September 22, 2009

Jacket Copy (from Andrea Kane’s website):

Former FBI Special Agent Sloane Burbank has seen her share of danger. She’s faced down a serial killer and survived life-threatening injuries ... but she never expected that danger to invade the lives of her family.
Then her mother is viciously attacked in the posh Manhattan apartment her parents share and it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary robbery. The thieves were too clever, too knowledgeable, and so obviously after something of her father’s. But what could a respected art dealer have done to merit such violence? When a mysterious message is left for him, Sloane knows her father’s in over his head. Determined to find out the truth, Sloane discovers a deadly secret buried in his past that has made him the target of a power-hungry mobster with a lethal agenda and nothing to lose.

Sloane is desperate to save her father, but to do so she must hold onto secrets of her own—especially from FBI Special Agent Derek Parker, the man she has grown to love deeply. She knows she must tell him everything, but how can she betray her father’s confidence? Can a couple who’s faced so much survive this ultimate test of trust? Will they survive at all?
As the decades-old secret claims the lives of her father’s oldest friends and the killer closes in on him, Sloane finds herself in foreign territory: alone, facing escalating personal danger, and hunting a moving target in a world where memories are long and loyalties are drawn in blood.

This book was released on September 8th and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES


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When I started reading DRAWN IN BLOOD as an ARC for ROOB I was already familiar with Andrea Kane’s writing, as I first read TWISTED in preparation. Being a reader who is obsessed with reading books and series in order I could not have enjoyed DRAWN IN BLOOD as much as I did now, if I hadn’t read TWISTED first. In TWISTED I met Sloan and Derek and got to know them and what made them tick and I accompanied them on their journey to a happy ending. When I reached the end of TWISTED I was glad to have the knowledge that there was more to come. This being said I think that DRAWN IN BLOOD easily lends to be read as stand-alone for readers who are not as obsessed as I am with reading in order. Andrea Kane did a great job of writing it in a way that if you haven’t read TWISTED, you can still read DRAWN IN BLOOD and not have the feeling you are missing something.

DRAWN IN BLOOD had a very different feel compared to TWISTED. Where TWISTED was a whodunit, in DRAWN IN BLOOD the identity and motives of the villain are known to the reader and to some extend to Derek and Sloan too. This provided a totally different tone for the book, as it was fascinating to follow Sloan and Derek’s progress in stopping the villain and at the same time reading how the villain was planning to deal with his adversaries.

The ingredients for DRAWN IN BLOOD are art theft, organized crime, murder, deception, obsession, loss and relationships on different levels. Furthermore, it comprises former FBI agent, Sloan Burbank who is trying to protect her father and his friends, FBI agent, Derek Parker, who is trying to get to the truth without endangering his girlfriend and a villain who is ruthlessly and cunningly setting up and carrying out his plans for vengeance.

From the first chapter I was pulled into the fascinating and captivating plot that takes place about six months after TWISTED. It not only gave me an in-depth look into the world of art theft and European and Asian organized crime but also provided me with elaborate looks into law enforcement and the personal life of Sloan and Derek as a couple working together on a case where the goal is mutual but their interests and priorities differ.

Sloan and Derek are the perfect embodiment of characters who are strong, determined and professional. They clash when personal and professional interests takes them in different directions and neither of them backs down easily. They both are, after all, stubborn and proud. However, when needed they are also able to communicate, compromise and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company and their relationship. They both have issues they are dealing with. Next to the professional and personal issues, they have reached the phase in their relationship, where the sexual chemistry and attraction is obvious and both are ready to take it a step further, exploring boundaries and trying to make the day-to-day things work.

DRAWN IN BLOOD is a fast-paced, well-written story that alternates between being character-driven and plot-driven. The characters, both primary and secondary are all strong and well fleshed out. They are as three-dimensional and realistic as they come and I think Andrea Kane’s extensive research into the subject of this novel and the FBI is the major contributor in that. Another excellent exhibit of this research was the suspense plot. It was believable yet far from simple. The set-up of the plot was intricately woven, slowly and surely reeling me into it to the point where I had to keep reading. Not to know who was the villain and why but to know when the ax would drop.

