Sunday, March 30, 2008

Update on my Feeder

No birds have visited my bird feeder yet. As my more clever readers will already have observed from the photo, I have put some string on the bottom of it, to entice them with nest construction materials. Still, they don’t come.

Those birds try to act so tough and emotionless, but they are fragile inside. And so weary of fighting! They have fought all the way up here from the south. Others have fought a punishing winter here in Minneapolis. They need to experience the healing goodness of a full bird feeder.

My bird feeder is the one thing that can save them, if only they would open their steely hearts!

I see birds visiting my neighbor’s bird feeder, which is empty, yet they try to feed from it. They don't understand: THAT FEEDER is so wrong for them, whereas my bird feeder is perfect for them, bursting with yummy goodness, yet it hangs lonely and forlorn.

If only they would cast aside their pride and fly over here to discover my bird feeder, they would able to gorge themselves, and they’ll see that they needed my bird feeder all along. And my bird feeder would be fulfilled, nourishing them from its own body.

Oh, God, will they ever be together??? The tension is killing me!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

High hopes for my birdfeeder - and for Midnight Awakening !

Okay, I was working really hard this week, and feeling sort of downtrodden and sorry for myself, so yesterday after a totally unpleasant meeting with somebody who I felt was OVERLY CRITICAL toward me, I got a new bird feeder at Target. I have always wanted a bird feeder. I just got this cheap plastic one, I don’t know, I’m not sure what a good bird feeder is, so I thought I’d start with something modest.

Anyway, now I have it here, with some very yummy bird seeds, but I need a bracket of some sort. I am so excited to put it up, and I considered rigging it up with a hanger in this certain way, but what if it fell down while birds were on it, and the birds were injured? So I have to get to a hardware store. Except there is not one in my neighborhood so I need to wait for the car. I will update you on when I get it up! Maybe a photo of my first bird visitors!

Okay, I just started Midnight Awakening. In fact, I am so early in the book (page 58) I don’t have much to say, but I have formed some specific high hopes!

High hope number 1: I hope that Elise becomes part of the Order! She is already sort of like Linda Hamilton in Terminator Two. Maybe she won’t fight alongside them, but I would be so into it if she could be like the one who sniffs out the Rogues with her super psychic senses.

High hope number 2: In the meantime, I would like to see her and Tegan really be a Rogue and Minion killing team on their own. It says on the back of the book that an alliance will be forged and a vow made. Could it be them as a killing team? Maybe I have been working too hard but this is something I do want to see.

High hope number 3: Tegan is sort of on the fringes and anti-social. Usually these Breedmate women sort of soften and socialize their men. I would love to see Tegan and Elise remain on the fringes, though, and be the freaks everybody is sort of frightened of, like Tegan is now.

High hope number 4: It would be cool if Elise and Tegan could combine their powers to be a superpower. She can hear thoughts, he can hear emotions. What if together they could do something that was greater than the sum of their parts?

Even if my wishes don't come true, I am sure I will love this book from what I have heard from LesleyW and MaryKate and others. In fact, I am sure by page 100, something even better may be true.

Even more likely, by page 100 I'll just be totally focused on wishing Tegan and Elise would hurry up and have sex while sucking each other's blood and I won't care whether they are a killing team, but for now, my hopes are of a purer sort.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Private Arrangements pt 2 - finished in a frenzy!

Okay! I finished this fine book in frenzy last night. (See write-up part 1 here.) Oh, this was a fun one, filled with great moments that I wish I could trot out here.

I will say this: I found the torture of this book to be absolutely exquisite—secret longings, touches that burn, the pain of a destroyed relationship that still lives.

At times, that pain created a kind of closeness that satisfied me in a wonderful way, because it had so much ruined love at its center. The book just winds tighter and tighter. Translation: Page turner. Very well done, Ms.Thomas!

The power balances and tensions are so beautifully wound up and tightened that some readers may feel certain aspects of the very end careen too easily in comparison. [select TEXT to see spoiler here] This is partly because a key moment of Gigi’s risky/scary/triumphant end gesture is told, rather than played out. She appears at Camden’s dinner, vulnerable, going all out, and this: “There’d been much surreptitious necktie-loosening when she—later, in private—unmistakably commanded him to shag her blind. . . No other woman came anywhere near him for the rest of the evening.” This is a small complaint. It’s just that there were so many great palm-sweaty moments, I wanted the full experience of that one, too.

But I’m being greedy. On a lesser book, it would be fine. More than fine. And the ending on the whole is grand and vivid either way—I think people will really like it. All in all, this is an immensely satisfying and exciting read.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

About that Lord Frederick...

