Monday, May 30, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday & An Upcoming Giveaway

My poor blog must think I'm about to abandon it, but I swear I won't. :) I still enjoy blogging too much to do such a thing. It's just that the review mojo isn't quite back yet and the reading does have its ups and downs as well. However, I have no excuse for missing Happy Gay Friday last week. *hangs head in shame*

All I can say is that I have the attention span of a squirrel these days: I'm running around like a headless chicken most of the time, not able to concentrate very long on one thing at a time. My boss must *hate* me, I’m sure.
It's been like that ever since our house went up for sale for real, two weeks ago. We've had three viewers so far and one of them has made a bid already. It's much lower than we wanted it to be, so we're thinking about what counter bid to make (is that what you call it in English?). One of the other viewers asked for a second appointment, so… it’s going well. And in the meantime we started looking for houses like madmen ourselves. We had no idea that things could go this fast, you know, with the crisis and all...

So, blogging about books isn't happening much over here these days and therefore I'm very glad that the awesome writer Jennifer Turner will be visiting my blog later this week to talk about her Darkness Within series. Finally some serious book talk again! :)
I've read the first book of this series a while ago and loved it. If you're curious why, you can find my review of Eternal Seduction here.

Recently the second book, Eternal Hearts, was released and coming Thursday Jennifer Turner will be here to answer some questions I asked her about her work and she'll also be giving away her books to one of the commenters on that post. To warm you up for her visit on Thursday I'm going to give you a sneak peek today. It's her answer to one of my questions which includes a nice long excerpt from Eternal Hearts. I hope this'll pique your curiosity for the rest of the interview.

Question: Which of the two heroes was more fun to write: Kerestyan from the first book, Eternal Seduction or Drake from Eternal Hearts? And why?

Jennifer Turner : When it comes to being more fun to write, without question, that award goes straight to Drake. He’s always full of surprises, and even though he has this really intuitive and thoughtful quality about him that blatantly defies his age, he also has a knack for slipping humor into a scene when I least expect it. For example:

    Toni rested a hand on Drake’s forearm. “I’m sorry I bit you.”
    He wrinkled his nose like a five year old and made a production of rubbing his booboo. “Me, too.”
    “Oh, please.” She grabbed the offended hand and pressed a kiss to the wounded finger that had probably healed the second he’d removed it from her mouth. “There. All better.”
    He jerked his arm back as though she’d touched him with an open flame. “Don’t do that.” The pain in his eyes deepened right before that invisible curtain slammed back into place. He flashed a smile that wasn’t true. “The last place my fingers need to be is anywhere near your mouth. You’ve already proven you’re a biter.”
    Toni mirrored his false smile, even though what she wanted to do was ask why he kept trying to be someone else. But then, she knew all too well what it felt like not to be happy with who you were. She’d felt that way for the last three years, and to this day, she’d give anything to go back to who she was before. Back to a time when her life consisted of more than running to stay alive, back to before one night and a few bad decisions changed everything.
    She stared down at his hand. “If I hurt you, Drake, I really am sorry.”
    A long moment of silence stretched between them before he asked, “Can I ask you a question?”
    She nodded, but couldn’t quite meet his eyes. “Sure.”
    “Why do you apologize so much?”
    “Because…” She bit at the inside of her bottom lip then cleared her throat. “Because I promised myself a long time ago that I’d never waste a chance to tell someone how I really feel. That I’d never walk away from someone I knew I’d hurt without telling them I was sorry…even if they couldn’t hear me.”
    “Well,” he sighed, his voice seemingly filled with the same regret she felt. He rested a warm hand on her shoulder, sending a shiver down her spine. “Even though my finger will probably get all infected now and swell up like a bloated corpse, I want you to know that I’ll probably forgive you someday.” He slid his hand down her arm and squeezed her fingers tight. “But today’s not your day…and tomorrow ain’t lookin’ too good either.”
    She ripped her hand away from him when he burst into a loud fit of laughter. “Oh my God!” She grabbed a fistful of his long hair then yanked his face down to her level. “What’s wrong with you? Why would you say something like that to me? What did I ever do to you?”
    “Ow, ow, ow. You’re hurting me. Say you’re sorry! Say you’re sorry!”
    She tugged hard on his hair again, but this time all she could do was laugh at the exaggerated way he bent at the waist and contorted sideways as his face scrunched up. “You’re just not right.”
    He flashed the most beautiful, most genuine smile she’d ever seen. “Yeah, but now you’re laughing.”
    She slowly released her hold on his hair, noticing for the first time how soft the dark strands felt as they slipped between her fingers. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had tried to make her laugh. Couldn’t recall, aside from 8-Ball and Brick, the last time she’d been touched by a vampire who wasn’t trying to kill her.
    She looked up at Drake, watching the way his eyes seemed to lighten a little more every second he stared back at her, until not even a trace of the sadness remained. Where the darkness had gone or why, she didn’t know, but she’d been alone and unwanted for so long that she wasn’t sure whether to smile because he made her feel so good, or cry because she knew she didn’t deserve it.
    You don’t deserve it. Toni swallowed the jagged knot tightening her throat and backed away from the man who had no idea what kind of monster he stood so close to. “We should probably head for Locke’s hotel.” She tucked her hair behind her ears as the frigid wind picked up around them. “When we get there, I’ll see if I can find someone who knows him. Maybe I can get his number and talk him into letting you go. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than be stuck with someone like me. Someone you don’t even know.”
    “Oh. Hell. No.” He folded his arms over his chest while that adorable, lopsided grin from earlier reformed on his lips. “I’m not going to the hotel yet. I’m not moving an inch until you say it.”
    She blinked at him. “Say what?”
    “Say what?” His mouth gaped open like a suffocating fish. “I want you to say you’re sorry for pulling my hair. I want you to say you’re sorry for almost snapping my spine in two.” He scuffed one of his big black boots against the sidewalk. “There’s ice down there, ya know. I almost fell, and I don’t have health insurance yet.”
    “Are you serious?”
    “Yes. I want an apology.”

