Tory’s Random Ramblings (1/30/14)

We made it through another week, and what a week it’s been for me! Yup, I actually have news! Not just cute pictures (IMO) of my kids and updates on my house, but real, honest-to-goodness news about my life as an author (yeah, I know it’s easy to forget, but I really am an author trying to get more stuff published!).

I HAVE AN AGENT!

Okay, got that (mostly) out of my system. I am oh-so-pleased to announce that I have finally obtained an agent, and one I’ve been trying to get for a very long time, so I’m even more excited…well, maybe not, but just so thrilled to finally have her for my very own (even if I have to share her with her other clients). I am now officially represented by Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

I’m not kidding when I say I’ve been chasing the woman for a long time (and finally wore her down).  Here’s the very first blog post reference I ever made about her, on my old Blogger blog. Yup, she was one of the very first agents EVER to request a full from me. I still remember how excited I was and a couple of email exchanges. It didn’t amount to anything at the time, but persistence paid off. I’ve come to know her far better over the past few years. I can definitely say my writing’s matured since then and she probably was right to ultimately pass on Rage. It certainly didn’t go anywhere exciting when it was released.

So yay – I’m represented now. Woohoo!

The House

No, you aren’t going to escape this week without hearing about the house (well, unless you skip this section). Changes taking place aren’t nearly so dramatic just driving by. Inside is slightly different. I know they worked on the wiring last week and they actually hung the patio door and the front and garage doors. Check it out!

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It’s definitely progress though and we’re always happy to see that.

On Writing

I have issues. That’s all. Issues.

Children

Yup, they’re cute and I love them, even when Psycho Sam sits in the backseat and lets out these ear-piercing screeches (sometimes just because she’s getting Jackie to giggle, others because she’s pissed at me for buckling her in, etc.).

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Daddy wanted the picture on the right taken – he said they were wearing “bubble crowns”. And it’s cute.

Weather

OMG – what is up with this weather? Okay, yeah, I know it’s winter, but yeesh. Check out what was the forecast for today (pictured yesterday, and it didn’t end up quite as cold as predicted):

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Ah well, it’s due to be in the 40’s today and up to the 60’s tomorrow. So short and sweet. These cold blasts are nice for reminding us that (1) it’s winter, and (2) aren’t we glad we live in Florida and don’t have to deal with this cold for months on end. Hehehe.

In Conclusion

I’m done. 🙂 Please, let me know if you have any fun plans for the weekend so I can live vicariously through you! I have no life. Hehehe.

 

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Mid-Week #Movie – Mortal Instruments: City of Bone

MICOBHusband and I saw this this weekend and I really found it enjoyable. I remember when it came out, people who’ve read the books found it flat and disappointing. Having not read the books (though I’ve read part of the prequel Clockwork series), I could just watch it for sheer enjoyment and I did just that. I really liked the movie and Josh did too. He only initially wanted to watch it because he knew I did, but then ended up asking me to try to find the book on CD so he could listen/read it. I’m on a waiting list at the library to read it m’self.

I apologize in advance if anything I say seems to be spoilerish.

Okay, visually, I found a lot to like in this movie. I liked The Institute, especially the first shot when Clary can see it and Simon can’t, and the camera goes from the dull, broken-down image to Clary’s clear-cut view. The invasion of the bat/demon things at the end was great, as was when Hodge goes down fighting the swarm of demons.

It’s hard to find a movie in which Lena Heady (Mom in this case, but well known for being Sarah Connor in the Sarah Connor Chronicles and the queen from 300) does badly. Unfortunately (in my opinion) she was largely wasted and had little presence in this movie.

Some of the characters did come across a bit flat for me, but I attribute that primarily to the fact that they presumably had to cut enormous bits of the text out in the transition to the screen and because of that, some of the character development ended up being cut as well. That’s not unusual in movies, IMO.

I liked the vampires being truly evil and their use of Simon to try to get Clary. The world imagined by Ms. Clare is a dark one (if you’re aware of the paranormal elements – otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual).

