Thursday, May 31, 2012

What do people most misunderstand about me?

People who meet me in real life frequently think that I am angry or unhappy, regardless of whether or not I'm smiling.  I've never understood why, and when asked, they've only ever said that my face always looks angry or unhappy.  I never see what they see.  It used to be something that would irritate me badly, to be in a great mood only to be asked, "What's wrong with you?"  Now that I'm older, I just figure that my mien scares off the people who aren't interested in seeing below my surface, for which I am somewhat thankful.

People who have only known me online often think I'm cold and unfeeling.  Perhaps this is because I choose to communicate in proper English, and I'm more comfortable when I am certain that what I'm trying to communicate is what I'm "putting down on the page," which translates to more formality than most people are used to with emails, Facebook or blog comments.  I do try to utilize emoticons, especially when I'm just not sure that what I'm saying is what they'll "hear."

In reality, I'm neither chronically unhappy nor cold or unfeeling.  I'm just a white chick with baggage.

I like the English language, the nuances of using it properly.  I love books.  I love learning new things.  I hate talking on the telephone.  I like sex and I'm not afraid to talk about any kind of sex there is to any person who brings up the subject, even if it's not a sexual activity in which I personally would indulge.  I love babies of all  shapes, sizes and species.  Except roaches.  I don't like any of those, babies or not.  I'm not a smiler or a laugher, so if you get either out of me, consider yourself among rare company.  I've made mistakes, some pretty bad ones, ones I'd rather people didn't know, but I'm also willing to share those mistakes when I see that someone may be able to take my lesson and use my consequences to avoid some particular pitfall in their own life.  I like proper pronunciation and enunciation, and have to work not to correct others' speech, since my only child is grown and out of the house now, and hers is the only speech which I had a right or responsibility to correct.

Do people often misunderstand you?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

App Review: Random Mahjong

I found this accidentally while I was on Amazon searching for something else. I actually downloaded it through my Android phone, though I've since removed it and re-downloaded it onto my Kindle Fire.

The colors are vibrant, with pretty backgrounds and several different choices of tiles. The board moves as I remove tiles, making the remaining tiles bigger and easier to see and match up. The only downside I've found is that if I get down to the last tiles and can't remove them, the board reloads exactly as it was and I get to try again. I'd rather it shuffle the tiles and give me a new chance. However, that is a very small nitpick and most definitely has not kept me from playing the game late into the night when I'm supposed to be charging my phone. lol

The ad bar across the bottom is barely noticeable, and hasn't distracted me at all from playing.Random Mahjong

Book: Fifty Shades by E. L. James

I finished the Fifty Shades trilogy, thanks to a generous friend who shared hers with me.  I'll have more to say in a real review, but first impressions and just for the sake of accuracy?  The kinkiest thing in this trilogy is the idea of some of the things that :might: happen, and which are alluded to in The Contract.  No, really.  And it's not erotica, nor is it the more hideous label of "mommy porn."  Ugh.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book: I Only Have Eyes For You by Bella Andre

Though this isn't the first Bella Andre book I've read, it's the first in the Sullivans series for me. I was able to read it free via Netgalley.

I loved the bits of the Sullivan family I glimpsed, even though there wasn't actually much of the family in this book. It was well-written enough that I kind of got to know the family even without them being there. This particular story did stand easily on its own, and yet I believe that I will get more out of it if I read the first three and then reread this one. There are little subtleties that didn't make or break the story, but made me wonder what I didn't know.

Sophie and Jake have been in love with each other practically forever (since she was five, anyway, when Jake became friends with her brothers), and neither has believed that the other was really right for them despite that. Sophie decides to shake her nickname Nice off after her brother's wedding (her twin sister Lori is Naughty), and goes all out after Jake, who naturally can't resist her. They have an amazing night together, and he skedaddles while she's still asleep, leaving her wondering what the heck happened when she wakes up alone in a strange house.

There were definitely some cons to this story. Most notably, the formatting. I don't know if there was some formatting issue with the file Netgalley sent to my Kindle, but the dialogue in particular was formatted with weird markings in place of quotation marks. This was very distracting, and though I began to tune it out, anytime I put my Kindle down and then picked it back up again, it struck me anew. At location 401, there is a dangling phrase that doesn't belong in the story at all; "foot yacht through rough waters after three sleepless nights" is right in the middle of a sentence about something else entirely. When Sophie breaks down and goes to see Jake two and a half months after their wild, hot night together, they have a conversation in which she is vague about dates and since they only had sex on that one occasion, that stuck out at me as out of character for someone of her intellectual caliber. When something happened to Sophie and she ended up in the hospital, the entire family, including her mother, rallied round her, but I was disappointed that Sophie had apparently not had a conversation with her mother about her feelings for Jake; Mom Sullivan seemed to be pretty close to her kids, and while I understood that Sophie didn't want to share that night with her six very over-protective brothers, I didn't really get why she didn't talk to her mom during that intervening time.

