Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

I'm not going to say much about this one. Just this: among the many books I have read and television/movies I have watched, a few of the locales represented have grabbed my heart and not let go. I know this sounds ridiculously schmaltzy but whatever. One of these such places is Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. Any fan of that show knows why. And now I can add Virgin River to that list. I grew up and live in a small town and have never felt the sense of community that oozes from this series. I'm going to have to pace myself since it only took me about six hours to finish the second one and even though there are seven total, three of them released in the past three months, there won't be any new ones out until next year. So, I'll read the next one, Whispering Rock, and try to control myself afterwards. Wish me luck ;)

Thursday, 30 April 2009

This is about the third time I have started a new post since my last actual post was published. I keep getting distracted or just lose interest in the middle of it. Let's hope that I can make it through this one 'cause I have several things I want to talk about. Here goes...

The Huxtable family series by Mary Balogh: one the whole, disappointing. Individually, surprising. The first one, First Comes Marriage, was good but not great. Vanessa was a nice character but not terribly interesting. The second one, Then Comes Seduction, was thisclose to being a wallbanger for me. Katherine Huxtable was borderline annoying and Baron Montford was a total asshole. The way he treated Katherine at the beginning of the book and his whole attitude in general totally turned me off and I'm not sure who I disliked more: Katherine, the one who agreed to marry him or Jasper, for being so clueless about his feelings and motivations. I had a hard time finding a reason to finish the book but I powered on through because I had a feeling that the third one was going to be good. I was right - At Last Comes Love may be my second favorite book of all Balogh's books (right behind Slightly Dangerous). Margaret, the eldest sister and family matriarch at her ripe old age of 30, deserved a wonderful story. She marries the Earl of Sheringford, Duncan Pennethorne, a social pariah who she should have avoided like the plague. Instead she finds the man of her dreams. I was so relieved when I read this last one because the first two were so lackluster and I expect better of Mrs. Balogh. (I did like Jasper, Baron Montford, in At Last Comes Love though - he was the only one who initially supported Meg and didn't judge Duncan for his past.) I have enjoyed just about every one of her books and while there were a few exceptions, they aren't going to discourage me. I'm not going to get my hopes up about the concluding book in this series, Seducing an Angel, the story of Stephen, the youngest Huxtable and earl of Merton. It comes out in several weeks. Series grade: B-/C+

TV: First and foremost, R.I.P. Bea Arthur. The Golden Girls is probably my all-time favorite tv show ever. I watch it or at least turn it on everyday. Since Lifetime gave up the syndication right to it and WE and Hallmark Channel now have it it's all Golden Girls, all the time. I even made my husband a fan of it (it wasn't hard). My favorite character was always Dorothy because she was the strongest, the most outspoken and the least obvious of the three. Blanche was the sexy one, always in-your-face with her sexuality and unembarrassed of it. Rose was the sweet one, the one with the least amount of common sense but the biggest heart of the four. Sophia was the funniest one, operating without the filter between her head and mouth, insulting yet truthful. But Dorothy was the one I could most identify with or at least the one I most admired. She wasn't beautiful like the others, dumped by her louse of a husband who she was married to for 38 years, she was the rock of the foursome. Always allowing herself to be the butt of jokes and the straight man most of the time. She also had the happiest ending since she got to be the one who married by the end of the show. This lady had balls and wasn't afraid to let people know it and we will miss her.

Also in the subject of tv: The Unusuals. This new show from ABC has completely grabbed my attention on Wednesday nights at 10. I don't watch much tv anymore; I have a bunch of bookmarked links to entertainment websites that I haven't used in many months. Our tv is almost always on but I read during most of my downtime. But this show grabbed my eye because of Amber Tamblyn. I like her spunk and will watch her in whatever. She is not the star of this show however and we actually tune in and watch it while it's on, not later off of the dvr. It's about a police precinct in NYC that gets all the weird cases - a cat thief, a store that caters to people who want to murder someone, etc. It's funny but serious with a great cast and entertaining plot lines. Please watch it - good shows on television are hard to find and we (me and the husband) would like this one to stick around.

