In my suitcase

There are A LOT of books in my suitcase right now. Before I tell you allll about them, I feel like I must preempt any comments that might be made about the size of this pile – so please see my previous grinchy e-book post.

Alright, back now? Great, now feast your eyes on this:

*happy sigh* Nothing like a nice pile of books to put a smile on my face. This heap is a mix of old, new, library, won and purchased books, quite the eclectic sources. I won an advanced copy of The Lost Enchantress from Dear Author, it’s released on January 5th 2010. I just started reading it and really like Eve, her family history of enchantresses, and how her family’s past coincided with an intriguing man named Hazard who suddenly appeared in her life!

After visiting my family in Chicago this week we are off to see hubby’s for a few days as well, so in preparation for those plane rides and quiet hours relaxing away from the family I also brought along:

And just in case those six books don’t last for seven days I also purchased the VERY LAST copy my bookstore had of Kelly Meding’s Three Days To Dead this morning. I can’t help but feel that all is right with the world when I have a huge stack of never-before-read books at my disposal, it’s like no matter what else happens they guarantee many hours of happiness.

How about you, any mass quantities of reading you have stocked up for the holidays?

It’s a Lusty Smugglivus

Today’s the day! *bounces up and down* No, not the day the teddy bears have their picnic although I’ve had that song stuck in my head forever. But today is the day I am featured as a guest blogger on none other than The Book Smugglers’ site!! Want a peek into some of my top reads of the year? Of course you do, you bibliophilic voyeur you! I’m so chuffed to be a part of Ana and Thea’s Smugglivus event. If you’ve kept up with my Finished Reading List tab, some of my top picks for 2009 won’t come as a huge surprise, but it was so fun to look back over my year in books. I read a whooooole lotta lusty bits!

Stay tuned for a sum up post here around the Lusty Reading Den in a few weeks as I read so many great books not published this year that I’d like to talk about, but for my best reads from 2009 please head on over to my guest post!

More holiday cheer and giveaway winner!

When the great blizzard of 2009 struck DC this weekend we kept busy with neighborhood snow ball fights, watching 2 Christmas movies, finishing one romance novel, and baking. I was the main participant in the last two activities, needless to say.   

Ginger Snaps

 This platter was a recent gift from a friend, how appropriate was it that the first time I used was after we got 20 inches of snow?!  

This Sunday night was also the end of my Lusty Holiday Giveaway! Which do you want first, giveaway winner or my Ginger Snap recipe, hmmmmm???  

 OK fine, the giveaway winner is…checking right now…  


 NUMBER 8 IS KATI OF KATIDOM! Congratulations and happy holidays! Hope you get yourself a nice $30 pressie – please email me at lustyreader at gmail dot com with your snail mail address!  

 And now for my* delicious Ginger Snaps recipe, perfect to bring to a holiday party:  


1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup unsalted at room temp
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 1/4 cup flour  


 Cream the brown sugar, molasses and butter in large mixing bowl, add egg, then beat until fluffy  

 In another bowl sift baking soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger and 3/4 cup of flour  

Then add the spice mixture to the molasses/egg mixture, until they are just barely mixed  

Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and beat into stiff dough  

Divide dough into one cup amounts (about 3 patties), flatten out, wrap in plastic wrap then refrigerate at least two hours preferably overnight  

Preheat oven to 350degrees. Lightly butter baking sheets. On lightly floured surface roll out do to 1/8″ thick, use cookie cutters, spatula onto baking sheet  

Prick in even pattern all over, bake for 10 minutes, until crisp  

Serve with chutney cream cheese
8oz package cream cheese softened to room temp (I only use 4 oz.)
Mix 1/4 cup finely chopped mango chutney  

Hope you enjoy!  

