RhiReading News

Dear readers,

Hi Rhireaders! Check out the latest events in the sidebar! Thanks for visiting, be sure and follow me on social media for MORE awesome content.

Did you drop by to request a review or tour stop? Due to high demand and a very busy schedule, I am currently CLOSED for unsolicited review requests. Thank you for thinking of me though!

I do have promotional openings for October 2017 through February 2018 open so please reach out. Just please drop me an email with a polite request and if I'm interested I will reply.

-- Rhi


12.31.2008

The Reviews I Can't Post Here from '08

Greetings lovelies! Here it is... the final day of 2008 and I'm debating whether to go rush and speed through the final chapters of a few books. Why? Well, every year for the past three years I've set a goal for myself. How many books I can read in the year. Last year it was 53. One for each week of the year. I managed to hit 65. This year my goal was 75. I wanted to top my total from last year by ten. I don't know if I've made it or not. I still have to sit down and do the tally. But in the meantime I wanted to post up a series of links.

These are links to the books that I read for the Amazon Vine program. I was invited to join this past May and of course I was a bit wary about the concept at first. But I decided it was a challenge I needed to accept that would keep my reviewing motivation fresh.

Most of the time I get offered only books (yay free books!) but I've also received a couple of useful items (ie. anti-virus software, a camcorder, even KY's latest personal lubricants ha!). While it's been a lot of fun trying out some new gadgets and such I've also enjoyed stretching my reading interests. Some books were way outside my interests (non-fiction) and others were surprisingly close (YA urban fantasy). All in all I'm enjoying the program and do feel a little bummed I can't repost my reviews in completeness here. Instead I will just share links to them in hopes that if any of these books appealed to my readers you can check out what I thought.

Happy new year everyone! -- Rhi


Last Christmas (Private Prequel) by Kate Brian

Privilege (Privilege #1) by Kate Brian

Rumors (Luxe #2) by Anna Godbersen

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Evernight by Claudia Gray

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

The Tsar's Dwarf by Peter H. Fogtdal

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Soul Wisdom: Practical Soul Treasures to Transform Your Life by Zhi Gang Sha

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex and Starting Over by Cathy Alter

Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Essential Guide for First-Time Homeowners: Maximize Your Investment & Enjoy Your New Home by Ilona Bray & Alayna Schroeder

Flanagan's Smart Home: The 98 Essentials for Starting Out, Starting Over, Scaling Back by Barbara Flanagan

Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

12.23.2008

Top Fives of 2008

As with anything of this nature the following top 5 lists are merely a matter of opinion. In this case... my opinions. I read a LOT of books this year, well for me anyway. ;D I felt the need to reflect on them and decide what were the best of them... and maybe the worst. -- Rhi


Top Five Urban Fantasy

1. Madhouse by Rob Thurman -- Third in the series Cal, his brother Niko and their friends face one of their most perilous adventures ever and I almost couldn't put the book down.
2. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs -- Third in the Mercy Thompson series this unique series has lots of fans and recently spawned a comic book series. Reconciling the love triangle and presenting a controversial but vivid story this was definitely one of my favorite books of the year.
3. Storm Born by Richelle Mead -- First in a new UF series by one of my favorite authors in the genre, Storm Born came out in August and featured fae, elementals, kitsune and a pretty awesome heroine.
4. Darkling by Yasmine Galenorn -- Many argue this series is PNR but I disagree. The third installment finally explained Menolly and made her a very empathetic, relatable and likable character and the story was great.
5. Rogue by Rachel Vincent -- Another series that is on the PNR shelves and does not belong there IMO. The second book in the series about werecats in Texas. Faythe does a lot of growing in this one and the entire story turns their world a bit on its ear and I loved that.

Top Five Paranormal Romance

1. Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione -- There was no way this couldn't be my #1 choice for the year. Combining the best elements of urban fantasy with a sexy romance while building the basis for a new series this book rocked!
2. Slave by Cheryl Brooks -- One of the best new authors I have discovered this year and one of the most original books I've ever read. Romantica done flawlessly!
3. Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld #1, #2 & #3 -- They had to be included together since they came out back to back. While not my favorites as individuals this new series offers promise and has great characters I look forward to future novels about.
4. Dream Chaser by Sherrilyn Kenyon -- After the second book in the Dream Hunters series digusted me I wasn't sure I would read this one but I caved and I LOVED this book. It had a well matched hero and heroine and the background characters sold the story.
5. Because Your Vampire Said So by Michele Bardsley -- Discovered this series shortly before this third installment came out. I like a good dark vampire romance more than anything but this fluffy, humorous series is really fun and this book's heroine was a favorite.

Top Five Anthologies

1. Weddings from Hell -- Gotta love an anthology that combines weddings and the paranormal. Stand out story: Ghouls Night Out by Terri Garey
2. Wolfsbane and Mistletoe -- Werewolves celebrating, mourning for and saving the holidays. Great authors and a great theme made for a great collection. Stand out story: Keeping Watch Over His Flock by Toni L. P. Kelner
3. The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance -- A book with 25 romantic tales involving vampires. Some were really good others were so-so but with so much variety there was something for every vampire romance fan. Stand out story: The Midday Mangler Meets His Match by Rachel Vincent
4. Hotter Than Hell -- A dozen twisted paranormal tales of lust, love and mystery from some of the big names in the UF & PNR genres. Stand out story: Music Hath Charms by Tanya Huff
5. First Blood -- Okay, I actually haven't finished this one yet but I'm loving it so far and it's the only other anthology that came out this year I'm working on. :P

Top Five Discoveries

1. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead -- A fun young adult series that makes for some great guilty pleasure reading that I can share with younger readers.
2. True Blood -- The HBO series based on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Mysteries) series. Lots of violence, gore and nudity makes for a vampire series even guys can appreciate.
3. librarything.com -- I was introduced to this by members of a forum I visit and it is so very helpful! I need help keeping track of my books and I love that I can mark the ones I've read already so I can sort out the unread ones.
4. The Children of the Sea series by Virginia Kantra -- I've been looking for a good series with sea related creatures like mermaids or roane for a long time. Kantra's series centers on selkies and has some awesome covers!
5. Author Kendra Leigh Castle -- Being the discerning reader I think I am I'm always thrilled when I read an author and feel like she (or he) should be watched closely. Castle's Highland series combines werewolf romances with other greater urban fantasy elements so fluidly it feels natural.

Looking back on reading in 2008...

2008 has been a crazy year! I've not read as many books this year as I have any other year of my life. I've always enjoyed it but I have a lot of hobbies and I'm a busy mom. Sometimes though you just have to take something for yourself and for me it was a return to reading. When I was pregnant with my son ten years ago I couldn't read because I'd fall asleep after only one page. Then I was busy with a baby and being a military wife. Strangely enough it wasn't until I moved to Germany in August of 2001 that I started having an interest in reading again. Not that I blame it on the September 11th attacks back home, but I think that was a big turning point for me. I realized how important doing things to combat constant worry and stress were to my sanity. So I began creative writing again after not doing it in almost five years. Then I started reading more. I read the Earth Children series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the first four Harry Potter books in 2002. They might not have been much but after not reading in years it was a lot for me.

Here I am looking toward 2009 and wondering how I got to where I am now. I still write creatively in a just-for-fun collaborative group setting. Granted I am constantly being told I should be writing my novel and not wasting my time with them but I know better. As soon as I start writing with plans of publishing I will loose my muse. Worse yet I fear editors because I'm so very particular about the story flowing MY way. I think I will continue to write for fun and read lots of other writers' work. Even when I review and seem very critical about a writer's work I respect all of those who have made it through the process of getting their books on shelves.