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: Private Arrangements
Author: Sherry Thomas
Spoiler level: medium

Okay, I’m almost halfway through Private Arrangements now. I think everybody knows the plot of this: husband Camden and wife Gigi reside on different continents. Ten years later she wants a divorce to marry another. Camden returns with his outrageous demand.

In novels, you have two sorts of character fun: characters that are known up front and go around doing what they’ll do through the novel, and characters that are revealed through the novel.

This is a novel of revealed character—and deliciously so. The slow build of these two characters sheds light on the events that caused these two to fly apart, as well as the ways they belong together, the ways they might come together, the ways they might soften in their standoff. It’s very pleasurable, really; the more fully you get to know these characters, the more tension is created.

So, my great moment of last night’s reading was the highly enjoyable meeting between Camden and Lord Frederick, the man Gigi has chosen to marry. Lord Frederick is an unexpected choice: while Gigi is something of a shark, or at least has that in her, her beloved Lord Frederick is this innocent, pure-hearted artist who is quite younger than her and not at all like Camden.

Upon this first meeting, Lord Frederick doesn’t know Camden knows about him:

Camden had expected to see a prime specimen of a man. Lord Frederick was not that man. Next to Lord Wrenworth, he seemed all too ordinary, his looks pleasant but unremarkable, his attire a year or two behind the forefront of fashion, his demeanor unsophisticated.

Then Camden invites Lord Frederick to come see his art collection if Lord Frederick is ever in NYC:

The poor boy clearly struggled, wondering whether he was being played for a fool, but he chose to answer Camden’s invitation as if it had been issued in good faith. "I shall be honored, sir."

In that moment, Camden saw what Gigi must have seen in the boy: his goodness, his sincerity, his willingness to think the best of everyone he met, a willingness that arose less from naivete than from an inborn sweetness.
As a reader, I find it enjoyable musing over what it means about Gigi and how she’s changed or deepened as a person that she’d pick this guy. Though not as fun as discovering what it means through the eyes of Camden. I don’t know if this angle will be exploited or not, but I’m fixated on this Lord Frederick—and also the way art works in here. And the dog, actually. We'll see what happens. Perhaps I will read some more of this book in front of the fire tonight!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh, gosh, what is this in the mail?

Why, it appears to be my very own advance copy of Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas which I will be reading this weekend! And blogging about.

Okay, I have actually already dipped into it a little but I don't have time to blog, but I will say, things ratchet up early in a most pleasing way.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Whew! That was fun.

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: The Hell You Say
Author: Josh Lanyon
Spoiler level: medium (for relationship, but not the mystery)

So I finished this book, and I sure see why my pal lisabea, who turned me onto it, loves Adrien, the narrator here. This is a narrator you want to spend time with—smart, funny, vulnerable, curious. As I said below, the book has the one-two punch of great writing and being put together right in terms of plot and characters. Maybe that’s a one-two-three punch then.

I enjoy this book in the way I enjoy Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, and I would recommend this to lovers of that series, of which I am one. Basically, this is a really goddamn entertaining non-ass-kicking first-person narrator solving a mystery.

But I would contrast it with that series, too. For one thing, the writing is more dazzling (sharper, funnier, more pop culture referential, also darker). For another, the psychological realism is higher, by which I mean the people here act like they really would act in real life, or as close to real life as characters in a novel get. So like, if a car blew up in this book, or if a body part was delivered, you would get funny observations from Adrien, but he would find it awfully disturbing, and it would just mean more, and the ripple effect would be stronger. I’m not saying that makes it better than Evanovich, just a different sort of meal. I would say Evanovich is lighter, breezier, more escapist.

Also, the narrator, Adrien, has a cop boyfriend, Jake. I like Jake in the way I like Morelli, and I like these guys together, and I love their sex scenes. There's even this "I canna be gentle with you, lassie" sex scene I really enjoyed. I am rooting for this relationship in spite of a certain turn of events I will not divulge. I am! Please let them be together in Pirate.

I don’t know what possessed me to start with #3, but I am so definitely going back to read the first book, Fatal Shadows, and the second, A Dangerous Thing. Then, Death of a Pirate King is due out in August 2008. Ah, a new series to love. Hello. Thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shine on, crazy diamond

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: The Hell You Say
Author: Josh Lanyon
Spoiler level: low

I have just started THE HELL YOU SAY by Josh Lanyon and it is so goddamn delightful. In fact, by page 3 the book had moved from the category of “book I’ll read and enjoy and eventually sell or give away” to “book I’ll keep around for a while.” And then by page 5, and people, this is a feat, it had progressed to “book I put pen marks in,” which means I think I’ll never sell or give it away. It was a fast commitment. A couple random ones from that page 5:
“You have no idea what he is, Adrien.” Jake, a ten-year veteran of LAPD, used that cop tone when I exhibited signs of civilian naiveté.

