Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bookwatch: Inside Out by Lauren Dane

Worth the Wait

Ella Tipton is a survivor. In the wake of an attack that left her nearly dead, she’s spent each day putting her life back together. Once vibrant and outgoing, she’s needed to reclaim the best parts of who she was while retaining the hard won lessons. There hasn’t been room for any romantic entanglements, even if she were ready. Still, it didn’t mean she had to stop sneaking looks at Mister Tall, Dark and Tattooed himself.

Security professional Andrew Copeland isn’t quite sure when his jones for the lovely and decidedly skittish Ella developed. He’s known her for years, has watched her triumph over the pain she’d been dealt. Cope is no stranger to women, but he knows the nervous flush he gets every time he talks to her is different than any attraction he’s had in the past. Determined to get Ella to let him in, Andy does the one thing he can think of to get close: he offers her hands-on training in self-defense.

While Ella’s sure he’s just being nice, the prospect of being able to touch him and gain the tools to push away the last vestiges of her fear is more than she can resist. Soon enough, Cope shows Ella his feelings are far more than friendly and re-ignites something deep inside her. Before long desire and love turn them both inside out.

Brown family series
November 2010

The tattoos on the covers in this series just keep getting bigger and more intricate. But gorgeous, too! I love the colors. And look how into her he seems. *swoon*  I think I noted in Brody's book that Dane blew the stereotype off of tattooed guys for me. So don't be like me and let the cover make you think that Cope is a certain type of guy. It looks like we'll get another damaged but strong heroine and another fabulous, caring hero. And the blurb makes it sound like a friends to lovers story. Yummy. Just what I like!

I absolutely cannot wait for this book.

Preorder it here (it's only $10.12 at the time of this posting - 33% off the cover price).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Band of Brothers by Steven Ambrose, a guest review by oldest

When I mentioned on my personal blog that one of the assignments my oldest had to do over the summer for his AP US History class was to write a book review, Leslie asked if I would post the review when he was done.

So, bearing in mind that there were some requirements for content, (and that he wrote it in about 15 minutes, LOL), here is the review for Band of Brothers, written by my eldest.

For my summer reading book, I chose to read Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose. The author was well qualified to write this book, as he was a professor of history for forty-five years before his retirement in 1995. Ambrose interviewed the members of E. Company, 506th regiment, 101st Airborne division about their experiences during World War II. They fought Germany after landing on D-Day at the beach of Normandy, and made it all the way to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. He wrote many stories about WWII, and he tells this one from a narrative point of view, explaining the events that occurred through the eyes of the soldiers while providing external insight.

The story is about E. Company's experiences throughout the war. Members of the company are interviewed by Ambrose, and he uses the information to recreate battlefield heroics, barrack life, harsh training, and the friendship of the men of E. Company. It begins by telling the story of how the men of E. Company were trained. They were put under extreme conditions and made to do more work, more running, and more physical tasks than any other company, and made to do so by Company Commander Herbert Sobel. The men did not appreciate the work they had to do at the time and often complained.
"Behind his back the men cursed him, 'f---ing Jew' being the most common epithet." (pg. 24).
But the men soon learned that all of the training that they had so rigorously been put through, would pay off.
"But then, who could say that the men of Easy would have had the discipline, the endurance (they had been marching since 0130, after a night of little or no real sleep; they were battered and bruised from the opening shock and the hard landing) or the weapons skills to carry off this fine feat of arms, had it not been for Sobel?" (pg. 85).
This quote refers to the actions taken by the men of E. Company to take out German machine guns covering Utah Beach. The training by Sobel had prepared them for such harsh conditions, and they were ready and responded perfectly.

The majority of the book explains the things that the men experienced, but I found the end to be more interesting. At the end of the story, Ambrose tells the reader what the soldiers did after the war. Some had success, some had failures; most lived normal lives, though. The injured men had interesting stories as well.
"Sgt. Bill Guarnere also lost his leg, above the knee, in Bastogne. After discharge in the summer of 1945, he was given 80 percent disability. He married, had a child, and went to work as a printer, salesman, VA clerk, and carpenter, all with an artificial leg." (pg. 296).
The story concludes with a letter from Mike Ranney who when asked, "Were you a hero in war?" replied, "No, but I served in a company of heroes." This shows the respect that the men of E. Company had for one another; that they would talk better of others than of themselves.

