Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013 – Authors, are you Listening?

Standard


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013:

While everyone has been busy making New Year’s resolutions, I have been thinking about what I would wish for 2013 in books.  Turns out I have quite a few wishes, some  I would like to share in hopes they reach an author’s ear or more…..

❋I wish that 2013 brings a new book from JL Langley, this one to feature Sterling and Rhys, her wolf shifters…boy have we been waiting for their story.

❋I wish that 2013 brings another book in the Knitting series from Amy Lane *cough Jeremy cough*

❋I wish that 2013 brings Roan, Dylan, Holden, and the rest back with a fervor because Andrea Speed is killing me with anticipation over what the virus is going to do to Roan next.

❋I wish that Josh Lanyon is relaxed and happy from his sabbatical and ready to unleash some new books on his adoring fans.

❋I wish that I finally have time to start and finish JP Barnaby‘s Lost Boy series.

❋I wish that when authors are describing human eyes, the term “orb” doesn’t even come to mind as a word choice.  Really, people, you are making me mental with this one.  No more “his adoring blue orbs”.  Do you hear how dumb that sounds?  Magical orbs, alien orbs, fine.  Human orbs, no. Emphatically, unwaveringly, absolutely no.  See my Vocabulary Gone Bad series.

❋Ditto man tits.

❋I wish to that Abigail Roux doesn’t hurt Ty and Zane too badly in her next Cut & Run series, but that probably won’t happen.

❋I wish to see fewer instances of “instalove”, more measured steps towards a romantic relationship.

❋I wish that 2013 brings new stories about the Roughstock gang (BA Tortuga) and see Sam further along in his recovery.

❋I wish that Mary Calmes gives us another story in her werepanther universe and Domin Thorne and Yuri, really love those two.

❋I wish that I start taking my time reading books I have been waiting for instead of rushing through them (and then having to start over).  Patience, I need more patience.

❋I wish that when authors put their characters through hell (rape, savage attacks etc), there is no instant recovery without any effects from the abuse.  If you are going to go there, then at least make what happens to these people realistic all the way through.  No brutal multiple rapes and then joyful snowmobiling through the countryside. This makes me crazy too.

❋I wish that Andrew Grey is as prolific as he was in 2012.  I need more  Range stories and Taste of Love series.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me finish and write the rest of the reviews for Charlie Cochrane‘s outstanding Cambridge Fellows series, really I have no good excuse for this one, time just got away from me.

❋I wish that RJ Scott continues to write in her Sanctuary series, love those boys and TJ Klune brings back more bad poetry from the Kid as well as the Kid himself.

❋I wish to see less rushed endings and more complete backstories.

❋My wish for Sarah Black is for the Pacific Northwest to be as big a muse as the American southwest has been in the past.

❋I wish for more great m/m science fiction.

❋I wish for more in the Wick universe from Megan Derr.

❋I wish for anything new from Laura Baumbach.

❋I wish to see Tucker Springs explode with stories from many of my favorite authors (Marie Sexton, Heidi Cullinan and LA Witt).

❋I wish for more of the Bellingham Mysteries from Nicole Kimberling and Bellski stories from Astrid Amara.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me discover more new authors I can’t live without.  Thank you, 2012 for RC Cooper, Amelia C. Gormley, Rodney Ross, Shira Anthony, Poppy Denison, Marguerite Labbe, Joel Skelton, Katey Hawthorne, Piper J. Vaughn, Cardeno C, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane to name the ones that jump into my fogged brain this morning.

❋I wish to thank those authors whose stories I have been reading for sometimes for the continued enjoyment and hours of escape you have given me and so many other readers…..Ariel Tachna, Ethan Day, Anne Tenino, James Buchanan, SJ Frost, Josephine Myles, Willa Okati, Carole Cummings, Isabelle Rowan, Kate Steele, Lynn Lorenz, and so many others (again fogged brain from late night and Redskins game).

❋And a final wish for 2013 is for people to remember and rediscover the wonderful Home series by William Neale, an author who will truly be missed.

So that’s it, all my pathetic brain can spew out today.  I am sure there is much more trying to battle their way forward but they will have to wait.  A shout out to all the couples in Maryland that starting getting married at 12:01am this morning. Congratulations and a Happy New Year.  I will be leaving you all with a picture of Kirby in his New Year’s finest, please note the black leis, a nice touch don’t you think to go with his tiara?

DSCF1412

Scattered Thoughts Best Books of 2012

Standard

What a spectacular year for great books in every genre from historical to fantasy! I have read so many wonderful books and series this year that it is hard to even begin to narrow down the list, although I have tried. What makes a book great for me? So many things, that it needs its own list.

