Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: “Destined For An Early Grave” by Jeaniene Frost

Last month, I reviewed the first novel in the Night Huntress series called Halfway To the Grave.  You have not have realized this, but I have not been reviewed every book I read.  Since I read a lot of series books, I worry that my reviews might get repetitive if I review each book.  So, forgive me for skipping ahead and reviewing Destined For An Early Grave which is the fourth book in the Night Huntress series. 

Cat & Bones have been married for some time, but even in marriage there are challenges.  Enter an evil, power-hungry vamp named Gregor.  Turns out, Gregor has visions of the future, and he saw how powerful Cat would become a long time ago.  Apparently, when she was sixteen, Gregor glamoured Cat’s mother and whisked her off to Paris to marry her.  Master vamp & Bones grandsire, Mencheres, who also sees the future finds out about Gregor’s plan.  Mencheres rescues the teenage Cat, buries all memory of Gregor and imprisons the evil vamp.  (Are we supposed to overlook the fact that Cat is supposedly immune to vamp glamour?)  Now, over a decade later, Gregor escapes custody and wants his bride back.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?  That’s what I thought too.  In fact, I started this book and got distracted by JR Ward and took my time coming back to it.  I do have to say though that it gets better.  By the middle of the book, my emotional investment into the characters was coming back.  By the time it got the scene where Bones leaves Cat, I felt like my heart was getting ripped out.  One thing that Frost does very well is capture the emotion in her characters and Destined For An Early Grave nails it, even if the plot didn’t.

Overall, I give Destined For An Early Grave

Plot – 1 bookmark (Beginning implausible, but some good stuff at the end if you can hold on for it.)
Character Development – 2 ½  bookmarks
Fight Scenes – 3 bookmarks
Love Story – 3 ½ bookmarks (Saved the book in my opinion.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Didn’t change since I reviewed the first book.  The cover model on the book (Cat) & David Anders (Bones).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Giveaway Winner

And the WINNER is... Judy Trinh!!!!  

Congrats, Judy.  Watch for SPIRIT BOUND in your mail next week.  Feel free to comment back and let me know how you liked it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: “The Bad Mother’s Handbook” by Kate Long

I’ve seen the movie multiple times and liked it, so I wasn’t in a hurry to read the book.  It turns out, the book really is better than the movie.  Go figure!

The Bad Mother’s Handbook chronicles a year in the life of a three generation house hold – daughter Charlotte, mother Karen and grandmother Nan.  It examines mother/daughter relationships in many different forms; teen moms, single moms, adopted moms, birth moms, etc.  On the flipside, it shows what it means to be a daughter.  Sounds sappy, I know, but honestly, this is a good book.  It can be realistic and funny, heartbreaking and joyous.  God, I sound like a flipping Hallmark commercial! 

I think what I liked best is the characterization.  These people are deeply flawed and kind of crazy, yet I can relate to them.  (What does that say about me?)  I especially loved Charlotte and her unlikely romance with a weirdo boy at school.  He was totally the guy I would have gone for, sweet and nerdy.  Grandmother, Nan, has dementia and health issues with stress Karen to the max.  You want to get angry with Karen for losing her temper all of the time, but if you put yourself in her position, she can sympathize with her situation.

Something American readers might have trouble with is the language.  This is a contemporary British fiction written in the vernacular of the working class.  I read a lot of Brit Lit, of I didn’t find it distracting, but there are those who might.  The point of view shifts can be distracting as well.  POV changes frequently and it takes a paragraph or so before you can figure out who is speaking.  It gets easier as the book goes on, but in the beginning, it inhibited the reading flow.

Overall, I give The Bad Mother’s Handbook

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Characters – 4 ½ bookmarks
Humor – 3 bookmarks
Love Story – 3 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – It’s probably no surprise that that I can only picture the movie cast, considering I’ve seen it like five times.  Karen (Catherine Tate), Nan (Anne Reid), Charlotte (Holly Grainger), Daniel (Rob Pattinson)

Review: “Spirit Bound” by Richelle Mead

You know a book is good when you sacrifice sleep to get to the ending.  I can always count on Richelle Mead to keep me up nights and Spirit Bound totally delivered!  This is the fifth book in the Vampire Academy series.  WARNING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!!!  I’ll do my best to hold back, but I can’t promise anything.

