Friday, December 25, 2009

Come on Over to My Nook

Merry merry! Hope all your holidays were safe and warm and happy. I got the one thing I requested multiple times, yes, a NOOK! So I thought I would document my struggles, um I mean joy, here for ya'll. It all started well, my physics PHD wielding husband pried the thing open (I had read enough reviews to just hand it to him without even trying myself) and I was off, looking at NYT bestseller lists and magazines I could subscribe to (we pay about $100 for the physical Wall St Journal, can I really get it for $14.99? What's up with that?)

After playing for awhile I decided to let it rest and charge all the way up. I don't want to overtax my nook. And I am not going to even comment on the double entendres, so there. After the kids got to bed I was ready to get more serious but so was my husband (really people, stay focused) so he grabbed the nook to get it configured for our wifi. After registering the nook and downloading the update to the firmware I figured I was ready to go. I am still waiting for a download of the free sample of Evermore by Alyson Noel. It's been queued for 15 minutes now, saying "Will complete shortly" the whole time. Not impressive. Yup, still waiting.

The other interesting thing, I managed to justify this purchase (only to me) on the basis that I have a lot of PDF documents to read for school. Printing them is expensive, not to mention the trees, and my laptop is rather dimly lit making it hard on my old eyes. Voila, I need a Nook. Of course if you have followed any reviews, the formatting of a PDF on the Nook is a total nightmare. It seems this is a publishing issue, not a Nook specific issue. Spouse found a program called Caliber that will convert the PDF (not scanned) to an epub document and it looks spectacular. Score one for the man. There are some bugs with the font conversion but its much better than the alternative. But again, it's limited to digital PDF (one created as a PDF or converted from Powerpoint or Word for instance) not scanned ones. And as my husband says, my Social Studies professors scan this stuff at such low resolution even he can't fix it. (Did I mention my husband is a scientist born and bred?)

So to close, I still don't have a download of my free sample of Evermore, I'm guessing that was 4o minutes at this point. I've got 30 days, right? Maybe I need to get Kindle 2 and put them head to head for the trial period. Wow, that's so not me, I have a hard time even typing it. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Technical Difficulties Please Stand By


Here are a couple of images to tide you (me) over until Dec 17th. Yes semester will officially end Dec 17th at noon. Come hell or high water.

I got the cartoon from Brown Sharpie comics. Math comics inspired by sharpie fumes.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Julie Anne Long "Since the Surrender"

If you've been following along you'll know that I am a Julie Anne Long fangirl. I have to admit it's probably revealing that I almost sent this latest book away on Paper Back Swap without remembering to review it. Ouch.

Chase Eversea and Rosalind March met during the Napoleonic War when she was the wife of his Colonel. They shared a kiss practically by accident and almost couldn't live with themselves because it was such a betrayal of their friend. Rosalind wasn't in love with her husband but she loved him as friend and father figure. The Colonel died in Waterloo, Chase did not. Now, years later, her younger sister has disappeared so she appeals to Chase for help in tracking her down. So far so good.

But two things (in my opinion) go wrong. The plot surrounding the sister seems to go nowhere for a long time, then when it does finally get revealed, it's, well, completely preposterous. Maybe if the pacing had been better I wouldn't have cared as much.

Then the other problem; the sex. Again, I think it's a pacing problem. Longing, longing, longing and they never give in. Finally in what seems the most inappropriate time and place, they get it on. Why now? If they didn't need an emotional breakthrough, or a 'safe' place and time, then why have they been waiting! It felt as if this could be made into two books, one with the sex and one without, to be sold in two different genres without any real impact on the character arch or storyline. Don't get me wrong, the scenes are fun but to have them feel so extraneous to the arch of the relationship in the end undermines their effectiveness within the book.

Is it horrible? No. The characters have the intent, intelligent, humorously self effacing internal voices that I so love about Ms. Long's characters. This story continues to flesh out the world of the Everseas so if you're committed to the series, you should read it, but overall with my high expectations it was a disappointment.

Historical Romance 2009: 2.5 of 5 bawdy angel paintings.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sherry Thomas "Private Arrangements"

Lady and Lord Tremaine have the perfect English aristocratic marriage, he lives in New York and she lives in London. But for some reason after ten years of perfect harmony, she wishes to divorce and marry another. He returns to London to respond to her divorce petition and to extract an heir before he lets her go. Yes, well.

Ms. Thomas has a wonderfully ironic writing voice which is amusing and appropriate to our intelligent, ironic heroine and to a hero that appreciates this aspect of her personality. I especially appreciated how her writing voice shifted when we moved to our heroine's mother's story. There were things I could quibble with; our heroine's mother's shift from scheming to strangely honest is abrupt and feels disjointed; but overall the characters are witty and interesting and believably tortured. The plot turns are not typical historical romance fodder which is refreshing and the sex is engaging and believable. Even the historical context of the novel, although not entirely central to the story, works.

I will be looking for more Sherry Thomas books soon.

Historical Romance 2008: 4.5 of 5 contraceptive caps.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Benefits of the Flu

Yes! I finally got a little reading done. The downside, achy delirium for two days, upside, two romance novels completed in two recovery days. Throw in a little strep throat and six year old with croup and it all makes for an eventful Thanksgiving week. Hope yours was both more fun and less exciting.

Laura Lee Guhrke is back with the girl bachelors, With Seduction In Mind. This time it's Daisy who keeps getting fired from all her jobs. She's a little impetuous. She's got red hair. She really believes in people. You know where this is going. Fine, call it a prejudice but I have a problem with the spunky red head trope. My mother has red hair, I seriously considered dyeing my kid's hair red when it started to fade to brown, I LOVE red hair. I am not a red hair hater!

Here's the real problem, I didn't like him either. Red hair impulsive girl who sees the best in everybody and recovering cocaine addict neurotic writer. Um. Look. Let's face it, romance is fantasy, anything can work if you can write the hell out of it. Ms. Guhrke gave herself a pretty tough task with this one and it just didn't work for me. What can I say. Maybe I was just annoyed it took them so long to get down to business.

Historical Romance 2009: 2 out of 5 killed off dogs.

This image has absolutely nothing to do with the book or impetuous red-heads. It is Miss Gertrude Crocker of Illinois, the treasurer of the National Woman's Party ca. 1916. Cool huh? Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Library of Congress.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lois McMaster Bujold "The Sharing Knife"

Okay, I'll admit I have been sneaking in a bit of reading around all my school work. Shhh! Don't tell my husband. For the record, I have never done pleasure reading while he has had the kids by himself to give me time to study, I swear.

Okay, guilty admissions out of the way, I'll try to recap what I've made it through recently (from memory). Tess Dare's Goddess of the Hunt was very enjoyable and who can dislike a book with such a good title, really. I also picked up a Lois McMaster Bujold's book called Beguilement: The Sharing Knife Book 1. I saw it at my library (pictured here for Wendy Super Librarian) and like most of my reading, I picked it for the cover and the title. :) I was unfamiliar with Bujold's other books, apparently she writes mostly fantasy/sci-fi and this was an attempt at a book where romance was more central to the story. Works for me. It's just a terrific cross cultural love story between (dare I say it) a spunky heroine and a war weary hero. The world is typical "pseudo-medieval with supernatural elements" fantasy which I enjoy. But in the end it's the two main characters who pull the whole thing together.