As a blogger I know my entries could use a grammar check! LOL I wish I were more professional but in my enthusiasm I tend to get downright conversational in my blogs. I hope that those of you who visit feel that my reviews and both informative and honest. I like the really flowery ones sometimes but to be truthful I prefer the ones where a reviewer is blunt, honest but backs their opinions up with reasons for them. So that is what you will get from me. At least as much as I can offer. ;)

I haven't blogged a lot this month. With the holidays I get very busy with school functions, parties, shopping, gift-wrapping, writing out cards, decorating and baking... trying to sleep! I intended to put up some of my older reviews I have yet to transfer over here from Amazon.com but I haven't found the time yet. I even have a notebook with several 'article ideas' for features here! So much for doing the best gifts for fans of certain series feature eh? Two days to Christmas is a little late. *giggle* Maybe next year I'll get it done in November so it will be ready on time?

Well, expect better things from me by February! I have a lot of back reading to catch up on and a huge list of books coming out next year I HAVE to read. Plus, by some miracle I'll never be able to explain a trip to the movie theater with my husband (thanks sweety!) got him interested in reading. I'll need to be reading faster next year because he is a FAST reader and if I get too slow on a series he will get ahead of me. Wait, maybe this interest in him reading isn't such a miracle afterall? Damn you Stephenie Meyer.

Naughty or nice, I wish you my readers the very best holiday and a new year filled with joy!
-- Rhi

12.08.2008

Review: Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer

Taking a little step outside my norm with this one. A big thanks to the lovely Danielle Jackson from Sourcebooks Casablanca for asking me if I'd be interested in reviewing a Heyer!

As a reader I tend to enjoy a lot. I generally prefer things with elements of the supernatural but as a child I LOVED historical fiction. Being American I was always quite interested in the historical eras and events of my nation but I also loved more ancient and culturally exotic ones as well. Celts and Romans, pirates and crusaders, samurai and gypsies. What I've strangely always struggled to get into are westerns and regencies. I don't know why. LOL But I am always open to trying something new even if I'm not sure it will be my cup of tea.

If I was going to read a regency novel it seems only suiting that I go with the traditional Austen but when have I ever gone along with the most likely route? ;) Chances are had Danielle not contacted me about Georgette Heyer's novels I'd not have ever picked one up. Fortunately it wasn't a total flop! Read on... -- Rhi


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Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer
Historical Romance, Regency
Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 416 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 1402213492
An altogether unsatisfactory arrangement
After their father's death, Miss Judith Taverner and her brother Peregrine travel to London to meet their guardian, Lord Worth, expecting an elderly gentleman. To their surprise and utter disgust, their guardian is not much older than they are, doesn't want the office of guardian any more than they want him, and is determined to thwart all their interests and return them to the country.
With altogether too many complications
But when Miss Taverner and Peregrine begin to move in the highest social circles, Lord Worth cannot help but entangle himself with his adventuresome wards...

Author Site: http://www.georgette-heyer.com/ (unofficial)


Romantic Tug-o'-war! (4 stars)

Orphaned and left in the care of a man who wants as little involvement with them as possible, Miss Judith Taverner and her younger brother, Peregrine, have decided to move to London against their guardian's instructions. As it turns out, Lord Worth has become their guardian somewhat by mistake (a typo in legal documents) and he is not much older than the siblings. Having come from the country London offers all sorts of diversions from plays and balls to cock-fighting and gambling. While Judith establishes herself as a fashionable, eccentric young beauty, Peregrine manages to get himself into little bits of trouble and even to find a lady he'd like to marry. But looming over all is the abominably disagreeable Lord Worth guiding the fortunes and favors of his young wards' lives.

As the tale progesses the Taverner's cousin becomes a good friend and strange occurances lead Judith to believe someone might be trying to harm her brother. But who would want to harm her brother and why, since she would be the one to benefit from his death? There in lays the mystery even as her guardian seemingly attempts to turn away suitors and makes himself look rather suspicious indeed.

Of all the books for me to pick! I couldn't possibly offer a deep synopsis without spoiling so much of the story. What makes this book enjoyable though was not the characters nor really the plot. I had read that Heyer was noted for her historical accuracy and research which showed so plainly I almost felt as if I were a foreigner in a strange land. For some I could see that being terribly off-putting but as long as it's not too bad I enjoy it. It made me want to look into many of the things that were mentioned that I did not understand.

If you're looking for a raunchy page-turner this one certainly wouldn't fit the bill. It was quite refreshing actually. Regency Buck is the sort of chaste romance you can share with your teenaged daughter or your octegenarian grandmother without fear of offending sensibilities. The back and forth between Judith and her many potential suitors will leave you guessing who the lucky fellow might be but as with any romance it shouldn't be too hard to guess the correct one. The chemistry between Judith and her chosen is one of the other truly enjoyable parts of this novel, I think any Austen fan would agree. So will I read another Heyer someday? Ya know... she wrote many historical fiction tales based off of real people (I'm guessing she was the Philippa Gregory of her time?) that I think might be even more to my interest than this regency romance. ;)

12.04.2008

I have returned...

I'm back home! Well, I have been since very late on Monday but then I had a guest and have been trying to get back into routine. So many books came in to read while I was away too! But I managed to finish the book I wanted to finish while out of town on the night I got home so I will hopefully be reviewing it tomorrow! I'm making an attempt at broadening my reading a bit more because while I do love my urban fantasy and paranormal romances, sometimes a gal just needs something different. Expect good things to come of that. ;)

The day before I left I happened to get my hands on Mercy Thompson: Homecoming #1, Patricia Briggs' dip into comics. While I'm not really impressed with the art (I'm picky) side of it the rest was great! If you have a chance to get ahold of it I suggest picking up a copy. It is near impossible to find online but fear not non-comic-collectors. I found a release date for the hardcover graphic novel of Homecoming on Amazon.com with a release date of July 2009. A long wait but unless you're a comic collector it's the better buy and makes a great shelfable version. -- Rhi

11.22.2008

An Early Thanksgiving Wish!

Just wanted to wish my readers a very happy Thanksgiving!

I am headed out of town to visit my family so I won't be around until the 1st of December so I hope all will enjoy their feasts, friends and family over the holiday. Also, do please remember the reason for the holiday and give thanks for all you have. :) Then get out there on Friday and maul other shoppers over whatever this year's hottest toy is. hehe! Me, I'm doing my shopping online this year... that way I can sit here with my coffee in my pajamas and noooo crowds. Amazon.com here I come! -- Rhi

Review: Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance

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Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab #1) by Karen Chance
Urban Fantasy, Dhampir, Vampires, Magic
Mass Market Paperback (ONYX, 384 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0451412621
Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Unlike most dhampirs, though, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity. Now Dory’s vampire father has come to her for help— again. Her Uncle Dracula (yes, the Dracula), cruelest among vampires, has escaped his prison. And her father wants Dory to work with gorgeous master vampire Louis-Cesare to put him back there.
Although Dory prefers to work alone, Dracula is the only thing that truly scares her—and when she has to face him, she’ll take all the help she can get…
Author Site: http://www.karenchance.com/



Dracula's Niece the Dhampir (4 stars)

Set in the world of Chance's Cassie Palmer series, it should come as no surprise that if you're familiar with that series this one has some common characters. Half human, half vampire, Dorina Basarab is the Dhampir daughter of Mircea (thus making her the niece of Dracula). Dory's roommate, Claire, has been missing for a month when the story opens. Her hands are already full investigating her mysterious dissappearance when her father—whom she is not a big fan of—comes waltzing into her world asking for her help. Years ago he had the chance to kill his brother Vlad and instead imprisoned him. Naturally, Dracula escaped and has been causing lots of trouble for the supernatural world. If Dory will help him capture her uncle once more he promises to help her find Claire.

