Friday, June 30, 2006

Guilty Pleasures...

I just finished my very first Harlequin Presents title, His Royal Love Child by Lucy Monroe. The HP line first came to my attention when the Smart Bitches had a contest where you had to guess which title wasn't a real HP title. (Take a look if you haven't seen it, it's pretty funny). While you're at it, go ahead, take a look at the Harlequin Presents page. I mean, really, The Sheikh's Disobedient Bride? Wife Against Her Will? His Secretary Mistress? Sounds like all that is bad about romance: weak, stereotyped women, overpowering men, total cheese. Nuh-uh, not for me. As I delved more into the world of romance-related blogs, I read more and more about the popularity of these books with people, and my curiosity got the better of me. So I went to the Harlequin site for the first time and a funny thing happened: I must've spent a hour browsing the titles, reading the excerpts. It was compelling--why is it a "baby of shame"? Why is that Sicilian's mistress being so defiant? I really wanted to buy one, but my deeply ingrained feminist, left-leaning ways would not let me do so. I did look at the writing guidlines for the line, which I think say a lot about the appeal of HPs to readers:

Although grounded in reality and reflective of contemporary, relevant trends, these fast-paced stories are essentially escapist romantic fantasies that take the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Written in the third person, they can be from the male or female point of view, or seen through the eyes of both protagonists. All are set in sophisticated, glamorous, international locations.

With its focus on strong, wealthy, breathtakingly charismatic alpha-heroes who are tamed by spirited, independent heroines, the central relationship in a Presents novel is a provocatively passionate, highly charged affair, driven by conflict, emotional intensity and overwhelming physical attraction, which may include explicit lovemaking.

These really are meant to be escapist fantasy, no more no less, and I can understand the appeal of that. Hell, I wanted to get one right away. I also read something on Squawk Radio (I have no idea when, so I'm not going to bother to try and link it) by an HP author, where she said that the titles are intended to express exactly what's in the book. You like Greeks? You like sheiks? You like virgin wives? There you go, no wondering whether it's for you. I still wasn't able to bring myself to buy one, until I decided to check out some other Harlequin lines as well. I chose His Royal Love-Child, because I had read that Lucy Monroe was pretty good. I prepared myself to be disgusted (and perhaps titillated) by the overly arrogant, aristocratic "hero" and the lame virgin "heroine," and got excited for some scathing review material. Here's the tagline for the series: "The Scorsolini Princes: Proud rulers and passionate lovers who need convenient wives!" 'Convenient Wives'? WTF? Although I'll admit, having a husband around can be convenient, when I need pictures hung, or can't get jars open.

Guess what? I liked it, I really, really liked it. Of course this is my first foray into the world of pregnant virgin mistresses (because yes, of course she was a virgin before giving it up for Signore Hottie) so I have nothing to compare it to, but it was not bad at all. The heroine, Danette Michaels, seemed like a real person. She ended up in a situation that was great at first, then became increasingly painful, and she reacted the way a real woman would react. She was strong and stuck to her guns, and even when she acted a bit bratty, you could understand why. As for Principe Marcello Scorsolini, the secret lover who knocks her up, he was arrogant, but he had reasons behind his actions. And he apologized when he was wrong, and tried to fix things. Which brings me to the really refreshing thing about this book: they spent most of their time communicating. Sometimes arguing, sometimes hurting each other, but they were trying to understand how each other felt about things and why. There were no stupid big misunderstandings, they believed each other's explanations for things that happened, and accepted each others apologies. Does that sound boring? It wasn't, although at 186 pages, it didn't have time to be boring. They always seemed to truly care about each other, and wanted to work out their issues, which made for a very satisfying romance.

So my first HP experience: quite enjoyable. I don't think I'll be buying tons of 'em, but I'd get another. But, oh no, The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain is all sold out! What's a girl to do?

PS: Anybody whose read any of these, where is their country supposed to be? They're in Sicily, and I assumed Isole Dei Rei (Islands of the King), was off the Italian coast somewhere, but then they went on some long-ass flight to get there. ???

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Crazy Love by Tara Janzen

Crazy Love, the newest (and very highly anticipated by me) book in Tara Janzen's Steele Street series, came out yesterday. I ran out and bought it, read it already, re-read parts, and of course, I've got some thoughts on it.