In the second and the third books (I'm half way through number 3) the tension of "are they going to get together" is missing since they get their happy ending in book one. The question then shifts to "can they make a space for their relationship within their different societies who don't want to accept them together." So for me (have I mentioned I'm addicted to sexual tension) these two books are much slower, but I love these characters so much, it's still fun to follow them around. If you like fantasy and like some romance in your fantasy, try this one out. Highly recommend it.

Fantasy Romance 2006: 4 out of 5 sharing knives (duh!).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beowulf Not Bad

So this coming week is already (hopefully) the worst of this semester. But since last week was the second worst week of the semester I officially took Saturday off to spend with my family and recharge my brain. The end of the day I topped off with a movie, Beowulf and Grendel. It's recently come to my better half's notice that Gerard Butler seems to come up a lot in the movies on our Netflix list. Um, er, well, yes. And as I was pretty certain this movie was going to be really bad, I was unusually apologetic and embarrassed.

I'm here to tell you, this movie wasn't bad at all! Low production value, sure, but with a famous text to butcher and a lot of historical stereotypes to overcome, I was expecting the worst. Okay, so they threw in a love interest which was completely gratuitous, but overall it was entirely surprisingly decent. So hubby couldn't laugh at me too much. He even allowed me to watch Gerry host SNL. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. How about you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh man. Thanks Jessica. I read this, read it again, looked at the picture and was suddenly snorting Sunkist out of my nose. Not a good idea in front of your computer.

Image stolen from this brilliant website.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Judith James "Broken Wing"

This book has gotten all sorts of accolades from other reviewers, for good reason. It's lovely, well written and definitely not run of the mill (without resorting to any superhuman sexual appendages). Most of us know the premise, Sarah finds her lost brother in a brothel, but unharmed because of the direct protection of a male prostitute. She offers to take him to her home in recompense for what he did for her younger brother.

The two of them eventually fall in love, but Gabriel decides he must leave to make his fortune as a pirate. She assures him this is unnecessary but he goes anyway. Bad things happen. I'm trying to not spoil the book here, but my main beef is with this section of the book. Those of you who have still not read this book, just skip ahead to the next paragraph. After he claws his way back to civilization, couldn't he have just written her a letter? If he really thought she was better off thinking he was dead, it's pretty shitty of him to go anywhere near England in my humble opinion.

It's a sign of a very good book when I have a major beef, not with how the author characterized the main character, but with the actions of that main character, showing how real this character became for me. Liked it a lot. And to those of you following the recent posts, I did finish this a while ago, before school started this fall. :)

Historical Romance 2008: 4.5 of 5 kisses right on the lips.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

ARGH

I've decided that since I'm currently unable to read anything for pleasure, I'm going to start reviewing the few things I can do in my 20 minutes before I fall asleep. No I'm not telling you about that, I play Nintendo before bed each night! Really.

But first, a bit of whining by yours truly, you've been forewarned. I am returning to school after twenty years to try to become a high school history teacher. Whatever you think about the goal, most of us have experienced the process, college. I'm just not sure why the first time around I completely lacked anxiety about the process. Oh, I wished I was doing better and needed a little freak-out adrenaline to get my papers written but pervasive term long anxiety was definitely missing for me. I knew friends who had it and I never understood it. It definitely resulted in better results for them than I was getting but overall I didn't think that A was worth it. Now I'm sooo that person. Yes, I'm doing better in class this time around but damn, it's exhausting.

Back to the regular programming, Brain Age I is a game that proports to improve brain function when used regularly. I really can't speak to that but it's fun, it's less guilt inducing for me than brainless video games and I really like the Sudoku module. But Brain Age II is lots more fun. This game gets a B- from me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Introducing Minerva

A little belatedly, I'd like to announce that I've taken on a partner in crime. I wanted a little help keeping the posts flowing and I knew this friend was the perfect one to bring into the Bodice Ripper world. She probably begs to differ, but she's deigned to dignify my little romance review site with some - NOT romance novel -just book reviews of her own.

I'm flattered that she would join me because since she does not share the romance bug, she says she likes the site cause I'm funny. Not that I'd let just anyone join me who compliments me, I might, but she's quite brilliant herself.

If you enjoy Minerva's reviews please let her know, so we get her hooked on blogging and she keeps them coming. And Minerva, thanks for joining me!


image is Minerva painted by Elihu Vedder, 1896

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pamela Clare 'Untamed'

Visiting the library a couple of days ago I came across this book. The cover is hard not to notice and then I remembered it had been reviewed favorably so I picked it up.

It might have a lot to do with timing, I've been in a reading slump lately, not enjoying my historical romances the way I usually do. Regardless, Untamed has re-innervated my love for historical romance novels. I loved the movie The Last of the Mohicans and in atmosphere the book is right there. The MacKinnion Rangers are suitably legendary and while I usually prefer an intrepid heroine, Amalie's character is true to her upbringing and very believable without being entirely a victim. Instead of being annoyed that Connor and Joseph were so obviously going to be sequals, I found myself looking forward to their stories.

I was impressed by the author's ability to wind this love story through the realities of the French and Indian War, or any war for that matter. The uncertainty of times of war make for high emotion but not for believable development of loving relationships, and Ms. Clare manages to use both to her advantage. Although the final plot developments were a little over the top for me. Small complaint.

Historical Romance 2008: 5 of 5 Satan's arses.

*giggle* did you notice 'taut' and 'sensual' are placed right in his bellybutton *giggle*

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stieg Larsson 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'


Minerva has been a muddled, useless, exhausted mess all day today, and it's entirely the fault of this book. Once she began reading, it was impossible to put it down. And even after it ended -- sometime around 3 AM -- it was impossible to go to sleep. How can anyone sleep with eyes staring, muscles clenched, and mind churning? All Minerva really wanted to do was turn the bedside lamp back on and read the whole thing again, just to make sure she understood how all the pieces fit. That's how good a thriller this is.

It starts out slowly. Indeed, for the first four chapters, it appears that "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is going to be an interesting (but not particularly thrilling) tale of a mildly swashbuckling investigative journalist, Mikael Blomqvist, who gets caught up in a labyrinth of corporate malfeasance and trickery. Three things hint otherwise: the tantalizing prologue; the grim statistics on the title pages of each section; and the gradual emergence of a thoroughly unlikely heroine, the diminutive, punked-out, utterly asocial yet brilliantly competent investigator Lisbeth Salander -- the girl with the dragon tattoo.

The book's original title is "Män som hatar kvinnor" -- Swedish for "Men Who Hate Women" -- and as the story unfolds, this central theme comes to the fore. Blomqvist, his career shattered by a libel suit, turns his investigative talents to the unsolved case of a girl who vanished -- presumably murdered -- thirty-six years earlier. Meanwhile, Salander, whose mysterious past was clearly a nightmare of violence and abuse, contends with an authority figure who seeks to further victimize her. And when Blomqvist and Salander join forces to probe into a grisly series of unsolved murders -- all women, all horribly brutalized -- well, that's when Minerva got out of bed, went downstairs, and triple-locked the front door. And that's the last word she's going to tell you about the plot.