*my mom thinks she remembers this came from Martha Stewart  

Anybody Out There?, by Marian Keyes

  • Title: Anybody Out There?
  • Author: Marian Keyes
  • Published: William Morrow, May 2006 
  • Pages: 464pgs trade paperback
  • Standalone or series: Can be read as standalone, but it is her 4th book about the Walsh sisters. I had no idea the others existed until I was google image searching for this post, so you’re really not missing anything, more info here
  • Why I read it: I enjoyed the first Keyes book I read earlier this year Sushi for Beginners and saw this one while browsing at my library
  • Marian Keyes writes clever dialogue, realistic characters, and relatable yet entertaining plots. Similar enough to our lives to relate, but different and exciting enough to draw us into her fiction. She captures relationships of all types so well: familial, platonic or romantic ones. In Anybody Out There? we follow Anna Walsh as she recuperates from an accident with her family in Ireland, all the while wishing she is back at her fabulous job and life in New York City.

    Not much background on her accident or life in New York are shared with us at first, so we really get to know her kooky family and life in Ireland. I can see why three other books have been written about Anna’s sisters, they are all such characters!

    Here is the thing though, the summary of the book on the back cover was TOTALLY MISLEADING! I was expecting a Bridget Jones or Shopaholic type book, when really I should have had the kleenex box handy. This is not a light Chick Lit read, but a poignant and darkly humorous look at struggling with grief, tragedy and relationships with friends and family.

    Here is the summary:

    Life in the Big Apple is perfect for Anna. She has the best job in the world, a lovely apartment, and great friends. Then one morning, she wakes up in her mammy’s house in Dublin with stitches in her face, a dislocated knee, hands smashed up, and no memory at all of what happened. As soon as she’s able, Anna’s flying back to Manhattan, mystified but determined to find out how her life turned upside down. As her past slowly begins coming back to her, she sets out on an outrageous quest—involving lilies, psychics, mediums, and anyone who can point her in the right direction.

    So um, she doesn’t have amnesia actually and her quest is more bittersweet than “outrageous.” I can’t say any more than that without spoilers since we don’t find out what the real deal is until almost 200 pages in.

    But seriously the writing is brilliant, and super funny. Keyes just “gets it” for me, like when describing one of Anna’s dates she gets the imagery, pop culture references, and comedy all once:

    I prepared for my date with Greg, the baker from Queens. Although it was October and far from warm, he’d suggested a picnic in the park…

    Reclining on the rug, Greg opened his basket, took out a loaf, then closed the basket quickly, but not before I’d seen that all that was in it was loads of bread.

    “This is my sourdough,” he said. “Made to my own recipe.”

    He tore off a bit, in a real bon vivant’s way, and approached. I could see the way this was going: he was planning a seduction via bread –  once I’d tried his creations, I’d go all swoony and fall in love with him. I was dealing with a man who’d seen Chocolate once too often.

    “Close your eyes and open your mouth.” Oh, cripes, he was going to feed me! God, how excruciating, how 9 1/2 Weeks.

    But he didn’t even let me eat the damn thing. He rubbed it around inside my mouth and said, “Feel the roughness of the crust on your tongue.” He moved it back and forth and I nodded yes, I was feeling the roughness.

    Oh God, this was a public place, I hoped no one was looking at us. I opened my eyes and shut them again quickly: a woman walking her dog was in fits. Her hands were on her knees she was laughing so much.

    I would have had my hands on my own knees if I wasn’t sitting down when I read this! Hilarious.

    But Anna’s friendship with Jacqui was also captured so well, with all the little details that show how complex women friends can be, and how special these little details make it. Like inside jokes, there are a couple words or phrases that my friends or hubby and I use that will always make me laugh, and Jacqui and Anna were just the funniest together. My favorite bit of theirs seems to be inspired by some real life friends of Keyes as she notes in her acknowledgements-she gave thanks to two friends, “for virtual support, New York information, and, most of all, the Feathery Stroker™ rant.”

    So here’s the Feathery Stroker deal-Anna’s just gone a first date with a guy named Aiden and is discussing it with her friend Jacqui when we learn of the Ultimate Inside Joke:

    I set my jaw and held her look, “He is not a Feathery Stroker.”

    “I’ll be the judge of that,” replied Jacqui.

