Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Eve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez

Eve of SamhainEve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

SNARKY MODERN FAERIE TALE

Eve of Samhain is a paranormal romance featuring Ryann Pierce, a college student by day and club waitress by night. Losing her parents at a young age has turned Ryann into a feisty, stubborn, independent young woman, and woe to the club patron who tries to grab a piece of her alluring backside--he’s sure to receive a harsh word or quick smack in return . . .

Until Quinn Donegan enters. He’s a tall, muscular, blue-eyed hunk with a sexy Irish brogue and a spirited argumentativeness of his own. Oh, and did I mention he’s a 500 year-old faerie? Ryann’s too disheveled by his tantalizing effect on her to respond with her typical cheek, but that doesn’t stop Quinn from continuing to throw out barbs and insults . . . surely a sign of his affection? Quinn is determined to keep Ryann safe from a nefarious shape-shifter that stalks her and says creepy things like “Mine” while threatening her.

I love how Quinn and Ryann seem made for each other not only due to their physical attraction but also due to their similar impudence. Because of Quinn’s arrogance and womanizing, the faerie queen placed a curse on him long ago. As a result, he and Ryann have to refrain from touching each other, ratcheting up the palpable sexual tension. Quinn’s Gaelic words reminded me of Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, and I felt like Claire Randall, swooning every time Quinn murmured sweet nothings in Gaelic.

Ryann is clever with her made-up words. I laughed out loud when she calls Quinn a “fastard” and describes her own “badonkadonk-sized keister”, as well as lines like this from p. 47 when Quinn’s describing his powers:

“You’d only lose your mind if I were to shag you.”

“SHAG me?” I said, slightly taken aback. Were we trapped in a Mike Myers film and I didn’t know it?

I also liked how Ryann wasn’t very experienced in the bedroom. It makes her seem more real.

I felt sad for Ryann that she has such negative body image despite being at a lean, healthy body weight and drawing the obvious attention of male suitors. She's obsessed with her appearance to the point that she restricts her food intake and insists on early morning runs no matter how late she goes to bed or how many dangers lurk on her path.

Sadly, this preoccupation with weight and shape can occur even to those women who are closer to society’s “ideal”, and I wonder if her negative body image is a manifestation of her overall poor sense of self after growing up without parents. Ryann lacks confidence in general, a vulnerability hiding beneath a hard exterior, and she funnels all that self-doubt into hating her body. They say that the love and acceptance of a romantic partner can improve body image, and I was pleased when Ryann begins focusing on more important aspects of her life as Quinn weaves himself into her world. It was good to see both characters grow as a result of their relationship.

Reading how things turned out in the end, I felt happy and satisfied. Overall a very enjoyable read by Lisa Sanchez!

View all my reviews

Time for Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop! Visit Lisa Sanchez's blog for the details.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Men in Uniform Reading Challenge

I have a thing for men in uniforms, particularly military uniforms.

The closely cropped hair, freshly shaved skin, sharply pressed tunic, chiseled jaw, integrity to fight for his principles . . . *fans self*

Even though Tom Cruise is kind of a tool now, I think I saw Top Gun about 25 times in 1986.

"Son, your ego's writing checks your body can't cash!" (or CAN it?)

And then some brilliant person made this manipulated image of my favorite actor, Wentworth Miller:

*jaw drops* "Oh, officer! Let me unbutton that for you."

So naturally I want to embrace the challenge of reading books with men in uniform.

The Book Vixen is hosting Men in Uniform Reading Challenge!
Men in Uniform Reading Challenge
Details:
•Runs January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011(books read prior to 1/1/11 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime – Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.

•The goal is to read as many novels that involve men in inform as you’d like. It can be a policeman, firefighter, paramedic, Army, Navy, Marine Corp., etc. – As long as the leading man wears some sort of uniform, it counts. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.

•Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).

•Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are fine.

•You can list your books in advance or list them as you read them. It is not required that you review the books you read for this challenge but feel free to do so.

•Post this reading challenge on your blog so you can keep a list of the books you’ve read for this challenge. Please include a link back to this post so readers can join the challenge too.

•You do not have to be a book blogger to participate. You can keep tabs on books you’ve read for this challenge on Goodreads or LibraryThing if you’d like (maybe make a shelf for “Men in Uniform Reading Challenge”). If you are not on either of those sites then you can list the books you read for this challenge in the comments on my wrap-up post, which will be up at the end of 2011.

My novel With Good Behavior features some men in uniform, and here's a list of military books on goodreads.

And don't forget our Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop.



Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Fragile Beasts by Tawni O'Dell

Fragile BeastsFragile Beasts by Tawni O'Dell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love stories about dysfunctional families, and this was one of the best I've read in a long time.

Fragile Beasts opens with the narration of Kyle Hayes, a 15 year-old boy who admires his older brother, Pennsylvania high-school baseball standout Klint, as well as his younger sister, Krystal. Kyle's attended every one of Klint's baseball games, and has drawn countless pictures for Krystal. Problem is, Krystal now lives far away in Arizona after their mom scooped her up and left their father for another man. An even bigger problem is that their father just inadvertently killed himself in a drunk-driving accident.

It's quite a dilemma about where Kyle and Klint will live after their father's funeral. Their dad was a blue-collar drunk, but he looks like "Parent of the Year" compared to their cruel, cold mother. Enter the wealthy, childless Candace Jack. Miss Jack agrees to take in the boys, mostly to spite her nephew (the owner of the local coal company) but also to protect the boys from their mother.

Candace Jack has an intricate history of her own, and her family rivals the Hayes for putting the fun in dysfunction. She has a Spaniard, Luis, living with her, and decorates her large home in the brilliant colors and bullfighting paintings of Spain. It turns out that Candace had loved one of Spain’s most artistic torreos, Manuel Obrador. His death in the bullfighting ring in 1959 left her bereft, and she’s never recovered. But she did bring back to Pennsylvania the bull that killed Manuel, and the bull’s grandson now lives on her estate.

I adore the character of Kyle. He’s one of the sweetest teenage boys I’ve ever met. He’s inquisitive, artistic, empathic, and kind, but he still maintains the voracious appetite and ogling of girls characteristic of his age and gender.

Klint, on the other hand, is not so sweet. He’s morose and haunted, harboring a life-threatening secret.

Tawni O’Dell is a master of metaphor. Here are some of my favorites:

“All three of the (bulls) are massive coal-black monsters with sharply pointed upturned white horns that look like they’d slide through a grown man’s chest as easily as a power drill through butter” (p. 137)

“Bert stands nearby, impeccably and elegantly groomed, holding the dog’s gaudy neon pink, fur-lined, jewel-encrusted carrier coolly at his side, looking like some homophobic screenwriter’s idea of a gay doctor who makes house calls” (p. 203)

“…time passes more slowly at the beginning and ends of our lives. As children time is thick and sweet like syrup yet we can’t wait to get older. We enter adulthood and time escapes like water through an open hand. Then it slows again in the twilight years, becoming the congealed consistency of fat skimmed off a stewed chicken, and we have nothing left but to wait for death” (p. 288)

I also loved the author’s exploration of artists, whether they be bullfighters, painters, or baseball players.

“An artist doesn’t create in order to get money, or fame, or acceptance, or love. It’s a force inside him, something he must do or his soul will shrivel up and die” (p. 142)

I’m a former college athlete and Ms. O'Dell totally nailed what happens to athletes who are depressed or suffering some sort of malaise:

“An accountant can be down in the dumps and still add up his daily figures. A teacher can be concerned about her sick mother and still assign chapters for her students to read. A truck driver can be angry at his spouse and still cover all the miles on his route. But an artist’s self is his work. If something is wrong with one, the other falls into decay. I imagine it’s the same for an athlete and his performance” (p. 152).

My only criticism is that the plot sagged a bit at the end of the second act. While I loved Candace and Luis, I didn’t find their points of view as appealing as Kyle’s.

Brilliant characterization, gripping emotions, a plot with depth and heart – this novel is a must read.

You may not have heard of Tawni O'Dell, but she's an awesome author as far as I'm concerned. Her novel Back Roads was an Oprah pick, and here is an interesting interview with her about her path as a writer.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Club Selections

This month it's my turn to host book club, meaning that I'll be providing dessert for our discussion of Fragile Beasts by Tawni O'Dell (my 5 star review will be forthcoming on this blog), as well as selecting our book for the next two months. Check out the "Book Club" tab above to see a photo of my lovely book club!

I have several possibilities running around my mind for my selection, and wanted to ask your opinion. I usually like to preview books before I select them but of the ones mentioned below, the only one I've read is The Hunger Games. What do you think of each book?

The Hunger Games trilogy. Overall I loved this series and want to share it with my friends, but I have a couple of hestitations: 1) if they end up reading the trilogy, I wasn't happy with the ending of Mockingjay, and 2) we don't typically read Young Adult books.

