Sunday, November 30, 2014

Once Upon a Time - Fall

4.09 "Fall"

This was a doozy of an episode. It doesn't quite make up for the ones that didn't go anywhere for so long, but this is the kind of episode that reminds me why I'm still watching this show.

Tonight the Snow Queen's (yes, I'm giving Dairy Queen a rest :P) curse is closing in on the town in a giant glittery cloud. Elsa finds Anna's necklace and uses it to try to track down her sister, Belle and the fairies struggle to find a counter to the curse, Rumple plots and blackmails Killian, and everyone is scrambling to figure out how to survive. Meanwhile Anna and Kristoff face off against Hans and his brothers, strike a bargain with Blackbeard, and get locked in a trunk on the bottom of the sea. Just another day in Storeybrook.

Even though I'm annoyed at Rumple I do find it sweet that he is so attached to Henry - to his grandson. I just get so frustrated with him choosing repeatedly to be selfish and cruel. He decides he is the villain and conveniently forgets the many times he has been selfless. Granted, many of those coincided with something he wanted, but there have been times he's simply done the right thing. But when it comes to power, he still can't break it's hold on his heart.

On other fronts, however, this episode held some significant breakthroughs. Emma's vulnerability with her parents and with Killian really show how much emotional change she has gone through in this season particularly. Even though she is still unsure of her powers there is a different sense to it. A new confidence. She's scared of losing the people who believe in her but not because they will turn against her (of their own accord) but because she loves them and isn't sure that her magic will be strong enough. Yet she doesn't argue when they affirm their belief in her and their belief in her shores up Elsa's confidence as well. Seeing that there are families who support a daughter with magic restores her faith. That on top of finding Anna has strengthened Elsa's belief in herself and in those around her. I also love the way Emma calls David and Snow Dad and Mom so easily. I've said it before, but I love the way the actors pull off that relationship. In addition, the way Emma concedes so quickly and positively to letting Regina protect Henry is huge. Even last season she would have turned it into a bitter argument. But she believes in Regina in a different way now. She trusts her to a greater extent than I think any of them would have guessed.

Regina continues to be my favorite character and tonight she really demonstrated how much she has changed. Simply the fact that she is willing to put her faith in Emma and Elsa and, to me very importantly, the fact that she knows she must lock herself up because she could be the most dangerous of all is huge. That she can admit that about herself? Really big. It makes me sad that she thinks that only Robin and Henry look at her with any amount of trust.

And speaking of Regina, she wins all the prizes for expressions and dialogue tonight. Her face when Snow sassed her about things being up to code was hilarious and a moment later when Snow agreed with her. Her face wins the episode.

I also thought her line "You're more than heroes; you're leaders" was so spot on. And that is the transition that Emma and even David and Snow are going through. With all the craziness they're in perpetual "hero mode" and because of that they've risen to positions of power - sheriffs and mayor - and they can't just be heroes anymore. They have to make those hard decisions to protect everyone, not just the people right in front of them. And sometimes at a small cost in order to make a larger victory. Snow and David never had a chance to rule their kingdom and now they have to figure it out quickly.

Other top Regina lines:
"I should know better than to trust blondes by now." when Elsa steals the necklace.

And her dialogue with Snow:
Regina: "Time for a hope speech. Virtues of blind faith?"
Snow: "Well it seems Elsa's blind faith is exactly what's screwing us right now."
Regina: "Coming from you that's just terrifying."
Her delivery of these lines was absolute perfection.

Although I don't want Killian to die, I would rather he sacrificed himself trying to save everyone than just kept letting Gold blackmail him. His haunted puppy dog face is driving me crazy. Every time he came on screen I just wanted to scream BE A MAN AND SAY NO. Which brings his and Gold's stories full circle. They both choose themselves and choose the people they love depending on the situation. Neither is fully villain nor fully hero. Which is probably one of the things that makes them so darn interesting as characters (*cough*Regina*cough*) and probably why the "villains" (not the "big bads") are the most fun and compelling to watch - there's something more intriguing about a villain who is sometimes heroic than a hero who is sometimes villainous.

