Monday, 31 October 2011

October was NetGalley Month!


Don't know if you have heard but after the huge fun and success it was in April, Emily at Red House Books once again organized a NetGalley month in October, and I participated again and I am quite satisfied because I read quite a few NetGalley books: 13 in total! Woohoo! That is my record! :-D (I just love Emily's NG months, they always motivate me to make a dent in my NG pile :-) 

And despite October busy being a busy month for me I managed to read the most NetGalley books this time! woohoo! :-D  I managed to read these:








My review will be posted on November 4 when Elyse will stop by Ex Libris for her blog tour.


Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

My review will be posted on November 14 when Kristan will stop by Ex Libris for her blog tour.



My review was posted here.



My review was posted here.



 My review was posted here.



Another book I read in my personal dare to give a chance to those stereotypical, horrible titled novels and see whether they are really as cheap and cheesy as their title would suggest. I am happy to report that Romancing the M.D. was a well written and great read, would recommend it!



I loved the setting and the premise, but wasn't as engaged in the love story as I should have. A nice story, my detailed review will be posted soon.



My review will be posted on November 11 when Jessica will stop by Book Lovers Inc. for her blog tour. Wow, what an emotionally powerful extraordinary book! Jessica managed to portray the military characters as people, humans and not just abstract numbers, statistics. My heart squeezed so many times for these poor wounded, confused and lost but strong characters. Fantastic!



Deep Disclosure was an action packed fast read, though all the chase and crossfire fights made me a bit breathless with exhaustion. Sadly the end really ruined the story for me, the resolution of the mystery was forced and made no sense at all, a pity really.



A nice introduction to Lisa Marie Rice's writing, glad I discovered her military romance series and can't wait to read more!


Thank you Emily for another great and fun NG month and can't wait next time! :-)

If you missed this time, no worries, I'm sure Emily will host another NetGalley month soon and I for one can't wait! :-D 

And of course:



Sunday, 30 October 2011

In My Mailbox (#50)

In My Mailbox
is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

I have dropped off the face of the IMM-Earth in the past couple of weeks (I blame studying as usual), but today I am back to show you everything I have received in the past 3 weeks!

Won:

I won this cool package from Nicola Cornick at her monthly website contest! :-D



For review:


Death Magic by Eileen Wilks (release date: 1 November 2011)


Received:

oops, made a mistake, I won Persuade Me at Austen Prose

received as RAK:


and the beautiful duckling book I received after the photos were taken:

(Book #1 in the highly praised Black Jewels Trilogy)

received as RAK from Sullivan McPig again :-)

The cover of this novel is so pretty I stared at it for minutes, the colours in real life are really bight and atmospheric, love it! :-)


Thank you all for the wonderful books, couldn't have asked for better reads to welcome me back to the world of reading-for-pleasure and not for-the-exam!


So this is what was in my mailbox this week, and what was in yours?


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Book Review: Mile High Airship Club by Nishi Serrano

Format read: ebook provided by author
Release Date: 16 August 2011
Length: novella
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Decadent Publishing
Goodreads appetizer: Newlywed Lady Rose’s curiosity is inflamed when a mysterious airship captain shows up extending an honorary invitation for she and her husband, Lord William, to join the Mile High Airship Club. A club she has never heard mention of in polite society. Rose is excited for the trip. It will be her first time aboard an airship. However, Rose is blissfully unaware of the trials she will endure to acquire a membership in this pleasure club!

This review was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.


My Thoughts: I'll start by saying that I'm almost a steampunk virgin. Before the Mile High Airship Club I've only ever read one steampunk novella. So when I heard about Mile High Airship Club I was curious: a steampunk erotica story? Hm, that's something I haven't come across before. Never heard of such pairing. So let me tell you what I thought of Mile High Airship Club.

