Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Decent Book and Movie

Goddess of the Sea by P.C. Cast was a pretty good read. I like her overall style. Her heroines always are well-fleshed out, and are refreshingly practical, take charge kind of people. And she doesn't shy away from the weird stuff, i.e. the beast stays a beast, and the mer-people stay mer-people, even during sex. But it's done tastefully. I wasn't quite as enamored of this book I was of Goddess of the Rose and Goddess of Spring, for two reasons.

First of all, I found the whole church keeping the women down and stripping them of their power thing a bit too heavy-handed. And there was too much of it. All the stuff with the abbott and the knight took time away from the love story. I felt that the romance in this book was much less fleshed out. In the other two books, I felt that the love story was based upon a deep friendship between the h/h, whereas this was more of a love at first sight, instant soulmates thing. And unfortunately, as a woman of a certain age, this will always be Dylan to me:Dylan and Brenda 4-eva!. I know that Dylan is a Welsh name, and most of this book took place in Medieval Wales, but it was jarring to me, especially with all of the mythological names floating around. Overall, a good read, though I'd reccommend one of the other two titles over this one.

Also saw King Kong. A little too long, I started wanting to fast forward, but good. Peter Jackson is an excellent filmmaker with a strong vision. Is it wrong that I found the relationship between King Kong and Naomi Watts to be stronger than the one with Adrien Brody, the supposed love interest?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The library is evil. Eeviill!!!!

See my mini review of Rio by Allyson James, over at Sybil's blog. Sybil is doing her part to drum up buzz for e-books. Of course, like all the ebooks I read, this one's rather kinky. I don't know what that says about me. I guess since I'm buying something so explicitly erotic, I'd better go whole hog and get my money's worth. Expanding my horizons, you know.

I've worked in libraries my whole life, starting with high school, continuing through college, graduate school and my whole working life. A number of times I've had people say stuff like, "Oh, working in a library must be nice and quiet," or "It's so quiet, it must be boring."
Well, it's not boring, and it's not quiet. Not in a school library and certainly not in the public library. I've worked in upscale suburbs and more troubled neighborhoods, and the story is the same everywhere. The library is a public building open until 9 pm most nights (with public restrooms :)), and so no matter where you are you get the kooks and the crazies. My sister sent me the following clip. Beware of the dangers in the library.

Watch out for guys in Ohio State Sweatshirts!

Now, there are amusing things about this clip, like the red sweatshirt guy and the reporter's "hardnosed journalist" attitude. But it got my back up a bit, because they seemed to insinuate that librarians were just sitting around letting this go on. I know from experience that it is extremely difficult to have someone permanently removed from a public library. Where I work, we had a crazy guy threatening the librarians and bothering patrons, and the librarians were getting in trouble for complaining! It was a long, drawn out process of gathering information and evidence and having a hearing, and the guy was only banned for year. Then he comes back and it starts again. So be aware, your library may seems nice and clean and quiet, but the librarian have little authority over who walks in and out. The reporter makes it all seem quite dire, which it's not, really it's very few people. But it is something to think about.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Confessions of a bad reader

So recently I joined the free Borders Rewards program, and, as my welcome gift, I received a 30% off coupon. So I make the journey to Borders, with the rugrats, and commence picking out my 30% off purchase. I pick up a book and put it down. Pick up a book and give it to my one year old to hold (She loves to look through my paperbacks). That's a maybe. Pick up another, put it down. Pick up another, another maybe. And so on and so forth. I must admit I'm a bad reader.

A cheap reader. A reader on a budget, yes, but an evil reader who screws over authors by not buying their books at full price from the proper outlets, but who instead combs used bookstores, the library and discount outlets like Target and BJ's in order to save a buck. Apparently, due to such practices, author sales figures are skewed and they don't make as much money as they should. I have even (gasp!) bought a book or two before its actual publishing date, another bad, apparently. Oh well.

The following is a list of books I'd like to read, but am unwilling to shell out the money for:

I want this for the Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison, but don't really like Lori Handeland or Lynsey Sands.

I'll admit, I wasn't familiar with her before the AAR brouhaha, but the Gothic-ness intrigues me. I love gothics.

The heroine's name is Passion? With all the talk of wallpaper historicals...

The first one was ok, ok enough for me to want to read this one, but spend $$???

You won't screw me again, MJD!

I've got some ILL-ing to do. Oh, and the book I finally bought? Goddess of the Sea by P.C. Cast. Heh, in light of all the dust-ups going on everywhere. I admit, she was a bit obnoxious at Smart Bitches, but I like her books. This one's shaping up to be really good, too.

Embarrassing Moments in Blogging History

or, Devon gets a clue...

