Friday, March 22, 2013

On Strawberry Fluff: A Review of Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill

Kiss of Pride (Deadly Angels, #1) Today for your reading delight, I have this...well, it's meant to be a romance novel, I think. I bought this when it was $0.99, thinking that it would make for light-hearted amusement some day. And then I got into this reading funk, and I sort of realized that I wasn't going to become fully immersed in anything, no matter how awesome, so why not choose something shallow?

The book jumps right into the back story, so I'll start there. Prepare yourself for some silly-ass world building. Vikar and his merry band of brothers were all vikings, and that made them pagans, and so God wanted to wipe them out. The archangel Michael pleads their case, and they end up as vampire/angels in training instead, doing penance until they make up for their sins (there are seven brothers, seven sins, DO YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?). Vikar's sin is pride. Anyway, they've been time jumping for awhile (for some reason), but now they've settled in present day Pennsylvania, in a town that subsequently becomes a vampire themed tourist trap.

Alex is a jaded reporter with a tragic past--her daughter and husband were murdered. She wants nothing more to take revenge, but her plans are interrupted when she's put on an assignment to interview Vikar. Almost immediately after arriving in Transylvania Pennsylvania, she is bitten by the resident bad vampires--they're called lucipires, and they work for the devil. Consequently, the hero has to start cleansing her of the inherent badness that lucipires spread, and he does said cleansing through a lot of sucking, which is even less sexy than it sounds.

I assumed from the start that I wasn't meant to take this book seriously, and that it would be more of a light PNR. But at times, a serious fact or moment would be thrown in there, and I got the impression that I was supposed to become invested, that I was supposed to find the romance in the midst of the ridiculous. Instead, the whole book is just awkward. The tone is way off, like the author has no idea how to balance horror, sex, and humor. Kresley Cole is the queen of that balance. Gena Showalter is not bad either. J.R. Ward has some seriously awkward bullshit in her stories, but the tone is still mostly cohesive. This book? This book is a mess. The author wants to be funny, but she doesn't understand how to be--she thinks that referencing Twilight and Micheal Jackson and all of the other pop culture things she knows about will make it funny, but all of those jokes are just flat and annoying. Then she wants to be serious, she wants us to feel sad or concerned for Alex, or to find Vikar sexy, or to get caught up in their relationship, but she ends up being hilarious by accident with her awful world building and purple language. You end up laughing at the author and not with the author, laughing at all of the wrong things.

Even if the world building were not unforgivably silly, it would still be terribly unoriginal. I'm entirely sick of seven deadly sins books. If you're going to use Christian/biblical mythology, pick something that hasn't been done nine million times already. Don't get me wrong--angels and demons make interesting characters, but you have to have a good feel for how to write them and how to make them seem both real and different (the same principle applies to vampires0. Hill doesn't seem to know what to do with the mythology, and she doesn't want to bother digging up some fresh and new concepts from it, so she's deriving everything from other PNRs in a way that's too obvious and too sloppy for a traditionally published author.

The Christain nature of our vangels is then used as the main obstacle keeping the hero and heroine from getting their freak on, and is the reason they decide to have lots of near sex. It's only a real sin if there's actual penetration, apparently. You know who thinks like that? Teenagers. Stupid, horny teenagers who believe that celibacy through technicality is just as good as actual self-restraint. Seeing adults rationalize in the same way is just plain stupid --either sexual acts are a sin, or they aren't. Whatever you believe is fine, but don't try to have the cake and eat it too--you're just being hypocritical.

Delicious, and versatile.
The sex (or almost sex) scenes in themselves are the most unintentionally hilarious things I have ever seen in a modern romance novel. At one point, the heroine thinks she sees a halo around the hero's dick. She pronounces it "cute", and the sex continues. Yeah. Later, the author treats us to the silliest purple terms she could think of--including, but not limited to "woman channel", "woman dew", and my personal favorite "strawberry fluff" (which described the heroine's pubic hair). When the strawberry fluff came into play, I had a small and not altogether quiet break with reality where I collapsed in a fit of giggles. In my world fluff is a marshmallow topping you put on peanut butter sandwiches--so you can imagine what my mind cooked up in the context of the sex scene. Sorry, NEAR sex scene.

When I finally finished this book, it was with the feeling of relief that comes with being fairly certain that you've hit rock bottom. I have found the worst of the books, there is nothing more awful, and anything else will be fantastic by comparison because I have lived through lucipires and strawberry fluff. Do I recommend this book? Well, I don't know, it did make me laugh. Not at the right moment, and not in the way it meant to, but by God did I laugh. So, yeah, if you have a good strong bullshit shield and you like "so bad it's good" books, maybe. Overall, though, it's probably not worth it. 1.5 stars

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On Travel: A Review of Wanderlust by Elieba Levine

As I said yesterday, I promised to review this book, and so I shall. Because it's an erotica book, we're going to make this review 18 and over (just in case).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Misc. Monday: The Reading Penguin and the Case of the Reader's Block

Requiem (Delirium, #3)You've heard of writer's block? Well, it happens to readers too, and I've got it right now. Sorry to say, but so far March has been very bland in terms of reading material. The happy reading bubble was entirely deflated by Requiem, which let me down more thoroughly than I can ever remember a book letting me down. After that every book I picked up seemed to have a giant cloud of meh and blah coming off of it, which makes it hard to progress. I finished Wanderlust by Elieba Levine because I had made a commitment to review it, but that's about it.

