Sunday, December 31, 2006

Music to read by...

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

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

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

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

Some examples (links to lyrics where possible):

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year to all!!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I dreamt of warm flesh and tossed cookies...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See, I told ya, incoherent.

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Free Books

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

At Christmastime...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 15, 2006


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

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

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

I heart Jim and Pam.

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

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

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

Copied from Mailyn's Blog:

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

The four books are:

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

There are two ways to enter the contest:

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hungry Like the Wolf...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More Star-Crossed than Buffy and Angel...

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I'm kind of at a loss here. This is kind of embarrassing. I've been saying that I was going to review The Vampire Who Loved Me by Teresa Medeiros. I read it about two weeks ago, and at the time I enjoyed it, I really did. But it has almost completely faded from my memory. No joke. I had to look at the back of the book to remind me of the hero's name (Julian Kane, FYI). So I don't have all that much to say about it.

TVWLM is the sequel to After Midnight, which I also read and enjoyed and promptly forgot. Like After Midnight, this is a Vampire Regency romance featuring the younger sister and brother of the hero and heroine of the first book. Portia Cabot has never forgotten Julian Kane, the gorgeous, brooding vampire she nursed a huge crush on, and who bit her before disappearing. The dissolute Julian returns to England after a period of time (3 or 4 years?), during which he's been searching for the vampire who holds his soul and trying to get himself killed. A bunch of stuff happens and they get together. And...yeah.

Anyway, I like Medeiros' writing style, which is light and breezy, with some very amusing moments. I also liked Portia, who was strong and spunky without being annoying. I also totally bought into their love story. I felt that they really loved each other, so Medeiros was definitely doing something right. Unfortunately, I can barely remember a specific thing about the plot or characters, so I guess that's not so good. The thing that I remember most was the love scene. There was only one major love scene, which is different from the books I usually read. And the author's real big on the disturbing cliches. We have "the thick, creamy nectar of her surrender,"the live ember nestled at the crux of her nether curls," and several mentions of "delicate petals" and "molten nectar." There was another "ember" reference as well. Oy. That kind of stuff knocks me right out of the story.

In conclusion, this was an enjoyable, but unmemorable read. If you enjoy paranormals, you'd likely enjoy it. Too bad the purple prose stayed with me more than anything else. But perhaps that's just me.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Comfort Movies

Much like comfort reads, I find that there are certain movies which always make me feel shiny and happy. This time of year finds me hankering for certain movies. They aren't Holiday movies, but there's something about them that I associate with this time of year. There are so many crappy romantic comedies, and these are great ones. Ridiculous, passionate and utterly satisfying love stories. If you're looking for some escapist fare, might I suggest one of the following:

Last night I watched Moonstruck for about the hundreth time. I love, love, love this movie. I just adore the dizzy, romantic, warm feel of the whole thing. If you've never seen it before, Moonstruck is the story of Loretta Castorini (Cher), an Italian-American widow in her thirties, who accepts a proposal from long time beau Johnny Cammereri (Danny Aiello), who then takes off for Sicily. Her orderly, humdrum life goes to hell in a handbasket when she goes to meet Johnny's estranged brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to tell him about the wedding. I don't particularly like Cher or Nicolas Cage, but they are fabulous in this movie. Nicolas Cage does crazy romantic so well (see my other favorite performance of his, Valley Girl, the best 80's teen movie evah). This is a quieter comedy, not rolling on the floor guffawing, but more giggles and smiles and things that strike you later. The Brooklyn of this movie is a place you'd definitely want to live in. It also has incredible dialogue (John Patrick Shanley is a playwright). This is probably the most authentically "Italian" movie I've seen and not in a cheesy, "that's-a some-a spicy meatball" way. Everything rings true, from all important discussions taking place in the kitchen, to adult children never leaving home, to family constantly being up each other's butts, which can be as reassuring as it is annoying. If you've never seen this one, it's worth a shot. It's different, sweet and romantic.

Next on my list to re-watch is You've Got Mail. Far superior to Sleepless in Seattle, if you ask me. Meg Ryan is hit or miss for me but I love her (and her hair and wardrobe) in this one. Aside from how great she looks, she also plays the owner of a children's bookstore on the Upper West Side, so she's pretty much the person I always planned on being when I grew up, which is also probably part of why I adore this movie. And of course you've gotta love the Hanks. Tom Hanks is the man (don't forget his early movies, like Splash, Nothing in Common, or The Money Pit. There are just so many.).
They have great chemistry, the banter is witty, the supporting characters are entertaining, and of course the bookstore settings. This is another movie which makes New York look like a dreamy, romantic, fabulous place to live. I haven't seen this one in awhile. I'm definitely renting it.

The first time I saw Roxanne was on Christmas Eve, which is probably why I'm in the mood to watch it.
Steve Martin is great as CD Bales, a beta hero if there ever was one. He's smart, witty and saddled with an enormous schnoz. Daryl Hannah is typically wooden, but that's okay. This movie also has a great setting (small town Colorado), filled with eccentric characters, which adds to the fun. It's very funny, even when you're cringing, and has a saisfying happy ending.