    Jacqui’s Feathery Stroker test is a horribly cruel assessment that she brings to bear on all men. It originated with some man she slept with years ago. All night long he’d run his hands up and down her body in the lightest, feathery way, up her back, along her thighs, across her stomach, and before they had sex he asked her gently if she was sure. Lots of women would have loved this: he was gentle, attentive, and respectful. But for Jacqui it was the greatest turn off of her life. She would have much preferred it if he’d flung her across a hard table, torn her clothes, and taken her without her explicit permission. “He kept stroking me,” she said afterward, wincing with revulsion. “In this awful feathery way, like he’d read a book about how to give women what they want. Bloody Feathery Stroker, I wanted to rip my skin off.

    And so the phrase came about. It suggested an effeminate quality that instantly stripped a man of all sex appeal. It was a damning way to be categorized and far better, in Jacqui’s opinion, to be a drunken wife beater in a dirty vest than a Feathery Stroker.

    What followed was a whole list of the Feathery Stroker criteria you really have to read it, it is so funny!

    But the funny didn’t last forever. While I thought Keyes’ writing remained clever and insightful it was just very sad and it was harder for me to deal with because I didn’t expect it. Maybe 0-1% of my reading is “sad” I just don’t prefer to read that type of stuff. The book was seriously so good, and did get me to think about how people handle tragic situations, that I would absolutely recommend it. As long as you know what you’re in for! B grade for me and I will absolutely be reading more of her stuff.

    Lusty Holiday Giveaway

    Good moooooooorning! *sing song voice* I’m so disgustingly cheerful and absolutely FULL of the holiday spirit.

    I’m overflowing with it and need to siphon some off. That’s where you come in!

    In honor of the holidays (whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or not [said jokingly! tone is so hard to read]) I would like to host a Lusty Holiday Giveaway!

    Those ones where you have to answer trivia questions about the bloggers, or the author’s secondary character’s mom’s name, or become a follower (which I don’t even have since I don’t think you can do that on wordpress), or add the blogger’s button to your sidebar, et cetera, et cetera et cetera (said in the voice of The King and I) have really been getting my goat recently.

    So NO HARD WORK or even thinking required. All you have to do is read my post from yesterday and tell me to which source you would like to win a

    $30 gift certificate 

    Yes, even to the internet ones. Get yourself a nice $30 pressie! Just tell me which shop you prefer the gift card from in a comment on this post by midnight EST on Sunday. I will draw a winner from the comments on Monday, December 21st.

    Open to US and all International locations. All entrants from all over the planet are welcome! Bienvenue! Wilkommen! Bienvenido!

    Book sources for a lusty reader

    Not everyone is so lucky to have access to multiple book sources, but DC certainly has plenty! There have been a number of posts floating (links to others at the end) around about the book buying habits of our fellow bibliophiles. Are you addicted to one-click Amazon purchasing? Do you swear by your Border’s membership card? Or does Paperback Swap take care of your lust for books?

    I can walk to 3 huge bookstores from my house (4 if I’m really motivated) and have many more indie bookstore choices as well. I’m so lucky I can quench my lust without having to go far!

    I live in the general area of the red circle (stalkers need not apply):

    1. Borders on 18th and L, conveniently underneath hubby’s office building, and on the same color metro line I take to work, and walkable distance from home.
    2. Barnes and Noble at 12th and G, conveniently on same color metro line I take to work, and walkable from home.
    3. Books-a-Million on Dupont Circle, always hanging out in that neighborhood, and walkable from home.
    4. Barnes and Noble on M Street in Georgetown, conveniently (except for my wallet) located in supernice shopping district, a little bit of a hike to walk from home.

    HOWEVER even though I have all these fabulous choices my NUMBER ONE option is always the library. Any time I see I book I want to read I immediately go to my bookmarked webpage of my library’s online catalogue. If my library doesn’t have it then I will check which of these 4 book stores have it in stock. If none of them have it I order it online.

    That would make a pretty flow chart, huh? Instead I made a SUPER DORKY spreadsheet of the last 6 months of books I read (about 100 books total) and the sources where they all came from.