If only it were ever that simple eh? Strapped with Louis-Cesare (another Cassie Palmer series familiar) as a partner in her capture attempt she is none-too-happy. Afterall, dhampir and vampires are mortal enemies. Lots of arguing and an obvious bit of sexual tension make for a potential love interest. When their attempts to find Vlad become somewhat entwined with the mystery of Claire's dissappearance the plot thickens and the fae get involved. Filled with trolls, demons, vampires and a hodge-podge assortment of supernaturals the story is far from boring.

I've only read the first two Cassie Palmer books because I am so behind on my regular series reads this year. But I've very much enjoyed the world Chance set up in them. Getting a chance to visit it in another series thrilled me! For some reason I can't help but picture Natalie Portman as Dorina, strapped with all her weaponly goodies and kicking butt. She's hard as nails but still manages to be likable. That's a hard one to do with me. I like a tough heroine as much as anyone but they need to still have other facets of their character. Dory has a snarky side and while they're very carefully set-up her weaknesses are there.

The one thing I really did not like about this book was Louis-Cesare. I didn't like him in the other series and I still don't like him. Sorry gals! I know some of you out there adore him. I find him annoying and find nothing attractive about his personality. I did, however, really like the fae Caedmon. His 'try everything' attitude was really amusing and he has an irreverance that makes him a fun character to read. I also liked Claire though her role was quite small, I hope she'll end up being around more in the next book. It was also great to see more of the less humanoid supernaturals, Olga was awesomely framed and I liked that Chance was brave enough to make a troll an important character to the story. So overall, a pretty enjoyable read, a little slow during the talky-parts but with lots of action and enjoyable characters!

11.18.2008

Review: Dancing With Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas

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Dancing With Werewolves (Delilah Street: Paranormal Investigator #1) by Carole Nelson Douglas
Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Werewolves, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (JUNO BOOKS, 394 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0809572036
It was the revelation of the millennium: witches, werewolves, vampires and other supernaturals are real. Fast-forward 13 years: TV reporter Delilah Street used to cover the small-town bogeyman beat back in Kansas, but now, in high-octane Las Vegas - which is run by a werewolf mob - she finds herself holding back the gates of Hell itself. But at least she has a hot new guy and one big bad wolfhound to help her out...
Author Site:
http://www.carolenelsondouglas.com/

Fence-Sitting With Werewolves (3 stars)

As if the Y2K bug wasn't enough to freak people out about the turn of the millenium, the supernaturals decided to come out of the closet. Now years later they're a pretty normal part of everyday life. Enter Delilah Street, Kansas TV reporter who investigates the happenings of the furred, fanged and just plain weird. Abandoned at birth Delilah grew up in a Catholic orphanage and has a lot of odd issues stemming from some vampire related 'maybe-I-lost-my-virginity-maybe-I-didn't' event. When her home in Kansas is destroyed she packs up her vintage clothes and heads for Las Vegas in search of a woman she saw on an episode of LVCSI who might be her twin.

Vegas, it turns out, is one weird city after the millenium revelation. Run by the werewolf mob and home to more than a few creatures that bear no simple classification, it's not the Sin City everyone knows and loves. Setting up shop in the city Delilah makes the acquaintance of, Ric, a hunky hispanic dowser who finds corpses for the FBI, an albino rock-star and entrepreneur who might be a vampire and an eccentric, lecherous TV producer who owns the likeness rights of Delilah's mysterious twin, Lilith. When she and Ric have an out-of-this-world experience and come upon a decades old pair of murder victims Del and her trusty wolfhound, Quicksilver, are on the hunt for answers.

Conceptually, I really liked this book. The idea of the paranormal community deciding to go public and the world surrounding it really works in this story. Douglas is a pretty decent scene setter who only occassionally gets lost in the details to the point of being annoying. Delilah is, however, a really hard heroine to like. She's got weird hang-ups and her obsession with vintage things long beyond eras she should be so easily inclined to considering her orphanage upbringing feels forced. There something very one-dimensional about her that I just couldn't quite put my finger on and didn't get over by the end of the book. The worst was the constant comments from Irma, her supposed inner voice. Who names their inner voice? It came across almost like a seperate entity and made me hope that Douglas was just trying to be funny.

While I liked the eccentric side characters, Snow and Nightwine, I found that they were ALL eccentric which was a bit of overkill. There were also a few concepts within the story that she never really explained in any way that made them make sense. CinSims especially confused me. I did fall in love with Quicksilver though. A protective doggy companion was a nice touch. While I also, like many other readers have commented, like the silver familiar gifted to Del from Snow the constant mentions of it changing its shape and location got a bit creepy.

Overall it was enjoyable enough I think I will go ahead and read the second in the series. But, since it was a bit of a frustrating read and I don't really care for the author's writing style I don't know about beyond that. Dancing With Werewolves left a lot of unanswered questions and did not have a particularly satisfying ending, if the trend continues these just aren't the books for me.

11.14.2008

Review: Dark Highland Fire by Kendra Leigh Castle

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Dark Highland Fire ("Drakkyn" Series #2) by Kendra Leigh Castle
Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifters, Dragons, Werewolves
Mass Market Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 400 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402211597
Gabriel MacInnes has led a charmed life. A Highland werewolf of Alpha lineage, he'd always thought that, as the second son, he would never have to worry much about responsibility. But with his Pack now squarely in the sights of an ancient and rediscovered enemy, everything has begun to change.Exiled from the Drakkyn realm, on the run from the dragon prince who claims her as his own, the last thing Rowan an Morgaine wants is to deal with a bunch of overbearing shifters in the middle of nowhere. But when her hiding place on Earth is discovered, and with blood the only thing that can restore her waning power, the fiery demigoddess has little choice but to accept Gabriel as a protector ...As the Earthly and Drakkyn realms converge, Gabriel and Rowan must decide how much they're willing to sacrifice for fate...and for one another.
Author Site: http://www.kendraleighcastle.com/


An Author to Watch, A Series to Savor (4 stars)

Rowan an Morgaine has been forced away from her home realm. Stuck on earth hiding in a nest of vampires and taking her clothes off in a seedy Reno strip-club, no one would know she's really an exiled demi-goddess. But as any strong woman knows, sometimes you have to do what you have to do to stay alive so that eventually you can have your revenge. With her family slain by Lucien Andrakkar, a dragon shapeshifter who wants her for his bride, she must remain in hiding or risk being carried back to Coracin and forced into marriage.

When Lucien finds her and her brother, Bastian, swoops in just in time to save her, she finds herself dumped on Gabriel MacInnes. As a werewolf and the second son of the pack alpha, Gabriel hasn't had much purpose in life save for running his bar. Bouncing from woman to woman he's certainly not known for being easy to tie down. But there's something so irritating and at the same time irresistable about Rowan. She doesn't want to be protected by Gabriel and the fact that he takes his duty seriously only maddens her. All Rowan wants to do is save what little remains of her family from further destruction at the hands of her would-be husband. If only she wasn't as attracted to Gabriel as he is to her.

I honestly wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book. Kilted highlander werewolves, maybe? Aside from Gabriel being from the highlands this book really didn't have anything to do with them. Instead this book focused greatly on Coracin and the races that call it home from the dragons and the Dyadd to the demons. What really got me into it was the well executed mythos of the world and how it tied to Earth. That can be a hard thing to pull off but Castle did this quite flawlessly. While it certainly walks the borders of fantasy as much as paranormal romance this didn't have the urban overtones a lot of paranormals have these days.

Gabriel and Rowan made a surprisingly refreshing duo. Both a bit hot-headed and stubborn they played well off one another and their attraction was very fire and ice. The romance was actually over-shadowed by the world dilemnas of the dragons and the werewolves as well as Lucien's attempts to make Rowan his. I found myself pitying Lucien long before the book was finished and I'm quite certain the plot twist relating to Rowan and Lucien will be obvious to most readers from the first hints. Even though it was predictable it was a very enjoyable plot twist that helped to settle the entire story. I am definitely looking forward to the next book which will focus on Rowan's brother Bastian. Overall a very entertaining book with a great mythology... now I just need to go back and read the first one! I think anyone who enjoys a good fantasy story with shapeshifters should check these out.

