Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Hallows by Kim Harrison (Or, the Series I Never Talk About)

Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series is one of my all-time favorites. No, really. If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned it (much) here's why: by the time I started this blog in 2008, I had read up to book six, The Outlaw Demon Wails, and was so distraught by the death of a character that I found I couldn't talk about it, couldn't think about it. I still get choked up over it and last night, when I finished White Witch, Black Curse, I got weepy again.

And again...but also got some closure too. Tink's tampons, finally! (You need to read these books to understand that one so, no, I haven't flipped my wig.)

In December of 2008, I listed the Rachel Morgan series as one of my top ten favorite things for '08 as it was the year I first read them. In 2009, I learned (along with anyone else who cares about her books) that Kim Harrison is just a psuedonym for Dawn Cook, a fantasy writer. I was shocked! A whole persona was created in the guise of Kim Harrison, I guess to go along with her kick-ass character Rachel Morgan, and I was sorry to hear it. On the other hand, Dawn Cook has other books in which I look forward to reading and that's a good thing.

Kim Harrison's books are on my autobuy list along with Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, and let's be honest, a few dozen others. I will never buy this series in ebook format; I want to read them while having my nose stuck in a real, hands-on, made with paper and ink  book. They are part of my permanent collection and as long as I have the means, I will always have the shelf space for them. I also love the titles and the Clint Eastwood connection.

I've been collecting Dawn Cook's Truth series ever since I inadvertently bought the second book, Hidden Truth, while at the bookstore. They don't sound anywhere near as edgy or dark as The Hallows but I'm optimistic that the high standard of writing will still be there.

Harrison also has a YA series about a dead girl named Madison Avery. I also have the first book in that series, Once Dead, Twice Shy, but surprise, surprise - I haven't read it yet.

I've finally started catching up with Rachel, Ivy, and Jenks. I hadn't realized just how much I had missed them. These characters (along with all the others) make me laugh and cry. I've requested Pale Demon from but I'm not expecting to get it. HarperCollins hasn't granted me any of my requests so far and that is disappointing and frustrating to me because I read many, many, many of their authors and buy many, many, many of their books. (End whining.) I will still be buying Pale Demon when it comes out, irregardless. I'll be starting Black Magic Sanction later today, after I do some hopefully injury-free Christmas light hanging outside.

Kim Harrison writes one of the premier UF series of today. If you like witches, vampires, weres, demons, pixies, and are afraid of tomatoes then this is the series for you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Audiobook Review: Vision in White by Nora Roberts

The first book in the Bride Quartet—following the lives and loves of four friends who run Vows, a wedding-planning company. Wedding photographer Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be’s brother…an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac’s type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends—and business partners—to see her way to her own happy ending. (from

The book:

Weddings are not my thing. I mean, they're lovely and they always make me cry but when I got married, it was in a courthouse and I was happy with that. Thrilled, in fact, because planning anything on that scale gives me hives. For that reason, I had avoided this series.

Nora Roberts has written more than one trilogy where three friends end up working together to create a multi-faceted company, for example, the Key Trilogy. For what it's worth, Vision in White is a trademark Nora Roberts book filled with female solidarity among strong women and handsome men who are their perfect matches. There is humor along with a personal crisis for Mac that allows Carter to ride in on his white horse. The thing is, there's no adversity here, at least none that isn't in the form of bridezillas. In the trilogies, there is a goal, something that bonds everyone and brings them together. Even her annual standalone novel has a goal in it. True, these four women in the Bride Quartet are life-long friends who own a company together, but it didn't feel the same.

I liked this book, liked it enough to pick up book two, Bed of Roses, but maybe not enough to want to see the whole series through to the end. (She always saves the real ballbusters for the end and Parker seems to fit that to a T.) So far, it appears that each book will be similar enough to make me feel like I'm reading the same book four times over with different wallpaper in each.

