Saturday Song & Winner

I just love Theory of a Deadman.  They have some great fun songs as well as some really great slow ballads.  I think that's why I like them so well - they don't just play the same song and change the words. lol  Anyway here's So Happy. The song is about being happy about breaking up with someone.  The video is getting rid of someone another way though.  Enjoy!





And the winner of the 2 copies of Semi-Sweet by Roisin Meaney are:


Mariana & Nath


Congratulations
Please email me at redneyrae AT ca DOT rr DOT com with your snail mail address. 

The Side Effects of Being on a Book Tour & a Giveaway

They say that you teach what you most need to learn. Now before you ask, I don’t know who ‘they’ are. I’ve just heard it said many times over the years. Today, I’m going with what ‘they’ say. And what I need to learn today is how to let go and have fun. My husband, Tim, and I are on tour, both physical and cyber, for our new book, It Happened On Maple Street. The book is our true love story. It’s also a domestic violence recovery story. We’re hoping to reach out to other woman living in the silence that held me hostage for so long – to spread freedom among them.

I’ve never been good at just doing things to do them. I have to have a reason for every thing I do. A purpose. A goal. Comes from my father. I got most of my real education, my loving and giving from my mother, but my father gave me some gold keys. And one of them was this goal and purpose thing. In his book I was allowed to do pretty much anything I wanted to do as long as there was a goal. A purpose. (Of course that goal or purpose had to meet with his approval when I was growing up.)

I’ve also done a lot of studying on goals and motivations. On internal drives and soul searching. On self honesty. I understand that every one of my actions is driven by an internal need. Hunger drives the need to eat. Cold drives the need for shelter. Fatigue drives the need for sleep. Loneliness drives the need to reach out. Children drive the need to mother. The voices in my head drive the need to write. And because I know and believe that everything is driven, I can’t seem to do anything without looking for what’s driving it. I’ve made some key mistakes in my life that brought about heartache beyond my worst imaginings. I cannot afford to make those kinds of mistakes again. I have to understand what drove them. And I have to watch what drives my future actions to make certain that I am not again driven where I do not want to go. I want to make certain that I know what I want and need and that I drive myself there.

Great in theory. Perfect in theory. And right now I need some R&R and I don’t know how to be aimless.

So here’s what I’d teach on the topic:

  1. Find little things that bring about a feeling of fun. Burning a candle all day long because I like the scent without worrying about wasting the candle. Or even paying attention to it burning away. Indulge in the decadence of some M&M’s during the day for once. Take a hot bath when you don’t need one, or when it’s not the end of the day and you have to relax before bed.
  2. Climb a tree. This one stands alone because there’s very little productive value in it. Climbing a tree used to have purpose, when you had to watch out or the enemy, or look for your cattle, or pick fruit. But in today’s world we use technology to protect ourselves against our enemies; I have no idea what they do with cattle but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t often involve climbing trees because I don’t ever hear of cowboys in trees; and we have long armed tools with cups on the end that pick fruit just fine. Which means that the only reason left to climb a tree is just to do it. Last year, while Tim was working in the garage on a one-man project, I climbed the tree at the side of our driveway. I went all the way to the top. I felt stupid. And I laughed out loud up there, too.
  3. Go with what feels good, not with what sounds good. Let your feeling choose your activity, not your mind. All of us still have the child once were inside of us. Let that child out. Let her play. No judgment. If she wants to sit on the ground and put her fingers in mud, then let her do it for a bit. (I wouldn’t make a daily habit of this, but then if it were a daily habit, it would become a goal with the purpose of letting your inner child out.)
  4. Lay on the ground with arms and legs spread, angel fashion, look at the sky, and wait. The idea is to free yourself from everything in your life that calls to you. You aren’t even holding your own weight. You’ve given it to the ground, to the earth. And the sky you’re gazing at has no limits.
  5. Make silly noises. (I’ve actually done this and it works. Of course, I have only my dogs as evidence of that fact.)
  6. Make of ‘to don’t’ list. For whatever time you’ve allotted for aimless fun, instead of a ‘to do’ list, make a ‘to don’t’ list. Put on it all of the things you can’t do because they have goal or purpose. The idea is to allow free thought to guide you to a more free place, to some space where you’ve turned everything over to the waiting room. It will all be there waiting when you get back from aimlessness.
  7. Tease the voices in your head. It’s harder for someone to discipline you if you’re teasing them. Teasing helps people lighten up. This works for the voices too. (At least in theory.)
  8. Turn the music up loud and dance. Make your whole body move in non-choreographed motion. Not only is this freeing, it engages your right brain enough that your left brain (the thinking part of your brain) has to take a back seat.
  9. Color. Either in a coloring book, or on a blank sheet of paper. The idea is simply to choose the colors. See the colors. Make the colors appear, not to create acceptable beauty. It can be a form of free expression.
  10. If all else fails, get a bottle of your favorite wine, pour a glass, and drink.

This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list. Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

Next tour stop, Monday, May 2, Home Based Business Moms: http://homebasedbusinessmom.com/

To get your copy of It Happened On Maple Street, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com.

Don’t miss The Chapman Files! Still available at: Amazon

It Happened On Maple Street is soon to be available on Kindle and Nook, too!

Tracy here:  I have 1 copy of It Happened on Maple Street to giveaway to one lucky commenter!  Comment on this post with your email address sometime between now and Friday, May 6 @7:00pm (pacific) to enter.  Good luck!


Review: The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason

Dimitri, also known as the Earl of Corvindale, should be delighted that the headstrong Maia Woodmore is getting married. His mortal ward and houseguest has annoyed—and bewitched—the Dracule nobleman too long, and denying his animal cravings grows more excruciating by the day.

Miss Woodmore's family has a rather…complicated history with the immortals and she herself possesses a keen sensibility far beyond mere women's intuition. Marriage will give her safety, respectability and everything else a proper young lady could wish for. Everything, that is, except passion.