Hope all you Americans enjoyed your Thanksgiving! Perhaps soon I'll be in the mood to read and review some books.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

things you've always wanted to know

Found at Stacey's Place on Earth

5 Yummy things (I always try to eat healthy)

1 Big Macs
2. Starbucks White Chocolates Mochas
3. Chocolate Reese's Italian Ice from Ralph's
4. Pizza
5. Taco Bell Soft Tacos

5 songs I know by heart (There are oh so many, but you don't want to hear me sing 'em)

1. "I will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor
2. "Just Like Heaven" by the Cure
3. "Scenario" by A Tribe Called Quest (I'm an excellent rapper)
4. "Untouchable Face" by Ani DiFranco
5. "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor

5 things I'd do with a lot of money

1. Pay off my student loans
2. Ensure that my kids had money for college
3. Buy a new house
4. Give some money to my parents and sisters
5. Give money to children's charities, paricularly those that deal with foster care and abused children

5 places I would escape to

1. Italy
2. Ireland
3. England
4. Hawaii
5. Aruba

5 things I would never wear

1. Platform Hiking Boots
2. Dark Lip Liner with Light Lipstick
3. Those new skinny jeans that stop at the ankle
4. Stilettos (I'm a comfy, clunky shoe gal)
5. Dress shorts

5 favorite TV shows (Some old, some new)

1. Veronica Mars
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
3. Project Runway
4. America's Next Top Model
5. Northern Exposure

5 things I enjoy doing

1. reading
2. sleeping
3. hanging with the kiddies and the hubbie
4. listening to music
5. watching old favorite movies

5 favorite toys

1. Laptop
2. Ipod
3. Cabbage Patch Kids
4. Trivial Pursuit
5. Play-doh

Sheee's baaackk....

Okay, so I haven't been around for awhile. I may or may not write more about it at another point, but basically I've been suffering from a bit of a depression for awhile, and I pretty much hit bottom. I started getting a lot of anxiety and had a couple of panic attacks and freaked out. Never really happened to me before, but it had been building for some time, and had several causes, I think. I feel like I just lost myself for awhile there. But the situation has been taken in hand, and I'm working to turn it around. I plan on getting back to blogging, because I really enjoy it, and it's one of the few things that I do just for fun, that is just for me and isn't for anyone else (although I suppose it's for your reading enjoyment as well).

I have been reading though. I'm on a vampire kick again. As I mentioned, I read The Vampire Who Loved Me by Teresa Medeiros. It's only the second book I've read by Medeiros, and I enjoyed it, but much like its predecessor, After Midnight, it's rapidly fading from memory, so I'd best review soon. I also plan on reviewing Light My Fire by Katie Macalister. I got about 3/4 of the way through Divine By Mistake by PC Cast, and was totally into it. Then I put it down for the Macalister, and I haven't felt like picking it up again. Isn't it weird how that happens?

So I'm at work today, and I notice that Twilight is finally back in. But I was really busy, so I figure I'll grab it on my break. Twenty minutes later, and it was gone. Aargh! I shook my fist at the ceiling, patrons and coworkers be damned. I think I'm just gonna buy it. Oh and Rosario's review of A Hunger Like No Other has finally pushed me over the edge. I was not interested, but the reviews have done their work on me. I'm buying it. So that's where I'm at. In a vampire romance place.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Grab that Book

Haven't been around much lately, will post more about that some other time, but for now I'll just do this meme that everybody's doing. I'm catching up on the blog hopping, and I've got a book sitting right next to the computer.

Grab That Book

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next six sentences on your blog along with these instructions.

5. Don't you dare dig around for that "cool" or "intellectual" book on your shelves. (I know you were thinking about it.) Just pick up whatever is closest.

Can you guess my book?

"I'm not going to answer that."
"Because I don't have to. I don't know you, I don't owe you."
"You got to know me pretty damn well last night," he said in a low growl. "And I got to know you very well."

Ooh, I lucked out. Nice and succinct.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Have a great day everybody! I love Halloween, but this year I'm a bit Halloweened out. My son is 3 and a half and really into it, and we've been celebrating all month. He's got a parade at school, then later we're going trick or treating. Not for very long I'm sure. But the weather is supposed to be quite nice.

Just an observation: Is Blogger trying to drive me nuts? Don't they know they're dealing with a woman on the edge? With how low I've been feeling, plus my sinus infection, it's been really difficult for me to sit down and write a post. My brain feels cloudy, y'know? But every time I am in the mood, to post or even to blog-hop and comment, Blogger's having issues. Everybody was napping yesterday, and no Blogger all afternoon! That just ain't right!

I'm going to attempt to write quickie reviews of Gone Too Far and Into the Night by SB later. Perhaps it will be the return of the review haiku . I also want to write a review of The Vampire Who Loved Me by Teresa Medeiros. Is anyone else getting a bit cheesed out by all the plays on classic titles and sayings with "Vampire"? Too cutesy, plus it almost never has anything to do with the book.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sam and Alyssa, Alyssa and Sam...

I haven't read anything new since I finished Gone too Far last Thursday. I've got Out of Control and Flashpoint on my bed table, but I find myself unable to start them. I find myself feeling a little bit wistful. I read these books too fast, I fear. Because now I have to say goodbye to Sam and Alyssa. It's been a long and bumpy road, and I was right there with ya, guys. Best wishes and all that, but now I must settle for cameo appearances and mentions by other, less interesting characters. Ho-hum. I'm just not ready to continue on in a Sam and Alyssa-less SB world.

