I have been challenged by few of my friends on Facebook to name 10 books that changed or influenced my life. However, I have so many books, stories and series that changed or influenced my life that I cannot possibly only name 10. Therefore, below is my attempt to limit this list to only the top books, stories or series that changed or influenced me throughout my life so far!
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
This was actually one of my Mom’s favorites. It influenced her so much that she made a gift of this book to me as an adult. My Mom told me, when she gave me that gift, it was to remind me that there is always a silver lining no matter how dire things are. Now that she has passed away, this story is even more precious to me and will continue to remind me of her for years to come.
Poky Little Puppy A Little Golden Book
This was a favorite story when I was in elementary school. I am not sure how it changed or influenced me, but I read and re-read this book so much that I wore the binding out and pages fell out of the book.
Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene
I was first introduced to these stories in elementary school, by the school librarian. The first story of the series I read was The Hidden Staircase. These were first set of stories that I became obsessed with and just had to read!
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
I first read an excerpt of this story in Middle School as part of an overall reading assignment in the textbook. However, it was the scene where Mr. Collins proposed to Elizabeth and her response to that proposal. The character of Elizabeth was just so powerful in that short scene that I just had to find out more about her and her life. It influenced me to seek out the novel and of course all of the other iterations and adaptations.
Once and Always by Judith McNaught
This is my very first adult historical romance novel. The story, characters and the steamy romance scenes really caught my attention. For a long time, this is the historical romance story I used to measure all the other stories I read in the same genre!
LONG, TALL TEXANS SERIES by Diana Palmer
This series has been a part of my life since 1988 and I mentioned that this was one of my favorite series before. I bought the first story in the series, Calhoun, with money that I earned working part time at a local Kmart store. I was so proud that I was able to not only read such an amazing story with great characters, but that I was able to buy it new with my own money!
Mallory-Anderson Series by Johnanna Lindsey
This is another series that I have mentioned before and has been a part of my life for over 25 years. The first story in the series, Love Only Once, introduced my favorite male character, James Mallory, and I was NEVER the same since.
Legacy by Jayne Ann Krentz
This is the first story that I found by one of my favorite authors, Jayne Anne Krentz. I found this at a used book store one Saturday afternoon. The book was so good that I went to find all her previous books. In addition, because all the other books were just as good as the first, Jayne Ann Krentz became a must read and buy author from that time on.
Flirting With Trouble by Cathie Linz
This is my first signed book by the author! I met the author through an online Bulletin Board while I was in College. The members of the Bulletin Board decided to have a meet up in Cathie’s home town. Not only did I get to meet this amazing author and have this book signed, but it found a life long friend as well.
A Night In the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
This story is one that my husband and I re-listen to every year during the month of October for Halloween. Each time we listen to it, it feels like brand new all over again. In addition, we have the rare audio version of this story narrated by the author himself!
And, but definitely not least…
Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
I have mentioned this series before. Every single story in the Vorkosigan Saga constantly changes and influences me, even in small ways. However, if I had to choose one book from this amazing series to list it would be Shards of Honor!
It is my honor to reveal the cover for Tethered, a science fiction romance novella, coming from Breathless Press 25th July, by author, friend (full disclosure) AND fellow Fangirl, Pippa Jay!
She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?
For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.
For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.
Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?
A thrill of excitement shivered down her spine as she backed away a few steps with Zander following. He shrugged off his formal outer robes, and for the first time she could appreciate the broad expanse of his chest, the close-fitting fabric stretched over well-defined muscles. It appeared he hadn’t allowed his physique to slacken, despite leaving the Galactic Commission.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
Zander spread his hands in an open gesture to say that he was.
So why is he just standing there like a defunct Manikin instead of poised to fight?
Tyree took her combat position and Zander matched her, just as the Manikin had done. She’d never fought a human in combat practice before. This should be interesting.
She sprang forward and aimed two rapid punches at his face. Zander evaded both with a speed and grace totally out of proportion to his bulk. Her third he blocked with little effort, and she stepped back to reassess her strategy. But only for an instant.
A quick step forward and she lashed upward with her foot, snapping his head back. Zander staggered but didn’t fall. Her second kick failed as he grabbed her ankle and jerked her off balance. She twisted as she dropped and caught him hard in the knee. Zander collapsed. Both rolled aside, and then jumped up to face each other again.
