Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My favourite Reads of 2008

Well, everyone is doing it and since I love to share books I've enjoyed, I'll join in with everyone else. This is my list of favourite reads, hero/heroines and authors for books published and read in 2008.
I had a great year in reading this past year. It started out with a bang right from the get go with The Spymaster's Lady and it stayed good all year! The strongest genre for me, surprisingly enough was Historicals. All the books in the Honourable Mention I graded 5 out of 5. Except for Broken Wing which for the first time ever, got a 6 out of 5. And every favourite in each genre garnered a 5 out of 5

Favourite Historical

Broken Wing by Judith James

Honourable Mention

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

The Price of Desire by Jo Goodman

The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne

To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt

Untamed by Pamela Clare

Favourite Paranormal

Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh

Honourable Mention

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

Best Contemporary

Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

Honourable Mention

Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy

Just One of the Guys by Kristin Higgins

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Letters to a Secret Lover by Toni Blake

Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves

Favourite Romantic Suspense

Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare

Honourable Mention

Death Angel by Linda Howard

Favourite Urban Fantasy

Countdown by Michelle Maddox

Honourable Mention

Hidden by Eve Kenin

Favourite SciFi/Futuristic

Moonstruck by Susan Grant

Favourite Hero

  • Gabriel St. Croix – Broken Wing – Judith James

Favourite Heroine

  • Haven Travis – Blue-Eyed Devil – Lisa Kleypas

Favourite Tearjerker

  • Broken Wing – Judith James

Favourite Author

Tie – Both these authors had two books in my favourites and honourable mentions

Lisa Kleypas

Blue Eyed Devil - Best Contemporary

Seduce Me at Sunrise – Honourable Mention - Historical

Pamela Clare

Unlawful Contact - Best Romantic Suspense

Untamed – Honourable Mention - Historical

Favourite New/New to Me Author

Judith James

Very Very Honourable Mention

Joanna Bourne

Julie James

Kristin Higgins

Michelle Maddox

There are a few things I'd like to mention. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I don't have a Western on this list. How incredibly sad!! I checked my spreadsheet thinking I must be wrong - surely there is at least a Cheryl St. John book there. But it looks like she didn't have a single title published in 2008. There are a couple of anthologies, but I very rarely get them. I bought a few Westerns, though not nearly as many as in years past, but either I didn't read them or they didn't make the grade :-(

Another genre that was lacking for me this year that I've loved in the past is Medievals. This also shocks me! Until I was doing this list, I didn't realize I was missing this genre either. Again, Ive bought some, but much fewer than in the past and I haven't finished reading them.

There are a couple of books not on the above list that I think would be be on it if I had had time to read them.
  • The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran - I'm reading this one now and really enjoying it. But I have to work Jan 1, 2009, so I can't stay up all night to finish it :-)
  • Shades of Dark by Linnea Sinclair. I've adored all her books I've read so far and I keep bringing this one out to read it, but then in a mad rush to clean up, I put it someplace and it takes me weeks to find where I've put it. Next time I find it, it goes straight into the purse!!

Oops - had to make a change! I 'discovered' Lara Adrian in 2007, not 2008 and I forgot to add Michelle Maddox.

10 Books of Contest Cheer Winner and KB's Top 20 Books of 2008

The winner of our awesome 10 Books of Contest Cheer is...


Just send me your address where you would like you prize to go at KatiebabsgATgmailDOTcom

In a few hours 2008 will be out the door. Before we ring in 2009, why not celebrate the books that brought me great joy in 2008? I posted a full listing by category on my other blog, but here I give you my Top 20 Favorite Books for 2008:

1. Blue Eyed Devil- Lisa Kleypas
2. The Host- Stephanie Meyer
3. King of Sword and Sky- CL Wilson
4. One Foot in the Grave- Jeaniene Frost
5. Grimspace- Anne Aguirre
6. Shades of Dark- Linnea Sinclair
7. Wanderlust- Ann Aguirre
8. Mexican Heat- Josh Lanyon and Laura Baumbach
9. Sweetheart- Chelsea Cain
10. Mine to Possess- Nalini Singh
11. Hostage to Pleasure- Nalini Singh
12. The Spymaster's Lady- Joanna Bourne
13. Hidden- Eve Kenin
14. Duke of Shadows- Meredith Duran
15. Demon Bound- Meljean Brook
16. Demon Night- Meljean Brook
17. Dark Needs on Night's Edge- Kresley Cole
18. Lover Enshrined- JR Ward
19. A Wallflower Christmas- Lisa Kleypas
20. Handyman- Claire Thompson

Hands down, Blue-Eyed Devil is the must read book for 2008. Lisa Kleypas wrote a well done emotional book that deals with the topic of abuse, and the recovery a woman must go through to find her respect and self worth all over again. Blue-Eyed Devil is my favorite book, contemporary, the one that made me cry, and has the best hero, Hardy for this year. If you have not read Blue-Eyed Devil yet, I urge you to read it.

How did I do with my list?

Katiebabs (KB)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Phantom of the Opera Broadway Sequel? GAG ME!

I am a die hard fan of everything with Phantom of the Opera. My favorite Broadway musical of all time is Phantom and at one point I knew every single line and song by heart. If I ever get married, the song, "All I Ask of You" will be the song my husband and I dance to.

I am so upset that Andrew Lloyd Webber has a sequel to Phantom coming out next year!!

A sequel to The Phantom Of the Opera is to open in three cities at the same time next year — making theatrical history. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the show’s composer, said 'the button is pushed' for the project. The musical — based on Gaston Leroux’s novel — opened 22 years ago with Michael Crawford in the title role.

