Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DIK...or what to save when the boat sinks

Greetings! So last night while having a crazy good time chatting with fellow blogger buddies, the talk turned to books (surprise!) and then to the concept of a DIK (Desert Island Keeper). What if we were stuck on an island and only had a few books on hand? How to choose a small but diverse library of books to pass around amongst ourselves and share?

After much spirited discussion, we decided the rules were as follows:
1. Everyone gets to bring six books (because there were six of us in the discussion...don't ask about the logic. lol)
2. No duplicating a book from someone else's list because we are all friends and will share our books. Besides this means more titles available to all of us.
3. Only books that are already in print (no ARCs or not-yet-published books).
4. Oh yeah, try to spread the love over different sub-genres.

So today, we six are doing a round robin blog hop of our six DIK lists of six. KristieJ started us off and now it is my turn.

1. Outlander - No surprise here. My favorite book(s) of all time. I still have the vivid memory of reading the first three in this series at age 16 and being completely and utterly transported to another world and being convinced that Jamie and Clare were in fact real people. When we first talked about only getting ONE book on the island, this would have been my choice.

2. Lover Eternal - One word...Rhage! K, so I know that Z is the one that everyone wants to heal and nurture but Rhage will always be my favorite brother. This was the first book I read in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and after all of the rest, it is still my favorite. I love how Rhage is utterly and completely head over heels for Mary, how the mere sound of her VOICE is enough to transfix him. The age-old fantasy of a perfect gorgeous man desiring and pursuing the plain woman (and she doesn't magically lose her glasses and discover she is a sekrit supermodel) really works for me. *sigh*

3. The Serpent Prince - I realize that this is a somewhat recent release and perhaps it is a little hasty to put it on a DIK list. However, I've already gone back and reread it several times. Which is something I rarely do and which tells me that it's in my library for the long haul. Simon is a great anti-hero, so tortured and yet so naive in the ways of the heart. Add the red shoes and the elegant and witty dialogue and I'm sold. Just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.

4. The Duke - This book by Gaelen Foley is part of a larger series, but it stands alone perfectly well by itself. Stuffy duke Robert gets his world turned upside down by his mistress Bel. The whole arranged mistress thing is certainly a common enough plot device in romance, but I think it was very well executed here. This is a book I go back to for a satisfying romantic read.

5. By Arrangement - If I'm on an island, I gotta have at least one awesome medieval. And this classic by Madeline Hunter is my pick. A complex hero (who is a cloth merchant and not a noble!) and a heroine who grows and matures from spoiled brat to strong and capable woman over the course of the book. Not to mention the excellent story telling that makes me feel like I'm right there in the rough and tumble of olde london.

6. Caine's Reckoning - Can't be stuck on an island without a Sarah McCarty book! It's tough to pick just one, but I think that this is the most well-rounded of her catalogue so far. It has all of the good stuff that I expect from her: strong, commanding hero who is emotionally nurturing, heroine that has no reason to trust men but who finds herself warming to this incredible guy, old west setting and oh yeah, uber-hot delicious sex scenes. mmm mmm good. Time for a reread!

Hey, lookee there...most of my list is historicals. lol. I guess that shows you what my bias is in romance reading. heh.

So what would make your list? Any book that you just can't live without? Any of mine that would make your list? Fav sub genre? Let's hear it!

Now head on over to lisabea's for the next list of six. That gal, she has a lot of DIK on her blog. ahem.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Books I'm looking forward to

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm a pretty thrifty reader. The DBF watches our expenses like a hawk, and I gotta be very strategic in my purchases of fresh new books. The library, paperbackswap and trading (read begging) from other bloggers supplies me with the bulk of my reading material.

That said, there are several books coming up in the next few months (or year) that I can't see myself waiting for. These babies...they're coming home with me. heh.