The audiobook:

Emily Durante narrated Vision in White and even though I've not had much experience with audiobooks I felt that her performance was missing something though I can't put my finger on exactly what. Her voice was pleasant enough but I laughed out loud the first time I heard her voice for Carter. All the male voices, actually. The female voices, with the exception of Mac's mother, all sounded pretty much the same. It occurred to me several times while listening that I might have enjoyed Vision in White a bit better if I had actually read a hard copy. Listening to Vision in White was a pleasant enough distraction while driving or doing things around the house but I didn't really dig it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My New Favorite Way to Read: Audiobooks!

And it's all Jane's fault.

She's been telling me for years about how she loves audiobooks. I considered the idea of listening to books - like I don't read enough of them while sitting on my couch - and thought OK, I'll give it a whirl.

So I borrowed Kat Richardson's Greywalker from my local library and listened to it with my CD player while rearranging my books one afternoon. I kept finding myself so wrapped up in the story that I would end up stopping what I was doing, holding almost still for several minutes, maybe up to ten at a time. Or, I would pay attention to what I was doing and lose track of the story. It was rather frustrating. I felt like one of those people who can't walk and chew gum at the same time. So I gave up on the audiobooks.

But then, a few months ago I was at the library and when I cruised past the audiobook section I spied with my little eye Dead Beat by Jim Butcher sitting on the shelf. See, I'm a fan of Butcher's but I'm also a huge fan of James Marsters'. Who didn't love Spike on BtVS? They're like a match made in heaven, James Marsters and Harry Dresden, and I'd been curious when I'd heard that he was narrating The Dresden Files. The rest, as they say, is history because now I can now walk and chew gum at the same time. (It is certainly possible that my listening device could have been to blame - listening with my iPod works best for me.) I've joined (I wish I had waited a bit longer before I joined so that I could have taken advantage of the TWO free books you get, instead of the single puny one I got.) I bring home more audiobooks than regular books each time I go to the library. I can't get anything done around my house anymore without listening to an audiobook of some sort. I don't like to drive without my iPod, which, okay, isn't any different than usual (I live near a beach and the radio drives me crazy), but I find myself disappointed if I have to listen to music in the car.

I don't think I could listen to just anything though. I'm still horrified that Laurell K. Hamilton's books are audiobooks; having read some of her Anita Blake books and several of the Merry Gentry ones, it would feel like I watching porn. Reading love scenes is one thing but listening to them is a whole other enchilada. My face is getting red just thinking about it. Anyway, I stay away from authors who are heavy on the sex scenes and yes, I am currently listening to a Nora Roberts book but her books are tastefully written and manage to avoid the ick factor.

I've added an item on the sidebar to show off what I'm listening to in addition to the traditional type book I'm reading at the moment. I'll be posting some audiobook reviews (that means you should do them too Jane!) from time-to-time as well. If you're like me (and Jane) and have trouble separating yourself from the book you're reading to do boring stuff like housework (ugh!), give audiobooks a try.

Have recommendations? I love would to hear them!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cover of Darkness by Kaylea Cross


Targeted by a terrorist cell, Bryn McAllister survives a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut only to be left to die in a desert cellar. When she is rescued by Navy SEAL Lieutenant Declan McCabe and his team, Bryn must rely on the handsome officer to get her to safety. But just when she thinks the nightmare is over, family friend and legendary CIA operative Luke Hutchinson recruits her and McCabe to help track down the terrorist mastermind responsible for the attack.

With Bryn determined to see the terrorist brought to justice, Dec joins up to protect her, prepared to do whatever it takes to keep her safe during their dangerous mission. Battling the explosive attraction between them, Dec fights to keep his distance from her so he can do his job and keep her alive. But when plans fall apart and Bryn is captured, he must make the agonizing choice between his duty as a SEAL and the life of the woman he loves.

My thoughts:


Ok, maybe I should elaborate. I get pretty excited when I discover a new author that rocks. This book, the second story in this series, had it all. The setting, so realistic, takes place in the Middle East where a religious zealot by the name of Farouck Tehrazzi has sworn jihad until all infidels have been destroyed. In this story he wants both Bryn and her father, a Lebanese diplomat who felt his country needed U.S. support, dead. I didn’t need a caffeine fix to stay awake to read this book. Once again Ms. Cross had me sitting at the edge of my chair right up to the very end.