Finally, Robyn Carr. I read about her Virgin River series on Book Binge. Casee and company raved about Virgin River, the first book in the series so I figured I'd give it a shot. I got lucky and grabbed a copy on BookMooch (it's pretty high in demand). I read it the other day and now I'm hooked. Let's not kid ourselves - they're romances - but they're real. The first one is about a widowed nurse/midwife who escaped the grind of LA to northern Californian town that is barely a spot on the map. It made me laugh and cry and I can't wait to start the second one, Shelter Mountain, later today after I've finished my errands and such. I'm so glad I've found someone else to read. I read so much and so fast (I'm modest too, can't you tell) that finding an author with staying power makes my day. I'm grabbing up copies to keep since I can definitely see myself rereading them. That doesn't happen to me very often at all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday, 11 April 2009

My big BN order landed the other day and I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. But what should I read first? Here's what I did: I picked up a library book :) The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick. I really enjoyed it too. Caleb Jones and Lucinda Bromley made a good couple and tell you how the company Jones & Jones is founded.

Today I'm all out-of-sorts. One of my eyes is mad at me for some particular reason (irritated and watering) and I'm having trouble deciding what to read. Last night I started The Archer's Tale by Bernard Cornwell. Not my usual type of read but it sounds interesting and it was interesting last night. Today, not so much. So I stood at my bookshelves until something grabbed my interest and picked Butcher's latest, Turn Coat. But after I started it, something didn't feel right. I love Harry Dresden and consume his books like the book glutton that I am but I wasn't feeling it, the thing, the feeling of happiness and excitement I get when I start a new Harry hardback. So, I put that one back and tried again. Settled this time on Pamela Clare's Surrender. Let's hope that her scottish accent is more along the vein of Outlander, not Groundskeeper Willie. Let's also hope that the problem I had with Turn Coat is a fluke and not something more serious. I've been wanting for a while now to reread the series so maybe I'll wait until I've accomplished that. As if.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

I love this woman's books. One of my all-time favorites is Bet Me, which I've read at least 4 times. The last book this pair collaborated on was Don't Look Down, and not one of my favorites. It definitely had the Crusie feel but not necessarily the magic. Agnes definitely does. Cranky Agnes is the writer and title of a nationally syndicated food column and lives in Tara-like mansion outside of Savannah. She is engaged and is expected to host the wedding of her best friend's daughter. Her week has a bad start when a man enters her house, points a gun at her and demands her dog. Agnes takes him out with her frying pan and shortly thereafter meets her new man, Shane, the aforementioned hitman who is sent by his uncle, friend of Agnes. Hilarity, good food, the mob, flamingoes and crazy people ensue. This was my second reading of Agnes and it definitely held up the second time. I haven't read her newest one, Dogs and Goddesses, mainly because the reviews weren't that great but Crusie's website claims that she'll have another book out later this year.

Danger in a Red Dress by Christina Dodd

I think this one is the last in the series that involve the illegitimate sons of one man who seemed to believe that he alone was responsible for the continuation of the species. Wow. Gabriel Prescott is a multi-millionaire security company owner who is hired by his half-brother to investigate Hannah Grey, the RN who is caring for his elderly mother. She (the old lady) alone is believed to know the location of the millions of dollars their father stole from investors in his company before he disappeared and her son wants that money desperately. Meanwhile, Gabriel falls for Hannah even though he believes that she's a murderess and thief. Hannah falls for Trent, Gabriel in disguise. This book was better than the last two books in the series. I liked this one as much as the first one, Trouble in High Heels. The second and third not so much. There's also an excerpt from her next series, Chosen Ones, which seems to be in the same vein as her Darkness Chosen series. It'll be out in August.

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

The cover of this one seems backward to me. He's a werewolf and she's the
vampire. Just noticed that. So, this one was pretty intense. The werewolf king who is being tortured under Paris gets a whiff of his mate, chews off his own leg to free himself and about has a heart attack when he discovers that his intended is a vamp. Talk about a letdown. Emmaline and Lachlain definitely make an interesting pair. Vicious surrogate mommies and jealous pack members spice things up. The next one, No Rest for the Wicked, is in the mail, making it's way here. Whoo boy. Media mail is so damn slow :)

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I knew it! I freaking knew it! I was so happy to finally read the last installment of the Mortal Instruments series and when I finally sat down with it, I didn't stop until I finished it. It was fairly predictable and satisfying - much like the end of the Harry Potter series. *Spoiler alert* I knew that Clary and Jace were not siblings. Duh and all that, I know. Who bases their relationships on what Valentine says anyway? Dummies. Having Clary's mom reveal it was expected too but still a relief. So, evil is vanquished, true love prevails and peace throughout the land wraps up this series but I loved it anyway. I haven't had much luck with YA series as of late and I still haven't been able to bring myself to finish Breaking Dawn but I'll always appreciate Clary, Jace, Simon and the rest. I'm not sure what her next series is about but I believe is a prequel of sorts. We'll see.

