Monday, September 29, 2008

KristieJ and Katiebabs talk books

A special book deserves special treatment and Katie and I have been planning this one for weeks! You get not one, but two reviews and then our chat.

So grab a coffee, something to munch on and sit back for a Very Long Post!

KristieJ's Review:

I’ve about five pages left in Seduce Me At Sunrise and I’m a bit baffled now as to what to do. Do I just sit and savour it? Do I reread it again since I gulped it down the first time? Or do I write a review.

Well, it seems the answer is evident – I’m writing a review.

I don’t know if many people know this or not, but Dreaming of You is my favourite all time book and Derek Craven my all time favourite hero since I first read Dreaming of You all those many years ago. There have been many heroes by many authors of many genres over the years that I’ve adored, but none have been able to topple Derek. Well, Merripen hasn’t toppled Derek, but for the first time I can say a hero has equalled Derek Craven in my many years of reading.

From the back of the book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mine Till Midnight comes a dazzling novel about forbidden love and long-denied desire – the kind of passion that happens once in a lifetime…..

Seduce Me At Sunrise

He has tried so hard to forget her

Kev Merripen has longed for the beautiful, well-bred Winnifred Hathaway ever since her family rescued him from the brink of death when he was just a boy. But this handsome Gypsy is a man of mysterious origins – and he fears that the darkness of his past could crush delicate, luminous Win. So Kev refuses to submit to temptation…and before long Win is torn away from him by a devastating twist of fate.

Can she remember the man he once was?

Then, Win returns to England…only to find that Kev has hardened into a man who will destroy love at all costs. Meantime, an attractive, seductive suitor has set his sights o Win. It’s now or never for Kev to make his move. But first, he must confront a dangerous secret about his destiny – or risk losing the only woman he has lived for…

While mostly true, there are a few things that are different in the story then what’s written on the back cover, but for the most part, it’s fairly accurate.

If I had to describe this book in just a couple of words they would be heartbreaking and longing. Even without a single love scene I would give this book a hot rating because the longing between Merripen and Win is palpable. We can feel it seething on every page. It’s a rare book where I can feel everything the writer has written as vividly as I felt in this book.

While I don’t think it’s necessary to have read Mine Till Midnight before reading this one, I would recommend it. You get to see in MTM even then the longing Merripen – or Kev and Win have for each other. And you get Cam and Amelia’s story. You also meet Leo. Although this is Win and Kev’s story, Cam, Amelia and Leo play a large role.

But I say it isn’t necessary because the author gives up enough of the background between Win and Kev that we get a sense that these two people really are destined for each other – they are soul mates. I know there are a lot of readers out there who don’t really care for this aspect, but I ask that they lay aside their judgment for this story. I guarantee they won’t be sorry. Even before Kev meets Win, he is captured by her. The Hathaway family finds Kev, alone and left for dead by his Rom family. He really had it bad before that, hated and despised by his Rom family, he is filled with anger and bitterness and at first hates the Hathaway family with the exception of Win. Gradually though he adjusts and becomes a part of the family, only if it’s on the peripheral edge – by his own choice.

Win has suffered a terrible case of Scarlet fever when she was younger and it’s left her an invalid. Merripen takes it upon himself to become her protector. At the end of the first section of Seduce Me At Sunrise, she has left for France where she hopes she can regain her health and come back to Win a new and healthy woman. Just before she leaves however, she tries to tell him how she feels about him, but he will have nothing to do with her. We can feel Win’s anguish and pain at being rejected by the man she loves with all her being.

And we again feel her pain when, returns from France and goes to see Merripen, only to discover he thinks she’s a ‘woman’ he hasn’t ordered but will use anyway (this isn’t a spoiler at it’s the scene posted on her website). Time and again, Merripen breaks her heart by rejecting her, even though she senses what he really feels for her.

For his part, Ms. Kleypas does an incredible job in letting us see into Merripen’s soul; to feel the longing he has for Win and his agony at not thinking he’s good enough for her. There are a few scenes where he breaks her heart and we would be angry at him, except his is breaking even more and the author makes us feel it. There is one scene in particular though where is almost hard to forgive what he does – or doesn’t do.

But least you think this book is all suffering and dark it isn’t. There were a number of very funny scenes that had me grinning. In one particular scene, Win is asking Merripen to apologize to the doctor who has helped make her better and he is insulting the doctor instead – only the tongue he uses is Rom. Cam plays interpreter only he diplomatically translates what Merripen is really saying.

And I can’t say enough good things about the role of the secondary characters in this book. Although it’s Win and Merripen’s story, Cam and Amelia are major figures. And while I did love Can in MTM, he is just delicious in this book. If Merripen is the dark side of love, then Cam is the light side. I love seeing him and Amelia and the key roles they play and the love they share.

When last we saw Leo, the brother, he was a badly damaged soul without much hope of recovery. Well, I’m happy to say that he has turned a real corner in this one and while he still needs work – and his heroine, he is quite the charmer in this book now.

And also for those who read MTM, the mystery of the matching tattoos is revealed. I won’t say how, ‘cause I’m sure you want to read it for yourself.