Crazy Love was another fast and enjoyable read, as evidenced by the fact that I totally devoured it. But I was a little disappointed, which I think is more of a risk when you're seriously excited for a book. This was the story of Dylan Hart, the ultra-cool and elegant head of SDF and Skeeter Bang, the barely 21, psychic, computer geek, ex-street kid. The two characters have great chemistry. Dylan is becoming increasingly unhinged by his obsession with Skeeter, and his internal musings are hilarious. I also have to say I just love Skeeter. I read a book like Moon Called, and I wonder why fantasy and mystery authors are so much better at creating strong, intelligent (and sexy) heroines than romance authors, whose genre is more character driven than plot driven (a topic for another post, I guess). But Janzen has created a great character in Skeeter. I didn't even mind her age (a bit younger than I normally like in a heroine). I think that the key is restraint. Skeeter is set up as an over the top character--her appearance, her interests etc. But her personality is intelligent, mature and caring (well, apart from a few lapses when Dylan makes her crazy).

So what was disappointing? I wanted more of them. This was one book where I felt the other characters and all the action were taking away from the main story. And we saw so much of what they were feeling inside, I wanted some more meaty scenes between them. At the end, Dylan has pretty much acted like a total asshat. Throughout the book, Skeeter (with good reason) has been pretty unsure if Dylan has any real feelings for her, and he plays right into that. But all that seems a little glossed over and they just jump into bed. I was looking for a bit more soul-baring emotion, I guess. True confessions and all that. Skeeter deserved that. I love that shit.

As for secondary characters, I jest lurve Travis James and how Janzen has developed his character over the course of the books. I thought that his book was being set up in Crazy Kisses (4th book in the series), and I didn't like the girl. When I realized that wasn't the case, I was happy, 'cuz I love me some Travis. This time I was like, yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Just what I would do. [Amongst other things, I love that he loves the older ladies. Older women-younger men stories are hot. My second husband's going to be younger than me. Just Kidding! Sorry, honey.] Then Ms. Janzen threw a big ol' monkey wrench into the works. I, for one, am very curious to see what's going to happen. But I have to wait until November. Boo. Despite being a little bit disappointing, Crazy Love was still a fun read and a keeper.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Spoiler-filled review ahead...

Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Her Website

Dark Side of the Moon@Amazon

Ravyn is having a bad day. This Dark-Hunter and Arcadian Were-Hunter Leopard guy has been captured in kitty cat form and locked in a cage in a Seattle animal shelter, totally vulnerable. Disgraced investigative reporter Susan is having a bad day too. Humiliated to be working at a cheesy tabloid called the Daily Inquisitor (wasn't that Dorian's newpaper on One Life to Live?), she has been summoned by her friends to an animal shelter, where her allergies kick in right away. Her friends are behaving very strangely, and send her away with a big cat who makes her sneeze. When the cat turns into a rilly, rilly hot guy in her living room, things
can only be heading downhill from there. Soon Susan and Ravyn are up to their necks in weird doings, vicious Daimon killers, corrupt policemen and hot sex.

Okay, enough synopsis. I remember the days when a new SK release meant a immediate trip to the bookstore. I would read and read and read and not be interested in talking to anyone until the book was done. Sadly, this no longer seems to be the case. DSOTM is another disappointment from Sherrilyn Kenyon. Now let's be honest, it's not as though Kenyon is William Faulkner. She is often guilty of broad characterization and sloppy writing. Her book balanced the fine line between total cheese and escapist adventure. But I felt she did it so well. I can forgive a multitude of sins for a totally involving world and a compelling love story. But between Sins of the Night, Unleash the Night, and now this book, SK appears to be losing sight of what made her books so much fun: the interesting world she built and the hot love story. I'm just warning you now, the rest of this review will be filled with spoilers as I explain just what made this book so disappointing.

First of all, the heroine, Susan, is hella annoying. Her main trait appears to be her sarcastic sense of humor, and all I can say is, "Shut up, already." Her dialogue consists of such witticisms as "You know, I would bring you up on sexual harassment charges, but that would imply that you have actually had sex in your lifetime...(p.5)" [which, huh, I don't get it], or, "Oh gee, golly, goodie Mr. Leo! Can I have my eyes gouged out too (p. 70)", or,"I'm the one who should be having a hissy...(p.263)" It's nothing but juvenile comebacks with this one, which make it hard to care what happens to her. The hero, Ravyn, while not annoying, was merely generic Dark-Hunter. Betrayed by lover, and then by family, he's really tough and has not felt close to anyone for years, until Susan and her big mouth start his cold heart beating again. Nothing particularly new or interesting there.