The main theme presented in this book is that the bond formed between the men of E. Company was stronger than other bonds between members of the service. The author clearly shows examples of how soldiers would directly disobey orders in order to remain with E. Company and their friends. The soldiers who were interviewed gave reasons for this; that they wanted to fight with the best, to put in the extra work, to trust each other with their lives. That was what the men of E. Company were about. The author shows this through the quotes of soldiers that are presented in the book, and even in the book's title. This theme relates to a broader idea of American fellowship. It makes the reader feel as though he or she has a similar bond with these people, and would follow them into battle at any time. It is a powerful story, and leaves its mark on those who read it.

The book is very relevant to the topic of World War II because E. Company served there, but also the nature of how it was written. It was not dramatized by the author, as his descriptions were given to him by actual soldiers who fought in the war. He makes the story more realistic and interesting than other books and textbooks because of that interviewing process. It is easier for the reader to understand what happened as it is given from the perspective of the soldiers themselves. The time period is explained in detail as well, because the author gives examples of what the soldiers did for fun and what they would do with their free time. Free time activities were very different then from what they are today. I think that the author makes the story interesting and honest at the same time, making it an easy read, not in terms of difficulty but in terms of enjoyment.

All in all, this was an interesting book on an equally interesting topic. I would highly recommend this book to those who want to learn more about the life of a soldier in battle during the mid 40s, but not to those who want to learn more about WWII itself. The story does not explain the whole war, only the parts in which E. Company was involved. Because of this factor, the learning is limited to what E. Company experienced and what they did, and not about the war in general. Even so, it was still a fantastic read and a tremendous learning experience and I would recommend it to all readers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bookwatch: Impulsive

Katie Long was supposed to be undercover. She was just supposed to watch Deputy Prosecutor Eric Kimura at his ex’s wedding and gather intel on his campaign for prosecutor. But he’s a lot hotter in person, and the kind of intel they accidentally shared in the hotel bathroom might lose both of them their jobs. Especially since it seems to be a recurring incident. Is it possible for a one-night stand to last ten days?

Kimura isn’t usually the impulsive type. He’s driven, he’s ambitious, and he knows what he wants—a respectable future in Hawaii politics. Which means wild half-public sex with a beautiful stranger in a short little caterer’s skirt is just tabloid fodder waiting to happen. Conveniently, just as his campaign is coming under attack. Sabotage, media gossip, and an insatiable desire for a woman he just met? If he’s not careful, Counselor Kimura might lose all control…

Isn't this just the cutest over ever? Except I want to smack that girl. Look how thin and toned she is. She has great calves. And she's tan. And she has that guy with his arms wrapped around her. And she has cute shoes! I hate her!

I adore HelenKay Dimon's books. She has a crazy wicked sense of humor, and her characters always have the right touch of vulnerability to counteract their smart-assiness. SO looking forward to this one!

Coming in November.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Author newsletters

Dear Author,

I receive newsletters from some of my favorite authors and publishers. I opted in to receive your emails because you advertised that I will receive information about your upcoming books and new releases.

I received a newsletter this morning that not only talked about your upcoming books, but also an organization that you are involved with politically. I make no bones about my political leanings, but had this email included information about a moderate or leftist organization, I would have the same reaction as I had to its conservative leanings. My reaction? No!!!! Please don't!!!

I sign up to receive information from authors such as you for one reason only — your books. Period. If I wanted to know more about your politics, I will follow you on Twitter or Facebook, or read your blog. Social media is the more appropriate place, IMO, for such conversations. Because via email, I expect to only receive that information that I've requested, and/or been promised. My inbox is already too flooded with emails from people and organizations I really don't want to hear from - I don't want to worry that the emails I asked specifically to receive are now sending something other than what they promised.

I will give you one more newsletter to determine if I am going to unsubscribe. This may have been a flook, and I do want to know about your upcoming publications. However, if it happens again, I will be forced to unsubscribe. Please don't alienate me from wanting to read your books like that. It makes me sad.