While we waited for our meal I watched him put away two baskets of tortilla strips. He munched steadily, as though he were being paid by the chip, gaze fastened on a wall planter bristling with plastic bougainvillea.
This is such great description - it sets a scene, it builds character, and it's highly entertaining. I love funny, clever writing. So anyway, I've been marking lines and pages in this book. Sort of a writerly OCD thing to do. Mainly, I will return to re-enjoy those passages long after I’ve finished the book, sort of the way I imagine a pirate might enjoy the coins and gems he’s collected, taking each one out of the chest, holding it up to the light. Yarrr, Mister Josh Lanyon!

Okay, here’s another early passage I rather enjoyed, and it gives a sense of the plot. It’s the main character Adrien, a bookstore owner, talking to this Professor Snowden about Angus, Adrien’s employee. Adrien asks if he was aware Angus was being harassed:
Once again Snowden raised the most supercilious eyebrow this side of the royal family. “I was not,” he said finally.

“Apparently Angus and some other kids took a course with you called Practical Magic. Witchcraft in modern society. Anyway, the enterprising little tykes went off and started their very own coven—but I imagine you already know that.”

“Ridiculous,” he said sharply.

“What is ridiculous?”

“Why, the idea that a student—my students—would attempt to put into practice—” He stopped.

I shrugged. He smelled a bit like pipe tobacco, which I like and Masculine, which I wear myself on occasion. I found it just the least bit distracting.

“You think these…classmates are harassing Angus? Exactly what do you mean by harassing?”

“Curses—I don’t mean cussing, I mean threats—I’ve heard a few of the phone calls. Alexander Graham Bell would not be happy.”

The green eyes narrowed. I had to admit that expression was not quite as enjoyable as the way he’d originally looked at me.

When I failed to be razed to cinders, he asked, “What is it you think you can do about this?”
Sometimes the downfall of cleverly written books is that they can be light on plot and character, the way pretty girls can sometimes be light on personality, but that is not a problem with THE HELL, which totally has it going on in those areas. It is strong in every area so far.

In fact, it’s getting so good, it's in danger of moving to the category of “too exciting to read before bed.” I am awash in all these immensely entertaining books. I am on a streak!

I didn’t mark this one so I can’t reproduce it exactly, but there’s this one place where Adrien observes some girl is carrying a Lord of the Rings lunchbox, and he goes, by the way, what is it with chicks and that elf?”

Oh, I don’t know Josh Lanyon, but I secret have a thing for that elf, too, and he’s so not my type. And that line was like this crazy little treasure.

Friday, March 14, 2008

In a random mood

Do you guys ever do that thing where you click on "next blog" and get this totally random blog? I do every once in a while, especially when I'm procrastinating writing ads for people.

Anyway, I found this incredible photo blog. I just love it. It appears to be Russian. Check it out!

(The photo at the right is NOT from that blog. Rather, I put it there to illustrate the concept of randomness. Plus, entries are always nicer with a picture of some sort.)

I especially love the photos of the lively brown haired girl, particularly the one about halfway down where she is with this older man, probably a grandfather. She is so full of life! And then the one right above it, where the three older people are at the dinner table. I really like that photo, too. I left a comment, like, I love your photos! But I'm sure they are probably wondering, what? Who is this.
I am about to go to bed and read Crimson Kiss, by Lara Adrian, which I'm halfway through. I don't like it as much as Kiss of Midnight, which, as you know, kicked ass, and I understand #3 is excellent, too. So I'm just going with it!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Help us fry our brains!

Okay, Mark and I need to find a new series we can rent from Netflix that we both can agree on. Help! We can't watch regular TV, because our TV only plays DVDs, so it can't be a show on now. And no, he would never go for North and South. To help in your recommendations, here is some info.

