Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Even Bloggers Get The "Blues"

Seriously guys, I have the Blues, and I'm not talking the mac-n-cheese kind. I know I promised a review of SUCCUBUS BLUES today, but you'll just have to bear with me and wait until tomorrow. As for tonight, I'll be in my bed, licking my. " I'm a no good, wanna-be writer, talentless hack" wounds, wondering where it all went so horribly wrong. Fitting isn't it? My FAB pick has "BLUES" in the title and I'm sitting at home singin' them?

So, for today, I'll say, don't forget my FAB week's contest, and my secondary contest - My Two Favorite Cusack Movies - and I'll be back tomorrow, and it will be before lunch time, I promise. And just a heads up - all of you in the "Serendipity" camp? You are so right, no one else has guessed my second favorite, though, so keep 'em coming!

Take Care

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Babe In Ghostland - Lisa Cach

Hey there, slipping this review in before I post more on SUCCUBUS BLUES and Richelle Mead, my FAB pick for this month. I just finished this book, so I thought I'd get this done right away, kind of a nice change ;). Before I start to dish though, I just want to remind everyone to take a minute and enter this months contest, you can view the details here. And then, for my secondary contest, the "guess my two favorite Cusak movies", I'll tell you that one of the guesses made is correct. And that in the other movie, he is looking for one very specific used book. And this is a quote (though not exact) "Quit saying that or I will cut you!" There, it's all so much clearer now, isn't it? And now, without further ado...

A Babe In Ghostland by Lisa Cach
(BCC)

Megan Barrows has retired from a brief career as a ghost-busting psychic and now uses her sixth sense to fill her Seattle antiques store with objects with happy pasts. after once nearly having the soul sucked out of her by a malevolent spirit, she prefers a quiet life.

Case Lambert is a real estate prospector who restores old houses, then sells them for profit. He has just bought a dilapidated mansion so amazing that he wants to keep it for himself, but the house appears to be haunted. Seriously haunted. A few inquiries lead him to Megan Barrows.

Megan at first refuses to help, but Case is a master of persuasion. Moving into the mansion, they discover that one of the ghosts has a thing for Case - and there may be even more amorous spirits inside this veritable paranormal vortex. But it soon becomes clear that no one - dead or alive - can stop Megan and Case from ending up in each other's arms...

Let me just start by telling you that I have never read Cach before. I bought the book for two reason, the cover (I like cutesty covers) and the BCC. Believe it or not, I have become a victim of my own BCC obsession. It's just sick. According to the front cover, Cach is one of those "National Bestselling author(that I've never hear of before)of..." I was talking about yesterday. And A Babe is exactly the kind of book I was talking about. The book that draws you in with it's cute cover, intriguing BCC, and written by a bestselling author. The book that, once you've read it, makes you realize you just made a bad bet and lost the gamble. The book that deceives the reader with pretty covers and snappy cover copy.

Usually at this point, I'm dishing about the contents of the book, but the BCC does a far better job than I could, because frankly, I had to refer to it to figure out what the heck was going on. The entire first half of the book, from Chapter 1, I was lost. I kept thinking that I must be reading book 2 in a series, but alas, I wasn't. Cach keeps referring to some BIG BAD that had happened to Megan previously, and the way in which she does it, feels much like a reference to another book. It isn't until about half-way through the book that I found out what the heck had happened the last time Megan went head to head against an evil spirit, heck, just finding out exactly what Megan did took a while to figure out. I love a mystery as much as the next girl, but not when it is about something as essential to the story as Megan's "gift" is.

Megan Barrows and Case Lambert have got to be two of the most unlikable characters to ever grace the pages of a book I've read. And unfortunately, I find myself actually needing to, oh, I don't know, like the people the story is about. "Sarcasm was the defense of the weak..." Hello! I use sarcasm, and I don't appreciate being referred to as weak, nor do I think many of the people I know, who also use sarcasm, would like being referred to as such. That one statement alone made me dislike Megan, add to that her constant personality changes throughout the book, and she was pretty much nonredeemable.

Case was the same way, he kept saying he didn't believe in psychics or ghosts, yet many of his actions and words contradicted that. Add to that the fact that he was nothing more than a horny butt hole, and I wanted him to end up in lonely hearts ville. On page 27, he is picking Megan up to take her to the house so she could give her impression, and keep in mind here they had only met that morning, and Case thinks this - "If he were honest with himself, the question he truly wanted answered was whether or not the two of them would end up in bed tonight. He didn't think she'd be in the car with him now...if that thought wasn't also on her mind." I stopped immediately at that point, the man's house is being haunted, enough to scare even this so-called-hard-core disbeliever into getting a psychics help, and he's thinking about banging her within 12 hours of meeting her? Slimeball.

The book could have been saved, if Cach would have cut out all Romance plot points and stuck with the haunting business. There are actually a few parts, where they are dealing with the hauntings, that the book is really good. Very dark and intense. But Cach insisted on trying to make this a Romance, and it clearly wasn't a good match. The POV's were choppy and the characters unlikable, I say, if you must read it, (and sex scenes and the few haunting scenes I mentioned make for some good reading), see if you can get it at the library, or a UBS. I won't be looking for anymore of Cach's work, although reading through some of the excerpts and blurbs on her site, a couple of them sound promising, I was too disappointed with her loose grasp of craft and plotting.

Take Care

Monday, February 26, 2007

FAB Picks: Because Readers Have A Slush Pile, Too!

If you are reading this, then obviously you love books. And if like me, that love sends you to other industry blogs, such as agents, editors, and authors, then you've heard of the infamous slush pile. You know, that pile that agents and editors have to read through to find "the next big thing," or at least the "next thing that's going to earn us some cash." Well, I say to you, that readers have a slush pile to deal with too. The only problem is, we're paying for it.

Reading is much like gambling. There really are no safe bets. Even some of our tried and true authors let us down occasionally, and the proclamation of NATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF... means jack smack anymore. After all, how do I know that this unknown to me author didn't hit the bestsellers list because they were the only new release in that specific genre that week? Or that their family isn't extremely wealthy and therefore went out and spent an unholy amount of money on their "babies" book so they could have plenty around for dinner party gifts, therefore inflating the sales figure for the first few weeks of the books release? After all, I have a stack of books that all have that Bestselling proclamation on the front that I can't make it through the first three chapters. It's a gamble, I tell ya, and if, like me, there is not a bookstore within easy driving distance, and your only source of books is the Big W or the internet, then the stakes are even higher.

That, my dear lovelies, is why I do FAB picks. I can't speak for dee, but maybe she'll chime in here, but for me, I do FAB picks because I LOVE finding that new author, the one that promises great things from book one. I buy and read plenty of stinkers, that when I find a new author that is just hitting the literary world, and they write a story that touches my heart, or makes me laugh, or has me closing the book wanting more (and wanting it NOW), then I love to sing their praises. I also hope that as I sing their praises, others notice, and when they see that book on the shelves, they know that perhaps the gamble won't be as HUGE as normal.

So, you see, as we weed through our "slush pile", that ever popular TBR (To Be Read) stack, when we find some one new that stand out from all the rest, we bring them to your attention with our FAB. And I hope, that as you spend a week at dee & Dee getting to know these new authors and their work, you not only enter for a chance to win their amazing books, but put them on your list of authors to buy! I know that Richelle Mead, this months FAB pick, is on my To Buy list for a LONG time, and look at all the great things we'll be seeing from Richelle in the future!

