Saturday, May 30, 2009

Upcoming Review at Musings

Dial Emmy for Murder by Eileen Davidson

Tabloids and fans are stunned when Alexis Peterson leaves her popular show for another soap, but she's too busy preparing to be a presenter at the Daytime Emmy Awards to even notice. When her co-presenter loses his life before presenting a winner, Alex realizes she has another murder mystery on her hands.

Working behind the scenes to find out how her costar could have met such an end, Alex invites handsome Detective Frank Jakes--a man she can't stop imagining having a real love scene with--back into her life. But first Alex must focus on finding the killer before she sees another one of Hollywood's brightest stars burn out.

An ARC review from a new-to-me author, a soap opera mystery written by a real Emmy-nominated soap opera star--sounds interesting and fun, right? 

I'll be reviewing Dial Emmy for Murder by Eileen Davidson at Musings of a Bibliophile on Monday, June 1st.  So, come by and read all about Alexis, Jakes and the soaps... see you there!

On Awards and Friends

What an introduction! Just started getting comfortable in my little place, have not finished moving in yet, and here I am being awarded a.... Little CJ? And I thought Leslie was my friend, too! 

Woke up this morning, went to check my favorite blogs, and there it was... I must find someone whose blog, I really, really like to pass this wonderful... ahhh... Award to. 

Thank you, Leslie and of course CJ for gifting us with the Little one. I am truly honored.

Leslie has a wonderful picture of a screaming child on her blog, but when I saw the announcement this was my reaction -- I thought it was appropriate. 

A mutual friend of ours, joanna, who has a wicked sense of humor, titled this picture "The Angst that Wouldn't Die!!!" (Thank you, joanna) That's how I felt when I saw my name and my mind went blank. I figure EVERYBODY has a Little CJ by now and I'm going to get skewered, right? 

After much thought, (and research) I decided to share this moment with two people whose blogs I visit regularly and haven't received their awards yet. Of course this must be remedied immediately. They both use the word "addict or addiction" and "book" as part of their titles, so definitely places I would look up. 

Renee's Book Addiction, a lovely site. Renee and I seem to share our love for the varied within the genre. It's a place I love to visit and just enjoy. So, since we seem to be passing this...ahhh... lovely Award to people we like (isn't that right, Leslie?), Renee gets my vote.

Dani from Confessions of a Romance Book Addict just had a birthday in May.  What a great birthday present! Dani is definitely a book addict and we have that in common. So enjoy your present? 

Okay, now I can breath... no voodoo dolls or intense pain for me.  Oh, Renee and Dani? I do suggest you both read CJ's rules for this award or you might be in great peril.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Upcoming Reviews at Musings

I'll be reviewing three books for Musings of a Bibliophile next week. 

You can expect to find Vision in White by Nora Roberts, her latest contemporary romance. Nora is one of my all time favorite romance writers and I'm more than happy to see her return to writing good old fashioned romance.

For my M/M Review I'll be featuring Crossroads by Keta Diablo an M/M Erotic/Suspense. This was not a book from my M/M Challenge list, but a separate read. I didn't manage to read any for the Challenge this week.  Diablo is a new-to-me author and I do enjoy those!

And speaking of new-to-me authors, I'll be finishing off with Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale. I've been in the mood for contemporaries, so I picked this book at random, just to see how I liked the author. This is Dale's first contemporary romance and I think a good pick. 

So, stop by Musings next week... see you there!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Review: Country Boys: Wild Gay Erotica by Richard Labonté

This anthology is a compilation of works by sixteen talented writers beginning with a beautiful Introduction written by its editor, Richard Labonté. Mr. Labonté, a long time city dweller who moved to a small town, wanted to showcase through these short stories, gay men's experiences of life and love in small, country towns. In the Introduction, which I enjoyed as much as the rest of the book, he gives us a bit of his own history and experiences in the small town where he lived openly with his husband Asa -- the book is dedicated to Asa, a touching and fitting tribute.

There are sixteen short stories in this anthology and every single one of them is worth reading. The writing is diverse, creative, and excellent all around. Some of the stories are very short, as in Bear Season by C.B. Potts, and some a bit longer as in Noel, for the Last Time by Wayne Courtois, but all are well developed.

