Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The month of March on my Anne Taintor calendar has the caption, "She Liked Imaginary Men Best of All." (See image here.) Sometimes I think that's not too far off.

Monday, February 26, 2007

More bragging about bargains...

It can be really nice working in a wealthy neighborhood. People must read books, then just drop them in the library donation box. My mom bought a new Jayne Anne Krentz hardcover that she was looking for, for 3 bucks. And someone's got similar taste to me. Tonight I picked up:

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur--it looked untouched.

Knight of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor--I thought the first one was mediocre, but I can't help myself.

Love at First Bite by Sherrilyn Kenyon et al.--bought this for SK's contribution, but I've never read any of the other authors, so I'll have to give them a try.

There were also several other SKs, a bunch of early Anita Blakes, and all three JR Wards (Sacrilege! How could you give those away?). I'm hoping this reader keeps me in 75 cent books all year.

Werewolves and Demons and Faeries, oh my!

I wasn't too sure about She's No Faerie Princess by Christine Warren. From the front cover tagline ("She's got combat boots, an attitude and a lover with a beastly side") and the description on the back, I figured I'd be in for a sassy heroine who mouths off to everyone in sight and a super-dominant hero who crowds and stalks his "soulmate." (the paranormal romance shorthand for a werewolf). And a bunch of supernatural creatures trying way too hard to be funny and hip. Wasn't sure I was feeling it. But, it was sitting on the kitchen table and I was heading into the city for a brunch with friends. With two hours of uninterrupted reading time in store, I grabbed it. I figured if it didn't grab me on the way there, I could pop into Borders and get something for the ride home.

Fiona is a Princess of the Seelie Faerie court, who needs a vacation. Even though it's forbidden for the Fae to cross into the mortal world, she figures she'll sneak through the gate into New York City, go shopping, hit a few shows at the Knitting Factory. But when she pops out in Inwood Park, she finds a particularly nasty demon waiting for her. Fiona is saved by Tobias Walker, the beta werewolf of the local pack. It is instant lust. But Walker doesn't have time to be helping out an immortal faerie princess. The "Others" of New York City are working with delegates, supernatural and human, to negotiate their "coming out" to the human world. Things are pretty tense already, and when it appears that the gate back to Faerie is cursed, Fiona and Walker realize that things are about to get a lot worse.

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This was a nice surprise and pleasant discovery. I liked it quite a bit. It was set in a pretty standard alternate universe, with werefolk, witches and vampires wandering the streets unbeknownst to humans. They're also preparing to make their presence known to the world, also pretty standard going. But Warren writes with a light, sure touch and I enjoyed her characterizations. There was a lot of humor, but it flowed well and was subtle rather than cheesy. It was light on the slang and pop culture references. At first I thought Fiona was going to be a pain in the ass, but once she settled down she was an intelligent heroine who knew when to push and when to stand back and let others play to their strengths. Walker was similarly likeable. The mate thing was handled well. At first Walker thinks it's just lust, but once he gets to know Fiona, then he realizes they are destined mates. They had hot chemistry, and the development of their relationship worked. The plot moved along at a nice clip. The supporting cast of characters were good as well (Warren has other books in this series at Ellora's Cave I'll be getting).

Some quibbles: the third act lost some steam as the focus shifted from the romance to action, the introduction of an info-dumping demon at the end also slowed things, and was obvious sequel baiting, and they never addressed how the Fiona's immortality might impact their HEA. For these reasons and the fact that the world building was less than original, this book stays a B. But it is a solid B. This was a fast paced fun read, with a sexy, solid love story. I'll be looking into her previous work, and the next installment, The Demon You Know.

Her website is very out of date, but I am assuming the next hero will be the info-dumper from this book. Are demons the new black? Between Demon Angel, Hell's Belles, Succubus Blues and now this one, I'm sensing a trend. Well, it's new for now, so I'll be hopping aboard this train for awhile, anyway.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One of those posts...

where I just list all the random crap I've got lying around while I try to figure what I should read. The amount of posting I've done lately (and the content) may have been a hint, but I'm having a lot of trouble finding something to read. I want to read something, but everything seems have something wrong with it. I want to persevere, but I just don't have the patience or attention span. Finishing a book should be effortless, not a chore. It's a case of "It's a little bit me, but it's a little bit you too. Next week is the release of my first highly anticipated read of 2007, Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair (space opera! cyborgs!) What should I try until them to fill the time?

From the library:
Sins of Midnight by Kimberly Logan--description sounds interesting, but I'm finding it a bit "Avon Romance 101"--too many adjectives and cliches, and lacking that certain something (originality?) to keep me interested. Don't know whether it's worth sticking it out.

She's No Faerie Princess by Christine Warren--Just don't know if I have it in me for another werewolf hero.

Bought at the library:
Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann

Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara (btw, this is hands down the worst author site ever. She also has a blog.)--perhaps a little urban fantasy might do the trick.

And a shipment arrived from Harlequin today. Last week they had a free shipping thing, and these were all 40% off (hopefully not because they stink):
Anything for You by Sarah Mayberry
Asking for Trouble by Leslie Kelly
Mistress for a Weekend by Susan Napier
Revenge of the Second Son by Sara Orwig

So, what to try next?

The S word...

