Friday, January 30, 2009

Horn lickin' good

Or at least I HOPE this book will be. I've been waiting for Rydstrom's story since...oh well, I guess since his character was first introduced. And this evening while out looking for deals at K-Mart, I found the book and it was cheaper than borders, so...

'Scuze me while I go spend my Friday night in a productive manner. Reading!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's still snowing

Well, the weather forecast was right, and I woke up to snow on the ground and a snow day called. woohoo! After a little sleeping in, I woke up and made myself a healthy breakfast and curled up with a cup of coffee and my last library book, To Wed a Wicked Prince by Jane Feather. I'm not in the mood to do a proper review, but in a nutshell, I would say it's an average read. What I like about Feather is that she does give her stories a lot of detail and depth; it doesn't feel wallpaper. But the pace is also quite languid and slow and the book runs a bit long (almost 500 pages).

Prince Alex comes from Russia to England to do some undercover work for the czar, a childhood friend. Or is he on the other side? To be honest, I never did quite figure that bit out. hrm. Anyways, his mother was English but he was raised in Russia and never met her. One of his goals in coming to England is to claim some property owned by his father which includes the house his mother lived in for the rest of her life. She willed it to a strong young lady named Livia for reasons not quite explained in the story. One gets the impression that this book is part of a series and that some of the backstory is contained elsewhere. Alex sees Livia and decides that rather than kick her out of his house, he'll just woo and marry her because he needs a wife as part of his fly-on-the-wall spy scheme. He's very charming and kind of autocratic. Livia is no spring chicken but like any normal woman, she is flattered by his attentions. After their marriage, she begins to wonder about the strange Russian friends that drop by the house at odd hours and Alex's tendency to be peculiar now and again. But at least the sex is still hot. N'stuff. Like I said, the book runs long. It could have used some editing, imo, just to tighten things up. But I have to say that I did like Alex and Livia and enjoyed getting to know them. So overall, not a bad read.

As much as I would have liked to have stayed indoors curled up all day, I did have to venture out to pick up a prescription. This led to a little grocery exursion in which I also brought home some new ingredients to play with in my baking hobby. Flax seed and buckwheat groats. I worked them into a yummy WW recipe for rosemary oatmeal rolls. Very tasty and the house still smells great. I put my radiator units to good use with the bread rising phases. Did I mention that I really like my new place? yeah.

I'm back on WW after picking up a gradual 7 or so pounds over the holiday season. While I'm not anywhere near the danger zone, I don't intend to let things get out of hand. After all, I have a wedding to plan and a dress I want to look and feel good in. So back in the habit and it's a good thing. Paying more attention to what I put in my mouth and eatings lots of fruits and veggies. It works too because I'm already down almost 4 pounds, so yay! Now if I could just get myself to the gym....

Netflix had sent me a movie that I'd forgotten was on my queue. I think the only reason I put it there is because it stars one Gerard Butler. Title of the movie is "Beowulf and Grendel" and it has a lot of hairy men, rocky craigs, and hand to hand fighting. But did I mention Gerry Butler? Oh yeah. Worth seeing just for him and his ever-loving hair. *g* Oh and the extra stuff included some fun interviews with him talking about the movie and the role and I don't really know what else because I was just listening to the accent and not the words. In one part of the interview, it was obviously just after a scene wrap because he was taking off his chain mail and shirt while talking and being all casual and funny. Damn him and his prettiness.

So that's my day. Pretty lazy but that's ok. We all need a snow day now and again.

Gerard Butler and his really BIG sword. *snort*

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shadows of the Night - Lydia Joyce

I snagged this book on a jaunt to the library (still can't believe it's literally around the corner from me, heh) this afternoon. I have read all of Ms. Joyce's previous books and tend to enjoy her writing. She has a nice way with words, often featuring unusual characters and a strong Gothic flavor. I guess this book came out last year, but I missed it. The blurb talks about igniting "insatiable hunger" and "forbidden love", so I was very optimistic. And while I enjoyed a lot of the premise of the book, the last 1/2 or so failed to live up to the promise shown in the beginning.