Since then it has attracted 80 million theatregoers in 124 cities and taken more than £3.5billion at the box office. Lord Lloyd-Webber, 60, said the sequel, entitled Phantom: Love Never Dies, would be set a decade or so later, moving the action from the Paris Opera to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

In it, the Phantom is reunited with Christine, the Swedish soprano first played by Lord Lloyd-Webber’s wife at the time, Sarah Brightman.Lord Lloyd-Webber said he hoped to open the show in London, on Broadway and in an Asian city — possibly Shanghai — at the same time, something no other production has done.

'I don’t think you could do this if it wasn’t the sequel to Phantom,' he said.
'We have been into the feasibility of rehearsing three companies at once and opening in the three territories.'

Phantom: Love Never Dies has yet to be cast but he added: 'We are pretty clear who our Phantom is going to be — I can’t say who.'

WHY?!??! Why would Webber mess with the greatness of the Phantom?

Makes me wonder who will play the Phantom? Could it be the same man who played him in the movie?
"Kate, come be my music of the night!!!"

Katiebabs (KB)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recent Reads

Well, I'm coming out of my hole. I managed to survive. That's all I'm going to say because if I think about the past few days - well, I'd just as soon not.

In order to survive though, I've done A LOT of reading!!! I think this my most jam-packed recent reads ever.

Just One of the Guys – Kristan Higgins

Why This One: I can’t remember exactly which review put this one full square into the ‘must buy’ list as there were quite a few good ones, but one of them did. I think it might have been the DA one.

Steam Level: Tepid, but I often drink tea or coffee when it’s cooled down and it just seems to hit the spot

Amazon Blurb: Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be…

So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1—she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2—she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers.

While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over—although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.

Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys.…

My Thoughts: This was everything the other reviews said it was and I adored it. What was even more surprising was it was told first person, present tense and I still adored it. Chastity was a wonderful character and as the story is told as if we are in her head, this really helps a lot! All her life she’s just been ‘one of the guys’ in a house full of firefighting brothers and a sort of adopted firefighting brother that she brought home when they were both young and a firefighting father. She’s always carried a torch for Trevor Meade and after one weekend years ago, they acted on that special feeling. But then Trevor wanted to go back to just being friends. Chastity is desperate to be both a wife and mother. She sees all her brother happy, well, except for one, but while he and his wife are having serious problems, it’s obvious they still love each other. Finally Chastity meets a great candidate and has to decide whether to finally let her feelings for Trevor go and settle for a bit less.

This book had laugh out its loud moments and it had its poignant moments that almost had me in tears.

I just ordered one of her backlist and I’ll be ordering the rest – guaranteed. And her next book is due out in January so I’ve got that one on the TBB list too!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Why This One: Rowena at The Book Binge raved about it and got me wanting to read it.

Steam Level: Tepid, but I often drink tea or coffee when it’s cooled down and it just seems to hit the spot

Author Website Blurb: COOL. CALM. COLLECTED.

Nothing fazes Taylor Donovan. In the courtroom she never lets the opposition see her sweat. In her personal life, she never lets any man rattle her–not even her cheating ex-fiancé. So when she’s assigned to coach People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for his role in his next big legal thriller, she refuses to fall for the Hollywood heartthrob’s charms. Even if he is the Jason Andrews.


Jason Andrews is used to having women fall at his feet. When Taylor Donovan gives him the cold shoulder, he’s thrown for a loop. She’s unlike any other woman he’s ever met: uninterested in the limelight, seemingly immune to his advances, and shockingly capable of saying no to him. She’s the perfect challenge. And the more she rejects him, the more he begins to realize that she may just be his perfect match. . .

My Thoughts: A big Thank

You to Wena. I really enjoyed this book too! Taylor Donovan is on no-nonsense ambitious lawyer who has come to LA to do work on a case. But she is also ordered, despite her protests, to help out Jason Andrews, Sexiest Man Alive, in a role he is researching. After being stood up twice in a row, she’s not exactly eager to help him and makes thinks very difficult for him – as well she should. Jason is a rich, spoiled actor who is used to people catering to his every whim. He just can’t believe that Taylor isn’t willing to drop everything when he calls. And this intrigues him – quite a bit. And so the hunt is on. Added into the mix is another up and coming actor who is out to replace Jason as the top dog and he wants to date Taylor too in a game of one-up-manship. It was fun to see Jason have to work for Taylor.

Julie James is another author I now have my eye open for!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

The Healer by Sharon Sala

Why This One: I loved the Author Talk interview she did with Jill Monroe and Gena Showalter. And one of my favourite books of all time – Jackson Rule – is written by Dinah McCall (the one Jill doesn’t like *g* )

Steam Level: While it won’t burn your tongue, it is nice and warm

Amazon Blurb: All his life, Jonah Gray Wolf has had an uncanny connection to animals and the power to heal the sick and wounded. Driven from the only home he's ever known by those who wish to harness his gift for profit, he becomes a drifter, working in out-of-the-way towns, never staying long. It's a lonely life, but Jonah knows he's still being hunted—he can't afford to get close to anyone who might learn his secret.

In West Virginia he finds Luce, a tough but beautiful loner who knows all about keeping people at a distance—a kindred soul with whom he might dare to make a life. But the hunters have caught Jonah's scent again. Danger is coming to their mountain refuge—a confrontation that will be decided only by a force of nature.

My Thoughts: Wowzers, I’ve been on a role. Another one I quite enjoyed. It’s been sitting in the TBR pile for a while now – so I’m very glad I pulled it out to read it!

There’s something very different about Jason Gray Wolf! The story starts out as he is a very small boy being led by a wolf into a tiny town of Alaska. His special powers are revealed when he is still a young boy – he can heal things.