So I was reading this book, yet another paranormal. It started out promisingly enough. The author set up a nicely Gothic atmosphere, with a mysterious, tortured hero. The heroine, an academic, seemed intelligent and not annoying. They have a first tension filled encounter. They have a second encounter, during which they both mentally note how antagonistic each feels toward each other. All right, interesting set-up. Then over the course of the next chapter, their feelings suddenly, inexplicably, extremely rapidly change. They find themselves drawn to each other, and by the end of the chapter and into the next they're at it like bunnies and making fevered declarations to each other. They have never felt this way before! They don't know what's come over them, but they must, MUST be together! They are maybe, perhaps, probably...soulmates! To quote the Destroyer in the throes of a stomach virus, "Blearghh, blearghh,[Insert vomit sound of your choice.]" Way to stop a book dead. There are some lovely emotional, sensual moments that follow, but I could just not buy it. The 'soulmate' thing should not be an excuse for neglecting relationship development. Their love was just so instantaneous, that it seemed empty. I tried for awhile longer, but since I had lost interest in the couple, I had lost interest in the story. I'm putting it aside for now. Please authors, please stop with the 'soulmate' stuff. I read romance to see how a romance develops. Five pages of "I don't like you, no wait, I really lurrrve you eternally," just doesn't do it for me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Best of the Blogosphere...

I've been meaning to do a roundup of some interesting things I've seen lately. You may or may not have seen 'em, or find 'em useful, but this way I can access them again easily.

--Found at Dear Author: Michele Albert, who also writes as Michelle Jerrott, is offering a free download of her first book, Absolute Trouble. Her next release sounds pretty interesting, about an organization that deals with stolen art and antiquities. I love that kind of stuff.
--Also found at Dear Author--, which rereleases traditional Regency romances in electronic format, has two free downloads, a novella called Lady Bountiful, and a sampler anthology.
--Found at Brianna's Mommy-- The members of Romance Divas challenged each other to write a story for Valentine's Day. Click on the link for short stories in a variety of genres and steam levels.

Other Blogs!
--Serial Drama, a blog for hilarious Soap Opera snark.
--Unusual Historicals, a blog by authors who set their romances in unusual locations and locales. Kristie did a column at Access Romance about how hard it is to find a variety of historicals, and Bev mentioned this site.
--It seems like every other erotic romance out there is being labelled as BDSM. I found a review site devoted to the genre. Some of us like this stuff more than others, but I've found that that "BDSM" label encompasses a huge variety of content. I was thinking there should be a review site that could help readers determine whether or not a book fits within their taste and comfort zone. And voila! It is written by an author,Miranda Heart, but it's honest. She's not just doing PR for her buddies.

That's all for now! I'm going to bed.

Say it ain't soooo...(Spoilers)

Please. Last night was a rough one for me. First, I watched the second half of All My Children on SoapNet, and Zarf was lying on the ground, all beat up, and that fool JR was just spewing vitriol at him and not calling 911 like he should. What happened? Nothing had better happen to Zarf.

Then (I'm all choked up thinking about it), they killed Sheriff Lamb on Veronica Mars at 9! Nooooooooo! The character was kind of a jerk, rather incompetent and usually wrong, but he was also very funny, and a nice foil for Veronica and Keith. The actor,Michael Muhney, totally stole all of his scenes. Plus, on a shallow note, I will miss his loveliness.

RIP, Lamb! I hope you're doing the robot in heaven.

Such injustice in the world! The odious Babe is alive, and I have to worry about Zarf? And Lamb got killed by Richard Grieco? Not good times. Coming on top of last week's episode of The Office, and lack of Jim/Pam, I feel very sad. BTW, I've been reduced to dreaming about Jim and Pam. Not even joking. I dreamed that they went out for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and hooked up in the bathroom. Weird, huh?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Even more Harlequins...

After my category experience, I thought I'd switch gears a bit, but then I found The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain by Lucy Monroe. Having read and enjoyed the prior title in this series, I decided to give it a go.

Title/Author: The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain by Lucy Monroe
Harlequin Presents
Miniseries/Tagline: Royal Brides/The Scorsolini Princes: Proud rulers and passionate lovers who need convenient wives!
Plot: Troubled marriage/Big misunderstanding
Hero: Principe Claudio Scorsolini, future ruler of Isole dei Rei (where is this country supposed to be?)
Heroine: Therese Scorsolini, convenient wife

Review: Ms. Monroe writes an excellent Harlequin Presents. She really knows how to pack a satisfying romance into this short format. This is a category done right.

Therese Scorsolini has always known that she was chosen to be Claudio's bride because she fit his requirements, rather than because of emotion. That didn't stop her from falling in love with her serious, controlled husband. However, an issue has arisen that Therese knows is a deal breaker. Despite her love for her husband, Therese believes that she will have to divorce him. Claudio realizes that his wife has pulled away from him in the past few months, though he doesn't know why. He finds himself increasingly uneasy and upset, and when his wife asks him for a divorce his worst fears are realized. Could the wife he never loved be leaving him for another man?

Like the Anne Mather of a few posts back, the book involves a troubled marriage, misunderstandings and fertility issues. This one works where that one didn't for a couple of reasons. We are given enough insight into the characters' thoughts and behavior that their actions make sense. Yes, Therese keeps a big secret from her husband, but based on their circumstances, and on his past behavior, I could see why she did. Plus, Monroe doesn't drag stuff out for too long. Just when I was about to say, "enough already", Therese comes clean with Claudio. Claudio was one of my favorite kind of heroes--cool, controlled and confident, but totally stupid where his feelings are concerned. His behavior bordered on boorish for the first part of the book, but just when I was about to write him off as an asshat, he discovers the secret that his wife has been keeping. He feels genuine regret for acting like douchebag, and tries to atone for his actions. These two characters were not the best with the whole emotion thing, and had made a lot of assumptions about each other. Reading about how they started communicating and came to terms with their feelings for each other made for a really satisfying love story. Plus, the chemistry and love scenes were hot!