The books I listed here are ones that moved me to tears and made me laugh out loud, they took me to places I have never been to see sights fantastic, miraculous, and awe inspiring. I have watched dragons soar and seen twin suns set over alien worlds. Through these wonderful authors I have met people who continue to stay with me through the power of their stories and the connectedness that I feel with each of the characters I have read about. Sometimes the books have taught me something about myself and how I looked at others or just gave me a deeper appreciation for my fellow beings.

I have grieved with men who have lost their soul mates, been with them as they worked through the trauma and loss, and celebrated as they moved forward with their lives. I watched men fall in love, whether it be with shifters, wizards, or just a man they met on the side of the road. Love lost, love found or lovers rediscovering the best about each other…that seems to know no boundaries as far as who you are and what world you inhabit. It doesn’t even matter whether the story is set in the past or goes far into the future. The authors and books listed here are ones that I cherish and return to often to visit with them once more. If you haven’t already read them, I hope you will add them to your list of must reads, as they are surely mine.

Oh, and by the way, this list is not complete. There are some wonderful books still to be released in the last two weeks of December, and there are some that I just missed from my own reviews. So look to see a revised list after the first of the year. Really there is something for everyone here. Happy reading!

Best Historical Book:
All Lessons Learned by Charlie Cochrane (Best Series) review coming in 2013
The Celestial by Barry Brennessel
The Mystery of Ruby Lode by Scotty Cade

Best Short Story

Eight Days by Cardeno C
Fair Puckled by Bella Leone
Lily by Xavier Axelson
Leather Work and Lonely Cowboys, a Roughstock story, by BA Tortuga
Too Careful by Half, a Roughstock story, BA Tortuga

Best Contemporary Romance – Standalone

Fall Into the Sun by Val Kovalin
Marathon Cowboys by Sarah Black

Fallout by Ariel Tachna

Good Bones by Kim Fielding

Legend of the Apache Kid by Sarah Black

Mine by Mary Calmes
Play It Again, Charlie by RC CooperScrap Metal by Harper Fox
Sidecar by Amy Lane

The Cool Part of His Pillow by Rodney Ross

 Best Novels – Part of a Series

A Foreign Range by Andrew Grey
Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley
But My Boyfriend Is by KA Mitchell
Chase the Stars by Ariel Tachna
Cherish, Faith, Love & Devotion 4 by Tere Michaels
Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne Tenino
Full Circle by RJ Scott
Hope by William Neale
Inherit the Sky by Ariel Tachna (Best Series)
Second Hand, a Tucker Springs story by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux (Best Series)
The Journal of Sanctuary One by RJ Scott
The Melody Thief by Shira Anthony (also Best Series)
Who We Are by TJ Klune

Best First Novels
The Cool Park of His Pillow by Rodney Ross
Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
Inertia by Amelia C. Gormley (Best Series)

Best Supernatural Book:
A Token of Time by Ethan Day
Crucible of Fate by Mary Calmes (Best Series)
Druid Stone by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Ghosts in the Wind by Marguerite Labbe
Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed (Best Series)
Riot Boy by Katey Hawthorne
The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux

Science Fiction Books:
Emerald Fire by A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder
The Trust by Shira Anthony

Best Fantasy Books:
 Black Magic by Megan Derr
Burning Bright by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Chaos (Lost Gods series) by Megan Derr
Magic’s Muse by Anne Barwell
Poison by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Treasure by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Best Series – new books this year:
A Change of Heart series by Mary Calmes (supernatural)
Blue Notes series by Shira Anthony (contemporary)
Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane (historical)
Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux (and Madeleine Urban) (Contemporary)
Faith, Love & Devotion series by Tere Michaels (contemporary)
Infected Series by Andrea Speed (supernatural)
Knitting series by Amy Lane (contemporary)
Lost Gods by Megan Derr (Fantasy)
Sanctuary series by RJ Scott (contemporary)
Sci Regency series by JL Langley (science fiction)

So Many Great Series, here are more of my favorites:

A Matter of Time series by Mary Calmes (contemporary)

Jewel Bonds series by Megan Derr (fantasy)

Superpowered Love series by Katey Hawthorne

Wick series by Megan Derr
Best Anthologies:

Three Fates
Animal Magnetism
Lashings of Sauce
Making Contact

I know that many books are missing but I just did not get to them this year, including JP Barnaby’s Little Boy Lost series, Andrew Grey’s Range series, and so many more.  Look for them in 2013.  Do you have a favorite I should know about?  Write me and let me know.

Review of The Druid Stone by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars

Sean O’Hara has not had an easy life but he never knew what terror was until the nightmares started.  Night after night he relives the torture and death of a young man.  It all started after he inherited an Irish stone from his great grandfather. After seeing every type of doctor and taking all sorts of medicine, Sean is at wits end until he sees an advertisement in the paper and decides this is the only way he is going to get the help he needs, even if it takes him to Ireland.

