Monday, December 9, 2013

Tuesday Review: I'm Cheating and Using a Movie!

On Saturday, I saw the Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I also saw Thor (I'm a Loki fan) and there was no losing this day. However, watching Catching Fire reminded me just how beautiful and stark and anguishing that trilogy is. The second book and movie deals with the Hunger Game "victors" after winning the games, and it's clear that there are no victors, only survivors, which Haymitch clued you into when you met him, a glass of perpetual liquor in his hand. We're now shown their current ordinary world, and it starts out the same as the first book, they're hunting for food. They're providing for their families. They're trying to forget how they live or their situation, if only for a moment.

Only now it's so much worse.

Katniss shoots at game and suddenly sees herself shooting one of the tributes. She has a breakdown. Gale--the boy she loved before the games and still feels something for but can't really be recaptured--comforts her and brings her back to her house. Victory Square or whatever they termed it. It's a completely ludicrous place, the houses beautiful, but the surroundings completely opposite. Like Spock in the middle of the Dark Ages, trying to blend in. Crazy.

It's clear Katniss has taken a horrible situation and made it a thousand percent worse for herself. If President Snow didn't like her before, he certainly doesn't like her now. She made a fool of him; she defied him; and now the other districts are looking to her, inspired by her courage to spit in the face of injustice and are rising up. However, Katniss still has her own people to protect: Prim, her mother, Peeta, and Gale--and she will do whatever it takes to do that: lie, lie, lie.

Oh, it's so darned angsty, people! You need to watch it, if you won't read the books. That is all.

In the meantime, if you wish for something a little different, I just got done reading THE SWORD DANCER by Jeannie Lin, and as usual, Jeannie's world and voice is magical and beautiful. Her setting in the Tang Dynasty is just gorgeous and feels like you could walk there in your mind. I love the bits of history and culture she shares about this history, era, and culture, without feeling bogged by too much detail, without the slant that I think some history textbooks tend to give Chinese history--like they're, oh, I don't know, not as significant, I think. Yes. But I think Jeannie Lin makes the stories and history and people of China vibrant and interesting and everyman--she's like our romance version of the guy who wrote Memoirs of a Geisha, which I also thought was a beautiful writing voice and historically interesting and even-handed.

Okay, so my questions: do you have any recommendations for books about the Asian dynasties/histories? I'm out of Jeannie's books and need something more. Also, any YA novels that have fulfilled the empty space that the Hunger Games books left? Again, looking for more to read. Lastly, I'm all hepped up on Loki and Thor and norse mythology--any recommendations there? Movies, books, maps, young single men between the ages of 30-40 who'd like to school me specifically in Loki-lore? I'm open.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Time for a Raving: BLINGED OUT

So Tuesday came without a review, though I had read two books over the last week, one about Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and one about Duck Dynasty. I know what you're thinking. How can you read two books that are virtually alike? But for me, it's glomming on a topic. I can't help myself. I was searching for a wide variety of hair secrets apparently.

I'd recommend either/both if you're into either topic...or hair. But I realize they don't really fall in the line of romantic love stories--okay, Kate does, but I assume everyone already knows it. Duck Dynasty, well, it was a lot like hanging out with the deerhunters I usually hang out with this time of year. Boy, are they crazy. Good-hearted, but crazy--which sums up the Duck Dynasty clan.

But I'm in no mood for a book talk. I want a blog talk. I miss the ship, damnit, where I could have talked about you're getting this.

Today, one of the faculty at my work came by and waved her hand, showing off the engagement ring she got over Thanksgiving. Now, she's not my favorite faculty member--due to some personality conflicts between us--but she is by no means one I don't like. (Or is that 'don't don't like'? Whatever. You get the gist.) She's really quite likable (mostly) and she's got a girl next door way about her where you'd root for her. She's funny, pretty, and personable, so about 85% of me thought, "Aww, isn't that sweet? I'm happy for her." Honest to God that's what I thought. But the other 15% floated to the top, like a turd, and reminded me how the likelihood of me getting proposed to is practically nil. And the rock sparkled so prettily and I thought, "Damnit, I want one. Why aren't I special enough to have one? I suck." And for a second I really kinda hated this faculty member.

Before I could sink completely under, my rational brain said, "Um, why are you upset? You are not in competition with this woman. Also, just three days ago, you were super happy to have your house back to yourself because you were going nuts living with someone--and that person was as low key as they come. If you got a rock, this would come with the understanding you would be living with them. Is it still worth it?" and I immediately thought, "OH, hell, no."

