Monday, June 24, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Panster versus Planner

What kind of person are you? By that, I mean, are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person (hence, "pantser") or are you a plan-it-down-to-the-last-detail person?

In life, I try to be a planner. I like knowing where I'm going, what I'm doing, and the most efficient way to get it done. I feel less stress when I understand exactly how it's going to go, or at the very least how it will end up (whatever "it" is). 

In writing, I am a 100% pantser. I did try to outline a book. It was fun - I got to tell the story in my head at that moment, and I made it to the end of the outline very quickly. Five pages of scene-by-scene detail - writing from it should've been a breeze. But, when I sat down to write it just the way I'd laid it out, I realized that the dialogue and tension I'd built and continued to build in my characters wouldn't follow the outline. Instead, I took a journey so far away from the path laid that I actually laughed when I finished the book. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday's Wisdom: Beach Season. Sigh.

Ah, summer...Beach season. My second least-favorite season.

I know, I know - but the beach! The sun! The warmth!

It's just not for me. The idea of going to the beach is great - lounging on a chaise, or a towel, basking in the glow of the sun, skin turning a golden bronze while glistening with just a touch of seawater. Hair fanned out in glorious waves, sunglasses on, and just the sound of you, the seagulls, the waves, and - occasionally - the sounds of children's laughter wafting by on a perfect breeze that cools you down just enough to make you comfortable.

The reality, as we ALL know, is so very, very different.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: Less Than a Gentleman by Kerrelyn Sparks

Title: Less Than a Gentleman
Author: Kerrelyn Sparks
Publisher: Avon, HarperCollins imprint
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Where to Buy: AmazonBarnes and Noble
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Less Than a Gentleman

From the book:

In this never-before-published historical romance, New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks returns to the 18th century, where the fight for freedom is as dangerous as the fight for love.

Between searching for the missing Munro sisters and South Carolina being all but lost to the British, Captain Matthias Thomas has more important things to worry about than finding a bride. But his mother has other ideas. When Matthias finds a beautiful woman in his bed who claims to be his betrothed, he is suspicious of her identity … and determined to discover the truth.
Caroline Munro had few options. The British burned down her home, and now, traveling with her very pregnant sister, Caroline is pretending to be someone she’s not so they can have a safe place to rest. But she didn’t count on a matchmaking matron or her rogue of a son … and certainly never dreamed she would fall in love with a spy.

My review:

Kerrelyn Sparks has veered out of her usual genre to write LESS THAN A GENTLEMAN, a romance novel set in Colonial America during the Revolutionary War.

Personal disclaimers: I've steered clear of Kerrelyn Sparks only because of her usual genre - vampires. (I'm not a vampire story kind of girl.) I've never before read her, although I'm well-acquainted with her name on book shelves. When I was given this book, I was hesitant, but when I read the cover copy ("From the book," above), I was intrigued. I've never read a Revolutionary War romance novel; truthfully, they aren't usually on the forefront of bookstore shelves or in blog reviews that I've seen.

The story starts out fast, and continues that way throughout the novel. There's action - a lot of it - because the hero, Matthias, is fighting the Brits from the bogs of South Carolina. Sparks doesn't linger on the bloody scenes, but each time there is death (and there's a lot of it, much more than a typical romance novel), we're reminded how brutal a time it was. Rather than detract from the romance, these reminders actually helped me to believe these two characters could quickly fall in love - time was short and it was important

Matthias is a complex hero, whose sense of honor is only trumped by the need to protect those he loves (including his mother - his relationship with her is one of the best mother-son ones I've ever come across in a novel). He's respectful, he's funny, and he's realistic. 

Caroline is also one of the most realistic heroines I've come across in historical fiction. She's someone I'd want as a friend - determined, loyal, and fiercely protective of the ones she loves. She has extreme guilt about lying to the lady of the house (Jame Thomas, Matthias's mother) about her identity, and you can really feel it. But, you also understand why she's lying; Caroline is traveling with her very pregnant sister, and her niece and nephew. Protecting them comes before the truth.

I won't go into the plot very much, but I must say this was a well thought-out book. It was intriguing, it was smart, and it was exceptionally well-written. The characters stayed true to the time period without becoming overbearing; the descriptions of the redcoat/Colonial interactions kept pace with the plot and didn't wander into overly-historical territory. It's clear that Sparks researched the time period and the war, yet knew enough to include only those realistic details that would add to her story instead of overwhelm it. 

The best thing about this book is that Sparks simply expected that I, the reader, am intelligent. This isn't a typical historical romance novel - it's a tribute to the type of men that lived and died for their country, and the women who dared to love them. Fantastic read - I strongly suggest it. (Especially if you've never read a Revolutionary War romance novel before!)

Disclaimer: I was provided an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of this novel by the publisher in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. ARC received from Edelweiss, for download to my Kindle.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I received a pretty fantastic gift from my sister for my birthday last month. It's cringe-worthy yet hysterical, inspiring yet horrifying.