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is translated from the Swedish, apparently by an exceedingly competent robot. Occasionally there is the slightest slip -- as when Blomkvist asks Salander if he may "burn" a cigarette -- but for the most part, the writing is correct, in a coldly mechanical, faintly inhuman way. Perhaps the original text had the same iciness (Minerva will never know, Swedish not being a language she has any intention of learning), or perhaps it came about accidentally in translation. Either way, its chilling tone is extremely effective.

Minerva fully intends to read the next two books in the trilogy -- "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" -- but is in no particular hurry to do so. Her shattered nerves demand a soothing dose of Austen or Trollope.

Rating: 5 out of 5 sets of cold steel handcuffs.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Megan Hart 'Stranger'

Can I say that I loved a book if I skipped about 80 pages in the middle. I suppose if I'm worth my salt as a reviewer I'm going to have to analyze it. I will apologize slightly for the fact that my reading choices lately have felt like catch-up with the rest of romancelandia (or the small part of it I allow myself to follow so as not to neglect my family entirely.) I apologize only because as Jessica discussed lately, it feels like I'm just following and not really adding anything new or interesting to the romance review world out there. So here I go again with the "following" thing.

I love, love, love the premise of Stranger. The heroine has decided that she doesn't want to put out the effort for a real relationship (for a lot of reasons) and so has developed the habit of paying for her dates and her sex. She has a reliable service, she's had some reliable providers from that service so why mess with a good thing. But one night she mistakes Sam for her latest 'date' and the convenience of what she's doing comes into question. If she's doing this, it doesn't just take the place of a conventional relationship, it acts in many ways to prevent her from having a conventional relationship.

I skipped the Sam chasing her part. I have to guess that there were some important moments in there since the author is definitely a character driven writer/thinker. But I came back in where they get together and with the characters' discussions of their relationship, I didn't feel like I needed to go back to fill things in. Am I a very bad, bad, reader or should I conclude that the author could tighten up the book a bit. I suppose a little of both (like on most moral dilemmas I come down in the boring middle).

I read all the rest of the book, I loved them together, I loved the author's strong actualized woman throw ins and I liked Sam a lot. Their struggle felt basically realistic and I was glad they got together in the end. :) This author can write some awesome sex and the characters really jump off the page. If I had to nitpick, I'd say the character flaws are a little simple. Interesting and thought out, but what stops this from being a work of literature (which is not usually a standard I even bring up) besides the genre rules, is slightly simplistic character flaws. Overall, awesome book if you don't mind having to hide it from your kids.

Contemporary Erotic Novel 2009: 4.5 out of 5 embalmed bodies.

Friday, August 14, 2009

CNET and Smart Bitches Rumble!


Had to link to this! I will guarantee my husband will be telling me about the CNET kindle hints (even though he hasn't decided I need one, yet). Well, the Smart Bitches have said it all for us.

And although I have yet to have a use for the term, can I tell you how much I love WTFery.

What picture should I attach with this post? Oh, yes, the stern romance nurse! "CNET, you get back into bed this minute!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Curtis Sittenfeld 'American Wife'

This is Minerva's first Bodice Ripper Review, and she's more than a little nervous. All this blog stuff is new to her, and she's fairly certain she'll screw up the formatting. What's more, Heloise's trenchant brilliance is a tough act to follow. And finally, Minerva has a difficult confession to make in this particular setting .......... she really, truly does not like romance novels. Not at all.

Or does she?

Minerva has spent the past few days unabashedly wallowing in the voyeuristic pleasures of 'American Wife'. The book -- which Sittenfeld says she wrote in a frenzy of haste in order to release it during the 2008 Republican Convention -- is a fictionalized account of the life and marriage of former First Lady Laura Bush. It is simply overflowing with graphic, steamy, and occasionally sordid sex.

Graphic, sordid sex is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Laura Bush. But with this book, Sittenfeld takes on the question that troubled so many of us during the Bush years: how on earth did a modest, intelligent, thoughtful, well-read, liberal-leaning, pro-choice lady like Laura end up hitched to a guy like Dubya?

As the romance novelists knew all along, the answer apparently lies in a potent cocktail of true love and hot sex.

Each of the book's four sections is built upon actual events from Laura Bush's life, fleshed out with plenty of pure fiction, and set -- delightfully! -- in Wisconsin rather than Texas. The first section is by far the best. In it, the 17-year-old heroine (Alice Lindgren) accidentally runs a stop sign, causing the death of a classmate who is almost, but not quite, her boyfriend. In a few seconds of inattention and bad luck, the course of her life is changed forever. It's powerful stuff. Minerva is trying to avoid using the word "poignant" ..... but there it is.

The second section is also quite engaging, as Alice, now in her early 30s, is swept off her feet by the cocky, charming ne'er-do-well rich boy Charlie Blackwell. Her first encounter with his no-holds-barred family is unforgettable for many reasons, not least the limerick beginning "Nymphomaniacal Alice." Minerva would love to tell you the whole thing, but that would be a spoiler. Most of the hot sex scenes appear during this section.

From there, unfortunately, it's all downhill: alcoholism, bad behavior, evangelical Christianity, Republican politics, Karl Rove, and the war in Iraq. By the end, even though Alice has (unlike Laura) dared to publicly assert her personal views on a highly controversial issue, it feels like she is simply maundering on, alternately blaming and excusing herself for the path her life has taken. The hot sex has also dropped off considerably by this point in the book ... but Minerva supposes that's what happens when a romance novel loses its way and drags on for 30 years of marriage.

It's still a terrific read, and well worth your while. Especially that limerick.

Rating: 4 out of 5 toots of your own horn.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Joanna Bourne 'The Spymaster's Lady'

Yes, yes, I loved this book. I loved Annique, the little intrepid hoyden, I loved Grey, because Gerard Butler would be perfect as him in the movie. I loved the author's ability to write french in english. I loved the tub scene, I loved the secondary characters who say the things I want to say to the hero. It's a great book.

*mild spoiler/rant alert*

Okay, here's the rub. She really didn't recognize him for a fourth of the book? I don't want to give away too much, but really. He's trying to avoid touching her but they ride on a horse together.....

Fine, fine, I'll let you go back to your starry eyed enjoyment of the book. I made my best friend from college read it, and she said, "What does he do exactly? He doesn't seem to really do anything! And why the hell does she keep leaving Henri alive, that seems very stupid if you ask me." Yes well, we don't want to have to invent new bad guys for the end of the book, do we. :)

Historical Romance 2008: 4.5 of 5 sloshing tubs.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sarah Vowell 'The Wordy Shipmates'

Not only did I find The Wordy Shipmates again but I finally finished it. I also went away to Brooklyn for the week-end to visit my best friend from college and helped my husband put together the kids school supplies, so I've been busy. :)

The Wordy Shipmates lives up to its title, it's wordy. I couldn't help it! It was too good to pass up. Seriously, Ms. Vowell managed to get me involved in the theological hair splitting of the Boston Puritans (not the Plymouth Rock Puritans, but the 'city on a hill' Puritans) She's funny and irreverent enough to keep you going through the seemingly endless pamphlet wars and the names that all start with J. She is also a good enough historian to draw out interesting strands of our modern day cultural and political inheritance from these original settlers. It helps me to like the book that I'm pretty darn sure I agree with her modern politics; in a word, liberal.