I would just like to say that those last moments between Snow and David? Brilliantly acted.

I have really grown much more happy with Kristoff and Anna. I loved how much he just trusted Anna would understand and take part in his plan to evade Hans. And when Hans says they rolled around in the treasury Anna's response: "You rolled around in gold bars? Weird. And ouch" was funny.

I can't believe I didn't put 2 and 2 together and realize that the pendant was the wishing star, but that makes some sense. I guess. So I suppose they traded for the wishing star, but their hearts weren't pure so it didn't work so they set off to try to find another cure and that's when they died? I also am wondering if the wishing star only has one wish in it. Couldn't they use it to wish away the curse?

More questions:
1. Why did the Snow Queen randomly decide to unfreeze Arendelle at this point?
2. How on earth did the Snow Queen keep the curse up while she was foster mothering it up in the states?
3. How did Blackbeard end up with the Jolly Roger? I'm assuming this happened when Killian sold the ship in order to get to Emma, but we didn't find out all of that, right? (am I forgetting something?)
4. So will we ever get the story of how Killian got to New York?
5. What is in that bottle on the beach? It showed up twice in this episode so it must be SUPER IMPORTANT. It got its own zoom in freeze shot and everything. Could it be connected to the bottle Elsa's mother threw overboard?
6. Can things come back out of the hat? Or are they trapped in there forever?
7. Will Killian ever get his heart back?
8. Can we survive the winter hiatus?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

Thanksgiving is just a few days away.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday full of family, friends and pie.  There are also lots of great new books to give thanks for this week.

My favorite author Tiffany Reisz, releases her latest "Original Sinners," novel, "The King" today.  Other new releases in Romance/Erotica include "Vampire in Paradise," by Sandra Hill, "An Heiress for All Seasons," by Sophie Jordan, "Hard to Come By," by Kathleen Harrington, "Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover," by Sarah MacLean and "Sweet Revenge," by Lynsay Sands.

Over in Mystery/Thriller you'll find "Betrayed," the latest "Rosato & Associates" novel by Lisa Scottoline lands in stores today along with "Soul of Fire," by Eliot Pattison, "The Stone Wife," by Peter Lovesey, and "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," by David Stuart Davies.

Watch out for "Box Office Poison," by Phillipa Bornikova in Science Fiction/Fantasy today plus "Superheroes Anonymous," by Lexie Dunne, "Endsinger," by Jay Kristoff, and "The Land Across," by Gene Wolfe.

Aimee Carter holds Young Adult readers "Captive," with the latest "Blackcoat Rebellion," novel and "Anomaly," by Tonya Kruper is also released today.

Will any of these books make your to read list?  Share with us!  Happy Reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Things I Loved About Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

To most people Karou is the mysterious girl with blue hair who is an art student in Prague and disappears for days. While she never talks about her past or her travels, she does share her sketchbooks filled with magical creatures and stories. What her friends don't know is that she's living a double life where the monsters in her sketchbooks are real. And she spends her time helping in Brimstone's (a chimaera who is a blend of ram, lion, and raptor) workshop, running errands around the world for him, watching humans barter for magic, or chatting with Issa (the snake-like chimaera who helped raise her). But when Karou runs into Akiva, an angel who has a strange interest in the doors that lead to the chimaera lands, she feels a strange sense of familiarity for this creature she's never met before. Akiva also finds himself drawn back to the feisty human. As their pasts unwind, both Karou and Akiva will have to decide if they can remake the world they live in or if they'll succumb to the long-standing war between angel and chimaera kind.