There were quite a few stories where we are allowed a peek at some erotic, some tender and some wild first encounters between curious young men in the country who explore their sexuality together, and where we meet farms boys, good ole boys, and river boys.

Opening Day at The Fair by J.M. Snyder is worth mentioning in this category as you can almost hear the buzz of insects, feel the lazy summer day, the heat, the sweat and the yearning when reading it. Goodland Kansas by Jay Neal is a touching coming of age story about three boys set in a small town -- "know thyself," the beauty or the tragedy. I loved this story by Neal. These three friends know each other from childhood through adulthood. We share some of their adventures, moments of self-awareness and discoveries, their differences and in the end their choices.

Laying By written by Dale Chase where a young man traveling to California with his family, via a wagon train in 1846, experiences sexual awakening and love is a favorite. But I must say I was so surprised by River Boy written by Tom Cardamone that I had to read it twice. This was a unique piece set in the Florida river swamps featuring two unusual characters and even more unusual circumstances. Cardamone weaves D/s into the tale of River Boy and Skink in the most unexpected of settings. A story I'll remember.

Those pesky city dwellers also make appearances while they're visiting the country. The Farmer's Son by Karl Taggart was a favorite of mine, a story that somehow seemed plausible -- I wonder if our city boy will take his Harley out for a ride down that country road again...hmm. Vincent Diamond's Wrestling Gators is a fast paced erotic tale that proves once again that a man wearing a uniform and playing hero will work every single time, and in Hot Eats by Kal Cobalt, a cinematographer finds more than great fried chicken at the local Diner during that lonely third shift.

There are other stories, Goat Boy by Jack Fritscher is a celebration of manhood the likes of which I've never imagined--it made me laugh and gag at the same time. And there's the beautiful story of home coming by Dominic Santi titled Drum Stone about a Native American who while searching for his roots finds love.

I found this anthology while searching for works by Vincent Diamond, an author who has become a personal favorite. Not only did I find a wonderful story by Diamond I had not yet read, but I also found a slew of new-to-me authors whose stories I can't wait to research and read. Mr. Labonté certainly reached his goal with this anthology; it is a gorgeous celebration of life, love and experiences in the country. Great find!

Gay Erotica - Grade: A

You can find this book and other works by Richard Labonté here

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On Weekends and Urban Fantasy

I haven't managed to read much this week, real life has taken over. I'm getting ready for a long awaited four day weekend with family. My younger brother is coming to visit from Orlando and I can't wait to see him. It's going to be a weekend filled with testosterone, talk of Laker's basketball, Yankees' baseball, BBQs and camping. I'm looking forward to it!

I did receive Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready yesterday and I started it. I've been looking forward to reading this book ever since I read Wicked Game. Can't wait to catch up with Ciara, Shane and the rest of the DJs at WVMP.

Did I tell you I don't usually read Urban Fantasy? Well I don't. Usually. But, this year I set a goal for myself to read at least three Urban Fantasy series and give them a chance--be open minded about them since I've never been a fan.

I didn't really choose this series, it kind of chose me, lol! I fell in love with Jeri Smith-Ready's writing when I read her Aspects of Crow fantasy series and well... I just had to pick up Wicked Game when it was released. I'm loving what Jeri Smith-Ready is doing with her vampires and her heroine. Different. Now, I'm hooked!

The second Urban Fantasy series I'm reading also chose me. I won an ARC for Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh. I happen to be a huge fan of her Psy/Changling series and just had to give this new series a try. Singh refers to this series as an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance. So far, I would say it is. I love her writing, like the concept and her world building--Raphael the Archangel is lickable and I want him. So yeah, I'm hooked on this one too. Are you laughing at me yet?

My third pick? The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews I chose deliberately. KMont, from Lurv a La Mode has been pimping this series to me forever and since she has yet to lead me astray, I figured why not?

Well my friends, I picked up Magic Bites, the first book in the series and became a fiend! Yes, I did! I couldn't stop myself and just had to read the other two installments one after the other. I devoured Magic Burns and Magic Strikes within a couple of days. I fell in love with Kate, the shape shifters, Andrews' writing style and all that gorgeous mythology. Now, I have to wait a whole YEAR to read more about Kate and Curran. So, yeap! I'm hooked!

