Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ritual of Proof by Dara Joy

So I was looking at this fun blog and this particular entry, besides being hilarious, made me curious about the book. So I went to Amazon and the huge amount of highly diverging reviews, made me even more curious. As I was off to the library with the kiddies later that morning, I was pleased to find the book in the hardcover version, which, I must note, was quite attractive and tasteful. Anyhoo, this was my first foray into Sci-Fi romance (except for an Ellora's Cave, which was all about the kink really--there are lots of bdsm planets, it seems). And it was...interesting and pretty clever. ROP (as I will call it) takes place on a planet where, it is insinuated, a ship of radical feminists crashed and proceeded to settle a civilization based upon regency romance novels except with the traditional gender roles/balance of power reversed. Hmmm, Yes, Okay. Well, I could buy a group of radical feminists wanting to destroy traditional society and recreate a new one, and I can even buy that they might want to subjugate men, particularly if they were those mean 70's Andrea Dworkin type feminists, but Regency? Please. Why would they recreate a society with such a rigid social hierarchy? I guess they weren't Marxist Feminists, because they sure don't care about social equality. Although, I do find it amusing that the old docs in the archives are romances. Anyway, shall we press on? The plot is the spirited young lady chafing against societal restrictions married off(against her will?) to the strong yet fair aristocrat who can take her in hand. Can they love and live together in harmony? Except of course, the young untried lady is a man and the older, more experienced peer is a woman. Whatever, it was fun. I really did like the hero, Jorlan. I didn't find him wimpy or overly submissive. I thought that Joy did a good job of making him strong, yet still be "the wife." Green, the heroine was a little annoying and arrogant, but then I think that it's my own gender assumptions that made me uncomfortable with her. By the way, the reviews on Amazon are fascinating to read. So many readers were so uncomfortable with this premise. It seems as though romance readers want traditional gender roles and male alphas. In their books, that is. I found this to be an unusual and entertaining read. It does require a strong suspension of disbelief (don't get me started on the "male hymen", that shit must chafe in one's trousers), a tolerance for dumb sci-fi speak (klees, kloos, mack-mock etc.), and a bit of open-mindedness. I must say, despite the intriguing premise, this book didn't say anything to deep about gender. The role reversals were too pat. For a fantasy world in which females rule, and it's a lot more interesting, read the "Blood Jewels" trilogy by Anne Bishop. They are more straight up fantasy, but there is also some romance. And they rock. So , so hard.

P.S. I was curious to see if Joy had placed any other novels in this world so I went to her website. It seems that Ms. Joy is tied up in some sort of litigation with her publisher, unfortunately. But check out this incredible cover. Ha. Cat did get my tongue indeed.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Colds Suck

Seriously. I feel like I'm dying and will never feel better again, which always happens to me by fourth day of a cold. They always turn into sinus infections. The pain, the aches...I feel like someone's been pounding on my head and also like there's enough inner pressure that my eardrums are gonna pop.
Banged out of work today. Just couldn't do it. Worked a full day in YA yesterday. It wasn't too busy and the regular librarian hadn't left me anything so I read. Re-read "Blood and Chocolate" by Annette Curtis Klause. If you like werewolves, read this. It doesn't matter how old you are, it rocks. I just love Gabriel. Also read "The Book of Mordred" by Vivian VandeVelde. I'm medieval history wonk, and I love any take on Camelot. I also love villains/antagonists/antiheroes. This left me a bit cold, though. The description was great. It was in three sections, narrated by three different women in Mordred's life: a widow named Alayna, the sorceress Nimue and Alayna's daughter Kiera who possesses strong magical powers. Kiera's section was the longest, and she was the strongest character by far. Perhaps it would have been best if she alone had narrated. I never really got a handle on the other characters' feelings and motivations. Specifically Mordred, which was particularly annoying. So for contrast, I pulled out "I am Mordred" by Nancy Springer, a quick read that I have never gotten around to. Different take, very sad, cool ending. I'm looking forward to Sherrilyn Kenyon's new Camelot series, interesting concept. It will piss me off if it sucks:Look here for more info .

