At the beginning of the 19th century, adventure awaits…

Mr, Impossible by Loretta ChaseWell, two good paranormal books down, I also read two historicals…MR. IMPOSSIBLE by Loretta Chase and THE CHASE by Cheryl Sawyer. (Enough “chase” in that sentence?). Loretta Chase has been a favorite historical romance author of mine for years — way too many to admit here. One of my very favorite historical romances is LORD OF SCOUNDRELS and I wish I could say that MR. IMPOSSIBLE was up there with the best of the best. But it’s probably not possible to hit homers every time. So, let’s start with the title. Good grief, who came up with that one? It is just not a good historical title and along with MISS WONDERFUL, Chase’s book from 2004 and the beginning of this series, the titles just don’t do it for me as a harbinger of a great historical book. Probably, just me, but once you get past the unfortunately modern sounding title (it just sounds like fluff to me) you’ll find a delightful book set in 1821 Egypt.

The Companion by Susan SquiresAh, an exotic land, filled with poverty and newly uncovered mysteries and treasures, fought over by warring Europeans and local tribesman. What a setting for a romance! Like Susan Squires’ THE COMPANION you won’t want to leave this Egypt. It isn’t the kindest place to be — Chase doesn’t cover up the poverty and disease — but it is exotic, romantic and filled with adventure. And Rupert and Daphne dash along on their mission to rescue the kidnapped Miles (brother of Daphne, I say, does this remind one of THE MUMMY II sans kiddo?)

And does Rupert have to be so stupid that he doesn’t know he’s in love? Only one of the things that really spoiled the story for me. And we were doing so well. Even the villains were better portrayed in this go round.

I think though, if you compare, and it’s really not possible except on the exotic setting of Egypt, both women being Egyptian experts/scholars, THE COMPANION has the lead for adventure and erotic appeal while MR. IMPOSSIBLE (shudder on the title, again) has the lead in romance. The stronger female lead is Squires’ Elizabeth Rochewell since she is definitely not a dummy Egyptian scholar but Chase’s Rupert Carsington is a fun loving scoundrel. Plus I think it takes more to love a vampire than a scoundrel.

The Chase by Cheryl SawyerBut on to the Hundred Days — Napoleon has escaped from Elba and is on the loose in France. The Continent and British kingdom are in an uproar. Just when they thought it was safe….sounds almost like a horror movie, doesn’t it? Well, think again. THE CHASE is a historical with romance. If you like good, old fashioned, well researched historicals, you’ll enjoy this book. If you like a romance with a bit of historical fluff added, you’ll probably hate it. Me, I’m on the side of well-researched historical story telling. The romance in THE CHASE is hit or miss, but the characters’ stories are sublime.

After reading you’ll want to dive back into Sharpe’s War and more. Maybe it’s because I just finished a glom of my Jane Aiken Hodge period novels, but this one hit the spot. I didn’t like her previous novel, SIREN nearly as well as this one.

Longmire Does Romance Novels
And from my husband — found in the back of his PC Magazine, the reason why I hate clinch covers — it is so easy to be made fun of, but you must admit, some of these are truly funny. Also, why doesn’t he do the men’s adventure covers? Some of them are just as silly, and those old scifi/fantasy ones? Drawn by hormonal boys? Huh???

Spooky, ah geez, it’s just a ghost!

After my low of the week, and don’t you just hate it when you anticipate a book (or movie for that matter) and then it just doesn’t quite live up to your expectations? It’s an “okay” book or movie, but you were expecting to be blown away? Well, although my one read this week fit the description, I may have had a more open mind about the others I read.

Carved in Stone by Vickie TaylorCARVED IN STONE by Vickie Taylor was a more than pleasant surprise. Hey, where have I been? Are there other gargoyle stories out there? The only gargoyles I’m acquainted with were in that silly Disney movie with Demi Moore. Oh, and a few hanging out on cathedrals in Paris, or lingering in a over designed garden landscape. Taylor’s book has nothing resembling Disney in any way or sort. Thankfully. Ah, except for the French heritage, and I guess with a gargoyle, you do need the French.

We open with a monster under the bed (or not) and then flash forward to a modern Chicago complete with sexy men and women (sizzling with sexual tension, thank you very much) who battle their natures and a nasty bunch of neo-conservatives. You gotta love this one. It has all the hallmarks of a good read: fast pace, finely spun sexual tension, warring loyalties. All painted on a backdrop of today’s Chicago. Highly recommend and I can’t wait for the next one. Who’s story will it be? Taylor has a multi book contract with Berkley, so I’m thinking this is NOT a standalone, flash in the pan. Available on June 7

Next up was another long awaited book, the latest in the Women of the Otherworld series — HAUNTED by Kelley Armstrong.

