Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday 76

Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell

Rumor Has It
sizzles with Mansell's signature fresh sense of humor, poignancy, and happy ending with a twist.

Newly single Tilly Cole impulsively moves to a small town, only to find she's arrived in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, and rampant rivalry for the most desirable man—Jack Lucas, whose reputation is beyond bad. Tilly has no intention of becoming another notch on his bedpost. But she finds the thoughtful, caring guy she comes to value as a friend doesn't seem to fit the town's playboy image. Should she listen to her friends or her heart? Is Tilly being mature and sensible—or running away from the love of her life?

May 1st 2010

All of her books sound just great and I don't even have one! Maybe I can get one for my nook! I love the covers for all her books being released by Sourcebooks and how they all match, way to make an author brand and a great one at that!

What can't you wait for to be released?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Signed Copy of 9 Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake!

If you haven't noticed, I REALLY liked Sarah MacLean's Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake. (See review and interview). It's the book responsible for all the romance business you see happening on the blog now! Anyway today is Nine Rules's release date and to celebrate Sarah has kindly offered a signed copy of the book to one of you!

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .

Here is how to enter to win a signed paperback copy of Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake!

Fill out the giveaway entry form here.

The giveaway is open to addresses within the U.S only.

The giveaway will end April 13th at 6:59 pm Central Time.

**Copy provided by author**

Hardcover vs. Paperback 74

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

Hardcover/Original Paperback

Paperback Reprint

I am not my illness. "Girl with Anxiety," "Trauma of the Week" -- no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can't.

Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can't quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she's trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that's where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.

His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian's cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she's in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.

Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn't felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.

Master storyteller Deb Caletti has once again created characters so real, you will be breathless with anticipation as their riveting story unfolds.

I like them both fine. I'm just scratching my head why all these redesigns are happening, that first cover is what 3 years old at the most? Just pick a concept and stick to it people seriously! And I haven't read the book yet, but that boy looks awfully young to be a father, but maybe that's the point? Anyone know?

Hardcover or Paperback?

Have you spotted a Hardcover vs. Paperback you would like to contribute? Send me an email!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Oh boy, this book, this was a tough one to figure out for me. I started reading, liked the style but was a bit concerned that the same day repeating 7 times might get a little old, I had heard it didn't, but sadly the first 3 days turned out to be very similar in my mind. I gave the book a break for a few weeks and picked it back up. Luckily the days started to become more different, Sam began to speak her mind and shake things up and I was a bit more hooked. More characters were explored, Sam started to grow up and speak her mind. But the end was not good for me. I won't say much about it here so as not to spoil, but some people like these types of endings and sometimes I do as well. But it was written in such a way that I didn't get any sort of resolution or validation and I was left with frustration.

Sam is an interesting character, she was at her best when she was spending time with her little sister. Her friends are the mean popular girls that I never really was able to warm up to. It was kind of upsetting that Sam was like, well, that's just the way they are and I love them anyways. Her friend Lindsay especially got on my nerves, she was not a good person. In the end I did like that the 7 days explored the everyday things that could change in Sam's life, who she had lunch with, what she did after school, the more minor things. Things she took the time to do one day or the people she got to know another.

I most enjoyed the middle of the book when Sam gets to know her old friend Kent and hangs out with people other than her 3 good friends. Overall this book was frustrating to me, don't get me wrong there was something here it just didn't fit together perfectly for me.

Before I Fall was released on March 2nd
Genre: Young Adult
2.5/5 Stars
ARC provided by the publisher

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Musings on the Nook 1

A few people have asked me to tell them about my experiences with the Nook and I also thought maybe it would be a good idea to keep some documentation on my experiences to refer to in the future, yes I'm a dork.

So I've thought about getting an e-reader on and off for at least the last year or two but never wanted it enough to actually fork over the money until now. These are the things that lead to my decision:

-We all know I could use more space and less books, hopefully this will help me out with that problem.

-More and more galleys are being released in the e-galley format (like one I got Friday) and I really cannot sit at a computer and read an entire book but I want to be able to take part.

- Many many romance novels are released in e-books format and that's what I'm reading right now.

So Friday night I seriously started considering getting one. Went to Barnes and Noble and got the low-down. Sent my dad to the store Saturday to look, he's my go-to gadget guy. I really only considered the Nook and the Sony e-readers. I'm sure the Kindle is fine but I didn't have access right then and there to play with one so it was out of the question for me (plus it has like a zillion keys on the button). I've seen one before but I wanted to try it out NOW. I've never been a fan of the full touch screen which the more expensive Sony's have and didn't like where the actual buttons were and don't like the design of the Sony Pocket Readers so that left the Nook. Plus, I like the look of the Nook, it reminds me of my ipod and MacBook Pro.

I purchased it Saturday afternoon, sadly the cases are only in the larger stores right now so I had to go about 30 minutes away to get a case. I just don't feel comfortable walking around with it without a case. I also purchased the 2 year extended warranty, the only extra thing you could really get that isn't considered an accessory (there is only one version of the nook.)

Took me about 15 minutes to get it out of the package, they went a little overboard trying to appeal to the Mac audience, all smooth and sleek and it was darn hard to get it out. It came with a USB cable and also an adaptor for the wall. Apparently wall charging is much faster at 3 hours compared to 6 hours. Also battery can be saved by keeping the Nook on Airplane mode when not accessing the e-book store. Had trouble waiting for it to charge so I started playing with it while it was charging. Sadly it comes with very little paper directions (I know I know, it's an e-reader, I know!) There is a guidebook or two on the nook itself and also one you can download online. I rather wish it came in paper, much easier to flip through that way. The actual start up of the Nook is slower than I would have hoped so I don't turn it on and off much when I plan to use it again soon (it goes into screensaver sleep mode). Also the page flipping could be faster. I hear that B&N will be providing software updates for the Nook though, so hopefully everything will get better in time or I'll just get used to it!