Elizabeth Hoyt made a huge splash on the historical scene last year with her Prince trilogy. I loved all of them (specially Serpent Prince) and I'm really looking forward to this one. Apparently, at least part of it will be set in Colonial America and the stuff in England is in the Georgian period. Hey look ma, no Regency!

The next two are by an author that has quickly become an auto-buy for me. Sam's Creed is the next installment in the Hell's Eight series. Clearly I enjoyed Caine's Reckoning quite a bit, and I've been waiting patiently for Sam's story. Awww, look at the pretty pectorals.

Speaking of waiting (and of pectorals) long have we been waiting for the Reverend's story? Ever since he showed up back in the previous Promise books, I have been curious to know what delicious passions are seething beneath the surface of this preacher. mmm. Is there something really wrong with me or is the idea of a buttoned up man of the cloth getting unbuttoned just really hawt? IDK. I just know I wanna read it. heh.

After reading the first three in this series in quick succession, I am ready for another installment of crazy Valkyries, vamps, shapeshifters and other whatnot. From reviews I have read, this story stars a heroine who is a ghost. Already. At the beginning of the book. And I think she gets to get corporeal later. So something like the opposite of Jane in LU. A ghost and a vamp? I'm willing to be convinced.

Well this goes without saying. Damned books are like crack. I'm not really looking forward to that spineless sad sack of a heroine Cormia, at least not as she was introduced to us in the previous book. But I remain in hope that I'll get to at least hang out with my fav BDB guys and also that we'll get to know more about Rhev in the run-up to his book. I've given up hoping that the best of the bunch (that would be Rhage) is going to get some serious face time. More's the pity because he's definitely my favorite brother and he never gets any good lines anymore. Bah!

Oh also, I couldn't find a picture but I can't wait for JL Langley to finish the next Regelence book, The Englor Affair. Hurry, JL! I need more Gay Regency in Space! mmm....Nate...

So what books are you looking forward to?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I'm here

Yeah, I'm still alive. After the excitement that was duel/dual reviewing with ms. lisabea, I was plumb tuckered out and too tired to blog. And since Tuesday I have been housesitting at a very nice place with a lovely view but with no internet. No internet you say? Sula, how do you do it? Funny you asked...apparently there are these marvelous inventions known as the book and the television. Also the boyfriend. All of which kept me suitably entertained.

I came home today to find not one but TWO copies of Pamela Clare's Surrender in my mail. I had ordered it from PBS and the first sender forgot to mark things correctly in the system, so I got an extra copy. So I'm giving it away. Put a note in the comments and I'll pick one lucky reader later this week. Why do you want to read this book? I haven't read it yet (obviously) but KristieJ has and she says it's good. And she has good taste in historicals. Oh and it's set in America during the French and Indian War. Did you know that historicals could be based in a time and place other than Regency England? Yeah, I know, that surprised me too. heh.

Last night I watched a plethora of Robin Hood episdoes on BBCA. Since stupid Comcast took away my BBC a few months back, I have been lacking in Torchwood, new Who and RH goodness. The housesitting gig did at least provide me with BBC-ness and I did enjoy it. I'm still agog that Marian would consider spindly boy-wonder Robin over the much hotter, deliciously bad Sir Guy. Richard Armitage is so smoldery and hawt, that I kept yelling at the television set in disgust when she'd blow him off. Am I shallow? Yes, maybe. But c'mon. We all know that reformed rakes make the best heros.

What else has been going on...

I finally finished Vanquished by Hope Tarr, but I'm not feeling all that inspired to write a review. Considering that I put the book down for long periods of time and on multiple occasions, I think it is safe to say that it just didn't do much for me. A shame, but there you have it. I also read An Irresistible Bachelor by Jessica Bird (aka JR Ward). Which also was ho-hum. I picked up Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas but have not had the guts to read it yet. From everything I've read about the book, it feels like something I "ought" to read but I don't yet have the courage to slog through a book in which the h/h have been suffering from major Big Mis for 10-odd years. I hate the Big Mis and I hate married couples who have been separated and said and done mean bad things to one another. Wahhhhh. *whine*

Oh here is one book that I did read (a week ago) and really loved. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan. Thank you azteclady! Thanks to your review over at karen's, I got this book and I really really enjoyed it. Although the hotness quotient leaves something to be desired (soooo subtle, teh sexxoring is barely even there, *pout*), the world building was excellent and the characters felt very real. I was totally sucked in and could barely put it down. Can't wait to read the next one and the next after that. woot!