If there was one thing a bit lacking in MTM, it was a sense of the Rom culture and Cam’s role in it. Although Cam was half gypsy, we didn’t really get much of a feel for that side of him. This is not the case in Seduce Me At Sunrise. Rather, Ms. Kleypas gives us quite a good insight into the customs and traditions of the Rom and it really adds awareness to the story.

Something else I just have to point out about Lisa Kleypas books is how much I appreciate the fact that many of her heroes are ‘every day’ type heroes. Yes, there are titled heroes in some of her books. But I love the fact that she also writes books where the heroes are gambling hell owners, book publishers, sons of butchers. In this era of ‘titled’ heroes and heroines, it’s great to see some who are commoners. Not many authors do this and I wish more would.

As you are reading this, you might notice it’s a much longer review than I normally do, but I’m just so damn over the moon about this book. While there have been MANY books she has written since Dreaming of You that I’ve really enjoyed, for me, Seduce Me At Sunrise is equal to Dreaming of You for this reader. And you have to know that is really saying a lot! I now have a two-way tie for best book of 2008. And wouldn’t you know – they were both written by the same person. Blue Eyed Devil and Seduce Me at Sunrise are both sure to become classics. I’m thinking if I see anything less than 5’s right across the board on this book when the Amazon reviews start appearing, then I just might have to call them crazy.

Grade: 5+ out of 5

KatieBab's Review:

When Mine Till Midnight came out last year, not only did I enjoy the luscious love story Lisa penned between the gypsy Cam, who was a secondary character in her Wallflower books, and that of Amelia Hathaway, but all the wonderful new characters she had invented. Lisa wrote another amazing love story and introduced us to a whole new set of characters that I have grown to love, the Hathaway siblings. I can assume that most readers feel the same way I do. When I found out that the next book Lisa was writing was about Amelia’s sickly sister, Win, and the love she has for Merripen, the wild gypsy boy the family took in, I knew this was going to be another winner.

Merripen, the hero of Seduce Me at Sunrise, may possibly be about one of most passionate and darkest heroes that Lisa has ever created. Merripen, who also goes by Kev, well only really by Win, made such an impression on me in Mine Till Midnight. His smoldering looks and quiet but semi feral nature really caught my eye. And since I am such a sucker for those types of male characters, I knew Merripen’s book was going to be a great book. This is a man who is tortured in every sense of his being. He feels he is worthless, less than a dog. He was taught at a very early age that he is useless and that has stayed with him way into his adulthood. By the time he was saved by the Hathaways, the damage had been done. But a small ray of sunshine came into his life and that was Win. Win made him believe in himself. He still felt he wasn’t good enough for Win, but made it his mission in life to protect and watch over her. He knew he couldn’t belong to her as a man who loves a woman should. He didn’t want to dirty her pure innocence with his dank, dark soul. But Win wants Merripen as much as he wants her, and won’t allow him to walk away from her. Merripen wants Win body and soul, and you can bet Win wants the same thing.

Unfortunately, Win became very ill and that changed their relationship forever. If Win had died from scarlet fever, Merripen was ready to follow her into the afterworld. This is a man whose dedication and devotion for a woman was so very powerful, perhaps a bit obsessive and borderline deranged, but since Lisa is a pro at writing these complicated men, she makes sure never tohave Merripen cross that line passed the point of no return.

Seduce Me at Sunrise is a story about two people who so very much belong together. But, they continually remain apart till they are so weak in the heart for one another that they finally come together in a passion that they no longer can deny. Much as Cam made Amelia his by kidnapping her, Merripen does the same with Win. You would assume their love for one another would be a rough and almost violent act because of the years of unbridled lust between them. Rather, Merripen is sweet and respectful. He treats Win as if she is a butterfly, but at the same time gives her such pleasure in his arms because she is with the man she so very much loves and adores. Merripen and Win’s love story is one of the best I have read this year and if you are a fan of Lisa’s work, like I am, you will not be disappointed in anyway. Seduce Me at Sunrise is everything and more. Every time I read a new Kleypas novel, I am in such awe because her heroes and heroines are so very unique.

One final issue I do have with Lisa, is that her heroes have ruined me for real life men. And now Merripen has been added to my growing harem of Kleypas heroes.

4 stars out of 5 stars

And Now for our Chat

KristieJ: So

- how is you SMAS review coming?

KatieBabs: I am trying to get my thoughts in order. I would say it was a fun read, loved Kev and Win. Kev.. omg

KristieJ: I KNOW!! - But oops - we have to save this - unless you want todo a chat now *g*

KatieBabs: we can do that

KristieJ: I don't know 'bout you - I can do with some cheering up by thinking luscious thoughts about Kev! Let me get a beer and settle down for a nice chat then about the best damn historical I've read by Kleypas since DOY

KatieBabs: okey dokey *longs for a beer*

Pause while I get a beer

KristieJ: So - I'm ready. First off - I have to be shallow. I just loved the inside step cover!! The guy was hawt and if I was Win, I could see why she wanted him so bad. I opened it and went Whoa Mama! But that's cause I'm shallow about things like that *g*

KatieBabs: I do love the covers where you see the woman in the dress looking all demure and then open the cover slat and WHOA, sex and naked people!

