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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blog Tour & Book Review: Sins of the Flesh (Sin Hunters, #1) by Caridad Pi'eiro

Title: Sins of the Flesh
Series: Sin Hunters
Book Number: 1
Author: Caridad Pi'eiro
Genre: Fiction - Paranormal Romance 
Finished: November 19, 2009 

Catarina (Cat) Shaw is a famous and talented musician, her love of the cello as much a part of her as her body. When she finds out that she has a brain tumor that will kill her, she elects to take part in a radical gene therapy treatment. The results are not what she has expected. Cat has found that she possesses strange powers such as to be able to chameleon herself against her surroundings. She is stronger, faster, quicker to heal, and also has iridescent blood. When she escapes the medical facility that she is being kept in, private detective forces are hot on her tail with the order to collect her for the violent murder of one of the lab's doctors. Enter Mick Carrera, who has been hired to find Cat and bring her back. At first, he is startled to find out that she is not quite human. However, he has a sense of decency that transcends the rather rough job he does. Mick finds himself taking care of her, always cautious, yet at the same time wondering if Cat is really capable of what she is accused of. There is no mistake, though, that Cat is in danger. And if she is not guilty of the murder, why would they be accusing her? What is their goal? What else may they be engineering? And who really did kill the doctor and why? So much mystery begins to swirl around the two that we are pushed into a complex and layered plotline that moves fast and hard, with the action intense, the mystery solid, and the characters defined. Naturally, as a romance novel, this book has its fair share of hot and botheredness. I am always a bit annoyed when characters come to attraction so early. While I don't mean to negate the idea of love at sight, but I prefer that romance and passion come as part of a long running evolution of emotion rather than, "is this her in the picture? Hot. I want her intensely and with all of my being." See what I mean? So, I was kind of put off by that when it happened in this book, yet the author slowed it down from there and let it happen in due time. There was no rush. The romance was redeemed! And, naturally, as soon as the romance began, it was good. The scenes are smoking hot, guys, I mean it. This was my first taste of the paranormal of this brand. Usually the paranormal is about vampires or witches or some other sort of were/shifting creature. While Cat is part animal(s) and human, she is no shifter. This book is therefore more scientific, sort of "man playing God and this is what we get." I really enjoyed that this book had a scientific lean while not being too science fiction based, as that is not a genre I particularly like. All in all: good book, hot romance, non-standard characters that actually seem real and with depth, and an all around great mystery with tons of adventure.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blog Tour: To Desire a Devil (Legend of the Four Soldiers, #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt

To Desire a Devil

About Elizabeth Hoyt Elizabeth Hoyt is a USA Today bestselling author of historical romance. She also writes deliciously fun contemporary romance under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with three untrained dogs, two angelic but bickering children, and one long-suffering husband. Please visit her websites for chapter excerpts, book extras, and author appearances: www.elizabethhoyt.com and www.juliaharper.com.

Reynaud St. Aubyn has spent the last seven years in hellish captivity. Now half mad with fever he bursts into his ancestral home and demands his due. Can this wild-looking man truly be the last earl's heir, thought murdered by Indians years ago? Beatrice Corning, the niece of the present earl, is a proper English miss. But she has a secret: No real man has ever excited her more than the handsome youth in the portrait in her uncle's home. Suddenly, that very man is here, in the flesh-and luring her into his bed. Only Beatrice can see past Reynaud's savagery to the noble man inside. For his part, Reynaud is drawn to this lovely lady, even as he is suspicious of her loyalty to her uncle. But can Beatrice's love tame a man who will stop at nothing to regain his title-even if it means sacrificing her innocence? To read an excerpt go here.

Title: To Desire a Devil
Series: Legend of the Four Devils
Book Number: 4
Genre: Fiction - Historical Romance 
Finished: November 10, 2009