I like the design of the Nook, 80% reading screen with turning buttons on both sides and touch screen on the bottom. After a bit of time the touch screen goes to sleep, good when reading but bad when you are trying to use it. Can probably change the setting to keep it awake longer. Since I've never been a touch screen person it's taking time to tap the right letters and hit the right keys. The biggest problem has been using the scroll bar!

Since it didn't come with a paper manual I didn't read much before I started messing with it, oops. Eventually after much frustration I discovered that your e-books go into 2 very different locations. Books you buy straight from Barnes and Noble go into the snazzy B&N Library that has the beautiful cover flow and anything you buy outside of Barnes and Noble or already happen to have go into the utterly boring My Documents, which is a different library, without cover flow. So that's disappointing that they are separate libraries.

I already had a few e-books in Adobe Digital Editions on my computer which was not recognizing my Nook and after almost giving up I had to go into the Digital Editions folder and steal the e-books from there, outside of the program itself. Honestly Adobe Digital Editions just seems to be a roadblock to me.

The nook has a screensaver and wallpaper you can personalize, I haven't done so yet. Also you can browse the Barnes and Noble e-book store right from the nook if you have a Wi-Fi or 3G signal available. Only once or twice I couldn't pick up a signal in my house and that was only for about a minute or so. You can add books to your e-book wishlist right there or even on your computer and they will pop up on your nook. I like that. You can obviously instantly download books right to your Nook and you'll also get an email linking to the B&N website which houses your e-book library as well, backup is good! Barnes and Noble provided 3 classics on my Nook, they weren't downloaded but were in the library. So I had to tell it to go download them, was a bit confusing, maybe that was in the manual I didn't read. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to be charged for these random books already in my library. Was also able to get some other free e-books of their site, they also have a $5 section which seems nice!

I haven't bought many e-books yet (pre-ordered only one actually) but have been looking around and discovering some free and legal places to get public domain books and other free e-books.

Today I woke up and started fiddling with it again. And in the span of about 30 or so minutes it froze about 5 times. Yesterday it froze about once or twice but nothing like this. I was doing something different every time so there was no rhyme or reason, would restart and about 3 minutes later, frozen! This couldn't be good! Called customer service who was very nice (and only about a minute wait too) they instructed me to remove the back cover where the battery is housed (I hear you can replace the battery too instead of the whole thing, which is very nice!) removed the battery and plugged it into the wall charger for 30 minutes without the battery. Since then it's seemed to work just fine!

I was finally able to sit down and start reading a book on my Nook! There is a little progress bar at the bottom of the page right by the number of pages which only counts ahead after every few pages, I've heard it's showing the real page count not the e-book count. So far I really like the way it feels in my hands, you don't have to worry about holding a book open, and I can totally read it while laying down, which is great in my book!

And that takes us up to about right now! Hopefully more soon!

Weekly Dose of Crafts!

Pretty much done working my way through the Klutz Crochet book. Should probably be doing a review soon! Here are 3 more of the projects from the book! Please excuse these extra horrible pictures!

This is the bath bag, this was very quick to make. I think it could be altered to be another sort of bag, like my sister wants one for her phone.

This is the envelope purse, probably my favorite project from the book, took me about 3 nights to finish but I didn't work on it very long all of those nights. It was my first project with decreases!

Here is the hat from the book, it's much too big (will probably try to shrink it), I don't think I have gauge down yet. But still, it looks like a hat and it's my first project with increases!

Not sure what I'll be doing next, have a lot of projects I want to try! I also have Knitting 102 this Thursday where we are going to learn to read a pattern, to increases and decreases (which I haven't done in knitting (intentionally) yet, and make a dishcloth with a heart in the middle as a project!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This Week In Books Or The Week I Got A Nook!


Never Too Much by Lori Foster
T0 Seduce A Bride by Nicole Jordan



The Evil Within by Nancy Holder
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Paisley Hanover Kisses and Tells by Cameron Tuttle
The Vera Wright Trilogy by Elizabeth Jolley

How to (Un)cage A Girl by Francesca Lia Block

Oh my! For review and completely by surprise!


It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas
Murphy's Law by Lori Foster

Local used bookstore, it has so many romance novels and of course I had taken my list out of my purse after carrying it around for weeks! I was overwhelmed I could only buy 2 after looking for like half an hour!

Party by Tom Leveen
Split by Swati Avasthi

For review, Party from Amazon Vine.


A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh
Hand-Stitched Felt by Kata Golda

A Secret Affair is from Amazon Vine and Hand-Stitched Felt is from two very sweet and extremely thoughtful Bookfairies by the initials of G and M. They even met the author and had her personalize it for me. TALK ABOUT DARN SWEET!


Tasty Crochet by Rose Langlitz

Get ready, I've got a story for this one. As some of you know I've been slowly getting better at crochet with the goal of amigurumi, I've gotten a lot better the past two weeks so I thought I was ready for something a little harder and cuter. Local stores didn't have this one, but one by my work did (apparently) left early, practically rolled around on the store floor trying to find it, an employee helped me and turned out it wasn't there. *cue sad face* Went back onto the Borders website to see what other stores in the area had it and it said my local store had it, but they didn't have it 12 hours before. I called and they pulled it off the truck for me, talk about good karma man! Story over!

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn
Sebastian Darke: Prince of Explorers by Philip Caveney

Ten Things is an e-galley....

