Sunday, November 30, 2008

My holiday, sort of told in reading material

For Thanksgiving this year, I met my sisters and their kids and my mom in the Wisconsin Dells.

I felt that I would have a lot of time to read because I was taking the train there and also, there would be a waterpark, and I imagined sitting in a chair as my nieces and nephews frolicked. I chose my books carefully.

Dirty by Megan Hart
This is the book I had to leave at home, but I desperately wanted to bring it, because I'm halfway through and I cannot believe how good it is! Dirty will be one of my top books read of the year, possibly my very favorite. We'll see how it ends. As you see, though, the cover shows a couple having sex in a bathroom stall, and the content is highly x-rated at times--not the book you want to be reading around curious children.

What I brought:
Demon Bound by Meljean Brook, Playing with Fire by Katie MacAlister, plus a manuscript by a writerly pal.

Train ride there:
I sort of wanted to read the manuscript on the way there because my quality of attention for critiquing is really high on a train, however, a young farm boy who looked like a less cute version of Jensen Ackles sat next to me and tilted his chair back into look-over-your-shoulder position and opened up a Harper's.

I don't know, I just couldn't bring myself to go for the ms, because I happen to know it opens with a highly X-rated scene and I knew it would ruin my concentration to think he was looking. When I'm on trains and busses, it's not like I look over people's shoulders, but hell, I am interested in what people are reading, so I always check it out. The fact that he was reading Harper's, in my mind, made it seem more likely he'd be interested in what others were reading.

So I cracked open Demon Bound. So excellent! I got wrapped up in this story almost immediately: the heroine, a Guardian, has made some sort of deal with a demon where she has to kill the head Guardian, Michael, and she's trying desperately to get out of it.

What struck me most on the train was how much I enjoy Brook's narrative voice, especially her voice for the Alice parts. I don't know what it is, a kind of internal music to the sentences. Also, I really loved how distinct the characters' speech patterns were. She almost doesn't need dialogue tags. The characters in this one are fasinating, as usual. Slow reader that I am, I was only on page 70 when I arrived at my destination.

The Wisconsin Dells: OMG
How the Dells has changed. I went there when I was a kid, and it basically consisted things like a boat ride to see cool rock formations, cheap theme parks featuring plaster dinosaurs, Native Americans in doing traditional dances and touristy shops where you can get pens with things that float inside them.

Now apparently it has evolved into the "Las Vegas for kids." The condo we rented was in this complex that had THREE extravagant indoor waterparks. There must be like 50 waterparks in that little town, plus endless amusement parks, and a candy store on every block and when I say candy store, I mean, think Willy Wonka.

I got there at lunchtime. I had been told to pack a suit, which I did, and dutifully put on and wore to the waterpark, but my intention was to sit by a pool and read more of Demon Bound. I was thinking I might not even get in the water.

WRONG. My nieces and nephew are all really cute and great and at the fun ages of 6-12, and I was in the wave pool within ten minutes of my suiting up. This particular waterpark was based loosely on the theme of the gold rush. It was actually really fun, and soon Aunt Carolyn was begging people to go with her way up on the individual tube body-surf ride. Total thrill. There was also a ride called the hurricane where you whoosh/drop into this sort of funnel. I couldn't believe it! (See green and white pic. Except it's covered over in the winter.)

Thanksgiving dinner
We went out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving. It was actually very very sad. One thing, as some of you know, we lost my dad this past summer, so this was the first holiday he wasn't there for. I think that was a lot of the reason behind the Dells Thanksgiving, actually - nobody wanted to have the holiday meal at the regular table with Dad not there. But as my sister said, we're going to have to do it at some point.

Reading material before bed
I was so exhausted from all the stairs I ran up to get on rides, I just borrowed a businessy magazine from my bro-in-law and read an article about LinkedIn, a businessy network I'm on, and contemplated "pruning my network" as the article suggests. Will it piss people off if I want to disconnect from them?

Next day
Played cards with the kids, who made up some wacky variations of Uno. Checked out of the condo midday and went to a different waterpark, the DOME. I was determined not to go in, as I had a train ride that night and I didn't want to be wet, or post-wet. I thought I would read Demon Bound and watch kids and stuff.