KristieJ: That's the perfect cover isn't it? Tasteful on the outside - raunchy on the inside - just like me – bwaaahhhhaaaa. And *big grin* I'm thinking you think his hair is too long - cause it's a generational thing

KatieBabs: on the outside we are classy broads

KristieJ: Classy - yep

KatieBabs: I like men with short hair, much like Richard, yup, have to bring him up

KristieJ: ROTFL

KatieBabs: I can imagine a young Richard as Kev

KristieJ: his hair is longer as Guy - but seriously *g* what did you think of the cover model?

KatieBabs: pretty good choice. Wouldn't throw him out of bed *G*

KristieJ: And now that we've had our shallow moment - how about the inside - what did you think of the book overall

KatieBabs: This is another great historical by Lisa. Luscious romance, to die for hero and a heroine who is so very special

KristieJ: Indeed! I. LOVED. EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. I haven't been this pumped about a book since Dreaming of You. Kev just melted my heart

KatieBabs: Kev was one of the most darkest and angsty heroes Lisa has ever come up with. His pain was so real, enough to touch it; the love he had for Win was borderline obsessive much like Heathcliff had for Kathy in Wuthering Heights

KristieJ: That's what I thought too!!! I liked that you likened him to Heathcliffe in the Book Smugglers review. He was a lot like Heathcliffe without the cruelty. And Lisa wrote his character so perfectly that you COULD feel his pain. I can't remember the last time I felt that much emotion just pouring off a character. It was amazing

KristieJ: Just a sec and I'll send you my review. Warning though - it's the longest review I've ever done………….OK - it's on it's way.

KatieBabs: Wow almost 1500 words!

KristieJ: it took me a couple of days to do because there was so much I wanted to say - without giving anything away

KatieBabs: I especially liked how we became reacquainted with the Hathaways again and of course how Cam and Amelia were married

KristieJ: Oh me too!! I thought she blended them into the story perfectly. They were vital to the story - not just extras she threw in case we forgot them

KatieBabs: Just like The Wallflowers, Lisa writes great relationships with friends and family and the Hathaways have quickly become my favorite literary family

KristieJ: Mine too. They are so much fun and so vivid aren't they? And Leo - it was so good to see him doing so much better in this story. He's really come a long way in this healing process.

KatieBabs: I think I know who Leo will be with hee hee

KristieJ: I loved the scenes with Leo and the hedgehog and the garters

KatieBabs: I really like Leo also. He may have demons inside but is trying to live again and have fun

KristieJ: And maybe I'm just super aware because I know Lisa watched and loved North and South - but did you catch her mention of the Exhibition in London with all the machinery? I couldn't help but think - I bet that’s the same one that John Thornton went to *g* when Kev was talking about machinery and everything - naturally my mind went to N&S

KatieBabs: Um, I was more in awe by Kev's lusty thoughts for Win. lol

KristieJ: ROTFL - what? Not machinery?

KatieBabs: Kev's machinery? lmao

KristieJ: He was a lusty one - Kev wasn't he? And just as refreshing so was Win. She wanted Kev - and she wanted him baaaadddd. I loved that about her character. No shrinking violet was Win. She didn't hesitate to make her thoughts and wants known to Kev. And I loved the little bit about how she got him to tell her his name

KatieBabs: I especially like the flashbacks how Kev came into the Hathaways lives and how Kev would only want Win to be in the room with him

KristieJ: I think there are few authors who can do love scenes as viscerally as Lisa Kleypas. In a lot of romances I just skip over them. But in her books I FEEL them

KatieBabs: and very dark, when he thought Win was dying, he was about to go with her if she did.

KristieJ: That was so tender wasn't it? This poor abused young man who hated everything was instantly tamed by this innocent young woman. That got me too - the depth of emotion he felt for her. That if she wasn't in his life - life wasn't worth living. And even at such a young age there was such a pull between the two of them. It was so wonderfully written

KatieBabs: Lisa sure can hit you in the gut with the passion her characters have for one another

KristieJ: That's what struck me most about this book - more than any other book she's written - including her contemporaries - which I love beyond belief. But there is something just gut punching about Seduce me at Sunrise - in a different way. The longing between Win and Kev was wondrously done. I'm getting very flowery in my adjectives - but I just can't help it. This book AWED me - from cover to cover

KatieBabs: So you are a bigger fan of Kev over Cam?

KristieJ: Oh yes! Kev is now equal to Derek in my heroes. They are tied and I didn't think anyone would ever tie with Derek

KatieBabs: I found Kev to be a bit much darker than Derek

KristieJ: Oh much darker. He was obsessive in his love for Win. And so determined not to give into that love

KatieBabs: Oh, but when he gave in... ROWL!! Win did not give up!