Yes, I'm afraid it's true, I'm now Suzanne Brockmann's bitch. It reminds me of J.R. Ward, where I can find so many things wrong with the books, yet I'm hanging on every word and desperate for more. I could nitpick these books to death (there were a number of small discrepancies and WTF? moments that took me out of the moment), I wasn't a big fan of the WWII subplots, there were times when the stories dragged, and a number of characters (see last post) that I wanted to bitchslap like Cher in Moonstruck ("snap out of it!"). And those were the characters I liked! Some of the love stories I found clunky. But Brockmann dragged me in. I lapped up every word, and when I finished one I picked up the next right away.

I've been trying to decide how to do this post. Every time I've been in the mood to blog this week, blogger hasn't been working, compounding the problem. So I've just decided to be my usual rambly, long winded, slightly unhinged self. This post will not so much be a straight up review as a series of observations. If you've read it, you'll get it, if not, hopefully your interest will be piqued. Or maybe you'll think it sounds like a pile of crap. Either way, I ain't going to sweat it. I'll provide links for each book for a better summary and excerpt, and if you're interested in reading more, you can find a 53 page PDF guide on the front page of Suzanne Brockmann's Website, which gives loads of info about the books. Is it just me, or should she really do something about her site? It looks like a middle school class project or something. Now, onto the books.

The Defiant Hero is the first one I read, but is actually the second one in the series. It is the story of Navy SEAL Lt.(jg) John Nilsson and translator Meg Moore, who once had a brief friendship (that didn't turn into anything more b/c of Meg's marriage), who are reunited under extreme circumstances. Meg's daughter and grandmother have been kidnapped by terrorists, and if she wants to get them back she has to grab a terrorist leader who is posing as a diplomat. Or something. I'm kinda fuzzy on the details. Did quite a bit of skimming on this one.

Observations: KristieJ warned me that Meg was her choice for worst heroine evah, and she is definitely a contender. I understand that she's been hurt in the past, and that she is in an extremely difficult situation,and determined to protect her family but her repeated refusal of help from Nils, who she had brought into the situation, started to grate. She kept flying off back into danger. Gee-zus, he's a Navy SEAL. They're, like, specially trained and shit. She? Is a translator. Maybe he could give her some tips or something, that's all I'm saying. John Nilsson is an archetypal Suzanne Brockmann hero: handsome, intelligent, capable, romantic and kinda masochistic. I'm serious. Brockmann's heroes seem to like being abused by mean women. To different degrees. There's a WWII subplot of course, because there are in all of these books for some reason. I find the WWII plots harmless, but not all that interesting either, and I just breeze through them to get back to the main plot. This one was decent, about Meg's grandmother and her brother's tutor and Dunkirk, but who really cares? I've spent enough time talking about this book, which was just ok. Let's talk about the most interesting stuff.

That's right, Sam and Alyssa. So we've got Ensign Roger "Sam" Starrett and FBI Agent Alyssa Locke, who got off on the wrong foot in The Unsung Hero, which I haven't read. Sam's a good ol' boy from Texas: arrogant, cocksure and loud (and foul) mouthed. Alyssa's somewhat too good to be true: in great physical shape, super intelligent and confident, ace sharp shooter and extremely beautiful (part African American, part Hispanic, part White). A former Naval officer herself, she resigned her commission, chafing at the restrictions placed on her due to gender. Now with the FBI, Alyssa comes off as cold and bitchy, pretty much because she's hyperaware that as a gorgeous woman of color, she's going to be looked at differently, and judged differently. She's got to show no weakness in order to be seen as the best of the best. Alyssa has dismissed Sam as a rednecked, bigoted idiot and despises him. Sam totally digs Alyssa, but then she needles him and he finds himself shooting his mouth off and completely playing into her preconceived notions about him. The sparks fly whenever these two meet, and, as you know, where there's smoke, there's fire, so after celebratory whiskey, you can guess what happens. That's right, handcuffs, chocolate syrup and hot, hot sex. And angst, regrets and anger the morning after. A totally, hot glorious mess, which saved the book for me. Alyssa comes off as a bit too mean and too bitchy (though I get where she's coming from). Sam can be obnoxious, but it's pretty clear that he's way into Alyssa and just can't help reacting to her. I love him (but more on that later) I don't even know why I loved this subplot so much. I mean please, drunken one-night stands betwen two people who don't like each other, but these two just grabbed me.

Next up, Over the Edge. Observations: This one was a lot better. Our intrepid hero and heroine are Naval Reserve Lt. Teri Howe, a pilot, and Seal Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok (what a great romance hero name), a strong, steady, very nice guy. Teri was a very different heroine from Meg. She's had a troubled past, but once she realizes that she wants Stan, she goes right after him. Stan the one resisting, because he's not that good looking or he wouldn't be good for her or some such hogwash. But I got over it, because everything just gelled in this one much better. The "action" plot was much better, a hostage situation on the plane. It kept me glued. I really liked Gina Vitagliano, the hostage who dealt with the FBI. Only a college student, she had an intelligence and grace about her, lacked that grating quality of some of SB's other female characters. We also get Max Bhagat, top FBI negotiator and Alyssa's boss. Intriguing character as well. I should mention Jules Cassidy, Alyssa's flaming gay partner, who in the great tradition of gay best friends, is a very nice guy and a good listener. Luckily for him and us, he gets his own romance down the line and I hear it's some good shit.