Good thing I only decided to read three Urban Fantasy series, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Cover: Skin Game by Ava Gray

A beautiful fugitive—wanted dead or alive.
Kyra is a con woman and a particular kind of thief. She steals with a touch, but she only takes one thing: her target’s strongest skill. Which means she can be a fighter, an athlete, a musician, an artist—anything she wants… for a limited time. Heartbroken, she turns her gift toward avenging her father’s murder; with deadly patience, Kyra works her way into casino owner Gerard Serrano’s inner circle. After pulling off the ultimate con, she flees with his money and his pride.
A hit man who never misses the mark.
Reyes has nothing but his work. Pity for Kyra, he’s the best and mercy never sways him once he takes a job. He’s been hired to find out where Kyra hid the cash—and bring her back to face Serrano’s “justice.” Dead will do, if he can’t locate the loot. He’s never failed to complete a contract, but Kyra tempts him with her fierce heat and her outlaw heart. So Reyes has a hell of a choice: forsake his word or kill the woman he might love.

Ann Aguirre posted on her blog the cover and description for Skin Game. She's writing this Paranormal Romance under the name Ava Gray.  So, do you like it? I first heard about this book last Fall and I've been waiting for it ever since. 

I love Ann Aguirre's Jax, Sci-Fi series and am waiting impatiently for the next installment, Doubleblind, which releases September 29, 2009. But, a Paranormal Romance?  You know I'll be reading this one when it releases in November '09!

You can read an excerpt for Skin Game here

So, are you looking forward to this one?  I am!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Review: At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh

Only desperation could bring Duncan Pennethorne, the infamous Earl of Sheringford, back home after the spectacular scandal that had shocked even the jaded ton. Forced to wed in fifteen days or be cut off without a penny, Duncan chooses the one woman in London in frantic need of a husband. A lie to an old flame forces Margaret Huxtable to accept the irresistible stranger’s offer. But once she discovers who he really is, it’s too late—she’s already betrothed to the wickedly sensual rakehell. Quickly she issues an ultimatum: If Duncan wants her, he must woo her. And as passion slowly ignites, two people marrying for all the wrong reasons are discovering the joys of seduction—and awaiting the exquisite pleasure of what comes after….
I've been following Mary Balogh's latest historical romance series featuring the Huxtables. Her latest entry, At Last Comes Love was released on April 28th and I picked it up on release day. Balogh happens to be a personal favorite -- not so this series. I'm following it and will finish it. It is Balogh after all. But are these books keepers, books that I'll re-read? Not for me, not this time. Why? So far, although I didn't love the first book in the series, First Comes Marriage, I did enjoy it. Not so with the second installment, Then Comes Seduction, where I had some problems connecting with the heroine as well as with the premise.

Throughout At Last Comes Love, I thought this was the best of the three releases in the series. Margaret is my favorite Huxtable sister and from the beginning I thought deserved happiness and true love. Her experiences with Crispin Dew, the man who broke her heart, were severe enough to make Margaret an intriguing heroine--a woman who sacrificed her love for her family and lost--and for the most part, her character lived up to my expectations. She is portrayed as an honest, direct type of woman who doesn't let life beat her. After her initial moment of cowardice, which was motivated by pride, Margaret comes through.

Duncan Pennethorne is not your usual Balogh hero. He is not the man of impeccable honor or even the charming rake that frequent her books. He is a truly ruined man, one who has committed not one, but two unforgivable immoral acts unpardonable in society's eyes. He is an unhappy man who has made tough choices. Those choices have affected him and all those around him and will continue to do so in the future.

Duncan was a perfect match for Margaret. They both worked hard at solving their differences and at learning to trust and love again under very difficult circumstances. Margaret's family, while attempting to be supportive and under the guise of taking care of her and her best interests, came off as patronizing and at times hypocritical and judgmental, in my opinion -- especially after some of their own recent experiences. After trusting Margaret to make decisions for them throughout their lives, they didn't trust her to make decisions for herself. Good thing Margaret had a mind of her own.