However, slightly past the half way point in the book, it lost a lot of the humor and when I expected the historical narrative to make up for it, it didn't. I did not find Anne Hutchinson's story so riveting that it could carry me through to the end. Nor were Ms. Vowell's insights so fascinating or so humourous that I couldn't put the book down. I put it down. A lot. I finished it, but more to be able to tell Kate that I finished it, than on the merits of the book itself.

I liked the book, it's an interesting read, I'm glad I know more about the pilgrims and their American legacy. However, unless you really enjoy reading history for it's own sake, you'll enjoy the first half more, and skipping the second half is not going to appreciably negatively impact your life.

4 of 5 exiled visible saints.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pamela Clare 'Carnal Gift'

Other than some exceptional books (SpyMaster's Lady, yes I finally read it), I haven't been reading much historical romance lately. But I've had this one around for a while so I picked it up. I hate to say it but Ireland is so done for me. River Dance and the 1990's revival of Celtic mysticism has burned me out. And this from a person who's attended Milwaukee's Irish Fest since High School (largest Irish Festival outside of Ireland). It's extremely difficult to write characters set into Irish history without it feeling like a well known cliche before you're even out of the gate.

This book includes enough historical details to validate the author's knowledge of the time period. The heroine grew on me, although both of these characters border on serious Mary Sue personalities. Overall the writing was decent, the sex was sparse but decent, the history was accurate, the plot was well paced and the characters were wooden.

Historical Romance 2008: 2.5 of 5 bloody sheets.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meljean Brook 'Demon Night'

I really don't like anthology books. This is based on limited experience but enough to decide that the short story form is a particular one that requires it's own expertise. I don't think you can be a novelist and just assume you can write a decent short story. That said, I read Wild Thing and was very impressed with Meljean Brook's Selah and vampire story. I would almost make the argument that she is better at a short story character arch than the novel length character arch, but I won't.

Demon Night tells Charlotte and Ethan's story. Charlotte's sister is working with vampire, demon and human blood to try to synthesize a food source for vampires that doesn't involve blood lust. Because of her proximity Charlotte comes under Ethan (the guardian)'s protection.

Ethan died (became a guardian) in the American Wild West and he has retained the drawl and the mannerisms of that time. Charlotte was an opera singer before a tragic accident took away her voice forever. It took me a little bit to warm up to this book, not the attraction between them, or to the two characters, they are terrific, but the plot was a little sticky in the first hundred pages. Looking back, however, you could say the book unfolds a bit like Ethan, slow steady and hot.

How could you not enjoy Ethan, but I also really liked Charlie. I didn't always love the idealization of Charlie that Ethan and other characters indulge in nearer to the end of the book, but Charlie herself is terrific. I had a hard time buying the barrier to their love as it's a TSTL moment for Ethan, which didn't fit with his "acts stupid but keeps a step ahead of Lilith" character.

Overall, slow start, very enjoyable meaty middle and then unravels for me a bit in the last few chapters. And I have to note that the nephilim seemed like a very convenient plot device.

Paranormal Romance 2008: 4 of 5 seraphim, nephilim, excramin.

Friday, July 24, 2009

C.L. Wilson "King of Sword and Sky"

I logged on to try to get one of my 'to be reviewed' books off my desk and my google 'reading list' sent me immediately off into blog hopping land. Is it really a good thing to aggregate blogs in one place so I'm so easily distracted? Ah well, the dangers of bloglandia.

And another thing, is there any evidence out there that caffeine delivered with sugar goes straight from your stomach to blast into your brain? I'm trying a new drink, Sweet Leaf: Sweet Tea and I swear my porch is spinning. If I hadn't had normal food in the last couple of hours I might understand.

Oh, I am so distracted.

Wilson burst onto the romance/fantasy scene last year with Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows that I reviewed in December. In my opinion they were really one long book that the publisher made her split into two books. No, I have no proof of that....and they were terrific. The story continues with Rain taking Elysetta back to the Fading Lands. As with most super hyperbole stories, the level of amazingness can be hard to maintain.

I felt some of that here, but I thought Wilson did a good job of shifting the focus from the ultimate love these two feel for each other, to the struggles of the Fey as they gear up for all out war with the wizards of Eld. So, no, this book did not transport me the way the first two did but it respectably furthers the story and I'm looking forward to the next one. I will say, if the author drags this storyline out too much further I may lose interest. There is only so much delayed gratification a romance reader can take. :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cool Pics on Flickr - From Stanford Medicine

This is not my actual head, although it is someone's actual head. But it's a pretty cool 3D medical image of what my head looks like post surgery (without hair or scalp of course :). I have one of these on each side.

If you see that red artery on the surface of the skull in front of the surgery site, that's a temporal artery (as in temple). There was another one that now goes into the 'spoon slot' in the bone piece that was removed. That's now attached to a major artery in the brain supplying blood from the 'outside' of the skull, as it were.

The three pieces of hardware are called dog bones, for obvious reasons. I have two dog bones and a snowflake. That's how I know this isn't me. :) But seeing this image is a little disturbing since I didn't think my 'spoon slot' was quite so large. Geese, I'm gonna be more careful with pencils behind my ears from now on.

Stanford has uploaded other cool 3D images here. They aren't all head surgeries either. I'm not sure about the top of this person's head. I'd like to think the image just got cut off. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sharon Sala "The Warrior"

This author is new to me but I see she's got lots of books out there. John Nightwalker is a Native American soldier who comes across Alicia Ponte while she's on the run from her father - an arms manufacturer. She overheard him talking about illegal arms deals and knows he'll stop at nothing to protect himself from being exposed.

There is some reincarnation/mysticism combined with pretty realistic action. The relationship between these two unfolds relatively slowly, which I liked, but the overall pace of the book does not put it squarely in the typical CIA/arms dealers/something blows up every three minutes genre. Again, I liked this about the book but if you are an action/plot junkie, this might annoy you.

Alisha is certainly on the "Oh my god I can't believe this is happening to me." side of the character spectrum but I liked her well enough to want John to get together with her. John is hard not to like, loyal, steady, deadly and hot.

I would definitely try another book from Sala.

Contemporary Romance 2009: 4 of 5 spanish conquistadors.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Be Still My Beating Heart


Remember when I promised more pictures of beautiful men to up my readership. This is Colin Ames-Beaumont.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jo Beverley "Devilish"

Expectations. I used to overuse the life maxim, "All things in moderation." Now I've moved on to constantly saying "It's all about expectations." I'm such a relativist. And I don't think that's really an admirable thing, I'm a John Winthrop, not a Rogers Williams in Sarah Vowell's world. But I get ahead of myself.

