Monday, December 31, 2007
Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Flirting With The Grave...
Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father - the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.
In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner - are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side...and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.
The BCC is good, but it no where near comes close enough to actually capturing the intense story that lay inside the pages of this book. It's vague, and I suppose that's all it should be, so thumbs up.
Now that I've rated the BCC, I'll tell ya I didn't even read it. I saw this cover and grabbed the book off the shelf. It wasn't until I cracked the book open a week or so later that I saw the "A Night Huntress Novel" and began to worry. I absolutely loathe buying a book and then finding out it's the twentieth in a series, I mean that's one of my biggest pet peeves. Thankfully, I was lucky and while this is part of a series, it's the very first book in the series. Sweet! To make it double sweet? This is Frost's debut! You know how I love me a debut author! And whoo-boy, what a debut!
Cathrine (Cathy, Cat) Crawfield is the product of a human mother who was raped by a vampire. Growing up in a small town, where unwed motherhood is frowned upon, life was not easy for Cat. Add to that the fact that she was always a bit different from the other kids, faster, stronger, and life growing up was not ideal. It wasn't until Cat turned 16 that she found out the truth about her birth. But, once she did, she also found out how much her mother despised vampires. Understandably of course, but it was not only because of her own rough younger years but because of her mother's hatred of the undead that Cat finds herself hunting and killing the evil that wanders the night.
Then one night, something goes terribly wrong. Cat find herself with an undead she can't kill. In fact, he's gotten the jump on her. Bones though, just wants to know who she is working for. After all, surely this young human could not have done what he saw her do, without the backing of a more powerful vampire. When she refuses to tell him what he wants to know, Bones comes thisclose to doing her in, only just as he's about to take that bite, Cat's eyes start to glow green, and only a vampire's eyes can glow green.
Bones then hears the truth of the matter and a deal is struck. He will train Cat to fight, "...There is only one way to fight, and that's dirty. Clean, gentlemanly fighting will get you nowhere but dead, and fast. Take every cheap shot, every low blow, absolutely kick people when they're down, and then maybe you'll be the one who walks away. Remember that. You're in a fight to the death...", if she becomes his partner. You see, Bones is a vampire bounty hunter, and he just found the perfect bait. In return, Cat gets to live another day, keep killing the bad vampires, and the help of Bones in finding her father - the one vamp she'd really love to kill.
But young girls are coming up missing, what's worse is all the traces are of the girls are being wiped clean. Bones has a very good idea who is behind it and has been after the vamp for over eleven years. Going through the underlings for information is the plan, and once he gets the information, Cat gets her kill.
But first, Bones must teach her to fight, teach her everything she doesn't know about vampires (which is quite a bit), stop her annoying habit of blushing when talk turns sexual, and make-over the frumpy excuses she calls clothing. And to quote Cat when the time finally comes to go hunting, "I was now outfitted as Cat, the Vampire-Killing Slut."
Cat soon becomes a target, and suddenly, Bones and Cat must get to the bottom of this and destroy the big bad vamp, before he gets the drop on them. If Cat and Bones just happen to feel sparks of excitement that have nothing to do with the hunt, well, there's not much that can be done about that.
I'm ashamed to admit this, but I have been bored lately with the Paranormal genre. Oh sure, there were my steadfast auto-buy's, Harrison, Harris, MJD, to name a few, but on the whole, I've been noticing some trends in the genre that had me fuming mad and ready to give up on new authors/books that hit the shelves. All I can say is, Thank Goodness for Cat and Bones. My love of the genre has been re-ignited.
Cat is the perfect heroine. Strong and sassy, " 'You hit me again and I'll -' "What? Bleed more? Thanks, but I only drink gin and tonic. That's one vampire attribute I'm without. No fangs. See?"
Yet she still struggles with her lot in life, "Glad? That's not quite the word I'd use. Relieved? You could say that. Relieved I'm alive and there's one less murderer prowling around for naive girls. But glad? Glad would be if I never had this lineage. Glad would be if I had two normal parents and a bunch of friends, and the only thing I;d ever killed was time....This is just ...existing. Until the next time." (snipped a few lines like I oft do.)
And Bones? Whew, Bones is the perfect compliment to Cat. Tough when he needs to be, Bones too has a heart, and Cat captures it. Which is good for Cat, because Bones has a way of helping her see the way out of her self-pity, "Rot, I said. You play the hand you're dealt just like everyone else in this bloody world. You have gifts people would kill for, no matter that you scorn them. You have a mum who loves you and a nice house to go home to. Sod your backwoods neighbors who look down their ignorant noses at you for your lack of a father. This world is a big place an you've got an important role to play in it. Think everyone goes around whistling about the life they lead? Think everyone is given the power to choose the way their fate goes? Sorry, luv, it doesn't work that way. You hold the ones you love close and fight the battles you can win, and that, Kitten, is how it is." Did I mention Bones is British and calls her Kitten? Swoon.
I honestly could go on and on about this book. My trusty pen and paper got quite a workout as I jotted down favorite passages. Normally, HTTG would be top of my list for my next FAB, unfortunately, two things held me back. 1 - It's hit the best-sellers list already, (just two months after it was released) and while I'm not adverse to breaking that small rule, there is reason number 2 - there were a lot of copy editing mistakes. I can generally overlook one or two, but there were several, and a few of them even slowed me up to re-read.
