Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Speak of the Devil...

Just as I was thinking about forcing my sister to read a romance novel, I popped on over to her blog (which is very funny, btw), and lookee! The group blog that she is a part of Hockey's Ladies of Greatness had an interview with Deirdre Martin, who writes hockey-centric romance. Anyone like sports romance out there? Those SEP ones I like (and I was going to make Margee read one). I also read See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson. Anything else good out there?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Things on my Mind...

*Jane Eyre (the new BBC version)--I watched the second and final part on Sunday night. I've been thinking a lot about whether I liked it or not. I feel they took some liberties in this retelling, but in the end that's all right with me. The first part, with the young Jane and at the Lowood school was highly condensed. But the Jane/Rochester stuff is more interesting anyway. I thought that the actress who played Jane looked the part perfectly, but had a limited range of expression. I've been pondering the portrayal of Rochester by Toby Stephens (who is Maggie Smith's son, by the way). At first I was like, eh. He didn't fit my expectations. But in the end, I thought he was very good. As a young'un, I found R. to be terribly brooding and romantic. But age, maturity and Women's Studies classes led me to realize that actually, he's pretty much a dick. I thought that Stephens expressed R.'s inner turmoil and conscience well. Not so much about his wife (Who's definitely the bad guy and deserved to be locked in the attic. Snerk.), but about what he was doing to Jane. It wasn't all just sexy, tortured guy. I really did enjoy this (and they had GREAT chemistry). I'd like to see it again.

*Misleading movie commercials--This just pisses me off.Blood and Chocolate, which recently came out, is based upon a YA novel written by Annette Curtis Klause. I loved this book and re-read it not long ago. It's a shame that Klause doesn't have more books published, because B&C and The Silver Kiss were both quite good. However, the trailer implies that the story has been drastically changed. The setting has been moved, and the characters aged. Plus,the human guy that Vivian dates has been turned into a hero, while Gabriel gets the evil treatment. Meh. Indeed, a quick skim of the IMDB comments suggests that fans of the book should stay away. I was startled by the commercials for Bridge to Terabithia, based on the Newbery Award winning novel by the fabulous Katherine Paterson, which seem to present it as a fantasy. Very different from what I remember. So I popped on over to IMDB. As of yesterday, there was only one comment. The review suggests that the movie is, in fact, true to the book, which is a moving story dealing with themes like friendship, being an outsider, bullying, and death. The fantasy scenes are only a tiny part of the movie. Although the review was quite positive, I gotta wonder if parents expecting something Harry Potter-esque might be in store for some serious discussions that they weren't planning on when they chose the movie.

*Guest reviewers wanted--So I want to do something where someone who has never read a romance novel (chick lit doesn't count) before reviews a book of my choosing. I'll provide the book, you provide the honest opinion. Volunteers are welcome. I have a couple of victims in mind, so they may as well volunteer now before I come after them. I'm thinking a little hockey or football romance to start. Hmmm, Margee?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Demon Angel by Meljean Brook

Demon Angel by Meljean Brook has been making quite a splash in the blogospere lately, perhaps not surprisingly. since Ms. Brook is an active blogger herself. A lot of people have reviewed this one. I was looking forward to reading this one since I first saw it at Sybil's. I actually stopped reading the reviews because I didn't want to spoil myself. So,now it's my turn to take a stab at reviewing this one, which is the author's first published full length novel, I believe.

The Story (My apologies to the author if I’ve left anything out. This is a dense story, and I mean that in a good way): Demon Angel begins in thirteenth century England, where seventeen year old, newly knighted Hugh meets the demon Lilith as she wreaks havoc near the estate of his liege lord. They are immediately drawn to each other, as Lilith torments Hugh, and he is alternately attracted and disturbed by her. Once Lilith’s machinations result in Hugh’s death, she finds that she is unable to complete the ritual that will send his soul to Hell. Instead, she turns him over to Michael (as in the Archangel), the head of the Guardians. The Guardians are men and women who have been given angelic powers in order to protect humans (and their souls) against demons. Over the next eight hundred years, Hugh and Lilith cross paths repeatedly as they carry out their respective roles. They are adversaries, but their relationship is tempered by their strong attraction and respect for each other. Part One ends in 1991, when Hugh, dillusioned and disenchanted with his afterlife, decides to Fall. In a last ditch attempt to save Lilith’s soul, he stabs her through the heart. The second part of the book resumes in 2007, where Hugh has become an English professor in San Francisco. When one of his students is killed in a ritual murder, Hugh is brought face to face with someone he thought he’d never see again: Lilith, now FBI agent Lily Milton. She has changed a bit, but she still serves Lucifer, and he still wants one thing from her: Hugh’s death.

