Monday, January 31, 2011

Facing The Week Ahead

I'm not that much of a slacker, but after charting out my upcoming semester I've come to the conclusion that the upcoming week is going to be hellish.  I have this theory that professors try to scare everyone the first week (done!) and then work everyone to death the second week (about to happen) to weed out anyone who isn't serious about the course.  Now if only I didn't have four professors doing this at the same time...

Because of the intensity of the upcoming week, I doubt I'll be able to fit in much more than one book or novella, but we'll see how things roll.  As a motivator, I ended up buying a few books I had planned on one day reading.  Sort of a buy-now/read as an "I survived the first month!" celebration.  Here's what I ordered:

Julia Quinn's When He Was Wicked and It's in His Kiss
I love the Bridgerton series.  I have On the Way to the Wedding sitting on my bookshelf, but I'm refusing to read the books out of order.  I know it doesn't really make a difference since they're stand alone novels, but I've read them in order up until now and I would hate to break the pattern.

Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey
It's her first novel and I heard it was awful.  So I had to read it.  I've been told several times I might enjoy it for the sheer horror of it.

Her Colorado Man by Cheryl St. John
I've never read Cheryl St. John but I know a lot of people really like her.  And I really like the Harlequin Historicals line, so this seemed like a good place to start.

Finally, I redesigned the blog!  It had a "makeunder" I guess.  Since I have zero capacity for HTML/CSS, I tried to pick a blogger template I thought I could work with in the future, and I'm pretty happy with the result.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movies: The Jane Austen Book Club

We've been hit with several inches of snow over the past few days.  The weather people are predicting a few snow showers tomorrow night, but I hope nothing to bad.  It's days like this I'm glad I don't have car....  (Taken by my friend in the parking lot behind our dorm)

So what is there to do on these snowy evenings? Besides read, I already do that ;) Curl up and watch a movie of course!

Movie: The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
Genre: Romance
Grade: C+/B-

Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships -- both old and new -- begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.

The Jane Austen Book Club is a fun romp through Austenland with no particular emphasis on one book.  I wouldn't say it's particularly deep, as all the connections between movie characters and book characters are obvious, and it's definitely not thorough with six characters and six books being covered.  It does, however, capture a certain essence about Jane Austen lit, maybe about the dangers and resumptions of love, and the idea that somehow it all turns out well in the end.

About sixty percent of the movie is ho-hum standard romance for me (and ten percent I can't stand), but there is about thirty percent of the movie that I absolutely love and that's why I own a copy.

First, I absolutely love the May-December relationship between Jocelyn and Grigg.  Jocelyn is an older woman who is a very successful dog breeder (and thus is related to the book Emma.  Get it, she likes pairing things up?).  Grigg is a well-off computer geek and sci-fi fan, and smitten with Jocelyn since their first meeting, not that she's noticed.  If only he would stop being such a gentleman and make a move ;)  Their courtship is sweet, hilarious, and of course, riddled with misunderstandings. 

But really, the force which drives this movie for me is Prudie, played by Emily Blunt.  At first cold and stern, we watch as she spirals out of control and her marriage falls apart.  Considering how horribly unlikeable Prudie starts off as it is amazing how easy it is to come to care for her. She is by far the most interesting of the characters and I think Emily Blunt is an amazing actress.

On those two factors alone I think the film is worth seeing once.

It ends a bit like a Jane Austen book, which is perhaps why the acting takes a turn for the worse at the end.  With everything so neatly tied up in little bows their isn't much to work with.  Every couple is neatly paired off, ecstatically happy and dialog is reduced to a mush of sappy cliches.  I suppose if the movie meant to imitate Austen, a true advocate of the happily ever after, they did it well.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, ELIZABETHAN VAMPIRES!

We are snowed in here in northern Maryland.  My college shut down early yesterday and classes were cancelled today as well.  From what I hear it's going to snow tomorrow as well.  Nice time to curl up with a good book, eh?

In the meantime, oh look, a mini book review!

The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer by Lucy Weston
DNFs are really, really rare for me.  I usually end up pushing myself to finish stuff because I'm the type of person who loves to know the endings.  But once I had set this down for more that an hour, I just couldn't bring myself to pick it up again.  It was easy enough to read, but could be rather dull.  In particular the language grated on my nerves.  The syntax used was very high brow, almost pretentious.  I think the point was to make Elizabeth appear both royal and from a previous era.  Elizabeth would have used Early Modern English, like in a Shakespearean play, but the language seemed more Victorian.  I know I seem like a stickler right now, but it was very distracting.  I did like the character of Mordred though.   Anyone who is familiar with the legends of King Arthur would find him interesting.  Since I never finished it, please feel free to e-mail me if you know the ending :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm Back!

