31 May 2010

Rainy Days And Mondays...

...always get me down. (Yes, I'm quoting The Carpenters!) And on rainy days and Mondays one pulls out a comfort read. Numerous, far more eloquent, posts have been written on the subject of comfort reads, but I wanted to add my two cents' worth.

The past weekend was my first in what feels like ages without any extracurricular activities (read familial responsibilities). Just the thought of not having to sort and/or fix anything was blissful - I felt like I had all the time in the world! (Famous last words.) Unfortunately, the stress of previous weeks and the lack of sleep caught up with me this weekend. (A similar thing used to happen during exams. I could run on adrenaline for weeks...but crash straight afterwards.) Anyway, crashing coupled with me not feeling too good (sometimes I really don't like being female), led me to hibernating (translation 'existing'). To keep me sane I immersed myself in a book - Tigers & Devils (Sean Kennedy) to be precise!

And it was SO gooooood! I've always read the various comfort read posts, nodded, and, when prompted, proceeded to list books that I like. But, I don't think I ever really understood what a comfort read was. It's a book that makes you feel...warm and fuzzy...like when you're lying in bed listening to the rain, or curled up in front of the fire in your favourite PJs, or eating your favourite food...or standing in the sun after so long in the shade. (Apologies, I've become rather overenthusiastic :) But that's what comfort reads are, yes? And, Tigers & Devils is definitely a comfort read. In oh so many ways. I was actually laughing while reading it. Yes, me - who has no sense of humour - laughing while I read a book! I couldn't have picked a better book to read this past weekend if I had tried. I adored it! I loved the warmth that oozed out of this book. I loved the main protagonist's (Simon) self-deprecating humour, the myriad and three-dimensional secondary characters and all the cultural references (most of which I got - it helps living on the other side of the Ditch [Tasman Sea])...and I loved how Simon developed as a character...how he grew and learnt to express rather than hide his emotions. Because that's so important.

The downside to finishing such an emotive book is that it's finished :( And now I feel flat. Really flat. Nothing else seems all that appealing. I re-read Simon & Declan's first meeting over lunch, but part of me just wants to re-read the entire book so I feel that emotional connection between all the characters all over again. (And I'm not just referring to the connection between the two main protagonists, but the bonds of friendship that are so apparent throughout this book.) *SIGH* I so wish the author (Sean Kennedy) was writing a sequel, but...(yes I typed in 'Tigers & Devils' and 'sequel' into Google) according to an interview at Reviews By Jesswave:
Never say never, but I’m not really sure if there could be a sequel, or at least, what the storyline could be. I love the characters – all of them, hell I would even be happy to see Jasper Brunswick pop up again to see if he could make Simon’s head explode – and although I know in my head what happened to them into the future, I just don’t know if it would work. Sometimes it’s better not to attempt it, in case you destroy the first one. Unless you plan it as a series from the get-go (which is a nice segue into your next question, yeah?).
Personally *sly grin* I think Declan's ex-boyfriend is a good candidate...

So, what is your favourite comfort read and, if this isn't too personal a question, how does it make you feel?

28 May 2010

Bye Bye Birdie

When the lovely Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos posted The One with the Bat I thought to myself that I would never experience something even close...that was, until this evening. Don't worry, it's not a bat story *grin*
It's winter down in this neck of the woods, and I decided to light my fire a little early tonight. I was just in the process of closing the wood burner door when something squeezed past....
Yup, a bird. It must have fallen down the chimney...it horrifies me what would have happened if I had shut the door just a few seconds earlier. (And yes, the bird seemed no worse for wear for it's Santa Claus attempt.) Anyway, I spent the next 5 minutes herding said frantic bird out the door...worrying all the while that my hungry cat might decide to flag the waiting time until dinner and go for take out! Luckily, my cat isn't really sure where birds fit into the grand scheme!
So, had any uninvited visitors drop by lately?

25 May 2010

Loyalty

I started Blaze of Memory (Nalini Singh) yesterday. And it's...OK. Yeah, OK. Not the response I was expecting from myself when I picked up the book. I love Nalini's books...they are so rich, so emotive the words fairly leap off the page. And normally, I'm completely invested in the journey the hero and heroine are on. But with this book I just feel...disconnected. The hero, Dev, is human, yet he's having all these protective urges...just like the changelings, except he isn't...a changeling. And he and the heroine, Katya, are getting way too close way too quickly IMHO considering their respective starting points - it feels more like mate than natural behaviour, and it just feels...wrong.

