My July Escapist Reads

Boy oh boy did I need to escape life this month. Amidst all the fun social things (2 weddings, Billy Joel & Elton John concert, RWA, romancelandia blogger get togethers) I have been unbeLIEVably stressed about real life stuff.

Hubby and I are serioulsy house hunting. This has caused some serious “discussions” (aka arguments) about what, where, when, how? What do we want, house or condo? Where do we want, vibrant night life, quiet residential, upscale neighborhood, “transitional” neighborhood? When can we move? We have more weddings and our own ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY coming up! And how.

Good lord, the how, how will we pay for it?

Also I think I may now have an ulcer just thinking that my savings account, future paychecks, life, body and soul are going to belong to a bank. They still take payments in the form of a pound of flesh, right? Cuz I have a few pounds I’d like to get rid of…

We recently found a fabulous place in our current neighborhood (Logan Circle for you DC peeps) but hubby was worried about lack of storage space. This is the insanity I have to deal with:

Him: I don’t think it’s the right place for us. There is nowhere to put the stroller.

Me: WHAT stroller?!

Him: For when we have a baby.

Me: We are not NOT buying a house because you don’t know where you would put the stroller for our potential future baby that we DON’T EVEN KNOW WHEN WE’RE GOING TO HAVE!!!

Followed by wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But the best way for me to relax? To read. And so I did. LOTS.

July 2009 Finished Reading List

  1. Gone, Michael Grant A
  2. The Mirror,Marlys Millhiser A
  3. Practice Makes Perfect, Julie James A-
  4. Mara, Daughter of the Nile,Eloise Jarvis McGraw re-read from a looong time ago A-
  5. Duke Most Wanted, Celeste Bradley A-
  6. What I did for Love, Susan Elizabeth Phillips B+
  7. This Lullaby,Sarah Dessen B+
  8. Hunger, Michael Grant B
  9. To Taste Temptation, Elizabeth Hoyt B
  10. To Seduce a Sinner, Elizabeth Hoyt B
  11. To Beguile a Beast, Elizabeth Hoyt B-
  12. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith B-
  13. The Thirteenth Tale,Diane Setterfield B-
  14. Lord of Pleasure,Delilah Marvelle B-
  15. My Wicked Marquess,Gaelen Foley C+
  16. Every Breath You Take,Judith McNaught C
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Legend of Four Soldiers series, by Elizabeth Hoyt 3in1 review

It’s time for a blitzkrieg review! Maybe that has too much of a negative connotation…review-blitz? lighting round review? Since I have been reading at the speed of light (8 books in 7 days = speed of light, it’s science) it is only fitting I do a quick review round.

I just finished the first three books in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Legend of Four Soldier series, and the fourth is set to release this fall. Here is what I thought in a nutshell:

B Grade for all of them. No squeeing from my corner, but no waves of dislike, thought they were “good books,” but would only re-read one.

Sigh, I’m not ‘splainin this very well, am I?

Here is the thing-the characters were fresh and new, even slightly unconventional because:

  1. none of the 3 heroines were virgins (gasp!)
  2. one of the heroines had been deeply in love with her previous husband, who returned her love (double gasp!)
  3. one of the heroines started out as another man’s Kept Woman, Mistress, member of the Demimonde, etc etc etc
  4. one of the heroes was “comical looking,” never described as attractive, just funny looking (wtf?)
  5. one of the heroes was missing one eye, 2 fingers on one hand, and had half his face burnt off

Since I read SO MANY romance novels, I definitely appreciate when an author goes off the beaten path of romancelandia a little bit, and mixes things up. But EVERY hero and heroine? I mean EVERY one of them had to have something weird? I think reading all three back to back in two days maybe was a bit much for me.

Not to say I didn’t like them, I just didn’t lurrrve any of them. I found that I have a surprisingly strange affinity for the “old school” romance tropes and traditional characters of yore.

Onto specifics…

Book 1: To Taste Temptation

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Emmeline totally reminds me of one of my favorite characters of all time, Jane Austen’s Emma. Emmeline is forever speaking of men’s annual incomes, guiding younger girls through treacherous social waters, facilitating matches, and is very secure with her good standing in society. However she is still rocked by the losses of the three closest men whom she had loved most dearly and always expected them to be there for her: her father, her husband, and her brother.

Speaking of her brother, Reynaud, he served in the Colonies but was killed after a massacre at “Spinner’s Falls” during the French and Indian War. The American scout from his troupe, Samuel, is our Hero and he has come to England because the massacre at Spinner’s Falls was no accident! They were betrayed! So he prances around London in his moccasins determined to find the traitor so he can finally rest easy.