Rose and Lissa are on a mission to save find a way to turn Dimitri back into a Dhampir.  The problem is, everyone claims saving a Strigoi is impossible.  The only lead they have is Victor Dashkov, the sociopathic criminal currently serving a life sentence in a high security prison.  I’m not going to tell you what they did and what the results were, but I can say, I was on the edge of my seat all the way up to  the last sentence. 

With Spirit Bound, Richelle Mead becomes the Queen of the Cliffhangers!  The worse part of this book is knowing I have to wait until December to read the next one.  Seriously, Mead’s ending boarders on sadistic.  Don’t get me wrong, VA is one of my favorite series’ of all time and totally worth reading.  It is dark and emotional and violent.  The teenagers actually act like real teenagers – they break rules, sneak alcohol and have sex.  Mead doesn’t hold back and the results are amazing.  Spirit Bound does not disappoint! 

Overall, I give Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead…

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 3 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 4 ½ bookmarks (Even though Spirit Bound is heart wrenching…)
Fight Scenes – 4 ½ bookmarks (Rose kicks serious ass & even Lissa gets in on the action!)
Age Appropriateness – 4 bookmarks (Depends on the kid, but this series might be a little dark for tweens.  Anyone 13 or over should be fine.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Rose (Sophia Bush), Lissa (Emily de Ravin),   Dimitry (Ben Barnes), Christian (Michael Steeger), Adrian (Ed Westwick)

Friday, May 21, 2010

GIVEAWAY!!!!! Hardcover "Spirit Bound" by Richelle Mead

Update - contest extended until midnight Friday May 28th!!!!!

You Can Benefit From My Mistake!!!!

Okay, so in a moment of flakiness (or maybe overwhelmed with anticipation) I accidentally pre-ordered Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead twice off of Amazon.  Spirit Bound is the fifth book in the super amazing Vampire Academy series and one of the hottest new releases in the nation.  Even though it is frigging awesome, I really don’t need a duplicate hardcover copy taking up valuable real estate on my bookshelf.  What better way to make the most out of the situation than have a giveaway!!!! 

Here are the rules:

1.       Winner must be a resident of the US or Canada.  I’m not shipping this all over the world.
2.       You can enter up to four times in the following ways: 
·         Follow me on twitter
·         Re-Tweet to let others know about the giveaway. (Must @jesilea me to get credit.)
·         Follow my blog
·         Comment on this post.  You can tell me about your thoughts on the Vampire Academy series, sing praises for the genius of Richelle Mead, tell me what you are doing this weekend, whatever.  Just let me hear from you. 

PLEASE MAKE MY LIFE EASIER BY LETTING ME KNOW IN YOUR COMMENT POST HOW MANY TIMES YOU ENTERED.  I will be tracking, but I’m not infallible.  This will help to make the drawing fair.

Entries close on Sunday at midnight.  On Monday, May 24th, I will draw the winner.  Make sure I have a way to contact you, either on twitter or by email.  You may also check back, I will post.  

(By the way, I'm on chapter seventeen right now, and I'm dying to finish this post so I can resume reading!  Gotta run!!!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: “Dead In the Family” by Charlaine Harris

WARNING!  MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!!  Dead In the Family is Harris’s latest installment in the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series.  In this novel, Sookie, the vamps, the Weres and the fairies are recovering from the Fairy War.  Just when Sookie and Eric seem to be settling into a rhythm with their relationship, Eric’s maker and “brother” vampire come to town.  This is not good news.  On top of this, the politics for the Louisiana vamps and the whole shifter community are gearing up for a clash.  Oh, then there is the fresh dead body on Sookie’s land and a strange evil fairy lurking in her woods…

Don’t get me wrong, I love this series.  I have read it more than once, and I hardly ever re-read books.  I would have to say though that Dead In the Family felt like a bridge book between two bigger books, if that makes sense.  I noticed when I  hit page 260 (in a 311 page book), that I was still waiting for the plot to get going.  I guess that’s when I realized that all of this talking really was the plot.  It was weird.  Usually, I can count on my pulse to race several times while reading Charlaine Harris (either from the action packed plot or steamy Eric scenes), but I did get those feelings until I was in the final ten pages. 

