Review: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Audio)

Format: Audio (download)
Narrator: Lorelei King
Length: 9 hrs
FTC: Purchased myself

The Blurb:
Mercy Thompson's life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy isn't exactly normal herself.
I admit it. I was one of the few holdouts who hadn't read the Mercy Thompson series. But after downloading the first few books based on recommendations I received from Twitter, I am thinking I will pick up print versions (or maybe ebooks) of the entire series so far.

I bought the first book for my husband, the avid audiobook fan. We've listened to Lorelei King's narration before with the Stephanie Plum series and decided to take a chance on the books. He really enjoyed them, and the Mercy series has now become one of his favorite audiobook series. At his urging, I decided to move the first book, Moon Called, up on my audiobook TBR.

There's nothing all that original about this book. There is no groundbreaking, genre twisting innovation. But  I really like the characters. And the sassy sense of humor. My husband was chortling with laughter when he discovered what field Mercy's college degree was in. Because mine is the same. With the same lack of marketability. *sigh*


Recipe: Black Pepper and Onion Scones

I think these came from an old Pillsbury pamphlet cookbook, but I'm not sure. I made them for last year's county fair (got a 3rd! Which is pretty good considering the kick ass bakers in this county). These are savory scones. Not dessert scones. And they make an excellent side for stews, soups etc.

And since it's still cold up here in the mountains, I'm considering making some today! You can probably add herbs or adjust the pepper amount to tweak  to your preferences. One thing you shouldn't change: the freshly ground, coarse pepper! It has to be coarse.

Black Pepper and Onion Scones
3/4 cup chopped onions
 1/4 cup butter
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 to 1 Teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 egg
melted butter

Heat oven to 425° F. In a small skillet, saute onions in 1/4 cup butter until crisp-tender; set aside. Cool slightly.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.

In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper and salt; blend well. Add whipping cream, egg, sauteed onions; stir until moistened.

On floured surface, knead dough gently 5 or 6 times. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press into an 8 inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges; separate slightly. Bake at 425° for 12 to 15 minutes or until very lightly browned. Brush with melted butter.

Below 3500 ft: Increase baking powder to 1 Tablespoon. Bake 12 to 16 minutes at 400° F ( I haven't tried the lower elevation adjustments myself).


Waiting on Wednesday: Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book-loving hands on.

I am a huge (Huge!) fan of Jacquie D's historicals. I just love her writing. Even when the plot doesn't quite work for me. She plays with language in a way that makes me smile.

This is her first full length contemporary (she's written a few shorter books for the Harlequin categories). I can't wait to see if her humor and wordsmith abilities transfer to the new genre. This comes out quite soon, but I just found out about it. I can't wait!!

Summer at Seaside Cove
Pub Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Berkley
Length: 368 pages

The Blurb:
After Janie Newman's half sister Laurel steals her boyfriend, Jamie leaves New York and the humiliation behind for the island of Seaside Cove, North Carolina. But the cozy cottage she booked turns out to be a rundown bungalow. And she's not alone. Her drama-prone mother, angst- ridden niece and newly dumped Laurel all follow her down. With a cottage this crowded, will she ever have a chance at finding love again?

Hump Day Movie: Monster Squad (1987)

This isn't one of my favorite movies. But it is, sadly, one of my husband's favorites. Mainly because of a single scene where the Wolfman gets kicked in the nards.

Anyone who grew up watching the old Universal monsters will probably enjoy the use of them here. They are very old school monsters. And although there is a bit of objectionable language, this isn't a very scary movie. It's made for middle school or young teens. And has a very 1980s vibe that those of us born in the 1970s can't help but love.

The Monster Squad is finally available on blu ray and DVD.


TBR Challenge Review: Cowboy Trouble by Joanne Kennedy

I'm about a week late posting this, but it's finally up! Part of the reason for my tardiness is that I tried to pick up and read an historical western. That just didn't work. I have to be in a very specific mood to read one of those. (The other reason is that April turned out to be busier than usual. I haven't had a lot of reading time this month).

Next, I surfed through my digital TBR looking for a contemporary western (the other half of the optional themes for this month's challenge). I finally settled on Cowboy Trouble by Joanne Kennedy. I have no idea why it was on my Kindle. It may have been a free read. It hasn't been on the TBR too terribly long, but I think if I didn't read it now, I'd probably never read it.

Pub Date: March 1, 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Format: ebook
Length: 416 pages (according to Amazon for the print edition)
FTC: purchased myself

Despite how the blurb makes it sound, this isn't really a fish out of water story. It's more of a finding the right pond for the fish story. It's about a woman fleeing the big city for rural life and discovering she likes the harsh realities of Wyoming just fine. She discovers she's capable, independent, and although can use help with some of the more labor-intensive chores, more than able to work hard on her "chicken ranch." There's very little yearning for the cosmopolitan city life, and I found that refreshing.