    Clocking in at number uno source: no surprise, the library with 41 of those 100! These come from The Central Library of Arlington in Northern Virginia (red arrow to the side of the map above, about 20 minutes outside DC). Although the sign for this library always makes me laugh, the building and collection of books are AWESOME and huge (that’s what she said).

    Don’t get me started on DC libraries, it would take me all day to share how terrible, useless, and unpleasant they are. I’m lucky I work by a nice suburban one!

    Now on to where the sources from which I actually purchase books:

    • Internet: 13 books in 6 months
    • Barnes & Noble: 11
    • Borders: 6

    Internet: I use because it’s so convenient. I am an Amazon Prime member and enjoy the fast and free shipping. Regardless of the kerfluffles and drama about Amazon throughout blog-land it’s just too easy not to use. And they always have what I need, which is the most important.

    For used books on the internet I don’t do PaperBack Swap or similar sites out of pure laziness, it seemed too complicated and I just don’t feel like it. Simple as that! I do use this great second-hand romance novel online store called Books are Better than Chocolate – they’re cheap and usually have a good selection.

    E-books from the internet – Shhhh *bringing finger to lips* I don’t talk about this much (not totally out of the closet) but I have purchased a few erotica e-books as PDFs.

    Barnes & Noble: I do pay $25 a year for 10% savings on almost any purchase and special coupons as well. Buying 11 books at 10% or more off each DEFINITELY saved me more than $25. But honestly I don’t feel a loyalty to the store, if they don’t have what I want I go someplace else!

    Borders: Hubby and I are also part of the Borders Rewards program which has occasional coupons and I think you earn points when you make a purchase that lead up to something? Clearly I don’t pay too much attention. Honestly books are the type of “necessity” for me that I don’t live and die by the prices or discounts. I want a book and I buy it where it’s available. Simple as that!

    I don’t go to any indie bookstores or used book stores in DC since they never have romance novels. The big box stores have fairly good romance selections, especially new releases, but NEVER have anything from series back lists. I have had the hardest time finding the early In Death books, or the Nalini Singh Psy/Changeling series, or Meljean Brooks’ Guardians series.

    So that is my geeky summation of the sources of my books. Check out the following links to get inside the heads, wallets, and bookshelves of some of my favorite bloggers:

    Wendy the Super Librarian kicked it off for us

    Kmont’s from Lurv A La Mode

    Photo essay of sources from RRR Jessica

    What about you, dearest blog reader? What are your sources to quench your lust for books?

    An un-Grinchy post

    Lest one draws the wrong conclusion from my previous Grinchy post, I am quite the opposite and freakin ADORE Christmas and gift giving. Last week I went to dinner at my friend’s house and spent the first 15 minutes telling her about all the great gifts I had gotten people. It’s especially fun to give, and talk about giving, when you make a really good find, when you’re proud of yourself for getting the gift *juuust right*.

    My family has our own Christmas traditions beginning with my mom slave-driving my sister and I over Thanksgiving weekend with needles, thread, cranberries and stale popcorn to make garland for the tree. Hooo boy did I hate doing that, but it looks SO GOOD. Not good enough for me to keep doing it for my own tree now that I’m in my own house, it really hurts my poor little fingies!

    We had a few years in a row we went to Midnight Mass which is always beautiful, we always have an advent calendar, and we always have cheese fondue on Christmas Eve. My parents were really poor when they first got married and their first Christmas all they had to eat was cheese and bread, so now we continue the tradition and it’s so special.

    And the CHRISTMAS MOVIES, oh lord how I love them. I am desperate to watch Home Alone, but have been on the Netflix wait list for 3 weeks now, argh (Biff’s girlfriend *scrunches nose* Woof!) so we watched A Christmas Story instead. If you follow me on twitter you got an eyeful of some of my favorite quotes, especially:

    Randy lay there like a slug. It was his only defense.

    Hubby and I are creating our own little traditions and favorite decorations, our new tabletop Nativity scene this year is AWESOME, and next year I must remember to purchase an advent wreath early enough. But since we’ll still spend the holiday in Chicago with my family we haven’t quite made our “own Christmas” quite yet, but I know it will be great when we do.

