Archive for the ‘ Romance ’ Category

Future Reads and a little fangirly gushing.

Just when I think Goodreads can’t get any better, I get a funky email through today which tells me all the new releases for authors on my shelves for the month of March. This is great. It means no more trawling through release pages etc. No more constant clicking to authors pages for release dates. No more missing release dates for auto-buy authors.

If I haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now, I LOVE GOODREADS.

So this week, I plan to re-read the J.L. Langley ‘With/Without’ series in preparation for the new release in this series.  It’s been such a long time since J.L. brought anything out. I can remember main details of the series but it’s such a great read, I feel the need to refresh the memory. I love re-reading books. ‘With Abandon’ is released on March 22nd and I can’t wait.

I also plan to read Julie James ‘A Lot Like Love.’ I have all of Julie’s books but I have never gotten round to starting one. (The infamous TBR pile that consumes more books than I can read…) I have see quite a few really good reviews for this book and I am looking forward to it.

I’m also planning to it up a few Harlequin Blazes. I have fallen behind on my Blaze reading so I need to catch up.

What’s everyone else planning on reading?

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UK vs. US

Sometimes I feel like I am in a South Park episode. The one where Butters is Professor Chaos and he’s trying to take over the world and every time he comes up with a plan his sidekick General Disarray tells him, ‘The Simpsons did it!’ It’s like that in Romancelandia a lot of the time. You come up with an idea and go looking for pictures or quotes and then find that someone had beaten you to the punch.

Example. I was going to do this post on Nathan Kamp and how he seems to be on every frickin romance novel cover and why the hell is this the case cause yeah, he’s good-looking but he’s not that good-looking. Went to get some pictures and saw that Jessica over at Racy Romance Reviews had all ready done it. And her post was so much more eloquent and rational than I would have managed I thought to myself, ‘Yep, I’m not gonna even try!’

The I was going to do this post on UK vs. US covers and saw that Meljean had done something similar over at Oddshots. But you know what. I have come to the same conclusion poor Professor Chaos did. Romancelandia has been around for aeons and will be around after I go and we always talk about the same subjects again and again and again so another repetitive blog post ain’t gonna kill us. Plus, I have pretty pictures I want to show you all…

So UK vs. US book covers.

There are different reasons for a change in cover which Meljean goes into in her blog post here. But I have to say, maybe it’s because I am from the UK, I think the UK edges out the US a lot of the time…*controversial* Let me show you.

Keri Arthur

I just prefer the UK one. It feels more evocative somehow. Although I do like the colour scheme of the US one, it feels like anyone with Photoshop could have done it (Although I know that isn’t the case..)


Nalini Singh

I prefer black over lurid pink. I’m not sure what possessed that particular choice. Admit it, you’d be much happier reading the UK cover on the train.


J.D. Robb

Again much more evocative. I find the US covers really garish and it doesn’t tell me anything about the book at all.


Sherrilyn Kenyon

Admit it, it’s just much prettier. Although admittedly, the US covers have had a make over and I do prefer the covers with just the sigils on them to the lurid men covers they used to have.


Jim Butcher

I think the US covers for his Codex Alera series are like a badly drawn school project. I really dislike them.  (Although they are probably drawn by someone really famous.) I was so happy when Orbit brought the new UK covers out. I think they convey the fantasy feel without falling into the usual pitfalls of fantasy covers.


As for his Dresden Files series. I also prefer the, admittedly, boring UK covers. Why? Because as much as I like Chris McGrath’s covers he draws Harry with a freakin’ fedora on and HARRY NEVER WEARS ONE IN THE BOOKS. EVER! It really irritates me. So I prefer the UK ones cause they leave me to imagine the characters myself without putting ideas in my head. Of erroneous hats.


Ann Aguirre

I love the new cover for Ann Aguirre’s Corine Solomon series. It’s dark and moody much like the book (although there are lighter moments). I do like the US cover as well, I just like the UK more. Sometimes that happens. Even though the US cover is probably more representative of the character.