11.11.2008

A Little Downtime!

It's that time of year again. It never fails... usually late October to early November I get hit with some cold or flu or whatever happens to be going around. Alas, this year my son got strep throat and two days later I was starting to show symptoms. Like the clever mom I am I started guzzling Emergen-C, drinking Celestial Seasonings' Echinacea Cold Care tea and trying to get to bed earlier than my normal 3am bedtime. Now normally that helps stave off the worst of it but this time I got the strep throat AND when I still wasn't feeling better in spite of a nasty regimen of antibiotics the doc went all vampire on me. Turns out the doctor could tell by prodding my spleen ("you mean that sore spot is my spleen and not my liver?") the doc could tell something bad was up. Apparently it's a bad thing to have a low white blood cell count since that means I'm fighting strep and a virus all at once!

No wonder I've barely been able to sleep for the body aches, swallow for the raw throat and get out of bed for sheer lack of energy. When I can't be bothered to get up and make my morning coffee, do my daily netsurf routine or even get out of bed to celebrate my 29th birthday something has to be wrong! Today is day eight and I can finally whisper enough to answer the phone and I managed to eat a soggy bit of toast. My life can't keep waiting for me much longer! LOL

Though I've not really had the mental energy to do much more than drool on myself in the past week I've managed to finish a couple of books and am hitting the last hundred pages of another! Which means that if all goes well I can sit down toward the end of the week and hopefully have a batch of reviews for everyone to peruse.

Dark Highland Fire by Kendra Leigh Castle, Dancing With Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas and hopefully Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance should all be up in the next week. Not 100% sure what I am going to read next. While waiting for my medication at the pharmacy I snapped up a copy of Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk but I'm hoping that I'll be healthy enough to get out to the bookstore this weekend and grab the latest Broken Heart, Oklahoma novel and Richelle Mead's latest Vampire Academy title. Here's hoping my energy returns!
-- Rhi

P.S. - Feel free to send hunky, house cleaning get well wishers my way! My husband has been a wonderful nurse but for some reason he thinks that his loading the dishwasher once this week was some amazing feat of masculine sacrifice. Now if only he had been thinking about needing to eat from the toilet... maybe then I'd agree. :P

11.01.2008

Coming Soon: November 2008 Releases

November 4th

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Wait Till Your Vampire Gets Home (Broken Heart, Oklahoma #4) by Michele Bardsley
Paranormal Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 320 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0451225503
Undead fathers really do know best...
To prove her journalistic chops, Libby Monroe ends up in Broken Heart, Oklahoma, chasing down bizarre rumors of strange goings-on—and finding vampires, lycanthropes, and zombies. She never expects to fall in lust with one of them, but vampire/single dad Ralph Genessa is too irresistible. Only the town is being torn in two by a war between the undead—and Libby may be the only thing that can hold Broken Heart together…

Author Site: http://blog.michelebardsley.net/


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Dark Magic (Magic Series #5) by Cheyenne McCray
Paranormal Romance, Witches, Fae
Mass Market Paperback (ST. MARTIN'S, 464 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0312949596
Jake Macgregor has his hands full. As San Francisco’s leader of the Paranormal Special Forces unit, he and his team are facing a powerful enemy that threatens to bring down the city. With the weight of the world already resting on his broad, chiseled shoulders, the last thing Jake has time for is romance. So why—after a long, hard day’s fight against evil—are his nights filled with dreams of Cassia?
Cassia is a D’Anu witch whose birthright ensures power and honor beyond her imagination. It also forbids the one thing Cassia wants the most: the love of mortal Jake Macgregor. When she intervenes in a skirmish to save his life, the consequences are inescapable—even though the magic they make together is too luscious, and potent, to resist…

Author Site: http://www.cheyennemccray.com/


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The Dragon Master (Dragon Series #3)
by Allyson James

Paranormal Romance, Dragons
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY, 304 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0425224716
He’s big, hot, and not of this world. The third in this erotic paranormal series. A Fire Dragon summoned here by a dangerous mage inflames the passion in the human female he has chosen to become his mate.
Author Site: http://www.allysonjames.com/


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Magic to the Bone (?? Series #1) by Devon Monk
Urban Fantasy, Magic
Mass Market Paperback (ROC, 368 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0451462408
Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control...
Author Site: http://devonmonk.com/


November 13th


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Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
by Richelle Mead

Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (RAZORBILL, 256 pages, $8.99)
ISBN# 1595141979
It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She's having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all...might be seeing ghosts. As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose's forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line--and choose between the two people she loves most.
Author Site: http://www.richellemead.com/


November 25th


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On the Prowl (Tales of an Urban Werewolf #2) by Karen MacInerney
Urban Fantasy, Werewolves
Mass Market Paperback (BALLANTINE, 384 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0345496264
Talk about a bad-hair day!
Sophie Garou is a master at taming her inner beast, which comes in handy since she’s a werewolf. With a big promotion at work and a supersexy boyfriend, Heath (whom she recently spotted leaving a jewelry store with a beguiling ring box), she’s one happy girl.
But when Heath starts spending long nights at the office with his new associate–a dead-ringer for Career Day Barbie–Sophie smells trouble. And when her professional relationship with her big new client–who also happens to be Texas’s brilliantly blue-eyed most eligible bachelor–begins to sizzle, she wonders if her animal instincts are leading her in the wrong direction. Just when it seems that things can’t get any more complicated, they do. The Houston werewolf pack has sniffed Sophie out, and their message is chillingly clear: you’re either with us or against us. And unless she can prove that she’s with them, the next full moon may just be her last.

Author Site: http://www.karenmacinerney.com/


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Succubus Takes Manhattan (Succubus Series #2)
by Nina Harper

Urban Fantasy, Demons
Mass Market Paperback (DEL REY, 400 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0345495071
No description available.
Author Site: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/h/nina-harper/


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The Outlaw Demon Wails (The Hollows #6)
by Kim Harrison
**Paperback release
Urban Fantasy, Witches, Vampires, Demons
Mass Market Paperback (EOS, 544 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0061149829
When you dance with demons, you lay your soul on the line . . .
In the Hollows, where the natural and the supernatural co-exist—not always peacefully—desperate times often call for unorthodox measures. But bounty hunter-witch Rachel Morgan did the absolutely unthinkable to save the lives of her friends: she willingly trafficked in forbidden demon magic. And now her sins have come home to haunt her. As Rachel hunts for the truth behind a terrifying murder, the discovery of a shocking family secret is about to throw her entire life into question. And the long-lost ancient knowledge she seeks resides in the demonic ever-after. But there are some lines that should never be crossed—like the one Rachel Morgan's stepping over... again!

