Sunday, December 31, 2006

Music to read by...

It's ten p.m.. The minutes left in 2006 are ticking down, and I, for one couldn't be happier. Overall, it was a crappy year for me personally, and I'm looking forward to making some positive changes in the new year. I've got some ideas for the blog too, which will hopefully be interesting. But bear with me, because I've still got the husband at home (temporary unemployment), and it's hard to write with him around. He's constantly asking me what I'm doing, even though he has no real interest. I think he's nervous that I'm talking to guys, or something, even though I keep offering to show him the blog. Anyway, as you might have guessed we're having a thrilling New Year's Eve. I am slowly but surely recovering, but he's coming down with what I had, and he's curled up in the fetal position on the couch, shivering under a blanket and watching "Nacho Libre." Which seems pretty bad, by the way.

So I've been thinking about music. Do you like to listen to music while you read? Or do you find it too distracting? I love music, all kinds. But I can take it or leave it while reading. If I do listen, I like something mellow.

What makes a good romance reading soundtrack? Do you prefer the operatic schmaltz of Celine Dion or Josh Groban? Do you listen to Nu Metal (or whatever it's called) or Techno while following the adventures of leather clad vampires? Does some Schubert put you in the mood for a Regency?

There are certain songs which really evoke romance novels for me. They are not just romantic songs, it's just that something about them really reminds me of certain characters or plots. They just fit romances so well.

Some examples (links to lyrics where possible):

Misguided Angel--The Cowboy Junkies
Smoke and Ashes--Tracy Chapman
We Both Go Down Together--The Decemberists
Trouble--Ray LaMontagne
Save Me--Aimee Mann

Yeah, those would be on my "Romance Reading" playlist. Some other songs I find romantic:

I Believe (When I Fall in Love With You--Stevie Wonder
The Engine Driver--The Decemberists
Chariots Rise--Lizzie West
Lovers in a Dangerous Time--Barenaked Ladies
Ring of Fire--Johnny Cash

I've definitely got a mellow, "Adult Alternative" vibe going on. I'll stop here and turn it over to you. Comments Please! What do you listen to while reading? What songs scream "Romance" to you? Hair Metal Ballads? Sinatra Standards? Upbeat Boy Band numbers? I'm very curious to hear what others have to say.

Happy New Year to all!!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I dreamt of warm flesh and tossed cookies...

I actually read Mistral's Kiss by Laurell K. Hamilton almost a week ago, but then I got an upper respiratory infection for Christmas (not quite as nice as the laptop I got last year), and I've been in a fog since then. Every time
I tried to write this review my head felt like it would explode. Then again reading this book often had the same effect on me. If this review is not quite coherent, I blame it on my sickness and the muddling effect Laurell K.'s writing has on the brain. There will most definitely be spoilers ahead, and some meanness. I just can't help it. As I skimmed some of the book to prepare myself to write, I found myself giggling and shaking my head all over again. Don't read her books with a drink in hand. Spewing will likely occur at some point.

Now I have nothing against LKH as a person. On the contrary, I find her inane, somewhat incoherent pronouncements, TMI, and delusions of grandeur (see the notorious blog) rather amusing and refreshing. And she seems like quite the animal lover. I'm sure she's lovely and she has managed to land herself at #1 on the NYT bestseller list a number of times. But Christ on a Cracker, what a steaming pile of crap!!! I stand in awe.I want to just quote chunks to illustrate how shitty her writing is, but undoubtedly I will write for far too long as it is, so we'll skip it.