Recipe: Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

With Easter this weekend, it's time to share my handy dandy instructions for perfectly done hard boiled eggs.

1. Carefully place eggs in bottom of a large pan.
2. Cover with cold water
3. Heat over medium high heat until water comes to a boil.
4. Remove from heat; cover with lid.
5. Wait at least 20 minutes or until you get around to them.

The eggs will be cooked through and not rubbery!

If you live at very high elevations, this might not work for you, but otherwise, I've never had them fail! In general, the shells won't stick as badly to eggs that are a bit on the old side. The closer they are to their use by date, the less they stick.

Jumping on the YA Bandwagon

Authors writing in multiple genres is nothing new. Neither is authors abandoning one successful genre to write in another. A decade ago, authors jumped ship from romance to mystery. Or from historical to paranormal. Today, it seems everyone is jumping on the Young Adult bandwagon.

At the RT Book Lovers Convention earlier this month, YA was everywhere. There was even a "Teen Day." And many of the YA authors are well known romance authors. Authors who are successful writing historical or contemporary adult romances are cranking out YA books now.

The reasons are varied: an expanding market for YA (with corresponding publisher demand), a perceived decline in the historical or contemporary romance market, author boredom with the genre they write in, pressure from agents and publishers to conform...

Personally, I get irritated when it seems as if an author is jumping on a trend bandwagon. I'm fine with an author who writes in more than one genre. But I intensely dislike it when an author basically abandons one readership in pursuit of another. Readers who make an effort to remember an author's name, who anxiously await the next book are apparently worthless when weighed against the almighty $.

No, authors don't "owe" their readership anything. And they're free to write what they like. But it still irks me when authors seem to choose a new genre to write in just because everyone else is doing it.


Review: Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson

Format: Mass Market (also in ebook)
Pub Date: April 26, 2011
FTC: Digital galley from the publisher
Publisher: Avon (Harpercollins)
Length: 384 pages

I've been stalling about writing this review. Because I know it's not going to be fair. There are those occasional books that just push your buttons (not in a good way) and this, unfortunately, was one of them for me. *Spoilers Ahoy!*

I'm one of those readers who wants to 'plug in' to the characters. To meaningfully connect with the heroine. To put myself in her shoes and look at the hero through my eyes. I don't have to match exactly with personality, life experience, age or anything else. But I want her to act in a way that makes sense for her experiences and her character. And, at least for me, that didn't happen with Any Man of Mine.

I really did not buy into the redemption of the hero in this book. It may very well be that I identified a little too much with the heroine, Autumn Haven. Not the getting married and knocked up by a stranger in Vegas bit, but the mother of a 5 year old boy part. And so, looking at the hero through a mother's eyes, I found Sam LeClaire to be a grade A asshole.


Waiting on Wednesday: Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book-loving hands on.

Pub Date: June 6, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press
Format: ebook

I love Shannon Stacey's Kowalski family series. They remind me very much of the old Silhouette Special Editions by Nora Roberts. Fabulous characters, a fun family dynamic, and a light but heartfelt sense of humor.

Shannon has posted Chapter one of Yours to Keep on her website here.

The Blurb:

Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancĂ©. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.

Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his “pretend” kisses are…


The last RT post this year, I promise!

I might have gone a smidge overboard with the conference posts, but it was my very first conference and must be properly documented. Says me.

Anyhoo... here's a roundup in pictures of everything I couldn't squish into the other posts. Apologies for the mismatched sizes etc. My html skills suck.

Faery Ball pics

Golden Heart finalist Erin Kelly
and aspiring author (and OB/GYN)
Tiffany R.

Mr. Romance pics 

And, of course, our winner...Len:

and what RT post would be complete without THE most photographed cover in promo alley?


Review: Gone with a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West

Format: Hardcover
Pub Date: April 12, 2011
Page count: Approx 340
Publisher: Minotaur (St. Martins)
FTC: Review copy provided by Authors on the Web

I had no idea what to expect from Gone with a Handsomer Man. I had never read a thing by Michael Lee West. I do read a few mysteries now and then, but the cover of this one almost seemed very chick lit. And it's being pubbed in hardcover. Which I tend to avoid.

Wow am I glad I read this book. I read most of it on the plane ride to LA for the RT convention and earned myself some 'is she crazy?' stares for all of the chuckling I was doing. This is one hilarious book. It is outrageous, sweet, whacky, and sometimes a little bit sad. Not once was it boring, though.