Even more problematic, I felt that (much like Sins of the Night), their love story took a back seat to advancing Acheron's (the leader of the Dark-Hunters) story arc. Some major conflict was set up between Ash, Nick Gauthier and Stryker, the leader of the Daimons. Their parts of the book were more interesting. And boy, Nick's character was assassinated. Talk about a whiny bitch! At one point I laughed my ass off when he accused Acheron of being responsible for the destruction of New Orleans because he didn't call off Katrina. Only in a paramormal romance folks! Conveniently, there are two books about Ash coming out next year.

Kenyon spent the first five or six books of the series building her fictional world, and has spent the last three books playing fast and loose with the rules of she created. I ignored it before, but it's getting jarring. All you have to do to become a squire, apparently, is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So much for secrecy. And forget about the big ol' rule about Dark Hunters getting involved. Now they can get married to humans or Apollites or anybody, and screw that silly getting their soul back issue, such a big deal in the other books. I have a feeling that Kenyon had to end the book and was just like oh well, he doesn't really need a soul anyway. At least they had the "mating mark", unlike in Unleash the Night.

Other things that bugged: there was one scene where all the Dark-Hunters are trapped together and attacked by Daimons. If you are not a reader of this series, I'll just let you know that when Dark-Hunters get together, their powers begin to drain. So they're all in a circle, getting converged upon. And the Japanese one's got his nunchakus, and the African one's got a gold chain (???) and the Wild West outlaw's got her bullwhip...and no one's got a fucking gun. Geezus kee-rist, that might even the odds a bit. Just take'em all out. I don't how I never noticed that before. I also have to mention the following sentence: "As far back as she could remember, Jimmy had kept anal notes in his journal (p.143)" Am I crazy, or is this a weird sentence? I stopped and was like, "Notes about anal sex? Notes from his anus? Oh, she means he was anal-retentive about keeping his journal." No? Maybe it's just me then.

This book was hard to finish. Only my obsessive need to be complete about things kept me reading. And I haven't given up on SK yet. She's got two novellas coming out later this year, and then the Ash books. I'm stubborn like that. I can ride on the enjoyment I got from her past books for a long time. I will continue not to buy them, though. That was one thing I'm thankful for, that I didn't spend 20 bucks.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

I just wanted to write a quick review of Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. Ms. Briggs website can be found here and here's the book at Amazon. I love this cover, by the way. Moon Called is a modern, urban fantasy that begs comparison to Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison or Charlaine Harris. This book takes place in an alternate universe where supernatural races live in secrecy side by side with humans. Recently, the fae decided to make themselves public, with mixed results, and other races are pondering whether or not to follow suit. Mercy Thompson, a Washington auto mechanic, knows a lot more than your average person about the non-humans. In fact she is non-human herself. While I doubt that knowing her identity would spoil one's enjoyment of the book, I'll leave that a surprise. Anyway, Mercy's adventures get off to a start when a new werewolf shows up at her garage looking for work. Sensing that he needs help, Mercy puts him in touch with her friend and neighbor, local Alpha werewolf Adam. Things begin to unravel from there.

This was a solid read. I liked it. The characterization was good, particularly Mercy. She was a strong woman, without being grating or sassy. She really just came off as smart, and that includes being smart enough to know when to stand and fight and knowing when to let others take the lead. In light of the book I am currently attempting, I really appreciate this (the heroine makes me want to gouge my eyes out so I have to stop reading). It wasn't my favorite, but then I'm not a huge werewolf fan. Except for Kelley Armstrong's (just because I like those particular characters), they bore me a bit. It's always like Pack hierarachy, yadda, yadda, yadda, mates, yadda yadda yadda, challenges, yadda, yadda, yadda. However, if you do enjoy werewolf books, or you are a fan of the authors I mentioned at the beginning, Moon Called is definitely worth a read. There is not much romance, but a love triangle is set up at the end, between Mercy and two werewolves, that could be interesting. Currently, their motives seem a bit murky and I like that. There will be more, and I'll check 'em out of the library.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lighten up, it's just romance (and blogging)

After putting up the previous post, I ran across this
and this. It seems that someone has lost it, and has decided to make themself the snark slayer. People are taking this shit a little too seriously. Blogs are a forum for opinion. People can and do say what they want, and I will sit here and drink a glass of wine and giggle my ass off. You don't like it, don't read it. I say, lighten up, it's just romance. I have a feeling that this will get old fast even for the person who's doing it. How many times can you say, that snark sucked? All the anonymous commenters are interesting, though. Although there seems to be some speculation, I bet it's not MJD. She has shown she's not afraid to put opinions out there, which is why she's Captain Author-Bitch. I can respect her, even if I roll my eyes over what she says. Perhaps I'm just being hopeful, but I don't think she'd put up a blog with fake anonymous comments and shit.