Author Site: http://www.kimharrison.net/


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The Devil's Due (Morgan Kingsley #3) by Jenna Black
Urban Fantasy, Demons
Mass Market Paperback (DELL, 336 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0440244927
Possession was never this much fun
Trust me or die…That’s the choice Morgan Kingsley, exorcist, is given by the gorgeous rogue demon who’s gotten inside her. The truth is, Morgan has dozens of reasons not to trust anyone, from the violence that torched her house and killed her father to a love life that’s left her questioning her relationship with her erstwhile boyfriend, Brian. But Lugh, a king among demons, won’t take no for an answer. He’s prying into her body, her mind, even her sex life. And he’s just pulled Morgan into a power struggle that could have devastating consequences for both the human and demon worlds.
But Morgan still has a job to do: investigating the highly bizarre possession of the son of a wealthy Philadelphia couple. That hunt leads Morgan into a realm of sexual depravity, then a terrifying kidnapping.… Now a woman who makes her living prying demons from their hosts finds her day job colliding with the night: a darkness that is attracting demons of the damnedest sort, including the one who’s about to demand his ultimate due.…

Author Site: http://www.jennablack.com/


November 29th

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Blood Bargain (Keira Kelly #2) by Maria Lima
Urban Fantasy, Supernatural
Mass Market Paperback (JUNO, 368 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0809573059
Keira Kelly is coming into her unexpected and unexpectedly awesome powers... and Rio Seco, Texas ain't ever gonna be the same! Keira just wants to be left alone without many responsibilities to her supernatural clan and, lately, spend some time with sexy Adam Walker - a vampire trying to get his brethren to give up human blood - on his luxurious Wild Moon ranch. But trouble and her paranormal family keep intruding - Gigi, Keira's great-great-grandmother and the chief of the clan has sent Tucker, Keira's 1,200-year-old shapeshifter brother to keep an eye on her!
Author Site: http://www.thelima.com/

10.31.2008

• H A P P Y • H A L L O W E E N •



Just wanted to send out wishes for a very happy Halloween to all who visit. This is pretty much my favorite day of the year. Perhaps that's some of where I got my roots as a fan of the paranormal? Personally, I blame Sesame Street. The Count was always my favorite character on the show for some reason. It wasn't until I was older I put it together that he was a vampire and I'd liked them since I was too little to understand the concept. Cemeteries are easier to explain... there's one behind my grandma's house that I used to take walks in with her all the time. It was never a scary place for me, just a place to go visit stones with names on them and leave flowers for strangers. Each little element of what makes a good paranormal story somehow seems to have happy childhood memories behind it for me. It's no wonder that I always loved the excitement of spending an autumn night out crunching through the leaves with my mom, my brother and my friends in search of sweet treats while I pretended to be an angel, a ballerina, a witch, and even Cleopatra.

I've done my best to pass these traditions onto my own child. We've carved our pumpkin and put our decorations up. We've got candy just in case we actually get any Trick or Treaters but now it's time for my family to get ready to do some of the traditional Trickin' and Treatin' ourselves! Have a wicked Hallow's Eve!
-- Rhi

10.30.2008

Review: The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary

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The Wild Sight: An Irish tale of deadly deeds and forbidden love by Loucinda McGary
Paranormal Suspense, Contemporary Romance, Ghosts
Mass Market Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 336 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402213948
Sensual romantic suspense set in Ireland featuring a hero with psychic powers.
Cursed with the Irish clairvoyance known as "The Sight," Donovan O'Shea fled to America to escape his "gift." Fifteen years later, his father's illness has forced him to return to the family homestead where years earlier, Donovan's mother disappeared into the fens and was never seen again. Now the same fens are offering up secrets, both ancient and recent, and restoring a terrible legacy that just may drive him mad. And if this were not trouble enough, a beautiful woman walks into his life, claiming to be his half-sister.
Rylie Powell never knew her real father. Her mother would only say he was a charming Irishman who seduced her, married her, and then abandoned her and his baby daughter. But after her mother's death, Rylie finds tantalizing clues about her father that send her off to Northern Ireland and an archeological site on Dermot O'Shea's property, the man listed on her birth certificate as her father.
Did Dermot O'Shea father both Donovan and Rylie?
What is Donovan's connection to the Celtic High King Niall of the Nine Hostages?
And what secrets do the fens hold that invites murder?
Author Site:
http://www.loucindamcgary.com/


Where's my passport? (4 stars)

Rylie is a young woman in search of her identity. After her mother died of cancer six months previous, she decided to try and find the man who had deserted them both when she was just a baby. What very few clues she has about him—her birth certificate and some photos—lead her to Ireland in search of Dermot O'Shea. Dermot, meanwhile, has had a stroke and can no longer handle his own affairs. Though he left years ago to live in America, Donovan O'Shea has come back to help his sister settle his father's business affairs. This involves selling off a piece of property that has been a source of trouble since his childhood. The fens bring upon The Sight, a legendary form of clairvoyance commonly found in women but noted as a Druidic quality as well.

When Rylie comes bursting into Donovan's world looking for her father he's certain that they can't be siblings. Primarily because his father loved his mother but also because he's intensely attracted to the stubborn Californian. As they try to unravel the mystery of her birth father another mystery falls right into their laps. A body has been found out in the fens. It's an old murder come back to haunt the O'Shea family and as Donovan and Rylie unravel the mystery of her father's real identity, Donovan's own lineage comes into question. Twists, turns and murder most foul lead the might-be-siblings on a dangerous adventure through the history of the fens and Ireland's legacy of violence.

Wow. What a book. I was a little skeptical at first. I've seen a few too many cheesy 'American girl in Ireland' stories. But McGary obviously did her research, knew the customs and histories, that put together a story so real it felt exotic. Being an Irish-American I was quite easily lured into the mythology of The Sight and even just the descriptions of the country itself. I felt a bit like a lost tourist with an overly knowledge-able local as a guide.

I hate to say it but I often see the twists before they come and that's always frustrating. With The Wild Sight I was plenty surprised. If you love a good plot twist this has them so seamlessly woven in you won't know them until they hit you upside the head. The dialog could have been an issue but McGary did well in keeping things as clear and concise as possible while still keeping the Irish feel. My only real beef with the book is spoilerific so sorry, I can't share! While I wasn't fully happy with how the story tied up (a few loose ends annoyed me) romance fans will enjoy the HEA factor. If you're looking for loads of paranormal elements this one might not be up your alley, a bit of ghosty goodness and Donovan's clairvoyance were the sum of it. All in all a pretty entertaining read, perfect for one of those late nights when you can't sleep because you'll keep thinking "okay one more chapter then I'm going to sleep" and next thing you know you'll be done!

10.27.2008

News: Various Authors

Don't ask me why I felt this was so absolutely newsworthy I had to blog about it...

As I was going through cleaning out some of my links and looking for books to add to my wishlist I popped by Michelle Bardsley's site. Having done a spotlight on her Broken Heart, Oklahoma series this month I was thrilled to see she has two new titles in the series listed! #5 is called Over My Dead Body and #6 is called Come Hell or High Water. She has #5's cover up on her site if you go take a peek!

I also noted that Kelley McCullough, author of the Rivirn series, has listed a new book too. SpellCrash is due out in 2010. If you're not familiar with the series I do highly recommend it. It mixes Greek mythology with modern technology and is just too unique for words.

Gena Showalter had some news regarding her Lords of the Underworld series books noted on her blog... The Darkest Whisper's release date has been moved to September 2009.

Kim Harrison has the cover for White Witch, Black Curse up. I'm loving the green color but I think Rachel's boots look like liquid latex. Rachel Vincent's Prey also has a cover up on her site, I love the leopard print pattern the artist works into the clothing on each cover. I know I've noted them to the gals over at Amazon.com's PNR forum too but the covers for the next two Demonica books from Larissa Ione... wow... lookin' good.

Susan Krinard has a note up on her site regarding the third book in her Fane series, Lord of Legends. She says it should be out in 2009. I still haven't read the first two but they go on and off my wishlist enough I should just buy them already!

Jennifer Ashley (aka Allyson James) had two great newsie tidbits... she's taking part in a Paranormal Christmas anthology from Berkley (due next October) ANNND she's got a new paranormal series coming out in 2010!

Caitlynn Kittredge has her third book in the Nocturne City's info up now. Second Skin has a spooky cover and will be hitting shelves in March 2009.