It's....Magnetic Poetry.

Now, it's not just any Magnetic Poetry set. Sure, there are the typical words, such as his, her, the, a, is, have. But with this set, there's so, so much more. For example...

Yeah, you read that right. "His body intertwined with her uncharted continent, but he secretly longed for his mistress."


(I'm giggling like a schoolgirl.)

So, random romance novel, er, poetry (for lack of a better word) will be showing up here and there, at random. 

Oh, don't thank me. Thank my sister. :)

(Wand of pleasure? Really?! Fantastic...
And I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of these!)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So....I was chosen as an Avon Addict!

I am very excited to announce that I'm one of the newest members of Avon's "Avon Addicts," which is a group of super-readers chosen by the good folks over at Avon (HarperCollins imprint for romance novels).

I was one of 25 people chosen out the hundreds of applicants. This means that not only will I be reviewing new books, but I may have some author interviews and swag/books for giveaways! That's awesome news for all you romance lovers out there!

I'm honored to be a part of this group, which includes dedicated readers, editors, and publishing professionals. The reviews I'll be posting on a weekly basis will be up here on my blog, on Goodreads, on the book's page at Amazon, BN, and anywhere I else I can get a posting up. I hope these reviews will help you to spend your book dollars wisely.

I can't wait for my first shipment to arrive - this is truly a book lover's (specifically a romance book lover's) dream come true!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A new season, a new book...

This new book I've got percolating in my head (and that I've started getting down on paper) is about a Boston catering professional and the son of a New England farmer - a farm boy with a city edge...and a one-night stand that may end up as a happily-ever-after, if the two of them could just stop arguing long enough for nature to take its course!

The caterer, Julia Emerson, has these three best friends - Gina, a down-to-earth lingerie model (she's pretty awesome), Rachel, an ASPCA worker who can't help but rescue every animal she can, and Hayley, a schoolteacher at a local prep school who is calm and rational (until her friends get her liquored up). Don't they sound fun? Well, they are. They talk so fast to each other that I can barely keep up on the keyboard!

Here's one of their many conversations. This was one of their rapid-fire conversations - keeping up with them is a challenge, but I admit that it's the most fun I've had with characters in awhile. In this part-of-a-scene, they're leaving their after-dinner drink establishment and walking down Newbury St in Boston.


"I am going to set you up," Gina announced.

"Oh God, no," the three of us chimed.

I took the lead. "No, G, really. That's a bad idea. I don't want to date a model. No offense. I've decided I want to marry Rach."

"Me?" Rachel looked inordinately pleased.

"Definitely. You clean, I cook. You take me to animal society events, and I make crème brûlée for you to eat late at night."

"Keep talking, Emerson," Rachel encouraged as we gathered up our belongings and headed out. "I'm halfway in love with you already."

"What about the sex?" Gina asked, completely ignoring the myriad amounts of drool she elicited from the various men we passed. I loved that about her.

"No sex," I said simply. "Too much drama when you add sex into it."

"My answer is yes," Rachel informed me. "Hey, we're engaged!" she yelled to a passer-by. He gave her the double thumbs-up, and we linked arms triumphantly.

"It's true that I'd totally choose you for my wife," I informed Rachel, considering, "but maybe I'd need Gina for sex on the side."

"What about me?" Hayley exclaimed. "And you just said no sex!"

"I reconsidered," I replied matter-of-factly.

"We'd be closet lovers, Hale," Rachel said, linking her other arm with Hayley. "You'd have a hard time coming out because of society's standards, but I still support you."


Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review - Geoducks are for Lovers by Daisy Prescott

TITLE:      GEODUCKS ARE FOR LOVERS by Daisy Prescott 
AUTHOR:  Daisy Prescott
STARS:     4 out of 5
BUY IT:    Amazon: $2.99 ebook, or $14.99 print

I came across this title before it was released. I began conversing with the author on Twitter (@Daisy_Prescott) via someone I'd met at the RWA New England Chapter's conference (Traci O. at Omnific Publishing, a cool indie publisher, check them out). Daisy proved to be funny, poignant and outrageously clever in 140 characters or less. I was intrigued...and then she posted her cover:
Copyright Daisy Prescott

There was something about this cover that struck me. The rocks - I'd never seen such rocks before. And I knew there had to be some significance in that there were four of them...It's a beautiful cover. As I read hundreds of books every year, I made it a rule not to purchase a book based solely on the cover...however, once I saw this cover, I knew I had to read it. (Yeah, broke my own rule, blah blah blah...)

Breaking that rule was worth it.

Forty-something Maggie Marrion is finally settled into her life on Whidbey Island in the Pacific Northwest after a couple of really bad years. An upcoming college reunion - her 20th - inspires her to invite her four closest friends out to the island for a re-union catch-up. These friends - Quinn, a fabulously gay artist; Selah, a sexy part-time erotica novelist; and Jo and Ben, the college couple who married and live (on the surface) a perfect life - 2 kids, great home, nice cars, picket fence - all agree to come up to her beach-side cabin for a fun- and memory-filled weekend.