The story picks up years later. He has been on the run for ten years now from one of the people he healed who wants to keep Jason for his own use. He’s sent a number of people to ‘get’ Jason over the years, but all have failed because of the intervention of wild animals. But finally, when Jason meets a young woman, Luce, he decides to stand his ground and fight for the life that’s been stolen from him for so long.

Jason is a fascinating hero!! I wouldn’t call him an Alpha hero. Nor would I call him a Beta hero. Instead he’s something else altogether. While he seems perfectly normal, there is something very mysterious and other-worldly about him.

Lucia is your stock-in- trade heroine. While I liked her, nothing unusual really stood out about her. But Jason – I recommend this book based on his very intriguing character.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Death Angel by Linda Howard

Why This One: I’ve always enjoyed Linda Howards books, but her past couple haven’t been worth the hard cover price. But I heard good buzz on this one and got a squeal of a deal so I decided to give it a try.

Steam Level: She’s written hotter books, but I was fine with the steam level in this one.

Amazon Blurb: A striking beauty with a taste for diamonds and dangerous men, Drea Rousseau is more than content to be arm candy for Rafael Salinas, a notorious crime lord who deals with betrayal through quick and treacherous means: a bullet to the back of the head, a blade across the neck, an incendiary device beneath a car. Eager to break with Rafael, Drea makes a fateful decision and a desperate move, stealing a mountain of cash from the malicious killer. After all, an escape needs to be financed.

Though Drea runs, Salinas knows she can’t hide–and he dispatches a cold-blooded assassin in hot pursuit, resulting in a tragic turn of events. Or does it?

Left for dead, Drea miraculously returns to the realm of the living a changed woman. She’s no longer shallow and selfish, no longer steals or cheats or sells herself short. Both humbled and thrilled with this unexpected second chance, Drea embraces her new life. But in order to feel safe and sound–and stop nervously looking over her shoulder–she will need to take down those who marked her for death.

Joining forces with the FBI, supplying vital inside information that only she can provide, Drea finds herself working with the most dangerous man she’s ever known. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become, and the more Drea realizes that the cost of her new life may be her life itself–as well as her heart.

My Thoughts: There are a number of 1 star reviews for this one, and to be honest, I find it puzzling. I know not everyone is going to enjoy the same books, but again, (and I’m sounding like a broken record), I really enjoyed this one.

It’s a story of redemption – for both the hero and the heroine. Drea Rousseau (nee Butts) is the arm candy of a drug dealer. While she acts like and air-headed ditz, underneath her hair she is quite savvy. She is making plans to escape her current squeeze, but everything is speeded up when he ‘gives’ her to an assassin. The time they spend together has a profound effect on Drea and she knows it’s time for her to make her escape. But hot on her trail is the assassin. While he admires her for the way she scammed Silas, the drug lord, he has been offered two million dollars to kill her. He’s not quite certain what he’s going to do when he catches her. Before he can though, Drea is in an accident and ‘dies’. But she is given a second chance and takes on a new identity. But Simon, the assassin (we don’t learn his name until half way through the book) has also been profoundly affected by her death and when he discovers by some miracle she survived, he hunts her down.

This is an interesting book. After given a second chance, while Andie who is she has become, has changed, she’s no longer living only for herself, but looking to help others, she is still a lot the same person as she was before. And I think this works well. She’s different enough that we can like her, but still enough of her old self to make her interesting.

And Simon is an interesting character too. We don’t learn very much about him at all – and I think this was done deliberately – and it also works for me. What we do know of him though, is that he is now 100% determined to take care of Andie. While naturally very leery of Simon – he was an assassin after all – she finally lets her guard down enough to see how completely alone he is and her love for him becomes her main priority.

It was SO good to read a Linda Howard book that I really enjoyed again and since I read this one in one day, I know I’ll be rereading it, slower this time, to really savour it.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

You Don’t Know Jack by Erin McCarthy

Why This One: I really enjoyed Flat Out Sexy and decided to give her another go.

Steam Level: This one is real steamy!

Amazon Blurb: Jamie Peters no longer believes in true love. True idiots, true scumbags, true moochers - these she believes in wholeheartedly, and she's got the checkered dating history to prove it. So she's more than a little skeptical when her cross-dressing psychic tells her she's about to meet her soul mate - during an accident. Yeah, sounds about right. And then it happens. A knight in shining armor steps between her and a mugger on a subway platform. Just a regular, honest, upright Jack. The kind they don't make anymore...Jonathon Davidson doesn't believe in destiny - or lying to beautiful women as a rule. But now that Jamie thinks he's just an ordinary guy, how can he possibly tell her that he's really, her roommate's brother, a millionaire to boot, and the jerk who's investigating her application to his grandfather's charitable trust because she may be involved in something illegal? Yeah, rhetorical question. He can't. Not until he knows what's going on. Besides, it would require being able to resist Jamie's luscious curves long enough to say, 'Hi, my name is Big Liar. Let's get naked'. Sometimes, destiny sucks...

My Thoughts: *sigh* I suppose it had to come to an end – this run of good books. While I loved Flat Out Sexy and plan on reading the next one in the series, this one left me cold. I did not like it. At all.

Jack was, well, boring. And Jamie was a ditz. Unlike Drea in the above book who just appeared to be a ditz, Jamie really was one. She was one of those flakes who believes in Destiny – with a capital D. And when a cross dressing former crook turned physic tells her she will meet the man of her dreams, well she just knows that’s going to happen. But when she finds out he lied to her (for believable reasons) why, she just couldn’t give him a chance to explain himself. Again and again and again ad-nauseam we have to read why they cannot be together. Enough already!

The author tries to hard for laughs – that fell totally flat for me, from the cross dressing physic, to the rather nasty obnoxious grandfather – the secondary characters weren’t funny.