[Ok, I tried to make that as succinct as possible while still getting the point across.]

The Good: I loved Part One. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’m a geek for medieval stuff. One of the fascinating things about the Middle Ages was people’s overwhelming concern for their souls, and their absolute belief in the demonic. There are many narratives of people’s encounters with demons. So I liked the idea that demons actually were fucking with people and setting up their downfall. As I mentioned, the “universe” of demons, Guardians (and vampires and nosferatu) created here was a dense one, with a lot of rules and backstory. I thought it was developed well—fit within the story (not “info-dump”-y), and I came to understand everything. I just found it to be a fascinating world. And I loved the development of Hugh and Lilith’s relationship throughout their encounters over the years.

But I think that Brook’s particular strength is characterization. Man, Hugh and Lilith were freaking awesome characters! Hugh was very strong, and a warrior, but also singularly kind and compassionate. Although he is very concerned with saving souls (especially Lilith’s), he is not self-righteous. He’s got a good sense of humor and I loved how he just got Lilith and accepted and loved her for who she was. Lilith was a very strong, kick ass heroine, and not in that annoying, aren’t-I-so-sassy-and-petulant way. She was a demon (actually, half-demon/half-human), but she wasn’t evil. Lilith enjoys meting out her brand of justice to those she thinks deserves it, but she can’t quite stomach some of the other demon stuff. And hey, I’m sure that lots of us have a streak where we wouldn’t mind if rapists, molesters and murderers got damned to hell. And her vulnerability where Hugh is concerned…these two just rocked! They were fully fleshed out characters, rather than types, with a really interesting (and HOT), well-developed relationship. They are just drawn to each other from the start, they really get each other, and their feelings deepen over time. There is always that sense that they genuinely like and respect each other. Plus, there are a lot of great secondary characters, from Sir Pup the hellhound to Colin Ames-Beaumont the vampire (“’But I’m extraordinarily handsome.’”).

The Bad: I have read that some people felt that there were problems with pacing. I have to admit, after Hugh and Lilith got together, the last hundred pages or so lost a lot of momentum for me. The whole mystery/action subplot just wasn’t as interesting to me as the character/relationship stuff. I wanted to know how everything would get resolved, and how they would get their HEA, but my attention flagged here and there. I hesitate to blame it all on the writing though, because I’ve been exhausted this week. I think it’s a combo of the cold and the fact that the Destroyer’s getting her two year molars. She’s been a whack-a-doodle this week. My husband actually called me at work on Thursday to beg me to come home. Who would’ve thought that a man with multiple tattoos, two Harleys and a black belt in Karate could be reduced to a quivering mass by someone who’s two and half feet tall and 24 pounds? Wimp. She is a hellcat though. I think that Lilith would like her.

The Verdict: This would perhaps vary according to reader taste, but for me, the great character and relationship development, and the world building, definitely trump the slow final act. I am looking forward to future stories by Ms. Brook. I hope she has many great ideas, characters and relationships in store for readers. I’m giving this one an A-. Her next one, Demon Moon, features Colin (yay!) and Savitri Murray, who was also in DA. She’s getting a pre-emptive thumbs up for me for an Indian heroine. I don’t think I’ve read an Indian heroine in a romance since The Far Pavilions by MM Kaye, many, many years ago.

P.S. Sorry for the long ass post. I seem to be unable to make the expandable posts anymore. Also,at Dear Author, Demon Angel is the book club selection. Now that I finished the book, I'm off to take a look.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Other interesting things...

...though perhaps not as interesting as possibly murderous transgendered rock stars who love lesbians.

I wasn't going to reveal the subject of my whiny DNF post, but to give readers fair warning: it was Dark Whispers by Samantha Garver. Although I did give up on it, I found a review at AAR today, that I very much agreed with. The reviewer, Leigh Thomas had many of the same concerns that I did, and her assessment of the hero and heroine were spot on. I'll be looking to see if anyone else takes this one on, and what they think. It's unfortunate, because I would've liked to pimp a new author, and it was a fun idea.