And of course, Sam and Alyssa. Sam's been pining for Alyssa for the last six months. Alyssa is wracked with guilt and shame over sleeping with Sam, and is none too pleased to find that she's still attracted to him. So she's gets drunk with some Brits and booty calls him late at night!! Kind of a bitch move, but again, a hot scene. More regrets and recriminations the next morning. Poor angry Alyssa. Poor sad Sam. After a conversation with the gay and therefore wise Jules, Sam decides to tell Alyssa about his feelings. Just when it seems that these two crazy kids might stop with the misguided (but really, really awesome) sex, and work towards a real relationship, we all get blindsided. In an effort to forget Alyssa, Sam had engaged in a brief affair with a dumb, stacked SEAL groupie. Oops, she's pregnant! Sorry Alyssa, Sam's going to do the right thing and marry this girl, who he doesn't give a damn about. WTF!!! WTF!! Stupid, stupid, stupid! Stop it Sam, just stop it! Seriously, this should all have me clawing out my eyes in anger and frustration, but instead I was verklempt. Brockmann has me totally buying into the "love story" of these two, which so far is just a case of good chemistry and drunken sex, pretty much. Damn you SB, for making me love them.

Oh yeah, and there's a WWII subplot about Denmark and the Nazis. Is there anyone out there who really loves these subplots? Who feels that they bring something to the table? I can't be bothered. They aren't bad, but they're taking up valuable page time. I'm going to stop here, because I wrote way more than I was planning to. What a surprise. Will pick up tomorrow.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Stop it!

So since my last post I have read The Defiant Hero, Over the Edge, Into the Night, and Gone too Far, all by Suzanne Brockmann. Hopefully, I'll have something up about them by the end of the weekend. I think my reading slump is officially over, and I think I can be declared an official SB fangirl. But I love these despite some issues, the chief of which there was at least one character in each book that I wanted to shake until their teeth rattled.

I very rarely watch MadTV, but every once in awhile my husband will watch it on Comedy Central. It's been on for, like, a million years, did you know that? Sometimes it's funny, sometimes not, but there's one sketch that I love and we always say it to each other. In it, Bob Newhart plays a therapist who has two words of advice for everything his patient has to say--Stop It!! Not to make light of actual emotional issues and the therapy process, but I think we've all had those moments, say when a friend or relative is going on about something for the millionth time and you've given them a million pieces of advice that they never listen to, where you just want to say, Stop it! Get over it! Enough already! Here's the sketch: YouTube--Stop It!. Warning: It's bit long and the audio's out of sync, which gets a little annoying.

So now I'd like to put on my therapist/friend hat and give a little advice to some of Brockmann's characters. This is how I felt while reading these books. My apologies to those who haven't read any of SB's books, I'll clear up their identities next post.

Alyssa Locke: I love you, I really do. You're a bitch sometimes, but I totally understand your frustrations at being a woman of color in a man's world. You have to work so much harder than everyone else, and show no weakness. But you know what? Stop it. Just stop it. You're a little too mean, and protesting a little too much. Relax, have a drink or two (the liquid courage helps, doesn't it?), and go booty call Sam. I know, I know, he's a redneck, arrogant asshole, but just...stop it. Go get some redneck ass. And stop it.

Meg: Stop it! Now, seriously. Stop it! Because as much as I'd like to say I understand your trust issues due to your lousy marriage, and your desperation as a mother to save your child, you pretty much define "too stupid to live." You've got your adoring Navy SEAL ready to do anything for you. He's a trained professional, idiot! And you are annoying on a number of levels. Unlike Alyssa, I don't like you that much, but I just wanted to tell you to stop it. Shut up and accept some help.

Stan: I really like you. You seem like a great guy, your name is Stanley, and you're scary looking, which I like in a man. But you're kinda insecure, and I'm here to tell you, stop it! When the gorgeous woman of your dreams starts throwing herself at you, don't set her up with one of your men. And say that you're not good for her, when there's no evidence that you are anything but a stand up guy. Stop it!!

Joan DaCosta: Ditto for you. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. You started off okay, but I really stopped liking you. Stop it already. Go find your young stud and have some fun, before he realizes how shallow and annoying you really are. Stop it!!

Max: Okay Max, I adore you. And again, I understand your reasons for wanting to keep your distance from Gina. But she's definitely Brockmann's best female character. She rocks. So just stop it. I'll give you a little hint, if you want to keep your distance from someone, you don't make sure you know their whereabouts at all time. And don't have sex with them (although I'm kind of glad you did, 'cuz it seems like you needed to get laid). And don't ask Alyssa to marry you b/c it'll be easier. Really, man! Any romance novel character can tell you that's not a good idea. Just stop it, godammit!!! And as your fake therapist, I'd like to recommend that you go see a real therapist. I love you, man, and I'm looking forward to your book, but stop it! And get some help. You worry me.

Man, giving advice is exhausting. But better than doing the bills. Ta for now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Feel a Glom coming on...

What is a glom, or in its verb form, glomming? See here and here.

I've never read any Suzanne Brockmann before, though she's very popular and generally gets good reviews. Not really a big romantic suspense fan, and Navy SEALS, nah. That particular fantasy doesn't appeal to me at all. Don't get me wrong, from the little I know about Navy SEALS, I would imagine they'd probably be a high percentage of hotties in real life too (best of the best and all that), and I can defintely understand the larger than life appeal...but not for me. Though I was intrigued by the fact that Brockmann has a recurring gay character who even gets his own love story (highly unusual for a mainstream, high profile author), that wasn't enough to push me past my RS bias. Terrorists, secret agents, military? Eh, I'll stick to the English Aristocracy, and leather-clad vampires.