In the looming battle between Dracule factions, all pretenses will shatter as Maia and Dimitri come together in an unholy union of danger, desperation and fiercest desire.

In this book we meet Dimitri again who we met in book one. He is a member of the Draculia – a vampire – and also an peer of the realm. In book 1 Corvindale became ward of three women who were in danger from another vampire. He was at odds with them – especially the oldest, Maia Woodmore but it doesn’t stop him from finding her fascinating. He wants to be in control, he wants her to stop talking, and to stop going into his inner sanctum and organizing stuff – he just wants to be left alone! But yet he finds himself going to a masked ball and there he ends up kissing Maia under the guise of the Knave of Diamonds.

When Maia finds out that Dimitri is the Knave of Diamonds…and she has since found out that Corvindale is a vampire she’s at first horrified that she kissed a vampire! But then she wonders if the kiss was just so memorable because it was done in secret, not knowing who the other person was, or was it wonderful because it was just wonderful? Dimitri is more than up for testing things out and it ends up being hot. lol Yes, the stubbornness of the h/h was a bit much at times but Dimitri hated himself so much for being who he was it was hard to not to like the man for insisting that Maia stay away from him.

But Corvindale is so focused on becoming human again and getting away from Lucifer (especially since it’s been done before) that he can’t focus on Maia and what’s between them. But what if what’s between them, in the end, is the answer to all of his research?

I have to say that I definitely liked book 2 better than I did book 1 in this series. I liked Corvindale so much more than Voss and that made a huge difference for me. I was actually invested in the romance and that helped a whole lot. That being said there was a problem I had with the book and that was the almost redundant first part of it. It was a simultaneous telling of some of the same events in book 1 – they were just happening off page in book 1. We get things from Dimitri and Maia’s points of view. While this was interesting I really felt like I was reading a chunk of book one over again and I didn’t care for that at all. Once we get past the part that was simultaneous and just focused on the current romance I really liked the book so much more.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Happy Monday!

I hope that you all had a great weekend and a wonderful Easter – if you celebrate it. We do and we went to a lovely service followed by an egg hunt. Unfortunately it was lightly raining off and on so they had to have the egg hunt indoors but it was still fun. :)
You can hear her thoughts by the look on her face...really, mom? You HAVE to take a picture?

Such a ham!

Today I will start an exercise program. Yes, I’ve said this a couple of times in the past few years and have fallen down on the job each time. So what made me make the decision to start and stick to it this time? A mirror. lol The story: my sister was so nice and bought my girls dresses for Easter and had them sent. On Friday I got the package and when I opened it I realized that she had also sent a dress for me. She’s so sweet! I went to try it on and….it was too small. So I went to the store to exchange it and was trying on several different dresses. Besides the fact that one size was too small and the next looked like a big sack on me, there were strategically placed mirrors in the fitting rooms so that you could easily see the back and the front of yourself at the same time. Confession: I don’t look at the back of myself – ever. There’s just nothin’ back there I care to look at, thank you very much. I couldn’t help but look though and while I was changing I caught a glimpse of myself and let’s just say I didn’t like what I saw. So – today I start back to eating healthy and I’m also going to begin an exercise program that I have called Slim in 6. I’ve tried this program before and it’s not worked. Ok, it’s never worked. Not that the program itself doesn’t work (I wouldn’t know since I’ve never gotten through the entire thing…or even close to it) but it goes something like this. The program contains 3 dvd’s which you’re supposed to do every day, 6 days a week. The program consists of doing the beginning dvd for a week or 2…dvd 2 for about a week or so and then dvd 3 for the remainder of the 6 weeks. In the past I have done 1 day of the 1st dvd and not gotten any further because I’ve not been able to walk or move for about a week afterwards! lol I shit you not. Even though it’s the beginners dvd it’s a lot of work and I’m really out of shape! So…I’m attempting to do the Slim in 6 but it will probably be more like Slim in Six…teen hundred. I’m going to power through and see what I can do because I really need to get fit. I’m not in a hurry but I need to do something. I’ll keep you updated.

So let’s get back to books...what did I read this past week?

I started the week with a Tracy’s TBR Challenge read called Fantasies: New Year’s Eve by Cassandra Gold. This was the story of Eric who is the manager of a resort in Hawaii. He’s trying to recover from the pain of finding out that his lover was married and has decided that he will never again date one of the customers of the resort. That’s until Dexter shows up. Dex wants Eric almost immediately but Eric is determined to stay away. This was a pretty short book and things happened pretty darned quickly – which I expect in such a short format but it still didn’t set well with me. Eric seemed so extremely immature and I almost felt like I was reading about a high schooler rather than someone in his 20’s. Then there was the Big Mis that didn’t work for me and overall it was just ok. 2 out of 5

Another Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Kissing Orion by Amber Kell. This was another short that had a cop, Aaron, who is trying to investigate a drug issue in the area and goes to a club to see its vampire owner, Orion. Orion knows immediately that Aaron is his mate. He’s extremely possessive – to the extreme imho – and very demanding of Aaron’s time. The investigation continues but it comes to a highly unsatisfying conclusion that really sets us up for the next book. IDK, it just wasn’t working for me on the whole. 2 out of 5
Speaking of Amber Kell - Kris has an interesting post up about guilty pleasures.  Check it out.

My next read was for my monthly TBR Challenge and that book was A Texan’s Lucky by Jodi Thomas. This was a great western historical. I really love Thomas’s writing and this was no different - she really knows how to pull the whole cast together in her books. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5

Next up was Darkfire Kiss by Deborah Cooke. This was one I read for The Book Binge. Rafferty’s story was a little different from the others as his firestorm (mating) consisted of darkfire and it really was wreaking havoc on the Pyr in general. A really great book that takes us in a whole new direction for the dragon shifters. 4.25 out of 5 I’ll let you know when my review posts.