Here she comes to save the day...

A mild-mannered, best-selling romance author sits in a Borders, signing copies of her newest vampire romance (hardcover, no less). Suddenly, a pink heart appears in the sky. Oh no, another romance author must be in trouble!! Captain Author-Bitch to the rescue!! MaryJanice Davidson rips off her glasses, kicks off her Jimmy Choos, and flies off to the nearest high speed connection, to defend the poor, beleaguered author under attack for merely expressing her sane, well-reasoned opinion. Those crazy readers/bloggers! Don't they know they have no right to criticize! They are not writers! Captain Author-Bitch will get them all!

Over at KarenS' Blog, there was a 'kerfuffle' (perfect word!) over book covers by Changeling Press (6/19). Browsing through the comments, I noticed that MJD had shown up for her usual "I bitch, therefore I am" type comment. All her comments have this vaguely superior, antagonistic tenor to them. Look, she's here and here and here, and here and here too!She shows up to prove that, yes, writers can be just as bitchy as readers, and don't expect her not to be a bitch just because she's dependent upon readers buying her books in order to make her many, many dollars. I think that's the point...maybe. The first time I read her snarky little commentary, I thought it quite funny. But now I'm amused in a groaning, eye-rolling, vaguely annoyed sort of way. I think she just likes to piss people off.

Will I stop reading her books? Nah. I loved Undead and Unwed, Undead and Unemployed and Under Cover. Nothing since then has lived up to that early promise, but I'll keep checking those "Undead and..." books out of the library. At least until they become so completely plot and character development free that they consist of one chapter of Betsy and Eric having sex and one chapter of the cast of characters sitting around the kitchen snarking at each other. Perhaps her Captain Author-Bitch alter ego is sapping her creativity. At least other authors being unfairly criticized by reader/bloggers can rest easy, knowing that Captain Author-Bitch is out to defend their honor, and that of writers in general.

As for the Changeling Press kerfuffle, I wonder if it was carefully orchestrated stunt to drum up some traffic for their site. I mean, at least a couple of people must have gotten curious enough to poke around. All I have to say is, in addition to the covers (many of them craptastic, to be sure), there are some incredible titles to be found:I Know Who You Did Last Summer, The Adventures of Wonderslut, Coffee Man and Straight Guy, and If It's Tuesday, There Must be Dildoes. Some of these titles are so...compelling, I might buy one for it alone. I have no idea about the quality. I do recognize some authors' names, I would imagine there's some great stuff on there, but, yes, some of the covers are off-putting, I'm sorry.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Devon does Harlequin

So I've decided to dip my toe in the category waters. I never think to read any of these, but I do believe that they are actually quite popular. Anyhow, continuing to attempt to expand my horizons, I popped on over to the Harlequin website, and browsed around a bit. I've looked around a bit before, checking out the different lines, comparing the difrferent styles. One thing that's appealing: the pricing. I was able to get 5 books for 18 dollars, including shipping. This is what I ordered:

Midnight Madness by Karen Kendall--sounded intriguing, though a heroine described as bohemian is often a recipe for disaster. I'm a sucker for straightlaced guy/wild girl stories, though often they suck.

The Sex Quotient by Jamie Sobrato--So this book has a dumb title, cover and description, but I bought it because the author has a funny blog. Oh, well, I've bought books for worse reasons.

His Royal Love-Child by Lucy Monroe--Come now, I couldn't take a trip to Harlequin and not buy an HP. This is one of Harlequin's most popular (if not the most popular) lines. I'm just trying to understand the fascination, people! Why this one? I read somewhere (no idea where, Sybil maybe?), that Lucy Monroe writes better than average ones. And the "hero" is Italian. Y' know, supposedly one of my great-grandfathers was the illegitimate son of the local Italian aristocrat and that's how he ended up in America. They wanted him out of town.

From the First by Jessica Bird--This is J.R. Ward's alter-ego, and it's not like I'm a freaky fangirl of hers or anything. I'm curious to read something of hers in a different genre.

Bulletproof Princess by Vicki Hinze--I like the description of this line. This series of books sounded like something I would've loved as a teenager. And it was three bucks.

