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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dana Marton - Last Spy Standing

I am thrilled to be able feature, Dana Marton's upcoming January 2012 release Last Spy Standing from Harlequin Intrigue. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy, and loved it. Last Spy Standing is a fast paced adventure set in the jungles of South America. Dana Marton drops the reader right into the action, and sets the scene so vividly that it makes you wish for a handy machete, so you can cut your way through the jungle along with the characters.

Last Spy Standing
Do you love reading a book set in the jungle? Where there is danger in every step the characters take, and the setting itself is as unpredictable as the enemy. Sparks and bullets begin to fly when Mitch Mendoza the hunky hero, meets the feisty heroine Megan Cassidy. Last Spy Standing is a book that you will not be able to put down. 


There a few elements that can be expected in any story that is set in a jungle. The first thing is snakes, and Dana delivers on that point there are plenty of snakes both poisonous and benign in  Last Spy Standing. The second is spiders, and the spider featured in this book is unbelievable, but very real.  


So, to help any of you that find yourself dropped into a jungle I thought I would point out a snake, and a spider in Last Spy Standing you should avoid. I am personally advocating that you avoid them all, but if you insist . . . First thing's first and in the classic cinematic words of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, "Snakes. Why did it have to snakes?" We will start with the snakes.


The fer-de-lance makes an appearance in Last Spy Standing, and even when he isn't on the page you get a feeling he is hiding in the leaves, just waiting for an opportunity to strike.
fer-de-lance
The fer-de-lance is a pit viper who is fast, venomous, can climb trees, swim and is easily agitated. Say no more, lets avoid him, but will Mitch and Megan?


Next we have the Banana Spider that gives new meaning to the word creepy. To be fair there are harmless yellow Banana Spider's out there, but the ones in Last Spy Standing are not those. The Banana spider is poisonous and reported to have the most painful of all spider bites. Though how they determined that is something I would rather not consider. Ouch.
                               
Brazilian Wandering Spider aka Banana Spider
I am not a spider person. I used to scream in my room until my mother would come take the offending creepy crawly outside. I am proud to say that I am now able to handle my own spiders, but if this jungle bad boy came my way, trust me I would not hesitate to get out of his way, and call for special ops to handle it. So, a good rule of thumb in the jungle is avoid spiders as well. Dana has some surprising details about this spider, and you'll have to read Last Spy Standing to find them out. 


Last Spy Standing is a must read for Dana Marton's fans, and for those of you who haven't read her books yet, this is a great book to start with. 

Dana is offering one randomly chosen commentator one her books either an e-book or in print. To be entered in the giveaway ( US or Canada please) ask Dana Marton a question in the comments below. Or answer which fictional hero or heroine would you want to bring with you if you were dropped into the middle of a jungle? I know who I'd bring, do you? 
                                                                                                                 
You can find Dana Marton on Facebook - Website - Twitter She loves to hear from readers.

Giveaway ends on Monday January 2 at 9 pm PST. Last Spy Standing is available now at all major online retailers, and at Harlequin.  Please leave an e-mail so I can get a hold of you if you win.





Monday, December 12, 2011

CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK WYOMING


Recently on Twitter one of my favorite Romantic Suspense Authors, Paula Graves was live tweeting from the hospital. I tweeted to her that she need a hunky bodyguard like her very own character, Riley Patterson from the Canyon Creek Police department. Riley is the hero of  CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK WYOMING which is Paula's RITA nominated Harlequin Intrigue and is the first book in her Cooper Justice series. Riley first meets Hannah Cooper the heroine in the hospital in a less than ideal situation. Paula tweeted back "When I meet the Intrigue hero of my dreams, I'd like to have clean hair and no oozing wounds." This tweet started me thinking that the whole premise of most Intrigue's is that the couple meets during a crisis, usually loaded with enough personal baggage to keep the average human being away, and often with little time for social niceties such as clean hair. The ability to move past these obstacles and find love in the face of impossible odds is the very reason I enjoy reading Harlequin Intrigues.


Heroine:
Hannah Cooper is a fishing guide from a large family, who is vacationing in Wyoming.

Hero:
Deputy Chief Riley Patterson a widowed police officer.

First Meeting Location:
They meet at a hospital in Jackson Wyoming, after Hannah has been attacked and peppered sprayed by a serial killer who posed as a police officer. Riley come to the hospital to question Hannah about the attack because he has a very personal interest in finding out who attacked her.

Hannah's Initial Impression:
Riley Patterson walks into the hospital room wearing a badge, and gets the following reaction."Her heart rate doubled in a span of a second, she opened her mouth and screamed.