Both the lead and secondary characters were surprisingly well developed. I really liked Bryn who came across as intelligent, easy going, and feminine yet had plenty of moxie when she needed to. Dec’s character was equally engaging. I loved that he didn't have a big ego and he tried so hard to remain professional when all he wanted was Bryn. I felt that the romance was an integral part of the story making the whole story very believable.

Wow! Oh yeah, I’ve already said that (sheepish grin).

If you enjoy authors like Cindy Gerard, Marliss Melton, or Suzanne Brockmann you may want to check out this author. I’m sure glad I did!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean

Since being named "London's Lord to Land" by a popular ladies' magazine, Nicholas St. John has been relentlessly pursued by every matrimony-minded female in the ton. So when an opportunity to escape fashionable society presents itself, he eagerly jumps - only to land in the path of the most determined, damnably delicious woman he's ever met.

The daughter of a titled wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend has too many secrets and too little money. Though she is used to taking care of herself quite handily, her father's recent passing has left Isabel at sea and in need of outside help to protect her young brother's birthright. The sinfully handsome, eminently eligible Lord Nicholas could be the very salvation she seeks.

But the lady must be wary and not do anything reckless and falling madly, passionately in love.

Sarah MacLean's debut, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, knocked my socks off. Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord was good but didn't make 'em twitch.

Isabel is already beautiful if not one step above poverty and the last thing she wants is a man. Nicholas is successful and wanted by every eligible respectable (and some not) woman in London. So my question is: why did MacLean go so completely opposite of NRtBWRaR? I wouldn't expect her to write the same book over and over but she found a formula that worked for her. This book wasn't even set (mostly) in London. TWtBAWLaL didn't have the same spark and the romance bits felt a bit repetitive but not necessarily boring.

The third book in the St. John series, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, comes out on April 26, 2011. I have high hopes for that one as I want to see Juliana, the illegitimate half-sister to Ralston and Nicholas, kick some haughty duke butt because that guy definitely needs a kick in his butt. Once you've read Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord you'll know who. And why it's got the perfect title.

Harry Potter Countdown

I realize that I'm a bit late mentioning this but as I am a big fan of Harry Potter I would be remiss if I didn't add my voice to all those others who are talking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1. I just watched the trailer (again) and got goosebumps. Big Ones.

Here's the official site which has the best trailer I've seen for part one:

But these are good too:

I've seen all the movies but I loved Half Blood Prince. It really felt like the book and David Yates has captured their essence more so than any other director. I'm so excited to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows next weekend! The movie opens on Friday, November 19.

Four days to go!

This Post is Not Related to Books, Not Even Close

This so funny, you guys.

And because you can't ever say too much about tampons (and I love Sheldon Cooper):

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (4), November 12-15, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop and welcome to My Book Addiction! The Book Blogger Hop is hosted each week by Jennifer at The Hop is a way for book bloggers to meet other bloggers, find new blogs they like, and share our love of books. Each week there is a new question for us bloggers to answer and this week's is:

"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

Oh my yes. I am almost obsessive about that. What's worse than trying to read a new author and not being able to know what's going on in the background? Some authors depend on their readers to have read their previous books and some don't; either way, I don't like missing out on anything. I need to know!

So, thanks for stopping by my blog and please leave a comment so I can return the favor! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review & Giveaway: Bloodshot by Cherie Priest

Raylene Pendle, (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn't usually hang out with her own kind. She's too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist - even though Ian doesn't want previous artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files: documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn't bargain for is a case that takes her from the frozen outskirts of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen at her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.

This is my first book review from the loot I brought home from NYCC 2010. Yes, I am that lazy.  But guess what? I'm giving this one away to whoever wins my first giveaway! I'm so nice.