On to the silver lining. The characters are real and individual, and some get more "face-time" than others. I really enjoyed the story - the progression of emotions as Sophie and Jake got to know each other differently than they had before, and as they each learned some new things about themselves in the process. I loved having an alpha male who had what he considered a seriously debilitating problem that instead turned out to be something that could bring him closer to Sophie. The bedroom activity was hot enough without pushing beyond vanilla or into erotic in any way - just two people who loved each other and wanted to have hot, sweaty sex with one another a lot.

I like romance. I particularly like erotic romance. Bella Andre's I Only Have Eyes For You is a sweet romance that didn't leave me feeling cheated by a lack of superhot sexyfun, and did leave me wanting to get to know the rest of the Sullivan family. Thumbs up from me.

Book: Amulet 2 by S. Wolf

Jason's back in this sequel to Amulet, though the titular amulet belongs to someone else now. Interestingly to me, I found the plot more cohesive in this sequel and, at the same time, the sex not nearly as hot. There were fewer mistakes in this story (though still a few), but they really didn't take me out of the story too much.

We're five or so years down the road, and Jason and his pack have created a circle of friends bound by love and true friendship, and they're all pretty happy. Sam is pregnant and fairly soon into the book, goes into the hospital to have the baby, but something happens. Because he's special to Malchediel and Ambriel, Jason is offered the opportunity to "fix" things. In something vaguely akin to Ebenezer Scrooge's visits from various Ghosts of Christmas, Jason tries to figure out if he should fix things; how different would his life be if one little tiny thing were changed? Two? If he changed nothing?

Jason's journey through his own life (past, present and future) in his quest for that answer is touching, and eventually he makes the right decision for himself and his new family, and it's a choice that both makes sense to the character and isn't too farfetched to be realistic.

Then, the epilogue sets things up for another sequel, and the circumstances of that setup strain my credulity a bit too far. There may be more to this story, but I think I'll stop here and be satisfied with this ending.

Much thanks to S. Wolf for the opportunity to download this book free from Smashwords.

Booklet: Cradle Robber by Jessica Reve

This story was so poorly edited that I can't even tell you if it had a good premise. It was so poorly edited, in fact, that it wasn't the least bit erotic. In addition to that, it was *extremely* short, taking me maybe five minutes to read from beginning to end. Punctuation was barely an afterthought, and spelling and grammar were atrocious.

I noticed when looking it up to write the review that there are two more parts. I'm not even remotely interested in reading them, even if they're free. This author seriously needs a beta reader, at the very least.

Book: Amulet by S. Wolf

While this was not the best story I've ever read, it was a pretty darn good one. Jason was well-explored, though some of the secondary and tertiary characters were rather flat. I would have liked a little more story before Jason chose to share the secret of the Amulet, but that's just personal preference.

Jason is an 18-year-old senior in high school, who saves somebody's life and gets an unexpected reward. What he does with the reward is, as Paul Harvey used to say, "...the rest of the story."

The story could have devolved almost in porn, but Wolf took Jason on a little journey of discovery. There are definitely sexually explicit scenes in the book, and they are plentiful, but none of them were more than mildly beyond vanilla, even in description.

I liked that Jason was a more than a little nerdy, fairly typical high school boy. He was in lust with a Hot Chick, he had at least one good friend who'd been with him through good and bad, and he was pretty comfortable in his own skin as he knew it. Jason used the secret of the Amulet to create opportunities to spy on several people. Rather than being a Peeping Tom who gets off on his spying (though he does, just not on the spot), Jason observes with curiosity and interest - he uses these occurrences to learn something, about himself, about sex in general, about other people. Ultimately, he uses the secret of the Amulet to again attempt to save someone from harm.

Wolf has written a sequel to Amulet, with the same small circle of friends, and if it were within my budget, I'd look forward to reading it. :)  

Edited to add:  S. Wolf contacted me through one of my websites to offer me a coupon to read the sequel free.  It's reviewed separately.

Book: Moonlight In a Pickup Truck by Serena Zane

I'm a sucker for a good friends to lovers story, and this could have been that.