So that's that. I'm excited to get them. I dunno, I was looking around and around and so many of the lines don't really appeal to me. They sound so...old-fashioned... all secretaries knocked up by their bosses and rugged ranchers. Not that I don't love cowboys and ranchers. Honestly, to a girl from Long Island they're more exotic than an Italian prince. I've known guys who thought they were Italian princes, but no Cowboys. I used to devour my mom's books about cowboys, by, like, Diana Palmer, and stuff. Someday, I'm going to have a feature where I highlight old categories that I stole from my mom and read and loved.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Now wait just a Gawd Day-um minute!

Brought the kiddies to the library yesterday. Crazy Kisses was there. Yay! Finished already. Another good installment. I was looking forward to this one because I enjoyed Kid and Nicki's appearances inCrazy Hot and Crazy Cool. This didn't disappoint. They had great chemistry. My big quibble was with all of Kid's angsting. It was like, what are you whining about? He's the one that fucked up. Tell Nicki something about where you've been (C'mon, anything). And if you've got a question, ask her, for Kee-rist's sake! But I got over it. Even though he didn't appear in person, my love for Superman (Crazy Cool) is cemented by the fact that even though he's happily married and settled down a bit, he'll still pose nude for a 12 foot painting. Speaking of nude models, I've liked Travis from the beginning and his character has developed nicely over the course of the books, so I'm glad to see he'll get his own. But I'm not sure if I like his intended love interest. We'll see. I'm sure they'll be making an appearance in Crazy Love, out in a week and a half. Really looking forward to this one.

One complaint about these books. I can't stand it when writers overdo it with the slang, and not only that, but they also spell it phonetically, as in "bay-be", "gawd" and "day-um." Please add two more words to the list: "kee-rist" and "geezus." Please stop. No more. I find it hard to believe that hardened government operatives wouldn't just curse if moved to do so. Also, oddly, Janzen doesn't shy away from language in other parts of the book. I saw fucking, dick and cock in there. At first I amused myself by imagining different ways to pronounce the word "geezus" (my favorite being "gee-zoose", with a hard "g" as in "go"), but that got old quickly. Please Ms. Janzen, if you don't like your characters to take the Lord's name in vain, find some other fake swear words for them to use. I suggest "Sugar" and "Freaking A", or perhaps cursing in a foreign language (i.e. "Scheisse" or "Merde").

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Crazy Fun...

Let me start off by saying that I'm not a big fan of romantic suspense. When I was younger, I loved it, especially of the Elizabeth Peters or Mary Stewart ilk. You know, where the young lady on holiday in Europe gets all caught up in nefarious doings, and some mysterious, yet capable man comes to her rescue time and time again. But none of the romantic suspense I've read about recently appeals to me--either looks too heavy and I'm not really into spies or Navy SEALS or whatever.

Yet, in stark contrast to Dates from Hell, I've whipped through the first three books in Tara Janzen's Steele Street series (Crazy Hot, Crazy Cool and Crazy Wild) since Friday afternoon. I freakin' love these books. They're totally fun, although they require the complete suspension of disbelief (not a problem for me). These stories of juvenile delinquents turned super spies feature hot cars, guns, high tech gadgets galore and hot sex. There are wild chases, shootouts, and sex in cars. They are extremely fast paced. Crazy Hot took place in less than 24 hours, I think, Crazy Cool was, what, 48 hours or so and Crazy Wild was 12 hours, maybe. Totally absurd and fabulous. I actually think that these books worked for me because they were soooo over the top. I really don't think Janzen was going for realism, here, but pure fun fantasy. C'mon, the characters have names like Superman, Kid Chaos and Skeeter Bang! They reminded me of something you would've seen in the eighties, like Moonlighting or Remington Steele. The movie versions would all star Michelle Pfeiffer and Lethal-Weapon era Mel Gibson.

Ms. Janzen has done a good job of setting up an interesting cast of characters and a cool world. The fast pace sweeps the reader along, but I think the love stories would not work if Janzen hadn't done two things: introduced characters (and potential love stories) early, or created a back history for the hero and heroine. The book that I liked the least, Crazy Wild, definitely suffered from the lack of these two characteristics. It took me a really long time to get into the relationship between Creed Rivera, who had spent the previous two books offstage on a disastrous mission in South America, and Cody Stark, the librarian turned possible terrorist. I mean, for most of the book he believed that she was, if not a terrorist, up to no good! I just couldn't buy the insta-connection. At the same time, there was an awesome romance set up in Crazy Wild: super-cool, mysterious leader Dylan Hart, and the strange, psychic ex-street kid, Skeeter Bang (YES, Skeeter Bang! Gotta love the name). After awhile I was reading the book just for them. As an aside, I do believe that I've bitched before about how writers often seem to have a problem with the characterization of women who are extremely smart, artistic, eccentric or idiosyncratic. Often they come off as obnoxious, grating or self-righteous. But I really like Skeeter, as well as Nikki McKinney, the heroine of Crazy Kisses (which better get to the library soon), so Janzen gets bonus points from me.

