Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Coming!

The DIK winter break is almost here and what a better way to celebrate the holidays than with books?

A HUGE giveaway is coming your way.

Details coming soon!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A little more Fantasy Casting

One of my favorite things to do, here on the island and at my place, is play the fantasy casting game. I sometimes need a little help visualizing my heroes, and it's always a bit of fun finding the celebrity will fit.

So, here are a few of my recent casting choices:







Hawke, from Nalini Singh's PsyChangeling series: Josh Holloway

I just finished reading Play of Passion (it was great!) and events are moving into place for Hawke's book, which is next. I can't wait!


I didn't even try to find someone with Hawke's trademark silver-gold hair, but when it comes to Hawke's attitude, sense of humor, and charisma, I think Josh Holloway is the total package.

Captain Gabriel Huntley, from Zoe Archer's Warrior (Blades of the Rose series): Ewan McGregor

I loved this book, and a lot of it was due to Gabriel.


He's a soldier who is weary of war, and ready to return to England to settle down with a nice English miss. Or so he thinks.


Then, events overtake him and he finds himself fighting a new war, in a world that he'd never realized was alive with magic, and falling for a sharpshooting woman in Mongolia.


I love how Gabriel makes Thalia's fight his own, and is a through and through soldier to the core. His nervousness about all of his "rough edges" gives him just a hint of vulnerability that I just love.

Javier, from Ginn Hale's The Lord of the White Hell, parts 1 & 2: Rufus Sewell

I know Rufus Sewell's far too old to play the 19(?) year old Javier, but he would be (for me) THE choice if we could go back to Rufus Sewell 20 years ago.


Rufus Sewell has that dangerous quality that Javier has, as well as the smoldering good looks.

Packard, from Carolyn Crane's Disillusionists series: Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Packard is a study in contradictions: smooth operator (or manipulator, Justine might say); victim of circumstance --trapped against his will in Mongolian Delites; stealthy crime boss. I love his ambiguity, which makes him such a fascinating character.


Whether JDM is the kick-ass dad from Supernatural or the odious Comedian from The Watchmen, he seems to have a chameleon-like ability to disappear into a role. Also, his rough-hewn good looks totally remind me of Packard.

Ben, from Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series: Zachary Levi

The thing about Ben, is that he is an unassuming guy, who is easily under-estimated, until one realizes he is the alpha male of a werewolf pack.


I know it's type-casting, but Zachary Levi really seems to fit the bill.


Ben us usually happy to let Kitty (the pack's alpha female) to be out front and center, leading the pack and as its public face. He prefers to work behind the scenes, doing he work as a lawyer. But, he is always there, ready to back Kitty up, and take care of their pack.



Agree? Disagree? Have any fantasy casting suggestions of your own?

It's been fun visiting the island again!
Come visit me anytime at Renee's Book Addiction.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My favorite heroes of 2010...so far

I know that it's a little early for "best of the year" lists, but 2010 has been such a great year for heroes, and, DIK is all about the heroes, isn't it?

I compiled a pretty healthy list for the year. Initially, the list was pretty long, but I've been able to whittle it down to my top 5. *wipes brow*

Here goes:
  1. William from Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

  2. I could go on and on about the awesomeness that is William, but at the risk of repeating myself in my review of the book, William is the total package:


    Alpha shifter who can kick ass and take names? Check.
    Tragic past that he’s dealing with? Check.
    An admiration for strong heroines who can kick ass and take names? Check.


    Truly, it's the combination of vulnerability and alpha male that gets me every time.

  3. Terrible from the Chess Putnam series by Stacia Kane


  4. Terrible's love for Chess is totally compelling. He is tough, and feared by all. Yet, Chess, brings him to his knees.


    Over the course of the series, the reader (through Chess' eyes) sees beyond Terrible's 'ugliness' and into the man beneath the surface. His relationship with her isn't easy, or even comfortable reading, but the payoff is soooo worth it.


    I can not wait until the next book to read more about Terrible!


  5. Nick from The Demon's Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan


  6. Nick is one of those characters that, whenever he enters the scene, it completely belongs to him.


    He's a really uncomfortable guy to read about. He's angry, he's violent, and he's more than a little sociopathic. But, his relationship with his brother, Alan, reveals that there's more to him than meets the eye.


    I've got a confession to make about Nick: while I know that it's a hopeless wish, whenever he's in a scene with Mae's brother, Jamie, I totally root for them to wind up together. They have the best chemistry together, and their dialog/banter is great reading.


  7. Javier from Lord of the White Hell, books 1 & 2 by Ginn Hale

  8. Javier, on first glance is a rakehell, who leads the aptly named Hellions with arrogance and wit. Yet, his outrageous behavior hides a young man who is damned. Literally.

    As the vessel for the White Hell, even Javier's friends are afraid to enter his rooms or get too close to him. That is, until Kiram, also an outsider, shares his room, his life, and wins his heart.