Past favorite shows:
  • Buffy, Angel, Firefly
  • The Wire
  • The Shield
  • Star Trek original and Next Generation
  • First 3 seasons of Sopranos
  • NYPD Blue
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • X-files & that spin off
  • Murder One
  • The Practice
  • Monk
Tried but didn't like:
  • Heroes
  • Veronica Mars (M saw it and said it sucks)
  • Rome
  • Weeds
  • Lost (it was okay for a while)
  • Smallville
  • Torchwood
  • Prime Suspect
  • Alias
  • ER
  • All doctor and hospital dramas
  • 24
As you see, we go for sci fi and crime, but we'll take anything. We are currently re-watching Angels. We already rewatched Buffy. Yikes!

Nada Review

I think I love you, SPYMASTER’S LADY. I think you are my new favorite book of the year now! Or maybe you are tied with Demon Night. I don’t know yet. I am too fresh from bed with you.

Sometimes when I love a thing, I want to talk and talk about it, and other times when I love a thing, I sort of don’t want to talk about it. I just want to sit quietly and enjoy it. That seems to be the case here. I don’t want to tell what the plot is or say what I liked it.

So apparently, not only am I a crap blogger this week, but no kind of reviewer either.

I will say this: you know how you sometimes catch of scent of something, and you don’t know what it reminds you of right away, you only know it was something wonderful? Like it fills you with a good feeling. And eventually you remember—oh, that day at the bakery, that summer at the lake. I sort of had that a lot with this book, not with scents, but more conceptually. Little things would evoke a pleasant feeling, and then I’d think, oh this scene or that scene. Sigh.

Also, I shamelessly pimped this to not only my mom, who tends to go for more literary fare, (though she loved The Outlander years before I did), but also to my pal Lauren, AND even to Mark! I hope that wasn’t a mistake. Mark is always looking for exciting books to read on planes. I pimped Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money to him as plane reading recently and he hated it. Isn’t that weird? He found the whole “bad girl voice” as he called it annoying. Anyway, he might read it for an upcoming plane trip based on my oh-so-strong recommendation, but he imagined he might get his own copy and rip off the cover and the inside color picture. And then he was like, what if the plane goes down and everybody finds out I was reading a book called The Spymaster’s Lady? Like it’s clutched in his dead hands. However, if the plane started going down, he could pitch it across the cabin.

Enough about Mark! Back to my non-review. The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne. Oh, what a pleasure this book was!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My husband chooses a winner!

I followed my usual process, writing the names of my entrants on ripped up pieces of paper and bringing them to my husband, Mark, to select.

I searched all over our home and finally found Mark in the garden room, dressed in his favorite frock coat, hanging slightly open, wearing a bit of slap, as he often does on a Saturday night. One of his advisers knelt at his feet, nervously updating him on his Indo-European holdings, and the boy had just brought him a cocktail on a silver tray - not his first, I could tell.

I wanted to show Mark the names I had in my trembling hands, but I was afraid the breeze from the women fanning him would blow the papers out of my hand. With an annoyed gesture he sent the women away, as well as the ones massaging his feet, the boy with the tray, and his nervous advisor and turned to the task at hand, choosing a winner.

Mark was very upset to see there were only three contestants. He berated me for the unpopularity of my blog and suggested that I write more interesting posts, perhaps to try and emulate the entry he contributed, which was a great success. I assured him that was my most fervent prayer for myself.

Finally he picked a winner. Lisabea is your winner, he muttered, casting the scrap to the floor. That's not even a real name.

It is a real name, I said, shaking with rage. It is the real name of a fine lady!

Friday, March 7, 2008


It is sad, SAD how many of you have not read The Spymaster's Lady. One lucky reader who comments between now and tomorrow (Saturday) night when I go to bed will win this book, sent 2-day delivery, to their home!

Spymaster update and More about Lust Bites

The Update

THE SPYMASTER'S LADY is so enchanting and exciting, I can no longer read it before bed, because as soon as I turn the light out I just think about it excitedly, replaying all the delicious scenes in my head when I should be sleeping. Marveling, replaying, churning.

I am losing serious sleep, Ms. Joanna Bourne, and it is ALL YOUR FAULT! You have made your book too enthralling.

I am quite new to historicals. Is it possible they are all this good? This is such a good life to have one excellent book to read after another. I feel so lucky.

More about Lust Bites
I never considered myself an anthology reader, but I have certainly gotten a ton of pleasure out of this one. Maybe I have been transformed into an anthology reader now. We’ll see! Maybe I’ll wake up soon with glowing red eyes, craving another anthology, running madly through the streets to Barnes and Noble, frightening the clerks with my strangely elongated reading glasses.

I finished it a bit ago, but I never got to talk about the Kristina Lloyd story. Tumperkin, who generously gave me this book as a prize, enjoyed the exquisite writing in this story, and I’d have to agree. Both this and the Portia Da Costa story are startlingly well written.

