Monthly Archives: July 2015

Heart of Obsidian

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

I’ve read Heart of Obsidian  by Nalini Singh at least four times. Nalini Singh is one of my absolute favorite authors ( Meeting Nalini Singh ) and I find myself rereading books from her Psy-Changeling series at least once every 3 months. Heart of Obsidian is the book I didn’t know I wanted until the later books in the series. When we’re first introduced to Kaleb Krycheck in Visions of Heat, he is presented as almost a potential villain. ( His heroine, Sahara Kyriakus is also mentioned briefly in Visions of Heat) And he maintains that potential villain status throughout the series, as a Councilor.

Meeting Nalini Singh

Meeting Nalini Singh

However, as the series progresses, hints about Kaleb present a far more intriguing character. Perhaps he isn’t the one-dimensional villain we thought. It becomes clear that there is a driving force behind Kaleb’s actions, a person he is looking for. And at the very end of Tangle of Need , Kaleb finally finds that person.

This book is an emotional roller-coaster. When we are first introduced to Sahara, she is trapped in a labyrinth in her mind, designed to keep her from breaking under the torture of her captors. When Kaleb finally finds her, that labyrinth starts to unravel. She feels a tie to Kaleb but her memories are slow to return. In the meantime, Kaleb works to consolidate his power over the Psy-Net.

One of the things I love most about this book, and which is the driving point, is the relationship between Kaleb and Sahara. Their bond was formed in childhood and bathed in blood. It was able to withstand years apart and horrific torture. While you realize early on that Sahara and Kaleb share a deep past, their relationship essentially begins anew in the time it takes for Sahara’s memories to return. There is the best of both worlds: watching the characters fall in love, romantic and sexual love, while at the same time having a shared bond of friendship and devotion from their childhood.

The complex character which is Kaleb becomes more understandable throughout this book. His Silence always seemed rock-hard and yet, there remains this absolute devotion to Sahara.  “You”, he said, “are the single exception that rule”. The oldest, deepest, most beautiful flaw in his Silence.”Without you, I would be a monster.”

Sahara is his anchor, the sole reason Kaleb does not become a monster, a dictator. While such influence does not seem believable, the characters and world Nalini Singh has weaved in this book, makes it so.

“Sahara dug her fingers into his arms. “You do not do this,” she said, and it was an order. “You do not let that monster destroy the life we are going to have together. You are mine, not his. You have always been mine.”
The claiming was so absolute, it dared him to fight. Kaleb had no intention of doing so. Shudd1370280746001-Heart-of-Obsidianering, he crushed her to him. “Yes,” he said, battling the rage because if he gave in to it, he would lose Sahara. “I’m yours. I will always be yours.”

In addition to the love-story between Kaleb and Sahara, this book also chronicles the fall of Silence. There are devastating attacks by the Pure Psy on different cities, giving Kaleb and the Arrows a chance to demonstrate their power. But through the midst of this terror, there is hope for the future, one without Silence. There are scenes of Psy, humans, and changelings all working together to help the injured and locate the dead. The last Pure Psy attack ends with Kaleb and Sahara, in partnership with SnowDancer and DarkRiver, working to prevent it.

This is the first Psy-changeling book in which both the hero and the heroine are Psy. The packs, DarkRiver and SnowDancer, are the centers of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling universe and the books which move away from the packs, i.e. Blaze of Memory and Bonds of Justice, are my least favorite. However, with Heart of Obsidian, it is clear we are gearing up for more Arrow/Psy books. By starting this arc with Kaleb and Sahara, you are eased away from the packs and into the transition from Silence to a new world. While hopefully the story-line will not move too far away from the packs ( there are still SnowDancer lieutenants I want stories for), I am happy with the currently arc of the series and the role the Arrows and Kaleb will play in the upcoming books. The transition is made all the easier by Kaleb’s protectiveness of Sahara, which mirrors any of the changeling heroes we’ve meet.

I’ll end this review with some of my favorite quotes from Heart of Obsidian. Go read it. Now!

Favorite Quotes: 

“Love is the greatest form of loyalty, one that places happiness of the beloved over the lover.”

“He would do things for he’d do for no one else, but while he’d empty the sky for her so she could spread her wings, fly, he would not set her free. She belonged to him, would always belong to him”

“All right.” Shimmering droplets on her eyelashes, stars caught in transition. “But will you replace it with something for me?”
“Anything.” His body was hers.
Brushing her fingers over his lips, she said, “You gave me an eagle. I want to give you one, too.” A tender kiss pressed to the scar. “I want us to fly together.”

So we literally made the earth move? A slight pause, before Kaleb said, I suggest we don’t engage in sex in populated areas.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Romance Reading in Bryant Park

In addition to RWA last week, I also went to a romance reading in Bryant Park. Joyce Lamb was the moderator. She introduced and asked questions of the following authors:

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Robyn Carr

Beverly Jenkins

Kristan Higgins

Meredith Wild

Elizabeth Hoyt

Each author read an excerpt from one of their books. After the reading, there was time for book-signing. Susan Elizabeth Phillips signed a copy of Heroes Are My Weakness for me.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins

And Kristan Higgins signed The Best Man.