I’m back from vacation… right in time to dive headfirst into Spring Semester.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be back on campus. It’s nice to see all my friends again and I like getting into a routine, but there’s always something about Spring Semester that’s more hectic. Maybe it’s all the dreaded snow storms that tend to mess up syllabi and make everyone fall behind.

Here’s my quick reading re-cap from the past week. I might post reviews of one or two of these if I have time by the end of the week.

Right Hand Magic by Nancy Collins
1 out of 5 stars
I found this to be a very disappointing read. I probably wouldn’t have even finished it if I hadn’t been on a plane and reading material was scarce. The plot/idea of the novel wasn’t too bad and I might have actually like it if the execution hadn’t been so awful. For some reason the writing style kept reminding me of fan fiction- maybe it was because the characters’ clothing was constantly be described and for some reason Hexe was always in a band shirt. Hexe (the hero) was especially boring because he was just too perfect. Everyone should have some flaw.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
3 out of 5 stars
My biggest problem with this book is that it’s told in first person by the character who I find most annoying. Other than that, I like the plot/world building and intend to continue reading the series. I saw all of True Blood before reading this book, which I’m sure that influences me. I’m likely going to offend a lot of people by flat out saying I like True Blood more, but that’s probably because the show isn’t from Sookie’s POV and has an ensemble cast, which I always like.

Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun
4.5 out of 5 stars
I loved this book! I deserves all the hype it’s been getting. I don’t expect eroticas to have heavy romantic elements, and I don’t expect romance novels to be eroticas, so it was amazing to find that this book was the perfect balance of each. Lacey was a great character, a real strong, kick-ass contemporary woman. Hunter was a fabulous hero, though harder to understand than Lacey, and the chemistry between them seeps off the pages. I swear the room I was in heated up 5 degrees! The only reason I took half a star off was because even at the end of the novel, Hunter had a lot of baggage to work through, which made me wonder how they were going to work out. I definitely would recommend this one!

So that was my week. Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gone Fishin'

I'm on vacation this week, so I won't be posting at all.  No, I'm not staying in an awesome villa by the sea, but I am in Texas where it's warm enough to be sweater weather, so I'm not complaining.  I'll be back around this weekend, and I'll let everyone know if I got myself into any interesting adventures.  Try not to miss me too much ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

DIK: Day 3

Today was my final day posting on DIK.  I had a lot of fun guest posting.  Today I talked about how the new Zodiac sign affected me.  Hope no one else got too bent up over it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

DIK: Day 2

It's my second day on the Island, and today I'm discussing on of my favorite vamps, John Matthew, as well as ASL and my love life (sorta).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

DIK: Day 1

Today was my first day of posting at DIK, so go check it out. I'm talking about people's reactions to romance readers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Gentlemen Prefer Succubi

I'm still not in full blogging mode. My RSS feeds are piling up and every time I mean to post something I end up on LOLcats instead. I hate to admit it, but I can't wait for the semester to start back up. This no schedule/set routine thing is going to kill me if it goes on much longer. On the up side I am at least reading again, so I thought I might as well throw some of my thoughts out there about my recent reads.

Title: Gentlemen Prefer Succubi
Author: Jill Myles
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Succubus Diaries #1
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I had really been looking forward to getting around to this series, maybe because of the hype, maybe because succubi aren't that commonly used, but probably because I love the covers.  I won't discredit a book for a bad cover, but I will pick up a book for a good one :)

Unfortunately, with all those high expectations for the book, it was really easy to disappoint me.  I didn't necessarily dislike it and I did enjoy reading it.  I think the main problem was that I felt like it had an idea with so much potential and then didn't go anywhere with it.

Stuff that got on my nerves:

1. Why were the succubi so powerless?!  Jackie and Remy have absolutely no power in this book- even when it comes to seduction.  They need to have sex or they will stave, so they are slaves to their desires.  Ok, I get that.  It's a cool twist to the whole succubi thing, but aren't succubi supposed to be able to control the desires of others?  Instead, Remy and Jackie are physically desirable (not that they have any control over that). Their bodies have been transformed into the image of the ultimate male fantasy- which apparently is a size six with 32DD.  Oh, and the thing that almost made me stop reading all together?  They can't be raped because their hormones would kick in and they'd want it.  Can I even say on how many levels that is disturbing and wrong?

2.  The action/adventure was fairly lame.  I ended up skimming over it.

3.  I think Jackie got on a lot of people's nerves because she kept doing stupid stuff over... and over... and over... except it wasn't her fault!  No one ever bothered to tell her anything, so of course she didn't know and would go make a fool of herself, and then everyone would stand around laughing going "oh silly young succubus".  So... I guess Jackie doing stupid things was something that didn't get on my nerves...