Don’t get me wrong… I still love this series, and I will be waiting in line for the next installment, but I felt this was one of the weaker books of the series.  I do have to say that I liked certain developments in the characters.  It turns out that sexy cousin Claude actually does have a personality.  In a moment of feeling her age, Sookie contemplates turning vamp for the first time.  We also see the impenetrable Eric at his most vulnerable.  These are all necessary for the continuation of the series.  I just wish the pacing would have been a little stronger.

Overall, I give Dead In the Family

Plot Development – 2 bookmarks (not bad, but not what I’m used to with Harris)
Character Development – 4 bookmarks
Fight Scenes – 1 ½ bookmarks
Hot Steamy Vampire Sex – 1 bookmark 
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – I can’t help myself.  The TV series True Blood has wiped out all of the casting imagination I have and replaced it with the TV actors.  Part of the reason that happened though is because the TV casting was so brilliant.  Eric Northman is my favorite male in the series and Alexander Skarsgard has completely won me over with his Eric performance.  I’ve always thought Bill was a weenie, so the fact that I don’t find Stephen Moyer that hot does not detract from things for me.  Anna Paquin does a great job bringing camp and craziness to Sookie.  Oh, and Ryan Kwanten as Jason is so unbelievably hot.  (It’s also nice that he's agreed to save on the show’s wardrobe budget by going naked most of the time!)  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: “The Believers” by Zoe Heller

The Believers is a novel about political and religious ideals revolving around one screwed up family.  The parents, Audrey and Joel, are old school socialists who refuse to give up the fight.  When Joel has a stroke leaving him in a vegetative state, Audrey must deal with the secrets of his past.  Their three adult children are struggling for growth.  Rosa rebels against her family’s atheism by studying with a group of Hasidic Jews.  Karla, long time doormat for both her mother and her controlling husband, seeks to dig out from under their heels.  Lenny, a long time drug addict and slacker, works toward his recovery. 

While The Believers is a dark and slightly depressing book at times, the writing is beautiful and most of the characters are sympathetic.  (Audrey not so much.)  The political and religious themes interwoven throughout the novel are interesting and well researched.  However, I do think a reader needs to be in a certain type of mood for this book.  It is not a good time, fun read.  Rather, The Believers stimulates the intellect and makes you yearn for a hopeful ending for all of the deeply flawed characters. 

Overall, I give The Believers

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
Political & Religious Themes – 3 bookmarks
Literary Merit – 4 bookmarks
Entertainment Value – 1 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Margaret Atwood (Audrey), Jason Robards (Joel), Sara Rue (Karla), Jessica Biel (Rosa), Ethan Hawk (Lenny)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: “Lover Mine” by JR Ward

Those who know me are probably already aware of my complete obsession with JR Ward and The Black Dagger Brotherhood.  Kick-ass vampires, huge Alpha males, tough & intelligent heroines… what’s not to love, right?  But what I have come to appreciate from a writer’s standpoint is how brilliant these books are constructed. 

Briefly, the series revolves around the members of The Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of warrior vampires charged with protecting their race against the evil slayers called the Lessers.  Each book revolves around a different member of the brotherhood.  While it is possible to read the books out of order, I strongly recommend taking them in order.  The first book does a lot of setting up the world, but stick with it.  By books two and three you will be hooked. 

Lover Mine focuses on John Matthew and Xhex.  (I’m not giving any of the plot away, so forgive me for speaking in more general terms.)  In the previous book, Xhex was captured by the evil, Lash.  Lover Mine tells the story of Xhex’s kidnapping and the fallout for both her and John Matthew.  It also explains John Matthew’s “Darius history,” and why he is so drawn to Xhex.  What makes their love story so cool is that Xhex is every bit a warrior as John Matthew.  The fight scenes where they both don their leathers and go into battle side-by-side are amazing.  Even though Xhex is as tough as any of the Brothers, Ward never lets you forget that she is a woman.  Because of this, she might possibly be my favorite female character in the series. 