Let the Great World Spin by by Colum McCann. I haven't read this but it was recommended to me by another book club. It takes place in the early 1970's in New York and is about several different stories that weave together in the end. However, it's only available as hardcover and my club tends to prefer paperback.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This is a book told from a dog's point of view. The dog's name is Enzo, which happens to be the name of the vicious mafia don in my novel, so that should be an interesting challenge for me!

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. A Young Adult book about a girl and a wolf that I've been wanting to read (as well as the sequel Linger).

Any thoughts on those books? Or are there any additional books your book club loved that you'd like to recommend?

Time for our Meet an Author Monday Bloghop. Read instructions here. This bloghop is hosted by Lisa Sanchez, whose book Eve of Samhain I just started and it's awesome!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and WeptBy the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho


My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was a very interesting take on a romance novel. It was probably more of a spiritual and philosophical guide, but romance did figure prominently. I read it for my book club at work.

From the back of the book: "Rarely does adolescent love reach its full potential, but what happens when two young lovers reunite after eleven years? Time has transformed Pilar into a strong and independent woman, while her deovted childhood friend has grown into a handsome and charismatic spiritual leader... Now, they are together once again, embarking on a journey fraught with difficulties..."

What I liked most in this story was Pilar's battle between her head and her heart. She'd grown weary of dreams and possibilities, and had settled into a life of mundane details, dominated by concerns like paying the bills and taking out the trash. But then she was faced with the prospect of reuniting with a childhood love, a man who owned no home and who made his living through preaching miracles--specifically, the feminine side of God. Pilar's heart fluttered and her head worried. I can totally relate to Pilar.

The writing was beautiful and lyrical, full of so many thought-provoking quotes, like:

"But love is much like a dam: if you allow a tiny crack to form through which only a trickle of water can pass, that trickle will quickly bring down the whole structure, and soon no one will be able to control the force of the current." (p. 31)

"For years, I had fought against my heart, because I was afraid of sadness, suffering, and abandonment. But now I knew that true love was above all that and that it would be better to die than to fail to love." (p. 104)

"But he wasn't listening. He had stood, seized my hair in his hands, and was kissing me. I clutched at his hair, too, and squeezed himm with all my strength, biting his lips and feeling his tongue move in my mouth. This was the kiss I had waited for so long--a kiss born by the rivers of our childhood, when we didn't yet know what love meant...A kiss that had been lost so many times and now was found. In the moment of that kiss were years of searching, disillusionment, and impossible dreams." (p. 148) Now THAT was a kiss!

I have a special affinity for water after being a competitive swimmer all my life, and I love what Coelho wrote about the Goddess manifesting herself to us through water. The metaphor of breaking a glass representing breaking through our fears was also masterful.

It was fascinating to me that Coelho never names Pilar's male friend. No doubt the author is audacious and unique!

What I didn't like so much was the ending. It felt rather dry after the rich, flowing text that came before it.

I joked on my blog that I needed a Clif's Note version to understand this book, but I can proudly say that I wrote this review all by myself and I think I grew to understand and like this book better in the process! I'm giving it 3.5 stars. It's not really my cup of tea--I need more plot and character development--but if you're in for a thoughtful read, this is it. Someday I'd love to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 8, 2010

Envisioning the Future

Hard to believe that 2010 isn't much longer for this world. As Americans turn our clocks back (an extra hour of sleep, yeah!), we can all look back at the past year and marvel at how quickly it's gone. And as we gear up for holiday celebrations and weather changes, we look ahead to the murky future.

Did you set New Year's goals last year? How's your progress coming along? Do you plan to set goals for 2011? In my psychology practice, I've worked with many clients to set SMART goals:

      S  = Specific
     M = Measurable
     A  = Action-oriented (what's your plan or process to the outcome?)
     R  = Realistic yet challenging
     T  = Time-oriented (short and long term goals)

For example, after finishing reading a book for one of my book clubs, a SMART goal might be something like "I will post my review of By the River Piedro, I Sat Down and Wept on goodreads.com by 1:30 p.m. today, by noting my favorite quotes and passages and by searching for other reviews online so that I can try to understand what in the hell Paulo Coelho was talking about in the book."

See? I was specific, noting details about the what, when, and where, which also makes the goal measurable (knowing whether or not I will have reached the goal). I've laid out a specific plan for achieving the goal. I think the goal's realistic though the longer I spend writing this blog post, the more challenging it becomes. :-) And, it's a short-term goal. My long-term goal is to read and review all of the books written by Omnific Publishing authors. Eve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez is next!