Tyree bit back a laugh as they exchanged blows, each faster than the last. Zander blocked or evaded most, but not all. His skill almost matched hers, yet his defenses were just a fraction too slow. Each move she made tested his reach, his reflexes and his stamina until she could sense him struggling a little.
Time for the kill.
She floored him with a kick to the chest, the full weight of her augmented density behind it, but as she moved in to finish the fight he dove into her. Tyree landed on her back hard enough to drive the breath from her lungs.
Zander had her pinned to the ground. She bucked but couldn’t shift him. The triumphant smile on his face sent rage blazing through her gut. With hardly a whisper, she Misted out and went through him. Golden warmth filled her for a second before she pulled free. Zander pushed to his feet and spun to meet her, but she cranked up her molecular density and punched him hard in the chest. He collapsed, gasping and coughing. In one fluid movement she sat astride him at full density, and the air whumphed out of his lungs. She pinioned his arms with her hands, her face hovering mere centimeters above his.
As her breathing slowed to normal, a huge grin split her face. She’d made a vow to herself to jump him, and she’d done it. Perhaps it was childish, but it warmed her heart.
“Your…reputation…is well deserved,” he gasped.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” she complimented him. He’d fought well, but perhaps not quite with the determination—and certainly not the desperation—of most opponents she’d faced. “For a human.”
“Thank you. Perhaps we could try this again tomorrow?”
Tyree laughed. As much as he could irritate the hell out of her, he was equally amusing. “If you want to spend most of your morning on the floor…”
He gazed up at her with that easy smile, making no effort to struggle. Most humans, without the influence of her pheromones and the distraction of her naked body writhing above theirs, would not have been so trusting. So compliant. She found herself staring at his mouth. What would it be like to kiss him, without the use of her talents? Would it be as satisfying? As sensual? The warmth of him, the firmness of his body beneath hers, sent heat spiraling through her abdomen.
“Perhaps you could let me up now?” His words jerked her from such musings. What the hell was she thinking?
Pippa Jay’s bio:
After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, like I am, she blogs at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), two self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply and The Bones of the Sea), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).
You would think the fourth book in a humorous romance series wouldn’t require a great deal of research. But you would be wrong.
The story begins with Trent almost raping the woman he loves, certain if they make love, she’ll forgive him. Fortunately, his driver and half-brother Sam pulls him from the car, tosses him to the sidewalk and drives off.
But this takes place in NYC. I know from experience, sidewalks are no place to be lying about. NYC pedestrians are like mindless, determined marching ants. So I did a bit of research and discovered more people die ‘walking’ than while driving in NYC.
Next, I had a priest ask Trent if he needs help. He asks for an exorcism. The priest takes him back to St Patrick’s Cathedral, thus requiring me to do a great deal of research on the church. Upon listening to Trent’s confession, he determines Trent does not require an exorcism (saving me from having to research that), his problem is he makes bad decisions. (That is fully documented in books 1-3, so I don’t have to prove that.)
Determined to become a better man, Trent fakes his suicide, gets a new face & identity, and follows his brother Sam to Iowa. This caused a waterfall of research. First, faking his suicide: Trent chooses the GW Bridge to pretend jump off, planning to walk off the bridge & flag a taxi to the airport where his transportation to Texas awaits him. His original plan was simple, but it would have never worked. Fortunately, he shares it with his butler, who calls in an expert to help with a better plan, and all that required research.
Once he lands in Texas, he’s taken to a plastic surgeon who alters faces for people wishing to avoid recognition. (The night time clientele are mostly criminals and the pay is lucrative.) I didn’t bother trying to prove such doctors exist because a) Doctors have God complexes and do what they want and b) it’s Texas, the most rebellious state in the union. Trust me, there is a doctor in Texas who will redo a face without any documentation that it occurred.
Instead, I researched what could realistically be done to change a face and body. Turns out there’s quite a lot. They can even permanently turn blue eyes brown. The changes between Trent’s old face and new are entirely possible.
After recovering, Trent finds where his brother has run off to and goes there as well, in hopes, now that Sam won’t know who he is, they might be able to become friends. Sam’s the sheriff of the small town in Iowa. He asks Trent to convince Leroy to stop shooting pigeons in the town park. The lead rain is going to kill someone. (I researched ‘celebratory fire’ (shots fired in the air) and discovered people have died when those bullets return to earth.) So lead rain is no laughing matter.