DRAWN IN BLOOD is a clever display of Andrea Kane’s writing skills. It shows her ability to create story lines that develop separately but come together in the end in a great way. In DRAWN IN BLOOD there are 3 major plotlines and the manner in which she sets up these multiple plotlines and works them toward a coherent and satisfying ending is nothing but excellent. Without leaving loose ends every tidbit of information provided answers and all questions were answered satisfactory in the end.


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September 20, 2009

Summary from the back cover:

...It’s hard to trust the future when you’ve been branded by the past

As a walking advertisement for the tattoo shop she’s set up in a small Wyoming town, India Ellison is well acquainted with preconceived notions. Despite the odd looks and off-color comments about her off-color hair, life is good. She’s clean and sober, dotes on her sister’s kids and, best of all, spends most of her free time with her best buddy, cowboy Colt McKay.

Reformed bad boy Colt never expected three years of sobriety to lead to three years of abstinence. Curbing his craving for booze and random sexual encounters is nothing compared to the ever-increasing craving for his hot-tempered, hot-bodied best friend, India. Too bad she’s his A.A. sponsor. Too bad she hasn’t a clue that Colt’s been head-over-bootheels in love with her from day one.

After an unexpected, steamy interlude, all India can think about is riding the sexy cowboy instead of her motorcycle, even when Colt is determined to show her a slower ride is worth the wait.

Or are they risking their friendship for a fling that could burn them both?

Warning: this romp features nekkidness the cowboy way—sex with boots on and with boots off, dirty sex against a dirty pickup truck, bare-assed sex on a bear skin rug, graphic language, unfortunate aim with a nail gun, and improvisational use of whips and whipped cream.


Colt(on) McKay is considered the black sheep of the McKay family. He is the one who fell of the wagon, doing drugs, alcohol and women in all types of combinations. But a tragic event in the family opens his eyes and now he's gone through rehab and has been clean and sober for over three years. His lifeline turned out to be India "Indy" Ellison, his AA sponsor and best friend. Somewhere along the way he's fallen in love with her and he isn't quite sure what to do with those feelings. He knows what he wants but he's afraid to jeopardize the friendship with the complication of love and his sordid past. Indy is no goodie two-shoes herself. She too has known the dark side of life and substance addiction. But like Colt, she has overcome it and is living taking it day by day, making the best of it. When she starts seeing Colt as more than her buddy and feelings come to the surface she tries to fight it, afraid of the intense emotions that are taking her by surprise.
After an embarrassing sexual moment between them for Colt, he tries to avoid contact with her. He lasts a few days but then realizes he needs her in his life, not only as his buddy and sponsor but also as his lover. They decide to embark on a relationship that entails more than friendship and start to date but take it slow. No sex. For two weeks which is a compromise between Colt's two months and India's two days. After these two weeks and considering the long periods of abstinence for both of them their first encounter is explosive. Colt's dominating side surfaces and India relishes in it despite the fact that she is normally the one in control in her sexual relationships.

Colt is very masculine. Even though he has left his bad-boy days behind him there is still plenty of wicked in him to entice. But he is also sweet, smart and insightful. Underneath his outward persona is a vulnerable man who is longing to fit in and be accepted.
India is feisty and an in-your-face kind of woman. She is not used to compromising. She's rebellious, bold, hot tempered, smart-mouthed. But she's also honest, thoughtful and caring. And deep down she isn't the carefree rebel she wants everyone to believe she is. She may seem very confident and sure of herself but she has her insecurities about her place in society and in relationships. She craves order and logic and wants to know what to expect from people, Colt included. Planning ahead, knowing what to expect are things that are very important to her and when she looses her grip on them she panics and lashes out.

