Sunday, June 29, 2008

seeing the light + a new baby!

Well, I finished the first episode of North and South last night, and all I can say is...wait! I have nothing to say!   

I need a lot more caffeine to think of an appropriate expression of my intense enjoyment of this series.  I have not yet seen the "fist of doom" (pictured left) as Carrie Lofty calls it, but I am starting to understand: Thornton is a man torn between two worlds. Or maybe not. It's still early in the series--maybe there is something else that makes him look like that. 

And I love all the characters...I also even sort of love how Thornton's mother talks.  I will post about it, but I'll probably watch pretty slowly due to time constraints, and also, I don't want to squander these precious moments of discovery by watching all in one go.   

Okay, also, look at our new kitty!  We have been kitty-less since Petunia died, which some of you may remember. 

It is so great to have her. She is a big fan of the bird feeder - here you see her in a rare moment of distraction from it. She is also fiercely interested in strings being dragged across the floor.  

She doesn't have a name yet. Eventually, her name will just become apparent. We actually may be getting a little brother for her soon, too. Isn't she cute?   

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The many pleasures of My Lord and Spymaster

Joanna Bourne wrote one of my top two favorite novels this year: The Spymaster’s Lady. So it was enormously exciting to get an ARC of My Lord and Spymaster from a certain ravishing redhead. Thank you Katie(babs)!

Dipping into this, I felt like I was laying into something rich and exquisite, and I wanted to gobble it up, but also take my time and enjoy it. I’d say, in a nutshell, that I loved this almost as much as I loved The Spymaster’s Lady.

A bit from the back:
Raised as a poor but cunning pickpocket, Jess Whitby may have grown into a wealthy young woman, but now she must once again rely on her guile. Her father’s been wrongly accused of selling secrets to Napoleon, and he’s going to hang—unless Jess finds the real traitor…
Jess focuses on one Captain Sebastian Kennett. He’s the target of her investigation, she’s the target of his infatuation. Is he the French spy, Cinq? It’s an excellent ‘In the arms of the maybe-enemy' tale. The conflict here is the hero and heroine’s reluctance to fully trust each other without proof vs. their attraction to one another.

And then of course there is Cinq. We get one chilling glimpse into his head, and he’s nasty! And we know he’s in the thick of things…possibly their social circle, business circle, neighborhood…but who is he? Will they unmask him in time?

As is my way, this will not be a proper review. However, my esteemed colleagues Katie(babs) at Ramblings on Romance and Ana at Booksmugglers have done excellent ones. And for a thoughtful dissenting opinion, see Jennie’s from Dear Author.

Onto the many pleasures
Pleasure #1: Jess Whitby: another kickass Bourne heroine. I want to second (third?) the excellent points that Katie(babs) at Ramblings on Romance and Ana at Booksmugglers made about this being a heroine’s book rather than a hero’s book. Jess is colorful, brave and delightful, and I enjoyed her shady history, and the way it resonates with Sebastian’s past. I know people complain about the power imbalance here between Jess and the men. I do indeed see why that charge is leveled, but it doesn’t bother me for a number of reasons having to do with the reality of the times and frankly, Bourne makes it sexy in places.

Somewhere in an interview on TSL…oh, let me find it—here at Romancebandits, Joanna Bourne discussed different kinds of power, and how Grey had brute power, but it’s not “ultimately useful—none of it will get him what he desperately needs.” That’s also the case here, in my mind. While Sebastian and Adrian help her get out of scrapes and so forth, Jess is using her street contacts combined with her bookkeeping and recordkeeping savvy to crack a case all these spies just couldn’t crack.
Random fun facts: On her blog, Bourne says she pictures Jess as looking like Robin Wright (pictured). And FYI, Annique from TSL looks like Natassja Kinski. Also, her goal as a writer is a sane 1000 words a day. No wonder her quality is so high.
Pleasure #2: Being in the head of a Bourne character—so satisfying! It always feels so intimate, like when you go to somebody’s home and find yourself surrounded by their favorite furniture and little treasures and signs of everyday life, and you get them on a visceral level.

I sometimes muse about what it is about the way she writes that creates this intimacy—I think it’s a mixture of the music of the language, the closeness of the thought process, the personality that shines through in the specific things her different characters dwell on—and the specific things that don’t occur to them. Just so satisfying to me as a reader. I especially relished this effect in the first few chapters.