Lady Rose is a gentle, timid newlywed who is very much in love with her new husband but still blushes when her more experienced married friends talk about their bedroom exploits. Rose is a passionate woman who is not embarrassed because she doesn't enjoy her husband's attentions, she is only conflicted because of her upbringing: a gentle proper lady is simply not to think and talk about such things. Well that is what her husband would like to change, he would like to initiate Rose to a world of pleasure and thinks the perfect way to open Rose's eyes is taking her on an exclusive adventure aboard the very elite and private Mile High Airship Club.

What Rose's husband doesn't know yet is that his very proper ladywife is a passionate woman who was only waiting for the shackles of convention and propriety to be broken from her to give herself over to pleasure.

The erotic story of the novella was scorching hot and showed a wide variety of sexual experimentation.

The steampunk aspect of this novella was well thought out and conveyed the atmosphere of the time period through the bizarre and ingenious sexual instruments and the exciting airship. Nishi Serrano portrayed the historical setting wonderfully through small but crucial details like the proper tea party scene with the married wives in gowns, the etiquette and polite conversations, etc.

The world Nishi Serrano has built was fantastic and I would have loved to read more about the time, the machines and people and I very much hope there will be other stories where she will explore them.

Verdict: Despite its very short length Mile High Airship Club was an enjoyable and well developed short story, I can't wait to read more from Nishi Serrano.

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 6/10

Buy it:

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Top 5 Reasons Why I LOVE Urban Fantasy


You might have heard that Jaye Wells, fantastic author of the Sabrina Kane UF series declared October UF month (an author after my own heart!) so I thought it was time to declare once more ow much and why exactly I love love LOVE the urban fantasy genre!

As I could go on for hours and hours about the reasons why UF is so fantabulous, I thought so as not to scare you away I'll try to limit myself to a very short and to the point list.

Top 5 reasons why UF rocks and why everyone should read it


1. Because of the awesome, kickass, independent heroines!

Really, one of the constant things of UF which never let me down: the heroines besides being role models for girls and women of every age when it comes to standing up for yourself and taking care of your life, are real despite living in fantasy worlds. Kate (from Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series and Elena from Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series) are both tough yet vulnerable women, who have their own insecurities and fears which make them relatable and so human.


2. Because of all the action!

Let's face it, the life of most of us isn't that thrilling, every everyday life is just like everyone's else, so it's thrilling to experience danger, excitement, mystery from the comfort of our couch :-)


3. Because of the unique worlds!

Adrian Phoenix's Kallie
Urban fantasies have the best of both worlds: they are set in modern time so the reader can relate when the characters are using their cell phones and living in a big metropol, but it also has that magical, paranormal, mysterious side we relish: there are super powers, supernatural species, psychic bonds and other fantastic things.


4. Because of the humour!

Until I became hooked on UF I don't think I read many humourous novels or that it was an important detail for me in a novel. That all changed when UF books showed me the light. Because maybe at first you wouldn't believe that these dark and gritty and dangerous tales could be funny, but oh yes they are! I just love how the authors ease the tension with some humour and witty banter in a heart-stopping scene when adrenaline is running high and your palms sweat with fear. You should try Master of None by Sonya Bateman, you'll never look back from UF.


5. ... and of course because of the heroes!

Because let's face it: even if in real life we couldn't bear to live with an overbearing, possessive man, in our novels we simply relish the strong and possessive alpha males, who in UF are equal partners to the heroines and not just their rescuers. The relationships and love between the hero and heroines are another aspect I love love love in my UF.

One of the most iconic UF couple: Cat and Bones in Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series

+1 and a bonus one: Because of the gorgeous covers!

Urban Fantasy novels have the most beautiful, unique and magical covers out there. I couldn't choose any favourites, so just a few:








(If you'd like to see more amazing UF covers, just google it)


So here you go, a mini list of my Top 5 Reasons Why I Love UF.

Here are a few past posts I did on different UF related topics if you haven't seen them, take a look, you might discover some new favourites ;-)






So tell me, why do YOU love Urban Fantasy? 