I choose Iowa for my story because I knew they had recently voted to allow blind people to carry guns in public. It sounded like a lax gun policy state to me. So I dug deeper into their laws to find out just how much trouble Leroy can get into. I came up with a legal way for blind Leroy to shoot pigeons with an AKA 47 rifle without breaking any laws. More disturbing, I discovered 12 year olds can go hunting without any adult supervision.
I had to learn how to make braised lamb because Trent ordered it off the menu and then asked Dani why it took so long to make.
I discovered the many diseases you can get from a blowjob, because the local prostitute pretty well poxed the whole town since no one realized you could get STDs from a blowjob.
I learned what bung was and how it tastes so similar to calamari when fried that you cannot tell the difference. (Bung is pig rectums) Trent self-induced vomiting when he found what ‘poor man’s calamari’ was. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten Bung labeled as calamari imported in from China. (That’s where most of US Bung gets sent.) If so, it really does taste like calamari.
I researched the weather so while Trent, Dani and Leroy huddle in the basement during a hurricane warning, Leroy could tell Trent how many tornadoes they typically get in a year and talk about the F5 that struck in the past.
Then there were financial issues: Average income per person in my town ($27K and that’s including a major bump from the rich millionaires who have bought up the gorgeous Victorian mansions.) Minimum wage: $7.25. Pay rate for an incredibly dangerous job in a slaughter house: $8-$12/hr.
I reviewed the typical commercial loan clauses so I could realistically put Dani’s bar in danger of being taken from her, despite her business is doing better than ever. (Commercial loans and home loans are very different things. If you sign a commercial contract, whatever it says is what goes. There is no recourse nor protection from unreasonable covenants. Always hire a contract lawyer before signing a business loan.)
I checked to see if Nebraska was still allowing people to return their teenagers to the state’s care because one of Cougar’s girlfriends was thinking about dropping off his 2 yr old son she got stuck with. (No can do. Nebraska rewrote the law to only allow 1-3 day old babies to be dropped off.)
I had to research the symptoms of an allergic reaction to penicillin so Trent can get very ill. (When Sam slaps him awake, Trent chides his brother to be nice to him, because he’ll feel bad if Trent dies.)
I didn’t research my diatribe over the outrageous hospital costs charged to the poor. I wrote that section from personal experience.
I had to see how fast a couple in love had to wait to get married. (3 days)
And I had to assess the drinking laws to see who can work in a bar. Teens can sell beer, but can’t drink it until they are 21.
Oh, and the mafia has been in Iowa as long as it has been in Chicago.
But I think I’ve made my point. I did a lot of research. For some reason, my characters seem to go out of the way to do extraordinary things that require a great deal of fact checking. And then, despite all my diligence, I get slammed for being over the top and the situations implausible. It’s most frustrating.
Climbing Out of Hell
Book 4 of the series
A Long Road to Love
Billionaire Trent Lancaster has destroyed his relationship with the only woman who ever loved him. Now we discover the full truth of what happened.
He actually had reasons for his behaviors.
Still, there is no going back. Trent has lost Carrie forever, but he would rather die than marry Coco, so he does just that. Trent gives away most of his possessions, fakes his death, and starts over with a new face and a better attitude in a small town in Iowa where his half-brother Sam is sheriff.
Losing his true love has fundamentally broken Trent to his core. His only chance for happiness is to become the better man Carrie had always seen inside him.
True change is not easy. Can Trent grow up and become a man we can love?
Sam burst into the kitchen, frowned at Trent, then focused on Dani. “Leroy is at it again. I thought you said you were going to hide the damn thing?”
“I did. But there aren’t many places one can hide an AK-47 rifle.”
“Well, you hid it worth shit because it’s raining lead again at the downtown square!”
She gripped her head as if it might explode.
“What’s the problem?” Trent asked.
Sam rolled his eyes. “Iowa passed a law allowing blind people to carry guns in public. So her grandfather, who is blind as a bat, sits on a bench in the square and shoots his AK into the trees.”
“What’s he trying to shoot?”