So then I was mildly disgusted with myself, instead of being relieved that I no longer desired a ring, because it was the ring I was jealous about and not the relationship, and I resent the very shallow person that made me. I mean, I write romance. I should NOT be obsessed about a blingy ring. I don't even wear jewelry. Where was this coming from?

Then it occurred to me. I only wanted the acknowledgement, the "reward" for being chosen as worthy enough to be someone's bride. I wanted to wave around the ring and go, "See, he chose me! He could have chose any number of other attractive girls, but he chose me. I'm special." I'm special because of a rock that has been arbitrarily assigned value. (And you'll notice I used the description "attractive" and not any other redeeming feature--like kindness or oh, anything else.)

This disgruntled me even further. Seriously, was I going to have to turn in my Feminist card in now? I thought for a second. What if I bought my own ring? Nope. Wouldn't mean the same thing. It only means something coming from some figment man prince. This was ridiculous.

I emailed Terri. Mostly because she can cut these little drama fests by at least 60%. She immediately emailed her own ring bling drama, when I mentioned what I was feeling and how sheepish I was feeling about it. She agreed it's not the ring that proves a woman's worth. A woman's worth is clearly determined by her hair.

I also emailed this to another friend of mine--and she wrote back with such ring bling drama, I immediately emailed and thanked her because no way in hell did I want a blingy ring after reading it. I was going back to the real reason for marriage, to share your life with someone, not for the accessories. My friend also reassured me that the Blingy Ring is a problem for a lot of women. I thought it was only a Jersey Shore problem, but clearly not.

So...confess, do you ever have Bling Ring Distress? Were you secretly and not so secretly thrilled when you have a Bling Ring to show proof of your man's affection for you? Do you have any Bling Ring stories to remind me how grateful I really, really am?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Reasons you should go find a copy of NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED by Sarah Maclean right this second. THIS SECOND. Ignore your family over the holiday and just read this. You will wish these people were your family.

1.) Because you'll stay up late to read it. You'll read it in the bathroom. You'll read it in the car. You'll read it while standing in line. People will think that a little green romance novel is just a natural part of your hand because you won't be able to PUT. IT. DOWN.

2.) The hero is known as the Killer Duke for killing his father's fiancé.

3.) The dead fiancé shows up to offer the Killer Duke absolution in exchange for letting go of her brother's debts. I mean, that right there, how can you not want to read that? He's been condemned for a murder he never committed--he can't remember either way--and she wants him to do her a favor? Is she kidding?

4.) The dead fiancé has a powerful right hook.

5.) The Killer Duke has powerful everything--in fact, he teaches her how to fight. Good man.

6.) The love scene in the boxing ring. SEXIEST SCENE EVER! I mean it was just fantastic. I want to read it another dozen times at least. I don't know how Sarah Maclean is able to make all her love scenes different, yet sensual and breathtaking, but kudos to her and her Muse!

7.) The Black Moment. Seriously people, stop screwing with me and hook these people up! They NEED each other!

8.) The orphans. How can you not adore a group of orphans? You just can't.

9.) The last sentence of the book. Seriously, the last sentence. I read it and went, "WHAT THE F--" and nearly sent stalking emails to Sarah Maclean demanding to see an advanced copy of the fourth book. When the hell is that book coming out anyway? It's not soon enough, I can tell you.

10.) Did I mention the love scene? Yes, the one in the boxing ring, but the other was very fantastic too...still...oh, the book was just magnificent.

Go find this book. It is why you'll be thankful this holiday season. Oh, sure, there's your health and your family and your job...whatever. This book just rounds out a glorious reasons to be thankful!

I'll wait while you read it so we can discuss. Do hurry.

What did you love about it? And if you haven't read it yet, maybe you can tempt me with another...but if you have read it, please let's discuss. Wasn't the last sentence magnificent? YES!

Monday, November 18, 2013

No Book Review This Week--Look! A Parital Quilt Top!

Sorry, but I don't have a book review this week. I've been reading all over the place. I did finally get to read and finish Terri's book and it's still awesome.