Anyone watch Jane Eyre on Masterpiece Theater? I love this story,ever since I saw an old BBC miniseries of it (with Timothy Dalton) when I was 14. I loved Rochester, although now, in my old age, I want to smack him around a bit. Is it me or is this version a little, well, sexier than the novel? Not that there was any actual sex, but Jane and Rochester seemed a little flirty to me. I'm not a stickler though, and I enjoyed it plenty. I'm looking forward to next Sunday and Rochester's betrayal. I thought Jane was particularly well cast.

Best of Both Worlds...

Chicks with dicks!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I was at my parents' house on a lunch break, and All My Children was on. Bianca (AMC's resident lesbian) is talking to her sister about her attraction to a man. I'm like, "What the Hell? They're turning Bianca straight?" Mom's like, "I don't know. The guy's name is Zarf, and he's a rock star, and wears eye makeup." And I'm like, "What, is he Ziggy Stardust? Is he from Melmac?" And then Zarf shows up in a black dress, a slightly adrogynous but distinctly male figure with a very affected accent. What in the name of all that is holy? Day-um. If anything could start me watching soaps again, it's trannies with smudged eyeliner.

Apparently, Zarf was introduced as female rock star "Zoe." Then he came clean about being a man. Then he fell in love with Bianca, and realized that he's a lesbian in a man's body. Bianca's pissed at him now, although he's going to get gender reassignment surgery, and you'd think she'd be happy about girl parts. And half the town thinks he's a serial killer, or something. I don't know. It's all very confusing and over the top, but fascinating. Even though I'm obsessed with Zarf, I don't get to watch it every day. He's handsome, but somewhat creepy, which is unfortunate. I think it's the accent, a faux British lockjaw thing. It makes him particularly bizarre, so I don't know if I'm rooting for him and Bianca.

I'm just amazed that AMC went there. For those not in the know, AMC has a reputation for dramatizing social issues. They had AIDS and homosexual storylines way before it was dealt with on prime time. And Bianca, the lesbian, gets way more play than any gay character on prime time network tv. I mean romances and love triangles and the whole bit (though being a soap opera, they never end well.) But will they really go through with a man becoming a woman? I don't know. All I know is, it makes for some hee-larious tv. Apparently, I'm not the only one. I was looking for a picture to post, and apparently VH1's Best Week Ever blog is doing a daily Zarf Clip. You must check out her big breakdown.

p.s. I couldn't find a single pic of Zarf in a dress or the Silence of the Lambs bathrobe. What a shame!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I give up...

I spent many hours Thursday evening and Friday, trying to get my wireless connection fixed. That problem seems to be resolved, but now when I click on many of the links on my sidebar, I get a "Bad Request Error 400" sign. It appears to be Blogger sites only that are giving me this message. However, if I go to, say, Dear Author, I can acess the sites from there. I've run spyware programs and looked for information on fixing this problem. It is suggested that it may have something to do with the server. So I spent a fruitless half hour on the phone with a customer service rep who had never heard of Blogger. I'm out of patience.

But I am curious. If someone is dropping by, please take a moment to click on "Romance Reading Mom" or "Ramblings on Romance". I want to know if this is a computer related or site related problem. If you can access these sites through my sidebar, let me know. And of course, if you have any idea how to fix this problem, please let me know. Thanks much. Have a good Sunday.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Great DNF Debate

I have a really hard time giving up on books. I feel like I owe it to myself to finish after investing a certain amount of time. And the author put her/his time and effort into it, shouldn't I finish it so that I can form an opinion based upon the entire work? Plus, what if I give up and it turns out that I missed something really good? Like, if I had only continued reading for ten more pages, the whole thing would have turned around. I have issues. But if all those concerns aren't enough, I also spent money on the book, dammit!!

I am currently reading a book that I was looking forward to, and had really hoped to enjoy, for a number of reasons. But it's slow going, I admit. I'm putting it down or falling asleep a lot. I knew I was in trouble when I picked up the book this evening and sighed deeply when I saw how much I had left.