Next up was Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes by Roisin Meaney. This was the story of several different couples and people who live and/or visit the small town of Clongarvin, Ireland. Hannah and her friend Adam are really the main characters but we get into the lives of everyone and how everybody’s story intersects. You can read my review here. I’m also giving away 2 copies so be sure and leave a comment on that post if you’re interested (you have until Friday the 26th at 7pm pacific). 3.25 out of 5

Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg was the YA coming out story of star quarterback Bobby Framingham. His team is ready for the playoffs and he’s getting scouted by colleges but his life is in turmoil. He finally comes out to his best friend about the fact that he’s gay and instead of keeping his word and keeping quiet the friend tells two other friends. Not only that but someone Bobby trusts to keep his secret ends up writing a newspaper article about Bobby being gay and the cat is out of the bag. Bobby has some hard times but he has the support of his family and most of his friends. It was a good book that I very much enjoyed. 4 out of 5

Last for the week was The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason. This is book 2 in the Regency Draculia story and as you can guess, it was Dimitri’s story. He, though he will deny it for what seems forever, has got a thing for his ward, Maia. They are both stubborn and argumentative but they have a very strong attraction to the other. I’ll be reviewing this one this week so I’ll write more about the book then. :)

My Book Binge reviews that posted this past week:

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Today's song is Reason by Hoobastank.  I really love their music and this one just gets to me every time.  The vid itself is pretty clever - definitely different from the norm! lol  Enjoy!



Winners!

The winners of the 3 copies of Inseparable by Brenda Jackson are:


Lisa R/alterlisa
yours truly
Barbara


The winners of the 3 $10.00 gift certificates from All Romance eBooks are:


Jason
Nath
Wendy


Congratulations to all of you!

Review & Giveaway: Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes

Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when out of the blue her boyfriend Patrick announces that he's leaving her for another woman.

Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare. So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline - seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in her new business, she soon discovers that she's too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend ...or to notice an increasingly regular customer who has recently developed a sweet tooth for all things cupcake.

But while Hannah is slowly piecing her life back together, family friend Alice's is falling apart. Her husband Tom's drinking is getting out of control and things are about to get a whole lot worse. As the seven-month milestone approaches, Hannah must decide her future. And while she's figuring out what's really important, it becomes clear to everyone that happiness in life, and in love, is all in the making.

On the surface this book looks like the story of Hannah and her dealing with the opening of her cupcake shop along with her coping with the desertion of her boyfriend...with maybe a few other issues thrown into the mix. But what this book really is about is the life and times of an entire town and the few months we get a peak into it. Yes, all of the stories intersect in some way and the main characters really are Hannah and her best friend, Adam, but the story couldn’t have been written without all of the secondary characters.

You see Hannah’s boyfriend leaves her on a night when she should be celebrating the eminent opening of her cupcake shop. But Patrick, who we eventually find out is a right bastard and thinks only of himself and his own pleasures, breaks the news to her while she is getting ready for her party. Hannah is devastated as she didn’t have a clue that there were any issues in the relationship at all. She manages to get herself together and not only make it through dinner but also bucks up and gets her cupcake shop open and off the ground.

And here’s where we move into the other characters in the book:

Patrick moves in with Leah who he’s been having an affair with and who is now pregnant with his child. Leah’s mother, Fiona, isn’t happy about the arrangement at all and is quite vocal about her displeasure.

Then there is Geraldine and Stephen, Hannah’s parents, who just want the best for their daughter.

Geraldine works at the Glass Slipper with her friend and boss, Alice, who is married to Tom who has taken up drinking as a pastime. Alice and Tom’s life starts to unravel after a horrible tragedy that is heart wrenching in its sadness.

Nora is Adam’s sister that returns to Clongarvin after her second marriage ends. She’s snobby and thinks herself too good for the small town. She’s out for some fun and she doesn’t care who she hurts to get it.

John is a carpenter who is in town to try and start his carpentry business after a break up with his wife in Scotland.

Wally and Vivienne are siblings who play in a band at the new wine bar. Wally’s got a crush on Hannah, and Hannah’s best friend, Adam, has a crush on Vivienne.

It sounds so complicated but as you get into the story everything falls into place as to who’s who.

The writing in the book is quite captivating and I found myself interested in what would happen next. The characters were very engaging – whether I liked them or not – and some were quite witty and had me laughing.

My overall thoughts - Definitely a good book but one that’s touted as a romance, and while there is some romance involved, to me it read more like a women’s fiction novel. That’s not a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I was expecting when I picked up the book.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

I have received 2 copies of Semi-Sweet for giveaway – lucky you! :)  To enter the giveaway go ahead and leave a comment on this post no later than 7:00pm (pacific) on 4/29/11. (Intl. entrants ok)

TBR Challenge Review: A Texan's Luck by Jodi Thomas

Captain Walker Larson received the shock of his life when a beautiful stranger boldly walked into his office - - claiming to be his wife. His father may have bought Lacy Larson for him in a wife lottery, but Walker had no desire for a bride - - even one as tempting as the one standing before him. So he promptly sent Lacy back to Cedar Point.

Nearly three years later, Lacy is shocked when Walker shows up on her doorstep - - ordered by the military to protect his wife from a killer. Lacy wants nothing to do with the gruff soldier who once drove her away.

But despite their different lifestyles and expectations, she finds herself wondering if their marriage was a far better gamble than either of them had imagined . . . and what it it would feel like to be in his arms . . .

Lacy is only 18 years old when she heads to Cottonwood, Texas to finally meet the husband that she'd been married to for 3 years.  You see Walker's father had bought Lacy in a wife lottery and married her by proxy to his son.  Lacy had dreamed of meeting Walker for so long and had woven a fantasy of their reunion in her head over the years. When she finally meets Walker he is nothing like she imagined.  He's cold, hard and seemingly unemotional.  But Lacy for some reason has her mind set that no matter what she will be Captain Larson's wife in more than name only and she's not leaving his sight until that happens.