Both Colt and India aren't your average clean-cut people. With their pasts as addicts they carry quite some baggage with them. They've both come a long way in turning their life around. This made them both characters that were far from uncomplicated and very three-dimensional. The fact that they would become good friends is something that is obvious from the start but it's also clear that something very passionate is brewing beneath the surface of their friendship. A tumultuous, heated and complicated relationship develops between them that left me with an utter feeling of satisfaction. India and Colt are experts in verbal sparring and this led to some heated arguments, which in turn led to some incredibly hot scenes.

In the supporting cast of characters it is in the line of expectation that Colt's brothers and their wives and India's sister play a big part. This expectation was met with Cam, Colt's younger brother, playing a crucial secondary part. But I've said it before. In the Rough Rider series Lorelei James writes more than just the love story between hero and heroine. To me her Rough Rider books are parts of a family saga. In this installment next to Colt and India's story I got a lot of background on the McKay family, especially on Carson and Carolyn, the parents. This provided another great addition to the saga Lorelei James is creating. I also loved the peeks into the previous couples lives and much to my pleasure, the McKay family is expanding rapidly with all the kids, babies and pregnancies.

As much as I loved the emotional and passionate story of India and Colt, I was most impressed by the intense family dynamics in this book. Things were brewing in the McKay family, with Colt and Cam on one side and Cord, Colby and their father, Carson on the other side. I won't go into specifics because readers of these books should experience those dynamics on their own without spoilers but for me it was a welcome and realistic turn of events since in all families there are the occasional fights and tension but I must admit I was hoping everything would be cleared up because Colt wasn't being treated fairly. It was mostly the family stuff that pulled on my heartstrings this time. I literally choked up and cried at the scene where Cam stands up for Colt and berates his father and brothers for not appreciating Colt and their skepticism of Colt and when I thought I was through with the emotional break downs, I totally lost it at the "apologize-and-talk-it-out" scenes between Colt and his father and brothers.

I can't begin to tell how much I loved this book! I have love for every Rough Rider book and all the McKay men but Colt is my favorite so far. I was intrigued by him from the moment I met him in TIED UP, TIED DOWN, as messed up as he was in that book, I knew he had the potential to blow me away in his own story and he did. His story is one of trust, friendship, overcoming insecurities, redemption, strength and resilience.

It’s a beautiful story that fitted into the series perfectly and drew me deeper into the enticing world of the Rough Riders. It's no secret I love Lorelei James' writing and for me this series enthralled me from the first book but it also seems to get better with each consecutive book. The eroticism is good beyond question, but she also expands the world of the Rough Riders with each book, incorporating more and heavier emotional issues and she does this without compromising the steaminess of the books. This combination is what draws me into her books and makes me crave the next book like an addict.

For each book and each couple Lorelei James finds the right tone, both emotionally and sexually. And don't get me started on the sex scenes. Like with the other aspects of her books in this series, she keeps them fresh and original. There is no repetitiveness whatsoever. In every book she surprises me with things I haven't encountered before in her or any other books. Let's face it no one but Lorelei James can make watching a porn movie turn into a hot and beautiful love scene and only a McKay (to be honest I'd like to think only Colt...) would be able to turn washing hands into something erotic!

Lorelei James does this to me every time; she gets to me with the mix of true to life writing combined with hot sensuality and powerful characters and heartbreaking emotions. BRANDED AS TROUBLE was no exception.

Quotes:
“I’m fine. Just a little tired. You kept me up way too late last night.”
“Was that an objection?”
She flashed back to how thoroughly he’d claimed her, tamed her, proven to her his mastery over her body, proven he trusted her by showing her his dark, commanding, rough side without apology.

“So show me. I’m a big girl. Maybe I like it rough.”
“You don’t know what you’re askin’.”
“Maybe you don’t know what you’re denying me. Or yourself.”
He snarled. “Don’t push me.”
India raised her chin. “Even if I do, I know you won’t hurt me.”
“I’ll use you. Hard.”
“It’s not using me if I’m a willing participant.”
“A willing participant? In rough sex? You’re sure?” Colt stalked her. “I’ll have you any way I want, as many times as I want, until I’ve had my fill of your hot little body. You understand, once I start, I won’t stop. Not even if you beg me.”
“But I am begging you to let me be what you need. I don’t know what that is unless you show me.”
Just like that…Colt lost it. He didn’t kiss her; he inhaled her.