Never let it be said that I don't try to expand my horizons, however, so I bought Brockmann's Everyday, Average Jones at work last week. First off, I should mention that I would characterize this book, despite the action-y opening scenes, as a straight up contemporary, rather than a romantic suspense. I think that this book and the other ones in her "Tall, Dark and Dangerous" series are contemporaries, and the "Troubleshooters" series is the RS. Just to clarify. So, anyway, in this book, Harlan "Cowboy" Jones rescues Melody Evans from a hostage situation in the Middle East. They have instant chemistry and celebrate their escape to safety with six days of hot sex in the unnamed Middle Eastern Country and in Paris. Then they go their separate ways, Melody back to her Massachusetts hometown, and Jones back to his life of dangerous missions. Melody made it clear that what she wants from life is an ordinary, average guy, not an adventurer she'd be worrying about constantly. But Jones can't get Melody out of his mind, so he decides to surprise her seven months later. But Melody's got a leetle surprise for him too, and I'll bet you can guess what it is. That's right, it's a big, fat belly. So Jones decides he's going to do "the right thing", whether Melody wants it or not. Ah yes, getting married for the sake of the baby, though we barely know each other. How romantic. And usually successful.

I enjoyed this book a lot though. Brockmann had both characters acknowledge the fact that they didn't really know each other all that well, and if it wasn't for the baby, marriage wouldn't be discussed. I liked that, thought it was honest, that scorching attraction doesn't equal lasting love and that both had genuine fears. Then Brockmann created a situation where the characters did actually get to know each other over time, which made the happy ending more believable. Jones, the hero, was great. Hot, intelligent and thoughtful. Melody was a bit annoying. I agree with Sybil's comment a few posts ago that she needed to get over the whole "I want a normal guy" thing. Because that guy? Was really cool. Good secondary characters as well. A B+.

So after I read and liked this book, I went over to Brockmann's website for a bit, to find out about her other books. And I read and read and read, including her 53 page PDF guide to the Troubleshooters series. I'm totally intrigued now. Besides the fact that the books and characters sound interesting, I'm also intrigued by the diversity of her characters. And there seems to be a significant subtext of tolerance in a post-9/11 world. Curious to see how overt it is. And just because she's so proud of her gay, tap-dancing son. Seriously, guess what I'm doing at work tonight? Finding people Halloween books and tracking down Brockmann's backlist. What's the best? What to start with? I have a feeling those Troubleshooters books will be easier to find.

Even Vampires Get the Blues

It seems to me that Katie MacAlister is kind of hit or miss author for a lot of people. I like her. I really like her sense of humor. It's wacky, but I don't find it forced or corny, like I do with some other "funny" authors. There's always a couple of genuine laugh out loud moments in her books. Her paranormals work far better for me than her contemporaries, which I've pretty much given up on. I've enjoyed her "Dark Ones" series, which seem to be a tongue in cheek homage to Christine Feehan's Carpathians. MacAlister's heroes are Moravian "Dark Ones", born without souls. They cannot go out in the daylight, and they require blood to survive, plus their souls can only be redeemed by "joining" with their one true soulmate, their "Beloved." This process takes seven steps, and in the meantime wacky hijinks ensue. And I mean that in a good way. The first book in this series, A Girl's Guide to Vampires, was merely eh, in my opinion, but I loved Sex and the Single Vampire and Sex, Lies and Vampires. I adored the heroes, liked the heroines and felt that they had a nice balance of silliness, sex and genuine emotion. But the excerpt for the fourth book, Even Vampires Get the Blues didn't grab me at all. I didn't bother with the book until I found it for 75 cents at the library. Verdict: I'm glad that I waited for the bargain. This was quite disappointing.

I'm not going to bother with a synopsis. Here's the back cover blurb. Gives you the basic idea.

The problem with this book was the hero, pretty much, which was the feeling I had from the excerpt provided at the author's website. Paen Scott, supposedly sexy Scottish Dark One was, well...a douchebag. Although he has a howling void for a soul, and can do nothing but brood and be detatched, he insists that he is perfectly happy the way he is, and that he doesn't need no stinkin' Beloved. He doesn't believe in emotional involvement with a woman yada, yada, yada. Get over yourself. It's kinda dumb. So I'm waiting for the revelation of his past heartbreak or some shit that turned him against women, but no, he just doesn't really want one for more than sex. So despite his professed lack of interest in a Beloved, he goes through the joining with half-elf Samantha, then rejects her. I call douchebaggery!!! Douchebag! I ended up feeling bad for Sam and not really respecting her. She forgives Paen super quick when he changes his mind, which nearly gave me whiplash. I didn't buy that particular scene at all. Tsk, tsk sister, you can do better, sexy vampire soulmate or not! I just couldn't get behind them as a couple at all. When the basis for the romance is an instant, deep connection, there had better be some good chemistry.

I think the other problem was the first person point of view. MacAlister writes exclusively in the first person, as far as I can tell (one exception is the prologue of this book). One problem of this style is that, for me at least, the heroines can begin to run together, similar snarky voice and all that. Also, it can be tell-y, not show-y, if you know what I mean. I just didn't really buy the connection between them, even though we were repeatedly told by Sam how much she lurrrved him. And I wonder if Paen would've seemed like less of an ass, if we had gotten any of his POV.