Of course, it had to end with a pregnancy, but it was the first I've ever read that happened with IVF. That made me happy, because miracle babies bug me. There are lots of couples out there struggling with infertility and I don't like how HEA always seems to equal effortless pregnancy. I give this one an A.

On a high from the Monroe, I pulled another HP from the pile,The Marriage Renewal by Maggie Cox, only to realize that I had almost purchased it a second time. Thank God I didn't, because after a valiant effort, I gave up and skimmed the last 50 pages or so. In this one, five years after walking out on his wife, Tara, and their marriage, Mac Simmmonsen seeks her out to ask for a divorce. He is engaged to marry another woman, but upon seeing Tara again and hearing about the child they lost, promptly changes his mind and breaks it off with the fiancee. But that's okay, because she is French and therefore vain, shallow, and probably smelly. Instead Mac is determined to win his (understandably) skittish wife back. In the end, I just couldn't get past the premise of this one. This guy walks out on his weeping wife, doesn't contact her at all for five years, then upon catching sight of her realizes he still loves her. Dude, you didn't contact her at all for 5 years. Didn't even google her. Didn't even check to see if she had a MySpace page. It's not like he had much of a reaon either. He was just work-obsessed. I felt like he just wanted to get back with her because he knew she had been pregnant, and wanted to be a father. It also seemed like their past issues (his workaholism, and her resentment of his career) would get in the way again. BTW, I'm trying not to think too much about why I keep buying these "troubled marriage" books.

If you find yourself over- or underwhelmed by the array and descriptions of HPs and don't know if you can bring yourself to go there, I highly recommend giving Lucy Monroe a try. And now I'm ready for a change of pace. I'm going to try Blo
<Blood Son by Erica Orloff. Trying out Harlequin's new paranormal line. Let's see how it goes.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, hanrahan!

I would like to send out a birthday request to you, and at the same time try to figure out how to post a video clip to my blog.

It's the Zarf version of "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban. I'm kinda bummed he didn't do something by Celine Dion or "You and Me Against the World" by Helen Reddy (which for all of you who weren't there, was the song my m-i-l chose to dance to with the hubby at my wedding. It was weird). Please ignore the funeral milieu, and focus on the classy black suit and french twist.

You're an inspiration to us all, hanrahan. Hope you had a good day!

Type rest of the post here

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Harlequin Happy...Part deux (Spoilers)

Title/Author: The Bought and Paid For Wife by Bronwyn Jameson
Line: Silhouette Desire
Miniseries/Tagline: The Secret Lives of Society Wives--Some scandals even money can't hide...
Hero: Tristan Thorpe--bitter stepson, rich Australian footballer and businessman
Heroine: Vanessa Thorpe--former waitress from Yonkers, trophy wife/widow

Review: So I bought this one because of the title. It must've sounded interesting at the time, but when I pulled it out, I was like, Dang, what were you thinking? Because:

a) A romance heroine cannot really be a golddigger, so she must have a mentally disturbed or developmentally disabled sibling or child to support, and that's why she married a rich old coot.

b) Sex with old men is icky if you're not an old lady, so the marriage must've been platonic. Hubby was the daddy that her alcoholic, jailbird father could never be.

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These chesnuts never get old. Yes, yes they do. I must have been in weird mood the day I bought this one, because golddiggers with hearts of gold? Not my bag. Plus, now I think that I'm psychic. The Bought and Paid For Wife, revolves around Tristan Thorpe, who is contesting his father's will. Twenty years ago, Tristan's father divorced his mother, and they moved to Australia with nothing. And now the old man's left his entire estate to some young chippy? Tristan's going to get his (and his mother's) piece from the father who abandoned him. And if he has to go to Eastwick CT and prove the golddigger's infidelity, so be it. For her part, Vanessa has tried to be as polite as possible to the stepson she has never met, but she's not going to take his crap any more. Of course, sparks will fly and nothing is what it seems.

Sooo...not bad, not great, pretty standard. Yes, indeedy, Mrs. Thorpe, Tristan's Stepmama, who's not really a golddigging slut, has an autistic younger brother who she has taken care of since she was a teenager. Sigh. She also never slept with her late husband. In fact, she is a 29 year old virgin widow. Sigh. I would assume that this extra measure of purity was taken to make up for the extra ick points caused by the possibility of sleeping with a father and son. She didn't just not screw your daddy, she hasn't screwed anyone but you, Tristan! He comes off rather hard and mean, but soon softens under the spell of lust. Vanessa's a bit colder. I don't quite understand why the heroine, Vanessa, was quite so insistent on keeping her brother a secret from everyone she knew, including her closest friends. I guess there wouldn't have been much of a story otherwise. But there was nice chemistry between the two, and it kept me reading.

Also, Jameson did a nice job of interesting me in the other books in the mini-series. Speaking of, which, doesn't keep much of a record of its backlist, huh? This book was from 6/06, and I couldn't find it, or any of the others in the mini-series on the site. I also appreciated how the book ended. Often in categories, I'm frustrated by the leap at the end to marriage and babies. It seems too quick for the story given. But in this one, they acknowledged that they were in love, but they still had a lot to work on and learn about each other. I felt like the story of Tristan's upbringing and his mother's possible lies was given short shrift, and it would've added to the story/character development more. Also Jameson's Australian, and her writing did not seem very American, know what I mean? Certain phrasing and usage...just not what an American would say. It didn't bother me really, I found it a bit amusing, just noting it. I'd give this one a C. I enjoyed it, not a keeper.

