Wednesday, August 29, 2007


A few of you really wanted this book. Your blog posts were beautiful. If I could, I would send signed copies to every single one of you. Alas, my budget does not allow such things, so only one of you gets the prize. And the oldest girl child has chosen.

The winner of the signed copy of AGNES AND THE HITMAN by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer is.....


I'll be having coffee with Jenny and Bob on the morrow. Just a few hours away. I can hardly stand it! I'll have them sign a book just for you, Brandy. When you see this announcement, you need to:

1) Stop Squealing!
2) Send me your address. (deeanddeedish at sbcglobal dot net)
3) Get ready for a FANTASTIC read!!

Congrats, Brandy. Thanks to everyone else for playing "Blog This Book" with me!

Keep Turning Those Pages!

Monday, August 27, 2007

FAB Winners Announced

The FABulous Michele Bardsley has now met her deadline for the next installment of the Broken Hearts Vampires, BECAUSE YOUR VAMPIRE SAID SO and is hard at work on the forth book WAIT 'TIL YOUR VAMPIRE GETS HOME and since I am such a slave driver, she is also working on the interview questions I sent to her (yes, I had a lot of questions!). In the meantime, Michele e-mailed me and said go ahead and announce the winner, but I want to give THREE signed copies away.

So, THANK YOU to all of you for your patience, and keep checking back for the interview. And a big CONGRATS to our three winners:


Lori Chapman


If you three will please send an e-mail to dee and dee dish @ (minus the spaces) I will forward those on to Michele and she'll get the books out to you!

Miss Beautiful started kindergarten today, and while I cry my eyes out today, I will also be planning the list of books to dish in the coming days!

Take Care

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Raise your hand if you're actually surprised that I'm reviewing this book the very day after it was released. Hmmm. No hands. You guys know me pretty well. :)

I've been waiting for this one for a while, just like many of you. I've got friends the world over (Quite literally. No, I'm not bragging, settle down over there. Yes, I mean you!) that have followed this book since before it was born. We've waited for it, and hoped for it, salivated for crumbs from it, celebrated over outtakes, even basked in the glow of drippings from it as very special holiday gifts. Some of us have met the authors and will be seeing them next week. (Yes, I KNOW it's ONE WEEK from tomorrow. I can't wait either!) And finally, finally, at a little after nine last night, my oldest girl child snuck into the Borders with me and helped me get my hands on my very own copy - soon to be one of YOUR very own signed copy.

Have you ever arranged your very hectic life around a book? Some of you are shaking your head in the affirmative, I can feel it. I did that with this book. My life has gone haywire this past six weeks, with friends passing away and friends giving birth and friends losing lots and gaining lots and me taking on a new more-than-full-time job and renters from hell and fighting spouses and so much more, and my only slice of sanity has been the thought of the new Crusie/Mayer book and my imminent departure to Ohio, of all places. It makes me laugh to think that I'm looking forward to Ohio, but you'd have to really know me, or read my personal blog often, to know why that's such a big deal. Knowing that (1)Agnes and the Hitman, the new (2)Romantic Adventure with the beautiful (3)Ta-Da! cover, by (4) Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer was finally going to be (5)on shelves August 21 (see, I got FIVE talking points in!) had me willingly working nine days straight, so I could have today all to myself, to be shared with only Agnes and Shane, Lisa Livia, Carpenter, Joey, Brenda, Maria, Palmer, Wilson, and, obviously, with Princess.

Of course, all good plans can go awry, as I learned early this morning. I sat on my front porch, book in hand, trying to read. I read the same sentence four times, not getting a word of it, while child number four yelled and child number six squealed, and dogs barked and horses whinnied and the goat made a racket almost as loud as a flamingo. I finally got through the sentence and just busted up laughing... It was hard concentrating with all the distractions... (AATHM, page 76). Truer words were never spoken.

Take one food writer named Cranky Agnes, add a hitman named Shane, mix them together with a Southern mob wedding, a missing necklace, two annoyed flamingos, and a dog named Rhett, and you've got a recipe for a sexy, hilarious novel about the disastrous side of true love...