There are several glaring problems with this book, which are growing increasingly distracting. The first is a problem I believe is associated with the phenomenon of the "wallpaper historical." I am completely confused about when this book takes place. It must be some time during the nineteenth century. One of the main characters is a Bow Street Runner (early Victorian?). Men wear tricorn hats, stockings and breeches (Regency? Georgian?) The behavior is very anachronistic. Everyone is awfully informal, calling each other by the first name. The heroine is charming and witty, but her winking, eyebrow waggling, and constant facetious/funny/provocative comments seem like they might cause consternation in others. In the last chapter I read, a group of characters trooped off to a tavern, where scantily clad men and women dance like extras in "Dirty Dancing." There is a talent contest, where a titled lady gets up and sings in front of the entire tavern. The heroine then dresses up like a man, and gets up on stage and sings a very suggestive song, aimed at the hero (who she has kissed once). Maybe I'm just clueless, but I'm confused and getting irritated.

Plus, there are editing/sloppiness issues. Everyone is scowling all the time. Characters' eyelids draw together (one more than one occasion), which gave me a disturbing mental image until I realized that what the author meant was that their eyebrows had drawn togther. The heroine is described as "uncommonly tall". How tall is she, you might ask? At one point she is described as being two feet taller than a man, at another point she is one foot taller than another male character. Even if we place these men at a petite 5'3", that's one freakin' tall woman.

I'm the kind of reader who can forgive all kinds of errors and absurdity, for the sake of an intriguing and entertaining love story. Alas, that doesn't seem to be the case either. I know I'm rambling here, but I had to get this off my chest. When is it time to give up on a book? I keep hoping it's going to get better, but instead I'm getting caught up in and distracted by the issues. Should I cut my losses? My head says yes, but my heart says, "Keep going, give it chance." It seems like a lot of work, though.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fun with Blogger...

So I upgraded to the new Blogger. Please bear with me as I play around. I haven't done much with the blog and I'm having this whole New Year's burst of energy and I want to snaz it up a bit. Why are people suddenly coming up as "anonymous"? Because they haven't upgraded yet? Oh well, bound to be annoyances.

I finished Man in a Million by Jessica Bird. It was ok. I try to judge categories a little differently, because they tend to leave me a bit disappointed. I think that the format puts some limitations on what an author can do, so I try to keep that in mind. This one started off strong, then lost steam as it went along. Spike Moriarty is a tattooed chef with a dark past. Madeline "Mad Dog" Maguire is an Amazonian professional sailor, with plenty of confidence in her athletic skills,and not so much in the personal and social arena. They met in Bird's previous title, From the First, and are extremely attracted to each other. Ms. Bird/Ward does the mental lusting thing extremely well. So often it is cringe or vomit inducing, but I was squeeing for these two to get it on already.

But when they did, it wasn't as hot as I was expecting. There is a contrived, rather stupid "big misunderstanding." Mad has very low self esteem, due to years of emotional abuse and manipulation by her family. I imagine that this is supposed to make it more understandable that she would jump so quickly to a ridiculous conclusion, but I couldn't help being annoyed and frustrated.

Also (and I admit this is a hot button for me), Mad is described as never eating, to the point where she doesn't menstruate. On the last page, Spike suggests that she should eat more often. I don't know if the author was intimating that this is normal for a female athlete, rather than a sign of an eating disorder, but coupled with the other evidence of Mad's poor self-image, I found it troubling. I wish that Spike had suggested therapy along with food. I wouldn't have minded if Mad's eating issues had been presented as an issue for them to deal with, but I was not comfortable with the way it was just a throwaway thing. But maybe that's just me. Eh, so I'm giving this one a C. I'll read future Bird works, but I'll just have to keep in mind that they're no Black Dagger Brotherhood. Heh.

Finally, and perhaps I'm the last to know because I live in a cave, there are two upcoming television shows that may be of interest. The Sci-Fi Channel is doing a television series based on the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Entertainment Weekly gave it a mediocre review, but I'll still give it a try. Also Masterpiece Theatre (PBS), is showing a new miniseries of Jane Eyre, for those who care (meaning me). It looks goooood. Alas, I believe that they are both on this Sunday, so I think I'll be choosing Jane over Harry.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Books for Me!

I had gotten a Barnes & Noble gift card for 50 dollars and I hadn't made it to the store yet. So I decided to take a little field trip. I didn't think that there was too much out that I wanted. But I ended up buying five books and two magazines, YogaLife and Everyday with Rachael Ray. I bought the Rachael Ray mag before, and the articles were interesting, but way too much Ray Ray. I don't hate her, but seeing that doofy grin too much definitely makes you want to smack it off.

Anyhoo, I was quite proud of myself for trying out some new authors and not sticking within the same old, same old. On the other hand, I don'tknow anything about a couple of them, so I hope they don't suck.