Eloisa James

No contest as far as I am concerned. It’s a beautiful picture and I love the little chess piece in the picture. It gives you a clue to the content but looks out-of-place there so you give it a second look. It’s just such a lavish picture. Very representative of Elosia’s work I think.


Julia Quinn

Although the UK covers are a lit too chick-lit in execution, I do think that they translate the sense of fun and humour that is apparent in Julia’s work. Unlike the US covers that are so vague they almost seem surreal.


However there are exceptions with Julia Quinn. The two ‘Cavendish’ books for instance. I much preferred the US covers. Go figure.


Lisa Kleypas

It’s not always the case that I prefer the UK over US either. I prefer the US covers to Lisa Kleypas’ newest historical series. The blue dress is stunning and much more interesting to my eye than the far away figure in the UK cover.  US cover win.


Rachel Gibson

I  do like the UK covers better. Again, they seem to convey a sense of fun. Although, that said, it is obvious that the UK publisher is trying to make this cover seem anything but romance as that is a dirty word in the UK.


It’s a subject matter that has been discussed ad nauseam and it’s true that while you know what you’re getting when you have mantitty or a back/dress combo, namely a romance novel, why does it feel that romance readers get the short end of the stick when it comes to cover art? Especially in America. Why is it that YA novels get beautiful covers like this?


And romance readers barely warrant any effort at all. Srsly, I CAN do better than this on Photoshop.

Why is there more effort put into a book for teens, than into a book for adults? Because that’s what it feels like. ‘Oh, they’ll buy it regardless so let’s not bother.’ But that’s a whole other subject for a whole other day.

(I’m probably going to get panned now from rabid Chris McGrath fans..*ducks*)

NYT Bestsellers: Romance Edition

I like information, charts, data.  SO I alway have a look at the NYT bestsellers lists when they come out. In particular the mass-market paperback chart. Where, I think it is safe to say that romance reigns supreme. (Most of the time.)

Lets have a look at this weeks Top 35 (Courtesy of NY Times)

Continue reading

Cornucopia of books

So as I have told everyone who’ll listen. I am out of a job. My beloved bookshop, Borders, closed with the other 45 stores in the UK on 24th Dec. Great Christmas present, huh? There are some great blogs by ‘Borders Insider’ up on theBookseller.com and the experience they had in their shop pretty much mirrored ours.

This was the job that I loved so much and put so much time and effort into that I dumped bloglandia for it. Yep, I’m afraid I am one of those fair-weather friends. I was always around, reading blogs etc. I just stopped posting reviews, commenting on blogs and the like.

But I’m back now, jobless and friendless and with no money. As I was saying in my earlier post. I can’t afford to buy books in the volumes I had been. No discount..*sob* …*no pay*.  (Although Fictionwise seem to be making it a much easier decision by seemingly getting rid of the ‘across the board’ micropay rebates they had. What a waste of a membership now!!)

But in among all that confusion and fear and anger at losing a job I loved there was one small silver lining. We gots lots of books verra, verra cheap. And if they were selling them off anyways, I was damn sure gonna get my share.  I squirreled away books for weeks in wee hidey-holes all over the shop and then on the last day, when we closed the doors for the final time, I got to buy all the romance books we had left for  £1.

I finished counting and listing them. I got 632 books for £1. *HI FIVE*

Now a I have some doubles and titles I just wouldn’t read and I’m boxing that up and it’s going to The Edinburgh Cancer Center at the Western General Hospital. To bulk up their patient library, in the waiting areas and in the wards. On the days when I am there, I sometimes have to wait for a couple of hours if the consultant is running behind and I see a lot of the older patients reading etc. I think they’ll get a lot of use out of them.