Ah, a bloggerly pleasure
Tumperkin excerpted one of her favorite passages, and it was really fun coming back across that passage in context. That happened with a passage that lisabea excerpted from Demon Night, too. It is a unique pleasure to revisit passages that my online friends have pointed out.

What I found remarkable in this story was the collision of worlds, or more, of thought processes. You have Arctic trekker Esther, who is an intelligent, likeable and highly reasonable heroine trekking along with her wholesome, sophisticated, outdoorsy Arctic group.

Esther’s scenes alternate with scenes featuring these debauched and sex-crazed vampires, two men and a woman, and their equally crazed vampire cat, cavorting in their freaky arctic outpost, making weird decisions about things. Their mad ways are exactly what you’d expect from isolated vampires in the arctic tundra. Wonderfully written. Delightfully dirty!

And you have the hero, vampire Billy, their leader sort of, struggling to raise up out of his chaotic mad ways and do the right thing for once, regarding Esther, who he was in love with centuries ago. It’s absolutely wonderful. This story is crazy and wonderful.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I need answers!

I would so love if you would answer my TWO new polls at left. One is for Kresley Cole readers, one for everybody.

PS: on the too long to load question, ignore the video.   

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heavy into DEMON NIGHT

It occurred to me while in Seattle that the books I talk about on this blog are like tables, like the authors are making all these wooden tables, and some are sturdy, some rickety, some quite pleasing for their proportion, their personality, their fine finish.

And then Meljean Brook comes along with her table, and it’s covered with intricate carved figures and patterns, nuanced little dramas of humanity on every plane. Even a little drawer knob has something special, so it almost doesn’t seem fair to compare it to the other tables.

But you can pull up a chair to it and set your plate of eggs and toast on it and all that, so it’s a table like any other table, but there is SO much more going on.

Examples of things I loved about Demon Night

Of course, Demon Night rocks. Definitely my best read of 2008 so far, and it will take a lot to knock it off of that because it's exciting and thrilling and intense on every level, and shit! I shore did love that Ethan McCabe and his old Wild West ways and his old Wild West talk. Ethan is a hell of a hero—sexy and delightful all at once. I particularly love the stuff he says to Miss Charlie, as he calls her.

Example: There’s this scene where Charlie first finds out Ethan’s an angel after thinking all manner of lascivious thoughts about him - she feels really ashamed about it, and then this:
His eyes narrowed. “Whatever you’re thinking that put that fire in your cheeks, you unthink it. I got a pile of mattress stuffing on my back, but it don’t mean I’m wearing a halo.
Brook has that voice just right, and it is so great. Or the Wild West stuff he sometimes says to Charlie during sex? Like this:
“Now, Charlie, you got a choice. If you’re like this—” He pushed her knees down. “I’ll be able to work you just right.”
What guy says that? I loved it. Then, later he goes,

“All right. So we’ve got it just how you like it, then.” His breathing was ragged. “Open your mouth, Charlie. I aim to kiss you all the way though this."
The villain, Demon Sammael, is excellent, too, and a bit quirky, actually. One thing that goes unremarked on in the text was that he was once sheriff of a Wild West town that he named Eden, where he enforced a strangely high level of morality on the people. What is up with a demon doing that? It’s a little touch I totally enjoyed. I hope I see this villain again.

Subtext and character: check.

Most of all, I’m a sucker for the kind of emotional sophistication Brook is so great at weaving. Even the simplest exchanges are full of subtext.

More than her first two books, I felt like I got to know these characters—I could describe them with the precision that I could describe friends. Not just Charlie is a bartender and recovering alchoholic, but Charlie has a complex about being slow to realize things, but she isn’t all that slow on the important things. I could rattle off about ten things like that, and that’s not true of most heroines I read, who I tend to know more externally. She is an artist or whatever.

And I know I haven’t read around as much as other people, but let me just say that I have never seen sex scenes that characterize people and move the plot so dramatically while being quite hot. Like the one on page 376 where Charlie is so obsessed with her own neediness, and trying not to be needy and all that, and then you get Ethan losing it, and behaving sexually in ways contrary to how he typically would, and there’s this whole sense of revelation I’m not going to try and capture here, culminating in this moment when she finally sees him:
Ethan was utterly, completely naked.
And so amazing. She rocked forward, watched him clench and lift toward her. Hiding so much, and she hadn’t even known he’d been concealing it.
Did he realize he was revealing it now? Or was he completely lost to this?