Walker knew about the wife that his father had married to him by proxy but he had absolutely no intention of ever meeting the woman much less actually becoming a real husband to her.  When Lacy shows up he's taken with her looks but he wants to get rid of her quickly for a multitude of reasons - the major one being the evacuation of Cottonwood in preparation for a range war.  When Lacy insists on consummating their marriage Walker thinks that she's bluffing and won't go through with it.  Well the consummation takes place and while it's traumatic for Lacy it's an event that Walker is completely moved by and can't forget.

Three years later and Lacy is running the print shop that Walker's father used to run.  Zeb Whitaker is being released from prison and word has it that he's coming after Lacy and her two friends - the ones that put him in  jail 3 years prior.  Walker is notified of the trouble and he returns to Lacy to protect her.  Lacy is not thrilled with having Walker around and can't wait for the time to come when he can leave again.  Walker, at first, feels the same, but as time passes he realizes that there's more to Lacy than just a stubborn demeanor.

This is book 3 in the Wife Lottery series and though I didn't read the first two books I didn't feel like I was missing anything. Yes,  I did wonder about Lacy's friends whose romances were in those books but it was more curiosity than the need because I didn't have a clue what was happening. 

So Walker - we don't really find out why he's so tough and unemotional until nearer the end of the book but despite his fight to stay that way Lacy really thawed the guy out.  They fought horribly at first but eventually needed each other enough to calm down and really see the other person.  Kissing had a lot to do with the defrosting, I think. lol

For Lacy's part she was one independent woman and had her life planned at the ripe old age of 20.  She was practically starving to death but she was too stubborn to ask for assistance.  She really was amazing for one so young but I guess life back then was tough in ways I can't imagine so she'd pretty much have to be to survive.

The romance was different in this one than what I'm used to reading but it was no less potent.  As I said I think they started thawing towards each other because of kissing and sex but really what this did was allow them to actually take the time to see the other person.  They'd softened towards each other enough to have sex and in that warm afterglow they could look at the person and see not only their temper and/or stubbornness but their good qualities as well.

Jodi Thomas always brings her great writing skills and that's no different in this book.  She also gave us the wonderful sense of friendship and family (even though the family wasn't blood) that we've come to expect from her.  She really does it well and I love reading about the secondary relationships and friends that the characters have.

Overall a really good book.  I have the next book in the series and hopefully will be able to get that one soon. I'm looking forward to it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Hi there,

It’s a busy week at work for me this week but hopefully when I get home each night, after the kiddles are in bed, I’ll be able to get some good reading time in. Either that or I’m gonna fall flat on my face from exhaustion – I guess we’ll see! lol  I do get Friday off so it's only a 4 day work week - woohoo!

It was partly a lazy weekend for me and partly a cleaning weekend. I think I should have cleaned til I dropped on Saturday and relaxed on Sunday but I did the opposite. My youngest daughter has a bed that can be raised or lowered and we’ve had it in the lowered position since she got out of her crib. Now that she’s 8 I figured it was about time to raise it. I had no idea how much work I was getting myself into taking that damned bed apart and putting it back together. Damn that was hard! lol And when I took the bed apart I discovered all the toys and books that had mysteriously made their way under the bed all these years. She has no idea how that happened. Hmmm, I wonder! :) Anyway, her room looks great because I couldn’t just stop with the bed but had to go through everything and pack up and donate all of those toys she doesn’t play with any longer. I have no clue how she fit all that crap in her room because it’s really pretty small.lol

Don’t forget to sign up for my Blogiversary giveaway – you have until Friday, the 22nd at 7pm (pacific)

Also, if you like Brenda Jackson I’m giving away 3 copies of her upcoming release, Inseparable. You have until Friday the 22nd at 7pm (pacific) to enter.

My first read for the week was a historical western by Beth Williamson called The Education of Madeline. I read this one for my TBR challenge review which I was a week early in posting! Oops. But it was a really great book and I’m glad I read it. I’m currently waiting for my copy of the next in that series to arrive so that I can dig into it. I don’t read many historical westerns but this one was really great. This was about a "spinster" woman (age 32) who wanted a man to teach her about sex but there was so much more going on in the story. You can read my review here if you’d like. 4 out of 5 (This one also qualifies as a Tracy’s TBR challenge read since I’ve had it so long.)

Next was A Marriage of Inconvenience by Susanna Fraser. This was kind of a love quadrangle. Lucy gets engaged to her cousin Sebastian but when they head to Sebastian’s sisters wedding they meet James and Anna (siblings) who are the neighbors. James and Lucy hit it off as do Sebastian and Anna. What will Sebastian do about his secret engagement to Lucy when he really wants Anna? A really good story that had me wanting more. This was the story of all 4 characters but we find out more about Anna and Sebastian in another book that was written prior to this one. This go up on The Book Binge so I’ll let you know when the review posts. 4 out of 5

Next up was another book for The Book Binge – Navarro’s Promise by Lora Leigh. Book 24 in the series and I thought I’d read everything about the Breeds but Lora Leigh managed to find another way to have the mates mating…or not. It was a pretty good story but I had some issues with the editing as well as the love aspect of it that I felt was a bit lacking, imho. You can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5

Written in Stone by Viviane Brentanos was yet another book I read for The Book Binge (yes I was trying to catch up!). I liked the writing of this story and it was definitely emotional and at times heart wrenching but there was a certain aspect of the book that I just couldn’t fully believe and it really bothered me at the end of the book. A man who feels that his soul mate – this woman he comes upon by chance in a park and they spend time together as just friends – but he’s “on a break” from his partner. You see he’s gay but yet he’s fallen in love with the woman, but he still loves his partner. Can he be happy with a woman for the rest of his live or does he stay with his partner? This was definitely a book that got me thinking. I’ll let you know when my review posts so you can read more. This one had a split rating. Writing: 4.25 out of 5 and the HEA (or not) 3 out of 5