KristieJ: I LOVED that scene. So Very Very Romantic - and what followed after - so Very, Very Hot. I've already started rereading this one. That's a sign of something special for me

KatieBabs: How Kev decides to "take" Win? And he takes her all over the place! heh heh

KristieJ: And her innocence at wanting to 'clean' up first. I can so see something like that happening with an innocent young woman who doesn't really know her own body. And his explanation *dreamy sigh* Even the epilogue in this book was special. She took what could have been a cliché and made it as important a part of the book as the rest of it. The scenes were again so vividly written

KatieBabs: He was so tender but so masterful. *fanning myself*

KristieJ: So where do you rate Kev on your hero list? I know Jack is your favourite

KatieBabs: I am to the point that rating Lisa's heroes are impossible because they are oh so good

KatieBabs: There is one major spoiler that I felt was contrived a bit and wish it didn't happen

KristieJ: OK - time out *g* - which scene was that - we will have to do spoiler here


KatieBabs: Kev and Cam being brothers. did not like

KristieJ: Ahhh - I didn't dislike it - it certainly explains the tattoos. I thought they were like two sides of the same coin. Raised separately, they ended up so differently.

KatieBabs: but too cliché, a bit like the soap operas where two characters don't care for each other and BAM they are related! didn't jive for me

KristieJ: Well - I think Cam liked Kev well enough - but Kev didn't really like anyone - with the exception of Win. He was fond of the Hathaways, but didn't really consider them family.

KristieJ: And I think it was certainly within the realm of possibility from the first book - the only 2 tattoos that matched exactly and neither knew where they came from. *g* it worked for me.

KatieBabs : I had no clue Lisa had this planned from reading Mine Till Midnight. She is tricky, fooling me! Lol


KatieBabs: on a scale of 1-10, 10 being scandalous, how would you rate the sex scenes with other Kleypas novels?

KristieJ: I'd give this a 10. Maybe not in the 'act' itself. But in the tension and the build-up and the attraction between the two of them. How about you?

KatieBabs: I would say between a 7- 8. Just steamy enough. Remember, I am still stuck on a certain OMG smoking hot scene from Suddenly You

KristieJ: LOL - I was thinking of you and that scene. I know it's one of your favorites

And overall - what would you give this book?

KatieBabs: I would give this an 8 or 4 stars

KristieJ: Really?? Is that all? I give it a 5+. I know it's going to be my favorite English historical for a long time to come - and that’s among some Very Good Books I've read this year. I think this one will probably crack my all time top ten of ALL Time

KatieBabs: I also found it be to a great book, and I am finding that this year has so many awesome books. I have no clue where to place them in my top list.

KristieJ: When does it come out so that everyone can rush to the store to get it? I'm lucky they released it early here in Canada!!

KatieBabs: Why, it hits the shelves on Tuesday, September 30

OK - you heard Katie. The book should be out tomorrow. Our advice – get thee to a bookstore on the way to work, at lunchtime or on the way home and Buy This Book. I’d say tell them Kristie & Katiebabs sent you, but then they would go “Who?” and look at you funny.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It’s not always easy to ‘do the right thing’. It hurts to face the facts sometimes that you are wrong; people were hurt in part due to your actions or lack of; that underneath it all, you are a coward.
This is what happened to me. I don’t know how many are aware of the latest controversy going around blog land, but inadvertently I find myself in the middle of it.

Some months ago now, a group of us were IM’ing each other back and forth, having a jolly time, discussing favourite heroes and who we would like to take with us if we were ever stranded on a dessert island. It was a lot of fun and we decided to blog about it along with our favourite books.
From that, a blog was born – the DIK Ladies. A huge flurry of emails were flying back and forth and because I was one of the original group on the AIM discussion and then on the favourite hero blogs, I was included in the DIK group. I didn’t contribute a whole bunch. I was somewhat uncomfortable as I’m a frequent visitor at AAR and they use that term. I sent an email saying that might not be such a good idea, but I truly believe it was lost in the flurry that was going back and forth because there were A LOT. I didn’t know many of the people involved and being quiet by nature, I let it slide.
This is where I made my fist mistake. I should have made sure my voice was heard. But RL distracted me. At the time I was stressed at work from training a series of new people, not getting my own work done and I just let the issue go.
Time went on.
Then I heard that Laurie of AAR was upset about the name of the blog. As I was only a peripheral member of the blog, I kind of let things lapse again.
But then yesterday I was blog hopping and visiting AAR potpourri board. I will be honest again and say that I didn’t read Laurie’s whole post on her own blog. At that moment I thought “shit! I should have done more back at the beginning.” But, knowing how important AAR is to Laurie and knowing recognition for something is important, I sent her an email saying I understood that she was upset.
And here I made mistake number 2. I quickly dashed off the email without going into more detail.
This is part of the email I sent Laurie. And I realize by explaining my part in this that I will anger some good people and I am so truly sorry for that. I consider so many bloggers dear friends
Next thing I knew, we were doing posts on it. I was a tad uncomfortable, but not nearly so much as when some of them decided to start a blog. I sent them an email saying I didn't think it was such a good idea; that AAR had come up with the phrase DIK and perhaps they should come up with a different name. Alas, I was ignored. It was created and set-up without any input from me - other than the e-mail I sent saying they should look for a different name.
Laurie emailed me back asking if she could quote me. I was in a terrible dilemma. I didn’t explain myself well enough in that email. She said I could be anonymous, but I bristled at that. I don’t like being anonymous. Never have been, never will be.
And then I saw DA post. To be honest I’ve met Jane and think very highly of her but I don’t think it was well done of her at all. Even if I wasn’t personally involved, I was appalled.
At the same time, I was made aware that Laurie has a ‘button’ she wants people to add to their blog. And while I chastise Jane of DA, I also chastise Laurie in this move. My immediate thought was ‘come on – give me a break!’