And that about sums up all the really good stuff I could find in my bookmarked author sites. Everyone seems to be updating their sites and getting news up on their blogs so don't hestitate to go visit the author's sites for yourselves!
-- Rhi

Review: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (anthology)

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Wolfsbane and Mistletoe edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Werewolves, Anthology
Hardcover (ACE HARDCOVER, 352 pages, $24.95)
ISBN# 0441016332
New York Times bestselling authors Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur, and Carrie Vaughn—along with eleven other masters of the genre—offer all-new stories on werewolves and the holidays, a fresh variation on the concept that worked so well with birthdays and vampires in Many Bloody Returns.The holidays can bring out the beast in anyone. They are particularly hard for lycanthropes. Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner have harvested the scariest, funniest and saddest werewolf tales by an outstanding pack of authors, best read by the light of a full moon with a silver bullet close at hand.Whether wolfing down a holiday feast (use your imagination) or craving some hair of the dog on New Year’s morning, the werewolves in these frighteningly original stories will surprise, delight, amuse, and scare the pants off readers who love a little wolfsbane with their mistletoe.
***Complete author list: Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner, Patricia Briggs, Carrie Vaughn, Donna Andrews, Dana Cameron, Karen Chance, Alan Gordon, Simon Green, JA Konrath, Nancy Pickard, Dana Stabenow, Rob Thurman, & Kat Richardson***
Author Site:
http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Happy Hair Raising Howl-idays! (5 stars)

A collection of Christmas tales with werewolves as central characters? Count me in. I'm a self-proclaimed Halloween freak. I look forward to it all year. But there's just something appealing about the idea of werewolves and Christmas stirred together. What's next from the clever editors though? They've done vampires and birthdays and now werewolves and Christmas... maybe witches and Valentine's or ghosts and graduations? Whatever Harris and Kelner come up with let's hope they can find authors with contributions as good as most of these turned out to be!

But let me break each short story down for you individually:

[GIFT WRAP] by Charlaine Harris, A Sookie Stackhouse tie-in this short story must take place pretty deep into the series. On the outs with her brother and just having met her great-grandfather she's spending her holiday alone until a hunky injured werewolf pops up on her property. Though rather short and a little anticlimatic it has a cute twist very suitable to Christmas surprises. (I'd also like to note that if you've not read the series and are currently watching True Blood it is a bit spoilery). 4/5 stars

[THE HAIRE OF THE BEAST] by Donna Andrews, When a brother's Christmas wish to become a werewolf gets his sister to translate a magical werewolf spell things get a little hairy. This one surprised me. I didn't really like it at first but I couldn't help but appreciate the hilarious ending. 4/5 stars

[LUCY, AT CHRISTMAS TIME] by Simon R. Green, A Nightside tale of love lost. Most likely the shortest in the book and actually one of my favorites. Highly romantic but tragic. 5/5 stars

[THE NIGHT THINGS CHANGED] by Dana Cameron, Claudia and Gerry are Fangborn, a vampire sister and a werewolf brother. It's their job to protect the world from bad guys but what if one of them turns out to be a fellow Fangborn? This story was okay but didn't really feel like a Christmas tale. It felt like it belonged in a full length novel. 3/5 stars

[THE WEREWOLF BEFORE CHRISTMAS] by Kat Richardson, Matt's been a bad little werewolf and eaten a certain red-nosed member of Santa's team. Where will Santa find a new guide for his sleigh on such short notice? This story has every great element I could have asked for and was the PERFECT story for this anthology. I LOVED it! 5/5 stars

[FRESH MEAT] by Alan Gordan, Sam Lehrmann trains guard dogs but this Christmas Eve he may need some guarding himself. This one will definitely appeal to dog lovers! It was an enjoyable short story that could have happened any time of year but was better for being set at the holiday. 4/5 stars

[IL EST NÉ] by Carrie Vaughn, A Kitty Norville story set before Kitty Takes a Holiday. Spending her Christmas at a Waffle House, Kitty meets a newly turned werewolf with no pack of his own and no idea how to control what he has become. This one really dissappointed me as a Kitty fan. It felt kind of forced and no one questioned she and David's odd behavior considering there was a murderer on the loose. 3/5 stars

[THE PERFECT GIFT] by Dana Stabenow, A family of murderers are brought to justice and a Christmas Eve born man fulfills a prophecy. This story had nothing to do with Christmas and was an overall dissappointment. 1/5 stars

[CHRISTMAS PAST] by Keri Arthur, A Christmas-time murder investigation brings exes back together. Just the sort of story the PNR fans are looking for, hunky hero, sassy heroine, sexual tension and a happy ending. 3/5 stars

[SA] by J. A. Konrath, Robert Weston Smith has been having... tummy trouble. Could his bowel troubles be explained by lycanthropy? And what does the Salvation Army have to do with it all? I don't think I've laughed so hard reading a werewolf story... ever! This definitely isn't for everyone, bring a very irreverent sense of humor and enjoy. 5/5 stars

[THE STAR OF DAVID] by Patricia Briggs, Can a father and daughter divided by his werewolf mistakes be brought together to save a young man's life and for a Christmas celebration? Is it so terrible of me to say that I liked this one better than Cry Wolf? I also loved the fact that Stella and her father were noted as not being caucasian which we just don't see often enough in urban fantasy! 4/5 stars

[YOU'D BETTER NOT PYOUT] by Nancy Pickard, Another Santa Claus tale with a wicked paranormal twist. Pretty funny and entertaining but hard to love after Richardson's better contribution. 3/5 stars

[ROGUE ELEMENTS] by Karen Chance, Set in the same realm as her Cassie Palmer and Dorina Basarab series, this holiday story centers around the Silver Circle and the werewolf clans. There wasn't a Christmas element to this one either really which was, yet again, problematic for me. I normally very much like Chance's work but this one didn't win me. 2/5 stars

[MILK AND COOKIES] by Rob Thurman, A story somewhat akin to the classic holiday film A Christmas Story. A big brother had to not only protect his sister from the school bully, but give her the perfect Christmas too. So cleverly crafted and subtle it was delicious, like my grandma's traditional "Snowball" cookies (Russian Tea Cakes) I devoured this one with childish delight. 5/5 stars

[KEEPING WATCH OVER HIS FLOCK] by Tony L. P. Kelner, Bringing Christmas back to its Christian roots this is a tale of a young werewolf and the family that has adopted him. When he breaks the rules and goes running in the woods he proves that perhaps the wolf is the most noble animal of all. This was absolutely touching and next to the melancholy offering from Simon R. Green it ended up being my favorite. 5/5 stars

Overall there were a few duds as far as my taste goes. When I bought the anthology I expected strong Christmas themes in them and was admittedly not happy to find that some were set around the holiday and didn't have a lot to do with it. But to anyone looking for a great holiday gift for a werewolf fan this IS perfect. And as an aside... there wasn't really any sex that I recall so it would be an appropriate read for even some teens. Now someone tell the editors I want a volume two for next Christmas!!!

10.21.2008

Interview: Cheryl Brooks, author of The Cat Star Chronicles

As you all know by now, when I find a new series of books I LOVE I have to tell everyone about them! Sometimes that can be a little tricky because I have fairly... well... random taste. I wish I could say 'diverse' but a few of you out there would give me a hard time since I primarily read PNR & UF.

When Slave, the first book in the Cat Star Chronicles, popped up on Amazon.com as a coverless book with no product description save for the series title and the book's name I was intrigued. I added it to my wishlist and kept checking the listing for the scoop. When I finally got my hands on it I read it in two nights which is very quick for me! I blushed through some of the graphic descriptions and giggled at the crazy predicaments and when I finished the book all I wanted was MORE!

But I know this is not the series for everyone. You have to appreciate the series for all of it's elements because in my humble opinion it is brilliantly crafted in a way that you get a wide mix of themes. As a huge fan of Star Wars I couldn't help but see a little Han Solo in Jacinth and being the owner of two spoiled kitties I have really enjoyed the feline qualities of Cat and Leo. Don't tell my mother but I like a little light hentai once in a while and the unique erotic elements of this series reminded me so much of some hentai that I could almost picture Slave as a manga.