    Javier has a lot to overcome in The Lord of the White Hell. Not only does he live under a curse, but he must hide his love for Kiram while trying to find a way to protect him from a mysterious supernatural threat.


  9. Curran from the Kate Daniels series, by Ilona Andrews


  10. While Curran has been around for a while (and one of my favorite heroes for the last couple of years), he really comes into his own in 2010's Magic Bleeds.


    Ilona Andrews has taken her time developing the relationship between Kate and Curran, and with Magic Bleeds, their courtship --if that's what you can call the mayhem that takes place --is nothing if not unique.


    Curran truly is the King of Beasts, and Kate is a perfect match for his over the top personality. His need to take care of his people and his love for Kate make him truly a favorite hero of mine.


Of course, I've still got 5 weeks left in 2010, so there's every possibility I may add a couple more to my list. At least, I hope so. ;-)

What are your heroes in 2010?
Come on back tomorrow and visit me on my second day here on the Island!
Also, be sure to visit me at my place, Renee's Book Addiction.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating in the US

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!
What are you thankful for?

   

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.

Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.
 
Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my    inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.

As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of you. . . .
.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Favorite Christmas Shortbread Recipes..

Hi Everyone! Since this is my last day on the Island until the New Year I thought I'd share some family favorite shortbread recipes that I only bake once a year at Christmastime. Our two sons inhale these treats so I usually try and bake as many as I can because when the inevitable throng of friends arrive the shortbread cookies are gone in a blink of an eye. lol The great thing about these cookies is that they are so easy to make, and they can be made ahead and frozen.

Recipe #1 is for Whipped Shortbread:

1 pound butter (softened)
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the sugar and butter and then add the other ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture until fluffy. Using a teaspoon place small amounts of the mixture on an ungreased cookie sheet or a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it, (I use parchment paper otherwise they may burn). Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

They are done when the edges start turning a little brown. Cool on racks and pack in a plastic container layered with waxed paper between. They keep in the refrigerator or freezer for weeks.. :-)

Recipe #2: Scottish Shortbread:

1cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup rice flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Grease an 8-inch round cake pain. Line bottom with parchment paper; grease paper.

In a bowl, cream butter until fluffy (I use an electric hand beater but you can use a food processor). Mix in all-purpose and rice flours, and white and brown sugars with electric beaters or hands until dough is crumbly but clumps together when pressed. Pat evenly into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven briefly; with sharp knife, score into 12 wedges, cutting about halfway through dough. Prick decoratively with a fork. Return to oven; bake about 15 minutes longer or until just lightly browned at edges. Cool in pain on rack 30 minutes. Loosen sides; invert onto plate, then invert again onto cooling rack so cookie is right side up. Cool completely.

Makes 12 large wedges. :-)

I brought along a couple of batches of shortbread for da ladies and menz, but our usual Island drinks don't really go along with shortbread so the rum and egg nog has been flowing.. And, Cap'n Jack is helping with the rum...without the egg nog.. ;)

Do you like shortbread? Any recipes to share?

Sending wishes from Tori and I for a wonderful festive season, see you back here on DIK in the New Year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Non-traditional Thanksgiving Treats

Sometimes it is nice to alter or change a tradition or two surrounding the festive season. Thanksgiving has come and gone in Canada but all of you who celebrate south of the border are looking forward to festivities beginning this Thursday.

Traditionally I have always served pumpkin and apple pie for desert at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I was thinking this year for Christmas it might be nice to serve something different and a friend suggested pumpkin cheesecake. I'm given to understand, it is very decadent, but VERY tasty. So I found 3 recipes, I'm not sure which one I'll use yet but am very open to nominations and/or suggestions for other recipes for said delight to try.

I found these recipes at Hub Pages...

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake
Originally posted to recipelink.com by Elly, Ohio:

Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham crumbs
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. sugar

Filling:

3- 8oz.pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice

Whipped Cream

Method

Mix crust ingredients together, just till coated and crumbly. Press onto the bottom and 2/3 up the sides of an 8" springform pan. Bake for 5 min. at 350. Set aside.

Combine cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl, mix until smooth with an electric mixer. add pumpkin eggs, and spices, beat till smooth and creamy. Pour into the crust. Bake for 60-70 min. or till the top turns a bit darker. Remove from oven and allow to come to room temperature, then refrigerate. After it has thoroughly chilled, remove the pan sides and cut. Serve with whipped cream.


2-step Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

2-step Pumpkin Cheesecake originally published at:
CDKitchen


Serves/Makes: 6 | Difficulty Level: 3 | Ready In: 2-5 hrs

Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz. size) cream cheese, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 container (8 oz. size) cool whip
1 prepared 9" graham cracker crust

Directions:

Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl with wire whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spoon into crust.

Refrigerate three hours or until set. Garnish as desired.


Bon Appetit Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Crust

1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
1 cup sour cream

For Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.

For Filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined.

Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.

10 servings

I think the third picture looks positively yummy.. *g* What about you? Is pie your traditional desert for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner? Or have you tried something a little different like pumpkin cheesecake?

Tori and I are back for our final day on the island tomorrow and I'm going to talk about a family favorite treat for the holidays, shortbread..

Monday, November 22, 2010

Is A Book Review Like A Tomato?

Hi everyone! Tori and I are happy to be back on the island for the first time in ages and we are enjoying the sun, surf and of course da menz. I got to thinking on the flight over about something I read on another blog site a while back concerning the shelf life of books. Basically the writer asserted that there is a short window of opportunity to review a book prior and following it's publication before a review loses relevancy. In other words, folks who follow reviews in the blogging / cyber world would not be interested if it is not posted within a short window of time on either side of the publication date of the book.

So my question is, are book reviews like tomatoes in that if the review isn't completed and posted within that window period it rots on the shelf? Now, I'm speaking metaphorically of course because we all know, reviews don't "rot" but you get my drift.

The thing is book bloggers I know pretty much have a TBR the size of Mount Everest and it is next to impossible to read all the books you would like to at date of publication. In the case of ARC's in IMHO if reviews are posted too early then folks have forgotten about the book by the time it is published. That is why I really try to read and post ARC reviews not more then 2 weeks ahead of the publication date. But that is just me. Then again sometimes the pub date comes and goes and I just haven't been able to fit the book in. A person can only read, assimilate and review so many books.


An author whom I respect very much once told me it's never too late to post a review of a book for a number of reasons. Even if the book has been out for a while sometimes it reminds others that it is a good read, particularly if it is the first book in a series. Second, if a reader has not read a book by said author before the review may peak their interest to try one of writer's works. Lastly, if you really enjoyed the story and can emulate that enjoyment through the review it may encourage another person to give the book a try.

What are your thoughts with respect to these issues? Are reviews like tomatoes, do you think they lose relevance related to the publication date? If you review books on a blog or other venue such as Goodreads, Amazon etc. does the date of publication affect your decision as to whether to take time out of a crazy, busy schedule and rush to read the book and write your thoughts? If you are a reader and follow book reviews to help make a decision about spending hard earned dollars on a novel does the timing of the review make a difference?

I've got a nice cold strawberry margarita next to me, thanks to one of my menz, a book in my hand, and Tori in the crook of my arm. Life is always great on the Island. ;) I'll be back tomorrow talking about one of my favorite subjects-festive treats. Yes..Food. :-)

Thanks everyone, and have a great day!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Ultimate Cute Cat Smackdown Finale

Is so much like Simon's Cat, it's not even funny. Just wait until the first snow fall.



Can't you see the resemblance?



Kiko and Sadie: 1 million FOR THE WIN!
Tiberius and Oblio: -.999999

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lesson in cuteness from the masters

Dear sweet pathetic Sadie and Kiko. Apparently you need some cuteness lessons, and who better to school you than us, the masters of cuteness? AKA the cutest ever kitties?   




Lesson #1: It's not enough to BE cute. You have to earn it. How do you do that? By acting cute. Doing cute unexpected things. This takes practice. Do you see this move? See how cute I look? Good luck trying to duplicate this one. Note my crazy feet postion. Don't try this at home, cuteness hacks. 


A variation on the cute stretch, pioneered by me and expertly modified by Tiberius. Don't you just want to pet her belly? Of course you do.   




Lesson #2, to be cute, you have to turn up in unexpected places acting cute. Look at me pop out from under my fave blanket. Oh-so-sleepy kitty!  You see my friends, cuteness is more than laying around in bed. Any cat can do that. 



Check this out. Look at how I have destroyed Carolyn Crane and her husband's recycling corner. But look at my cute face. Can you even be angry at this face? Carolyn couldn't. Right after this photo was taken, she picked me up and snuggled me. Chew on that, biotches!!

Tiberius and Oblio: 36.5
Kiko and Sadie: -7 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sadie the Most Cutest Kitten Ever Tells It Like It Is!

And the cute car wars between KT/KB and CC continues...


Hello everybody! Look at yourself and now back at me. Now back at yourself, and now back to me! Sadly, you are not a cute wittle ittle itty kitty like I am. My name is Sadie and I'm 6 weeks old. I've been adopted by KT/KB and toooo cute and adorable for words!


My big sister Kiko looks out for me and lets me sleep up on her butt. We've become great friends! See how Kiko looks over me, making sure I'm snuggly warm...


You can't go wrong with two black kitties, one who is a precocious itty bitty kitten.