Now I remember why I cut back on the categories. They always sound good at the time, then I get disappointed.

Harlequin Happy...

My reading mood keeps changing. All of a sudden I decided that I was in the mood for some classic Alpha males and babies of revenge. So I pulled out some Harlequins that I bought awhile ago.

Title/Author: Jack Riordan's Baby by Anne Mather
Line: Harlequin Presents
Miniseries/Tagline: Wedlocked!--Legally Wed, but He's Never Said "I love you!"
Plot: Big Misunderstanding/Troubled Marriage/General Stupidity
Hero: Jack Riordan--hardworking, sexy Irish construction CEO
Heroine: Rachel Riordan--Poor little rich girl wife

Review: Where to begin? Well as our story opens, Rachel is confronted by a woman named Karen Johnson, who claims to be pregnant with Rachel's husband's baby. Rachel is understandably outraged, even though she had known of her estranged husband's affair for the past six months. She awaits her husband's return that evening, and what does she do? Does she throw a wine bottle at his head while ranting about castration and betrayal? No, despite the fact that they haven't shared a room in over two years, she seduces him. In the time honored tradition of idiots everywhere, she is going to get pregnant to keep her man. Excellent. Of course, husband Jack isn't really having an affair, and he is so happy when he finally gets some from his wife, that he's gobsmacked when she accuses him. Karen is actually an evil stalker, and she's going to cause more problems for these two, who have lots of problems already. Misunderstandings and miscommunication abound.

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I haven't read a book that filled me with such irritation and rage in very long time. I freaking hated it. This is supposed to be about a couple whose marriage has been torn apart by repeated miscarriages, an interesting premise to explore, but poorly exceuted here. Unable to share her pain and fearful of getting pregnant again, Rachel pretty much checks out of their marriage. Jack responds by throwing himself into work. Yet we are supposed to believe that these two truly love and lust after each other. Rachel hasn't slept in the same wing as her husband in over two years. She made him sleep in an armchair while visiting his parents, for Chrissakes. Jack is suffering from health problems, but doesn't feel he can confide in his wife. I just had a difficult time getting past the fact that they had let their marriage deteriorate so badly, without any kind of communication or effort. Then some ho says she's pregnant and they suddenly realize how much they love each other? The situation isn't helped by the fact that the characterization is paper-thin. Rachel is a passive, whiny brat, both boring and unpleasant. Jack, far from the chest beating Alpha I expected, just seemed weary and depressed. Understandable perhaps, but not romantic. This was a failure on all levels. It was awkwardly told, there was no chemistry, no heat, no romance. It gets my first ever F. The only thing that made me smile was when evil stalker ho pushed Rachel off the cliff. Everything else in the book I both expected and dreaded. That was a surprise that made me laugh, albeit inappropriately.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Slanted and Enchanted...

Over the past two evenings I devoured Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. This is a memoir by a music journalist (if you watch any of those countdowns or pop culture shows on VH1, you've probably seen him dissing people on it), in which he details his relationship with his two great loves, music and his late wife Renee Crist. Rob and Renee were a classic case of opposites attracting. They were brought together by their shared love of music. They met at 23, the only two people in a bar to perk up when a Big Star song comes on the jukebox. By 25, they were married, and at 31, Rob was made a widower when Renee suddenly and inexplicably dies of a pulmonary embolism in their apartment.

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I completely adored this book. The majority of the book covers the years 1991-1998 or so, which were my high school and college years. Like Rob, I have a lot of fond music and pop culture memories of the time. It was a time when Seattle was king, you could turn on pop radio and hear bands like Weezer, Elastica, and Belly, hip-hop was awesome and dangerous (Public Enemy! Ice-T!), and a 16 girl could go to sleep, clutching her pillow and dreaming of Trent Reznor, Henry Rollins and Anthony Keidis. Ahem. This book has a lot of musical references, which might be less interesting to those not really interested in music. But it brought back a lot of memories for me, and I think that many of us have our own musical memories; songs and bands that make us think of a particular time, place or person.

I loved the story of his relationship with Renee as well. She sounds like a fantastic person, and you can see how he fell so in love. His tales of being a young music geek in love, a young, scared husband, and finally a young, lost widower were alternately funny and sad. I was truly weepy when reading about his experiences after Renee's death: how he felt like he couldn't listen to music again without her to share it with, how much he hated being single again, his obsession with Jackie O. I'm a married person who is the same age that Rob was when he lost his wife, and man, I can't even imagine.

His writing style is very funny. Here's a passage in which he describes his 13 year old self (p. 28):

The words "douche" and "bag" have never coupled as passionately as they did in the person of my thirteen year old self. My body, my brain, my elbows that stuck out like switchblades, my feet that got tangled in my bike spokes, but most of all my soul--these formed the waterbed where douchitude and bagness made love sweet love with all the feral intensity of Burt Reynolds and Rachel Ward in Sharky's Machine.

Not even sure what that means, but it makes me laugh. This is a fast read, alternately hilarious and touching. I loved Rob, I loved Renee, and I'm happy that he was able to live and find love again. If you miss the nineties, if you love rock, pop and alternative music, or if you like true stories of true love, give it a try. An A for this one.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Note: I think I posted this last year too, but I can't find any Zarf Valentines and haven't the skills to make one. Have a good one, y'all!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Would you like some cheese with your whine?

Oh man, when is she going to get back to talking about smut?

