Best Book Boyfriends of 2012

December 30, 2012 at 12:32 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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I avidly read The Lit Bitch and a recent post included a top 12 book boyfriends list: http://thelitbitch.com/2012/12/29/top-12-in-2012-book-boyfriends/.

Cute concept, fun blog idea, but as I scrolled through my 74 books of the year, I realized that I didn’t read a lot of books in which there were boyfriends to pick from.

I started out with How to Buy a Love of Reading, and I think Hunter set me into a mood that I just couldn’t get past.  There are other boyfriends I read through the year, but I barely remember them.

I don’t recall the characters in The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  Regardless of what I thought of the book when I read it, no one in it made a lasting impact on me.  I actually had to refer to my own review to remember Seldon’s name.

The Great Gatsby is a fantastic novel, one of my favorites, but Jay Gatsby is not someone I’d put on my list of literary love interests.

jace_wayland_by_sallysalander-d4wi4bgI did read The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series and there are plenty of boyfriends to be had in those books, and they are lovely, and romantic, and intense; but none of them lived up to Hunter.

I did read Inhale, the first of a series called Just Breathe, which is an urban fantasy erotica piece, but the characters there are what the genre calls for: super sexy, the end.  Don’t get me wrong, sexy is nice, I think my husband is one of the sexiest, but I need more out of a character I’d want to put on a boyfriend of the year list.

RoryRory Williams, for instance, the man who waited, the Roman centurion, one-half of a couple known as The Ponds on Doctor Who… he could go on a boyfriend of the year list.  He’s just heavenly, and wonderful.  But this is about books, not TV shows.

I read a lot of Agatha Christie this year, and she’s all mystery and not a whole lot of romance.  Although a love story emerges here and there, it’s rarely more than a motive or plot device, therefore how can anyone in her books make the list?

On the other hand, I read cozy mysteries too.  I like Cleo Coyle and her coffeehouse series.  Cozy mysteries almost always have a boyfriend, but with there always being a boyfriend, I don’t often get the chance to delight in any of them.  They are there to make the protagonist feel good or bad, have a romantic scene of some sort, and then on to the next guy.  In real life, I’m morally opposed to most of the relationships that pop up in cozy mysteries.  But, I figure it comes with the territory when reading about murderers and investigators.

Scrolling down my list of books read this year, I come to Karleen Koen’s Through a Glass Darkly.  Sorry girls, I can’t recommend Montgeoffrey to anyone.  He is the basis of all Babara’s pain… a ladies man, a cheater, and ultimately also gay.  How many strikes can you add to a relationship before I’m just really tired of the guy?  It makes the heroine incredibly interesting, but I can’t let Montgeoffrey anywhere near my book-boyfriend list.

So it comes down to the fellows in A.S. Byatt’s Possession, the cutie-patootie Sam in Michael Grant’s Gone, and Hunter of HTBALOR.

Byatt’s romances in Possession are powerful and intriguing, Sam Temple in Gone is a cute kid with the potential to be an incredible man when he’s all grown up, but I have to hand it to Hunter – he captured my heart.

Hunter is intelligent, sweet, broody, keeps a journal, and sadly is also an addict.  Reading the conclusions of my own blog post, I find myself in disbelief… what does this say about my taste in men that I want to pick the suicidal one as book-boyfriend of the year?  And that Marius of Les Miserables didn’t even make the short list of final contestants?

Who is on your list?

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Kendall Grey Interview and Special Whale Video

May 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm (Interviews) (, , , , )

Not too long ago I posted a review of Kendall Grey’s book Inhale.  After the review, Grey agreed to a blog interview.  Today, May 1st 2012, Inhale is finally available to the public!

Describe your books.  What genre do you prefer them to be classified? Is this your favorite genre to read as well?

The JUST BREATHE trilogy is 51% urban fantasy and 49% romance. The books mix a lot of ideas that don’t seem to go together—whales, dreams, Elementals, fantasy, music, romance—but I think I mesh them in a way that makes sense. *Knocks wood* Urban fantasy and paranormal romance are my two favorite genres to read.

You are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about whales and whale education.  Will you ever write a nonfiction piece on the topic?

I’ve thought a lot about writing a nonfiction whale book for kids. I have gobs of pictures I’ve taken over the years that I could use within the pages. I don’t have the time now, but it’s bound to happen eventually.

What is the first book(s) you remember reading? Has that impacted the way you write?