 So... neener neener poo poo on Obio and Tiberius.*sticks out kitty tongue*

Team Kiko and Sadie: 2
Team Oblio and Tiberius: BIG OLD ZERO!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oblio and Tiberius tell all

Dear Kiko, cat of KB/Katiebabs, aka author KT Grant: My name is Oblio, and I live with author Carolyn Crane and her husband. And I'm here to say that you are living in a fantasy world if you think you are cuter than me. Look at how snowy white my chest is. It is whiter than the walls - whiter, even, than the snowy snow, or an angel's wings. (Unless we're talking Nalini Singh's angels, which, as we know come in lots of different colors.)  But, traditional angels. Or a white dove. Or, the downiest down. And I am not only cute, but amazing to behold. People are lucky just to look at me. That is how cute I am. 





 
Oh, look, here I am resting with Tiberius, who is named after James Tiberius Kirk. She is not only awesomely cute, but an amazing fighter. And look how long her body is, earning her the nickname "monkey snake" - and believe me when  I say, Tiberius is ready to defend her cuteness and mine. ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. 




You better hide in a sink, Kiko, because our cuteness rules not only every cat on the 
planet, but also puppies, baby bears, and all woodland animal babies. 

Team Kiko: 1
Team Oblio & Tiberius: 2

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Ultimate Cute Cat Smackdown Day 1


Hello all pretty human peeps. For those who don't know, my name is Kiko. I'm KB (Katiebabs) aka author KT Grant aka the woman with more names and personalities to keep track of superior looking cat.

Don't I look gorgeous? Touch me, you know you want to...


As you can see, I become even cuter while hiding in the bathroom sink. Why no cat can compete with me in looks. And because of that, I have been called to action, to defend my amazingness from two other cats named Oblio and Tibeerius. These two kitties belong to Carolyn Crane, who even after I gave so much love and kitty kisses to her book, Double Cross, she dare allowed her two felines (who have, as my owner KB would say, WTF names) to bring forth a ultimate kitty cuteness challenge!

I issue forth a challenge, right here on the DIK blog, for the public at large, cat lovers, or not, to pick the cutest cat in all of cute catdom! I throw down my paw at O and T (saying their full names makes yawn).

All the proof is in this picture why I win this round:


Even more proof that I'm full of awesome cuteness. I like to read, and look adorable sitting on a window sill with a stuffed demon sheep on my back.

Team Kiko: 1
Team O and T: 0
Bring it on... like Donkey Kong!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wartime Romances


Today is Remembrance or Armistice Day in the UK, or if you are in the US, Veteran's Day.  It's a day to remember and honour all those who gave their lives protecting our respective countries during times of conflict.

In romance novels war is never a very popular topic.  War takes loved ones away from each other, not unites them.  That may be the case but some of my favourite novels have taken place in and around wars.  The tension caused by warfare, the extremes of emotions and the desperate need to savour the moment, are contained within the pages of wartime romance books and appeal to me as a reader.  To be strictly honest my favourite of those books have not been the ones which deal with the nitty gritty of warfare but rather which looks at the aftermath, or the effect of those removed from action and forced to live with the consequences.

In my opinion, no-one writes better romance books about the consequences of war than Mary Balogh.  Many of her books are set in, around or after the Peninsular War and Waterloo and often deal with scarred heroes - both physically and emotionally.  Who can forget the delightful Simply Love, where the hero, Syd, has returned disfigured and having lost an arm? The love that grows between him and Anne, and the way both are healed as result has to be one of the best historical love stories I've read.  Similarly, her 'Slightly' series also has at least 3 of her heroes affected by war.

Another historical romance writer who I greatly admire is Diana Gabaldon.  Her Outlander books are set around two very different wars.  The first 2-3 books are set around the battle of Culloden in Scotland and the latter books are set during the War of Independence in the 'American colonies'.  In these books war is reduced to the personal as the characters of Jamie and Claire experience all the highs and lows of wartime.  The books are all huge doorstoppers but I loved them all and didn't mind the length.

As my focus has shifted to m/m books in the last couple of years, I'm reading more and more contemporaries.  There aren't as many m/m books which touch on the effects of war, but two stand out as real keepers for me.

The first is Out of the Blue by Josh Lanyon which is set in France during the first world war and is a book which does deal with the highs and lows of combat.  The romance is low key, but still compelling as we follow our hero Bat as he deals with dicing with death every day and fighting his affections for Cowboy.


The second book is Keeping Promise Rock by Amy Lane.  Most of the book follows the relationship between Deacon and Crick as they grow up together and fall in love.  During the book Crick goes to war in Iraq, and it's at this point that we see both the harsh conditions for Crick and how emotionally draining Crick's absence is on Deacon.  This is one of the best romance books I've read which shows how war affects both the one in battle and the one left behind.

So as we remember those we may have known who lost their lives in combat, perhaps you could suggest to me some romance books set in and around wartime which have touched your heart, or made you think about how it is for those in war, or left behind.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Odd Couple

I think one of the reasons I get so frustrated, annoyed and angry when one half of the Romeo and Juliet couple dies (see Monday's post) is because usually they've had a real struggle to get to the point where they can be together.