The writing was in the style of a student with an assignment - run-on sentences, misplaced commas (mostly just missing), and much more tell than show, though I don't recall any spelling errors. It was very stream-of-consciousness, from the point of view of the HS sophomore girl having a last little bit of time before her good male friend goes off to the Navy. (On a side note, mmmm, love a man in uniform. lol)

By the girl's own admission, she had been pretending to be his friend the entire time, because she didn't want him to know she was in love with him. I get that, but the way it was written, it seemed as if she really wasn't his friend in any way, and that made the transition a bit more difficult to swallow.

I was disappointed that the girl was portrayed as knowing she shouldn't have been driving because she'd drunk too much, but doing it anyway in the hopes of getting into the guy's pants. Mom grounding her could have been the least of her worries!

Extremely short.  Worth a shot for you, maybe.

Book: Holding Out For a Hero by HelenKay Dimon

Holding Out For a Hero had been on my To Read list for well over a year, so when I found it at the local library, I was really looking forward to reading it.

What a disappointment. The plot held promise, but failed to deliver to my satisfaction.

The heroine was bland and boring, though seriously annoying. Should I ever have the misfortune to have someone like her in my personal life, I plan to run, not walk, the other way, and possibly file stalking charges. Really. She hired the man to investigate, then hired someone else to shadow him, so she would always know where he was and she could show up anywhere, including at a friend's house when he was having dinner.

Chemistry between the romantic couple was more fizzle than sizzle. The love scenes were a bit like reading the Wall Street Journal - that is, tedious. About 60% through the book (the first love scene was at about 55%), I started skimming pages and fully reading every third or fourth page. I'm pretty sure I didn't miss anything important.

There were few or no noticeable grammar errors, so at least it had that going for it. I don't plan on reading another HelenKay Dimon book anytime soon, though, even so.

Book: Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann

I will confess to being out of reach of a library for a little over a year, so haven't read any of the last few Troubleshooters books. Thus, I have none of the complaints that many of the one-star reviewers have. Other than the already established couples growing relationship-wise, I'm not attached to "super-couples." Watching soaps in the 80s and 90s cured me of that. lol

I was a little confused at the beginning. When I started reading chapter one, it took me a minute to realize that the entire prologue was a dream/escape for Dave. I've been there - had a need to have some elaborate world to go to in order to keep from giving up, so I understood it once I realized that's what it was. However, the segue there was not as smooth as I would have expected.

There were several times while reading that I had to click back to the previous chapter or scene with certain characters to refresh my memory on what was happening when I "turned the page." I like the alternating scenes and multiple locations, I just thought some of the transitions were so long that I couldn't keep straight what was happening where. Maybe I'm getting old.

I felt the Robin-into-rehab story was a little too pat. Those Troubleshooters are smart enough to have come up with a better story than that to explain Robin's sudden disappearance from a movie shoot. Him needing to withdraw from the public eye happens often enough. Homicidal stalker, perhaps? Severe food poisoning?

There was more tell in this book than I thought was necessary, and I inferred that it was there for newcomers to the Troubleshooters series, but some of it could easily have been edited out. Several times, characters explained things to each other for the audience's benefit. I guess if this is the first book you're reading about SEALs or government operatives, you need it, but I thought much of that was also unnecessarily telly rather than showy.

On the other hand, I laughed out loud (in a good way) more than a few times while reading Dark of Night. There were at least half a dozen occasions where I wanted to highlight and share something from the book with friends, though I only ended up sharing one.

What I found in Dark of Night were characters who took some good, hard looks at themselves and came to some difficult realizations about their personal quirks and their interactions with others. In that respect, this book was a joy to read. Characters I've grown to love begin to behave in ways that are not in keeping with the mask they've presented to others, even to others very close to them, even the mask they presented to themselves. Sometimes one learns things about oneself that are extremely uncomfortable and hard to integrate. I empathized with Decker's struggle. I did feel that his acceptance of it, after all that, was a bit rushed, but I guess there's only so much room in a book.

I loved that nearly everybody had a chance to step up to the plate and show some wisdom or strength of character. Oddball things from the past would create opportunities to showcase smarts that aren't necessarily visible on the surface. Tracy and Sophia, in particular, have obviously been heavily underestimated by both their teammates and by long-time Troubleshooters readers. Neither is as fragile as others have made her out to be.

Near as I can tell, everybody on the two teams has a Happily Ever After now, though I personally would quite gladly read more about these characters ongoing struggles and growth, even without the main romantic couple thing that has been Brockmann's stock in trade. I'm planning to reread the entire series in one go at some point, and this one will most definitely be included.  (And there's another story about Jules and Robin coming out this summer!)

