Monday, October 29, 2007

Monica McCarty 'Highlander Untamed'

This book is a throw back to an earlier generation of romance novels. The hero is pretty progressive for a muscle bound medieval warrior type, the heroine is amazingly beautiful, and sweet and nice. The hero refuses to consummate the relationship despite his right to do so, on honorable grounds, which leads to a lot of sexual frustration on everyone's part.

In the end, I just didn't like the main characters. The heroine has some serious TSTL moments in her deliberations on their relationship problems. The hero is a little too muscle bound for me and the sister becoming an expert archer after losing her eye was a little too silly even for me, can you say depth perception?

That said, at the end of the book the author tells us that these are real historical people, and all of the sudden I wanted to like the story. Well, I'll give her points for research and really, the writing isn't horrible but the characters are poorly drawn.

Historical Romance 2007: 2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shell Lake, WI

Since Stewart is correct, the seal has been broken, I thought I would mention that the family and I are looking forward to a four day week-end in Shell Lake, WI this week-end. We'll definitely see this terrific representation of a Wisconsin Walleye (normally seen on a plate on Friday nights.)

I doubt we'll be hanging out on the lovely local beach but maybe we can catch the Museum of Woodcarving so the girls can see those bible stories they are reading all life size and shit.

We've rented a cabin a bit out of town. It looks awfully cute, I'll let you know how it goes. It's a 4 hour drive from Madison so I'll be loading up the girls with lots of distracting fun stuff for the drive.

Yay, our first vacation since February! Let's hope we don't end up doing this.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthday Dinner at Harvest

The spouse took us to Harvest Restaurant in Madison, WI for my birthday dinner. AND IT ROCKED. Normally Harvest is closed on Sundays, but once a month they have a fixed price dinner with some sort of theme. Our theme was Mulefoot pork which was truly amazing. I thought it was especially cute that the meat came from Strawberry Point, Iowa. This is not mulefoot, but it's a nice visual.

The dinner included six courses, with a wine paired with each course. Spouse and I had to walk around the block once or twice after dinner before driving home. Luckily it was a lovely night and with the capital lit up, it was very scenic.

5 major stars and really, what a bargain. I highly recommend the monthly dinner to anyone. And here is the cute chef who put it all together for us.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shana Abe 'The Dream Thief'

This book is a wonderful example of a really good story that's woven around an epic love affair with a HEA worked in there as well. I am impressed. I imagine you should enjoy the fantasy genre to truly enjoy this story. I do, so I can't say if it would appeal to everyone.

Lady Amalia is a late blooming member of the drakon species. She sees the future in her dreams and hear's music from gem stones. Her hero is a petty thief who got involved with the drakon as a youth and now is their 'trusted' emissary to the human world they prefer to stay separate from. They head off together to find the legendary diamond Draumr. The diamond whose owner has the power to control any drakon.

Really, really liked this book.

Fantasy Romance 2006: 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Elizabeth Hoyt 'The Serpent Prince'

Lucy finds Simon's naked dead body in a ditch near her home, only he's not dead. He spends some weeks recovering in her house and she turns the vicar down when he proposes after three years of courting.

Simon has some enemies who he intends to finish off, apparently they killed his brother. But he can't help himself when it comes to Lucy so he comes back and marries her. Once in London, she catches on that he's got a list of men he's tracking down and becomes rather upset by the whole affair.

The fairytale in this one was more entertaining than The Leopard Prince. Hoyt is a terrific writer, her dialog is first rate, although I will warn you her sex scenes are rather raunchy. I'm not knocking it, but if you have more delicate sensibilities, its better to be fore-warned.

The passivity of the heroine, well, if it didn't bother me, at least I noticed. Granted it's consistent with her character, she's perceptive, not an ass kicker. As with The Leopard Prince, I loved the beginning and middle of these books, the endings were a bit of a let down.

Historical Romance 2007: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Elizabeth Thornton 'The Pleasure Trap'

The heroine writes Gothic novels. The hero is approached by an old soldier friend to find out who is writing some stories being published in the paper about mysterious deaths from the past. It becomes a personal task when his family is the subject of the next story published. And thus they meet.

Overall the book wasn’t horrible, but the writing was too expository. In character’s internal dialog they continually dither. “ spite of what he said, no one wanted to be an open book that anyone could read at will. All the same it would be comforting to have someone to whom she could unburden her heart…She wasn’t that brave so she could hardly expect Ash to be different. For a time there she had felt close to him, until she’d mentioned his mother.” Even if people really think this way, it’s quite annoying in a novel.

Early on the hero accuses the heroine of not knowing how to write a male character. To which she replies, “You mistake my books, Lord Denison, my hero’s are mere accessories to my heroines.” I loved this comment but it’s ironic because by the end Lord Dennison is SO an accessory.

I never fell in love with either of these characters and I have to attribute it to the heavy-handed writing.

Historical Romance 2007: 2 of 5 stars.

Picture Attribution:

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Marilynne Robinson 'Gilead'

This book won a Pulitzer Prize so I'm well aware that I'm not going to be able to say anything more profound about it than what has already been said. But maybe by putting it here, I can at least bring it to more people's attention (yeah, the three people reading this blog :).

John Ames is a Congregationalist minister whose heart is giving out. Late in life he married and now has a seven year old son, so he sits down to write a farewell letter to him. I will say that it's slow reading with little plot. But as you read you are transported to a slower, more thoughtful place where you begin to notice the sun shining in the window and the motes floating through the air and to appreciate the small things we usually pass right by.

John Ames is an amazingly forgiving, loving, minister. He is mesmerized by the beauty of existence and presents the foibles of the people around him through a window of quiet common sense.

In the end you realize you've thought about some very important human issues, slowed your own frantic rush through life and spent time with a truly holy man. It's a story and character that stays with you for a long time. Lovely. Really lovely.