Authors. Please don't send information about political organizations (of any variety) in a newsletter that is supposed to be about your books. Please feel free to talk about the organizations that you feel passionately about. I certainly do. But please don't do it in an email about your upcoming books. Do it on your blog, or on twitter and Facebook, or any other social media.

Much love,

What do you think? Would it bother you if your author newsletters started containing information on political organizations? Would you rather see it elsewhere, like twitter or Facebook or a blog? Or does it not matter to you? Inquiring minds and all that...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Whatcha reading? And missing authors...

I've been reading a mix of old and new titles. When I get to feeling blah and have no idea what I want to read, I turn to my two favorite genres: historicals and romantic suspense.

So in a fit of "I don't know what the hell I want to read - nothing sounds good!", I read the last 2 Hathaway books by Lisa Kleypas and I'm rereading the Hearts of the South series from Linda Winfree.

Loved the Kleypas books. They were simply feel-good reads for me. And the Winfrees? Well, I've reviewed her enough around here that you have to know how much I adore her writing. Wendy did an interesting post over at Readers Gab that made me think of Winfree. She is always an emotional read for me. There's a point in each book, sometimes in the beginning, sometimes not until the middle, but there's always this point where I feel my stomach clench until it actually hurts. Her books never fail to elicit this reaction.

I'm up to Tom's book: Memories of Us, book 5 (really, I consider it book 6, because for some reason What Mattered Most, the prequel, isn't included in the series order). I'm so damn happy to be reading this series again.

Lately, I've noticed that I don't remember a whole lot about many of the books I read. Remembering character names, plots, authors - it's all becoming more and more difficult for me. Not sure if it's me, or that everything is starting to read the same and there aren't any tremendous stand-outs. I never have that problem with a Winfree book. I always remember the characters' names and the story. Even little tiny details. But I'm finding so much more rich detail this time around that I missed the first time. I even am noticing the times that Ash is seen and mentioned, something I never noticed in my first reads. Loving this series. Again.

But. I haven't seen any information about Winfree since the release of Uncovered last year. Her website hasn't been updated in forever. She hasn't posted anything on her blog. I really want a new book from her. But I also hope that everything is ok in her end of the world. Anybody know anything about her? New books on the horizon? Everything ok?

And what are you reading? Do you have a favorite go-to genre, or author, or series when you get the reading blahs? Help a girl out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An amazing video about our military heroes

I'm sure we all have had the experience of seeing something so touching, so profound that we just sit there with tears rolling down our faces. It can be a book, a movie (damn you, Katiebabs!), or even, yes, a damn Hallmark commercial. C'mon, admit it. You've cried at a few of those, too.

This video has been making the rounds on Facebook, and in case you haven't seen it, it's a real tearjerker. It made me immediately pray for the safe return of every single service member serving our country. Pray that they will soon be safe in the arms of their child, spouse, sweetheart, parent, friend.

If you have a loved one serving, this is my wish for you.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Lori's July Reads

I had a blast yesterday having lunch with Nikki and Tracy. We live within about 25 minutes of each other, so we do this every so often. I adore my chats with Nikki about books — we almost always, without fail, have the same reaction to books, the same favorite in series, like the same authors and can't get into the same books. Tracy is just full of awesome, and while we have some different tastes in books (she likes the paranormals far more than I do!), of those that we do share, we often have spirited discussions. Plus, both women have families, and we spend a lot of time talking about them. Nikki's rant on All Night With a Rogue got us started discussing "first times" (yes, our own) and it was ummm... interesting, LOL.

Anyway, on to July. July was a huge reading month for me. I think it helped that youngest was off at camp all month, and work was a bit slow, so I wasn't completely exhausted when I got home every day. Turns out I read 28 books. Yes, 28. Including 3 five-star reads. Yay! And OMG. If you haven't read the new Hoyt yet, run don't walk and grab it. Fabulous!

And I'm still on target for tracking my reads this year. Go me! So far, it looks like I've read 166 books.