The Dome turned out to be a highly humid, overheated-by-the-sun environment of nonstop screaming from various water slides and a wild wave pool, and bad rock music and I couldn't even read a sentence of Demon Bound. I just sort of laid there in a stupor watching the kids, who were starting to fray off the overstimulation and frankly, after a couple hours of this, Aunt Carolyn was starting to fray, too. The picture makes it look semi-relaxing, doesn't it? The picture lies.

People went in all different directions--arcade, other pools, food. I went out in search of some quiet...the lobby maybe? As I noted, we'd long ago checked out of the room. It was here I realized there was no quiet place to read in the ENTIRE MEGA COMPLEX. Even the lobby, the coffee shop, the hallway, it's all lights and music and screaming, because of course, it is a place designed for kids, but not bookish aunts. In keeping with the wilderness theme, there are dead moose and deer heads around on the walls. Everything else is plastic and loud and bright, but the dead animals are real.

My mood darkens
I went back to the hot, bright, deafening dome, because that's where everyone was based, feeling like I was entering the sixth circle of hell--the heat, the screams! I sat with my mom. She was reading The Last Lecture, a book that seems to be about a dying professor offering words of wisdom. It is a book I would never ever read, even with a gun to my head.** Why do people read these books when there are fun and exciting books out there like Dirty and Demon Bound? 

When I walked around, I saw there was another person in the Dome reading that same book. How were they reading The Last Lecture in that environment? I have a strong suspicion that books like that are more books 'to have read' than to read and enjoy, and that people expect them to be a bore, and therefore don't give them quality attention.

I tried again with Demon Bound, but then I gave up, because you want some concentration with that one. I didn't want to squander my full pleasure of it.

I opened up Playing with Fire, which I felt would be the simpler read and immediately got annoyed. I know it was partly my mood, but there was this Gilligan type sidekick (goofy, accident prone, messes everything up) and I HATE Gilligan sidekicks in my stories. Nothing puts me in a worse mood than a Gilligan sidekick. Even in Kresely Cole, who I love, Nyx would at times push it for me. But she has foresight, so she sort of makes up for it.

Candy Store
We took my cute niece to Goody Goody Gumdrop, one of many dazzling mega candy shops the Dells has to offer. This place had every candy known to mankind. My bro-in-law told her she could pick out seven things, and a small bag of little things could count as one thing. Picking out seven things would have paralyzed me as a child, but my niece did an excellent job. I was so impressed. We had a conversation about sweet vs. sour candy, and she was in a sweet candy mood. The funniest thing she picked were these blue and white dolphin Gummi Bears. And she offered to share with us afterwards in the car. What a good sharer!!

Train ride home
My train ride was BLISSFUL. I got a seat all to myself and settled in to read my pal's ms, which was SO fabulous and exciting. It is such a risk when you say you'll CP (critique partner) with somebody, because what if you hate their writing? I have two regular CPs, though, and they are both so excellent, and also very helpful to me.

**Note: Oops, I am now repenting my glib assessment of this book. See comments.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Three counts of pimping with intent

I love the buy books for the holidays movement. Especially the genre stuff we read. I mean, your money goes SO far! And here are some contests for cool new releases...usually I don't do the contest pimping thing if I don't have evidence the books will actually be good, or ideally, if I've read them. These, I have evidence.

Exhibit 1:
What a Scoundrel Wants by Carrie Lofty

Evidence the book is any good:
Oh, reader, look past the over-the-top man chest cover. Scoundrel, which features Will Scarlet from Robin Hood, has gotten a lot of positive early reads, including an excellent rating from Book Smugglers "Verdict: BOTH action-driven and character-driven story makes What a Scoundrel Wants a fantastic read. Prepare to fall in love with the hero." Read review here.

Anne Aguirre is running this contest; read about it here.

Exhibit 2: Midnight Sins by Cynthia Eden.

Evidence the book is any good:
Positive buzz on this one, where a shifter detective works with a partner is human who doesn't believe in paranormals...but then the human partner unwittingly falls for the suspect in their latest case, a succubus.

