Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Joys of Reading…

Reading is my great joy. It gives me an escape from the stress life brings. I also made it part of my life, when I got a job at a book store. Reading is everything in my book. Not only because of the great worlds it takes me to, but also because of the people I’ve met because of it.

A few years ago I started reading Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries. I met a great many wonderful women through the fandom. Last year I got to meet a bunch of them when I went to NYC. I’m going back to NYC in June, where I’ll meet even more of the SVM ladies.

Each one of these women hold a special place in my heart. They’ve helped me overcome so much. From identity crisis to dealing with the loss of my dad. Through everything they’ve been here.

Trader, who reviews for the blog, is one of the women I’m talking about. I mentioned in a previous post that it’s become a tradition for Trader to review Jeaniene Frost’s books for me. I thought it was time that she got her own signature for the blog. The lovely Larissa, over on Larissa’s Bookish Life, made the signature as well as designed the background for my blog.

  I hope you like it, darling girl.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When I’m Not Reading…

It’s been a long time since I’ve done Missie’s When I’m Not Reading. I have to say I love this meme

I’ve been MIA for a while. Life gets in the way of things some times. I’ve been working my ass off, my brother had major life-altering surgery a few weeks ago, and my mother (I’m no referring to her as the dragon lady) is trying to sell the house now almost a year since my dad died. Thankfully, my brother is on the mend and doing great.To relaxing after a few stressful months my friend, Maria, and I decided to do a girls’ day. It’s no secret I love to cook, so I decided to do a little brunch for us…which turned into an early breakfast, which then turned back into brunch.

I have a new obsession; Disney’s The Princess and The Frog. It is FANTASTIC!

I mean, c’mon, it’s got everything: love, music, a lovely girl, a prince, a bad guy, crazy voodoo priestess, animals, funny guys AND food. This cartoon is my happy place. I think I’ve watched it 20 times so far and it never gets old. My favourite character? Ray. I love that crazy Cajun firefly.

Where am I going with this cartoon rambling? Well the cartoon and Mardi Gras around the corner was my inspiration for the brunch.

Maria arrived little after 8 in the morning (after having dealt with soccer related panic attack from her mini). I got her to watch The Princess and The Frog while I was cooking.

Maria isn’t big on putting her picture out on the web. She looks hilar in this pic though. She’s giving me the stink eye for taking a snap shot of her.

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I didn’t have a lot of decorations for the table, so I made due with some Madonna figurines, candles, rainbow bead necklaces and a mask.

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Menu

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy (I need to work on the dish)

Scrambled Eggs

Bacon

Hash Browns

Southern Fried Chicken Strips

Salad

Coffee

Mimosas (lots and lots of them)

I was going to make beignets as well, but I forgot to buy some stuff for it.

After the massive brunch we went for along walk and went to see her mini play soccer. He was having a blast.

The day ended back at my place with some 90’s rock and talking about our teenage years. Good times!

 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tea and This Side of the Grave

It’s a tradition now that my darling friend, Trader, reviews Jeaniene Frost’s books for the blog. So I’m going to give the word to her now.

Title: This Side of the Grave

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Publisher: Avon

Date of Publication: February 2nd, 2011

ISBN: 9780061783180

Summary:

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.


Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance...


With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing.  A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally"--the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. ...to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Review:

Once again, Jeaniene Frost has done it with the latest installment of the Night Huntress series, This Side of the Grave. While fans of the series may refer to this book at Cat & Bones #5, this book is all about Cat. Against the backdrop of the threat of a species war between the vampires and ghouls, Cat comes into her own in this book, as a woman, as a wife, and as a significant threat in her own right.

I loved this book. It had everything I look for in a story. A plot full of action and adventure, along with great characters you want to care about. Jeaniene Frost is a master at character development, and this book does not disappoint.

Every character in this book hits on all cylinders. Bones exudes his sexy charm with his usual directness, and although I found his voice a little quiet in this book, I was really too enthralled with Cat’s journey of self-discovery to notice or be bothered by it. The secondary characters shine too, whether its a different view of Mega-Master Mencheres, witty banter between Cat and Vlad, or even new revelations about Tate. The deepening relationships between Cat and the rest of the characters in the Night Huntress series are crafted beautifully in this book.

Amidst the chaos and action, there is time for some very steamy hot supernatural sex scenes between Cat and Bones, and possibly another chapter that will become infamous for its content. But as is the case in this book, it’s really Cat’s scene, and she proves beyond a shadow of a doubt she is no longer the inexperienced young girl from Halfway to the Grave, or even the adventurous girlfriend from One Foot in the Grave. She is an equal partner in this relationship, and that includes the bedroom.

Jeaniene Frost takes us deeper into her supernatural world in this book, and I love how she weaves human concepts such as self-esteem, fighting prejudice, being honest with yourself and others, and strategic thinking into this book. I’m left with the feeling that their world isn’t all that different from ours, minus the fangs, the blood and the silver, of course!

And it wouldn’t be a Jeaniene Frost book if she didn’t make us cry, a little, and there are some very poignant moments in this book. Even though we do lose one of the long-standing characters in the book series, the scene is extremely touching and provides closure to a question plaguing fans since the release of At Graves End.