Rating: 9.2 out of 10
September 16, 2009
'We encourage you to be creative with this! Please choose one or two questions to answer or try to answer all the questions in five words or less. Or choose a picture to answer a question! Brevity is the goal of today!'




1. Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? No

2. Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? Writing in books?? THE HORROR!

3. How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? Bookmark

4. Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Fiction

5. Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard copy and ebooks

6. Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? End of chapters

7. If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Try to deduct from context

8. What are you currently reading? Sweet Persuasion by Maya Banks

9. What is the last book you bought? Waking Nightmare by Kylie Brant

10. Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? More than one, max three.

11. Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? Right before sleeping, in bed

12. Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Both

13. Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Gena Showalter and Lorelei James

14. How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) By author's last name
September 15, 2009


It's a quickie Tuesday Treasures today as I have a bunch of stuff to do and there's not much to report. 

THIS WEEK'S BOOK-LOOT:




Anthology: Heart of Christmas (Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan)
Maya Banks - Sweet Surrender (not on picture cause I forgot to put it in since I have already devoured it LOL)
Allison Brennan - Cutting Edge
Victoria Dahl - One Week as Lovers
Jo Davis - Under Fire
Meredith Duran - Written on Your Skin
Lili Feisty - Bound to Please
Cheyenne McCray - The Second Betrayal
Christy Reece - Return to Me
Christy Reece - Run to Me

This week's loot comprises all books received for my birthday from the ROOB-gang. Leontine and I celebrated our respective birthdays with the other girls last Saturday and received our presents  (always books!!). The only book in this loot, not birthday-related is the Anthology: Heart of Christmas, which I won in a Twitter contest held by Courtney Milan. 





TODAY'S PRINT RELEASES THAT ARE ON MY ORDER LIST:

No print releases for me today


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Added to the Stanza Library over the past week:


Colter's Woman by Maya Banks

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TODAY'S DIGITAL RELEASES THAT ARE ON MY BUY-LIST:

No digital releases for me today


September 13, 2009
Welcome to a New Feature on the Blog.

Although new isn't the right word because this feature runs around the entire blogosphere, only with different titles and content. I have adapted it to my own liking and availability of time to invest in my blog and hope to have a post in this feature regularly. But this (as with the Wednesday Winner feature) is again not a weekly feature since I don't always have the time to keep it coming weekly. The posts in BREAKING NEWS SUNDAY will be posts surrounding news in romanceland I find worthy of mentioning and this could be about authors, publishers, book releases, book covers, newly discovered series and other blogs and bloggers.

To kick things off this week's post features some covers that caught my attention. One of them actually made my heart go pitty-patter. And people who know me, can attest to the fact that that is a very rare ocassion. Can you guess which one?
"Enough with the talking and show me the covers!" I hear you say. Okay, here they come:

First up is the cover of Lara Adrian's next Midnight Breed installment which will be released Jauary 5th, 2010. Even though the previous installment, ASHES OF MIDNIGHT was a bit disappointing for me, I am looking forward to the next book in this series, as it remains one of my favorite vampire paranormal series.

IN A FROZEN WILDERNESS STEEPED IN DARKNESS, THE LINES BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL, LOVER AND ENEMY, ARE NEVER BLACK OR WHITE BUT DRAWN IN SHADES OF MIDNIGHT . . .


Something inhuman is stalking the frigid Alaskan wilds, leaving unspeakable carnage in its wake. For bush pilot Alexandra Maguire, the killings stir memories of a horrific event she witnessed as a child and evoke in her the inexplicable sense of otherness she has long felt but never fully understood . . . until a darkly seductive stranger with secrets of his own enters her world.


Sent from Boston on a mission to investigate the savage attacks and stop the slaughter, vampire warrior Kade has his own reasons for returning to the frigid, forbidding place of his birth. Haunted by a secret shame, Kade soon realizes the stunning truth of the threat he faces--a threat that will jeopardize the fragile bond he has formed with the courageous, determined young woman who arouses his deepest passions and most primal hungers. But in bringing Alex into his world of blood and darkness, Kade must confront both his own personal demons and the even greater evil that could destroy all he holds dear. . . .