So back and forth went a flurry of emails with the DIK ladies. Some of them were shocked to hear that Laurie was so upset, some were pissed off and MANY of them were surprised because they were unaware of the whole situation and a good majority are either very infrequent visitors of AAR or never visited at all.
Please read this again.
That is the truth. My original email probably went nowhere.
In all my years of online presence, I have never been as sick at heart as I have been over this situation. At this point in time, for my own peace of mind, I’m very tempted to get out of the blogging world/romance community altogether. I’m tired of that knot I’ve had in my stomach over my own lack of action/wrong action and the actions of some others.

I know some people will be angry with me and I hate that they will be. But so be it.
Now, I’ve had my say and I’m done with the whole situation. I’m tired of the childishness shown on some people’s parts and I’m angry with myself.

Recent Read

Ghost Moon by Rebecca York

Why this one: As you may remember, I mentioned to Katie that I prefer werewolf books to vampire and I said I was reading this one

Steam Level: It might be a tad difficult to see the person across from you – they might be blurry

Amazon Blurb:

A freed slave from a parallel universe, Quinn has come to this world on a vital mission. But she's stopped in her tracks by the seductive attentions of a mysterious spirit. He's a ghost named Caleb Marshall—a werewolf who was supposedly murdered by the ancestors of her dearest friends...

When Caleb finds a way to take over a human body, Quinn can no longer resist her overwhelming desire, even though she's not sure she can trust him. But soon she discovers that they have a common enemy—and if she doesn't act fast, she may lose the man she's come to love, along with her life...

My thoughts: I had read a couple of her earlier werewolf books in a related series and quite liked them. Then I read one that I didn’t really care for and she kind of fell off my radar. I got this one in San Francisco and decided to take them back up again. Apparently I missed a few in between and I wish I had read them first as I would have got a better impression of this alternate universe she has incorporated but as it is, I really enjoyed this one. It was quite different. It’s got quite a few different paranormal elements going on and normally it might be too many for me, but in this book they all really worked.

At the start of the book we see a fight to the death between two men in werewolf form which happened a long time ago – sometime in the 1920’s I think – it’s been a while since I read it and I don’t remember the exact date but as it’s a very short scene I’m not going to look it up.

Cut to the present time and our heroine Quinn has escaped from an alternate Earth – one in which things went terribly wrong and there is a real divide between rich and poor. The rich have enslaved the poor. Quinn is looking for a way to help her friend still stuck and pregnant in the not so good universe and a tear has been discovered between the two that allows her to travel back and forth. While she is on her way to meet up with friends (characters from a previous book I haven’t read but plan to) she feels this ‘presence’. It turns out to be Caleb who has somehow not ‘gone on’ to the next world. Quinn has some kind of special powers and is able to see and feel him. Caleb is overjoyed as he hasn’t been able to talk to anyone since he died. There is an instant attraction between these two and I had no trouble buying into it. All seems hopeless though what with him being a werewolf ghost and her from another dimension. But when he somehow manages to take over another body, it seems they might have a future after all. But Caleb must deal with some unforeseen issues first.

I thought Caleb an excellent hero. The author manages to make us feel his lonliness and his joy at finding someone who can ‘reach’ him. And not just someone, but the person who it turns out is his chosen mate. He’s a bit autocratic in his dealings with Quinn, but then he comes from a different time.

And Quinn is a very good heroine. She is loyal to her friends and also loyal to Caleb. I think it would have been better if I had read the previous books, but as it is, I didn’t have much problem picking up on this story. There are some visits with characters I had met before.

I’m glad I picked this book up and I plan on going back and forward with this series.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I'd hoped those stories about Paul Newman being ill were false.

We just lost an icon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Death Angel Book Review

I count myself as a major Linda Howard fan, and the majority of her books are favorites of mine. But in the last few years, I have found her past releases to be lacking. The last book I read by her that I really enjoyed was Drop Dead Gorgeous that came out in 2006. But since Linda is more well known for her romance suspense novels, I would have to say my last book under that genre was Cry No More back in 2004. It is now four years later and I have anxiously been awaiting for another powerful read much like Cry No More. The books that were published after it were so very disappointing, and when I heard Linda would have a new novel out in August, I was overjoyed. Death Angel had quite a buzz going on and I hoped that it would deliver the thrills and the romance I so look forward to in her books.