Are those two things going to stop me from buying the next book? Or even re-reading this one? Heck no. Hurry up Jeaniene and write faster! And you readers? Get out NOW and get this book. Just be warned, you'll not want to put it down, Cat and Bones take you on a fast-paced journey that you will be unable to ignore until the very last page has been read. Frost has created a fantastic book with a great explanation for vampires (you know my affinity for the way authors explain their existence) that's filled to the brim with action, suspense, heart, and hot romance. Frost has staked her place on my keeper shelf, and I can honestly say, I don't see her leaving it anytime soon.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
The Best of the The Best 2007 Reader Picks:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rolling * X3
20 Times A Lady by Karyn Bosnak
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Force of Nature by Suzanne Brockmann
Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr
Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day *
The River Trilogy by Robyn Carr
Riding the Thunder by Deborah MacGillivray
Spirited Away by Cindy Miles *
Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer X2
All About Evie by Beth Ciotta
Lost Girls by Bob Mayer X2
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon
Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini X2
Handbag Friends by Sally Lloyd Jones
The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers
How To Be A Baby By Me The Big Sister by Sally Lloyd Jones
Untouched by Anna Campbell
Sleepless at Midnight by Jacquie d'Alessandro X2
Big Boned by Meg Cabot
Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale
Adios To My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer *
Hunting the Demon by Jaci Burton
The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich * X2
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins *
Harvey and Eck by Erin O'Brien
The Uninvited by Amanda Marrone
Holidays are Hell Anthology with stories by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Marjorie Liu, Vicki Pettersson
Creation in Death by J.D. Robb
The Harlequin by Laurell K Hamilton
For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison *
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen X2
Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald
Mystery Series by Cleo Coyle / Alice Kimberly
The Sense of Paper by Taylor Holden
Dragonflies and Dinosaurs by Kate Austin
Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli X2
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
True Evil by Greg Isles
Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
Not Quite a Lady by Loretta Chase X2
If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman
Christmas Wishes by Debbie Macomber
The Collection by Gioia Diliberto
All the Numbers by Judy Merrill Larsen
Tied to the Tracks by Rosina Lippi
Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole X2
The Devil Inside by Jenna Black
Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian
Once Bitten Twice Shy and Another One Bites the Dust by Jennifer Rardin
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
Accidental Vampire by Lynsay Sands
Over Hexed by Vicki Lewis Thompson *
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Take Care and Keep Turning Those Pages
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A Rose from the Dead by Kate Collins
Why did I, Abby Knight, agree to attend a convention of funeral directors? I was desperate to drum up more business for my flower shop, Bloomers. What I got instead was murder...
Who knew death could be so much fun?
Abby is amused by the black humor of the usually somber "death professionals" who are attending the Midwestern Funeral Directors Association's regional convention. Even organizer Sybil Blount - known for her cutthroat business practices and the signature rose she wears in her wig - isn't what Abby expects...especially when her corpse is found in a casket. When Abby's friend Delilah Dove becomes a suspect, Abby shifts into full investigation mode and learns that Sybil's enemies included the prankster sons of a big-time funeral director, an eco friendly purveyor of "green burials," and a strange Goth girl who captures the "music" of departing souls on her tape recorder. It's up to Abby and her boyfriend, Marco, to look beyond the trappings of death and find out who really loved Sybil - and who loved her not.
I'm really starting to get annoyed with the BCC's of the books I've been reading, because I really can't find anything to really complain about. I know, that's what I've always been after, the good BCC to become commonplace, but if this keeps up, I'm not gonna have much blog fodder.
I've been with the Flower Shop Mysteries since book one, and I absolutely fell in love with them. Abby Knight is such an endearing character, and I've sat here trying to figure out how to sum up how she became a flower shop owner, and finally, I'm calling calf rope and am just gonna quote Abby herself from the book -
"Half a year ago, while I was busy flunking law exams, being dumped by my finace and my insurance company, and crossing off my dream to become the success my brothers were, Lottie's husband developed serious heart problems, starting a cascade of financial difficulties the threatened to sink her ship - er, shop. Since we were both looking for a life raft, Lottie suggested what seemed like a crazy idea at the time. And now, one ginormous mortgage later, I owned a flower shop and she worked for possibly the best employer in the whole country."
The books are filled with a great cast of characters, Abby's mom who likes to make, shall we say, interesting craft projects, her dad who is a retired policeman who was wounded on the job, Grace an employee who's british and has a quote for every occassion, Lottie the former owner of the flower shop who is the mother of quadruplets and has a great big heart, Nikki her roommate and best friend, and Marco the sexy owner of the bar down the street Down the Hatch. Marco is also a P.I., former Ranger, and ex-cop.
In the first book of the seies we find out that Abby is a meddler, and hates injustice. Abby will go to the extreme to right a wrong, so it was a real shame, in her opinion, that she flunked out of law school. But, in each book, Abby gets to try her hand at righting a wrong, and solving a puzzle.
I'm not going to go into a big lengthy rundown of the book, because frankly, the BCC did the job reall well. For the most part, ARFTD is a wonderful book. I really enjoy the cozy mystery genre and it's because of books like these. I laughed out loud several times and had a seriously hard time putting it down for any amount of time.
I did notice though, that the pacing seemed off. The book takes place over the span of just two days that the convention takes place in, and this is probably my problem. The normal large cast we see in the books was absent, and I missed them. A lot happened in just those two days, and at times it felt rushed and other's the pacing seemed to slow down to a very slow pace. I don't know though, if it's the pacing that was the problem, or the short time-frame for events. I would read something and think, wait a minute, we're still on the first day? So, I guess the problem was really more that I was having trouble with how much Abby was able to get done in just one day, especially since the dead body doesn't show up until the end of the first day.