Without further ado, 10 Things I Loved About Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

  1. The writing style: One of the reasons it took me so long to get around to this was that I had mixed reactions to Taylor's Lips Touch Three Times. But I think the novel is just a better medium for her. I love the voice. I love how distinct the characters and the characters' sections were, yet the omniscient narrator remained consistent. Not really sure how that worked!
  2. The Fairy Tale/Fable Intros: I'm not even sure how to classify this point as you can see from my weak attempt here. But I loved the way sections of the book were set up with the "Once upon a time..." conceits. It gave an eerie story-teller vibe that provided a continuity to the story and made the story seem more "real" to me. There was an eerie beauty to them (and yes, I know I said eerie twice now, but I like that aspect)
  3. The tone: This is purely a fantasy - something that can be hard to find (at least done well) in YA fiction. And even though there is a love story, it's somehow not the main purpose of the story. I'm not even sure how she did it! But Taylor manages to make it not about a teenager falling in love. And I won't say any more because I'm avoiding spoilers. Go read it!
  4. The pacing: This story unfolded slowly. And there were a few lengthy sections of exposition. It shouldn't have worked BUT IT DID. Brilliantly. This is one of those books where, if you try to describe it, you realize you're saying it has all of the things you "shouldn't do" and yet somehow it all coalesces into this gorgeous story.
  5. Zuzana: the "rabid fairy" friend of Karou. She's purely human and fully articulated as a character. I love her (and I just started reading the second book and her e-mails are my favorite thing ever).
  6. The names: I loved how creative and different the names were without being difficult to follow or remember. I think I remember these names better than most of the books I've read recently.
  7. The worldbuilding: It was done so well. I appreciate the other realm take on things and the history of the angel/chimaera conflict was provided with just enough detail for us to understand what's going on without being overwhelmed.
  8. The flashbacks: Could have gone so wrong, especially since the things in the flashbacks have direct correlations to things going on now. Being able to set up the story just right so the reader learns exactly what they need to learn just when it's needed without making them frustrated or feeling things are too obvious? So hard to do. Taylor does it.
  9. The big reveal: I tend to lose myself in books and not spend a lot of time thinking ahead or trying to figure things out, so I'm surprised more often than some people. But I loved the way everything was unraveled and the reveal was perfect and I immediately started thinking back to all the clues planted along the way that made everything come together.
  10. There are 2 more books! And because I took so long to get around to reading them, they're all out and I don't have to wait before reading the others :D
Happy reading!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Once Upon a Time - Smash the Mirror

4.08 "Smash the Mirror Part 1 & 2"

In tonight's double episode stuff happened! Yay!

Rumple reveals his plan, finally, and tries to trap Emma and the Dairy Queen but ends up stealing Killian's heart instead. Emma flips out, hurts Henry, and decides that the only person she can trust is Rumple. Because of course. Elsa helps Emma learn to love herself, and the Charmings waffle wfith the best of them. Regina and Robin are having the best ... sleep ... they've ever had *wink wink nod nod* and Regina is conflicted. Again. But Snow convinces her that believing she can be good is all it will take. Meanwhile Robin goes hunting for answers in the library. Dairy Queen  finally gets the sisters she always wanted and immediately starts draining them of that power because that makes sense. In flashbacks DQ is sociopathically insane and gets Anna to turn against Elsa and then freezes everyone, but can only get her sisters back by travelling to the enchanted world of New York City and waiting for Emma to show up.

Coming to the forefront in this episode again is the discussion of free will vs. destiny. Can Regina ever get a happy ending or is she destined to always be painted as the villain, no matter what individual choices she makes? Was DQ always destined to be the evil Snow Queen or did she choose to be that way? And, even more to the point, Did DQ and Emma and even Elsa become monsters or not become monsters based on other people's perceptions of them?
More and more this is leaning toward free will. Ingrid was obviously not evil as a child. In fact, she and Regina have an awful lot in common. But she allowed her fear and self-hate to drive her down a path of isolation and anger, leading her here. When she tells Anna and Kristoff that she is becoming a monster because that's how they see her, the truth is she is seen as a monster because she's been acting like one, long before they looked at her that way.
Elsa has ever reason to lash out at Anna, but she chooses to believe the best. She knows that Anna would never be that cruel because she knows her sister. And even if Anna is acting that way, she chooses to love her sister no matter what. Her fear resurfaces when she is released in Storybrooke, but she realizes (through Emma's help I might add) that fear of herself is the true enemy.
And finally, Robin finding the alternate page is a huge thing. The idea that each of these characters has a multitude of potential futures is so significant. If Regina could have had her happy ending back at the tavern, then what's to say she can't have it now? And Mary Margaret reminds her that if you believe you can change things and that you are good, then "the universe" will reciprocate.