In the meantime, look here--

It's loud. It's gaudy. It's really a self-statement now that I think on it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Review: STYXX (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

OMG, I loved this book! The Dark-Hunter series is so freaking awesome--and I think I even love Styxx's story even more than Ash's and--

Let me back up a second. This book isn't for everyone. I'm the second willing to say that (I imagine Sherrilyn is first). One, it's a paranormal/fantasy setting--and if you get tired of mythology rather quickly, it won't be your gig; two, if you love Ash and you cannot bear to see him as anything less than a perfect god, you should stop reading the series...probably a couple books back; and three, boy is it graphic.

Rape. Torture. Brutality. Gods that play in the lives of humans to devastating effect. Brothers who hate each other. And like ingredients in a stew, those that are listed first are in greater amounts than the others. So the reviews on Amazon don't surprise me, having the hero raped repeatedly by a god and tortured by other gods, hardly seems the stuff of romantic novels.

But it's so good. The story, obviously, not the rape.

This is like my version of the Game of Thrones series--complex, action packed, people betraying each other all the time, but whereas George likes to kill characters willfully, Sherrilyn kills them very judiciously, so eventually you know, despite how awful the situation is, eventually, eventually, these characters will have a happily ever after of some kind because by God, they deserve it. This isn't to say she hasn't sacrificed a Dark-Hunter or two to show just how perilous these guys live. BUT it's logged as a romance, so hey, you have a trump card that says, "These two people work out SOMEHOW." No matter what.

This is not to say you won't question the happy ending over and over during your time reading the book. You'll be reading along, realizing you have about 50 pages left, and everyone is in extreme mortal danger. Hell, the main character has just been killed. How are they going to resurrect the guy anyway? Somehow Sherrilyn makes it work out without you ever thinking, "Oh, that was so easy." It's never easy. It's an earned HEA.

Who will love this: those of us who love dark, emotional dramas.

Who will hate this: those of us who read to escape dark, emotional dramas.

Whichever one of these you are, that's my recommendation.

What are you reading?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tuesday Review: THE WICKED WALLFLOWER (Maya Rodale)

I will admit this up front: this one came in a pile of potential review books from Avon. I think they know the authors in the pile were hits and misses for me, so they just gave me a handful and hoped for the best. But I was out of things to read and the titles were really good.

This one drew my particular attention: THE WICKED WALLFLOWER by Maya Rodale. Because I love wallflowers, especially wicked ones. Except I had read a Maya Rodale book before and had gotten annoyed with the anachronisms piled in the pages. It's fiction we're reading, but my limit of suspended belief can be quite small when it comes to the Regency period. Especially when the dialogue between characters is very much like the dialogue from the Vampire's just not...effective setting for me. And setting is very important to me in historicals. I need to believe my setting and the people who are living in it.

So I wasn't sure if I would like this book, from past experience. Then I read the back blurb and I knew I would at least have to try to read it. It sounded hilarious.

Aside from a few Vampire Diaries contemporary-esque dialogue exchanges, I was sucked into a fun romp between the heroine and her friends, all wallflowers. They were getting a little tipsy on sherry; and they were trying to figure out how to make the heroine's beau come up to scratch--and goofing around, one of them wrote up an announcement for the heroine to the Duke of Ashbrooke, who is everything opposite of her beau. Then by some mysterious horrible mistake: the announcement is put in the NEWSPAPER. The Duke of Ashbrooke catches wind of this and decides to use it for his own purposes. His reputation is so shot, his own beloved aunt won't invite him to partake in the Fortune Games this year--so he thinks bringing a suitable fiance will go about fixing his kinship.

It was the aunt and the Fortune Games where I really fell in love with this book. Clearly a hilarious montage of Survivor and the Hunger Games, relatives and friends that the aunt invites are allowed to participate to try to win her favor--and be named in the will for that year. If she dies that year, they win everything. These games have been going on for years. There are plenty of desperate and slightly dangerous relatives competing in this. The Duke is rather desperate for it himself, even though he's not destitute. He wants to make...well, it's the Regency version of a computer--and I have to hand it to Ms. Rodale for the historical part of this because this was very believable and well written. To make his version of the "computer", he needs 50,000 pounds...which he'd get if he won the games and his aunt died (though he doesn't really want her to die, just so we're clear.)

The romance and growing tension between the hero and heroine was very well done--I enjoyed their growth as a couple; and I loved Ashbrooke as a hero, who while yes self-serving, did adore his aunt greatly...and came to adore the heroine just as much if not more so. Emma, the heroine, was feisty and fun and clever. And the aunt--she's Betty White/Maggie Smith a la Regency period. Hysterical.