Promises in Death by J. D. Robb

I haven't read a Eve Dallas book in quite a while. Several years ago I devoured as many as I could get my hands on and they hadn't started coming out in hardback yet. I think the last one was the one about the doctors that were creating clones. Or something like that. There was a reference to it in Promises but I don't remember how far back in the series and I'm too lazy right now to look it up. That one was okay and kinda put me off the series.

I love Nora Roberts and have read most of her books and the fact that she's able to pull off a futuristic series (I usually don't go for those) is not surprising. That being said, Promises impressed me. Maybe surprised would be a better word. Eve Dallas is mellowing! She was almost mushy. Compassionate, sympathetic, and borderline nurturing is not typical Eve behavior and it's nice to see that she's evolving. I certainly don't want Eve to lose her essence though; Eve Dallas is one tough bitch and I like her that way. One of my favorite things about Nora Roberts's novels is that I love the way she writes women: strong, stubborn, insightful, compassionate, able to adapt and grow and funny. She always creates appealing men too: never perfect but well-suited foils for their women. Perfection in suitability hardly ever happens in real-life but I love reading about it. Eve and Roarke is a wonderful example of this: a tough-as-nails cop that follows the rules and a reformed (not completely) member of the criminal element who bends the rules when he needs to. Bring on the next one Nora!

A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Gosh this series is good. Good mysteries, Clare's conflicting feelings with her vocation and her church and her passion for Russ, Russ's struggle with his feelings for Clare and his wife, a town that seems to be a hotbed for pertinent social issues, and enough humor so the stories don't feel preachy. The main reason that I'm reading this series, of course, is Russ and Clare and what happens between them. I hope that something happens eventually. There's six books so far and I am having a hard time believing that you can stretch unrequited love very much farther before something snaps. I wonder when Russ's wife Linda will finally make an appearance. She's become something of a Vera or Maris (oddly enough, both are tv characters connected to Frasier Crane), where only Russ is allowed to speak to her. Anyway, Out of the Deep I Cry is next in the series and I'm looking forward to it.

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

Darkness will summon her

Elizabeth Phoenix once used her unique skills as a psychic to help in the Milwaukee Police Department’s fight against injustice. But when Liz’s foster mother is found viciously murdered—and Liz is discovered unconscious at the scene—her only memory of the crime comes in the form of terrifying dreams...of creatures more horrific than anything Liz has seen in real life. What do these visions mean? And what in the world do they have to do with her former lover, Jimmy Sanducci?

To places she’s never been before

While the police question Jimmy in the murder, Jimmy opens Liz’s eyes to a supernatural war that has raged since the dawn of time in which innocent people are hunted by malevolent beings disguised as humans. Only a chosen few have the ability to fight their evil, and Jimmy believes Liz is among them. Now, with her senses heightened, new feelings are rising within Liz—ones that re-ignite her dangerous attraction to Jimmy. But Jimmy has a secret that will rock Liz to her core…and put the survival of the human race in peril.

I got my copy of this book from the awesome folks over at LibraryThing. They give away books each month and last year the publisher handed out a 1000 copies through LT with the understanding that the recipients will write a review of the book they receive. I actually got two and it still took me until March to read it. I try to put off reading new books from authors that I like because then I'll have to wait another year before the next one and I hate that. Anyway, Doomsday finally made it last month. I had read the prequel short story "In the Beginning" that Handeland wrote and gave away for free on her website, in which we learn what happened during the end of Liz Phoenix's career as a cop. By the end of it I was intrigued. Liz Phoenix is a tragic character - foster kid, had abilities she's doesn't want or understand, suffered through heartbreak by the man she's still in love with, blames herself for the death of her partner in the line of duty, etc.

Tragic or not, I liked Liz. For maybe the first half, anyway. I thought the whole deal with Sawyer and gaining powers though sex was a turnoff. It reminded me a lot of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series and how disappointed I was when it became basically a vehicle for bad porn. Then she believed she could save Jimmy from his father's clutches with sex. That seems pretty naive to me, having seen what Liz had already been through. I was disappointed with this effort from Lori Handeland, having read and liked most of her Nightcreature series. I will probably read the next one, Doomsday Can Wait, even though this one was lukewarm.

Saturday, 4 March 2009

What a week. The procedure I mentioned on Wednesday is over. It was a test, I should tell you, not really a "procedure." I was freaked out about it, as I had every right to be, but it looks as if everything is going to be fine. No cancer for me, yay :) Just about every woman (at least in this country, I guess) will most likely have to endure it at some time in their lives and mine was Wednesday. I'm deliberately being vague about this because I think it's stupid to share intimate information on the internet since you don't really know who is going to be reading it but I think you can probably read between the lines here anyway.