So, Bloodshot. It felt a bit uneven to me and took me a long time to get into it. There was a period between pages fifty and 100 where I considered calling it quits but I am glad I didn't because things really pick up after that. And I have to say that pairing up a vampire and a former Navy SEAL drag queen was definitely something new for me. When I read that line on the back about the "kick-ass drag queen" I immediately got a picture of Sally Sweets in my head from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. (Sadly, I haven't run across that many drag queens in my books.) Adrian is no Sally, let me assure you. Not even close.

Raylene is a contradiction. She's an eighty-odd-year-old vampire who is a discriminating thief and surrogate mother for two runaway kids who live in an old building she owns where she stashes all her stolen goods. She's thoughtful and paranoid. She also kills without compunction, for either food or in battle. At the beginning and with the exception of the two kids, she's all alone in the world. She doesn't know the real names of her fellow thieves/mercenaries/etc. and only generally has conversations with one of her best clients, a man who lives across the country. By the end, she has friends. A family, almost.

I mostly liked Raylene and I know I liked her sense of humor. I think Cherie Priest was trying to make Raylene a total badass but she fell a little short and sounded a bit dated to me; repeatedly referring to the government as "Uncle Sam" sounds old. She has the vamp skills and all but the paranoia and anal-retentiveness of being super prepared made her somehow seem diminished, not sure of herself and ready to roll instead of confident. She's tenacious though, I will give her that.

Despite my issues with Raylene, I did like Bloodshot enough to want to find out what will happen in the next book. I want to know what happens with Ian and Sister Rose, as well as find out more about Raylene's history with the vampire Houses. Sounds a bit like Chloe Neill's Chicagoland vampires series setup. Cherie Priest has created an more than interesting world with Bloodshot and I hope to see more of it in the future.

Bloodshot will be released on January 25, 2011.

About the giveaway: Anyone who would like my copy of Cherie Priest's Bloodshot should leave a comment with your name and email address between now and November 30, 2010 to enter. The winner will be chosen at random. I will mail Bloodshot to the winner personally.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

A lady does not smoke cheroot.
She does not ride astride.
She does not fence or attend duels.
She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried - and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss - to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston - charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all - the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love...

Wow. I have not been this excited about an regency romance author like Sarah MacLean since I first read Julia Quinn. Or Loretta Chase. Or Lisa Kleypas. I loved this book! I can totally see why it's been on every Best Of list so far this year and I was so excited once I finished it last night that I made sure to buy a copy of Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord today. Don't worry, I did.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was the loveliest, sexiest, most funnest historical romance that I have read in quite some time. The best part? It's Sarah MacLean's debut! Of course she's now set an extremely high standard for all her future books to meet but who cares? Even if all her other books are stinkers we'll always have this one.

Sarah MacLean's style is pitch perfect for her genre. She put together my two favorite elements for a great historical romance novel:

  • She took a wallflower and made her into a social butterfly that believes she's beautiful. Callie was firmly "on the shelf" at the beginning of this book and by the end marries a marquess. It'ss a love match no less. (Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas is probably my favorite example of this.)  
  • She made the main man powerful, forceful but not violent, and utterly convinced that he is incapable of love. That is, until he meets her - THE ONE. He then spends the rest of the book trying to figure out why he feels the way he does. What is wrong with him? Why can't he stop thinking about her? Why does she confuse him so? (Leopold Villiers from Eloisa James' A Duke of Her Own works here.)

I just loved Calpurnia. I loved how brave she really wasn't at first, just frustrated with her life and ready for it to be different. I think we all can sympathize with that. Getting her stubborn on and finally deciding to do all those things she's wanted to but denied for so long was just as satisfying for me to watch as it was for Callie. I loved the humor in this book, and the pain too - I found myself tearing up several times. I fell a bit for Ralston myself; who could resist a man who vowed to keep his heart to himself after his mother left them when he was a boy? *sigh*

I've got a serious decision to make here: do I read Ten Ways now or do I wait until I've finished another book I've really looking forward to - Bloodshot by Cherie Priest? Hmm. Look soon for my thoughts on MacLean's YA novel, The Season. Her third in this numbered series, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, will be out on April 26, 2011.