Agnes Crandall's life goes awry when a dognapper invades her kitchen one night, seriously hampering her attempts to put on a wedding that she's staked her entire net worth on. Then a hero climbs through her bedroom window. His name is Shane - no last name, just Shane- and he has his own problems: He's got a big hit scheduled, a rival trying to take him out, and an ex-mobster uncle asking him to protect some little kid named Agnes. When he finds out that Agnes isn't so little, that his uncle has forgotten to mention a missing five million bucks he might have lost in Agnes's house, and that his last hit was a miss, Shane's life isn't looking so good , either. Then a bunch of lowlifes come looking for the money, a string of hitmen show up for Agnes, and some wedding guests gather with the intent to throw more than rice. Agnes and Shane have their hands full with greed, florists, treachery, flamingos, mayhem, mothers of the bride, and - most dangerous of all - each other.

Sounds good, eh? Well, duh! It's a Crusie/Mayer. Of course it's good. And I don't want to hear a single word about how it isn't really a Crusie, because of this or that. I'm telling you, it's a Crusie. A Crusie on speed maybe. A Crusie that has embraced the dark side of the soul for sure. But a Crusie nonetheless. It's got a lot of Mayer in there too, naturally. But a softer, gentler Mayer. Humor. Har. Indeed. Yes, it is fast paced. Yes, Agnes and Shane have a limited amount of time to finish off a To-Do list that includes finding a hitman, renovating a house, solving a twenty-five year old murder, staging a huge Mob wedding, and figuring out what love is really about. Less than a week to accomplish some pretty big things. Of course, their nights are pretty free. Or not. Depending on how you define "free". I define "free" as less distractions, enabling them to concentrate on the more important things in life. You'll probably agree, regardless of how long they may have technically known each other. That's not a criticism. The short timeline really works for me with Agnes and Shane. Really, really works.

Major differences between Agnes and the Hitman and the previous Crusie/Mayer collaboration, Don't Look Down? The body count is up, the laugh count is higher, and the food? Oh Lord, I would just about roll over on a Don for one plate of food from the kitchen at Two Rivers. There's trust and jealousy, revenge and redemption, loyalty and betrayal, flamingos and alligators, and cold-blooded murder to go with sex as hot as raspberries simmering in sugar in a heavy nonstick frying pan. Do you really want anything else when you open the pages of a book?

So take a hint from Agnes. Eat. As in - gobble up this book. Whatever. Just go out and grab this one as soon as you can.

Thank you, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, for bringing fun and laughter and love back into my life, when I needed it the most. It's been a long, hot summer, and this book arrived just in time.

Now be quiet out there. I've got a book to re-read.

Keep Turning Those Pages!

PS- Want the book? Blog for it! Copy/paste the cover .jpg and the highlighted Cover Copy onto your own blog, and link back here, or post me a comment. I'll list your blogs over on our sidebar. Next Wednesday, the night before I head out to Ohio, I'll have the oldest girl child pick a winner. You'll get my (slightly read) copy of AATHM. To make up for it being slightly read, I'll ask Jenny and Bob to sign it, just for YOU, when I see them on Thursday. NOW BLOG THIS BOOK ALREADY!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dish With Paula Guran Editor for Juno Books

I've been thinking for quite some time that I would like to start doing interviews with various people in the publishing world. dee and I already do interviews with authors, but I wanted to take a look at the other aspects of getting books out there as well. Since we at dee & Dee are big advocates of new authors, I thought it fitting to do an interview with a new imprint. So, I e-mailed Juno Editor Paula Guran to get the dish on starting up a new imprint, challenges that may have been faced in doing so, and what they look for when considering a book for publication. So read on for my dish with Paula Guran.

Chari-Dee: Could you tell us a little about Juno Books?

Paula Guran: Juno Books, although very new and still evolving, publishes fantasy
fiction featuring strong female protagonists. We've published thirteen books in the last nine months, all in trade paperback format. We are now moving into a mass market paperback format.

CD: JUNO hit the shelves in November of 2006 as an imprint of Prime Books/Wildside Press, why did they decide to launch such an imprint?