I picked up Victoria’s Got a Secret by HelenKay Dimon while at RT. I like HK’s books and liked the True Vows series that I read last year so I thought I’d give this a shot. I’m so glad I did. This is definitely my favorite of the True Vows series that I’ve read. The story was about Jennifer and Paul who met when they were in square dancing in PE when they were 15 and started going steady. They stayed together for years breaking up and getting back together. This continued until one day they split for what they thought was for good. The story tells about their lives and the issues they had but they never forgot the other. I did wonder about Jennifer's decisions more than once but hey - you can't change real life like you do fiction! lol The thing I think I liked most about this book was the writing. In the other books I got more of a feeling that I was just having a story re-told to me but this felt more like a romance novel and I didn’t get the squicky voyeuristic feeling I got with the other books. 4.25 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Regina in the Sun by RG Alexander. This is the story of Regina who is an Unborn (a vampire who was “made”) who heads to a Sanctuary to try and get help for her “family” which is a group of Unborns. She meets her mate, Zander who is a Trueblood (born vamp), at the Sanctuary and their bond is formed almost immediately with the saving of the family taking place in the second part of the book. Because the mating takes place so quickly I found myself not particularly caring about either character and finding out if I thought their mating was a good thing or not. The sex scenes were smoking but in the end the book was just ok for me. 2 out of 5

My last read for the week was Unveiled by Courtney Milan. I talked to Miss Milan at RT and told her that I had bought the book but hadn’t read it yet and she was all that was kind and signed a book plate for me. I wish now that I had read Unveiled prior to meeting her so that I could have gushed about how much I loved the book. Ok, maybe it’s a good thing that I hadn’t read the book yet so I didn’t make a complete fool of myself. The story is about a self-made man, Ash, who is determined to make his brothers’ lives the best they can be. He is trying to take a dukedom from his distant cousin by proving bigamy and ends up falling in love with the daughter of the current duke. This is a really great book. I absolutely loved Ash and wanted to read more about him, even at the end of the book. His love, Margaret, had her moments when I wanted her to act differently but for the most part she was pretty great too and I loved them together. Just a fabulous read. 5 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted this past week:

Happy Reading!

Tracy's Place Turns 3!


That's right! Today is the 3rd anniversary of Tracy's Place and I can't believe it's been that long since I started blogging!

I originally started the blog after a few people told me I should (nag, nag! lol) and I joined the TBR Challenge 2008 and posted my first review. It's all been great since then!

I've met some wonderful friends online and I've even been blessed to meet quite a few of them - which is just the coolest - whether they're bloggers or authors. Just know I love you all and am so happy you come to visit me!

In honor of my 3rd blogiversary I'm going to give away 3 $10.00 gift cards to All Romance eBooks to 3 lucky winners. Leave a comment sometime before Friday, April 22nd at 7:00pm to enter.

Since it's Saturday I'll go ahead and post the Saturday Song. Colbie Caillat singing I Think I'm Falling For You which is just a song that I could listen to over and over (thank heavens for my family I don't!). Enjoy!

A New Release by Brenda Jackson and a Giveaway!

BRENDA JACKSON
INSEPARABLE
A MADARIS FAMILY NOVEL


In INSEPARABLE (Kimani Press Arabesque; May 2011; price $6.99 U.S./$7.99 Canada), the seventeenth installment in her New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling series of novels featuring the Madaris Family, Brenda Jackson turns her attentions to Reese Madaris. Now that Reese’s player cousin, Blade, is married and out of commission, the younger member of the accomplished African-American clan of notoriously charming men finds himself branded the most eligible bachelor in Houston. But despite the lure of easy sexual conquest, Reese begins to realize that his heart might belong to one particular woman—a woman who has been a central part of his life for a very long time.

Reese has been best friends with LaKenna James—called Kenna—since college, and the pair has long fielded questions from the extended Madaris family and close friends about the true nature of their relationship. “We’re just friends,” the two have always answered in unison. Now Kenna is moving from Austin to Houston to take a great job as a sketch artist for the Houston Police Department, and her townhouse is not yet finished. Reese offers her a place to stay in the interim, a living arrangement that raises more than a few eyebrows. Both unattached after getting out of failed relationships, Reese and Kenna suddenly find themselves harboring secret passions for the other. Yet, despite years of emotional intimacy—or perhaps, because of it—these two strong-willed achievers fight the urge to become lovers.

Meanwhile, Kenna begins working with the police just as a serial killer has unleashed his terror upon the city. Dubbed the “Shoe Killer,” because after brutally torturing, raping and killing his victims, he steals one of their shoes, this madman is on the loose, and in her professional capacity, Kenna comes face to face with the aftermath of his crimes. But what she cannot suspect is that she might actually know the killer—and that she could be his next quarry.

A potent blend of hot romance and absorbing suspense, INSEPARABLE is another sizzling chapter in the bestselling series “that fans will never tire of” (RT Book Reviews).

About the Author
Brenda Jackson has been a trailblazer in African-American romance as the first African-American romance writer to make USA TODAY’s and the New York Times’ bestseller lists for the series romance genre. The author of more than eighty books, she is the recipient of countless awards, including numerous Romance in Color Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Emma Awards, and eHarlequin Reader’s Choice Awards. She has lived her entire life in Jacksonville, Florida, and has been married to her childhood sweetheart, Gerald, for thirty-nine years. Visit her at www.brendajackson.net.

About Kimani Press
Kimani Press is an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Kimani Press publishes women’s African-American fiction and non-fiction under the Arabesque, Sepia, New Spirit, Kimani Romance and Kimani Tru banners. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is the global leader in series romance and one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction, with titles issued worldwide in 28 languages and sold in 114 international markets. The company produces 110 titles monthly and publishes more than 1,100 authors from around the world. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin’s Web site is located at www.Harlequin.com. Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including offices in Toronto, New York and London. For more information please visit www.Harlequin.com or press.Harlequin.com.