Review: Nicola Cornick's Scandalous Women of the Ton trilogy

Over the past year, I've become a fan of Nicola Cornick and so when I saw that was offering Mistress by Midnight as an egalley I quickly requested it, bought Whisper of Scandal from B&N, and picked up a paperback copy of One Wicked Sin when I saw it at Target. This first trilogy, called The Scandalous Women of the Ton is about all the usual Victorian historical romance things but they're done well enough that I didn't mind that they're not all that original.

Whisper of Scandal starts off this series with Lady Joanna Ware. Joanna is the society darling widow of a famous explorer who is lauded for his discoveries and has a reputation of a saint. The saint's colleague, Lord Grant, is forced into a situation with Joanna when a provision in her husband's will grants her and Lord Grant custody of his illegitimate daughter, a small child who is living in an orphanage in northern Russia, near the Arctic Circle. Alex (Lord Grant) has many strong (read: negative) opinions about Joanna and her lifestyle but it's not until he gets to know her that he realizes just how unhappy her life really was with her husband. Joanna and Alex are both well-written characters, each as strong and vulnerable as the other, and I liked them both.

One Wicked Sin features Lady Joanna's supposed best friend, Lottie Cummings. Lottie spent most of Whisper of Scandal sleeping with every man who caught her attention and her husband had finally had enough. She has since been divorced and disowned by her family; now she's a prostitute in a brothel.  When she is approached by Ethan Ryder, a devastatingly handsome Irish illegitimate son of a duke who is prison for fighting against England for France who wants her to be his mistress and come live in the small village in which he is sequestered, she realizes she can't say no. She also realizes that she won't be able to keep her heart from falling for Ethan. Ethan has other ideas including using Lottie as a diversion for his real passion: dismembering England's prison system. There is some weak political intrigue here but it didn't add anything worthwhile to the plot. Lottie and Ethan are two desperate people who left me a bit cold; their romance was pretty sad and while I was happy for them by the end - which had a rather ridiculous rescue - I didn't like them all that much on the way.

Mistress by Midnight wrapped up this trio with Merryn Fenner, Lady Joanna's younger sister. Merryn is a bluestocking, the English version of a nerd, and leads a double life: when she's not attending lectures and poring through books she works secretly for an inquiry agent to gather evidence against Garrick Northesk, Duke of Farne and Lord Grant's half-brother, for the murder of her and Joanna's brother Stephen in a duel years before. Stephen had been sleeping with Garrick's wife and ended up fatally wounded by gunshot. Merryn has been obsessed with her belief that Garrick shot Stephen in cold blood, not in the alleged duel, and should be brought to justice. Of course, she hadn't counted on her attraction to Garrick, also a childhood crush of hers, and finds it extremely difficult to maintain her hatred the more she is around him. Garrick is keeping a huge secret, one that would shatter Merryn's love for her brother, and he can't bear to be the one responsible for breaking her heart. I liked these two a bit more than Ethan and Lottie, but was disappointed in Merryn. Consumed by her grief for the brother she'd put on a pedestal, she sacrificed everyone else's feelings in the process, including Joanna's. For all her determination, she is quite naive and easily manipulated. If you're going to do your worst to ruin a man you'd better have done your homework and she didn't. Merryn came off as a stubborn child, one who would have cut off her nose to spite her face, and I didn't like her which surprised me; the other glimpses of her in the first book gave me another impression. I did like Garrick, a fairly honorable man put into an awful position. Otherwise, the mystery and drama were pretty good and kept me wondering until the happily ever after ending. Cornick's website (go HERE to see it) has hinted that there will be more in this series next year.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland

Montgomery de Piaget attracts responsibilities like blossoms lure bees. Where other knights have bonny brides, laughing children, and noble quests, he has the task of rebuilding the most dilapidated castle in all of England. A bit of magic might aid him - if only he still believed in that sort of thing.