PG: Prime/Wildside had signed up with Diamond Book Distribution to nationally distribute their books. Wildside does mostly classic reprints; they also do a line of SF mass market paperbacks for Dorchester. Prime is critically well regarded for literary fantasy. There was also an imprint then, PointBlank, that did a few crime novels.

In discussion of what they might consider doing as far as books (other than what they were doing) with commercial appeal, the idea of "paranormal romance" came up. I wouldn't say anyone discussing it at that point really had any idea of what "paranormal romance" meant, but they knew it was popular. So, I don't think they really meant Juno Books to be what it is now, but they also didn't mean for it to be what they thought they were saying it was at the beginning.

CD: As the editor for Juno, could you tell us a bit of what your job entails?

PG: I read submissions, acquire books, and edit the books. I sometimes work with an author a little bit more than just "editing." I work with the cover artist to come up with art and with the cover designer. I write cover copy and other marketing copy for catalogs and the like. That is pretty much a normal editorial workload. Beyond that, I also do the Web site, newsletter, and some other promotional work. I do a little more with contracts than most editors. And I do some of the typesetting for
Juno Books titles.

CD: Were you already working for Wildside when they decided to start the

PG: No. They decided to do the BEST NEW PARANORMAL ROMANCE anthology early on and were contracting me to edit it. I was informally giving Sean Wallace a few ideas and trying to explain a little about paranormals.

This was around late March/early April 2006. They wanted to launch right away starting that fall. At that point they had acquired only three or four books. Then I suggested Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's A MORTAL GLAMOUR and, since Quinn is a friend of mine, helped set the deal up. I also suggested Sean look at Lorelei Shannon's RAGS AND OLD IRON. (Turned out Wildside had already done a hardcover of it.)

When it became obvious they needed someone to do the line they still weren't ready to commit to hiring anyone full time person. They hired me then on a per book basis. I would acquire books for them and oversee editing for a ridiculously low fee. That was something of a stopgap measure until I went full time on January 1 this year.

CD: What (if any) have been some of the challenges you have faced in
finding new authors and spreading the word?

PG: We've been fairly lucky in finding authors because we wanted a variety of titles and wanted books that weren't necessarily what the bigger publishers wanted. We also picked up some books to reprint from the 1980s that had been overlooked for the most part when first published. I called on writers I knew, as had Sean.

Then there's the writer-to-writer network. We've really benefited there. Catie Murphy, for example, spoke to me at a convention and then told Gail Dayton about us. Lillian Stewart had been published by Wildside and after I spoke to her, she mentioned us to Carol Nelson Douglas and
Sylvia Kelso...etc.

CD: Were there any surprises you encountered when starting the project?

PG: There are *so* many things I wish had been done differently at the beginning. Starting at least a year in advance to develop and research a line would have saved us from at least a few surprises that could have been avoided. Overall we were too wildly optimistic about a great deal including our ability to literally make that many books. It was a surprise to discover we were human and there are only so many hours in a day you can stay awake and work.

We've learned a great deal in the last year, so that may be another surprise -- how much we still had (and probably yet have) to learn.

One very nice surprise was the "Juno team." Stephen Segal, initially hired to manage Wildside's magazines, became Juno's cover designer. Sean Wallace, handles the production and business end of Juno. They are both in Maryland. I'm in Ohio, but we work very well together as a team. Tim Lantz, our cover artist is another integral part of the effort.

CD: What specifically are you looking for when you consider a book for

PG: Well, a guarantee it would sell a gajillion copies would be good. :-)

The givens are great characters, solid writing and plot, good dialogue,etc., but I think you probably want to know something more specific as to what I, personally, look for. One thing I look for is what makes the book distinct. What sets it apart from other books? What does the book offer a potential reader can't find elsewhere? Another important factor is plausibility: the fantasy world the author has created has to have internal integrity.

As for what *type* of book --

In the beginning here was no focus on what constituted "a Juno Books book," so I took my cue from what they had already acquired -- a variety of fantasy with strong female protagonists -- and went from there. Juno was afforded the luxury of experimentation.