Books are linked either to reviews here or at Goodreads when I couldn't be arsed to do one here.

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
Goodreads rating: 5
I have been putting off reading Duran for fear of being disappointed. What a doofus I am. No disappointment here. This was at times heartbreaking, joyous, beautiful, and gut-wrenching. My only niggle was that Emma wouldn't listen to Julian's explanations at first. But then, she'd had some... issues, let's say, and so I was able to forgive it.

Cold Sight (Extra Sensory Agents, #1) by Leslie Parrish
Goodreads rating: 5
Another winner from Parrish. I loved how Adrian let himself open up to Lexie. Lexie was a great heroine. And the "woo-woo" factor was low, but perfectly inserted, on Adrian's part and on the part of the rest of his team. Can't wait for more!

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Goodreads rating: 5
OMG, this book is made of awesome. Darker than her previous books, with much less humor written in, but I still ate it up like chocolate cake.

Unbridled by Beth Williamson
Goodreads rating: 4.5
A full-length western contemp from Williamson (whom you know I love). Overall, a wonderful read. Nicknames during sex is a pet peeve of mine, and the continued use of "Cowboy" during sex drove me batty. Excepting that, I loved the story itself and the developing relationships between the heroine and all the rest of the characters.

Remember Me (The Rosewood Trilogy, #1) by Laura Moore
Goodreads rating: 4.5
Thank you to Nikki for this book! It was so good! If you love horses, reunited lovers, unrequited teenage love, and overcoming adversity to triumph, this is the book for you.

Three Nights with a Scoundrel (Stud Club, #3) by Tessa Dare
Goodreads rating: 4.5
The best of the trilogy, IMO. Julian and Lily were wonderful, both separately and together. And I admired Dare's accurate portrayal of deafness.

Knight of Desire by Margaret Mallory
Goodreads rating: 4.5
A re-read for me, and although I generally don't care for medievals, I absolutely adored this book. Fan-freaking-tastic.

The Homecoming (Shelter Bay, #1) by JoAnn Ross
Goodreads rating: 4
Oh, how I adore JoAnn Ross. I'm a crack-ho for her books. This is more like a return to her older books (The Stewart Sisters trilogy is one of my faves of all-time!). A softer, more relationship-focsed book than her High-Risk series. And man oh man, I adored Sax and Kara.

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage (Highland Pleasures, #2) by Jennifer Ashley
Goodreads rating: 4
I liked this SO much more than Ian's book. The story of a married couple finding their way back together is one of my favorite tropes, and Ashley did a fabulous job with Mac and Isabella.

REVELATION (de La Vega Cats, #2) by Lauren Dane
Goodreads rating: 4
Another great book from Dane. Although I normally abhor witch books (seriously abhor), somehow with Dane I'm able to not only stomach it, but adore it. She did the same thing to me with wolves, too. My only complaint is that the ending of both books so far, rather than being a cliff-hanger for the next book, feels more unfinished.
ETA: Note that the HEA is complete, but there's a continuing story arc over these books, and that's what I'm referring to.

My Dangerous Duke (Inferno Club, #2) by Gaelen Foley
Goodreads rating: 4
A totally implausible English spy story, but I admit to loving it anyway. A brash, nasty man, who is a lover at heart, and a scared, isolated woman who is also a lover at heart. Toss in an adventure & roadtrip, plus an amazingly tender evening, and a club full of spies, and I ate it up. Oh, and I should add that I haven't read book 1, and didn't miss out on a thing.
Review coming up for Book Binge.

Tempting a Proper Lady by Debra Mullins
Goodreads rating: 4
I remember really liking this book at the time, but I must admit that I didn't make any notes, and I can't remember a thing about it. So not a story that sticks with you, but I remember enjoying the hell out of it at the time (whatever it was about!).
Review coming up for Book Binge.

Everything Changes by Megan Hart
Goodreads rating: 4
Naked told from Alex's POV. It was too short for my liking, and I wanted to get more interaction between Alex and Anne and Jamie - especially exploring the sexual feelings between Alex and Jamie that were so amazingly portrayed in Naked.