INSEPARABLE
On-sale April 26, 2011, Mass Market Paperback
By Brenda Jackson
ISBN: 978-0-373-53443-2; Price: $6.99 US

Giveaway:  I have 3 copies of Inseparable to giveaway.  Leave a comment along with your email address in the comment section of this post by 7:00pm (pacific) Friday, April 22nd to enter to win.  

Because these books will be shipped straight to you from the promotion group/publisher they request that I limit the entrants to US and Canadian residents, sorry! (Oh, and no p.o. boxes.)

Review: The Education of Madeline by Beth Williamson

Plum Creek, Colorado 1872
 
The Right Man Comes Along 

Madeline Brewster practically owns Plum Creek, Colorado. But at thirty-two, she knows she has missed any chance for happiness. Until she finds a tall, strong, handsome Irishman on the wrong end of the hangman’s noose. Suddenly this unconventional woman comes up with an outrageous idea . . .

Teague O’Neal has rugged cheekbones, tousled black curls, and eyes as blue as the sky, even if he is caked in Colorado mud. The men insist they caught him horse-thieving, and there’s something desperate about him that says he’d do anything for a buck.

Maybe it was pure chance, or maybe it was something more that brought Madeline and Teague together. But one thing’s clear, between a woman who has just about everything she could ever want, and a man who’s lost that and more, they might find something in between worth living for.

Madeline hears about a man being hanged and she doesn’t want the opportunity to see the horse thief in person to pass her by. She immediately heads over to where the man is about to hang and talks both the sheriff and the judge into letting him live temporarily since there’s no definitive evidence to say that he indeed stole the horse. She offers to be in charge of him for 1 month until the owner of the horse can return from a trip he’s on.

But Madeline wants more than a ranch hand. She wants a man to teach her the ways of sex and the huge Irishman is just the guy to do it. Once Teague O’Neal cleans up he’s a good looking man who makes even 6 foot Madeline felt petite. She proposes to Teague that he teach her lessons in “love” and that she will pay him. He’ll do almost anything for a buck but sex? That might be pushing it. That just makes him feel like a whore. The problem is that almost instantly Teague and Madeline feel a connection, a sexual tension between them and they can’t seem to keep their hands off of each other.

But there’s more to Teague than meets the eye. He’s connected to the sheriff as more than just a horse thief and he’s on Madeline’s ranch for more than work. Some of the people of Plum Creek have it in for Madeline and they’re determined to bring her down. When Madeline finds out what’s happening she’s just as determined to not only defend herself but to bring the evil-doers of Plum Creek down instead.

I’ve had this book, as well as others by Ms. Williamson, for quite a while. Why haven’t I read them? I don’t know! lol Western historicals aren’t really my go-to genre but after reading this one I will definitely be reading more from her soon! (I also got my days mixed up and thought today was "post your TBR Challenge review" day. *pssst* that's not til next week.)

I really liked this story a lot. I love that Madeline was strong enough to stand up for herself and go after what she wanted. She was truly a great character and I loved seeing that – especially because of the time period the book was set in. Then Teague – wow. He was just…lickable. lol He was drawn as this huge man but he really had a good heart under all of that muscle and I very much liked who he was. He had been through some really hard times and had punished himself for deeds that were out of his control for so long it was nice to see him finding a place that he felt comfortable and beating some of his personal demons back.

The “Education” part of the title of this book was muy caliente, let me tell you. Teague gave Madeline lessons about intimacy, sensuality and sex that were smoking hot. I really appreciated that fact that these lessons were interspersed in the story so that they fit so well with Madeline, Teague and everything else that was going on. I didn’t feel like any of the sex scenes were gratuitous.

Overall a really great historical western romance story. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series soon and of course all those other ones I have as well.

Rating: 4 out of 5

What I Read Last Week and RT 2011 Fun

Happy Monday!

I have a lot to tell you this week – aren’t you happy? lol The excitement started Wednesday when I got an email from Malle Vallik who is the Digital Director for Harlequin. She stated that along with Angela James, Executive Editor for Carina Press, they were having a dinner that night to meet with bloggers and get to know them a bit. Holly from Book Binge couldn’t attend but was nice enough to forward some other bloggers emails to her and mine was one of them – woohoo! I ended up at the dinner (at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse which was excellent) with Malle, Angela, Lori, Renee (So Cal Bloggers), Katie (young librarian on twitter), Amber (Buried by Books blog), Sarah (Smart Bitches), Mallory (an editor for Carina) and Barbara Vey from Publishers Weekly. We had a great discussion about Goodreads and just talked about books for hours – so much fun.
From left to right: Renee, Sarah, Katie, Malle, Angela, Me, Lori, Mallory, Amber

On Friday I drove back down to LA and shacked up with Holly, Lori & Nikki for the weekend. We attended the Ebook/Graphic Fiction expo that day where I got to meet ZA Maxfield again, Belinda McBride, Mari Freeman, Mari Carr, Vivian Arend, James Buchanan, Angela Knight and many more. It was great meeting all of these wonderful authors. And of course I got to see my friends LB Gregg & Rosie after not having seen her for a year and that was a huge highlight. :) That evening after dinner at LA's famous Pantry we hung out in the lobby bar and talked to authors Beth Kery & Julie James who are just nice, nice, nice women. (I was doing my inner fan-girl squee and trying to act calm. lol) We were joined later by Lorelei James, Angela James and Jane from Dear Author which was very cool as well. I think others joined later but sadly after 2 margaritas my brain didn’t latch on to much. lol
Me, Julie James & Jane from Dear Author