Deliciously Dangerous by Karen Anders
Pleasurably Undone! by Various

To Catch A Rogue by Amanda McCabe

Lady Arabella's Scandalous Marriage by Carole Mortimer

Tempting the Negotiator by Zana Bell
Receptionist Under Cover by C.J. Carmichael

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

Went to Walmart where I apparently lost consciousness and bought these books, what?! You don't believe me!?

Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli

Had to use my 40% off coupon at Michael's on something. ;)



A number of things made now the right time for me to get an e-reader and of the Kindle, Nook, and Sony e-readers I liked the nook the best. Haven't played with it much, still trying to charge it. But I'm hoping to get it figured out soon! E-reader users, I'd love tips of where you like to buy e-books besides platform specific stores!

Super-Cute Crochet by Nicki Trench

Saw this the last time I was at the Barnes and Noble with the used section, but then I didn't know anything about crochet, so I grabbed it this time!

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

For review.

Giveaway: Random Box of Romance Novels!

So, as regular readers know I have somewhat of a habit when it comes to my weekly stops at the Library Bookstore. Most recently it has turned into a romance book buying spree every week! I don't mean to make anyone jealous, so in an attempt to spread the love during this here unofficial Romance Week I'd love to offer up one random box of romance novels from said Library Bookstore. I can't guarantee what will or won't be in it but I'm shooting to have 8-10 books in there! We'll see what happens! Maybe you are new to the genre like me and just want to try some books, or maybe you just love romance novels! This one is for you!

Here is how to enter to win a random box of romance novels!

Fill out the giveaway entry form here.

The giveaway is open to addresses within the U.S only.

The giveaway will end April 10th at 6:59 pm Central Time.

**Books provided by me**

His Little Black Book by Heather MacAllister

1 wrong text message + 1 impending hurricane = 1 sexy surprise for 3 couples!

Text and the Single Girl

Sophie Callahan is angling to move up the corporate ladder…and attending a client party is her ticket. But she doesn't count on being trapped by the hurricane with sexy entrepreneur Adrian Dean. Suddenly, "riding out the storm" sounds like a very good idea…

Text Appeal

When Mia Weiss skids off the road en route to the party, hottie Kevin Powell comes to her rescue. Only he's not her ideal savior. He's abrupt, a little grouchy…and, oh yeah, the best lover Mia's ever had!

Safe Text

Being the assistant to a demanding boss is running Cammy Phillips ragged. But Gil Shaughnessy, Cammy's former partner, has the perfect cure in mind…and it involves getting Cammy more deliciously worked up than the hurricane raging outside!

His Little Black Book was my first of the Harlequin Blaze line. I just loved the premise, 3 short stories interconnecting all based out of an advertising agency when a high up sends a private text message to everyone in his phone book! It follows 3 women as they try to get to the company beach house for the "party" he has invited them to, during a hurricane!

All the stories sounded promising and started off great, but by the end of each of them I wasn't convinced by the chemistry between the characters, I think the stories were too short to make much really believable. I wanted more from all of the stories.

The best to me was the last story, Safe Text, because Cammy and Gil had a history, they already knew each other, so that made it most believable that all these feelings, emotions and naughty bits would happen between them. But overall I didn't find any of them hitting the right note for me, everything happened so quickly and ended just like that. I needed more!

All in all, I had fun with this book, great premise but the delivery was a little too quick handed for me. I look forward to trying another full length story from the Blaze line to see how I like it!

His Little Black Book was released on was released on March 1st 2010
Genre: Contemporary Romance
3/5 Stars
Purchased from publisher

Friday, March 26, 2010

Guest Post: My Changing Taste in Romance by Sarah of YA Librarian Tales

Thanks to Sarah of YA Librarian Tales for stopping by to share a guest post about how her love of romance novels has changed over time!

My love and addiction for all things romance began when I was fourteen years old, at my first job. I was a shelver at my local library and suddenly, all these new books I had never bothered to discover were at my very fingertips. As a teen, I mostly skipped over the teen books of the time. I read Sweet Valley when I was eight or nine and then moved along into more complex adult novels, but not necessarily romance. Let me tell you, my mind was blown.

I clearly remember the first romance book I checked out. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught was my introduction to the historical romance genre and I was hooked, no doubt about it. I loved the chemistry between Whitney and Clayton, the Duke of Westmoreland. I thought he was simply divine and I developed my own crush on him. I re-read that book many, many times, eventually buying my own copy. He gave me the shivers and I couldn't ever imagine how Whitney had resisted him for so long. Of course, I was a somewhat naive and very shy teenager so his domineering personality and take-charge attitude worked for me. He chased the girl; I liked that, plain and simple. Unfortunately, this is not a book that has stood the test of time for me.

When Alea kindly asked me to blog about my love for romance, I initially declined, now knowing what to talk about. But then it hit me and while I know it is not a new idea by any means, it's something I've been hoping to express for a long time. My tastes in romance have changed and grown so much since I was fourteen years old. What seemed sexy and romantic to me then is not the same anymore. In preparation for writing this post, I checked Whitney, My Love out of the library (oh the memories.) I started reading. And, I was not impressed which was why I have probably avoided this book for many, many years.

Clayton is not sexy and let me tell you, he is not romantic. He is pretty much a jerk and a rapist to boot. There is nothing remotely sexy about that, nothing lovey dovey about forcing yourself on your intended because you think she has been with someone else. There is nothing romantic in deciding you're going to get a mistress to pay back your wife for her treachery. And there is nothing whatsoever passionate or sensual about cruelty. Nothing, whatsoever. Here are a few choice excerpts from Clayton where he expresses his disgust with Whitney.

Abruptly the hand tightened and with one sharp tug he split the thin garment in two, flinging it away from her body. "Get into the bed," he ordered coldly.

