Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Teaser Tuesday No. 4: Storm Warning, by Mercedes Lackey

Welcome to "Teaser Tuesday"!!

This meme is hosted by  Ambrosia @ The Purple Booker every week, and the rules are very simple.

* Grab you current read.
*Open to a random page.
*Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere
on that page.
(Make sure that what you share doesn't
give too much away! You don't want
to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title and author, too, so that othe
TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Since I'm a slow reader, I don't have a new book
started every week. I am therefore going
 to bend the rules a little.....
I'll be featuring books I want to read,
that are currently sitting on my shelves.

Here are my teasers!
Emperor Charliss sat upon the Iron Throne, bowed down neither by the visible weight of his years nor the invisible weight of his power. He bore neither the heavy Wolf Crown on his head, nor the equally burdensome robes of state across his shoulders, though both lay nearby, on an ornately trimmed marble bench beside the Iron Throne. The thick silk-velvet robes flowed down the bench and coiled on the floor beside it, a lush weight of pure crimson so heavy it took two strapping young men to lift them into place on the Emperor's shoulders.   
-- Chapter 1, page 1

"Hear me out. When the Gods granted mankind free will, They allowed uncertainty to enter the world. Some things can be predicted, others cannot. If I may make an analogy -- I can tell you that a great storm is coming. With the knowledge I have that when the wind blows such-and-so, and the glass falls, and the sky looks thusly at this time of year, I can say that there will be a storm."  -- Chapter 13, page 298

Storm Warning
(Valdermar: Mage Storms, Book 1)
Mercedes Lackey
Hardcover, 403 pages
DAW Books, Inc,
August 1, 1994
Fantasy, Science Fiction


In war-ravaged Valdemar, Queen Selenay struggles to overcome years of hatred, hostility, and superstition to forge an alliance with Valdemar's long-time enemy, the neighboring kingdom of Karse, to combat a mutual enemy from the mysterious Eastern Empire.

I know I bought this book at a Barnes & Noble store, but don't remember which one. It was probably the small one on Coral Way, in the heart of Coral Gables, a small city that used to be part of Miami, and now is a city in its own right.

I acquired this beauty at the bargain price of $5.98 plus tax! And it's a hardcover, too!   The original price was $21.95 plus tax, so I'm REALLY happy about this purchase!!  Well, B&N is famous for its bargain book area. And this book is brand, spanking new, of course!

When I opened the book and read several passages in order to pick my teasers, I was floored by the beauty and quality of the prose! I should make it a point to read this one sometime soon!!

What do you think of my teasers?
Are you interested in this book?
Please leave a comment, 
along with the link
to your own "Teaser Tuesday" post, 
and let me know!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Tour Book Review: Lone Star Christmas, by Delores Fossen

Lone Star Christmas
(Coldwater Texas, Book 1)
Delores Fossen
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
September 25, 2018
Christmas Romance, Contemporary Romance
Holiday Romance

A family crisis brings him home...Just in time for Christmas.

Cattleman Callen Laramie has no intention of returning to his hometown of Coldwater, Texas, until a Christmas wedding and a family secret convince him he has no choice. And when he's reunited with his childhood crush, the girl who'd always been off-limits, Callen knows leaving might not be so easy this time. 

Shelby McCall is as pretty as a Christmas snowfall, and Callen wants to kiss her under the mistletoe...and the Christmas tree...and the stars. But once Shelby knows the whole truth behind this homecoming, will their holiday fling come to an abrupt end? Or will she accept the gift of his heart?

I received a complimentary copy of this book 
from TLC Book Tours, in exchange 
for an honest review.
All opinions are my own.

Although it's a bit early for Christmas romance novels, I eagerly signed up for this tour, as I think there's something extra special about such romance novels! So I was really looking forward to diving into this one, especially after reading the synopsis.