I hate thinking such thoughts about Nalini's book. I feel...almost disloyal! And I'm worried I'll feel the same about the next book, which also has a human hero. So, I'm curious, have you ever picked up a book by a favourite author and had it not work for you? And did you feel...guilty that you weren't enjoying it?

21 May 2010

Cheating?

I'm thinking about it... It's not quite what you think - I'm referring to cheating on a series, not a person (but, yes, still cheating). You see, the next Breed (Lora Leigh) book on my TBR list is Bengal's Heart. The heroine is a reporter, and the reporter heroine always annoys me. I'm not quite sure why...maybe because the reporter heroine is (almost) always forward and feisty...and because she usually goes a step too far to get the story (and thus enters TSTL territory). Plus, the reporter career is one that seems to crop up again and again and again...and I like variety *grin* And another check in the negative column is that this particular hero doesn't really do it for me. I know, I know, I'm insane!

So, I was thinking about my options: a) skip the book entirely; b) skip-read the book for the relevant overall plot arc and the introduction of any new characters; or c) read the whole book. What do you think I should do? And do you read a series in order regardless...or do you skip a book if that particular plot and/or characters doesn't interest you? I await your thoughts with bated breath!

FYI - apologies that this post is late. It was meant to appear last night but right in the middle of drafting this literary masterpiece (/sarcasm) the power cut out. Yes, again! Good thing I have non-electrical heating (aka the fire). Still, having a shower by candlelight isn't all it's cracked up to be. The power came back on just after I got out of the shower...Murphy's Law!

18 May 2010

Wanted

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to either the author or her work, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

Note: minor spoilers for Lover Mine.

Wanted: A Human. Just a human. Not a vampire, a sympath, a Moor, a Fallen Angel (have I missed anyone?) or a combination thereof. Just a human. A bona fide human...with no vampire ancestors lurking (aka Butch...and possibly Manny [I have my theories...]).

*realizes ad draft has gone seriously off track and attempts to regroup*

Wanted: A Human. Note: no drug addicts or drug dealers (or their employees) need apply because, bottom line, you'll no doubt end up as fodder for the Lessening Society, won't you?

*clears throat*

Wanted: A Human. An intelligent human. To prove to the vampire population that humans aren't all bugs or fodder or...the dregs of society. To prove that even without the ability (among other things) to bench press 700 pounds, dematerialize or retract one's teeth humans are...creative, competent, can kick a*s and have...resolve!

Wanted: A Competent Human with Resolve! To prove to the vampire population that they are becoming complacent...and that humans have...clout!

/ad

So, if you could insert a character into any series (book or TV), who would it be and why?

FYI - in case you're wondering where all of this came from, I just finished reading Lover Mine (JR Ward). Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it (although I could have done without the last chapter), but...the humans in Caldwell appear to be either drug dealers or drug addicts (and their employees) [and fodder for the Lessening Society], prostitutes, mindless drones, cruel medical personnel or incompetent police officers (well, except for Jose, who I liked). And can I just say YAH for not knowing what brands Jose was wearing when he made an appearance! Hence the need for a human character who is other than that, and no, by other I don't mean an arrogant surgeon (aka Manny), who I am sure isn't actually human (and no, that isn't a spoiler, it's a theory).

15 May 2010

Evolution

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to either the author or her work, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Evolution • noun 1 the process by which different kinds of living organism are believed to have developed, especially by natural selection. 2 gradual development. 3 the giving off of a gaseous product or of heat. 4 a pattern of movements or manoeuvres.

When Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species in 1859, I don't think he considered that I might apply his theories of evolution to writing. (Yes, I am going somewhere with this...aren't I always? *grin*)