Desperate to hide her nakedness, Whitney fled to the big fourposter and quickly pulled the sheets up to her chin, as if they could protect her from him. In a blur of unreality, she saw Clayton strip off his jacket. He unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off, and she stared blindly at the rippling muscles of his powerful shoulders and arms then she twisted her head toward the wall and squeezed her eyes closed. His footsteps bore down on the bed, and she opened her eyes to see him towering menacingly above her.

"Don't cover yourself from me!" He caught the sheet and tore it from her clenched fists. "I want to see what I paid so handsomely for!" Pain slashed across his features as his gaze swept over her naked body, then his jaw hardened.

So romantic right?? Not at all. Tore, menacingly, bore down. Not exactly setting the scene for a passionate and equal love scene or relationship.

When he believes Whitney has been unfaithful to him yet again, but this time she is pregnant, he decides:

If she was going to bear a child, and he as going to have to give it his name, then by God he wasn't going to have to look at it and wonder whose it was! He'd send the brat away from his sight. But not right away. First he would let her keep the child for a year or two until she was deeply attached to it; then he would wrench the babe away from her.

Nice guy! Of course, Whitney finally seems to realize what he is doing.

He had done it again! Just what he had done the awful night he had dragged her here. He had accused her of something in his mind, tried and convicted and sentenced her, without ever telling her what crime she was accused of committing. Without ever giving her an opportunity to explain! And now--and now--he actually believed he could just set her aside, move to another wing of the house and pretend that their marriage was as dead as if it had never existed.

Clayton finally acknowledges his jackassery but it is way, way too late.

He wasn't worthy. Twice in their lives now he had treated her with a brutal viciousness of which he'd never known he was capable. God! She was nurturing his child within her womb and never once had he even asked how she was feeling. How could one slender girl bear the weight of such cruelty without hating him as he deserved?

Indeed. While I don't berate myself for liking these books as a young teen, I am glad I've grown enough to the point where I recognize that this is not romance, at least, not the kind of romance I want to read about.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if Whitney, while not a total doormat, isn't exactly the smartest romance heroine I've read. At the time, I thought she was a great character. Upon a more recent re-read, my opinion has definitely been revised. She's young for her age, no doubt, and the time period does give her some restrictions, but she takes what Clayton gives out, and she goes back to him. Not once, but twice. Theirs is not a relationship of equality and companionship, but a relationship of unequal power. And in my late twenties, that does not work for me any longer. Nor in fact do the Catherine Coulter, Sandra Brown, or Diana Palmer books I once devoured. While I feel a certain nostalgia for these authors, I do not buy their new material, I haven't in recent years re-read any of my old favorites. I've moved on to stories where the females are taking control of their relationship, where the power is not a struggle but more like a flowing current, and it is never, never used against the female in anger.

Some of my current favorite romance authors writing today are Victoria Dahl, Susan Mallery, Lisa Kleypas, Julie James, and Brenda Novak. I like it when my romance characters, particularly the females, are intelligent, when they are totally unashamed of their sexuality and femininity, and when the romance itself is not an argumentative falling in love, as in many romances of my early years. I need conversation, compromise, hope, and humor. Plenty of humor in fact because I love a snarky comment or a sarcastic retort.

I still like my men to be pretty much alpha heroes but they cannot be cruel or heck, I'd go so far as to say misogynistic at times as in Whitney, My Love. When I think of great male characters, Chase from Victoria Dahl's Lead Me On comes instantly to mind. He is sexy as hell but he is also a really genuine and caring guy. He is smart, is more than happy to show Jane how he feels about her, and he accepts everything about her. It's a rare combination sometimes in romance land.

Another favorite romance, After the Night by Linda Howard features a couple who give and take with passion and wit. Gray definitely bends towards the arrogant side of the male spectrum but Faith has no trouble putting him in his place. These two have a rocky courtship but as adults, they are able to find a more equitable and very fun relationship.

I still like to try new authors with my romances but I'm quicker to turn away from a writer for many reasons. My reading time has become much more important to me so I have to focus on romances that leave me happy and not pulling out my hair basically.

So while I'll perhaps always have a certain fondness for Judith McNaught, more out of nostalgia than anything else, she is not an author I plan on picking up any time soon, either for new books or re-reads.

If you're looking for a few great romance reads, with characters that are basically all kinds of awesome, I highly recommend reading any of the following titles: Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins, Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas, Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols, Wicked All Day by Liz Carlyle, Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series starting with Slave to Sensation.

These are stories with emotion and heart, with passion for sure, but they lack the cruelty that made up my teenage romance reading. I'm impressed with the direction romance writers are going with their characters and I think this is a change for the better.

So, that's been my romance journey so far. Has there been a romance book that has affected you in one way or another? That you can no longer read or that has grown on you? And if you haven't started reading romance yet, I hope you'll give it a try!

Thanks Sarah!

Lookalikes 94

Satisfaction by Marianne Stillings

Delicious by Susan Mallery

Well, at least the woman has a shirt on, on Delicious unlike the man on Satisfaction! Both of the images are strange though I see why they use them... I guess I prefer the color combination on Delicious better though.

Have you spotted a Lookalike you would like to contribute? Send me an email!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blog Tour: Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman

A poignant debut novel about the transformative powers of yoga and friendship for four women on the verge of realizing their dreams

With beauty, brains, and a high-paying Wall Street position, Charlie was a woman who seemed to have it all—until she turned thirty and took stock of her life, or lack thereof. She left it all behind to pursue yoga, and now, two years later, she's looking to drum up business for her fledgling studio in Brooklyn. Attending her college's alumni night with fliers in tow, she reconnects with three former classmates whose post-graduation lives, like hers, haven't turned out like they'd hoped.