Next is the cover is the first book of the new Monica McCarty series, coming in the Spring of 2010. Some info on the series from Monica's Website:
The Highland Guard Series
What’s sexier than a man in a kilt? How about Special Ops in kilts.

Monica’s next series will marry her love for strapping, sexy Highland warriors with her other love for navy SEALs and black ops. Think Suzanne Brockmann meets Braveheart.

Where the legend of the Highlander began... Journey back to the time of Braveheart, when Scotland was fighting to free itself from English tyranny, and Robert the Bruce was fighting for a crown. To defeat the superior forces of the heavy mounted English knights, Bruce knows he needs a new kind of warrior. He looks to the barbarian lands, to the most feared warriors in Christendom, to the ultimate guerilla fighter . . . to the Highlander.

Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Bruce handpicks ten warriors with “superhero” skills to form a secret elite fighting force like the world has never seen. They are the ultimate “Special Forces,” the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills and brought together into one elite fighting force known as the HIGHLAND GUARD. They are: the swordsman team leader, the seafarer/swimmer, the scout, the extraction expert, the explosives expert, the hand-to-hand combat specialist, the tracker, the sharpshooter, the climber/outdoorsman, and the spy.

Vowing death before surrender, Bruce’s band of shadow warriors will stop at nothing but freedom from English rule. But in the midst of war, political turmoil, and treachery, these invincible warriors will face the one thing they can’t defeat: love, and the remarkable women who claim their hearts.


Book #1: The Chief
slated for release March 23, 2010

Book #2: The Hawk
slated for release August 31, 2010

Book #3: The Ranger
slated for release December 29, 2010

Please note: all dates are tentative and subject to change.










Okay, when you're all done wiping away the drool. I have another great cover for you. Via Twitter I've stumbled over a lot of new to me authors in the contemporary genre. One of them is Julie James. I bought her first two books just on Twitter buzz and I hope to dive into them very soon. And recently Julie revealed the cover her third book which is also coming out in Spring 2010 (releasedate is March 2nd):

FATE HAS THROWN TWO SWORN ENEMIES…


Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career…


…INTO EACH OTHER’S ARMS
Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension…
September 8, 2009


Sorry for the terrible picture and the messy state of this post but had to make the pic last night in the dark since I am at work today. And had to choose between not doing the Tuesday Treasure post at all or doing a quickie like this. I went for the quickie. Normally Tuesday is my day off and I have all the time in the world to prepare this post but due to some circumstances at work, I had to work today.





THIS WEEK'S BOOK-LOOT:







These books came in over the past week via mail, ordered at The Bookdepository:
Anthology: Sexy Beast VII
Julia London - Summer of Two Wishes
Ann Aguirre - Grimspace
Ann Aguirre - Wanderlust
Louisa Edwards - Can't Stand the Heat
Jill Shalvis - Double Play
Elisabeth Naughton - Stolen Heat
Pamela Britton - Slow Burn
Kathleen O' Reilly - Hot Under Pressure

These books I bought at the book fair in Utrecht, which I went to with hubby:
Dictionary of Homonyms
Colleen McCullough - Antony & Cleopatra (HC)
Bettany Hughes - Helen of Troy (HC)
Karyn Bosnak - 10 Times a Lady (TPB)
Toni Blake - Swept Away
Rachel Gibson - Tangled Up in You
Rachel Gibson - Daisy's Back in Town
Gennita Low - Into Danger

I also received the won ARC of SKIN GAME by Ava Gray (aka Ann Aguirre) in the mail the past week. Can't wait to read this one! 




TODAY'S PRINT RELEASES THAT ARE ON MY ORDER LIST:

No print released today for me


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Added to the Stanza Library over the past week:





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Songbird by Maya Banks






All Fired Up by Kristen Painter






Calder by Allyson James
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TODAY'S DIGITAL RELEASES THAT ARE ON MY BUY-LIST:

No digital releases for me today.