Rachel over at What I am Reading, who is a kind of conneisseur of the thrill/paranormal romance genre, loves this book: "Cynthia Eden has easily climbed to the top of the list as one of my favorite authors and I eagerly look forward to her next book. Overall, Midnight Sins is full of romance, erotica, mystery and paranormal elements that kept me intrigued and in suspense until the final explosive conclusion." Read review here. Click enter today to be in the contest.

Sin a little…And Win! www.cynthiaeden.comEnter Today!Share Image

Exhibit 3:
The Book Binge Demon Bound Contest! There is still time to enter this contest; just order or buy the book by November 30th and send Book Binge proof you did. (details here.) From a gambling perspective, your odds here are high because you have to actually buy the book to enter.

Evidence the book is any good:
Firsthand. I've actually started reading this one, and it's fantastic. And pretty much everybody else seems to think so, too. These Guardians tales are fun, exciting, smart and sexy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Daughter of the Blood/Kushiel challenge!

A very sad state of affairs recently came to my attention: Kati (Adventures in Katidom) had started Kushiel’s Dart, then cast it off as a DNF! How could it be? I was dumbfounded.

Of course, Kati felt the same way about my having discarded Daughter of Blood by Anne Bishop as a DNF. She could not abide. So we set up this challenge – I’d read Daughter of Blood and she’d read Kushiel’s Dart and we’d blog on the same days, a midway post, then a finished/summing up post.

Poor Kati, actually Kushiel is well over twice as long as Daughter. I felt a little bad until I pulled my dusty copy of Daughter out from under my bed and remembered why I’d DNFed it.

Why I originally DNFed Daughter
I see I didn’t actually give Daughter much of a chance. I put it down early out of a combination of violence and boredom.

The violence occurs right away: chapter 1 opens with a fellow being shackled into this boat thing and—uh, let me look it up, I hate even thinking about it—okay, his genitals are smeared with bacon grease, and rats gnaw them all night, and then a fellow mercy kills him.

The boredom from passages like this in the beginning:
“There’s a Web for each rank of the Book Jewels. The darker the Web, the more tether and radial lines there are and the faster the Wind is. You can ride a Web that’s your Jewel rank unless you’re traveling inside a Coach being driven by someone strong enough to ride that Web or you’re being shielded by someone who can….

Memphis was a Gray-Jeweled Warlord Prince and almost unshakable. Prothvar was a Red-Jeweled Eyrien Warlord, a warrior bred and trained. Andulvar was an Eyrien Warlord Prince who wore the Ebon-gray, the second darkest Jewel…

In fact, as I was re-reading and hit one of these jewel-explaining passages I knew that’s where I put the book down, and if it wasn’t for this challenge, I would’ve put it down again. It felt to me like an unpleasant and complicated role playing game.

Okay, okay, now I’m enjoying it.
Now that book has taken off for me, I see why people love it. There are a lot of things I’m enjoying and admiring about it. For one, Anne Bishop does such an amazing job of loading good and evil forces and raising stakes. It’s like, if the book was a windup toy, most authors would wind it a few turns, but Bishop just doesn’t stop! More awful injustice, more danger for the vulnerable important heroine, crank crank, more pent up sexual desire, more longing, more characters with cause for vengeance, more evil acts, more hope, more danger. I’ve never seen a book like this.

Did anybody out there see the Joy Luck Club movie? It’s this really sad movie about mothers and daughters, and it makes you cry about every 20 minutes, and after a while you feel totally manipulated, like your emotions are being manually stimulated. You see how the movie is operating, but you’re powerless not to react. I would highly recommend it if you have clogged tear ducts.

Anyway, Bishop's artistry with this “wind-up” effect alone would propel me forward at this point, but if that’s all there was, I would feel as manipulated and manually stimulated by this book as I did with that movie.

What makes all the difference is a handful of really good characters, Saetan, Daemon and Surreal. Particularly sex slave Daemon, who is the picture of patience, endurance and pent-up love and rage. There is this one scene where he wishes he could “paint the walls with blood” but instead he smiles and carries on, biding his time, so to speak. He gives the book a kind of soul.