I bought (linking because I have no idea how to upload pics without them being fuzzy):

A Man in a Million by Jessica Bird--This one, by J.R. Ward's alter ego, I was planning on buying. I read the previous one, From the First, and thought it was just ok. But I've got a soft spot for tattooed former bad boys, and it sounds a bit corny, but appealing.

Demon Angel by Meljean Brook-- I also went shopping thinking I'd pick this one up. It's been getting good buzz, and I'm just happy to see a paranormal that's not about vampires or wolves. And I don't think that there are any fated mates.

Midnight Eyes by Sarah Brophy-- I was kinda planning on this one too. I usually don't like medievals, but I decided it was time to try again, and the blurb sounds interesting. Plus, it was 3.99

Dark Whispers by Samantha Garver-- This one was an impulse buy. This appears to be the second release by this author, who also doesn't have website. I picked it up because it was 4.99, and then the cover blurb got me. It sounds kinda Gothic-y, and there aren't enough Gothics these days.

Twilight Magic by Shari Anton--Another impulse buy from a new to me author, although she has a number of books out. Another medieval, I picked it up due to the cover, read the back and decided I needed it. Hopefully it wasn't a mistake.

So...contemporaries, medievals, demons, ghosts, psychics...I'm switching it up a bit after the VampFest that was the fall. Does anyone know anything about these, particularly the last two? Next I have to make a list of the crap that I didn't buy, but think that I may need sometime in the future.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Things I've Seen...

I've actually watched two movies in the last week!

*The Wicker Man, starring Nicolas Cage. This is a remake of a seventies film which starred Edward Woodward, and the original supposed to be much better. But I've never seen it, so that didn't really concern me. It was an interesting movie, slow at times, but different than most of what seems to be out there these days. It's about a policeman who goes to a small island colony in the Pacific Northwest. What he finds there is very strange. There were some strong actresses in small roles (Ellen Burstyn, Frances Conroy from Six Feet Under, Molly Parker from Deadwood, Diane Delano). But the female lead, an actress I had never seen before, was beautiful, but incredibly wooden. It was kind of jarring every time she came onscreen.

*The Covenant, starring a bunch of young good-looking men I've never seen before. The husband brought this home for me. Sometimes he makes strange choices on my behalf, but this looked promising enough. There were a bunch of hot, shirtless young men on the back of the case, and it was about young sorcerors in Ipswich, MA. It started out promisingly enough, with an (unconscious?) homage to The Lost Boys. I was looking forward to some cheesy fun. But the story was very poorly told. I suspect the movie was edited to within an inch of its life. The narrative took big leaps, so that it didn't make too much sense. Things seemed to happen with no reason. Except for a note at the beginning, the boys' powers and their origin were never explained. The Covenant of the title was given only a cursory mention about 2/3 in. I don't really know the what or why of it. If it's the title it should be explained. And the villain and his motives? Just dumb. This was a disappointment. One note: one of the actors, Taylor Kitsch, was quite pretty. And he's over 21. I checked, so I don't have to feel guilty over ogling.

Things I've Read...

*Fear the Darkness by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I got this online short story from Nath. Worthwhile for completeness, for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing. Pretty much more Nick angsting/bitching. Bleh. I'm sure he'll be redeemed and all, but at this point I could give a rat's ass. The excerpt for her next release, The Dream Hunter, didn't particularly excite, either. But I popped on over to her website, and I did do a little dance when I discovered that Ash's book will be out at the end of the year. I'm still excited for it, but there's so much build-up, I can't see how it won't disappoint.

*New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. Another winner. One might think that one would not like this book, given that Bella and Edward are apart for 3/4 of the book, Bella was in a lot of emotional pain, and she grows close to another guy, Jacob. But the angst was good angst. I felt awful for Bella, but I felt for her. It wasn't just whining (I'm looking at you, Nick) And I really liked Jacob. There. I said it. I actually kind of wished it was more of a triangle. All I am saying is oy, the break up scene, and the scenes after Bella and Edward see each other again. Must be read several times.

*Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning. A decent read, not stunning but I'll be looking for the next one at the library (August 2007). I think that half the books I read as a teenager had a young woman travelling to a foreign country to investigate a mystery regarding her family and meet an enigmatic stranger. I have an affinity for that type of thing. Plus I'm a sucker for Ireland and the Fae. There were two issues that I hope go away. First off, this a recounting of events that happened to the narrator, MacKayla Lane. So "Mac" seems to feel the need to say something like "Little did I know..." or "If I had only known then..." or some other hokey foreshadowing phrase, at the beginning and end of each chapter. Y'know, the kind of thing that screams "DUN, DUN, DUN! Ruh-roh, some bad shit's about to happen." Heavy handed and lame. Next problem is the main male character. His name is Jericho Barrons, and for some reason, I have taken a violent dislike to that name. And I don't like him much either. It's too early to tell if he's the hero of the series, and I kinda hope he turns out to be a bad guy. He crosses the line from enigmatic to dickhead. Actually, I have a theory about who he'll turn out to be, so hopefully I'll stick with the series long enough to find out if I'm right.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Best of 2006...

Some other stuff...

Best Non-J.R. Ward Vampire Book:

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. A very engrossing read. Anyone who likes stories about teenagers or vampires would like this one. Worth a try even if you don't like vampires.I just finished New Moon, and I can't wait until Eclipse.

Best E-book:

Bone Deep by Bonnie Dee. I debated whether or not to make a separate category for this one, because I don't want to make it seem as though e-book are somehow different or less than print romance. I just wanted to mention more books. All jokes about crappy covers aside, one only has to visit an EPublishing site like Samhain, Ellora's Cave, or Liquid Silver to see that some of the most interesting and unusual stuff is being published in electronic format. Whenever I drop by, I always want to read so many of them. Damn my tight budget! [Will review for free books!] Tatooed guy from the carnival! Forties setting! You won't be seeing Avon publishing something like that anytime soon. I just loved this one. It was very sweet, yet very sexy. I think I might re-read it tonight. P.S. Great Cover.

Best guilty, guilty pleasure:

Unleash the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Abandon reality, all ye who enter here. The hero is a "tigard" (a mix of of tiger and a leopard), the heroine is a wimpy law student/senator's daughter. Since this is an SK, they have cartoonishly nasty parents. There are also cartoonishly nasty preppies named Todd and Blaine, a trip back to 1981, and a general disregard for rules set up by Kenyon in previous books. Even for the over the top Dark Hunter series, this one was over the top. I used to wait for one of this author's releases with baited breath (reality be damned is my motto), but her output has been increasingly disappointing, and I find myself increasingly uninterested in reading. But although I found UTN a bit ridiculous, it was fun and sexy, and very readable. I think this might be due to the absence of Ash. I actually love Ash, but his story has started to overshadow that of the primary characters in some of the more recent books. Hopefully, things will get back on track this year, and thanks to Nath, I have a new online Kenyon story to read.

Well that's all for now. Off to console the family over the Jets loss. Hopefully 2007 will be full of good, and so bad it's good reads.

Best of 2006...

Best Romantic Suspense/Best Contemporary/Best pre-2006 read

Killing several categories with one stone! I don't read much straight up comtemporary romance or romantic suspense, but on this blog I've made no secret of my love for my new(ish) discoveries, Tara Janzen and Suzanne Brockmann. I read the first four of Janzen's "Crazy" series back to back, in a frenzy. Pure over the top, escapist, fun. My favorite of the series so far has been Crazy Cool. Christian "Superman" Hawkins was an awesome hero, and his appearances in subsequent books only confirm his greatness. I didn't expect to like Katya Dekker (poor little rich girls bug), and I didn't like the idea that he had gone to jail because of her. But this story of lovers reunited delivered on all fronts: sweet romance, hot sexin' and wild action. Some of the others books were a little flawed, but this one totally hit the mark. As I'm typing this I'm thinking that I really want to give it a re-read.

What else can I say about Suzanne Brockmann? Her characterizations can be flawed, and some of the details might be a bit ridiculous, but when you mix it altogether, it just plain rocks. Brockmann is fun to read and different. You run across characters that you don't really find in romance. Although my glom got derailed by a sudden interest in reading vampire books, I'm sure I'll pick it up again in 2007. It's kinda nice, 'cuz I still have a bunch to look forward to. My favorites so far are: Over the Edge and Gone Too Far.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Best of 2006...

Historical Style!