In the final analysis, however, I find that I'm really torn about this book. I wanted to love it wholeheartedly, but unfortunately, I can't say that I do. There were things I did love, but then there were others that took away from my full enjoyment of the novel. I'm aware, because I've read other reviews, that some readers have, indeed, totally loved this novel. Since I am firmly committed to providing honest reviews, though, I have to say that I am not among those who have raved about this book.

I will start with the positives first, and there were definitely a lot of them!

The story did turn out to be a great one! The themes were perfect for the Christmas season -- romance, strong family connections, and the fostering of troubled children. All the ingredients that lead reviewers to use the adjectives of "touching", "emotional", and "heartwarming" were very much present. And the characters were very real people to whom any romance novel fan could easily relate; their joys and sorrows definitely made me empathize with them. I desperately wanted things to work out in the end for everyone, including the secondary characters!

Callen and Shelby were a wonderful couple! They had spent part of their childhood together, in the small town of Coldwater, Texas. Callen and his three brothers -- Kace, Judd, and Nico -- were foster kids who had come to live with Shelby's family. They subsequently developed a warm relationship with Buck, Shelby's dad, who was like a real father to them. 

Even back then, there was an attraction between Callen and Shelby. When Callen left Coldwater, at the age of eighteen, he had to leave that attraction behind, as Shelby was off-limits to him then. When they were unexpectedly reunited due to an upcoming family wedding, fourteen years later, the smoldering ashes turned into a raging fire. The question remained, though: would all that passion eventually turn into something lasting?

Callen was a great guy! He was not only very easy on the eyes (the author described him in a very appealing way), but he also had integrity, honesty, and a good heart. Even before he had fully committed to his relationship with Shelby, he was concerned about not hurting her, since she had already had a romantic disappointment in the past.

Shelby was a very sweet, yet assertive, woman. I liked how she "melted" around Callen, while not allowing him to control her in any way. I also liked the way she dealt with Gavin, her former love interest. 

Both of these wonderful protagonists also had one thing in common, which helped to bond them together: their love and concern for Buck, the man who had played such an important part in their lives.

Callen and Shelby were, paradoxically, conflicted about their relationship, for different reasons. They were initially only interested in a holiday fling, although Shelby did want it to be so much more than that. So this was the typical "lust to love" romance that is a frequent romance novel trope. Fossen dealt with it very skillfully, though. Besides, we romance fans love to read about obstacles to romance being overcome by the couples in these novels!

The secondary characters were also wonderful, with the possible exception of Havana, Callen's assistant. But more about that later.

Buck, the foster father, was one of those wonderful secondary characters! As I mentioned above, he was a real father figure to Callen and his brothers, as he was to every foster kid he took under his wing. He was a totally dedicated family man, a strong, yet gentle, caring, authority figure whom his foster kids could love and look up to. And he was crazy in love with Rosy, his longtime girlfriend, whom he was planning to marry around Christmas. There were several scenes in the novel that beautifully depicted just how much he loved her. It was so touching, too, to see how he put his family's needs ahead of his own at all times, even when his health had recently become a matter of concern for all of them.

I also loved Rosy! She was a quirky, lovable person with a wacky sense of humor. In addition to this, her devotion to Buck was so sweet! She was truly there for him, and her loving care for the foster kids was part of her devotion to this man who was the world to her. 

This secondary romance was nicely contrasted with the main one between Callen and Shelby. There were differences and similarities, but the similarities definitely outweighed the differences. Both couples were just wonderful together!

Going back to the story, I loved the way Fossen wove all of the several elements together to create a wonderful holiday tapestry! All loose ends were firmly tied together in a very satisfying way by the end of the story. I love happy endings! 

In spite of all of the positives I've mentioned so far, I did have a couple of problems with this book. It wasn't that "Christmasy", except toward the end, but that's not the main issue I have with it. It's the overall tone of the novel that bothers me.

I've read "lust to love" romance novels before, so they're nothing new to me. I've read romance novels with somewhat graphic sex scenes, as well. These things are not that much of a problem for me, as long as the descriptions don't get TOO graphic. But I'm well aware that, unless a romance novel is described as "a clean read", sensual elements will definitely be present in it. 