I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips books. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve cried reading Kiss an Angel. And Kristan Higgins books make me laugh my ass off. So meeting them was like a dream come true.

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Booksigning – Nalini Singh with Sarah Wendell

To start off my week of romance novels, last Monday I went to a booksiging for Nalini Singh. I’ve been fortunate that over the last few years, my local Barnes and Noble has hosted a variety of romance novelists. I’ve meet everyone from Eloisa James and Julia Quinn (total fangirl moment) to Brenda Jackson.

Sarah Wendell and my signed copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms- The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels

Sarah Wendell and my signed copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms- The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels

My night started off amazing. I left work early and headed straight to Barnes and Noble. What I can I say, I wanted a good seat and was totally okay with arriving 2 hours early. While I was sitting in Starbucks, rereading Heart of Obsidian, I looked over and there was Sarah Wendell. For those of you who don’t know, Sarah Wendell co-runs one of the best romance websites around: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. And she co-wrote Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels and wrote Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels. So of course, I had to go over and talk to her.

Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh

And ask her to sign my copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms. And chat with her

about romance novels. As one does.

The night got even better from there when Nalini Singh arrived. Since I basically worship the ground she walks on and re-read her Psy-Changeling series every few months, you can understand my excitement. She and Sarah chatted about her books, her addiction, while in the States, to Extreme Couponing, and everything in between. Sarah was sneaky and kept trying to get Nalini to slip up and tell the identity of “The Architect”. I was lucky enough to get ask Nalini a few questions.

Pups or Cubs- Referring to Mercy and Riley’s future children from Branded by Fire  – she laughed and refused to answer

Who would win in a fight: Hawke or Lucas – She also didn’t answer- I don’t blame her; I’m not sure either

While getting my books signed, I also asked her if Hawke and Sienna will have a satisfying showdown with Ming- They will!!

It was an amazing night and an excellent way to kick off my romance novels week!

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Charlie All Night

downloadCharlie All Night by Jennifer Crusie

Description: “Dumped by her boyfriend and demoted from WBBB’s prime-time spot, radio producer Allie McGuffey has nowhere to go but up. She plans to make her comeback by turning temporary DJ Charlie Tenniel into a household name. And if he’s willing to help cure her breakup blues with a rebound fling, that’s an added bonus.
Charlie just wants to kick back, play good tunes and eat Chinese food. He’s not interested in becoming famous. But he is interested in Allie. And after all, what harm is a little chemistry between friends?
But suddenly their one-night stand has become a four-week addiction. Night after night on the airwaves, his voice seduces her…and all the other women in town. He’s a hit. It looks as if Charlie’s solved all Allie’s problems…except one. What is she going to do when he leave?”

I just finished listening to Charlie All Night as an audio-book. I have about a 45 minute commute to and from work and audio-books are the best way to alleviate the monotonous boredom of my daily trek.

I’ve only recently discovered the joys and humor of Jennifer Crusie. I had read The Cinderella Deal a few years ago but didn’t continue to read her work. Then, two months ago, I found an audio-book of Bet Me at the library and the rest was history. My next foray into the worlds of Jennifer Crusie was Charlie All Night.  

I’ll start out by saying that Charlie All Night is no Bet Me. Crusie’s humor is present throughout the book but listening to this book after Bet Me, something just falls short. There were parts of this book that weren’t believable and just seemed to be thrown in to keep the plot moving. For example, Ally meets Charlie at a bar and picks him up to avoid an awkward conversation with her ex (and boss who just demoted her). Charlie, of course, turns out to be the new DJ who Ally will be working with. That part is fine although I do question Ally’s tendency to get involved with co-workers. Seriously, isn’t there something in the company’s handbook about employee relationships? What bothered me was that Ally and her roommate, Joe, invited Charlie to sleep on their couch after one dinner conversation. Sure, he’s a new co-worker and all but inviting someone to live on your couch for an entire month is a little ridiculous.

The other major plot fail was the reason behind Charlie’s arrival at the radio station. Essentially, his father’s college roommate (the radio station owner) hires him to investigate a threatening letter the station receives. Charlie, who apparently bounces from job to job without settling down, and who can clearly see his father’s manipulation, agrees to help out, despite never being on the radio before.  Without spoiling the ‘mystery’ he is supposed to solve, this plot point was a little thin and made the pace of the story seem forced.

Okay, now that I’ve ranted about the parts that bothered me, let me explain why I did like the book.

1. Watching the relationship between Charlie and Ally bloom. While I had problems with the plot, I did like watching Ally and Charlie slowly fall in love. They did fall into bed fast, and get stuck in a rut of sleeping together without building a relationship. However, once Ally realizes that and a celibacy bet occurs, they start to learn more about each other and the foundation for their relationship is formed.