So who left the page in Robin's back pack? Does the author of the book live in Storybrooke?

As soon as Emma went to Gold and he didn't demand a price, her "wrong" antenna should have gone up. I know, I know, she's distraught and desperate, but honestly? Gold has never done something for nothing. And he even confesses this to Emma in the manor. She's so smarter than that.

There is something about that whole thing that I don't understand at all. If Rumple is trying to gain power in the hat, why go through the whole rigmarole of trapping Ingrid temporarily so he can trap Emma? I understand that he wanted to keep DQ from stopping Emma from getting sucked into the hat, but why not just suck Ingrid into the hat while he's got her trapped? How does it benefit him to have her still wandering around wreaking havoc?

And does anyone else wonder about the giant empty manor that no one seems to have known about until Rumple and Belle took their honeymoon? Why is it there? Why has no one lived in it? Why was the hat just randomly sitting there on the table? After all, if Ingrid had put it there, why wouldn't she have hid it better? And if she didn't why wasn't she looking for it? She had plenty of time to find it if it somehow got misplaced in her sojourns in Storybrooke?

Did she want Rumple to find it? Does she want him to break the curse of the dagger? Why are they just dancing around each other? I really hope there is something mroe going on between them because I don't understand the dynamic.

Side note: When Rumple asked Ingrid to look down my immediate thought was, hey, Rumple's been learning some things from the Winchesters.

Why on earth did they go through all of the trouble to get the locating potion and then not even talk about using it. I can't believe they really were going to just sit there and not even try to figure out where Emma was going. And once again Regina is the voice of reason?

But Charming is adorable.

I was a little surprised it took so long for Emma's magic to start affecting her car. Also, why is it that, in most movies or TV shows people always black out when they bounce into a ditch or have some sort of minor little car accident, but if their car flips fifteen times and rolls down an embankment, back up into oncoming traffic and then spins off a dividing wall, people are immediately blinking blood out of their eyes and frantically trying to get out of the car?

I did like the nod to the original story of the Snow Queen with the shard of glass in the eye that causes people to see things unclearly. I can't believe I didn't see that when she first described the mirror and the spell. I was probably too busy snarking. But ooh! I'm excited about that actual return to the fairy tale!

Maybe this is just me, because I am a librarian, but WHAT SYSTEM IS USED IN THAT LIBRARY? Because it isn't one I've ever seen. Why on earth would The Cat in the Hat be shelved there? If I had the capability I would be rewinding and pausing that scene, looking at every book I could see and trying to figure out what the hey is going on. This is what happens when you put a paraprofessional instead of a trained librarian in charge of a library. /rant :)

One other thought about when they finally go after Emma, they don't know where Elsa is. She could be far away? They don't know if the spell is working. So they take the one woman who has ever been able to help Emma control or use her powers properly and send her AWAY? Honestly, it's amazing these people haven't died so many times because their plans really do not make sense at times.

But anyway. I love Emma's magic aurora borealis/firework powers. But I do hope she's not completely 100% in control of them because that would be awfully quick work. She just makes up her mind? Too easy.

Going back to the flashbacks, that is how you cast an eternal winter over everything. Really, Ingrid makes Elsa look like an amateur. Also, All Kristoff did to let Ingrid out of the urn was open the lid. Why doesn't Ingrid just open the urn and let Elsa out? Because she knows it won't matter. Elsa would not forgive her for what she forced Anna to do. But she acts like Elsa is trapped forever and will never be set free.