So what was it that bothered me so much? It was the unfortunate fact that this particular novel was -- IS -- peppered with so-called "sexual humor". There were numerous instances of this throughout the story, and I found them vulgar and offensive. Some people would not be at all bothered by such things, but I certainly am. So this is why I am unable to give this novel the solid five stars it would have otherwise deserved. As I stated above, the story and characters were wonderful and compelling. But, the author's constant sexual innuendoes and outright, explicit sexual "jokes" constantly interfered with my enjoyment of what was obviously a great story. I just feel that there was no need for this type of thing.

I can cite numerous examples of this "sexual humor", but I won't provide actual quotes, as I find them too embarrassing to post publicly. I will simply explain them without using the actual language employed by the author.

First of all, there are two instances in which Shelby encounters old men who are obviously mentally unbalanced perverts, and this happens in two of the beginning chapters of the book. One of these men is dressed as Santa Claus, and she comes across him when she drives from Coldwater to Dallas, where Callen lives, to attempt to persuade him (Callen) to attend Buck and Rosy's wedding. The other man is known as "Gopher", and lives in Coldwater. 

Both of these men exposed different parts of their sexual anatomy to Shelby. Both men were drunk, too. In the case of the Santa Claus, he was arrested right away. In Gopher's case, he was not. From the context of this incident, it was abundantly clear that his behavior was long-standing; yet, nothing was being done about it. He was not arrested when he accosted Shelby, even though the sheriff was a witness to his actions. He could have exposed himself to a child, for Pete's sake!

The author treated both incidents as funny, and used vulgar language to describe them. I found nothing funny about these incidents at all. I especially disliked the Santa Claus incident, just because it referred to that beloved Christmas character. To me, this was just tasteless and offensive. 

I referred briefly to Havana above. When the reader first meets her, she is greeting Shelby shortly after the latter arrives at Callen's office building. Havana introduces herself, and then escorts Shelby to Callen's office. On the way there, she confidentially tells Shelby, "Callen moans out your name during sex." Then she laughs at Shelby's shock, and says that she was just "kidding". Again, I fail to see the humor in this. Had Havana said that to ME, I would have replied, "Excuse me, I forgot something," and promptly left the office. And, I would NOT have returned. Instead, I would have called Callen to complain about his assistant's inappropriate remark, and requested to meet him elsewhere.

Throughout the novel, whenever she appeared in the story, Havana continued to engage in such vulgarities. Although she was a sweet person, I found it very difficult to like her because of these comments.

There are more instances of this type of "humor". Callen refers pretty often to his memory of Buck's threat to castrate any of the boys who dared to touch Shelby, when they were all teens. Of course, this wasn't meant literally, but again, this is treated as funny. I could have tolerated ONE mention of this standing family "joke". But there were quite a few mentions of it, which I thought was overkill.

There are frequent references to the sex act with vulgar words that I prefer not to repeat here. At one point, Callen tells Nico, his younger brother, to keep his (insert vulgar word) in his pants whenever he (Nico) is around Callen's assistant, Havana. Callen then tries not to conjure up an image of his kid brother (insert vulgar word) his assistant.

In addition to these things, the relationship between Callen and Shelby starts off as an entirely lustful one. Again, I've seen this type of plot before. I just haven't seen so many comments made by the characters in such a relationship, that explicitly comment on the sexual act in vulgar terms. Also, at one point, one of Callen's friends comments, "Hard to have sex when you're three hundred miles away." There's sexual innuendo obviously involved in this remark.

Then there's the case of the wedding cake topper.... Rosy is trying to choose which one of three she will buy, and one of them happens to be a rearing stallion, who is very...... well, I think you get the picture.

I have only referred to a few of the instances of tasteless "sexual humor" included in this novel. Again, I don't see the need for any of this stuff. The story was just fine without it! Certainly I'm not at all against using humor in a romance novel. I just don't like the vulgar variety.