Book: Palatino's Pets by Ernie Centofanti

First, the book was a wee bit disjointed storywise. I feel like there could have been a better way to weave together the origin of the artifact and its subsequent life on Earth. I might enjoy reading more about the visitors, should Mr. Centofanti's muse cooperate in that endeavor. (How I wish that Amazon would put the title and author's name on the review page in big old letters for reference purposes!)

I found it a bit unbelievable that a woman (human, for that matter, regardless of gender) found this artifact and just figured it out by messing around with it. At that point, I just suspended my disbelief and read on. Obviously, as I never even finished college, I have no way of knowing how accurate the science of quantum physics was. I liked the bits of Dr. Edison's research notes interspersed into the story at various times. It might have been telling rather than showing, but her notes made the telling entertaining.

I inferred from the cover that there would be some sexual misconduct, to put it lightly, on the part of the villain. There was, but frankly it was mild and didn't live up to my expectations. All the bad stuff basically happened off-camera and was referred to only vaguely. Palatino's depravity could have been demonstrated to greater effect were some of those things actually spelled out "on paper." Perhaps that is just me - I respect that others will read this and find it horrifying enough as is.

Palatino was an absorbing antagonist, though his devolution was much too fast for me. I felt like the man I had gotten to know throughout the book would have responded to the obstacles in his path more intellectually rather than emotionally.

I did find about two dozen mistakes, though I'm sorry, Mr. C, I didn't note them individually so that I could send them to you. Had the note about errata been in the front of the book, I would gladly have done so for your benefit and the benefit of other readers.

All things considered, I found the book to be pleasing enough that I ran the battery on my Kindle down to nothing and had to go do those other things I should have been doing in the first place. lol

Book: Storm Warning by Kadi Dillon

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It has a good plotline and interesting characters.

However, it desperately needed an editor! Homophone errors were in abundance - waste for waist, for one example. In one instance, the author used the word immersed in a sentence where a female character came out of her hotel room for the first time in four days - she immersed from her room rather than emerging from it. These errors piled up more and more heavily in the second half of the book and became infinitely more distracting.

Despite these issues, I did finish the book, and like I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed reading it. If the author can find a competent editor, I'd love to read more about several of the secondary characters.

Book: Flotilla by Daniel Haight

The story of Jim and this part of his journey to manhood kept me reading until the end. What I read was a great story, with some caveats.

On the plus side, great characterization, and the descriptions of the Colony were well-done enough that I could visualize something I never actually knew existed. Jim was a typical teenage boy - drinking, rebellion, thinking about sex, love for his sister, frustration with his parents - very easy to get into his head and remember how things used to be for me. And the "I don't know why I drink" part was spot-on. An addict really can't answer that question, particularly one who *knows* that what he's doing is bad for him, doesn't want to do it, but does it anyway. Why did you do that? I don't know is a valid answer, not a copout, for some, and it worked very well in this case.

There were some inconsistencies, though. It looked to me as if the story had originally partly been written in third-person, and not all the third-person was removed. There were over a dozen places where editing had obviously been done, but not completed - extra words were still in the sentences, words with the wrong tense or wrong point of view were still in place, things like that. Within a couple of chapters, Madison was described as being ten, eleven and then eight. This definitely should have been caught by any competent editor. Jim was allegedly fourteen in the second summer (though he was described as being fifteen more than once), which is When Things Happened. However, he was scared spitless of being drafted, even though he was under the age (stated as older than fifteen) at which he would need to worry. It made that particular part of the book ring falsely for me, even though the action was fantastic.

My final and biggest complaint is that the story just ended. The escape reached a certain point where Jim could relax a little bit and gear up for the rest of his journey north, and I put my finger on the right-hand side of my Kindle page and nothing. I poked at the darn Kindle five or six times before I realized the book was just done. There was no epilogue. There was no warning. There was no wind-down. Just the current location, as is at the end of every chapter, and then nothing.

To Haight's credit, none of these things kept me from finishing the book. I *wanted* to keep reading about Jim and his adventures. Imagine how marvelous it would have been without these problems!

Book: Guardian by Elita Daniels

The blurb talks about secrets being revealed by a guardian. I read to 93%, then skimmed the rest. At 93%, there were still no secrets revealed. This was a bunch of disjointed snippets put together. Sometimes the pieces made sense and sometimes they didn't. I'm still trying to figure out what this book was. It wasn't terrible, it was just pointless. Though Anna felt passion of various kinds, I never felt them with her. The words were just words, words that didn't convey any real meaning to me as the reader. She was in love with somebody, but I never understood why or really anything about her. I never cared about her or her well-being.