Today DRAWN IN BLOOD by Andrea Kane releases. I've had the pleasure of reviewing this book for ROOB.

DRAWN IN BLOOD is a clever display of Andrea Kane’s writing skills. It shows her ability to create story lines that develop separately but come together in the end in a great way. (...) Without leaving loose ends every tidbit of information provided answers and all questions were answered satisfactory in the end.


Click HERE and go to the "Recently Updated" page to read the full review!
September 4, 2009
As stated in my post about the lack of time I have been in a very busy phase in my life the past few months and still am. I am juggling married life, social life, work life and my passion for reading/reviewing and TV. And to be honest I'm not doing a very good job of it in my own eyes. The post mentioned above, some hefty and emotional discussions over the past weeks with hubby and finally a good talk with fellow booklover and friend Leontine, have made me stop, think and assess what I am doing and why I am trying to do it all and have it all.

Over the passed months the fun of reading has been slipping away in small doses. Reading slumps were coming more frequently than the usual once a year little slump I used to have. And I have also experienced some serious reviewing slumps (am in one again as we speak). There are reading challenges I've put myself up to. There is the ever-growing TBR pile which has become Mount TBR in my eyes, an insurmountable mountain of which I will never reach the top because I just keep buying and buying books I will need at least 5 lifetimes to read. Combine this my reviewing for ROOB, which I absolutely love to do (do not get me wrong on that!) reading is becoming kind of a chore. And the way I do things, I am a real ALL or NOTHING kinda person, the fun of it was beginning to disappear. And I want reading to be fun and not a chore or an obligation hanging over my head like Damocles' sword. In order to bring the fun back, steps need to be taken. I must say that this self reflection has been brutal and confrontational. I don't like to deal with confrontations, not even when I am the one confronting myself and avoid them as much as I can, but sometimes it must be done and decisions and changes must be made. The decisions I have made are not as final as to stop with my blog or to stop with my reading and reviewing because I have too much fun doing these things and they are very helpful in keeping my sanity when "real life" beats the crap out of me. Nonetheless, some pretty drastic changes are coming in the foreseeable future.

The first change has been in the making for a while now. As some might know (if you follow my presence on Twitter) I am in the process of doing a make-over of my blog. This was not inspired by the self-reflection by the way, it is a recurring phase I go through periodically (been blogging since 2004, book blogging since 2007). Sometimes this phase is after 6 months, sometimes after a year, sometimes after 2 years but there comes a point when I am fed up with the colors, header and lay-out of my blog and I go for a change. Well, I hit that bump again a few months ago. Wanting change, something else, a fresh wind, something new and unique. Since then own domains, websites from scratch, WordPress, Blogger pre-made templates and even considering hiring someone to make a custom template are all options that came up but failed to mold to my wants and needs. A lot of frustration ensued that literally made my head hurt and when I was about to give up, I found a pre-made Blogger template that, with a little online help, fits my needs perfectly. When the newly formatted blog is up, props will be duely given to the one who made this template.
At the moment I am doing the conversion to the new template, which is a time-consuming process and I am afraid to say when the made-over blog will be launched, but rest assured that it IS coming, and hopefully within a few weeks, but it would be safer to think in months...


Linked to the first change (blog make-over) is a change in my reading and reviewing. A question in the interview I did for Heather Long's Blog made me stop and think and set the spark for this change. The question was:

When you read, do you find yourself mentally writing a review or does that process begin after you've finished the story?
When I was answering this question it dawned on me (I am sometimes a bit dense, I know) that when reading I AM mentally writing the review or at least part of it. I read books with reviewing them in mind, making notes, marking quotes. Even when not reading the book I am busy thinking of what I can use in my review, hearing things on TV, movies, radio and from people and thinking: Oh I could use that in a review. It's becoming almost obsessive (who am I kidding?...it already is obsessive!) and I am not liking that. This has prompted me to review my own reading and reviewing habits and I decided it has to change!