I also don't know if I've just gotten really good, or if this mystery was an easy one to solve. I had it figured out really fast. Collins is good though, she almost had me changing my mind, and that was fun, but I stuck firm to my culprit and I was right. Well, mostly right, my motives were a bit off.
If you're a fan of the cozy mystery genre, or a first time reader of it, I have to recommend this one. You really don't have to read the books in order, though I highly recommend that you do, if you start with this one, be prepared to go back and buy the rest of the series.
Collins voice is clear, her characters real and endearing, her humor excellent, and she'll have you turning the pages faster and faster arriving at The End wanting MORE!
At the back of the book is a teaser chapter for the next installment, and OH how I wish I hadn't read it, because it's not out until August, and I. Don't. Want. To wait. That. Long! Who do I need to petition to get on the ARC list? Can someone please tell me this!
Collins is a must buy, and if you haven't tried her yet, do, she'll have you hooked from line one. Abby is wonderfully funny and endearing, and you'll wish you worked in Bloomers and were part of this great world.
Friday, December 28, 2007
At any rate, it looks like it could be fun! Check us out!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Over Hexed by Vicki Lewis Thompson
The key to finding true love...
Banished. Until their unconventional techniques land them in hot water, Dorcas and Ambrose are the matchmaking therapists for lovelorn witches and wizards. The Grand High Wizard has exiled them to the very conventional and unmagical town of Big Knob, Indiana. Population: 947. But that doesn't mean they've given up matchmaking....
...is a good hex life.
Now they're doing it for mere mortals - although all agree: Sean Madigan is something of a god. Because he's tired of being the town sex object, Dorcas and Ambrose strip him of his appeal and then introduce him to his destiny. Maggie Grady. This time winning a girl's heart won't be so easy for Sean. It means rediscovering the charms buried beneath a gorgeous surface, and finally proving himself to be more of a man than ever before.
As far as this BCC, well, it's damn good. That's not something I'm used to saying, but it's the truth, and I have no problem saying so.
I've made no secret of the fact that I have a total FGSF every time I get a new Thompson book. I LOVE her Nerd books, and when I read that Thompson was going to be putting out a new paranormal series, well, I nearly wet my pants I was so excited. Paranormal plus one of my favorite authors? HOG HEAVEN. Then I read another of my favorite author's books that had gone from Romance to Paranormal, and well, I was nervous. But, ya know what? I had absolutely no need to fret. Thompson, for me, has done it again.
When Dorcas and Ambrose give the Grand High Wizard's brother-in-law a potion that goes awry, they are sentenced to exile in Big Knob, Indiana until they can straighten out George, a dragon living in The Whispering Forest there. You see, George is supposedly ADD, and would rather play poker with raccoons, and blow shaped smoke rings than patrol the forest and keep it protected.
Sean Madigan has never had a problem getting a woman. In fact, Sean's problem is just the opposite, he can't even walk down the street without the women of Big Knob assaulting him trying to get a date. Fed up with it all, Sean just wishes he could live like a normal man. Dorcas and Ambrose happen to be walking in town one day and see Sean being accosted and step in to help. And this is when Dorcas and Ambrose get their big idea.
In exchange for Sean, who is the local handyman, building them a sex bench, Dorcas and Ambrose agree to help Sean become less attractive to the opposite sex. Sean doesn't see how this can happen, but Sean doesn't know that he's dealing with a witch and wizard. But Dorcas doesn't want to just stop with Sean becoming less attractive to all women, she wants to help him find his soul mate. If the plan just happens to take care of their problem with George, well, so much the better. So they set a plan in motion to bring his soul mate to town, throw them together, and help them see when Sean is acting like a man.
Maggie Grady is a location scout for a big super saving chain store. When three of her big deals fall through, she's in jeopardy of losing her job, and convinced that there is a mole in the company. When she gets an e-mail saying that some one has a great location for a new store, Maggie hops the red-eye to beat out the competition.
The location for the store, just happens to be the house that Sean has been wanting to buy since his father lost it and fled, years ago. Unfortunately for Sean, Dorcas and Ambrose had already started working on his appeal to women, and Maggie isn't the least bit charmed just by looking at him. Sean, on the other hand, is instantly smitten with Maggie. And, against her better judgement, Maggie finds herself more and more attracted to Sean.
The cast of characters in Hexed are hilarious. There's the beautician that can't stop talking about her sex life, the 80 something Edith Mae Hoogstraten, that has no business driving but does so anyway with the town just making way for her, George the dragon who refuses to be responsible, and Sean himself who uses skunks as a way to keep the women away, and the rock in which the town was named, Big Knob that resembles sometime very sexual. No wonder the town is oversexed.
Hexed is what happens when a great Romance writer tries her hand at paranormal without veering too far from her roots. Filled with incredible sexual tension, laugh out loud moments, and sweet Romance, Hexed is an amazing start to a what promises to be a great series of related books. While each book will feature a different H&H, with such a small town, characters are sure to repeat, and with the cast featured, I can't think of anything better.
For a great, fun, fast paced read, grab Hexed. I honestly don't think you'll be disappointed. It really is lighthearted fun at it's best. And although I love these books and hope to read many more, I have to hope that the Nerd books are not taking a backseat, I didn't see any mention of when the next one would be out, and I really don't want to do without those. Any one know about those?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
But, you didn't check back here to hear about my busy week-end, and how I gorged myself on ham and too many side dishes, did ya? Nah, I didn't think so, you came here to see who the big winner was. So...
