Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meredith Duran: Slump Buster!

My friends, I think the Slum of '09 may have met it's match: the fabulous Ms Meredith Duran.  Yesterday I was consumed by Bound By Your Touch. Nearly every page was read in one day. It was phenomenal!

WARNING, there are a few spoilerish comments below!

Ttitle:  Bound By Your Touch
Author: Meredith Duran

Silver-tongued Viscount Sanburne is London's favorite scapegrace. Alas, Lydia Boyce has no interest in being charmed. When his latest escapade exposes a plot to ruin her family, she vows to handle it herself, as she always has done. Certainly she requires no help from a too-handsome dilettante whose main achievement is being scandalous. But Sanburne's golden charisma masks a sharper mind and darker history than she realizes. He shocks Lydia by breaking past her prim facade to the woman beneath...and the hidden fire no man has ever recognized. But as she follows him into a world of intrigue, she will learn that the greatest danger lies within -- in the shadowy, secret motives of his heart.

What I loved:  Lydia.  She was strong and independent, the eldest daughter in the family and known spinster.  She was not a shrinking violet.  She was not terribly naive. Inexperienced, yes, but she understood much of the world. This was a strong, intelligent heroine.  And yet she was still taken advantage of.  I liked this.  It was realistic.  It showed how a person could be blind to circumstances of the actions of others because of their personal feelings.  Lydia was not TSTL.  She wasn't idealistic.  She came across as being rather realistic.  I also loved James.  How could I not love this hero?  He was flawed, nearly fatally so.  I spent a good portion of the book not liking him.  He was selfish, rude, inconsiderate... but then his motivations and internal struggles began to be revealed.  When he walked away from her, the decision was not made with the declaration that he was doing it for her own good.  No, it was very clear he was walking away for himself. Self-preservation.  And I was in complete sympathy with him. 

I found the story line with James sister, Stella, to be interesting.  I found Stella's decision to be rather profound and forward thinking. I like that James was not suddenly OK with it.  He still struggled, but found a bit of peace. This, too, was realistic.  No one waved a magic wand and made everyone happy and whole.

Thing I hated: Lydia's sister Sophie. Oh, that was the point, wasn't it? Yeah, that's all I've got for this category. No hating going on here!

Recommend?  Absolutely, yes!  This was Ms Duran's second book.  Duke of Shadows was one of the best historicals I have ever read.  Dark, intense, full of pain and angst.  Bound By Your Touch is less so, yet by no means a light and fluffy read. Does it join the ranks of the best?  Not sure yet, but it is certainly a keeper!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Filling the time

Sometimes when you are in a slump the best thing to do is to step away from the TBR pile. It can be daunting standing there staring at so many books that you know would be wonderful were you not thus afflicted. The guilt and anxiety start to set in. You want to reassure the TBR pile that you love it, but are just not in the mood. No matter what you say, feeling are hurt. You need to take a step back, take some time for yourself. You and your TBR need to be on a break.

So what do you do during this time of personal reflection? Clean the house? Balance your checkbook? Organize all those recipes you have cut out of magazines only to shove in between the cookbooks on the shelf? Heck no! Why waste perfectly good reflection time on productive tasks?

Right now I am spending that time on my crafty endeavors. I console myself with the thought that crocheting is an activity that I could not do while reading, therefore the time spent with hook and yarn is not time which could have involved a book. Ok, ok, I could be listening to an audio book, but that would require going to the library where shelves and shelves of books would taunt me. Oh yeah, and there is that issue of a large (LARGE) overdue fine I have not yet paid.

Instead I am having fun with yarn. I'm even getting a jump start on Christmas gifts. ::ducks as people start throwing things:: I have been working on one sooper secrit project. It's a gift. It was actually off-handedly requested. ("You know, you could make me something. With hands! That has thumbs!" He wants to use it in his classroom.) He probably doesn't remember saying that, but I do. There are times when a long distance relationship has it's advantages: it is much easier to make someone gifts when they are not around to see them. I finished it today. Wanna see? I can't post it anywhere else (Facebook) or he will see it. It must remain a SOOPER SECRIT! Here she is!

So what do you do to fill the time when you step away from the TBR pile?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Slump Slump LUCKY CHARM Slump

I actually finished a book! This is big news, my friends. I have not been able to do this very often over the past three months. I think it was pretty good. I mean, I actually finished it amidst the Slump of '09. That means it was probably quite good.

Lucky Charm by Carly Philips

All of the Corwin men are cursed when it comes to love. No, no, not unlucky... cursed. Literally. Generations before a Corwin ancestor stole away the intended bride of one of the Perkins men. Mary Perkins was having none of that. And Mary Perkins was a witch (this was during the days of the Salem witch trials, you know.) She cursed the Corwin family, that no man shall be successful in their personal or professional life if they fall in love.

