Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Why yes it's yet another end of the year roundup!

This was an interesting year for me. Had a second child, turned thirty, attempted to take care of two small children, chopped off my hair, got highlights for the first time in 4 years. All in all almost lost my mind. This was also the year I heavily got into reading romance. I had started last year, but this year I started reading alot. And I branched out into historicals. So right now I'd like reflect a bit on my reading for the year.

Best New Author: Gotta go with JR Ward. Perhaps she overdoes the slang a bit, and perhaps some didn't like those names. But I really enjoyed Dark Lover. She's got style, man.

Best New Authors I hadn't read before:There's alot in this category
Eloisa James, Connie Brockway, Laura Kinsale, Loretta Chase

Author who is so bad that it makes me think I really could get published:Just kidding...well there are some but I will only be mean spirited in my own mind. Well really mean spirited anyway.

Author who I just don't get the love for:
Christine Feehan and eternally, Laurell K. Hamilton (more specifically,the Anita Blake series. I do enjoy the Merry Gentry ones)

Best Books published in '05:
Dark Lover (Ward), Sex, Lies and Vampires (Katie MacAlister), Seize the Night (Sherrilyn Kenyon--this actually came out last week of '04, but I'm including it)

Best Older Books that I just read for the first time and will re-read and re-read:Again, a big category, read a lot of keepers this year
Dreaming of You (Kleypas), As You Desire and My Pleasure (Brockway), Lord of Scoundrels (Chase), The Shadow and the Star and Flowers From the Storm (Kinsale). Read these. Trust me I have great taste.

Biggest Disappointment(s):
Sins of the Night (Kenyon)
Undead and Unreturnable, Undead and Unappreciated, Really Unusual Bad Boys (MaryJanice Davidson)
MJD, where art thou? You who gave me so many hours of reading pleasure last year? I suspect with both of these authors, that it's a case of being overextended. Both have like a million irons in the fire and something coming out every other minute. While I truly admire their work ethic and imagination, the work is suffering. The Betsy books were extremely light on plot and character development, and when there was an intriguing moment, it was wrapped up too quickly or left dangling. Since it is a series, I hope that this is all part of the arc, and we'll get something more meaty soon. SK started off '05 with my most favorite DH book, evah, Seize the Night, but Sins sucked. Sorry. Totally devoid of the scorching tension and hot passion I look forward to from her. I just could have cared less about what's his and her name. Ah well, we shall wait and see what '06 brings. Just started Unleash the Night.

That's enought crabbing for now. Part 2 tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Good blog, good post, go read

About 6 weeks ago I found this blog,Smart Bitches, Trashy Books , and now I have to check in every day. The two "Smart Bitches", Candy and Sarah, write intelligently and snarkily about romances. It's a great read. Beware of bad language and creepy, perverted covers, though. Anyway, check out the December 13 entry, which will link you to Candy's column at "Romancing the Blog." Interesting stuff on Paranormals and taboos. Perhaps because I was an English major, I can't help giving lots of thoughts to the "Why's" of paranormals. Why they appeal to me in particular, and why they appeal to readers in general. I wrote this long, unusually lucid comment, then I fucking lost it. Yeah, I said fucking. Damn. And I was going to post it here too. Oh well. I will have to save those deep thoughts for another time.

Friday, December 09, 2005

On the Fly

Things are crazy. At this rate I'm going to turn into one of those people who constantly bitches about how they hate the holidays. It's not that bad, especially if you go the online route. I think what's really getting to me is that the increasingly bad weather/impending arrival of Santa Claus is turning my son into a nightmare. I think his head's going to explode by the time Christmas actually arrives. He really needs to be able to run around outside for at least 1/2 an hour to work off some energy. He's scaring the other kids at Mommy & Me. I'm serious, and I can relate b/c I was the shy kid who used to be terrified of the maniac with the weird gleam in his eye. And now I've given birth to one.

The good:
Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. If you haven't read it, turn off your computer and go get it. GO. NOW. Really. Just Do It. I liked it even better than "The Shadow and the Star."