We have a much better idea of what we want now, but I still don't want to slam the door on anything. SF, for example, is not high on my "most desired" list simply because it is not selling well right now, but I don't want to say "no SF" because there may well be something very special along those lines I'd be losing out on if I did.

Similarly, I am looking for more contemporary fantasy with kickassitude heroines, but I hate to stress that because folks may then think that is *all* I am looking for.

Past that . . . One practical issue: I took on a lot of unwritten or incomplete novels for the first year. It was the only way to get as many books as they wanted. Right now, I want completed or near-complete novels if at all possible. So, keep that in mind.

CD: Anything special an author should do when submitting to you?

PG: Read the guidelines. Sounds simple, but too many people don't -- or at least they don't follow them. Some other practical tips:
1) Make sure your name and eddress are on whatever documents you have
2) I like to know something about you as an author, but please don't
send me a lengthy biography or vitae.
3) Be patient. I am the only person reading and I do read everything,
so you may have to wait three months for a reply.
4) Please don't argue with me. If I happen to mention some reasons I
don't feel the ms. is suitable when I reply, please don't write me and
tell me I am wrong and that I should see such-and-such angle differently.
I may very well be wrong. Allow me to be so.

CD: Can you tell us a little about future books that will be
coming out from Juno soon? Any that you are really excited about?

PG: I'm excited about all of them! In trade paperback, you'll soon be seeing WIND FOLLOWER by Carole McDonnell and Gail Dayton's THE ETERNAL ROSE.
This is Carole's first novel and it is unique in many ways, it is a
fantasy that considers race, class, religious, and cultural divisions.
Carole considers it a Christian fantasy, but both of us are afraid to
call it that because it is *nothing* like what people usually consider
Christian fiction.

Gail's book is the final book in a trilogy. The first two volumes
gained many fans when they were published by Luna, but they dropped the
third book. We were thrilled to "save" it. Fans of the first two volumes
will be more than satisfied; new readers will be astounded.

Our first mass market is BLOOD MAGIC by Matt Cook (see, we DO publish
guys). It is written in first person with chapters alternating between
the "now" in and the past providing the back story. The heroine is an
anti-heroine in some respects -- she possesses a dark form of magic she
doesn't completely understand herself. After her twin sister is murdered
she uses that magic to avenge her death and flee. We know from the
first page she's a warrior involved in a bloody war against an inhuman foe
and as that plotline develops we learn simultaneously how she gained
her skills and evolved from a protected, well-bred girl to an
extraordinary women. There's no "romantic" element in the traditional sense, but
a relationship with a fellow soldier and a relationship she develops
with another woman is part of the story.

DANCING WITH WEREWOLVES: What happens when an intelligent veteran
author with a crackerjack sense of humor and a notable talent for mystery
asks herself, "Hmmm. What is it that make these paranormals tick?" Carole
Nelson Douglas figured it out and let her imagination go wild. There
are four or five themes going on here that might each have been
satisfactorily developed as a novel. Carole delivers it all and then some. Her
heroine Delilah Street is addictive. I honestly think this series could
be a best-seller, but we need people -- readers, booksellers, reviewers -- to spread the word.

With AMBERLIGHT by Sylvia Kelso, we have a fight on our hands. This
is a beautifully written feminist fantasy set in a fabulous city with
an unusual matriarchal society built around the women's control of a
unique mineral called qherrique. But one of our major retail channels
has decided, after reading a sample, not to stock the book. We don't
know why. The literary style -- which I find to be quite accessible
although it is a bit more challenging than, say, JK Rowling -- might
not have set well. The feminist aspect might have been problematical
but, again, we don't know if that is true.

Quite bluntly: not every book suits every taste and this is not
particularly a book meant for the average genre fan. It might even
make some males rather uncomfortable. This is a book that deserves to
be published and allowed to find its own audience. We want to publish
it in mass market format because more people will take a chance on a
book costing $6.99. So we are doing some unusual things in order to
get attention. We haven't the money to do a huge campaign, but we
have a firm belief in the book and a willingness to try our damnedest
on its behalf.

We also have some exciting debut novelists being published in early
2008 and I could catch you up on books we've already published...I really
could go on forever...