Riley's Initial Impression:
"Bandages, blotchy skin and red rimmed eyes disappeared, revealing how pretty she was beneath her injuries." 



Not an ideal meeting, nor an ideal location, but certainly the perfect setting for an Intrigue to start. This was the first book of  Paula Graves  that I had read. I was instantly hooked, by her cinematic style and carefully crafted stories. I've subsequently read everything else that she has written except for her most recent release from Harlequin Intrigue Major Nanny, which I am saving for a rainy day. 


So, I started thinking which locations and circumstances would make the least desirable romantic meeting places. Personally, I would not enjoy meeting my Intrigue hero at the dentist office, and if that dentist office was on a submarine, well that would be the worst possible romantic suspense scenario for me. Yet an Intrigue heroine might easily find love there, as the dentist would turn out to be a spy and their mission on the submarine dangerous and top secret.


My question for you is, what circumstance would you prefer not to meet your Intrigue hero or heroine in? *


*Everyone who  leaves a comment below before 9pm on December 27th, 2011 (PST) will  be entered in a random drawing and one person will  win a copy of Major Nanny by Paula Graves, and a ten dollar gift card to Amazon. Also, leave an e-mail  for me to get a hold of you. The winner will be posted on December 28th here and on Paula's Facebook page.


Paula Graves upcoming March 2012 book - Secret Identity

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Life lessons from Rory Joplin Egglehoff


Men I've Dated

"This isn't just Star Wars stuff." I give her a stern look."This a life strategy. This is a relationship metaphor, so pay attention." -Rory
Jedi Knight
 "A Jedi Knight, like a knight in a fairy tale, is wise and brave and good. He is strong and powerful with fathoms of depth. Definite boyfriend material." -Rory
Wookiee
"A Wookiee appears to be a Jedi at the beginning of your relationship, but pretty soon his light saber is gone and you are stuck with a lot of hair and grunting." -Rory
Princess Leia
And for just one moment, Princess Leia's pose and beauty flowed into me, and it was a cool confident Rory striding down the catwalk. -Rory
Yoda
In my opinion, there are three truly great philosophers: Aristotle, Confucius, and Yoda. -Rory
Darth Vader
 If I were Princess Leia, I'd never let the Dark Side win. I'd fight for the forces of good to the bitterest end. -Rory




Rory is obsessed with Star Wars, and it defines her relationships with those around her. Most of us probably don't go that far, or at least won't admit it.
But I am going to go with the assumption that everyone has an obsession that might be considered a little geeky. Mine is RPG computer games such as Baldurs Gate and Dragon Age Origins. I also have an odd fascination with the green aliens from Toy Story. Feel free to share your geeky obsession here. Ewoks are welcome.

My Goodreads review of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Men I've Dated by Shane Bolks. 


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Men I've DatedThe Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Men I've Dated by Shane Bolks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Men I've Dated is packed full of witty dialogue and poignant characterizations. Rory the main character is living in the shadow of her childhood fear, that she doesn't quite fit in with her classmates or her family. As her high school reunion approaches she is desperate to show her former classmates that she is a somebody, but just not the somebody she truly is. To make matters worse Hunter, her childhood crush appears on the scene and much to her surprise takes an interest in her. It sounds like a dream come true, but Rory complicates the situation by not letting Hunter know who she really is. A general knowledge of Star Wars is helpful when reading this book, because it really is a collision between Star Wars and Chick Lit, but in the best way possible.


View all my reviews






Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

On Veterans Day
 and every day I would like to say,
thank you to those of you who have stood up to defend this country.


Thank you,
to those who have sacrificed so much to give American's the very freedom we take for granted.


Thank you, and may God bless you.
You are not forgotten.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Cat Cookies

Halloween is here, and for me it is the beginning of the hustle of the holiday season. There is always so much going on from this point forward that I've found it easier to stick to traditions. For all I know that is how traditions came about. One year a mother tired of being clever, and original decided that it was much easier to do the holiday's exactly the same every year, and traditions were born. 

One tradition we have is making Cat cookies for school. They are a chocolate cookie with candy corn eyes and a M&M nose. I originally found them in the now defunct Hallmark magazine, but I sure they have been around forever.You can find them here at allrecipes.com



The idea is to rapidly place the candy corn and M&M's in while  the cookies are hot. This is where we "traditionally" run into trouble.This year we couldn't get the candy to stick. So we tried putting the candy in before we cooked them, which to be perfectly honest, we've done it that way in  the past and achieved the expected results. If you put the candy in first the candy corn melts, and you have cats with runny eyes.