And since her debut novel SUCCUBUS BLUES is what has me singing Mead's praises, I thought I'd share a bit more of what drew me to the book. Tomorrow, I'll post a full review on the book, but today, I thought I'd share a few of the quotes that stood out for me and why:

"...Humans continually labor under the delusion that there really is a precise set of rules on what sin is and is not, rules that one might break without even realizing it. In reality, most people know when they do wrong. The feel it. Sin is more of a subjective matter than an objective one..."

"Love is rarely flawless," Carter pointed out. "Humans delude themselves by thinking it has to be. It is the imperfection that makes love perfect."

There are few authors that can put those kind of thought provoking statements in a book, and not sound preachy or pretentious. In fact, until now, Charlaine Harris has been the only other author that has been able to pull that off for me. Mead has found a way to fuse together insightful prose with romance, paranormal, and humor that will have readers begging for more.

Don't forget, there is still time to enter this months contest! Click here for details. Also, no one has correctly guessed my two favorite Cusak movies (actually, two of my favorite all time movies) so make sure to take a guess for a chance at another prize!

Take Care

Thursday, February 22, 2007

SUCCUBUS BLUES - JUST SOME OF THE REASON'S IT'S FAB

I've mentioned before that when I read a book I know I'll be reviewing that I like to have pen and paper handy so I can make note of certain quotes or passages that stand out, that way I can reference them during the review. Well, SUCCUBUS BLUES was no different, I sat down to read it, had my pen and paper next to me, and promptly forgot all about them. You see, THAT my dear lovelies, is the NUMBER ONE reason, SB and Richelle are my FAB pick for this month. I was hooked from the opening line, "Statistics show that most mortals sell their souls for five reasons: sex, money, power, revenge, and love. In that order." And now that I have you wanting to read more, I'll point you here for an excerpt.

You see, I love a book that grabs hold of my attention and imagination and simply refuses to let go. SUCCUBUS did that for me on my first read through, so I figured I'd read it one more time, you know, 'cause I needed to make notes for the review (yeah, that's the only reason I read it a second time) and guess what? Upon finishing my second read through, I had exactly 5 notes made, and they only covered the first 3 Chapters. OOPS! Some one forgot she was supposed to be acting like a book blogger! I got sucked up again and totally lost track of myself. Reader at heart, remember? I've read it a third time now, and probably will have to read it again, you know, just to keep it fresh in my mind for this week (I'm even rolling my eyes at myself for that one ).

I think Cody (Georgina's young vamp friend) says it best, "Just wait until you've been in Georgina's capable hands. You'll never be the same." Because trust me, once you read this book, you will never look at the Paranormal/Fantasy genre the same way. Richelle's voice is so very unique and refreshing, that even if you've never much cared for this genre, you'll be rushing out to find just what you've been missing.

And I should probably mention here, this isn't my review of the book, I'm not going to post that until closer to the end of my FAB week, probably Monday, this is just what the title says, some of the reasons I picked SUCCUBUS BLUES and Richelle for my FAB this month.

So, I've told you I LOVE the book, I mean, where else can you find a book that has a middle-management demon that walks the Earth looking like John Cusack? Because think about it, Cusack clearly sold his soul to get the starring role in TWO of my most favorite movies! (Guess the two correctly and I'll give away a prize when I wrap up FAB week.)

But don't get me wrong, SB isn't all quirky humor, there are many facets of SUCCUBUS, it truly is a perfect mix of humor, romance, mystery, and paranormal. There are deeper/darker moments, thinking moments, suspenseful moments, and all of it meshed together with Mead's sharp wit and humor.

Plus, Georgina loves BOOKS and COFFEE! We're kindred spirits! So, don't forget to enter this weeks contest, and leave us a comment letting us know where you posted, and I'll make sure it gets put in the sidebar.

Take Care

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chari-Dee's February FAB Pick - Richelle Mead

Hello, Lovelies! Excuse me, while I say SQUEEEEEEEEE!!! Look who my FAB pick is!!!! The absolutely, lovely, funny, and talented Richelle Mead will be with us all week! I am so super excited about this. Richelle's debut novel SUCCUBUS BLUES will officially be hitting shelves on March 6th, and I say officially, because if you are lucky you may be able to find it on shelves sooner (like NOW), like I did last Friday!

(BCC)
Succubus (n) - An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men.

Pathetic (adj.) - A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants. The wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess get-up complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore—free books, all the white chocolate mochas she can drink, and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.
But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…



I'm not going to do a review today. I was, but then I thought, nah. I'll do a quick run-down of the contest for you. This time around, I'm going to do something a bit different. Only ONE book of SUCCUBUS BLUES is up for grabs, it will be signed and come straight from Richelle herself, BUT, in addition to that book, there will be TWO gift cards (a total of $40), and a dee & Dee tote bag, that you can use for books or whatever else you choose. That makes the total amount of prizes up for grabs worth over $60. I'll also give two runner-up prizes, to be chosen and announced during a FAB post later in the week.

BUT, to win this FABulous prize, you have to work for it. dee and I do these FAB picks for a few reasons. 1 - We are both readers at heart, and love to do a big ole' FAN GIRL SQUEE FEST, 2 - We love finding new authors and bringing them to your attention, and 3 - We LOVE NEW AUTHORS! and want to do everything we can to get the word out about them.

With the third reason in mind, your mission - should you choose to accept it - is simple. On your blog (any will work, MySpace, Blogger, Live Journal, Bravenet....) post either the above pic of SB and the BCC, with a link to the d&D site, or this press release from Kensington Books with a picture of the books cover, and link back to us.


RICHELLE MEAD’S FIRST PARANORMAL ROMANCE, SUCCUBUS BLUES, PUBLISHED BY KENSINGTON BOOKS

Being a succubus sounds pretty glamorous. Shape-shifting, killer wardrobe--what's not to like? But Georgina Kincaid's life is far from exotic. Her boss is a middle management demon who walks the earth looking like John Cusack. Her best friends are a carb-conscious vampire and an angel who can drink her under the table. Worst of all, she can't have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy's life, which means her crush on sexy writer Seth Mortensen is going nowhere fast. All of these woes are put on hold when an unknown entity begins murdering immortals in Seattle's demon underground. For once, all her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won't help because there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny...


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Richelle Mead has an M.A. in Comparative Religion and a passion for all things wacky and humorous. She lives in Seattle with her husband and four cats. Late-night musings and updates about the next Succubus novel can be found at http://www.richellemead.com/blog/
SUCCUBUS BLUES

Richelle Mead
Kensington Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
March 2006/Fiction/Trade Paperback/Original
$15.00 ($21.00 Canada)/0-7582-1641-6
Author Residence: Seattle, WA



But, BUT, I don't have a blog, you say? Then, any yahoo!group, message board, or forum that you belong to will work. Just make sure we can verify. Once you have done that, come back and comment on any of my FAB posts, and you are entered. For extra fun, if new people come from your post, and mention YOU sent them, you will earn extra entries. Please note, you must include the picture of the book (or link to it if you are of the no blog persuasion), either the BCC or Press Release, and a link to dee & Dee. Also, bonus entry if you make sure to link to Richelle's blog Even Redheads Get The Blues or the blog that Georgina contributes to, Magical Minxes. Oh yeah, and extra entries if you send some one new to our site that comments on FAB posts.

I'll also run a sidebar that links to all the blogs that enter until the end of the contest. So, what are you waiting for, go get busy and enter!!!!!! Tomorrow, I'll talk a bit on the book. Until then...