I read Nancy Drew books as a kid, but I was never a big reader. I’m ashamed to admit I’m still not. I don’t know that any particular book or author has influenced my style. I just write the same way I think. The word “raw” comes to mind. 😉

You’ve got characters from all over the world (and beyond) in your books, did you find it difficult to write and stay true to their dialects? (They read quite smoothly.)

Thank you! Yes, it was difficult at times. I did tons of research on Aboriginal Australians to get Yileen’s dialect down, but it’s nowhere near perfect.

I’ve visited Australia several times and have some friends there who helped me with common Aussie sayings and phrases. I had to cut some of the more obscure references because my editor felt most readers wouldn’t understand their meaning. I wanted to portray the characters as authentically as possible, but she’s right. Quirky Aussie humor goes right over our American heads. Ha!

Do you have a personal favorite out of the characters in your book? Who is it and why?

You’re gonna make me choose? If I can only pick one, I’ll have to go with Gavin. He’s got all the qualities I love in a man—tall, tattooed, Australian, rugged but sensitive, a musician. *Sigh* But I adore the other characters too. Zoe for her dedication to the whales, Adriene for being the perfect best friend, Scarlet for being so bad she’s good, Yileen for his wisdom, and Sinnder for his moral ambiguity.

Photograph by Jemma Milanovic used in the cover of “Exhale” to portray Gavin Cassidy

How did you come across the photographs featured on the covers on Inhale and Exhale?

I found the Zoe picture on the INHALE cover on a stock photo site. The “Gavin” photo for EXHALE came from Deviant Art. Both images took months to find. Funny bit of trivia…the Gavin model is Australian and lives in New South Wales where Gavin does.

Did you learn anything from writing your books? What was it?

The biggest lesson I learned was humility. I wrote the first draft of INHALE almost four years ago and knew it would be a best seller. A deluge of cold-as-a-dead-fish form rejections from agents and editors informed me it was actually smellier than the creamy center of an 8-foot high chicken manure pile. Getting shoved out of my ivory tower was painful, humbling, and exactly what I needed. It forced me to seek help from other writers. I would never have gotten published without my writer friends and critique partners.

Being self published, did you find the responsibility and choices involved in cover art and fonts, etc. freeing and empowering, or a burden?

A little bit of both. I love the freedom and control I have. Many traditionally published authors have little or no say in the production of their books. Part of the reason I chose to self-publish was because I had a vision for my trilogy, and I didn’t want anyone messing it up.

The hard part for me is bearing the “What if?” burden. What if the books flop? What if they’re no good? Every author faces these fears, but I think it’s harder on self-publishers because we aren’t endorsed by the Powers That Be in New York. Many people don’t take indies seriously, which makes promotion and marketing difficult.

In your future ventures in the publishing world, what will you do differently? Why?

So far, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of managing the many the aspects of publishing (writing, revising, edits, more revisions, formatting final drafts, organizing reviews, promoting, developing marketing materials, etc.), but now that I’m close to finishing the trilogy, I don’t think the third book in the series will be ready by my projected publication date of July. The good news is, I’m self-publishing. My boss doesn’t mind if I’m a little late. 🙂 I’ll do my best to meet my self-imposed deadlines, but if I don’t make them, I don’t make them. Now that I’ve been through the process, I should be able to manage future books much better.

Outside of your love for whales, what’s one thing you would want your readers and fans to know about you?

There’s nothing special about me. I’m just a person who wrote some books. I have plenty of flaws, fears, and loud feelings. I’m not afraid to share them. What you see is what you get. 🙂

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, AndiKay!

Additional Notes

INHALE, an urban fantasy romance by Kendall Grey, is now available in paperback and e-book for Kindle (MOBI) and Nook (EPUB). INHALE is the first book in the JUST BREATHE trilogy. Kendall is donating all profits from the sale of the trilogy to programs that educate people about whales and the challenges they face. Watch the video to find out why: http://www.youtube.com/embed/YQfjxacis28

Kendall encourages interested readers to consider purchasing an e-book instead of a paperback. E-books save trees, cost considerably less, and bring in much more money for the whales.

Thank you for supporting INHALE, and most importantly, the whales that need our help.

