Wednesday, August 31, 2011

REVIEW: Whatnots and Doodads by Stacey Kennedy (with Giveaway!)

Good morning, all, and welcome to our next stop on the Romancing Your Dark Side Paranormal Book Tour! Joining us today is the lovely Stacey Kennedy, who has been gracious enough to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of her latest, author of Whatnots and Doodads. Full details following my review!

Stacey's urban fantasy/paranormal and erotic romance series have hit Amazon Kindle and All Romance Ebooks Bestseller lists. If she isn’t plugging away at her next novel, or tending to her two little ones, she’s got her nose deep in a good book. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband.

Before we get into my review, let's take a quick look at Whatnots and Doodads.

Whatnots And DoodadsFor Bryanna, a witch from the Asheville Coven, magic is on the fritz. Shunned by her coven and her boyfriend Layton for her unruly magic, she seeks a new life for herself. It just so happens, fate steps in and brings her to Strange Hollow--a place where being different is not only acceptable, but encouraged.

When Bryanna arrives in Strange Hollow, Zeke, a demon gone good, is burning with Hell’s fire over her. Not only has she set his world ablaze, but he’s found one soul he can save. He’s determined to free her from the insecurities that have damaged her soul.

Together they experience lava-hot passion as they weave their way through a tornado of emotions. But when Layton returns for her, will Zeke’s attempts to break the unworthy cage woven around her be enough to keep her in Strange Hollow forever?


One of my pet peeves with the paranormal romance genre isn’t the fact that the darkest, most sinister monsters from mythology are so often defanged, but that the domestication is done so casually, and without comment. That’s where my love for Whatnots and Doodads – and, by extension, the shared world of Strange Hollow – begins.

Here, Stacey presents us with a paranormal romance full of mythological monsters, all of whom are fully aware of their outcast nature. In fact, the lovely little town of Strange Hollow exists solely to give these outcasts a home, a refuge from others of their kind who look down upon them for their domestication. With Whatnots and Doodads, she introduces us to the romantic pairing of an outcast witch who can’t control her magic, and an outcast demon who would rather save souls than steal them.

What makes this work so well is the fact that Bryanna is fully aware of what a mythological demon should be. Her initial reaction to Zeke is precisely what you would expect from someone, especially a witch, upon encountering a “spawn of Satan” – she demands he stop the car, afraid he’s going to eat her! It’s this reaction that so naturally opens the door for Jacinda, outcast Fae and founder of the town, to explain the paranormal sanctuary that is Strange Hollow.

The love story that follows is sweet, seductive, and oh-so-hot. Zeke may be a demon, but he may as well be a knight in shining armour. He takes Bryanna under his wing, helps her get settled, and makes it his mission to make her see that she’s different, not damaged. He wants her to love him more than anything else in the world, but only if he can first make her accept that she is as worthy of love and respect as any other witch. He is patient, kind, and gentle when he needs to be, but also completely capable of taking charge and ravishing his love.

As for Bryanna, she’s a delightful young woman, as different and as wondrous as the whatnots and doodads so eccentrically produced by her magic. Part of her revels in her outcast nature, as evidenced by her gothic manner of dress (which leads to a steamy scene in the dressing room involving a new corset and a black lace thong, all chosen for her by Zeke!), but she’s been raised to believe she’s damaged, an embarrassment to her family and her coven. When she makes the decision to give in to Zeke’s seduction, it’s initially as an act of rebellion, but she soon comes to revel in the feeling of being loved, rather than possessed.

The romance and the seduction here is just breathtaking, the kind of story that makes you feel warm and content all over. It takes a while for the spark of attraction to kindle into flames of passion – as it should – but when it does, the sex is absolutely magical. It’s light-hearted and fun, like first loves should be, and never takes advantage of Bryanna’s fragile emotional state.

A fun, sexy, altogether enjoyable read, Whatnots and Doodads is a book I’ve already insisted several friends read. I loved it, and I suspect you will too.


If Whatnots and Doodads sounds like the kind of story you'd love to give a read, and you'd like to get your hands on a copy of your very own, then you're in luck! Stacey has offered up one electronic copy to one lucky reader!

To enter, simply leave a comment below . . . it's that easy . . . and I'll pick a winner via on September 7th.

For bonus entries, let me know in your comment if you're a follower of mine here at Bibrary Book Lust or a follower of Stacey on Twitter; whether you've added Whatnots and Doodads to your Goodreads shelves; or whether you've 'liked' my review over at Amazon.

Thanks so much to Stacey Kennedy for stopping by. If you'd like to follow her, and the rest of the participating authors, check out her schedule on the Calendar of Events page at The Virtual Book Tour Cafe or check her out at

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of The Virtual Book Tour Cafe' and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by The Virtual Book Tour Cafe', no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

"Waiting On" Wednesday - The Traitor's Daughter by Paula Brandon

While you're stopping by, don't miss my review and giveaway
of Stacey Kennedy's Whatnots and Doodads!

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.)

