it was the middle one, the one about angels no less, that captivated and surprised me.


Review: Darkfever and Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

With the upcoming release of Shadowfever on January 18th, Twitter has been, well, atwitter with references to the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.

Until last week, I had ignored this author. Largely because I'm not a fan of fairy stories (thank you very much Laurell K. Hamilton) and because I can't help but go Jr. High and start giggling over the author's last name. Moning? Seriously?  *ahem*

But, seeing how many people know and love this series, I decided I needed to read at least one of them to understand the various references made.

There are a few things to know before starting this series.

1. This is not a romance series. I'm not quite sure what it is (I suck at classifying books by genre) but it's not a romance. I'd go with Urban Fantasy, but that brings to mind more Urban and less Fantasy, whereas this book is primarily fantasy with a little urban Dublin thrown in for color. There is some minor tension between some of the main characters, but this is grittier, more violent and lacks a Happily Ever After. Or any real relationship. At least in the first two books.

In fact, the publishers have rebranded the covers to remove the romance-y elements. The original cover for Darkfever looked very much like a BDB cover.

2. The books end with cliffhangers. Very little is resolved at the end of each book.

3. It's told in the first person. Some hate this POV, so ye are hereby warned.

4. There's lots of fairy/Gaelic words and terms. So many, in fact, that our lead character, Mac, has created her own glossary at the end of the book.

5. The characters are not "likable." Any of them. Not even Mac.


Year-End Review 2010

One thing I can say about this year...I should have kept better track of what I read. Even using Goodreads, I don't have quite as much info as I'd like.

I fulfilled one of my goals for the year, though. I more than doubled the number of posts I made to the blog compared to last year. And I think I livened up the topics a bit, too. 

Total Books Read: 95
(not including rereads or audios I've read in print)

Total Books Reviewed: 84
(including cookbooks and audios I've already read in print)

Not too shabby, really, considering I always feel like I should be reading more than I am. That's 1.8 books per week. 

For this year, I'm hoping to write a few more posts about trends I see, highlighting more authors I've discovered, and in general, diversify the blog a little bit more. Maybe even read a few more mysteries than I did last year. I am a few books behind on the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs, and I still have most of the In Death series to listen to on audio. And I have one last Sookie Stackhouse to listen to as well.

What changes or additions would you like to see on the blog for 2011? What are your personal goals for the new year?

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2011!