Saturday, February 12, 2011

Free Books!

Sometime targeted marketing is really nice!  Look what popped up in my Facebook sidebar today-->

I don't really read category or ebooks, so it's not the deal for me, but the site concept is pretty interesting--the home page at Copia proclaims boldly:

If a book is worth reading,
it’s worth discussing.
Copia is the place to do both.


All your books.
All your friends.
All in one.

and then goes on to talk about something called "social reading." 

Interesting, because that's kind of what we do here in book-blog-land, isn't it?

Then of course, there's GoodReads, and the Amazon communities... This seems to be taking it a step further.  Interesting concept!

I can't seem to use the link from Facebook directly, but the main site is at The Copia.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On The Hunt - Game and Promotion

This sounds like fun....! Don't know about you, but I'm going to play.

Want to chase the winter blues away? Join the hunt. Four authors. Five hidden images. One red-hot anthology. Hunt down the contest images hidden on Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Andersen and Deidre Knight's online homes to win an iPod Nano multi-touch and a signed copy of ON THE HUNT. A second prize winner will add 10 sizzling Signet Eclipse releases to their bookshelf!

The winners will be announced during our Valentine's Day Afterglow chat event on Thursday, February 17th @ 9pm ET. All of the ON THE HUNT authors will be on hand. Plus, there will be a few surprise giveaways for those that attend. Bookmark our chat room - TKA Chats!

Click here to find out how to join the hunt and take the exclusive "Hunter or Prey?" quiz. 

**Contest begins on Monday, Feb. 7th @ 9:00am ET and ends on Thursday, Feb 17th @ 3pm ET. U.S. residents only**

(Hmmm, I think I like the sound of the second prize possibly more than first....)

Monday, February 7, 2011

All I Ever Wanted, by Kristan Higgins - Review

Again With The Tissues
This book made me laugh out loud, cringe in embarrassment and sympathy for the main character, and yep, made me cry.  Not the first time for this author, I might add. Ms. Higgins is becoming my go-to author for those times when you just need sweet romance with a side of salty tears.

Callie is my favorite Higgins heroine yet.  She's smart, funny, confident, and generally just really good at life -- except when it comes to men.  Even then, she knows that she's "doing it wrong," even when she can't help herself.  Emotion is pesky that way.

This is a story that crackles with fantastic dialog and vivid secondary characters.  At times the secondaries might veer near the edge of caricature, but the important ones are grounded with the kind of telling details that make their relationships with Callie very real, whether they're her sister, her BFF from fourth grade, a scheming co-worker, or the drinking buddies at the bar.

Higgins' heroines have bordered on the farcical in the past, but I felt like this book marked some kind of leap in the author's ability to create a character that was whimsical and quirky but still felt real and not too much like the 80's sitcom wacky neighbor.  For instance, the dogs in this book had some personality and lent some character insight, but there was no 120-lb mastiff in heat careening through the streets with the heroine trailing, wackily, behind [Just One of the Guys].  I mean, it's possible that I just liked this heroine and this book better, but I think there's a developing maturity in Higgins' characters that has me really looking forward to the next one.

The hero is a little out of the ordinary for a modern romance.  All the right bones are there -- wounded past, emotionally distant, sort of anti-social [read: an asshole] at first. The biggest difference - and some reviewers had issues with this -- is that we don't get much time inside his head, so he is pretty distant to the reader, too.

In some ways I like this, because it puts the reader in the same vulnerable space as the heroine, when you don't quite know what's going on with that guy. But it does make him a bit less sympathetic to the reader.  What I liked best about this slightly damaged, slightly angsty hero is that, while the bubbly, friendly heroine does help heal his wounds, his more taciturn nature enables him to see under Callie's facade and gives her a space where she doesn't have to be "on" all the time.  In his words, she "doesn't have to try so hard. Not with me, anyway."  It was a terribly awkward moment for both of them when they have this exchange, but it becomes a real turning point for Callie, and-- besides raw chemistry-- the real reason that he is The One for her.

Around the Blogosphere
Lusty Reader
The Allure of Books
Dear Author
The Book Pushers

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekly Geeks - Blurry Book Disorder

Oh, I had a good laugh at this week's Geek challenge. Tara says,
B.B.D. (Blurry Book Disorder) : When one can no longer keep characters and storylines straight. Often brought on by reading multiple books from the same genre in a short period of time.

By the end of last year, I had a terrible case of B.B.D. I was mixing up couples, plot points, and even authors.

Tara goes on to suggest that alternating genres might help, and asks fellow Geeks to share strategies to avoid this dread disorder.

Why Pathologize?
Seeing as how I started reading romance in the 70s, I can only say that my answer is to embrace the disorder. Outside of my very favorites, I do not remember titles or authors, and I'm OK with that. I tend to remember character names the longest, and sometimes very basic plot points.