Pleasure #3: Kedger the ferret! I have to say, I get very nervous about pets in books—I always worry some harm will come to them. Luckily, Kedger is just as streetsmart as Jess, with an equally shady past, being that he was her accomplice back in the day. And little Kedger helps out at the thrilling conclusion—in a totally believable way. On her blog, Joanna Bourne reveals that she’s into ferrets—before they were cool. I enjoyed learning all what a ferret can do. (She also has some nice writing tips on there.)

Pleasure #4: Adrian Hawke. Ah, Adrian, the young, brilliant and talented spy trying to do the right thing, but caught in the bureaucracy. Smidge of a dark side. Adrian is just such a pleasure to read about. A number of reviewers talk about Grey from TSL and Sebastian from this book as being unexciting and even two-dimensional. I had a bit of this sense, though not as strongly as others. But Adrian just sings on the page. I can’t wait for his book.

Pleasure #5: Lazarus. Lazarus is this crazy underworld crime boss with a labyrinthine organization of renegade children and hardened criminals. He reminded me a bit of Brando in Apocalypse Now, except he’s not insane. The thing that got me most was when one Lazarus dies, another guy takes his place. Is there a historical basis for this character?

Anyway, as a youth, Jess was The Hand, Lazarus’ ultimate inner circle helper. Jess goes to Lazarus for help at one point, quite a perilous thing to do, because with Lazarus, you’re not supposed to be able to leave.

Pleasure #6: The shipping backdrop. Both Jess and Sebastian are immersed in the business of shipping, and I enjoyed learning about it. The details were interesting in and of themselves, and deeply intrinsic to the novel. There were times where their opinions on the various import-export issues sort of characterized them.

This book will be released on July 1.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ciara's Jacqueline Carey scoop!

Ciara of Ciaralira has a very engaging and lively report on Carey's appearance at a Seattle bookstore, plus a recounted Q & A session, and news on Carey's upcoming projects!

In the meantime, I found a USED copy of Lover Enshrined. 

I wasn't sure if I was going to buy it, but the Scribe Virgin must have wanted me to read it, because it magically appeared at my UBS.  In perfect condition! Now we will see about this Rhev!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

THREE cool things in blogland

Item #1: Loretta Chase Long Weekend

This is super exciting, and it starts Thursday, which is in just under two hours at The Book Smugglers.

THURSDAY - A review of Loretta Chase’s new book, Your Scandalous Ways. To wit:

James Cordier is all blue blood and entirely dangerous. He's a master of disguise, a brilliant thief, a first-class lover—all for King and Country—and, by gad, he's so weary of it.
Oh, dearest James, I highly doubt we will become weary of reading about you. Or of the Loretta Chase long weekend!

FRIDAY- collaborative post with mini-reviews from other reviewers and bloggers of their favorite Loretta Chase books. Yours truly appearing, assuming the thing I sent passes for a review.

SATURDAY - Interview with Loretta Chase herself, and Thea and Ana will have THREE copies of Your Scandalous Ways (blue blood and entirely dangerous. He's a master of disguise, a brilliant thief, a first-class lover. Hello.) to give away.

Item #2: More DIK madness.

How do I even explain DIK? (a.k.a. Desert Island Keepers.) It started with a handful of bloggers IM-ing about which books they'd bring to a desert island, and tussling about who would get to bring what, and then it expanded to others jumping ship and swimming ashore with their books.

It then devolved into the which-heroes-do-you-get-to-bring smackdown, a draft style insan-o-rama that went on for seven days and probably 2000 comments across numerous sites. And wow, thanks to the diligent and inspired work of Sarai and Tracy, it's a blog. Like our own island where 25 bloggers group host authors and entertain whoever wants to drop by. Whew! Things are happening at Desert Island Keepers.

Item #3: A major contest at Book Binge.

It's the Summer Fun contest at Book Binge! I love this contest. You can win one of a selection of cool bags, filled with books. There is a bag here for everybody, and it appears you can pick your books, too.

This a big prize. You have to follow a few rules, it's like a little scavenger hunt, but it appears to me that nobody has yet entered, so the odds are great, and you have until the 30th.

I'm so entering. Here is the bag I would fill with books. Okay, wait, I narrowed it down to 2.

One funny side note about this contest: Observe, when you go there, the mysterious 4-H clover logo they developed for the contest. The Book Binge girls, I believe, are from California, so perhaps they don't know 4-H. I, however, was in 4-H. I hung out in the farm area of the state fair. Cornfields bordered my school playground! A total wacky blast from the past to see that there.