Check out Inhale’s web page: http://www.justbreathenovel.com/Just_Breathe/The_Books.html

Read my review of Inhale here: https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/inhale-and-be-ready-to-hold-your-breath-a-lot-a-review/

Some of my interview questions have been known to have been inspired by http://riteshkala.wordpress.com/

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Inhale (And be ready to hold your breath, a lot) – A Review

February 8, 2012 at 10:39 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Title: Inhale

Author: Kendall Grey

Publisher: Howling Mad Press, LLC

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance

Length: 453 pages

Buy: http://justbreathenovels.com

I happened across Kendall Grey on Twitter  (kendallgrey1) not too long ago,  an exciting day for me because shortly after I was being sent a review copy of her book Inhale.  It came with many warnings: could be too graphic for you, rated R, etc.  I promised I’d give it a try, and frankly, despite the fact that she was correct on most counts (the girl knows her work, knows what it is) I still enjoyed it.

Grey laments in her blog post titled Bless My Heart:

Not everyone is going to like my book. Some people won’t get it. They won’t like my style or my voice. Others will say the language is too rough. There’s too much graphic sex. Not enough graphic sex. Too much back story, yet they don’t understand the world building. Too many stereotypes. Predictable. The plot has holes big enough to fly a space shuttle through.

Worse, some readers will say, “It was okay.” Or they won’t be able to finish it. *GULP* Twist the knife in a little harder, why don’t ya?

And what I’d like to tell her:  “Who cares?!”  I’m a reviewer who doesn’t like peoples’ books sometimes, I wrote a whole post about not liking Kostova’s ‘voice,’ I often get irritated at novels with too much graphic sex (The Outlander series, prior to this book, my one exception).  I admit that back story has a time and place, even though I’m a sucker for it.  Plot holes big enough to fly a space shuttle through are more my husband’s issue with life, not mine… But using stereotypes with purpose rather than laziness and character development are highly important to me.

Photograph by Jemma Milanovic used in the cover of “Exhale” to portray Gavin Cassidy

Grey, you stayed true to your vision, and that, I appreciate.  Your characters are believable, and your story engrossing and imaginative.  I’m not hooked on the genre, but I’ll definitely be reading more of your work.

After years of working in a bookstore and running the literature section, I see/hear the words “urban fantasy” or “romance” and I expect cheesy, terrible writing.  It’s snobbish, I know, but I just assume it will be  L.J. Smith with more adult content.  I agreed to review this book, however, after perusing Grey’s blog (kendallgrey.com) and discovering that she uses a lot of ‘colorful language’ in the realm of ‘pardon my French’, but her writing is quite good.  Plus, I’m a sucker for people willing to use the word “wafted,” it’s one of my favorites.

Reading Grey’s work reminded me exactly of how I felt when I read Twilight.  It’s not to my particular taste, I prefer my love stories of the Jane Austen variety and my fantasies J.R.R. Tolkien or Robin McKinley style.  It’s not something I want my daughter reading, but I read the thing in nearly one sitting and was captivated by the adventure and Grey’s multi-leveled worlds.  Just as I understood why the masses were maintaining an unhealthy obsession with Twilight, I’m actually shocked that Grey hasn’t got a larger cult following.  I’m surprised that the next installment in the Just Breathe series isn’t the most anticipated release since Eclipse hit the shelves in August of 2007.  I can think of about fifty regulars at my store that would be all over it if they knew about it.  (And yes, I plan to share that information with them.)

That being said: it’s far more adult than Twilight.  So, don’t go passing this around to twelve year old girls to devour; but if you’re an adult who likes to read paranormal romance, who reads purely to escape real life for two hundred pages (or for 453 pages in this case), Inhale is right up your alley.  Just like Grey knows what she writes, you know who you are… it’s worth it to you to go buy yourself a copy.

Right Whale original 5×7 mixed media illustration by Bryan Collins

Now, just because I’m not that person and I speed read through parts that seem like they are getting too hot and heavy (I’m a fan of my fast forward button in movies too), and maybe you’re not that person either, don’t be completely opposed to checking out Grey’s work.  Grey has thrown in some awesome stuff that steps outside the urban fantasy stereotype and gives us something to latch onto: Whales.  Grey’s love for whales has overpowered all the stuff that I don’t necessarily care for in these books and become something beautiful.  Referred to as a “word diddler and whale champion” in the author biographical blurb in the back of the book, the coolest thing about her and this new series is that All profits from sales of the JUST BREATHE Trilogy will be donated to whale education programs.  Not something I expected to read at the opening of an urban fantasy novel.  That in itself is worth tossing some money Grey’s way and picking up her book the first chance you get, even if you only intend to donate it to your local library for someone else to enjoy.

Visit JustBreatheNovels.com and browse through the series playlist, a little mood music while you read is always lovely.  Also check out: www.cetaceanresearchnetwork.com and www.facebook.com/KendallGreyAuthor.

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