Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What the Heck is an Elevator Pitch?

This was my first thought when I signed up for the Pitch Fest in this years Emerald City Writers' Conference at the end of the month... well to be more precise, in 3 days.

Apparently an 'Elevator Pitch' is a two to five sentence recap of your novel that, once completed, should also allow you time for your victim... I mean captive audience to ask you any questions they might have about your story.

The one thing I have to say is that I've already practiced narrowing down a description of a story or movie to one sentence, so broadening the field to about 3 sentences will be a breeze, or atleast should be :)

Think of the move Snow White (the G rated one), here is one way to describe it in one sentence:

Escaping from a Stepmother who wants to kill her, Snow White struggles to make a life for herself away from her Stepmothers evil ways.

I'd suggest trying this with other movies. Remember you want to be as broad and general as possible because you want to get the general point across without going into too much detail. You save that for later when they ask you questions or request more information.

So after taking this reduced sentence down of the description of Snow White, lets expand upon it to make it more of an elevator pitch:

Escaping from a Stepmother who wants to kill her, Snow White with the help of seven dwarfs attempts to make a life for herself outside of her Stepmother's evil influences. Her Stepmother won't let her go without out a fight and Snow White and the seven dwarfs must use all their physical and mental skills to keep her Stepmother away.

Now, lets see if I can do this with my novel (it's always harder to do it with things we created :) )

Here's my one sentence:
In love with her neighbor, Beth finally gets the chance of a relationship with James, but his ex isn't done with him yet.

Okay, lets see if I can expand upon it without getting too complicated:
Beth has always been in love with her neighbor, but when she finally gets the chance to build a relationship with him it comes with some unwelcome strings attached. James' latest ex has decided that she's not done with him yet, and will do everything in her power to try and break Beth and James' lives apart.

If you can complete this successfully (and please note, I haven't received any input aside from myself for the above pitch, I won't know how well it works until the conference. Notes to be added below later) this is also a very helpful tool when writing your query letter.

I found this link to 'Kick Butt Elevator Pich' by Kristen Stieffel very helpful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Story Conversation and Scene Help

Recently someone asked me if I had any suggestions on how to make a scene flow better and how to tell if they got their points across. The scene they were asking about had character conversation in it and was the last chapter of their story.

This can be a tricky, especially with endings or wrap ups in which you strip your characters bare. This advice can be used for any scene in any storyline and can be particularly helpful when you are unsure if you've wrapped up or started any drama in a clear manner.

My suggestion to them was to think about what they want to portray in the scene. What emotions did they want to have their characters feel or cause in each other and write it out. Usually in the big finally where everyone brings everything out in the open and the characters emotions are laid bare, you generally want your characters emotionally raked over coals before coming out better for it on the other end.

Think back to your favorite books. What do the characters feel in that last breath before the end? Dispare, pain, anger, depression? Are they afraid? Do they feel that they could lose everything they've spent the last some odd chapters working towards?

Write the above items down on a piece of paper and if you are trying to get a specific point across in the scene, add that to the list as well. Then, and here is the important part, show the list o a trusted adviser, email them to your critique partners or show it to a random stranger. After that, and I suggest this especially for the characters conversational portion of the story, read it aloud to your friend and that stranger or email it out to your critique partner/s, and have them cross off what points you hit on and which points you didn't. If they're nice, they'll also state where they were having issues following along or will provide suggestions to help it flow better.

The verbal renditioning of your story can also help with sentence flow (character conversations in stories should sound/read like an actual conversation) and will also display how well you are able to convey your points across in the scene.

I hope this helps in your writing endeavor!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nano Plot Tips: The Index Card Methods and Structure Grid

I've been reading up on this idea and have to say that I might give it a try, especially if I run out or through my plot outline too soon (I tend to do this around 25k thinking it should have lasted till 50k) and start pantsing it. Which has failed to reach me the 50k mark on many a frustrating occasions.

What you need:
Index Cards or post its
Space- perhaps lots of it
and if you're feeling exceptionally rambunctious, a cork board

Every chapter needs to have a climax or reach a critical point to help the story along, usually involving either emotional movement (character development or trauma) or plot line movement. As well as every three chapters or so there should be a central climax or point that happens that moves the plot along at larger intervals until you reach the storyline climax and then the one or two chapters to close everything off. Keep in mind plot climaxes usually proceed the romance climax where the characters conclude that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Everyone confused? Then I've succeeded :) More on plot line suggestions later.

Index cards are one of the more effective story planning tools because they allow you to write your scenes out and then easily move things around when you need to. I've tried to do this on a computer and it can get a bit frustrating to go back and forth between pages to try and figure out what's happening or what a character looks like. Plus think of it as literally holding your story in your hands. Think of all the colorful creations you could make, that or the time you'll spend procrastinating writing your story as you design the cards.

I do hate to say it, but I still tend to write out a basic plot line on paper or computer and then transfer everything to the note cards. The plus side, if I had some ideas about what could happen in the plot but couldn't figure out how to write it in, I'd add it a note card to have on hand in case I want to shuffle plot points around or add more complexity to the story, or just plain run out of items to fill a plot section. Then I place my cards out on a surface and start putting them in planned chapter order to see how the scenes play out and get a general idea on the flow of the story. I can then mix, match, shuffle, toss and include any other cards when needed.

What I tend to include on my note cards:
Character descriptions, each on their own, including the villain
Basic chapter outlines, not initially labeled unless I want a bunch of black marks crossing out chapter identifications
About 10 additional cards with random plot events that I may want to experiment with
A death card, that will have a list of names and moments when they were killed, just to keep everything in order
A introduction card, to help me keep track of when I introduced characters, so I don't introduce them twice
And a couple challenge cards

What is a challenge card you ask? A challenge card/s is something you either decide to play around with yourself with your story, or you decide to take up from a fellow nano'er post on the whole challenge idea. I recently read one where you have a character turn blue or purple in your storyline due to a chemical reaction and you later have to use this your benefit in your story. Another was help another character get married, and another was having them consume a really greasy food. You could have someone fall in love with an AI, a really harry man or just waltz in the background of a scene. Challenges can be hard, easy, fun, frustrating or just plain crazy, but they can also help you move your plot along if you've run out of previously planned plot points or just need filler till you reach your next scene.