Tonight I'll attempt "Blow Me Down" by Katie MacAlister. I like her Dark Ones and the Aisling Grey, but I've been eh about her contemporaries, and I'm apprehensive about this one for some reason. Well we shall see.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The best show that'll probably get cancelled on me

I love Veronica Mars. I love it soooo much. I'm not a big TV watcher, a lot of it I could take or leave but there's always one or two shows that I'm obsessed with that invariably get cancelled. Right now it's Veronica Mars. So well written. So tightly written. Nothing on this show is carelessly done. Things that seem like throwaway lines or characters turn out to be important. If something seems off, that's because it is, not just because of crappy or careless production or writing. It's a real treat for a mystery fan to watch and absorb and wonder what it all means. Whodunit? Why? Plus the show is really well cast and almost uniformly well-acted. Plus easy on the eyes, not that I'm horrible for drooling over guys that are supposed to be in high school or anything. Last night's episode was awesome, awesome I tell you. Anyway, hopefully more people will start watching it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The "WTF? " Cover

So one day I walked into the bookstore and I picked up this book.
Having already passed over "Dark Lover" and something by Lynn Viehl (I hoped that's right), I picked it up and was like "Oh, another one. Enough already. And look at this stupid cover, they were really phoning it in with this one." And then I see in the corner "A Zebra Regency Romance." Huh? I look back down at the stupid cover people and flip over the book. The premise actually sounds pretty intriguing see blurb), and I really do have a hard time resisting vampire books so I bought it. And read it. It was ok. I loved the hero, but the heroine, one of those bluestocking types, started to get on my nerves a lot. Some of the secondary characters were fun. Part of the problem is that I don't read traditional Regencies, although I've read plenty of historicals that take place during the period, so I'm not real familiar with the style. I kept waiting for the sex. It was a bit by the numbers: Sexy, brooding hero--check. Equally brooding and sexy vamp buddies--check. Telepathic connection between hero and heroine--check. I did prefer that one by Teresa Medeiros that came out recently, but it's worth a try particularly if you like Regencies.

But the cover? Readers of Romance are often treated to a variety of absurd and downright insane covers, but this cover is noteworthy for having absolutely nothing to do with the book. What is with the dimpled, square-jawed hero's shit eating grin? "Look Ma, no fangs." The tousled hair, the tux, he looks like he's headed to a charity auction to become some repressed bachelorette's dream date. Definitely not a regency era Romanian count. Whatever. Is the heroine supposed to look like Samantha from "Bewitched?" She looks nothing like the frizzy haired, John Lennon specs wearing heroine. And nothing, nothing about this cover says Regency. Well, except the writing in the corner. It looks like the cover for a cheesy chick lit. This cover totally burns my ass. If you can't find something suitable, just stick a picture of a house on the cover or something. Someone was feeling pretty lazy at Zebra that day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Dark Lover" Love