But it can be an advantage. Do you know WHY blonds have more fun? Highlight for the answer: Because they have such tiny little attention spans that everything always seems new and exciting!  OK, that was a cheap shot.  But you know, if you forget a book thoroughly enough, you can get two or three times the entertainment value!

Dave Barry once wrote this about remembering things in college:
The idea is, you memorize these things, then write them down in little exam books, then forget them. If you fail to forget them, you become a professor and have to stay in college for the rest of your life.

It's very difficult to forget everything. For example, when I was in college, I had to memorize --don't ask me why-- the names of three metaphysical poets other than John Donne. I have managed to forget one of them, but I still remember that the other two were named Vaughan and Crashaw. Sometimes, when I'm trying to remember something important like whether my wife told me to get tuna packed in oil or tuna packed in water, Vaughan and Crashaw just pop up in my mind, right there in the supermarket. It's a terrible waste of brain cells.

I suppose that if I remembered everything about every romance I ever read, I might be doomed to professorhood, which would be really hard because I think the number of  "Professor of Romance Novels" jobs is pretty small. So I like to think of my ability to forget most details, as a conservation of brain cells.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Groundhog Day Rewind!

I'm trying to imagine the pitch for the movie Groundhog Day.  Really?  Same day, over and over? Trying to get something right but you don't know what you're doing wrong? And why Groundhog Day? Why not, oh, I don't know, Arbor Day, or Pi Day, or something? (you could make a good argument for the numbers in pi not repeating, but maybe you'd need to be a math nerd to think so...)

Is it the 2? 2/2? like a repeat? or a... rewind?  That gave me an idea...

I have to admit that I like the Old Skool romances.  I do.  I'm not sure what I'd think about a newly published one, with all the heaving and dying and whatnot, but I have a fondness for the real Old Skool ones that actually does stand-up to the repeat read.

About a year ago I got ahold of a couple of Rosemary Rogers titles and really enjoyed them.  So I think I'm going to seek out some of these old skool re-reads.  Keep an eye out for them on the second of the month.  Like... today?*

Oh, Bertrice Small... I loved her books so much when I was the same age as her heroines (13? 14?), and none more than Skye O'Malley.  Will I still?

Answer: Oh yes.  Yes yes yes! and then I fainted.

Poor Skye faints a lot, especially after a good orgasm.  There is lots and lots and lots of sex in this book and I wouldn't say that it's not graphic, but it's not as...erm, detailed as you generally see in the "hotter" modern offerings.  Two to three paragraphs, max. I love this story with my whole heart, but I will concede that the sex scenes may have been written by a virgin. No matter how bad it starts out, it almost always ended up OK.  PTSD had yet to be identified, much less understood, and so Skye, like any good Old Skool heroine, shakes off the odd rape or pirate attack with a good cry and a complicated revenge plan.

Small's villains are completely vile, indulging in such horrors as incest and anal sex.  Also they hit women and tend to have thin lips.  This is your best bet for distinguishing them from the heroes, who, just like the villains, pursue the sweet, virtuous but proud and tempestuous beauty, helpless against their baser desires, driven to possess her by fair means or foul. The villainesses are promiscuous and generally batshit crazy in one way or another. 

The other difference, besides the thin lips, is that the heroes (and there are more than one), are not cruel at heart and always genuinely fall in love with Skye.  In this book (there are sequels) she has 4 husbands and 7 children and still looks like an ante-bellum Scarlett O'Hara.  Those 16th century women sure had a lot of stamina.

I've always been puzzled by assertions that romance readers actually identify with the hero.  If that's you, you probably aren't going to like Skye O'Malley at all.  She's hard on husbands.  Jennifer Crusie says this about romance:
Seventy percent of book buyers and eighty percent of book readers are women, and like me, those readers are tired of serving and losing and waiting and dying in their fictional worlds. The romance heroine not only acts and wins, she discovers a new sense of self, a new sense of what it means to be female as she struggles through her story, and so does the romance reader as she reads it.
And that is Skye O'Malley to a T.  You might even say this isn't even a romance-- it is perhaps three romances, but it IS the story of the heroine and her struggles to act and win.

One thing that I found interesting about Skye is that it is no Cinderella story.  Skye is pampered and bejeweled and privileged from the first page to the last, and there is lavish descriptive detail about the lifestyle -- the food, the furnishings, the rich clothing, fabulous jewels, festivals.  The point of view is far more omniscient that current standards, with little introspection or inner dialog.  PoV travels easily from one head to another but it's nearly all in the service of describing the action and setting up the plot. 

It's epic and adventurous and while I could probably rip it up on technicalities, it's just too much fun to read.  It's a slice of lush fantasy, a moment out of time where I imagine myself fabulously wealthy, fabulously desireable, and clever enough to outwit  my jealous enemies.

Next up: I think maybe Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

*Oops.  I flubbed the scheduling bit so it went through a little early.  Oh well.  It's the second in most time zones...


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