I believe these books are best read in order, as characters are recurring, and there are a number of points of view. Crazy Hot, featuring Quinn Younger, war hero and one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People,and his former crush, paleontologist Regan McKinney, was a fun kick-off to the series. I like Crazy Cool the best so far, mostly because of the hero, Christian "Superman" Hawkins. Good shit. I wasn't expecting to like this story of Superman's reunion with the long-ago love who landed him in jail for murder, because poor little rich girls gotta be among my least favorite heroines. By the way,what's up with Senators' daughters? I'm glad I'm not one. The heroine was better than I thought and they were cute together. Crazy Wild wasn't as good, Creed had real problems that went unresolved, and I didn't really buy the love story. But it was worth reading for the secondary romance. And as a bonus for being late to the series, I've still got one more to tide me over until the end of the month when Dylan and Skeeter's book comes out! I don't have to wait six months to read more! Anyway, these make for great summer reading--fast-paced, sexy and light.

Has anyone read Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon? I wasn't planning on shelling out for the hardcover to begin with,
but Holy Bad Reviews, Batman!. Ruh-roh. I stopped because many of the reviewers were echoing my criticisms of past books, so I didn't want to get too prejudiced. This is being reserved as well.

Dates from Hell

Dates From Hell is an anthology featuring novellas by Kim Harrison, Lynsey Sands, Kelley Armstrong and Lori Handeland. It is shelved in the Romance section, which may disappoint some buyers, because I would've considered only one of the stories a romance really. This anthology was merely okay--it took me days to finish a couple of the stories. Anyway, my humble opinions. I'm going to do this in that order I liked them (most to least):

Chaotic by Kelley Armstrong--Definitely the best. Moved quickly, and I liked the two main characters: half-demon Hope, and werewolf thief Karl Marsters (who was in Bitten). This felt like a beginning, so I'm hoping that Armstrong makes Hope a protagonist for one of her novels. I'd like to see more of these two and their developing relationship. But what is Kelley Armstrong trying to do to me with these titles? I can't help but think of Britney and Kevin and the theme song to that ridiculous show.

Dead Man Dating by Lori Handeland--Never read her before. This was pretty good, kept my interest. It was a little cheesy. The heroine was a short and dumpy, virgin (sigh) literary agent in her early twenties, but she had a good sense of humor that wasn't annoying, and she didn't do anything asinine. The hero was a sexy Mexican rogue demon hunter, which was the one thing that was killing me. The first time he refers to himself as a rogue demon hunter, the heroine, Kit, follows it up with, "Lost in the Buffyverse, are we?" I was like, heh, obligatory Buffy/Angel reference, funny, whatever. But he keeps referring to himself as a rogue demon hunter, in all seriousness. What, as opposed to the demon hunters in the union? Seriously, is this something I didn't know about? Are regular demon hunters different than rogue demon hunter? It made me wince. This kinda felt like a beginning as well. If Kit and Chavez have any more adventures, I might check them out of the library.

Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison--I was surprised by how much I didn't like this. I suppose it's for the same reason it took me three books to start enjoying her series. She is heavy on the exposition, yet I still find her characterization, especially of vampires, kind of murky. I have a feeling that it's all supposed to be unfolding rather slowly, but I just don't get them. Are they evil? How come everything seems to awaken their bloodlust? Maybe it's just me. This story centers on Ivy Tamwood, the vampire who's Rachel Morgan's roommate and partner. She's the most intriguing character in the series, but I didn't like her all that much in this story of her attempt to get promoted without giving her boss sex or blood. I found her whiny, and when another character goes off on her and calls her a coward, I was like, "yes!" Still, if you read Harrison, this is wortwhile for a different point of view than Rachel's. I'm still looking forward to A Fistful of Charms.