And if for whatever reason you haven't given it a try, trust me, we just have to find you a tailor-made series and you'll be hooked. If you'd like some suggestions don't hesitate, I would love to initiate you into the amazing UF world! :-)


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Guest post: On Location with Romancing the Countess by Ashley March + Giveaway

Today I am very happy to welcome to Ex Libris historical romance author Ashley March who is on a book tour around the world celebrating the release of her latest novel: ROMANCING THE COUNTESS! Ashley was kind enough to share with us a secret, the kind I love: discovering more about the behind the scenes of a book and how she found the perfect real place location for her novel! Please give her a warm welcome, read on and answer Ashley's question and you could win a copy of ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!


On Location with ROMANCING THE COUNTESS
by Ashley March


A huge thank you to Stella for hosting me today as I continue celebrating the release of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

In ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, an important part of the story happens at a country house party in Wiltshire. I’ve never been to Wiltshire, have certainly never been to England (although I have hopes for my 10th wedding anniversary!). In fact, I only picked Wiltshire because it didn’t sound familiar (i.e. hadn’t heard it as a location in many other English historicals), and because I simply liked the name. Wiltshire. There’s a certain noble, poetic ring to it, don’t you think? =)

But once I made the random decision that I did want to use Wiltshire as the location for the house party, I had to do some research. What did the landscape look like? Were there a lot of trees? Hills? Was it barren? Did certain types of flowers or trees that I wanted to include in the story even grow there? (Yes, small details like that do come up.) Since railroads were in existence by the time period of my story (mid-19th century), I looked up what cities the railroads crossed. This also helped when my heroine had to go into a nearby town to see a dressmaker toward the end of the house party.

One of the main things I found out about the landscape of Wiltshire is that there are a lot of chalk hills, although these are mostly farther south.

I also found that that there are multiple carvings of horses in the chalk hills, the earliest one going back to 878AD. I did not include this in the book as I set the house part in the northeast part of the county, but thought it was an interesting detail.
While I did find that there were trees in Wiltshire, as you can see from the pictures above they weren’t many near the chalk hills. And for the country house party I wanted there to be trees. And a lake. (I’m from East Texas—I love trees and lakes.) So I did a little more research and found a part of the county in the northeast where there were fewer chalk hills and more trees: Swindon. (Swindon is also the name of the largest town, and where I sent my heroine to meet with a dressmaker.)

Then I found Lydiard Park, a 17th century Palladian house in Swindon, and this is what I began picturing for the George estate in ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, Linley Park.

And a note of interest: Lydiard Park is open to the public year-round, so if you ever happen to go to Swindon, Wiltshire, West England, you can visit the estate that was the basis for Linley Park in ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. =)

Finding pictures of places like the ones above help me to “see” my characters and the places where they go when I write. I can become more immersed in the story because I feel in a way as if I’ve visited the places myself. What about you as a reader? Do seeing visual images of the landscape and similar houses to the ones featured in a book help you to picture yourself there? Would you ever visit the locations or basis of locations from your favorite books? If you could visit any particular place (city, county, country) because you read about it in a romance novel, where would you go?

One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, thought he'd married the perfect woman-until a fatal accident revealed her betrayal with his best friend. After their deaths, Sebastian is determined to avoid a scandal for the sake of his son. But his best friend's widow is just as determined to cast her mourning veil aside by hosting a party that will surely destroy both their reputations and expose all of his carefully kept secrets...

Leah George has carried the painful knowledge of her husband's affair for almost a year. All she wants now is to enjoy her independence and make a new life for herself-even if that means being ostracized by the Society whose rules she was raised to obey. Now that the rumors are flying, there's only one thing left for Sebastian to do: silence the scandal by enticing the improper widow into becoming a proper wife. But when it comes to matters of the heart, neither Sebastian nor Leah is prepared for the passion they discover in each other's arms....

Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting http://www.ashleymarch.com/!



GIVEAWAY RULES:

As Ashley said above, one lucky commenter will win their own copy of ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!


All you have to do is:

1) Answer Ashley's question highlighted in yellow above, and
2) leave me a way to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 4 November 2011!


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Book Review: Romancing the Countess by Ashley March

Title: Romancing the Countess
Author: Ashley March
Release Date: 6 September 2011
Number of pages: 310 pages
Publisher: Signet
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, thought he'd married the perfect woman-until a fatal accident revealed her betrayal with his best friend. After their deaths, Sebastian is determined to avoid a scandal for the sake of his son. But his best friend's widow is just as determined to cast her mourning veil aside by hosting a party that will surely destroy both their reputations and expose all of his carefully kept secrets...

Leah George has carried the painful knowledge of her husband's affair for almost a year. All she wants now is to enjoy her independence and make a new life for herself-even if that means being ostracized by the Society whose rules she was raised to obey. Now that the rumors are flying, there's only one thing left for Sebastian to do: silence the scandal by enticing the improper widow into becoming a proper wife. But when it comes to matters of the heart, neither Sebastian nor Leah is prepared for the passion they discover in each other's arms...

My Thoughts: My first thought when I read the blurb of Romancing the Countess was that Ashley March was a very brave author. To build a romance story around widowed and cheated spouses finding their happiness with each other had so many dangers that I was very much curious to see whether she would succeed in pulling it off and how she would do that. I can tell you that she did and Romancing the Countess is a highly unusual love story.

Leah has been married to Sebastian's best friend Ian for years, but has been living the last couple years of her marriage as a torture, ever since she discovered her husband was having an affair - when she believed that their marriage was a happy one - and with none other than Sebastian's wife! All her young idealism and rose-hued love were shattered along with her heart when she discovered the betrayal of her husband. So when word arrives that her husband and his mistress (=Sebastian's wife) died in a carriage accident, she can't help but feel relieved. Relieved that she doesn't have to continue to live a painful lie, a charade in front of society and pretend everything is well between her and her husband. She relishes her newly found freedom and wants to experience her independence to the fullest.

This is where Sebastian enters the picture. Sebastian was and still is very much in love with his wife. Discovering her betrayal comes as an ice cold shower, he never saw it coming and has a hard time accepting it. I loved how Ashley March did not make him stop loving her wife upon the discovery of her adulterous behaviour but made it realistic, love can't cease instantly, you can't turn it off with a switch. His struggles with his lingering feelings of love and anger and grief at her betrayal were poignant. Sebastian fears that people will speculate about the unusual circumstances of the accident (=why their respective spouses were together) and he wants to present a united front with Leah so as to quell all speculation and not tarnish the memory and reputation of their deceased spouses. And he very much fears that Leah enjoying her freedom will make it obvious to everyone that she is not a grieving widow and people will jump to the conclusion which is the truth.

For this reason he tries to spend as much time with Leah as he can so he can keep an eye on her and stop any foolishness she might do. What he doesn't take into account is that Leah slowly but steadily starts to get under his skin. First it is her gaiety at enjoying her freedom then later a physical attraction develops between them which make him think more and more about her.
"I didn't kiss you because I wanted revenge on Ian or Angela. I kissed you because I wanted to. Because I wanted you."
"Do you like the dress?"
"Do I like it? No. Do I want to tear it off of you: Yes."

What was interesting is the way Ashley March explored how Sebastian and Leah dealt with their grief differently: Sebastian was devastated and enraged, while Leah wasn't grieving because of her husband's death, she did her part of grieving a few years ago when she lost her husband and her innocence upon discovering his deceit.

