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Archive for May, 2012

Woo Hoo – it IS Monday – and the release date for Lillian Grant’s latest fabulous crazy-laugh-out-loud novel, Male Review. Believe me, it’s the perfect tonic for a dull Monday 🙂

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The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman Trilogy)

Intense? Yes.  Unputdownable? Definitely.

Reading a book of this magnitude demands its pound of flesh. In one of my status updates, I described it as an Emotional Vampire – it squeezed every single emotion out of me, wringing me dry.

It was like reading The Mistress of Rome all over again… I was on the edge of my seat most of the time as it all came together. And I cried. Twice. Several times I was too scared to read on… but I kept going for one of the best reads of the decade. Yes, it was THAT good.

The basic premise.

Leningrad in 1941 just as the Soviet Union goes to war with Germany. Tatiana is an innocent and sheltered girl who meets a handsome soldier (Alexander) while out shopping for her parents. She’s sitting in the sunshine eating an ice cream, completely oblivious to the world rushing around her and Alexander sees her… can’t take his eyes off her. He follows her onto the bus and she’s so flustered she forgets to get off.

Tatiana finally looked to her right, and there he was, smiling cheerfully at her. He had perfect white teeth – unusual for a Russian. She couldn’t help but smile back. Relief must have shown in her face. Relief and apprehension and anxiety; all that, and something else too.

Grinning, the soldier said, “All right, I give up. Where are you going?”

They have an instant connection. After spending a few hours together he helps her with the shopping (taking her to the Officers store for her goods).

Tatiana watched Alexander walk beyond the iron gate across a courtyard, salute a tall officer, then stop and chat briefly to a cluster of smoking soldiers, breaking into a laugh and striding off. Nothing distinguished Alexander from the others, except that he was taller than anyone else and had darker hair and whiter teeth, broader shoulders and a wider stride. Nothing but that he was vivid and they were muted.

Hw walks her home, Tatiana all excited and happy – and then she discovers that Alexander is the boy her sister recently met and fell in love with.

“You know Dasha…?” but then broke off in the middle of the question, seeing realization and conscience and unhappiness strike his mute, comprehending face.

Tatiana looked at Dasha, then back to Alexander. She felt herself paling from the inside out. Oh no, she wanted to say. Oh no, how can this be?

Her sister, Dasha, means the world to her and claims to be so in love with Alexander. However, he doesn’t feel the same and after seeing Tatiana again (meeting her at work and walking her home, several times), he wants to break off with Dasha, but Tatiana won’t let him. She feels responsible for her sister’s happiness.

What she wanted to say to Dasha was, you’ve had plenty. You can get yourself a new one any time you want. You’re charming and bright and beautiful, and everybody likes you. But I want him for myself.

What she wanted to say was, but what if he likes me best?

The basic triangle is in place, but then it gets more complicated. Alexander has a HUGE secret that he tells Tatiana – he was born an American – and if the Russian secret police find out, he’ll be executed as a spy.

“Tatiana,” he whispered, leaning close to her ear, “we are followed, always, everywhere. The day might come when someone will jump out at you from a secret door, and then you will be presented to someone behind a desk, and he will want to know what Alexander Belov spoke to you about on your walks home.”

The only other person that knows is his one-time friend Dimitri, who is slowly and steadily blackmailing him. Dmitri decides he wants Tatiana and it becomes impossible.

“Tell me about Dimitri, Shura,” she said quietly. “What do you owe him?”

Add in the war and the siege of Leningrad (freezing weather, food shortages, family dying) and you have a complex and highly emotional story that begs to be read. It reduced me to helpless tears several times.

“It’s all right,” Alexander said, taking off his coat. “There’s some stew.”

Coughs. Averted eyes.

Alexander didn’t understand. He turned to Dasha. “I brought you soybeans. Dasha? You said you were making stew.”

“We did, Alexander,” said Dasha sheepishly. “But there was so little. We ate it.”

“You ate it and you didn’t leave her any?”

For a long time Tatiana and Alexander have to sustain their growing secret love with no more than a few words and touches, longing looks and covert walks.