On Saturday we attended the Giant Book Fair and it was incredibly fun. I got to meet and see so many wonderful authors – Shana Abe, Ann Aguirre (who I'm pretty sure managed to talk me into reading the Sirantha Jax series even though I'm not a sci-fi fan), Tessa Dare, Lydia Dare, Joanna Bourne, Elizabeth Hoyt, GA Aiken/Shelly Laurenston, KB Alan, Jennifer Ashley, Tara Taylor Quinn, Lorelei James, Victoria Dahl, Heather Davis, Ashleigh Raine, Jennifer Haymore, Jill Sorenson (who actually knew me by sight – how cool is that?*waves*), Delilah Devlin, HelenKay Dimon, Lila DiPasqua, Megan Hart, Courtney Milan, Kate Noble, Jeri Smith-Ready, Mary Wine, Veronica Wolff. I think I might have missed some in there but it was all a bit overwhelming but fabulous. I did miss Lynsay Sands, Shelly Bradley/Shayla Black who I had on my list but somehow missed them. I suck. lol

On Saturday we had a So Cal Blogger/Author get together in the lobby bar and invited anyone and everyone to attend or stop by and say hi. We were joined throughout the night by Zoe Archer, Sabrina Darby, Eden Bradley, Nico Rosso, Jill from Romance Rookie, Holly, Lori, Renee, Rosie, Rowena, Beth Williamson, Lorelei James, Vivianne Westlake, LB Gregg, James Buchanan, Rhiann Cahill, RG Alexander, Stephanie Dray & Susanna Kearsley, Colleen Gleason, Lisa Hendrix. Did I miss anyone? Sorry if I did. 

KB Alan, Vivianne Westlake, Lisa Hendrix

Zoe Archer, Renee & Lisa Hendrix

Amber, Nikki, Holly, Renee, Sabrina Darby in the back there with Stephanie Dray next to her.  James Buchanan has her back to us with the lovely black and white jacket...and I can't tell who the others are.  Anyone?

Lorelei James, Beth Williamson, the back of LB Gregg and the side of Colleen Gleason

Lori & Rosie & the back of Rowena on the right

Holly
Holly looking adorable & Me (I apparently have really squinty eyes and 1 wandering eye.  Who knew?)

We headed up to the Carina Press party for a bit where I met some other great authors, Caridad Pineiro, Dee Tenorio & Hunter Raines among others. And Carina gave away an IPAD2 and a Nook Color – neither of which I won – bummer. 
Nikki and others at the Carina Press party

I gotta tell you that I haven’t had that much fun in a long damned time. Every single author that I met was just as nice as could be and was more than willing to stand or sit and talk about books as well as a myriad of other subjects. I’m so glad I went!

My co-worker just handed me this comic that he cut out of the paper so I thought I’d share. Funny.
Click on picture to enlarge

Ok – what did I read this week?

I started off the week with Dead on Delivery by Eileen Rendahl. This is book 2 in the Messenger series and it was a good one. I didn’t like it quite as much as the first because I think there was less action and because our heroine, Melina, was a bit stressed throughout the book. She had every right to be but her stress kind of fed through the book. If interested you can read my review here on The Book Binge. 3.5 out of 5

My next read was Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. I am now firmly a fan girl of Steve Kluger. I read Almost Like Being in Love and it became one of my favorite m/m books. I ordered LDoS from the library and dug in and it was so. damned. good. It’s not a romance but a story told in epistolary style about a 12 year old boy, Joey, back in 1936-1942 who needs a father figure in his life since his father re-married and wants nothing to do with him. He latches on to the 3rd baseman for the NY Giants, Charlie, and starts writing him letters. Charlie doesn’t want to be latched on to but eventually the two become friends. The story follows their friendship and how Charlie changed Joey’s life but Joey had such an affect on Joey’s as well. It was hilarious and heart-wrenching and just an absolutely fabulous read. 5 out of 5

Next up was Secrets of a Proper Countess by Lecia Cornwall - another book I read for The Book Binge. This was the story of Isobel who is at a masked ball and can’t keep her eyes off of the Marquess of Blackwood. The Marquess approaches her and they end up having more than a little fun in the garden. He wants to know who she is but she has to have a squeaky clean reputation because if she doesn’t her son will be taken away from her. This was a romance/spy for the crown/evil in-law story and on some levels it worked for me and others not so much. I’ll let you know when my review posts on TBB and you can read more of what I thought. 3.75 out of 5

Last for the week was The Good Thief by James Buchanan. This was a great story about Caesar who is a thief who cases and breaks into houses for a living and Nate who is a beat cop. They meet at a party and end up going home together and really love being together but the next day Nate’s a bit of an ass and then Caesar finds out he’s a cop and decides not to leave his number. When Caesar breaks into a house and finds some horrible pictures involving kids he takes them to Nate and an investigation begins that puts Nate and Caesar firmly together. They finally realize that they’re falling for each other but how can a cop and a thief live happily ever after. I really liked this book. Buchanan really knows how to suck me into the book and keep me there with the relationship. She really knows how to balance the romance with the sex and the other parts of the story and I really enjoy that about her books. Good stuff. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted this past week:

That’s it for me. I’ll leave you with a picture of a place I saw when Lori was driving me to the train station. Do I really want those two things at the same time? I don’t think so.

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Here's Crossfade singing Cold.  I'm not a huge fan of the video but I like the music. :)  Enjoy!

Claimed by Evangeline Anderson

Olivia Waterhouse has just graduated from nursing school and has her whole life ahead of her-until she gets drafted. Problem is, she isn't being forced into the Army, she's been chosen as a Kindred bride.

The Kindred are huge alien warriors-a race of genetic traders whose population is ninety-five percent male. After saving Earth from the threat of invasion they demand a reward-the right to find brides among the population. The chances of being chosen are about the same as those of winning the lottery-guess it's just Liv's lucky day.

Baird is a Beast Kindred who recently escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the malevolent Scourge. Through the torment and pain only one thing kept him sane-the thought of finding and claiming his bride-Olivia. His need to possess her is a burning intensity that threatens to consume them both.