I didn't read a lot of memorable historicals this year, so this was an easy one to pick. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas was a great read. Kleypas is a very reliable author, in my opinion. Even her mediocre books are very readable. I think she's just good at creating chemistry between her characters, and also at creating memorable heroes. Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent is a fabulous rake--witty, cynical and naughty, without any tiresome torturedness. He just was who he was, unapologetically, and what he was was delicious. It's a toss up between him and Derek Craven, for real. I enjoyed the stuttering, mousy Evie Jenner too, although she wasn't quite as vividly drawn. The Virgin and the Rake has been done, done, done to death, but this was a nice take on the story. The gaming club setting was a nice callback to Dreaming of You, and I loved the secondary character Cam Rohan, who will be the hero of Kleypas' next historical.

Ahhh, Loretta Chase! Another very reliable author. I just wish she published more often. Her books are distinguished by great characterizations, and sparkling dialogue, and Lord Perfect was no exception. I liked the proper hero (Benedict Carsington) and the unsuitable heroine (Bathsheba Wingate), which is a reversal from the usual. This was a fun road romance. I love how Chase creates these very contained characters who fall ridiculously in love. It turns them into idiots and they don't know why. And it always works.

There has been a lot of discussion about the state of the historical. There are certainly a lot of mediocre ones out there. It just seems like they keep retreading the same plots, character types, and settings over and over again. But books like these remind me that a good historical romance can be the greatest escape there is. There's nothing like a world of wealth and beauty, with gorgeous men, balls and ladies' maids, to take you away from your concerns and daily grind.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Best of 2006...

Paranormal edition!

Overall, I must say, 2006 was not quite the reading year that 2005 was for me. I read a lot of books that I was "whatever" about, and a number that were outright disappointments. This week, I'd like to highlight some of my favorites of the past year. Let's begin with the paranormals. The romance market has absolutely been glutted with paranormals, as everybody and their mother tries their take on the vampire legends. In a genre that has quickly become hackneyed and cliched, J.R. Ward's books stand out. The premise is not particularly original (leather-clad vampire warriors), but the execution is so vivid that you can't help but get caught up in the world. I think the characterization is a particular strength. Thus far, Ward has created heroes (and potential heroes) who are not only vividly drawn, but quite distinct from each other. They're not all just grumpy, broody guys whose parents were mean to them or whatever. I enjoyed both Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened a lot. Have already re-read both a number of times. I loved both heroes, and I liked that the stories were so different from each other in tone. Ward's world is telescoping at a nice rate, so that I'm actually intrigued and interested. It must be said that Butch and Marissa are the characters I find least interesting, but I'm very excited (like dance in my seat excited) for their book, Lover Revealed, just for the return to the world of the BDB. Then again, I didn't think I'd like Rhage's book that much, but it's my favorite so far, so who knows?

In short, bring on the stupid spellings and names, and the annoying slang! Ms. Ward makes it work. Slap my ass and call me a fangirl.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Hope this post finds everyone well and curled up on the couch, recovering from last night's festivities. Here at the house of Germs, we are watching "The Honeymooners" and continuing to avoid cleaning up the post-Christmas mess. Everytime I try to start putting things away, I turn around and they're all back out again.

So over at Romancing The Blog, a brave columnist has decided to take on the the very original, never addressed topic of mean bloggers, with their nasty 'slash and burn' reviews. As usual, I was late to read this, and by the time I did, all that needed to be said had been said. This particular posting seemed particularly obnoxious. So I just need to say one more thing. Or two.

I discovered reader blogs by accident when I was looking for an author website. I was amazed to find intelligent, funny writing about something I loved, and that I was kind of embarrassed about loving. I didn't know anybody besides my mom who read romances, and nobody thought too much of them. Then I decided to give the blogging thing a try myself. I thought it was a way to exercise my writing muscles, and to get out my thoughts about the great and not so great. Because I do actually find romance novels fascinating on a number of levels. As I kept writing, I found that I really enjoyed it. And it was one of the few outlets that I have, as a mostly stay at home mother. Silly as it may sound, it was something that was just about me, about something I enjoy. It had nothing to do with family, home or dog. I really enjoyed reading other's interesting, funny, and yes, snarky thoughts on books and whatever else crossed their minds. And as I started to face some personal difficulties, the blogosphere was an easy escape for me.

So I raise a toast (of chamomile tea) to you, reader/reviewer bloggers, for sharing your thoughts and love of this genre, and inspiring me to do the same. Here's to a new year of memorable reading. I look forward to seeing what you all have to say!