There were some funny moments. I liked Beppo the monkey, and Sam's cousin/business partner, Clare, who's in the denial about the fact that she's a fairy.

Ah well. A C for this one. This was a miss, but I'll give future ones a try. The next installment of her Aisling Grey series, Light My Fire, is out in November. I like this series too, but it's a bit of a guilty pleasure b/c the heroine's rather TSTL, and the hero's kind of a douchebag too. I would rec Sex and the Single Vampire and Sex, Lies and Vampires as paranormal romantic comedies to try, though.

Monday, October 09, 2006

More Buys...

I can tell the new Friends of the Library bookshelves are going to be the death of me. I can't walk by without grabbing something off of the shelves. Saturday I bought Dead in Dixie by Charlaine Harris, Vanquished by Hope Tarr, and books by two very popular authors that I have limited experience with: Son of the Morning by Linda Howard, and Everyday, Average Jones by Suzanne Brockmann. I hope these aren't their worst books ever. Years and years ago, when I was in high school, I read a novella by Howard that made a huge impression on me. It featured an asshole-alpha male, who had made his secretary into his mistress, gets her pregnant and wants nothing to do with the baby. Guy was a total jerkoff, but I totally fell in love with the story (Hey, I was 17). Awhile ago I put my mad librarian skills to work and tracked down the title, which I have since lost. But I think it was "No Place Like Home." Anyone read it? Despite that killer story, I haven't read anything else by her. Never read any Brockmann, not my usual thing, but why not? I'm trying out the Brockmann, but I'm in the mood for a paranormal. I guess it's that time of year. I'm wanting some vampires or witches or demons or ghosts. Been that way since the beginning of September. It's funny because before that I hadn't read a paranormal in a long time.

Dead in Dixie is a Science Fiction Book Club omnibus of the first three volumes of Harris' "Southern Vampire" series, featuring Sookie Stackhouse. This cover is a jaw dropper. Check it out:

In preview this is looking blurry, so I hope you can get the full effect. Sookie is straight outta 1993. She's wearing black rolled up jeans shorts, and those slouchy socks that we used to tuck our jeans into. The color of the socks would match the color of your Champion sweatshirt. And Black Reeboks to boot. Ok, kinda cheesy and outdated, but the really strange part is the guy behind her, who I assume is Vampire Bill. He looks like a 17 year old Emo boy. It' s a really weird combo. I've seen some others of these SFBC books and they all seem to have really fugly covers. I dunno.

Anyway, coming soon: a review of Even Vampires Get the Blues by Katie MacAlister.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

In Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, readers are introduced to the alternate reality of Ixia, a country once ruled by a corrupt monarchy, and now under strict military rule. The former provinces have been turned into military districts, ruled by Generals, who are all in allegiance to Commander Ambrose, the architect of the coup. Societal position is no longer determined by money and connections, but by skill and loyalty, and all subjects are held to a strict Code of Behavior. The code dictates that if you take a life, you lose your life, whether it was on purpose, by accident, or in self-defense. At the beginning of the book, 19 year old orphan Yelena awaits her execution for the murder of the son of one of Ixia's Generals. At the eleventh hour, she is given a second chance by Valek, Ixia's head of intelligence, a skilled spy and assasin. The catch? If she wants to live, she must become Commander Ambrose's food taster, checking his food and drink at each meal for poison. In addition, to prevent any chance of escape, Yelena will be given a small amount of poison each day. If she does not go to Valek each day for an antidote, she will be dead within days. If she doesn't get poisoned by one of the Commander's meals first. Or, if the vengeful General Brazell doesn't get to her. Is it worth it to Yelena to prolong her life for a time? The practical Yelena thinks so. She soon finds herself neck-deep in intrigue, corruption, danger and unexpected love.

I really, really enjoyed this one. Yelena was a great heroine: strong-willed, intelligent and practical. She does what it takes to survive, and her growth and development from scared convict to brave woman was very interesting. It was also a fast paced and exciting book. I liked the world of Ixia, which was both very strict and strangely fair. I enjoyed the romance as well. I did feel that it was a bit out of the blue, but since I would characterize this book as fantasy rather than a romance, this didn't particularly bother me. The romance is only part of Yelena's journey. She and her romantic interest (I'll leave that a surprise, though I'm sure you can guess), were quite well-suited and have a lot of potential. Her hero is somewhat less than heroic, and he did remain a bit of a cipher, but that didn't bother me, either. He was characterized in a particular way throughout the book. I'm glad it's a trilogy, because I'm looking forward to reading more about him and their relationship. Good secondary characters as well. Loved the twist concerning Commander Ambrose.

All in all, I was quite pleased to get an email newsletter from Harlequin announcing that the sequel Magic Study is out today. Hope to find it at the library soon.

Some other reviews: here,here and here. I'm know there are others, this one's been making the rounds. Gotta go, season premiere of Veronica Mars in 5 minutes.

In short, strong fantasy, strong heroine. B+.

My Theme Song?

Your Theme Song is Back in Black by AC/DC

"Back in black, I hit the sack,
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back"

Things sometimes get really crazy for you, and sometimes you have to get away from all the chaos.
But each time you stage your comeback, it's even better than the last!

My husband loves this song. Loves AC/DC. Me, not so much. I find as
I get older, I enjoy classic rock less and less. Perhaps this is because the playlists haven't changed significantly since I was 12. How many times can you hear "Behind Blue Eyes" or "Another Brick in the Wall," anyway?