Unfortunately I must say that Death Angel is a major pass for me. I was able to finish reading in less than a day and afterwards I felt empty. I was close to making this a DNF, but because of my loyalty to Linda, I finished. Death Angel has an interesting set up, about a mistress of a high powered mobster, and the assassin he hires. The mistress and the assassin end up having a one night stand together. The first chapter grabs you in a way that no other book I have read in recent memory has done. Basically Drea Rousseau has been offered by her mobster boyfriend, Rafael Salinas, as payment to the mysterious assassin he has on his payroll. The assassin wants a few hours with Drea in return for a job well done. Rafael gives his permission and leaves his girlfriend of two years with the cold blooded killer. Drea has no choice but to do what the killer wants, and expects the worst. But Drea is a survivor and will get through this. Expecting the killer to be rough, and the sex painful, he surprises her by being very gentle and gives her the best four hours of intense loving she has ever had. After it is over, he leaves her and Drea is changed forever.

Incredible how great sex can change your outlook on life.

For the next few chapters, we see Drea forming a plan where she will leave Rafael and hit him where it hurts, his bank account. She will steal two million dollars and hide it in her own secret account. Since he thinks she is an airhead, he has no clue how smart Drea really is, because her persona is all an act. Plus, she is a very angry woman who wants Rafael to pay for giving her to another man. She also feels angry at herself, because her four hour lover made her come alive for the first time in her life. She will no longer be anyone’s plaything and make a better life for herself.

Up to this point I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to see if Drea would get away and if the mysterious assassin would make an appearance again. Drea is able to escape from under Rafael’s nose and with the money. But not before too long, Rafael finds out and wants her dead. He hires the same assassin to kill her. And this is where the story becomes a bit confusing.

It seems to me that Linda had began writing Death Angel one way and then a quarter of the way through, decided to change the plot. What I assumed would be a woman on the run, and the man who must find her, essentially coming to fall in love with her and protect her, becomes a bit of a paranormal in a way. Drea ends up having a car accident where she dies. She sees the white light and is given a second chance. When she comes down to Earth, she is remorseful and has a change of heart. And oh yeah, she now can sense a person’s future. She has the “sight". If she comes in contact with someone, she warns them or gives them advice on their future. Why and how does this suddenly happen? Well, Drea, really named Andie, has seen the light, literally and figuratively.

Also at this time, the assassin, who we come to know as Simon, also has a sudden change of heart. He watched Andie die and now that he knows she has lived, he will watch over her and make sure she is safe. He becomes her angel in a way, her guardian. But he still has his day job as a ruthless killer, even though he takes some time off to make sure Andie doesn’t continue to go on the run or is found alive by Rafael.

Death Angel quickly lost momentum. I am all for an amoral character who changes his stripes, and I guess Simon is the hero, but he is written in such am ambiguous way that as the reader I can’t find myself to like him. Drea/Andie has a bit more merit because her thoughts and actions are more pronounced. I wanted to really like her, but again the way Linda writes Andie’s life change took away from my overall enjoyment of the novel. I even found the sex scenes stale and lacking, perhaps because I couldn’t find any emotional attachment to these two characters who I can barely like? Perhaps I just don’t understand a romance between a hit man and a woman who has risen from the grave, so the speak.

At least I will always have Cry No More and James Diaz, the near perfect Linda Howard hero who has my heart.

2 stars out of 5 stars

Katiebabs (KB)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Speaking of Lisa Kleypas

sub title

Happy Dance Time

Guess what came in the mail from Chapters yesterday??

Give up?

I love when new releases come early!!

Smooth Talking Stranger Covers: USA VS. UK

Lisa Kleypas's cover is up for her March 2009 contemporary Smooth Talking Stranger. The wonderful ladies at The Book Smugglers were the first (that I know of) who posted both the UK and USA covers.

This is the USA cover:

This is the UK cover:

As you can see, they are very different. The USA version is a bit more sexual, where as the UK version seems more family orientated, with a child involved. I find the USA cover more appealing mainly because the UK cover makes me think this is a plot with a baby involved, meaning, "I am pregnant with you child. " or "The love affair you had resulted in a child and now you must take responsibility." I have to admit those stories are not my favorite in romances.
**Lisa also has an excerpt up from Smooth Talking Stranger on her website!**
Which cover to you like better? Why are both covers so different from one another? Do covers influence your decision to buy or read a book?
Katiebabs (KB)

Recent Reads

I read The Cat and The Storm back to back and thought I would review them together since the author has done something unusual and told the same story from two different angles.