Challenges can be found on Nanowrimo Forums.

Will you be using note cards this year? Or were you planning on using a different form of plotting assistance. If so, please share!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nanowrimo and Much Much More!

Wow, this years Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is coming up this November. For those of you who don't know what that is, its a solid thirty days, that's right three-zero, that you have to start and finish a book that is at least 50 THOUSAND words long.

You cannot start the writing of this novel until November 1st and the last day you have to finish this challenge is November 30th.

I've attempted this challenge several times, we won't go into how many, and only succeeded once. I've come close, within a few thousand words a couple times as well. I felt wonderful when I crossed that 50K word count mark. Like I've finally accomplished a major goal in my life. I'm going to attempt it again this year and still haven't quiet decided what I'm going to write about. This 50K mark can be hard to meet with Thanksgiving and other family obligations floating around this month (at least for those who are in US). It's easy to fall be hind and somewhat daunting to try and catch up.

I don't do so well pantsing a story line this long that has to be written in such a short length of time. Pantsing for those of you who don't know, is where you attempt to write a story where you have no idea where you are going, what is going to happen or even how it might end. It can be a fun to write a free flowing story where you discover new things about yourself and your characters or it can be a story from hell where you end up burning your computer and smashing your USB into pieces as you just can't take the constant road blocks and unhelpful characters anymore.

Personally I prefer plotting to pantsing in this short length of time. I have this desire to know exactly where my story is going. Some might say this stems from my at times over controlling nature, but I don't believe them. I plot mainly so I don't end up pulling all the hair out of my head while I try to figure out just what the hell is happening in my story and to my characters. The problem I have with plotting is that I tend to plot out the chapters and by the time I've finished writing the plot points I end up with only half a length of story. This is when I tend to pants it and end up not reaching the 50K mark.

This might be because I don't add enough details into my plot points so I just kind of skip along from one action to another without adding enough random events to fill in the spaces. I'll have to try harder to plan those smaller plot movers/markers this year. And people say I don't let me characters have enough free space.

This year I'll also be attending my first writer's conference and I can't be more excited! I'll be sitting in on several conferences for tips on writing police/investigation novels with believable characters and plot lines (I have several stories already started that I want to be more realistic with). I'll get tips on publishing and just a generally bumping elbows with those other writers in my community. I cannot wait!

I'm hoping that I'll also be able to met my first submission goal this year (this has been one of my new years goals for the last two years) and actual submit a novel to publishing houses to see what comes back. I can't wait! Even if they're rejection letters, I'm still supper physicked that I even got this far :)

I'll be posting book reviews soon. So many to catch up :)

Also, if there are any you'd like me to review, leave a comment and I'll get on it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: On the Prowl by Christine Warren

On The Prowl
by Christine Warren

I enjoy reading Christine Warren's novels. They are spunky, the characters are interesting and the plot lines never boring.

This novel features Saskia who is getting married to Nicolas Preda in an arranged marriage that most would deem old fashioned, but is completely normal for the Tiguri shifters. Saskia and Nic are extremely attracted to each other, and if they could only figure out how to have a normal conversation without it turning into a fight, everything would be great. But their married life soon becomes a moot point when something is on the prowl for vengeance and Nic becomes a prim suspect in the attacks that almost get the head of the Council killed.

Can they resolve their issues and find the mastermind behind the attacks before Nic himself gets in more trouble then he can get himself out of.

This novel was great read. The characters were interesting and the relationship that built between Nic and Saskia was a joy to read. I especially enjoyed Saskia's growing strength as she fought for what she wanted with Nic and his increasing desire to please her.

I give this novel a 4 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to read more about Christine Warren and her other novels, please click here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Book Review: Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane

Chaos Burning
by Lauren Dane

This was an interesting novel to get into because even though it was a stand alone, the books printed prior to the novel probably would have provided more information about the world the novel was set in, Lauren did an great job providing explanations for items that new readers wouldn't understand with out bogging down the storyline.

This novel starts out with Lark Jaansen, a witch arriving in Seattle in order to meet up with the Seattle coven of witches. She is picked up by Simon Liathan, a lycan, as a favor to one of his friends. Sparks immediately fly and the attraction continues to deepen the longer they are together. By Lark isn't up in Seattle for pleasure, she's there for business. The continued disappearances of the 'other ' community by mages, or as I like to call them evil magic users, who are killing their victims at an increasing alarming rate. They soon find out that the mages aren't what they should be worried about, it's the entity that sucks the life out of every world it manifests in, that is trying to enter theirs.

Lark, Simon, the coven in Seattle and all the 'others' must fight together to keep this thing from killing them all. That's easier said then done.

What I liked about this novel:
Lark was an awesome female character, she kicked but, has a soft side and wears bright funky clothes.
Simon was a sexy beast of a man who apparently could charm the underwear off anyone.
The relationship between Simon and Lark was entertaining.

What I didn't like:
There was no real character growth. Don't get me wrong, personal issues were resolved but the characters themselves really didn't have to change in order to Simon and Lark to be together or to resolve the issue of the Magister.
I didn't really feel emotionally connected to any of the characters. There was a lot of information provided but the emotional depth of the conversation was overshadowed by the way she explained every action the characters were doing or planning on doing.
Even though the storyline was a complex interesting tail, I had a hard time feeling afraid for any of the characters.

I give this novel a 3 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 3 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to read more about Lauren Dane and her novels, please click here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer

A Blood Seduction
by: Pamela Palmer

Wow. That's all I have to say on this wild ride of a story.