Quinn and Selah, however, plan a surprise for Maggie, throwing a wrench in her otherwise uneventful plans for the weekend. Gil, her college love, is coming on the ferry with Selah. Gil and Maggie never fully fell out of love with each other, even though they both married (and divorced) other people, and have carved out careers and lives without the other.

When I opened the novel, I immediately realized two things: One, it starts with a definition of geoduck. Two, the book is written entirely in the present tense.

I appreciated the definition (I'd never heard of a geoduck, which is the world's largest burrowing clam), and it immediately made me wonder what a clam like that had to do with a story about 40-somethings. Geoducks look like...well, you can draw your own conclusions:
Copyright Dan Rothaus


So what do these giant clams have to do with the rocks on the front cover, and 40-somethings during a weekend reunion at the beach?

This is what drew me - take three seemingly related things (rocks on a beach, suggestive seafood, and a weekend beach retreat) and blow them into something more

First, it must be said that there are great descriptions of the island that don't slow the reader (I loved going for island runs with these characters, it almost made me go for a real run...ha), and snappy, witty dialogue that makes me feel as though I stood in the kitchen, eating blueberry scones with the characters. 

Maggie is confronted with her feelings for Gil in ways she really never expected to face. She's a strong woman with her own happy, comfortable life. She's not lonely, she's not depressed, and she's not bogged down by feelings of guilt over her mother's passing (all of which are typical for story-starters in many books, we all know that). Prescott doesn't lead with any of those - she expects the reader to be smart enough to realize that while these things shaped Maggie, they aren't the whole picture. Maggie believes these things of herself, too - and is perfectly happy with her life.

Refreshing to come across a character who isn't overly dramatic about past happening, isn't it?! I thought so.

Enter Quinn - I want him to be my best friend. He really loves Maggie - it's obvious from their dialogue and shared history that he will do and has done anything and everything for her - and the feeling is mutual. I love this guy - he's fabulously gay, but not stereo-typically gay (a tough feat to pull off, and Prescott does it with aplomb and humor). 

Selah came off as a bit too nosy - she brings Gil without asking Maggie, which at first made me question what her deal the story progressed, I understood that Selah wants only the best for her two friends, but I found her to be a bit too snobby for my liking. 

Jo and Ben rounded out the crew, and they didn't make too many appearances, giving me the feeling that they were there to show the "other side" of life - the marriage, the money, the family. I appreciated that they were in the story - it would've felt too machinated if they weren't (an entire group of friends who were either never married or divorced seems maybe unrealistic). Ben was a workaholic by design - he worries about keeping his job, bringing a dose of reality to the weekend - and Jo is a very relatable character in that she loves her life but sometimes just needs a break from the kids and being a housewife. She doesn't complain, but she gets her point across - just because it seems perfect rarely means it is.

It's clear from the moment we meet Gil that he still has deep feelings for Maggie (who hides from them at every turn). He's patient, and kind, and almost annoyingly perfect in his understanding of Maggie. He really would be annoying...but Prescott gives the distinct impression that Gil wouldn't be this way for anyone but Maggie, because he knows her. This is a definite case of a man who knows what he wants, knows what she wants, and isn't afraid to let nature take its course (with a few pushes from friends, and the help of Nutella s'mores). 

I'm not going to give anything else away, but let's just say that Maggie must determine if she is content to stay as she is (in her bubble, on her island), or if there might be more to life than what she thought. Her journey is a fascinating one that gives us that hopeful feeling that happiness can be attained in more ways than one, and love is not just for the younger, 20-30 year-old crowd.

So, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and I highly suggest you read it. It's not an in-your-face romance novel, nor is it a piece of literature that will demand super-deep thought processes. It's a wonderful blend of romance, hope, friendship and great writing that will draw you in and hold you tight until the last word on the page.

From the back cover: 
Food writer Maggie Marrion is just getting back on her feet after  a horrible year, or two, or three. With their twentieth reunion approaching, she invites four of her closest friends from college for a weekend at her beach cabin on Whidbey Island. What she doesn't expect is her best friends, artist Quinn Dayton and part-time erotica novelist, Selah Elmore, to play matchmaker. The two plot a surprise that will make the weekend, and her life, a lot more interesting.
Gil Morrow, former grunge musician turned history professor, joins them as Selah's date for the weekend. After coming face to face with the one who got away, he decides he's waited long enough to get the girl. With the support of old friends, a few wishing rocks, the world's largest burrowing clam, and a hot lumberjack thrown into the mix, Gil reminds Maggie that forty-something isn't too old for second chances. 

Comments welcome - let's discuss Geoducks are for Lovers! Post below :)