One of my favourite tropes is opposites attract. I like seeing how two disparate individuals, resolve their differences (or not) and forge a life together. I appreciate that this can be a harder story to write than - one of them dies, and the one that's left ends up with someone more suitable. But I think it's a story I'd rather read.

So, some of my favourite odd couples.


Adrien English and Jake Riordan

Now I haven't read to the end of the series yet - so my fingers are in my ears as regards spoilers lalalalalalalal - but Adrien and Jake are one of my favourite couples. To say they travel a rocky road would be an understatement. Adrien is a gay bookseller, out to his friends and family, whilst Jake is a cop who is firmly in the closet. It would seem that everything is against them but you can feel the chemistry between them on every page they appear together. And whilst part of you might think that Adrien deserves better, I have to admit that I can't help rooting for the two of them.


Kate Daniels and Curran Lennart

(Embarrassed:- I had to look up Curran's surname, I guess I'm used to thinking of him as Curran, The Beast Lord). This is another relationship that on paper just doesn't seem feasible. Kate Daniels - Mercenary, Agent of the Order, in a relationship with Curran - Lord of the Beasts - in some ways their purposes are diametrically opposed (especially in the early books). If you asked me to give an example of an alpha/alpha relationship, Kate and Curran would be in the top three. Neither of them will back down in an argument and sparks fly whenever they're together. It would probably be easier for them to walk away from each other but somehow they keep coming back together.


Clayton and Elena Danvers

Another alpha couple and one of the other two of my top three (please don't anyone ask who the third is, lol). This is a relationship that really has gone through the ultimate low. When Clayton bit Elena with the thought of turning her into a werewolf and making her his mate, he betrayed everything between them. How do you get over a betrayal that big? But that's the whole story of Bitten and Stolen. Forgiveness isn't easy but it is possible to come out on the other side.


I think sometimes of when Josh Lanyon, Ilona Andrews and Kelley Armstrong were writing these relationships. Would it have been easier to kill off Jake, Curran or Clay? Was there a point when the stories were being written that the characters really did dodge a bullet.* Maybe sometimes the brave path to take is to kill a character off, but personally I think I'd rather read about the struggle.

* it's really bugging me, because I know there is a sci-fi/fantasy series out there where a character was going to be killed off in ep 5 or 6 but it never quite happened. And I can't for the life of me remember which series it was. (Hopefully nothing too embarrassing :) )

Monday, November 8, 2010

Poking the Hornet's Nest - (Or Why I Hate Romeo and Juliet)

Okay I have to start this post by saying the above is a bit of a fib. I don't hate Romeo and Juliet. I love Shakespeare and R&J, along with Macbeth, Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing are perhaps my favourite plays.*

However, I hate how whenever a main protagonist (meaning the hero or heroine) is killed at the end of a romance novel (a novel that has been marketed as a romance), R&J are used as a justification.

I have a number of issues.

1) Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy not a romance. They are a tragic romantic couple. In Shakespearean tragedy issues are resolved at the end of the play through death. In Shakespearean comedy issues are resolved through marriage. Therefore I don't think it's too bid of a stretch to say that modern romance has more in common with the comedy plays.

2) Romeo and Juliet were teenagers who took their own lives. They didn't know any better. It gets on my wick when these characters are used as justification by readers, authors, publishers etc for the death of the hero/heroine at the hands of the antagonist.

3) We're being real. Well go and be real in some other genre. If I want real I'll turn on the six o'clock news.

Now I am not saying that characters shouldn't die. That's frankly ridiculous. But what I hate is when a book is written as a romance, sold as a romance, marketed as a romance, read as a romance with a hero and heroine and developing relationship, and then in the last few pages...kaboom!

You know...that doesn't make me appreciate what a great book it was, or how great the writer is, it just leaves me feeling manipulated and getting a small amount of joy from the sound the book made as it hit the wall.

I have read books where characters died, but I knew going in that something terrible was going to happen. In two of my DIK books, the main characters died. But I didn't pick them up thinking I was going to get a fairytale ending. And I waited until I was in the right frame of mind to go on that emotional rollercoaster.

One of the things I'm happy about is that Urban Fantasy has finally come to the point or is coming to the point where it's being marketed as Urban Fantasy. Hopefully we're seeing the last of UF appearing on bookshop shelves with PNR along its spine. I read UF I expect the possibility that characters may die. I read PNR I expect the hero and heroine to make it through to the last page.


* - I also have to say I realize that this post is unlikely to change your point of view, if you don't agree with me, I doubt I'll change your mind. But I needed to get this off my chest.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Keeper of the Story


As we're having fun here on the island (and we are) and on our travels, we also have to be aware of the world around us, of the people who aren't having fun. I, personally, feel a need to leave a mark that contributes to a better world, that makes a difference in the society in which we live. To that end, a large part of the reason for the The Chapman File International Blog Tour is to raise awareness of and support for the fight against domestic abuse. This is a very personal cause for me, but also for millions of other women in the world. I've discovered on the tour that a lot of us either have had experience with abuse ourselves or we know someone who did.