Quinn Lennox, a human that's been a little bit off for most of her life, thinks that she's been having mental breakdowns as she see buildings that aren't even there. When her and her brother get sucked into the weird world she's been seeing, all hell breaks loose.

Vampire Arturo Mazza feeds on fear and Quinn's fear is as delicious as they come. There's only one hang up. She's the only chance their dieing world has to live and he'll do anything to keep it alive. Even if it means that turning over Quinn to a maniac who feeds on pain.

I could not put this book down. It was a joy to read and kept me riveted to the pages with every twist and turn. That being said, there really wasn't any real character growth in any of the characters and at some points the way Quinn escaped dangerous situations became repetitive.

The sexual tension between Quinn and Arturo was amazing. The love hate relationship Quinn and had with his character was believable, understandable and a mix of emotions that played well in the story.

I am glad that they labeled this novel as fiction as this was more of a quest story then a romance.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 3 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to read more about Pamela Palmer and her other novels, click here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: Kiss of the Vampire by Cynthia Garner

Kiss of the Vampire
by: Cynthia Garner

This book is about a half-demon, half-human Nix de la Fuente, who works as the human-preternatural liaison with the Council that is supposed to maintain the peace between the perternaturals and the humans. When Nix is assigned to work a work a case of a bloody massacre, vampire Tobias Caine is assigned to work with her. With a past between them that Nix hasn't been able to get over, can she keep her hands and eyes off of the vampire long enough to solve the case?

When I first started reading this novel, I was really excited to see how it would play out. This is a new take on the classic vampire/shifter/demon theme, involving a temporal rift and the unwanted 'people' who get tossed through it and have to take up residence on earth.

Nix was initially a really strong female character that seemed to be able to hold her own against Tobias. As the story went along, she became less of a female worth saving to someone who was becoming more of a victim that Tobias had to continue to rescue.

Tobais' character didn't really have any grow either. The most he came to the realization of was that he shouldn't have left Nix all those years ago.

Also, the storyline included exact descriptions of the actions of the characters when the got into the car. I found this a bit distracting and it slowed the flow of the story down.

I give this a 3 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 31/2 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to find out more about Cynthia Garner and the other novels, click here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review: Nightborn by Lynn Viehl

by: Lynn Viehl

The latest in the Lords of the Darkyn series, this novel packs a punch.

When the high lord's most loyal servant Korvel is sent to retrieve a mysterious scroll which has been guarded by the the high lords most trusted servant. Korvel has no idea what he's in for.

Simone Derien knows the terrible power of the scrolls and its her duty to ensure the curse doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Tasked with killing Korvel after they retrieve the stolen scroll, Simone has to decide if she'll follower her heart or her duty.

With a crazed assassian on their trial, Korvel and Simone must navigate the dangers that follow them and keep the passion they feel for each other under warps.

This was an interesting novel with a complex plot line and even had several of the characters from previous novels cameo in the storyline. The attraction felt between Korvel and Simone was realistic and complex.

What I enjoyed about this novel:
The strong female and male characters
The ominous relic/s
Believable evil characters

What I didn't enjoy:
Simone kept slipping/running away from Korvel (the same scenario repeated again and again)
The only difference between the bad character and Simone was that she wasn't as willing to kill
Korvel didn't seem to be as emotionally involved as he acted in the end of the book
I didn't like how the villain died

I give this story a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess and a 4 out of 5 for storyline/romance.

If you'd like to find out more about Lynn Viehl and her other novels, click here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Warrior by Kristina Douglas

by Kristina Douglas

This was an interesting book to read. It can be a bit hard at times to get into a book where the hero originally doesn't really care if the heroine survives or is even willing to kill her himself. That is how the Fallen stories tend to start out and Warrior was no different.

The reincarnation of a Greek Goddess, Troy has been held in a tower for the majority of her life. Trained in the art of warfare and strategy, if Archangel Michael hadn't shown up to collect his bride, she would have been killed and another re-incarnation goddess would have been born and trained again (can't have a goddess growing old) until they were called upon to serve.

When Michael actually arrives to claim his unwanted bride, Troy is forced to chose between marring him or dieing in her prison. With few choices available, Troy decides to try her luck with Michael and is brought to the Fallen's home. Except she finds that her new found freedom is a double edges sword. Danger is coming again to the Fallen and she is the only one who can turn the tide and when the next battle.

With her desire for Michael increasing with each hour and his determined attitude to stay away from her, how can she fight for the man she's come to love with the battle looming near.

When plot lines swing from indifference to true love in 373 pages, it can be hard to correctly navigate the emotional twists and turns and Kristina does an awesome job. I've read a few books where the characters suddenly just all of a sudden love each other and  everything has magically worked its self out.

This is not the chase. Kristine has a wonderful way of drawing the characters out of their shells and exposing the centers of their very characters and in doing so allows their counterpart an opportunity to squash that small hope and when they can't, the emotions continue to build until you have a worth while and believable storyline and  awesome character growth.

What I enjoyed:
Michael at first seemed like such a one dimensional character, and she was able to unravel the layers that consisted of his personality to show to the readers that he was a worth while male to read about
I love Michael's wings and the tattoos that covered his body
Troys strategic personality, although she was in a horrible position, she knew how to pick her fights and how to end them
The growth of Troy's character

What I didn't like
I wish that she had provided more information on the tattoos that covered Michael's body and how he got about getting them
Michael's initial willingness to let Troy die
When the storyline traveled away from Michael and Troy (it wasn't that often), but I felt broke up the novel's pace
I felt like the pair of 'unique' people who birth/trained/killed a goddess a bit hard to get into as they seemed as if they were a bit out of the natural order of things, she also didn't explain how long this has been going on or why they knew that Michael was the one who needed to marry her

I give Warrior by Kristina Douglas a 3 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to find out more about Kristina Douglas and her novels, click here.