So – have you seen MI: City of Bones? Have you read any of the books by Ms. Clare set in this world? Leave a comment and let’s talk!

#Review: Must Love Dukes

Must Love Dukes (Tricks of the Ton 1)

Author: Elizabeth Michels
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: February 4, 2014
Description:

MustLily is furious with her older brothers for incurring so much gambling debt they’ve had to start selling off family heirlooms. She is not about to let some stranger make off with her father’s pocket watch. Oh, no. She’s going to steal it back. And thus begins a life of new life of brazen seduction, alter egos, and one night with a mad duke that will forever be seared in her memory…

When Devon Grey, Duke of Thornwood, next sees the chit who literally stole from his bedchamber, he’s determined to expose the prim and proper miss for what she really is. With one wild dare after another, he’ll have Lily setting London ablaze with scandal. But the last laugh is on him…

My Thoughts:

I don’t often think of historicals as something I’m going to giggle at throughout (in a good way, not an oh-my-god-this-is-eye-rollingly-bad way), but Ms. Michels managed to do just that throughout Must Love Dukes. I found her voice fresh and her quirky sense of humor (which really shines when it comes to Devon and his taking advantage of his title as the “Mad Duke”).

Lily’s family bites, that’s about the politest word I have for them. Money and power hungry, and willing to sell her to the highest bidder. She doesn’t want to go to London just to be forced into a marriage but two of her brothers make her do just that. The third, Nathaniel, is awesome (and gay). Kudos to Ms. Michels for the inclusion of a gay brother who has a protector, in the way that courtesans usually do. It made for a very different sort of character (in my opinion) and really richened up the atmosphere for me in this book.

Devon has lived down the title of Mad Duke ever since the title passed to him. The Ton thinks his family’s cracked because his father was an explorer and wanted to do that, not sit around and play Society games. Unfortunately, that saddled Devon and the title with a lot of debt and he’s focused on saving his family. Then he meets Lily, who steals a pocket watch he’d just bought, and then after a night of rather awesome loving, she sneaks out and he can’t find her.

A year later, he finally does and we learn that Lily had stolen the watch because her brother (not Nathaniel) was selling off the family heirlooms to keep money flowing in and she was hurting over the recent death of her father. She’s now being forced into Society to marry to bring in a fat purse from a prospective husband. Her one rebellion against this is she refuses to live with her jerk brothers and instead stays with Nathaniel who was disowned many years earlier because of his, er, lifestyle choice.

When Devon sees the little miss who stole his watch, he takes advantage, blackmailing her into helping him cause havok amongst society (and it’s hilarious the results of his tasks – I mean, c’mon, he made a horse horny and in the prissy society of the times, you can imagine how that went over). Of course the sparks that sent them to bed are still there.

I loved the final pages of this book where Lily’s brothers get what they deserve, and Devon and Lily find a way to be together. The whole book just sparkled for me and I can’t wait to read another by Ms. Michels (I have the second book in the series, but you’re going to have to wait an entire month until I review it. HAH!)

Please, do yourself a favor and jump all over this book if you like Regencies with a sense of humor to them. I know I certainly did. Mad Duke Devon is going on my list of favorite heroes.

Thank you, Ms. Michels and Sourcebooks, for letting me read this!

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Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Covet’s January Release-Day Blast!

Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, LIKE their Facebook page, and join the Book Club.

Also, make sure to hop on over the Entangled in Romance blog to join in the fun as Covet challenges readers to share their worst date stories. The worse, the better, hold no punches!

Today I’m happy to be featuring Covet’s January releases:

 

Love at Stake by Victoria Davies


Abbey is the lone human working for Fated Match, a company that pairs members of the supernatural community with their eternal mates.
To snag a young vampire socialite as their next client, Abbey journeys to the home of Lucian Redgrave, the oldest vampire on the East Coast. But he’s not willing to allow his vampire daughter to use the agency… unless Abbey can first find his perfect match in a month.