The first domestic abuse shelter in the United States was founded in the 1970's. Sandra Ramos, founder of that shelter has worked tirelessly for thirty years to fight for the passage of laws to protect battered women. And to keep them housed and fed. She started out housing women in her living room. Today she has ten homes filled to capacity with battered women and their children. This year, in a downed economy, Sandra lost $400,000.00 in donations. She is struggling to keep these women in danger safe. If you can help, even with a little donation, please go to http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/ and click donate. Or click on the link above to donate.

Today, I'm bringing you the story of one of the women Sandra Ramos took in:

My story began in 1993 when I married my ex-husband we were married Sept. 11, 1993 and I never suspected that the man I married was an abusive man. The abuse started as verbal insults and through the years escalated to shoving, slapping and verbal threats and terrorism.

We had four beautiful children, who unfortunately had to endure and witness his terrorism. My batterer liked to keep me unsure of his motives at all times. He would get upset at the smallest things and I never knew what would set him off. A lot of times he would chase me and then throw his fists threw doors, glass and what ever he could hit. He even choked me a couple of times until almost unconsciousness!

I became very depressed and lonely because I was also isolated in the woods and didn’t have any friends. He wouldn’t even let me speak to people even family members on the phone. In winter 2004 I decided to divorce him and start a new life, but that was the beginning of my nightmare! You see what I didn’t know at the time was that battered women were at risk of losing their children to their batterers!

This sounds impossible but It happened to me. The reason this happens is that home makers are totally dependant on their husbands and we don’t have the resources to fight for custody in family court. Often times we lose everything we have including our cherished children! After losing custody victims of battering are often put on supervised visitation and punished for leaving our abusers.

Abusive men are using our courts system to further abuse women and children. According to an empirical research project, Abrams, R., & Greaney, J. (1989). Report of the gender bias study of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
A 1989 study by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that in cases involving custody and visitation litigation, "The interests of fathers are given more weight than the interests of mothers and children." (pp. 62-63).
Chesler, P. (1991, 1986). Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers.

Phyllis Chesler interviewed 60 mothers involved in a custody dispute and found that fathers who contest custody are more likely than their wives to win (p. 65). In 82% of the disputed custody cases fathers achieved sole custody despite the fact that only 13% had been involved in child care activities prior to divorce (p. 79 tbl. 5). Moreover, 59% of fathers who won custody litigation had abused their wives, and 50% of fathers who obtained custody through private negotiations had abused their wives (p. 80 tbl. 6).

Unfortunately, this widespread epidemic has flooded our family courts all over the country! Strengthen our Sisters helped me try to win my legal battles to no avail. This went on for 2 years without any resolve. I am and have been for 5 years on supervised visitation and only see my four children twice a month for 2 hours! I also have to pay child support to my abuser to add insult to injury. My worse fears are realized when I lost my children to my ex-husband and had to listen to my children tell me how he hurts them. I am paralyzed to do anything about the situation. This fact crushes my heart; I am left to pray that god keeps them safe from harm.

Sincerely, Kelly

This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Please join us in our fight against domestic abuse. We’re hosting a charity skate/walkathon on December 4th in Phoenix, Arizona. If you can join us, we’d love to have you. Tim and I are skating and we’re going to have a blast. If you aren’t going to be in the area, you can still sponsor us. Please. In our downed economy domestic abuse has risen and the monies to help have dwindled. To register for the skate, or to donate any amount to the cause, click here: http://www.predatorspeed.org/, or go to http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/ and click donate.

There’s an item from our new book, The Third Secret, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: Some are made out of pewter. Send all guesses to staff@tarataylorquinn.com. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/. Guess as many times as you’d like!

Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at http://www.eharlequin.com/! We’re giving away a KOBO e-reader and many other cool prizes! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave comments on the tour!

E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available at amzn.to/bmJzp4.

Next tour stop: Monday, November 8, 2010. MIRA Authors: http://community.eharlequin.com/content/free-advice-mondays. We hope to see you back here! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.

For weekly blog tour dates, visit http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/. Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to staff@tarataylorquinn.com.

The Third Secret by Tara Taylor Quinn. MIRA, ©2010. ISBN 9780778328346 (paperback), 400p. http://www.amazon.com/Third-Secret-Tara-Taylor-Quinn/dp/0778328341/ref=sr_1_1/183-1358540-3401557?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276118382&sr=1-1.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Paula Eykelhof, Executive Editor, MIRA Books

I hope you all slept well last night. Here on the island things were quiet. Peaceful. I'm expecting more activity tonight. It's Friday night! And we're going in search of a Pina Colada.

In the meantime, my editor, Paula Eykelhof landed here on the island late yesterday. I'm turning today over to her. She'll be reading all comments so please give her a nice welcome! Paula and I have been working together since my fifth book. We just finished number fifty four. The books would not be nearly as good as they are without her half of the contribution. So, everyone, this is Paula...