In short, I would have enjoyed this story a heck of a lot more, had these elements not been present. I feel that they partially ruined the story for me. I reiterate that I am not new to sensual romance novels; I've read such books before, but not with so many inappropriate comments and references included on nearly every page.

I was especially disappointed to find these elements in a Christmas-themed romance novel, too. Christmas is such a wonderful, special time of year! I would never have expected to find anything objectionable in a novel set during this beautiful season. Christmas is a family holiday, after all. So I was expecting Fossen to focus on such things as joyful family events (which she did, to some extent), the fun of decorating for the holiday (she also did this, but not frequently enough), and sweet, romantic moments between the main and secondary couples (these moments were all sexually charged, to the near exclusion of any tender, romantic feelings).

I would still recommend this novel for the wonderful story and characters, with the caveat that it's only for those who don't mind raunchy comments and "jokes" mixed in with their Christmas romance. 


Purchase Links

USA Today bestselling author, Delores Fossen, has sold over 70 novels, with millions of copies of her books in print worldwide. She’s received the Booksellers’ Best Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and was a finalist for the prestigious Rita ®. In addition, she’s had nearly a hundred short stories and articles published in national magazines.

To access the complete tour schedule, just click on the button below!


2018 Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!!!!!

Welcome to this stop in 
the 2018 Spooktacular 
Giveaway Hop!!
This awesome blog hop is 
brought to you by
Mary @ Bookhounds!!

My own giveaway will end at
midnight on November 1st,
so you will have MORE 
chances to WIN!! 

The books shown below are
humorous, light-hearted 
PNR/UF novels
and short story collections.

These are just suggestions!!
If you would prefer another book,
you can of course choose
whichever one you want,
as long as it's Halloween-related!

Check to see if TBD
delivers to your country by 
clicking HERE!











a Rafflecopter giveaway


Be sure to visit the rest of the 
blogs and enter their 
AWESOME giveaways!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book Blogger Hop No. 146: A Future Without Books?!

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
Halloween Edition!!
This event is hosted by Billy @

For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.

This Week's Question

You are suddenly transported
into a future time in which
(horrors!) books are unknown.
How would you explain
books, and how wonderful they
are, to the people of that time?

(Submitted  by Maria @

My Answer

Actually, this question has nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween. Except that it would definitely be a nightmare if books were totally unknown at some future time. At least, we, the book-loving time travelers, would experience such a future as a horrible one!  :)

I realize that, in asking this question, I gave no details about this hypothetical future society. Also, the fact that we travelers would suddenly be thrust into a world alien to us, with no preparation whatsoever, would be a huge challenge. 

Upon further thought, I believe this hypothetical society could be either at a primitive technological level, or at one so advanced that technology itself had become obsolete, and the inhabitants did everything through telepathy. Either scenario would definitely test the imaginative and teaching abilities of us time travelers!

Before I proceed, I want to make one thing clear, which I think I should have included in the question: we time travelers will have an extended stay in this future society. We will eventually return to our own time, but we will spend several years in the future society. Therefore, we will have plenty of time and opportunities to explain books to our thought-experiment society. 

In the case of the primitive society, which would most likely -- and unfortunately -- have come about because of nuclear destruction, so the survivors would have had to start from scratch, all over again, there's one major point to consider. Primitive societies tend to be very superstitious, with prevalent beliefs in magic, various gods, etc. To the inhabitants of such a society, reading and books would appear to be magical in nature. Of course, books ARE, indeed, magical in nature, metaphorically speaking. Therefore, I think I would start by describing, orally, how magical journeys could be undertaken through the mysterious art of reading strange markings made on stone tablets. This would be my starting point. Once I got them fascinated, I would then have to go about inventing an alphabet, and then teaching these people to read, to decipher the meanings behind words and sentences. Later on, I would make an actual, physical, primitive book, using rudimentary paper -- perhaps parchment. I would have to teach them the process of turning pages, as well, of scanning, and visualization of the story as they read. I would probably include pictures, which I would draw on the pages of this primitive book (after locating some crude graphite or soft charcoal somewhere, or perhaps plant-based ink), and further books to follow. I guess the covers would have to consist of several layers of parchment glued together somehow -- perhaps with a sticky material taken from some sort of plant. 