It's not the end of the world, you can cut the melted edges off, and you have a perfectly lovely cat cookie. But the last batch, we waited to put the eyes and nose in, until there was only two minutes left on the timer. Then we put the cookies back in the oven to finish baking. We piled the cookies into the waiting tray, threw in some loose candy corn and they are ready for school tomorrow.



That is one of our tasty Halloween traditions. What traditions do you rely on to sail through the holidays? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Magical Mail

I have had another fun filled month of new books arriving almost by magic in my mail box.  Earlier this month, I won Theresa Romain's debut historical novel Season for Temptation from the Vauxhall Vixens during her blog tour. That was a terrific surprise, as I had been following Theresa's journey as a new author on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. I was actual nervous about reading this book, because I had started to get to know Theresa on Twitter, and was concerned that her regency heroine might be packing a light saber and raising a clutch of baby kraken in her rose garden.(Is clutch the proper word for a group of baby kraken? I'll have to ask Theresa as she is somewhat of an expert.) Well, my worries were unfounded as Season for Temptation is a charming tale, with fun characters caught up in an awkward love triangle and nary a kraken in sight. 




Then today, Awakened by a Kiss arrived in the mail from Lila DiPasqua which I had won on her blog. I am excited to read Awakened by a Kiss, because first of all I haven't read any of Lila's books yet, and secondly they are based on Fairy tales. Sounds lovely doesn't it? Did I mention that they were Fiery Tales and reported to be steamy? Now I have your attention, don't I? (How steamy I wonder? Well, I'll just have to read them and find out.) Lila also sent me many bookmarks, and excerpts from her books as well as other authors, which was a wonderful surprise. A little tidbit about Lila DiPasqua is that she has been very close to Gerald Butler. Yes, that Gerald Butler - don't be jealous they were well supervised. Also Lila's husband Mr.D is a frequent guest interviewer on her blog, and has had some very funny interviews with various romance writers husbands. Lila also has a newer book out A Midnight Dance that is getting fabulous reviews.


Both Lila DiPasqua and Theresa Romain have very entertaining blogs and I have posted links to those under Merry Mix of Blogs.


Thanks to both of them for keeping the magic in my mail box. Have you found any magic in your mail box lately? 


Friday, September 23, 2011

Zip Zip and Away

My husband Steve and I just had the good fortune of being able to Zip Line at Piiholo Ranch in Maui. It was one of those life changing experiences where you push your preconceived notions about what you can and cannot do, and literally jump off a platform yelling Geronimo. We had signed up for the Zip Line both wanting to do it, but at the same time feeling nervous about actually jumping off a platform. I tried to psych myself into it by riding things at Disneyland that either had height like the Ferris Wheel, or no feet touching like the Swings. 

The ramp.


Steve coming up.


To get to the platforms you initially cross a suspension bridges or ramps,  like the one pictured above.  Only two people can be on it at a time, and they sway and bounce like something out of Indian Jones. I accused Steve of shaking the bridge and he wasn't even standing on it yet. 


My feet.


At the top is a swinging door to the platform which you don't enter until the guide, in this case Andrew attaches a safety rope to your back. Then you come through the door and he gets you set up on the Zip Line.  He has you lift your feet to test the line set up, and at the count of three you pick up your feet and fly. Your goal is a platform on the other side where two more guides are positioned and who give you hand and body signals to slow down, speed up or break.



Getting ready.



Getting hooked up.

It was hard concentrating on hand signs while your zipping over trees, and for awhile I was watching the wrong guide. Oops! The breaking system makes a pop, and you come to an abrupt stop, then your guide brings over a ladder and you climb up to unhook, and then down.

Jonathan, Kanoa and Andrew

There were nine of us in the group plus the three guides and we did four lines in all. It was very fun and not as scary as you would think. First of all the Zip Line part goes so fast that you don't have time to be scared, and the staff was funny, but also very careful so you never felt like you were in danger.  I would highly recommend this Zip Line to anyone looking for a fun adventure.

Steve and I.













Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen

Lord and Lady SpyLord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen



My rating: 5 of 5 stars





Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen is a wonderfully sizzling action adventure with a delightful pair of characters Lord Adrian Smythe and Lady Sophia Smythe. As, you may guess the main characters are married, and from the title you might have gathered that they are involved in espionage, but all is not as it seems.

One of my favorite things about the book were the beautifully choreographed action scenes which transport the reader right into the midst of the adventure. I also enjoyed the relationship that developed between  Lord and Lady Smythe who had been married for years, but in all the ways that count were virtual strangers. Finally, I appreciated the sensitive handling of the major emotional obstacles that the Smythes faced in the story. When the story came to an end I could only hope that this would be the beginning of many Sophia and Adrian's stories.