Personal experience has taught me that the only way out of a reading funk is to take it easy with the books for awhile. That means if I can only manage to read a few pages at a time, and my mind wants to wander, I let it wander. I do something else, and I come back to it. That means getting through books at a snail's pace, but in the end it will work better than forcing myself. Thankfully, I'm ahead in my reading goals to a point where it shouldn't matter.

Anyway, reviews may be a bit sparse throughout the next week. I hope you'll be patient while I work my way around the block, and eventually I'll be back with a vengeance.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

On Breaking Walls: A Review of Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Delirium, #3)After finishing this book, I gave myself a full twenty-four hours before I started to compose my review (an excessive amount of thought gathering time for me). I wanted to make sure that I wrote this from my brain and not just from my gut, which felt hallow with disappointment at the end of this novel. When I finished Delirium, I had some basic issues with the story, but over all I felt that this author had some new and interesting things to say on the subject of teen love and relationships in general. With Pandemonium, I was very impressed with her ability to write internal dialogue and the character development that Lena undergoes. The only thing there that frustrated and let me down was the ending, which I honestly should have seen coming. Even that highly questionable ending, I still held out hope that Requiem would prove me right about this series, that it would draw the story together, end in a satisfying manner, and say all of the big and meaningful things I wanted this series to say. It did not. It didn't even come close.

Requiem continually switches point of view between Lena and Hana. Lena has returned to the Wilds with Julian. Her relationship with Julian and Alex is uncertain, and I'll save you some time--she never resolves her feelings. She goes all Bella Swan and hops back to Julian whenever Alex appears to be shunning her, only unlike Bella she never conclusively makes a choice. My opinion of Lena plummeted throughout this book, in part due to the love triangle issues and in part due to her utter inability to do anything useful. Hana, on the other hand, has been cured and is living a seemingly safe and charmed life, engaged to the soon-to-be mayor. I found Hana's story more interesting than I thought I would. Her conflict over whether she has lost herself after being cured--can she still feel, can she still dream, does she want to?--is thoughtful. She quickly discovers that the life that is expected of her will likely be miserable.

In terms of character development this book fails almost entirely. Instead of progressing forward, getting stronger, gaining clarity, Lena remains stagnant and perhaps even regresses a bit. Not only does she not manage to choose between the two boys who inexplicably have feelings for her, but she fails at every turn to step up and take action.

In terms of plot, well, there isn't a lot of it. I find that I'm often disappointed with how dystopian series end, because the world so often fails to undergo the radical transformation that I want to see happen. They tend to end on a barely hopeful note, and I always feel like there is so much more to the story, like we've stopped in the middle. That's how I felt with this book. Like there should be at least one more book, and of course there isn't.

More than anything, when I finished this book, I felt bad about having looked forward to it and bad about having recommended the first two. I can't imagine ever wanting to return to this series, ever rereading this book, or ever recommending it to anyone again. Obviously, if you've read the first two, you're going to read this one. In the case that you haven't read this series, and you think you might want to, I would gently caution you that it's very unsatisfying. 2 stars.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Watch This! Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

For now, I've kind of nixed the music moment posts until I can figure out a more reliable way to do them. But, we're going to carry on with the other music themed posts of this month.

I think I've talked about my general affection for Sweeney Todd before. I actually saw a local production a year or so back. I saw this when it was in theaters. There's something appealing about a horror/comedy set in Victorian London that I'm just not sick of yet. It doesn't hurt that the movie itself has Johnny Depp at his Johnny Deppiest and Helena Bonham Carter playing more or less the character she always plays. But to the credit of the story, even in a live theater with much less famous actors, it's still very engaging in it's deliciously unsettling way.

If you don't already know the plot, it goes as follows: Sweeney Todd was once a young, optimistic barber, married to a beautiful woman with whom he had a lovely baby daughter. But, an evil judge played by Alan Rickman wants the his wife, and so he arranges to have him transported. Years later, he comes back, and he teams up with Mrs. Lovett (a pie shop owner), to take revenge on his enemies.

By far my favorite musical number is "A Little Priest", in which Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett gleefully sing about putting their murder victims into pies. It's catchy as hell, so upbeat and cheery, and yet so overtly disgusting. Some of the other scenes and numbers elicit an uncomfortable, spine-tingling sort of way, but this is the only one that made me actually laugh.