The Traitor's Daughter by Paula Brandon: On the Veiled Isles, ominous signs are apparent to those with the talent to read them. The polarity of magic is wavering at its source, heralding a vast upheaval poised to alter the very balance of nature. Blissfully unaware of the cataclysmic events to come, Jianna Belandor, the beautiful, privileged daughter of a powerful Faerlonnish overlord, has only one concern: the journey to meet her prospective husband.  But revolution is stirring as her own conquered people rise up against their oppressors, and Jianna is kidnapped and held captive at a rebel stronghold, insurance against what are perceived as her father’s crimes. The resistance movement opens Jianna’s eyes―and her heart. Despite her belief in her father’s innocence, she is fascinated by the bold and charming nomadic physician and rebel sympathizer, Falaste Rione—who offers Jianna her only sanctuary in a cold and calculating web of intrigue. As plague and chaos grip the land, Jianna is pushed to the limits of her courage and resourcefulness, while virulent enemies discover that alliance is their only hope to save the human race. [October 4, 2011]

Paula's debut is being called a "a lush, epic, wholly original new trilogy that shines with magic, mystery, and captivating drama" and it sounds like just a gorgeouss read - I can't wait!

How about you? What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

REVIEW: God No by Penn Jillette

Despite its title, God No is less a book about atheism, and more a book about Penn Jillette. Overall, it’s a rambling, amusing, self-indulgent collection of celebrity encounters, only a few of which ever come around to the subject of atheism. Despite that, there are some seeds of insight to be found throughout, eventually growing together into a wild, untameable vine of free thought.

At times rude and crude, it’s in his most outrageous, most blasphemous moments, that the most important points are made. Like any great magician, Penn is a master of the bait-and-switch. To put it another way, like any good parent, he’s a master of making the nastiest medicine palatable by hiding it in something sweet. Time and time again he shocks you with one blasphemous concept, and then slips in a bit of wisdom that you might have otherwise dismissed out-of-hand . . . but no longer find so hard to swallow.

The problem, from a conceptual point of view, is that those sugar-coated messages are few and far between. The framing of the atheist Ten Commandments is artificial and loose, and I honestly can’t recall any specifics. There are no catchy phrases or memorable revisions here, just chapters of stories with a common theme. What could have been a clever concept, and could have really helped make a really strong point, is instead sacrificed for entertaining the converted. That’s not entirely a bad thing – alone, or with Teller at his side, Penn is always entertaining – but I would have liked something more structured.

Is there an elephant in your bathtub right now? If you humbly answer "I don't know," then when asked if you believe there's an elephant in your bathtub right now, the answer would be no. Anything is possible, but there's no reason to believe it until there's some evidence. Once you're an atheist, anything is possible. You are leaving open the possibility of Jesus Christ as lord, and Thor, and invisible gremlins living in your toaster. It's all possible, but . . . I don't know. And until I know—until there's some evidence—I'm an atheist.

In the end, once the stories fade, do any of the bits of wisdom that are there stick with you? As somebody who already agrees with much of what he has to say, and is regularly amused by his act, I don’t know . . . but, ironically (as Penn himself makes clear), that’s largely the point.

Monday, August 29, 2011

REVIEW: No One in the World by E. Lynn Harris and R.M. Johnson

This is a serious, rather literary tale that takes a concept that seems destined for a raunchy comedy, and plays it straight (so to speak).

Drama is heaped upon drama here, with enough stories to fill several novels. First, we have the drama of a gay man rejected by his father. Second, we have the death-bed discovery of a long-lost twin brother. Third, we have the convoluted family last-will-and-testament that requires a traditional marriage in order to inherit. Fourth, we have a career-driven sister, desperate to save the family company by ensuring that impossible marriage happens. Fifth, complicating things at all levels, we have a love affair between Cobi and another closeted professional, this time a state senator. Finally, we have that long-lost twin brother, pretending to new-found happiness on the one hand, while betraying a fragile relationship on the other.

Given such a complicated story, it takes an extremely strong personality to hold it all together, and Cobi largely succeeds in that role. He’s a wonderfully developed character, entirely comfortable in his own sexuality, yet fully aware of his the complications it presents. That's not to say he's perfect - in fact, there were  few personality traits that really irked me - but that's okay, because perfect characters are hard to identify with. As for the siblings, I never warmed up to Eric or Sissy, characters who seemed to be more about their issues and their role in the story than themselves, but I did appreciate the fact that they were allowed to develop and demonstrate some diversity.

At times predictable, and even a little bit forced, it’s still a story that works. There were a few passages that jumped out at me as being clearly the work of two different authors (where styles just didn’t seem to mesh); the use of different perspectives irked me a bit (the third-person narratives just didn’t grab me the way the first-person narration did); the short chapters definitely made it hard for me to really settle into the story (short chapters are a personal pet peeve); and some of the dialogue left me rolling my eyes. With that said, it's a quick moving read, full of enough twists and turns to keep the drama from getting stale. Also, I must say I appreciated the fact that Cobi was allowed to have his moments of intimacy, which is something we rarely see in a mainstream novel featuring a gay protagonist.