Romance book editor Sabine still longs to write the novel that's bottled up inside her. Once an up-and-coming photographer and Upper East Side social darling, Naomi is now a single mom who hasn't picked up her camera in years. And Bess, who dreamed of being a serious investigative journalist a la Christiane Amanpour, is stuck in a rut, writing snarky captions for a gossip mag. But at a weekly yoga class at Charlie's studio, the four friends, reunited ten years after college, will forge new bonds and take new chances—as they start over, fall in love, change their lives...and come face-to-face with haunting realities.

Balancing Acts came into my life at precisely the right time, I started yoga about 2 months ago and have been loving it. Balancing Acts was the perfect meld of yoga and the type of book I love to read, I just loved it.

I'm instantly attracted to books that are told in rotating perspective and Balancing Acts happens to explore these 4 women's journeys through each of their 4 voices. I loved all four of their voices with Bess just coming in slightly behind the other 3 women because of her initial motives to join the yoga class and not letting go of it as fast as I would have liked.

I liked how the story balances humor and serious matters, it was just a joy to read, with each woman going through her own journey. Specifically I loved Sabine's interactions with someone she called Subway Crush (I can relate), Naomi's occupation as a graphic designer (again, I can relate) and how she leans on the people in her life when she's used to taking care of herself and her son, and Charlie's journey from Wall Street to Yoga and the sweet cafe owner she finds on the way.

I also want to mention, that just because I've been doing yoga doesn't mean I think you have to be a yogi to enjoy the book. I will admit it's fun comparing it to my own yoga experience but I know I would have liked it if I would have read it without having any knowledge of yoga. There is really something for everyone to relate to here. Would definitely recommend it!!

Balancing Acts was released on March 16th 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
4.5/5 Stars
Review copy provided by the publisher

TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interview: Joanne Renaud, illustrator

I'm pleased to welcome illustrator Joanne Renaud today for an interview! I first heard about Joanne when she did some pieces for author, Sarah MacLean's website, see the header here! And check out her deviantart site here!

1. Would you say you have always been an artist? Has it always been illustration and the graphic arts you were interested in?

Yes, I was always the class artist, scribbling on the margins of my homework. I loved writing too. This was the '80s and I loved Choose Your Own Adventure Books, and I was really into making my own books. One of the CYOA books I wrote when I was nine was called-- wait for it-- "The Secret of Unicorn Valley." It featured unicorns! And rainbows! And evil Chinese mafia guys!

There was a boy in my class who wanted me to write a CYOA about the Transformers, but I said no because I thought the Transformers were dorky.

2. I see you studied Graphic Design (me too!), is that something you also do along with illustration or do you just do straight illustration now?

I do it occasionally, although I prefer illustration. I designed the logo for "Dark Valentine," a new online magazine dedicated to dark fiction, which was just launched a few weeks ago. You can see it here. Our publisher wanted to use the classic images from Mexican loteria cards-- which are thankfully in the public domain-- and after some discussion we all settled on the freeware Lilith font, designed by David Rakowski. It was great having everyone's input, and I'm pleased with how it came together in the end.

3. What's the illustration process like for you? What happens from initial concept to final piece?

Well, most of the time, I go from the specs or the need of the project, do as much research as I can, work up some sketches, run it by the client, and then go from there. A lot of times when I'm doing multiple illustrations featuring the same characters, I conceptualize them in character sketches, and use that as reference for the rest of the project.

4. What is your favorite medium to work in?

Acrylics probably, but I also like working with colored pencil on occasion. (I used to work with oils a lot in art school, but the fumes are deadly in a small space, and I usually have to work out of my bedroom.) I would like to learn how to paint digitally soon too, although I cringe at the idea of spending even more time on the computer than I already do.

5. What is your favorite thing to draw?

Hot men and cute women in awesome costumes! I also like to do a lot of character portraiture, based on actors I find intriguing-- like Chris Sarandon, who made such a wonderful villain in "The Princess Bride." I used to sketch a lot in cafes and the like, but I've fallen away from that since I started working professionally. I would like to start doing that again, since you see so many interestingly dressed characters in New York .

6. Does a lot of research happen before you put pencil to paper? Do you draw from source material or does it all come straight from your mind?

Research is probably one of the most important stages of what I do, since a lot of times a project is about something I know nothing about, like Mansa Musa, a king in medieval West Africa. Even if it's about something I'm familiar with, like the Regency and 1820s characters
commissioned by Sarah MacLean for her website, I need to refresh my 'inner eye' so the images don't come out looking hackneyed.

Research also includes looking at movies, other artists' interpretation of the subject matter, and sometimes even listening to period-appropriate music. I'm about to start on a book about John Henry, and last night I was listening to different versions of the Ballad of John Henry, including a fantastic blues version by Mississippi Fred McDowell.

7. You recently moved from LA to New York City, tell us what that's been like? What's different, better, worse?

Well, the food is more expensive. But I don't have to worry about having a car or insurance, which is nice. I find myself getting out more. In LA, driving everywhere really curtailed my social life, so I ended up just hanging out with three people, and watching way too much TV. It's Saturday night in North Hollywood ? It must be Law & Order time!

The negative: library hours are really short here, compared to what was back in LA. I'm also afraid the independent bookstores left in New York are not up to caliber of bookstores back in LA, which are very genre-friendly. I love vintage fantasy, romance and horror-- the more obscure the better-- and that's a bit hard to come by here. NY indie bookstores are great for literary fiction, which really doesn't interest me.