Peppermint Mocha Lattes. I'll ignore the fact that they coat as much as a Happy Meal. McDonald's also counts as good.

Brokeback Mountain. Haven't seen it yet, and God only knows when I will, but it looks awesome. Very romantic, star-crossed love. And Heath Ledger's appeal has grown on me. I used to not think much of him.

The bad:
Veronica Mars from last Wednesday. Well, actually it wasn't too bad. Just meh. Which is baaad for this show. The worst part is that there's like 6-8 weeks until it's back.

The fact that my son came up to me while I was holding the baby and asked to touch her head "gently" with his foot. And he had taken his sock off. What is UP with that? I am at my wit's end with his obsession with her head. Very weird.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale

So I finally read a book by Laura Kinsale. I'd read so much about her and how she pushes the boundaries, yada yada yada, so of course I needed to read one. I went on All about Romance and this got a fabulous review by none other than Lisa Kleypas, so I went out and bought it. Wow man, wow. She really does push the boundaries of the typical romance novel (this almost didn't have a romance novel feel to it), but what I liked and respected more than that was the fact that she respects the romance reader's intelligence. She didn't rely on shortcuts or stereotypes to spell things out or move the story along, instead allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. One actually has to read carefully. But it's worth the work!

The hero of this book, Samuel, lived through horrific sexual abuse (don't worry, only hinted at)as a child before being rescued and going to live with a wealthy aristocratic English family in Hawaii. He is taken under the tutelage of their Japanese butler, and learns the ways of the Neen-jah. Sorry, Ninja. Samuel has a strong sense of guilt and shame regarding himself and his past. He is highly uncomfortable with his sexuality and wants nothing more than to provide a sheltering haven of chaste love for his foster sister, Kai. His world is rocked when his path crosses with Leda Etoile, an orphan raised by an aristocratic spinster now living in borderline destitution, during a London trip for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. I will now gloss over lots and lots of stuff and just say a forced marriage and a return to Hawaii results. Will Samuel get over Kai and his past and love and live HEA? Well, of course, it's a romance novel, but I was worried there for awhile.

It was just that rocky. I was initially very uncomfortable with the whole Kai subplot. I do not want a romance where the heroine is the hero's second choice. And I was going there for awhile--Leda believed Samuel was in love w/Kai, Samuel believed Samuel was in love with Kai. But without telling me straight out, Kinsale did make me understand that, while Samuel loved Kai, he didn't lurrrve her. Similarly, I was also concerned for awhile that what Samuel only lusted after Leda. But there are clues that he is in love with Leda, long before he realizes it himself. One has to read the dialogue and his actions very carefully. Kinsale lets the reader fill in what is unsaid. Neither of these characters are in touch with their emotions at all. They are products of their upbringing as well as Victorian repression, and were realistic and consistent within that setting. At times Leda seemed a cipher, but within the context of being a Victorian maiden raised by an older "lady" who clung to already faded notions of gentility and proper comportment, her insistence on propriety seems realistic. Actually, as a orphaned young lady without the protection of money or family, her reliance on and love for etiquette, even if tiresome, seems like a means of self-defense. She desperately wishes to remain respectable and safe, yet barely has the means to do so. Her self-image is all she has. She is a survivor, and she had quiet strength and sometimes, a spark of something more. They all don't have to be feisty misses, do they? And come on, I'm sorry, but hot blonde Ninjas rock.

In summation, this is an excellent read, and a definite change from the usual. It may be slow at first, but it definitely pulls you in. Good story, good characters, sexy sex. And great writing. I will now be reading Ms. Kinsale's entire back catalog. Next up, Flowers From the Storm. I also read Kiss Me,Annabel by Eloisa James, which was a pleasant read. If you like James, you'll like it. However, she's walking a very fine line with some of these characters, concerning likeability. The next title is to be called "Taming the Duke," but I highly hope Imogen gets a smackdown, hopefully by Rafe (fingers crossed). Will I ever get back to "Blow Me Down?" I just picked up 10 for $10 at the Used Bookstore, so either "Flowers from the Storm" or a double shot of pointy stakes by Rosemary Laurey is up next. Sorry, virtual pirates.