In the previous BDB books, John Matthew and Xhex have played prominent roles, which have opened up many questions about their histories.  Lover Mine satisfies all of those questions by tying up a web of plotlines.  These plotlines, all told in multiple points of view that show exactly how genius Ward is as a writer.  This world she has created truly feels like a real parallel universe.  The characters go on living after the last page of the book.  I don’t know of another series which is able to do this so well.  Ward also has perfect timing.  She is able to keep the reader poised on the edge of their seat.  Each chapter seems to end on a cliffhanger, and you just have to keep reading.  If it wasn’t so fun, it would truly be maddening! 

I can’t recommend this series enough.  Men would like it as much as women!  And Lover Mine was worth my waiting for.

Overall, I give Lover Mine by JR Ward…

Plot – 5 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks
Fight Scenes – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – A young Carrie-Anne Moss (Xhex), Chad-Michael Murray (John Matthew), Tom Felton (Lash)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: “Laid Bare” by Lauren Dane

Okay, so this is now the third book I have read by the fabulous Ms. Lauren Dane.  Who knew erotic romance could be so addictive? 

Laid Bare is a fascinating story about an unconventional three-way love affair.  The story begins with a true “opposites attract” hookup between police officer and country boy, Todd Keenan, and the rocker-chick next door, Erin Brown.  They have a hot couple of months, but Todd is frightened off by Erin’s unconventional lifestyle and the desires she evokes from him. 

Ten years later, Erin and Todd meet up again, and the spark still burns.  Since their separation, Todd had his conventional marriage and it failed.  Erin and her band had achieved success, but at the height of her fame she had been struck a devastating blow which left her crippled emotionally.  A decade older, Erin & Todd are finally able to create a relationship based on more than sex.  Things are going along beautifully, until Todd’s best friend, Ben, ends up in their bed.  Ben adds a whole new dimension to the relationship, one that no one wants to let go. 

I found the logistics of the situation to be the most interesting part.  Do these things really happen?  I mean, I know ménage a tios happens, but I find the idea of an actual three party, loving, long-term relationship incredible.  I’m not sure how it can really work in the long run.  What happens when they start wanting children?  Okay, I know, I know… it’s a fantasy.  But these are the questions that the book left me dying to know more about.  I think Ms. Dane did a wonderful job with making this threesome about love, and not just about the physical.  By having the characters be normal and relatable, you could almost envision them living next door to you. 

The tragedy in Erin’s past rears its ugly head frequently throughout the story.  I won’t say too much about it, because that would be giving too much away.  Let’s just say that her past provides another motivation for keeping two hunky, protective men around.  It truly was heartbreaking. 

Lastly, I liked how the author included the “coming out” of the characters to their families and the family reaction to the threesome.  Not everyone was comfortable with the arrangement, but many accepted it.  I liked that the relationship did not need to be kept hidden behind a blanket of lies. 

Overall, I give Laid Bare by Lauren Dane…
Plot – 2 ½ bookmarks
Compelling Characters – 3 bookmarks
Wicked Kinky Sex Scenes – 12 bookmarks (Hello!)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Pink (Erin Brown), Billy Miller (Todd Kennan), Colin Farrell (Ben)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review: “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde

I realize I’ve been reading a lot of fluff lately. I can always tell I’m doing it when my brain starts to feel like its starving. So, I thought I would insert one of my favorite classics of all time in order to break up the paranormal YA stuff. Wilde is one of my favorite writers of all time, and Dorian Gray ranks up there with my favorite books. However, if a reader is looking for the light-hearted humor of The Importance of Being Earnest, they will not find it in this novel.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a Gothic horror novel which explores the themes of decadence, vanity and unrestrained pleasures. Dorian Gray is an incredibly handsome and frequently-fawned-over young man. Artist, Basil Harwood, paints a stunning portrait of Dorian which draws the admiration of Lord Wotton. As the three men are admiring it, Dorian says he would give anything for the portrait to age instead of him.

