Monday, February 6, 2012

Love wins again

Just a quick little post here, not book related but real-life romance related.

Today I was honored and delighted to attend a baby shower for a friend and colleague at work. I've known him for five years now, and he is one of those people who just makes you smile. His love for the subject he teaches just shines through and students can't help but be inspired to learn. He's from China and is so passionate about intercultural exchange and promoting understanding. I just love him. :-) Anyways, until recently he has been pretty quiet and understated about his private life, but in the past year, I've been happy to see him become more open and comfortable with us all. He married his longterm partner last year, and in about a month, they will be welcoming twin babies into their lives. It's been a long process of planning, saving money, getting legal advice, finding a surrogate, etc. but soon they will be the biological fathers of two little babies, one boy and one girl. To say they are excited is putting it mildly.

Celebrating with them today made me happy. Happy that they can be themselves openly, recognize their relationship with the title of marriage, be supported by their community, and start their own family. These are things that most of us take for granted but these basic rights are denied to many in our country. Love is bigger than all of us, and I think we should rejoice in it where we find it. Congrats to my friend and his husband, and I can't wait to meet the babies!

Monday, January 16, 2012


In my quest to squeeze all the good reads I can from my local library, I have been pleased to see that at least someone on their purchasing staff is aware of J.R. Ward (sadly, they are also under the impression that what we need is more Danielle Steele in the collection as well, but I digress). In any event, during my pre-holiday stock up, I grabbed this recent entry in the Fallen Angel series, also known as the not-BDB-series-yet-featuring-BDB-cameos-and-slang series. I don't know any other writer that uses phrases like a "cup of wakey wakey" or has bad-ass tough guys drop phrases like "abso" in place of absolutely. Seriously. Who says that stuff? But bizarrely enough, I still find her books eminently readable. I can't stop turning the pages. So she's doing something right.

This entry finds our angel/hero Jim Heron back in Caldwell (hrm, who else do we know who lives there?) to fight another round in the war of souls against the demon Devina. His angel buddies Eddie and Adrian are still backing him up and helping him to get up to speed on the rules and tricks of the supernatural trade. The story revolves around Thomas "Veck" DelVecchio, Jr., a cop who happens to be the son of a famous serial killer. When he finds himself on the scene of a murder but with no memory of what happened right before he got there, he's investigated by Sophia Reilly, an officer from Internal Affairs, and oh yeah, she happens to be a hottie and a hard-ass. Match. Made. In. Heaven. (how's my ward-speak?) Veck isn't sure whether or not he committed the murder. He's always felt like he has a shadow waiting inside he his father's son?

It's pretty much impossible to summarize the plot without either writing a helluva lot or giving away lots of spoilers, but suffice it to say that Veck and Reilly's story intersects with Jim, Devina and the rest of the gang with mayhem, blood and spirit possessions going down like you might expect. And there were a few twists that I didn't expect either.

As far as the romance angle goes, it seems like so far in this series the couples fall pretty hard for one another in a matter of a few days. It's not quite the BDB "fated mates" type thing, but definitely a strong and swift attraction. What I liked about this particular book was that Reilly was that rare female character who actually did come across as sensible and smart. She's also realistic. She is attracted to Veck and can acknowledge that without getting overly emo or denial-y. I like it when a modern woman in a novel set in the contemporary era is allowed to own her sexuality. So kudos to Ward for improving on the "females" from that other series.

All in all, I had mixed feelings when I finished the book. It a fast read because the action just keeps on moving forward, and the characters were well drawn, I felt. The camaraderie between the angels is a little reminiscent of the brothers but not quite as vibrant. But on the plus side the homoerotic subtones are there and they don't feel subtle or apologetic as in that other series. I guess in the end, it is hard to read this series without making comparisons to the BDB whether you want to or not. And in that regard it doesn't stand on its own, imo. Still...eminently readable. I'll be there for the next outing.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Working on my Moning backlist glom to supplement my recent read of the Fever series. First up, The Immortal Highlander. I blasted through 50 pages yesterday morning before work and finished the rest in the evening. Romping good times with fae and humans and lots of sexy bad-boy but not overly brooding hero. I like Adam Black. He's morally kind of ambiguous, has done a lot of mischievous and even bad stuff in his past, but he doesn't seem to have done them out of malice. More like curiousity, self-centeredness and arrogance. This book finds him dumped in the 21st century without his fae powers, turned into a human by the queen of the Fae for pushing her buttons one too many times. Oh and he's invisible to humans, so he can't interact with anyone. Anyone except a sidhe-seer, those humans who have the "gift" of seeing the Fae. What are the odds that our heroine is a sidhe-seer? Anyone, anyone?