I have to say in the past couple of months, I have experienced a number of reading disappointments, beginning with Sins of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon, continuing with the 2 most recent installments of MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series (and others) and I was even a bit meh about It Happened One Autumn. I got all these gift cards for my birthday and I was increasingly angry that I was throwing them away. I had passed over J.R. Ward's Dark Lover, because, like others, I felt "been there, done that." Then I read the review at "All About Romance" (let me attempt to link it here). Sounded really promising, so I ran out and got it. Loved it. Lurrved it. Seriously, enjoyed it more than any new title I've read this year. I really like Ward's writing style--I liked the pacing and the way she switched between characters. Also not too romance-y, yes there are hard, hot, haunted vampires in black leather but the verbal drooling over their spectacular sexiness was kept to a minimum. Likewise, the sex was hot, yet straightforward, nary a turgid member in sight. More Kelley Armstrong than Sherrilyn Kenyon, although I don't feel that she is very similar to Armstrong. I just feel that like this book could be placed in categories other than romance. Well, almost. I am still a bit shy of recommending it to my husband, because, although there are things I though he would enjoy, I still think the romance element was too strong for his taste. I really liked the characters, am waiting for Zsadist's book desperately (Did I mention that I like tortured anti-heroes, the more tortured the better? Is it the sadist or the masochist in me?)
About the name thing: I kinda dug their names. It worked for me because the vampire were presented as a separate race with their own language, religion and societal customs. Warriors are a particular class within their hierarchy, they are bred and raised to be part of that class, so I saw the names as titles almost particular to that class. And look, I later found an interview w/Ward saying almost the same thing: look here.
Go me! Anyway, if you wanted to like the Dark Hunters but didn't, you might like this, and if you do like the Dark Hunters you'll probably like this too. Try it, definitely.
I totally need to figure out the cut thing, you know the one. I'm still learning. Well my kids really don't want me to write right now, but next: the book I originally passed DL over for.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Four and a half years and counting...

Long before we had children, before we were married even, my future dh and I discussed the whole kids issue. I highly recommend this, because I know so many people who came in for nasty surprises when children come into the picture. Anyway, as on so many other issues, we were highly compatible, and I made it very clear that when I had children I only wanted to work part-time. I won't go into or defend my reasons why, it's something I feel strongly about for me and my family only, everybody else's decisions are up to them. I am very lucky to be in a profession with a number of part-time, decently paying opportunities. So here we are, 6 years and two kids later, and things are working out ok. I love being home with my kids, having worked out the issues of feeling like I must keep house like Marie Barone and feeling the guilt of whether or not I'm "wasting" my degrees and that I'm not contributing enough to the family bank account. And I've got a great part-time job. But the clock is ticking...after my daughter was born 6 months ago, we decided that I would go back to work f/t in five years, for benefits pretty much, so that my dh can try some new things himself. And it took awhile to occur to me, why don't I use this time to get back to writing? I really haven't done any since college, and this is my opportunity to write the great American novel! Or at least a halfway decent romance novel! And how much work can two small children be! Just kidding about that last one. But really it's better than two school-age children, with after school activities and my own school job (most likely) with all that comes with that. Plus home, husband and dogs. So this is somewhat of a exercise to get me writing again regularly, to get the rusty gears turning, as it were. I've been doing a lot of thinking, but not a lot of doing, ya know what I mean? So we shall see how it goes.
And next time I'll start writing about books. Because that was my original intent.

And away we go...

Wading into the blogging fray. Not sure how I feel about the title. Too cutsey? Cliched? Lame? I'm not real good at titles, but I wanted to come up with something that gave a clue as to what this blog is about. You can view my profile for more info on me, no need to repeat, but I plan to spend most of my time discussing writing and reading. Specifically writing and reading romances, because that's what I spend most of my time reading. More specifically paranormal romances. I am a paranormal junkie (and I wasn't even a Goth! But my best friend was). Movies, TV, books, I will try them all. But I hadn't really read romance since high school, when I would steal my mom's--more on that some other time. Then one day at work in the fall of 2003, I was looking at one of the review journals, and there was this whole column on paranormal romance. Since there's nothing I love more than a tortured anti-hero in need of redemption, what could freaking be better than a supernatural,torturedl anti-hero. And whee, Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon was in the library, and that night a love affair was born. Now I've branched out a bit, but I always find myself reading paranormals complusively, even when they suck. Even when they suck, I kinda like them too. But as a former English major and aspiring writer (again, more on that some other time), I tend to read very critically. And I don't know anyone else who reads this stuff. Thus this will be the place for my snark, rants, and yes, the love. Because romance blogs are the first place where I've come across some really good, intelligent, funny commentary on romance. Gotta love the love!