But wait, hold on, OMG, now I can't even remember what the four H's stand for! Head, hands, heart...and health? Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Late breaking note: When I woke up this morning I decided the last H could be for HEROES.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Help! Superheroes have taken over our living room!

Look at our living room! This is actually only portions of it.

After years of hauling around 14 boxes of comics, my handsome husband is now categorizing and selling his silver age comics, which he acquired as a boy collector and budding comic book artist. He can still draw a superhero amazingly.

Our living room has actually been like this for a month, or actually more, because I can remember us sitting by the fire and reading some of these. (But scootched really far away from the fire!) And I do believe it is now June.

It’s okay - I sort of like it, because the comics are so fun to look at. And often, I’ll walk in and find him reading them. For superheroes, my man is most partial to Hulk, and he has many of them, including the mysteriously valuable Hulk 181. He also seems to like Silver Surfer.

But above all he worships Jack Kirby, and he can tell Kirby art at a glance; he could even look at a superhero’s hands and tell you if it’s Kirby’s art.

He is a special conneissuer of Jack Kirby’s period of creative freedom when he went over to DC from Marvel and had full art and story control. The New Gods at right is an example of this. This is a photo - I don’t dare take it out of its plastic to scan it!

Did you notice the sad plants in the background above? I am totally paranoid to bring a watering jug in there, for obvious reasons.

Every once in a while he will come across a comic book with a ripped up cover - he and his young friend, also a budding pre-teen comic book artist, would apparently become so disgusted with certain non-Kirby artists that they would be driven to destroy the offending covers.

Others got the treatment you see below, where the young critics simply altered the work.

Note, if you will, the werewolf’s new and improved face, done by Mark many years ago.

I sort of got a kick out of this one, because one, it’s like a little window into his boyhood world. And two, look at the books we’re reading today. Werewolves are STILL fighting vampires. Have they learned nothing?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Question of the day

Okay, I am buried in work until Friday, but not too buried to seek the answer to a burning question I now have . . . about a certain act I read about last night in No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole. Gosh, I am really enjoying this series! And I also seem to be in the slim minority of people who love the titles.

 Anyway, maybe I am naive, but dearest readers of this book, do you remember when Kaderin chains Sebastian to the bed with those magic chains and then the specific thing she does while he is chained up to keep things from ending . . .  I am not going to describe that whole manhandling procedure of hers—surely you remember! 

My question is this:  Can people really do that?  Would it not hurt and/or upset a fella? Does anybody have personal experience with this? 

And if you haven't read this book, well, maybe you'll be reading it now, huh? 

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Winner of the gets-stuck-in-your-head song contest!

Rachael from New Jersey!

Rachael chose the ever-evil "Who Let the Dogs Out" as the ultimate gets-stuck in your head song, chosen by a whopping 12 people in my scientific poll at left.  Rachael, you get the $25 gift certificate to a bookstore of your choice (that's not Amazon!) 

Runners up: MC Hammer, You Can't Touch This and Wham! Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, which is currently stuck in my head from typing it. 

Thanks to everyone who nominated and voted. This was a lot of fun, and it helped me with my little project I needed these ideas for. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Where are those Sookie posts?

Where is my continuing series on secrets of the Sookie covers? What are my comments about her outfits going to be?  

Sigh. Those posts are coming! But I have gotten way too busy with day job and novel to perform the scholarly analysis these discussions require. 

Anyway, in preparation for my mom and my sisters' birthdays this weekend, I splurged on some very fabulous gifts for them. Then, walking home I passed a yard sale and got a little something for myself - this fabulous purse! For ONE dollar. Isn't it cute? 

Maybe it is totally out of fashion, and that's why the girl there was selling it at her yard sale, but I love it. It's actually more petite than it looks in the photo.

And look at the little buckles. I like things that are brown, and that are hooked and buckled. This is a very Carolyn item. I would've liked this purse even when I was 9. 

Monday, June 2, 2008

Would you like a can of Pringles?

Personally, I have a highly passionate relationship with Pringles - they call to me, but I hate them because they are delicious yet so nasty and terrible for me! I could easily consume an entire can, given the opportunity.  And then hate myself. And then come back for more!  

They are the bounder and rake of snack foods! 

Anyway, I didn't know what to think of this news item at first, but now I think it is super cool that he did this!  RIP.