Thursday, July 31, 2008

I finally get it!

Yes, my friends, you can call me a Crusader.  I have completely fallen under the spell of North & South.  Oh, Mr. Thornton.  He is all that is starchy and broody.  His mother? Fabulously judgmental.  Higgins? Earthy and real.  I'm not really sure what to say or how to say it and remain coherent.  I will degrade into a babbling fangirl.  OK.  Here is my attempt to list a few thoughts and favorite moments.

1)  Fist of Doom.  Yes.  Just... yes. 

2)  The scene when Margaret is leaving Thornton's home after saying goodbye (before leaving Milton.)  The framing of the shot is stunning.  The carriage in the courtyard, snow falling, camera behind Thornton framed in the open doorway... beautiful.  The expression on his face as he stood there saying "Look back."  Guh. 

3) The Kiss.  You know what I am talking about.  The hand on the side of the face is a "thing" for me.  Gets me every time.

4)  Higgins reaction to his daughters death.  He is such a strong man.  When he breaks down it is simply gut wrenching.

5) I LOVED the cinematography in the scene when Margaret goes to the mill and sees Thornton for the first time.  The cotton floating through the air gave it an almost magical quality.

6)  Thornton's sister was HORRID!  That is all.

7) I actually liked Higgins so much that I almost wished that he and Margaret would get together.  There was just something about him that was so compelling.  Also, if Margaret ended up with Higgins, Thornton and I could run off together and he could hold my face while WE kiss.

Like I said, not very coherent.  Let's just say North & South is now being added to my Amazon wish list.  This one needs to be added to my personal collection.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making a Mr. Perfect list

Those of you who joined in the book club and read Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard (or had previously read it) you know that all of Jaine's problem began after she and her girlfriends created a list of the qualities essential in the perfect man. The List. For the most part I think those ladies got it right.  But really, it just wouldn't be as fun if we didn't put our own twist on it. 

So what do you say ladies?  What items, qualities, requirements should we add to our very own Mr. Perfect list?  And be honest, it's much more fun that way ;)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

i can haz North & South?

Why, yes I can!  I just received an email from my local library informing me that my request for the North & South DVD has arrived.  Alls I have to do is swing by and pick it up.  (God, I love this whole online inter-library loan request thing.)  You know what that means... Shannon glued to the TV for hours.

Will I become a Crusader?  That is yet to be determined.  I will keep you update.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book Club- Mr. Perfect

Oh, I have been waiting and waiting to open up this discussion. Here it is:
Mr. Perfect
So what did you think? I don't feel like posting a set of questions for this book. I say, just share your thoughts, opinions, squeeing, concerns, confusion, adoration, etc. If you have questions about what happened or wonder what people thought about a specific aspect of the book, feel free to post a question.
And stay tuned! Coming tomorrow: The WWR Mr. Perfect list! You and I get to be Jaine and her friends, creating our very own list. Although, I could live without the crazy killer...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Half-assed reviews and pitiful excuses

Wow. Over a week without posting. I'm not sure what to say. I could provide a whole list of reasons I have been absent, but they would just be pitiful excuses. I was lazy last week. It is as simple as that. It has nothing to do with not having reviews to write. Nope, I have read a handful of books. I even liked most of them! I am simply suffering from a lack of energy. I am a lazy sloth.

So I will attempt to make this up to you all by providing a number of half-assed reviews. (Sorry there are no photos, blogger is acting weird and not giving me a full toolbar.)

Title: The Spymaster's Lady
Author: Joanna Bourne

She's braved battlefields. She's stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She's played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can't outwit

OMG, so good! Yep, I am a sqeeing fan girl. This book was beautifully written. The language Ms. Bourne uses builds such a vibrant picture in your mind that you feel you are there with the characters. The heroine is strong and self-sufficient. I don't think I have read a stronger female character in a historical romance before. Annique was daring, bold, brilliant (in a believable way), yet innocent at the same time. All of the men were wonderful. The plot was strong, complicated without being convoluted. The writing never seemed to lose momentum. The romance between the hero and heroine was believable. The sex was written so well that it wasn't until I finished the book that I realized the book lacked the cliched euphemisms. All in all, a stellar book. I would recommend this book to anyone, even non-historical or non-romance readers. It is like a bar of high quality milk chocolate. Easy on the palate and so very good. I can't wait to read My Lord and Spymaster.