Written goals are wonderful, but visionary goals are even more inspiring. One member of my book club works at a women's prison (you can bet I picked her brain for my novel With Good Behavior), and she has formed a book club of her own with the female inmates. They read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and decided to make "vision boards". One prisoner's vision was to be free, and voila! Miraculously she was released from prison, ahead of schedule. You can imagine how popular the prison book club became after that event!

My friend brought the vision board idea to our book club, and we all made our own boards last December.

What are vision boards, you ask? You simply take a piece of posterboard and fill it with images, stickers, words, you name it, representing what you want in your future. We had a stack of old magazines that we flipped through, cutting out pictures and words that we envisioned for our bright futures. Then, we went around in a circle sharing our vision boards with each other. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other, reflecting and looking forward, and have supported each other in pursuing our vision the past year. When we have our holiday party in December this year, we'll review our progress and make new vision boards for 2011.

It's been a great year for reaching my goals, some expected and some unexpected. Here are some of the pictures and words on my vision board:

1. Go to New Zealand to visit my college roommate Maggie. I can proudly announce that I have a trip booked for early 2011! Can't wait.

2. Get healthier. This is still a goal in progress. (Feel free to skip over this health saga.) I've been plagued by hip and lower back pain for years. Last year I had a hip scope to repair a torn labrum and just two weeks ago I had radiofrequency nerve ablation to quiet the nerves in my S/I joint. A doctor got in there and fried those little suckers and now I'm almost pain free in my back, woot! I'm also finally rectifying my vitamin D deficiency. Now my goal is to get back to jogging and eating more healthfully to tackle my weight gain associated with these health problems. My trip to NZ should also help my health. Maggie and I were college swimmers together, and I predict she'll be cracking the whip with a very rigorous hiking and sightseeing itinerary.

3. Develop professionally. I'm serving as president of my psychology organization this year, so this goal is going well.

4. Fall in love. (This goal totally violates the SMART guidelines in oh so many ways, but what the heck). Well, this goal is yet to be reached, but I'm hopeful for 2011. I haven't really had the time or energy for dating with all the other cool stuff going on in my life, though I think I'm closer to being ready to diving back in.

5. Write. It's funny, but on my board I have a tiny little word cut out from a magazine: writing. When I made my vision board, I hadn't yet found the wonderful treasure that is Omnific Publishing, and I seriously doubted my ability to become a published author. What a difference a year makes! My first novel was released 7/13/10 (see sidebar for a giveaway I'm hosting) and we're making steady progress on editing the sequel, Bad Behavior, slated for release in 2011. You can bet my NEW vision board will be filled with goals about improving my writing and continuing to meet awesome folks like yourself.

So, what's your vision? I'd love to hear it!

Please join our Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop! Authors, enter your blog using our linky tool. Readers, please hop from one blog to another. We bloggers love comments!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

With Good Behavior Giveaway!

I'm giving away two print copies of With Good Behavior at goodreads.com.


Goodreads Book Giveaway!!!


With Good Behavior (Paperback) by Jennifer Lane



With Good Behavior




by Jennifer Lane


 

Giveaway ends December 18, 2010.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

 

Enter to win



Monday, November 1, 2010

Naming and Promoting a Series

In the midst of editing the sequel to With Good Behavior, titled Bad Behavior, I got to thinking that this would be a good time to name the series. Omnific Publishing will release Bad Behavior in 2011.

I haven't decided if I'll write a third novel in the series, but if I do it will likely be titled On Best Behavior. I have lots of plot bunnies hopping around in my head for the third installment.

If you haven't read With Good Behavior, here's a brief synopsis:

How would you recover from being unjustly imprisoned? Sophie Taylor and Grant Madsen are finding out just what it takes. Freshly paroled in Chicago, Sophie and Grant meet on their parole officer's doorstep. The former psychologist and Navy lieutenant help each other navigate life on the outside, failing to realize the hidden mafia connection that will threaten both their love and their lives.

Would you help me brainstorm some series titles? Here are some potential titles:

The Behavior Series (snore)

The Naughty Behavior Series (sounds like a bodice-ripper for sure hee hee)

Behavioral Analysis (this taps into the therapy component of the series but may be a bit dry)

The "Oh Behave" Series (my editor Jessica suggested this, ha ha. Yeah, baby!)

Other ideas?

Also, I'm hoping to start a Facebook page for the series sometime in the near future. Since I'm a technotard, I'm not sure which kind of page to create. What are the pros and cons of creating a profile vs. a page? A community page vs. an official page?

Thank you in advance for all of your help!

Now onto the Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop. Read about the details here.

 


Website Customization Provided by ©2010 All Rights Reserved.