The rest, well the rest is staying with me….*rubs hands*. My bedroom is like a big book monster has spewed all over it. Books stacked against the wall, books in boxes strewn all over the floor, piles beside the bed.  I almost overwhelmed as I got rid of the majority of my paper books when I switched over to my e-reader, Rafel. (That’s his name, cause he’s my hero..) But it’s really nice to have paper books again.

But look at them…

And that’s only one boxload. I’ve got another 6 boxes there.

Problem is I have a lot of older romance books and I don’t have a clue where to start. A lot of Celeste Bradley, Johanna Lindsay, Nicole Jordan.

My question is, are these old school historical/contemporary authors?

I’m never quite sure what constitutes ‘old school’ in romance, and if I’d like it? You know I’m a modern romance reader, I like my smexxin’ in my books.

So what is ‘old school’? Where is the line drawn? And would a dirty girl like me, enjoy old school romance?

Review Redux: Oleander House by Ally Blue

When Sam Raintree goes to work for Bay City Paranormal Investigations, he expects his quiet life to change-he doesn’t expect to put his life and sanity on the line, or to fall for a man he can never have. Book One in the Bay City Paranormal Investigation series. Sam Raintree has never been normal. All his life, he’s experienced things he can’t explain. Things that have colored his view of the world and of himself. So taking a job as a paranormal investigator seems like a perfect fit. His new co-workers, he figures, don’t have to know he’s gay. When Sam arrives at Oleander House, the site of his first assignment with Bay City Paranormal Investigations, nothing is what he expected. The repetitive yet exciting work, the unusual and violent history of the house, the intensely erotic and terrifying dreams which plague his sleep. But the most unexpected thing is Dr. Bo Broussard, the group’s leader. From the moment they meet, Sam is strongly attracted to his intelligent, alluring boss. It doesn’t take Sam long to figure out that although Bo has led a heterosexual life, he is very much in the closet, and wants Sam as badly as Sam wants him. As the investigation of Oleander House progresses and paranormal events in the house escalate, Sam and Bo circle warily around their mutual attraction, until a single night of bloodshed and revelation changes their lives forever.

It is very much a story of two guys in the closet because although Sam accepts that he is gay, he doesn’t really shout it loud and proud. Bo on the other hand is so far back in the closet, I think he might have a second job at Monsters Inc.

I really enjoyed the paranormal aspect of the storyline. It relied more on the creep factor, like old school horror than outright gore. I also liked how Ally showed the monotony and repetitiveness of the job. It’s not all running along darkened corridors with poltergeist at your heels. It’s reviewing hours and hours of video and audio punctuated by library research (Dork that I am I would love that aspect!). She portrays it like any other job. The only difference is it’s not nine to five.

Now, that sounds really boring, I hear you say and it is in real life but Ally manages to have this little thread of ‘not quite right’ running through the whole book, so you feel on edge the whole time you are reading. Plus all the boring work is interspersed with some really great characters. Getting to know the team was a delight.

I loved the main character of Sam. He was this really weird mix of confident and vulnerable. He was sure in his own sexuality, but he wasn’t comfortable with others knowing. When it came to his relationship with Bo, he was constantly saying to himself ‘No, not this time. I’m not getting involved with him,’ only to turn around and give in the minute Bo spoke to him. I do that all the time. With me it’s chocolate though, not swarthy male paranormal investigators. But he wasn’t a complete wuss. I was rooting for him when he called Bo on his behaviour and told him to stop sending mixed messages.

It took a little bit more time to get into Bo’s character. It was mostly the braid thing. Bo has a long braid of black hair. I’m not into long hair on a man and I have to say, it took me quite a while to find a happy place in my head for the braid. Bo was so mixed up. I would have liked some head time with him just to see where his thoughts were but it was not to be.

As they were just starting out in the romance department and Bo wouldn’t even admit he was gay, it wasn’t a scorcher. That wasn’t to say there wasn’t any relationship stuff, there was plenty, just not a lot of action. This doesn’t bother me, it’s nice to see characters taking it slow instead of jumping into the sack asap. The sexual tension is bubbling along nicely in this installment.