It isn’t long before Dorian begins to notice minute changes in the portrait, a cruel twist of the lips, evidence of his debauchery lining the eyes. It becomes apparent that Dorian is getting his wish – the painting is aging instead of him. As the novel progresses, Dorian slowly becomes a monster inside, ruled by vanity and pleasures, but it is the figure in the painting which shows the physical evidence of Dorian’s cruelty.

This novel might have been written in Victorian England, but it still resonates today. It shows obsession with youth and beauty is destructive and dangerous. It affects not only Dorian himself, but also his admirers. Harwood and Lord Wotton compete over Dorian’s attentions and seem to be in love with him. Their obsessions deteriorate their relationships with the women in their lives. There are homosexual undertones throughout the novel, but they are not explored. If I remember correctly, these passages were entered into evidence at Oscar Wilde’s sodomy trial, where he was eventually convicted.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is different from Wilde’s other works; yet, he stays true to himself. Wilde’s comedic plays display is humor and biting wit. He was famous for poking fun at the aristocracy and their frivolities. Dorian Gray is dark and disturbing, yet holds true to Wilde’s social criticisms of the day.

Overall, I give The Picture of Dorian Gray

Plot – 3 ½ bookmarks (There are a few places where it slows down…)

Compelling Characters – 4 bookmarks

Social Commentary – 5 bookmarks

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Let me just say, I have not seen the recent movie made of this book. My casting goes purely off my imagination. Robert Pattinson (Dorian. He is the definition of male beauty for me, and he's capable of portraying cruelty brilliantly!), Colin Firth (Basil Harwood), Samuel West (Lord Wotton).

Review: “Bite Me” by Parker Blue

Did ya’ll know Amazon offers free e-books? I loaded Kindle onto my PC and this was the first free book I downloaded. Bite Me is a paranormal YA novel, the first in a series, about Val Shapiro, an 18 year old vampire slayer. Val is part human, part succubus. She hunts vamps who harm humans as a way to keep her inner-demon subdued. While cleaning up one of her kills one night, she is approached by a young cop, Dan Sullivan. Dan is a detective in the Special Crimes Unit, which investigates paranormal crimes. Sullivan witnessed her vamp killing talents, and helps her to obtain a position on the force as his new partner. Together, they work to uncover a predatorial vampire ring who is terrorizing the city.

I really enjoyed the way this book bridged the gap between YA and adult novels. Val is 18 years old, but mature for her age. Her family has treated her awful because of her demon blood and kicked her out of the house on her birthday. She jumps feet first into adulthood by getting a job right away with the police department. Because of her job and slayer skills, Val seems like an adult, but every once in a while, the author reminds us of her vulnerability which comes from a lack of experience. Like a lot of teens, Val suffers from insecurities and self-doubts. She has been taught to repress her inner-demon, but this has starved it and made it more dangerous. She begins to have feelings for her partner, Sullivan, but keeps her distance for fear of hurting him.

What this book missed the mark on was the chemistry between Val & Sullivan. Like it or not, one thing Stephanie Meyer got right in Twilight was making holding back your lust sexy. This was attempted a couple of times in Bite Me, but with lukewarm results. Sullivan’s reaction to Val’s succubus came off more whiney than tortured. I kind of wanted to hit him.

Speaking of wanting to hit characters! Every one of Val’s family members, starting with her mother, should have been fed to the vamps. The way they behave is much more than character flaws; they were obnoxious! Why she continued to love and protect them was beyond me. In my eyes, Sullivan redeemed himself when he told off the mother.

Last but certainly not least, a review of this book would not be complete without a shout-out to the best sidekick ever – Fang. Fang is part terrier and part hellhound. He attaches himself to Val when she is down and out. His ability to communicate telepathically with her provides for some seriously funny moments. The little dog shows he has a big heart, loads of courage and lots of attitude! I don’t even like dogs, and even I wanted to take him home with me.