Gabrielle was raised to fear and hate the Fae, so when she runs into Adam, she distrusts and does not want anything to do with him. Well, except for that she secretly does because HELLO, gigantic, muscled, HAWT beautiful man!!!! But no no no, he's Fae, do not want! (inner conflict, we haz it). Adam starts off wanting her because she's the only person who can see him and talk to him and he needs a conduit to help him track down a way to get in touch with the Fae queen and remove the curse. And then he's attracted to her. And then he falls for her...MINE! They spend the majority of the book doing this dance of back and forth as he tries to get her to see him for who he really is (ie. through his actions towards her not from hearsay from the big Bible of sidhe-seer lore in which he is labeled as teh ebil) and she tries to keep from liking him. AS IF!

Near the end there is some gratuitous previous series couples revisiting (oh hai Daegus and Drustan and wives and kiddies), but it allows us to get to Scotland. Och aye. And then some action involving actually evil Fae. And then the wrap-up where Adam has to choose between his immortality and true love. It's all quite nicely done, with a dollop of simmering sexual tension throughout the book culminating in a three or four day marathon of nom nom nom in a Scottish castle. Who wouldn't want that? S'rsly.

If I had to grade this book as a stand-alone, I would give it a solid B+. While it's interesting to go into it knowing more about the Fae, the queen, the druids and all that stuff, I think it would work just as well on it's own by the force of Adam's personality and the romantic chase between him and Gabrielle.

Bottom line: if you see a hot Fae prince, don't automatically run away in fear. He may be worth sticking around for.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What the mailman brought

Oh yesssss, my pretties! I have been looking forward to this book ever since I read the first in the series. Love me some Elizabeth Hoyt. And I've been intrigued by Mickey O'Connor since his dastardly appearances in the previous books. What is it about those amoral pirates? Again with the bad boy intrigue. hmm. I am really curious to see how the author redeems him because one gets the feeling that he's not had a pretty past nor a very upright moral code. Hoyt's writing has almost always "worked" for me, ever since the Raven Prince, so I trust her to weave the story and make me a believer.

Even though I want to dive in and devour this in one day, I am going to torture myself by saving it for later. Library books have to be read and returned. Right now I'm 50 pages into The Immortal Highlander, aka Adam Black's book. I seem to recall he was something of a naughty antagonist in some of the earlier books, but again, who doesn't love an anti-hero, right? Another bad boy! I'm sensing a trend.

And right on spotify music queue (newest addiction!) starts playing Sexyback. lmao.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Once a year (or so) I post


So being as this is a new year, I guess was bound to start thinking about things I had neglected and nothing could be more neglected than this poor blog. I log in to find that, lo and behold, the last time I posted anything was on this same date. Just, um...two damn years ago. lol.

Rather than get all guilty and make resolutions that I can't and won't stick to, I guess I'm just going to use this space as an occasional free-flowing online journal rather than a review site. I still read a lot but I don't have a big book buying budget and tend to get stuff from the library, paperbackswap, and snag any free kindle deals that look worth the effort. So I can't really comment on the latest hot trends, but whatevs. Books are books and I like reading them. Since I have to write a fair bit now in my "real" life (moar grad school!), I can't promise actual reviews or any coherence. It makes it too much like work and ergo procrastination ensues.

Anyways, on the book front....I spent the last week going through the entire Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. Yay library! And yay on waiting to read a series in which each book ended in a cliffhanger. Going through the story in one go was definitely entertaining. I don't think it would been nearly as much fun dragged out. That said, it was a pretty good story, albeit a little repetitive. I can see why there are those who are pro/anti Barrons. Mark me in as a pro-Barrons. What can I say? I like them growly, taciturn, and assholish sometimes. Probably it's the fantasy that the hard-shell guy can and will be saved by the love of a good woman, and all that. I read the first four books within two days and then listened to the last one (Shadowfever) on audiobook. All 20-odd hours of it. Sometimes I dig (narrator) Phil Gigante and sometimes he's a little over-the-top for my tastes, but I have to say that his Barrons definitely worked for me. Yum!

Another holiday library find was Nalini Singh's Kiss of Snow. Which was totally yummy even if the will-they-or-won't-they sexual tension between Hawke and Sienna was dragged out just a wee bit tooooo long. This is a series that I had written off after the first book but have since come around on. Having spent the entire series waiting for Hawke's story, it was delicious when it finally arrived. No regrets here. In fact, I may have to reread it before returning it.