As I said, Drake tends to go for humor when no one else would. :) I remember writing that scene and thinking…holy smokes…how the hell is he going to pull this off without coming off like a jerk? But I ignored my concern and let him take the scene where he wanted to, and when Toni responded the way she did, when she was able to accept and appreciate the simple gesture for exactly what it was…I knew they belonged together.

So yeah, Drake definitely wins the “Fun to Write” award over Kerestyan because I never know what Drake’s going to do next. But I also love Kerestyan in ways that Drake can’t even begin to touch…I just want that to be known. ;)

Hope to see you back Thursday. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Gay Friday & RL Meeting and the A to Z Challenge continues

Gasp, I can’t believe I went a week without blogging! There’s so much going on in real life that I can barely spend more than half an hour uninterrupted on my computer for non-work-related stuff. Good thing I have my iPad to check in with Google Reader every now and then, but it’s not nearly enough to feed my blog addiction. Not even close. But that’s just how it is, no point fighting it…

Some of the things that are happening in RL aren’t much fun, like my mum’s lung exam, my brother’s divorce and having to tidy up the house perpetually for the house-watchers (although having people interested in our house is in itself positive news of course).
However, other things are super fun, like meeting with my Dutch blog sisters and friends, Leontine and Lis, today! Squeeeee!! I’m really looking forward to seeing them again! This time we’re meeting in The Hague, which is Lis’s new place of residence. And The Hague is near the sea and the coast, so we’re going to one of the many beach venues, place our shapely butts in one of the lazy beach chairs and start talking, sipping cool drinks and do some more talking.

As expected, my reading week was slow. I only managed to read a few books for my A to Z Challenge – sometimes in between meetings and business dinners and sometimes later at night when I finally got home or after the phones went quiet. I’ve read another two B titles and one C book:

I thought this was a lovely and deep story about coming out. Max and Hunter are so unbelievably hot and adorable; I couldn't get enough of them. Their story is told from Hunter's POV in first person, and he is the one who’s afraid to come out, but his feelings for Max and Max’ patient urging helps him to take that difficult step. 4.5 stars

This was a nice story with a very good premise (loving your brother’s lover). However, I would’ve enjoyed it even more when the timing of certain revelations hadn’t felt a bit off. For example, Kiernan admitting to Jordan why he left home came out of nowhere because I'd never thought he would reveal that he loved him at all, and certainly not that soon. Same goes for Jordan telling Kiernan he loves him, later on. It surprised me at that point in the story. After these early revelations the story missed a bit of tension. The guilt and denial of feelings that both men suffer from could've caused much more angst and tension. 3.5 stars

I'm really starting to love this series about hockey players and their sexy adventures. Sergei and Kip are lovely and hot together. Quick, satisfying read with some feral possessiveness and protectiveness *drool*. 3.5 stars

It’s not much, is it?

Ah well, I might find some reading time on the train to The Hague today and hopefully I can finish The Charlie Factor by Diana DeRicci, which I’m reading now.

What are you reading this weekend?

Happy Gay Friday everyone!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Gay Friday & Stuff

This is going to be a short Happy Gay Friday post because I’m exhausted. I’ve been painting walls all day long today, and they were not even my own *groan*. I just got home and took a long hot shower to ease the ache in my muscles and now all I want to do is curl up in my nice, soft bed, preferably with a good book.

Tomorrow is going to be another long day, as I’m going to Amsterdam with a couple of friends. At the end of the day we’re going to a party of one of my favorite Dutch authors to celebrate her 25th anniversary as a writer. It’s going to be fun, I’m sure! Amsterdam always is, and so are parties. :)

But yet again, real life is absorbing all of my free time, which makes me a bad, bad blogger friend. I feel the need to apologize for my absence in blogland – I’m so so sorry – although I know we all have these short periods of time when things don’t go like you’d want them to (well… not *all*… there are a few very special, dear and loyal peeps around here – yes, you! – who I appreciate very very much for their loyalty and who seem to never be absent).

Anyhoo, I hope you’ll have a fabulous weekend too and

Happy Gay Friday everyone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A to Z Challenge: The letter B

I’m not done yet with the letter B but here are a few reviewettes of the B titles I’ve read so far.