“Pigeons,” Sam and Dani answered at once. She glared him into silence and continued her reply. “He likes pigeon soup. A Pakistani doctor told him it would prevent strokes.”
“Well, he’s giving me a stroke,” Sam snapped. “You have to make him stop!”
“I’ve talked to him until I’m blue in the face. He won’t listen to me. Most of the time he thinks I’m three-years old. Who listens to a three-year-old?” She threw her hands up in frustration and turned back to the grill.
Trent didn’t care for the way Sam pushed Dani. Grandparents were impossible to boss around…at least his had been. “Why don’t you talk to him?’
Sam released a hurricane of air. “Because the mayor told me to stay away from him, since he is not breaking any laws, and any attempt on my part could result in a lawsuit against the town.” He eyed Trent. “You should talk to him.”
“Sam, Trevor’s been in town an hour. You know Gramps doesn’t trust people right off.”
“Neither do you, yet here he sits, like an old friend, watching you cook him dinner.”
She rescued the burgers off the grill, slapped them both on buns, and shoved one at Sam. “This is your hamburger. Trevor is holding out for braised lamb.”
“Point still stands. Look, I think he can do the job. I intended to hit him with a ticket but he was so nice I sent him to you instead. He’s a likable guy. Let’s send him out and see if he can stop this madness.”
“Then I’m shutting this bar down for safety violations.”
She stared at him in shock. “What violations?”
“Don’t worry. Mr. Olsen will find something. He owes me big time after last night’s poker game.”
Trent stood up. “Sam, you’re digging yourself into a hole. Your initial solution was excellent, and frankly I’m honored you think so well of me. I’ll go talk to him right now. Just tell me how to get to Pigeonville.”
Sam grinned and slapped him on the back as he led him out of the kitchen. “Way to man up. Seriously, I’ll owe you one if you can get the gun away from Leroy and bury it six feet under.”
Trent just hoped being a nice guy didn’t get him buried six feet under as well.
Released May 1, 2014
Book Four of the series:
A Long Road to Love
Climbing out of Hell
“Easily, the best of the series!”
Other books in the A Long Road to Love series
Worst Week Ever
“Love this book and couldn’t stop laughing from beginning to end.” 5 stars – Alves – Amazon
Oh Stupid Heart
“Be warned though, this book is completely different from The Worst Week Ever. Yes, there is still humor, dry wit, situations that you would think…NOT AGAIN but this one humanizes Trent more.” 5 stars – Brian’s Mom – Amazon
Coming to Reason
Once again, Ms. O’Connor has written a brilliant book about the complexities of relationships, good and bad. Again, to me, the book is the best break up book EVER and it left my heart singing in the end. Best.Book.Ever…
Other Books by Liza O’Connor
Liza lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.
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Worst Week Ever
Oh Stupid Heart
Coming to Reason
#AtoZBlogChallenge Topic: Kenshin & Kaoru
Below are some of my favorite pics of this couple:
From the manga series
From the anime series
From the live action movie series
Today is Valentines Day and the most popular romantic stories seem to be about star-crossed couples. These couples have relationships that are often thwarted by outside forces and usually, end tragically. Some of the star-crossed couples in fandom are:
1) Anakin & Padme from the Star Wars prequel trilogy
2) Obi-Wan & Satine from Star Wars The Clone Wars
3) The Doctor & Rose from the Doctor Who episode, Doomsday
4) Spike & Julia from the anime, Cowboy Bebop
5) Romeo & Juliette from the various iterations of Shakespeare’s play Romeo & Juliette
6) Jack & Rose from the movie, Titanic
7) Kenshin & Tomoe from Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal
Yesterday, I posted my 10 favorite romantic couples from Anime. Today, I am listing my 10 favorite couples from a wide variety of other fandoms.
1) Han & Leia from the original Star Wars trilogy
2) Westley & Buttercup from The Princess Bride
3) Rick & Kate from the hit ABC TV series, Castle
4) Darcy & Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice
5) Cecil & Rosa from the RPG game Final Fantasy IV
6) Lee & Amanda from the 80’s TV show, Scarecrow & Mrs King
7) Andrew & Sydney from the movie, The American President
8) Roger & Eve from the classic Hitchcock Thriller, North By Northwest
9) Izark & Noriko from manga From Far Away
10) Richard & Bunny from the classic romantic comedy Desk Set