Anyway... all that to say that I think everyone should give this series a try, it has a little something for everyone... the romance fan, the sci-fi fan, the shapeshifter/anthro fan, the erotica fan.

Now... I happened to be really fortunate and despite my utter lack of experience—let alone any finesse—was given the opportunity to interview the author of this terrific new series- Cheryl Brooks. She was both wonderfully gracious to me by giving me her time and she tolerated me having a totally star-struck fangasm. Ms. Brooks you are a saint, please keep writing wonderful books for me to read!


Any typos or terrible interview questions are completely my fault. I was a virgin interviewer and trying really hard not to ask all of the spoilerific things that came to mind. Please enjoy! -- Rhi
• • •



Interview with Cheryl Brooks
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author of The Cat Star Chronicles


The Cat Star Chronicles blend elements of science fiction, fantasy and romance with a strong thread of erotica. That could have been a very risky combination to put together. Can you tell us a bit about the birth of this series?
I can't say that I started right off writing this kind of novel. It was a growth process. I began a long time ago with some fairly typical romance novels that weren't quite so erotic, but did have a touch of fantasy. Then I didn't write anything for several years, but got started up again in 2004. Since then, I've written about twenty or so, and worked on writing the erotic aspect—and losing any inhibitions I might have had! I was writing the sort of book I wanted to read, but they weren't science fiction. Then I got the idea for Slave from reading another novel about a female slave and thought it would be so much better if the slave was a guy!
What challenges have you met trying to find the balance between the adventure of a space opera, the spice of erotica and the timeless happily-ever-after of traditional romance?
Perhaps the biggest challenge in writing this sort of novel was that most of my friends are not science fiction fans. My best friend didn't read Slave until it was in print, but had read just about everything else! The rest of my hospital “critique group” had read it and liked it, but until Suzie took it to the Florida Keys with her and lay on the beach to read it—and liked it!—I wasn't sure how it would go! I have to have that erotic element or I feel like something is missing in a love story, but it's hard to avoid being to technical in a love scene when you're trying to describe what's happening in graphic detail. I have to remember to include the mental aspects and not focus so much on the physical. As far as the happily-ever-after goes, without that, it's not really a romance, and without the romance, what's the point?

With roots in fantasy, sci-fi and romance, what are some of your favorite stories (books, films, etc.) that fall into these genres?
I love Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, and one of my favorite TV shows of all time was Farscape. If you've seen Farscape, you might notice elements of John Crichton in Jacinth, the heroine in Slave. She's a combination of him and Han Solo, with a little touch of Captain Jack Sparrow thrown in—along with a healthy dose of me.
Slave was Jacinth and Cat's story. It explored the roles men and women play both in their relationships with one another and within society. You haven't revealed a lot about Zetithian culture in the series yet, can you tell us a little bit more about them?
The Zetithian culture was disrupted by the war that ultimately destroyed their world. It was a peaceful society, and I see it as being more agrarian than industrial, with the men of the series being soldiers by necessity rather than choice. More of this will come out in subsequent books.
Your latest book, Warrior, hit the shelves on October 1st. What makes Tisana and Leo's story different from the story of Jacinth and Cat?
First of all, if you're expecting another romp across the galaxy, you won't find that in Warrior. It is set on one world and has more of a medieval feel to it. That's the nice thing about science fiction: different planets can have very divergent cultures, and yet there can still be space travel and contact with alien species. Another big difference is the contrast between Jacinth and Tisana. Jack is a woman living a more masculine role, but Tisana is more feminine. Though she is still a strong character, Tisana doesn't share Jacinth's fascination with ancient swear words!
When you're not busy writing, you're a critical care nurse. How did your experience in the medical field help frame Tisana's healing abilities?
Well, obviously the CPR sequence in Warrior comes directly from that line of work, but the herbal medicine comes from my own interest in a more natural form of healing. I grow herbs and dabble a bit in medicinal teas, etc.
I'm sure many of your readers know you're an animal lover. The Zetithians have distinctly feline physical attributes that separate them from Humans. What made you choose cats as your inspiration for the race?
I liked the idea of a man who could purr, and the other feline characteristics naturally followed. However, it's no secret that the eyebrows and ears came directly from the Vulcans of Star Trek—I fell for Mr. Spock a VERY long time ago!
One of the great draws to your series is the strong storytelling through the first person narrative. In what ways are you like your heroines and how do you differ?
It's interesting that you should find the first person narrative a draw, because many have disliked it for that very reason! Some of my favorite novels were written in first person, but apparently, it's a romance genre no-no! Many readers want to know what goes on inside the man's head, which is certainly NOT the way we normally experience the world! Men have a completely different thought process than women, and anytime I think I know what my husband is thinking, I'm wrong! I am very much like my heroines in terms of their insecurities, and in some of their strengths, but Jacinth is much more gutsy than I am. Tisana is more like me, I think. Beginning with Lover, my books will be written in third person. I'm finding that I have a little more freedom since the entire story doesn't have to be seen through one pair of eyes, but it's a very different style.
Creating the perfect hero seems like it would be an easy task since we women tend to know what we like in a man. What's your secret to building great chemistry in a coupling?
That's harder than it sounds because when you're writing for a larger audience, you have to take into consideration that all women do not like the same kind of man. I don't care for the macho alpha male type, I like mine with a gentler spirit and a good sense of humor. My Zetithians are strong, capable men, but they are not arrogant or belligerent, which are traits that a good many romance heroes seem to have. I wanted my men to be more likable just as they were; not someone who had to be changed before you could fall in love with them. If I have any secret, it's that my Zetithians are as lovable as my cat!
With many paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels being optioned by film and television studios your fans want to know... what actors (alive or deceased) would you love to see in the roles of your characters?
I think I'd have to go with unknowns, because if there are any out there who could play these roles, I haven't seen them yet. I'm not sure my books could ever be made into films because there's too much emphasis on male nudity. You can take women's clothes off completely and still be rated R, but full-frontal aroused male nudity will get you an X!
There is a certain irreverence and humor to your stories, is it important as a writer not to take yourself or your writing too seriously?
I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh. I don't want to read a book that brings me down; I want enjoyment out of what I read. Romantic comedies are my favorite movies, and if I can't chuckle at least occasionally while I read or watch a movie, I feel shortchanged. Some people who read Slave weren't sure I meant it to be funny, and I think the reason for that is that a lot of romance novels are so dead serious that they were sure it was a mistake! It was not! It was supposed to make you smile! I think we all take ourselves and our lives too seriously. I see enough death and dying in my other profession, and, trust me, nurses can find humor in situations that would astonish you!
Many of your love scenes and sexual situations are very erotic and quite unconventional (ie. public locations, with audiences present). Does this make writing them more difficult?
Not really, because it's still the people focusing on each other, rather than anyone else that might be nearby.
Slave and Warrior are currently on shelves and the third in the series, Rogue, comes out in March of 2009. Sourcebooks has already signed you for three more novels in this series. What can you tell us about what is to come?
Rogue is the tale of two brothers who are the pampered pets of a queen—until the piano teacher from Earth shows up! After that comes Lover, which is completely different from the others. Lynx has been a slave in a harem, and the women there have literally worn him out and turned him against women entirely! It's up to Bonnie to change that. Then comes Fugitive: Manx has never been a slave, but he's been on the run for a very long time. Drusilla is a painter who comes to the planet he's been hiding out on, and one whiff of her has him throwing caution to the wind! In Hero, a female Zetithian and Trag (the other brother in Rogue) will finally track down those responsible for the war on Zetith and bring him to justice.
When The Cat Star Chronicles conclude, will we be seeing a new series in the future?
I have a lot of contemporary romances that I'd like to see published at some point, but I have no series in mind after this one ends. I've been told that a series can go on indefinitely, but I think six books are enough!
Thank you for sharing your wit and wisdom with us, but before we close, can you offer any sage advice to aspiring writers?
Grow a really tough hide before you start submitting your work. Some people will love what you write, and you'll get an agent or a publisher, but most will reject you, and some won't be very nice about it. After you sell, what was once a solo project becomes a group effort which is something I find very hard to deal with! Once you are published, enthusiastic readers will email you, or maybe even write a nice review. Those that hate it will post it on Amazon!
My thanks to Rhianna for asking for this interview, and for such terrific questions! They really made me think!