Emmeline and Samuel are so opposite that of course they are attracted to each other. And HOT DAMN are the love scenes sizzling! I can’t think of any other “traditional full length” romance novels I’ve read recently that seemed so…erotic. Maybe it’s a new to me publisher?

Overall it was a fun read, although Emmeline’s main reason for not wanting to be with Samuel reversed itself a little too quickly for me at the end, I would still say it was a good book. That is all.

Book 2. To Seduce a Sinner (PS I love the titles)

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 So this was my favorite of the three. I was intrigued by plain and quiet Melisande as Emmeline’s best friend in the first book and I was so happy to see she was the next heroine! So now she has been in love with the “comical looking” gentleman (whom I mentioned before) named Lord Vale, for the past 6 years, but he didn’t even know her name! For shame man! And of course Lord Vale also was part of the troupe at the Spinner’s Falls massacre so with Samuel on newlywed cloud 9 bcak in good old America, Vale has to take over the investigate to exorcise his demons. Although he acts the entertainer in Society, he has depths that no one recognizes, except Melisande of course!

Again, their sex scenes were very provocative, but overall I just really liked Melisande, and the scene at the end where Vale gives her a gift that represents her from the outside and inside I was in romancelandia heaven. Sooo cute.

Book 3. To Beguile a Beast

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And here we have the gorgeous blonde Fallen Woman, Helen Fitzwilliam, paired with the disfigured man, Sir Alistair Monroe. The scars, of course, received from his torture by Indains following the Spinner’s Falls massacre. And NO the traitor has not been found yet!

There have been ooodles and oodles of raving reviews of this book around the ‘net, so again while I wasn’t OMGobsessed with this book, I still thought it was quite good. It’s just not my escapist fantasy to clean a disgusting old Scottish castle with a mean and ugly man living it. Also – Yes, this is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, and Yes I thought Ms. Hoyt handled Alistair’s disfigurement well, how he needed to cope with it, and how Helen was able to look past it.

Lastly I am VERY MUCH looking forward to the release of Book Four: To Desire a Devil (have I mentioned I adore these titles?) in November 2009. Because it has one of my favorite romance/soap opera plot points of ALL TIME: the hero COMES BACK FROM THE DEAD! Lalalalala – that is me skipping and signing with joy. Oh I adore heroes who come back from the dead, and this time it is Emmeline’s brother, Reynaud. Can’t wait!

Burning books

Alternate titles: Cooking the Books, Cook(ed) Book

I have zero tolerance for biblioclasm regardless of someone’s moral, religious, or political objections to the contents. The destruction of books is what is REALLY morally wrong to me, burning the material solves nothing and only serves to vilify the biblioclast. I’m looking at you 2nd Century BC China, multiple destroyers of the ancient Library of Alexandria, conquistadors and missionaries in Central America, and of course the Nazis (great summation of biblioclasm events here).

And don’t even get me started on the “banned books list,” I’ve read so many of these that are absolutely harmless, and if the content is offensive and/or disturbing? (I’m looking at you American Psycho) Then JUST DON’T READ IT. Self-censorship = genius in my eyes.

God knows I started reading rated R books at age 13 and I would be lost without any of my lust and sex filled romance novels today.

But this post is not about censorship, or such serious topics as challenging book bans, or the transgressions of book burning.

It’s about how I, proud and lusty reader, full of love-for-books…burned my first book last week.

By accident, jeez!

(well except for that time I held a Destruction Ceremony for my Calculus textbook in college after failing it twice and finally getting an A senior year. Yeah, take that Calculus!)

How could this “accidental book burning” occur with such a bibliophile as myself?

Well, do you notice anything odd in this picture of my bookshelf? This is one of those “which of these is not like the other?” games:

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While lustily preparing hubby’s and my dîner fantastique with our lengthily titled wedding present of Better Homes and Gardens Bridal Edition Cook Book(still not sure what is “bridal-y” about it, it is just normal recipes, nothing about holding hands with your new husband while you knead the dough, or how to decorate your newlywed kitchen, or where to put your wedding ring when you’re cooking…) so anyways, while preparing our delish diner I got a leeeetle distracted and burnt the book.

Can you guess how?

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 You don’t have to be Miss. Marple or Dick Tracy to note the matching spiral burnt-shape on the book and stove-top.

While preparing the ingredients with the recipe open on the stove (we don’t have much counter space, this is my defense) I accidentally turned on the burner instead of the oven.