Some of the subplots (like the romantic subplot with Johanna), are not things that I would want to spoil for anyone who hasn't seen some version of the story yet. Everything in the movie kind of pales in comparison to the revenge plot in any case, but I kind of feel the dark and unfortunate love story could merit it's own retelling some day.

Anyway, I think I've officially talked this movie and play to death. If you have the opportunity to see it live, you really should, but even if that never happens the movie is really excellent on it's own.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On Cinnamon: A Review of The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

The Chocolate Thief (Chocolate, #1)If I had to sum up my thoughts on this book in one sentence, it would be: Delicious book, terribly sub-par romance. Let me explain.

Our heroine, Cade Corey, is the heiress to America's biggest chocolate company (I believe Corey is meant to be analogous to Hershey). She's very involved in the family's business, but it's always been her dream to branch out from that and see some of the world--namely, Paris. She has this idea to create a line of gourmet chocolates for her company, and to associate the line with one of France's most beloved small chocolate shops. She's shocked when her top choice, Sylvain Marquis, turns her down flat. But he is as tempting as his chocolate is, and she finds herself obsessed with him.

 The chocolate in this book is described in such a way that even someone who doesn't love chocolate will end up craving it. The hero seduces women with chocolate. He uses chocolate to relate to Cade, to lure her in, and to keep her captivated. I could easily see why Cade would want to sneak into his shop and revel in his chocolate convection.

Cade is the big downside of this book. I was quickly irritated with her entitled rich girl attitude and her belief that she can literally buy anything. When the Parisians refuse to sell to her, they come off as a bit snobby, but I was mostly in their corner--this heroine needed to learn a big lesson and be put in her place.  It just takes such a long time for that lesson to sink in, for her to get the idea that money can't buy her happiness, and after a point I really couldn't sympathize with her on any level.

The sexual chemistry between Cade and Sylvain is smoking, but the romantic chemistry is somewhat lacking. I have to give the author points for the scene or two where they did show a level of mutual understanding, but over all I've read much better matches.

Overall, while I was reading this book I absolutely had to have chocolate--good, dark chocolate that completed the sensory experience of this book for me. That aside, however, I was really unimpressed with the plot and frustrated with the character development. I plan to read more of Laura Florand's books, and I'm hoping that with different characters I will like them better. 3.5 stars for this one.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Misc. Monday: Top Ten Authors Reviewed on RtP

I promised to show you guys what my top ten authors list would look like if I nixed all genre restrictions, and here it is! To be fair, though, I did limit my list to authors of novels, leaving out graphic novel/comic writers, because I don't feel up to scoring those fairly. I'm a lot happier with this list, and I think it will be interesting to come back in six months or a year and see how things have changed. Or not.


#10: Julie Anne Long

Julie Anne LongCumulative RtP Star Rating: 18

Reviewed Works: The Perils of Pleasure, Like No Other Lover, Since the Surrender, I Kissed an Earl, What I Did for a Duke, How the Marquess Was One

What Make Her Awesome: Julie Anne Long writes the Pennyroyal Green series, a which centers around a small English town with two feuding families. I didn't really care for the first book of the series, finding it mediocre and boring. But then, magically, as I tried more of her work, I discovered that she has a talent for writing a different, unique, and engaging story for each character. You never know exactly what you're going to get, but you know it's likely to be good. Visit Her Website:

#9: Nora Roberts

Nora RobertsCumulative RtP Star Rating: 18

Reviewed Works: Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbor, Chesapeake Blue

What Makes Her Awesome: Nora Roberts writes amazing contemporary romance with some of the best male characters around.  Visit Her Website:

#8: Gena Showalter

Gena ShowalterCumulative RtP Star Rating: 18.5

Reviewed Works: The Darkest Night, The Darkest Kiss, The Darkest Pleasure, The Darkest Whisper, The Darkest Passion, The Darkest Lie, The Darkest Secret

What Makes Her Awesome: Until compiling this list, I had actually forgotten how very awesome I found these books. I was so fed up and disappointed by two or three of her books, that I actually stopped reading her altogether. Her place on this list, though, makes me think that I really ought to give her another shot. Her books are dark and sexy and worth at least a try.

#7: Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep Cumulative RtP Star Rating: 19.5

Reviewed Works: Spider's Bite, Touch of Frost, Kiss of Frost, Dark Frost, Crimson Frost

What Makes Her Awesome: I discovered this author via SBTB book club, when we read Touch of Frost. Since then, I've been following the Mythos Academy series pretty closely, and I've also started her Elemental Assassin series. She's very imaginative, writes wonderfully strong heroines, and ties everything together with a pleasantly simple style. Visit her website:

#6: Karen Marie Moning

Karen Marie MoningCumulative RtP Star Rating: 20.5

Reviewed Works: Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, Shadowfever

What Makes Her Awesome: A long while back, before I started this blog, I read a fair number of the Highlander books. I've never reviewed them, but I enjoyed them well enough. Then the fever series came out, and I was extremely skeptical. Back then I didn't read urban fantasy in general, and I specifically didn't care for first person narratives. She totally converted me. Visit he website:

#5: Courtney Milan

Courtney MilanCumulative RtP Star Rating: 22

Reviewed Works: Unlocked, Unveiled, Unclaimed, Unraveled, The Duchess War

What Makes Her Awesome: Courtney Milan writes historical romance in a completely unique way. She writes heroines that you can like and respect, and deliciously unusual heroes that you fall in love with. No cookie cutter characters for her. Visit Her Website:

#4: Larissa Ione

Larissa IoneCumulative RtP Star Rating: 28.5

Reviewed Works: Pleasure Unbound, Passion Unleashed, Desire Unchained, Ecstasy Unveiled, Sin Undone, Eternal Rider, Immortal Rider, Lethal Rider

What Makes Her Awesome: Larissa Ione writes dark, sexy paranormal books that I always enjoy in a purely guilty sort of way. I love the demons and the visits to hell and all of the characters with their possibly evil dark sides. All around good, creepy fun. Visit Her Website:

#3: Kresley Cole

Kresley ColeCumulative RtP Star Rating: 34

Reviewed Works:  A Hunger Like No Other, No Rest For the Wicked, Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, Dark Desires After Dusk, Dark Needs at Night's Edge, Kiss of a Demon King, Deep Kiss of Winter, Pleasure of a Dark Prince, Demon From the Dark, Dreams of a Dark Warrior, The Poison Princess, Shadow's Claim

What Makes Her Awesome: Kresley Cole's writing has a brilliant, light funniness that somehow does not detract from the sexiness of her stories. He heroines are strong and independent and her heroes are fierce, scary monsters. I can't help but look forward to her books, even after a few let me down. Visit Her Website:

#2: Ilona Andrews

Cumulative RtP Star Rating 34.5

Reviewed Works: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, On the Edge, Bayou Moon, Fate's Edge

What Makes Her Awesome:  Ilona Andrews is actually a husband and wife writing team, and they are awesome in general. Not only are they very talented, they're also fairly generous with their work, always offering little goodies and alternate points of view on their blog. I'm not that impressed with The Edge series, but the Kate Daniels series is easily one of my favorite ongoing series to date, and I'm not really sure what I'll do with myself when it ends. I've got a couple years to go, fortunately. Visit their website:

#1: Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas  Cumulative RtP Star Rating: 38

Reviewed Works: Secrets of a Summer Night, It Happened One Autumn, The Devil In Winter, Scandal in Spring, Mine Til Midnight, Seduce Me at Sunrise, Tempt Me at Twilight, Married by Morning, Love in the Afternoon

What Makes Her Awesome: At first, her position in the number one spot on this list probably seems surprising. I haven't talked about Lisa Kleypas as loudly or as often as some of the authors lower on the list. But, in fact, Kleypas is responsible for sparking my interest in historical romance, when before I stuck almost entirely to PNR with the occasional contemporary thrown in. She can make a dull setting and situation funny, and her characters are as charming as you could ask for. Visit Her Website:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Music Moment #9: Cat and Mouse by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Am I supposed to be happy?
When all I ever wanted, it comes with a price.
You said, you said that you would die for me...

You must live for me too

 I picked a melancholy song for today. I only stumbled upon this song within the past year or so, so it doesn't necessarily have any strong memories attached to it for me, but I really like it. For me, it's about the struggle of relationships and what it means to make sacrifices for them.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Music Moment #8

And you color my skin 

And the colors don't blend

 'Cause I'm gonna get you  

And your little dog too

I thought we'd continue the Wizard of Oz theme with one of Breaking Benjamin's older songs. In general, with Breaking Benjamin, some songs I love and some songs I despise. I love this song. I'm not sure why.

Movie Review: Oz The Great and Powerful (And Adjusted Posting Schedule)

Attentive readers will no doubt notice that this is not the review of Hitched! that I promised. In fact, I ended up DNFing that particular book 20 pages in after enumerable false starts, so I won't be reviewing it any time soon. Furthermore, life and work have kind of forcibly stalled my reading, and I'm no longer ahead in my posts as I was all February. Rather than rush to push out some crappy content while ignoring my other commitments, I'm going to take the weekend off and work on next weeks posts. Here's our adjusted schedule, which hopefully shall not have to be adjusted again.

March 11: Misc. Monday: Top 10 Authors on RtP (no genre restrictions)

March 12: Review of The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

March 13: Watch This Wednesday: Sweeney Todd

March 15: Review of Requiem by Lauren Oliver

March 16: Review of Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

March 18: Top 10 Most Annoying Songs

March 17: St. Patrick's Day Post

March 19: Review of Wanderlust by Eleba Levine

March 20: Watch This Wednesday: Rent

March 25: Misc. Monday: The Dowsides of Blogging

March 27: Watch This Wednesday: Anastasia

March 28: Review of The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand

March 30: Review of Lover At Last by J.R. Ward

March 31: Easter Post

Now, if I can get ahead enough, I would really like to do another theme month in April--Young Adult Month. But that's still very much in the planning stages, and may or may not happen in reality.

