Friday Finds (Feb 27)

friday_finds1I’ve been keeping a tally all week so I could participte in Miz B’s Friday Finds again! Ever since I started paying more attention to book blogs, reviews, and yes, even making a few “friends” dare I call you, on the internet to share recommendations my TBR has grown exponentially. In the past it was usually only 2 or 3 books I picked up from the library with little or no research, and I almost always disliked at least one of them, so things are much improved these days!

Without further ado, here is what I have on deck:

From the library –

  • Never Seduce a Scoundrel by Sabrina Jeffries (no research on this one, was just on the Romance Paperback display and the blurb sounded interesting)
  • These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer (I really liked The Black Moth when I read it a while ago and wanted to try something else)
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (trying to mix things up, I have heard about this book all over the mass media and it’s in the window of every book store)

From other sources-

  • Family Plots by Mary Patrick Kavanaugh (again just to mix up my reading habits with something a little different; I was intrigued by Cheryl’s review)
  • Velvet Glove by Emma Holly (found a good review while stalking the archives of the Smart Bitches)
  • Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee (recommended by my recently engaged friend Danni while sharing wedding cake advice)

I have a feeling I won’t be good company for hubby this weekend as I really want to make a dent in these excellent finds!

Gump’s momma might have said…

A book is like a box of chocolates in more than one way. When you open a used book you never know what notes, bookmarks, dedications, margin squiggles you might find! Maybe it’s the “voyeur” in me but I love the insight I get into other people’s thoughts.

 The not so good surprises are random stickiness (I found gum in one!), pet/people hair, and excessive highlighting/underlining/gross drawings. In my Count of Monte Cristo I got from my high school’s UBS for a class in 11th grade almost every page had a penis drawn on it. Sigh, high school boys…

One thing that I’m all over like stink on a skunk is other people’s old library receipts. I just borrowed A Summer To Remember by Mary Balogh and look what was inside:

library_receipt3

Is it weird that I looked up the other books on the list to see if I should get those also? Or that I got a sense of satisfaction or kindredship with this stranger by seeing that I also read Definitely Dead? So people, if you use the DC or Arlington libraries, please leave your receipts for me!

I Picked Up Two Lovers in Madison Square Garden

The other weekend I went to visit my bestie, J, by taking the preferred form of transportation of any hipster/yuppie going from DC to NYC – the bus. Chinatown to Chinatown is so passe, the most popular ones now that I have tried are Vamoose and DC2NY, and I haven’t had much need to complain. This trip was no different, but I had an especially good ride home since I had an excellent experience at the Borders in Madison Square Garden while waiting for the bus to come!

I marched in, TBR list in hand, proud of my recent newfound knowledge that I apparently enjoyed reading the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and had 10 minutes to find the top 2 books on my list. I found the sci-fi/fantasy section immediately but couldn’t find the books I wanted; the store was HUGE and I did not want to be late for the bus and fight the masses in line to get a good seat. So to the customer service desk I went!

There I met the most helpful, friendly, romance-knowledgeable Border’s person I’ve ever come across. She was also in her mid- 20’s, cute in a dorky way, awkward hand gestures, smudged glasses, lots of eyeliner, and a neon violet top, and was so eager to help. When I told her the 2 books I had trouble finding she replied with “OOOh that’s cuz they are in the Romance section, I love those books, have you read x,y,z yet?” Wait what? I always go to the Romance section first but my experience with Sookie Stackhouse made me all backwards! How awkward of me.

As we walked down the romance aisle she made multiple recommendations, pulled 7 books off the shelves, filled me in on the order of certain series…we were getting along swimmingly, and then…she asked if we could trade email addresses so she could share future recommendations with me.

The aloof city dweller in me immediately shot her down, gesturing to my TBR list of 30 books, giving the excuse that obvi I did not need her recs (but I’m always looking for new recs! What a sad excuse for not wanting to give out my email) She looked dejected and I was immediately sorry, but couldn’t change my mind. It was just a gut reaction and now I feel bad about it.