And finally, some really good news. It appears that I will be in SF for a work-related seminar in late July and the dates just happen to overlap the upcoming RWA shindig. Which means that I may be able to meet some of my awesome blogging buddies live and in person! How cool is that? I'm really excited! And just tickled about the great date/city coincidence. I'm not sure if SF is prepared for us. heh.

Monday, April 21, 2008

ManLove Monday - Master of Obsidian by Jamie Craig part deux

WAIT! Lisabea and I are doing a dueling review today. And the party is so big and fun that it cannot be contained on only one blog. No, no, we are spreading our tentacles of MLM across both our blogs. If you haven't already read part one, you gotta head over to lisabea's blog for the beginning....found here. Done reading part one? Ok, now you can begin. :)


whew. No one ever said that this book was hearts and flowers. Gideon reminds me just a little bit of an ethically challenged super hero. Super-hero because like Batman et al, he has “sworn to protect the city” and lurks in the shadows fighting the evil bad things that go bump in the night. Ethically challenged because, let’s face it, the guy is in many ways amoral. He’s not a cuddly vampire. Hell, his idea of a first date is taking Jesse to a vampire bar and screwing his brains out in front of an audience. With audience participation. *fans self* Did I mention that this amorality is in fact part of what makes him so goddammed attractive and irresistible? Uh huh. A bad boy who really is bad.

So. wait. Goddamnit. The plot? I always stray from the POINT! OK, well basically the drug Obsidian heightens a vampires desire. Frees them of their restraint. And they kill.

Someone is trying to hook the vamp population on Obsidian and then incite them to do evil things. You might even call this drug lord the MASTER of Obsidian (sorry, had to say it). Between bouts of hot manly manlove, our heros must track down the Obsidian pushers and end their nefarious plans. JUST SAY NO to drugs, kids! Actually, it is nice to see Jesse and Gideon work together in tandem as a partnership outside of the bedroom as well as in it. For all the rough and edgy sexxoring, both of these guys have a sense of humor. The banter between them and the way they are so clearly in tune with one another just adds another layer to the story and the nature of their friendship contrasts with the way they interact in the sexual realm. It's fascinating to see the duality in each of their characters. Gideon likes his partners to beg but he also respects the hell out of Jesse for his strength and intelligence. Jesse is smart, clean cut and something of a brainiac but he craves submission.

"What about what I want?" he countered. "You're the best friend and partner I've ever had. Doesn't that count for anything?"
"What makes you think I'd stop being those things, Gideon? I'm still your friend. I still know you better than anybody, and the only way I'd ever stop being your partner is if you fired me. And we both know you'd never do that, because you don't like to research."
"Because sex is messy, Jess. Especially the kind of sex..." He braced himself for being honest. "...I'd want."
"That's why we shower afterward," Jess joked, but it fell flat. "Gideon, the kind of sex you want is the kind of sex I want. You haven't frightened me, or horrified me, or maimed me, or damaged me. We're both consenting adults, and I'm not so naïve I don't know what I'm consenting to."

The glue that holds this the festival of fluids and buddy love together is the underlying theme of trust. Soooo many layers of trust going on in this book. The obvious...clearly any two characters involved in a BDSM relationship have got to have a foundation of trust to build upon. Although our heros have a strong friendship, they both make a leap of faith in risking that relationship. Gideon must learn to trust that Jesse can make his own choices. However, the erotic thrill ride within this little novel is the gripping fear that Gideon may accidentally kill Jesse by going a step too far. And it's not Jesse who possesses the will power to say no. His trust is implicit. The will to stop lies solely within the tattered moral compass of that reformed killer of humans for sport and pleasure, Gideon. It's one DARK fucking adventure. And I mean that most literally.