Flash forward to present day and you meet current Corwin man, Derek. He loved his high school sweetheart, deeply. But knowing about the curse, he walked away from her. Years (a marriage, child, divorce and major financial setback) later, Derek is living back home, and Gabrielle has returned. This time she is determined to prove to Derek that there is no such thing as a curse (that is actually her job, you know, debunking myths.) Add in eccentric relatives, best friends, a local political campaign battle, and some mysterious shenanigans and you get a fun read.

If you are looking for sweet, a little hot, often amusing, and slightly mysterious (although I have to admit I figured it out before the reveal), then I recommend picking this book up. If you like it, there are two more books to follow.

Now if only I had the drive to pick up another book. Gah! Slumping along. Slump slump slump.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School

Today was the first day of school. All my students returned, full of energy, more or less ready for a new school year. They met their new teachers and received their new books. Packets went home. Inside these packets was a reading list for the year. I got a peek at this list today. Oh, the memories! My advanced 8th graders are reading two of my all-time favorite school reads.

The story, the characters, they live in my memory as vividly as the students I shared a classroom with, perhaps even stronger. These books fed my love of reading, introducing me to a style of writing with more depth and meaning than what I had previously read. I thank Ms. Bradbury for that all the time. She was, without a doubt, one of the best teachers I have ever had.

So with the school year off to a fresh start, I ask you this: What books live in your memory as integral parts of your childhood and education?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Slump Watch 2009: Slump Busters

The Slump of 2009 is still going strong.  Good books are languishing on the pile.  Nothing is tempting the reading palette.  Good writing (objectively I can tell it is good) just ain't cutting it for me.  This slump is strong and holding fast.
What's a girl to do?  I've tried switching genres.  I picked up a well loved, oft re-read keeper.  Tried re-reading a fave from my youth.  Nothing is luring me to pick up and read.  I even have the newest Patricia Briggs and I can't get up the gumption to read!  (Of course, there is the fear that The Slump will leach even her books of their crack addled glory.)
I know I am not alone.  Others have been in my shoes. When you were here, in this desolate place of reading ennui, what jolted you out of it?  What book or activity busted that slump?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The School Year Beckons

Today I am bidding a fond farewell to summer. Chicago has been experiencing unseasonably cool weather, but more to the point, I report back to school tomorrow. The halcyon day of summer are coming to an end. Days of doing nothing but what I want to do: catching up on TV shows, rewatching favorite movies, crocheting and crafting like a mad woman, and staring at the TBR pile... that offers little inspiration.

After returning from New York at the end of July I hit the all-time, worst ever reading slump. This was a relentless creature. It still has it's claws in me. I can't tell you how many DNF books I have floating around my apartment right now. I know they can't all be bad books. It has to be me. I tried historicals. I tried paranormals. I even tried rereading an old favorite. I want to read, but I just can't bring myself to lift another book only to be disappointed. Ugh!!! Needless to say, this malaise has put the brakes on my posts here.

There have been a few gems among the paste. Here are the rare, the few, the books I have enjoyed since the end of June:

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran- I FINALLY read it, and it was wonderful. So rich and layered. The only other historical romance that I could compare it to is The Spymaster's Lady. The time period and the political situation are not simply the back drop in this book, they are almost another character.

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole- This was my first try at her writing. I did not want to like the hero, Lachlain. In the beginning he had all of the negative traits of an Alpha hero, and none of the good. He was downright mean to Emma. In the end I quite enjoyed the story. I liked the mythology and the inclusion of Valkyries. I have the next book in the series buried in my extra bedroom. I need to dig it out.

7 Day and 7 Nights by Wendy Wax- I had read this one before and still loved it now. It is a contemp with one of my favorite tropes: reunited lovers, although this couple does nothing but butt heads. I definitely recommend you guys dig this one up.

Anything by Nalini Singh. I finished off the rest of her booklist. I heart her. I can't wait for the next book.

Currently, I am reading Lucky Charm by Carly Philips. It is cute so far, but hasn't grabbed me yet. I have the newest Patricia Briggs waiting for me. Yay, Charles and Anna!!! Mostly, though, I have been having fun crocheting. I opened a "store" on ETSY. Go check it out, let me know what you think. My newest obsession is amigurimi. I had seen these little cuties before, but thought they would be too difficult. Not so! It just requires counting. You can't zone out while making them. I have plans to make some for my friends (Christmas gifts? Heck yeah!)
I may even need to make a girlfriend for Mho Pho. What do you think, Katie?