Monday, October 02, 2006


Is there a sci/fi/futuristic romance that recently came out that has to do with cyborgs? I feel like I've read a review or two recently, but I can't remember any details. I would just putter around, looking for it, but I've been really busy.

P.S.--Reading Poison Study, really enjoying it.

P.P.S.--Re: the JR Ward kerfuffle of a week or two ago.
There are two posts up at her board, one by Ward, one by the Mods, about respectful and welcoming behavior. Not trying to stir the pot or anything, just letting ya'll know. Either Ward was checking out Smart Bitches, or someone else let her know that it might be a smart thing to do.

P.P.P.S.--Kelley Armstrong has the prologue and first chapter of her new book, No Humans Involved, up at her site, and it's made me more excited for it than I was before. Also, next year, she will be doing a short graphic novella of Elena's first days as a werewolf. Online! Awesome!!

P.P.P.S.--Sorry about the lack of links, but the kids have had it, gotta go.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pleased with myself...

Went to work last night intending to pick up Poison Study and Twilight. Lots of positive buzz around the blogosphere on these two. Poison Study sounds right up my alley. When Twilight came out, it got excellent reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist, but I thought it sounded same old, same old. But it's gotten such great buzz, I'm giving in. But it was out. Boo!!!

But I did get the Snyder book, and I picked up four paperbacks for 75 cents each from the friends of the library sale shelves. I work in a wealthy community, and people donate everything. I amazed at the recency of some of them. I passed over Ghost Hunter and On the Way to the Wedding, amongst others. But I picked up Jude's Law by Lori Foster,Say No to Joe? by Lori Foster (I read all of the other ones in this series),Even Vampires Get the Blues by Katie MacAlister (I've liked some of her others, but this one looked "eh"), and Crazy Wild by Tara Janzen (Read it already, but I want these for my own). So I'm feeling quite pleased with myself. I love a good bargain. I was mildly interested in these books, but not enough to shell out real dough. Into the TBR milk crate they go.

So I recently helped my parents move. My mother had a shitload of books. A shitload. Anyway I grabbed a bunch. Some to keep (watch for an old favorites post) and some to give away, sell or donate. So I put some up on, but there are some that are so old, the ISBN numbers can't be recognized. I'm debating what to do with them. I don't know if they'd be worth anything to anybody. But if anyone would like any Barbara Cartlands or old HPs by Anne Mathers and others or signet Regencies by Catherine Coulter, I can pass along some. Does anyone know if they are worth anything? There are also some Johanna Lindsays and Jude Devereaux (Velvet Series), and Nora Roberts categories and a couple by Diana Palmer (thought there were more). The Diana Palmers are Trilby, Connal and Friends and Lovers. Seriously, if anyone would like to read Make Up Your Mind, Nurse, or some other 70's HP, let me know. I'll mail you an array.

I'm going to go look at hot guys at Imaginary Origin some more. Later.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blog Pimping

My younger sister has started her own blog Sportsquee! She works in the television field and she knows a shit load about sports, and the blog will be combination of her insightful commentary and predictions, and good old squeeing over the athletes that she deems hotties. Check it out. Lots of hockey and NASCAR and pictures of cute athletes. Best of luck blogging, Margee!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

More blasts from the past...

I''ve been very pleased to see that a historical romance set in Ancient Rome,The Gladiator's Honor by Michelle Styles has recently been published. It got very good reviews at AAR and by Jayne at Dear Author. Its nice to see an unusual time period, and its one of my favorites. Yes folks, I took 4 years of Latin in High School, and a semester of Latin and a semester of Ancient Greek in college. (I started out as a Classical and Medieval Studies major.) I'm a big geek, I know.

But as it happens, in my rereading binge of the past month or so, I revisited one of my favorite mystery series ever, the Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis, also set in Rome. I read the first one my sophomore year in high school--15 years ago. She's up to #17 at this point, See Delphi and Die. But I went back to the first ones, starting with Silver Pigs. These books revolve around "private informer" Marcus Didius Falco, as he tries to make ends meet with some honest work. A private informer is the ancient equivalent of a private investigator, and the charming plebeian (think lower middle class) does plenty of seedy stuff. He's an amusing, sarcastic narrator. In Silver Pigs, Falco meets Helena Justina, a senator's daughter and it's dislike at first sight. I love the first books the best, as the two navigate their growing relationship. It's a bumpy road. They are not social equals at all, and it adds a new layer of desperation to Falco's efforts, because now he has to make enough money to attain the proper rank, in order to be able to marry Helena. The Romans were pragmatic folks, you could buy your way up, but it didn't come cheap. These are my favorite kind of mysteries: fast and funny, with a great big dollop of romance. There is a lot of history packed in, but don't let it put you off, because it's done well and there's a lot of funny, strange details. I won't deny that the tone is a bit anachronistic, and I'm sure a purist could pick apart the details, but hell, these are just great reads. If you like mysteries, or are interested in checking out something set in a different time period than 19th century Britain, I highly reccommend these. And I'll be getting the Styles book next week.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm The Vampire, That's Why

When I bought Lover Awakened, I also picked up this one by Michelle Bardsley. Ms. Bardsley really, really should think about updating her website, because there is barely a mention of this book, much less a blurb or excerpt. Now, I wavered on this purchase because the cover description reminded me of a certain popular vampire series with a snarky heroine, written in the first person. But I was in the mood for something lighthearted, and its been an age since I've tried a new paranormal series. When I finally got to reading it, I noticed that the cover blurb was from MJD. Obviously, I'm not a reader who pays much attention to these things, because if I was, I would've just been even more concerned that this was going to be completely derivative.