As I said, this experience has been rough for me and I learned something because of it. It is this: I should not write about books when I'm not altogether me. On Wednesday, I was completely out-of-sorts and wrote about The Vampire Shrink. I didn't like it; everything I wrote was something I thought or felt while I read it. I have certainly read goofier vampire novels than this one but I really ripped it and earned a comment from the author, Lynda Hilburn herself. Holy cow. I think of and write on this blog as if it's my personal book diary and I forget that it is on the internet and anyone can see it and so this morning, as I logged on to list the books I have read these past few days and noticed that I had a comment (proof that other human beings are reading this blog), and that comment turned out to be from the author of a book that I ridiculed, well, I almost sprayed coffee all over the monitor. If I had been Ms. Hilburn and saw what some unimportant nobody (in the book world) wrote about a book that she is most likely proud of, I probably wouldn't have been as classy as she was. So, in the spirit of graciousness and tact, Thank you Ms. Hilburn for wishing me luck after I made fun of your work. You taught me a valuable lesson about standing behind your work and kindness. I won't take back what I said but I will give it a second chance.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Books Read in March '09

The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy (B)
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas (A)
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (B)
A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming (A)
The Vampire Diaries (omnibus #1) by L. J. Smith (dnf)
Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder (B)
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder (B+)
In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming (A)
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (A-)
Promises in Death by J. D. Robb (A)
Lord of the Beasts by Susan Krinard (B)
A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole (B)
I Only Have Fangs For You by Kathy Love (A)
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh (A)
Slightly Sinful by Mary Balogh (B)
Slightly Tempted by Mary Balogh (B-)
How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks (B+)
Demon Angel by Meljean Brook (A-)
"Falling for Anthony" in Hot Spell by Meljean Brook (A)
Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh (A+)
Slightly Scandalous by Mary Balogh (C+)
Slightly Wicked by Mary Balogh (B)
Slightly Married by Mary Balogh (A-)
Hot Shot by Charlotte Hughes (B)
Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland (B-/C+)
A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh (A-)
Madhouse by Rob Thurman (B-)
How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn (A)
The Lady in Question by Victoria Alexander (A-)
A Kiss to Remember by Teresa Medeiros (B)
Dead to Me by Anton Strout (A-)
One Night of Scandal by Teresa Medeiros (B)
First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh (B+)
When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James (B)

(March total: 34, 2009 total:99)

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Today I am trying to read The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn. Did you notice I used the word "trying" when I mentioned reading it? I am on page 252 (there's 392 total) and I am trying (there's that word again) to come up with a reason to soldier on instead of dropping it cold. I'm not sure what exactly is turning me off; it could be Kismet (?), the aforementioned Shrink, who is surprisingly the least ridiculous character in this book. It could be Devereux, the main vampire, who is apparently infatuated with Kismet and has all the neat vampire abilities such as teleportation - between dimensions, no less - and is the vampire king or whatever. I do like Alan, who is just like Fox Mulder (his FBI buddies actually call him Mulder as Mulder's colleagues called him Spooky) and is hot on the trail of the mean vampires, aka not Devereux and his ilk. 

This book is ridiculous and yes, I am aware I've already used that word. Kismet is utterly stupefying in her resistance to believing in vampires. Even her name is stupefying. And then, there's Devereux. Utterly beautiful (if you go for girl hair on a man), he won't stay out of Kismet's head and performs a protection ritual on her in which he did a dance that did nothing but make me giggle. I had a funny yet erotic-like dance routine from Napoleon Dynamite running in my head while reading it. And he only wears leather! All the time with the leather. There's also other characters named Midnight and Emerald and it's all too much. It's definitely possible that I'm just not in the mood for this book and if I picked up some other time I might enjoy it so I'm probably going to drop it. At this point, I just don't care what happens to Kismet and Devereux. Alan, who is secure enough in his masculinity to wear pink sweats while his clothes are in the washer, could keep me interested but I don't think he's gonna win. It's hard to beat a guy who can read your mind and make you sleep with a thought. I think I'll reread Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie. Her books are like comfort food for me.

My mood can definitely be attributed to the procedure I have to endure tomorrow morning. A procedure I didn't expect to go through until I was forty, at least. I don't think it's going to have a negative outcome but I'm worried nonetheless. Wish me luck.