Cormac Kelly is a Druid.  He runs a paranormal investigation business that is also his family’s calling.  Like his father, and his grandfather before him, Cormac sees the world in layers, including the realm of the fae.  He doesn’t have time for frivolous calls from American tourists wanting to see the Ireland of the movies and fairytales.  Cormac knows those fairytales have their basis in things humans should not meddle in.

But when Cormac meets Sean, he realizes that the stone Sean carries is hexed and Sean’s plight is all too real.  The haunted, pale American touches Cormac on many levels.  He hasn’t been more than just physically attracted to someone in a long time but now Sean pulls at him both physically and emotionally, although Cormac is loathe to admit the latter.  As they investigate Sean’s stone and the meaning of his nightmares, they find the sidhe of Ancient Ireland are deeply involved and not just in Sean’s case.  Ten years earlier, Cormac lost the love of his life on a night he was to destroy a changling child, now both cases are twining together.  As the danger surrounds them, Cormac and Sean must journey into the past through the realm of the sidhe to solve both cases and save their burgeoning relationship as well as their lives.

I am becoming obsessed with the stories of Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane.  As they did with Hawaiian Gothic, they throw us pell-mell into another land, mire us in its customs and cement upon us both the fascination and obsession that Ireland holds for us. They do this as they weave a story of two men of Ireland, one so rooted in the old ways that he cannot bear to leave the family lands and township.  The other, Sean O’Hara, is of Irish descent.  Ireland has a deep hold on both of them but only one is aware of its true power.  The authors use  these wonderful characters to explore Ireland and her mythology, sink us deep into her alluring land, her people, and the Fae of Ancient lore. Belleau and Vane feed us information about the Irish countryside and folklore so skillfully that not once did I feel as though a info dump had occurred.

I have always loved Irish folklore and have the groaning library shelves to prove it.  And reading an author(s) take on the Fae is almost a compulsive read for me.  Belleau and Vane did an outstanding job of bringing the Sidhe to life in all their seductive and terrifying ways.  When Sean meets Finnbheara, the Sidhe lord, you feel Sean’s helpless attraction as well as his fear so real, so powerful does Finnbheara come across. Almost half of the book takes place in the realm of the Sidhe and the vivid descriptions keep the reader engaged, pulling us into a world so authentic that the characters fears become our own.

Along with Ireland itself, the characters of The Druid Stone are as believably realistic as the people next door.  They have made mistakes, have faults and histories of loss and love. Cormac shows an amount of arrogance and pride that at times makes him dislikable but hidden behind it is a need to keep himself separate from others and from the possibility of love so deep is his hurt and guilt over Michael’s loss. Sean is a beautiful character, with unexpected facets and layers that quickly endear him to the reader as well as the other characters in the book, human and otherwise. Sean’s sexuality is also an area of confusion for himself and the reader.  Cormac is his first real male love but his previous encounters with women have been unsatisfactory. So it is never completely resolved as to whether Sean is bisexual, gay or “gay for Cormac”.  I don’t think it really matters to either the story or their relationship, but Sean reads bisexual to me.  There are aspects to his sexuality that I cannot discuss because of spoilers but in the end, it is the love between two individuals that matter and not labels.

If I have any quibble, it is that towards the end, their journey towards happiness has one too many obstacles to overcome to my satisfaction.  Perhaps, I was getting too impatient but one less jump to clear would have made this a 5 star instead of 4.75 star read for me. As it is this story ticks so many boxes for me.  I am of Irish and Scottish ancestry and have had three Irish Wolfhounds to enrich my life.  I love Ireland with a passion, the land, the culture, the feeling of coming home when I visit.  Reading this book took me back there, what a gift. I loved this book and will reread it again.  I hope you will yourself doing the same.  Slainte!

Cover: Gorgeous cover.  I couldn’t locate the name of the cover artist.  My only quibble is that I would have loved to see a Irish Wolfhound somewhere on the cover.  But that’s just me!

Read my review of Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane here.

Olympics Addiction Continues, the week ahead in Reviews and a new Summer Cocktail

Standard

It’s August, it’s hot and dry here in Maryland.  Normal right?  Well, except for the 100 degree days, but the dryness?  That’s becoming typical too.  We are down about 8 inches here from our normal rainfall, but compared to some of the other states now experiencing record drought conditions, that is nothing.  As we hear of farmers and ranchers selling off stock they can’t feed and the Mississippi is down 20 ft in places,  along with Lake Michigan recording a water temperature in the 90’s,  I think Maryland is getting off easy comparatively speaking.  But we will feel it, make no doubt about it.  Higher food prices, higher costs in transportation, we are all woven together.  A small ripple here becomes a tidal wave there.