And another thing that annoyed the hell out of me – Jack was the brother of one of her roommates. I found it hard to believe they had never met. And I found it hard to believe that Jamie figured if his sister and her roommate knew they were an item, the sister would have been upset so Jamie refused to tell her. Hello – pot – meet kettle.

Grade: 2 out of 5

Friday, December 26, 2008

Embracing Midnight Book Review

Erotic author, Devyn Quinn has always been a guilty pleasure read for me. She writes great romances that feature men that are vampires who don’t just need blood to survive, but also feed off the sexual energy of the woman they are with. Devyn always makes sure to put at least one smoking hot ménage a trio scene in her books. Embracing Midnight is a bit different from her past few books. The vampire hero in this one is actually an alien from another planet that has vampire like tendencies. So even though this could be considered a paranormal romance, Embracing Midnight can also fall into the Sci-Fi genre also. And I have to say that Devyn does make the combo alien-vampire hybrid work very well. And rather than have a ménage a trios scene, the heroine is pleasure by three drop dead gorgeous alien-vampire men. After that scene, all I could think was that Callie is one lucky woman!

FBI agent Callie Whitten is undercover trying to catch the elusive killer, Iollan Drake. Drake is a well known outlaw who is suspected of killing various women as well as a few of Callie’s fellow agents. One night Callie is returning to her apartment after working undercover at a Goth club where Drake frequents. Surprisingly Drake is waiting for her. He knows her by her alias, Calista, and wants to get to know her better because he has had his eye on her. Callie thinks this is her chance to capture Drake and even though it isn’t the smartest move, she invites him into her place. Since Drake oozes sex, and Callie is in the mood for no strings attached sex, she allows Drake to have his way with her. Callie has the most intense sexual experience of her life and since she likes a bit of pain with her pleasure, Drake gives her both. Callie was a former foster kid who had had a lot of past abuse in her life. Men have used her for their own sexual pleasure, which includes her married ex-lover and boss, Roger. She also used to cut herself as a way to get passed her emotional pain. She feels sex is also a way to let go and allows Drake to use her body, as well as give her what she needs.

Roger doesn’t like the fact that Callie has gotten so close to Drake. His boss wants Callie to start a sexual relationship with the suspect, and Callie is all too willing to go that next step. She can’t understand how Drake is able to reach through all her defenses, and when he comes to her again, she sees a side of him that is not human. Drake is an alien life form known as a Niviane Idesha, a type of alien vampire that can only drink blood from their partner while they are sexually aroused. Drake can only come out at night, and during the day he must hide in the shadows. Callie is ashamed that she has fallen for this alien, and that he is on the most wanted list. But when Drake is captured by the FBI, Callie has to decide to help free him or allow him to become a subject to be experimented on and destroyed.

Devyn has taken the vampire myth and changes it in a way that is so very creative by making her vampire characters alien life forms. Embracing Midnight is an intense sexual suspense story where the enemy is not just Drake but those who hunt him. You would think Roger is one of the good guys, but what he does to Callie is so horrible. Because Roger is so obsessed with taking Drake down, he will take Callie down also just because she has fallen to Drake. The way Roger punishes Callie is the worst thing a man can do to a woman. And it is not really that hard to guess what he does. Poor Callie is stuck in the middle as she is caught in the grasp of Drake’s sexual longings. Because Callie has a difficult past that deals with rape and cutting herself, she has many emotional issues and Drake is the only one who gives her what she wants both physically and emotionally. The sex between Drake and Callie is very, very hot but also tender.

Devyn writes very creative stories and pushes her limits. Embracing Midnight is one of the darkest books she has ever written. But because she has a nice balance between the sex and violence, she really makes it work. I was also very impressed with the way Devyn wrote Callie. And who would have thought that alien vampire creatures could be so sexy? (Kensington)

3 ½ stars out of 5 stars

Katiebabs (KB)

Let's Not Forget the Best Christmas Special Ever!

Sad because it is the day after Christmas? Need a laugh? Let's not forget that Christmas classic TV special from 1978:


Katiebabs (KB)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Newest Crusader

Yes, this wonderful story is still being discovered and the lastest one to fall under the spell of North and South is the very talented Nalini Singh. I know she had to wait for quite some time for this one so I Double Delighted that she loved it.
And now she too *g* is wanting to get her own copy.
I haven't watched it for a while myself - but this will be changing Christmas Eve. It's going to be my Christmas Eve treat - four hours of John Thornton and Margaret Hale - *shiver*

And thus - in honour of our newest Crusader - this certainly calls for...........a video

Monday, December 22, 2008

10 Books of Cheer **Holiday Contest**

The next 2 weeks will be ones of great cheer as we all celebrate the holidays or the end of 2008.

Why not have one final book contest to take us out of 2008 into 2009?

I have 10 books to giveaway as a "thank you" for a incredible of year of reading and all the great people I have "met" here. Some I have met in person, talked on the phone or have shared wonderful emails.
The wide variety books up for grabs are:

For the Love of Pete- Julia Harper
Wild- Margo Maguire
Tempt the Devil- Anna Campbell
At Grave's End- Jeaniene Frost
Stay the Night- Lynn Viehl
Night- Huntress- Yasmine Galeson
Bite the Bullet and Undead on Arrival- L.A. Banks
Nightkeepers and Dawnkeepers- Jessica Andersen

There seems to be a book for every type of reader here! In order to win, all you have to do is leave a comment here by Friday, December 26th.

Tell us something memorable that happened to you this year, and what you hope for yourself for 2009.

Katiebabs (KB)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Read at your own peril

I'm about to say something that many will find hard to believe. And I don't want to offend anyone - what I'm about to say is my own personal thoughts and opinions. But I'm putting out a warning that this might upset some.
This gets worse for me every year - and this year is the worst so far.