CD: Any last thoughts on your work so far for Juno?

PG: It's been very satisfying working with Juno Books on a very personal
level as well as professionally. I've been hired to do what I've
discovered I'm good at doing -- or at least I've confirmed to myself I can do
it. It's as if much of what I've been doing the last thirteen years --
and I've done a variety of publishing-related jobs both paid and unpaid
-- has value and meaning. (And that's not something I have always felt
was true.) Plus, I'm mature enough to know that you always have to
learn more. At this point in my life all that is particularly important.
Not everything we hoped would happen so far with Juno Books has happened,
but Juno has a huge potential; I hope I'll be able to help achieve at
least part of it.

I want to thank Paula for taking the time to answer my questions. If you have any you would like answered, feel free to post them here or visit the Juno Editor Blog.

Take Care

Monday, August 6, 2007


First of all, I'd like to say that I have been the "silent partner" around here for far too long. Life has been pitching lemons at me pretty darn fast, and I somehow lost my lemonade recipe. Those yellow things almost rotted while I tried to figure out a way to use them to my advantage. Thankfully, I've got a full complement of people around me that waited patiently for me to dig out my favorite cookbooks and figure out how to make a lemon torte. It was fabulous. And now I'm even starting to remember how to fire up my laptop and do this book review thing. Thanks, Charity, for holding it together as usual, while I plod away the hours and days (and weeks!) making sense of my life.

But really, I'm here to tell you about THIS BOOK, CONVERSATIONS WITH THE FAT GIRL, by Liza Palmer. I picked it up in Dallas, during the RWA National Convention. I met the beautiful author, and she even signed it for me. So, I'm just telling you right now that you are not getting MY copy of this book. Sorry.

Check out this BCC...

Maggie and Olivia have been best friends since they were in grade school. Both overweight, they befriended each other when no one else would. Now grown up, Maggie is still shopping in the euphemism-if-there-ever-was-one "women's section", while Olivia went and had gastric bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 4, the holy grail for women everywhere. So now Olivia's thin and blond and getting married to a handsome surgeon, and Maggie is the fat bridesmaid, again, in charge of planning "The Shower" and keeping Olivia's secret: that she's really a fat girl in a thin body. Ain't life grand?
With wit and wisdom, Liza Palmer gives voice to women everywhere who wish for just once that they could forget about their weight.

Checking it over, the only thing that I don't like is that it sounds a bit light, compared to the story. But it is actually very accurate, so no complaints from me on this one.

I'm not going to give away any plot points or secrets with this one. I'm not going to tell you my favorite part, or my least favorite part. Wait, I will tell you my least favorite - the end. No, I don't mean that the end was bad. I mean that the book ended. It ended, and I was sad, because I really LOVE Maggie.

This is a very well written book, that deals with so many different things that I can't even describe them all. It's got a great cast of characters in it that all seem so real, you can mix them up with people in your own life like I did. There is even the hint of a romance. But at the core of it all? Well, there's Maggie.

What's not to love about a woman named Maggie? (I have a daughter with the same name. No, not Margaret. Maggie. I LOVE THIS NAME!) Maggie has been bigger than most everyone else for as long as she can remember. She sees the world through her own special lens, in which she constantly judges how other people will react to her. She has a mile-high wall around herself, to make sure that nobody gets close enough to hurt her. It's painful to see at first, because though this story is written in First POV, you can see from the reactions she gets from people around her that the way she sees herself is very different from the way the world sees her.

Maggie has been working a dead end job for two too many years. She's wasting her Master's Degree at a coffeehouse run by a jerk of a boss, with a pseudo-surrogate mother figure who craves attention and a ditzy wanna-be actress as her co-workers. And then there's Dominic, the 28 year old busboy.

Maggie has a teeny tiny crush on Dominic. She loathes her boss, but craves his approval. She adores her mother and slightly envies her older sister. She wonders where she fits in to her now-skinny best friend's life. And she hates her "Area", that section of her body that she just knows is the center of everyone's attention any time she enters a room. Maggie has a lot to learn.

And well, she does. But I'm not telling you anymore about it. I can't. Because I want you to buy it for yourself, and sink your teeth into it like it was something out of a pink pastry box. It's just that good. Trust me!