I don't know what's gotten into me, but I just can't let this go. This is the effect that race discussions and extreme pro-lifers have on my brain. The thread on race, romance and publishing at Dear Author has degenrated into a who's black and who's not and who's allowed to say what bitchfest. I see that Jane has had to close the comments. Too bad, but you knew that would happen. Monica Jackson, is abrasive, judgmental and rather sanctimonious, and unfortunately it obscures the point that she is trying to make, which has both merit and truth to it. Oh well, what really interests me is the effect of the niche type marketing on romance readers and writers of all hues.

But I can't resist having some fun with this anonymous comment from one of the threads at Karen Scott's blog:

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is when here in the US are we going to have Austrian history month? Italian history month? Swedish history month? Welsh history month? White people may all have white skin, but our history is surely just as interesting as African history, yes?

Oh man, I love it when Whitey whines about the "special treatment" black folks get. Why no white history month? Why do they get Kwanzaa? Waaahh...My ancestors didn't own slaves, it's not my fault, waaaaahh...puh-leeze.

The above comment reminds me of when you're little and you say, "Mom, there's Mother's Day and there's Father's Day, why isn't there any Kid's Day?" And Mom would say every day is Kid's Day. Not that every day is White People Day, but there are plenty of holidays/festivals/events etc. which celebrate American history. Black History Month is one of these. BHM celebrates African-American History and the contributions made by African-Americans. Anonymous, it doesn't really involve African history, although I suppose that if you went to Africa there would be celebrations of particular countries' histories. Ditto for Austria and Italy.

What I am saying is that if you are an American, African-American history is part of your history. I am of Italian and Irish extraction, my grandparents and their families passed through Ellis Island around the time of the Great Depression. So no, my family did not own slaves, during the time of African slavery in America they were picking potatoes and sharing their shacks with the livestock. So we weren't part of slavery . By the same token, my ancestors weren't around at the birth of the country either. But would I say, "No, I'm not going to learn about or celebrate the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, because it's not my people. They were Protestants from England and I hear they didn't like Irish Catholics too much." I am an American, the history of the US is my history. That includes a lot of different groups and events. It is up to me and every other American to embrace and learn about what their history and culture entails.

But since Anon asked, shall we take a moment to see what other Ethnic American Celebrations we can enjoy?

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We'll start with the easy ones:

March 17: St. Patrick's Day (Irish-American)--Wear your green or fisherman's sweater and Drink up!
March 19: St Joseph's Day (a saint's feast day celebrated by a lot of Italian-Americans)--Wear red and gorge yourself on sfuzzi and zeppole. Wash it down with wine if you've recovered from St.Patty's.
October: Columbus Day (Italian-Americans)--have a boring parade and try not to think of what we did to the Native Americans.
September 15-October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month--Why did they choose to straddle two months? Who cares, eat up!
April: Asian and Pacific Islander-American month--Try a new cuisine (You can tell that I'm Italian-American, because all of my ideas for celebrating holidays revolve around food)

Some more obscure ones (from Ask Professor Holiday):

February 4: Kosciuszko Day (Polish-American)--Tell offensive jokes and eat some pierogies.
March 29: Swedish Colonial Day (Swedish-American, celebrated in DE)--Go to IKEA!
March 31: Cesar Chavez Day (Mexican-American, celebrated in CA)--Don't eat all day!
September 17: Steuben Day (German-American): Wear Lederhosen! Drink more beer!
June: Puerto-Rican Day: have your own parade! Watch West Side Story! Call people Mami and Papi!

So there you go, anonymous. Plenty of Ethnic cheer for all (though you've got me on the Welsh there). I'm a children's librarian. We live for this shit. We've got a book display ready for every event and occasion. You should see what we did for National Soup Month in January (Come to think of it, no one was bothered by soup getting special attention). Seriously, though, if you or anyone else is offended, do me a favor and drop me a line. I'm chomping at the bit for a fight.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Doin' that race and romance thing...

So there has been quite a bit of discussion about racism in romance the past week or so. As per usual, I was late to the convo, but I've finally caught up and gotten the full picture. Although it got a bit heated here and there, for the most part a lot of really interesting stuff got brought up. Only rarely did the conversation degenerate into idiocy, as when the French chick called all Americans racist because she knew someone who wouldn't let their kid watch "The Cosby Show." To which I say, that's a damn shame, because that? Was an excellent show. Also, I was watching "The O.C." a couple of weeks ago, and there was a smelly French character, ergo, all French people are smelly. Also the words "whitey" and "Negro" came up, I believe. Good times, good times. If you have been living under a rock, or if you don't normally frequent romance-centric blogs and are interested, the threads to which I am referring can be found here, here, and here.

This seems to me to be a three pronged issue:

1: Are AA (yes, this is pretty much a black/white thing I'm going to be talking about here) authors being marginalized by being shelved in AA fiction sections rather than the romance section?

2: Does this type of shelving hurt or help authors? On the one hand, AA readers can easily find AA fiction if that is what they are looking for. On the other, are they being limited from finding a wider audience? (Wait, is this actually part of #1?)

3: Do white/other readers not seek out AA romance? And if so, should they make more of an effort to do so?

Many of these blogosphere dust-ups have me rolling my eyes, but this one got me thinking about my reading habits. A little self-examination never hurt anyone. Also, it made me veddy, veddy curious. Bear with me folks, all kinds of thoughts are percolating here.

How much AA romance have I read? Erm, uh, hmmm...I'm sure I can think of something...