8. I love your taste, I find it very eclectic, share with us a few things you are into right now?

I've actually been writing a lot lately. Right now I'm working on a gothic romance set in the mid '60s, against the background of the British Invasion and Warhol's Factory. I'm also working on a few short stories for Dark Valentine magazine-- one's contemporary urban fantasy with (non-sparkly ) vampires, and the other's set in ancient Persia. Eclectic? I'm not sure what you mean!

I'm especially excited to be working as Dark Valentine's art director. The amazing graphic designer/illustrator Sarah Vaughn-- who designed the the dress-up doll for Gail Carriger's Soulless, and the Regency dress up dolls showcased on Smart Bitches Trashy Books-- designed our website, and it's gorgeous. She did a wonderful job. Our first issue will be out later this spring, and it will feature a cover painted by me, and stories by the talented Christine Pope, Katherine Tomlinson, Robin Claire Barnes, and many others.

My Nine Rules for Beginning Romance Readers!

Today I've shared my Nine Rules for Beginning Romance Readers over at Sarah MacLean's blog. She's the author that started my obsession, with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake! Go check it out and let me know what you think!

"Waiting On" Wednesday 75

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts

New Love takes the cake in the third novel in Nora Roberts's new Bride Quartet-in a stunning French flap edition .

Wedding baker Laurel McBane is surrounded by romance working at Vows wedding planning company with her best friends Parker, Emma, and Mac. But she's too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that their clients seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker's older brother Delaney, on whom she's had a mega-crush since childhood.
But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her-or so she thinks. When Laurel's quicksilver moods get the better of her-leading to an angry, hot, all-together mind-blowing kiss with Del-she'll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever...

Released April 27th 2010

I had fun with the first book in the series and definitely want to see the series through, I love the concept (and the cover!).

Desires of a Perfect Lady by Victoria Alexander

A secret list of the desires of Lady Olivia Rathbourne:
  1. Disregard convention
  2. Follow my heart
  3. Bed the Earl of Wyldewood

A decade ago, Olivia had expected to marry the Earl of Wyldewood, only to have happiness stolen from her before his ring could be placed upon her finger. Now he stands before her, as proud and arrogant and handsome as ever, vowing to rescue her. Well, he's got some nerve urning up after all these years. Where was he when she needed him?

As for the earl, scandal has never touched him nor has impropriety ever besmirched his name. But his penchant for doing the expected does have his family calling him, well, dull. Isn't it time to flaunt society's conventions and do what he's always wanted? And first on his list: Olivia in his bed—with or without a wedding.

Released March 30th 2010

I love the idea of flirty revenge happening here! Sounds like it's going to be great!

Here Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry

What's a girl to do when she's secretly in love with a friend and he's married to someone else? She gets over it. That's what Amy Parker has done. Rather than lose her best bud Quinn Whitfield with an ill-timed, crazy confession of affection, she's taken the smart route. She's eased away from him. Just enough to get past the unrequited bits. And you know, it's working.

Until the day Quinn announces he's now single. That's right. He's single. And he wants to hang out. With her. Get reconnected the way they used to be.

Oh, this is so not good for Amy's equilibrium. Daily doses of Quinn remind her of everything she loves about him. But if he's free…and she's free…well, maybe the time has come for one of those crazy confessions.

Released April 13th 2010

This just sounds so cute!!! Who doesn't fall for a friend at some point in time and to see it actually work out, this will be fun!

What can't you wait for to be released?

"Waiting On" Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interview: Carrie Feron, Vice President and Editorial Director of Avon Books

Ever since reading Sarah MacLean's 9 Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake I've been obsessed with the romance genre and have had a ton of questions. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Carrie Feron, Vice President and Editorial Director of Avon Books!

1. What makes a romance novel? What turns historical fiction into historical romance and chick lit/women’s fiction into a contemporary romance?

A romance novel is when one of the major plots and focus is on the journey of a man and women to finding true love. In a historical novel, we could have many other plotlines as well as a romance, but a historical romance is focused on the one women/one man story.

2. What is it about the romance genre that makes it one of the most (if not the most) popular and addicting genres?

Romance stories have been told through history: in fairy tales, poems, novels, etc etc. People are endlessly fascinated by love – what makes it work? What makes it fail? What gives us the courage to put our hearts out there on the line again. Today in our office someone got engaged, and people crowded around her, admiring the ring. The first question people asked is: how did he ask? And the second: how did you meet? As humans we find inspiration from these stories of connections.

3. With the number of romance novels out there (and more published every year) what does it take to stand out in the crowd? What’s the sign of a great romance novel?

A great romance novel starts with a talented writer – someone who has a strong voice, and really knows how to draw out the tension. What it takes to stand out is being unique. Just like in love!

4. What are the must read romances for anyone new to the genre?

Must reads? So many! Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Meg Cabot (RANSOM MY HEART) for historical romance, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE for contemporary; Christine Feehan, Lyndsay Sands and Jeanne Frost for paranormal

5. The romance genre is filled to the brim with so many sub-genres and sub-genres of the sub-genres, which do you feel is the most popular on the market? Does this change at all from year to year?

There are definitely trends in romance, and a strong trend right now is paranormal. But within that subgenre, other sub categories are bubbling to the surface. The good news is there are lots and lots of great reads out there. Visit our new blog to see what we’re up to!

Thank you for stopping by Carrie!

Hardcover vs Paperback 73

Tempted by Lori Foster

Original Paperback Cover

Reprint Mass Market Paperback

Three steamy classics from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster.

Little Miss Innocent?

For Dr. Daniel Sawyers, sex therapist Lace McGee is a puzzle. While she keeps putting inappropriate ideas into his sister's head, Lace is even better at putting naughty thoughts into Daniel's head. But just how down 'n dirty is Lace really?