Haunted by Kelley ArmstrongHaunted is Eve’s story. You remember Eve? Savannah’s mom? The Black witch? Well, you know, you can’t keep a black witch down…or apparently, GONE FOREVER!!! Yup, she’s a ghost, on a mission from the Fates (a crazier bunch of yarn spinners I’ve never seen before) and with the help of her ex-lover, oh, did I forget to mention, Krist is in purgatory too? Eve’s on a mission to save the world — she’s a phantom bounty hunter. Even if she can’t save her daughter, she’s still able to contribute.

You can read HAUNTED by itself, although I’ll bet you’ll want to read more about the Otherworld, I know I did after reading INDUSTRIAL MAGIC. Armstrong has created a multi-faceted and wondrous world. It’s well worth the search for her entire backlist and set aside a weekend of reading pleasure. Each character has his/her own flaws, strengths, humor and personality. They’ve all been a delight to read and the next one, available on June 7th is no different. Gooble it up and wish like me it was available over Memorial Day.
industrial magic by kelley armstrong hollows #4 Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong Hollows#3 Stolen by Kelley Armstrong Hollows #2 Bitten by Kelley Armstrong Hollows #1

Hollows come alive….Or not…

Been a couple of days, but with work, daughter home from college, husband on vacation and Star Wars Episode III, it’s been difficult to find time to read much less yak on about it in a journal. But ha, did you think I wasn’t reading? Silly you!

Finished Every which way but deadEVERY WHICH WAY BUT DEAD on Friday. Sad to say, I thought I could finish in a single setting, but this episode, for me at least, is not as good as the first two. Either, she was rushed to get it out to satisfy her fawning fans or she lost her creative sparkle for a bit. And the front cover blurbette — “Great sex. And an even better plot!” — well, please, one scene of doing the sublime and a bunch of gnawing on a demon scar is NOT great sex. If you don’t have an ongoing amount of sexual tension, it just becomes a formulaic scene — insert some sex here. As for great plot, walking on a character then forgetting him until the last summary chapter, or throwing us a bad guy without motivation rhyme or reason, or whisking away a main character (was the stage too crowded to manage?), is not a great plot. It just smacks of moving stick figures around a claustrophobic venue.

Perhaps the marketers are trying to get the LKH crowd to buy the book by employing the tease of great sex but I thought the ongoing tension sadly missing. And is having the male character dress the female now taking the place of foreplay? I’m getting too old, expecting a bit more than simply wardrobing. ::sigh:: Now, I’m not saying EVERY WHICH WAY BUT DEAD is a complete loss, not sorry I read the book, and yup, I do recommend it to the others in my little sphere of influence who are eagerly awaiting this volume (have your favorite bookseller hold a copy for you on the first day of release, right before July 4th holiday!), but for me personally, it was a let-down. And it took two days to finish. Sheesh.

By the way, I have lots of questions which I’ll have to wait to discuss until either the book is released (June 28) or some others catch up with me (you know who you are). As to the final question, is this book a stand alone read?, probably. If you do like it, you’ll be intrigued enough to go back and get the first two, I don’t think you’ll get lost, although most of the character motivation, and the previous history will make the story a little clearer. Oh, yeah, and the plot thing, well, you can drive holes through it plus a bunch of superfluous characters and then not enough of main players — a quick visit then off to the holding room. To help those of you looking, and do look in the science fiction, fantasy or horror sections, the Hollows tales so far are:
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
The first two are NOT TO BE MISSED, she is a great new story teller and I’m sure the next episode in the ongoing saga of the Hollows will add a bit more.

Excited and a Great Readers dinner

We had our monthly dinner meeting tonight, and as usual, it was wonderful! I never knew how great it was to meet with friends and discuss books and authors until I started going to tea nine years ago. And the monthly dinners are even better. No chance of being overheard and dinner with friends is always nice. Besides they help cook and bring goodies *g*. We had two guests this month — due to a death in the family in April, we had to cancel our April dinner, so we just doubled our fun in May. Our guests were very different, writing different types of romances and yet both have an avid following within our group.

Holly Jacobs can’t help it, she writes funny. And believe me, she is as much fun in person (or on the phone) as she is on the printed page. We got the inside scoop on her dealings with the vendetta the suicidal chipmunks are waging on her, as well as a glimpse into future books after she finishes off two series she’s working on now. It was a wonderful conversation — sorry I kept knocking over the phone, Holly!

My only problem is how to get to read her Avalon series. I don’t go to the library –something about not returning books in time, they are so unreasonable. But I’ll figure something out. The book set in the front seat of a truck, survival style, sounds delicious!

Our second guest, Catherine Anderson writes books that make you cry and hug your kids and significant other when you’re finished reading. And she even has historicals that our P (who is NOT a historical fan) will read and rave about. Her current book — MY SUNSHINE — takes the reader into a life which has some physical limitations but in the end is fulfilling with more opportunities than having a perfect body could offer. Even though I cried, it was a great read! And Ms. Anderson took us into the background of how she writes and develops the rich characters she details in her stories. We also got to hear about the book she’s working on now, another historical at long last and the novella she’s done for a November anthology about a NOT CURSED but spelled (in a good way) wedding dress. Can’t wait. And sorry, Catherine, didn’t mean to keep knocking you into the banana pudding! Honest!