I have two gripes with this book. One was the ending. It just suddenly stopped with no real closure. I get that this is a series but it felt like someone went ‘OK, word count achieved, that’s me done.’ I was reading along merrily expecting a wrap up chapter but no. A short epilogue and that was it. It left me feeling kind of cheated but I can guess that Ally was trying to show that investigations whether paranormal or ordinary in nature, rarely get all neatly tied up with a bow in real life. Still, a little warning next time, dude.

My next and biggest gripe with this book was purely cosmetic. It was the cover. Damn but it was an ugly and cheap and home-made looking piece of shit. I can just guess Ally being really excited that she was getting published only to be handed that horrendous excuse for a cover. I would be gutted to link my work to that. It seriously sucked as you can see at the top of the post. It looked like someone just took a picture from ‘Town & Country’ and stuck some curly font on top. I could do better. See here’s one I made earlier….

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This was previously posted on the now defunct Book Pron. And over on Goodreads.

What a week

So last week kicked my ass.

Work is hectic at the moment. We have a new boss and while I am feeling energized and focused, I am annoyed at some of my colleagues and their less than professional attitude towards him. I always like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt when coming into an established team. Having been there myself I understand the stresses and pitfall of trying to integrate and facilitate a positive change in the process.Until he does something to prove to me he is TSTL he has my support. It’s how I am.

Retail is an ever-changing beast. It never stays still. Processes, tasks etc are always changing. Companies are always looking for the fastest, cheapest way to hoover money from their customers. So I always find it irritating when colleagues hold on like grim death to a certain job or function saying ‘We’ve always done it like this.’

What they really mean is, ‘I have always done it like this.’ There really is no place for inflated egos in retail and I am sick of trying to manage other peoples. ARGHHHHHH! Being obtuse and obstructive. Always seeing the negative first. Never bringing anything useful to a conversation. Maliciously gossiping about a man they don’t even know, just because he wants to change a few things. Things that will bring in more money and enable these people to keep their frickin jobs.

[/rant]

On the plus side we had an AWESOME cherub event this weekend in the kids dept. Around 40 kids attended although 70% drifted off before or during the event. Some were shy and some were a little too old. We did gear the tasks for the younger end of the spectrum, not expecting the older kids to come. I thought it would be too unfashionable for them. My bad. However, we sold a ton of books, recruited more kids to our monthly bookclub and generated a lot of interest in next weeks event which is Roald Dahl day.

I had a blast. Cat and I (who are both massive Cherub fans) had such a laugh and chatted and gossipped with the kids about the books and what character they loved best and what their favourite book was and why. Some of them were lucky enough to attend the Cherub event at the Book Festival this year and we managed to persuade them to write a little piece for our monthly newsletter. Fantastic fun.

I have been watching ‘That 70’s Show’ to fall asleep to this past week. That show still makes me laugh so hard. DUMBASS!

On the book front, I have picked up a little more speed again. Read a heap of Blazes.

Amorous Liaisons by Sarah Mayberry. Set in the world of ballet this time (her last one was female boxing!) it’s the tale of Max and Maddy. It a ‘friends become lovers’ story which I love. The twist is that it’s Max who has the unrequited love and Maddy who is clueless. I loved this. How can I not, it’s Sarah Mayberry. Even though it’s a Blaze and it’s law that 40% of it must be sex, she always manages to get the emotional impact across. Her guys are always great and her heroines are not usually TSTL.  Bliss.

Lethal Exposure by Lori Wilde. After a shaky start with the other two installments of this series, Lori Wilde managed to finish with a bang. It was hot and sweet. Although I did figure out who the big bad was well before the end. There is such a thing as TOO much foreshadowing.