Also I would like to start a petition that they stop showing the Snow Queen walking barefoot in the snow. WE GET IT. The cold never bothered her anyway.

Not mine - lovely gif from
And now Killian is heartless. But how does he have so much emotion if he's heartless? How does this whole heart removal thing work? Sometimes people suddenly start acting not like themselves like they can't feel. And most of the time you would never know that their heart was missing.

Rumple's plan seems very convoluted and I'm not sure how he expects Killian to help him suck up magic in the hat if he hasn't been able to do it.

But Killian's messages to Emma </3 Can bad things just stop happening to them for like 2 seconds?

One last question about the Snow Queen: Why didn't she age in the thirty-two years between arriving in NYC and being here in Storybrooke?

And where are Granny and Grumpy and Ruby? Are Granny and Grumpy just waiting for the evil mirror spell so they can continue their mob? Did Ruby run away?

What questions do you have? How many do you think will actually get answered before the mid-season finale?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

Happy Veteran's Day! When you're enjoying your day off today, be sure to take a moment to thank the men and women who fought for our freedoms today such as the freedom to read and write whatever we choose.

"Flesh and Blood," the 21st "Kay Scarpetta" thriller by Patricia Cornwell is released today in Mystery/Thriller along with "The Laws of Murder," by Charles Finch, "Revival," by Stephen King, "Blue Labyrinth," by Douglas Preston with Lincoln Child, and "Fear City," by F. Paul Wilson.

Science Fiction/Fantasy fans will want to check out "Fear and Aggression," by Dane Bagley, Star Bridge," by James Gunn, "The Three Body Problem," by Cixin Liu, and "Homefront," by Scott James Magner. 

Over in Romance you can pick up "Illusion," by J.S. Cooper, "One Night Denied," by Jodi Ellen Malpas, and "The Hit List" by Nikki Urang.

Young Adults fans will have to wait until next week as there are no releases in the genre today.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list?  Share with us!  Happy reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Once Upon a Time - The Snow Queen

4.07 "The Snow Queen"

Tonight we get part of the Dairy Queen's back story, though not how she ended up in America being Emma's foster mom. Emma can't control her power and magically scares her family who react just the way DQ has been saying they would. Until they don't, but Emma took off and doesn't get to see that part. Robin gets a pep talk from Will Scarlet and takes it to heart, but in a very different way than Will intended

I have to get this out of the way. The casting of Brighton Sharbino as young DQ was spot on BUT as soon as I saw her on screen all I could do was scream at the tv "DON'T LOOK AT THE FLOWERS LIZZIE. and that kind of ruined the moment for me.

Okay. Moving on.

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with Regina. She seems ... sane. Like, she's the voice of sanity and encouraging Robin to make the right choice and denying herself. Is this really Regina?! I love it! And she tells Henry the truth about how she's feeling rather than suppressing it and she's angry, but she doesn't hide it or lie about it. But I can't help wondering what she's hiding. I mean, she's REGINA.

I don't mind the addition of Will Scarlet, but he really hasn't had any purpose. Even tonight's episode where I get why he was the one to pep talk Robin really didn't have to be him. And for those of us who didn't see Once Upon a Time in Wonderland I feel pretty lost when they talk about things that happened in the past and we're not going to get back story (I don't think) because the other show is back story? Maybe? *sigh* I just want him to have a purpose!

Anyway, as he was pep talking Robin it was pretty obvious that Robin was not going to be running back to the lovely and whiny Marian. Nope. It was clear that Regina was the one he had to be with. I'm not sure what I think about this development. Because I want Regina to have a happy ending and if Robin does that then yay! But Robin is married. With a son. But COMPLICATED.

