Romantic Geek Girl

Danielle Monsch takes you through the softer side of geek

And the Winner is…!

Danielle Riggs!

Congratulations Danielle! (You have a fabulous name, by the way)

Thanks to everyone else who entered and keep checking back! I have lots of giveaways planned – cause I’m cool like that and all.

The Neverending TBR Pile

I once had a t-shirt with the words “So many books. So little time.” I really need to find one to replace it because it sums up my life. Whether reading or writing them, my world revolves around the bound and printed page or the splash of e-ink across a grey screen.

Here are some what are closer to the top of the TBR (to be read) pile, though my mind changes in an instant – ask the poor hubby. So subject to change without notice:

First up, this came through as an advanced reader copy and I snatched it up. The Orphanmaster  is a debut novel by Jean Zimmerman. It’s set in the 1660’s in New Amsterdam (now known as Manhattan). It features missing children, a serial killer, possible demon possession, cannibals, spies, and a love story. It’s a little different than my usual fare, but in this case I think (hope!) that different is good and pray it’s as meaty and rich as the cover copy promises.

I met Karina Cooper at the RT Convention this year. She was looking smashing walking down the hallway in a steampunk-y/gothy ensemble, and I had just had to extend my compliments. That led to an extended talk session where I learned this woman was an author as well! Of course, I got the book. Since RT, I’ve been following Karina on the social media loops and she tickles me greatly, so I have very high hopes the wonderful writing voice of hers will be evident in the book. If so, I will be a very happy camper.

Finally, lately I’ve been in the mood for a sexy, growly, possessive werewolf, so after flipping through a few books, I went with Omega Mine by Aline Hunter (you may also know her as writer J.A. Saare.) Again, this is a case where I have *met* J.A. through social media and we’ve discussed a bit back and forth, but I haven’t yet read any of her work. I’ve heard lots of good stuff though, so I’m not too worried.

That should keep me busy for awhile, especially considering I need to be writing my own stories in the midst of all this!

Book Review – Generous Fire by Olivia Waite

Just a heads-up, the book being reviewed is an erotic romance.

This is a very naughty, very short story that plays on a real-life fact – that to cure *female hysteria*, doctors in the late 1800’s created what is now known as the vibrator.

The hero and heroine are a Headmaster and schoolmarm respectively, and they use this new invention purely for scientific study. Well, except that once it starts being used, scientific study goes out the window.

The book opens with a homage to Charles Dickens that made me sit up and go, “Cool!” The writing style channels the spirit of Jane Austen – if she wrote a lot spicier, that is.

It was charming, it was sex-ay… and it was way too short. The story is billed as a romance, but with the very short length it was impossible to give any depth to the characters, let alone believe in these characters falling in love. While I enjoyed what was there, the lack in this area made it impossible to give it a higher grade.

Bottom Line – Clever writing with a wink and a nod to Dicken’s A Christmas Carol elevate this naughty Victorian short story. However, it’s too short, reading like the final chapters of this couple’s courtship than a complete story of its own. Because of this, it’s impossible to get fully invested into the story.

My final rating? B+

You can find Olivia Waite at her Website, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Book Review – Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead by Christiana Miller

At the beginning of this whole, surreal journey, I had no idea you could be evicted from your body as easily as you could be booted out of your apartment.


“One of the problems with being a witch is when you ask the universe a question, it generally gives you an answer. Or at least enough of one to ruin a perfectly good week.”

And thus with not one but with two killer opening lines, Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead begins.

Writing a line like that – let alone two lines – takes skill and craftsmanship. With much anticipation, I began reading.

Mara is a witch living in Los Angeles. She’s a witch, but she’s very leery of magic for many a reason, and she tries to keep it to the smaller stuff that can’t come back to bite her.

Around her 27th birthday, she’s about to get kicked out of her apartment by her fundamentalist Christian landlady.

So she worries over it and talks smarty-pants with her gay best friend and fellow magic user,Gus.

And then Gus talks her doing some magic against her will.

And then something bad happens, and she has bad dreams and bad feelings about what is about to come, especially since *dum dum dum* her mother died at the age of 27.

And then she frets and talks smarty-pants with Gus.

Then the landlady comes back to reiterate witches are evil and she’s still evicted.

And then Gus reassures her, and talks her into doing magic against her will.

And keep going like that through the first half of the book.