    To get in full holiday spirit my internet presence needed a little sprucing up for Christmas, I stole the countdown button (ahh only 11 days left?!) from Colette and also added a picture of our little mutt, Kedzie, in her holiday neckerchief and antlers. Her eyes are a little scary with the flash, but the “red eye” edit button in iPhoto doesn’t work on dogs apparently.

    She was a little reticent during our photo shoot:

    Poor thing was hiding her head in shame thinking Why oh why must you embarrass me like this! I look like a dork!

    No you don’t, silly puppy, now show us your pretty face!

    Awww there she is!

    This week I will be sharing more Christmas cheer with y’all with a giveaway, one of my favorite holiday recipes, and more gifts ideas for the bibliophile in your life.

    Lastly, are you celebrating Smuggilvus this year? An awesome monthlong event hosted by your friendly neighborhood Book Smugglers full of good cheer, author posts, guest blog posts, best of lists, the airing of grievances (yes the title is a play on Festivus) all culminating in their 2nd blogiversary on January 7th (I think?)

    Anyways, check it out, especially December 22nd as I’m SURE that day’s post will be extra lusty *wink wink*

    Being a Grinch about e-readers

    There are a few naturally occurring phenomenons that can command peoples’ attention, even when not much is happening at all. Like – staring at a fire or the ocean. I mean there is even a website called! Something about the flickering flames or the sweeping waves of the sea can be absorbing, for some reason it doesn’t seem boring to watch them for a while.

    In unnaturally occurring scenes I thought about traffic, I feel like we can observe a steady stream of cars on a highway in the same manner as a fire or the ocean.

    But for me, I can pass the time just staring at bookshelves, just gazing upon their spines, maybe thinking about what each holds between their covers, or just admiring the various fonts, titles and colors.

    I don’t have to take a book down, but I’m also never 100% satisfied with the way they’re organized. This is letting out my inner OCD book-geek but I enjoyed our recent big move as an excuse to reorganize them! Even though I feel like my bookshelves are a constant work in progress I am always able to sit quietly in front of them for a bit, and smile as my chest swells with pride and happiness seeing them all lined up in a row.


    Phew, glad I got that off my chest.

    It is assumed by my friends and family that I want one, heck I’ve read over 140 books this year! But it’s just not worth it to me. I am way too much of a tactile person and enjoy displaying my collection for other’s to admire too much to ever have my books saved as a file on a computer somewhere.

    Ugh, just typing that gave me the heebie jeebies.

    It’s all about the cost-benefit and although you can fit hundreds of books on a e-reader and considerably lighten your load on your commute or on your vacation the cost of not being able to hold or display my books greatly out-weighs those benefits.

    Another benefit I thought about was specifically for my reading preferences, sure sometimes I’d prefer to keep it private what I’m reading, especially when the cover looks like this:


    So that way people can’t guess I’m reading a passage like this:

    He filled his palms with her, cupped her bottom and supported her, held her steady as he tasted her center. Explored her with his tongue, teased and tantalized her until she was sobbing with urgency, moaning with need.*

    But even with that benefit of privacy, e-readers are just gosh darn expensive, plus you can’t loan your books to friends, plus there are restrictions as to when e-books are released and what format you’re able to read them in.

    So I felt like a Grinch, but I purposefully told hubby, my mother-in-law, and my parents that I absolutely positively had ZERO interest in a kindle, Sony e-reader, or any of those new fangled things.

    Maybe one day reading a book on the metro will be akin to listening to a Walkman while the person next to you has an iPod, but at this point I am staying far far away. My fingers to do itch to push a button they way the itch to turn a page on a good story.

    ETA: The lovely Smart Bitches also have a post up on e-readers today, about delaying e-book releases in deference to gaining hardcover book sales. I.Rest.My.Case.

    *From my current read, A Rakes Vow, by Stephanie Laurens

    Opposite day for Haddadi and romance novels

    The thing about being a lusty reader is you’ll read anything put in front of you. The back of the newspaper of the guy in front of you, H1N1 pamphlets, the back of coughdrop packages…all these I read on the metro this morning when I finished my book and still had 20 minutes left of my ride. I’ve even stooped to cereal boxes and shampoo bottles before!