There are so many great one-liners and quotes from this book, along with a whole boatload of foreshadowing and possible hints for future books, but most of my favorite lines came in the final pages. The story concludes with a wonderfully choreographed fight scene, and one of my favorite lines from Cat, when she refers to family and friends that have assembled for the final confrontation.

“Apollyon wants a war? He’s going to get one, but not between our two species. It’ll be between his best and our best.”

Cat hits the the proverbial nail on the head with that statement. Jeaniene Frost has brought together some of the best characters in any book series I have ever read, and gives us one of her best in This Side of the Grave. I anxiously await the next installment, due out later this year.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tea and a Little of Everything and Review of the Jane True Series…

I suffer, greatly, from writer’s block. I’ve got a ton of stuff on my mind, but it never seems to come out when I need it to. However, that does not mean I haven’t been reading. I have. Tons. Here are some of the books I’ve been reading.

Since it’s the release day for Jeaniene Frost’s This Side of the Grave, the fifth book in the Night Huntress series, let me start with that. Happy release day, Jeaniene!

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance...
With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing.  A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally"--the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. ...to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.
(
www.amazon.com)

I was lucky enough to get a copy of it last week and let me tell you it delivers. Now that’s all I’m going to say about it for now since my darling friend, Trader, has agreed to yet again review Jeaniene’s work for the blog.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the trailer for it to tide you over.

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Nicole Peeler’s Jane True Series

I have several new book obsessions. Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series is one of them. If you’ve read Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series you’ve probably come across teaser chapters from Nicole’s books. So far the series consists of Tempest Rising, Tracking the Tempest, and Tempest’s Legacy. The fourth book, Eye of the Tempest, will be released later this year.

Title: Tempest Rising

Author: Nicole Peeler

Publisher: Orbit

Date of Publication: November 1st, 2009

ISBN: 9780316056588

Summary:

Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn't quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.


Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new "friend," Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.
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It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever-rub the genie's lamp. (www.amazon.com)

Title: Tracking the Tempest

Author: Nicole Peeler

Publisher: Orbit

Date of Publication: July 1st, 2010

ISBN: 9780316056571

Summary:

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Ryu - Jane's bloodsucking boyfriend - can't let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane's life is thrown off course.


Ryu's well-intentioned plans create mayhem, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards another Halfling, much to Jane's surprise... (www.amazon.com)

 

Title: Tempest’s Legacy

Author: Nicole Peeler

Publisher: Orbit

Date of Publication: January 1st, 2011

ISBN: 9780316056601

Summary:

After a peaceful hiatus at home in Rockabill, Jane True thinks that her worst problem is that she still throws like a girl - at least while throwing fireballs. Her peace of mind ends, however, when Anyan arrives one night with terrible news . . . news that will rock Jane's world to its very core.

After demanding to help investigate a series of gruesome attacks on females -- supernatural, halfling, and human -- Jane quickly finds herself forced to confront her darkest nightmares as well as her deepest desires.

And she's not sure which she finds more frightening. (www.amazon.com)

Review:

I have a tendency to buy books just because of the cover. However, in this case I’m sad to say I actually judged a book by it’s cover, without even reading the description first. Shame on me. The covers reminded me a little too much of manga. A co-worker told me he thought they were manga. A regular at the store I work at wanted me to order Nicole’s books for her and I thought I’d give them a go as well. I’m so glad I did.

To me the novels read like a bildungsroman. With each novel we see how Jane True turns into a well-rounded young woman. With the help from other supernatural creatures, glimpses into her childhood, supporting friends (few as they are), and an understanding father Jane discovers and embraces her new life as a halfling. Although she has to go through an awful lot of hardships, she comes out on the other side wiser and stronger, both mentally and physically.

The plot in each book is well developed, yet two things I really appreciate in the books are the language and the humour. Nicole writes with incredible wit and control of contemporary jargon without making it seem forced.

One of my favourite parts of Tempest Rising is in the very first chapter. Jane’s archenemy, Linda, comes into Read It and Weep, the book store Jane works at, to expand her collection of romance novels.

She liked a very particular kind of plot: the sort where the pirate kidnaps some virgin damsel, rapes her into loving him, and then dispatches lots of seamen while she polishes his cutlass. Or where the Highlander clan leader kidnaps some virginal English Rose, rapes her into loving him, and then kills entire armies of Sassenachs while she stuffs his haggis. Or where the Native American warrior kidnaps a virginal white settler, rapes her into loving him, and then kills a bunch of colonists while she whets his tomahawk. (Tempest Rising, p. 12)

I had to buy a new copy of the book after reading that. Drinking coffee while rolling on the floor from laughing is not good for a book. I’ll be the first to admit I love romance novels (especially the ones taking place in Scotland). Nicole’s books are full of gems like this.

It was pure joy to read Nicole’s books. The fact that the books aren’t you’re regular vamp fiction readers of this genre is used to is only a plus. I’ve re-read them a few times since I first was introduced to Jane’s world.

Do yourself a favour and read Nicole’s blog and follow her on twitter.