"And what was her great sin, Gideon?" Anger rippled through his every word. It was the reaction Gideon had feared.

"She killed a man, remember? She did more than kill him. You read the coroner's report. He was still alive when she tore into his gut."

Jesse yanked at his collar, revealing the bites on his neck. Even the one that was over a week old still looked deep and red. "I never stopped you because I trusted that you wouldn't leave me an empty husk. Even later that night, when you practically turned me into your chew toy. I would bet money that Toby trusted her the same way, and I believe she never meant to get high on obsidian when she was with him. Henry infected her, Gideon. I don't know why, but I think she's telling the truth. She didn't intend to hurt him."
Gideon wanted to point out that there was a distinct difference between Tricia and himself, but realized as the words poised on his tongue that maybe the difference wasn't as great as he thought. Tricia had tried to hold back because Toby was important to her. It was the exact same reason he'd given himself for protecting Jess.

S'riously. I'm not an expert in the ways of writing good BDSM, but I have to say that I think one key for me as a reader is that balance between the threat of violence and the foundation of trust. Love, desire, and fear all wrapped up in one heckuva erotic cocktail. You have to believe that the characters could be in actual danger even as you believe that everything is gonna be alright. Gideon and Jesse? All I can say is, it worked for me. Me too. Yowza.

I have to hand it to Pepper and Vivien. Sula and I worked for hours trying to figure out how to do this properly, what the hell we were going to say and how to divy up the work load. And, well ok, I need to admit that I didn't finish reading until 5 on Sunday (suck AND blow as a partner). I wondered how the pair could possibly write one paragraph at a time, back and forth, and maintain that voice...but it does happen through the shared process. We opted to color coordinate our writing cuz we is very proud of ourselves....

Pepper and Vivien both will be around the blogs today to answer any questions. There are quite a few books in this series (5) and this here book was on the Debabahahlrl. Jamie Craig will be posting a serial over at Bam's big ole website (woot to free lit-ticher!) soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

oh goodness

Well, it's 1:30am and I am officially done with my last project for school for this semester. A case study from hell for financial management class. I spent the majority of my time elusively chasing numbers and trying to re-arrange formulas and find answers to life's burning questions.

How do you calculate a firm's weighted average cost of capital when you don't have their expected rate of return on debt or equity?
How does one properly value a European firm whose financial statements are in their home currency but cross over into the Euro currency time frame?
Why the hell can't I find a goddamm SIMPLE formula to discount the expected future free cash flows?

In the end, I had to settle for a much more scaled back set of tables and spreadsheets and a lot more bullshitting and theorizing on the "qualitative" analysis. It's freaking 1:30am and I have to be at work all day tomorrow and this is due in class right after work. Better to have something to turn in that sucks than nothing to turn in at all.

I hope.

Why can't we read romance novels for credit? hmph.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

so much to do, so little time

I find that the more things that are dumped on my plate, the more I procrastinate. Instead of rolling up my sleeves and diving into the fray, I tend to shy away from even beginning the simplest of tasks. Partially because I'm afraid of failure and my effed up logic is that if I don't start something, then the final product won't be a failure. Ha. Great logic that. Also partially because I'm probably just plain lazy. IDK.

Anyways, I have a big stack of deliverables in my work and school lives this week and I'm trying to find the motivation today to really knuckle down and get to it. Then perhaps that focus will carry over into my blogging life and I'll actually finish some of the reviews I'm working on. heh. All part of my master plan.