Will these characters get their resolution?
Okay, as I near two-thirds in, I get nervous about this being a TRILOGY. Will Daemon’s desire for freedom and for union with his lady be realized in this book? Will Saetan be okay? He feels kindly and vulnerable, and sort of expendable. I also worry about Daemon’s winged brother.

Maybe it’s this business of men being “shaved” or girls being “broken”- these are horrible things I won’t explain, but they make me not entirely trust Bishop. I don’t trust her not to kill off a character I care about. I can come to trust her, but I don’t yet.

Also, will she give the characters I care about satisfaction here in book one, or do I have to read the next and next?

Don’t think I’m not enjoying the book. I’m finding it powerful and involving and I’m really glad I’m reading it. I would continue forward without the challenge, for sure. In fact, I find it increasingly hard to put down. However I won't know what to make of it until the end.

See Kati's midway post here.

Come back Monday, December 1st for the thrilling conclusion!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two exciting-to-me things

This morning I woke up and looked out the window and everything was covered with a sparkling sheen of white. The first snow! It's actually not the first snow that fell, but it's the first snow that stayed. That's always sort of an exciting and magical thing to me.

I mean, yeah, by February the novelty has worn off, but the first one I love. I also love the first really fat flake snow where it really clumps to things. This was more of a powder dusting.

Okay, the other new exciting-to-me thing:

Hell YEAH! A serious new Star Trek movie is great news by itself - the last few I saw were sort of phoned in if you ask me - but this one looks  hot and sexy, and psychologically meaty. I am SO there!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The case for pleasure and delight

Death of a Pirate King by Josh Lanyon
So I finished Death of a Pirate King by Josh Lanyon, and I was laying in bed this morning thinking, what do I even say about it? About the specific way in which I enjoyed it?

Background: This is book four of Adrien English Mysteries. Adrien is a fun, witty, smart owner of a mystery bookstore in LA. He has two romantic interests swirling around here, his significant other, sexy professor Guy, and Jake, the cop who broke his heart two years ago. It all starts when Adrien becomes involved in a Hollywood whodunit that Jake is investigating.

And old trick in advertising is, if you aren't sure how to think about the essence of a product, you say, what if I only had a billboard? What one or two giant words would I put up there? And the old examples are, like, if it's Crest you say Fights Cavities. If it's Volvo you say Safety.

So I was thinking about that - what if I took out a billboard on this book? And I was sort of torn between Pleasure & Delight, or else Deeply Satisfying.

The case for Pleasure & Delight
I would go with this billboard because Adrien as a narrator is always so funny and entertaining, and the plot is exciting. To me, that's a delightful combination in a first person book. Also, delight implies surprise, and there were a lot of good surprises here, some large, some small; the book was unpredictable to the end. Though I figured out the killer, it wasn't until quite late.

Pleasure is fitting because the world of the book is a sunny land of restaurants and bookstores and interesting, possibly dangerous people and a quirky family--highly pleasurable. Also, there were a number of pleasures associated with the romance.

Here, in an unexpected mid-book encounter between Jake and Adrien, they're in this hot long mashing kiss - at it for some time, and then after like a page or two, they come up for air:
"Hey," he said.

"Hey," I replied ruefully.

He rested one hand against my face, cupping my jaw. I tried to look away but he leaned in, licking my mouth and then nipping my lower lip, a delicate sting. I closed my eyes and he rubbed his face against mine, the rough velvet of his jaw rasping against my mouth and nose and eyelids.
Like, I love that they are kind of getting it on, and then they say Hey to each other. This is the kind of keenly observed detail that makes this narrative pleasant. Plus, this particular strange little exchange was so dead on to the motion of the story.

The case for Deeply Satisfying
There is so much delicious gravity and torment with this romantic triangle - you have the cop who desperately wishes he wasn't gay. You have insightful Guy who loves and understands Adrien. And Adrien wants to follow his heart, but wants a future with a real partner. Plus, secrets are coming to the surface around Jake and Adrien's past. So satisfying, all of it.

Another big thing in the book is Adrien's heart condition. It's almost like another character. I worried about him - not to an uncomfortable degree, but it always felt very real life, and I just loved that, and how it related to the plot.