Grammar and spelling were good. Book was well-edited.

I'm not sorry to have skimmed the remaining 7% of the book, and I have zero interest in any other books by this author. Your mileage may vary.

Book: Glass Houses by Stella Cameron

I really wanted to like this book. I mean, it's Stella Cameron, right? To be fair, this was published twelve or so years ago, so this Kindle edition is just a reprint of a previously published book.

Perhaps most problematic for me (yes, I'm one of *those* people) was the bad formatting. Indentations in the middle of paragraphs, a systematic removal of periods at the ends of sentences, a lack of quotation marks where they were needed, and the occasional misused word. For me, all these factors together made this book difficult to read, and I felt let down to read a Stella Cameron story I didn't enjoy.

There are two main characters: Aiden, a New York City detective, and Olivia, an introverted British photographer. At first, the scenes written from the two points of view were properly separated. Around chapter two, the Americanisms and the Britishisms started running together, and sometimes Aiden thought in Britishisms and sometimes Olivia thought in Americanisms. This became unduly distracting.

Dialogue between Aiden and Olivia was sometimes stilted and awkward, and sometimes Olivia was uncharacteristically forceful or aggressive. In a scene toward the end of the book, Olivia's behavior was consistent with the growth of the character, and I cheered her on.

Olivia's parents were completely extraneous and could have been left out of the book entirely, except as references Olivia made in conversation. Otherwise, they should have been fleshed out more. Instead, they were tragically unfunny clueless parents that wasted a chapter of my time. Conversely, Boswell, a somewhat minor character, was the most appealing character in the entire book, and his unwavering fealty to his core self was a joy to read.

I knew how the bad guys were keeping tabs on Aiden and Olivia less than halfway through. I did not guess the logistics or the why, but I most definitely knew who. I was sometimes distracted trying to figure out why this person would betray them in this way, and that distraction took away from my immersion in the story as it unfolded.

Bottom line - the core story is good, but overall I had to try too hard to enjoy reading it. Your mileage may vary.

Movie: Fast Five

This was complete and utter escapist fantasy!

It didn't matter that parts of the plot were completely unbelievable. It didn't even matter that there were no captions.

The parts of the scenery that featured the ocean and the countryside surrounding Rio were breathtaking! Made me totally want to visit and see the ocean. Guess that's going on my bucket list. lol

I admit being shallow enough to *totally* enjoy the fight between Johnson and Diesel. I'm sure it was choreographed all to hell, and yet it looked like they were having so much fun with each other.

Yes, I finished high school. Yes, I'm older than twelve. Yes, I'm even a girl. Yes, I just adored this movie. Not everything has to be a high-brow cinematic masterpiece.

Book: Bloody Freak by Emily Barker

Bloody Freak is the first in what is purported to be a series (note: there are at least three other books, as I've downloaded them to my Kindle). I've already gotten the second one and may make myself read it, since I can hope it's edited more professionally than this one.

Though the story has good bones, that's overshadowed, for me anyway, by the poor editing job. I'm pretty sure it was just run through a spellcheck, rather than having any actual editing done. I still have hope, but honestly, the editing has gotten worse since I started reading, rather than better.

There is a sexual situation early in the book, and then again in the last few pages of the book. The earlier one was much more graphic, and frankly, both were gratuitous to the storyline. The denouement wasn't exactly - there was just a speech by one character that basically wrapped everything up in a pretty bow just when things were getting interesting. The conflict I was expecting, even hoping for, did not materialize, and having it would have made the book much better.

There are sentence fragments, misused and misspelled words, a lack of commas where commas are sorely needed, and no apostrophes in possessives. Some examples: discrete instead of discreet; whose instead of who's; passed instead of past; conscience instead of conscious; conflictions instead of convictions (I'm not sure on that one, because conflictions isn't even a word.); everyday instead of every day; into instead of in to; went instead of gone; your instead of you're; queue instead of cue, rights instead of rites. Mistakes are not few and far between - they are on nearly every page, and frequently, there are several on each page.

I see the possibility of a pretty good storyteller here in this book, and hope that Ms. Barker will find herself a good editor or two and keep getting better.

Book: Dirrty by Celia Juliano

Dirrty was well-written. Much better than I expected with a title like Dirrty. No typos or incorrect homonyms. Obviously professionally edited. The biggest obstacle to me loving this book was that the main female character was married, until the last two pages, and not to her love interest. I'd get sucked into the story, then get sucked back out because I couldn't believe that a grown woman had this little self-control.