I will NOT share with you how often I do that. But this is the first time I have turned a burner on with something flammable on top of it. So I cooked that cook book good.

Whoopsie.

Hubby was very curious as to why our baked chicken caused the air to smell like burnt paper.

And that is the story. Of the time. I literally was cooking the books.

Kreativ Blogger Award

Colette from A Buckeye Girl Reads awarded me with an award! For being creatively Kreativ.

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My kreativ juices haven’t been flowing recently (ugh, that sounds so sick to me, i have been reading too many romance novels!) as you can tell from the dearth of posts in the lusty reading den. I’m getting back on the wagon this week though!

The Kreativ rules state that:

Once you receive this award you are to list seven of your favorite things and then nominate seven other blogs.

Some of my favorite things [these are NOT in any order of prefernce, just as they occur in my jumbled up brain]:

1. Umm, you’ll never guess…READING! I have read 5 books in the past 6 days. You do the math. I’m in heaven.

2. Goat cheese, mmmm *eyes fluttering shut dreamily*

3. My little family of the hubster and our little mutt, Kedzie

4. Living in the central hub of all that is happenin in Washington, DC. We’re like that quintessential little old lady, we put gas in the car once every two months and only drive to the grocery store except only because we can walk EVERYWHERE – we have cool city boutiques, restaurants, and unique everything right outside our doorstep.

5. America’s Funniest Home Videos. If you can watch an episode and not laugh you butt off, you should die of patheticness right then and there.

6. My job. Ugh, I’m one of those people who actually adores what they do…and secretly, when I recruit people I have little matchmaking thoughts in the back of my mind and try to get them to sit next to each other at orientation. IT IS SO FUN!!!

7. I’m copying buckeyegirl here and saying Blogging!Especially reading other people’s!

Speaking of other people’s blogs I’d like to pass this award along to the following kreativ peeps:

My Little Becky

Olga of Gloryfades

Surburban Sweetheart

and from romancelandia:

Shaymless Aymless

Katidom

Happily Forever After

Gossamer Obsessions

Practice Makes Perfect, by Julie James

PMP_Julie_JamesRemember all my allusions to not having enough willpower* to put down a book in yesterday’s post? Well the book I had in mind was my most recent read, Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James.

I read it in one sitting. Upon finishing it I googled the sh*t outta Julie James, read the archives of her blog, and ordered the only other book she’s written (Just the Sexiest Man Alive). All these signs point to —> I really reeeally liked this book. I wanted to immediately read any other words Ms. James had written.

And not just because Ms. James is from Chi-town-what-what and set her book there (although I am always partial to peeps and books from my hometown). But because of Payton, the story’s heroine whom I have a huge girl-crush on, and the laugh out loud moments throughout the whoooole book!

Katiebabs was kind enough to give me her signed copy of Practice Makes Perfect at RWA and I read it immediately, it had been on my wish list ever since I’d seen some great reviews from both her and the Booksmugglers earlier in the year.

I don’t read a lot of contemporaries so I was shocked at how much I adored this book, they are usually just not my cup of tea.

So many other great reviews of Practice Makes Perfect have been written, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail…here is the summary and just a few of my thoughts…

WHEN IT COMES TO THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION . . .

Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson are lawyers who know the meaning of objection. A feminist to the bone, Payton has fought hard to succeed in a profession dominated by men. Born wealthy, privileged, and cocky, J.D. has fought hard to ignore her. Face to face, they’re perfectly civil. They have to be. For eight years they’ve kept a safe distance and tolerated each other as co-workers for one reason only: to make partner at the firm.

. . . THERE ARE NO RULES.

But all bets are off when they’re asked to join forces on a major case. At first apprehensive, they begin to appreciate each other’s dedication to the law—and the sparks between them quickly turn into attraction. But the increasingly hot connection doesn’t last long when they discover that only one of them will be named partner. Now it’s an all out war. And the battle between the sexes is bound to make these lawyers hot under the collar . . .

As I mentioned I have a crush on Payton. I don’t think I have a “type” of heroine that I typically gravitate towards, I like variety in my romantic leading ladies and Payton was a fresh character for me. Her lawerly smarts, confidence and taking good care of her looks, embracing and discarding some of her mother’s hippie liberal ways, and her highly-charged sharp rejoinders when sparring with J.D. all combined into someone so unique to me.

And unique to J.D. too. She was so special he just HAD to have her! Don’t get me wrong, J.D. was a great hero, but this time around I had the proverbial hots for the heroine.