RachaelfromNJ if you will e-mail me your snail mail address to deeanddeedish at sbcglobal dot net (you know, without the spaces and with the symbols), you have won the BIG contest which is a prize package of all SIX of dee & Dee's Best of the Best 2007. Most of the books will be signed, and if I can swing it, ALL of them will be. CONGRATS!
And, since I'm in such a happy giving mood - Maureen, would you please e-mail me your snail mail addy with your choice of 2 of our BoB picks. They will be delivered to your door unsigned, but they'll be new and FABulous!
And now, for the winner of our Mini-Contest:
KCO please e-mail me you snail mail addy and the snail mail addy of a friend to send your AuthorIsland.com goody boxes. I see you found us through a Yahoo! Group that both dee and I belong to, so you'll get to pick who the second box goes to!!!
CONGRATS! To all our winners. THANK YOU to everyone that entered. Stay tuned here at dee & Dee for more contests, because we love to give things away, especially books!
Note: If I have not heard from all the winners in one weeks time, a new name will be drawn for the contest prize that was not claimed. Unfortunately, we do not have time to hunt the winners down.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I need you to make sure that you enter this Big Contest here. It's pretty simple (she says, with a maniacal grin). All you have to do is tell us your favorite three books of the year. Easy as pie, right? I also need to make sure that you enter this mini-contest here. Again, piece of cake. Just tell us how you found us. You have until 3 p.m. central time on Christmas Day to enter, at which time, I will take all the entries and announce the winner at around 5.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for dee & Dee's Top Picks of 2007!
Chari-Dee's Best of the Best:
Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
(Chari-Dee's original dish here)
Seriously, you're not surprised, right? If a paranormal book is awesome enough to hit dee's keeper shelf, then of course I, Chari-Dee, lover of all things paranormal, am going to totally wig out over it.
Mead has written an incredible start to what I hope is a LONG, series. This is not your average paranormal, and at a time when vampires and Were's run rampant through the shelves (and don't get me wrong, because I lurve me some vamps and Were's), Succubus Blues was a refreshing change. A good natured succubus, an enemy that has both Heaven and Hell trying to find it, sex, suspense, humor, and Romance, Succubus is a keeper, and Georgina will worm her way into your auto-buy list for a long time to come. Not an easy feat for a debut author to find their way on my list of favorites, but Mead not only did just that, she's at the TOP of that list.
dee's Best of the Best 2007:
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins
(dee's original dish here)
Wanna know a (notsomucha) secret? dee has read this book OVER 50 times. Wanna know something else that's amazing? She thinks it gets better every time.
There is a reason Higgins is classified as one of both the d/D's favorite authors, and COTD is a perfect example of it. Higgins books are the perfect mix of Women's Fiction and Romance. With flawed and incredibly funny heroines and a cast of characters that are so real you practically know them. Higgins will have you laughing, crying, laughing again, and smiling so hard your face hurts for the rest of the day.
When your heart needs a smile, when you want to believe in falling in love again, or when you just want to read a great book, grab one by Higgins, you can't go wrong.
Take Care and Keep Turning Those Pages
Now, get thyself over and enter those two contests!!!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Of course, Chari-dee and I decided to set some guidelines, to make things a bit more fair. Our Best of the Best could only be books that came out this year, and we had to have reviewed them. Now you'll notice that one of my Top Picks actually came out last year, as did one of Chari-Dee's. Technically, we didn't follow our own guidelines. However, we'd both like to point out that the books in question were reviewed by us THIS year. So. There.
Why, then, are we doing a short-sweet of Honorable Mentions? Because we can. And, because we try, really we do, to follow our guidelines when we can. And because, well frankly, sticking to only three books is hard. So today, we bring you the books that woulda-coulda-shoulda made our BEST OF THE BEST list. And we'll even explain why they didn't.
Succubus Blues, by Richelle Mead
(You can read Chari-dee's review here.)
Here's a secret - I really don't like paranormal books. At. All. Witches? Don't like 'em. Vampires? Can't stand 'em. Magic and curses and spells? Think they're pretty silly, for the most part. Why on earth is this book on my list of HONORABLE MENTIONS for The BEST OF THE BEST? Are you kidding me? It's freakin' amazing!!
Chari-dee told me about it earlier this year and I thought, "Yep, she's lost it. She's picking a paranormal book, about a succubus in Seattle no less, as her FAB book this month? She's lost her mind this time!" Then she sent me a copy of the book. It took me two months to finally decide to read it, and that was only because she kept asking me if I'd read it already.
When you finally read a book that you are totally convinced you will NOT like, then have to stop yourself from kicking your own silly butt for not reading it sooner, you know the book is good. It was a strange blend of romance and redemption, blood and humor, with just a tad of twisted religion thrown in for good measure. And here's another secret - I gave it to my husband and he totally enjoyed it as well! (For the record, he's not into paranormals or romances, but he couldn't put it down, and is actually looking forward to the next one!!)
Why it didn't make my official list - There is NOTHING wrong with this book, and so many things RIGHT with this book, that if I could have picked FOUR books, it would have been on the list. As it is though, it gets my HM nod, and stands alone as the only paranormal ever to reach my Keeper Shelf.
Conversations With The Fat Girl, by Liza Palmer
(You can read dee's dish here.)
Do you ever just pick up a book and start reading, not really expecting anything more than a few hours of occupied time, and get so totally blown away that you can't stop thinking about the book for months? That's what happened when I finished reading this book.