2. A host of excellent supporting characters. From Ally’s obnoxious ex-boyfriend Mark, who tries, and fails, to copy Charlie as he becomes a successful DJ to Grady, the pot-smoking, Georgian chant playing late night DJ, to Joe, Ally’s roommate who only allows her to order food at restaurants that he hates to cook.

3. Adorable puppy. And the hero playing Billy Joel so the puppy will eat. Tugging at all of the heartstrings

4. Random political issues that Charlie stumbles into just by making observations about the town on the radio. And the assortment of calls from the townspeople.

All together, I’d have to rate this book at a solid 3. The romance is there and the minor characters are great. But the plot requires too much suspension of belief to truly make it a great story. The points that drive the plot seem forced and the characterization of the hero and heroine just fall too short. The story itself seemed too short and while I did support Ally and Charlie as a couple, I didn’t buy that she was reason enough for him to end his fear of permanency. Maybe if I hadn’t listened to this book right after Bet Me, my opinions would have been different. But this just wasn’t my favorite Jennifer Crusie book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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RWA 2015

RWA 2015.

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RWA 2015

xyvyfpdfOn Wednesday, I made the trek into NYC from New Jersey. Despite a fire in North Brunswick and train delays changing my travel plans, I made it! Around 3:30 my friend and I headed in the New York Marriott Marquis for the RWA Literacy Signing. I had heard horror stories about the craziness of this signing and had expected to be standing around for hours waiting to get in. However, this signing was well organized. When we arrived at the hotel, volunteers checked our bags and directed us to a ballroom full of chairs. Each section of chairs were given a letter and when it came time for the signing, an announcer went row by row to let people in. It was well organized and stress-free. While the ballroom for the signing did fill up fast, it wasn’t overwhelming. Over all, it was a great day and I can’t wait for RWA to return to NYC.

Okay, enough of the boring info. I know all you’re here for is the pictures. Without further ado:

Thea Harrison

Thea Harrison

Maya Banks

Maya Banks

Kresley Cole

Kresley Cole

Suzanne Enoch

Suzanne Enoch

Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane

Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare

Sabrina Jeffrries.

Sabrina Jeffries

Guys, Sabrina Jeffries asked to take a picture with me because she loved my shirt! Highlight of my week!

Kerrelyn Sparks

Kerrelyn Sparks

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Audio-Books vs Books

Hi all.

I’ve been listening to audio-books on and off, for about five years.I started in high school, while driving my sister and me to school. We listened to Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells Series and Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone Series on our 20 minutes treks, to and from school. It was a nice way to bond over books and pass the time. But I never really thought about audio-books or whether they were better than regular books. I would just buy the physical copy of a book and take the audio out from the library.

Through out college, during the semesters I commuted, I would listen to romance novels on audio-books. The most notable were books from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars Series and Julia Quinn’s Just Like Heaven. During this time, I realized the impact of the narrator’s voice and diction on my enjoyment of the story. While I had really liked Just Like Heaven when I first read the book, the narrator’s voice was grating and piercing at times. As much as I liked the story, and to be honest, I’m a huge fan of Julia Quinn, I found myself wishing the audio-book would  end faster, just because I couldn’t stand the narrator’s voice.

Now that I’ve graduated college and moved on to my first adult job (scary, right? I’m still in denial. The real world is terrifying), I have a decent commute to work. I’m in the car for about 90 minutes each day. I’ve noticed that on average, audio-books are about 8 hours long. Unless you’re listening to War and Peace. I’m sure that’s easily 24 hours long. Never-mind, I just googled it. According to Amazon, an audio-book of War and Peace is 61 hours and 8 minutes long. Damn, that’s a long time. So far, most of the romance audio-books I’ve listened to are about 8 hours, which usually takes me about 5 days to finish. Look, see, I can do math. Nice to know my college degree and massive amounts of student loans are good for something.

Anyway, I find myself listening to audio-books pretty regularly. I started out listening to books I read already, albeit a long time ago. This is because I’m cheap (see aforementioned student loans) so I just take out audio-books from the library. (Resisting the urge to go on a tangent about how much I freaking love the library). I discovered audio-books are a nice way to revisit old characters and books that I knew I enjoyed but haven’t felt a burning desire to reread. The issue with audio-books is when I listen to new books. Then I find myself volunteering to drive places or forcing my passengers to listen to my audio-books with me. But really, how can they not appreciate having to listen to  Bet Me. It’s a gem! Seriously, who doesn’t laugh at Bet Me??

I have no self-control when it comes to romance novels and when I get caught up in a story, I binge-read. Binge-reading is hard to do for audio-books though. I’m partly afraid that one day I’m going to run out of gas because I sat in a parking lot listening to an audio-book….

My final verdict for audio-book vs books is I will always buy the physical book over the audio. While audio-books are great, especially for commutes, it’s probably better to not listen to new books on audio. Or at least new romance novels. I could probably listen to a new historical non-fiction book on audio and not want to waste my gas waiting to discover if Henry VIII executes Anne Boleyn or not. (Spoiler Alert: He does.)

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