I was cracking up at Emma's epic magic casting stance because I didn't think you could make that pose while holding a candle, but apparently you can. Huh. And when she gets really mad at DQ in the sheriff's office her mouth kind of went all werewolf-y. And, I'm sorry, but when she drives away in her car it sounds kind of like a wind up toy. Okay. Done with my mild mocking.

I'm finding the whole "they're scared of Emma's magic" just a little bit annoying. After hasseling and pushing her to use her magic and then freak out like that? Okay, granted, she blew a hole in the building and made a street lamp fall, but Snow's scolding tone and refusal to let go of baby Neal just felt forced to me. I know it's a show that is written, but I don't like the feeling of the story intentionally being manipulated like this has felt.


Does anyone else wonder why DQ isn't as obsessed with Regina as she is with Elsa and Emma? Is it because Regina is/was the villain? She has magic and people are afraid of it, right? Maybe she's not interesting because she knows how to use and control her magic so she won't be so easily manipulated.

And, speaking of Regina, she's someone who is (basically) family for Emma who understands how Emma feels!

And while the initial reaction to Emma's magic explosion was a little harsh, what she's forgetting and what the DQ doesn't realize is that the immediate follow up reaction was going to be, and was a concern for Emma and a sense of regret for their reaction. They do love Emma for who she is. And if Emma were ever to accidentally kill someone the way DQ did, she would have a harder time forgiving herself than her family would have forgiving her.

As for the flashbacks, the casting of the Duke of Weseltown was perfect.

Was anyone else distracted by Gerda's hair? Elsa and Anna's mother clearly had brown hair. Brown. Not violent red. And then when she braids it it suddenly looks a completely different color. Though I do have to say she looks remarkably like Anna when she's like that.

I would also like to know how they managed to keep those yellow ribbons so pristine for so many years. Not a stain or unraveling end in the set. Pretty amazing.

And it's good to know that Elsa's power were basically the price Gerda had to pay for erasing everyone's memory. Then she doesn't even take responsibility - just locks her daughter up and makes her wear the magic gloves (!). Though it does explain why she was so freaked out and wanted to keep the sisters separated. Good job.

And I really hope there is more to DQ's plan than what we've seen so far. I just feel like a giant piece is missing from the puzzle. Like her deal with Rumple. What was that all about? What else is going on here. I'm really hoping it is something and not just intrigue for the sake of intrigue.

Here's hoping for an epic speech from Killian to Emma next week, though I'd settle for an epic speech from Henry too :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks with Author Interview!

If you're looking for a weekend read that is not only super sexy and romantic but is full of suspense and thrills with a dash of the supernatural then look no further than "Keep Me Safe," by Maya Banks.

When Caleb Devereaux’s younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot. While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.  Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie’s vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will do risk everything to protect her— including his heart. . .

"Keep Me Safe," was a great read.  It was a lot darker, in a good way, than I expected.  Ramie and Caleb's sister Tori both reacted to their traumas in different and realistic ways.  The dark themes were contrasted with the sweet and spicy relationship between Caleb and Ramie which progressed at a slow and tentative pace before kicking into high gear.  The ending will also really throw you for a loop, you definitely won't be able to predict how it ends, unless you too have a psychic gift ;) 

Maya Banks was kind enough to participate in an email interview with me.  Read on for more about her and the "Slow Burn" trilogy.