We start with a basic romance trope - the arranged marriage of convenience. The story opens with the wedding of Fern and Colin. (Actually it literally opens with Colin leaving his mistress' bed to attend his wedding, giving you an idea of how much he's emotionally invested in the marriage). Fern is a gently reared young lady and while she wants the marriage to be a success, she has no idea of how to break out of her and Colin's polite societal personas. Colin, a viscount-to-be who has gone through life on autopilot, sees his new wife with a mixture of mild interest and patronizing politness. The wedding night is pleasant enough for Colin, not so much for Fern. Her reaction to the intimacy involved in the marriage bed is to feel rebellion and a desire to maintain her sense of self.

Fern doesn't feel like Colin even registers how earth-shattering the experience was and neither knows how to communicate effectively with one another. But their honeymoon takes a dramatic turn when Fern lashes out during an argument.

Trapped, trapped forever...She had to get away now. Without thinking, she threw her body weight away from him, but his grip was too tight. She couldn't escape. Fighting down a sob of hysteria, she lashed out blindly, her free hand striking his face with a ringing slap.

Colin felt the pain, sudden and sharp, cutting through layers in his brain that he hadn't known were there. Layers wrapped around his was like a jolt of light to eyes that had always been in darkness, burning into his mind and flooding it with color that he could never have imagined.

Colin released Fern with a shove that knocked her hard against the side of the coach. In the sudden silence, they sat frozen, staring at each other. Fern was incapable of speech, shocked at what she had just done but unable to apologize as fury and rebellion still roiled, choking, inside her. Colin's expression was frozen, the livid lines that her fingers had left already outlined in red. But under the dark slashes of his brows, his eyes flared, and for the first time, Fern felt the presence of a person at the bottom of their dark depths, looking back at her.

Oh yes, precious. We likes the hint of D/s, yes we do! And everything seems to be on track for a really singular romance novel. Both parties realize that Colin has just discovered he has an appetitite for pain and that Fern has an appetite for indulging him. It's fascinating to see these two prim and proper society creatures peel back their layers and not only expose themselves to one another but also to re-invent themselves. Who do they want to be? Not who have they been raised to be.

Colin immediately decides that he can't handle dealing with the ramifications of his newfound desires in the presence of society, and the couple decamps to one of his far flung holdings. It's a property that he's never visited but he knows is isolated...perfect for exploring new boundaries. Except that rather than being a cozy but shabby outpost, it's a completely derelict and creepy deserted estate. Gothic and scary and complete with secrets and crazy old caretakers and whatnot. Unfortunately, the story gets bogged down in overly plotty mystery stuff and while the relationship between Fern and Colin continues to develop, I felt cheated. Finally, there is a plot twist (read Big Secret) thown in at the last minute that I really disliked and just could have lived without.

Overall, this was an interesting book and is worth a look, but it makes me sad to think of how awesome it might have been.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dawn on a new day.

Well, I intended to post something this morning, but got too caught up in anticipating the big day. And it was. A red letter day. I could talk for hours. Or post for seconds. Really, there is just so much running through my head and my heart.

But for now, I'm too full of emotion to blog. I'm still soaking in all the coverage and enjoying the moment. Having my glass(s) of wine and shedding a tear (or ten). There is a lot to be done, and I'm ready to do my part. This is just the beginning. Yes we can.

(and now I'm watching a retrospective of the day and bawling like a baby again)

edited to add: zomg, this picture is full of wow. (full credit to the person who created it)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back to School

Well it is that time of year again. Not only is DF back to his dorm room and I have the apartment to myself, but today is my first day of classes for the spring semester. Four more courses and I will have that MBA. Two this semester, two in the summer. Come August, I should be graduating. And then a wedding in September. I have a feeling this is going to be a busy year.