He was crouching as he rummaged through his rucksack. She watched Alexander in profile, his bare muscled arms, his soldier’s body, his spiky wet black hair, a cigarette in the corner of his lips – Tatiana’s breath was taken away from her, he looked so beautiful.

You ache for them to be together and for everything to be out in the open. If you like unrequited love, you will ADORE this.

It was a warm night; her bare arms twice touched the rough material of his army shirt.

“This is the best time, Tatiana,” Alexander said. “Do you want to know why?”

“Please don’t tell me.”

“There will never be a time like this again. Never this simple, uncomplicated.”

Their romance is one of the best I’ve ever read, if not THE best. Lies and betrayal, fear of the secret police, fear of Alexander dying in the war and the constant risks they take to spend time together wrap this into an unforgettable read.

 

The only thing Tatiana could do was stand several hundred metres away from the archway that led to Pavlov Barracks and watch smoking, laughing soldiers filtering out.

She stood for half an hour. Then she went back to the hospital, thinking, not bombs nor my broken heart can take away from me walking barefoot with you in jasmine June through the Field of Mars.

Be warned. It does NOT have a happy ending.

Alexander and Tatiana sat a long time with their wet, cold faces pressed against each other, his arms around her, her hands cradling his head, while the wind blew the last, dead leaves off the trees, while the sky was a leaky November gray.

I would have been distraught had I not looked ahead to the blurb for the next one (it’s a trilogy). I finished reading this at 1 in the morning and seriously considered getting up and downloading the next in the series… sanity prevailed. I waited until I woke up at 5:30 and downloaded it then J

It’s a rare book that I exceed my 5-star top-rating for, but this is one of them. 6 stars.

The second picks up where the first finished, but with wrenching flashbacks to Alexander’s youth and how he ended up in Russia. The emotional rollercoaster continues…. J

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Woo Hoo! Not only is my favourite Rock-Star-Writer working on a BRAND NEW SERIES, but she’s self-pubbing and they will be available soon!!!
There IS a God * giant smile *
Please hurry up Olivia, I can’t wait * grin *

Olivia Cunning's Blog

Sole Regret is a fictional five-member metal band originally from Austin, Texas. They’re on tour and being as naughty as they want to be.

I don’t want to give away too much about the characters—I think it’s better that you learn about them as you read their stories—but I will share their inspiration.

In the first story, Try Me, the drummer, Gabe, meets a woman who insists she isn’t attracted to bad boys with tattoos. She quickly changes her mind. And who can blame her? The real hottie who inspired Gabe’s look?

 

Rich Luzzi  (I was drooling over him last week for a reason…)

The inspiration for the rhythm guitarist, Kelly…

Anthony Kiedis (the long-haired version).

The inspiration for the lead guitarist, who I’m calling Adam, but I might change it. In my mind’s eye, Adam looks like

Jacoby Shaddix

The lead singer of Sole Regret, Jacob, is inspired…

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My name is Jane and I’m a Goodreads addict. There, I’ve said it. I’ve had many addictions over the years, so this is nothing new, but I’m hoping this will develop into a long-lasting relationship and not just a quick fling.

So what other addictions am I happy to confess?

Lush

What can I say… Sweet fragrances, quirky names, cool products, blue riband quality at high street prices

Chocolate

Nuff said 🙂

 

Ben & Jerry’s

I still feel a shiver of pleasure when I think about the yumminess of Chunky Monkey. Banana ice cream with nuts and slivers of dark, oh so wickedly dark chocolate

 

PNR

ParaNormal Romances – everything from JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, through Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy to DB Reynolds Vampires in America and Nalini Singh’s Psy / Changelings

 

Hawt cowboys

Not so much Louis L’Amour, more Lorelei James, heh heh

 

And Goodreads.