Cheryl

• • •


There she is guys, answering all of my really over-thought and random questions. I hope you all enjoyed getting to know more about the series and Cheryl herself. I definitely enjoyed reading her answers even if it only made me more anxious for the next book! If you would like to know more about The Cat Star Chronicles please visit Cheryl at her website, http://www.cherylbrooksonline.com/, her blog http://wickedlyromantic.blogspot.com/ or at Sourcebooks Casablanca's author blog http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/.

And... don't forget to pick up your copy of Warrior, the second book in The Cat Star Chronicles.

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Warrior (The Cat Star Chronicles #2) by Cheryl Brooks
Paranormal Romance, Sci-fi Romance
Mass Market Paperback (CASABLANCA PR, 321 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402214405
Tisana is a witch on the planet Utopia, but Utopia isn't a paradise for everyone. When her former lover brings Leo, a half-dead Zetithian slave, to Tisana for treatment, a sizzling romance ensues, culminating in a dangerous adventure. Will Tisana get to keep her lover and find a way to escape her own fate?

10.15.2008

Review: Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra

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Sea Witch (Children of the Sea #1) by Virginia Kantra
Paranormal Romance, Selkies
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY, 304 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425221997
Released: July 2008
Margred is a Selkie—a legendary being of the sea, able to shapeshift into seductive human form. And she has found a human she desires...Burned out from the big city, Caleb Hunter becomes police chief on the peaceful Maine island of World’s End. Then he meets a woman who’s everything he’s ever dreamed of…Their passion is undeniable, irresistible—and it may change the fate of humankind.
Author Site: http://virginiakantra.com/


Red sky at night, sailor's delight... (4 stars)

When Margred, a lust-driven Selkie, seeks a human's touch upon land, the last thing she anticipates is becoming trapped in her human form. Caleb Hunter is a man with a past and then some. A veteran of the war in Iraq he has returned to Maine injured both physically and emotionally. Returning to his childhood home on the Maine island of World's End life is simpler, quieter. Until Magred shows up and seduces him with her exotic beauty and mysterious manner. She promises to return to him knowing full well she will not for she is Selkie and that is not their way. When she does return, strangely drawn back to Caleb, tragedy strikes and she must lie to Caleb in order to protect him.

When another Selkie turns up dead the plot thickens and Magred can't keep her secrets any longer. There's a demon loose in World's End and he's trying to make war between the elements of land and sea, earth and water. Trapped on land Magred must do whatever is within her power to stop the demon before he does anymore damage or kills the man she has just realized she loves. But when all is said and done can she ever return to the sea?

I'm normally a vampires and shapeshifters kind of gal, but over the summer I had a real desire to find a good mermaid or other water creature series. Thanks to some nice gals around Amazon.com's paranormal romance forum I decided I wanted to give Kantra's Children of the Sea a try. Caleb was a great hero, I thought he was a little stereotypical at first but he really grew on me. His desire for a simple, happy life were believable, not cheesy. Magred was a tougher sell. I struggled to like her and found her sudden realization of love a bit forced. I think her Selkie personality would have made a great character in a non-romance story.

Kantra did a great job of setting up a simple mythos for the series and brought in the hero for her second book and the heroine for her third seamlessly. I loved the isolated Maine setting but really hope to see more of the Selkie's world later in the series. The love scenes between Caleb and Magred were tasteful and not overly graphic, leaving something to the imagination which is what I prefer most of the time. The overall plot of Sea Witch ended a little too easily in my opinion but left no annoying cliff-hangers either. All in all I think this is the start of a very promising and very original series.

Vocabulary Is Fun

When I was a kid I loved spelling. I mean, obviously I enjoyed reading and writing, but I had a real passion for words. I loved to look new ones up and learn how they were spelled, what they meant and their origins. Fortunately I never felt the need to share this odd obsession with anyone or I might have had a few less friends and taken a lot more flack.

I still enjoy learning new words or getting reacquainted with ones I haven't heard used in a very long time. I keep a pen and some form of paper (often those annoying magazine subscription cards that fall out) near my bed so I can write them down for a look-up when I am not in the middle of something intense. Once my list fills up, or at least gets big enough I start worrying I won't be able to learn them all, I sit down with my list and my buddies Merriam and Webster.

I am sure most of you readers out there won'y find this post particularly useful or interesting but I thought I would share my most recent list of words I HAD to know! - Rhi


sartorial
koan
sybaritic
piebald
ennui
non sequitur
marcel
asperity

expurgated
embryonic
varlet
denigrate

faience
goy
glissando

10.14.2008

Review: Because Your Vampire Said So by Michele Bardsley

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Because Your Vampire Said So (Broken Heart, Oklahoma #3) by Michele Bardsley
Paranormal Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET ECLIPSE, 320 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0451223861

Released: May 2008 (Reviewed: May 2008)
When you’re immortal, being a mom won’t kill you— it will only make you strongerEven though all the non-vamps in Broken Heart, Oklahoma, skipped town, Patsy Donahue has kept her hair salon up and running thanks to the werewolves prowling around. They know how important good grooming is, especially a certain rogue shapeshifter who’s as sexy as he is deadly. Now, if only she could put a leash on her wild teenage son, who’s up to his neck in danger. The stress would kill Patsy, if she wasn’t already undead. But her maternal instinct is still alive and kicking. And no one had better mess with her own flesh and blood…

Author Site: http://www.michelebardsley.net/

Broken Heart, Oklahoma, come for the PTA meetings! (4 stars)

Before I say anything more, let me stress that this book can't stand alone. If you haven't read the previous books not only will this one make very little sense but you'll be missing out on the better books in the series thus far.

Introduced to us in I'm The Vampire, That's Why, our heroine, Patsy, was brought in as a 40-year-old single mom running her own hair salon. Because Your Vampire Said So brings Patsy back in her very own story, still doing hair and trying to be a good mom to her son Wilson, despite the fact she's now undead. No-nonsense and very tell-it-like-it-is Patsy tells us her adventure with a bold voice which the author pulls off nicely. It's rare to find a first person narrative with this much slang and sass that isn't horrific.

Patsy's love life heats up when a mysterious werewolf drops into her world and saves her life. Only trouble is, he's not the guardian she was told was coming to protect her. Meanwhile, the Consortium has brought in the Ancients to Broken Heart, setting a trap for Kosche and his villains. It is through the originator of Patsy's bloodline that she learns she can talk to the dead and raise what essentially amounts to a zombie army. Not the coolest powers in Patsy's opinion but once she's learned to use them they come in handy. As it turns out, Patsy's sexy werewolf savior, Gabriel, and his motley band of parakind are outcasts seeking the woman prophesied to be their Queen and Gabriel's lover. But there's a lot more to Gabriel is no ordinary werewolf just as Patsy's no ordinary hair-dresser.

I wanted to give this book three stars. I am a slow reader but I read this in a day, it was pretty short. I expected it to be light reading but not that light. It also felt rushed and the romance between Gabriel and Patsy seemed more like a case of lust on her part and him believing in a prophesy. It was just a little forced and quick for my taste. That could have been excusable if the story itself didn't suffer from the same problem. Even still this was a fun book, a cute read and I love Bardsley's style and the world building she has done for this clever series.

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