Speaking of the library, I just got an email that they have some of the Moning highlander books waiting for me to pick up. Cuz there is nothing like glomming a backlist once you get going on a series. Going to head over right now and snag them.

So that's what's up chez sula for the moment. Stay tuned or don't. I'm hoping to not wait another two years to post again. :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

back in the habit

Good morning and happy new week in the new year! I have to go back to work today after having a good 10 days off. le sigh. But it will be good to get back into the swing of things, I suppose.

In the meantime, please take a little trip out to DIK island where Carrie Lofty is visiting for the next three days. Today, she's talking about the exotic pleasures of Spain. I must admit, it is refreshing to see an author use a location and time period that we don't often see and I am looking forward to her new release. A monk in medieval Spain as a hero...yes, I'm all over that. :)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

It was a very good year

2009 was a busy, eventful and life-changing year over here at chez sula. For starters, the location of "chez" (which literally means at the home of). It was one year ago today that DH and I finished moving all our stuff from the house I was sharing with messy college students into a cozy, historic apartment smack in the old town. We rang in the new year by spending our first night here. And how lovely it has been. Not just to have one's own place, but the location, the architecture, the windows and sunlight, everything. A great way to start 2009.

In April, I led a group of students, faculty and staff from our university on a one-week trip to Mali. Not only was it a great experience to be able to share the country I love with others, but I also got to re-connect with friends back there and visit DH's family. AND get back to speed on my language skillz (which apparently may go dormant but are not lost...happily).

The first half of the year also saw both DH and I busily working on our respective degree programs. It's important to note that in DH's country, there is only one university. When he attended classes there back in the early part of the 2000s, a series of strikes resulted in the entire academic year being canceled. So he ended up working and doing other things and wasn't able to go back and finish his degree. When we got the chance to come to the States and study, it was an unforeseen opportunity. He slogged through three years of classes in not his second, but his THIRD language, was often the oldest student in his courses, and worked a part-time on-campus job to boot. So when he walked across the stage at commencement in May and received his bachelor's degree (the first person in his family to do so) I was bursting-at-the-seams-proud. :)

Right after graduation, there was another trip out of the country for me...I was in Taiwan for about 10 days for my work. It was special in that I got to spend time with a colleague and friend who is from there and being with her gave me lots of insider scoops that I wouldn't have had otherwise. (Did I mention the all-u-can-eat sushi bar for under $10????) heh. But I missed my fiance and it was nice to come home again.

After two long years of part-time evening classes with no breaks for summer, I too got a chance to walk across the stage in August and receive my MBA. (Come to think of it, I guess I'm the first person in my family to get a graduate degree.) It was nice to finish the program, and I barely had time to catch my breath before my 30th birthday. Yet another mile-stone of sorts. heh.

Then it was full speed ahead to the biggest milestone of our lives...our wedding! Thankfully, I had a couple of very talented and giving friends who basically planned, coordinated, decorated and shepherded me through the whole process. The ceremony was held in the backyard of our good friends. The mountains and fields served as a cathedral unmatched in beauty. With a classic English garden at on end, guests were seated in four sections creating a circle which surrounded the ceremony site. Our families began the processional and walked in pairs to their seats in front of the garden. To the strains of a single violin, the wedding party processed through the garden paths and met one another in the center of the ceremony circle. During a moving interfaith ceremony led by our two ministers (husband and wife), we took our vows and exchanged rings. A djembe drum ensemble led the celebration as we left the circle as husband and wife.

Our reception was held under the trees in an open buffet style. Among the dishes served were roast lamb, plantains and a special African rice dish. After toasts by the best man and matron of honor, we enjoyed musical selections by a small gamelan orchestra, an instrument native to Indonesia (my childhood home). We cut the cake and then had our first dance to a song by a musician from DH's home country. Guests joined in the dance and much fun and laughter was had. Before the sun set, we changed into our best traditional African clothing and finished the evening by spending time talking with our friends and family.

As if that weren't enough for an eventful 2009, DH found a great job (in this economy no less) and started work shortly after our wedding. I began taking Spanish classes and applied to another graduate program for spring (hey, gotta keep busy). Then last week, we traveled down to Louisiana to spend Christmas with my parents and meet my mom's side of the family. I hadn't seen my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. since it was quite fun to catch up with everyone and to introduce DH.

whew! Now that I look back on all that, I can sort of see why my blog has fallen by the wayside. Hopefully next year I can get back to reading more books and writing more entries. So that was 2009. This is a year I don't think I'll ever forget. Now onward to 2010!

Happy New Year to everyone who takes the time to stop by this little corner of the interwebs. :)