Also, I saw a movie last night!

Oz The Great and Powerful

If you don't already know, this is a prequel story of sorts to the iconic Wizard of Oz movie. It tells the origin story of the actual wizard, and how he came to do what he does.Oz is a magician in a traveling circus--he's a conman, he uses women, and he has no real friends to speak of. He's blown away in a hot air balloon through a tornado to the land of Oz, where everyone believes that he's a real wizard with the power to save their land.

We wanted to see this movie because it looked so pretty, and it is. It's a very visually appealing movie. Oz is bright and colorful, and in 3D everything just popped and sparkled.

Oz was a charming character, and the story itself was more than passable. Oz has always obsesses over becoming famous, rich, and admired, but his journey teaches him the importance of being decent and helping others. James Franco was surprisingly good in the part. Where in the past I've found his performances fake and hammy, in this case his acting style worked perfectly. He, and the entire movie, are over the top in the best possible way. I liked the fact that he uses his natural proclivity for lying to his advantage, and the movie doesn't force him to "learn a lesson" on that score.

Fans of the original movie will appreciate all of the nods to that story, though somethings are noticeable absent.The ruby slippers, for example, were not allowed to be used for legal reasons. I personally wasn't thrilled with the way the wicked witch appeared, but I think I was distracted by the fact that it was different from the original (again, for legal reasons) As for connectivity with the be honest, I wouldn't know. I never even tried to read them. I had one friend who was obsessed with them, but apparently I didn't osmotically absorb any of her knowledge the way I usually do. If you've seen this movie and you know more than I, please feel free to comment and tell us about it.

Husband was impressed with the direction of the movie, Sam Raimi being one of his all time favorite directors. Fans of his work will notice his style seeping in is shots where characters run from the camera, in the sudden and disorienting use of dutch angles, and in the general humorous tone. If you like Evil Dead, you'll notice he also manages to slip a deadite in there. Yeah.

Overall, if you like whimsy and have at least a passing fondness for The Wizard of Oz, I think you'll enjoy this movie.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Most Anticipated

Most Anticipated is the monthly post where I talk about book news, covers, synopses--from all of the books I'm looking forward to in the coming months. 

The Elite (The Selection, #2)April

The Elite by Kiera Cass: When I try to describe The Selection to the uninitiated, I know it sounds awful. The premise is entirely awful. I did find it memorable though, with enough positive attributes that I'm looking forward to the sequel. Perhaps it will be an improvement.

A Prior EngagementMay

A Prior Engagement by Karina Bliss: This Harlequin Superromance promises to be yet more proof of the wisdom gained from comic books and soap operas--no body, no death. Karina Bliss has a talent for making any trope work, so I can't wait for this one.

Dare You Too by Katie McGarry: I don't know that there's any way this could possibly be as good as the first book was. The bar is set high here, to say the least.

MacRieve (Immortals After Dark, #13)July

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews:  According to Ilona Andrew's blog, there are now going to be ten books total in the Kate Daniels series (this will be the sixth). I was beyond excited about that, since this is one of my favorite ongoing series and I will definitely appreciate several more years of looking forward to these books.

Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan: I like something that comic book nerds like. I learned that recently, when I was in our local book store and the subject came up, and all of the comic nerds geeked out big time. So, yeah, I'm excited to add this too my shelf, and I bet I'm not the only one.

Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep: More Gwen, and hopefully more Logan. What's not to look forward to?

Macrieve by Kresley Cole: After Shadow's Claim, my faith in Kresley Cole is actually somewhat restored, and I'll be curious to see what she does with this book. The cover is unfortunately more creepy than sexy, in my humble opinion, but I'll conform to the wisdom that tells me not to judge by it.

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterSeptember

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: *Sigh* Okay, this is probably the contemporary that I'm most looking forward to this year. The mid-series change in cover styles, though, kind of ticked me off. The author stated on her blog that she and the powers that be in publishing hope that the new, more minimalist covers would broaden readership. I can see that, since these covers do not scream Young Adult! the way that the other ones do. But, damn it all, I liked the old covers. I liked the cheerfulness and the happy people, and above all I like physical books to match on my shelves. It's very important. I'm a cranky penguin.

Destiny's Surrender by Beverley Jenkins: This will be the second book in Jenkins California ranch set historical series. I look forward to another joyful, passionate romantic story from her. 

Eyrie (Society of Feathers, #2)October

Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh: Still not much information on this one yet, other than the fact that it will return to Elena and Raphael. Stay tuned for this one.

Eyrie by Emma Michaels: I'm not waiting on pins and needles for this one, but I am waiting on it. Owlet was overly exposition-y for my taste, so I have to hope this one will be better.



Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan: I'm a little disappointed that we won't be seeing this book until 2014, since I'd like to see this trilogy come to a satisfactory conclusion. 