Take Care

Dead and Dateless - Kimberly Raye

Hello, Lovelies! I'll be posting a little later today, as well, to kick off my FAB pick Richelle Mead and her debut novel SUCCUBUS BLUES, but while I get the initial post together, I thought I'd go ahead and post another review (I have quite a few of them to do). The book I'm getting ready to discuss is the second of a series, and you can see the review of the first book, DEAD END DATING, by clicking here. So without further ado...




Dead and Dateless by Kimberly Raye
(BCC)

SHE'D LIKE HER BLOOD BOTTLED, PLEASE!

The sassiest vampire in all of Manhattan, Lil Marchette, is the owner of Dead End Dating - a matchmaking service for hip, intelligent singles like herself. After only three months, business is booming, and she can finally pay her bills (and more important, feed a hungry cosmetic addiction). But when one of her clients turns up dead (as in never coming back), Lil is named as the prime suspect.
Murder?
Sure, she's a vampire, but she can't even work up her nerve when it comes to blood-sucking. Hacking somebody to pieces is so out of the question.
To make matters worse, Lil must also contend with a pack of werewolves who ask - no, demand - that she find each one a tall, dark, and handsome mate before the next full moon. Plus, the to-die-for-if-I-wasn't-already-dead Ty Bonner, a lusciously sexy lover but totally unsuitable eternity mate, is never far from her midnight fantasies. But Lil has no time for such thoughts. She must prove her innocence and focus on pairing off the dead and the furry - and maybe stake a claim to her own tasty true love.

So, today started out pretty rough. The Hubs car wouldn't start so he took my van, and I'm off and running trying to get Bear a ride to school and figure out how in the world I'm going to get MB to school. Trying hard not to think about how in the world I'm going to get them all home from said destinations. And then, I sit down to do this review, and for the first time read the BCC. Oh, Happy Day! I don't like it! Not only that, but it's long enough to make this review an easy peasy lemon squeezy review, all I have to do it pick apart the BCC, and I'm golden. So here we go!


Point 1 - The sassiest vampire in all of Manhattan, Lil Marchette, is the owner of Dead End Dating - a matchmaking service for hip, intelligent singles like herself. After only three months, business is booming, and she can finally pay her bills (and more important, feed a hungry cosmetic addiction). But when one of her clients turns up dead (as in never coming back), Lil is named as the prime suspect.


Um, okay, this is close. I don't think you can really say business is booming, since she has only a handful of clients, most of them carried over from the first book, but the book starts with her acquiring a new client who wants 27 alpha-males, for herself and the rest of the NUNS (Naked and Unashamed Nudist Sisterhood), a group of female werewolves so they can procreate, when she is arrested. When the police tell her it is for murder, she uses her vamp strengths, knees the cops and takes off running.


Point 2 - Murder?

Sure, she's a vampire, but she can't even work up her nerve when it comes to blood-sucking. Hacking somebody to pieces is so out of the question.

I should point out here, that in Lil's world, vampires aren't out in the open. The general public do not know about them, but they do mingle and work with the human population. So, I think this is why this part of the BCC bothers me. It makes it seem like one of the reasons she a suspect is because she's a vampire, when that simply isn't the case.

Point 3 - To make matters worse, Lil must also contend with a pack of werewolves who ask - no, demand - that she find each one a tall, dark, and handsome mate before the next full moon.

Okay, they really pack a lot of stuff in that one last paragraph, so let's start at the beginning, shall we? Lil isn't contending with any demanding werewolves. That make it seem as if they are threatening her or some such nonsense, when they absolutely are not. She only ever deals with one of the pack and that's her parent's neighbor, and she's only under pressure because if she doesn't find the men, she won't get paid, and then DED will go under. See? Business isn't as booming as they suggest.

Point 4 - Plus, the to-die-for-if-I-wasn't-already-dead Ty Bonner, a lusciously sexy lover but totally unsuitable eternity mate, is never far from her midnight fantasies. But Lil has no time for such thoughts.

Okay, this is only the second book, and in the first book, the farthest Lil and Ty go is kissing and Lil drinking some of his blood to save her life. So, calling him a "lusciously sexy lover" is stretching things. Yeppers, she lusts after him, and I have to say, Raye writes him very well, and I lust after him, but until closer to the end of the book, Lil has nothing but her imagination to judge his lover status by.

Point 5 - She must prove her innocence and focus on pairing off the dead and the furry - and maybe stake a claim to her own tasty true love.

I was actually disappointed here. I thought there would be much more emphasis on Lil actually trying to figure out who the hell set her up to take a murder rap. But truthfully, while Lil is in hiding, the murder charges are more of a nuisance than anything. Very little detecting goes on, and it bothered me. HELLO, we start out with her getting arrested, but spend most of the book listening to her bitching about not being able to go out and run business, or lusting after Ty but not doing a darn thing about either. It did get a tad old.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the book. There were some very funny pages, for instance, the number of NUNS needing a man is added to by one, and the NUN that find herself needing a man, has a serious thing for Ron Howard, and wants an alpha version of him. But, there just seemed to be too much going on, with little emphasis on the whole murder plot. I have to tell you, I don't care how narrow minded a person is - if they are being hunted for murder, they are going to be a bit more proactive.

There is also Lil's brother, Jack, who has fallen in love with a human, Dr. Mandy, and this serves for some fun pages with both Mandy and Lil's parents. And we're introduced to Remy Tremaine, a born vampire that just happens to be on the Fairfield Police Force, and an old friend of Lil's family, that helps to keep Lil from getting caught. I think it will be interesting to see where Remy fits in. I'm thinking soon we'll see more of him, and have a little love triangle going on.

All in all, DAD was a good read. I wish there wasn't so much going on with it, because none of the plot points got the attention they deserved, but it gave me some laughs and Lil got to spend some time with Ty. I say, once again, if you are in the mood for Vampire-Lite, this series won't be a disappointment and I'll continue to buy and read about Lil and her adventures.

Take Care

FAB Finish with Laura Florand - Winners announced

I'm home from my travels! It feels great to be back in my own office, at my own computer. It feels horrible knowing I'm so far behind with my FAb Pick Wrap-up. So first, APOLOGIES TO LAURA. I really had every intention of still posting while I was away. However, it just didn't happen. In the true spirit of Laura's book though, I'm blaming it on New Orleans. I was just having too much fun to worry about computers.

I'm going to list out the days and the winners of the prizes and leave it at that, because I know that Dee has a review to post today. So without further ado...

Friday's winner of the "Where is dee?" contest and a signed book - kathy
Thursday's winner of the "Travel Story" contest for a surprise prize - nobody
Wednesday's winner of the "What I think of when I hear Paris" contest for a signed book - Michelle
Tuesday's winner of the "All those questions" contest for a surprise prize - nobody
Monday's winner of the "Wedding Hysteria" contest for a signed book AND truffles - andi

So if you are kathy, Michelle or andi, please contact me at deeanddeedish@sbcglobal.net with your snail mail address. Be sure to put "I'm a February FAB Winner" in the subject line. Your prizes will be mailed out soon!

I'm actually thankful that nobody won the Tuesday and Thursday prizes, because I left them at my brother's house, right next to the King Cake that I bought for Laura. In the interests of fairness though, since Laura was the only one that replied on either of those days, I think it's only right that she get the prizes, don't you? So Laura is getting a box in the mail as well, just as soon as the goodies arrive from my lil bro's house.

And that basically wraps up the extended week with Laura Florand, author of Blame It On Paris. If you didn't win this book, do yourself a favor and go buy it. It is fresh and funny, heartwarming and sidesplitting, and basically all that is good and right with a memoir. Seriously. Look, you can even be lazy and just order it online, ok? Just click this link here and it will be shipped right to your door. If you don't buy it, the only person you can blame for missing out on this FABulous book...is yourself.