Let me stop here for a bit. This is not going to be the most complimentary review, so I’d like to say right now what I liked and give the story it’s due. The author has a fantastic voice with dialogue, especially that “you are a pain but I love you” dialogue that occurs between long-time friends. The book has that everyone-is-crazy humor, sort of reminiscent of the early Stephanie Plum books, and the author does it well. And as shown by those opening lines, the author knows how to string together a sentence in a clever way.

Now to the problems. The biggest one is the story has horrific pacing. The above back-and-forth takes almost half of the book (and this is novel-length, so that’s a lot of between friends bickering). The first few rounds between Gus and Mara were fun and had me smiling, but when we got to a third of the way through the book and that was all that had happened so far, I was getting frustrated. Bickering does not a story make.

Once we got to around the 40% mark and still no story forward momentum, I put the book down… and ended up forgetting about it.

Not long ago I came across the title and went, “Oh yeah, I’m in the middle of that, aren’t I?” I actually debated with myself if I wanted to restart it again. But I remembered what I liked about the story and the fact that sometimes the second half of the book might be better than the first, I decided to go forward and finish the book.

About the halfway point we get to the heart of the story:  Mara inherits her Aunt Tillie’s cottage far, far away from LA. Once there, Mara deals with colorful locals, the ghost of her Aunt (who may/may not have her best interests at heart) a love interest, and the possibility the house itself wants to kill her… or worse.

I wish I could say the second half makes up for the first, but that’s not the case. Because of the over long set-up, this part of the story is rushed. There is so much tossed into it that the story is superficial – we’re never really given a chance to absorb anything, so we don’t have any deep feelings for what’s happening.

Also, Mara goes from being a character in her own right into taking specific actions because she needs to do them or else the story won’t work. Multiple instances I thought to myself, “Would the character I saw in the beginning do this?” From my point of view, the answer was usually no. Again, because of the rushed nature of the second half of the book, the author wasn’t able to convince me of these changes. Also, in this part of the book Mara deals with her issues surrounding her Mother, but once again, everything is so rushed that what should have been poignant and added some depth to the story was barely a blip on my screen.

The humor that served so well through the first half of the book becomes a detriment in the second half. Humor can be used to increase tension and dread, but in this case, the author was not able to pull that off. Instead, the humor turned what should have been high tension instances into shoulder shrugs.

The small-town residents are barely more than cut-outs, and the love interest isn’t. It felt like the author needed a male body (I can’t say more without going into major spoilers but anyone reading the book knows what I mean) and threw him in there. The only love story in this book was the love between a woman and her Gay Best Friend Forever.

And the ending – what was that? In all honesty, by that time, I just wanted it over and was like, “Fine. Good luck everyone.”

Bottom line – This author creates wonderful dialogue and fun supporting characters, and her humor speaks to me. On the other hand, she has no idea how to pace a story, she spends too much time on things that she shouldn’t and way too little time on areas that need more in-depth exploration, her characters tend to be a little superficial, and she hasn’t learned how to use her humor to amplify the tension – instead, the humor dilutes it. Will I read her again? Yes, but I would want to know who her editor is first.

My final grade? D+

You can find Christiana Miller at her Website.

Karma is Happy with Me

I could have been selfish. Think of the opportunity – read a Meljean Brook novella two months before release and get the previous books in the series?

My little devil side fought me hard about spreading the news – plenty of people are talking about it LD said. But my good angel told me to spread the word, because it was too awesome an opportunity and everyone who could get their name in deserved a chance.

I followed GA and crossed my fingers.

Well, my good deed was rewarded. I was picked at random as one of those who will get to read the novellas! I’m so excited, I yelped when I saw my name.

Beyond awesome all around.

Be a test reader for Meljean Brook? Yes Please!

Are you a fan of Steampunk, but for some reason or another, have not yet gotten around to reading “The Iron Seas” series by Meljean Brook? You mean to – you really have! – but there are only so many hours in the day…

Well, for once your procrastination tendencies will pay off! Meljean Brook needs a few good readers to read her two epilogue novellas, Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City and Tethered.

The catch. She needs people who have not read her either The Iron Duke or Heart of Steel.

So if this sounds like a fantastic opportunity to jump into her steampunk world, head over to Meljean’s website and put your name out there to volunteer!

Seeking test readers new to The Iron Seas

The Hobbit World Premiere announced!

If you are like me, you are waiting for this movie with bated breath and knuckles white.

Should that be the case and you have a few thousand dollars to spare and nothing else going on at the end of November, you might think about attending the world premiere!