Book Review: Pray by Linda Howard

by: Linda Howard

This book was an awesome installment to Linda Howard's novels. It was an intense ride, full of murder, mayhem and love.

The story is about Angie Powell, a blunt and honest trailblazer, who has made her home and runs her business in Montana. Except business hasn't been going well for her. In fact its very life is being drained away by rival businessman Dare Callahan.

After having served in the military, Dare has settled down in Montana and currently life and business is good. There's only one problem, he wants Angie and she'll have nothing to do with him.

When Angie takes her last clients of the year out on a hunt, things take a turn for the worst and her very life is put in danger. Fortunately Dare is camping near by and comes to the rescue. Their lives take an turn when they are forced together in a fight for survival.

Wow, this book was awesome. The rough, no holes bared, Dare was a joy to read and get to understand. He's attitude was perfectly paired with the sarcastic whit of Angie, whose survival instincts in intense situations saved her life on numerous occasions.

Their relationship was worst at best before they get shoved together and the tension soars whenever they interact.

What was great about this novel:
The storyline was smooth and the transitions between scenes and timelines understandable and didn't detract from the story
The character depth and flaws were believable
The 'base' steps were covered before the couple reached their first sex scene
Both main characters had strong personalities buy did not over power each other

What I didn't like about this novel:
The bear in this novel had it's own internal thoughts and at times it detracted from the storyline, although I do understand why this point of view needed to be added.
The bear seemed like more of a villain in this story then the human villain trying to kill her
Dare is phsyically scared from his time in service and although she touches on it, I wish she had brought these scars a bit more to the readers attention instead of sprinking them in throughout the story

I give Prey by Linda Howard a 5 out of 5 in storyline/romance and a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

Find out more about Linda Howard and her novels by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Emerald City Comic Con- only 3 days away!

This years Emerald City Comic Con is closing in fast! I'm just glad that I don't have to make my entire costume again this year. Last year I made my own warrior skirt and silk screened a Klingon face on the back of my shirt with the outline of their armor on the front. It wasn't horribly sewing crafty but keep in mind I also had to make my sisters too, which took quiet a bit of time. I managed to get everything completed the night before.

The shirts turned out okay, they looked great on my sister but if you're shirt stretches a bit when you wear it, I'd not suggest using fabric paint that cracks when pulled apart, like metallic gold. The skirt made it most of the day and is still lying like a corpse in my closet.

This year we are going as female versions of Han Solo from Star Wars. Hey! Its a comic convention, I can go as what ever I want! (PS- I'll also be wearing this at the Anime Convention the following weekend). Black skinny pants, yoga in my case and jeans in my sisters, with a red stripe down the sides and a pair of combat like boots complete the bottom half of this outfit. The top will consist of a white lace 1/2 sleeve shirt with a red coverup underneath and a black open back shirt that we will be cutting down the front to form the vest.

Just for fun I'll be making leather wrist cuffs with the rebel insignia branded into the tops. They'll be tied close with red ribbon. The hardest thing I have to do this time around is create the leg gun holster (if I wear a fake gun) and create the wrist cuffs. No sweat! Although I've never branded leather before, so that will be an interesting experience.

The Comic con is also holding  a speed dating event which is becoming all the rage at events like this, Sakura Con will also be holding one but I won't be attending that. My sister and her boyfriend decided to join me in attempting to get signed up for the Saturday speed date fest. As I've never done speed dating and its at a convention, it will be interesting to see how it turns out!

I can't wait. Wish me luck on my wrist bands!

Book Review- Shadowlight

by Lynn Viehl

This is the first novel of her Kyndred series, which is an off shoot of her Darkyn series and even tends to have a few character overlaps. This story focuses primarily on Jessa Bellamy, an entrepreneur who has caught the attention of a pharmaceutical company, GenHance that has been paying special attention to how she uses her extra set of skills and Matthias, whose history is shrouded in mystery and seems to be a man of action and little words. 

They are forced together when Matthias has to act fast in order to save Jessa from GenHance who would like nothing better than to take her back to their lab and harvest her DNA. Forced to live in close contact with Matthias, she fights both her need to open up to another person like herself and her desire for him. With a madman on their tail, she struggles to overcome her desires and the need to protect the others who are like herself.

This novel was a blast to read, although at times it dragged a little, but I plowed through anyway as I knew she wouldn't be providing information unless it was essential to her storyline, and thankfully it was. Since half this story takes place in a cellar with only a few people Jessa comes in contact with, some of the conversations tended to get a bit repetitive. I wasn't quit sure how long Jessa was held, but her thread of the storyline moved very little while the outside world continued to move at its fast pace.

The storyline started out with a big boom of sexual tension about three chapters in, then nothing really happened on that side of things till the last quarter of the story. I do understand that there is a fine line between natural attraction and Stockholm syndrome, but in this retrospect of the story I had hoped for a little more. I will say that most of her stories, although they do focus around a couples growing emotional involvement, this story was more on par to her normal style of writing, although she does throw a few more sexually charged stories in from time to time.

There was one part of this storyline that she could have elaborated on, especially given who the characters were and what they were obsessed about, but that thread wasn't picked up (I don't want to elaborate any more as it will give away part of the story). Maybe it will in the last book she has released (4th in this series) that I haven't read yet.

I give this novel a 4 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 3 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to read more about Lynn Viehl, please check out her website by clicking here.

Upcoming book reviews
Darkness Undone by Jessa Slade
The Mate Attraction by Shelly Laurenston
Dire Needs by Stephanie Tyler

If you have any suggestions/requests for book reviews, please leave a comment!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book Review- Oracle's Moon

Oracle's Moon
by Thea Harrison

This story wraps around two main characters, Grace Andrea, who became the Oracle after the recent death of her sister, and Khalil, Demonkind and Djinn Prince of House Marid. Grace, who bites back her own sense of honor in order to accept help with the children her sister left behind and Khalil, a Djinn who finds something that has been missing in Grace's family ever since his daughter was captured and tortured, constantly fight each other, first out of irritation, than over the attraction with each other.