Distinguished members of the jury, I am currently reading Lover Mine, the eighth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series by JR Ward. I would like to present Exhibit A, an excerpt from Dark Lover, the first book in the BDB series:
If it had been anyone else, Wrath would have used his favorite pair of words, fuck and off. As far as he was concerned, there were only two good positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male face down and not breathing.
But Darius was almost a friend. Or would have been one, if Wrath had let him get close.
As Wrath stood up, he closed his eyes. Hatred washed through him, directed into the center of his own chest. He despised himself for walking away, but he just wasn't the kind of male who could help some poor half-breed through such a painful and dangerous time. Gentleness, mercy, they were not in his make up.
And Exhibit B, an excerpt from Lover Mine (without spoilers):
His knees weakened and he went down like a stone through still water, collapsing by the side of the mattress. Burying his face into the softness, he drew her to him, her fragrance lingering like a memory, at once tangible and elusive.
The writing has the same feel, yes? And now, honourable members of the jury, I give you Exhibit C, also from Lover Mine (without spoilers):
Blay slipped a hand into his leather jacket and felt around for his pack of Dunhill reads. Man, nothing made him jones for a smoke more than Qhuinn's love life.
And clearly he'd be lighting up another couple coffin nails tonight...
And Exhibit D:
Naturally Qhuinn just had to open his pie hole.
I could continue, but I believe the evidence thus provided speaks for itself. Overall (and yes I'm generalizing madly here), the style (is that the right word?) of writing and language utilized has evolved as the BDB series has progressed. Do you, the jury, believe this to be the case? (Please note that I'm not on my soap box about whether this evolution is for the better or otherwise, but just trying to confirm that it isn't just me and that others have also noticed said evolution.) And, have you noticed such an evolution with any other series?

11 May 2010

The 2010 Big Book Challenge: Update

I realized last month that it's all very well to instigate a book challenge, specifically The 2010 Big Book Challenge, but...follow-up is required! So, to recap, the challenge rules are simple:

1) Read a big book, and by a big book I mean a book with more than 500 pages, before the end of 2010.

2) A review is not required (although I'm going to attempt a post detailing my thoughts on the book, or the reasons why I didn't finish it *grin*).

3) The big book can be from any fiction genre (e.g. fantasy, romance, science fiction). It can even be non-fiction.

4) No penalties if the book isn't read by the end of 2010 (because this is meant to be fun).

5) The book can be changed at any time! (Flexibility is important IMO :)

6) You can join at any time throughout the year!

To date, the participants (Title [Author]) are as follows:
- orannia (Kushiel's Dart [Jacqueline Carey]; Eclipse [Stephanie Meyer]; Lover Mine [JR Ward])
- Kerry (Ship of Destiny [Robin Hobb]; Mirror Dance [Lois McMaster Bujold]; The Ask and the Answer [Patrick Ness]; Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale [Russell T Davies & Benjamin Book]; This Alien Shore [CS Friedman]; Prophecy: Child of Earth [Elizabeth Haydon])
- Kristen (Kushiel's Chosen [Jacqueline Carey])
- Mariana (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [JK Rowling])
- Heidenkind (TBC)
- Carolyn Crane (Dune [Frank Herbert])
- Hilcia (Naamah's Kiss [Jacqueline Carey])
- Kris (The Name of the Wind [Patrick Rothfuss])
- Renee (TBC)
- Christine (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [JK Rowling])
- Leslie (Outlander [Diana Gabaldon])
- starfirenz (The Fiery Cross [Diana Gabaldon] or Kushiel's Scion [Jacqueline Carey]; Drums of Autumn [Diana Gabaldon]; The Hidden City [Michelle West]; The Killing Floor [Lee Child])
- sausconys-books (A Plague of Angels [Sheri S Tepper])
- Ag (Lord of the Rings [JRR Tolkein])
- Chris (Lover Mine [JR Ward])

And in case you're wondering how my system works, the nominated book for each participant is in italics. However, just because you may not have read your nominated book does not mean that you have yet to complete the challenge. Any book over 500 pages will qualify, so speak and you will be heard. (In other words, tell me what books over 500 pages you've read and I'll add them to the list [e.g. I read Eclipse earlier this year, which is why it appears in the list].) For those of you with TBC beside your name, have you picked your big book yet? And for those of you who have yet to join...what can I do to tempt you?

09 May 2010

This And That

Just to let you know, this is one of those posts that is going to meander...just about everywhere *grin*

Last month I was thrilled to discover that I had won second prize in the Trapped In A Restaurant Meme hosted by the lovely and very talented author of Mind Games - Carolyn Crane of The Thrillonth Page! Thank you so much Carolyn! Second prize was intended to be US$50 towards dinner at a restaurant to celebrate the release of Mind Games and the fact that one of the characters (Sterling Packard) hasn't set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for 8 years. Unfortunately, our respective locations being what they are, the logistics were rather complicated. The lovely Carolyn therefore very kindly agreed that 'mind food' was an acceptable alternative, and thus forwarded me an Amazon gift card! I have to be honest, I had the gift card spent almost instantaneously! Anyway, I thought I would share with you what I bought:

*The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara)

* Fallen from Grace (Laura Leone)

* Fragile Eternity (Melissa Marr)