So I just found out that I made my comments moderated. I know it wasn't like this originally, I have a feeling I messed this up when going to change some other things. Going in to check out the situation, I found that I had a bunch of comments that were sitting there, unpublished, waiting for my okay. Awesome, it made me feel liked...and read. Not so awesome is that I feel like a complete dork, b/c people took the time to comment on my nonsense, and I neither responded nor put them up. Hopefully, I have remedied the situation, and want to say, please comment. I love comments, even if you just want to say I'm full of shit and don't know my ass from my elbows.

Any how, I've looked over the comments, and I want to make a few shout outs. Hi to Jay, fellow Wes Alum!!! Yes, Kristie, I've read "Dreaming of You"--it's in my top 5 for sure. I was actually thinking of recommending it to Steph the romance virgin, for although I like Lord of Scoundrels better (sorry!), it's awesome, and she won't have the cover issues that she's been having. Speaking of SGM, have you read a romance yet? I'm waiting for a review...when you do, I'll put up here. Ellen S., so happy to see you reading, so sad that you couldn't find the possessed bear. Much thanks to Sybil, for letting me know the situation (I see from your comments that it wasn't the first time you tried to let me know)!! Hopefully, I'll get the hang of this blogging stuff soon.

Have a good Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Really most sincerely dead...

Oy, I haven't been in a blogging mood. I haven't been in a reading mood. Not even a reading blogs mood. I've been feeling the old lure of past favorites like Lord of Scoundrels or As You Desire, rather than attemping something new and potentially disappointing.

But I finished something. Finally. Took me awhile, but turned out worthwhile in the end. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris is the sixth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. These books take place in a world where vampires have come out of the closet, so to speak, and society is still adjusting to their existence. Sookie Stackhouse is a barmaid in Northern Louisiana, who has always had difficulties fitting in, due to her telepathy. It makes people umcomfortable, and who wants to date a woman who knows your every thought, good and bad? At the beginning of the series, Sookie is surprised and delighted to find that she can't read vampire's minds. Over the course of the books, Sookie has become increasingly enmeshed in the supernatural world (which also includes various shapeshifters, witches and fairies), as well as attracting an ever widening circle of supernatural suitors.

A few comments first: I love the covers of these books. They have this cool folk-arty feel, and reflect the refreshingly different tone of these books: low key and homey, free of black leather and Goth trappings. There is some angst, but Sookie's the kind of girl who picks herself up and gets back in the race. A confession--I tried reading these books awhile ago, and wasn't really feeling them. So I didn't really get into them until Dead to the World. Accordingly, my comments are skewed, because I couldn't care less about Bill, Sookie's first love, and I like Eric (either in amnesiac or overbearing asshole incarnation).

So anyway, Definitely Dead. There's a whole lot going on in this book, so I'm not going to go crazy with a plot summary. Needless to say, Sookie's got a lot on her plate. There's pain caused by boyfriends past, who keep popping in and out of her life, her brother's having problems, she doesn't like the new waitress at work and Eric the Vampire Sheriff and the Vampire Queen of Louisiana are arguing over who gets Sookie as part of their entourage for the big vampire conference. Oh, and she has to go to New Orleans to settle her Cousin Hadley's estate. Hadley was turned into a vampire and was the Queen's girlfriend to boot. Now, Sookie's getting pressure from the Queen's people to go clean out her place. Quinn, the weretiger from Dead as a Doornail, shows up for a little ego-boosting and romancing, but every time they go out on a date, they get attacked by werewolves. And I'm leaving a bunch of stuff out.

Yep, a lot of stuff happens. Even so, this book started off very slowly for me. Once Sookie headed to New Orleans, things really picked up and I didn't want to put it down. We learn more about the supernatural world, and some spoileriffic secrets about Sookie and Bill Compton. There was a lot going on, and it all got wrapped up a bit neatly but satisfyingly. Harris quite ruthlessly thinned the herd of possible partners for Sookie--Out: werewolf Alcide (hopefully), werepanther Calvin Norris (I'm probably the only one, but I found him quite charming, though that whole Hotshot scene was weird. I had hopes for him as a dark horse), and SPOILER!! Vampire Bill (though they've still got a lot to work out, he's not going away). Still in the running: Shapeshifter Sam Merlotte (dark horse candidate, ain't the sexiest, but a good guy), Vampire Eric (hot, but a dickhead) and Quinn. Not really feeling Quinn. It doesn't help that I have a very clear picture in my head of Billy Zane as Quinn, and I just picture him being this melodramatic, scenery-chewing, masculine yet swishy (he is an event planner) cheeseball. Not a big fan of Billy Zane. Quinn seems too good to be true, and he keeps. calling. Sookie. "Babe." Incessantly. Yucky. There's something strange there.