Things I liked:

Despite the many things I didn't like, there were things I liked about this book:

1.  The sex.  Myles can write a good sex scene, that's for sure.  And the sexual tension was good too.  I almost wish the book had let go and been a bit more sex-focused.  After all, it is about succubi, and the action/adventure needed work anyway.

2.  Noah and Zane.  I loved both heroes (kinda like Jackie hehe).  I don't think I could pick one as a favorite.  They both have some really excellent scenes in this book, though Zane gets much more page time and more is revealed about his emotions, etc. I really wish more time had been spent developing them in this book, but this book was clearly about Jackie's beginning as a succubus.

So tallying all that up I'm rating Gentlemen Prefer Succubi 2.5 out of 5.  Not great, but just enough of a pull that I'll stick around for book two.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Dreaded Slump... Or Not

Ok, I'll admit it already!  I'm in a total book slump... sorta.

Usually this happens when I've burned myself out on a certain sub-genre, series, or author and end up needing a break from romance in general.  But I can't say that's what is happening right now.  I'm just not that... motivated to read romance.  It's funny because I had all these plans to read and blog over the break, and instead I'm doing these less.  I don't regret it since that time has instead gone into seeing friends and family, shopping, relaxing, and sometimes just sleeping.

And then it hit me!  Romance novels and blogging are my escapes from reality.  Since I've been on break for the past few weeks there has been almost no stress in my life.  No stress means no need to escape.

What all this means is while I'll be around over the next three weeks, I probably won't be posting or commenting regularly until late January or early February.  Sorry guys!  However, I do plan to change my blog layout in the next week or so, and I'm guest posting on DIK from Jan 13-15, so I'm not quite dead.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Top Picks of 2010

With the New Year just gone, I though I'd reflect back on what I've read in 2010.  Here are my favorite reads from over the past year.

Top Picks
1. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

I normally don't go for "chick lit", but I really loved Cannie's story.  She goes through the whole self-discovery journey without being too self-indulgent, usually poking fun of the overabundance of self-help books and programs available.  I though the second half of the book became a little unrealistic and fantasy-like, but overall a really great read.  I tore through it.

2. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (review here)

I love this book. Period.  It was not at all what I expected, which probably made me love it even more.  I think the best compliment I can give it is that Perfect Chemistry is the book that turned me back on to YA-romance.
3. Wed Him Before You Bed Him by Sabrina Jeffries

Sabrina Jeffries has been one of my go-to historical authors for years.  I love the humor in her books.  Wed Him Before You Bed Him was a great and satisfying ending to the Heiress.

4. Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

Yea, I think everyone knows I go wild for the BDB...  John Matthew has been one of my favorite characters since Lover Eternal.  I cannot say how badly I was looking forward to his book, and it did not disappoint.  And that cover is on fire!
5. What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss

This was a fun read.  Devin is now one of my favorite heroes.  And it takes place in New Zealand!  How awesome is that?!
Honorable Mentions
1. A Man in A Million by Jessica Bird (review here)

I ended up reading Jessica Bird because of my love of J.R. Ward, and probably loved this book for the same reason- Spike could sooo be a Brother!  The rest of the story was good too though ;)
2. Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

I think I was one of the few people who hated Sugar Daddy, so I'm not sure why I read Blue-Eyed Devil other than that I already owned it, but I definitely don't regret it!  Haven Travis was an inspiring heroine and heavy duty material was dealt with without being either flippant or melodramatic.
3. Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

This was a surprise since I didn't not like Practice Makes Perfect all that much.  While the ending was a bit care-bear and rushed, the rest of the book was great and had just the right amount of sexual tension and witty dialog.

4. The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Dark!  But in the best way.  It was a great emotional roller coaster- mentally you just get sucked in.  I don't know what took me so long to try Meredith Duran!
5. Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale

The characters were what really made this one for me- Trev and his boyish charm, Callie and her bull Hubert!
1. Lord of Scoundrels by Lorretta Chase (review here)

I really really enjoyed this book (after all, I did read it without ever setting it down).  The reason it's not an honorable mention or a top pick is more that I didn't find it particularly memorable, so it's hard to recommend other than to say... "um, well I know I liked it."
2. Sinful Surrender by Beverley Kendall

While I liked this book, it didn't blow me out of the water.  However I did like it enough to find it memorable, be willing to maybe recommend it, and to want to buy the next book in the series some point after it is published- therefore I felt it deserved a spot on my shout out list.

Those were my picks for 2010!  I'm excited to see what this year has in store for me.