JN: Keep Me Safe deals with characters who have unique psychic abilities. Have you had any firsthand experience with psychic phenomena?
MB:  Nope, none whatsoever! It’s fun to imagine though. Or to say “what if” and that’s really the premise of the entire series. What IF someone possessed a unique ability in today’s world? What kind of obstacles would they face?
I loved the depth of the characters in Keep Me Safe. For example, Ramie is a unique combination of a strong woman but also a wounded and vulnerable woman.  Where do you draw the inspiration for your characters?
I just try to imagine how a person would react under certain circumstances. How ANY human would react. We aren’t always going to be kickass and strong. We all have our vulnerable moments and our weaknesses just as we all have our strong points. I like my characters to have a mixture of these elements. To me it makes them more realistic.
What, if anything, can you share about the next installment in the Slow Burn series?
Ari, the heroine in IN HIS KEEPING has a very interesting past, as we learn at the beginning of the story. Abandoned on the doorstep of a wealthy, childless couple, she grew up extremely sheltered. For a reason. When she was a mere infant she displayed remarkable abilities. Telekinesis. And we learn as the story progresses that her powers are so much more but were never explored because her adopted parents wanted to protect her and encouraged her to hide her abilities from the rest of the world.
I really want to know more about Tori, will we learn more about her in subsequent installments in the Slow Burn series?
Absolutely! She’ll even get her own story later in the series :)
Did you always want to be a writer?
Well yes and no. I’ve always loved to WRITE but I never thought it possible to write for a living. I just assumed it was a pipe dream so I never even pursued it until I was in my thirties.
About how long does it take for you to take your story idea(s) and transform them into a finished novel?
Sometimes, as was the case with the Slow Burn series, it takes YEARS from the time I first have the idea to when I can actually publish the stories. Very frustrating! But once I have the green light it usually takes about two months for everything to pull together.
Have you ever experienced writer's block, and if so, how did you work through it? 
I don’t believe in writer’s block. At least not in the way it’s mostly described. If I’m not writing, it’s for one of two reasons. Either I’m being lazy and am unmotivated. OR there’s something wrong with the story. Once I go back and figure out where I veered off the path or where I went wrong then I can fix it and move forward once more.
Besides yourself, who are your favorite authors?
I have many. But just to name a FEW I love Nalini Singh, Kresley Cole, Christine Feehan, Sharon Sala, Elizabeth Lowell and Linda Howard.
I saw in your biography that you love to travel.  What is your favorite place that you have visited? 
Oh I have so many favorites. My favorite “family” trip was to Ireland. The kids LOVED it there and so did my husband and I.
What place would you like to travel to that you haven't had the opportunity to visit yet?

I want SO badly to see the Northern Lights. It’s definitely on my bucket list!
Want to win a copy of "Keep Me Safe," by Maya Banks? Of course you do!! Simply put your information in the Rafflecopter for your chance to win.  If you are not a lucky winner, please pick up "Keep Me Safe," at your local bookstore.

Special Thanks to Ms. Banks for taking the time for an email interview and to Ms. Banks' publicist for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

It's election day! No matter what political party you align yourself with, I think we can all agree that there are a lot of terrific books clamoring for your attention today.

"The Burning Room," the latest "Harry Bosch" novel by Michael Connelly gets my vote for best new book of the week.  Other new releases in Mystery/Thriller include: "Chain of Events," by Maya Corrigan, "The Gift of Darkness," by Valentina Giambanco, "Knot Guilty: A Crochet Mystery," by Betty Hechtman, "A New York Christmas," by Anne Perry, and "A Dog Gone Murder," by Elaine Viets.

Members of the Romance party will want to check out, "Edge of Betrayal," by Shannon K. Butcher, "All He Desires," by C.C. Gibbs, "Dirty Rowdy Thing," by Christina Lauren, "Believe," by Erin McCarthy, "One Night Promised," by Jodi Ellen Malpas, and "Caged in Winter," by Brighton Walsh.

Those marking their ballots for Science Fiction/Fantasy novels will want to consider "Willful Child," by Steven Erikson , "Tarkin: Star Wars," by James Lucerno, "Dreamer's Pool," by Juliet Marillier, and "Coming Home," by Jack McDevitt.

Those rallying for Young Adult books can pick up "Killer Instinct," the second book in "The Naturals" series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, "Waistcoats & Weaponry," by Gail Carriger, "A Thousand Pieces of You," by Claudia Gray, "Mortal Heat," by Robin LaFevers and "Dangerous Deceptions," by Sarah Zettel.