It's been interesting to not only have my own place but to also have it to myself. DF will be spending time here on the weekends, but for now he's back on campus and super busy with what will hopefully be his final semester. Last night I found myself a little restless. I curled up on the couch, lit a candle in the fireplace for mood, turned on a CD...whipped up a batch of waffle batter to put in the fridge for the morning. Just did whatever struck me without worrying about running into people or getting in anyone's way. I am so happy to be back to a roommate free life.

In book news, I read a very satisfying story by Liz Carlyle. Never Deceive a Duke. After a string of so-so reads, I am happy to say that this merits at least an A-. If I have time tonight I may try my hand at a formal review, but for now I'll just say that the characters were well developed and showed growth over the course of the book. And despite some potential for Big Mis behaviour, there was no dreaded long separation to slog through (something that makes me really twitchy). So yay!

Now I need to go pack a lunch and tidy the place up before I go to work.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Winter reads, Lightning reviews

Well it's been quite some time since I've blogged about anything book related. Dunno how that happens but I claim RL interference and the whole packing/moving shebang that claimed my holiday break. However, I did manage to get through a little stack of library books in between sorting through boxes, and I'm going to take the easy way out and do some "lightning" reviews.

Stephanie Laurens - The Taste of Innocence

Laurens was one of the first authors that got me really hooked on romance and I remember buying each and every one of the Cynster series back in college. Since then, I've gotten rather weary of the way her writing seems to repeat itself. But I figured that it might be interesting to read another entry and see if the magic was still there.

Sadly, no not really. It starts off well enough. Charles Morwellan (the younger brother of Alathea who married Gabriel Cynster in All About Love) decides that he needs a wife and that rather than risk falling in lurve, he'll marry someone sensible and safe. Like the neighboring landowner's daughter, Sarah. She seems nice and sweet and stuff, but he runs into a problem when she refuses to accept his proposal outright. She wants some time to figure out if they'd be a good match and so he is forced to do some courting. In true Cynster fashion, that means seduction and lots of little forays to a secluded gazebo where he can make it to first base, second base, third, etc. This part was pretty good and typically Laurensian hot. Unfortunately, once they get married, Charles turns into a raging idiot and almost ruins the whole story. Apparently he has this thing where he fears that love and passion will destroy him (like his father), so while he'll happily boink his wife at night, he is cold and abrupt with her in the day. Totally cuts her out of his life and is a real ass. Thankfully, Sarah is not too much of a ninny and she figures out whats what and manages to kick some sense into him by the end. Oh and there is a mystery plot about some nefarious land developers. Overall, it wasn't a BAD read, but it wasn't great either. Readers that have not OD'ed on Laurens may feel otherwise, but I'm left feeling that the Cynster glory days are over. I may as well just go back and reread Devil's Bride. The original is still the best.

Linda Lael Miller - High Country Bride

Next, I moved on to something really out of my regular reading zone. I think I've read one LLM book before (I recall it being about a girl who got zipped back to the past and met a pirate...or something) but she's not a go-to author. Nor am I a big fan of Westerns (unless they are the smokin' hawt Sarah McCarty kind, heh). However, the premise of a mail order bride, a handsome cowboy, and a family ranch (ala Bonanza) sounded like it could be good. Crusty old landowner patriarch gives an ultimatum to his three wild sons - "the first one to marry and produce a child gets the whole ranch, the other two get nothing". That's kind of entertaining, no? Unfortunately, this turned out to be a totally wallpaper romance. All of the elements were there but there was no passion and no feeling of the characters being anything other than just that...characters. I didn't care about any of them even after spending 400 pages with them.

Nora Roberts - Morrigan's Cross

While I've read a handful of NR books, I don't usually make a point of seeking them out. Probably because for the most part I avoid contemps and that seems to be the bulk of what she writes. That said, I've always found her to be a very capable storyteller. This book was quite entertaining, and I was surprised to find vampires, shapeshifters, wizards and witches, as well as time-travel and goddesses. An intrepid group is called together by the goddess Morrigan to fight the evil vampire horde. How they learn to get along with one another and become a team is really the bulk of the story. The romance between two of the group members almost feels like a side plot, which would be my main criticism. However, I found myself turning the pages and wanting to know what happens next. I'm definitely going to look for the next two entries in the trilogy when I visit my library.