Cute, sweet story, nothing deep and a bit short and fast paced, but it’s set in a nice world. Like the first book in this series it gives a peek into the hockey world and I liked seeing Trey’s brothers and teammates again. Trey and Wade are a cute and hot couple and I enjoyed their chemistry. I love me some sports heroes, especially when they hook up with a cop. :) 3.5 stars

Excellent story about two hot, likable guys who both got used and cheated on by the same man. When they decide to go to Italy together neither of them expected to fall hard for the other one. Thanks to the alternating point of views both characters become three-dimensional. And we get a good feeling for their emotions and developing relationship. Hot, moving, well-paced and engaging until the end. Loved it! 4.5 stars

Beautiful love story with loveable and layered characters in a strong but tender BDSM relationship. I liked that the authors took so much time for the character development and the building of Sterling and Owen’s relationship. These guys make a lovely and hot couple and we're getting a very good insight in their kinky minds which connect on a deep emotional level. This was a breathtaking, awesome read for me. 4.5 stars

This is an enjoyable, touching and somewhat different vampire story which is set in historical Amsterdam. The setting was the reason why I wanted to read it after I learned about it from Jenre’s review over at Well Read. And I’m glad I did, it was a very good story. It's not a full-length novel but more like a longer short story (47 pdf pages) and as such it's hardly a fully plotted tale with well-rounded characters, but for its length the heroes are very engaging and the plot is really entertaining. 4 stars

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Gay Friday & The Letter A

And another week went by… My mini-break is turning out to be not so mini at all. In fact, I’m still enjoying the A-Z Reading Challenge and now that I’m not spending as much time online as I used to do, oddly enough my social calendar seems to become a bit overwhelming. Or maybe it’s not so odd…
Somehow invitations for fun dates with friends keep coming in and they’re making my calendar for the month of May look like one big busy feast of colors (since I’m using different pencils for all the dates). It must be the wonderful, sunny and warm weather that we’re having here for weeks now. It makes people want to plan parties, barbeques and other get-togethers. And also, all the national holidays during this time of year are a great cause for fun things, there are plenty of musical and cultural festivals you can go to.
Yesterday for example, we had a national holiday here in the Netherlands what’ll probably translate as ‘Liberation Day’ or something like that (we celebrate the end of WWII because by then, in 1945, most part of our country was liberated by the Canadians and Americans). And we went with a couple of friends to one of the many rock and pop festivals that are organized in the larger cities each year on May 5th.
Between the beautiful weather, all the holiday events and the upcoming deadlines at work, I’m afraid there probably won’t be much time for my online activities left. So don’t start to worry if you don’t see me around much, I’ll be back *wink*. Every now and then…

My reading groove is still not what it used to be, but the A to Z Challenge is at least helping me with picking my next book. I moved on to the B last week, no C books in sight yet, but here are a few reviewettes (not as short as Chris's ones but alas) of the A titles I’ve read:

This is a hilarious and endearing story which shows realistically and makes very palpable how terrifying it is/can be to come out of the closet. Jason is the first person narrator of Anything For You and he is uniquely funny but extremely in the closet. Finding true love makes brave so that Jason can continue being hot and sweet together with his super hero gay rights activist Chad. Highly recommended! 4.75 stars

Book three in the Kindred Spirits series. Cute story about a younger cook winning the heart of an older lawyer who recently lost his lover. Although this books has its own main characters the setting is the same as in the previous books in this series: an inn where ghosts feel happy to show themselves. This time the ghost was the deceased lover of the lawyer Alex, which felt a bit farfetched: I didn’t get why he would ‘show up’ now, one year after he died, and at this place far from home. I did like the bedroom scenes between Alex and Logan but cared less for their insta-love. 3.5 stars

Zach and Angelo's relationship starts out as an endearing friendship, which finally turns into a sweet and hot love story that comes to full bloom in the second half of the book. Their engaging and well-written story is about giving each other space, being able to be yourself, finding your own strength in the other's strength, the balance between give and take, having patience to let trust build and stimulating each other to live your life to its fullest potential. Zach and Angelo complete each other in the most beautiful way and I just loved their emotional interaction and physical chemistry. 4.5 stars

This final installment in this series is an explosive finale of Nicky and Brandon’s ongoing relationship which has been a rollercoaster of emotions from the start. Very raw and deeply felt feelings are threatening to destroy them when this moving couple has to deal with the mother of all nightmares. This was one of the most emotional books I’ve read within this genre so far. And yet, despite everything that’s going on in their lives, the author managed to throw in a couple of sexy scenes which involved some wicked rope work again. And these scenes even supported the plot and weren’t just inserted for hotness sake. I’m kinda sad that this was the last of the Nicky and Brandon books (and free stories) I had on my shelves. It’s hard to say goodbye to this unbelievably hot couple. *sob*. The entire series (Cheating Chance and Inland Empire are the previous books) has been an enthralling reading experience. Highly recommended: 5 stars

Happy Gay Friday everyone!
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