The Cat by Jean Johnson
Book 5 in the Sons of Destiny series

Why this one: I've been reading and enjoying this series so it was a given.
After being slightly disappointed in The Song; there was nothing wrong with it, just the two main characters were both kind of mellow and had already met and were attracted in the previous book, so there wasn't much conflict between them, I wasn't quite as sure what I would feel about The Cat

Steam Level: Though the love scenes come late in the book, it's worth the wait and there is lots of tension building to it

Amazon Blurb:
Amara is wary of mages––they chased her out of her homeland. Yet there is something about the mage Trevan of Nightfall that Amara can’t resist. But can he be trusted with her most fiercely guarded secret? Courting such a pretty yet prickly outlander won’t be easy, but Trevan is determined to try. She may be fierce, proud, and from a different culture, but after all, he is the Cat, and none but the most fascinating and challenging of women could satisfy him…

My Thoughts: I liked this one much better than The Song. Amara is a prickly kind of heroine, almost difficult to like earlier in the book. But when you consider what she gave up to protect her sister, I made allowances. And as prickly as she was, she was also quick to make amends so I think she was redeemed enough for me. I was kind of surprised by how much I liked Trevan. He hadn't really been much of a prominent brother in the previous books, so it was only in this one where we really got to know him and he's quite the charmer. He was the 'lover' of the brothers before they were exiled to the island and he's having quite the 'frustrating' time of it, especially when his older brothers start finding their mates. So he is delighted when he meets Amara, a queen-in-waiting who escapes along with her twin sister to their kingdom. Amara and Arora are being hunted by mages for Arora's strange powers. Amara, her protector is horrified when she realizes she's landed on an island full of mages. In addition, she clashes with Kelly, the self-proclaimed Queen and is resentful that she had to give up her dreams of becoming Queen of her land to save her sister. She's most reluctant to fall for the charmer that is Trevan, but he perseveres and finally wins her love.
What knocks this book down in for me though was the detail the author took in the group planning of house building and city planning. My eyes kind of crossed during this part of the book and I mostly skimmed it. But overall, this was a nice edition to this series and I quite enjoyed it.

Which leads me to......

The Storm Book Six in the Sons of Destiny series.

Why this one: I'm enjoying this series and it's next on the list

Level of Steam: Hotter than The Cat!!

Amazon Blurb:
Eight brothers, born in four sets of twins, two years apart to the day—they fulfill the Curse of Eight Prophecy. Though no longer trapped in exile, their growing family faces new problems. Now Rydan, the tormented sixth-born son, must find a way to trust his Destined bride, Rora, a woman who possesses her own secret power—one that could bring them together or annihilate their world forever.
My Thoughts: I've been anticipating this book from the very first book. Rydan was the mysterious anti-social brother. And there was something about him that made me just want to read more. The rest of his brothers and their mates are all pretty open, but Rydan shunned their presence and when he did reluctantly show himself, he was all growly and rude. So of course that makes the reader curious about him. And for nintey percent of the book he didn't disappoint. He first meets 'his mate', Rora, when she sneaks into his lair. He's under some potion his trouble making younger brother, who's story will be the last one, drugged his drink. He's dreaming of a woman and when Rora turns up in his room, Rydan makes his move. He is horrified when he realizes what he's done, but Rora is intrigued. She has a superpower of her own and she alone realizes what makes Rydan so anti-social. She works on helping him overcome his problem.
Rora is the opposite of her prickly twin sister. She realizes that this island of mages is the perfect place for her to be and they can protect her from all those seeking her power.
In the meantime, Rydan is the Guardian of his own source of power - the Fountain, one of a group of fountains located throughout this world.
I loved both Rydan and Rora. Rydan is the reluctant suitor - he realizes that Rora is his intended mate and Rora is the eager young miss who falls in love with this troubled mage.
But I'm not sure what happened towards the end of the book. It somehow seemed to come derailed with Rydan giving up his Guardianship to save Rora from the evil doers who want her power. The explanations were hard to understand and I found myself confused as to what was going on. It just seemed that Rydan's change of heart happened way to fast.
One thing I did like about both The Cat and The Storm is they happened simultaneously - from two different viewpoints. One book filled in the missing pieces of the other and I thought it an interesting thing for the author to do.

Grade: Both these get a 4 out of 5. The grade would have been higher but for the quibbles I had with each one.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Book Cataloguing - An analysis of online sites.

(along with a bit of bragging about my own)

I love cataloguing books. I've kept an excel spreadsheet on my books for about 10 years now and the one I have today is a far far cry from the rudimentary one I first started with. It's been through 3 job changes. See, I email it to work and if it's a really slow day with nothing to do, I might work on it - bad little worker bee I can be.
Back in the beginning it was pretty basic. I had listed the ISBN, Author, Title, Price (retail or Replacement Value Cost of course) and that was about it. I slowly began adding more columns with more information such as Genre, Rating, Year Published, Year Read, and Publisher.

(click on pictures for larger view)

Along the way I also learned how to do Hyperlinks so I could link a page from Amazon and I learned how to add comments (in which I add hero/heroine and brief blurb to jog my memory)

Then sometime in 2004, The Wonderful Rosario, who is the Excel Queen, helped me and added graphs so I could visually keep track of the books.

So with this labour of love and still very much a work in progress that's gone on for 10 years now, it will always be my favourite method of cataloguing books. But as the internet has grown and expanded, there are now a number of websites where you can catalogue books. I've signed up with three of them

I started first with LibraryThing and then sometime later opened an account with Shelfari and finally not so long ago opened another account with Goodreads.
LibraryThing remains my favourite. At the time, and I don't know if it's changed or not, but you could enter so many books into your LibraryThing account and it was full. If you paid a one time fee of $25 the amount you could enter was unlimited and you also had access to other features such as group discussions, recommendations etc. As I had way more books than the free number, I decided to pay the money and it's a decision I've never regretted. I don't know if that is still the case or not though.