As they struggle to find some type of working relationship together, Grace and her children are exposed to threat after threat as those who seek to manipulate the Oracle draw near and Khalil is drawn even more to Grace, who makes him feel emotions he never felt before.

This was a wonderful forth installment of The Elder Race Series.  I couldn't put it down. The antagonistic relationship between Grace and Khalil was fantastic! They were constantly bating each other and annoying the heck out of everyone. Khalil was a world wind of energy and force as he constantly worked to cope with his new feelings and Grace, with her busted up knee, keen attention to the children she inherited and dealing with the Oracle's power, was an enigma to Khalil as she treated him not with the respect he was used to, but with a complete disregard to his honor or his status.

I give this novel a 5 out of 5 for romance/storyline and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to read more about Thea Harrison and her other novels, please click here.

If there are any novels you'd like me to review, please comment in this post. Thanks!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review- Rainshadow Road

Rainshadow Road
by Lisa Kleypas

This novel focuses on Sam Nolan, vineyard owner and Mark's brother from Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (the first book in this series) and Lucy Marinn, a local glass artist who creates her own special form of magic. Coming out of a long term relationship with a boyfriend who had cheated on her, Lucy isn't looking for another go no where relationship, especially with someone as charming and not into commitments as Sam. Sam grew up in a house with two alcoholic parents and has decided that he never wants to go through what they did and has sworn off all forms of commitment no matter what he feels for Lucy.

This was a great second installment of Lisa Kleypas Friday Harbor series. Sam was charming and a wonderful male character to read and learn about. Lucy was a strong female character who had to learn first how to enjoy life before she could fully appreciate Sam and all he has to offer. When she vows to never tie him down and Sam finds he can't stay away from her, life gets interesting.

This book was a joy to read and I couldn't put it down. The relationship between Sam and Lucy was extremely realistic, hot and Sam was such a romantic easy going flirt I wish I could meet him in real life.

My one complaint is the magic both Sam and Lucy had a depth and meaning for the characters individually, but didn't really add anything to the storyline except to have Lucy finish the large stained glass window in the living room. I'm hoping that in her next novel in this series, Dream Lake, combines everything in such a way to make a round polished picture of the vineyard house and the brothers who live there.

I give this a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to read more about this author and her books, please click here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review- All Things Wicked

All Things Wicked
by Karina Cooper

Juliet Carpenter, witch and survivor of a coo that killed members of her coven, she is struggling to find a reason for the treatment she received at the hands of Caleb Leigh. Hiding from those who wish to harm him, Caleb is surprised when Juliet manages to hunt him down when no one else has been able to. With enemies surrounding them, they work to get over their past and survive the attacks against them.

This is the forth book in this series and the most emotionally rending as it deals with deeply rooted psychological issues as well as dangers from old enemies which kept me on edge the entire story. I could not put this book down and was not disappointed with the characters or the plot line.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to find out more information on Karina Cooper and her other novels, click here.

Book Review- Chosen by Blood

Chosen by Blood
by Virna DePaul

This novel involves FBI Special Agent Felicia Locke who teams up with local vampire leader Knox Devereaux in order to find a cure for the anti-vampire vaccine that is slowly starving the vampire community. Knox has wanted Felicia since the first moment he saw her and Felicia who finds it difficult to deny what she feels for him when she's in continued close contact with him. As they come closer to locating the cure, emotions heat up and the danger increases.

This novel was a joy to read as it took a whole new view on the vampire/human dynamic and makes it into a believable scenario where two people are brought together in an situation that makes their romance almost impossible. Her plot line and character development with both her first and secondary characters was well written and flawlessly put together.

My one complaint is that due to a quark in the vampire psyche a lot of the disagreements between the two main characters were cut short.

I give this novel a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to read more about Virna DePaul and her novels, please click here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review- Frostfire

by Lynn Viehl

This novel of the Kyndred is focused on Lilah, a genetically enhanced Kyndred that can control the minds of animals and Walker, a wounded soldier who will do anything to protect her. They are forced together and must fight together in order to escape their captors. That bond continues when they are snowed in at a small town located in the middle of nowhere.

I really enjoyed reading this novel and had a hard time putting it down. This book did what I was hoping it would do and connected Lynn's two story lines (the Kyndred and the Darkyn series) together and left me really excited to see where these series is going.

Her characters were believable and a pleasure to read. Her secondary characters were a great accompaniment to her main characters and helped move the plot along in an effective and pleasurable way. She provided a depth of character and a fear of the past that kept me on my proverbial toes as I waited to see what would happen next.

My one complaint is that her love scenes were short and extremely fast. I would have liked them a bit longer or more descriptive.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 3 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to find out more information on Lynn Viehl and her novels please click here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review- Dreamveil

by Lynn Viehl
This book is an offshoot of her Darkyn series and involves Rowan Dietrich whose lived a hard life involving abusive parents and a love of man meant for another and Jean-Marc a renowned chief who takes her in when she winds up on his restaurants back door scraped and bruised after she drops her bike and Meriden, a bounty hunter who causes nothing but trouble. Jean-Marc is a man with many secrets and is instantly attracted to Rowan. He wants her and sets out to seduce her. He invites her to live in one of the vacant rooms above the restaurant which happens to be across the hall from Meriden, a grouchy man who whose so rough around the edges she gets friction burns.

As she struggles to fight her attraction to both Jean-Marc and Meriden, the past catches up to her and forces her to come to a dangerous conclusion.

This was an enjoyable read, as all of her other novels, and I can't wait to read her next novel in this series. Rowan was an enjoyable female character who was strong, dealt extremely well with her past issues and handled everything with her tough wit and rough humor. Jean-Marc was suave, intelligent and such a romantic. Meriden was rough, sexual and hot as hell.