I stumbled onto the book in Dallas at RWA Nationals. I brought it home, along with over 100 other books. It was one of those "Yeah, this looks interesting, and the author was really nice. And pretty. So I bought it," books. I had a few (dozen) of those, since I just can't pass up new/one book authors, ever. It has something to do with my own personal nightmare of sitting there and having not one single person stop to buy my book. I ended up with a lot of books that were decent, a few that were ok, not too many that were actually fairly good.
And then there was this one.
If I had to pick one book to give to friends about stepping out on faith and reaching for your dreams, this would be the book. If someone asked me for a book recommendation for someone battling weight issues, or overcoming self-doubt, or tackling their own fears, I would hand them this book. If any of my four beautiful girls ever question how I feel about them, or think that I love another one of them more because of the way they look or act or anything, I will pass this book on to them.
Frankly, it is one of the best books I've read in years. It is beautiful, even when dealing with ugly stereo-types. It is funny, even when stating sad truths. It is poignant and strong, smart and frank, solid and uplifting. In short, it's practically perfect. You'll be missing more than pink pastry boxes of happiness if you miss this Conversation!
Why it didn't make my official list - The reason, the ONLY reason, it isn't on my list is that it was actually published in 2005. And while this is our blog, even we can't stretch the boundaries of time to make this wonderful book eligible for 2007. However, keep your eyes open for Ms. Palmer's newest release, SEEING ME NAKED. Don't be surprised if we talk about it here really soon!
Crazy In Love by Lani Diane Rich
(You can see my original dish here.)
Seriously, have you ever read a book by Lani Diane Rich? If so, then you're not at all questioning why I've chosen this one to hang out with my Top Picks of the Year. Rich is FABulous.
Crazy is a book filled with laughs and love. You can't read a Rich novel and not laugh, I dare you to try, because you can't. And that's why I couldn't let this book be overlooked when thinking of my favorites of the year. I read this baby in less than 3 hours! Not because it's uber short, either, it's honestly just that good.
But, not only is Crazy an excellent Romance, Flynn Daly grows and learns in it as well. This book really was like a combination of Lani's work, Romance and Women's Fiction, rolled into one great big laugh 'til you cry, and smile when you're done book of happiness.
Why it didn't make my official list: ARGH!! No clue again. There just isn't room in the Top 3 for all of my favorites, and when I took a look at my list I tried to as diverse in the books I chose for my Top 3 as possible, so this one gets an HM nod, because I had to sing it's praises too.
And speaking of cake... oh yes, we were! At least - I was. And if there is a cake, it should really be chocolate. And when I think of chocolate, I can't help but think of my number two pick. Do you already have it figured out?
Note from Chari-Dee: The BIG contest is going great, you guys sure do read some FAB books, keep the entries coming. It's a great prize. The mini-contest is running great too, We're loving hearing how you found us! So for the BIG one click here, for the mini-one click here. And while you're checking out the mini-contest, be sure to check out our partner on that one AuthorIsland.com , for even more contests!
dee's #2 pick is...
Blame It On Paris, by the FABulous Laura Florand
(You can read dee's review here, as well as an interview from Laura here.)
This is one of the funnest, truest, loveliest breaks I've ever been given. From Paris to my beloved South, Laura Florand captures the essence of the places she calls home. Whether she's rollerblading through the streets in the City of Lights or introducing her almost in-laws to a Waffle House, her voice is strong and vibrant, as rich as the French chocolate that she loves so much.
When trying to pick my Best of the Best this year, this book was a no-brainer for my list. I loved it the first time I held it in my chocolate covered hands, and I love it still, almost an entire year later. I pick it up often to flip through the pages and see what kind of insights into myself Laura will hand me through her words. Or sometimes, I just pick it up to see if it still smells of truffles (it does!). Regardless of the reason though, the fact remains - in a house as crammed full of books as mine, me picking up a book that I first read almost 12 months ago means something.
If you haven't had the pleasure of indulging in this perfect convection of France and The South, you should remedy that situation immediately. Go pick up this book. Or add it to your Christmas list. It's a wonderful read that I enjoyed then, and continue to enjoy now!!
Keep Turning Those Pages!!
Chari-Dee's #2 Pick:
(For Chari-Dee's original dish click here)
As you can see, I couldn't sing the praises enough of this book when I picked to be my fist ever FAB, and that hasn't changed. I've re-read my copy too many times to count, I've bought extra copies for friends and family. At every turn I've mentioned this book to readers wanting a great read.
Don't let the YA label fool you, Caridad has penned a great story for women of all ages, there's a bit of Romance, but the story is all about dreams, and how one young woman did anything in the world to fulfil hers and live her passion. If you haven't read this one yet, I recommend you run, yes run, not walk or jog, run, out and get it NOW! It truly is a story for anyone who's been told they can't, faced adversity and over-come, it's a story for anyone who dreams of one day grabbing the bull by the horns and going for. Ali's story in Adios will forever be one of my all time favorites, what an amazing character and Ferrer's voice is so clear, so strong, so heartfelt, Caridad will be one to be looking for for years to come!
dee forgot to add - in the spirit of Christmas and all, we're also going to extend our Big Contest, found here. You can keep posting entries until Monday, 12/24. With all of the free books included in the prize, you really can't afford to not enter!
Dancing Shoes and Honky Tonk Blues by LuAnn McLane
dee's #3 Pick:
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, by R. L. LaFevers
You can see Chari-dee's original dish here, and you can see the interview my daughter Maggie did with Theodosia here.
Yeah, I know it's a kids book. And I know that I both write and review adult fiction, generally for women. Yet - here it is, on my list. You know why? Well, it's a darn good book!