Anyway, this would be a long, arduous process, as, basically, I would have to reinvent the book. At some future point, a printing press would also have to be built. This would of course involve the use of various metals. It would be very complicated! I'm sure this would be a very rewarding process, however, especially if I were to be perceived as a goddess come from the sky to teach the primitives this new and exciting magic! Lol. Of course, I would also do my best to eventually tell them that I was just an ordinary human being. But I would enjoy my goddess status for a while...... :)

In the case of the other type of society, different challenges would be presented. This type of society would have probably evolved or advanced to the point that, with a mere thought, they could do and get whatever they wanted. Thus, technology as we know it today might seem very archaic to them. Even ebooks would seem ancient, I think. 

In this case, I would have to first befriend someone from that time period.  (I'm thinking it would be pretty far into the future, too, like say, in the year 3150...) Who knows, maybe these people wouldn't even know how to use their vocal chords anymore, if they did everything through telepathy! So perhaps I'd have to attempt some sort of sign language in order to try to convey to one of the inhabitants that I'm harmless and come in peace. Lol. Things would be much easier, though, if one of these people could communicate with me merely by touching my temples, and projecting images into my mind. Sort of like a Vulcan mind meld. If you don't know what the heck THAT is, you're obviously not a Star Trek fan. Lol. 

Well, so let's say I establish rapport that way with one of the "natives". Once I did so, this person would project what they wanted to "say" to me through visual thoughts, and perhaps even words. It all depends, though, on how good of a student I was. This would probably take some time. At some point, however, I would hopefully be able to master the projection of thoughts and images myself. That's when I would project an image of a printed book. Yes, a PRINTED book. I would not want these people to have ANYTHING to do with ebooks! (But who knows, they might be able to access my images of them....alas!)

I would start by projecting images of various books from my memory banks (the mind IS a computer, after all), and then start projecting actual memories of myself reading and enjoying books. I think I'd have to teach these people the joys of reading, too, and they might not know anything about alphabets, letters, sentences, and so forth. 

Of course, I'd also project images of several stories I have stored in my memory banks, as well. Who knows, they might not know some of our most cherished stories, such as the tales of King Arthur, or the SF novels of Isaac Asimov, or even Shakespeare's plays. On the other hand, these things might be stored in some digital vault somewhere, to be accessed at the touch of an ancient screen. Or maybe they just think of a particular author, and they can immediately access the records. But I think that these people might not know the value and enjoyment of actually perusing these stories through the means of the printed book. So it would be very important for me to project the emotions behind reading, as well -- the sheer delights (and sorrows, in the case of drama/tragedy) of reading.

With the second hypothetical society, I would be able to differentiate between fiction and nonfiction, and communicate the need for, and value of, each of these broad genres. This type of thing would be possible with the primitive society, too, but only after a couple of centuries of working with them on this. (I might be able to come across some special process that would prolong my life. Or perhaps my successors would be able to carry on with "The Reading Project".)

The process of communicating the value of books would be a long one with this second society, too. In both hypothetical scenarios -- the primitive and the greatly advanced one -- the results would be well worth the effort, I think. Books, and reading, are such incredibly miraculous and wonderful inventions of the human race, that the knowledge of their existence, as well as their intellectual, emotional, and spiritual, value, must be passed on, for future generations to discover for themselves. And, if one of us were able to take a little trip in Time to perform this invaluable service to humanity, then we, like the members of the Federation of Planets in the Star Trek universe, can be confident that the future will be a hopeful one!

What are your thoughts on
this topic?
If you're participating in this hop,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!!