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Well okay, then, there's your answer. Perhaps. I cannot be positive that I haven't read more romance novels by AA authors, I don't pay attention to back cover photos all that much. But I haven't gone out of my way to read romances with AA content, though. Why not? Short answer: laziness. I have seen some AA romance, but they were of the contemporary or category variety, a genre that I am only interested in sometimes. It never occurred to me to look deeper. I am also really shocked by the AA fiction section thingy. I knew that there were AA sections in the bookstore, but I thought that they were more for historical/sociological type stuff. I know that bookstores have different aims than librarians, but this bothered my librarian soul. I feel that some labelling is good, but too much is detrimental to readers and authors (Rant to follow at some point). Is it true that AA romance is shelved separately? I am currently conducting a sociological investigation of bookstores in the 516. Results to follow soon, and strongly worded letters will be written if necessary.

However, this discussion really brought to my attention my lack of knowledge of AA authors. I discovered the following authors through this discussion. All shall be added to my list of authors to seek out:

Seressia Glass
Dyanne Davis
Roslyn Hardy Holcomb
Eve Vaughn (e-published author)
Lena Matthews (e-published author)

[Side Note: I am noting that the last two authors publish with e-publishers, because I feel that is a different situation. The act of browsing for books online at a site like Samhain or EC is very different from doing it in a bookstore. I usually browse by genre or theme. It's easier to find stuff up your alley and make random discoveries. I think the race factor is partcicularly incidental here, because of the different physical dimension. I had heard of them both, I just hadn't been hitting the e-pub sites due to lack of funds. They both do the interracial and the kink thing that I like. Wheee! I've gotta put aside some $$ for e-buys, 'cuz I've also gotta read the new Bonnie Dee.]

The first three authors publish through Genesis Press, an independent Af-Am press, and I can honestly say that I hadn't heard of any of them. I would assume that they are put in the AA fic section. And that just sucks, because if it wasn't for this dust-up they wouldn't have been brought to my attention. Do I feel like it's my duty as a liberal white girl to read AA authors? Not particularly. But we all have our reading preferences. Some of mine are vamps and other things that go bump in the night, uptight heroes, bookish heroines, reunited lovers, younger man/older woman, a bit of BDSM, black woman/white man...the list goes on and on. And these authors have books that fit within these preferences well. Ms. Glass has one about psychics that looks as thought it will be quite good, also some good IRs. Ms. Davis has some interesting ones, including one about a Pakistani med student and a Black nurse. Ms. Holcomb has one about a bookstore owner who gets involved with a Rock Star, which sounds like my teenage fantasy of my future. These books appeal to me not because of the color of the author's skin, but because of their content. However, if they are not shelved in the Romance section, then I probably wouldn't have found them. So yes, this white girl thinks that racism in romance is an issue.

Laziness on my part? Perhaps. But then again, you've never been in the bookstore with the Destroyer. She alternates between winging books at passerby, and sticking them in the stroller basket. I have to remember to check before I leave so I don't get busted for shoplifting. Then when she tires of these pursuits, she starts shrieking. So, yeah, it's a quick in and out. I can't be wandering around too much. But during my bookstore investigation, I'll bring potato chips. That keeps her quiet for awhile.

More to come later...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sugar Shock...

I've been aware of the works of Catherine Anderson since I became involved with reading romance. Her works seem to be generally enjoyed and well reviewed, but to this cold, cynical bitch, the synopses of her books inspired mixed feelings of revulsion and fascination. Ms. Anderson seems to specialize in saintly, but "damaged" heroines, and equally good, kind and patient heroes. Her love stories are tailor made for such adjectives as tender, poignant, inspiring and other words that give me the heebie-jeebies. At the same time, they also seem quite original, and thus, compelling. At work the other night, I couldn't resist the following blurb, from My Sunshine:

He didn't need anyone—
until one woman brought sunshine into his life...

The New York Times bestselling author delivers her most poignant Coulter family novel yet...

Five years ago, Laura Townsend's life was nearly destroyed when a head injury impaired her ability to use language and forced her to abandon a brilliant career. Despite her difficulties, however, she never lost her vivacious spirit or sunny disposition. Now she has a great new job at an animal clinic—and a handsome new boss who fills her heart with longing. But veterinarian Isaiah Coulter deserves a woman who can meet all his needs. Battling her feelings, Laura decides that sometimes a woman must love a man enough to walk away...

When Isaiah hired Laura, he wasn't expecting her to be such a breath of fresh air. Impressed by her healing touch—and captivated by her dazzling beauty—Isaiah finds himself falling in love. And he'll move heaven and earth to convince Laura that she's the woman he needs...the only one who can bring joy to all his days.

C'mon folks! Brain damage? How could I resist finding out what happened?

[Click on post title for the review.]

Laura Townsend is a woman of many talents, despite her brain damage. She is gorgeous, kind, she cooks and bakes, she's great at Shabby Chic decorating, she always says grace before meals, and she can talk to animals (well, pretty much). In fact, I do believe that cartoon birds braid her hair in the morning. Gah! Seriously though, although Laura was rather Disney Princess too good to be true, one of the things I liked most about about this book was the treatment of her disability, a type of brain damage called Aphasia. While Laura was all sweetness and sunshine, her problem was treated fairly unsentimentally. Aphasia affects the language centers of one's brain, and I was concerned that Laura would be some kind of ethereal woman-child who spoke like Jodie Foster in that movie. But Laura seemed like an intelligent, self-sufficient woman, who had found means to compensate for her difficulties, and even had a sense of humor about them. Except for the scene where we find out that she is a thirty-one year old virgin. It's not the virgin part that bothers me, because I do know people who waited to have sex, not because of religious convictions, but just because they hadn't found anyone they wanted enough to do that with. Plus, she had had her accident five years ago. It was that she was completely clueless about all things sexual. She didn't think a penis would be thicker than a tampon? Please, she was a scientist. It made her seem stupid, which was unfortunate.