It's filled with action, adventure, mystery, suspense, curses, secret societies, unexpected friendship, history, family ties, and OH, so much more. Plus, the heroine Theo totally rocks. She's just the right blend of sass and spunk, but she didn't cross the line into disrespectful of her parents.
So many kid or YA books make it seem cool that the protags diss their parents, lie, steal, cheat, or any other number of things. Even some of the blockbuster books make me cringe when it comes to the way that the typical adult, especially parental figure, is portrayed. Theo loved her parents, and it showed. She wasn't prissy about it, and it wasn't overdone. She still disobeyed (in a big way at one point), but it's in a way that my daughter understood. The book didn't leave Maggie feeling that it was cool to be disrespectful to your parents, and I really appreciated that.
On another note, any book that gets you free snuggle time with your seven year old daughter is worth its weight in gold. But not only did my 7yo want to hear Theo, so did the 6yo. And the 11yo. And the 15yo. And did I mention that the 10 and 12 yo boys liked listening to it as well?
My Maggie didn't just sit and listen to the story though. The book was actually her motivation to become a better reader. I had tears in my eyes just the other day, as she reached up onto my bookshelf and took it down, turned to me and said,"Momma, I'm gonna take Theo into my room and read for a while, ok?" And she did. By herself. She couldn't have done that in March. But after hours of reading Theo together, she has the confidence to read it herself.
Of course, you already know that Robin LaFevers has a magical way with words. The words she wrote in her LOWTHAR'S BLADE trilogy turned my youngest son into a Reader. The words she wrote in her WEREWOLF RISING story turned my oldest son into a Reader. Now that she's moved on to books geared towards girls, I can hardly wait to see what happens with my youngest!
So yeah - this book written for young adults has more than earned a place on my BEST OF THE BEST list... because it's already earned a perma-spot on my Keeper Shelf, and a place in my heart. Thanks Robin, for your amazing talent. I can't wait to read the next installment of Theo!
Keep Turning Those Pages!!
BUT, it's Christmas time, and dee and I LOVE to give things away, so we're giving you another shot at a great prize.
* In the comments of this post, tell us how you came to find dee & Dee Dish... Did you read about us on another blog? Did a friend tell you about how great we are? We want to know. Just tell us the who and the where and you're entered.
* The contest runs until we post the winner of our Best of the Best 2007 contest. In the same post we make the announcement, we'll also announce the winner of this one.
* dee and Dee have teamed up with AuthorIsland.com , and the prize is unbelievably great. The winner of this contest will win a box filled to bursting with cool author goodies. These boxes are great, I can tell you. DeNita jams them full of bookmarks, magnets, bookplates, pens, and tons of other great things. DeNita has also told me she's going to be throwing in an AuthorIsland.com tee-shirt. I have one, they are awesome. It took me three days to go through all the cool things in my box, and those authors sure can get creative with their promotional fare.
* But WAIT! Not only will the winner win a box stuffed full, so will the person they heard about us from. However, if you heard of us from us, an author's blog, or a search engine, we'll let you pick the person you want us to send the box to.
* Boxes are mailed Priority Mail, but please allow one-two weeks for delivery, it's a busy time of year for everyone.
As you can see, there are numerous ways for you to have a chance at the win here. You can post us on your blog, tell your readers to head over here and say, "I found you through XXXXX", and they have a chance to win, and so do you! Just make sure the entries are on this post. That easy. I just LOVE giving away TWO prizes like this. Especially since the prizes are so great.
So, hurry and enter, tell us HOW you found us, and you're entered. Just our way of saying THANKS for those of you that spread the word about dee&Dee.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I also want to give a nod to AuthorIsland.com who sent me this book I'm getting ready to dish (along with a ton of other goodies - Thanks DeNita! You so rock!). Not only did they send me a copy, she sent it to me signed! How cool is that? If you're interested in contests, chats with authors, more cool contests, news, and (did I mention contests?) head over to the Island, you won't be sorry.
And now, without further ado...
Servant: The Awakening by L.L. Foster
ANGEL OF NO MERCY
To most people, demons look like regular citizens. But Gabrielle Cody has the ability to see these creatures as they really are - and the responsibility to destroy them. Hers is a special purpose, a divine obligation, and a heavy burden.
Detective Luther Cross finds himself attracted to Gaby even as he becomes suspicious of her proximity to a murder victim. Despite his mistrust, he tries to offer her a tenderness she's never experienced and doesn't dare accept.
For Gaby senses that another malevolent presence is watching her...stalking her. As desperately as she tries, Gaby cannot find the source of this menace. But again and again, she is drawn to an abandoned hospital that is surrounded by an aura of sickness and suffering and something more - an unimaginable evil...
I really have no comment on this BCC other than to say it was OK. You know, the whole over-use of the "..." irritates me a lot but for the most part, the BCC does a good job.
For those of you that did not know, L.L. Foster is Lori Foster. However, since Servant is not the typical book you would expect to see from Lori, she's decided to use L.L. so as not to confuse her Romance readers. The use of a pen name is becoming quite common anymore when an author has already established themselves in one genre and they want to try something new. Authors become known and their books sought out because readers expect a certain type of book when reading that author, and for those readers that do not follow closely online to the author and what's going on, to pick up a book like Servant and expect it to be a typical Lori book would probably feel like a betrayal.
I'll be honest and say that while I used to LOVE Lori Foster, I couldn't even finish her book Simon Says. I tried, believe me, I really tried, because I adored Jude's Law and the other books from the SBC world, but SS was just not up to what I have become to think of as Foster's par, that's not to say I was ready to give up on her, but I was becoming wary. So to say I was both excited and nervous about Fosters latest venture would be putting it mildly. Doubly so because not only do I love me a good Paranormal, but because I just didn't want to lose one of my favorite authors, ya know?