I'm very glad I put aside my experience with the previous book, because I enjoyed this one thoroughly! Well worth a read. (Though, yes, if contemporary dialogue irks you in historicals, there will be FEW problems here and there for you. If it doesn't, you'll probably enjoy the romp outright! The Fortune Games! So hilarious!)

What are you reading?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I love it when I receive a review book that I means I get to read it before everyone else. *evil laugh*

Julia Quinn's Bridgertons left its mark on the romance world much like the Brady Bunch left its mark on the TV world--there are things we say because of the Bridgertons. There are games we play (crochet) just for the joy of "pulling a Bridgerton". And one of those marks is the Smythe-Smith Musical, held every year for the torture of everyone who attends, but most especially those who have to play in it. Oh, if there was just a way to get out of it!

There is. You get married.

And Lady Sarah Pleinsworth is determined to get married this year come hell or highwater. Too bad she has to spend the next couple weeks, doing the HUGE favor Honoria Smythe-Smith asked of her, keep Lord Hugh Prentice company. The rat bastard.

If it wasn't for Hugh, she could have gotten married three years ago, when FOURTEEN engagements took place that season. FOURTEEN. It was unprecedented. It's not been repeated. Did she mention this is her third season? And that it's Lord Hugh Prentice's fault she missed out on that particular season? (I'm sure Hugh would have been more understanding of his fault in this if Sarah had explained it in deerhunting terms.)

For the first half of this book--for reasons I can understand as a writer--I did not much care for Sarah OR Hugh. Though perhaps more especially I didn't like Sarah, but really, they were both pretty damned intolerable and for a while I thought Ms. Quinn might have written a bit of stinker, but like the magical writer she is and can be, around page 190, something miraculous happened and I started falling in love with this couple as they began to stop biting each other's head off and started trying to understand each other.

So that's probably my biggest suggestion--stick it out, it gets really emotional and really sigh-worthy. Things start to make sense. And then you get to meet Hugh's dad, who is the real asshat of this book, and you get a black moment that makes you want to reach in the book and choke the man yourself.

Feel assured this is a good pick to treat yourself to. Recommend! 4 out of 5 stars for me. :) I do love these musical books!

What are you reading?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


As always, Terri is saving my hiney again.

I read a book I was going to review, but the book took like two weeks to read and I was really quite irked by several things. I realized there was no way I could review the book...because you know, it probably wasn't the book, it was probably me. So basically Monday night I was all: I got nothing.

Then I remembered: today is Terri's release day for UP TO THE CHALLENGE, which, while I haven't read the last finished version, I do know it's awesome and well worth voila! I have a review! Thank you, Terri!

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday Review: TRUE SPIES

This time I know this book is a follow up to LORD AND LADY SPY, by Shana Galen, unlike the time where I blogged about the awesome spy book...and it was by another author. Yeah.

Nope, this time, right author, right series, and awesome--just bloody awesome. Go seek it out--it's action-packed, comical, and oh so romantic! TRUE SPIES was truly worth the wait.

If you saw the movie TRUE LIES with Jamie Lee Curtis, you've got the premise for this book. Just as LORD AND LADY SPY was essentially the premise from MR. & MRS. SMITH, but better--this sequel lives up to its predecessor. It's hilarious. I'd be reading, something would happen, I'd laugh hysterically until I was nearly crying, and...REPEAT. Best of all, we got to visit with beloved characters from the other book...and we met new characters that had me dying to get my hands on the next book. I so, so hope there will be a third.


He's Getting Tired of Deception...
Baron Winslow Keating is honor-bound to finish one last mission as an elite spy for the Barbican group even though he just wants to go home and be with his family. But after years of secrecy and absence, his daughters hardly know him and his wife has given up on him...

She Wants to Try a Little Intrigue...
Lady Elinor has had enough of domestic boredom. She contemplates an affair with a rakish spy, only to discover a world of intrigue and treachery that she never knew existed. Even more shocking, her neglectful husband is suddenly very attentive—quite the jealous type—and apparently there is much more to him than she ever knew...

I loved Elinor's character--she's loved her husband ever since she met him, but she is so tired of being ignored by him. She decides to embark on an affair with a SPY--but suddenly her husband, who hasn't noticed the first thing about her in years, is doing everything he can to win her back. But she won't fall in love with him again just to have him go back to ignoring her. Nor will she put up with his antics at winning their children's affection again only to disappear, which he's excellent at.