Lynn has created an excellent world and her character match ups are extremely enjoyable and riveting to read.

I give this a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out or 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to find out more about this author and her other series, you can check out her blog here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Men and their Dignity

After reading Awaken to Pleasure and Nalini Singh's other novels, I come to a realization (and maybe it's because her Silhouette novels really focus on the emotional aspect of her characters) that her male characters have a male dignity and are allowed to keep, for the most part, that dignity throughout their story. What I mean to say is that they are not unmanned or emasculated to illustrate how much they truly love their female counter part.

(I should briefly describe my version of male dignity: when a strong men who carries strong emotions, but is locked down so tight that it is hard for them to express it (usually due to past emotional stress), the woman who are starting to love them understand and take joy in the affection they show without demanding what their 'version' of love and affections is. Instead, in most cases, the men are allowed to generally come to the conclusion on their own of what they want and it tends to line up with what the female characters want as well. There is no, it's only my way or the highway between either of the two main characters. In place of that, the two characters slowly feel out their relationship and in the end get what they both desire.)

Nalini allows, and her female characters accept, that the men in their lives have dignity. In fact the heroine's are allowed to and find respect in the male characters point of views and emotional state. In her Silhouette novels, the men tend to be strong and have a lot of possessive tendencies (in a good way). Their female counter parts understand and work within their views, but that isn't to say that they don't stick up for their beliefs or argue when the moment is right. I should also say that even if the male characters don't initially like their female counter parts, they always display respect towards them.

The heroines tend to work with their men and up until a point in the novel (usually when the man starts to get out of hand) are willing to have parts of their relationship be guided by their views. It's at this point in her stories that the men in her novels have to come to a certain realization and take their blinders off to realize that they truly love their woman and they desire to spend the rest of the lives with them.

Her men, like almost any man, throughout the story starts to feel like it's their due that the heroine do as they request, whether if it's going to a party with them, allowing for their disagreements to be conversed about in private, or giving the woman in their life a little space (not much) to chose to be with them, they act like real men and the woman in her stories never allow themselves to be walked over, at least, not for long.

That isn't to say that her woman are emotionally submissive and that they are constantly prostrating themselves on their husbands to tell them what to do or how to think. All of her female characters are strong, have their own views and are willing to take the time to look back on their conversations/fights to reflect and decide where to go from there. It's this true almost 50/50 relationship that she builds that keeps me coming back for more.

When reading her novels, I truly feel that apart her characters would have a lackluster and unfulfilled life, but together they are made whole and turn out better for it. There is always an emotional sharing, a strengthening of both characters mental state when they are completely together in the end. It's as if she weaves her characters emotional halves together to create a whole and the end result is something that I would wish for everyone to find in real life.

I very rarely find this in any other author novels (Lisa Kelypas is another great novelist that does this well). In most cases, the characters come together in the end but the compromise is always uneven and a true meshing of characters emotional and physical lives is not there. Usually the woman ends ups staying home (I should say that this statement is geared more towards paranormal novels) while the male goes out and kills something before returning home. Even though the female is his 'heart' what has he given up or over come? While the female character tends to have either given up her world, her work or friends because 'they wouldn't understand' or 'shouldn't know the trueth', the men still get to run around like before and kill things.

No, I desire a man who can be a man and a woman who appreciates it and the love that truly makes them both stronger. That's what keeps me reading...

Book Review- Awaken to Pleasure

Awaken to Pleasure (Silhouette Desire #1602)
By Nalini Singh

This novel introduces Taylor Reid, a woman whose unpleasant experiences with dating and desire have left her scared and unable to cope with real desire. She struggling to overcome her conniving step father as he attempts to battle her for custody of her younger brother and her unwilling desire for Jackson. Jackson Santorini, a famous film director has desperately wanted Taylor for years but has lost his belief in trust and love a long time ago.

I really enjoy Nalini Singh's novel and after having first read her Phy and Changeling novels then picking up her earlier Silhouette novels, I continue to be amazed at her writing style and technique. Every character has its own unique voice and you feel as if you are actually listening to their internal thought processes as opposed to watching the scenes play out.

She is the first author I recommend when asked for suggestions on reading material, and one of the only authors that I lend out my books and want returned (normally I just give them away to interested parties). She is one of the people I'd like to meet before I die (the other is Liam Nelson, and don't worry I'll stop gushing soon). I highly suggest reading this novella. It won't disappoint and kept me reading to the end.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

If you'd like to find out more about this author and her other novels, please click here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review- Lucinda, Darkly

Lucinda, Darkly
by: Sunny

This book is a take off of her Mona Lisa series and delves more deeply into the Monere version of Hell and the people who rule it.

Lucinda, the ousted child of the current King of Hell has forced herself to live on her own for centuries, in her own personal exile. She is shocked to come across a rouge Monere Stefan and is forced to take action when humans attack. As she attempts to understand the impossible, that he's attracted to her even though she is a demon, she is called away to take fetch another rouge Monere who happens to be hiding out on her land and ends up resuing him and another of his group.

She fights to keep the distance she has created with the rest of the world, but when she becomes responsible for and starts to have feelings for the men in her life, she has a hard time convincing herself its for the greater good.

I have to say that I enjoy Sunny's Mona Lisa novels, but I love her Lucinda books. Something about the character growth of Lucinda and the fact that she is constantly fighting her nature, makes her character extremely realistic and more personable.

I did wish that this story was a little longer or went into a little more depth when dealing with her secondary characters as they played such a pivotal roll, but I believe it was also that since they were so unchanging that it allowed her Lucinda character to grow as much as she did.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

You can read more about Sunny and her novels here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review- Heart of Steel

Heart of Steel
by Meljean Brook

The second book her Iron Seas series, Meljean Brook provides another adventure of a lifetime. This novel features Sky Captain Yasmeen and Treasure-hunter Archimedes Fox, both of which had been introduced in her Iron Duke novel. This book starts on the ground running, one adventure after another, one surprise after another. I was glued to this book from start to finish like I haven't been since I read The Iron Duke.