Chiara (sometimes called Claire) is unhappy in her marriage. She decides to flirt a little as she passes a local construction site on her way to pick up her boys at school. But then she takes it to the next level almost immediately, and embarks on this full-fledged affair with Rocco, complete with sneaking off to have sex in his parents' garage while the whole extended family is in the house for a family dinner. Some of the dialogue between Chiara and Rocco was more than a little cheesy, but I think that was actually on purpose, considering the quality of the rest of the book.

Hey, I've been there. A woman sometimes feels the need to flirt a little, feel appreciated or attractive, know that the unhappiness at home is not because of something lacking in her. But then, a woman has to be an adult. Think about the consequences of her actions and whether or not she can handle those consequences.

In the end, things worked out for Chiara and Rocco, but I kept expecting them not to. I mean how often does a woman end up happily attached to the man with whom she started an affair while she was still married? Yes, it happens sometimes, but more often ends badly. Many of the obstacles to their mutual happiness seemed forced or manufactured, and their care for each other frenetic rather than natural. As deep as I'd get into the story, I still wouldn't always believe what was happening.

So, four stars for the quality of the writing and the way the author kept me reading to the end, even though I didn't particularly like Chiara or her relationship with Rocco. Your mileage may vary.

Movie: Sleeping Dogs Lie

Please note: there is implied bestiality referred to in this movie several times. That doesn't bother me, but if that squicks you, go find another movie to watch. Really.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this movie. I really wasn't expecting much. I mean, Bobcat Goldthwaite? So, the end result was quite a pleasant surprise.

There are some incredibly nuanced family moments scattered throughout the movie. Melinda Page Hamilton puts in a good enough performance for an unknown that I can see she will be really great in the right part.

Amy's brother was played so kooky as to border on caricature, though his reaction to the news at the prison was particularly well done.

The friendship-at-work chemistry between Amy and Ed was really great, and I would have loved to see that relationship grow into something really intimate, as friends. Once they crossed the line into a romance, they were just not convincing. The speed with which Amy "recovered" from breaking up with John and moved into something with Ed was completely ridiculous. Though the film ended on a Happily Ever After note, I know that's one relationship that isn't going to last long.

Regardless of how unbelievable I felt their relationship to be, I enjoyed this film quite a bit.

Book: Aiden's Bayou by Kimberley Reeves

Aiden's Bayou is a fun, relatively quick read. Good characterization throughout, with a couple of inconsistencies. Well-written, with few editable errors. For the most part, I love her brothers - I always wanted protective older brothers like these. Her mother is a classy dame. Cold-hearted bitch, but classy. Her father is a slightly stereotypical Italian family man, who doesn't seem quite as smart about his daughter as he is about his business empire.

Some things I noticed jumped out at me and made the story a little less great. For those small things, I'm taking off a star. Keep in mind that I didn't really notice them until I was done with the story, so they certainly didn't detract from my reading pleasure.

Any human being with even the tiniest bit of curiosity would probably have used the internet to find out what people were saying about them. I know that in Quin's situation, I most definitely would have. Then again, if he had, the huge dust-up with his mother wouldn't have been a plot point, and the story would have had less punch.

I found it slightly unbelievable that Aiden, who takes everything her parents dish out at home, could be such an assertive and savvy businesswoman out in the real world. The intro into her previous love life took up a little too much time and didn't really add to the plot, particularly as neither partner is mentioned again, except in passing, in Aiden's thoughts.

Aiden's best friend, Vivian, says at one point in the story that she's "been in love with you for years." Apparently, she didn't think that a legal researcher with a solid employment record would be good enough for the likes of James Champagne and so never even flirted with him. Nowhere else in the book does this lack of self-esteem really show through. She's smart and attractive and cares deeply about her friend Aiden.

SPOILER ALERT! In the end, guests at a wedding are told that there had been several mistakes, and that they were actually present to witness a double wedding. Except that, any marriage licenses would have had to be obtained prior to this little switcheroo, and therefore, neither wedding is actually legal.

The chemistry between Aiden and Quinten is fairly sizzling, and the descriptions of unexpectedly seeing someone across the room, someone with whom one is freshly in love, are perfect and tug at the heartstrings. Ah, to be young and in love again! I really did enjoy this book while I was reading it, and would gladly read something else by this author in the future.

Book: Meandros by Sasha White

I got a real feel for the two main characters, and would have enjoyed reading more about them, if their lives together had continued.