Every once in awhile, my husband makes me this dessert where he sticks Twinkies into a bowl of ice cream, squirts chocolate syrup all over it, and then zaps it in the microwave for ten seconds. I know it's going to make my stomach hurt from all the sweetness, and its going to give me an ice cream headache, but it's just SO GOOD. It's warm and gooey and yummy and makes me feel happy. That's exactly what My Sunshine was like for me. It was so sweet that it made my teeth hurt, and it sometimes had me rolling my eyes, but I absolutely devoured it. The hero, Isaiah Coulter, was a nice guy, a workaholic veterinarian from a large, warm hearted family (this is actually part of a series involving the various Coulter siblings. He was less interesting than Laura, but they were well suited. The story, and their romance, developed at a nice pace, showing the evolution of their feelings for each other.

I could've done without the hammering over and over of just how wonderfully angelic Laura was, and without the long descriptions of the decor. Who cares about her Raggedy Ann dolls, animal knick knacks, and garage sale furniture? From the get go I pegged "the villain", as well as what was going to happen. I thought this external conflict was a bit unnecessary, because there was plenty of juicy internal conflict there, with what Laura's difficulties might mean for their future, could they overcome it all, etc. But the bad guy's breakdown at the end was pretty hilarious, so that was good. It was a lovely, and yes, sweet, love story. I would give this one a solid B. I would've rated it higher, but it was too sugary for my tastes. However, I am very interested in seeking out other Anderson novels. I'll be devouring them until my husband finds me, curled up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth and muttering phrases like "dear heart", "sweetness and sunshine," and "puppies and flowers." It will take repeated viewings of "Sid and Nancy" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" and chain smoking a pack of Camel Lights while listening to Smiths albums to bring me back to my old self. But I suspect it will all be worth it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

That's it!

It's official! The Office, and specifically Jim and Pam, are killing me!! Something better happen soon. Anything!

And my computer's acting up.

Review of my first Catherine Anderson coming soon.

Type rest of the post here

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Get in the Way Back Machine

When I was in High School, I was sick all the time. ALL THE TIME. I had two extended bouts with mono, and in between I was plagued with constant sinus infections. During this period of time I read a lot. While I was home alone, I developed the habit of picking through my mother's stash of Romance keepers. There were several that stood out in my mind, and when my parents moved last summer, it provided me with a great opportunity to make off with some of them. I've been meaning to re-read to see if my 31 year old self likes the same stuff my 16 year old self did. But I haven't had the time until now. Seriously unable to stick with any book (check out my pathetic tally to the right), I thought that one of these old categories would be a quick read.

As it turns out, Laura Leone (now writing primarily as Laura Resnick, has written a number of well-received romances (including the man-whore book Fallen From Grace, which I've been intending to read.) The old favorite I picked out was Guilty Secrets, a Silhouette Desire originally published in 1990, and now out of print.

Guilty Secrets revolves around Leah MacCargar, a History graduate student who returns home for the summer to the Ithaca, New York home of Verbena MacCargar, the aunt who raised her. Leah is dismayed to find that her aunt, a noted Medievalist, has chosen a most unsuitable writing partner for her next publishing endeavor. Adam Jordan, who has taken up residence in the rambling home, is an author of what Leah considers to be flashy, lowbrow, "pop" history. Though he is handsome, sexy and charming, Leah disdainfully doubts his intellectual capabilities and academic credentials. Fiercely protective of her aunt, Leah sets out to get rid of the man she perceives to be a threat to her eccentric aunt's reputation and career. However, her interactions with Adam will ultimately cause her to question her long held beliefs.

["Read More!" is not working. Please click on the post title for the full post.]

This book held up quite well fifteen years later. Leone writes with a light, sure, intelligent touch. I enjoyed the accademic setting. This book is full of wacky hijinks. You've got eccentric family members, a menagerie of weird pets, pretentious academics, mysterious men in badly tailored suits and new age gurus running amok. Instead of being corny or hamfisted however, GS is witty and amusing throughout. The characters are great, particularly the hero. Adam is a well rounded character, charming, sexy and very intelligent. Unfortunately, Leah is another story. She is an unabashed intellectual snob who passes incredibly uninformed judgments upon Adam. At one point, he thinks to himself that the reasons she resists their attraction are "...superficial, pretentious, insubstantial and snobbish...." This isn't a bad description of the character herself, which dampened my enjoyment somewhat. But the couple's chemistry is sparkling, their interactions are fun, and Adam always gets the last word. As Leah comes to realize the folly of her ways, she becomes more likeable, and I definitely rooted for their HEA. Leone did a good job of showing their growing respect for each other, as well as their increasing attraction.

All in all, my teenage self had pretty good taste. Although I was left with the feeling that things got wrapped up a bit neatly and quickly (which I often feel with category romance), overall this was a funny, fast read with believable love story and fully realized characters. It's one of the best categories I've ever read, and I'd give it a B+. A look over Ms. Leone's website suggest that culture clashes and wit are a specialty of hers. A number of her titles are available in electronic format, and I'll definitely be checking them out in the future.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Best Mess up ever...

I bet I know what ya'll were doing yesterday. Watching 12 back to back episodes of "Ghost Hunters." No, that was just me? Well, at least I know who won the Super Bowl. It was a team named after an animal. I thought Prince rocked (of course), although he forgot to take out his curlers and do-rag.

Several days ago, C2 alerted me to the delightfully grown up Daniel Radcliffe, who is starring in "Equus" in London. But when I popped over to Best Week Ever, hoping for some new Zarf-age, I found something hilarious instead. I guess we all mess up sometimes.