Title: Demon Angel
Author: Meljean Brook

For two thousand years, Lilith wrought vengeance upon the evil and the damned, gathering souls for her father's armies Below and proving her fealty to her Underworld liege. Bound by a bargain with the devil and forbidden to feel pleasure, she draws upon her dark powers and serpentine grace to lead men into temptation. That is, until she faces her greatest temptation—Heaven's own Sir Hugh Castleford...

Once a knight and now a Guardian, Hugh spent centuries battling demons—and the cursed, blood-drinking nosferatu. His purpose has always been to thwart the demon Lilith, even as he battles his treacherous hunger for her. But when a deadly alliance unleashes a threat to both humans and Guardians in modern-day San Francisco, angel and demon must fight together against unholy evil—and against a desire that has been too long denied...

I don't like books that take place earlier that the mid-1700's. I just don't generally like them. Because of this, I put off starting Demon Angel after picking it up from the library. I had heard all the love being professed for this book and author. I just wasn't buying it. So finally, after some lackluster reads, I picked up DA. Good God, why did I wait so long? I will admit that I am an idiot. I should have listen to all of you out there that expressed such love for this series. Hugh and Lilith were such great characters. I love how their relationship steadily builds over the centuries. The story is so packed full of information and moments of significance, that I would often have to stop reading and do something else just so my brain could work thought what I had just read. Ms. Brooks crafted a wonderfully complex story. It is a rare thing that I don't figure out how the conflict will work itself out when I read a book. She had me stumped all the way until the end. This book is a bar of single origin dark chocolate. It is sharp and rich. You need to take time to savor each delicious bite. I can't wait to read about Savi and Colin. I am currently awaiting the arrival of the two short stories MB wrote. Go read this book if you haven't. Don't be an idiot like me. (Oh. One small comment. The only thing I did not like was the cover. It was pretty, but I could not bring it along on the train or to the family gathering I had to attend. I appreciate the half-nekked pic of Hugh, but my family would not.)

Title: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire
Author: Kerrelyn Sparks

So what if he's a bit older and usually regards a human female as dinner, not a dinner date? Yes, Roman Draganesti is a vampire, but a vampire who lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn't have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop–sided eater for all eternity.

Things aren't going well for Shanna Whelan either...After witnessing a gruesome murder by the Russian mafia, she's next on their hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral because she's afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she's found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman's fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her...

This was a cute, average read. It was nothing to call home about, but not bad. I guess I would say "pretty good." It set up the beginning of the series enough the I am interested in reading more (especially since I own two of the other books in the series.) However, the title is completely wrong. The heroine does not know vamps exist until quite a ways into the book. She is not setting out to marry a millionaire vamp. Heck, she is not setting out to marry anyone. She just wants to stay alive. I was a little iffy on the subplot with her father. It kind of seemed tacked on to add even more drama to the poor heroine's life. Regardless, it was a fluffy, fun story. This book is a Cadbury Creme Egg or a box of Peeps. It is fluffy and sugary, but it does not leave a lasting impact on your sweet tooth craving.

Title: It Had To Be You
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Windy City isn't quite ready for Phoebe Somerville—the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not prepared for the Stars' head coach Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises—a meddling bimbo who doesn't know a pigskin from a pitcher's mound.