Which one of this week's new reads will get your vote?  Share with us!  Happy Reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Once Upon a Time - Family Business

4.06 "Family Business"

Tonight everyone has to decide whether to tell someone the truth. And almost no one does. Also, Belle and Elsa go to the building with the greatest weapons in the world - the library - and Elsa discovers the truth about the Dairy Queen. Belle proves herself to be much more wily and conniving than anyone gave her credit for and in the flashbacks Anna and Belle go on a fruitless mission that leaves Belle without her memories and Anna trapped in the Dairy Queen's clutches.

Even though not much really happened, things did start to pick up a little bit in this week's episode. And Belle finally gets another episode! Yay! We also continue with the theme of doing anything for family seen through Belle's journey and through Rumple's conversation with DQ as well as DQ's bizarre attempt to put a "family" together at any cost.

Hook's comment to Emma that "Wounds that were made when we were young tend to linger" is a long standing theme in the show as well. So many of the events that have happened to children have gone on to haunt them and their loved ones.

A few disjointed thoughts:

When Robin kept coming after Regina, I felt like saying Dude. Just let it go already. Hounding her like that isn't going to help either of you and man, do I feel bad for Regina. I know she's still trying to figure out how to change the book and get her happy ending, but for her to even say to Robin that he has to forget her and to spend any time at all looking for a cure - total change from her normal operating procedure.

As Kristoff's hair grows out I like him better, but he still kind of feels like a placeholder most of the time with no real purpose.
Slim pickings on the image options this week
but this one cracked me up too much not to use it

Why on earth is Anna carrying the hat around with her all over Arendelle instead of locking it up somewhere safe? And how did the magic hat end up in an abandoned house in Storebrooke that was conveniently available for Belle and Rumple's honeymoon? I'm really hoping that Rumple finding the hat was part of DQ's master plan (and that the master plan is more interesting than the one we learned about today) and didn't just get found out of random happenstance.

And how lame was it that she tells Belle that she "prays you never cross paths with this twisted man." Okay, so I guess without this, Belle and Rumple would possibly have never met, but this line was met with my eye-rolling :)

As for Belle, I'm ashamed for her. Lying? Manipulating? Using the dagger? And I'm still on the fence as to whether that dagger is real or not. I'm actually kind of leaning toward it is. But I don't know.
And I loved that Belle's scarf had tiny little daggers all over it - not only alluding to the actual Rumple dagger, but also to the fact that she feels as though she stabbed Anna in the back and therefore also hurt Elsa.

However, I will say that the mirror scene was intriguing and well acted by both Belles :)

Also, is it just me or did that trip to and from Arendelle take considerably less time than we've been led to believe it will? And why did Belle's father think that  screaming at his daughter to leave it alone and stay locked in her room was somehow better than telling her that Belle's mother sacrificed herself for her daughter?

I'm curious about DQ's other sister (the one that looks mysteriously like Emma) and just really really really hoping that she doesn't turn out to be Snow's mother or something ridiculous. Though Hook's quip to Elsa saying, "Spend a little more time in this town, love and you realize just about everyone is related" doesn't bode well for my hopes that the family trees not become even more convoluted than they already are.

And couldn't they have read the whole prophecy for us? Do we have to be kept in the dark except for a couple of random phrases taken out of context of the whole? Is my English major-ness showing through?

And, unless there is something that hasn't come out yet (please, please, please) I'm not entirely sure why DQ would think that destroying Emma's family and friends would make her suddenly agreeable to being part of her new magic family.

And, there's another factor here that I don't know if DQ has taken into consideration - Regina. She has powerful magic and powerful dark magic at that. It hasn't seemed to be as powerful as DQ's from what we've seen in their very brief face-offs, but I have a feeling that she's going to be the weakness in DQ's plan.

And yay for snarkiness! Regina won best line tonight when she told Emma, "It's bad enough I'm stuck here with you and Captain Guyliner making eyes at each other." I'm seriously still laughing over that one.

So what did you think? Where do you think this is all going?