When Pippa Alexander is invited to England to provide costumes for an upscale party, she jumps at the chance to showcase her own line of fairytale-inspired designs. And even her older sister's decision to act as Fairy Queen can't crush Pippa's hope that this time, she'll wind up wearing the glass slippers. Not that she believes in fairy tales, or magic that whispers along the hallways of an honest-to-goodness medieval castle...

But the castle is full of more than cobwebs, and danger lurks in unexpected places. And only time will tell is Montgomery and Pippa can overcome these obstacles to find their own happily ever after...

Lynn Kurland is the master of medieval time travel romances. She has two interconnected series about two dynastic families, the MacLeods and the de Piagets, each having plenty of members who met their true loves in another century and often intermarrying with one another. Her romances are filled with humor and tender romance without the explicit sex scenes, which is rather refreshing. Each one I've read has been an enjoyable read but Kurland's books assume the reader's familiarity with her other books; in One Enchanted Evening, family members and characters from as many as five previous works appear.

I liked One Enchanted Evening but had a few problems with it. There wasn't much action. Montgomery had the task of rehabbing a castle that he inherited and that involved rousting the cousins in it who didn't want him there. I think they were supposed to be the real element of danger but they seemed more like an easily handled nuisance to Montgomery so it was hard to take seriously any threat they may have been. Also, the blurb on the back cover made Montgomery seem like someone who had ditched the whole concept of the paranormal as a teenager for necessity but when Pippa and her sister appear out of thin air he immediately accepts her explanation with no skepticism at all. I was just surprised that he caved so quickly because often in this genre men who make that kind of 180-degree switch cling to it a bit harder. Apparently, Kurland's men have a bit more common sense when it comes to the paranormal. And Pippa's sister Cinderella (even hippies need to have some standards), what a piece of work she was - I hope Kurland isn't planning to give her a book any time soon. Irritating and annoying, I couldn't find any reason to like her. Keeping herself detached from the reality of their situation by taking valium might have been preferable than facing the situation but I don't think valium is the type of med to induce euphoria or delusions in the fashion which Cindi was living with: as she had time traveled in a big white ballgown, she believed herself to be Queen of the Faeries, ordered the men to participate in a beauty pageant, and announced her wedding to Montgomery. And they believed her and even started preparations for it! People sure seem gullible in the 13th century.

Kurland's next romance, One Magic Moment, will be out on May 3, 2011 and is about Pippa's sister, Tess. Will she pick a de Piaget or a MacLeod? Pick up a copy and find out. (This review also appears on LibraryThing.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What's On My Television

While I'm waiting for some dough to rise I thought I would talk a bit about some recent television I've been watching. It's rare for me to actually "watch" tv these days and it's not because I'm a tv snob but because I'm always reading. Our tv is more for background noise than anything else for the most part -except football and my daily Golden Girls fix - but there are two shows for which I have made an effort: Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery and The Walking Dead on AMC.

Sherlock is yet another reincarnation of the infamous sleuth only this time it's set in the 21st century. Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, lives in the same place, works for Inspector Lestrade, and is the same arrogant yet brilliant jerk as he ever was. In the first episode, he meets Watson, who is played by the wonderful Martin Freeman, a wounded former soldier who needs a purpose in his life. It's like love at first sight only not and soon after Watson is moving into 221B Baker Street. Cumberbatch seems to have channeled Holmes and is pitch perfect for an updated version of Doyle's character; for example, he manipulates Lestrade's and the press's cellphones during a press conference, sending everyone texts at the same time to refute Lestrade's statements. Freeman is a perfect straight man as Watson and by the second episode, is already exuding the right amount of suffering toleration of Holmes and his quirks. The mysteries have been entertaining if not a bit obvious after the fact and the hour and a half long episodes are a bit too long. I'm not a Holmes purist and I liked Guy Ritchie's take on it too so I'm a bit more open to interpretations not involving Basil Rathbone. If you like Sherlock Holmes but are not a stickler on the subject, give this one a try. Masterpiece Mystery is on PBS on Sunday nights at 9pm.