I get the feeling that Harris was tying up loose ends in order to set the stage for the next act. Sookie began this series as isolated and inexperienced in a number of ways, and this is her journey of coming into her own. I'm hoping that Quinn is just going to be around for awhile to help Sookie gain some self-confidence and grow, so she can be strong and confident enough to deal with Eric down the line (fingers crossed). Though, given some of the shit that happened to her in this book, I hope he doesn't turn out to be evil. Let's give the girl a break. So although this title wasn't as strong as some of the previous ones, Definitely Dead was a good read. Another series, I'd recommend to non-supernatural lovers, or someone looking for something different. Read in order, though. Next one should be the big vampire conference, yay! I love conferences. Lots of uncomfortable Sookie/Bill, Sookie/Eric interactions should abound. I'll be there.

Monday, May 15, 2006

OT: Original Ideas for making $$

As I mentioned before, I'm a fan of the show "Ghost Hunters", and as I was folding laundry this rainy Monday morning, I decided to look at the website for the show, which I had never looked at before. On the message board I read the funniest thing that I've seen in a long time. Take a look at the forum thread "possessed bear on ebay." And apparently bidding is at over $800. I have to admit that although I don't believe in demonic possession, the idea of it scares the shit out of me. I am still unable to sit through "The Exorcist." For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would want to buy a "possessed" item. I wanted to go to Ebay to get a look at the toy, but the guy warns not to have the picture around kids or animals, and since I've got both running around...better safe than sorry. Now who's the bigger tool, me or the guy who's going to make 800+ on this? And, if you've got time look at the "haunted box" thread, mostly for the poster who tells the story of his possessed underwear and Nike Sneaker.

If that isn't scary enough for a Monday morning, I'll leave you with this:

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dead and Loving It and Three Little Secrets

Happy Mother's Day to everybody out there, be they grandmothers, mothers, aunts or if you just have a child in your life who you love!

I finally finished Dead and Loving It by MaryJanice Davidson. Not awful, but...meh. In a word, light.

Light in tone, light on plot, light on characterization, light in any kind of substance. I get the feeling that MJD is a one-trick pony and its getting old fast. For example, her heroines were all pretty much the same, barring physical description--loud-(and foul-) mouthed, sarcastic and prickly, in order to hide inner pain, insecurity and low self-esteem. It was kind of grating after awhile. Nitpick: I'm not a fan of the phonetic spelling of dialogue, most often used with the poor Scotsman (i.e., "I dinna wan' tae gi'w'ye", or something). Likewise the "day-um"s, "bay-be"s and "Gawd"s bug. I don't care if it's more expressive. That's just me though. I was also left rather unmoved by the sex scenes, which surprised me, as three of these stories had previously been published by Ellora's Cave. Everything just seemed so rushed and, well, light.

The book kicked off with Santa Claws, which was essentially PWP (porn without plot). Meh. Monster Love was slightly more substantive and interesting, featuring lonely vampire Richard and angry werewolf, Janet. I was unthrilled that their first sexual encounter had a forced feel to it, but I liked that MJD made the point that vampires and werewolves are different than humans, perhaps monstrous, but remaing true to their natures as she presents them. There's No Such Thing As a Werewolf was my personal favorite, featuring a blind werewolf and (I'll leave it a spoiler). I was looking forward to A Fiend in Need a lot. This is the story of George the fiend (that is, a feral vampire) from the "Undead and..." books and Antonia, the psychic werewolf from Derik's Bane. I went straight to it, and read it again, just to make sure. Disappointing. Too much Betsy, Sinclair and the rest of supporting cast. Even with their love scene, I felt like I had missed something, like some relationship development happened, that I missed in favor of Betsy bridesmaid dress buying banter. It was too quick, too light. But I did like that George wasn't turned miraculously normal by love, but remained weird and monosyllabic. I'll look forward to seeing them in Undead and Unpopular (which I'll check out of the library), but again, meh. In short, if you like MJD, check it out of the library, and take the suggestions made on Amazon and read it slowly, so as not to get annoyed by the sameness.

Quickie review of Three Little Secrets by Liz Carlyle: another solid read. Though not my favorite of hers, I still polished it off in a night. It hinged on the good old Big Misunderstanding, which was annoying at first, true. But it made sense in light of her characterization of the hero and heroine, and was also less annoying because they both pretty aware that they may have acted, and be continuing to act, stupid. I really like Liz Carlyle, see my Two Little Lies review. My favorite so far is The Devil You Know. She has a great ability to make romance cliches (Big Misunderstanding, Secret Babies, Forced Marriages) interesting, understandable and a good story.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Two Perverts in Love

Warning: the following book contains intense subject matter, from psychological issues to childhood abuse to dirty, filthy sex scenes.