Keep turning those pages!

dee


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beyond The Hedge - Roby James

Hey there! Sorry for my silence lately, I have had (and still have) the head cold from hell. I'm back though, with a TBR pile that's growing. Hopefully, I'll be able to really start hitting the reviews pretty heavy in the next few days. Just a heads up, my FAB pick, Richelle Mead will be here with me starting the 21st for an entire week! I'm so pumped. Richelle's debut novel Succubus Blues will be out March 6, and this book is absolutely FABulous. No other words for it. Well, there are, but I'll get to those on the 21st. Not only is the book a total FAB, so is Richelle, so I'll be doing a full on FAB! So, read up on Richelle, and get ready for a great week. Then, the first week of March I'll kick off my FAB pick, Atlantis Rising by Alyssa Day. Trust me, these two authors are unbelievably great! And now, without further ado...

Beyond The Hedge by Roby James
(BCC)
Love.
Magic.
Trust.

When corporate executive Jennifer Paul stumbles across the mystical boundaries of Clipton Magna, a time-lost land from the era of King George III, she finds herself conversing with a talking cat, taking advice from an owl, and fighting an undeniable attraction to Jeremy, the handsome heir to the local lord. This magical realm is beautiful and its people warm, but Jennifer is a twenty-first-century career woman who's itching to make her mark in the "real" world - our world. She wants to go back.

But the strange rules and odd spirits that rule Clipton Magna bind Jennifer more closely than she knows. Her decisions - to stay or go, to love or not - threaten to alter the fate of this enchanted oasis, and just might affect the modern-day world in unexpected ways as well...

This BCC actually summarizes the basic plot of the book very well, and when I read it, I was really looking forward to reading this book. I mean, doesn't that just sound like a great read? And then I read the book, and whoo-boy. Although the BCC is not misleading when it comes to the story, it is misleading because the tone of the BCC does not match the tone of the book.

Since the BCC does do such a good job of explaining the book, I won't go into to much detail in my wrap-up. Basically, on a short trip to see her Aunt for the holiday, Jennifer takes a wrong turn only to be stopped by a very large hedge. When her dog, Dragon, chases a cat through the hedge, Jennifer runs after him. But when she finally catches him, there is no sign of the hedge, and she can't seem to find her way back to her car.

Jeremy comes to fetch her, and takes her back to the Manor House. On the horse ride Jennifer tries to get information about where they are and why the surroundings were so different then they should be, only to be treated with short non-answers. Figuring she was just having a bad day, Jennifer accepts the bed offered for the night with the intention of getting out the first thing in the morning. Only, when they reach the Manor, Jennifer encounters a talking cat and passes out. When she awakes the next morning, her clothes have been replaced with clothing from the 1800's, her hair has grown to an extremely long length, and whenever speaking to someone other than Jeremy, she is unable to say what she wants.

Soon, Jennifer also encounters a talking owl, and still cannot get straight answers to her questions. She finds out that in order to figure out how to get out of Clipton Magna, she must sleep with Jeremy. But as soon as she decides to do just that, Dragon's start coming to life from drawings, threatening the existence for Clipton Magna, in order to better fight the dragons, the Owl gives her some magic to help fight them, and when the time finally comes for Jennifer to go, she does, but has she truly made the right decision?

The basic story line of this book is wonderful. I loved the idea of the book. That a magical place existed out of our time, made because a Prince fell in love with a woman that was not suitable for his station. The imagination of the author is vast, the writing and actual story-telling of the author, however, is what killed the book for me.

Written in Third Person, solely from Jennifer's point of view, Beyond may have the HEA, but it lacks the bonding with the characters that I require to truly enjoy my Romances. What's more, I didn't particularly like Jennifer. She constantly put down other women in a move to make herself feel superior. "Unlike many other women in business, she did not need the trappings of success from Cartier, Prada, or Ferragamo in order to be seen as fit for the executive role, but she did use them, with some pleasure, to make an even more emphatic statement." I read that, and wondered how the heck this woman knew that those "many other women" needed those things? Could they simply not use them for pleasure as she did? Or, was she lying to herself? There were many statements along those same lines from this gal, and it bothered me quite a bit.

Then, there was the fact that Jeremy fancied himself in love with her, when they barely spoke and when they did, it was nothing about either one of them personally, but about how she could get out of Clipton Magna. There were too many passages that just didn't fit. It was if the author was trying far to hard to make us believe that Jennifer and Jeremy were bonding. For instance, there is this part where Jennifer thinks she likes the comforting sound of Jeremy's voice, and I was thrown, because I hadn't actually read where they had conversed much at all. You see, I actually need to see the interaction between the main characters, not just be told it has happened.

The word choices also threw me. There were times when Jennifer's thoughts were just as they should be, coming from a woman of the 21st century, and other times, they were very old fashioned. I realize that she is taken to a place not of this century, but that shouldn't have changed who she was or her language. It was just very confusing. For instance, there is this sentence, when Jennifer gets dressed in her new daytime attire, "Jennifer caught a glimpse of herself in the cheval glass and thought that she looked like nothing so much as a Barbie doll." I'll admit, I had no clue what the heck this meant. I had to ask people to explain it to me. I absolutely abhor feeling stupid when I read a book. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a book that makes me think, just not about what the meaning behind a simple descriptive sentence. And then, later in the book, Jennifer thinks this, "...if she was that hot for the sight of flowers." See, there really is no consistency in Jennifer's thought/speech patterns.

The pacing of the book was slow. I'm talking snail pace, until about Chapter 10, and it only speeds up for a few chapters, until we're back at the slower pace. But the pacing problems could just be because I really didn't like Jennifer, and being in her perspective the entire time made it harder to get into.

This is a JUNO BOOKS release, and Juno states this, "Juno publishes fantasy featuring strong female characters in richly imagined contexts that include romantic or erotic elements." And they are right, this book is very high on imagination with a nice high-concept fantasy element. But Jennifer was not what I would consider a strong female. She was self-centered and thought too much of herself, that she simply made herself look insecure and weak. She gets her HEA, but I'm not so sure I wanted her to. I wanted her to get her comeuppance, and learn a little humility.

I'm still not ready to give up on Juno's books. They have great story-lines, but the copy editing needs to be given close attention, as does the tendency towards info-dump that slows the pace.

Take Care

Friday, February 16, 2007

FAB Pick - Laura Florand is FAB-ulous!


Have you guys figured out where I am yet? I passed really close to Laura on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I missed out on the French patisserie though. Maybe next time.
Today, on this very late post, I'm hoping to encourage you guys to enter the contests if you haven't already. We've posted two contests (Monday, Wednesday) this week that give you the chance to win a signed copy of Blame It On Paris. We've also given you the chance to win two mystery prizes. The contests were supposed to end tonight, but since I'm in such a FESTIVE mood, I'm going to let them run a little bit longer.
Why am I in such a good mood? I'm on vacation! I'm hanging out with my brother and my niece, and his girlfriend and her family, this weekend. Today, we went to a parade, and my wee ones ended up with so many beautiful things that they are convinced we need to be here every year.
I spent most of the day thinking about Laura's book. Every place I looked today, I saw things written in "French". Ok, most of it is really American-ized French, but still. Then I saw truffles. Then I heard people blaming their silliness on just about everything, from parades to traffic, to hurricanes, to tourists, to alligators, to just about anything else you can imagine. So, there was French, truffles and blame abounding. It was a GREAT day! Did I mention the beads?
So, for your final chance to win a signed copy of Laura's book, all you have to do is tell me where I am. One correct answer, chosen at random, will win.
All winners will be announced soon. I'd like to promise that it will be tomorrow. However, if you've figured out where I am, then you know that I can't make any promises as to when/if I will make it back online before I get home. But of course, that's not MY fault. I'm blaming it on the weather. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

FAb Pick - and some Traveling woes


Thanks to Dee for picking up my slack yesterday and posting that interview with Laura. Isn't Laura too funny? The book is proof of that. I'm not at all surprised to find that we have so many entries for the Monday contest about WEDDING HYSTERIA, quite possibly because it involves truffles. Yesterday's interview contains a contest in which you get to tell what image pops into your head when someone says Paris, kinda like the final scene in "Ghostbusters" when they're all on the roof and are supposed to void their minds of everything or whatever they think of will be brought there to kill them, and the Stay-Puft marshmallow man shows up for their doom? Now, every time the kids want to roast marshmallows, I see Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray covered in gloop. A shrink would have a field day with my free-word associations, huh? I have one or three for Paris as well, and one of them is TRAVEL. Which brings us to TODAY.