 

I first dipped my toes in via the KindleSmut reading group, then I expanded to find other like-minded readers… and now I co-moderate a readers & writers Group. How did that happen?!?  LINK

Not only can I keep a list of what I’ve read (including ratings and those all important reviews), I can indulge in my PNR and Hot Cowboy addictions at the same time * grin *

My other great addiction, the one that’s grown into a full-time-obsession, is my writing – and even here, Goodreads can help. It has a MyWriting page. I can load short stories, extracts and teasers – entire novels, chapter by chapter if I feel so inclined. And so I’m playing around with it a little. Check it out, see what you think – feel free to comment  🙂  LINK TO JANE’S WRITING

Who knows, it might rub off on you too 😉

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Long Hard Ride (Rough Riders)

I’ve had a few cowboy stories in my TBR pile for ages. Months. Why did I wait so long to read them? Hot cowboys have become my new current addiction * grin * And according to most people, few do Hot Cowboys quite as well as Lorelei James.

From the opening lines of Long Hard Ride, I was hooked. Channing Kincaid is tagging along with the rodeo alongside her new boyfriend, Jared.

On a drunken dare after too many kamikazes, Channing Kincaid found herself standing on a shellacked bartop with a bartender named Moose sprayed her chest with ice-cold beer.

 

I love books with amazing starts. So much promise – and even better, this one delivers. Shortly after winning the Golden Knockers trophy and snogging a gorgeous stud named Colby McKay, she learns that her boyfriend is actually married.

She should leave. Right away. Tonight.

Colby’s words surfaced. Come talk to me before you do anything rash.

The scared part of her wanted to run to Colby right now. Demand to know why he hadn’t told her Jared was married.

But in his own way, Colby had warned her.

 

She’s trying to figure out what to do when Colby finds her.

“Do you want to go home?”
”God, no.”

“Good.” Colby angled across the narrow table and repeatedly brushed the back of his knuckles over her cheek. “Run away with me, Channing. At least until we get to Cheyenne next week.”

 

She’s tempted, even when Colby tells her there are conditions.

Colby studied her carefully from beneath the brim of his hat. “You’ll be in my bed.”

Her pulse fluttered. “I figured that much.”

“As well as Trevor and Edgard’s.”

Channing’s jaw dropped. “I’d be sleeping with all three of you?”

“No. You’d be fucking all three of us, ain’t gonna be much sleepin’ involved.”

 

Colby travels with his buddies on the rodeo circuit, and sharing women is the norm. Despite herself, Channing is interested, shocked – and excited. Of course, things don’t go exactly to plan. Channing finds herself caring more for Colby than she should.

The truth was, she’d missed Colby.

What kind of idiot did that make her? They’d only been together two days and she’d already attached herself to him like one of those pesky sticky burrs that get caught up in horses’ tails.

 

They’re only supposed to be together for a week, and after that, Colby fully expects her to go back home to pick up her previous life as a teacher, while he completes the rodeo circuit. And even though it was his idea for all three guys to share her, he discovers that he wants her all for himself.

“Have we really only been together a coupla days?”

She stiffened up. “Yes. Why? Is time dragging?”

“No. On the road, time usually drags like an old dog. But it seems like you’ve always been around. I’m glad you’re here, darlin’.”

Probably not the first time he’d said such sugared words, but she’d take it since it was the first time anyone had ever uttered them to her.

 

But life never runs smooth in rodeo-land. Channing struggles to fit in with the other wives and girlfriends. Trevor and Edgard spend all their time fighting and losing their events, and Colby’s father hates her on sight. Colby gets banged up in one of his rides and Channing realises the stark reality of how dangerous the rodeo is.

If I wasn’t fanning myself from the burning hawt sex scenes, I sat on the edge of my seat desperately watching the story playing out. So what made this read so irresistible? Apart from the hot and sexy trio of gorgeous well-mannered cowboys (Colby, Trevor and Edgard), there were interesting and well thought out secondary characters including Colby’s sister, Keely, and Gemma & Cash (the stars of the next book).

I’m so pleased that Lorelei James has written lots more books in her Rough Riders series and I can’t wait to read them. A definite 5 out of 5.

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There are sometimes good reason to be late home from work. Drinks and post-work celebrations. Sporting events & concerts. Simply catching up with friends. But being late because the trains failed? And not just failed – spectacularly stuffed up would be a better description. It’s enough to drive a girl to blog about it.