Ms Match by Jo Leigh. Sublime, sublime, sublime. Great concept, great hero, great heroine. Horrible family. Paul is pretty but shallow and Gwen is smart but plain. Sparks fly. Misunderstandings are had. Sweet love is made and they all lived happily ever after. *sigh*

At Her Pleasure by Cindi Myers. Ridiculous tat about uncovering a female pirate’s buried treasure (I SHIT YOU NOT) and canoodling in hammocks on a desert island. It wasn’t as fun as it sounds. Trust me.

Next up was a Silhouette special edition by Susan Crosby called..wait for it…’The Single Dad’s Virgin Wife.’ Awesome. Title aside I loved this book. I adore it when the kiddies conspire to get the adults together. (Not one for you Jen though, I know.) Noah was great as the dad who was struggling to connect with his kids after the death of his wife. It gets me right here. *thumping chest* I just can’t resist a man who loves his kids. It’s part of a series called ‘Wives For Hire.’ The first one was good too. (It had a cute kid in it too….stay away Jen!)

Following that was ‘Mad Dogs‘ by Robert Muchamore. Gang warfare and teenage romance. I loved it. I’m not saying too much more because I do intend to wax lyrical about this book and the rest of the series in the not too distant future.

And Finally this week ‘Hostage To Pleasure‘ by Nalini SIngh. It was everything all the reviews said it was. I finished it with a sigh of satisfaction. Dorien was a great hero and after having doubts about Ashaya while reading excerpts, I was glad to be disabused of my worries. One niggle. I think Amara was wasted. The conclusion of her storyline was somewhat anti-climactic. There was so much more scope for terror there. She was set up as this horrific spectre and failed to deliver on the final push. But other than that…loved it. Nalini says there is going to be a pregnancy in the next book, anyone taking wagers on who is going to have the first set of pups? Sascha and Lucas? Faith and Vaughn? Judd and Brenna? Clay and Tally? Dorien and Ashaya? maybe even Mercy and Riley?

AND I won a book from Nalini Singh over on DIK. How cool is that. Plus Ann Aguirre took pity on my fangirl squeeing and sent me a copy of Wanderlust as well. LUCKIEST WEEK EVER!

National Nalini Day!

So to celebrate the release of Hostage To Pleasure (Book 5 in the Psy/Changeling series) I have declared today National Nalini day on this blog.

Nalini is running a competition to win $75 of book vouchers. I’m in! Do you know how many books I can buy with that! Sweet!

So all we have to do to be in with a chance to win is to answer the following questions. Easy-peesy!

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* Which fictional hero (from books, tv, movies…) would you most like to hold hostage?

It’s got to be Dean Winchester from Supernatural. I’m a total DeanGirl. I’m so in love with him. I’d happily tie him up and keep him hostage so I could just look at him all day long. Hopefully then he would get some of that Stockholm Syndrome and we could have a mighty fine time. What can I say, I just can’t get enough of those tortured, emotionally crippled, smart-ass guys!

* Which fictional hero would you most like to be held hostage by?

It’s got to be Butch from the BDB. So he and V can put on a little show for me……heh. Cause that’s my kinda torture. Watching but not getting to touch.

* Which fictional world would you most like to be held hostage in?

Ohhhh this is a tough one but it’s probably Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ simply because I would be a total kickass Aes Sadai of the Green Ajah, or an Aiel. ( Also, I would totally mac on Lan. Cause he is hot. He’s the silent but deadly type….rwoar!))

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So there you have it. Questions answered. Now I’m off to read some more of Hostage To Pleasure. (Although I think some of my answers might be changing after I finish. Dorian is one hot dude.)

Also check out the new excerpts for Branded By Fire (Book 6 in the Psy/Changeling Series) and Angel’s Blood, Nalini’s new Urban Fantasy series. Warning! The Branded By Fire excerpt has a HAWT rating of SUPERNOVA. On the basis of that one sneek peek I can guarantee you Riley is going on my Top Ten list of Heroes for next year!

All joking aside this a fantastic series, well worth your money and time. Nalini has never failed to deliver the goods. Fantastic story, intricate but solid world-building, swoon-worthy heroes and strong heroines.