As Abbey coaches Lucian through his dates, she can’t deny the chemistry between them. But humans are toys for vampires, and risking her heart isn’t a part of the plan.

 

 

Haunt Me by Heather Long

Recently divorced author MacKenzie Dillon has lost her writing mojo. When she inherits her great aunt’s haunted house in Virginia, she is determined to make a new start. The creepy old house provides inspiration but at what cost?

Successful architect and paranormal skeptic Justin Kent returns to Penny Hollow to fulfill his father’s dying wish of revitalizing their small town. To do that, he needs the allegedly haunted estate at Summerfield. Mac, the new owner, may be gorgeous and spunky, but she refuses to sell.

These two have a dangerous history that spans the ages, but will they discover the truth in time to save their lives?

 

 

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#Review – High Heeled Wonder

 

High Heeled Wonder

Author: Avery Flynn
Publisher: Entangled/Ignite
Date of Publication: January 27, 2014
Description:

HHW

Sylvie Bissette may be one of Harbor City’s youngest glitterati, but only her best friends know her most closely guarded secret. She’s the woman behind The High-Heeled Wonder, a must-read blog for fashionistas everywhere. Gossip, fashion advice, exposés. Too bad some people can’t take a little criticism. When an internet troll discovers her secret identity and escalates from stalking her to threatening her life, Sylvie turns to security expert Tony Falcon for help. The investigator from the other side of the tracks is the olive oil to her Evian water and aggravates her to no end, but it’s not just her temper he’s inciting…

 

Tony Falcon wouldn’t know a kitten heel from a tabby cat, but since most of the bad guys he tracks down aren’t wearing stilettos, it’s never been a problem…until he meets Sylvie. When a murder investigation leads him to the same place Sylvie works, he realizes the feisty fashionista may be his best chance at catching the criminals who killed his best friend. It all leads back to the cut-throat fashion world. But solving that case means going after the people Sylvie cares about, and soon his attraction for her–and the danger she’s in–has him wondering if solving the case is worth hurting the woman he can’t stop fantasizing about …When Sylvie’s almost run over in broad daylight, Tony goes undercover as her boyfriend to infiltrate the close-knit fashion community. And when they discover Sylvie’s stalker may be linked to Tony’s own investigation, what started as a simple plan to find his friend’s killers turns into a hot bed of secrets and revelations. In a world full of overblown egos and dog-eat-dog ambition, Tony and Sylvie must work together to find her revenge-obsessed stalker before Sylvie ends up with a literal knife in the back.

My Thoughts:

This was a quick, easy read, yet another successful book out from Entangled. I’m so glad to be as involved with them as I am.

Sylvie is a great woman with an interesting job – she blogs about the fashion industry. That seems to be a growing profession in books, making a living writing a blog about something. This is at least the third book in the past year I’ve read with that as a profession. She’s got her sad history, and lordy it’s very sad. But she definitely grows over the course of this novel and it was a pleasure to see her realize where her boundaries had been set and then charge through them in pursuit of the man she’s falling in love with.

Tony. Well, Tony. I don’t approve of the initial way he started slithering into her life (the real reason is revealed a good portion of the way through the book), but he didn’t let it stop him from actually stepping up and being the body guard it turned out that she needed. It’s hard not to love and respect a man who literally will throw himself in front of a moving vehicle to protect a girl, and Tony does just that.

There was a lot of push and pull, but these two really needed each other to heal from past wounds. The thing that kept me from giving this five stars is the fact that I just didn’t feel the danger Sylvie was in. Oh sure, she dodged some bullets, has a break-in, and all that, but for some reason the suspense part just didn’t fly with me. On a nice note, I definitely didn’t guess who done it, and I always like that. I just wish I’d had more “heart in my throat” moments, gross as that sounds.

Thankfully they get their happy ending and I’m curious to see what’s next in the series from Ms. Flynn!