    So the other day when I was waiting by the door for hubby to come downstairs so we could go out I glanced at the magazines I held in my hands, ready to take out to the recycling. Sports Illustrated isn’t really my cup of tea, but it was open on top and once my eyes started reading the words, my lust ran away with me.

    It must have been fate since the first thing I saw was a pop culture grid with athletes weighing in on things like if they’d read New Moon (all four had NOT!) and the last one was, “I think I’m obsessed with…”

    This is where it gets interesting (well relevant at least!), Grizzlies Center Hamed Haddadi said he was obsessed with romance novels!!! How randomly awesome is that?! I was so excited about the far reach of my most favorite genre of all to professional male athletes who weren’t afraid to admit it. I started getting fidgety, wishing hubby would hurry up so I could show him this most excellent news.

    Then I saw a quote box to the side that further explained:

    To Haddadi the element of surprise is the best part of a romance novel. “The never end the way they are supposed to,” he says.

    I’m sorry but are you retarded?! That is a serious wtf, ummmm the ONLY consistent thing about romance novels is the end! It goes- I love you, I love you too, happily ever after, the end. Every.Single.Time. This is the MAIN reason I read romance novels. I mean the lusty bits are nice and all ;) but it is the happily ever after that really gets me all tingly and satisfied. Sigh, way to ruin it Haddadi. Yet another person who mouths off about romance novels without knowing the most basic thing about the genre.

    Unless it was opposite day for him there is no excuse for that.

    Kushiel’s Chosen, by Jacqueline Carey

  • Title: Kushiel’s Chosen 
  • Author: Jacqueline Carey
  • Published: Tor Fantasy, March 2003
  • Pages: 704pgs mass market paperback
  • Standalone or series: Second in Kushiel’s Legacy series.
  • Why I read it: Despite my reservations about the first in the series I wanted to try the next one since I had bothered to memorize an entire complex world, and the first book ended on such a cliffhanger! 
  • Thank you all for joining me in discussing the world of Phèdre and Terre D’Ange in my post yesterday on the first book in the series, Kushiel’s Dart. Part of the reason I couldn’t help but make it so long was because I felt like background on this fantastical land was too important to gloss over. So if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do before we get started today!

    While I did place so much importance on the mythology and religion Ms. Carey created, the plot was equally as fascinating and important. D’Angelines have much pride in their kingdom, not only is Terre D’Ange rich in resources and trade, but also wealthy in arts, culture, sophistication, beauty (they are descendents of fallen angels) and loyalty to each other. Thus other nations have turned their eyes and greed towards gaining some of Terre D’Anges many types of wealth for themselves.

    The final scenes of Kushiel’s Dart brought the ginormous cast of characters (what high fantasy doesn’t have this?) to the culmination of a epic war (again, what high fantasy doesn’t have this) with a traitor to the new, young queen apprehended. While the physical battle comes to an end, the traitor does not…thus the political intrigue continues into Kushiel’s Chosen.

    And that wasn’t the only cliffhanger-the budding romance between Phèdre and her valiant Casseline defender Joscelin that seemed doomed before it even began got hints of a potential future. But how, when he has sworn a vow of chastity and protection? And when Phèdre is driven by sexual urges, is a courtesan, and consistently puts her life in danger? Obviously I had to read the next book in the series, even though my fellow romance readers warned that most conventional romance novel lovers (aka moi) wouldn’t find the  romance for these two protagonists super satisfying.

    If I had a hard time keeping up with all the characters, their cities and countries, and belief systems in the first book, that was NOTHING compared to Kushiel’s Chosen. The good news is I finally got ahold of the world of Terre D’Ange, I feel like I memorized the bible in Swahili, but I got in down pat. The problem is this time Phèdre’s quest to find the traitor, and who was involved in the plotting, brings her to La Serenissima (modeled after Venice as we know it) and then to multiple islands throughout the “Mediterranean” and “Greece”, each with its own distinct language and characteristics. At points I sorta of gave up trying to keep peoples’ names straight and what language they were speaking, thinking more along the lines of “he’s the one with black hair, she’s the priestess who was nice, he’s gay but hiding it…etc.”