I would also say deeply satisfying because that was my sense as I closed the book. Just this satisfied happy Ah.

So, two billboards. Or how about a rambling blog entry?
I think that's the thing with this series. Lanyon develops this sunny, fun surface, but he puts big serious things into motion underneath, and I think that is part of his genius. This is an excellent book. You maybe wouldn't want to start here, though it does stand alone. I'd start at The Hell You Say (book 3, which was my first) or go all the way to #1, Fatal Shadows.

More of me talking about Death of a Pirate King here, sort of my mid-book thoughts.

Other reviews (Anyone else? Let me know and I'll put it on here):
Sarah at Rain on the Roof
Nose in a book
Romance Junkies
Dear Author

In Renee's blog post on the series, she has a link to a picture of the mystery bookstore she always imagines for Adrien's bookstore.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Blogiversary to me!

My blog is one year old! Wow, it's amazing how much has changed in a year...

Intelligence of blog entries
At the beginning: They must be perfect little essays.

These days: It’s okay to do a rambling and marginally understandable post on my confusion over the word NEXT.

Attitude of husband on my blogging:
At the beginning: You started a blog. Cool!

These days: You were blogging all that time?

Time wasterliness:

At the beginning: Must get to work!

These days: Must see what my buddies are up to!

Smuttiness of books I read:

At the beginning: Breathless and red faced at first Anita/ Jean Claude sex scene

These days: “funniest, dirtiest gay porn book ever” constitutes an excellent recommendation.

True Blood and Sookie hits:

At the beginning: What’s that?

These days: Constantly think my blog has become really popular, only to realize every Tuesday that everybody on the planet is Googling off that stupid show!

Time spent analyzing book covers featuring half naked men:

At the beginning: I'm not really that kind of person.

These days: Ooooh! An email from Katiebabs!

Attitude about meeting people in person that I only ever met online:
At the beginning: That is a thing pedophiles do.

These days: Distraught that I couldn’t go to San Fran! But I met Lisabea and Shannon in Chicago.

Knowledge of Richard Armitage:

At the beginning: Who’s that?

These days: Gasp! He touched her hand!

Opinions on guys who have sex with trees and aliens with multiple sex organs:
At the beginning: WTF?

These days: Hello, that plot device again?

Concern that new potential advertising clients will Google me and find my blog and not hire me because I seem [insert unsavory adjective here]:

At the beginning: Totally freaked about it. Keep entries tame just in case.

These days: You can now Google my real name and this blog comes up on the first page. Sort of don’t care. Entries not tame. In denial.

Blogging epiphanies:

At the beginning:

1. Blogger works better in Firefox
2. Shit! I have to think of something new to say a few times a week!
3. Wow, blogging takes a lot of time.
4. People out there do some really scary Google searches.
5. It is scary that I know that.

These days:
I'm in contact with a lot of smart interesting people, and I have made some really great new friends.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Contest reminder & has the word NEXT lost its meaning?!?!?

Don't forget to enter the Book Binge contest to win a $100 gift certificate. All you have to do is buy a copy of Demon Bound by Meljean Brook by the 15th and email them proof that you did.

Bottom line: if you think you will ever buy it, now is the time.

This sort of got me to thinking, what is the exact meaning of "by the 15th?" I never know the answer to that question, because it could mean midnight between the 14th and 15th, or it could mean 'at some point' on the 15th. However, they also said in their post "sometime in the next two weeks" and since they wrote the post on a Sunday, I'm guessing you'd have at least through Saturday the 15th. Plus, they're really swell girls and probably won't be big freaks about deadlines.

This got me to thinking about another issue that's been bugging me for years, but it's far too insignificant to bring up, but isn't that what a blog is for? My issue:

What's UP with NEXT???

What does "next [insert day here] mean?" Like, if I said, call me next Sunday, would you think it meant this coming Sunday, the 16th, or the Sunday after that? If it's Friday the 14th and I said call me next Saturday, wouldn't you think it meant Saturday the 22nd? Not tomorrow, Saturday the 15th? However, if it's Friday, and I say, Call me next Tuesday, why does that suddenly mean this coming Tuesday. Or does it? What is the crossover line?