What is wrong with me, this is exactly why I started this blog!

But thank you anways Border’s Girl! You were a fabulous help, gave me great recs (but I couldnt buy all 7 books or hubby’d kill me, I already spent too much $$$$ in the City), and I really liked you! If anyone is ever in NYC looking for a paranormal romance, she is your gal!

So what did I leave the store with? Yes, that’s right, I picked up two lovers to entertain me: Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dark Lover by J. R. Ward. Read on for my thoughts:

Continue reading

RANDUM83

I love randomness, the little things that are just slightly out of the norm that make up the world around us. My college room-mate, now an uber successful Hill staffer, let’s call her Hill Gal (and current neighbor…well we both live in Dupont/U Street/Logan Circle area, sigh, confusing in-between neighborhood area), also loved randomness, so much so that her screen name was RANDUM83 (yes it was all caps and I never asked if she misspelled it but always assumed someone else had the screen name random83, also I’m 99% sure she isn’t on AIM anymore). So now whenever Hill Gal, J and I start an email chain with an anecdote from our fabulous lives it is usually titled something like: The most ranDUM83 thing happened…

If Einstein said: “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous,” then I say: Randomness is God’s way of entertaining a Lusty Reader.

Tonight I was walking the mutt, Kedzie, by one of my most frequented books stores in Dupont Circle, Books-A-Million (where I purchased both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, these events make the store a land-mark in my life) when a nice, African-American, homeless man added a bit of ranDUMness to my day. As we walked by he made eye contact with Kedzie and greeted her directly by saying, “Hello, my brother.”

Even stranger is this is the SECOND time she has been greeted in such a fashion. Yes, she is black, I wanted to reply she is even an Obama fan! But he wasn’t addressing me so I gave my usual city-tight-lipped-smile and tugged on her leash.  The sidewalks in DC are always full of entertainment!

Kedzie_Washington_Monument

Savannah Blues, by Mary Kay Andrews

savannah_bluesSo I’m just going to go ahead and review Savannah Blues, because I can’t get it off my brain! As you know my recent gleefulness has been due to the fun I have been having reading about Weezie and Bebe, thus I shall waste no more time to exclaim, this is the best readI have had so far this year! Total grade comes out to an A-, with only a few details preventing it from achieving the A+++++ Miss. Shields scrawled across the chalkboard as she exclaimed over Ralphie’s theme:

miss_shields

Google Images = God for finding this!

Miss. Shields: Oh! The theme I’ve been waiting for all my life. Listen to this sentence: “A Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time”. Poetry. Sheer poetry, Ralph! An A++++!

In my mind’s eye, whenever I lurve something I see that scene from A Christmas Story.

Back to the subject at hand; the blurb goes like this:

Landing a catch like Talmadge Evans III (see what I mean about Southern names?!) got Eloise “Weezie” Foley a jewel of a town house in Savannah’s historic district. Divorcing Tal got her exited to the backyard carriage house, where she has launched a spite-fest with Tal’s new fiancée, the elegant Caroline DeSantos.

An antiques picker, Weezie combs Savannah’s steamy back alleys and garage sales for treasures when she’s not dealing with her loopy relatives or her hunky ex-boyfriend. But an unauthorized sneak preview at a sale lands Weezie smack in the middle of magnolia-scented murder, mayhem . . . and more. Dirty deals simmer all around her — just as her relationship with the hottest chef in town heats up andshe finds out how delicious love can be the second time around.

Read on for my thoughts: Continue reading

Friday Finds (Feb 20)

friday_findsAs I count down the minutes ’till I can leave my desk I found MizB’s meme Friday Finds and thought I’d while away the last bit of time before I can head home for the weekend by joining!