So here we are. After a spectacularly busy day, working overtime until almost 6pm was a necessary evil, but I had confidence that the rail network would enable me to make my 1-hour journey home without any major headache. Alas, no. The following is a rough synopsis of my journey home, narrated by my fellow passengers:

18:00 (Automated voice) Welcome to Tranz-metro. Our journey tonight takes us to W, and we should arrive at 18:55. Have a pleasant journey and please travel with us again soon.

18:40
Hello love. The Train Manager has just informed us that they’ve run out of power on the line. I guess someone didn’t pay the electric bill. Anyhow, they’re taking us back to the previous station to wait for a bus.
19:00
Oh look, there’s a bus….. It’s filled up and left. I suggest we stay here until the next bus arrives.
19:10
Bugger. There’s another train coming. I’m going to queue up outside
19:15
You won’t believe this. The passengers on the new train have barged to the front of the queue! It’s like scrambling for lifeboats on the Titanic!
19:20
Hi darling. The second bus has just filled up and left, and we’re still in the queue. Any chance you could come and pick me up?
19:30
Hello love. We’re on the replacement bus now and guess what? I just got a txt from the train network to say the trains are running normally again. Too bloody late.
19:40
I think I just saw a train go past us…
20:00
Hello love, I’m back at the station and will be home soon. BTW, the train has just pulled into the station – the same train I got off an hour ago!!
 *****
When you’re sitting on a crowded replacement bus, in a queue of traffic, receiving a chirpy little text message to say the trains are running normally again is frustrating to say the least. But the evening wasn’t wasted. We passed the time by dreaming up realistic txt messages for the train network. You know, the ones you wished they’d send.

 Your train is running late because the driver couldn’t be arsed

 You were hoping to get home early tonight? Sucker!

 The trains are f*cked. Get a bus instead.

And finally, in the same vein, I stumbled across a list of bona-fide passenger announcements made on the London Underground network. They included such gems as:

1. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologize for the delay to your service. I know you’re all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you’ll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction.’

2. ‘Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from E & B syndrome: not knowing his elbow from his backside. I’ll let you know any further information as soon as I’m given any.’

3. ‘Do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. The bad news is that there is a point failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means we probably won’t reach our destination.’

4. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let’s take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now…. ‘Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall…..’.’

5. ‘We are now travelling through Baker Street … As you can see, Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don’t think about things like that’.

6. ‘Beggars are operating on this train. Please do NOT encourage these professional beggars. If you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity. Failing that, give it to me.’

7. During an extremely hot rush hour on the Central Line, the driver announced in a West Indian drawl: ‘Step right this way for the sauna, ladies and gentleman… unfortunately, towels are not provided.’

8. ‘Let the passengers off the train FIRST!’ (Pause . ‘Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines; see if I care – I’m going home….’

9. ‘Please allow the doors to close. Try not to confuse this with ‘Please hold the doors open.’ The two are distinct and separate instructions.’

10. ‘Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors.’

11. ‘We can’t move off because some idiot has their hand stuck in the door.’

12. ‘To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage – what part of ‘stand clear of the doors’ don’t you understand?’

13. ‘Please move all baggage away from the doors.’ (Pause… ‘Please move ALL belongings away from the doors.’ (Pause…. ‘This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train: Put the pie down, Four-eyes, and move your bloody golf clubs away from the door before I come down there and shove them up your arse sideways!’

14. ‘May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it’s only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage.’

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Mmmmmm… I keep checking Olivia Cunning’s Blog for news of the next in her fabulous ‘Sinners on Tour’ series (I think I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms…) – and I just found this!!!!

Olivia Cunning's Blog

Heather has finished Trey’s graphic to complete her series of Sinners inspired banners! Sweet! And who could possibly make Wednesday more hot and humpie than Trey Mills?

Ethan, perhaps? That Reagan is a lucky, lucky woman.

And if you missed the other Sinners banners that the incredibly talented Heather created, here’s the complete set.

Brian Sinclair.

Sed Lionheart

Jace Seymour

Eric Sticks

Heather does such a great job about catching all those little details that make each guy in Sinners unique. Thanks, Heather! You rock.

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