It seems like when I was a kid, next whateverday meant not 'this coming whateverday' but the following one. But nowadays, it seems to mean this coming whateverday.

Put another way, because I guess I'm a dork, and possibly drank too much coffee, I used to think of it as this whateverday vs. next whateverday. This whateverday is the one coming, and next whateverday is the one after this coming whateverday.

Whenever people say it, I always have to clarify, like, "You mean this coming whateverday or the one after that?" and then the person will commonly, but not always say, "This coming whateverday." And then I'll think, why in tarnation didn't you say this whateverday? Why next? What does NEXT even mean????

Are you following? Am I crazy? Did I dream all this?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Behold my goodies

Okay, I've been hesitant to buy books because I'm poor THANKS TO THE ECONOMY. I should probably be going to the library at this point, but I like to write in my books, read in the bath, keep my books around, look back at them and generally abuse them.

Anyway, today I learned I have $23 in cash back bonuses with my Discover Card. You can imagine where my mind immediately went. And not to sound like an ad, but when you link to B & N from your Discover account to buy books, you get 10% cash back! I am doing myself a favor, right? It would be insane NOT to buy books, right?

Here's what I got:

Palace of Varieties by James Lear
I've been dying to read James Lear, who is apparently both funny and terribly dirty.

My decision was between Lear's The Back Passage which Sayuri calls "by far the dirtiest, funniest book I have read in an age." And she read it twice in a week! Her review here.

Or Palace of Varieties, which Tumperkin calls "funny, filthy, well-written and extremely hot," containing "a series of eye-poppingly filthy adventures that rattle along an enjoyably exuberant pace." See her review here.

In the end I went with Palace just because it was written more recently. HOWEVER, I have a feeling I'll be reading more of James Lear.

Playing with Fire by Katie MacAlister

Then I ordered This fine looking Katie MacAlister book. It's a humorous girl/dragon/demon lord story that sounds hot and funny. I can't wait to read it!

Wow, this is a trend. I just realized: I'm in the mood for hot and funny.

Demon Bound by Meljean Brook
Oops, there goes the trend. But I have been looking forward to this book all year. And as everybody here knows, I'm a shameless fan. Meljean Brook always DELIVERS!

For whoever of you don't know, if you buy Demon Bound by NOVEMBER 15TH, you can enter to win a $100 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice from Book Binge! Details here.

And even if you don't win, I'm confident you will totally get more than your money's worth with this read. I think you can even start the series here if you want - they really do stand alone pretty well. I swear, this series just kicks ass.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where is CJ today?

That's a little hard to explain.

Let's just say it involves a book called "Jock Dorm," a fantasy conversation between Russell Crowe and Gerard Butler, a new-to-me fetish and maniacal stylings of our lovely Lisabea over at Nose In a Book!

Diagram: Planetary Movements, by Unknown Astronomer in the 10th century. One of the earliest surviving 2-dimensional charts (plotting time vs. celestial latitude). From Wiki Commons.
Could also serve to depict CJ and LB's lack of judgment over the last few hours.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Vote for your fave Jamie! (and others, but who cares about them.)

Thanks for all the great nominations.
FOUR polls are up on the sidebar at the left.

I have no doubt the casting director of the upcoming Outlander movie will be watching the outcome with great interest, so please, people, you must meticulously examine the nomination photos from the Cry for Help post below and cast your vote carefully.

UPDATE: Tumperkin didn't arrive in time to nominate her non-actor Jamie lookalike, Scottish Ski Racer Alain Baxter! The photo she sent wasn't quite proper, so I found a clothed one.  We'll put him here for inspiration.

UPDATE: Oh, excuse me, I didn't put up cute enough pictures of Tumperkin's fella, Alain.  Here are some new ones she has supplied.  Yes, these are better.  Sorry for the dorky one!  