    But even when being lazy I couldn’t help but continue to admire the detail of this medieval fantasy world being interwoven with an exciting plot, in depth characterizations and growth, as well as symbolism and social commentary. Take this quote for example showing how a few lines of dialogue and a moment of introspection by Phèdre covers sooo much territory:

    “It is a fair day,” I mused in [his language of] Illyrian. “Is it not, Ushak?”

    “Y-yes.” He was red as a boiled lobster, and stammering with it. “Every day is f-fair, when it is graced with the sight of you!” He said all in a rush.

    I halted, gazing at him. “Is that why you came, Ushak”

    His throat worked convulsively. “It is…it is one reason, my lady,” he said stiffly. “I think…we do not have such things on Dobrek, such things as you…to die in your name, it w-would be an honor!”

    “To live would be a better one,” I said gently. “I am D’Angeline and Naamah’s Servant, yes, but beauty is not worth dying for.”

    He shook his head, blushing and swallowing fiercely. “Not that alone, my lady. You, you were kind to us, you learned our tongue, you laughed at our jests…even, even mine.” He swallowed again and added helplessly, “You were kind.”

    I thought on it, searching the empty blue skies. “Is the world so cruel then, that that is all that is required to move a man to risk his life? Kindness?”

    “Yes.” Trembling and gulping, Ushak stood his ground, holding manfully onto my arm. “Sometimes…yes, my lady,” he finished firmly.

    Ah, Elua! I bowed my head, overwhelmed by nameless emotion. I understood Kazan, and the debt he perceived; I understood the Ban and his kin, weighing merit against risk. Even those of Kazan’s men who had been my shipmates, I understood better; we had forged a bond, we had, during that dreadful flight, and the terrors of the Temenos. But this…this came straight from the heart.

    Love as thou wilt.

    They are fools, who reckon Elua a soft god, fit only for the worship of starry-eyed lovers. Let the warriors clamor after gods of blood and thunder; love is hard, harder than steel and thrice as cruel. It is as inexorable as the tides, and life and death alike follow in its wake.

    I continued to get goosebumps everytime I read Elua’s precept, “love as thou wilt,” such a powerful way to live your life. I also continued to have the same reoccurring issues, Phèdre so often says she feels “compelled” to keep scheming and strategizing and putting her life in danger and also “compelled” to damage any chances at a relationship with honorable Joscelin through continuing in her BDSM courtesan ways. Sometimes I just wanted to say enough already! Take care of yourself for once! It was noble of her to care for her queen and country so much, and certainly a D’Angeline trait, but too many awful things befell her, as soon as the escaped the clutches of one horrible situation, she was imprisoned in another. Maybe this was done on purpose as sort of a fate or destiny type thing, but I felt manipulated after time and time again her quest was elongated and she was put in even more peril.

    And don’t even get me STARTED on Melisande. The bitch just won’t go away, argh! (And she is in the THIRD BOOK that I’m reading now too). Yesterday in the comments I thought Carolyn Crane brought up an excellent point, would I find understand Phèdre’s love/hate/sexual attraction/sadomasochistic feelings for Melisande more understandable if Melisande were a male character? I don’t know, but that certainly made me think. I’m tempted to say NO WAY I will never empathize with Melisande, she is evil through and through and there is nothing to commend her. I can see that as a literary character at the very least she is “interesting” but I’m pretty blinded by my hatred for her and like Phèdre less for her feelings towards Melisande.

    In conclusion, I was much more engaged with the characters, plot and world Kushiel’s Chosen. Any grievances I have are more personal in terms of romance preferences, and difficulty accepting some of the morals and belief systems. And like I said yesterday, I’m investing in reading the next installation, a 704 page hardcover, only because I think it’s worth it. Or maybe I’m starting to be a bit masochistic too ;)