* In for a Penny (Rose Lerner)

* Radiant Shadows (Melissa Marr)

A rather eclectic groups of books, yes? I'm an absolute fan of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, which explains Fragile Eternity and Radiant Shadows. And I kept hearing amazing things about In For A Penny, plus it contains two of my favourite historical romance tropes - marriage of convenience and estate rehabilitation. Fallen From Grace completely intrigues me...I can't wait to read it. And last but by no means least (because this book was actually the first book I ordered) is The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara). What can I say- m/m plus fantasy in conjunction with an stellar review by the amazingly brilliant Kris from Kris 'N' Good Books had me exceptionally eager to read this book. It's taken me a while to purchase it but soon... *rubs hands with glee* Oh, and any m/m fantasy suggestions more than welcome *grin* And yes, the gift card covered all those books (I covered the postage). So THANK YOU Carolyn! *hugs*

As of last Monday, 9 months to the day since I started my healthy eating plan, I am 100 g (0.22 lb) away my goal weight of 57.5 kg (126.5 lb). Can we say frustrated? Almost there! Trying to find the silver lining, I have lost 16.2 kg (~35.5 lb) in the last 9 months - I had to go and purchase some new jeans last weekend (Levis - I always wear Levis :) So, 100 g to go. I am so going to reach my goal!

Also, exactly two months ago today I became the proud owner of my first house! Yes, I am a first time house buyer. It...needs a lot of work, but it's all mine...well, mine and the bank's, but mostly mine!

I've also just finished watching Season 1 of Criminal Minds...can I just say I hate cliffhangers...and that I love my best friend, the wonderful Starfire from Songs & Spinnings, who is going to lend me Season 2. The question is...how much of a delay before I race around to collect it is reasonable? In the interim, I'm watching the new Stargate Universe episodes...so much plotting.
So, what's been going on in your life of late?

Edited to add: Healthy eating plan data. I can't believe I forgot to include it originally!

05 May 2010

Hostage

I know I've asked a lot of weird questions of late, but...I think this one just about takes the cake. (Obviously, I also use a lot of weird phrases while asking my questions.) *clears throat* Have you ever felt like your TBR list/pile/tower is holding your hostage? *pause* I should explain.

I finished Flesh & Spirit (Carol Berg) [fantasy] on Monday morning...and it was so good! Anyway, the fact that it was so good caused something of a dilemma. You see, I was planning to start reading Lover Mine...all 512 pages of it (*SIGH* I'm obsessed about the page count of this book. Are all 512 pages really necessary?) before I turned my attention to Breath & Bone, the sequel to Flesh & Spirit. But...I so wanted to read Breath & Bone like ASAP! Now, on any other day I would read my library books in the order of their due date (in other words, Lover Mine first), but...I was torn. So, I laid out my dilemma to my lovely (and very wise) friend Kerry from Saving My Sanity. And her response?
Totally, read what you want to read. You shouldn't be a slave to the hold list order.
And then I realized...I am! I so am! That's the downside of a huge library hold list...I just read the next book on the list, regardless of what I want to read at the time... So, I decided....to read Breath & Bone, yes, ahead of Lover Mine! *shock horror* 'Cause I should be reading what I want, when I want, right? I just needed someone else to point it out.

And all this got me to wondering...just how many others are held hostage by their TBR list/pile/tower. So, are you? Held hostage? Or do you hold the power, and read what you want, when you want?

01 May 2010

Books 2010: April Update

Total to date: 48 books (17 books this month: graphic novel [one book]; m/m romance [five books]; m/m romantic suspense [two books]; paranormal romance [one book]; suspense [two books]; urban fantasy [one book]; yaoi manga [five books])

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 14 books (five books this month)

The 2010 Big Book Challenge total to date: one book (Not Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey) - but watch this space!]

The M/M Romance Challenge 2010 total to date: 10 books (seven books this month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* By Degrees (JB McDonald)

* Death of a Pirate King (Josh Lanyon)

* Keeping Promise Rock (Amy Lane)

* The Darkest Tide (Josh Lanyon)

Books I 'did not finish':

* Eve of Destruction (SJ Day)

* Shadow Kiss (Richelle Mead)

Currently reading: Flesh & Spirit (Carol Berg)

And the book I'm most looking forward to reading next month:

* Breath & Bone (Carol Berg) [Because I just have to read it!]

* Lover Mine (JR Ward) [Well, sort of...]

So, what did you read last month?