Anyhow, onto the book. A year ago, Jessica Matthews was widowed when her husband (whom she was in the process of divorcing for knocking up another woman), was in a car accident. These events make her yet another single parent in Broken Heart, Oklahoma, a dying town which boasts the highest rate of divorce in the state. Jessica is a rather bitter stay at home mother to her two children when one evening, her life is forever changed. While she's taking out the garbage, Jessica is attacked by a wild vampire-beastie thing, and awakens attatched to the thigh of a totally hot guy, sucking his blood. Hot guy is a vampire with long, dark hair and an Irish accent, by the name of Patrick O'Halloran. Although, Patrick causes a stirring in Jessica's long dormant nether regions, she quickly learns that to have sex with a vampire, is to be mated to him for the next hundred years (am I the only one hearing echoes of another vamp series?). Jessica does not want this, she's a mom and her kids come first. I should also mention that Patrick's father is the founder of the vampire race, which makes him a prince, so if they got together she would be...anyway, moving on.

The next evening Jessica finds out that ten others, also single parents, were bitten by the beastie, and turned by other vampires. The vampires just happened to be in the area because they are looking for a town to turn into an oasis for paranormal folks. So, who is running around turning good folk into vamps? How are these vampire going to to be effective parents when they can't go out during the day? Is Jessica ever going to stop yapping and do it with Patrick? I don't like to give too much away, and I'm get sick of writing synopses, so I leave you with these questions.

So was this book totally derivative? Yeah, kinda. It reminded me a lot of several other books that I've read, but it was not without its charms. The first problem I had with it was that I thought that the whole series was going to be about Jessica's adventures, and the idea of endless angsting over whether or not getting together with Patrick would be detrimental to her kids was really annoying. It was a thin excuse to begin with because he was a great guy, totally devoted to her and the kids. But I realized that that was not to be the case, and that their storyline would be resolved, which made the story more enjoyable. But there were two more problems. I'm not really to into the first person heroine thing, because I find that the heroine often comes off as rather one-note, that note being snarky/downright obnoxious. Her attitude really wore thin. I also thought that this was compounded by the use of the whole "soul mate" device. Patrick is in instant, devoted love, seemingly merely because Jessica can wear a ring that once belonged to him. His development was pretty much limited to ardent soul mate guy, which, combined with Jessica's borderline annoyingness, really weakened the love story for me.

But the story moved along at a nice clip, and there were some amusing moments. I didn't want to put it down. I liked the idea of a weird little small town, full of strange beings. I'm a fan of stories about weird little towns. I loved Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, and all those stand alone episodes of the X-Files where Scully and Mulder would roll into some podunk town affected by the moon or something. And though I usually am not into the kiddies in my romance, there was just enough of them, and they weren't annoying. And the idea of being a vampire parent to a human child and all the resulting implications, is an intriguing one.

So although I found many similarities to the Betsy books (and the works of Katie Macalister), and the love story wasn't all that compelling, I thought it was a fun read, and a cute world, and that future installments would be worth reading. I'll probably check them out of the library though. According to the back of the book, the next one, Don't Talk Back to Your Vampire, will be about the local librarian and Patrick's twin brother (I think). Nothing on Bardsley's website, but it's due out next summer. A C for this one. If you like your vamps funny, it might work for you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Slogging through...

Prior to the publication of Lover Awakened, I had been working on Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll. I love Pride and Prejudice, I don't consider myself to be any kind of purist, so I was quite pleased by the idea of a sexed-up sequel. I've actually loved this story in all of its incarnations: the old BBC miniseries, as well as the Colin Firth one, the old Olivier movie, and the recent Keira Knighteley one (even though she kinda bugs). The Darcy-type hero is one of my favorites: the arrogant, upright, reserved type, felled by love. And he is the archetype to be sure. Anyhow, Berdoll's book rolled along nicely for awhile, but then my attention started to flag. It's just that the pages are so damn big! And the font so damn small! So I put it down for a week or so, then picked it up again. I'm torn. I'm enjoying her characterizations, but aside from the physical difficulty I'm having in reading it, the language is really getting on my nerves. Ms. Berdoll has obviously done quite a bit of research into the language and slang of the time. And she seems to feel the need to throw in every word she came across, multiple times. She also structures the sentences awkwardly and it often comes across as fake and forced, rather than authentic. It is extremely overwritten. We're just getting around to events foreshadowed from way back. It's just all taking too long. I think I'm going to skim because I do want to see what happens.

Tara Marie just mentioned Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer on her blog. It got me thinking that there are a ton of pretty recent sequels or offshoots of P&P. I every time I turn around someone mentions another.

Here are some more:

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street

Letters From Pemberley: the First Year by Jane Dawkins

Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma by Diana Birchall

The Darcys by Phyillis Furey

Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston (and sequels)

Pemberley by Emma Tennant

Suspense and Sensibility or, First Impressions Revisited: A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy) by Carrie Bebris (and sequels)

I have no idea if this is interesting to anyone besides myself. I'm just amazed at all the attempts to pick up Darcy and Elizabeth's story. I've left out a bunch. And the reviews are mixed to say the least. Ah well, if anyone's looking to read a P&P sequel, here's a place to start. Ta for now.