Don't worry! I am not going to stop reviewing books, I am just going to do it differently and I'm going to allow myself to not review EVERY book I read. The books I do review aren't all going to get the extensive reviews I am used to making. I have decided I want to read for fun and relaxation and enjoy reading, instead of analyzing a book to pieces because I must review it. This is going to be hard, because I am a creature of habit, as most human beings are, and breaking some of my habits have proven to be very, very hard. Of course my opinion of the books I read will still be voiced only in a less extensive and for me less pressing manner. I will be doing mini-review round-ups of books read in a certain period of time, so there will be short impressions/reviews of multiple books in one review-blogpost. Occasionally longer and more extensive reviews will appear, naturally for the ARCs and requests read for ROOB and the occasional ARCs and requests for my own blog. I also know there will always be books that drive my fingers to the keyboard and they start typing away effortlessly, which will lead automatically to writing "full" reviews and I will welcome those moments. But no more forcing myself to write extensive reviews. Maybe that way I can bring the joy of reading back for myself!

Linked to this second change is the rating system I use on this blog. I started out using the star rating system from ROOB, after a while I somewhat modified the descriptions and added flames for the heat level in books but I never was comfortable with either the stars or the flames. I have been debating for a while what to do with the rating. First I thought to completely get rid of any rating but that isn't it either for me. I still want to rate a book so comparison can be made between books without having to read an entire review. So I decided I wanted a different rating system since the stars aren't working for me that well anymore. I contemplated the popular A-F/DNF rating I see a lot around blogland, contemplated 1-10 rating I also frequently encounter but ultimately I have decided to use the 0-100 rating because it gives me more and plenty of  room for nuance between different book ratings than stars, A-F and 1-10 do. Following the change in rating I have also decided to drop the heat level rating (flames) I use now. Same as with the stars they are not working for me the way I intended them to. And thirdly I am not giving descriptions for the ratings given. With a range from 0 to 100 I assume the numbers will speak for themselves as to show how much I liked or didn't like a book.

The fourth change, and this is one is going to be the hardest, has to do with my book-buying addiction. I buy too many books, really. I kid you not. For every book I read I buy at least 3 or 4 new ones. I have a TBR pile which I have started calling Mount TBR of over 800 books!! Take into account that I read on average about 4-8 books a month....well you can do the math...This has to stop. I have to stop. I was well on my way to lessen the amount of books bought by not starting with new authors but since Twitter that resolution has been thoroughly flushed down the drain. Tweeting with other booklovers and authors is THE way to discover new books that just beg me to buy and read them. But I am going to have to be strong and wield some major will power on this. I have to stop buying new books because someone else has bought and read them and is raving about it. But more importantly I need to stop glomming! When I buy one book by a certain author I have this compelling need to buy their entire backlist, if possible and all new releases by that author, the moment they hit the stores, even without having read a single word by that author! And believe me I have tried not to do this but have failed profoundly and miserably. But I am determined now. As I said, this has to stop. I will need a few more lifetimes to read all the books I already have and that is hoping I'll live to get very, very old!!

In order to tamp down the book-buying frenzy the first thing I decided, is to cut down the genres (to a certain extent) I buy. I have always said that I am a waste basket when it comes to reading. You can put almost anything in front of me and I'll read it. This is still true but over the almost 3 years I've been reading English romance fiction I have developed certain and clear preferences. When I read solely in Dutch I already had a preference for chicklit, contemporary, thrillers and historical. When I switched reading in English, paranormal romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance were added to the mix and you can imagine how much money I spend, keeping up with all the books I want to read in all these genres, not to mention new voices (authors) coming out of the woodworks practically every month to add to the pile.

Since I have started reading in English I have read 300+ books and from those I have discovered what I like a lot and what I like a bit less and it comes down to liking contemporay romance (including erotic), (romantic) suspense/thrillers/mysteries the best. So I have decided to focus on these genres with both my reading and buying. However, this doesn't mean that paranormal, historical or (urban) fantasy romance will not be bought/read any longer. Are you kidding me? I have series on the shelves in those genres that must be either read or finished and couldn't even think not to do that! But still focus will be on contemporary and suspense.