Angry at having her future and her family taken away from her, Liv vows to fight back the only way she can-by resisting. She has one month on the Kindred Mothership with Baird-their claiming period. If she can keep from having bonding sex with him during that time, she can go home and get on with her life on Earth.

But Baird isn't going to make it easy for her. Every week he is allowed to touch Liv more and more intimately and according to the contract she signed, she has to let him. She's determined to resist him but his touch sets her on fire. And just as she thinks she knows what she wants, a twist of fate and an attack by the faceless Scourge AllFather changes everything...


I really liked this story but I did have some issues with it.

What I liked:
1. I liked Baird first and foremost. He really made the whole story for me – if he hadn’t been the kind, patient and loyal man he was I probably wouldn’t have liked the book too much. He loved Olivia and wanted nothing but to please her. The great part about that is that he didn’t change who he was to do that. He didn’t become some mush-mouthed, google-eyed, lovesick man who would do anything for his woman. It was all within reason and because he stood up for who he was and didn’t take too much crap from Olivia I liked him all the more.

2. The world of the Kindred was pretty cool. They had traded info and technology with other worlds and because of this they had invented some items that I wish we had on Earth now. Like the TakeMe which is an animal with two heads (one on either side of its body) that can grow or decrease in size. It is kind of like a transport system around Baird’s ship and can even eventually know its “riders” thoughts. There were other cool gadgets as well but you’ll have to discover

3. The other Kindred who all seem to be huge warriors but with good hearts and souls…for aliens. :)

What I didn’t care for:
1. Olivia. I understood her desire to stay on Earth and continue in her chosen field (she had just graduated from nursing school) and to stay with her friends and her twin sister, but when push came to shove and she started to give in to Baird sexually, she blamed him. Ok, yes, if it wasn’t for Baird she wouldn’t be his “bride” at all but when she begged him to fulfill her needs she didn’t get mad at herself for almost giving in, she blamed him like it was his fault she couldn’t control herself. I understand being a strong woman but the blame throwing really got to me after a while. The first couple of times I could deal with but after that? Not so much.

2. The length of the book. It was quite long with parts of the book that didn’t really seem to take the story further in the long run.

3. As much as I liked Baird and the story did tell us that he had learned English and Earth slang I still found it quite amazing that he sounded so un-alien like to me. It sounded to me like he’d been born and raised in Southern California.

Overall, a pretty good book. I will definitely be reading the next book in the Kindred series. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: Captured by a Rogue by Katharine Ashe

She would marry no man . . . 

Serena Carlyle dreams of a happily ever after. Firmly upon the shelf at twenty-five, instead she's determined to find the perfect match for her beautiful younger sister. What better prospect than their neighbor, the wealthy, rakishly handsome Earl of Savege? Now Serena can beg his help in halting a local band of smugglers. Then, one night, stealing away from yet another disappointing ball, Serena finds herself trapped alone with a stranger . . . 

Until he captured her—body and soul 

His kiss was irresistible, his caress unforgettable, and he hides a devastating secret. A Robin Hood upon the sea, Alex Savege is the brazen pirate Redstone, seizing the yachts of spoiled noblemen to settle an old debt. Serena needs a hero, but her heart is in the gravest danger—for it is soon to be captured by a man as skilled at seduction as he is at plunder. 

Alex Savege doesn’t have a clue what he wants in life. He loves the sea and loves being a pirate, but he also loves his property in Devonshire – he’s just unsettled. He knows that it’s high time he takes a wife and produces an heir so when he comes home from the Spring cruise on his pirate ship and discovers that his neighbor has offered his daughter up as a bride he’s willing to take that into consideration. Finding that his neighbor has headed to London for the Season he does the same. At a ball where he will meet his possibly future wife he has a bit of fun with a woman in a darkened room. Little did he know that his bit of fun would haunt him constantly – and not necessarily in a bad way.

Serena Carlyle is 25 and is firmly on the shelf. She has decided she will never marry as she had an indiscretion years ago and she feels that she’s not “pure” enough for any man. But when she heads into a darkened room at a ball to catch her breath she’s scandalized and tantalized by a rake who kisses her. She lets her passions go and loves every minute of it. When she returns to her family and is then introduced to her step-sisters betrothed-to-be and discovers it is Alex Savege, and the rake who kissed her, she’s not quite sure what to do.

Serena’s family as well as Alex head back to Devonshire and that’s where the hijinx begin. Alex plans a party for everyone in the county just so he can be with Serena again but things don’t go as planned and next thing he knows he’s firmly engaged to Charity – Serena’s step-sister. Alex isn’t sure how to get out of the engagement without ruining Charity’s reputation but he doesn’t want to be married to Charity.

While this is going on Serena is kissing Alex in secret, investigating some smugglers that are wreaking havoc along the coast, fighting her feelings for Alex and trying to deal with her evil step-mother. Life as a country miss is getting more difficult by the day.

I really loved Serena and Alex together…when they were together. You could really feel the fireworks between them, especially during that first kiss. Wow, that was something. Their relationship really went through some hard times as Alex struggles to deal with his feelings for Serena as well as the stewpot he’s in with being engaged to Charity. And then of course there’s Charity’s mother who is seriously one huge bitch. That woman is just not a nice person and will do anything in her power to get what she wants. I wanted to punch her at times, but I guess that means she was written well since I disliked her so much. lol

As much as I liked Serena and Alex together the rest of the book really didn’t do all that much for me. The smugglers and Serena’s issues with them were noble but I thought it was quite ballsy of her to ask Alex to get involved for her and then get upset when he didn’t want to. I understood Serena’s reasons for wanting to bring the smugglers down but I thought it unfair of her to expect Alex to feel the same way and act upon it.

Though I liked the book quite a bit it had so much happening in it that I felt it lost a bit of the romantic intensity that I felt between Alex and Serena when they first met. I personally would have liked to have seen less of the smugglers, etc., and more of the romance. I will still absolutely read book 1, which I’ve already purchased because I do like Ms. Ashe’s writing.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5