Leah's quest and need for independence was very sobering. We tend to forget that a couple centuries ago women were really considered property of their husband and father and were only "allowed" to do things if their husband saw fit to it. Ashley March did a wonderful job reminding the reader of the way things were back then and bringing such realism to it by making us experience these abstract notions through Leah's own personal predicament that the reader couldn't not get a taste of what it would have felt like to be a woman in that age. (And give thanks for enlightened men and living in a more feminist and equal opportunity world today.)

I have to applaud Ashley March for not writing a fairy tale too rose-y story of this setting. For not making Sebastian get over his beloved dead wife right after he discovered her deceit. His grief and suffering ensured the story remained realistic and believable.

I have to confess that I much preferred the second part of the story (the marriage of convenience part) to the first one when Leah and Sebastian were at Leah's garden party, and would have liked to get there earlier but I understand Ashley March had to build the foundation for that.

With such a setting I feared that it would be difficult if not impossible to believe that Sebastian a man who was much in love with his deceased wife would forget about her and fall in love anew, especially so soon. But Ashley March did it! She made me believe in it (though if a bit more time had elapsed after their spouses' death it would have been even easier for me to believe it).

Sebastian was a wonderful hero: intense and determined, his dialogues and declarations always gave me goosebumps:
"But I want to marry you, Leah George, not someone else. You see I've become rather accustomed to your smile. Even if it angers me when I'm so determined to be miserable. And I've grown to anticipate your devilish antics - it seems I like watching you enjoy your freedom as much as you like exploring it. " 
The love story between Leah and Sebastian was such a satisfaction because besides their love, Sebastian truly respected Leah and wanted to give her her freedom, so she could freely dispose of it. Which shows better than anything his deep understanding of her character and the depth of his affection for her.

Verdict: Romancing the Countess was an emotional read: don't expect to read it and not to be moved and unsettled, it will shake you up and stir you, but at the end you'll close the book with with a happy sigh. A quite unusual but well executed historical romance. Congratulations to Ashley March for taking risks and I can't wait to read more from her!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 10/10 - only one word: beautiful!! 


Buy it:


The BookDepository 


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Guest post: Tapping Intuition in Paranormal Romance by Carolyn Fruzzetti + Giveaway

Today I welcome to the blog Carolyn Fruzzetti part of the author duo behind the exciting new YA title SUNDIAL. In case you haven't heard of this book before now is your chance and stick to the end, you could even win yourself a copy! So please give a warm welcome to Carolyn!


Thanks to Stella for hosting us today! We’re excited to discuss the role of intuition in paranormal romance and to introduce readers to our hero and heroine.

Tapping Intuition in Paranormal Romance: SUNDIAL takes Mind Games to the Next Level

Listening to that Inner Voice

The dictionary definition of intuition is “quick and ready insight; immediate apprehension.” It is sensing and evaluating the time between foresight and hindsight and predicting when an idea or concept will become reality. Incredibly, we all have the gift of intuition and it’s up to us what we do with it.


Practice Makes Perfect

As humans, nature provided us not with the sharpest teeth but with the biggest brains. Intuition is an internal warning that goes off when the information is there--usually that there is some sort of hazard or danger. This warning goes by many names: a hunch, a gut feeling, and woman’s intuition to name a few. Whatever you call it, this feeling helps humans survive by giving them an inside track that they may be in a vulnerable situation (if a person is smart enough to pay attention to it). And, the cool fact is, the more you use your intuition the better you get.

Meet SUNDIAL’s ‘Super’ Couple

Whitney Forbes is highly intuitive and, as a result, she carefully evaluates every situation. Dating is no exception and she knows the risks: rejection, disappointment, incompatibility or the one that she usually finds herself--totally bored. That is, until she meets Reid Wallace. Suddenly she finds herself anything but bored as he begins to run into her in the school halls (literally) and amps up his flirtation to the point she can’t deny he is interested in her.

Reid is the most popular guy in school but that fact does not give him any leniency in Whitney’s mind. If anything, Whitney scrutinizes him all the more since her idea of “blending in” does not include being dragged into the school spotlight.