After a series of unfortunate events, tuff as nails Captain Yasmeen agrees to work with Archimedes Fox, the man she threw overboard into a horde of zombies and somehow managed to survive. Yasmeen has been betrayed by countless men in the past, men who couldn't handle her position of power and she refuses to be drawn into the game again, except something about Archimedes continues to draw her to him. Archimedes Fox, a man with his own secrets, desires to feel emotions as strongly as possible and so he's choose to fall in love with Yasmeen for the heartbreak it will cause when she destroys it, but neither of them expect what happens next.

Like her previous novels, Maljean Brook provides a deep and diverse world filled with characters and a past that keeps me waiting for more. She manages to provide enough information that the storyline is never bogged down, but at times makes me wish I had something more to base her complex world on (hopefully she'll publish a guide or perhaps a prequel to before the Horde war ended).

I highly recommend her novels to anyone seeking adventure, whether its sci-fye, fantasy, steampunk, romance or even a western-ish like story.

I give this novel a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

You can read more about Meljean Brook and her novels here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review- The Iron Duke

The Iron Duke
By Meljean Brook

This is the first Steam Punk novel I've ever read and I have to say that I truly enjoyed reading it. The Iron Duke features Detective Mina Wentworth who deals with death and discrimination on a daily basis and Rhys Trahaearn, the Iron Duke who runs his life like the ship he used to run in the war, with strict adherence to his own set of rules. Their lives crash together and instant heat erupts between them. Can Mina overcome her aversion to strong emotions and Rhys who has never felt anything except the desire to own what he desires.

This story kept me riveted to the pages, clinging to every sentence as I read the world she has created and the people who live in it. The sparks flying between the two main characters, the action sequences with swords and guns a blazing and the zombies running around created a novel packed so full that I hoped the book never end. The recently printed novel includes a novella of the couple after her original story ended.

The down side of creating a world so diverse was that I was left with several areas that I hoped she would go deeper into, but she was able to successfully create and provide a complex world that was never lagged down the storyline when explaining.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

You can read more information on Meljean Brook and her books here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review- Whispers In The Dark

Whispers In The Dark
by: Maya Banks

I believe that this is the first novel of hers that I've read. The premise was interesting and I've picked up this particular novel on several occasions but never purchased it until recently as I wasn't sure if I would like the book. This is a KGI Novel and is the 4th in the series.

This story involves a psychic named Shea and the man she connects with, Nathan. She is thrown into his world as he is being tortured by his captors and is his only bright light in the days/weeks that follow. She brings comfort and helps him cope with the pain, but when he's rescued she all but disappears from his mind. It isn't until she's captured herself, that she reaches out and connects with Nathan again. He drops everything to help her and reunite with the angle that he's only spoken to in his mind.

This was a very interesting story. I enjoyed the banter of Nathan's family and the scope in which their military backgrounds were represented. There also was enough information provided in the story that I wasn't totally lost in who was who, although the three separate squadrons tended to fall into the wayside as I wasn't sure who belong where or how they got together, but the family and closed friends were easily identifiable.

I really enjoyed Shea's voice and the way she provides strong men who are realistic with their emotions and their faults. I also enjoyed that this story was intricate and deep but realistic in its plot.

I felt like there was a lag in the portions of the plot where information was repeated because it was being explained to a new character. I also felt that Shea and Nathan's internal dialog could at time drag on and distracted from the storyline. Shea at times also displayed an emotional closeness to characters that I felt hadn't been established strongly enough prior to elicit certain reactions. And although the characters went through quite a bit in this story, there really wasn't a lot of overall character growth.

This story involved realistic emotional ups and downs and showcased strong family ties. I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars for storyline/romance and a 2 out of 5 stars for bedroom steaminess.

You can visit the Maya Banks website and find out more about her books here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Part 3 on the Bahamas

St Maarten- the third and last island we visited

This island is owned half by the French and half by the Dutch. This island also had a small shopping center on the port, with the information desk one of the first things you see. We had decided to go to the beach first and then head towards the shopping center. So we all piled into an van and took a long drive to the French side (the boat docks on the Dutch side) and I have to say that the beach we went to was covered in chairs, there was no shade in site (unless you rented a chair with an umbrella) and the water was rougher, deeper and defiantly more choppy. Now whether this is from the inlet or because there was a hurricane on the other side of the Caribbean, I cannot say.

I will say that you don’t have to pay for chairs, you can try as hard as you like to find a seat of your own, but I warn you that this would be very difficult as the beach is decked out into segments that are run by family groups, or sit at one of the many different outdoor restaurants that lined the beach. I paid the $8 for a chair with an umbrella that came with a free drink.

This beach was by far the most populated beach we went to, it was also the one with the most people trying to sell you things. They had items ranging from jewelry, towels to a aloe massage and someone walked by with something to sell about every 5 minutes. This is where the sunglasses came in handy. I lounged a bit with some dark shades and did not turn my head to indicate I was interested in what they were approaching with, just stared straight ahead or stayed laying in the position I was.

I lounged a bit on the chair before heading into the water for a bit. Unlike Morgan beach, you could not see straight through the water and the sand was courser. They had jet skies available as well as pulling a long cigar like tube behind a jet ski. The restaurants they had, although I didn’t order anything, ran about $8 to $12 for decent sized plate of food. From what I did try and saw, the place we ate at had good food and the rest of my party didn’t get sick eating it.

We stayed at the beach for about 3 hours, the guy who drove us was called to come get us and we headed back towards the main shopping town by the cruise ship port. This island has a huge diverse shopping center in town. They have casinos on one side of the town and the other side has shops, food and hotels. The group ended up splitting up when half the group bought jewelry and the other half continued on.