You must see this: Harry Potter as you've never seen him before. I can't believe this made it on to CNN.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Hockey Meme

I'm on a roll tonight! Go typey-me!

TPTB over at SportSquee! have taken it upon themslves to tag me. I'm warning you, although I have been to a hockey game or two in my life, I know nothing about hockey. But I'm going to give it the old college try.

Without further ado, it's the "If I Were a Hockey Player" meme!

Team: New York Islanders
Uniform number: 2
Position: Defenseman (I can be very defensive)
Nickname: DG, Mookie

Dream linemates: Margee's former life coach, Mario, Wayne Gretzky (he plays hockey, right?)
Rounding out the PP [what's a PP?]: Brendan Witt, that guy whose name is Satan (but it's not pronounced the way you think) and Mookie Wilson
Job: handing out Juice Boxes and GoGurts, walking on people's backs
Signature move: the post-goal, Michael Jackson inspired, victory dance on skates

Strengths: rage at the world, flexibility
Weaknesses: the tendency to zone out at sporting events and to get distracted by the fun plastic beer bottles (and the beer within)
Injury Problems: Achy shoulder caused by heavy diaper bag and hunching over laptop
Equipment: You should see my equipment (sheah, that's what he said)

Nemesis: The Rangers. Even I know that, as a Long Islander, the Rangers are my enemy.
Scandal involvment: Punching the Geico gekko in the face, hijacking the Zamboni machine.

Who I'd face in the Stanley Cup Finals: Toronto Maple Leafs (When in doubt, pick on Canada. :))
What I'd do with the Stanley Cup after our victory: Eat Ben and Jerry's Karamel Sutra out of it, then wash it and give it to the Destroyer to wear as a hat.
Would the media love me or hate me: Hate me, because, really I probably wouldn't be too good at hockey.

I'm tagging anyone who wants to take a stab!

Pain in my ass...

I spent many, many hours last weekend attempting to get the expandable post thingy to work, because I do realize that the sight of my long winded posts can be off-putting. But when I click on the "Read More!", nothing happens. But if you click on the post title, you can see the full post. At some point I shall attempt to fix.

Gina is my homegirl...

So I've definitely been having a case of the "it's not you, it's me"s (tm KristieJ). I was having trouble getting into a book, not because it's bad, but because it just wasn't fitting my mood. I was looking forward to something grabbing me the way Demon Angel did, but it just wasn't happening. Definitely the January blahs. What to do? I pondered. Aha, time to call on an old standby. Paging Ms. Brockmann.

So I committed a breach of personal protocol, and read Breaking Point, even though I was going out of order. I needed to get some resolution on Max and Gina. I first fell in love with Max and Gina in Over The Edge. Max Bhagat was the unflappable FBI agent and ace hostage negotiator. Gina Vitagliano was the Italian-American college student from East Meadow New, York (right next store to me! Strong Island in the house!) stuck in the cockpit with the terrorists. They communicated via radio, and Max was eventually able to save Gina, but not before she was beaten and gang raped by the terrorists. While Max was forced to listen and watch. Their relationship developed over the course of the books, a mix of animal attraction and deep emotional connection mixed with a large dose of Max's guilt over his "failure" to save her, as well as his weirdness over their almost 20 year age difference. Eventually, Gina has it up to here with Max's shit, and takes off for Africa. Breaking Point begins when Gina's name appears on a list of casualities in a German terrorist attack. Jules Cassidy (He's gay. Did you know he was gay? Well, he is and don't ever forget it.) is the lucky stiff who gets to break the news to Max. And away we go!

Now let me just say, one of my favorite types of romance hero is the uptight, controlled guy who underneath it all seethes with passion. Well, Max takes it a step further. He is eaten up by passion with Gina, but he is thrown into a tailspin by what he perceives as any weakness or failure. In short, he is a mess. As I mentioned before, Max needed some therapy toute suite. What's so bad about a beautiful, intelligent, strong, nubile babe adoring you? Stop it! As for Gina, she's great. I find many of Brockmann's heroines somewhat... emasculating, but Gina's someone I'd hang out with. She's strong and down to earth, and sees through Max's facade to the mess underneath, but adores him anyway. However, she's not a doormat or a martyr, so when she's had enough of Max's crap, Gina decides to cut her losses. We see the deterioration of their relationship through flashbacks, as Max travels to Europe and then to Indonesia
to find out what happened to her. (Spoiler: she's not dead. But I bet you already guessed that).

I enjoyed this one, it definitely had me from the get go. It was interesting, emotional and hot. Although, as per usual for me, my interest in the "action-y" bits started to flag towards the end, so I started to skim to get back to the emotional bits. Max and Gina had as much chemistry as ever, and a very satisfying reunion. And I'll definitely be picking up Out of Control to get the full story on the secondary couple, do-gooder Molly and man-of-many-aliases Grady, because they were hot too. My main complaints were the fact that I started to get bored of the action, that Max and Gina were apart for too long for my tastes and that Max was such an annoying bitch sometimes.

Plus, enough already with Jules. I do live in a blue state and all, but I find it hard to believe that no one can react to Jules without discomfort and homophobia. For God's sake, "Will and Grace" was on for, like, 8 years. They're here, they're queer, aren't some people getting used to it at least? It's just so heavy handed, the way everyone's like, "Yikes, he's gay!" But then they decide he's not so bad after all, even though he's GAY. Love Jules though. Give him a man, already. Actually, I'm reading Hot Target next. I read Suze's dedication to her son, and it made me verklempt. No joke. Keep it up Brockmann, and I'll be your bitch forever. A B for this one.