(Left to right: Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Frank Darabont, Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus. Not that you can read this if you click on the picture.)

The Walking Dead is an adaptation from Robert Kirkman's comic book series and it is nasty good. Graphic and unapologetic about it, Frank Darabont and company have so far impressed everyone who is familiar with Kirkman's books. I got to see a decent amount of footage at NYCC 2010 but that didn't prepare me for Days Gone Bye, the first episode of season one. The protagonist, Rick, is a cop who awakens after being shot by a perp to another world, one where the dead are walking and his wife and son are missing. The casting is superb and the makeup and special effects are stomach-turning. I have read some of the first volume in this acclaimed series but I definitely plan to read more. Horror isn't usually my thing and I'm a total sissy when it comes to horror movies but what affected me most about Days Gone Bye was the loss and grief by the people Rick meets. Season one is only six episodes and the show airs on AMC on Sunday nights at 10pm. Vampires are out and zombies are in!

Me and My Nook, Three Months Later...

When I bought my nook in the end of July, I wasn't sure what to expect of myself and of this gadget. I have a tendency to become bored with things like this rather quickly no matter how bad I have to have them (i.e. my DS) and so I worried about whether I would get my money's worth out of an ereader. I already have so many books and now I'm spending $200 on something that will allow me to buy books from my couch and have them instantly? My willpower isn't exactly strong when it comes to books. I promised to share my conclusions on my nook three months later so here we go.

Ease of use. I find the nook pretty darn easy to use. It took me a while and some tinkering with my brother's Droid Incredible smartphone to realize that tapping works better rather than the touching the icons. The color touchscreen is bright and pretty. The larger screen looks a lot like paper and is easy to read. It's a little heavy but not unlike an actual book. I've also added an expansion card to mine; I filled up the <2GB hard drive rather easily.

3G reception. I live in a fairly rural area but still typically get one bar of reception and sometimes find that even if there are no bars on the indicator that the connection doesn't drop. I can (and have) connected my nook to my home network but didn't like the web browser that comes with the nook. Maybe they'll upgrade that feature in a future software version. Browsing ebooks part in the Shop function is decent but would be better if you were allowed more control with the search option. I would like to be able to jump to a particular page or just look at all the free ebooks - you have to browse through the first 99 pages before you can see just the free ones. That's really the same for B& though too.

Availability of books I want. Generally, if I search for something I find it but occasionally get stymied by amazon and their exclusivity of some titles. A few months ago I wanted Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie in ebook format and ended up downloading it from Sony (the only place I could find it) for cover price only to discover not two weeks later that B&N was now selling it for $2.99. I was not happy. 

LendMe capability. This is a cool idea but I haven't tried it yet. I've seen some grumblings out there about how not all titles are tradeable but big deal. Like that's a surprise? Jane and I have plans to trade books this way at some point with me and my nook and her machine of choice and a nook app.

Battery Life. The battery is supposed to last longer if you deactivate the wireless connections while you read but I haven't really noticed much of a difference. The removable battery was a big selling point for me; I like control over that kind of thing. It's why it took me several years to finally get an iPod. You can charge the nook via a regular outlet or while it's connected to a computer with a usb cable. My nook holds enough of a charge for me to not be a pain about having to recharge too often and I'm pretty happy with it.

Free book Friday. B&N offers a new mainstream eBook for free each Friday. Throughout August, every Friday they would offer a new set of free B&N Classics and I took much advantage of that one. There are also offers like free stuff from the in-store cafes.

Freebies in-store. I've only done this once but if you take a nook into a B&N store you are offered free reads that you wouldn't get anywhere else. For example, I got a sneak peek of Maggie Stiefvater's Forever. It's a deleted scene but still!