Deep Breath

I don't like Christmas. I don't like Christmas A LOT!!
Every year I start getting cranky around mid-November and it gets worse and worse as we get closer. This year it's so bad I'm going to have to double up on my anti anxiety medication until I get past it. I feel like I'm hanging on by my fingertips and could fall into a huge hole at any moment. I'm zoning in and out a lot - mostly I'd rather be zoned out. I want to hide away in my bedroom until it's all over and life can get back to normal.
There are a number of reasons I have such a difficult time. The first being the very purpose. It's gone - totally! Christmas is supposed to be a celebration on the birth of Christ - but it's just not 'done' anymore. I first noticed this when the boys were in public school and they weren't allowed to have anything to do with the Nativity at the risk of 'horrors' offending any other religious group.
Hello! What is Christmas supposed to be????????????????? It's supposed to be a celebration of a special day in the Christian religion - except it's anything but anymore. And I find the whole thing insane!! While I don't know that much about other faiths, I don't think - at least I truly hope - that they haven't taken the meaning out of 'special holy' days and times the way they have stripped Christmas of any real spiritual meaning.
Instead now it's supposed to be when everyone comes together and has one touchy feelly day of goodness, when families reach out and mend fences, when for one day were are all supposed to smile and behave like Hallmark People.
I call bullshit on that. Instead it's a time when family differences are magnified, where drama and hurt feelings take over and people are torn in many pieces. It's when families with the slightest dysfunction dread what's going to go wrong this year. And let's face it - what family doesn't have some degree of dysfunction?? I was talking to one good friend at work today and her family lives out of town. She is dreading the holidays because of family conflict that gets worse for her each year. She doesn't want to go home because of the drama she knows is to come and I'm sure this kind of thing is played out in many a family.
Oh, I know - I hear sentiments on the radio - it's all about the children. I call bull shit on that too I'm afraid. Unless one has very young children who don't know any better, many parents beggar themselves buying WII's, cell phones, I Pods, Plasma TV's etc. etc. etc. etc.
I wonder what on earth that has to do with the birth of Christ.
Year after year in my own case, I agonize over what to get everyone, never satisfied that I've gotten the right thing. I put such a heavy burden on myself that by the time the Big Day arrives, I'm a total basket case. And of course then there is the joy of taking months to pay off the credit card bills I've racked up on things I know that I got wrong.
I hate it when people ask me what I want. I rack my brain trying to come up with stuff. But I'm satisfied with what I have. Sure there's always something I might want - but if I don't get it, my life, as I know it, won't end. I always want to say nothing. I don't need anything. I just want to say get me something you think I might like - and don't spend much.
And as bad as it's been in the previous years, it's nothing compared to what it's like now. I ache - soul deep - in missing Ron. It's especially difficult this time of year coming home to an empty house. He's supposed to be here, at least making it bearable for me, but he isn't. It was his birthday yesterday - he would have been 55. Instead of coming home and seeing him, I had my own case of family drama that's zapped me of any emotion except great sorrow.
I'm worried about my sons - especially the oldest one. He works in the auto industry and as of Monday he's being laid off and has no idea when he will be working again. He says not to worry - but I can't help it.
I don't mean to sound self-pitying - I'm just using me as an example.
I work in the health care industry. I see people diagnosed with cancer every single day - many I know who won't recover. This is my weekend to work and today alone I got two calls about people who had just passed away last night and today. So what is Christmas going to mean to them in the coming years?
Maybe if we got back to basics I wouldn't be so bitter about the whole thing. But the rampant consumerism of this whole time makes me ill. It seems when they mention it on the radio, immediately it's followed by how the retail industry is doing. The fact that people die because of greed in being one of only a few to get a certain electronic devise that is marked down drastically in price. What the hell does that have to do with the birth of Christ? But wait.... we can't go back to basics can we? Because - at least in Canada - and probably parts of the US, we aren't supposed to dare mention what December 25 is supposed to really be about.
And as sad as it is, peace on earth is just a pipe dream.

There, I've said it. This has been tough to write because one just isn't supposed to feel this way. But as much as I hate to admit it - this is what I feel and it just grows and grows every year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Old School Romance Covers

I don't know how much you get around blog land but there is one of my favourite new bloggers who was looking for a book she loved years ago and needed help finding it.
Barbara sent out a desperate plea for anyone to help her find it.
Well, not meaning to toot my own horn, but as soon as I started reading the description, I knew exactly what book she was talking about since I've read it a number of times myself and I love it too. So I was absolutely delighted to be able to help her in her need to find this book. Goodness knows I've been there myself!!
Well, she ordered it and got it and posted a picture of the front and back on her latest post.
But while it's true that I've read and loved this book, there is a large part of me that just shudders and thinks 'no wonder we are still fighting a battle for respect for romance books!'

Both the front cover and back cover represent the very worst representations of romance IMNSHO. They are everything I detest. I'm a dedicated romance reader who has learned not to judge a book by it's cover - or the back blurb so neither affects my buying decisions anymore. Instead I decide by other means, although I confess a good cover will get me to try a book while a bad one won't keep me from buying one.
But looking at these covers, it's not wonder that someone outside the romance community might scorn the genre.

And as for the back blurb, something in my swears it must have been written by a guy

Shy As A Doe

As a preacher's daughter in Deadwood, South Dakota, blond and innocent Cynthia Wells rarely left the safety of her father's home. But when the kind-hearted girl heard an Indian boy was to hang the next day in revenge for some minors' deaths, Cynthia was filled with anger and bravery.

Stealing out at night to release the poor, primitive child, she was shocked to discover the redskinned captive was a handsome naked man!