Overall, I give Bite Me by Parker Blue…

Plot – 3 bookmarks

Compelling Characters – 3 bookmarks (I hope future installments will develop Sullivan a bit more)

Age Appropriateness – 4 bookmarks (Since I think this is an older teen book, it is fine. Parents of tweens might not be comfortable with the lust demon parts.)

Fight Scenes – 2 bookmarks

Love Story – 2 bookmarks

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Hayley Williams from Paramore (Val Shapiro), Rudolf Martin (the vamp Alejandro), Undecided on Dan Sullivan. I have a person in my head, but not anyone famous.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: “My Soul To Lose” by Rachel Vincent

My Soul To Lose is a prequel novella designed as an introduction to Rachel Vincent’s Young Adult series, Soul Screamers. It is about Kaylee Cavanaugh, a high school student who sees shadow visions so frightening that they send her into debilitating panic attacks. When one of these attacks strike her in the local Sears store, Kaylee is restrained by security guards and rushed to the hospital. She awakens to find herself in the psychiatric ward. I don’t want to say too much here, because it is a short book and I don’t want to give too much away.

This novella does a nice job introducing readers to Kaylee and her strange condition. By leaving the ending somewhat open, she left me wanting to read more (which is kind of the whole point to a prequel). This is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Vincent, and I’m impressed. Her characters are real teenagers, not perfect little “Bella Swans.” Her characters were interesting, but relatable. Her descriptions of Kaylee’s panic attacks were terrifying and make the pulse race. This series might be a good one for those Twi-hards who are looking for something new to read.
 Overall, I give My Soul To Lose…

Character Development – 3 bookmarks

Compelling Plot – 3 bookmarks (Lots of open-ended questions, but I’m sure those will be addressed in future installments.)

Age Appropriateness – 4 bookmarks (Light profanity, but if your kid can’t handle the word “shit” they have larger problems. The story might be a little bit scary for younger adolescents though.)

Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Kristen Stewart (Kaylee – Sorry, must have had Bella on the brain.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: “The Truth About Lord Stoneville” by Sabrina Jefferies

In all fairness to the author, I feel I must disclose up front that A. I only read this book, because I got it free at RT and B. this is not my sort of genre. This is a true “bodice ripper.” I was desperate one night while in Ohio, and this was the only book that I didn’t have to run out to the car for. So, please forgive me if I’m a little harsh.

The Truth About Lord Stoneville is the first in a series about five un-married siblings living in a three hundred room mansion in England. The time period is late 1700’s. The siblings’ grandmother is tired of her grandchildren behaving scandalously, and she wants them to settle down and produce heirs. In order to force her grandchildren into doing what she wants, the grandmother vows to cut them off financially and disinherit them unless they marry within one year. The oldest sibling, Lord Stoneville tries to call his grandmother’s bluff by finding the most unsuitable woman he can to pose as his fiancé in the hopes his grandmother will relent. His plan backfires when the grandmother does not budge and he ends up falling in love with his pretend fiancé, Maria.

Let me start with the novel’s good points. I like the concept. I can see how a five book series, each highlighting one of the siblings on their journey to the altar, will work. I also like the characters – each strong-willed and bucking the yoke of societal custom in their various ways.

Now, for the things that I thought could have been improved. It seemed to me that the voice was off. The book read like a contemporary American story, not a historical English one. I’m not saying the author should have written the accents in, that would have been annoying, but the tone and voice of the narration needed to be more authentic. I also did not find the sex scenes to be believable. A virginal maiden who is engaged to someone else is not going to allow a stranger to finger-bang her in his coach while riding through town. She was just too easy and convenient. It would have been sexier if we saw more of her inner struggle and his persuasion techniques. It is not enough for him to be hot looking.

Overall, I give The Truth About Lord Stoneville

Compelling Plot – 2 bookmarks

Character Development – 2 bookmarks (hero was better than heroine)

Sex Scenes – 1 bookmark

Historical Accuracy/Setting – 1 bookmark

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Sienna Miller (Maria), One of the creepy Fabios from RT (Lord Stoneville)

Likeliness that I will re-read the book – None. I gave the book away the day I finished it. For those of you who are familiar with my book hoarding, you will appreciate the significance of me giving a book away.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: Romantic Times Booklovers Convention

Well, I just returned from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Since this was my first RT, I thought I would review it for anyone who might be interested in attending in the future.