This week I added the following books to my To Be Read (TBR) pile:

  • Isn’t It Romantic, by Ronda Thompson (the review on The Scarlet Corset intrigued me, but she got it at a garage sale and it looks like it’s out of print, sadness)
  • Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase (I’ve heard a million good things about it and can’t believe I’ve never read it! After seeing it has been #1 on AAR’s top 100 Romances for the past 9 years I need to pick it up ASAP)
  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (and others in the series), by C.S. Forester (I can’t remember how I heard about these originally)
  • Fast Friends, by Jill Mansell (recommended by a friend who just moved back from London)

When I will get around to ordering/reading these, who knows! First stop…the library! Have a good weekend ya’ll!

Bet Me and Faking It

A two for one special today kids, a lightning review round of Jennifer Cruise’s Bet Me and Faking It. I read these both a few weeks ago and have been procrastinating with my reviews, mainly because I really thought I was going to love them both after reading all the snark-free, positive reactions to them on my favoritest of all favorite book blogs Smart Bitches Trashy Books, and when I didn’t love them I wasn’t sure how to admit it.

First is the worst: Faking It

fakingitI think I was tired and not paying attention when I was reading this one, and was just skimming the words or something because I never got into it, I never got inside Tilda or Davy’s heads, I just didn’t get them or like them. My favorite character was Tilda’s sister – Eve/Louise, if I had my ‘druthers Cruise would have written her romance story with Tilda and Davy as secondary characters instead. The only thing I loved about Tilda was her Scarlet created furniture, I would just DIE for a brightly painted jungle on a dresser, or a butterfly headboard! But this is a D grade for me, sadness, sorry!

Second is the best: Bet Me 

betmeI loved both the Heroine and Hero, Min and Cal, thought their personalities, quirks, and hopes were well developed, well written, and attractive as a reader. I especially loved Min’s shoe fetish, incongruous with the rest of her demure look. I believed their attraction to each other, but the main device that kept them together was stretched far too thin and left out to dry far too long for me. Can you guess what it was?

If you guessed a BET you’d be right! This was similar to the typical “Big Misunderstanding” plot line and this bet had the stamina of the Engergizer Bunny. Overall rating: solid B, I would read it again and if anyone told me they were going to read it I wouldn’t dissuade them, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a must buy or must have.

Given that Cruise is so popular and I have heard gobs of great things about her I would definitely read other books by her in the future.

Sorry, I don’t have a third is the one with a hairy chest this week…I haven’t even read any books recently where they mention a hairy chest either, is everyone metro and waxing these days in literature?

That which a Southerner calls a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet

What’s in a name? Specifically, what’s in a name of characters in literature? Sometimes I really wonder how authors came up with the names of their characters, like how many alpha-male romance Heroes are named Devlin or Hawk. Sometimes these over the top names bother me (Spur Atwater in a recent read comes to mind, even though the author explained he was named after the town in Texas in which he was born), but when done right a ridiculous name can suit the character and even enhance their personality and like-ability in my eyes.

In my current read (which I am still squealing over like a little girl) Savannah Blues, the Heroine is called Weezie (short for Eloise) and her bff is Bebe (pronounced like bay-bay, like in French). Both names have the capacity to annoy, but instead I LOVE THEM. Again, I think this is due to my love of the South.

Going to college in Winston-Salem, NC on tobacco road inured me to guys’ names such as Tripp, Trey, Hudson, Rippy and Buford, and girls’ names such as Radford, Benson, Pearson, and Creighton and so many Mary-hyphen-somethings…(yes these are all REAL).

Southerners also have an obsession with giving their child a name, but calling them some absurd nickname. When I attended my friend Pho’s play last week (he is on the stage crew) “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” this obsession was perfectly personified by Tennessee Williams with the children of Mae and Gooper (I hope that was not his real name). I totally cracked up at this part of the play: 

Maggie: But Mae, why did yall give your children dawgs’ names? Dixie, Trixie, Buster, Sonny, Polly? Sounds like 4 dogs and a parrot!!!
Mae: You know the real names of our kiddies, Buster’s real name is Robert, Sonny’s real name is Saunders, Trixie’s real name is Marlene and Dixie’s…
[Interrupted by a call off-stage]
Maggie: Will we ever know Dixie’s and Polly’s real names?