I read my first Anita Blake way back in 1998. I thought it was ok, but I didn't quite get what the fuss was. I didn't like Miss Anita all that much. I thought her a bit self-righteous and, for me, she crossed the line from spunky to annoying. And Jean-Claude was okay, but he always evoked a strange mix of Prince circa Purple Rain, and the lead singer of the Cult, in my mind. Not sexy.
So I read them a bit here and there, but didn't get truly sucked in until A Kiss of Shadows, the first installment of Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series. I don't know why this series grabbed me so much. Perhaps it was because of Doyle, the Queen's Darkness, and my favorite male character by LKH (also the only one Meredith has any chemistry with). Perhaps it was because Merry lacked Anita's need to moralize and justify every action. Perhaps it was because of Sholto, the guy with the tentacles that Merry almost gives a BJ to. Perhaps my Irish blood means I like all things Faerie. Anyhow, I got caught up in the adventures of Merry, an LA P.I. who is also a Faerie princess. These books take place in a universe where the Faerie made a treaty with Thomas Jefferson to live in America and so humans live alongside all sorts of fey creatures. Merry is forced by her aunt, the Unseelie Sidhe Queen, into a competition with her psycho cousin, Cel, to become the next ruler. She's got to conceive if she wants to be the queen. To that end, she's given a bunch of her aunt's guards, including the aforementioned Doyle (Doyle 4 king 4 eva!), to fuck. The sidhe are like the nobles of the Fey, and the Unseelie are the bad guys (although the Seelie seem like assholes too). These guys aren't little guys with wings, they're tall and supposedly hot, and in true LKH form, we are treated to endless descriptions of their hair and eyes.

The first books had mystery plots, but by the third it had pretty much descended into a sexfest. Plus LKH kept adding more and more guys, and who could keep track anymore? It went from like eight or nine to like, twenty. The time frame also slowed down, so the entire books would take place over the course of a night. I can barely remember anything from #4, Stroke of Midnight, except for one good Doyle/Frost/Merry scene. So now we're up to #5, Mistral's Kiss.

The book begins with the line, "I dreamt of warm flesh and cookies," and moves right into an endless, unintentionally hilarious sex scene. I mean, unless I was reading something wrong, Mistral literally falls through the door and onto Merry while she's doing it with some other guy, then he gets in on the act. That's pretty fricking funny. Then, through the power of Merry's magic va-jay-jay, all of them are transported naked into a magic forest. And then Merry's aunt, Queen Andais sweeps in and is mean to everybody and sweeps out. Then people are glowing and climbing trees or something. And having conversations and standing around naked. And meanwhile Merry still spread-eagle with two guys on her, with twigs digging into her back. And I'm wondering if anyone's ever going to get off. This is why I find LKH's "erotica" so not erotic. The scenes are so interminable, and there's so much other stuff going on that I get distracted by the details. I'm wondering how many of them are standing around, and where's that creepy little Kitto guy who wears the running shorts from the boy's department. Is he in the forest too? And Mistral almost bites off Merry's boob, and I'm wondering if he can dislocate his jaw to get one of her big jugs into his mouth. Oy, I'm getting dizzy reliving it all.

In a smart move on LKH's part, when Merry finally finishes, the freaky sex magic makes all the guys we don't give a crap about get swallowed up by trees and the ground and stuff. So we're left with Merry, Mistral, the drunk one, and characters that we have gotten to know, like Doyle (4eva!), Frost, and Rhys. And they wander around the forest (nekkid) trying to get back home. Then they end up in the realm of the Sluagh, which means Sholto! And tentacles! Yay! I like Sholto, and I've been waiting for four books to see how Hamilton writes tentacle sex. Yes, we finally have the scene, and yes, it was disappointing. Then the magic hoo-ha causes more freaky shit to happen, and everyone's running about naked and bloody and dirty, and all I can think about is all those schlongs flapping in the wind, then they pop out in LA. The End. No joke. I think there was a tiny bit of development in the story arc at the end, but I was feeling lightheaded by then. Like I am now, thinking about it.

This book was pretty much pointless, plotless shlock. However, it was more entertaining shlock than the two previous installments. Nothing happened, but it was less boring, and that's a good thing, right? I do still enjoy this series (probably because of all the unintentional funny). I'll probably keep up with it until we get more Merry/Doyle action, but I don't understand how long it can be dragged out. How many more guys can she screw? Get knocked up already! I'm not giving this one a grade, because it is beyond a grade.

See, I told ya, incoherent.

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Free Books

One of my favorite review blogs, Sanctuary's Finest is giving away free books in honor of the holidays. Isn't that cool? Head on over there to check out their fun reviews and commentary. And once again, Happy Holidays to all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

At Christmastime...

There's no need to be afraid,
At Christmastime,
We let in light,
And we banish shade...