Gaby Cody has a calling - to rid the Earth of the demons that pass for human everyday. When God sees a need, he sends her to do the job of destroying the evil. That call comes in the form of intense pain, increased senses, and the ability to see the evil for what it truly is, not the outer package that it presents to the world every day. Gaby can see auras for people, places, and things. She's tough, she's a loner, and she needs it that way. In order to survive in the normal world, Gaby makes her money by writing and illustrating graphic novels, based entirely on her life and her calling, that she anonymously sends to her landlord Morty to sell in his comic book store.
Morty, Gaby's landlord is a lonely, pathetic dweeb who loves the comics he sells and seems to have a deep crush on Gaby. But, although she thinks he's pathetic, he feeds her now and again, and more importantly allows her the privacy she both wants and needs.
Detective Luther Cross, runs into Gaby on her twenty-first birthday as she is fending off drunk lowlifes while trying to get to her destination that God is calling her to. Gaby sees instantly his white aura, and cannot believe a person could actually be that good hearted. She doesn't trust it - or him. She doubly doesn't trust him when he touches her and the pain from the calling becomes lessened. Luther feels immediately drawn to Gaby, he can't understand the tough cookie and why she isn't giving any information to him, or why she's in such a hurry to get away from him.
The demon she had been sent to destroy turns out to be a misshapen man with tumors of some sort bulging all over his body, a scary sight to any ones eyes, but Gaby doesn't see the human form at first, all she sees is the evil hideous creature that has lurked in his body. When Gaby realizes that the "man" was about to assault a child, her temper flares, and not only does she destroy the monster she loses herself in the rage and mutilates his body.
The first on the scene, Luther Cross feels certain that the young woman with the bad temper had to be involved, but he has no idea why. Tracking her down, Luther tries to get more information from her, only to be eluded. When more deaths occur, Luther finds himself certain Gaby needs protected - but is it from herself or something else.
As the mystery unfolds, Gaby, begins to form friendships with both Luther and Morty, and the feelings she has for Luther border on more than friendship. Those feelings are tough to explore however, as Gaby discovers more and more of the horror that is unfolding. Some one is making these tumor riddled people, some one evil, and that some one is stalking her. Cancer turns out to be the underlying connection, and Gaby knows cancer intimately, and the only person she has ever before cared about lost his life to the disease.
It took me an entire week to read this book. If you've hung around here any time at all you know that's a long time for me. Generally I can read a book the length of Servant in less than 3 hours. That isn't to say the book was bad, however, I actually enjoyed it, but it wasn't an OMG I cannot put this down, page-turning book.
For starters, the beginning of the book reads at a very slow pace. I realize that setting a book up for series is tough. I also realize that Gaby is a complex character and has a lot of back story. But, it isn't until Chapter 10 that the book really begins to pick up pace and the ending is rushed making it almost unsatisfying. Until that point, there is more internal thought from Gaby than dialogue and too much description. I felt that the extra pages would have been better served as a meatier ending.
There were also some things that had me confused. One of which was how the heck did Luther know Gaby's name to even begin to track her down? He had never seen her before, she doesn't give him her name when they do run into each other that first time, yet he still ends up at her apartment.
And while I liked Gaby as a whole character, I felt the excessive use of bad language was a bit much. This is something I've noticed with Romance writers that try their hand at Paranormal Romance, they over use bad language. I have nothing against bad language in books, I do take offense, however, the more I see it in Paranormal Romance. The cussing is not a requirement for a good para read, but so many cross-over authors seem to feel that it is, that it feels more like a forced add in than how the character would normally talk.
Trust me, Gaby was plenty tough without the language, "I don't want to hurt you, but I can." She kept her tone even, calm, and filled with dead sobriety. "If you don't play fair, I'll show you the kind of pain you've never experience."
Gaby is complex, tough as nails, not afraid to kill if need be and does often when called, but she also has a heart, no matter how tough she tries to keep it hidden and protected. I enjoyed watching as Luther and Morty crept their way into that heart, and how the circle of friendship and love began to develop.
I can, and will suggest this book be one to read. I won't re-read it, but I'll definitely be buying the next in the series and hope to see several more. It's a dark and twisted tale, but it has Romance, and a good solid cast. I do hope that Foster doesn't continue on with the cancer angle as it felt forced and unbelievable.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
dee and I have discussed the lack of eBook dishes before - we'd like to be able to read and dish more of them , but neither one of us have an eBook reader, and as busy moms, we simply do not have the time to sit at the computer and read for a few hours. However, I just received a press release from Harlequin that could change all of that. It seems Harlequin has teamed up with DailyLit and will now be featuring some of their books through e-mail or RSS feeds, in installments.
This idea intrigues me. Apparently, the installments will come right to your in-box, at the time you specify every day, and can be read in right around 5 minutes. The only problem I could see was what if I came to a real page turning scene and the installment ends? Well, after some study, I see that additional installments are also available on demand, so if I understand correctly, I could turn the virtual page right away without having to wait until the next days e-mail.
Most titles will run you around $5, and both backlist and frontlist Harlequin titles will be available. Hopefully, Harlequin will dust off some of those out of print category titles that people are paying an arm and a leg for at online auction sites. I know several readers that would LOVE that.