The Claire Switch Project by Lynsay Sands--This would've made a good set-up for an ABC Family Sunday Night Movie. I used to watch these religiously during my pregnancies, I have no idea why. Haven't watched one in a year, but I have seen such gems as "See Jane Date" with Charisma Carpenter, and "Pizza My Heart" with Shiri Appleby from Roswell, and the other one with Shiri where she can't decide between her imaginary friend and the slacker dude she meets at school. Anyone out there watch these? So anyway, this is a story about a budding scientist who gets zapped by a ray in the lab she shares with two other scientists, one of whom she's had a crush on for years. Crush boy takes her home with him, as he also happens to be the twin of Claire's best friend. Claire soon realizes that she can shape shift, and her best friend decides to capitalize on this, convincing Claire to become movie star, Brad Cruise, and be her date to their high school reunion. Of course, a few minutes later, Claire's crush (Kyle) makes her dreams come true and asks her to be his date for the reunion. Of course, wacky hijinks ensue as Claire switches back and forth bewteen Brad and herself. I started skimming after awhile, just so I could see how it ends. I've read several of Lynsay Sands' books, before I realized they were not for me. Although she has a decent sense of humor, I find the romance aspect of her writing to be rather band and lame. There's just no tension or anything interesting there.

Wow, I can be wordy. I was planning for this to be a quick post.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Of possible interest

I found this at Sybil's blog, by way of Shawn. It is a message board, and you have to register to participate. I registered, though I am always more of a lurker than a poster. Anyway, a lot of good authors are supposed to be showing up, so this may be very educational for the paranormal fans and aspiring writers. I, of course, am working all weekend and have a surprise party tomorrow night, but I shall attempt to pop in and see if there was anything interesting.

Old News for Many...

I'm sure, but I went to Lisa Kleypas' website and Scandal in Spring will be out August 1. Squeeee!! I liked Daisy in the other books in this series. It seems like a lot of people were unhappy that Cam from DIW will not be the hero of this book, but I love this set-up. And I like that the heroes of Kleypas' last couple of books have been slightly different from her norm of

--a classic "Kleypas hero"--tall, dark-haired, self-made and more than a little sarcastic. Underneath his self-assured exterior, however, he is consumed with love for the heroine. .

From her website. Well, except for the sarcastic part, she likes the sarcasm. But then, so do I. Sarcasm is good. Here's the excerpt from Scandal in Spring which I have read many, many times. I heart it, I lurve it, here it is.

Question: now that Kleypas is leaving Avon, will she still be doing "Squawk Radio"? I don't know a lot about the whole politics of publishing thing, but that blog seems like a big old Avon love-fest. I would imagine that it's not officially connected to Avon though. It would be too bad, 'cause those authors all have a nice little blogging chemistry going on.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Interspecies Sex...

An article by Gena Showalter and P.C. Cast that can be found here, contains everything you need to know about writing an interspecies love scene. Gena Showalter is an author who I'm always saying I'm going to try one of her books. I started The Stone Prince, but it didn't really grab me. I was thinking of getting Awaken Me Darkly. P.C. writes a good interspecies love scene. It's one of my favorite things about her work, besides original stories and good characterization. Anyway, it's a cool article, although the idea is kinda funny. Interspecies sex scenes, heh. The things aspiring writers need to know.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The anticipation begins...

Ok, fangirly moment. I was blog hopping and I found that Angie W has already read Lover Awakened and wrote about it at her site. What she had to say was quite positive. I'm really excited for this book, but really apprehensive, like my overly inflated expectations are setting me up for disappointment. And I'm worried about the speedy redemption syndrome, where damaged characters instantly become well-adjusted members of society due to the magic nookie.
I sound really fangirly and need to get a life! But Angie's pretty blunt and honest, from other stuff I've read, so color me really excited! Only three months to go!

EBUZZ: Bone Deep by Bonnie Dee

Bone Deep at Liquid Silver Books

I found this book over at Bam's Blog. The hero is the tattooed man in a carnival sideshow. Romance with tattooed carnival freak=Devon drops everything to buy and read.

I really enjoyed this book. It is the sweetest erotic romance I have read so far. It lacked that "bamp-chicka-wow-wow" vibe that others have (even if I considered the book to have a viable love story as well). Tom was a sweet, vulnerable character and I also liked Sarah, the war widow who takes him in. Tom was such a sad character, who lived such a stunted and difficult life, it could've taken on an inappropriate and creepy vibe (a la the vibe I get from Anita Blake and Nathaniel in recent LKH titles). But the author made Tom a strong character in his own right, that it was cool. Here's Bam's review. She wrote a great review, so why do the work again :)? Definitely recommended. I'll be looking into the author's other titles as well.