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Friday Random Ramblings (1/24/14)

Howdy everyone. Happy Friday to you! I know I’m glad it’s almost the weekend. Woot! I was supposed to go on a Cub Scout camp-out this weekend to Fort Clinch, but it was cancelled due to extreme (for Florida) cold (the high’s not supposed to even get to 50, the low in the 20s tomorrow morning). So, yeah, I’m sad. I like the campouts. Not because I like sleeping on the ground or being close to nature, oh no. I like it ’cause it’s like a mini-vacation for me. No girls sitting on my lap or having meltdowns because I told them “Get out of the closet!” or “stop sitting on your sister!” But I still miss them when I’m away from them. They’re definitely getting better though. I very rarely have to break them up from biting one another any more.

So, as you may have noticed, I’m trying some new things here on the blog. Yes, we’ll still have oodles of reviews (I gotta have something to post about and my real life just really isn’t that exciting), but I’m trying a couple of weekly things. Obviously the Random Ramblings will continue at the very least on Fridays, though occasionally I’ll throw them in at other points just to keep things random. But I’ve added the Mid-Week Movie thing. Feel free to suggest movies you’d like to talk about in future weeks.

On Family

Hubby got awesome points because he told me to take a bath. Just random, out of the blue, why don’t I go…Normally it’s a Friday or Saturday only thing (because who has time during the week?), but he suggested it ’cause he knew I liked doing it when it was cold.

And then he promptly lost them by indicating there would be nothing special done/out of the ordinary for our tenth anniversary (ten freakin’ years married, OMG I’m still amazed we’ve made it this long). Okay, I admit – it’s next to impossible for us to go out since we have no babysitters, but still. NO plans?! Granted, I didn’t really have anything planned either, but hrmph. Hopefully I’ll still get flowers. He usually sends them to me once or twice a year, and the anniversary would be a great time.

Shrimpettes are adorable. The other day they spent like a half hour at the table after dinner, just sitting there with their juice and giggling. Best we (I) can tell, they were making faces at each other, which prompted the cascades of laughter. They started giggling on the car ride home last night and I think I caught Jackie making one of the looks that makes Sam go off. It’s sort of a cross between the stink-eye look and rolling her eyes. It was HILARIOUS! Impossible to accurately describe either.

The Shrimp…yikes. His spelling needs help. He’s not doing well on spelling tests.

The House

We’ve gotten to a point in the building process where it’s hard to see any progress because the exterior’s up and you can’t really see inside any more. However, I wandered in there last weekend and we have duct work. And tubs! Check it out!

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Oh yeah, we have some doors in the house too. Not necessarily attached to anything, but they’re there! And actual windows in the window frames! Wow!

On Writing

Um. I think I write. Maybe a little. I’m procrastinating, though I’m going to probably try to re-snowflake Carved in Stone since I need to make it shorter than originally planned (the first draft landed at 65k with the intention of rewriting and building it up to 90k). Strangely enough, 65-70k is where I want it to land now. But it has to have some structural rebuilding, and let’s face it. The first draft was awful. The second is about 19k, and has some very nice high points to it.

And then there are all the other ideas that are starting populate my head and distract me from the gargoyles…..Gr. But who knows what I’ll do next.

In Conclusion

That’s pretty much it for me this week. Got any plans for this weekend?

#Review: Break Out

Break Out (Blood Hunter #1)

Author: Nina Croft
Publisher: Entangled/Edge
Date of Publication: December 30, 2013
Description:

The year is 3048, Earth is no longer habitable, and man has fled to the staBreakrs where they’ve discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Unfortunately, the radioactive mineral is exorbitantly expensive and only available to a select few. A new class comprised of the super rich and immortal soon evolves. The Collective, as they’re called, rule the universe.

Two-thousand-year-old Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and rogue pilot of the space cruiser, El Cazador, can’t resist two things: gorgeous women and impossible jobs. When beautiful Skylar Rossaria approaches him to break a prisoner out of the Collective’s maximum security prison on Trakis One, Rico jumps at the chance. Being hunted by the Collective has never been so dangerous–or so fun!