As for my excitement, well, well.


And last but least, I got the not-yet-released Kim Harrison book — and I’m gonna be reading it tonight. I don’t care how late it is when I start, that book is going down! And by george it better be good! The other readers said it is WONNNDERRRRFUL. So, I’ve got to see, or in this case read it to believe it. Let you all know, okay?

Other great trades include ENCHANTED INC by Shanna Swendson — she’s a local Dallas author and it got great reviews, and MaryJanice Davidson book. Some good stuff waiting for me to read. I’m excited. So now for a last piece of ooey gooey chocolate cake, a glass of milk and a night’s reading!

Reading Update

I finished Snowed In by Christina Bartolomeo. I knew it wasn’t romance, but more like women’s fiction, so wasn’t expecting a happy ending. I was however primed for an ending that left me feeling satisfied. I turned the last page(didn’t know it was the last page at the time) and went HUH? I can’t quite express it, but the final paragraph doesn’t leave you to believe it’s truly the fnal paragraph.

After finishing Snowed In I chose to read A Date With The Other Side by Erin McCarthy. In between band concerts, and suffering the yuch brought on by my allergies I managed to finish it in the wee hours before work this morning. I really enjoyed this one. It was my first read by this author, and I’m pleased to announce I have at least one more in the TBR pile. A Date With The Other Side does have a paranormal element in it, and while it plays a big part in the story line I didn’t feel like it was so highlighted that the book could have been classified as paranormal.

Now I’m undecided about what to read. So I’ll sign off, and go through the TBR pile.

Happy reading to all!

Sandi

Harlequin changes…

I wrote a quick article on the demise of the Harlequin Temptation and now, I hear the two romance lines from H/S are closing down as well. But talking with G this morning I realized something — it isn’t the death so much as a transformation. The old formula isn’t working so well, they need to go with a new one! Instead of baby books, they need to push the whine of the urban 20/30/40 and 50? something. And in first person as well. ::sigh:: I’m too old for this, that is why fantasy/scifi is so appealing for my current reading.

So instead of reading last night, I went awandering through my book cases looking for some old favorite Temptations. Of course, I managed to get trapped by some of my old keepers — mostly the Jayne Ann Krentz’s like GHOST OF A CHANCE which I love!

So what do you think of the changes? Always difficult but on a bright note, change of blood means new stories and voices!

Unzipped

I’ve just finished reading Lois Greiman’s first mystery novel Unzipped and it is very entertaining. I realized just how much I liked it when I immediately started reading the teaser chapter for the next one at the end. Normally, I skip those because I don’t want to be tormented by the wait until its release since it can be up to a year away.

Anyway, this book will hit the shelves on May 31st. If you’re looking for a recommendation, pick this one up.

Harry Hunsicker – local Dallas mystery author

Harry is a local Dallas author with a debut mystery out this month from Minotaur. You’ve got to be at least intrigued by his protagonist name — after all, Oswald is such a “Dallas” name.
Still Water

Still Water has been highly recommended by the local community leader for the Dallas Barnes and Noble and a local mystery readers group. Anyone read it yet?

~sara

Monday Musings, or stuff to do this week

After downing two nice mugs of wonderful Central Market java, I’m ready to face the week. And for me, that means the infamous, demanding, annoying, but necessary TO DO list!

So, what will we be doing this week?

Posting a ton (well, it feels that way) of reviews for June books.

Publishing our weekly newsletter on Tuesday.

Adding the books from the two big mystery confabs — the Agathas and the Edgars.

Adding comments (wouldn’t that be nice if it actually worked this time)

Nudging the search function to return good stuff, I actually think I figured that one out. Yeah, right.

Adding the poll.

Add books, add books, add books. Ah, the life of data gatherer is NEVER done.

So, off to pet the dog, drink one more cup and work, work, work.

Here I am!

I made it! I am ready to post and add comments!

What am I reading…

Actually I just finished a great book called Lamb: The Gospel According to Christ’s Childhood Pal Biff by Christopher Moore. It was a fun and wacky look at the years of Christ between 6 yrs. old and 35ish, the “missing years” from the bible. You follow Biff and Josh (Jesus) through their young adulthood while they discover the mysteries of sin, buddhism, etc. It is written from Biff’s point of view, he has been resurrected in the present day to write his gospel. Christopher Moore has several other titles that look equally as fun, so I will be working my way through them.

I am reading Wicked by Shannon Drake, a Beauty and the Beast based romance. I am enjoying the tie in with Egyptology.

And speaking of Egyptology, the newest Amelia Peabody mystery The Serpent on the Crown by Elizabeth Peters was fantastic! I’m a big Amelia fan (meaning I buy the books in hardback as soon as they come out, no waiting for paperbacks!). I love watching Amelia’s character evolve as her family evolves around her.

That’s all I have for now, I should get back to work!

T.