I was quite pleased to hear my favorite Christmas song today, "Do They Know It's Christmas," by Live Aid. I admit, I had been feeling disgruntled by local radio's apparent abandonment of one of the best tunes evah. Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like Bono screeching, "Tonight Thank God it's them, instead of yeeeee-ooooou." Since it was fifty-something degrees I was able to open the windows, turn up the radio, and sing along loudly. Until the H-Bomb told me to stop that noise and put on "Bye Bye Bye." Much thanks to Margee for introducing him to boy bands. But I haven't heard "Christmas Wrapping", by the Waitresses yet, unbelievably. Yet I've heard Elvis' "Blue Christmas" about ten times? It's a sad state of affairs, New York radio.

I'm in a state of Christmas induced exhaustion. The only reading I've gotten done is some "The Office" Jim/Pam fanfiction. But don't tell anybody,'cuz it's kind of embarrassing. I haven't really read any fanfiction since I accidentally discovered the glorious world of Draco Malfoy/Ginny Weasley smut. That was an accident, I swear.

Anyhow, I'm unlikely to be around the next couple of days. So I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate (or don't celebrate, for that matter)! I leave you with some outtakes from a Christmas Card photo shoot. This year was not our best.

My husband decided to try and bribe them to sit, but then, of course, they wouldn't let go of the money.

Next week=The year in reading 2006. Oh, the excitement!

Friday, December 15, 2006


Perhaps I am just having a spacy moment, but I can't figure out how to add some text to the column at the side of my blog. I just want to finally put in the guide to my review ratings. It's not even links or anything. Could anyone give me a clue or point me in the right direction?

I am currently reading New Moon, the sequel to Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. It is painful so far, but good. I believe it was Tara Marie who mentioned that Meyer writes the first person very well. I totally agree. Our girl Bella is in a lot of pain right now, and I'm right there with her. I rilly, rilly hope that we don't have to wait until 2008 for the third installment.

If my last review was kind of crappy, it was because I was terribly distracted by a double shot of excellent holiday viewing: The Office (a whole hour!), and The O.C. (back from the crapper). Seriously, this show has had such a turnaround. I coulda told them that getting rid of Mishka Barton (as my pop insists on calling her) was a good idea. It was two hours of will-they or won't-they love. My love for Jim (sigh) and Pam knows no bounds, and Ryan and Taylor have way more chemistry than Ryan ever had with Marissa. I have a new TV night, methinks.

I heart Jim and Pam.

I'm starting to heart Ryan and Taylor. Who knew?

I really have nothing of interest to say. I'm just avoiding gift wrapping. I need to find a new icon thingy, I guess. Where'd she go?

Like Free Books? Want Free Books? Read Below. LOL

Copied from Mailyn's Blog:

It’s that time of year and you know what it means: gifts, gifts and lots of gifts! LOL. Well, your Twisted Kingdom hostesses caught the holiday spirit and have decided to give away 4 books to our lovely readers as a way to celebrate.

The four books are:

-Daughter of the Blood [Book One of the Black Jewels Trilogy] by Anne Bishop
-Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
-Archangel by Sharon Shinn
-Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

There are two ways to enter the contest:

1.You simply copy and paste this post, including our funky little banner below, on your blog.


2.Post just our contest banner with a link back to us.

Soon as you do this you then leave a comment in this sticky post so we can enter you in the drawing.

You have until Thursday December 21st so get to it and tell your friends!

Dance Chica, Kailana, Mailyn and Nath...your Twisted Kingdom twisted hostesses who wish you a healthy and happy holiday season!

I'm hoping to win the Shinn or Caine book. Go check out Twisted Kingdom. It features reviews of paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy books.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hungry Like the Wolf...

So I finally read A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole. I avoided this one at first, because I was sure it was more of the same: badass, hipster paranormal beings, soulmates, vampires, werewolves yadda, yadda, yadda. Plus, the hero was supposed to be really overbearing, and there was some "forced seduction" type stuff. Not my favorite. Plus, the cover. Oy, the cover. This cover makes me think of eighties videos. It makes me think of smoke machines and strobe lights. Like the guy's about to start swinging the woman around like they are competing to be the new couple on DanceTV.
(What random movie am I referencing?) But then it started to get quite a bit of attention and alot of it was good. Let me point out some reviews here,
here,and here. Somewhere along the way, it started to sound interesting. So I decided it was worth checking out.

I'm not really feeling up to summarizing, so here's the blurb:

A mythic warrior who’ll stop at nothing to possess her...
After enduring years of torture from the vampire Horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he’s waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy...
Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebb as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all consuming desire...
Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be...?