I will get the cons out of the way first, so I can gush. My biggest complaint, by far, is that the characters were unevenly developed. The guys drew the short straws for sure. The women were all quirky, real, and vibrantly described. The men were wallpaper. And pretty dull wallpaper at that.

***POV Warning***
This is told in the first person. So if that bugs you, avoid. You've been warned. I happen to love 1st person as long as it is PAST tense.
***End POV Warning***

Giveaway: Gone with a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West

I brought this book with me to the RT convention without having any real expectation of finishing it. But to my surprise, it sucked me right in. I will be posting a full review later in the week today, but I highly recommend this book to fans of Southern cozy mysteries or mysteries where the characters are zany and full of sass. There's a little bit of romance, too, for those who like a little relationship with their mysteries.

The good folks at www.AuthorsOnTheWeb.com are giving away a copy of Gone with a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West right here on the blog! To enter, please leave a comment below and a way to contact you (Twitter handle or email is fine).

The giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only. 
Ends April 30, 2011.

RT Convention: Day Five

By Sunday I had given up. I waved the white flag and admitted defeat. The events scheduled for most of the day didn't appeal, so my roommate and I just wandered around the hotel checking out all of the levels we hadn't had a chance to visit.

By the time we were done, though, the Westin Bonaventure had changed from 'the hotel' to 'the POS hotel' to the 'F____ng Hotel.' Trust me, this is one messed up piece of architecture. There are four towers surrounding a central circular lobby area. But from most towers and elevators, you CANNOT get to the second floor. Which is, of course, where many of the events are held. You either have to get off at level 3 and walk down the stairs or at the lobby level and climb up.

I felt like I was in some kind of cosmic maze where I was playing the part of the mouse in search of cheese. Here is the sign inside the towers that "tells" you where the heck you are. Sort of.

Most of the hotel's restaurants and shops are just empty shells or have weird hours and just weren't open when I was there. I'm not sure if it is a result of the economy or what, but it felt more than a little bit sad to wander the concrete spirals of levels and see empty areas where restaurants used to be.

Adding to my general feeling of irritation on Sunday was the fact that the on-site shipper apparently had no boxes. I had planned to ship most of my books home, and was unable to do so. Experience taught me, though, to pack a squishable bag in my suitcase, which I ended up checking at the airport.

The final event of RT was a movie night. We went in our PJs, and watched the Princess Bride in Rocky Horror Picture Show style...meaning the whole crowd recited the most popular lines. It sounds annoying, but was actually quite funny.

The next time I go, and there will hopefully be a next time, I think I will do what nearly everyone else did and skip Sunday entirely. The events were so sparse and uninteresting after the frantic pace of the previous days.


RT Convention: Day Four aka Are We Dead Yet?

Saturday was the day that officially kicked my ass. By the end of the day, I felt like I'd been in a Romance Boot Camp. Or an endurance race. I woke up early despite not having any early morning events. We stood in line for what seemed like forever at the book signing. People were doing a variety of things in line to pass the time: reading print books, reading on their phones, tweeting, taking pictures...even knitting.

I forgot to take pictures of the event itself. It was a bit overwhelming. I've been to an RWA lit signing, but it didn't seem as packed as this was with people.

I did totally geek out and put my Twitter handle on my name badge since everyone seemed to look at it to check how to spell my name at the signings. I got to meet Victoria Dahl, Andrew Shaffer, Tessa Dare, Zoe Archer, Lisa Hendrix, and quite a few other authors I've chatted with on Twitter. It was a weird feeling to know that I'd chatted with them and they (for the most part) remembered who I was!

After the signing, was the Mr. Romance contest. It was surprisingly funnier and less icky than I had anticipated. I will be doing a Mr. Romance post probably tomorrow with lots of pictures, but here's a few of the better ones!
 Drummer Dave as Jack Sparrow

 Crowd favorite (and winner) Len 


RT Convention: Day Three

For some ridiculous reason, I keep managing to drag my butt out of bed for the morning mixers. But this time I was smart enough to snag a Starbucks mocha and muffin before we went. Dry scones and over brewed coffee just doesn't cut it for me.

We skipped a few more events today. One was unintentional, but the other two really held no interest. I did enjoy one event, though. The Naughty Hollywood event. Where else can I see CJ Hollenbach and Andrew Shaffer acting out a love scene from a movie...together?

I have the proof right here:

The Avon event was full of awesome. Big name Avon writers (Lynsay Sands, Kerrelyn Sparks, Joss Ware, Sophie Jordan and more) signing *free* books with waiters carrying around *free* margaritas. My friend, the historical reader, was a little disappointed that they all seemed paranormal. But she stocked up on bribes—err gifts for her boss who is a paranormal reader.