Nookcolor. It definitely figures that within a few months of buying my nook they come out with an all-new ALL-COLOR, ALL-TOUCHSCREEN nook, the nookcolor. *grumbles* It looks pretty cool and would be awesome if you can a young child who likes books. Or, you know, if you were older and just thought it was pretty.

Accessories. I added the anti-glare film for both screens and have been happy with them because they keep it from getting scratched up. Some of B&N's cases were ridiculously expensive and I didn't like the cheaper ones so I bought a Belkin case from Target that is technically meant for a Kindle but it was purple so it was obviously meant to be mine, right? 

My overall opinion? I like my nook. I use it several times a week and love to shop on it. I have read many books on it with no problems and I find that after a while I don't even notice that I'm not reading a "real" book. I'm still using my The Hunger Games screensaver that B&N offered when Mockingjay came out but may replace it sometime with a picture or something. My only problem here is that I can collect even more books than before without all the clutter. What's a girl to do?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Most Anticipated Books of November

Let's just get on with it shall we?

Jen's pick:

This month's pick is a no-brainer. In fact, for the first time since Jane and I started doing this monthly feature, we picked the same book. Not exactly shocking is it? Not only do we have the same fab taste in books but this book looks like a winner. With its gorgeous cover outside and roster of outstanding writers inside how could I resist?

In this star-studded cross-genre anthology, seventeen of the greatest modern authors of fantasy, science fiction, and romance explore the borderlands of their genres with brand-new tales of ill-fated love. From zombie-infested woods in a postapocalyptic America to faery-haunted rural fields in eighteenth- century England, from the kingdoms of high fantasy to the alien world of a galaxy-spanning empire, these are stories of lovers who must struggle against the forces of magic and fate.

Award-winning, bestselling author Neil Gaiman demonstrates why he’s one of the hottest stars in literature today with “The Thing About Cassandra,” a subtle but chilling story of a man who meets an old girlfriend he had never expected to see.

International blockbuster bestselling author Diana Gabaldon sends a World War II RAF pilot through a stone circle to the time of her Outlander series in “A Leaf on the Winds of All Hallows.” Torn from all he knows, Jerry MacKenzie determinedly survives hardship and danger, intent on his goal of returning home to his wife and baby—no matter the cost.

New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher presents “Love Hurts,” in which Harry Dresden takes on one of his deadliest adversaries and in the process is forced to confront the secret desires of his own heart.

Just the smallest sampling promises unearthly delights, but look also for stories by New York Times bestselling romance authors Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, and by such legends of the fantasy genre as Peter S. Beagle and Tanith Lee, as well as many other popular and beloved writers, including Marjorie M. Liu, Jacqueline Carey, Carrie Vaughn, and Robin Hobb. This exquisite anthology, crafted by the peerless editing team of George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, is sure to leave you under its spell.

Discover the many realms of the heart with this extraordinary cast of acclaimed authors:

Songs of Love and Death will be out on November 16, 2010.

Jane’s Pick:

My pick of the month is Matched, the first book in a trilogy by Ally Condie. I seem to have a habit of falling in love with book covers. This one is no exception. It’s beautiful, mysterious and down right intriguing. Don’t you want to know why she is in that green bubble? I know I do!

All her life, Cassia has never had a choice. The Society dictates everything: when and how to play, where to work, where to live, what to eat and wear, when to die, and most importantly to Cassia as she turns 17, who to marry. When she is Matched with her best friend Xander, things couldn't be more perfect. But why did her neighbor Ky's face show up on her match disk as well? She's told it was an error, but something once noticed clamors for attention, and now Cassia can't look away. Ky has many secrets, but the most stunning to Cassia is something she never suspected still existed: creativity. As they fall in love, Cassia's eyes are opened to the truth of the Society, and she knows she can no longer blindly follow its dictates. But the Society isn't through with them, and things get much, much uglier.

This YA book is being released on November 30th.

Best Book of October 2010

October sure went by fast! I loved the book I picked as my most anticipated for October - The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook - and probably would have chosen it for my favorite if not for this one. This book is the second in a trilogy and had an ending I wasn't expecting.