Tara and I have worked together, on and off, since the early 90s, so you could say we know each other well.

I feel I know her characters well, too. If you’re familiar with Tara’s work, you’ll see what I mean. She has the ability to go deep into their psychologies and emotions—no clich├ęd, generic or shallow characterizations here. Their motivations and reactions are complex. Real. And they believably generate the plot. Tara doesn’t give in to the all-too-easy temptation of imposing plot on characters or creating characters to fit the action.

These people stay with you, and that’s exactly why. The stories stem from their individual histories and personalities. And of course—connected to that, an important part of that—from the work they do.

Take Kelly Chapman, for instance. She’s the character who links the stories in “The Chapman Files.” Kelly’s a psychologist, which leads her to look at people closely, to get involved in their lives—and yet…to keep her distance from them. But in the course of these four books we see her change and grow, much as her clients do. And the chief way that happens is through her relationships—her increasingly strong personal friendships with cop Samantha and lawyer Erin, her growing romantic relationship with FBI agent Clay Thatcher. And of course the most difficult but in many ways most rewarding relationship of all—as the adoptive mother of young Maggie Winston.

While the stories have emotional intensity and depth, don’t think they’re about a bunch of people sitting around exploring their angst. Far from it! There’s lots of excitement, fast-paced action, mystery, twists and turns. The point is you care about what happens—it’s more than just adrenaline—because you care about these people who are caught up in sometimes terrifying events. You can clearly see (at least by the end of the story) how they themselves, knowingly or not, contributed to those events. Even if it isn’t through any action or response of their own, you can see how their personal histories played a role…

If you’re new to Tara’s books, these four—The First Wife (a Superromance), The Second Lie, The Third Secret and The Fourth Victim (all MIRA titles)—which make up “The Chapman Files” are a great place to start. They’re all available as ebooks and audio books as well as print. And if you’ve read her in the past, you won’t want to miss this series!

This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Please join us in our fight against domestic abuse. We’re hosting a charity skate/walkathon on December 4th in Phoenix, Arizona. If you can join us, we’d love to have you. Tim and I are skating and we’re going to have a blast. If you aren’t going to be in the area, you can still sponsor us. Please. In our downed economy domestic abuse has risen and the monies to help have dwindled. To register for the skate, or to donate any amount to the cause, click here: http://www.predatorspeed.org/, or go to www.tarataylorquinn.com and click donate.
There’s an item from our new book, The Third Secret, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: They're all the same basic size. Send all guesses to staff@tarataylorquinn.com. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/. Guess as many times as you’d like!
Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at http://www.eharlequin.com/! We’re giving away a KOBO e-reader and many other cool prizes! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave comments on the tour!
E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available at amzn.to/bmJzp4.
Next tour stop: Saturday, November 6, 2010. Desert Isle Keepers : http://dikladiesrule.blogspot.com/ . We hope to see you back here! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.
For weekly blog tour dates, visit http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/. Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to staff@tarataylorquinn.com.
The Third Secret by Tara Taylor Quinn. MIRA, ©2010. ISBN 9780778328346 (paperback), 400p. http://www.amazon.com/Third-Secret-Tara-Taylor-Quinn/dp/0778328341/ref=sr_1_1/183-1358540-3401557?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276118382&sr=1-1.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hello and Free E-Book!

I'm very happy to be here with you all! I needed an island getaway! I've got some friends with me. We're on The Chapman File International Blog Tour together. If you'd like to join the tour, please feel free to join us! We're having a lot of fun. Winning prizes. Playing a mystery prize game. We're talking about the good things life gives us. And we're sharing our troubles and finding solutions for some of them, too!

We're stopping here with you for three days. The longest stop of the tour! I might actually be able to unpack a suitcase! My editor, Paula Eykelhof, is here with us, too. She'll be speaking up, so stay tuned!

If you'd like to be entered to win a free e-book of The First Wife, please leave a comment with us during our stay.

First, for those who don't know her, I need to introduce you to Kelly Chapman. This tour is as much hers as it is mine. Kelly, say hello.

Hi Everyone! Thank you for inviting us! I've seen some great places while on the road with Tara. This is one of the most fun! I'm not much of a drinker, some wine in the evening, but I'd sure love to try a fun island drink. Any suggestions?

Okay, I'm back. Kelly is an expert witness psychologist. She's the star of The Chapman Files - the four book series that I have out this fall. She's my alter ego. And has become one of my best friends.

My husband, lover and very best friend is here, too. Say hi, Tim.

Hello. And before anyone asks, yes, I am her inspiration.

Okay, back to me. The Third Secret went on sale this week. The climactic moment in the book takes place on an island off from Florida. Or at least one of the moments. The whole book is filled with climactic moments. Writing this book was like watching episodes of 24 non-stop. Except Rick Thomas is a whole lot better looking than Jack Bauer - no offense, Kiefer. I go for dark hair. And taller.