The second thing I am going to try in making Mt. TBR a bit smaller is I am going to review my bookshelves with an extremely critical eye again (yes I have done this before) and purge all the series I have this "meh" feeling about after I bought them AND series that I know aren't going to be read in this lifetime because there are always other books that are screaming louder to be read and these books just stay on the shelves, unread, taking up space. And I have discovered that once an author has been purged from the shelves, the compulsion to buy said author's new releases also disappears. So for me it is the only way to reduce the buying.

If I could donate these books to charity, for example Maya Rodale's SHARE THE LOVE initiative, I would,  but sending books in bulk to the US is something I truly cannot afford at the moment. So I will try and sell the books second-hand as much as I can, and probably do some giveaways on the blog. That way I can make sure the books go to a place where they won't just sit idly on the shelves but will be read and treasured in a better way than I have been able to do. And I will raise a bit of money for the "Get Pearl to an RT or RWA Convention Someday"-fund. This way I hope to get Mt. TBR to a reasonable size and to control my book-buying frenzies. That's not to say I won't try out new authors when the gut-feeling makes itself known, but it won't be in the amounts it has been and is at the moment.

And with all these changes I hope my enjoyment in reading and blogging and consequently life in general will return and I will be able to remain the happy reader, reviewer and person I have always been. So stay tuned for the new and improved look and layout, the mini-reviews, the new rating system, the giveaways of the purged books and the lessening of Mt. TBR. All coming soon to this blog.

Happy Reading!!
September 1, 2009





THIS WEEK'S BOOK-LOOT:
 

The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter
Never Marry a Stranger by Gayle Callen
Highland Obsession by Dawn Halliday (requested review by author)
Relentless by Lauren Dane (courtesy of Fatin (@mad4rombks) )






TODAY'S PRINT RELEASES THAT ARE ON MY ORDER LIST:


Anne Gracie - To Catch a Bride 
Sandra Hill - Viking Heat (Viking II, book 9)
 


Lora Leigh - Heat Seeker (Elite Ops, book 3)
Leslie Parrish - Black at Heart (Black Cats, book 3)
 


G.A. Aiken - What a Dragon Should Know (Dragon Kin, book 2)
Christina Dodd - Storm of Shadows (Chosen Ones, book 2)
Allyson James - Mortal Seductions (Mortal, book 2)
Annette McCleave - Drawn into Darkness (Soul Gatherer, book 1)



Gena Showalter - Intertwined (YA, HQN Teen Line)
*I don't read YA but being a true Gena Showalter fangirl, I buy ALL her books, including the YA ones*


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-----DIGITAL CORNER-----




Added to the Stanza Library over the past week:

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Shoulda Been a Cowboy by Lorelei James
No Surrender by Shannon Stacey

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TODAY'S DIGITAL RELEASES THAT ARE ON MY BUY-LIST:


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Maya Banks - Songbird

They called her their Songbird, but she was never theirs. Not in the way she wanted.

The Donovan brothers meant everything to Emily, but rejected by Greer and Taggert, she turned to Sean, the youngest. He married her for love, and she loved him, but she also loved his older brothers.

Her singing launched her to stardom. She had it all. The voice of an angel, a husband who loved her, and the adoration of millions. Until a tragedy took it all away.

Taggert and Greer grieve for their younger brother, but they’re also grieving the loss of Emmy, their songbird. They take her back to Montana, determined to help her heal and show her once and for all they want her. They’re also on a mission to help her find her voice again. Under the protective shield of their love, she begins to blossom… until an old threat resurfaces.

Now the Donovans face a fight for what they once threw away. Only by winning it—and her love—will their songbird fly again.

Nice to meet you!

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Pearl
Netherlands
39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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On My TBR Shelf

  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
  • Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
  • So Sensitive - Anne Rainey
  • Dark Taste of Rapture - Gena Showalter
  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

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  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
  • Beg Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
  • My Gigolo - Molly Burkhart
  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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