I was just getting into the story, looking forward to more about this couple and their sizzling relationship, and Bam! the story was over.

That is my only complaint about this one, is that it's short, short, short. Really short.

Book: Wild and Steamy - various authors

Of the three stories in this anthology, I actually only enjoyed Vixen, the middle story.

The first story, The Blushing Bounder, was so confusing at first, that I put it aside (figuratively, since this was a Kindle edition) and moved on to read other things I found more interesting. After a few weeks, the fact that I had not finished this one began to irk me, so I made myself read it. Not my cup of tea. This was the first steampunk story I'd ever read, and apparently, I'm not a fan.

Vixen was a cute little romp, with wonderful sexual tension, a realistic mother/daughter relationship, and good characterization. It had a leg up on the others, because I already read and enjoy shifter fiction. I would enjoy reading more about these four characters and their continuing lives.

Kitten-tiger and the Monk was least enjoyable. I understood the dystopian world in which the story was set, but I just didn't give a rip about the characters, not even when they were in mortal danger.

All three stories were well-written, just two of them not all that appealing this to particular audience.

Book: The Last Witness by John Matthews

I am 27% into this book, and just cannot get any further. This will be one of a handful of books in my entire life that I don't finish.

It is written in some form of Canadian English that is unlike any Canadian English I've ever read. I can even read formal British English without losing any comprehension, but this one is leaving me behind. The author writes in long, convoluted, run-on sentences that are so confusing I have to read them three or four times to figure out what he's trying to say. I'm having trouble keeping the cast of characters straight, and frankly, right now, I don't really care about any of them except the little girl.

In addition to the strange language in which this book is written, there are a plethora of small mistakes, like using "wiseness" instead of "wisdom" that distract me even more from the story and make me wonder whether this author's first language is even English.

The other reviewer says that this book explodes when the two stories collide, and I'd like to be there for that, but I just can't keep reading this any longer. I'm thankful that I downloaded it when it was free.

Sorry, Mr. Matthews, but I won't be looking for any of your other work, either. No fanlove here.

Book: UnderHeaven by Tim Greaton

I'm taking off a star for typos and errata that could easily have been picked up by one more solid run-through by a proofreader/editor. The chronic overuse of commas in multiple-adjective descriptions comes to mind. Those commas slowed down my reading, taking me out of the story pretty seriously a couple of times, and just generally being annoying.

I read Mr. Greaton's short story The Santa Workshop and enjoyed it mildly - could have enjoyed it a lot more without the errors and typos. It was an interesting premise but too pat for me. At any rate, in the "back" of this Kindle purchase was an excerpt from Under-Heaven. I really got hooked into the story and wanted to read more. Luckily for me, Mr. Greaton had it for sale at 99 cents. I probably could not have afforded it otherwise, and frankly it's worth more.

This was a very long story about a young man's life after he dies. It's complex, with thorough descriptions and good characterization, and even some history thrown in for good measure. Parts of the story dragged a bit. After all, I really didn't need to know what the boy did every single minute of every single day the first few weeks in his temporary home. Those parts were over relatively quickly, though, and the rest of the book sucked me in and kept me reading well past my bedtime for several nights.

Despite some other reviewers claims, I did not find this book overly religious, and I'm not a christian. It was an interesting exploration into what happens after a person dies, from an individual child's point of view. There was no proselytizing or pushy imagery. I would call the premise spiritual rather than religious.

The young boy's life in Under-heaven is alternated periodically with the story of another young man who's holding out hope that his parents get back together. Descriptions of an addict's behavior were spot-on, and the parts of the story told from a five-year-old's point of view were true to the character's age without being simplistic or simple-minded.

The two stories are connected, though I didn't realize it until about halfway through the book. HOW they are connected was not what I expected, and yet, it was appropriate and made sense.

I devoured this book more than I enjoyed it, and it's the kind of book that if I owned it in print, I would probably keep it on my shelf and reread every few years to pick up on something new. The plot was full-tilt right up until the big reveal, after which the book ended pretty quickly with a slightly lame wrap-up that was inconsistent with some of the characters I'd come to know while reading. And, just fair warning, it's not a happily every after. It's a happily enough for now.

App Review: Random Mahjong

Random Mahjong

I found this accidentally while I was on Amazon searching for something else. I actually downloaded it through my Android phone, though.