My Thoughts:

And once again, Ms. Awesome Croft has knocked the story out of the park. I swear there is not a single bad book written by her. This one is a future space-set paranormal romance. I mean, you got vampires in space…and immortal humans! Wowser!

Okay, enough raving. Skylar is a woman on a mission – she’s been sent by the Collective to break a prisoner out of the highest-security prison (though she doesn’t know why the Collective wants to set him free, given said prisoner was responsible for killing the head of the Collective). The best candidate for the job is a space-pirate crew headed by Rico on a ship that (when the name is translated) is called Blood Hunter (apropos for a ship run by a vampire, yes?). She intends to use him/his ship by posing as a normal human (hiding all traces that she’s an immortal member of the Collective) and claiming that the prisoner is her brother that she wants to rescue.

Rico knows from the get-go that there’s more to Skylar than she admits, but he’s not certain what (though later on it’s made clear he had a pretty good idea she was Collective early in their relationship). But given the money she’s offering, he can’t turn the job down.

The crew goes through all sorts of ordeals trying to rescue the prisoner before he’s shipped off to the mines that supply the expensive mineral that makes people (for a price) immortal (and poisons the miners in the process, with them dying hideous deaths within two years on the planet). There’s a constant sense of danger and risk to all the parties involved, and I loved watching Skylar war with herself on who she wants to side with/return to after her mission is complete.

I liked Rico and his perspective, given he’s over 2000 years old (so has lived on earth, while none of the others have). I loved how he was at war with himself over being tempted to try to use his gifts, needing to feed, and all of that.

There was a great cast of secondary characters as well. And let’s just say the ending, when they finally make their run on the prison planet, it was spectacular as only Ms. Croft can pull off and do believably. It opened the door wide for the second book in the series (which I purchased like 6 seconds after finishing Break Out, and am now miserably impatient as I wait for #3 to be released later this year). I like the overall series arc, which deals with the Meridian compound. Each book is clearly building on details dropped in the prior ones, although each book does stand alone.

In short, get this  book. Get its sequel. Get the next one when it comes out. ‘Nuff said!

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Book provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review!

#Review: The Nymph’s Labyrinth

The Nymph’s Labyrinth (Nymphs #1)

Author: Danica Winters
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Date of Publication:
December 31, 2012 Description:

NympthA world shrouded in mystery and intrigue, the Sisterhood of Epione must not be exposed. Shape-shifting nymph Ariadne Papadakis is tasked with keeping the truth of the group’s existence and their ancient mysteries far out of reach of the American archeologist, Beau Morris and his troublemaking son, Kaden. When forgotten and forbidden passions are awakened, Ariadne is forced make a choice – fall in line and continue to be overrun and pushed down by the sisterhood, or follow her heart and put Beau and Kaden’s lives in danger. Can she have the man she loves or will the pressure and secrets of her past keep her from her heart’s desire?

My Thoughts:

I’ve never read a book by Ms. Winters, but I’ve seen this book around for a while and it always tempted me, so I finally gave in to temptation and gave it a try. I’m glad I did. The choice of the Minoan culture and the nymphs was a great one. There’s always plenty of study/interest in the Greeks, but the Minoans were a very separate culture, and I liked Ms. Winters’ spin on them.

Getting to meet Ariadne, the girl who helped in Theseus, see her POV/thoughts about that particular adventure was great. Ariadne’s faced with the same curse that all nymphs have been since the time of Epione – if she loves a human, the human will sicken and die. So, obviously this puts a damper on all potential romances with anyone human. She’s also one of the many nymphs still on the island and she’s been charged with making sure that Dr. Beau Morris doesn’t obtain his life’s desire and prove the existence of the mythical Labyrinth. She goes to great extremes to do that, including planting a skeleton on the site to pull the archaeological dig to a halt as the authorities investigate.