Irresistibly drawn to him, Cynthia cut free his bonds...and yearned for his hard-muscled arms to make her a prisoner of his embrace.

Bold As A Stallion

Courageous Red Wolf was ready to meet the Great Spirit when he saw a gorgeous white woman step up to his gallows in the moonlight. He thought he was a dead man already until he felt her golden hair tickle his arm and her full breasts press against his chest as she sliced away the ropes.

Grateful for his life, he swore he's teach her how the red man could love! He'd stroke her ivory skin to ecstasy, and trace her luscious curves until she was sated time and again by his shameless

Sioux Splendor

I love the book, but I think that blurb is just nasty - and condescending; not to mention about as politically incorrect as it can get! It makes me wince I tell you!
It's taken me years to get to the point where I can freely tell coworkers that I read and love romance. I do it now rather proudly. But if we still had the old school covers, I'm not so sure I could do that today.
I know there are still readers out there who prefer the 'bodice ripper' style covers and I truly admire their preference while at the same time being a bit confounded about it.
I know that authors have very little say in title and cover choices and especially with this kind of style, it shows to me how some of them are such wonderful writers that blazed the trail for the less salacious covers of today. There's a reason why SB's cover snark are so popular - the covers deserve to be snarked!
I know that everything has a beginning and romance as it's been defined in the past 20 or 30 years or so is different than the romance of 100 or so years ago - and I'm ever so glad of it. But as romance has changed over the years, so too have romance covers. And I'm also glad of that fact.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Need a Little Mr. Romance In Your Life?

Ever wonder if Hollywood would ever make a movie about those male models (a.k.a. Nathan Kamp or Fabio) who are on all the covers of our favorite romances?

Your wish has come true...

New Regency has acquired “Mr. Romance,” a pitch for a comedy that will be helmed by “Four Christmases” director Seth Gordon.

Jeff Roda ("The Siege of Fulton Avenue") will pen the script.

Regency has acquired rights to a Joshuah Bearman article commissioned by GQ magazine. Tower of Babble’s
Beau Bauman will produce with Gordon.

The pic will be a comedy about a cynical guy who is forced to enter the Mr. Romance competition to win back the love of his life. The competition, which finds hunks whose photos grace the bodice-ripping covers of romance novels, is a real event.

“Romance novels sell 50% of all books, and there is a convention where guys submit themselves to physical and psychological tests to determine their romantic IQ,” Gordon told Daily Variety.

This sounds like a cute comedy! Even though the statement about "bodice-ripping covers" annoys me.
Who can you see playing the cynical guy? I can see Gerard Butler in the role. *G*

Katiebabs (KB)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TBR Challenge for December

Well this is the last TBR challenge of 2008. I'm looking forward to continuing it in 2009 since I've read some great books.
I'd hoped to go out with a bang - a big name author that others have raved about but I haven't read yet but alas, I got caught off guard and only remembered yesterday that today was the day. I knew that wouldn't give me enough time to read a mass market book but thankfully I have hundreds of series books I've bought over the years. So I have to confess I went looking for a smaller one that I could speed read. Luckily I'm good at that. Standing outside on my breaks at work I got a few pages in. Then some more at lunch. And I gave up blog hopping and TV tonight to read it. Thank Goodness SYTYCD wasn't on - otherwise I would have missed December for sure.

Wicked Hot by Leslie Kelly.
So, while not a book I planned, still I did enjoy this one. I've read and enjoyed a few other books by her so she wasn't an entirely new-to-me author. I was surprised though when I pulled this one out of the pile. Published in 2004, I apparently bought this one new and never even cracked it open as it looked brand new!
First of all, it's a Harlequin Temptation and reading it, I was once again saddened that Harlequin dropped this line.

Back Cover Blurb:
Wicked Games, Wicked Lies
New Yorker Ryan Stoddard can describe Savannah, Georgia in two words: wickedly hot. But the dark, mysterious woman he's gone there to find is even hotter. Though Jade Maguire turns him on to no end, he can't be distracted from his mission - to prove the sultry siren is a conniving thier! But as he charms her into letting down her guard, he never dreams the wicked game he's playing is about to backfire.....

Wicked Lust
Jade is surprised - and secretly thrilled - when Ryan Stoddard finds her. His blatant come-on provides a perfect opening for her revenge. As Ryan's payback for breaking her sister's heart, Jade plans to tempt him, tease him...and seduce him out of his clothes, leaving him high and dry. Only, as she gets to know oh-so-sexy Ryan better, she soon fears she'll be the one left desperate for more...

It took me a bit of time to warm up to this one. Both the hero and heroine were playing games and the premise was built on misunderstandings on both sides. The back cover blurb describes it pretty well. In an effort to play matchmaker, Ryan's grandmother had met Jade and decided she would be the perfect wife for her playboy, not-ready-to-settle down grandson so she lies to him, telling him Jade stole a portrait. Ryan heads to Savannah loaded for bear, ready to confront this swindling thief. But he is torn when he meets her and instead is very attracted to her.
For her part, Jade thinks that Ryan broke her younger sister's heart back in New York where she works as a waitress, so she is ready to make Ryan pay by getting him hot and bothered and then 'exposing' him. But just as he is attracted to her, so is she attracted to him.
After each has played their tie-em-up tricks on each other, the book settles down as we get to know the 'real' Ryan and Jade behind their masks of revenge and they are both pretty nice people especially Jade. She's the older sister and caretaker of a rather eccentric family and Ryan slowly begins to see this side of her and the fall in love. I'd say slowly, but this is a series book and nothing ever happens slowly in them *g*.
I don't read as many Harlequins as I used to - they got rid of my favourite line. But I must confess it feels good to read a book in a day. I used to do that a lot and when I closed the cover, I gave myself a smug grin; knowing I made the challenge and can add another read book to my spreadsheet - see I have personal goal of 80 this year and now I'm only 3 away from that.
And Wickedly Hot was a nice little book.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5.