Yeah, so I liked this one. Liked it quite a bit. It's one of those books that had several elements that made me cringe, yet was just so compulsively readable. This shit was hot. Some writers just know how to get that sexual tension going. Man, I couldn't wait for these two to do it. Even when the hero, Lachlain, was being a dick and pushing himself on Emmaline Troy (his fated soulmate), I didn't mind it that much. I did a bit, but Cole knows how to write the soulmates thing, in my opinion. Lachlain was wary, angry and resentful to find that the mate that he had searched for for so long was a vampire (well, half vampire), but the author didn't overdo the hostility. The connection he felt for her was always clear, and his feelings towards her changed and deepened at a good pace. I found his intensity to be quite sexy. I know some other reviewers didn't like Emma too much, but I found her to be a nice change of pace. She was very timid, but able to stand up when the time came. At the same time she didn't suddenly morph into super woman. She was still a bit awkward and doofy. I could see why Lachlain would start to like her so much. I found the world of the Lore(this alt-universe) to be pretty interesting.
Now for the not-so-good. The slang/pop culture references were overdone. This is a particular pet peeve of mine. The attempt to make the characters sound hip or cool just seems so forced and has the opposite effect. I could do without the characters saying things like, "...I've got madskills [sic] going on...", "This skeeves me out," "Frau Badass", "Mate-Schmate..." Yadda, yadda, so on and so forth. "U-ee" "'Kay" I know people use slang in real life, but too much on the page just seems overly cutesy and lame. There were also a few too many Valkyries. They were kind of annoying and started to blend together a bit. But overall, this was an enjoyable and satisfying read. I give it a B. I'll definitely be looking for the next one, No Rest for the Wicked. This cover features another couple who may or may not be auditioning for featured dancers in a Pat Benatar video. BTW, even if you have no interest in reading this book, I encourage you to check out Jane's video review at Dear Author. It's a hoot.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Christmastime is here...and everything seems to be insane. Or, more correctly, my kids are fucking insane. The H-Bomb is 3 1/2 now, and totally clued into the whole Santa/toy equation, and he neeeeeeds everything that he sees. This is why I love PBS. No commercials. Seriously, his head may explode by the time we actually hit December 25. The Destroyer, on the other hand, is pretty clueless, but I think the fever's catching. She's just off the wall, and if she's not endlessly screaming "Mam," "Mam" over and over, she's hitting her head against the wall or the floor, just to watch Mommy shriek in horror. Plus, the hubby's home and hogging the computer. All this means I barely have time to blog hop, much less comment or write my own posts.

I have been reading, though. I'm on a vamp kick. I finished Vamps and the City by Kerrelyn Sparks. This is the second in a series, though the first one that I've read. I read the first couple of pages in the library and thought, "This'll do. Looks like a cute vampire romcom." And that pretty much sums it up. This is the kind of book you read when you're waiting for something really good to come out, and you just want something to pass the time.

The heroine is Darcy Newhart, a former tv reporter who was turned five years before. She hates being a vampire and doesn't think much of the vampire world. But for some reason, she was in the harem of Roman Draganesti, the hero of the first book in the series, who is the head of the "good" faction of vampires, known as the Vamps. Which is kind of dorky. If you were a vampire, would you rather be known as one of the Vamps, or the Malcontents (the bad guys)? The Malcontents is a much cooler gang name. Anyhow, I don't know why this guy had a harem, but now that he's married a human, Darcy and the other ladies are out on their butts. So Darcy manages to talk the head of the vampire television network into giving her a reality show, in which the former harem ladies choose the sexiest man on Earth. As a twist, she decides to secretly enter some humans in the competition. Adam Something (oops, I already returned the book) is a human with psychic abilities who is part of a top secret government team called the Stake-Out team (c'mon now!), which hunts vampires. Adam is a dedicated vampire slayer, until he spots Darcy, and falls head over heels in lust, though he can't believe she's a Vamp. So when the Stake-Out team (groan) catches wind of this show, Adam gets himself on it. Love and kinda boring hijinks ensue.