Today, I am on my second day of a road trip that will bring me to my younger brother. We're traveling in the car with all six kids, and it's been SUCH a blast. Parts of it have reminded me of Laura's book, Blame It On Paris. Because Laura travels a LOT in her book. As a matter of fact, most everyone travels a LOT in her book.

So, since this is a sort of "Bonus FAB Pick Post", and I'm not giving away a signed book today, but I still want to give something away... ANOTHER CONTEST. (I am a little concerned that you guys are shying away from my Tuesday contest though. If I tell you that my destination is some place really cool, will you play? And you only have to get a few right, or maybe even just attempt to answer.) Anyhow, I want to hear a funny travel story today. And I'll bet that Laura would appreciate one as well. See, when you've lived (or are currently experiencing) any sort of travel hysteria, it often helps to laugh at the woes and misfortunes of others. Ok, I promise I won't laugh at you guys. I may only snicker a bit, as a form of stress-relief, you understand.

And the prize? It's a surprise prize. But it will involve a book, maybe even Laura's book. But it will NOT be signed, because we're only giving away THREE signed copies this week. One on Monday with the truffles, for Wedding Hysteria. One for Wednesday, for the best "What I think of when I hear Paris, and What I Blame that image on" story, and then TOMORROW. You'll have to check back to see what that one will be, but it will be fun, I promise!

Keep Turning Those Pages!

dee

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

FAB Interview With Laura (of the Truffles) Florand

Hey guys! Chari-Dee here, dee is iced over without electricity at the moment, so I'm stepping up to bat. And I have to tell you, I think it's pretty cool, because I get to announce another contest for your chance to win a signed copy of Blame It On Paris, by dee's wonderful FAB pick Laura Florand. And that means, you'll think I'm the prettiest today (stop laughing, I was serious!). Anyway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell us the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear "Paris" and What do you blame that image on? Simple -but fun. Also, don't forget to enter this contest for your chance at some truffles made by Laura, and this contest for something special from dee's trip. And that's enough about us, let's get to know a little about Laura.

On Blame It On Paris
dee: In one sentence, describe your book for us.

Laura: A perfectly friendly and NORMAL person from a small town in Georgia ends up in Paris where people jump back in fear when she smiles at them; she falls for a Parisian despite this and must deal with his COMPLETELY INSANE culture AND FAMILY, only to discover, when she drags him back to her world, that some aspects of it and of her own enormous family are just a little nutty when seen from his perspective, too; how will true love survive?

I cheated by using semicolons. But it’s still one sentence from a grammatical perspective.

dee: How much of it is real?

Laura: It’s all real. I keep TELLING people this, and nevertheless immediate family members who KNOW it’s real because they witnessed half of it will call me about parts in the other half and say: "You made that up about the snails, right? Tell me that didn’t happen."

It did. And I’m still alive. I am tougher than I look.

dee: How on earth did you decide to write YOUR story?

Laura: I told my story because I just had to. That’s what we love to do in my family, tell funny stories on ourselves and everybody else in the family. I just couldn’t pass this one up.

dee: Why is it marketed as fiction instead of something else?

Laura: I don’t know why it’s marketed as fiction. I strongly suspect it’s because no one who reads it believes me. They’re convinced I must be exaggerating. But I’m not.

dee: Is Sébastien really as sexy in person as you say in your book?

Laura: He is pretty sexy. I’m sure I’m biased, and he’s probably not everyone’s type. But this kind of thing regularly happens to me:

I am at a [fill in blank here like Mad Libs, but let’s say it’s a checkout counter] and Sébastien is [browsing nearby] and the [cute young cashier] calls out to her colleagues, "Cute guy alert! Cute guy alert! Check him out." And then she looks back and catches this expression on my face, somewhere between laughing-warning her off-resigned, and looks as red and red-handed as it is possible to get, and says, "Ummm…that’s not your cute guy is it?"
Which you would think she could have guessed before embarrassing herself, but apparently no one EVER guesses he is with me.

Maybe it’s my frizzy hair. In Paris, even when he is TICKLING me and playing with my hair, women still completely fail to guess he is with me and try to flirt with him. Like rub against him flirt with him. But, you know, Parisians….

And this is why, when reviewers like to point out that the narrator of this story has an awful lot of insecurities, I would like to just say: YOU would, TOO.

dee: Why do you tease your loyal fans by not posting his picture on your blog?

Laura: I haven’t yet posted pictures of him on my blog because I am just mean that way. I wanted to be a wicked witch when I was little, but the teacher picked me to play one of the dwarfs instead. Which is just typical of my life, by the way.

Plus, if you had written a little memoir you expected to be published by a small press and read by maybe 200 people and INSTEAD your husband had PAPARAZZI who flooded around him and PINCHED him at formal social occasions, would YOU publish pictures of him? I think if I do post a picture, it will be the one I took of him seven days after Mia was born, when he hadn’t slept or shaved for those seven days and the baby and he had finally fallen asleep together. And then people can believe I exaggerated.

On Writing

dee: What made you decide to become a writer?

Laura: I got into this contest with a very mean and nasty girl in my third grade class who was actually my best friend but she wrote a longer story than I did. It was the first fiction story we had ever been assigned, and that evening I wrote a beautiful four pages, with a wonderful dénouement, and then she calls up and says hers is FIVE pages, and I had to start tacking things on. It went that way the whole evening, and my story had an awful lot of "Or rather she THOUGHT she was safe until the pumpkins’ eyes started to glow" type things tacked onto it before the end. But she still won. Twelve pages to my nine. Maybe, because I’m trying to convince people I am normal and sane, I should clarify that it was a Halloween story; that’s why the pumpkins.

I started writing every day after that. And by age eleven I was submitting my endeavors to major magazines, like the New Yorker. They failed to recognize my greatness but I’m SURE they are regretting it now.

dee: Where else have you been published (besides BIOP)? Are any of your other published works available online?

Laura: The very first person to recognize my greatness was Marion Zimmer Bradley, whom I would just like to mention because she devoted so much time and money and energy to putting out a fantasy magazine for several years (up until her death), to encourage new writers. That is really something to do. I was so excited when she published a story of mine and paid me for it, you wouldn’t believe it. That was 12 years after I started writing and submitting every day, when I was 21.

And Travelers’ Tales gave a major boost to my self-confidence while I was writing BLAME IT ON PARIS by publishing several of my travel essays. So I just want to give them a plug here—they are such a great little publishing company, and their anthologies are really the perfect books to put in your carry-on when visiting a country.

dee: Is writing a novel different than writing articles or essays? How? Which do you like more?