If you are curious about the previous books
March - Saint or Sinner - Cheryl St. John - 4 out of 5
April - Rayvn's Flight by Patti O'Shea - 4 out of 5
May - (good one - I had 3) The Sword and The Wolf by Jean Johnson - both 4.5. Gabriel Hawk's Lady by Beverly Barton - 3.5
June - Rock Star by Roslyn Holcomb - 4 out of 5
July - Time's Captive by Kate Lyon - 4.5 out of 5
August - The Sins of His Past by Roxanne St. Clair - 3.5 out of 5
September - The Private Eye by Jayne Ann Krentz - 4.5 out of 5
October - Highlander Unchained by Monica McCarty - 3.5 out of 5
November - The Sea Wife by Holly Cook - 3 out of 5

So you can see by the grades that this challenge has been quite a success. I've enjoyed them all to one extent or another. For example, I enjoyed the Jean Johnson books so much I've continued with the series. I read a Cheryl St. John book I didn't even realize I had until I went looking for a book.
I got to read books I might never have gotten around to - books that I enjoyed.
But best of all, because I signed up for Keishon's challenge -- I challenged myself -- and I did it!
Thank you for this Keishon!!! It's a good feeling.
Next year I have two of them. Keishon is continuing the TBR challenge and Nath has a Reread Challenge started. I look forward to new older books and older well loved books!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Recent Reread

I'm getting an early start on Nath's Reread challenge!!

Lucky's Lady by Tami Hoag

Why this one: I dunno

Steam Level: Hot, sultry, sweltering – just like the setting

Amazon Blurb: As wild and mysterious as the Louisiana swamp he called home, Lucky Doucet was a dangerously attractive Cajun no woman could handle. His solitary life left no room for the likes of elegant Serena Sheridan, but Lucky couldn''t deny her desperate need to find her missing grandfather. He would help her, but nothing more--yet once he felt the lure of the flaxen-haired beauty, an adventurer like Lucky couldn''t help playing with fire.

Serena felt unnerved, aroused, and excited by the ruggedly sensual renegade whose gaze burned her with its heat, but she did not dare tangle with a rebel whose intensity was overwhelming, who claimed his heart was off limits? Deeper and deeper they traveled into the steamy bayou, until with one electrifying kiss her resistance melted into liquid desire. And the devilish rogue found he''d do anything to make Serena Lucky''s Lady.

My thoughts: Tami Hoag has long since left romance and is now writing suspense, but before that she wrote some pretty descent romance and Lucky’s Lady is probably one of the best of the bunch!!

At least I think that’s the case. As I was looking this up at Chapters, it seems some of her books may have some romance in them after all. Perhaps someone could let me know and I can add her back on my list. I followed her for the first few books when she changed genres but as she wrote less and less romance, being the shallow one I am, I enjoyed the books less and less.

Serena Sheridan, a successful physiologist has come home for a visit. And once she gets home, she discovers her beloved but ornery grandfather who raised her and her twin Shelby when their parents died, has disappeared into the bayou in order to evade selling the family home, something her sister is bound and determined is going to happen. Sheridan decides it’s her job to bring him back and in order to do that, she enlists – most reluctantly - Lucky Doucette, a Very Sexy Cajun with attitude.

Now readers – Lucky Doucette for this reader, is just sex on a stick!! He’s arrogant, he’s insufferable at times. He’s obnoxious to the heroine, yet he protects those who live in the bayou. He’s a temperamental artist and he feeds baby raccoons. His bad side is just him trying to keep the world at bay since he is still traumatized from episodes earlier in his life, particularly being held prisoner and tortured in a South American prison when he was in the military. And he’s absolutely delicious!!!

Serena is a great heroine. When we first meet her she comes across as an uptight, no-nonsense head doctor. But within very little time, we see the real Sheridan underneath. She’s passionate, quick with a comeback to Lucky and heartbroken over her rather dysfunctional relationship with her grandfather and sister.

Thrown together by her grandfather’s machinations, she’s reluctantly attracted to Lucky and vice versa. He had an unfortunate relationship years ago with Sheridan’s self-centered twin and for a while thinks Sheridan is just the same kind of person. But it doesn’t take him long to see the difference between sisters. But he’s still reluctant to get involved, thinking he’s just a shell with nothing to offer her.

It’s too bad that Ms. Hoag is concentrating on suspense rather than romance because she can also do romance real well!

Grade: 5 out of 5

Another addition to the list of Questors

Karen Scott of It's my Blog is the newest one to really enjoy this book!! Check out her 'nota' review :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tempt the Devil **Advanced Book Review**


I have been a big fan of all of Anna Campbell’s books from the controversial Claiming the Courtesan, to Untouched, which had an interesting love story about a widow and her relationship with young man who never experienced physical love with a woman. Now with Tempt the Devil, she has written two characters who are on equal footing, perhaps not in society eyes, but when it comes to the bedroom, both her characters fight over the right to be on top. Julian and Olivia are both alphas who won’t back down from what they want. Julian wants Olivia’s total submission, where as Olivia just wants respect and the elusive joy that constantly escapes her ever she was forced into the lifestyle she hates because of the way she lost her innocence. Tempt the Devil is about forgiveness, trust and most importantly acceptance. If you are in the mood for a luscious and emotional read, Tempt the Devil is the book for you

Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith, has come back from Vienna to London, England for the marriage of his eighteen year old daughter. Julian has never gotten over the death of his young wife who he loved with such fervor, and because of that he does not have any relationship to speak of with both his daughter and son. Julian is also a man with intense sexual needs, and has the need for a mistress for the few months he will be residing in London. He sets his sights on Olivia Raines, who has quite the reputation of being London’s most notorious courtesan.