Above left, this would be a good face for him to make when he whips Clare with the belt. Or when Billy Boyd is assaulting him.  Right, Jamie in a lighter moment.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oops. Okay, I was doing something weird bloggerwise and ended up with duplicate posts. So there are also comments here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Death of a Pirate King: Great moments

Great Moment from last night's reading!
Book: Death of a Pirate King
Author: Josh Lanyon
Spoiler level: low, unless you didn't read The Hell You Say, reviewed here. Even then, the spoiler level is low.
Page: 98

Gasp!! I just want to say this book is delicious and exquisite so far. I'm reading it slowly because I don't want it to ever end.

Opening lines:
It was not my kind of party.
Sure, some people might think the dead guy made it my kind of party, but that woudn't be a fair assessment of my entertainment needs - or my social calendar.
The mystery all starts when Porter Jones, this Hollywood mogul that the main character Adrien is talking to, starts twitching and spitting soup out his mouth, and nobody can tell if he's laughing or what.
"Was it something you said, Adrien?" Paul Kane, our host, joked to me. He rose as though to better study Jones. He had one of those British public school accents that make insignificant comments like Would you pass the butter sound as interesting as Fire when ready!
But then Jones keels over and it is soon clear he has been poisoned. A lot of people comment on Lanyon's humor, and I heartily agree he's one of the best humorists out there, but he's also a fantastic stage manager of his action. I love the way he has Jake Riordan, the man who broke Adrien's heart two years ago, enter in this scene a page later:
They kept us waiting for probably another forty minutes, and then the doors to the drawing room opened silently on well-oiled hinges, and two cops in suits walked in. One was about thirty, Hispanic, with the tightly coiled energy of the ambitious young dick, and the other was Jake Riordan.
I love everything about this paragraph. The doors opening silently - two doors, not one. The well-oiled hinges. Everybody waiting. The young cop, and then Jake. All the details frame the appearance of Jake in a way that blew my mind. I think a lesser writer might have put Jake in the beginning of this paragraph and sort of trumpeted around him with words, but Lanyon drops him at the end like a depth charge. Bang!

In a way, this book contains two mysteries: a murder mystery and a romantic mystery (at least that's what it looks like now; I'm only on page 98). Adrien gets corralled into sleuthing, and as the clues in the murder mystery begin to accumulate, Adrien slowly learns new things about Jake and his break-up and Jake's state of mind about it, then and now. Oh, this book is so good.

NOTE: this was originally sandwiched in the post below between two unrelated topics, so for blog searching ease, I broke them apart. So this post has been commented on below. But feel free to comment on it here now.

Election chat & Outlander news

I know I have blog buddies out there on both sides of the aisle, and I respect that - I think the U.S. is awesome for its diversity of perspectives, but can I just say, PLEASE LET MY CANDIDATE WIN!!! PLEEEEEASE! Some people think the outcome of this race is obvious, but to me it's a cliffhanger, and I'm filled with a swirling mix of apprehension and hope and dread and every other emotion.

Yesterday a campaign worker for my candidate came to the door and I was like, Nothing will keep me from voting for that man tomorrow - NOTHING!!! I think I sort of scared her. Nearly every house on my block has a sign for my candidate, and I am so filled with pride for it. Go vote people!

Outlander news:

Literary Escapism is the most excellently newsy blog sometimes. I learned there today that Outlander has been optioned for film, and there is already scouting in Scotland happening. I'd heard somewhere else about this being a film (sorry I can't remember where or I'd say!), but not that it was so advanced. And who will play Clare and Jamie? Possibly James McAvoy and Keira Knightley!!

McAvoy will really have to redeem himself for me. He was in WANTED, which got my vote for the most crappy film of the year I can't even believe I saw. But the script was horrible, and I felt the hero was morally a shit, even though the movie didn't position him that way, so maybe McAvoy is actually a brilliant actor who was correctly interpreting the script by fully playing the hero as the worst kind of guy that some people admire but I hate. I know that doesn't make much sense. On the plus side, he looks like Jamie. Yay for redheads!