This book reminds me of the vampire romances of Lyndsey Sands: nice, but bland characters, bland love story and a few small chuckles. It was okay, but nothing special. Darcy and Adam were okay, but I just found their story to be boring. No sparks (Ugh! Bad pun.) It was just they see each other, they fall in lust at first sight, then all of a sudden they're in lurve, but they can't be together because she's a vampire, blah, blah blah. I just didn't feel the tension or urgency. The romance, y'know what I mean? There was nothing new here, no interesting twist on the vampire mythology. It felt very by the numbers to me. I almost didn't finish, not because I hated it, but just because I was bored. The only thing that kept me reading was the reality tv show scenes with the other vampire harem ladies. The other ladies are firmly rooted in their respective pasts: a Medieval princess, a Civil War era Southern Belle, a Regency Miss, among others. They have no concept of an independent life. They provided the amusing moments as they finally enter the twenty first century and learn to take control of their own destinies. I wanted to find out what would happen to them.

This wasn't a bad book, just a bland one. If you like light vampires, or Lyndsey Sands, you might enjoy it. It just didn't do it for me, because I couldn't get into the love story. But next up, we have A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole. You wanna talk tension and urgency? That one's got it in spades.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More Star-Crossed than Buffy and Angel...

So I've been all fired up to blog and...nothing. I feel like I haven't had anything to say about anything. I haven't even really been reading. But I've finally kicked the doldrums with Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.. This Young Adult novel (the author's debut) made a quite a splash in the review journals (SLJ, Booklist etc.) awhile ago. But I gave it a pass because I was burned out on vampires. But then Mailyn luuuurved it, and so did Dancechica, and since we have similar tastes, and they were so darned enthusiastic, I decided to check it out after all. It took awhile, but I finally read it. And ladies, you were certainly justified in your enthusiasm!

Bella Swan has just moved back to Forks, Washington, the home of rain and little else, to live with her dad. It's a big change from Phoenix, where she was raised by her mother, and she's not happy about it. But her mother has remarried a minor-league baseball player, and wants to travel with him. Her first day at Forks High School, Bella notices a group of five incredibly beautiful people, sitting there, not eating, not really interacting with anybody. Her eyes lock with one of them, a gorgeous bronze haired god. After lunch, Bella goes to Bio class. As luck would have it, the only open seat is next to the beautiful boy, whose name is Edward Cullen. To Bella's shock and dismay, Edward reacts to her with barely contained revulsion. Still, she finds herself increasingly fascinated by him. Something about him is very different. Then one day, Bella is almost hit by a truck. Edward saves her. This starts them on a wonderful and difficult journey that the two of them are powerless to resist.

I loved this book. So much. So, so much. It was very well done, and really stands out from the vampire crowd. Yup, Edward's a vampire. I'm not giving anything away there, they tell you that on the back cover. But these vampires are straight up predators. It is difficult for them to be around humans at all. The thirst is overwhelming. For Edward, Bella's scent is particularly enticing. He finds it almost impossible to be around her without attacking her. But he can't stop being intrigued. Compounding this is the fact that she is one of the few people whose thoughts he cannot hear. Edward doesn't want to go near Bella, because he doesn't want to hurt her, yet he grows increasingly fascinated by her. This push-pull that Edward feels makes the developing love story both exhilarating and painful, truly star-crossed. He is aloof and sarcastic, but he's not just a tormented, broody guy. It is always made very clear that there is a real looming threat of Edward losing control and killing Bella. For Bella's part, the attraction is obvious: Edward is intelligent,amusing, different and gorgeous. She goes down for the count quickly. There's no sex in this book, but it is hot. There is just so much tension, as they try to figure each other out, as Edward tries to resist Bella and as they fall head over heels for each other. Bella is only seventeen, and though Edward is a hundred-plus, it wasn't too weird. I got the impression that Edward had had only very limited contact with anyone other than his "family", and no one had ever made him feel like Bella did. So there is that whole euphoric, almost ridiculously passionate "first love" thing going on, but at the same time he can barely be near her. It's awesome and torturous, and had me hook, line and sinker, as I waited with bated breath to find out what would happen next. Whether they would even get to smooch, much less get it on, godammit!

This was a great read. I didn't want to put it down, except for those pesky kids. And husband. And work. Great characters (secondary characters too), great love story, and it really moved. Luckily, there's a sequel out, New Moon, currently on reserve at the library. There's going to be a third, too. Squee! Unfortunately, we have to wait until October 2007. Sigh. Oh well, it's great to find a new author, with so many of the authors I love seeming to deteriorate lately.