I have been hit or miss with this author. It Had To Be You was the first book in her Chicago Stars (football) series. I had previously read two others in the series (out of order, I know!!!) One book I liked, the other made me want to scream. I am happy to say that this book was a winner. Funny, quirky, the characters were great. Phoebe is not what you expect when you first start reading the book. She is introduced as a Paris Hilton-type bimbo. The real Phoebe is vastly different. Dan is strong, opinionated, sexy, and has the best interest of his team at heart. I actually bought the whole enemies become lovers deal in this book. Dang it, now I have to read the rest of the books in the series. It would almost have been better if this was another miss. Instead this book is one of those huge caramel apples. Crisp and rich at the same time. Not in the same category as chocolate, but still damn satisfying. Ah well, more reading for me! Oh, and all the Chicago and DuPage County locations make this series even more fun for me to read. I know exactly where the characters are when Ms. Philips includes descriptions of locations or driving directions. We need more books set in Chicago!

Tune in tomorrow when the book club starts discussing our book of the month: Mr. Perfect!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chemistry update

I finished reading Much Ado About You by Eloisa James. It seemed to pick up the pace a bit towards the end and I was, in fact able to get through it without stumbling. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is not that I think her books are poorly written, I just don't seem to click with her style and characters.

Sadly, I think this will be my last book by James. There are three more books in the series and I didn't like any of the heroine's sisters enough to read on for their HEA. Ah well. I know others love her writing. I will simply move on to the next book.

I need something to get me excited again. Demon Angel, perhaps?

Author-Reader Chemistry

Sometimes you meet someone new and you just click. There was that girl in your psych class in college. You started talking and suddenly it is as though you have known each other for years. Ten years later the two of you are still good friends. Then there are those people you meet and promptly forget. Or perhaps you start talking and everything they say and do just rubs you the wrong way. It all comes down to chemistry. I'm not just talking romantic chemistry, simply interpersonal compatibility. I think we, as readers, have this with each author we read. There are those that click with us in such a way that no matter what they write we will read it. If Patricia Briggs or Suze Brockmann wrote a pamphlet on how to set the clock on your VCR, I would devour it. Then there are the authors you never click with no matter how hard you try. It could be a case of the disappearing plot: you close the book on the final page and promptly forget all that you just read. It could be characters that rub you the wrong way (too abrasive for your taste, TSTL, too Alpha, etc.) Maybe you do not enjoy the genre the author writes. Perhaps their style is either more flowery or concise than you prefer. It happens. Bad chemistry happens to good authors.

And to good readers.

I have tried, really I have. For whatever reason, Ms. Eloisa James and I have no chemistry. It is not that I think her writing is bad. Quite the contrary. I just can not seem to connect with her characters. I am unable to become invested in them. It finally hit me when I realized that I was procrastinating so that I did not have to read. What??!!?!?! Reading is my number one tool for procrastination. I actually feel kind of bad about this. I want to like her books. It just boils down to the author-reader chemistry, which sadly she and I lack.

Has this happened to you, either good or bad? What authors have you immediately clicked with? Which ones are you unable love, despite your best efforts?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Because I am procrastinating...

...I give you a picture.

Go awai! I iz reading!

I am horrible at captions. What else can my reading Homer say?

Romance and passion on the dance floor

You may not know this, but I have another passion besides reading. Dance. I have not done much of it myself as of late. I need to do more. I incorporate dance into my teaching and run an after school dance club for kids in grades 4-6. I am an unrepentant So You Think You Can Dance junkie. I own seasons 1-3 on DVD. I can not miss an episode. I am an addict.

Last night I was watching the show and drooling, as one does when there are gorgeous half nekked menz on their TV screen. But I was also drooling over the choreography. The passion and emotion that the dancers and choreographers created was amazing. There were two dances in particular that brought to life the relationship between and man and a woman.

Will and Jessica's lyrical jazz routine is hawt! When he grabs the shirt and pulls it up onto her shoulders, and then pulls it off of her... that needs to be worked into someone's book. Stat!

Then there is the pain following the ending of a relationship. How many of you have laid in bed at night after a breakup tortured by memories of your ex? The expressions on Twitch and Kerrington's faces as they gazed at one another across the bed was haunting.