Scandalous by Night by Barbara Pierce
Goodreads rating: 4
Let's just say I'll never look at raspberry jam in the same way again! Actually, there was much to like in this book and I really enjoyed it once I got past the beginning. The first chapter or so (following the prologue) was a little confusing. This is part of a series, and can be read as a standalone.

Just Like That (The Bradfords, Book 2) by Erin Nicholas
Goodreads rating: 4
I liked this book a lot. The Bradfords are an interesting family, and Sam's transition from "no cares in the world" to responsible, loving man was great.

Ruthless Heart by Emma Lang
Goodreads rating: 4
Lang's first book under this moniker (she's also Beth Williamson). A very good read. My only qualm was that Eliza fell so quickly into bed with Grady without so much of a hint of insecurity or 2nd thought. Given her upbringing (which Lang points out that Eliza doesn't believe in) I still thought that she should have been a little hesitant. Otherwise I really enjoyed this book. I liked that there was a morally ambiguous hero, and the heroine accepted him for himself. And a very interesting premise, using the LDS religion as a backdrop. I'm hopeful that in the next book it won't be portrayed as completely evil.

Twice Tempted by a Rogue (Stud Club, #2) by Tessa Dare
Goodreads rating: 4
The beginning was a little odd to me - it seemed so strange for Rhys to decide that he and Meredith would be married in almost a split second, but as the book went on, I was more able to see where Dare (and Rhys!) was coming from. Talk about an angsty hero! Overall, really enjoyed this one, and right now, I think there is nobody in historical romance that writes better prose. Just beautiful the way she paints pictures with her words.

The Duke's Captive by Adele Ashworth
Goodreads rating: 4
Very disturbing book to me, because of the dark nature of the theme. The case for the hero's sense of anger, violation, and desire for revenge was well-founded. Beware there's a forced seduction scene, but it didn't detract from the book at all for me. It fit perfectly.
Review coming at Book Binge.

Colters' Woman (Colters' Legacy, #1) by Maya Banks
Goodreads rating: 3.5
Liked this one quite a bit. I do find the 3 on 1 a bit difficult to deal with, but nobody does this better, IMO, than Banks. She does adore having a trio of brothers share the same woman. And makes me adore it, too.

Untraceable (Tracers, #1) by Laura Griffin
Goodreads rating: 3.5
I adored Whisper of Warning (congrats to Griffin on the RITA for WoW, BTW!). I was so looking forward to this one. It fell a bit flat for me. The setup was good but the heroine teetered on the TSTL line, and I felt she used the hero. He was wonderful, though. Still, a great example of the mix of romance and suspense.

Long Time Gone (Konigsburg, Texas #4) by Meg Benjamin
Goodreads rating: 3.5
I do love this series. Benjamin has a great mix of contemporary voice mixed with humor. She adds in a tiny bit of suspense to drive the hero & heroine together.

Just Right (The Bradfords, Book 1) by Erin Nicholas
Goodreads rating: 3.5
Really liked the heroine here, and thought the hero should have let go of his boohoos a little sooner. But overall, a really enjoyable book about an ER nurse and a hottie doctor.

Colters' Wife (Colters' Legacy, #1) by Maya Banks
Goodreads rating: 3
A "meh" read for me. Seemed like it could have been tacked on to the end of Colter's Woman. And when I discovered it was originally a free read on Banks' website, and then I paid for it, I was filled with sad.

Bound By Nature (Forces of Nature, #1) by Cooper Davis
Goodreads rating: 3
Loved the premise of this one, but the author didn't give me enough reason to believe it should have been a wolf story rather than straight m/m other than the desire of 2 packs to mate their alpha heir-apparents for a united front.

Under My Umbrella (Fated, Book 1) by Karen Erickson
Goodreads rating: 3
A chance encounter on a rainy walk home. Once again, I didn't make notes, and I don't remember much about the story other than I enjoyed it but wasn't wowed. I'm beginning to wonder if it's me or the books. Hmmm....

McKettricks of Texas: Austin (McKettricks, #13) by Linda Lael Miller
Goodreads rating: 3
I was disappointed in the closer for this trilogy of 3 brothers and 3 sisters fallingin love. But that's not to say it wasn't good, because a meh book from Miller is a good book from anyone else.