Winn is done with the spy business. He's got Danny Glover's philosophy--he's getting too old for this shit. He wants his family back--except now it appears his wife is more than ready to move on. On top of it, suddenly she has started wearing revealing dresses and flirting with other men--young pups at that! He needs to finish this last assignment and get his wife back before its too late.

What I really enjoyed about this story was just how broken their marriage was. They clearly still cared for each other but it really felt as if their happily ever after was never a foregone conclusion. And not because one or the other's lives was in danger, but their marriage--you really wondered about their marriage and how they were going to find each other again. It was so romantic to watch them fall in love again. *happy sigh*

I read this book in one Sunday afternoon--because I couldn't put it down and I could barely bring myself to do laundry because, well, I needed to read this book. I think you need to read this book too.

That's my recommendation. What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I know that movie GRAVITY came out over the weekend or so, but there's no way I want to watch it. Not even with a group of friends beside me going, "It's just a movie!" I'm not a fan of flying in general; and the thought of going into outer space holds even less appeal.

But the women of the 1950s and 1960s does appeal to me. They're the precursors of the second wave of women's lib, and I just find women in this time period thriving and surviving utterly fascinating. All my understanding of women at this time is that they were all wonderful cooks, perfect mothers, and the hostess with the mostess. Apparently this is the myth the culture worked so hard to create.

THE ASTRONAUTS WIVES CLUB is a memoir of sorts (written by an outsider, who did research on these women, because oddly enough: no one had written about them before) of the wives of the first astronauts. The Mercury 7, then the ones who followed for the Gemini and Apollo missions. (I believe they're referred to as the 7, 14, and 19, in the book, but some of the astronauts seem to overlap and I never quite figured that part out. It would have been nice to have a few pages where it listed everyone so I knew the "cast" better.)

So imagine you're a woman in this era, married to a test pilot, and he gets recommended for a project of taking man to the moon. You're a good wife--it scares you to death, obviously, but if your husband really wants to do this, you'll support him. As soon as you agree to this, you basically enter a realm of a precursor to the show Big Brother, where media is filming you all the time, watching your every move. But unlike Big Brother, where you are encouraged to be yourself and let it all hang out for the sake of the experiment, you know you have to put up a stoic front at all times, never let them catch you unawares, and if the worse should happen, respond with, "He died doing what he loved." Oh, and while you're playing this role, you're also basically raising your kids as a single mom; and if you're truly blessed, your husband loves to cat around and NASA doesn't care so long as you never meet the cookie on the side. Good times.

On the upside, you have a group of women all in the same boat as you. You meet, you have coffee, you talk, but because of this role you need to play to make sure your husband gets to go to space (after all, only marriages that were solid allowed the men the "prime" spots), you didn't get to talk about what really matters: my husband is cheating, my husband may die, or anything of significance. You do get to laugh a bit at the whole "NASA expects me to cook my husband a hearty breakfast each morning of steak and eggs"--because ironically several of these women weren't really good cooks. Or so the book seems to imply. At least cooking was not the skill these men married them for.

And what happens in the end, when you've given the best performance of your life, loved these men to the best of your ability--and his ability to let you, they divorce you. The fake it until you make it does not work here; and many of these marriages burned out. Of course, what was great was reading how these women were even preparing for that disaster and made new lives and careers for themselves, always thriving and surviving next to their glamorous, exciting astronaut husbands, whom they were admonished NOT to steal the spotlight from.

But in this book, the spotlight is all on them--and I applaud them. What great, courageous, wonderful, loving women--and in several of the astronauts' cases, what wonderful husbands as well. I loved reading and getting to know all of them; and I can only hope this book reaches even more readers and shares the histories and hopes and fears and successes of these women with the world.

I agree with some of the reviews it got a little confusing after you got to know the Mercury 7 wives; however, I was able to press on and keep most of it straight--and what I couldn't figure out, Google helped. I recommend with enthusiasm.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hellie at Sea


Although the Romance Writer's Revenge has sailed off into the sunset, and all the bonnie pirates have skedaddled to various seas of their own to pillage, please be reassured that you'll still be able to find the pirates at their various spots. Facebook. Twitter. The closest bar with rum in it.

I myself couldn't go long without posting a review or two, so I'll redirect my blogs here for best books I've read lately and whatnot. And if I have any other shining news to share, this is where it'll be done. I doubt it will have the regularity of the RWR, but I'll do my best.

In the meantime, do not panic. We're still here.

And yes, I still have Jack. He's mine.