This is, by far, my favorite book that I've read from my RWANats stash so far. It wasn't on the top of my TBR pile when I got home. I had to wade through dozens of books before it made its way to my hands. Most of those other books were decent. I may even dish a few of them. But this book? I truly regret not reading it sooner. I regret even more that I finished it as fast as I did. It was gorgeous and strong, sassy and fearless, funny and beautiful, all at the same time.

Just like Maggie.

Go order this book today. It's one Conversation you really shouldn't miss!

Keep Turning Those Pages!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tempting by Susan Mallery

Don't forget, FAB pick Michele Bardsley is facing a major deadline, so in the meantime, Ter has taken over her blog to give away lots of goodies. As soon as Michele has finished with her deadline she will be able to get to the interview and we'll post it and the winners. For now, please bear with us and head over to her blog to win more FAB prizes! And now, without further ado...


After three romantic flame-outs in a year and a restaurant career going nowhere, Dani Buchanan needs a fresh start. She goes looking for her biological father, but never expects to find a senator running for president. As his long-lost 'love child,' Dani could seriously derail the election— something his handsome campaign manager Alex Canfield isn't going to let happen. Dani isn't about to let Alex run her life, no matter how tempting she finds him—and Alex isn't going to allow Dani to melt his cynicism, no matter how close he has to get. The last thing either of them wants is love, especially with scandals brewing and family trouble on the way. But Dani and Alex are forced to trust each other, and when trust turns to passion, the potential for disaster is only a tabloid scandal away.

As far as the BCC goes, well, it's OK, but I'll tell you, it leaves a out a MAJOR fact. Like the fact that Alex Canfield is not only the senator's campaign manager, he is also the senator's adopted son. So basically, Alex and Dani are brother and sister. I realize that I should not let such a thing bother me, especially since I really enjoyed the book for the most part. Unfortunately, what joy I was getting kept being interrupted by the fact that the love interests were, um, kinda sorta related.
Dani Buchanan finds out that she is in fact, not a true Buchanan. Her mother had had an affair and she was the result. Dani finds this out by her Grandmother that she has never been close with, but tried her hardest to be loved by.

Feeling out of place, Dani starts a new job as General Manager at a new restaurant, and heads off to find her biological father. What she finds is her bio father is a senator getting ready to run for president. She walks into his campaign headquarters and meets her adopted brother Alex. He is refusing to let her see Mr. Canfield because he believes she is lying to him. Alex may be gorgeous, but Dani sorely dislikes being called a liar.

When it turns out that Dani is truly the senators daughter, it's time to meet the rest of the family. Unable to have children of her own, Katerine Canfield and her husband the senator have adopted the unadoptable. Children that are special needs. When Dani first meets them, she fits in wonderfully, and falls in love with the children. Something that Alex's ex-wife never quite managed.

Ultimately, Alex and Dani start to fall in love. Having hot sweaty monkey love though presents its own set of problems. For starters, Alex feels as if he is betraying his mother, Katherine because he sees how Dani's appearance has hurt her. The paparazzi are all over Dani's relationship with the senator, and now are having a hey-day with her and Alex's affair. Add to that an ex-wife that has no problem lying and cheating her way back into Alex's life, and Dani and Alex have quite a few obstacles.

For the most part, Tempting is a wonderful book. I liked Dani, and I enjoyed watching her come to grips with not being who she always believed she was. I enjoyed watching as Dani and grandmother mend fences. I enjoyed how the Buchanan's were still fiercely protective of her and how she never once forgot that other people had the ability to be devastated by her appearance.

If it weren't for the fact that Dani and Alex were both children of the senator, no matter if it was by blood or not, I would have absolutely no gripes about the book. As it was though, I enjoyed Mallery's voice, her grasp of craft that allowed her to make each and every character believable and real. Tempting is book four in a stand alone series, and it was good enough for me to want to read the other three.
I can tell you, Tempting is a good read. An easy way to spend a lazy afternoon. And Mallery will be added to my list of authors to read. I just wish I could get over...

Take Care