Next e-book I'll be getting, I also found at It's Not Chick Porn. Bam snarked this cover recently. It wasn't so much the cover as the blurb that had me rolling. Go read it. But the author's responses made me want to read it. She chose to use the word "schtupping" on purpose, I think. Oh, and I like books with demons. And I like the idea of Jewish demons who hopefully speak Yiddish. I won't be getting the one with the clown, though. Reminds me of a disturbing episode of "Little House" I saw when I was young.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Be careful of fairies!

The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke, is the story of a violent crime that took place in rural Ireland (Co. Tipperary) in 1895. Even more, this is the fascinating story of an isolated culture losing ground in a time of political and social change. The tensions between the poor, largely illiterate rural Irish culture and more "modern", "educated" ways, are clearly at work during the crime itself, and the aftermath. I came across this title in the bibliography of a children's book, and was immediately intrigued.

You can read further details about the actual murder here. In short, Bridget Cleary, a 26 year-old married dressmaker from tiny Ballyvadlea, came down with something resembling bronchitis and "nervous excitement" in March of 1895.

During the course of nursing her, her husband Michael, became increasingly suspicious that his wife had been taken away by fairies, and replaced by a changeling. He abandoned the course of medicine prescribed by the local doctor, instead choosing to force feed her (with the help of, like, 7 other men holding her down) a mixture of herbs in new milk and holding her in front of the fire, all the while commanding her to admit that she was Bridget Cleary, "in the name of God." The final night of Bridget Cleary's life, her husband, enraged by the fact that she refused a third bit of bread, held a burning stick from the fire to her. Her clothing caught fire and she began to burn. Michael Cleary then doused her with paraffin, setting her further aflame. This story is made even more chilling by the fact that the house was pretty much filled to the brim with eyewitnesses, most of whom were members of Bridget's own family. Afterwards, Michael Cleary buried the body, all the while insisting that it was a changeling, and that his true wife would re-appear three nights later at the "fairy fort" at nearby Kylenagranagh. Not surprisingly, this was not the case, and eventually Michael Cleary and eight others were arrested for Bridget Cleary's murder, including her father, aunt and a number of cousins.

The story of the crime and resulting trial are fascinating reading, but I found Bouke's examination of the cultural, political and religious climate of the day even more interesting. This trial was a media sensation, and was used as an example of the backwardness and "savagery" of the Irish, and an argument against Home Rule. The author discusses Irish fairy folklore at length. Rather than saying that all these uneducated Irish peasants believed unequivocally in the existence of fairies, she argues that fairy legend can be read as a code which governed social mores and explained the unexplainable. Often, physical disabilities and infertility, among other things, were explained as the result of being "touched by the fairies." Those engaging in anti-social or unusual behavior, were actually changelings left by the fairies, and by engaging in certain rituals, a person could get their loved one back. Is it a surprise that some of these rituals were pretty violent? Perhaps it was a way of keeping people in line. That certainly seemed to be the case with Bridget Cleary, who was characterized as an independent young woman with a strong personality, whose trade and education differentiated her from her largely illiterate, farm laborer cousins, none of whom came to her aid during her ordeal. Why would a relatively minor illness have set her husband off so? The author suggests that he was symbolically establishing his dominance over his strong minded wife, using the language of fairies. It's all very weird and totally fascinating.

This book is classified as true crime, but if you are looking for a straightforward crime narrative, you might be disappointed by all of the social history. It can also read very academically in bits (I haven't seen phrases like "symbolic capital" or "culture of stigma and control" since college). But if you are interested in folklore, Irish history, or if like me, you are interested in seeing how belief in the supernatural has impacted different cultures over the years, I would highly recommend this book.

Checked out of the library today...

Dates from Hell by Kim Harrison et. al.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu

The Amulet by Joanna Wayne

I also requested the first three installments of the Tara Janzen "Crazy" books. I'm looking to expand my horizons a bit. What to begin with? I'm really only interested in the Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison stories in Dates from Hell. This is actually the second time I've checked out the Liu, I thought Tiger Eye was okay, but I'm not driven to read this. The Briggs could be interesting...I've been talking about dipping my toe in the category pool, and this particular Harlequin Intrigue happened to be at the library. Sounded kinda gothic-y. I used to love Gothics.

Am almost finished with The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke. This is a true crime story about a late-nineteenth century Irish murder. It's really interesting.