Laura: Well, writing a full-length memoir is different because you have to have a character arc and long story that holds together, and what’s fun about essays is you can just take a great anecdote and tell it, even if it doesn’t fit into a longer story. I like writing non-fiction because I think the funny and amazing things that real people really do are fascinating. But fiction is fun in a different way—there’s a lot more liberty to fiction. Like a mother, I cannot pick favorites. I love them both equally but in different ways.

dee: Do you have an agent? Do you think it's more important to find an agent or an editor/publisher first?

Laura: Definitely find an agent first. For one thing, it would be really hard to get an editor or publisher’s attention without one. For another, a good agent can be a great support to your career. And, if for no other reason, publishing is SLOW and CRAWLINGLY SLOW and INATTENTIVE and you will frustrate yourself silly dealing with it without an agent. I had a great editor for BLAME IT ON PARIS, so this is no reflection on her; all the authors I know agree on this and have had the same experience.

dee: Do you belong to a writer's group? Do you have a critique partner? Who do you let 'see' your work before it's published? (And how do *I* get on that list? ;) )

Laura: My father and younger sister are the only people who ever get to see it. My father is the reason editors and agents always raved incredulously about the fact that there were no mistakes in my manuscripts. My father just passed away, and my sister is having a baby, so I’m not sure who will read my next book. Besides my agent who always gives it a good read and makes recommendations.

I am paranoid about showing drafts. I recognize the value of it, but it is a bit like letting people see you in labor. Which I understand people DO, but me, I’m more like, let’s either keep the people in the birthing room to the bare minimum or up the meds.

On The Truffles

dee: What is up with that 'other author' thinking she has to do bodily harm to another person to get truffles from you? Do you typically cave to such demands and send truffles on threat of crimes being committed in your name?

Laura: NO. Never. I am trying to STAMP DOWN on this rumor. Just in case, please see my Statement for the Police.

However, I may give truffles for other reasons, like for someone else telling their own very embarrassing wedding hysteria story so I won’t be the only one out there exposed.

dee: How did you come up with your migraine cure? Are you sure it's not just an excuse to eat really good chocolate?

Laura: EXPERIMENTATION. Cruel and unusual human subject experimentation on MY VERY OWN BODY. I was walking by a stack of chocolate while suffering a migraine and I just had an INSTINCT it would solve all my problems. Almost a COMPULSION just to eat all that chocolate and see if it would make me feel better. And it DID.

On What's Next

dee: What are your upcoming novels? When will they be released? Can you tell us anything about them?

Laura: I don’t KNOW when they’ll be released. I didn’t even know BLAME IT ON PARIS was going to be released in October until someone who knew me noticed the date on Amazon. My publisher had said it wouldn’t be until this spring. See my comments about how frustrating publishing is, above.


But, the next one is finished and is called, for the moment, HOMETOWN HEART, a title I remain unconvinced of, but all my other titles failed to pass muster. And it’s true it’s about hometowns and hearts. If you have a glamorous life on one continent and family on another, what do you do when you can’t have both? How do you choose? It’s completely fiction, although NOW people don’t believe me about that and keep looking for hidden identities. Presumably it’s coming out 2008, and here’s its hook:
J.J. Sharp from Bulittle, Georgia has made it big: she lives in Paris, makes a fortune a year, and gets to wear six-inch stilettos to work. She’s doing pretty good until her employer sends her to destroy her hometown. In July. J.J. always thought there wasn’t much left to her hometown to destroy, but as she walks its insanely hot and humid streets and faces family, old friends, and one old lover, she has to start rethinking a choice she made long ago: between family and adventure; between Podunk, Georgia and the capitals of Europe; between love and freedom; and between Hershey’s and Parisian chocolatiers. If she’s not careful, she could lose everything she’s worked the past thirteen years to gain—or gain back everything she lost on the way.

The book I’m working on now takes us back to France, specifically Provence in the rose season. My title for this one is so much my favorite title I have ever thought of that I am afraid to say it, in case someone steals it. That could happen, you know. I’ve promised to finish this one up in July, and I’m having so much fun writing it. I think it’s the most just-pure-fun I’ve ever had writing a book, so I hope that means good things.

I just want to thank Laura for being such an absolutely FAB-ulous pick! And remind you guys to get busy and enter those contests! You know you want to!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FAb: Shhhhhh...the secret truffle ingredient is....


Can you tell me what's in those truffles?

Have you seen the links of her
making the truffles, and then of the final product?

Should I even share the secret with you, or will you just say "Oh, a link. Well, I'm NOT clicking, I don't care WHAT she says about more funny things to read."

Anyhow...... Laura made the truffles, then she blogged about it and even took pictures. PLUS, she's written out an abbreviated version of TSOTT (The Story Of The Truffles), so you can read almost everything in one place. It's like a one-stop shopping expedition. Those are GREAT when you've got a million things to do, so helpful to be able to grab socks and milk and motor oil and nail polish all at the same time, right? But if you're like me, and only want to hit those big stores for rushed days, and you prefer to go seek out those hidden shops that specialize in really soft socks, and match-your-skin-tone nail polish, then you will want to CLICK THE LINKS over on Laura's
post. Trust me on this. Then come back here and tell me that you did it, ok? There are SEVEN links over on that post, and TWO of them link back here. Where do the other five go? What's the date to publish your seduction post by? How is Joshilyn Jackson a tease? And what kind of liquids contributed to Joshilyn's boobs getting stuck under a bed in Paris? When does our Amy find time to read?

Laura is going to be busy this week. She's going to be on
The State of Things on NC Public Radio Wedn at noon (and repeats at 9, plus a podcast, plus live streaming) on Wednesday. Yes, I said on Valentine's day. Some people are not full of love, like us, and actually restrict the celebration of the LOVE holiday to a single day. How crazy is that? Not us. Around here, it's VALENTINE'S WEEK, because we have to spread the love as long as possible! But don't worry, Laura's radio spot is early in the day, so she still has time to do something really fun and/or romantic with her beloved. Here's the link to the site, http://www.wunc.org/tsot/

Oh yeah, all those questions I asked above? If you can, post the answers on YOUR OWN BLOG, then link to there on THIS post, I'll enter you in my own mini-contest (Please do NOT post the answers here. That would not be fair. Post them on YOUR OWN BLOG then leave a link here so I can go read your answers). You've got a few days to find the answers, so get to it. I will say that the prize might possibly involve a surprise from a trip that I am taking. Maybe. Possibly. Probably. But you won't know for a few days. Because - it's a surprise. Kinda like Laura's book was a surprise. Kinda like Laura's friendliness was a surprise. But not at all like the truffles. Because you KNOW about the truffles now. You've read TSOTT. Plus, you know that Laura made truffles for YOU, because you are going to enter the contest and tell us all about your WEDDING HYSTERIA. Now you have TWO contests to think about. That's a surrpise, right? But not really. Because you know how much we like to give away books around here. Just enter. Make Laura feel better with your hystrical wedding-ness. And remember...

Keep Turning Those Pages!

dee

Monday, February 12, 2007

FAB PICK - LAURA FLORAND (and a contest!)