Both Shelfari and Goodreads are free.


But what makes me glad I signed up for LibraryThing and what keeps it as my favourite online book cataloguing site are a number of things. First off, I find it much easier to add books at LibraryThing. The tabs along the top make it very easy to find out which part of LT you are looking for, whether it's adding new books, checking your shelf - in which you have a number of choices - by a list, by covers, from 10 covers to page up to 100 per page. It's easy to find the profile page where you can add an avatar, add a website or blog, or give a brief description about yourself.
While checking out the site again for this post I noticed yet another feature I hadn't discovered before, the local page. When I clicked on there, they had a listing of all the library branches in the city and a few book stores listed.
And their customer support is excellent. When I first started cataloguing books, I had a number that didn't have covers. This didn't make me happy as you can tell by my spreadsheet graphs - I like visuals. I emailed them asking if there was any way I could add covers and within a day received a reply that yes, I could indeed add cover since I had a scanner. Anyone who follows this blog knows I'm not all that good with this kind of thing, so when I ran into trouble uploading the covers, I had an email conversation with step by step instructions and even advice into how I could do it. And amazingly enough I could figure it out! For that customer support alone, I was glad I paid for a membership.
You can also add LibraryThing to your blog (for which I had help *g*) There are a number of group discussions although I only belong to one. Another added feature I like is a list of the top member who share the same books. It's interesting clicking on some of them and seeing who I know.
Adding books is simple. You can do it by author, title or ISBN number. Searching for books in LibraryThing is very simple. It's easy to edit and/or add reviews, simply click on the pencil. Other than the original price of membership, I haven't found any drawbacks with LibraryThing at all and I didn't mind paying the membership fee for everything I was getting.
I give LibraryThing an A for ease of getting around, features ect.


As more and more readers started blogs, I began noticing more and more of them had Shelfari so I decided to sign up with them too. The have a number of features I like, though I still don't like it as much as LibraryThing. First off, it's free. You can't really beat that price. Second, I like the look of their 'shelves' much better; they are much more professional looking. Adding new books is fairly easy, but not as easy as LibraryThing. When adding a new books, they have a number of options;
  • I plan to read
  • I'm reading
  • I've read
  • Favorites (even though they spell it wrong)
  • Own
  • Wish List
For me, that's too many choices and I find it rather a nuisance. Since I can read a book in a day if I don't get distracted by this here computer and all the blogs and everything, if I want to buy a book, buy it the next day, read it the day after that and finish it two days later, that's a whole lot of changing I have to do on said list. You can add reviews on Shelfari, but it took me some clicking around to be able to figure out how to do that. They also have group discussions and it was the AAR Group discussion that finally got me using Shelfari more.
Another thing I don't care for that much is the shelf itself. You can only see 27 on one page at most and they are rather tightly packed and hard to make out.
Also, they don't have the feature of adding covers if one isn't already provided, a minus as far as I'm concerned.
Shelfari can also be added to a blog but since I didn't add the one for LibaryThing to mine, I can't really compare this feature.
I give Shelfari a B-. It would be lower except I really do like the look of those shelves.


I'll be honest here and say I'm least familiar with GoodReads. It's the most recent one I've signed up for.
But what I have seen of it by going in, adding books, clicking around etc. hasn't impressed me too much. After initially adding my books from my excel spreadsheet I find it very difficult to find out how to add more books. Each time it's taken a lot of clicking and searching out where to go. Even tonight I had to look around until I finally saw in the middle of the page where it says Add More. The choices aren't overwhelming like they are in Shelfari - just three to choose from
  • Read
  • Currently Reading
  • To Read
but if you make a mistake and add the wrong label, it's a pain to try and correct. You can also add reviews, but I find it difficult to find out how, takes too much clicking for me.
It strikes me as more of a place to meet people then cataloguing books. I've had a few request from people to 'add me as a friend' and maybe it's a generational thing, but if I don't know you, I'm not going to add you as a friend just so I can have a higher number of 'friends'. I also don't think they have the option of adding book covers, I don't know, I haven't tried. But if they do, it would be too bothersome for me to add them seeing as I can't even find how to simply add books much of the time. I don't know if you can add Good Reads to blogs or not. It's to complicated for me to try and do it.
I realize they are the 'new kids on the block' but I'm just not impressed with them.
At the moment and until they become more user friendly, I give them a D.

  • So now some question:
  • Do you catalogue your books?
  • Do you use an online site and are you happy with it?
  • Which is your favourite and why?
  • Which features do you wish they had?
  • Do you have more than one?
  • Which would you recommend and why?
  • What are the drawbacks?


Update: After Bev's comment, I emailed LibraryThing and asked if they had any plans to be able separate books into different categories such as wish list, TBR and read. There was an answer in my inbox this morning that yes indeed, this is a feature that LibraryThing has planned and should be operational soon.
Again, I was impressed with their speedy answer and commend their Customer Service division.