Lord Rothgar is the head of the Malloren family, he's the only son of his father's first wife, who went mad and strangled her infant daughter when he was about three. His father remarried and had several more fun children whom Rothgar has enjoyed protecting and rescuing from various scrapes over the years. (See earlier Malloren novels please.) But now they are all married and producing their own children, something he has sworn not to do, so as not to pass on the insanity of his mother.

Diana is the Countess of Arrandale in Yorkshire. She decides never to marry because she will not just hand over her powerful position to some man because it's expected of her. But King George isn't so happy about a liberated woman running around the north country unchecked.

Beverly has a feel for this time period that is refreshing and entertaining in it's own right. Her plot is well paced and complicatedly realistic (but not too complicated if you know what I mean.) It's a terrifically crafted book. I just didn't love it. I felt for their romantic difficulties, I liked Rothgar and thought his character was drawn well enough to understand the deep seated fear he had of having children. I suppose I didn't love Diana, I used to love the pistol wielding stereotype busting heroine; but to petition to take her seat in the House of Lords in 1763? That's just dumb.

This one I can't knock on craft, it just didn't transport me, and I had rather high expectations. I imagine if I had read some of the back stories, maybe it would have been different. I will definitely try another Beverly in the near future.

Historical Romance 2000: 4 of 5 hermaphodidic ambassadors.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Julia Quinn "What Happens In London"

Considering I was one of the few people who liked Mr Cavendish, I presume I'm pretty sure I've lost my objective abilities (such as they are) with Julia Quinn. But, I read her new book so I want it duly noted.

Really it's very good. She's honed in on what she does so well, comedy of manners. When Sir Harry muses on what Olivia would do if he started choking at his desk, while she is spying on him through the window, it's not only funny but makes you fall in love with Harry all the more. Who doesn't like tall dark handsome and a sense of humor.

Now as par for Julia Quinn, the sex is not extensive and it comes later in the relationship (oh, how novel, you mean not all the women in Regency England slept with practical strangers as long as they felt like they were THE ONE) but in this book I thought she gave a bit more time to the sexual tension and build-up which was nice.

If you haven't read Julia Quinn yet, MY GOD, what are you waiting for, and if you have and are waiting for a used copy of this one, you're going to like it. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I've Completely Lost My Mind

Gerard Butler. What is it about Gerard Butler? Okay, right, well there is the obvious....but it can't just be the bod since there are no shortage of beautiful male bodies on the internet to look at. And look at this picture, I'm not usually partial toward frat boys!

I really loved 300. That's embarrassing in itself cause, well, it wasn't The English Patient or anything.

Now I am actually dieing to see a movie that won't be out for three weeks. People, I have two children, I don't see any movies unless they've been out for at least three years and six different friends insist I must see it. And this doesn't look like a good movie, it looks like a formulaic hackneyed Hollywood romantic comedy. And on top of it all, from the trailer I'm thinking someone told Gerard to temper his accent into an unattractive incomprehensible version of "I'm an actor trying really hard not to sound Scottish cause that's not my written character." But despite all of these hurdles, I am panting to see this movie just to see Gerard flirt, tease, and fall in love with someone on screen. Yes, I've completely lost my mind. Now leave me alone while I go watch the trailer again.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meljean Brook 'Demon Moon'

Savitri the computer guru and Colin the incredibly gorgeous vampire. This is book four in Brook's series about Guardians fighting Demons and Nosferatu. Colin is falling in love with Savitri but he has the unique vampire problem of not being able to share his blood without killing the recipient. This does not make him an ideal life partner, since when a vampire feeds they have an overwhelming desire to also have sex with their victim and if he feeds from Savitri exclusively she won't last two months.

The tension over how they are going to solve this incompatibility is terrific, Colin is terrific. The plot adds some distraction from the angst and is enjoyable in its own right. There were fewer moments when I wondered what the heck was going on than in the first book (but they still occurred). Ms. Brook is quite committed to the "show, don't tell" rule, maybe a bit too committed.

Overall a very enjoyable addition to this series.

Demonic Vampire Romance 2007: 5 of 5 ways to taint a vampire's blood.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jane Austen "Pride and Prejudice"

Is it just me or does anyone else find prejudice difficult to spell? I just so want to put that 'd' up front. But I digress. I've been totally slacking off on the blog, sorry about that. I have been reading, so hopefully I'll get a chance to trim down the TBR stack soon. (That's To Be Reviewed these days. I've given up worrying about the To Be Read pile.)

My book club decided to read Pride and Prejudice for the month of June and I was determined to finally get through it. Yes, I know, horrors! I'm admitting that it's not my favorite book on earth, nor do I have it memorized (even though my Aunt read me the first sentence when I was thirteen). I have attempted the book in the past and didn't finish it. I'm thinking now that may have been at thirteen because I do remember being totally confused over who the hell everyone was. Can we call the characters by one name please, I mean really.

So despite my desire to not love this book because like EVERYONE loves this book, I'll admit it's pretty good. Okay, it's funny and even philosophically insightful, and yes, romantic. Fine, fine, it's a great book, I liked it.

Romance Novel 1813: 5 of 5 unmarried daughters.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Candice Hern "Lady Be Bad"

Grace, the widow of Bishop Marlow, may be the only woman in England whom John can not seduce. He's willing to take that chance for the thrill of a bet. Surprisingly he falls in love with Grace's inherent goodness along the way. And low and behold, Grace finds the personal strength that comes from owning her own sexuality.

This book is well written, has really very decent character development and is mildly funny. It's not earth shattering, but I'm guessing this is an author that could produce a really stellar book at some point. This one is a solid 3.5.

Historical Romance 2007: 3.5 of 5 Merry Widows.

Postscript on cover: The cover is gorgeous, so why was I even more embarrassed to be seen carrying it around?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alyssa Brooks "Hide and Seek"

Borders had a big sale recently and lured by the okay cover and cheap price tag, I picked up Hide and Seek. I was pretty sure this one was more on the erotica side than romance but a little exploration never hurt anyone. Well, that's patently untrue, but how was I to know.

This book isn't porn for women. It's just porn. The thinnest of plot lines revolves around 'smart' Elisa being followed by her college chemistry partner, Maxim Cox, to a remote cabin in the mountains. He can't understand why he's never forgotten her and she is quite certain he's a man slut who could never stick with one woman. So to teach him a lesson she decides to only have sex with him if he follows the rules of a game she makes up as she goes.

The game wasn't interesting, the characters were stupid (she's a successful lawyer until a scandal breaks and she's given some 'time off.' She decides she should join the Peace Corp to save the rain forests.) Aspen, CO, isn't even described well enough to be enjoyed. And to top it off, I think if I hadn't skimmed so much of the book I would have detected a sneakingly anti-feminist undertone. Her 'games' all revolve around sexual dominance of Maxim. But she's only truly satisfied when he takes over.