One thing Whitney knows for certain is that Reid unnerves her by the way he seems to know a lot more about her than she cares to admit. Usually, she is the one who knows too much--and her intuition is telling her there is something about him that sets him apart.

SUNDIAL begins with her trying to figure out if she’s afraid of Reid or if she’s afraid of dating Reid and risking her heart. She will have to make a decision and soon...

Excerpt

Unexpectedly, the prickling sensation of my intuition going into overdrive shivered across my skin. It became more intense as Reid got closer...The closer he came, the more my skin tingled. The hair on my arm felt like iron filings being attracted by a magnet. This kind of response didn’t make sense. I knew he didn’t have extrasensory perception. I recognized that rare trait in someone else immediately.

Others with extrasensory perception gave me a feeling I could only describe as relief. It was comforting when I didn’t have to disguise how I knew information. Reid did not give me a feeling of relief. He made me feel hyperalert. Why was he causing this sort of reaction?
Reid embraced my shoulder like a fellow conspirator. “I wasn’t sure Liz would have known what to do with a soccer ball heading in her direction. You seemed like a more logical choice. The dirt on your legs it was a dead giveaway,” he said in a low voice with a hint of a smile. I could smell peppermint in his mouth.

The touch of his hand on my arm made my heart jump-start. I dulled my escalating pulse by contemplating him with my hazel eyes. What a flirt, I thought to myself.

Reid smiled and patted my shoulder as if to tell me to keep up the good work. Then he walked away. p.4

So, what’s your intuition telling you about Reid? Why is he so hard for Whitney to read and do you think he is hiding secrets of his own?

SUNDIAL by C.F. Fruzzetti and M.I. Pearsall

Teenager Whitney Forbes thought her biggest problem was surviving high school and determining if there was more to handsome Reid Wallace than just his looks and popularity. She was wrong; her problems were about to get a lot more complicated. Whitney always knew she was special. But when she discovers she is more “special” than she ever imagined, surviving another school day takes on a whole new meaning. Caught in the middle of a CIA plot and her undeniable magnetic attraction to Reid, she will need to decide who she can trust and what it means to become the Sundial...before she risks her heart and an alarming plan goes into motion. Will she have what it takes to not only survive but also prevail? Time brings the truth to light in this epic adventure about love, trust and the process of turning adversity into advantage.


For more information about SUNDIAL, please visit http://sundialbook.com/


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Carolyn generously offers an ebook copy of SUNDIAL to a lucky commenter!


All you have to do is 

1) answer Carolyn's question in yellow above, and
2) leave me a way to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc,)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 4 November 2011!

Good luck!


Monday, 24 October 2011

It's Monday, What Are you Reading? (#54)


It's Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week.

Well you won't see me online this week and that's not because I'll be stuck with my nose in a book. At least not some exciting and entertaining novel. *sighs* Yep, last week and exam time. Cross your fingers for me please and I shall be back on Friday hopefully. 


Books I completed 


I LOVE WWII stories and movies so when I saw the blurb of this one I couldn't resist. Love the old times glamour of swing parties, cocktail dresses they are so glittery against the bleak setting and dangers of the war.



A nice introduction to Lisa Marie Rice's writing, glad I discovered her military romance series and can't wait to read more!



A re-read. Ruby Red Metallic is a very short but scorching hot erotica novella. My review will be posted on Friday.



One night I couldn't take any more studying and had to have something take off my mind of things and I started Deep Disclosure. It was an action packed fast read, though all the chase and crossfire fights made me a bit breathless with exhaustion. Sadly the end really ruined the story for me, the resolution of the mystery was forced and made no sense at all, a pity really.


Book I am currently reading

No books I'm currently reading. On a reading ban until my exam is over, but come Thursday I'll happily jump back on the bandwagon!


Books I can't wait to start  



I'm craving more romantic suspense, military romance and historical romance stories :-)


And what are you reading this week?


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