How do you push yourself to finish things that you don't really want to do? Any great tips for self-organization? Time management skillz? Let's hear it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Man Love Monday - video quickie


Well, I had hoped to have a review of Master of Obsidian all ready to go for MLM. I got started on it, but life in the way of MBA finals week and other committments seems to have gotten in the way. And I really want to give the book enough thought and time to write a substantive review. Soooo.

Is it really any surprise that I default to another clip of my new boyfriend Captain Jack smooching it up with yet another one of the Torchwood guys? That Cap'n Jack...he sure knows how to kiss.

thanks to katiebabs for finding this one!

And now everyone must head on over to sarai's blog where she has written an excellent review of Josh Lanyon's book Fatal Shadows. It's her first time to participate in MLM, so go over and give her some luuuuurve!!! :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

at least it is friday

It's so pathetic when you have a blog and just have nothing of interest to be posted. Yes, that would be me. As you can see, I'm STILL working my way (slowly) through that book over there on the left. Vanquished by Hope Tarr. I don't know why it is taking me so long. I'm not a slow reader by any means. I think I'm just dragging my feet because the setup of the hero having been paid to destroy the heroine's public career as an advocate for women's rights (of course now that he knows her, he realizes he just can't do it!) is making me frustrated. It's the big secret, the big mis. The cloud hanging over the head of our couple's potential happiness. Even though I KNOW that all the barriers will be swept away by the last page and they will ride off into the sunset, I find that I really don't relish the process of getting there. Ugh. I'm an avoider.

I did read a hot m/m book the other day though, so apparently it's not my reading skilz that are lacking. Master of Obsidian by Jamie Craig. Assuming I can get my act together, there may be a review ready for Monday. I have mixed feelings about the book, so the review has been hard to write.

Here's some random mantitty to liven this entry up. Wish this dude was upstairs right now making my breakfast.

In other places around the blogosphere, I keep getting myself into trouble for being the lone non-Lara Adrian fan. lol. I should probably just keep my fat yap shut. Thing is, I really WANTED to like the Adrian books. I was totally psyched to read them, to find a fresh new series that I could glom. I'm a reader. I want to read books and I want to have a supply of good books available for my avid consumption. So when I do read a story that has such high recommendations, particularly when it's been so favorably compared to another author's work that I like, I wanna enjoy the book!! And when it fails to interest me, it makes me wonder what is wrong with me for missing what everyone else seems to get. Adrian may be a better writer in terms of technical skills, but I never felt emotionally connected to her characters. It's like my head could appreciate what I was reading but my heart was completely uninvolved. Ward on the other hand...hell, we all can point out the faults of the BDB writing style. Extraneous h's, stoopid bad guys, omg,she killed kenny...the list is as long as my list of blogs to visit on the sidebar. BUT. I love those books and I feel intimately connected with the characters. To me, that is why I read. Not to dispassionately reflect over a well-written book and say aha, yes, it is so well-written. But to lose myself in a world, in a story, and to truly believe that what happens to these made-up characters MATTERS. So yeah, in discussions about Ward vs. Adrian, it's Ward hands down for me. Quite possibly I am showing my lack of sophisticated reading chops. Then again, I probably never had them in the first place. Um, end of rant. Hey cool, it's my blog and I can say what I want!

And yay, my internet service is working again after being completely and weirdly on the fritz last night. I spent over an hour on the phone with a nice service representative in Louisiana who still couldn't resolve the issue but was really cool to talk to. This morning I wake up and voila, it's back on. Praise teh internets goddess!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye... my dear pal lisabea who will be off on vacation starting today.

Just so you know, I have some breaking information about the hotel you'll be staying at. Apparently, they heard that you couldn't WAIT to show off your new rack in that blindingly beautiful swimsuit. So they've been hard at work to make sure that accommodations and services will be up to your exacting standards....

Please don't disappoint them!

Have a fantastic time and don't you go forgettin' bout us!