Balogh's books are mostly character driven, and she usually manages to weave the plot and the characterization almost seamlessly, it's what I love about them. In At Last Comes Love, I didn't find this to be the case; it almost felt as if I were reading two different stories.

In one, the hero and heroine were in the get to know each other, know thyself phase and Balogh did a gorgeous job of it as always. I loved both characters -- their attempts at honest self-analysis and their slow, meandering journey towards love, Balogh style. Plus, (for me this is a plus) as in many of her books, she explores what seem to be her favorite subjects: what makes a man of honor, a woman of character, and in the end is love fated or is it all a matter of chance?

In the other, there was this whole plot with a secret/mystery and a villain that felt forced and that progressed dramatically towards the end of the book. By the time the climactic scene came along, I couldn't believe that was the end of it -- I kept expecting one more secret to pop out of the bushes. The worst part for me was that at the end everyone went into happy-joy mode and I didn't believe that all those involved could be so accepting of the circumstances, nor did I buy the resolution in this case.

The last quarter of the book featuring a not-so-likable child, a contrived and forced conflict and some very one dimensional villains, made this book a frustrating reading experience for me. After having enjoyed most of the book, I was left less than satisfied at the end.

The next installment in this series, Seducing an Angel, Steven Huxtable's story, releases May 19th. I am looking forward to reading all about cousin Constantine Huxtable; his is the story that intrigues me the most in this series.

Visit Mary Balogh here. Read an excerpt for At Last Comes Love here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile May 17, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Upcoming Reviews at Musings

Mini Reviews: M/M Romance Reading Challenge

Continuing with the M/M Romance Reading Challenge, next week I'll be posting only one M/M review at Musings of a Bibliophile.

Country Boys: Wild Gay Erotica by Richard Labonte deserves to get the spotlight all on its own and it's getting it. Hope you enjoy it, I know I did.

At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh

Also coming soon, I'll be posting a review of At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh.

The third installment in the Huxtable series, this is one that I could not miss. Ms. Balogh is one of my favorite historical romance writers and one whose books I look forward to reading, always. Stop by next week... see you there!

On this week's Reads

I've been skipping around genres lately, it's my belief that it's good for the soul and my personal mental health. So far, this week, I've been lucky, I've read one paranormal / erotica / sci-fi romance, one paranormal romance and a contemporary romance and I've enjoyed them all.

I started the week by reading Guardian: Time Hunters by Angela Knight. This is the second book in the Time Hunter series and I would say better than the first installment. Warlords and Warfems stories that come from the future and can time travel to our present, or to the past. Time Enforcers fighting a secret war against their enemy, the Xerans. 

In the process, while traveling through time, couples meet and fall in lust and in love. In this installment, our hero and heroine are Rianne Arvid and Nick Wyatt. The danger and adventure are suspenseful, the fight scenes are wonderful and so is a mystery that must be solved in the future. But, this is also an erotic book and there are more than a few steamy sex scenes, Angela Knight style. A good time was had by all!

Virginia Kantra's, Sea Witch was a wonderful surprise. I liked the way she used selkies as part of her paranormal world instead of vampires or werewolves, it made for a refreshing change. Caleb, a human, came off as a real hero on this one, and that was also refreshing. It's usually the one with the power that saves the day, and although Maggie, the heroine and a selkie, does use her powers, it's Caleb's courage that won me over. 

But the paranormal aspect of this book, although very interesting and well done, was not my favorite part of this book. No, it was definitely the romance. My impressions of this one? Well done paranormal with the main focus staying on the Romance and the central characters.

Next on my list, I decided to change gears and finally read For the Love of Pete by Julia Harper. Now, this book is supposed to be a Contemporary Romance, but I'm re-categorizing it to: Contemporary Romance Comedy of Errors. I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard, while reading a romance book. I loved the interaction between Dante and Zoey and the tension between them was also wonderful. 

But, the secondary characters in this book deserve a special mention, Pratima Gupta and Savita-di Gupta, a couple of older ladies from India wreak havoc throughout the book -- of course, they don't mean to -- and some of their scenes are unforgettable. Even some of the inept villains in this book, with their clumsy attempts and their skewed points of view are funny in a dark sort of way. A great light read that made the work week a great deal lighter.