Not the best novel I've read this summer, but still a pleasant diversion.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Monday In My Mailbox - What Are You Reading?

In My Mailbox and It's Monday, What are you Reading are weekly memes hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, Sheila at Book Journey. Both are great ways to share the books you're either reading, or shifting to the top of your TBR pile (because, let's face it, sometimes a little shifting is the best we can manage!).

A few new books for review this week, including Daughters of Artemis edited by S.L. Armstrong, The Incident by Xavier Axelson, Spectre of Intention by Tonya Macalino, and Morning Rising by Samantha Boyette.

Daughters of Artemis   The Incident   Spectre of Intention   Morning Rising (Guardian Of Morning)

As always, I'm generally hopping between books as the mood grabs me. Teasing me for time and seducing my attentions this week are:

The Fossil Hunter by Shelley Emling (almost done this one - such a fascinating read)
Whatnots And Doodads by Stacey Kennedy (so much sexy fun!)
The Diviner by Melanie Rawn (half-way through and the 15 years wait is beginning to pay off)
♥ The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Browne (Paradise Lost meets The Da Vinci Code)
The Regent's Knight by J.M. Snyder (a prince, the knight he loves, and the woman he must marry)

The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World   Whatnots And Doodads    The Diviner   The Paradise Prophecy   The Regent's Knight

Well, that's it for now . . . what are you reading?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

REVIEW: The Commander and the Den Asaan Rautu Vol 1 by Michelle Franklin

The Haanta Series is one of the longest, ongoing, romantic fantasy series currently being followed online. Red Willow Press has recently acquired the rights to publish the series, with The Commander and the Den Asaan Rautu being the first book in the series.

As you might expect from a romantic fantasy, this is a character-driven series. It focuses on Boudicca (the Commander), and Rautu (the Den Assan). As physically different as they may be, and as odd a couple as they may appear to make, we soon realise the two warriors are well-matched, complimenting each other well.

Rautu is a grey-skinned giant from over the mountain, exiled from his people until he can redeem his honour. Sexist, arrogant, and possessive, he’s not exactly the kind of man to take to a fiercely independent woman, but she challenges him intellectually, emotionally, and even physically. The Commander is a formidable woman, and one who garners our respect (and admiration) right from the start. That puts the Den Assan at a bit of a disadvantage, especially given his difficult nature, but part of the joy of the story is the way in which he wins over Boudicca (and the reader).

More than just a romance, however, it’s also the story of two wars – violent disputes between neighbouring nations, fought with blood, magic, and more. One of the things I really appreciated about the story is that the battle scenes are tense, with a tangible sense of tension. Far too many fantasy stories just go through the motions, but you never feel safe here. Additionally, Michelle is careful to explain the political and social issues behind the wars, but without bogging things down or confusing the reader.

At times adventurous, humorous, and romantic, this was just a fun read. I breezed through this first volume in a matter of days, and find myself anxious to not only read more in the series, but also to dive into the companion short story collection, Tales from Frewyn.

Friday, August 26, 2011

100 Most Sought-After Out-of-Print Books in America

Now, this is interesting – has just released its list of the 100 most sought-after out-of-print books in America. It’s an interesting list, mostly full of books I’ve never heard of, but there are some notable surprises, especially in the top 10.

Check it out HERE.

Madonna comes in at #1 with Sex, her silver-foil wrapped coffee-table companion piece to her Erotica album. Extremely controversial when it was released, I managed to get my hands on a copy through a friend who worked in a bookstore. I still have it, although I was forced to take it off my shelf because everybody seems to want to flip through it, and the pages were getting torn.

Surprisingly, Stephen King comes in at #3 and #4 with Rage and My Pretty Pony. Originally available in The Bachman Books collection, King allowed Rage to fall out of print in response to the Heath High School shooting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Personally, I loved The Bachman Books, and I thought Rage was a fantastic story. As for My Pretty Pony, it was a limited edition piece for the Whitney Museum of American Art, but has since been republished in the Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection.

Other surprising authors on the list include Norman Mailer, Ray Bradbury, Carl Sagan, Philip K. Dick, Ben Bova, and Glen Cook.

As a self-admitted bookslut, I have my own list of ‘most sought-after out-of-print books’ that I keep hand in my Blackberry, and refer to every time I find a used bookstore:

Brad Clayton - Queen of Hearts
Stewart Farrar - Forcible Entry
Dael Forest - Barba the Slaver & Haesel, the Slave
Valory Gravois - Cherry Single
Auctor Ignotus - AE: The Open Persuader
Richard Kirk - Swordsmistress of Chaos
Brian Lumley - The Plague-Bearer
Patrick Macnee - Avengers: Deadline & Avengers: Dead Duck
Russ Miller - The Impossible Transplant
Seabury Quinn - Alien Flesh
Mack Reynolds -Amazon Planet
Cheryl Ann Sanders - The Sunday Game
David Westheimer - Olmec Head

Good to know, in case you’re ever looking for a really great present (hint, hint), or have a tip that might make a bookslut very happy!

How about you – what book is it you desperately hope to find when you step between those tall, musty-smelling stacks of used books?