UPDATE: I heard somewhere else that Gerard Butler was being considered for the role. Better?
UPDATE: Help cast Jamie! See above

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Gemini Heat: OMG! & Contest

Great Moments from Last Night's Reading
Book: Gemini Heat
Author: Portia Da Costa
Page left off at: 119
Spoiler level: low

I was first introduced to Portia Da Costa via the only anthology I have ever read, a vampire erotica volume I won from the lovely and clever Tumperkin. It actually wasn't insanely erotic when you compare it to the vampire stuff a lot of us are reading these days, but it was great and I was particularly impressed with Da Costa's story - lovely unexpected descriptions within a saucy set up. So I went ahead and got Gemini Heat.

Whoa! This is a book that just doesn't quit, and in terms of hotness, it makes The Black Dagger Brotherhood books look like a Marice Sendak tale.

There are these twins, Delia and Deana, sort of your regular English girls next door, one more shy, one more adventurous, but neither particularly wild and wanton. Then Delia meets billionaire Jackson "Jake" de Guile. She tells him her name is Dee and has exciting stranger sex with him at an art opening.

Fast forward: Jake thinks he's dating Dee, but it's really both twins he's dating; Deana and Delia switch off with him and breathlessly fill each other in about their escapades after. And Jake turns out to be a gaspingly creative SEX MANIAC who, well, you don't what to expect next from this guy

This is a tale of sexual escalation. The twins are sort of shocked at what they do with Jake, but they keep going, and they are sort of conflicted about the vaguely demeaning nature of it all at times, but they don't want to stop. And Jake keeps drawing them into more extreme activities. I'm just under halfway through this book, and frankly I'm a bit apprehensive about what Jake will want to do next, but nothing will stop me from reading on. Nothing!

I am especially worried about what Jake will do when he discovers they're twins, because he's just a little bit dangerous and unpredictable and he thinks he's in control of the game.

An overall thought on erotica, not that I'm an expert.
One of the marks of a great, say, paranormal is, of course, that the sex scenes move the plot forward. They're integrated, not just titillating side trips. I wonder if the case isn't reversed for erotica. In a bad erotica, the story is just filler to set up the next sex scene. In a good erotica like this, you can't extract the story from the action; the story heightens the sex scenes, and it is gripping in its own right.

Other things I'm enjoying here.
Another thing I love here is the relationship of the twins. They have really different styles of dressing, but they've created "Dee" as a composite of them, and they collaborate on what they'll wear for these dates (if you can even call them that) to achieve the right "Dee" effect. I also love their British ways, and the way they say "bloody" a lot.

The stellar description is still here, too. But it's economical and powerful and never feels long and boring. The care, for example, that Da Costa takes with a description of Jake's eyelids: "The shape of his eyes was unusual, too. In a caucasian face, they were slanted, oriental, almost cat-like. Wide-set and with thick, sooty lashes, they had a slight overfolding of the lids at the inner corners." This is a really strong image that continues to serve the reader throughout the book.

I have this book in heavy rotation with "Death of a Pirate King" and "Duke of Shadows" because frankly, "Gemini Heat" is a little too rich and hot to be consumed all at once. At least by this reader. All three of these books are so fine. I'm currently in reader heaven.

You can win Gemini Heat, people!

Go to Portia Da Costa's blog for a contest to win this book as well as Double Dare by Saskia Walker (whose work I don't know). The contest is a celebration for the joint release of Walker and Da Costa's Spice Briefs, which appears to be a new line from eHarlequin.

To win the contest, you read two excerpts and answer two questions. They're fun to read. You won't believe where Portia stops hers. Gasp!

Crazy dirty ebook deals
Eharlequin is currently running an interesting special: from 12–3 p.m. every day this week, you can get specific works from Historical Undone, SPICE Briefs and nocturne BITES for .89 cents. If you read the excerpt of Portia's story, you'll be pleased to know that hers is available for .89 cent download on Monday November 3rd between those hours. But the regular price is only $2.69, so either way it's a deal. I'll go for it whether I remember on Monday or not. And even though I don't have an ereader.

I really wish I had an ereader, but I'm too poor to buy one. Paris Hilton, if you're reading my blog, can you just send me one? I'll take any ereader that's Mac compatible. I'd be so grateful. And if you throw in a mac laptop and InDesign software, I'll dedicate my novel to you. Actually, I would. I think I will never get an ereader.

Anyway, Gemini Heat.