Annie, Get Your Guy

No one likes being treated like a kid sister—especially by someone as sexy as Guy Donovan. So when Annie Sawyers sets out to seduce Guy once and for all, she tracks down every book about sex she can find. One of them has to work, right?

Messing Around with Max

Maddie Montgomery needs a couple of notches on her bedpost—fast. Rumor has it that Max Sawyers is just the man to show her the goods…and then some. Now, if she can just get past his dog!

I guess usually I prefer a photo cover compared to a illustration, illustrations can work but I usually have very specific taste in illustration. In this case neither are wow-ing me but they are both ok. I like the colors used in the illustration cover but not the title font and the reprint is I guess ok, the colors are nice but the photo is nothing special.

Hardcover or Paperback?

Have you spotted a Hardcover vs. Paperback you would like to contribute? Send me an email!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Guest Post: Confessions of a Closet Romance Reader by Irish of Ticket to Anywhere

Thanks to Irish of Ticket to Anywhere for stopping by to share her confession about romance novels!

Internet, I have a confession. Its one that may surprise you if you knew me in real life. Because Internet...I am a closet romance reader. *deep breath* There. I said it and its only because of me love for Alea that I admit this very little known fact about me. If people ask I will tell them that I only started to read romance recently...and then I’ll often clarify that with it’s the paranormal/vampire type books which aren’t really romance. Not like say, all those books with the scantily clad ladies locked in the embrace of an equally scantily clad hunk of a male. But in truth, it has been years. Many years.

You see Internet, my mom is a romance junkie. She always has been. In my parents house there were shelves upon shelves of books jammed in every which way. Now they were all romance but I’d say a good 85% of them were. I don’t recall when it first began but I started to sneak read some of her books. I started with some older Harlequin historicals as I have always been fascinated with the past. My public face would make fun of the romances my mom would buy week after week at the book store while I scoured the Fantasy section for Anne McCaffrey, RA Salvatore or the latest in the Forgotten Realms series. But when no one was around I’d whip out one of my mom’s stolen romances and devourer it. I read everything the Diana Palmer’s, the Nora Roberts, Amanda Quick, and Jayne R Krentz. Historicals were my favorites but there were many a contemporary I’d go back to again and again.

That’s right Internet. Not only was I reading Romances...but I was RE-READING them as well!

Then Internet it wasn’t long before I began to buy them as well. That’s around when I discovered Julie Garwood, Jo Beverly and many others. I would sneak these books into the house and hide them in my room. When I went off to college I would always have a stash of romances hidden under my bed. Tucked away where no one could see. And when someone would stumble on my secret I’d stumble, turn red and make up some lame excuse never sure if they bought it or not.

Even now, on my blog I keep up this lie that I am new to the genre. One of my recent posts was for Julie Garwood’s The Prize, in my review I make it seem like it was my first time reading this story. But Internet. It wasn’t. Not by a long shot. I’ve read this book dozens of times. First reading it back when it was 1991. It was my first Julie Garwood and one of the first romances that I bought. Please don’t be mad at me Internet for this secret I’ve been keeping. I don’t know why I continue to do it. I’ve just been doing it for so long I don’t really know how to stop. Though, maybe now that my secret is out, now that I have confessed all to you. Maybe...just maybe I will change my ways.


Maybe not.

But Internet know I do not mean to deceive...truly I don’t. Its just a long standing habit. So’ll help me keep my secret? Right?

Thanks Irish!

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake (or 9 Rules for short) is the first ever adult romance novel I have ever read and I think Sarah MacLean may have just led me to a whole new genre to explore! After having read her Young Adult title (and first book), The Season I knew I would read anything else she wrote and this book took my breath away! Coming to 9 Rules from The Season was very natural and just ramped up everything a little bit more. I love that they are both from the same world and time period.

Now it's time for some details. Main character Callie is someone that I could instantly relate to, she isn't as young as the other society girls and has been labeled a spinster and has been almost forgotten about. She realizes that after playing the part society has cast her in she really hasn't had any fun and hasn't gotten anything out of being a good polite woman and so the list is born.

The whole idea of Callie completing a list of basically un-lady like and scandalous tasks is written in a very clever and funny way. Seeing someone try something new is usually always funny and when they have to sneak around in disguises and in the pitch black night it's all the more fun. And add in Ralston and you are very much set!

I loved every single character in this book, pretty much as much as I loved Callie (except for maybe her mother, lol!). From her younger sister Mariana who is engaged, to her older brother Benedick, to Ralston (swoon) and his brother Nick to everyone else. The characters are fabulous. I'm very excited that this is the first of 3 books in this series because I definitely want more where this came from (as if you couldn't tell!).

And the romance, how can I say this politely, it was HOT! (And 2 months later having read a stack of romances, it's still the HOTTEST!) I loved all the back and forth between Callie and Ralston too, the misunderstandings, the stubbornness, the flirting and the silliness it was just adorable! I loved how they would end up hidden in corners, empty hallways and all sorts of places just slightly out of range of the ton, it was dangerous!

I took my time with this book, a week to be exact because I really wanted to enjoy it. I finished it 4 days ago and I haven't really been able to get into anything else since. This book was a complete and absolute treat! RECOMMEND!

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake will be released on March 30th
Genre: Adult Romance
5/5 Stars
ARC provided by the publisher

*** As you can tell I read this back in January, which is when I also wrote my review***

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekly Dose of Crafts!

Ok this is non-romance related but I'm too excited not to post right away!

Last week I shared a cable knit swatch I had created. Below is the project that followed on the dvd, a cable knit scarf with color blocks, as you can see I didn't get very far, it's time consuming, but also haven't picked up in a week!