Dracomachia by Rachel Hartman: Either the original dates were wrong, or this book has been delayed (heavily delayed) since my last anticipation post. In any case, we've got at least 11 months to wait for this book now, and it's going to be a long haul.

And that's all that I have for now. We have some very busy months coming up here! I hope you'll join us!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Musice Moment #6: Here Comes the Sun

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right

I thought we'd continue with another song from The Beatles. I picked an exceptionally happy one about sunshine, since I think we're all officially sick of winter.

Watch This! Across the Universe

Here we are in the first Wednesday of March, talking about our first movie musical. At the time this came out, husband and I had to ride the bus to see it, and it was worth it.

The plot follows the Jude, a young man from Liverpool, who travels to the US to find his absentee father. Once there, he meets Max, a party animal, and subsequently meets Max's sister, Lucy. After Lucy's boyfriend is killed in Vietnam, Lucy starts to have feelings for Jude.

Of course the main point of the movie is the music. You  have to like The Beatles, or you won't enjoy this movie. For the most part, the song use is appropriate and effective at telling the story--although perhaps they cram in a few too many. The other thing that sticks out about this movie is the visuals. It conveys everything from love to heartbreak to what it's like to be on LSD. Like the music, you either love it or hate it, but either way you have to admit that it's interesting. Some of it has the unfortunate habit of screaming SYMBOLISM at the top of it's lungs (e.g. recruits carrying the statue of liberty during "She's So Heavy"). It's not subtle.

My favorite musical number for this movie is "I've Just Seen a Face," which is takes place in a bowling alley pure undiluted fun.

Overall, I know this movie is not for everyone, but if you like musicals you at least have to respect what it's trying to do. See it, if you haven't already.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Music Moment #5: Monsters by Matchbook Romance

 It came as no surprise  

You bring me back to life 

  Believe me  

"You bleed for me, I'll bleed for you"  

I caught you walking through walls 

Drowned with applause  

From a world that makes me crazy

I thought this was an appropriate song for a day when I've got a shapeshifter review up.

This song actually reminds me of Kresley Cole's IAD books for some reason. I think it's all that enthusiastic singing about scary things. 

On Missing Fathers: A Review of Shifter's Pride by Laura Diamond

Shifting PrideI'm always inclined to like shapeshifter books. They're my comport reading. So when a request to review this book found it's way to my email, I couldn't refuse.

Nickie's father has been missing for over a year, and most people accept that he's likely dead. Nickie, however, is determined that he must be alive and she must find him. Nickie has been noticing some changes in herself--in her mood, motor skills, food preferences, and so forth. This, coupled with a mysterious note that may or may not have come from her father, leads her to believe that something big is about to happen to her.When she meets Xavian, the sexy new guy who seems to take a strong interest in her, she's not sure whether to be excited or terrified.

Nickie is characterized fairly well. She's you're normal, average teen, but she manages to not be a blank-slate heroine by having legitimate interests and a bit of a personality. I thought the author was very clever to utilize her talent as an actress in the climax. She's not useless, and her powers and abilities are interesting enough to build a series on.

Xavian and Nickie are an okay match, as far as such things go. Their romance is not sweeping or consuming, but not totally absent either. I liked seeing Xavian try to guide Nickie through the changes in herself--he's very supportive.

This book's major weakness is pacing. The first 3/4 were terribly slow, spending far too much time on exposition and just plain nothingness. It's somewhat redeemed by it's satisfying climax, but 75% boring is a pretty damning number.

My parting words for this book are this: it's not the best shifter book out there, but it's certainly not the worst. To be more specific, the writing was competent enough and the characters interesting enough that this could very well be a very interesting series. 3 stars.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Music Moment #4: Awake and Alive by Skillet

This was the first song on my morning playlist for about six months in college, for obvious reasons. It's a good song to get pumped up to. Plus, I really like this band in general. I'm not Christian, myself, but Skillet is a fairly subtle Christian band, and I find that their music speaks to me.

I discovered this song because of a book. It's quoted in Karen Marie Moning's Shadowfever. So, needless to say, that book is one of the things this song reminds me of, and I must thank Miss Moning both for delivering a good book and quoting some very enjoyable music.

Misc Monday: Top Eight Most Annoying Traits in a Hero

Romance month has ended, but I would be remiss if I didn't even out the gender bias created by the last Misc. Monday. So, without further ado, the most annoying traits among book heroes.

Sea Swept (Chesapeake Bay Saga #1)#8 He's Afraid of Love

One of the most tired and boring tropes in romance is that moment when the hero realizes he has feelings--like, real emotion-y things for the heroine--and he responds to it with pants pissing terror. He copes by being a jackass or finding an excuse for a third-act breakup. Sometimes his feelings are excusable or justified, but mostly they're just annoying. Falling in love is scary, but it's also exhilarating and joyful. Most people are happy to be in love, at least initially. Most people want to make a connection like that with another person. The number of romance heroes who shun their feelings so readily is irritating and disturbing. 


Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1) #7 He's Slept With Approximately All of the Women

It's disturbing to me that romance novels have some extremely man-whorish heroes, but rarely or never slutty women. Oh, there are virgin heroes and prostitute heroines, but for the most part the men have all of the experience and the women have all of the "virtue". What's even more disturbing is when his dog-like habits are glorified in the text. Yes, sexual experience is a plus, but too much is just gross, in my humble opinion. In reality, men that have slept around that much are far more likely to have a couple kids and an STD or two.Condoms have failure rates, people. 


Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, #1)#6: He's The Jealous Type

He get's upset when her ex-boyfriend shows up, he doesn't like her guy friends, he wants all of her attention. He's jealous and possessive--he basically thinks he owns her. I don't know why authors seem to think this behavior is sexy. In the real world, overdeveloped jealousy is a huge red flag in any relationship. It smacks of insecurity in himself and a lack of trust in her. Ultimately, jealous behavior is a relationship killer, so I never trust the possessive hero to make the happy ending work in the long term. 

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)#5: He Has No Communication Skills

Yeah, we all know that guys are not as good at expressing their feelings as women. Nothing wrong with showing that in a romance novel. However, the when the hero's total lack of ability to express his feelings leads to the much dreaded Big Mis. Any conflict that could be easily avoided with a simple five minute conversation is maddening, and has no reasonable place in my books.


Dark Prince (Dark, #1)#4: He's Controlling

There's a fine line between stubborn and total asshat. The hero that's forceful and pushy can be a great challenge to a heroine, and if the heroine is strong willed and pushes back--no problem. The problem is when the hero is, in reality, a complete control freak. When the hero feels the need to dominate every aspect of the heroine's life, often "for her own good", to a point where she totally loses herself to the relationship. I hate seeing the heroine sacrifice her freedom and personal goals in favor of a hero that wants to keep her safe at home. 

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #6)#3: He Has Unresolved Addiction Issues

More and more romance authors have been trying to tackle the issue of ongoing battles with addiction. For some reason, they lean toward letting the male have an addiction problem. No author that I have yet encountered has handled the subject to my satisfaction. The problem is, addiction is a consuming condition. In reality, an addict recovers only when they decide for themselves that they want to change, and they have to work hard to make it happen. In romance land, addiction is healed by the power of love, with the hero changing as a result of the heroine's influence, or because he wants to keep her. The magic healing is actually pretty insulting in it's ignorance. 

#2: He's Sexist

Dark Destiny (Dark, #13)Another one of my least favorite tropes is  the hero the doesn't believe a woman can do a particular job/activity--contracting, firefighting, cycling, whatever. The heroine's job is to prove him wrong. This plot line exhausts me, because I find it depressing that the heroine has to earn the hero's respect in a given field, while he receives respect implicitly. I feel like we should have moved past this sort of thing by now. While gender bias definitely does exist in certain fields, I would prefer that it not be used as the hero's entire character arc.
New Moon (Twilight, #2) 
#1: He's a Dumb-ass Enabler

The only thing more annoying than a too-stupid-to-live heroine is the hero that constantly enables her stupidity. He plays the night in shining armor to her perpetual damsel in distress act. She jumps into shark infested water, and he fishes her out. She can't decide between two jobs or two men or two slices of pie, and he just patiently waits out her slow as hell thought process. His love makes him totally oblivious to the fact that his new honey-buns is honestly completely useless. The dumbass enabler is annoying because he fails to empower the heroine, to allow her some character development, to let her stand on her own. Quite the contrary, he does everything, to the point that she might as well be a cardboard cut-out. And, as I said last Monday, there is nothing worse that a flat heroine.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Music Moment #3: Details in The Fabric by Jason Mraz


Are the details in the fabric
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling?

Are the things that make you blow
Hell, no reason, go on and scream
If you're shocked it's just the fault
Of faulty manufacturing. 


This is a song for when I'm sad or frustrated. It's a song to chill out to and it reminds me to just let the little things go. Bookwise, it reminds me of Lola and the Boy Next Door, because I was going through a Jason Mraz kick when I read that book and because Lola is a seamstress. 

On Charybdis: A Review of How the Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long

How the Marquess Was Won (Pennyroyal Green, #6)I love Long's work, but looking at this series as a whole, there's just no predicting how much I'm going to like each book. The tone of each is very different, and while the quality of her writing is always good, I don't like everything she writes. I desperately want her to write Lyon and Olivia's story, but until then I'm just along for the ride.

I liked the premise of this one in the beginning. Julian wants to marry Lisbeth Redmond and, as part of her dowry, acquire back the last piece of ancestral land that his father fettered away. Unfortunately, he finds himself far more attracted to Lisbeth's paid companion, Phoebe. Phoebe is a schoolteacher, but she longs for more. She's made plans to move to Africa, but finds herself enjoying sudden unexpected attention from the Ton, and decides to stay awhile to enjoy the fun.