The less you know going into Lord and Lady Spy the better so you can enjoy the story as it unfolds. I like to be surprised when I am reading a book, but what about you? Do you like spoilers or surprises?





View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Up the Downside

Well, today had it's moments. Some downs and some up. The downs aren't worth mentioning, because the ups are so awesome. I walked down to the mail and found not one, but two packages of books that I had won in the month of August. What? Yes, that's right two books. The first one LORD AND LADY SPY was from the talented and self effacing Shana Galen.


Not only had she sent me LORD AND LADY SPY, but she also sent me A ROMANCE SAMPLER which is a collection of excerpts from a variety of romance writers only two of whom I have read. Oddly enough the two that I have read are Shana Galen and Vanessa Kelly. Why is that odd.? It's odd because they are the only two authors that I have reviewed on this blog. Shana also included book marks, and her darling Baby Galen had put a kitty sticker on the envelope. Isn't that sweet. I was over the moon, and as soon as I am done with this I am off to read LORD AND LADY SPY




How nice you say, and I say . . . wait that's not all. I also had a package from Angie Fox . I won her book THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER when she was a guest on Vanessa Kelly's blog a few weeks ago.Yes, the same Vanessa Kelly who is the only other author that I have reviewed on this blog. We played a game that generated our biker witch name, and entered it to win a book by Angie Fox. It arrived with fun romance trading cards, and looks like are very interesting book. The biker witch name game is on Angie Fox's website and more information about her books as well. My biker witch name is Looney Libby Flat Foot, which seems to fit, though after today I might just have to add Lucky to it.
 

Check out Shana Galen's , Vanessa Kelly's and Angie Fox's websites. Have you been lucky lately? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review of Vanessa Kelly's Mastering the Marquess

How did I find Vanessa Kelly's book? I'm trying to recall, but the only thing I can remember is that I read her blog when Angie Fox was guest blogging and I won a book from Angie Fox. Winning always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, so I added Vanessa Kelly to my TBR list.Yes,I have a real TBR list in notes on my FB page.

Mastering the Marquess is such an enjoyable read, that I hope I can do it justice in a review. It is fast paced story, with complex characters caught up in the midst of family intrigue and strong passions. (Yes, there is intrigue and passion.) It is the story of Meredith and her younger sister Annabel who are thrown into the social whirl of London's season, unprepared for the complexity, and cattiness of the ton. Meredith already has trouble looking on the bright side of things and she suffers the most from the casual cruelty of the social elite. The hero is Lord Silverton who is attracted to Meredith despite their social standings. Vanessa Kelly does a masterful job of keeping the reader in doubt, as to the whether the couple will reach the expected happily ever after.(Will they?) Besides a likeable leading couple, there is a cast of lovely side characters who add their own quirks and make the tale even more enjoyable.

The most convincing recommendation that I can give is that I immediately bought the next book Sex and the Single Earl. Who was the last author that you bought their books back to back?


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review of Shana Galen's The Making of a Duchess

I have to admit that I have been going through historical romance burn out. I had recently started but never finished several books from that genre. That being said, Shana Galen was on my list of authors to read based on Facebook recommendations So, when Stephanie Sloane mentioned that Shana Galen was on Facebook I dutifully trotted over to" like" her page, as I had previously done when Julia Quinn had recommended Stephanie Sloane. The problem was that I hadn't read any of her books yet, and unlike Stephanie Sloane, Shana Galen did have books available. Still not seeing the problem? Well, this brings us back to my historical romance burn out, which I will refer from this point on as HRBO. I had stated several historical romances and found them to be ponderous, and do I dare say boring. I won’t name any names as I am not that kind of reader. But because of HRBO I was afraid to start a new author, because what if I didn't like her writing style. Did I really want to spend my kindle allowance on something I wasn't sure about? Read the reviews? I don't read reviews because I don't like spoilers. Luckily, Amazon put; The Making of; a Duchess on their sale, and at a price that didn't break the kindle budget, so with one click I bought it, and crossing my fingers I started to read.

I finished reading THE MAKING OF A DUCHESS last night at well after midnight, and was thrilled to find that I just couldn't put it down. Start to finish action-adventure between Julien a driven hero and Sarah an endearing but socially awkward heroine. The characters were not typical, and their interactions both emotionally and physically seem real. Beautifully written romantic tension, that doesn't feel rushed. I absolutely loved it.

As for my HRBO, well Shana Galen has cured me and I am looking forward to reading the rest of her books.
Especially, LORD AND LADY SPY which is coming out this week.

My question to you is, have you ever been burnt out on a genre? If so what book from the same genre cured you?