The year is 1765, and the place England. The son of an earl and heir to the title Earl of Blanchard, Reynaud St. Aubyn, once a carefree youth, went to war where he was reportedly murdered by Indians in the American Colonies. After the death of his father and without Reynaud there to inherit, the title passed on to the Uncle of Beatrice Corning. Beatrice, protective of her kind and not-too-healthy uncle, as well as a great deal many others, are shocked when a haggard and sick looking Reynaud burst through the doors at tea demanding his father. It was almost too much to tell him of his father's death. With the heir of the title returned, Beatrice has no idea what will happen to her and her uncle. Beatrice's feelings are further complicated by her infatuation with a man she has only seen in a painting. This painting she is so fond of looking at is of Reynaud before he went off to fight. She cannot consolidate her feelings for the handsome young man in the picture to the disheveled and brutish rogue who now wants to reclaim his title and estate. Reynaud has a great many wounds that need healing. He suffered a great deal of horror while in captivity and suffers from trauma and flashbacks that put him always on his guard. As such, he is not an easy one to get close to and Beatrice, despite his threatening of her very livelihood, tries to help him. She wants to see him return to the smiling youth she is so familiar with via his painting. Others feel that Reynaud needs to be reaccelerated to aristocratic society. Feelings soon begin to grow between Beatrice and Reynaud. It seems she could be just what he needs to return to his old self. Of course, not everyone hopes for the best for them. There are others with invested interests in keeping Reynaud from regaining his title, which sweeps the pair up into political intrigue and danger. I generally liked the story, especially Reynaud and his dramatic story. I always like a man with a bit of a complex, I suppose. Beatrice is likable as far as female romance leads go, as they can all too often exhibit a cookie-cutter vapidity that I find puts me off of the romance genre as a whole. Though honestly, I feel that the romance aspect moved a little too fast and in a manner that wasn̢۪t very realistic. It was just too easy and too forced. And when Reynaud proposed, the dialogue between the two was unbelievable and simple. I like things to be drawn out. There was something about the moment that rang as unbelievable to me. All in all, though, it was a fun read. The passion is hot and the romance is sweet. Ladies, Reynaud is one passionate man who knows how to work the body of a woman-- Beatrice, what a lucky woman! Dangerous and romantic at the same time, Reynaud can be as rough and demanding as gentle and smooth. And fortunately, there is a happy ending to be found, and I do so love happily ever after.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guest Post: Sacagawea: The Seduction of Mythology, the Paucity of Facts by Thad Carhart

Sacagawea: The Seduction of Mythology, the Paucity of Facts By Thad Carhart, Author of Across the Endless River

How much do we know for certain about the life of Sacagawea? The answer is: almost nothing. She was born "around 1788." She was abducted by the Hidatsa "when she was about 12." The date of her death is similarly uncertain: the prevailing view is that she died in 1812 at Fort Manuel Lisa on the Missouri, but others contend that she lived well into her 90s and died at the Wind River Reservation in 1884. Even the pronunciation and meaning of her name are still disputed, a reflection of the unknowable transliteration that both Clark and Lewis tried to capture in written syllables.

Lewis & Clark -- The Written Record Shapes All 
The most reliable primary documents that have come down to us concerning Sacagawea are, of course, the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, through which she has entered the public imagination as an improbable but key player on the stage of American history. But even the journals, famed as they are, give us only fleeting glimpses of this young woman. She was one of Toussaint Charbonneau's several "squaws", a usage that covered everything from absolute servitude to common law marriage. In historical accounts, she is most frequently described as his "wife", but the fact remains that we have no way of knowing the human contours of their relationship. The instances of her mentions in the journals are themselves full of dramatic details: a difficult labor for her first child, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, born on February 11, 1805 in the bitter cold far-northern reaches of the Upper Missouri; her dire illness and near death in June of that year, when Lewis dosed her attentively from his meager medicine kit; her vote as an equal member of the expedition about the location of their winter camp once they reached the Pacific; her insistence at being allowed to accompany the party dispatched by Clark to the shore of the Pacific to investigate what meat might be recovered from a beached whale. All of these scenes have survived in the clear and dispassionate prose of the two captains, and while they offer tantalizing glimpses of how Sacagawea reacted under pressure, they of course come from the pens of those whose business it was to give the expedition shape in daily journals. While history is indeed written by the conquerors, perhaps here it would be more apt to say that history is first written by those who can write. How would she have described the captains? Nothing certain remains from Sacagawea's oral tradition, so the accounts of those whose language included an alphabet were bound to prevail

Sacagawea, Repository of Legends 
Even so, the degree to which the slender and infrequent mentions of Sacagawea in the Lewis & Clark journals have subsequently been weighed down with meaning is astounding. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, and gathering steam well into the twentieth, there developed an elaborate literature of wonder, almost of awe, around her being. She has come to represent resilience, courage, patience, loving motherhood, feminine independence . . . the list is virtually endless. It has been said that more images of her adorn public places than that of any other American woman. The latest iteration of her imagined likeness, the young mother bearing her papoose who graces the U.S. dollar coin, is as close as American culture is ever likely to come to an indigenous Madonna and Child. And yet most of this is pure fabrication, a projection of our own changing needs and perceptions of the past. I am reminded of the elaborate hagiography that has built up in France around Joan of Arc, just enough of it based on the startling and dramatic facts of her life to lay the groundwork for a complete mythology. In that sense, Lewis & Clark is our own founding myth, and the individual actors in its story assume the proportions of legend as we embroider the fragile facts we have with our own imaginings. Sacagawea dances around the edges of the narrative: innocent, strong, pure of heart, and ultimately unknowable, an undying receptacle for our dreams about both past and future. The beaten and abducted young squaw stands alongside the mother of a mixed-race son, the determined woman who saved Lewis & Clark from failure by bargaining for horses with the tribe from which she had been torn. Could any refracted image we fashion to express our hopes be more ambiguous, or more captivating?

©2009 Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River 
Author Bio- Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River, is a dual citizen of of the United States and Ireland. He lives in Paris with his wife, the photographer Simo Neri, and their two children. For more information please visit www.thadcarhart.com