Again, it's my turn to share with you my Fabulous Author/Book Pick. This month, my FAb Pick (notice the big "A", because my pick is the Author, not the Book, yes?) is someone that is pretty familiar to most of you that hang out here. She was introduced to me last year over on Faster Than Kudzu, and I instantly fell in love with her. Oh geez, don't get squicky. I mean I fell in love with the way she writes. She's funny, she's smart, and she's written an entertaining book called Blame It on Paris. Yes, yes, yes, I'm talking about the FAB-ulous Laura Florand, or "Laura of the Truffles" as she's come to be known by many. If you want the full story on the truffles, I'm going to be pointing you towards some links (most of these go to blogs, so be sure to check out the comments or you'll be missing stuff) all week long. If you're not one of the people that actually clicks the links to get the full story, I'm going to tell you right now that you'll be missing out. Trust me, you'll enjoy the story on murder-for-truffles , and you'll especially appreciate all of Laura's hard work in the kitchen, because SHE'S MADE TRUFFLES FOR YOU!! Well, not for ALL of you, you understand? But for ONE of you. The truffles will go to the winner of today's contest. But don't worry, you've got all week to enter. And this contest is a little bit different, because you actually have to work for it. More on the contest later though, ok? Because really, all I wanna do is talk about the book.

When asked to describe her book in one sentence, you may remember that Laura said:

A perfectly friendly and NORMAL person from a small town in Georgia ends up in Paris where people jump back in fear when she smiles at them; she falls for a Parisian despite this and must deal with his COMPLETELY INSANE culture AND FAMILY, only to discover, when she drags him back to her world, that some aspects of it and of her own enormous family are just a little nutty when seen from his perspective, too; how will true love survive?

You may also remember that I said "And that perfectly describes the book". I wasn't kidding, but I have to tell you that if her description were the actual BCC, we'd have some problems. Because she didn't mention how funny her book is. And she didn't tell you that there would be parts where your breath got stuck in your throat when she describes one of those "Ah ha!" moments that sometimes happens in your life. And she didn't explain that she'd included everything from chocolate to grits to snails to explain the differences and similarities of the French and Southerners. And she forgot to include that the book is something like "Four Weddings and a Funeral", but hyped up on French cooking and Southern family. Thankfully, she didn't write her own BCC, or if she did, those-in-charge weren't so ridiculous as to restrict her to just one sentence.

I have to tell you that I really, really HEART this book, big red cut out hearts with white letters gloppy glued to the front, and a picture of a little flower taped right in the center. And it has NOTHING to do with the fact that Laura sent me the book because I won a contest over on her blog, and when it arrived a lone little truffle had escaped from the box and exploded all over the book, leaving me with chocolate flakes on my fingers. I promise, there are no pictures left of me actually licking the cover of this book, ok? But the chocolate? Yeah, NOTHING to do with what was inside the covers of the book. Because frankly, and you know this is true, no matter how much you chocolate-coat something, if at the center is something really yucky (like a snail or a grasshopper, or something REALLY yucky!) then all you've got is chocolate covered yuck. So, chocolate and joking aside, I want you to know that this book really is FAB-ulous.

I'm going to share a few of my favorite parts with you, and maybe that will explain what I mean. So just sit back and enjoy!

Maybe, when it comes to relationships, you've just got to risk it all with blind faith, even when it seems crazy and impossible and like you have too much to lose, including your familiar life. Everything, after all, is crazy and impossible, especially romance, which makes no logical sense whatsoever and seems to require an extraordinary belief in something intangible. It's just a thought. I have them occasionally.

Yeah, I know, right? That's what I mean. The book meanders along, like a nice stroll along the Seine, than BAM! You get hit upside the head with something that seems so basic, something that you've always felt but never actually tried to express. And you have to stop and put the book down, and walk away to fill your coffee cup, let the idea roll around in your head for a bit, then jump back in to find out what else Laura figured out for you. The book is fun that way. Here's another one, just to illustrate:

I realized that this sense of home was why I had been willing to make all those ...trips... I wondered how many things Sebastien didn't fully realize and couldn't articulate, how many unnamed layers of richness and belonging like this church were behind some of his needs for France.

That one stopped me cold. No, I am not married to a hunky Frenchman. I'm married to a hunky man from Ohio, thankyouverymuch. But for this girl, raised by a very Southern momma, with some very strong Southern women in my immediate five generations of family, Ohio might as well be the moon. We grew up miles apart, nearly speaking different languages, almost needing an interpreter. but it wasn't until reading this passage that I finally understood that his boyhood home meant as much to him as my Great-grandma's house meant to me. I get it, I really do.

Not that I agreed to four weedings, you understand. Frankly, I think Laura went above and beyond to accomodate all of those relatives, having TWO weddings in the States, then TWO weddings in France. And she desribes every one of the four in her book. In one scene, she having a literal meltdown while getting ready for her French wedding. Sebastien's mother, Claudine, tries to calm her:

Laura: It will never work. Our cultures are too different... it's an impossible thing to make work.
Claudine: It will work. We ate grits, didn't we? It will work fine.

At that point, I really wanted to steal Claudine! But I'm thinking Laura and Sebastien would notice that she disappeared. My kids might also wonder about a French lady tied up in a chair, being poked with the broom handle demanding she say really nice things to me. That's ok though, I can read all about her whenever I feel like I need somebody to remind me to take things one day at a time.

I'm not going to tell you anymore about the book today. I have an interview with Laura that will be posted this week. And we've got another thing on Friday. But for now, you can enter to win TRUFFLES. It's easy, really. I owe this idea to Amy, so thank Amy for suggesting it. Laura heard the idea and said "Yes, we MUST do that. That would make me feel so much better!" I wish I could find where Amy suggested it, but I'm too tired to dig that far. All you have to do is TELL US YOUR VERY OWN WEDDING HYSTERIA STORY. Yep, that's it. Tell us the story of your own meltdown. You can leave a comment on THIS post, or you can write about it on your own blog and leave us a link. Either way, you'll be entered to win. For those of you that haven't taken the plunge yet, you can share a story from a wedding that you've attended, friend or family, or ex-boyfriend, or crazy neighbor, or whoever. The story just has to contain a WEDDING and HYSTERIA. We're giving you guys a whole week to enter. All entries or links must be posted by Friday at 11:59pmEST. The winner not only gets a signed copy of Blame It on Paris, they will also get a box of truffles from Laura's very own kitchen. Bon Chance!

Also, get to a book store and pick up Blame It on Paris. Well, you can wait til the end of the week to see if you win a copy. But if you don't win, then go buy this book. It's hysterical. It's poignant. It's profound. And if you're very, very lucky, it's still covered in chocolate! (Ok, you'd have to actually have MY copy to have one covered in chocolate, and I'm not giving mine up. But all the other things I said about it are true. Really they are!)

Keep turning those pages!

dee

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Natural Born Charmer, Susan Elizabeth Phillips





- I GOT CHARMED, and SEP was soooooo charming!

Thursday night found me with my friend Robin, heading to Richmond for a Susan Elizabeth Phillips booksigning for her newest release, Natural Born Charmer. This is the last book in the Chicago Stars series, and I had been anxiously awaiting Thursday night for almost 2 months. I was NOT disappointed! Ms. Phillips was so vivacious, so interesting, and so FUN, that I don't know how the night could have been any better. She gave background info, answered questions, held a trivia contest (and YES, *I* was a winner, and was "Charmed"!!), and even read from the book. And of course, through it all, she shared her trademark humor with us. It was wonderful! Pictured above right is me with Ms. Phillips. On the left is Ms. Phillips after signing books. Those books, by the by, were ALL for me. Well, actually only one of them is mine. The rest of them are for friends and OUR WINNER - Theresa. Theresa, your book will be waiting for you when you get back to the States! Enough about that stuff. Let me tell you, briefly, about this book. And if you want to order it or read a sneak peek, simply click the link.