Even in the heat of The Moment when Payton and J.D.’s sexual frustration is about to culminate in consummation, she jokes about checking his condom for a “polo pony logo” in homage to his ultra-conservative-country-club-name-brand ways.

Just like all the other reviews I’ll say that the snappy dialogue was super impressive and hilarious. I got really into it during all the bantering scenes, my eyes flew across the pages, slight smile on my face, waiting for that one ZINGER. When a point really hit home and was hurtful I also REALLY felt that, I got a bit of a physical heartache on Payton’s behalf when J.D. took one of their bantering matches too far and told her she was using low-cut shirts to get ahead with male clients and team members.

And the dialogue wasn’t the only part that was well written, take this quote for example, from J.D.’s thoughts:

Frankly he was fed up with all of the things that constantly came between them, like work and Chase Bellamy and client dinners. And clothes.

Simply put, I thought PMP was clever all around and simply made me smile. Often. What more could you want in a romantic comedy type book?

 I just wish PMP had been longer! The paperback is 291 pages. The romance novels I usually read clock in more around 400 and I think it was a combination of my enjoyment of the book and my reading habits that made me wish it were longer. Plus some of the conflicts like J.D. trying to win his father’s approval could have been fleshed out more. And while the ending was definitely a happily ever after I wouldn’t have minded seeing some of those “after” scenes since the last scene ended on such a dramatic note. I also wouldn’t have minded finding out J.D.’s real name (for a while I was stupidly confused and thought his first and last names were both Jameson) or maybe a secondary romance plot following J.D.’s friend Tyler finding a HEA for himself. Someone he could share a blanket and a pot of Earl Grey with while reading P&P

The love-making scenes were at a “gentle simmer” level and very much alluded to or totally off stage, so I would recommend this book for chick-lit lovers and romance novel lovers looking for a great contemporary.

 *yes i spelled willpower right today. thank you.

The Secret – my version

NO I have not read that stupid book, ok well I guess I won’t call it stupid since I don’t know anything about it, but The Secret (touted by Grand Poobah Oprah) held no interest for me.

But I am going to trust you (yes you, reading my blog with your finger poised over the scroll-y button your mouse) with MY secret.

This is a good one, so if you USE THIS you owe me. You know where to find me.

Ok here goes…

If you find a genie here is the first thing you should wish for: Will Power.

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Isn’t that just genius?!??! Ok I am now bowing and blushing to your applause.

If you use this idea the SECOND thing you have to wish for is for me to get a wish. And then I will wish for will power too. See? This is how the circle of bloggie trust works!

Clearly this is a very realistic premise, so I expect you to be taking me seriously. I am VERY serious about this and have puts lots of thought into it. Because you know what happens if you ask for the wrong wish from a Genie? Bad things that’s what! Like if you wish for the lost treasure of some ship wreck the genie might just whisk you there and leave you underwater with your new found wealth, to drown!(this happened in The Return of Jafar) There are RULES people, like what if you just wished to be skinny, and your wish backfired by making you look like a skeleton and you could never gain any weight?!

OK, so my wish idea is only a good wish if you don’t already have will power.

Which I don’t. Can you imagine how much you could ACCOMPLISH with will power!??

Like:

Exercise! Stop eating semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of dinner! Do work instead of twittering! Pay attention to your husband instead of reading just one more chapter! Put the book down at midnight instead of 2:30am on a work night! Don’t wait until the dog is crossing her legs she has to go out so bad to put down your current read!

So a lot of these are reading related.

Reading has taken over my life a bit. Because you see, the only thing I DO have will power about is finishing a book. I have almost NO DNF’s people. I always get to the end. One thing I hate, detest, despise and loathe is returning a book to the library or to a friend unread.

If a book is really scarey, horror filled making-me-feel-sick-to-my-stomach, or even just reeeeally boring then maybe I will put it down. But for the most part? I have plenty of will power to read all my library books before their due dates before moving on to the books I own. I feel too guilty returning a library book unread.

I just can’t do it. Is this will power? Or addiction?

Lusty Giveaway Winners!

Using The True Random Number Generator the winners were determined, so please put your hands together for them!!!

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PRIX NUMERO UN: Debbie from Debbie’s World of Books! Please email me your snail mail to receive your shiny $25 Border’s Gift Card!

PRIX NUMERO DEUX: Mandy of She Reads!! Ditto with the snail mail girlfriend, and I snapped a paparazzi pic at RWA of the cute HQN tote! So this and your three new books will be winging it’s way to you shortly:

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