Beau has faced a lot of ridicule in the academic community because of his chase of the myth of the Labyrinth, but he senses he’s getting really close. Unfortunately, time (and funding) is running out. Add in his ex-wife (a horrible piece of work, although her main crime is being a shallow twit, not anything truly heinous) dumping their kid off without any warning so she can go on her honeymoon and he’s got his hands full. He’s not looking for romance but ends up finding it with Ariadne, though he doesn’t know she’s not just named after the heroine from the Labyrinth tales but the actual heroine. I really liked the push and pull of the romance between Beau and Ariadne. They both had definite paths that they were trying to follow (Ariadne trying so hard not to fall in love because she doesn’t want to make anyone die and Beau determined to redeem his academic name), but that didn’t completely blind them to finding love.

There were some interesting secondary characters including Stavros (the governor of the territory, immortal, and long-time lover of Ariadne), Kat (acknowledged leader of the nymphs and not a very nice person), Kaden (Beau’s son who’s drawn to a nymph of his own), and Tammy (a witch). The story moved quickly and had a lot of humor in it, along with some great tension filled moments. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants paranormal romance without fangs involved. 4 stars and Ms. Winters’ other books will find their way onto my already overly full TBR list (there are 2 others currently out in the Nymphs series with a fourth coming out in a few months).

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Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mid-Week Movie – Riddick

Welcome to the inaugural post for the blog’s new feature – Mid-Week Movie! The plan for this feature is to take a movie I’ve seen (or heard about maybe) and discuss it, hopefully sparking conversations with you guys on the movie itself. I like movies almost as much as I like books…okay, nowhere near as much, but I like them a lot just the same!

So to start the process off right, I wanted to talk about Riddick, the 3rd movie in the Chronicles of Riddick series.

Ahhh, isn’t Vin Diesel pretty? Okay, yeah, it had to be said. He is. Not necessarily this generation’s Lawrence Olivier, but he’s awfully nice to look at. And he’s got a great voice.

Moving on before I drool too much…

According to the Wikipedia article (because it’s not made clear in the movie itself), Riddick takes place 5 years after Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick’s having to deal with the effects of having taken over the Necromongers at the end of the last movie. Apparently not everyone’s very happy about his leading them and he decides to allow Vaako to take over in exchange for a ship and Vaako’s coordinates for Furya (Vaako admitted to having been there when Furya was destroyed). This leads him to a planet, Vaako’s subordinate having double-crossed him/his orders, inhabited by nasty scorpion-like creatures who need to be wet at all times that Riddick needs to escape from.

In some ways, this was very similar to Pitch Black, in that Riddick is stuck on a planet with an impending destructive phase heading for him and those on the planet needing to escape (bat-like creatures who only come out when it’s dark in PB and the scorpion creatures who can only move around during a huge rain storm). I actually liked that feature of the movie because the story overall was much simpler and cleaner than with all the intermixing of the Necromonger faith and the invasion. The Necromonger storyline was largely left out of this one, though the end of the movie seems to make it pretty clear it will be picked up if/when the 4th movie comes out (Vaako has “transcended” and we’re left to wonder what exactly that means for the universe/underverse as a whole).

There were plenty of laugh-worthy moments (in a good way), and Riddick’s little pet (a jackal-like creature he picks up early on) is adorable. It really sort of humanized Riddick, though his reasons for having the pet were not so nice in the beginning. I think, though, he really bonded with the puppy and, SPOILER ALERT well, let’s just say the old belief that the dog never dies (think Independence Day, Dante’s Peak, etc.) is sadly not true. But it was handled well.

So – who out there has seen Riddick? Did you like it/hate it? Are you looking forward to the 4th movie (I am whenever that happens!!)? Chime in in comments below and let me know what you thought.

Happy Wednesday everyone.

Another Test Post – sorry for the additional non-important posting

My oh My – I’m just testing things out.

I’d rather not have to remember things like coding, so I’m trying to see if email formatting will transfer over.

My apologies to those who are reading this. I promise, once I get things sorted out, it’ll stop.

· Item one

· Item two

1. List One

2. List Two

Okay, that’s it for now, I think. We shall see. (italics on purpose)

Tory