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.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Yet another reader takes a crack...

at Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. I'm not going to post the cover yet again, because I've already done it several times :). To see some other reviews, go see Sybil. There's one or two there. Jazz also reviewed it at Sanctuary's Finest, where they were also giving away a free copy, but I think the contest is over.

I'm yet another one who adored this one. Give it a solid A.I've been re-reading bits and pieces all week. I'm not ready to move on and leave it behind. I'm going to try not to give too much away, but I can't guarantee anything, so read at your own risk.

I often get on my bitch box about how I hate it when a supposedly damaged, tortured hero is instantly redeemed and cured by the power of the magic hoo-hoo (tm Smart Bitches). One night with a good woman and all of a sudden he's a happy well-adjusted guy. Not so with LA. Zsadist is a hero with a truly horrific past, and he is truly damaged. Ward doesn't wuss out with showing us this past, and it makes Zsadist's behavior very understandable, as well as the behavior of his twin, Phury. Zsadist and Bella's story was a rough ride, and Zsadist screwed up and did stupid shit, and at the end, although he was working towards redemption, it was a process that he actually worked at. It made the story much more gratifying and well, haunting, for me. Oh and he had these moments of utter adorableness (real word?) He just had no idea how to behave normally, and it was heartbreaking and sweet and sexy seeing him to try to figure out what to do with Bella.

I liked Bella as well. I wish we knew more about her, b/c I'm starting to feel that Ward's heroines are not as completely developed as I'd like them to be. But I loved how determined she was and what tunnel vision she had. She knew what she wanted and girl was going for it. And she wasn't going to let Z stand in her way. The lack of waffling or manipulation was refreshing. She never even seemed to notice that Phury was into her too.

Which brings me to Phury. Poor little lamb, come to me, I'll make you feel better. Oy vey, I ached for this guy. His backstory, his relationship with Zsadist, his unrequited love...can't wait for his book. The exploration of the relationship between the brothers was another element that made this book stand out.

I enjoyed getting more from other characters. I find John Matthew interesting, and I'm very curious about Rehvenge. I felt that his issues were left rather vague. I did find myself so involved in the story that I got kinda annoyed when I got taken away from Z and Bella, but I still like the use of multiple viewpoints.

This was not a light read, but it was very satisfying. The chemistry between them was hot, but there were real, rough obstacles and I worried for them at moments. I was almost taken aback by the ending, which I thought was a rather abrupt tone shift, and borderline cheesy, but, you know, after all the characters had gone through I was just so darn happy for them. Schmaltz is good sometimes. Seriously, there was a tear or two.

Little Quibbles--Please with the slang. A little bit to set the tone is o.k., but sometimes it was jarring. I still have a habit of breezing through the "lesser" bits, though I did find the fight scenes more compelling in this one. I honestly don't even notice the names anymore. I know it bugs some people, but I was already a veteran of several other paranormal series with silly names. And romance hero names in general? C'mon, folks! How many Brocks, Kyrians, Holts and whatnots do you know? I might find a Jeff or a Fred strange at this point.

Next up: Lover Revealed in March 2007. I'm definitely excited, though Butch is not my favorite, and I'm not so sure about Marissa. She's no firecracker, and seems to embody the worst of the characterization of females in this series: passive ad controlled by men. But I certainly haven't been let down by these books yet. And even if it's not quite as awesome, Vishous is after that. Squeeeeee!!!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lover Awakened by JR Ward

So I went to the mall yesterday, and it was there! After an extremely craptastic weekend, it was just what I needed! Finished it last night, and I am going to do a re-read and let others read it before I do a review. I will say that this one did not grab me as quickly as the others, but I loved it in the end. Two things distinguish this series for me: I really feel that Ms. Ward has created a number of really interesting and distinct characters (I actually want to read about them all), and she stays true to the characters. Zsadist did not seem drastically different in his story than how he has been developed in past books. I hate that. And the stories are quite distinct.

So J.R. Ward is blogging over by Sybil today. Go forth and read.

For the love of all that is holy, is Blogger not allowing contractions now? Every time I hit the apostrophe key, a bar pops up at the bottom, and the letters start going in there. Is this happening to anyone else?