In the final scene he proposes marriage by letting it slip that he'll be disinherited if he doesn't marry in two weeks. When Elisa finds his protestations of love hard to believe, he throws her over his shoulder, fights her clothes off of her and ties her up with his belt while she's yelling "I'm not playing Maxim, get off me." She, of course, is turned on be being tied up, something Maxim knew would be true (more evidence that they are meant for each other, he's so tuned into her secret desires!). Finally he convinces her that they are perfect together by pointing out that he could have bought her a bigger ring but he bought a small diamond and donated the money to the Peace Corps in her name. And as recompense for not allowing her to save the rain forests, he gives her a foundation to help poor kids in Egypt (where his family business is). Once she understands how sweet he really is, she decides she can teach Egyptian kids ABOUT saving the rain forests.

Sorry for the spoilers, because really I've recounted pretty much the entire plot here. But if you're gonna read this book, it's not going to be for the character development and plot line. Now as far as porn goes, I've seen worse.

Porn 2007: 0 of 5 naked in the snow scenes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend Pursuits

Our friends have a bit of land in south western Wisconsin where every couple of years we join them in their annual morel mushroom hunt. Even though I am a native Wisconsinite, I was unaware of the nirvana that is fresh sauteed morel mushrooms in butter and a little garlic until adulthood. My nine year old just told me that if anyone asks her what morels taste like she's going to say, "Morelly." And I also just discovered that like fire flies, they are a basically Midwestern phenomenon. It's nice to do something out in the woods that still retains some local flavor in this global world we live in.

For more pictures check out The Great Morel Home Page where a suitably phallic fungus pops up and down at you endlessly. And challenge yourself by counting how many you can find in this picture as well. My hubby took this on Saturday. Enjoy. We are!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Head to Head "Marked" vs. "Wicked Lovely"


I just finished Marked by Kristen Cast/PC Cast and happened to pick up Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr right after. Being able to compare them really crystallized my opinions on both young adult books.

Marked is fun for its exploration of goddess mythology/ritual and vampirism, the messages are positive and empowering, and the main character's struggles will no doubt ring true for many readers. But in the end the book was predictable. The characters had very little that was ambivalent about them and while the book was enjoyable the plot read like a Hollywood movie where you know how it will end by the end of the first trailer.

Wicked Lovely also has a strong female center, the faeries held a bit less appeal for me and their world was less drawn out for the reader (I think this was a strength, but I can see some readers being slightly put off by this), and the male characters are slightly flat. But really they appear flat because they are juxtaposed against wonderfully searching/complicated women (except for the EVIL mother figure of course.) This book was anything but predictable. The main character's almost constant state of anxiety was much more evocative for me of a young person under extreme stress. The messages inherent in the book were also positive and empowering but conveyed much more subtly through the story. This was a terrific book.

Both of these books touched on drugs, sexual desire, and had some limited sexual descriptions, so I'm not passing them on to my nine year old. :) Marked portrays tattoos positively and Wicked Lovely portrays piercing positively, if that matters to you.

Marked YA Vampire Series 2007: 3 out of 5 earthly elements.
Wicked Lovely YA Paranormal Series 2007: 5 out of 5 wood sprites.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Madeline Hunter 'The Sins of Lord Easterbrook'

Lord Easterbrook is the mysteriously retiring and eccentric older brother of the Easterbrook clan. When he sees Leona in London he is stunned, as he has never forgotten their time together in Macao, seven years ago, where her father had a trading company.

In previous books he is the quintessential powerfully inscrutable character. A wealthy and socially influential marquis who is almost completely dismissive of English society's expectations. He does not go into society except when he feels it's necessary to support his family members, which given his emotional reserve from them, is an insight into a soft heartedness that his brothers are quite surprised by.

In this book we learn Christian suffers from a prescient ability to discern people's emotions, and for some reason he can not read Leona. When he finds she is in London he is determined to have her. What is so interesting about this character is that his pursuit of her combines both sexual temptation AND support of her other interests. In other words, he courts her by being her friend and support, not just trying to fufill her sexually.

This is what I love about Hunter, when she's at her best, her characters and relationships have an extra realism to them that makes them less forgettable than other romance couples, without bursting my 'romance bubble' if you will. It goes without saying that her historical detail and feel for period enhances the books as well.

Historical Romance 2009: 5 out of 5 loose dressing gowns.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lara Adrian "Midnight Awakening"

Do you think the hardest part of writing a series is coming up with the titles? Well, maybe not. The third book in the Midnight Breed Series is my favorite so far. I've decided I like my alpha hero's more inscrutably powerful and less woman hating (due to some terrible betrayal of course). Tegan fits the bill. He's cut off emotionally after the love of his young life was brutally abused and returned to him as a minion of a rival vampire.

Elise is similarly tortured after her son was lured into turning rogue by a drug propagated by a bad vampire. Her brother-in-law had to kill her son in front of her when he attempted to attack his own mom. Not fun. She has decided to leave the safety of the enclave she lives in and start killing the human minions of this bad vampire. Unbeknown to the Warriors, Elise has joined their little war against the rogues. Tegan is not amused that this unskilled breed-mate human woman has put herself in so much danger. And then, he's strangely attracted to her too, go figure!

I expected not to like Elise even if I was already caught up in Tegan story, so the surprise for me was how much Elise developed as a character. I liked the references to her attempt to train her body in prep for this undertaking, and her poise in Berlin. It all won me over. When Tegan finally gives in to his love for her, I believed she deserved it.

I've bought into the series, and enjoyed these characters more than the average duck.

Vampire Romance Series 2007: 4.5 of 5 crescent moon marks.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cheryl Brooks "Warrior:The Cat Star Chronicles Book II"

I started this book a while ago. Got through the descriptions of Tisana, 'ye good witch who heals' but isn't really accepted by her village. Leo gets dumped on her doorstep as an alien slave of the local lord who is in bad shape. Leo recovers quickly and Tisana discovers his unusual penis which not only has a corona that drips snard, orgasm inducing semen, but is controllable with muscles that allow it to move independent of Leo's body. One little lick of snard and Tisana sees stars and passes out.

I put the book down. Really not intending to re-visit it after their second sexual encounter was so unbelievably mind blowing that the third was down right boring. This for me, is the definition of the difference between romance and porn (complete lack o' sexual tension if I had to nutshell it for you.)

A couple of weeks later, I picked up the book again and got caught up in Tisana's journey to save the local lord's children from being kidnapped. And that sums this book up neatly. It's from Tisana's point of view, which exacerbates the problem but even without this filter, Leo is a complete non-entity. He is a walking sword wielding cock machine.

Unfortunately, even if you like your romance novels with no hero, except as a stud service for your heroine, this book becomes annoying in other ways. Tisana has A LOT of internal dialog working through the 'kidnapped sons' plot over and over.

Page 137, opened at random, and Tisana says, "Of course I knew that was what I was doing...... but it made me wonder about Rafe and Leo .....On the other hand....Or Rafe may have been...."

If you can deal with this, the end of the book just sent my snort meter off the charts. Tisana was raised as 'ye good witch who heals' on a decendant planet of earth with a kinder and gentler medieval setting. She misses her home while they are ten miles away saving the kidnapped boys. Then when the plot is resolved they randomly run into a starship captain, her also Cat Star husband, and three kids and decide to join them and roam the galaxy.