It is truly beautiful to see those things that draw us to romance embodied in another discipline.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Let's get it started in here!

While my friends here in bloglandia are avid romance readers (hi all!!!), my local pals are not of the same persuasion. There is one who dabbles in the world of romance, venturing out on the Nora Roberts branch of the Romance tree. Otherwise, my friends quite actively avoid romance (expect, perhaps, to mock it.) I'm not sure what exactly it is that that makes them scoff at the most purchased genre in publication. Is it the bad euphemisms (sword of virility, plushy love glove, purple-headed staff)? Is it bodice-ripper connotations? Is it the blush inducing cover art that they fear bringing on public transportation? What is it that keeps them from reading an entire genre of literature? I believe that much of it is ignorance and the misconception that a romance novel is a slapped together, second rate story with sex. The belief that gratuitous sex makes up for a lack of quality writing.

So how do we disabuse them of this notion? By recommending fabulous reading material, of course. By providing these skeptics with the starter pack of romance novels. This begs the question: What would be in your "Starter Pack of Romance"? For me this would have to include:

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard
The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne (yes, I finally read it!)

But what else would I add? This will require some serious consideration. You would want to provide books with quality writing that span a variety of sub genres. You may want to provide a specific order in which they should be read, starting with the least graphic sex, leading up to the most explicit. Maybe start with an urban fantasy that includes romantic elements (Mercy Thompson, perhaps) and end with an erotic novel (Ellora's Cave?)

For all those out there that we love who do not share our reading preferences (and they are legion), what would be in your starter pack? Pick 5-10 titles. You can explain you reasoning or just provide the list, but tell me, how would you get them started?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Because I am a lemming...

I saw this over on Naida and Kristie(J)'s blogs, so I figured why not. Everyone needs to embarrass themselves once in a while.

Here is the Top 100 Most Popular Books on LibraryThing. Bold what you own, italicize what you've read. Star what you liked. Star multiple times what you loved!

1. Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone by J.K. Rowling****
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by J.K. Rowling****
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) by J.K. Rowling****
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling*
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling****
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling****
7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling****
10. 1984 by George Orwell
11. Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics) by Jane Austen****
12. The catcher in the rye by J.D. Salinger
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee****
14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
15. The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
17. Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Bronte
18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
19. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell
21. Angels & demons by Dan Brown
22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
23. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
24. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
25. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
26. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
27. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
28. The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien
29. The Odyssey by Homer
30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
31. Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut
32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
33. The return of the king : being the third part of The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
34. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
35. American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
36. The chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
37. The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams
38. Lord of the Flies by William Golding ****
39. The lovely bones: a novel by Alice Sebold
40. Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card
41. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman****
42. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman
43. Dune by Frank Herbert
44. Emma by Jane Austen
45. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classics) by Mark Twain
47. Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy
48. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
49. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
51. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
52. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
53. The Iliad by Homer
54. The Stranger by Albert Camus
55. Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen
56. Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens
57. The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
58. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
59. Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
60. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
61. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
62. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
63. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
64. The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck
65. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
66. The Name of the Rose: including Postscript to the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
68. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
69. The complete works by William Shakespeare (quite a few - but not the complete works)
70. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
71. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
72. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
73. Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare
74. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) by John Steinbeck****
75. A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens
76. The Alchemist (Plus) by Paulo Coelho (7,710)
77. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7,648)
78. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Barnes & Noble Classics) by Oscar Wilde
79. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk
80. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
81. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman****
82. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan
83. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
84. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
85. Dracula by Bram Stoker
86. Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions) by Joseph Conrad
87. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
88. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
89. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman
90. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Classics) by James Joyce
91. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Milan Kundera
92. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
93. Neuromancer by William Gibson
94. The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) by Geoffrey Chaucer
95. Persuasion (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen
96. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
97. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
98. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt
99. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
100. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Notice how many of those books I own (bold), but have never read (not italics). I think that is the worst part!