First, a little background. RT booklovers Convention is designed for booklovers of all types. (Readers, aspiring authors, published authors, booksellers, etc.) The genre’s represented extend beyond Harlequin “bodice rippers” to include young adult, paranormal romance, historical romance, sci-fi romance and urban fantasy. Programs run from practical information on the publishing business and writing craft to fun programs such as “Vamps, Tramps & Skeeves.” Published authors, agents, editors and other industry experts are on hand for questions and advice. Saturday is largely made up of a giant book fair where the authors are available to sign their books. While most in attendance leave after the book fair, Social Sunday is an informal day of games and hanging out with authors.

Perhaps the biggest attraction for me (and the reason I endured the nine hour drive to Ohio) is the ability to meet one-on-one with agents and editors to pitch you manuscript. For those of us not living in New York, this is a priceless opportunity. Going to RT, I knew that my manuscript would not fit into the niche these people were looking for. It’s not a romance, after all. However, with networking, sometimes you have to take chances. You never know who you might meet. While one editor might be focused on erotic S&M novellas, another editor in their company might be looking for women’s fiction. I ended up pitching to four editors. Two were interested and asked for my manuscript to be emailed to them. One only handled erotic romance, but otherwise liked my ideas. The fourth one gave me the best rejection ever! Her company only handles hot & heavy romance, but she asked to look at my sample chapters anyway. After complimenting it and quoting passages that she liked for several minutes, she invited me to a party. She said she I would be a NY bestselling author one day and she wanted to be able to say she hung out with me before I was famous. (Yes, my heart pounded out of my chest!)

The other major highlight of the convention was the opportunity to meet my favorite authors. While I don’t read romance, I do read a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal novels. Forgive me while I name drop, but I have to tell you who I met: JR Ward, Charlaine Harris, Richelle Mead, Lauren Dane, Jeaniene Frost, Heather Brewer, Heather Graham, Mary Janice Davidson, Jessica Anderson, and about a million more. Multiple Author-Gasms!!!!! I found it interesting that many of the longest lines at the book signing were for authors of Vamp books. Yes, I spent too much money at the book fair, but I accumulated a lot of free books too. (Another benefit of the convention.) I actually had the opportunity to sit with the fabulous Lauren Dane at lunch on my first day and talk to her several times after that. She turned out to be incredibly nice. She even agreed to join in remotely for my June book club when we will be reading her book “Relentless.” I also got an impromptu psychic reading from author Jade Lee!

For those who might be interested, the Mr. Romance competition is also held at RT. That meant the place was crawling with creepy, over-developed, hunks of fake tanned men. For those inclined, they would pose for photos with you. (They were not my type at all. I like skinny and pale book-nerds. Oh, Rob Pattinson…) I stayed away from The Fabios as much as possible. However, on Saturday I walked into a room to see one of them doing a photoshoot with fifty fat, middle-aged, horny women staring on. They whole thing made me feel dirty and I left fairly quickly.

Each evening, there were parties and dances. I only attended the Vampire Ball (Fabulous costumes!) and the Twilight party. Both were great fun. If I had stayed at the hotel where the convention was held, I probably would have attended all of the parties. Great way to network!

Overall, I give the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention:

Value for the Price – 4 bookmarks

Convention Venue – 2 bookmarks (Rooms nice, but lack of bathrooms)

Book Fair – 2 bookmarks (Lots of authors there, but ran out of merchandise early on the books in demand)

Ability to Induce Author-Gasms – 4 ½ bookmarks

Networking Ability – 4 ½ bookmarks

The Fabios – Negative 3 bookmarks. I just found them fake and creepy.

Likelihood that I will go to RT again – 3 bookmarks. Next year, RT will be in LA. I don’t think I could afford that. I had a lot of fun though, and would love to take my friend Tori. I guess whether there is another RT in my future will depend on finances and location.