These next two projects came from the Klutz Crochet book, which I think I forget to mention last week in my This Week In Books. Between this book and the I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting dvd I got from the library I'm learning a lot more than I did in my class a few weeks ago. In fact, I'm much improved from even a week ago when I was trying to make a simple washcloth that ended up looking like a pyramid, it's so horrible I cut the yarn and stopped and will not be sharing that here ha!

Anyway, below are 3 attempts at a crochet flower from the Klutz book, it's still not there yet but I'm trying! My first attempt turned out with 2 petals because I think I was going into the wrong stitch, so I ended up using a twist tie to mark the stitch! Teal was maybe my 2nd or 3rd attempt, the mixed blue 4th and the purple is today's attempt. I stopped at 4 petals, I can't seem to get the 5 to fit on there naturally.

And this one is a jewelry roll (or a crochet hook holder- which was another suggestion in the book). I was so impressed with myself that for the most part it turned out as a square swatch, before putting it together. I think it's pretty darn cute and didn't take that long!

That's all for this week!

Interview: Sarah MacLean author of 9 Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake and The Season

I'm very happy to be able to share an interview with author Sarah MacLean today. Both her books, 9 Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake and The Season are 5 star books in my opinion! And she was also kind enough to share some insight in the romance genre! Also be sure to check out her 2 must read romance lists, one for Historical and one for Contemporary!

1. What's the difference between writing for teens and adults? Do you hope your teen fans will take interest in 9 Rules or do you see those as two separate audiences?

I keep coming back to this: good reads are good reads. I see the Adult romances as an extension of the YA ones. I hope that teenage fans of THE SEASON will enjoy the fact that as they grow and their tastes and experiences change, they can keep reading books that I've written. At the same time, I hope that fans of NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE will come to enjoy my YA books--or at least share them with the teens in their lives.

2. It sounds like you always wanted to be a writer and a romance writer at that, what's it feel like for your dream to come true?

It's incredible. If you'd told 17-year-old Sarah that one day she'd have an historical romance published by Avon, she would have freaked out. Oh, who am I kidding? 30-year-old Sarah freaked out, too. Honestly, though? I've been thinking about this a lot recently, and I'm amazed by how much our teenaged selves know what's up. As we age, we become so hesitant about following our dreams--but when you're 13 or 15 or know what your dreams are. And you believe in them. I think it's a matter of remembering how to do that.

3. You seem to have some really tight deadlines, how do you stay on schedule?

It's not easy, especially when you're deep in the middle of a book or thinking about how to start revisions and the very last thing you want to do is sit down and write. I am incredibly lucky that my husband is willing to be my coach. If it weren't for him, I would never turn off the tv or put down the book I'm reading and get to work.

4. 9 Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake has such a clever premise, how did the idea evolve?

I love wallflower/rake I suppose that it was no surprise that my first romance was a spinoff of that idea. But more importantly, I wanted it to be about a wallflower finding it in herself to take action. To seize the day, so to speak. Callie popped into my head, the perfect, prim, proper wallflower...and I asked myself...what would it take to make her do something that changed her life? And what would that look like? Her list was born.

5. So far both The Season and 9 Rules have been set in the Regency time period, do you have plans to venture out of that time?

I have always had a love-affair with history--and I adore the long legacy of Regency-set historical romances, so it is no surprise that when I set pen to paper, I wrote a Regency--it will always be my first love. But, yes...I have a YA series that I'm noodling around right now that I'm really excited about, and it's not a Regency. I would say more, but I'm afraid to jinx it.

6. I’ve heard you talk about your own personal romance library (it sounds heavenly), how did your love affair with the romance novel begin?

My older sister was an obsessive romance reader and, like any younger sister, I wanted to be like her. So...when I was eleven or twelve, I started picking up the books that she put down. And I was hooked. Who doesn't love a great love story?

7. I think of you as one of my own personal romance novel mentors, would you mind helping me puzzle out some more things about the romance genre?

There is no greater compliment to me than that, Alea...I'm thrilled that I could introduce you to romance!

8. What is it about the romance genre that is so addictive?

Love is one of those wonderful, ephemeral things that everyone thinks about. I defy you to show me a person, male, female, young, old, rich or poor, who hasn't grown up with tales of love. It's the stuff of ancient legends. It's been around since the dawn of time. We have seen the most cynical of people laid low by love. And so...there is something undeniably attractive and enduring about the love story. You take two people with different pasts and contradictory personalities, you throw them together in an electric combination, and you watch them fall in love--who doesn't want that?

9. Who is your new author to watch?

This is so hard! There are some AMAZING new authors...Rachael Herron's HOW TO KNIT A LOVE SONG is a wonderful contemporary...Miranda Neville is writing great, sexy historicals...Sabrina Darby's ON THESE SILKEN SHEETS is a hot hot hot erotic historical...I just finished Louisa Edwards's CAN'T STAND THE HEAT, a fun contemporary about the NYC culinary scene (if you, like me, are a sucker for chefs, it's a must read)...Leanna Renee Hieber is writing these amazing cross-genre Victorian Gothic romances...and there are dozens more that are just fantastic.

10. What do you think will be the next trend in romance and why?

I don't think this is just a trend for romance, but I think that eReaders are going to make romance an even more popular genre. There are far too many people who hesitate to pick up that romance novel that they might love because they're afraid to read it in public (I've never had this problem...but I know that my husband read my manuscript on his iPhone because he didn't want people to see him reading the ARC on the subway). That's becoming a thing of the past...because now you can read whatever you want on your eReader! I also think that eReaders will make for hotter and hotter romances becoming more and more popular...which I count as a very good thing!

Thanks Sarah!
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