So I would like to think that the Olympics in Great Britain are generating tidal waves of good feelings that are crashing upon the shores of many nations.  I love watching athletes from all over the world competing and (mostly, what was with those badminton teams?) giving it their best.  Did you see that rower from Niger?  Never been in a boat, never rowed  before, came in dead last and grinned like crazy! And then there is Michael Phelps putting on a show of remarkable  physical ability, great team spirit and a happiness that I will remember for some time to come.  So many wonderful moments this week from the women competing whether it was gymnastics, swimming, Judo, weightlifting, or women in head scarves running like the wind.  I am just glued to my set and don’t see that changing until the very last whistle is blown and the torch goes out.  How about you?  Are you watching?

So this is what I have been reading in between watching the Olympics:

Monday:                       The Druid Stone by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane

Tuesday:                        When Forever May Not Be Long Enough by Mychael Black and Shayne Carmichael

Wednesday:                  The Florist by Serena Yates

Thursday:                       Priceless by M.A. Church

Friday:                            Suicide Point by Georgie Leigh

Saturday:                        Brook Street: Thief by Ava March

Now on to this Sunday’s Feature Cocktail.  In a nod to the British Olympics, here is the recipe for a Pimm’s Cup.  This recipe is  for one drink. Make as many as you like!

 

 

 

 

 

Pimm’s Cup Ingredients:

About 1 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Pimm’s No. 1
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) ginger beer or ginger ale
1 cucumber slice
1 sprig fresh mint (5 to 6 leaves)
Directions:

Fill highball glass with ice. Add Pimm’s, then top with ginger beer, garnish with cucumber slice and mint sprig, and serve.

Now I am off to watch the Olympics and finish Megan Derr’s Poison, the 4th book in the Lost Gods series.

The Week Ahead and A Light Easy Cheesecake to Die For!

Standard

Maryland has felt like Phoenix this week, right up until the storm that nailed parts of the area Friday night.  There are still thousands of people without power and in some cases homes due to the high winds that toppled power lines and trees.  Unreal.  With the heat index in the 100’s, it was a great time to have my nose buried in a book or 10 (easy to do with a Kindle).  The dogs totally agreed with that sentiment and kept me company, happy in the ac.  I did fix a new recipe from Bon Appetite, a light and fluffy cheesecake that will quickly become a favorite desert of yours as it did mine.  Yes, a fluffy cheesecake!  So look for the recipe after the week’s review schedule:

Monday:                                 A Self Portrait by JP Bowie

Tuesday:                                 Dance with the Devil by Megan Derr

Wednesday:                           Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau  and Violetta Vane*

Thursday:                               Lessons in Power, Cambridge Fellows #5 by Charlie Cochrane

Friday:                                     The Wizard and the Werewolf by Amber Kell

Saturday:                                 The Lonely War by Alan Chin

So you say you need a little something to go with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a good book?  Here is a recipe you must make courtesy of Bon Appetite Magazine, we ate ours right down to the last little crumb:

Cheesecake with Ginger-Lime Candied Raspberries:

Shortbread Crust Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup shortbread cookie crumbs made from 6 oz. shortbread cookies (such as Walkers), finely ground in a food processor
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of fine sea salt
Cheesecake Ingredients:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin2/3 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, room temperaturePinch of fine sea salt
10 ounces cream cheese, cut into 10 pieces, room temperature
1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup heavy cream, beaten to soft peaks
Ginger-Lime Candied Raspberries
1 6-oz. container fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint leaves plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Preparation
Shortbread Crust
Lightly coat an 8x8x2″ baking pan with nonstick spray; line with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang.
Mix crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl until it resembles moist sand. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Cover; chill.
Cheesecake
Place 2 Tbsp. cold water in a small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin is soft, 5-10 minutes.
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat sugar, butter, and salt in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With motor running, add cream cheese 1 piece at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in crème fraîche, orange juice, and lime juice.
Gently heat gelatin over lowest heat, stirring constantly, just until gelatin dissolves. Scrape gelatin into cream cheese mixture; beat to blend. Fold in whipped cream just to incorporate. Pour mixture over crust; smooth top. Chill until set, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Cheesecake can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled, or freeze airtight for up to 2 weeks.
Ginger-Lime Candied Raspberries
Cook first 3 ingredients, 1 Tbsp. mint, lime juice, and 1 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan over low heat until raspberries are soft and juices are released, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Using plastic wrap overhang, lift cheese-cake from pan and place on a flat surface. Cut into pieces; place on plates. Spoon candied raspberries over; drizzle with sauce and garnish with mint.