Too distracted to write much

I have a few draft posts that I need to clean up and finish, but I can’t! I’m too distracted and squee-ing over my current read Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews. I found it on accident at the library (as is my wont) – a friend had recommended some “attic” thing-y by VC Andrews, but after I asked if there was romantic element (there was) was there a happily-ever-after ending(there wasn’t) I wasn’t super inspired to pick up anything from the series right away.

But while I was looking for Watership Down by Richard Adams to relive my childhood I saw the VC Andrews books and thought I would just have a peek at the back covers, but I accidentally took down a book by Mary Kay Andrews instead! I still have almost 200 pages to go in Savannah Blues and I can’t put it down!!! I took a 2 hour lunch break and was cracking myself up, loving Weezie and BeBe’s humor!

It was serendipity for me to pick it up anyways, as hubby and I were just “discussing slash arguing” about where we were going for our 1 year wedding anniversary trip (if we get to go ANYWHERE in this stupid recession) and my list included Savannah, Charleston, or New Orleans. Both of us picked up a love of the South when we went to college together in North Carolina and I am always wanting to visit ya’ll. So now after 214 pages I reeeeeally want to go to Savannah!

forsyth_park_savannah

Trivia I Learned From Books, Vol. 1

No matter what genre I’m reading, I always pick up new vocab and trivia as I turn the pages. I usually don’t have to go to the dictionary too often, but will definitely visit Wikipedia and Google all the time. For instance, now I know what people are talking about when they say, “She looked finer than a Gainsborough,” or “He was heavier than Prinny,” or “His artfully ruffled hair could have rivaled Byron’s” (in the latter I always imagine Hugh Grant in Notting Hill explaining his nick name as “Floppy”). I just realized those trivia bits give away my love for Regencies, boy do I know a lot about England in the early 1800’s!

 hughgrant lordbyron2

 

Recently I have been reading contemporaries; here are two bits of heretofore unknown trivia I wanted to share:

 

1. Glenlivet: as in, “Spur consoled himself with a shot of Glenlivet.” Or as in, “Cal’s neighbor always had his favorite on hand, Glenlivet.” (Both quotes are paraphrased)

 

glenlivet1From the context I could infer that this was some type of liquor, but when it showed up back-to-back in two separate books I knew I had to learn more about it. Both Spur Atwater in Dixie Cash’s My Heart May Be Broken, but My Hair Still Looks Great and Calvin Morrisey from Jennifer Cruise’s Bet Me were Glenlivet drinkers.

 

Apparently it is whiskey made in Scotland and is the biggest selling malt whiskey in the US. You couldn’t force me to drink the stuff and hubby is a Jack Daniels fan, so we are not of the population making Glenlivit #1 in this country. Maybe we should have some on hand in our house for guests since it is so popular?

 

2. Queen Anne chair: as in, “Meredith took comfort in her upscale apartment with her Queen Anne chairs.” Or as in, “Isabel lost everything, even her Queen Anne chairs.” (again paraphrasing)

 

queenannechair1Both of these characters (Meredith Bancroft from one of my all time fav’s Paradise, and Dr. Isabel Favor from SEP’s Breathing Room) were well off, so while I could assume these were nice antique pieces, why are people so into this particular type of chair? Wikipedia was not a big help on this one, but supposedly the Queen Anne style originated just after her reign in 1720ish and it is the most reproduced of all American furniture. The designs are curvy, with scallops and were some of the first furniture to be upholstered. I don’t know if Meredith or Isabel were meant to have original antiques, but I found the Queen Anne chair style for sale at Pottery Barn for $250 each and an original antique one for about $900.

 

So now I know! And I can drop Glenlivet and Queen Anne style furniture into my everday conversation!