This town/city was hot, they had virtually no trees and many many expensive shops. We finally made it into a sandwich/crepe shop but had no idea where or how we were supposed to order. Deciding to wander around before returning to the ship (were we knew where the food was) we hit up a chocolate shop and an ice cream parlor. The ice cream parlor was right off the beach and it was delicious! I hadn’t had ice cream in a while so it was great treat for me.

As a coincidence, my dad who didn’t want to eat off one of the smaller stores, ate at the parlor and ended up having stomach problems (but not food poisoning). I still think that he’s horribly in denial about being lactose intolerant.

We did end up meeting back up with part of the group to eat at one of the indoor restaurants, but didn’t stay long because part of the group wanted to go to the place with even cheaper beer. I’ll talk again about being realistic. If you drink frequently on the ship where drinks range from $7 to $20 dollars, changing restaurants for beer that’s a dollar cheaper is wasting time, energy and after a while, the rest of the groups patience if they are not on the same page as you.

We decided to head back to the ship instead of searching out the cheaper restaurant. I will say this for St Maarten, they have a wide variety of food available to you on the beach and it all looked good. I saw barbeque, southern, and Thai. They had Indian food near the shops and a few Chinese places as well. This island was by far the most diverse if food offerings.

Instead of getting a taxi, we decided to walk back to the ship which took about 20 minutes. I enjoyed the heat as I live where it’s cold and rainy basically all year round. If we’re lucky we might hit 80 degrees an day in summer. They have sidewalks back to the ships, so you’re walking in an area that’s comfortable to walk on.

Once back near the port, I headed back to the ship and cooled down.

Favorite Island: St Thomas
Beach: St Thomas
Shopping: St Maarten

I will say that the ship did not hand out the border security claims form until after all three islands. When I was sailing, you didn’t have to claim any purchases as long as the total amount you purchased was under $1500. You did not have to claim any alcohol unless you had more the 1 liter per person, with a max of 4 liters total. Please check with current regulations if you have questions and for accurate information.

Part 2 on the Bahamas

St Thomas- the second island we visited

On the boat terminal we docked at, they had a small spread of shops and restaurants. So you don’t have to take a taxi anywhere, you can do your shopping and eating right outside the boat if you wanted to. We decided to go to Megan Beach, which has been listed as one of the top beaches in the world.

It was wonderful. The view was fantastic. They served alcohol on the beach (although most places due). And the water was warm and clear, the sand golden and the fish small and vast. One thing to keep in mind, this is a US territory island, which means you are required to pay to get on the park/beach. We weren’t told this until we had already arrived. So it was a bit of a surprise to have to pay the taxi for the ride there then also pay to get on the beach.

If you are not used to driving or being driven on small islands like this, keep in mind that the roads tended to be rough and constantly under construction. The cars have the steering wheels on either side, by that I mean some cars the steering wheel was on the right side and other times on the left, so it was interesting to see the drivers sitting on the wrong side but driving on the right. We did managed to make it to the beach in one piece and then later, to Blackbeard’s Castle.

We spent about 2 to 3 hours in the warm water before showering off (which was great!), changing and then catching a taxi to Blackbeard’s Castle. This is where the island has the Rum factory/tour. You pay $10 or $15 and an employee regales you with the dastardly deeds of Blackbeard, you can climb the ‘castle’ which is a watch tower, and get then a tour of the rum factory where at the end they offer you about a shot of each of their rum flavors (they have about 6). They also have a large pool and a small outside cabana.

I can say this, drink lots and lots of water. It is so easy to get dehydrated and heat fatigue especially if you continue the remaining portion of the tour (which is done by yourself) where you meander down the hill side, through several historical building and even a dinosaur exhibit! There was also an amber museum and a jewelry shop attached to the exhibit. This was included in the castle price.

I made the mistake of wearing a pair of healed flip flops and this trek just about killed my feet. It’s a steep decline the whole way, so make sure that you have a good sturdy pair of shoes or wear a pair that you are comfortable climbing in. We didn’t do any shopping on the main drag, but ended up wandering around the small tent shops before catching a taxi back to the docks shopping area.

I once again missed out on eating any of the local fair. My dad is really hyper sensitive and felt that he’d get food poisoning if he ate anything on any of the islands. So I snacked the whole time of fruit and small boxed cereal I had taken from the ship. As a side note, you can bring water bottles off the ship. So I just filled it up or purchased one on the way off the boat and was good the whole time (it was about half a gallon worth of water).

Back at the cruise docking bay, we searched for a post office as my mother wanted to send postcards, but unfortunately the one by the ships was closed. The only other post office was back in the city we had just left. So if you are planning on mailing any postcards, be sure to check where the post offices are before heading out for beaches and shopping. We went back to the ship after that to eat and cool down.

The Taxi was about $10 to get to the beach, then another $10 to get to the castle (it would have been the same price to go back to town or the boat), this price is per person. The castle was about $15 person, and the taxi from the market back to the boat was priced at $4 per person, no matter what company you chose to ride with. Since there were about 12 people in our group we did get a price break on the taxi back to the boat (the beach taxi’s are a set price) and paid $2 per person. This was after haggling.

A note on haggling for transportation. Saving a few dollars here and there on a taxi or transpiration, to me isn’t worth the time or effort. We spent 5 to 10 additional minutes trying to find a better deal which only save a person $2 at most. That being said, if you are paying for a large group, instead of individually, then you might want to try and haggle down the price because $2 a person isn’t a big deal but when it goes from $40 to $20 for a group of 10, it’s worth it.

The other thing to keep in mind is where you are spending your money. If you’re buying loads of drink, food or gambling on the ship where you are paying a great amount of additional money for those items, trying to save a few bucks on transpiration is a waste of your time, frugalness and effort.