DailyLit and Harlequin to Deliver Romance Novels
Via Email Installments
Leading Series Romance Publisher Offers Frontlist and Backlist Titles in Digital Serialization Format
Mamaroneck, New York –– DailyLit (www.dailylit.com), a service that allows users to read entire books via email and RSS installments announced today its initial deal with Harlequin Enterprises Limited, the global leader in series romance and one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction, to deliver in its digital serialization format 100 of Harlequin’s backlist as well as 20 frontlist titles each month on an on-going basis.
His For The Taking, Beauty and The Billionaire and Expecting His Love Child are just a few of the titles that will be added over the next few months. Most titles will be priced under $5.00 and will be delivered in daily email installments, with more on demand, at the click of a mouse.
“We are delighted to be working with DailyLit”, said Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO of Harlequin. “DailyLit allows us to bring our compelling editorial to readers in a convenient new way. This partnership means that the Harlequin experience will be available as emails on demand to readers with computers or handheld devices anytime, anywhere.”
“We’re thrilled to offer romance readers a large selection of Harlequin titles, including brand new frontlist titles on a monthly basis,” said Susan Danziger, Publisher and co-founder of DailyLit. “Romance novels are a great escape from day-to-day life, and via
DailyLit, they can be read in any spare moment, from when you’re waiting to pick up
your kids from school to when you want to take a break from work.”
Harlequin Enterprises Limited is the global leader in series romance and one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction, with titles issued worldwide in 26 languages and sold in 109 international markets. The company produces 120 titles monthly and publishes more than 1,300 authors from around the world. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin’s Web site is located at www.eHarlequin.com. Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including offices in Toronto, New York and London. For more information please visit www.eHarlequin.com or press.eHarlequin.com.
DailyLit (www.dailylit.com), a service that allows users to read entire books via email and/or RSS feeds, currently features over 500 classic and contemporary works offered for free and on a Pay-Per-Read basis. The books are sent in individual installments on the day and time selected by each reader (e.g., every weekday at 6:30 AM) and can be read in less than 5 minutes; additional installments are available to be read on demand. Co-founded by a team of publishing professionals and technology experts, DailyLit is headquartered in Mamaroneck, New York.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Here's a chance for us to see how well you've read us this year.
You have ONE DAY ONLY (that would be today, Tuesday, from 1200amET until the Wednesday post) to get in your entry for this very quick mini-contest for two free books. Contest is easy, really. All you have to do is tell us what our TOP THREE picks for 2007 will be.
On THIS post, leave us your comment. Say something like "I think that dee's TOP PICKS will be: 1.Blah; 2. Blah Blah; 3. Blah blah blah". Remember to distinguish between the D/dee's, please. Don't know which is which? Check out our FAQ page here for clues (and remember: Chari-Dee signs her posts "Take Care" and dee signs hers "Keep Turning Those Pages".)
And stay tuned all week long. We're going to do a FIVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS to count down our BEST OF THE BEST OF 2007. We're posting our #3 picks on Friday, #2 on Saturday, HMs on Sunday, #1 on Monday, and the BIG WINNER from this contest on Christmas morning. Don't forget to enter the contest, and tell your friends, blog it, or spread the word by skywriting for extra entries. Last year's winner got SEVEN free books, and I do believe that they were ALL signed by the authors.
Keep Turning Those Pages!!
Friday, December 7, 2007
And, of course we did a contest. You do remember that, don't you? If you don't, just follow the links to refresh your memories. We asked you to tell us YOUR Top Three of the Year, and then we picked a winner. The winner, Joan B., got signed copies of all six of our books, plus a bonus book.
So naturally, we're doing that again this year.
Starting today, you can enter this contest to win at least six books, and they might even be signed by the authors (if we can get in touch with them to do this. Cross your fingers!). There's even a chance for you to earn extra points, and you can just ask RACHAEL (the Big Winner from our last contest) how good those extra points are.
If you're interested...
- Leave us a comment on THIS POST. Tell us the name of your Top Three Picks of the Year, the author of each book, and WHY it is your favorite. Missing or incomplete entries will not count.
For extra points, post something on your own blog, favorite loop or group, about this contest and link it back to THIS post. That will earn you three extra entries in this contest. Each time you mention us out there, let us know, and we'll give you credit. You MUST mention the contest AND our web address ( www.deeanddeedish.blogspot.com) to earn the extra points.
So come on... tell us your faves!
And we promise to tell you ours very soon.
Contest ends Friday, 12/21/07. Have your entries in by the end of that day. That gives you TWO WEEKS to figure out your favorites, tell us, and spread the word.
Keep Turning Those Pages!!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
PLEASE READ COMMENTS. NEED E-MAILS SENT AGAIN!!
In the spirit of giving, it being the Christmas season and all, I decided to give more than just the one set of books away. However, since none of the trees around my house shed the money stuff, the 'runner-up' winners will only be getting the FIRST book, and sorry, but it's not signed. However, I'm hoping that after you read the first one, you'll be inclined to rush out to the store and get the others. Yes, they are really that good. So, can I please get.....
to contact me via e-mail so I can get this book out to you in the mail.
And for the BIG WINNER... I have to say that when you do ALL THREE THINGS, you have a MUCH better chance of winning. That's why I'm sending the complete signed set of books to...
All winners, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Make sure that you put "dee's UGLIES winner" in the subject line of your e-mail. Don't forget to put your mailing address. Your books will be mailed out soon, hopefully by this weekend. However, I've got lots going on right now, so I can't make any promises as to when this will make it to you. Please be patient.
Congrats to all of the winners, and thanks to everyone that entered!!
Keep Turning Those Pages!!