It’s been announced today the world premiere will take place November 28th at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington in New Zealand. While not a definite, Peter Jackson has said he is trying to get the entire cast of both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Tell you what peoples, if by some miracle I land a big book contract in the next few months, you’ll know where to find me at the end of November.

Of course, if I don’t, I’ll be watching The Hobbit on December 14 with the rest of you.


RIP Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

“”If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

Book Review – Sleeping with the Wolf by Maddy Barone

We have werewolf stories (still?) We have post-apocalyptic stories (yawn…) We have time-travel stories (is this the 80’s?)

But how often do you see a post-apocalyptic time-travel story featuring werewolves? Huh, huh? Yeah, I got your attention now, don’t I?

In the year 2014 our heroine boards a plane with the intent of going to the concert that will propel her to the big leagues of country music stardom, only to have the plane crash en route. Many die, many others are hurt, and the ones who are still standing divide themselves so some stay to care for the wounded while others walk to find help – because strangely, no authorities have come to rescue the passengers…

Carla, she of the singing career, realizes her life has worse problems than a mere plane crash. She is kidnapped and brought to a town. There, she hears the ugly truth. The year is 2064, society suffered through an Armageddon wiping out huge amounts of people, and maybe worst of all, men outnumber women about 100 to 1 and women are treated like property.

Carla is put up as a prize in a Bride Fight, and there she learns one last piece of crazy on top of the crazy she’s been dealing with – that werewolves are real, and their leader Taye wants her for his mate.

I’m not normally a post-apocalyptic person, but I liked the twist on this one. My hubby still messes with me because we went to a weekend wedding that was held at a boy scout camp – which featured cabins complete with plumbing and running water – and when it was over I told him I had no desire to rough it like that again. So the idea of a modern woman being thrust into a world without plumbing, electricty, cars, electronics, or any other of the myriad things we take for granted intrigued me. I wanted to see how she’d deal with that.

I’ll tell you what, Carla handled it a heck of a lot better than I would. There were some grumblings and “It’s not fair!”, but basically in a week-ish she had gotten with the program. While I acknowledge that she wouldn’t be throwing hissy-fit after hissy-fit with what we knew of her character (a pragmatic woman who has no problems rolling up her sleeves and getting to work) I still thought her acceptance was too easy.

Actually, that kinda sums up my thoughts on the book as a whole. Even though the set-up is a natural for high emotion, the way the characters handled the various challenges and events was distinctly low-key and smooth. Even the “fated mate” trope was laid-back. Sure, Taye knows Carla is meant to be his from the first, but beyond a couple of growls we don’t really feel the edge that usually accompanies that particular trope. It took him awhile to realize he might like her and want her around other than for sex.

And Taye? Probably the most beta Alpha Wolf you’ll ever meet.

For all the insane set-up, this is a gentle, almost soothing romance and by no means what I was expecting. It took me a little time to readjust my thoughts and realize what I assumed would be happening and what was on the page were two different things. Once I got on board, the story went smoother for me.

Taye is more of a gentleman than most guys I meet in daily life (sorry guys, but it’s true). He is bewildered on what women want – understandable, because he really hasn’t known many in his life. And a source of humor in the book is how the wolf pack deal with Carla coming to live with them since most of them have never been around a woman before.

The sexuality and sensuality are not high in this book. Yes, there is sex, but to my mind it was mild (granted, I write hot/spicy to erotic romance, so adjust your expectations accordingly). This book is not about sensuality or lust, it’s about a gradual falling in love with someone and being ‘grown-up’ enough to accept that your life is not going to be what you wanted it to be and moving on.

Bottom line – Once I adjusted my expectations and got into the rhythm of the book, I enjoyed it. While I feel the story was light on conflict and Carla accepted her new life a little easier than was realistic, it is a nice contrast to the high-octane werewolf stories that dominate the genre.

My final grade? B-

You can find Maddy Barone at her Website, on Twitter, and on Facebook

Transit of Venus happening tonight!

I am not the most astronomical of people – I just like looking up at the sky and going, “Ooh, pretty.” Still, I thought this was way too cool not to share.

 From Wikipedia:

A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours (the transit of 2004 lasted six hours). A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is more than 3 times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is much farther away from Earth.

Pretty awesome! Of course, I live in the Pacific Northwest where this “sun” is a mythical body only told of in stories and the skies are grey, grey, and grey, but for those of you in other parts of the country, feel free to share how amazing this experience was!


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