The Third Secret also has softer moments. Tough family moments. It asks the deepest questions. The kinds for which there are no right or wrong answers. There are only people doing their best to live decently and be happy.

I didn't plan to bring out my own questions in this book. They just appeared. But I wonder, how does a defense attorney defend criminals, go for the win, feel good about the win, and then go out and live in a world where criminals are free? Wow. That sounds judgmental and I don't mean it that way. One of my close friends is a defense attorney. And I know she has a lot of angst when she discovers something that tells her her client isn't as innocent as at first seemed. We need defense attorneys. I WOULD NOT want a world without them. Innocent people are accused every single day. Some are convicted. I can't live with that. I just wonder about the other side of the job. How does someone do that job and be okay?

And I wonder about family - when do we sacrifice self for family and when is it best not to do so? I've seen women sacrifice their whole lives and be used and abused and still end up alone. Is that right? Yet, the other side, to turn your back on family to serve self doesn't usually lead to happiness either. That choice also leads to alone. Ideally it's a give and take. But what about when it isn't?

Okay, Kelly's pulling me away. She wants to go in search of drinks. She says I need one. A really good one. I'm not arguing with her! I've learned that it's just best not to.

This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Please join us in our fight against domestic abuse. We’re hosting a charity skate/walkathon on December 4th in Phoenix, Arizona. If you can join us, we’d love to have you. Tim and I are skating and we’re going to have a blast. If you aren’t going to be in the area, you can still sponsor us. Please. In our downed economy domestic abuse has risen and the monies to help have dwindled. To register for the skate, or to donate any amount to the cause, click here: http://www.predatorspeed.org/, or go to www.tarataylorquinn.com and click donate.

There’s an item from our new book, The Third Secret, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: People who like to be precise use them. Send all guesses to staff@tarataylorquinn.com. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/. Guess as many times as you’d like!

Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at http://www.eharlequin.com/! We’re giving away a KOBO e-reader and many other cool prizes! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave comments on the tour!

E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available at amzn.to/bmJzp4.

Next tour stop: Friday, November 5, 2010. Desert Isle Keepers : http://dikladiesrule.blogspot.com/ . We hope to see you back here! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.

For weekly blog tour dates, visit http://www.tarataylorquinn.com/. Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to staff@tarataylorquinn.com.

The Third Secret by Tara Taylor Quinn. MIRA, ©2010. ISBN 9780778328346 (paperback), 400p.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5 Essential Ingredients for Romance


I love a good romance novel: it's a great escape from the troubles and boredom of everyday life to fantasize about exciting, romantic adventures worlds away. Having read so many of these exciting detours from reality, I've boiled down 5 essential ingredients for romance. This is what every romantic novel needs to be tantalizing, riveting, and give me butteflies. DIK ladies read on and compare notes!

1. A "spark" moment: Towards the beginning of the novel, there needs to be some kind of happening to spark the romance, to lay the foundation for the love, heartbreak, and (hopefully) happy ending waiting at the end where the lovers drift off in the sunset, content in each others' arms. There needs to be something to create the romantic tension and see the possibility of romance between two often opposite characters.

2. Conflict to keep the lovers apart: Love is not easy, we all know that, and so the characters in these fantasies shouldn't have it easy either! Plus, if they were ever to live happily ever after right off the bat, it wouldn't make for a very exciting story. My favorite conflicts are another lover, or an impending war, or class issues keeping the characters apart. That way, when they do come together at the end, it's all that much more satisfying after seeing their budding love in peril.

3. A good climax: I'm a sucker for endings where the romance is in danger of succumbing to some outside force. The climax of the novel should be the moment of jeopardy or danger, the moment when the conflict keeping the lovers apart comes to a breaking point, one readers obviously hope goes in romance's favor. Races against time, like interrupting a marriage ceremony, get my heart racing -- but not as much as when the lovers embrace after overcoming this obstacle in the name of love.

4. A unique setting or circumstance: To add to the illusion, I like it when romance novels are set in a different time or place than our own. Often, a historical background adds to the excitement and conflict, like novels set in World War II. I also like novels set in contemporary times but in exotic settings, like Peace Corps volunteers finding love during relief efforts in Africa; something to add to the fantasy of it all.

5. A hopeful ending: We all love happy endings, where the lovers whether the storm and end up together against all odds, more in love with each than ever. However, that's not always realistic, and can be an easy way out for the author. I want a satisfying ending, and if the lovers aren't together, I at least want it to be hopeful. A good romantic novel will show that love endures at the end, even if the characters aren't together.

Kameron Lo is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on ultrasound technician schools for the Guide to Health Education.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October DIK Reading Challenge Links

This is a sticky post - for newer posts see below





Please post links to your DIK Reading Challenge submission in the comments of this post. (through 10/31/10 11:59pm)
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