Natural Born Charmer concludes the Chicago Stars series, and centers around the now more mature quarterback, Dean Robillard. You may remember Dean from Match Me If You Can. In NBC, he's a little older and a little wiser, but still just as sexy.

Dean finds himself thrown together with Blue Bailey, gypsy extraordinaire. When Dean sees Blue wandering down the side of a lonely Colorado road in, of all things, a beaver costume, he can't help but stop and offer her his help. A few thousand miles and an outfit change later, they end up at Dean's vacation home in Tennessee. While fighting a very strong mutual attraction, they find themselves in the center of a crumbling family, and a town struggling to hang on.

There are always wonderful secondary characters in Ms. Phillips' book, and this one is no exception. From April, who is trying to earn forgiveness for past sins; to Jack, who is forced to face his past mistakes; to Nita, who hates everyone; to Riley, who just wants somebody to love, these folks grab your heart and don't let go.

Here is where this review takes a different turn. Normally, I'd tell you all of the things that I liked about this book, and all of the things that I thought could have been better. But allow me to be honest here, ok? We're talking about Susan Elizabeth Phillips. There is a reason that she inspires such intense fan- girl- squee- moments in readers and writers alike. She's incomparable. Now hear me out.

I've read just about everything that this woman has written, including a few books that are fairly difficult to find. I will admit that I've liked everything that she's written. However, I recently read one of her older books and couldn't review it. It wasn't that it was bad, because it wasn't. It was just that it was much older, and really not of the same "technical" caliber as her newer books.

I pick books because they look interesting to me. I pick books because someone I trust tells me the book is decent. And yes, I pick books because I'd read just about anything, including a grocery list, from some very tried and true authors. SEP is a definite grocery lister for me. Even more than the fact that her books are now superb though, I like seeing how far she has come as a writer. Her early stories were scintillating and engaging. They were funny and entertaining. They made me laugh and cry. But let's face it - she's like a fine wine - she's gotten better with age. Natural Born Charmer is proof of that.

I can't find technical fault with this book. It is about as close to perfect as you can get. I enjoyed the story, it pulled me straight in, and made me forget that I was supposed to be reviewing the book. It's not that I lost objectivity. It's just that for a few hours, I was inside that small Tennessee town, following Blue and Dean around, rooting for them, cheering with them, holding my breath when things got tense, letting out breath when things got steamy. I was part of the landscape.

To say that I enjoyed this book would be gross understatement. That would be like saying that Ms. Phillips knows how to write. DUH! Was it my favorite SEP? Honestly, I don't know if I could pick a favorite if you paid me, but this one would be a fair bet for second place. That's not a mark against it, you understand. In the SEP lineup, This Heart of Mine and First Lady are at the top. I go in for those gut-wrenching, pull your still beating heart out of your chest and stomp on it, 9 hankies needed stories. Not everyone likes those, but I really do. Some of you like the funnier, breezier stories, like Ain't She Sweet or Fancy Pants. I enjoy those as well. Natural Born Charmer will captivate both camps with its wit, heart, and well - charm. There's something to be said for a book that makes you snort while tears are creeping out of the corners of your eyes. This is one of those books.

All in all, Ms. Phillips has delivered another smash hit, in my opinion. This book offers up a cast of lovable, memorable characters, in some over-the-top situations that could be taken straight from the front pages of the tabloids. The themes of abandonment, self-realization and redemption will strike a chord with many people, and the snappy dialogue is sure to result in more than a few guffaws.

Check out Ms. Phillips website to see if she'll be signing books anywhere near you. Even if you have to drive a few hours to see her, it would be time well spent. Frankly, the only thing that kept me from driving down to North Carolina to see her again was that I had to be back in Richmond with my family today. Her signings are a blast! But of course, since it's really all about the books here, I have to tell you that Natural Born Charmer is sure to be another smash hit, and that's just fine with me!

Keep turning those pages!

dee

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

CONTEST - ENTER TO WIN!!


Here's a really quick contest. I'm heading to Richmond on Thursday to go to a Susan Elizabeth Phillips booksigning for her latest book, Natural Born Charmer. This is the final book in the Chicago Stars series, and it looks like it's going to be another SuperHit! One random winner gets a SIGNED COPY of this book, by leaving a comment on THIS post, telling me why you want it. Contest ends 3pm EST Thursday 2/08/07. GOOD LUCK!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Racism In Publishing

I found the following on MaryJanice Davidson's blog and thought this was a very interesting topic and I would love to know what the survey results are. If you can help, or know some one who can, please send them over to Karen's site.

Take Care

Racism In Publishing, How Does It Affect You?Are you an African American author who’s been published for at least one year? If so Karen Scott wants to hear from you.

She’s conducting a survey based on the racism within the publishing industry, and whether or not it’s as prevalent as some believe. She’s looking for black or African American authors who have been published for at least one year.

She would like to know about your specific experiences within the industry thus far. She wants to know how AA authors feel about the current shelving policies, and niche marketing. She wants to know who you feel is to blame for the problems that you face. She also wants your suggestions on how things can be improved upon.

In all, there are twenty questions in the survey, and all that she asks is that people be as honest as possible. Confidentiality is assured if requested, but for the findings to yield more weight, she would request that she be granted permission to directly quote from the answers given by the authors.

She’s hoping to poll at least 100 AA authors, in an effort to ensure that a fair representation is achieved.

If enough authors agree to partcipate, (and depending on the findings) the results may well be sent to representatives within media and press. No promises that Oprah will hear about it, but all efforts will be made to get the message out.If there are AA authors out there interested in participating in this poll, please e-mail Karen at hairylemony @ gmail. com (without the spaces) with the subject header ‘Please send me the survey'.The deadline for the survey to be completed and returned to Karen is March 1st 2007

Saturday, February 3, 2007

FAb Preview for February!


Whew! It feels like I just finished doing the FAb Pick for January, doesn't it? Oh yeah, maybe because I haven't posted since last Saturday, so really, I did just finish. Thankfully, the other Dee posted a few times so you wouldn't get bored. What can I say, I was reading! To finish up with last month, I need JOELLE to e-mail me at deeanddeedish@sbcglobal.net with a snail mail address. That way, you can get your signed copy of Testing Kate from Whitney. For you other winners, your books should arrive shortly. Let us know when you get them and read them, ok?

But for THIS month, we have another special treat. And I mean both special, and treat, ok? Here's the deal. My FAb Pick is Laura Florand. She's the author of Blame It On Paris, a fabulous book about... well, heck, I'll let you read her explanation yourself. When I asked Laura to describe her book in one sentence, this is what she said...

A perfectly friendly and NORMAL person from a small town in Georgia ends up in Paris where people jump back in fear when she smiles at them; she falls for a Parisian despite this and must deal with his COMPLETELY INSANE culture AND FAMILY, only to discover, when she drags him back to her world, that some aspects of it and of her own enormous family are just a little nutty when seen from his perspective, too; how will true love survive?

(I cheated by using semicolons. But it's still one sentence from a grammatical perspective.)

And that perfectly describes the book. I'm going to share more of that fun interview with you, as well as review Blame It On Paris, during Valentine's Week. Yes, I said week, because hey, it's the love holiday, and it deserves more than just a day. So be sure to check back here starting Monday, February 12, to read more about Laura and her FAB-ulous book. There will be contests, where her book will be awarded as the prize. I also have it on very good authority that maybe, just maybe, there will even be truffles involved. But not for killing anyone. Murder is bad. (And if you don't know what I mean about death and truffles, then you're missing out on a very funny story, but I'll tell you all about it in just a few more days!) Until then...

Keep turning those pages!

dee