The colors are vibrant, with pretty backgrounds and several different choices of tiles. The board moves as I remove tiles, making the remaining tiles bigger and easier to see and match up. The only downside I've found is that if I get down to the last tiles and can't remove them, the board reloads exactly as it was and I get to try again. I'd rather it shuffle the tiles and give me a new chance. However, that is a very small nitpick and most definitely has not kept me from playing the game late into the night when I'm supposed to be charging my phone. lol

The ad bar across the bottom is barely noticeable, and hasn't distracted me at all from playing.

Update - I've also downloaded this to my Kindle Fire, and it plays beautifully there, too.  It also has the extra plus of being larger.  lol

Book: Rock Hard (Sinners on Tour) by Olivia Cunning

This is billed as erotic romance. I wouldn't describe it that way at all. I did not read the other book first. In fact, I had never heard of this author prior to buying this book. I probably won't be buying the next book.

This is soft-core porn with a plot, and there's nothing wrong with that, if that's what you're paying for.

There's no romance, or at least none that jumped out at me and said, "Hey! I'm romantic!" There was nothing satisfying about Sed and Jessica's relationship and its forward motion (they got back together, that's all the resolution there was). To me, it wasn't erotic so much as sexually explicit. The two are not always interchangeable. There were shining moments in the plot that gave me hope for more, but in the end it those moments just led to more hot sex.

If you want to read a book that'll get you geared up and in the mood, by all means, this is the book for you. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, sex in public places, frank language, group sex, sex with drugs, BDSM. Once I let go of my expectations and read it as is, I was delighted. If I'd continued to think this was some kind of erotic romance novel, I would have been deeply disappointed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Born To Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann

Downloaded this one to my Kindle from the local library after quite the wait. lol Born To Darkness is dystopian futuristic paranormal romance, for lack of a better category. Its US is a dark and dreary place; the US in which these events happen is one I can see coming, and hope like hell I'm wrong about.

I loved this! Brockmann's other books about the SEALs had kinda reached a point where the number of people who merited at least a brief mention was getting just a bit unwieldy. I look forward to seeing more about some of the main characters (I do love my military men and my Troubleshooters!), and it still seems like she's reached a pretty decent resting place for now. It might be interesting if at some point in the future of this series, she's able to tie it back in some way to previous characters.

The cast of this book is fairly large, too, with eightish main characters and nearly a dozen secondary/supporting characters. The characters were written in such a way that they interacted with each other frequently enough that getting to know the characters (and not just as couples) was easy and the transitions between events were mostly seamless. The friendships were wonderfully-written.

Establishing the couples as couples was a bit rushed, particularly in the case of Dr. Z and Diaz. That one went from less than zero to eighty in a matter of seconds, it seemed like. Despite this, each of the couples was believable to me, and I want to see where they go from here. The sexual/physical intimacy these couples experienced was a little off for a Brockmann book. Not that the chemistry felt forced, as another reviewer mentioned, but not as hot as I've come to expect. I think this was due more to the need to build this world and these relationships, and I'm willing to be in this for the long haul. I truly believe that the chemistry will build with subsequent stories as the characters deepen their emotional connections with one another.

Brockmann subscribed to the strength-through-adversity school in creating her heroines, as each has faced and triumphed over some dark and scary stuff. Having said that, those women still have ISSUES, which are bound to come up in future books. I like that these women are real for the future in which this is set, not for today's US or today's science; they are not one-note perky pollyannas but complex women.

Fair warning: there is frank sexual abuse, sexual intimacy without emotional connection and male/male sexual interaction. If any of this bothers you, move along. Born To Darkness does not give us a happily ever after. When it's done correctly, I sometimes prefer the happily enough for now which we get in this book.

It's apparent to me that there will be more to this story, and I for one am looking forward to it!      

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yoplait Lactose Free yogurt coupon

I haven't tried this one yet, and I'm looking forward to it.  Yoplait is already my favorite yogurt, and I'd really like to try the lactose-free offerings.  In the meantime, here's a coupon, courtesy of MyBlogSpark.

Yoplait recently announced its new Yoplait® Lactose Free yogurt.  Inspired by the Yoplait yogurt we know and love, Lactose Free comes in four delicious flavors - Strawberry, Peach, French Vanilla and Cherry - and contains 50% of the recommended Daily Value of calcium, with vitamins A and D in every cup. Lactose Free contains NO artificial sweeteners and can be used in some of your favorite recipes - like chocolate crème brulee and strawberry cheesecake.

Lactose intolerant or know someone who is? You can visit to download a printable coupon for $0.30 when you buy any flavor of Yoplait Lactose Free yogurt cups. 

*The coupon offer for Yoplait Lactose Free yogurt is not valid in some states, including Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota and Tennessee.