I have some tolerance for modern language in 'historical/fantasy' settings, but really: Page 310. "Bending down she herded three pint-sized versions of her husband toward me. "And these guys are Larry, Moe, and Curly. They've got Zetithian names, of course, but they're as unwieldy as Carkdacund; I had to call them something for short! I wanted to name them Larry, Darryl and Darryl, but Cat wouldn't let me - thought it would be too confusing."

They're watchin Bob Newhart re-runs in space?!

Fantasy Paranormal 2008: 1 of 5 points of the corona!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Give-Away Redux

Finally, some time spent on my blog! Sorry for the long hiatus. I went into overdrive collecting extra credit for my current class after my less than stellar performance on exam number 3. It was more of a logistical trial than anything else.

But I'm back, at least until my panic over exam number 4 sets in, and I've finally re-drawn winners for my inaugural book give-away. I know, you've been crazy with anticipation. I also went back and actually read the terms of the give-away and found I had offered TWO books, not one, to TWO Lucky Winners.

M. and Stewart - yes, it's your lucky day!

Please contact me at megower at gmail dot com and I'll send off your awesome winnings sometime this month. No, kidding, I'll try to get them out right away. :)

Jacquie D'Alessandro "Seduced at Midnight"

Lady Julianne has spent her life quietly following her family's dictates and now her father says she is to marry a Duke. But when a cat burglar starts robbing and killing ladies of the ton, Julianne does the unexpected and fakes an attack on herself to gain time with Gideon, a bow street runner working on the case.

Gideon is not a profligate lord, he's a serious controlled man who takes pride in his work and who lost his young wife several years ago. It goes without saying that he's gorgeous and inexplicably drawn to Julianne, but he's quite certain she is too good for him.

I loved their initial attraction to each other. Some of the witty dialog is missing from this book as opposed to the other D'Alessandro books, but it's replaced by sexual tension and Julianne plucking up her courage and pursuing Gideon knowing this is her last chance at passion. The middle of the book gets bogged down as Gideon gets more serious about resisting her, and she continues to be a basically timid character dreading her marriage. The plot is a bit lacking. (She says with a straight face) :)

The end is sappy but I was in love with Gideon by this point, so I allowed that and the resolution to the murder mystery to distract me. I only snorted slightly at her burning her hopes and dreams. This is a nice traditionally laid out romance novel. Well written, okay plot, decent sex and sexual tension.

Historical Romance 2009: 4 out of 5 buttons off of breeches.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Charlaine Harris "Dead Until Dark"

I finally finished the first in the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. Everyone has liked them so I'm sure this won't be a huge addition to the online opinion pages to say, fun book, quirky characters, nice line walked between small town realism and vampire paranormalism, more mystery than classic romance novel.

But I can't let it go at that when Jessica has been posting notes on such interesting academic opinions about Sookie. I thought about really sitting down and thoroughly reviewing the points the papers were trying to make and composing a thoughtful response, but I'd rather go off half cocked. So much more fun.
This note: "Sookie is no more heroine or protagonist than Bella. She’s a vehicle by which men establish a hierarchy. Female characters are employed as eroticized figures of exchange for male characters." and this:
"Sookie is in [sic] center of action, but not an independent actor. She is aided by many characters..."

(*spoiler alert*)
I have only read the first book and it's clear that the professionals writing these papers were talking about the series and also the television series....but, Sookie is more 'down home' than stupid and in scene number one she heads out to the parking lot with a chain (for god's sake) and saves vampire Bill from some nefarious vampire drainers. Then in the climax to the first book she survives an attack by the mysterious murderer, with help from Bill's blood, yes, but mostly based on her grit and quick thinking, taking his own knife off his belt and stabbing him. This is an eroticized figure of exchange who is not an independent actor?

Now I'll understand if the rest of the series she becomes a tasty mind-reading doormat, but I guess it would surprise me based on the people who keep reading the books and saying they like them so much.

Vampire Paranormal Mystery 2001: 4 of 5 infusions of supercharged blood.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

WINNER: Willaful you lucky Dog!

So I carefully created five identical pieces of paper and put them behind my computer, mixed them up, and picked a winner of the first annual Bodice Ripper Review Book Give-Away. Yes, Willaful will be receiving a loved copy of Like No Other Lover in the mail. Assuming that s/he doesn't mind sending their physical address to me at megower at charter dot net.

Thanks for your participation. Remember, people might really win sometimes at Bodice Ripper Reviews. :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lara Adrian "Kiss of Crimson"

Second book in the Lara Adrian The Midnight Breed books. I like this series so I'm reading the middle books less critically. This heroine is a vet, which I like, she's not a kick-ass heroine but she's not an overly sensitive one either, somewhere in the middle. That worked for me.

The hero is Dante, his viciousness worked less well for me than Lucan's or Nikolai's even, but he's beautiful and devoted to his vet so he's acceptable too.

Fun, mindless, graphically violent, graphically sexual, decent plot. My least favorite so far but an okay way to spend three hours on a plane.

Vampire Paranormal Romance 2007: 3.5 of 5 crimson snorting ravers.

PS. I noticed that I didn't mind reading about the peripheral characters who aren't paired up yet, but I was annoyed by the cameo's of the already paired ones, I guess I fall in with Ana on that one.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Julie Anne Long "The Perils of Pleasure" & A Book GIVEAWAY

Is it possible I could love this book more than Like No Other Lover (which I forced my entire, non-romance-reading book club to read.) The only bittersweet part of reading this book was knowing that I had used up some of my best superlatives on her other book. Well, that and the back cover, WTH?

Madeleine Greenway is hired to orchestrate Colin Eversea's escape from the gallows. He was to be hung by the neck until dead for murdering someone in a pub who insulted his sister. He is innocent, of course, and once he's free the person who hired her tries to kill her instead of paying her, giving her an incentive to help him prove his innocence and try to recover her fee.

Julie Anne Long can write herself some damn fine characters. Her prose is slightly more restrained in this book than in Like No Other Lover and I would dare to say this plot is just a hint leaner than the other as well. Making this one of the finest books I've ever read.

And since you've probably either read about or guessed my penchant for well recounted infatuation, I'll point out that she is the master in this department as well.

Historical Romance 2008: 5 of 5 'masculine problems.'

Now about the book give-away. Because, as I mentioned above, I forced my book club to read a romance novel, and because I was feeling guilty about it and because I therefore bought a few extra copies of Like No Other Lover since the library's were mostly out.....I'm hereby spreading the joy these books have brought me and offering two (used) copies of Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long to two randomly selected commenters on this post. Deadline is midnight, April 7th, a week from today. Go crazy.

And in case you're interested, an excerpt:

"Could anyone have been hurt today?" he faltered. "The explosions..."
"No," she said coolly. "Not from the explosions alone, anyhow. They were low explosives, meant for loud noise and smoke only. ....set off by very strategically placed boys , paid out of my pocket, ... and all for your benefit, Mr. Eversea. I don't suppose we can discount a turned ankle or a fit of apoplexy in the crowd ...but other than that..."
"Or a trampling," Colin added with dark irony. "Can't discount a trampling."
"Your concern for the thousands of people who came out to cheer as you died horribly is touching, Mr. Eversea."
"I don't think they all came to rejoice in the event."
"I wouldn't be too certain," she said tartly.