The Vampire Ball can best be summed up with four little letters: OMFG. Or, alternately, I'm way too sober to watch this show.


RT Convention: Day Two

Finding time to blog is very difficult—as I have discovered.

Day Two started out really early with a Mystery breakfast event. The first workshop my former BN cohort and I attended was Confessions of a Romance writer. Christie Craig and Faye Hughes were the panel. I didn't expect much out of it, as I hadn't heard of either author and attendance was sparse. But those two authors were hysterical, and I will be definitely buying their books.

Following that, I joined the Reader panel moderated by Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) and Jane Litte (Dear Author). Despite occasionally being highjacked by some passionate but overly verbose Australian women, it was an interesting panel. Plus, hey, we got a chance to screw up the seating arrangements by moving the chairs into a circle.

The Samhain Steampunk tea was well attended and had the best selection of nibbles so far. And the decorations were awesome! I got to take home one of the centerpieces as a prize, but suspect I might have to have the guns shipped home or risk *another* TSA bag inspection. (sigh).

The big event of the day was the Faery Ball. Yes, I did dress up (and yes, I did feel like a jackass) but nearly everyone dressed up for the party, so I wasn't alone!

I didn't stay very long because a) shoes were killing me and b) I'm old. I fell asleep for a few minutes while trying to type up a blog post last night. Which is why I'm posting it today!

I was trying to come up with a good caption for this one (from the costume contest) but the picture speaks for itself... Oh yeah!


RT Convention: Day One

Day one started out early because I was unable to sleep in. I woke up at 6 am even though the kids (aka alarm clocks) are with my Mom (who is totally earning her fair share of swag and books this week).

After heading to an OMFG overpriced buffet for breakfast (had a coupon for a free meal or I'd have never gone!) I made my way to the RT Virgin workshop. Then it was the Welcome to LA mixer.

After a quick lunch, I headed to the Science of Crime workshop. It was for writers, and I only stayed for the first hour, but it was well done and very interesting to this mystery buff.

After slinking out the door during the break, it was on to the Goody Room and Club RT. Promo alley (lane?) is filled with goodies. I have to say, I'm loving the Romance Trading Cards put out by all of the authors.

I was a little late getting to the Intergalactic Bar and Grille event, which means I had NO CLUE what was going on. Some sort of trivia game, but I was completely lost.

After that, I had a lovely blogger dinner (Stupid me apparently forgot my camera in the room) with Angela James, Malle Vallick, Barbara Vey, Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) and several book bloggers who are attending the convention and/or live locally.

Then I rushed back for the Ellora's Cave Bollywood party. I stayed just long enough to watch the opening act and visit for a few minutes.

All in all, a busy day at the RT 2011 convention.


Can't Attend a Romance Convention? Read About One Instead!

I am lucky enough to be winging my way to L.A. right about now. Or at least shouldering my way through the crowded airplane to find a squished middle seat somewhere. But for those of you stuck at home, here's a list of books that mention or take place at/during a Romance Convention.

And yes, Romance Convention should be capitalized because it's just that awesome.

I have to start with the best one in my humble opinion:

Single White Vampire by Lynsay Sands

Not only does a hefty portion [heh] of this book take place at the RT Convention, but it is so freaking funny that you'll be howling with laughter. The premise alone is worth a chuckle: a vampire who writes family histories that are marketed as fictional historical romances. And who is coerced into attending the RT Convention.

Want something a little less obvious? Or more snarky?

Elizabeth Peters has an old one called Die for Love featuring her Jacqueline Kirby character. It takes place at a fiction romance convention, but many of the scenes will ring true for those familiar with the romance scene.

Maggie by the Book by Kasey Michaels is another mystery meets romance book set at a fictional writers' convention, aptly called WAR (We Are Romance.) The Maggie series is a bit odd, since it features a main character who is a current mystery and former romance writer. The odd part is that her creation, a Regency aristocratic detective, has appeared in corporeal form outside of her book! And has brought his sidekick along.

I have also informed me that the last book in Nora Roberts's Dream trilogy also features a romance convention.

Anyone else have a convention book (in any genre) that should be added to the list?


Buried By Books Birthday Bash Winner!

Wow, the beginning of the month just got away from me! This was supposed to post on the 1st, but I just didn't get it done. My apologies.

Without further ado: the  randomly chosen winner of the $15 Gift Card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble is:

Peggy P. !!!

Congrats Peggy! An email is winging its way to you, now.