Olivia uses men for security and the money they bring to her. She allows Erith to be her protector for the moment, because she thinks she will be able to handle him, like all the other men that paid for the honor of bedding her. Erith thinks he will be able to break down her defenses to the point she will be craving his touch. Olivia is quite the skilled actress, especially in bed, and can give Erith what he needs even though she may not respond to his touch the way he expects her to. Olivia lays down some ground rules between them, such as no kissing and having as much freedom as she desires. Erith wants things his way and will not stop till Olivia is a pile of lust around him.

These two play an interesting cat and mouse game both in and out of the bedroom. Soon Erith is beyond obsessed with Olivia and wants not only her body, but her heart also. Olivia will not give into Erith because of her horrible past where another man ruined her for all other men, as well as a respectable life. Erith won’t allow Olivia to remain cold around him, and will use everything in his power to make her respond to his touch and the growing love he has for her. Erith thinks he can get Olivia to respond to him, even though her body can’t. The poor woman has never enjoyed sex and has emotionally blocked her mind and body from any pleasure she can received from a man. Erith decides he will be the man to break down these walls, and will make her come to the realization that she can let herself go with him.

Anna Campbell sure does write some of the most emotional and angst filled romances, and Tempt the Devil is no exception. The road to happiness between Julian and Olivia is a very long and hard one. Olivia fights tooth and nail against all that Erith is offering her. She is one of the most tortured heroines I have read this year, and at times, the way she and Julian interact with one another makes for some heavy and dark reading.

Julian is a character full of faults, which he realizes quite quickly due to his relationship with Olivia. He wants Olivia to confront her own issues and use him as support so they can have something worth while together. Olivia wants everything from Julian and that means marriage. But, Julian can’t give Olivia that even though he longs for her with every sense of his being. The scene where his daughter goes to confront Olivia, and where Julian finds them talking together will make most readers angry because of the way Julian acts. Olivia’s reaction is exactly as I would expect from her, and I couldn’t help but cheer Olivia because tells Julian to go to hell because she refuses to be degraded. And those who enjoy a good groveling scene, there is a nice one that Anna has written with Julian because of his fear of losing Olivia.

I would have to say that third time is a charm for Anna. Tempt the Devil was a very enjoyable read. The sex was pretty hot and Anna made her hero, Julian suffers very deeply because of Olivia’s indifference to him. Perhaps it was a bit evil on my part but I loved how Olivia wouldn’t fall for Julian’s charms. He was so dumbfounded, and because of that, he had to work for her heart. And when Olivia finally allowed herself to free and open with Julian, it is well worth it.

4 stars out of 5 stars

Katiebabs (KB)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pushing The Envelope And Liking It!

Barbara from the Happily Forever After has finally read and posted her review of Pamela Clare’s Surrender. Surrender is my all time favorite book by Pamela, that is, until she writes about the dastardly Lord William. I left a comment on her post about how much I loved Surrender, and of one of my favorite scenes that involves some shaving between Ian and Annie.

For those who have read Surrender, you know what scene I am talking about. For those who haven’t read this book, let’s just say that while Ian is shaving his beard, he decides to give Annie a shave somewhere else, that eventually leads to some really hot sex between the two. I was so surprised how I really enjoyed this particular intimate act between this couple, because it comes out of the blue and is a bit shocking.

I also started to think about other shocking sex scenes I have read in romances that were scandalous, but weren’t disturbing or made me squirm uncomfortably. One such scene, that to this day is one of the most sensual and sexiest I have ever read, is from Lisa Kleypas’s Suddenly You. Jack and Amanda are the couple in this book whose marriage is not in a good place towards the end because Amanda has miscarried their baby. She wants to be left alone, and in her despair, she wants a divorce. Jack refuses and takes control of the situation by admitting his love for his wife as well as feeding her, since she has neglected eating. And when the time comes for dessert, he uses a bowl of raspberries in a very interesting way. Amanda becomes his desert as he eats the raspberries out of a certain part of Amanda’s anatomy. For some reason, I was not turned off in the least by this scene, and whenever someone mentions Suddenly You, that is the only scene that comes to my mind.

There are some other authors who are very skilled with pushing the sex envelope, and one such author is JR Ward and her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Almost every book I have read by Ward has some love scenes that enter the NC-17 territory. These male heroes she has created sure do love to use their mouths in creative ways. Not only are her love scenes some of the best written out there, but she is not afraid to push the trust these between these men and their women. In Lover Eternal, Rhage has to be careful how far he will go emotionally with Mary, his mate, because if he doesn’t have a level head, his curse, which is his dragon, may come out and hurt her. Mary decides to take things into her own hands and chains Rhage to the bed, so she can have her way with him. And even if the dragon decides to make an appearance, she is willing to accept it. Ward has taken bondage to a whole new level.

Sarah McCarthy is one of the best authors who can write some of the best anal sex scenes, and quite honestly, I have never been a fan of that act, but for some reason, McCarthy really makes it work; even if her characters tend to have some of this loving while riding on a horse.

I understand that we each have our own likes and dislikes, especially by how far an author will go to get our attention, especially when they must come up with more creative ways to hold our interest. While, I may not be a big fan of some erotica that has the male hero with two penises, or a ménage a trio with the hero’s shadow involved in the loving of the heroine, I have to give kudos to these authors who are trying to keep things fresh and exciting.

Why not celebrate those love scenes that have us reaching for an ice cube or a fan? What are some of your favorite love scenes that you still remember fondly? What authors push the envelope in their books in regards to sex, but not too far that you will stop reading in disgust?

Katiebabs (KB)