Tempting Adam (Seattle Steam, #2) by Shelli Stevens
Goodreads rating: 3
I do like Stevens' voice and style. Enjoyed this one, but thought the heroine should have come clean about her friendship with Adam's brother sooner.

All Tied Up (Pleasure Inn, #1) by Cathryn Fox
Goodreads rating: 2.5
This read kind of like a Blaze, but with less substance. I really like the premise (an interior design firm of 3 women hired to renovate a B&B), but I think each of the 3 heroines deserve a full-length book.

One Lucky Cowboy by Carolyn Brown
Goodreads rating: 2
My least favorite read of the month. Stereotyped hicks and the banter wasn't really banter for much of the book; it came across as simply arguing for argument's sake. I couldn't wait for it to end.

Ruthless Heart by Emma Lang

Sheltered all her life, Eliza Hunter never imagined herself alone in the vast Utah plains, much less trailing a mysterious man hired to hunt down her beautiful younger sister. And when she finds herself sharing the warmth of Grady's campfire, she gives in to her deepest desires.

Grady Wolfe is a man forever on the run. He knows he should leave Eliza alone, but she stirs something in him he hasn't felt before. Now he's lost in the woods for the first time in his life - with a dangerous job to do. And no one - not even the luscious Eliza - is going to stop him.


I really enjoyed both Grady and Eliza in this book. The premise is so different - not many would take on the LDS church, but Lang does. Eliza is the oldest daughter of an elder in the church. Her younger sister has run away from her abusive husband, and Eliza hears her father discussing paying a bounty hunter to find her. Little does Eliza know that that bounty hunter has been paid to kill her sister for having the audacity to run away from the abuse she's been forced to endure.

Eliza is a scholar, something not well accepted in the LDS in the 1800s. She must hide her activities from her father or be beaten. Lang points out immediately that Eliza doesn't believe in the LDS way of life, and although it's clear that the teachings are at odds with her logical outlook on life, I would have liked to see the reasons why more explicitly presented.

Although it's clear that Eliza doesn't hold with the teachings of the church, I thought that she should have at least had some sort of self-doubt or questioned her decision to sleep with Grady almost immediately. It's presented, though, almost as an experiment for Eliza, which however, suits her personality and character.

Lang presents an angsty hero who is full of morally ambiguous awesome, and a smart heroine who isn't afraid to try new things. Some of the funniest moments were when Eliza tried to "fit in" to regular conversation and just ended up totally confounding the folks around her. I liked that she truly connected with one of the women they encountered on their trip.

A terrific ending, where once Eliza's sister is found, Grady intends to follow through on his original deal. Eliza's horror and Grady's feelings of self-disgust at his actions were well-written.

My only qualm with this book was that Eliza fell so quickly into bed with Grady without so much of a hint of insecurity or 2nd thought. Given her upbringing (which Lang points out that Eliza doesn't believe in) I still thought that she should have been a little hesitant. Otherwise I really enjoyed this book. I liked that there was a morally ambiguous hero, and the heroine accepted him for himself. And a very interesting premise. I'd like to see the LDS portrayed as something other than complete evil, and maybe in the next book it will be, since the next heroine is more religious than Eliza. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt... quickie

Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand-she's spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk...

Caire makes a simple offer-in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London's high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control-one that may well destroy them both.


Wow, this was so very wonderful. Very intense, and quite dark. In Hoyt's other books there was quite a bit of dark humor, much of it self-deprecating, mostly on the part of her heroes. While this book is darker than her others, likely due to its subject matter, I still found myself completely engaged. Watching Caire open himself up to Temperance without even a whimper. And seeing Temperance learn to let her true nature shine through. Yes, it was angsty, but the angst completely fit the story.

The secondary characters are wonderful as well, and as always, the fairy tale told fits the story completely. My heart broke for Silence, Temperance's sister, who risked everything for her love and had it backfire. She and William will have a long road to recover from their heartache. And oh, how I hope that Hoyt allows them to do so over the next couple of books without killing me from the agony.
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