May 3 saw the release of Joey W. Hill's Mirror of My Soul, the sequel to Ice Queen (see my review here). I snapped it right up. There has been a lot of discussion on the different blogs that I look at about e-books, so I may as well put in my two cents here. As a mostly stay-at-home mom, I don't have a lot of money for "me" things. I probably buy one or two paperbacks a month. The rest of my reading comes from libraries. My track record with e-books has been so spotty, that I really hesitate to spend the money. Some have been truly cringeworthy, some had hot(!) love scenes, but otherwise iffy writing, and a couple were quite enjoyable. The vast majority I would not give a second read, so to spend 6.99-7.99 (yes! that's how much this book was!)for something that's going to sit on my laptop...I balk at spending that much on a paperback if it's not an auto-buy author. So, yes, I read e-books occasionally, but I keep it limited to authors I've really enjoyed in the past, or the infrequent decription/excerpt that I find irresistible. I'll discuss them when I do, and I hope others do as well, because that might help me find some new titles and authors.

But Joey W. Hill is definitely worth a look. She deals with BDSM subject matter, which may be unpalatable to some, but her treatment of the psychological issues involved as well as the characters (who seem to be actual indivduals rather than cardboard cutouts), renders it fascinating and sexy to me. She is the romantica author that I have found to be most successful in creating a real relationship and romance between two characters who have lives outside of the bedroom, along with intense sex scenes. Mirror of my Soul was a moving, intense and rather sad read, which picked up the story of Marguerite and Tyler right where Ice Queen left off. I don't think I've ever read a romance where it actually did seem possible (to the heroine, to other characters and to the reader) that the heroine might be unable to maintain a relationship. As hinted in the previous book, Marguerite has a difficult past, which was handled tastefully. It was very interesting, the way Marguerite tightly structured her life, including her dominatrix activities, in order to live a productive life while keeping people at arm's length. She's got major demons to overcome, and there is no quick fix in this book. In addition, she and Tyler have to figure out how to work out their 'kinks'.

But Tyler and Marguerite get their happy ending though, and I shed a tear, I'll admit it. I was happy for them. While I enjoyed reading the rest of their journey, I did have some issues. I don't know if the re-appearance of the evil father was necessary, although I called it early on. There was already enough stuff going on ! Also, Ms. Hill appears to be into a lot of stuff that's new-agey or spiritual (Wicca, angels, meditation, yoga etc.) I've seen mentions in other books, but it made me roll my eyes a bit in this one. She threw in everything but the kitchen sink. Ultimately, this was a heavy, but satisfying reading experience. So heavy, in fact, that I don't think I'll be revisiting it anytime soon, but it was unusual, interesting and well written. If one is curious about Joey W. Hill's work, or experimenting with BDSM romantica, I'd try Natural Law first.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

One Dead Pervert

Ugh, life is not being blogging friendly. Although I've had no time to write, I have gotten some reading in. This past week I read Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase. I was very excited for this book because the hero, the Comte D'Esmond, made a brief but memorable appearance in Lord of Scoundrels and was the villain Ismal, in The Lion's Daughter. As I have mentioned (ad nauseum), I loved reformed bad guys, so I was quite interested in his journey from Albanian asshole to French nobleman and hero. At the heart of CON is a murder mystery--who killed Francis Beaumont, the blackmailer and debauchee who made appearances in Lord of Scoundrels and The Last Hellion. One interesting part of this book was looking back on the other two titles and realizing how certain events in those books were part of the larger story here.

So anyway, our hero Esmond, who carries out various and shady deeds for the government, had previously foiled Beaumont's blackmailing scheme. At that time, he met Beaumont's artist wife Leila, and was quite fascinated by her. Leila pretty much avoids her odious husband and instead consumes herself with work. Things get bad when she finds Francis dead after they have a loud quarrel (heard by the servants, of course). The resulting inquest brings the super hot and unsettling Esmond back into her life. Together they will figure out who killed the loathesome Francis. And perhaps fall in love and live happily ever after, if they can get past Esmond's many secrets.

This has a different tone than a lot of Chase's book. It's darker--Beaumont was a real sleaze, and a lot of people hate him passionately. It was a pretty good mystery actually. Most mystery subplots in Romances are pretty weak, and that's cool, b/c that's not what I'm reading the book for. If I wanted a mystery, I'd read one. But in this case, the mystery almost seemed to overpower the romance. Compounding that, Esmond was a very enigmatic character, even after he came clean about his past. In any case, I didn't find this book as involving or memorable as many of Chase's others. But it was still worth a read, particularly if you've read some of the other titles I mentioned. There was entertaining dialogue, good love scenes and it moved quickly.