And this for some perverse reason made him smile. She wasn't any happier to be here with him than he was to be with her. And she was so very ready to volley, and good at it. He'd wanted a conflict; she'd given it to him and he felt as though he'd spent himself in a good tennis set.

"You really don't exert yourself to charm, do you, Mrs. Greenway?" he mused easily.
"Charm, Mr. Eversea, will cost your family an additional ten pounds if and when I return you alive and whole."
"I should like to see the menu of available services , then, if you please."
He turned back to her just in time to see her smile crack like lightning. It was dazzling, genuine, a thing of natural beauty. [sic] Seconds later it occurred to him both that he was gaping and that he should probably breathe again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cathy Maxwell "Temptation of a Proper Governess"

Uninspiring. The first half of this book was just completely un-engaging. The governess heroine agreeing to undo a stranger's pants when he finds her in his bedroom because of an inexplicable attraction after protecting her virtue against all odds and knowing what it's like to be a young woman on her own with shaky prospects. The hero refuses to marry her to save her reputation but will marry her after he finds out she is the illegitimate daughter of his nemesis. And it takes his best friend to point out that this might be a difficulty in their future wedded bliss once she finds out. Yawn.

After the expected break in trust scene, the characters began to act more like humans and a book I was really struggling to read became less painful. Not riveting or exciting, but not horrible either.

Historical Romance 2004: 2 of 5 murdered slutty dancers.

Painting: The Governess by Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Animals and Nekked Man

Thanks to Katiebabs and the NYTimes I now know there are ten rules for blogging and two secrets to gaining traffic.

I took the following from the article, I can be colloquial (thank god) and I need more pictures of cute animals and half nekked men. Cool.

This seems like a good time to admit an embarrassing secret love for the movie 300. And I'm further ashamed to admit it wasn't the half nekked men (oh that helped) but the warriors against all odds that sucked me in. What can I say?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lara Adrian 'Veil of Midnight'

As you have probably guessed from my last review, I liked Veil of Midnight, book five in the Midnight Breed Series.

I'm a total sucker for ass-kicking heroine's (see above title picture), although I seem to be more addicted to the movie versions of said, than the literary versions. Something about this genre works so well for me in the visual and works less well for me in the written. Enough about me....

Renata is another orphan who has gotten snared in the world of vampires when a nasty Gen One picks her up for a little human-hunting party. In the process she inadvertently uses her unique telepathic anti-vampire power. So the Gen One decides not to kill her, but to use her as a body guard.

Nikolai is one of the Breed warriors whose been sent to alert the Gen One in Montreal that some one is offing Gen One's lately in the vampire world. He finds out that this particular Gen One is pretty yucky, things go south and he and Renata gang up to clean things up.

With such a stereotypical character framework these two are enjoyable and distinct. Good read.

Paranormal Vampire 2008. 4.5 of 5 glimpses of the future in a small child's eyes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lara Adrian 'Kiss of Midnight'

Let's get the obvious out of the way, this series bears a striking resemblance to JR Ward's big bad vampire brotherhood. If you can't get over that, I'll understand, but for my money, this is an enjoyable well scripted book. I'll admit that I read Veil of Midnight (book 5) first, liked it enough to find the first book, Kiss of Midnight, and now here I am.

Lucan Thorne is one of the first generation of vampire (savages from another world) and human offspring. He killed his own father, than organized the other Gen One's into an army to rid the earth of these original vampires who were wreaking havoc on the human race. Now, a couple of centuries later, he's the head of a cell of warriors who police their own kind for vampires gone rogue, those who've given into blood lust and feed on human's without care.

Gabrielle is a photographer in Boston. She has a strange ability to fend off vampire mind control. She goes to a dance club with some friends and can't understand why no one else thinks the whole thing is a little off. When she witness's a pack of rogues killing a man outside the club, she is well and truly ensnared and it just a matter of whether Lucan or the Rogues will get to her first....

I gave this book some extra credit points for the fact that I liked it after reading another one in the series. In other words, I often have trouble distiguishing among the big alpha males and the perfect warrior companions in these types of series'. So, give the author credit, these characters are at least distinct from one other couple in the warrior cell. :)

SPOILER ALERT: I will say that Lucan's 'I'm so horrified by the idea of loving you.' attitude got a little (a lot) old. And the scene where he finally drinks from her felt kind of yucky, should vampire rape concern us??

Overall, I have been disappointed by a few of the paranormal alpha male brotherhood books out there and this one I liked a lot. It seems like a good idea to read this one first, but at least book 5 was easy to read out of order.

Vampire Romance 2007: 4 of 5 vertically slitted pupils.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Patricia Briggs 'Bone Crossed'

This is book four in the much touted Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is a coyote shape shifter, her boss was a fae metalworker (who sold her his auto repair garage), she was raised by werewolves, her neighbor is the Alpha for the local werewolf pack and her favorite customer is a vampire.

I'm not sure I can objectively review this book. I've been well and truly sucked into the Mercy Thompson fan club so telling you that the fourth installment in her story is really, really good, probably won't mean a lot. I can say that the plot clips along as usual and Mercy continues to be a ridiculously decent person. I do wonder when she is going to go into full system shut down with all the trouble she keeps digging up, but then I don't want the stories to end any time soon, so....

If by some chance you haven't read any of the Mercy Thompson books, and you like fantasy at all, even remotely, pick up Moon Called. You won't be disappointed.

Spoiler Alert: I like Stephen and thought Mercy was a bit hard on him with the killing innocents thing, but why are all these boys still pining for her as she and Adam solidify things?? And was Amber just a little too convenient of a character?

Fantasy Novel 2009: 4.5 of 5 animated corpses.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Julie Anne Long 'Ways to Be Wicked'

Finally! The long awaited, "Next To Be Reviewed" book that you've been on tenterhooks waiting for. (Did everyone know that word is tenterhooks and not tenderhooks? Am I the only one whose been hearing and saying that wrong for the last twenty years? Man.)

So Sylvie Lamoureux is a famous ballerina in Paris. But as a child she was separated from her sisters and when she gets a clue that one of them is in London, she puts her career and lover on hold to find her. Sylvie has some setbacks on her way and ends up having to ask for asylum from ne'er-do-well man-about-town Tom Shaughnessy. He agrees to hire her as a bawdy dancer, for which Sylvie is not entirely grateful. Tom is planning a new venture, has collected several wealthy backers and finds himself strangely attracted to Sylvie despite his vow to not touch the dancers who work for him. Sylvie is biding her time until her sister returns from her honeymoon abroad and of course, is strangely attracted to Tom as well.

I liked this book, the sex was a bit slim, but the conflict was believable, and the characters likable. But I did put this book down for almost three months without any difficulty. And so I really can't with concience say I loved it.

Historical Romance 2006: 3.5 out of 5 pas-de-deux.