Monday, April 7, 2008

MLM - A Bit of Rough

Before I start, let me just say that I decided to read A Bit of Rough earlier this weekend without being conscious of the fact that author Laura Baumbach would be guesting at lisabea's blog today for MLM. (Go read all about it!) So the fact that I'm reviewing one of her books is a happy coincidence. Or at least I hope it will be. Actually, it just makes me freaking nervous because I don't want to write a poor review and be ridiculed by all my friends and closest internet buddies. Oh the pressure!!!

Well enough of that, on to the book.
The distant sound of a brief argument down the alley reminded James of the possibility of discovery and he groaned and shuddered, the tremor running the length of his tense, exhausted frame. The low, throaty voice vibrated at the base of his ear lobe, coming in short, electrifying pants that pushed James' excitement even higher.
"That's it, that's it. Tremble for me, baby. I'll give you what you need. I'll take you as rough as you can stand. Fucking shake for me, baby."

A Bit of Rough may have THE single best opening chapter I have read in a very very long time. It's tight, it's hot and it throws us right into the emotional heart of our main character. Up and coming architect James Justin is trying to get over a really shitty day by knocking back a few beers in a dive bar on the wrong side of town. He happens to lock eyes with a rugged blue-eyed man across the room and before you know it, one thing leads to another and they are out in the alley behind the bar against a brick wall, having the most amazing, mind blowing sex. James doesn't even know the other guy's name at this point, referring to him in his mind only as Cowboy.

A knee was forced between his legs and Cowboy's weight settled heavily against his aching groin. James looked up into a pair of hungry eyes that glittered in the dim light. Waves of lust rolled off of his captor, washing over him like pounding surf, dragging him along with the dangerous undertow, and making it hard for him to breathe. A noticeable shudder ran down his spine.

"No, you wouldn't be on this side of town, in this bar, if gentle was what you were looking for. Maybe you want it a little rougher."

Cowboy seems to know exactly what James wants even if James isn't able to admit it to himself. And boy does he give it to him (heh). And boy, does the author give it to us. In every luscious sweat-drenched, body-pounding detail. Really, this one goes on my list as a definite contender for BFF (*Best First Fuck as defined by moi in the recent awards show chez lisabea.)

After this heated encounter, James is not altogether sure if he ought to see this man again, but he can't quite help himself. He makes the phone call and pretty soon he and Bram (that's his name btw, NOT Cowboy) are headlong into a torrid and fast-moving courtship. Bram owns a construction firm and gets out there on the job from time to time. I dunno about you, but to me, construction worker is shorthand for ultra-manly-man. Which can come off as just a little stereotypical, but I do like how Bram is openly gay and proud in a profession that would seem to be a tad hostile.

Both in and out of the bedroom, Bram is a very take-charge kind of guy, and James seems content to be swept off his feet (sometimes quite literally). The sex between these two is smoking hot and takes up a lot of screen time. While there are other elements to the story, most notably some run-ins with a menacing neighbor in James' apartment building and James' insecurity about his public identity as a gay man, the focus really is on the relationship between Bram and James.

And this is actually one of the things that detracted from my appreciation of the book. I had a hard time believing the breakneck speed at which these two guys go from anonymous bar alley quickie (well, ok it wasn't all THAT quick but you know what I mean) to lovers forever, mated, in luuuurve. By the end of the first date, Bram is already making noises like James is THE ONE for him. For his part, James tends to be indecisive and needy and this made me doubt the authenticity of his sudden feelings for Bram. While the sexxoring between these two guys is hotHOT, I didn't feel like I got to know them as individuals or as a couple outside the bedroom.

I think that the plot suffered from too tight a focus on the action between our two leads where it could have benefited from more character development. That said, Baumbach writes in a very smooth prose, and I thought that the dialogue flowed easily. I think that romance readers who like a strong alpha hero who rescues the hero(ine) and saves the day would enjoy this book. Oh, and that first chapter...seriously worth the price of admission all by itself.

Grade: B-