Marjorie M. Liu - The Last Twilight

This is part of the Dirk and Steele series. I read one previously and remembered it being engaging but also very dark and violent. The heros/heroines all seem to be a bit like the X-men, mutants or shifters with special powers who have to watch out for evil scientists who want to use and abuse them. What drew me to this book was that it was set in Africa and the back blurb indicated that the hero was African. Given that my own romantic interest is from that part of the world, I was eager to read a book that featured an African hero. It was the best part of the book for me. I always try to imagine what characters look like when I read, and I kept getting a little thrill out of seeing MY guy in my mind's eye. Is that shallow? heh. Other than that, the story was certainly action packed and moved along at a brisk pace. What I disliked was the level of gore and how each damn time our characters think they're safe, they get cornered by the bad guys yet again. All seems lost....over and over again. And the bad guys are really sick. Just...ugh. I don't think I'll read any more of this series because my stomach can't handle it. But it may appeal to other readers. Thumbs up for the unique hero though. :)

Sabrina Jeffries - Beware a Scots Revenge

I'm not sure how to grade this one. It's not bad but also not particularly memorable either. Venetia Campbell is visiting Scotland and is kidnapped by a sexy stranger who just happens to be a childhood playmate and her father's sworn enemy. Lots of squabbling ensues during their journey to the Highlands. Some comic, some eye-rollingly formulaic. Of course there are sparks between them but oh noes, she really shouldn't be dallying with him. But then it seems that he's just been misunderstood and perhaps her father is in the wrong in their feud. At a certain point, it's like someone switched a lightbulb and she goes from hating him to wanting to marry him. Which was clearly the way the story had to go, but it happened too abruptly for me. Anyways, it's easy enough to read and has some good moments, but overall this was pretty forgettable.

We're having an inclement weather day here which means that work has been cancelled. I'm not complaining one bit. I may just walk around the corner to the library and pick up some more reading material. *g*

Sunday, January 4, 2009

home sweet home

I'm writing this post from my new digs. It's a grey morning, and I'm sitting in my self-proclaimed "breakfast nook" having just completed breakfast and nursing my second cup of coffee. From the tall plate glass windows I can see the street, lined with old historic brick homes. The one directly across the street has a turret like a castle! The apartment itself is on the second floor of an old building. We have old-fashioned radiators that keep it toasty and warm as well as wood floors and two (count em!) closed-up fireplaces with mantels.

I can't really describe how happy I am with the way everything has worked out. When I first moved to this town three years ago, I rented a room in a house as a way to save money and as a "temporary" thing. Three years later...I was still there and getting more and more frustrated with lazy, slobs masquerading as roommates as well as just tired of not having my own place to call home. I never felt like I could invite friends or colleagues over, nor could I entertain and throw dinner parties (I love to cook). It was really stifling and I don't know if I even realized how much until this week when I moved here.

Already, DF and I have decorated the place with our own things and are having some friends over to hang out this afternoon. One of my coworkers lives in the neighborhood and we were invited to a neighborhood potluck at her place last night. We were by far the youngest ones there (mostly eldery and retired live here) but they were so fun-loving and charming and warm that we felt very comfortable.

We spent the Christmas holidays packing and then the last few days of the year moving boxes into the apartment in a series of short runs. The last day of the year was the final push when we got all our furniture here and cleaned the old place. We spent New Years Eve exhausted in front of the TV, curled up in our new home and ready to greet the new year.

It's nice to have a home. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009


new year, new apartment... Lots of details to come. Since this is from my iPod suffice to say happy 2009 and hope you all read loads of great books! Mwah!