This is a case of a very uncomfortable, unappealing book being partially saved by the chemistry between the main characters. Julian is a reluctant trend setter, admired by all, and coldly precise on the surface. He finds that Phoebe is one of the rare people he can open up to. Likewise, he takes an interest in Phoebes life and personality in a way that no one else has. They are brilliant together, and the relationship developed is fairly well paced and natural.

As I said, this book was very uncomfortable. London's society is portrayed as behaving very much like the worst variety of high school students--snobby, selfish, manipulative, and totally without empathy. It was apparent to me early on that Phoebe was being used for amusement and would ultimately be humiliated, and that was just too painful. I didn't care for the plot throughout much of the second half.

This was neither my favorite nor least favorite Pennyroyal Green book. It had excellent characters but was hampered by a wholly unpalatable plot. 3.5 stars. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Music Moment #2: Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows

Well baby I surrender,
To the strawberry ice cream,
Never ever end of all this love,
This is another absurdly fun guilty pleasure. It reminds me of that feeling you get when you first fall in love, all of that giddy, silly happiness. It also, of course, reminds me of Shrek--one of my favorite animated movies. Also, the official music video is funny, in it's way.

On Dacians:A Review of Shadow's Claim by Kresley Cole

Shadow's Claim (The Dacians, #1)After the Poison Princess disaster, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to read something that reminds me that I actually like Kresley Cole. I like the world of the Lore, how diverse it is and how many different sorts of creatures reside in it. I like how incredibly sexy her romances are. I like the humor that she incorporates, which gives us permission not to take everything too seriously. And yet, the plots and pacing always keep me invested. This book is all of those things,  and though not without flaws, it has restored my faith in Cole's work.

Following a brutal attack that robbed her of her powers and left her feeling helpless, Bettina agreed to a tournament that would decide who she married. A series of bloody battles to ensure that only the strongest male will possess her. She hopes that her best friend and long time crush, Caspion, will enter the tournament and win her hand. Trehan Dacian is shocked when he encounters Bettina by chance and finds that she's his Bride--his fated mate. Entering the tournament to win her hand would mean losing his rightful place in his kingdom. Bettina and Trehan are forced to choose--between what is familiar and safe, and the growing love between them.

The tournament premise was actually fairly entertaining, offering interludes of action in what could otherwise have been a very dull story. Trehan is an easy hero to cheer for. He's an introvert and very intelligent, but nevertheless willing and able to kill. Even more intriguing than his fighting prowess, though, was his determination to do right by Bettina. He drives most of the relationship development directly, pursuing his Bride with his brain and his heart open.

My primary issue with this book was Bettina. She's way too passive for my tastes. Her reasons for letting the tournament happen in the first place made her seem weak. Makes sense--she is physically weak, and she did recently lose her power. But the fact that her feelings of insecurity somehow translated to: "I'll just marry an enormous brute, and that will solve everything,"--that is unpardonably short-sighted and weak-willed. Couple that with her crush of Caspion, and she comes off as a woman-child who has no idea what she wants. Everything that happens to her, all of the development she undergoes, is orchestrated by the other characters. She doesn't take revenge on her enemies, she doesn't get her power back on her own, she doesn't take responsibility for the consequences of the tournament--you get the idea. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Bettina. But when I compare her to some of Cole's other heroines, the ones that kick ass and stand up for themselves and have their own place in the Lore? She falls so short of all of that, I'm embarrassed for her.

I'm really excited to see what else Cole has in store for the Dacians. This particular spin-off series has a lot of potential, and I'm so happy that I didn't hate this. 4 stars.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Music Moment #1: Like a Friend by Pulp

I've done this before
And I will do it again
C'mon and kill me baby
While you smile like a friend
Oh and I'll come running
Just to do it again

 So, this is the song that I picked to kick off this whole music month thing. This song is a guilty pleasure for me, that now has special meaning because it's the song that hubby and I chose for our bridal dance at our wedding. If that sounds like an odd choice, well, I'm prone to those. It came about like this: I told Josh to pick a song, and for God's sake find a song that doesn't scream WEDDING CLICHE! This song was played over the finale of Venture Bro., so it was imbedded in his brain, and he suggested it. I loved it. It's not a wedding song, and it's funny and bittersweet and it actually captures many aspects of our relationship perfectly. We are friends--and lovers, and enemies, and we adore and annoy each other in near equal parts. So, yeah, we danced to this song. The fact that the music video is hilariously awful is a different, but no less important dimension of entertainment.

What book does this song remind me of? Anna and the French Kiss, for two reasons. One, because I was reading that book when we were planning the music for our wedding, and so it was part of my reading playlist at the time. Two, because Anna and Etienne are also friends, although they are much cuter than we are.

Happy March!

Well, that's it folks, Romance Month has at last drawn to a close. I'm almost sad to see it go, but at the same time I'm looking forward to reintegrating some non-romance into my reviewing schedule. But before we get to that, let's crown the best book of February!

Drum Roll, Please!

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