Library Loot: crossing state lines

It is amazing, for a girl (that would be moi) who has sworn off vampire books (except for the Sookie Stackhouse ones, and I am perilously close to saying sayonara to those too) I am absolutely bewitched, enthralled, and beguiled by Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series.

So much so that in order to get the first three books in the series I crossed state lines!!!!

*ahem*

Ok that is not that unusual considering I can practically walk between DC, VA, and MD, or at least take a 20 minute metro ride to each. But for a lusty reader it is the best-case-scenario, with a DC driver’s license you can get a library card in any of the three states! So far I only have ones for DC and VA (where I live and work respectively) but pretty soon I expect the day to come when the Maryland library system just outside DC has the next book in a series that I just must get my mitts on immediately.

For this week’s library loot I present the following:

  • Vampire Academy (Book 1), by Richelle Mead (link to website with all books here)
  • Frostbite (Book 2)
  • Shadow Kiss (Book 3)
  • Captive Bride, by Johanna Lindsey (not sure if this counts for library loot, but it was 50 cents on the rack by check out. although ms. lindsey is one of my fave authors of all time i’d never read nor heard of this one before!)

I feel very lucky to live in an area with access to three library systems, but honestly I would settle for one absolutely amazing one. The DC system is absolutely abysmal.

How bout you? How far would you go to get a book you really wanted?

Library loot is a weekly meme hosted by Eva and Marg.

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Bookish wrap up of 2009

The idea of a wrap up covering a whole year of lusty reading greatly distresses me, and thus I allowed it to loom over me, my fingers felt too intimidated to even attempt typing such a thing. Last month blog posts summing up the year popped up all over the internet, whether it was my 20-something blogger friends, DC blogger neighbors, or everyone out in the book-blogosphere…I wanted to hitch my caboose to that train but didn’t have the gumption to even begin attacking such a monumental task.

So I decided I wouldn’t.

Wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it that is…I don’t keep a fancy spreadsheet (the one I made in 20 minutes for the sources I got my books from the past 6 months notwithstanding), I don’t have any cool bookish stats about publishing dates or sub-genres, and I counted the total number of books I read last year manually by adding them together after running my finger down an MS Word document on my screen. I can’t even begin to think of summing up all the highlights of my blogging life in 2009 in general!

*hyperventilating*

From my finished reading list you may have guessed what some of my favorite books I read last year were, or if you checked out my guest post at The Book Smugglers you may have gotten an even better idea. But I’m going to go ahead and lay it all out simply, in a low-stress way (for me) and hope that y’all get some good recommendations out of it or agree with me on a few!

*attempting relaxing breathing exercises*

Here goes nothin…

I read a total of 156 books in 2009

There was a good sprinkling of new releases but I think the majority were older books; so I’ll separate my best of lists between new and “new-to-me”. 

My top books published in 2009 in NO particular order:

 

Belong to Me, by Maria de los Santos (Contemporary Lit Fic)

A literary fiction book with a happy ending! Quelle surprise! This charming yet emotionally-hard-hitting book explores relationships through family ties, difficult marriages, fatal illnesses, and how hated-new-neighbors can turn into friends.

 

Branded by Fire (#6 in series), by Nalini Singh (Paranormal Romance)

I only just discovered the genius Ms. Singh and this series last year and hoooo boy did I just love this 2009 release! After reading all 7 in the series in a row this one really stuck out to me and is in my top 2 faves of the series, mainly because of the awesome H/H.

 

Not Quite a Husband, by Sherry Thomas (Historical Romance)

Wow, I actually reviewed this one, check out my full thoughts here! *patting self on back* This was a pleasant surprise since I don’t usually enjoy the premise of estranged husbands and wives reconciling.

Revealed, by Kate Noble (Historical Romance)

I love a story with a solid romance foundation but layered with intrigue and cannot *count* how many Napoleonic war spy books I have read, but the freshness of the characters in Revealed made it a top read for me. So often in romance we read about the bluestockings, the on-the-shelf misses, the destitute urchins who get a make-over that I was just dying to read about a pretty, popular, nomal-by-society’s standards heroine when Phillipa Benning came along. A true diamond of the first water sailing her way through the ton she has unexpected depths that make her and her heroe’s love story just that much better.

My Soul to Take (#1 in series), by Rachel Vincent (Paranormal Young Adult)

Wow, another one I reviewed (check it out!) *grins* I write so few, it’s a pleasant surprise to find it now that I’m looking back! I was capitvated by the world building and unique types of supernatural beings, the 2nd book in the series recently came out, I hope to pick it up soon!

Tap & Gown (#4 in series), by Diana Peterfruend (Young Adult)

I actually blogged about the entire series as one, but the last two were my absolute favorites. Maybe because that’s when the real romance came into play for protagonist and Secret Society girl Amy Haskel? Le sigh, I am so predictable. But Tap & Gown (last in the series) was released in 2009, and the 3rd book Rites of Spring (Break) rivaled it for my favorite in the series.

New to me top reads in 2009:

Slave to Sensation (#1 in series), by Nalini Singh (Paranormal Romance, 2006)

Thinking about this book wraps me in warm fuzzy feelings. Although I mentioned the 6th in this series being near and dear to my heart it can’t quite knock Slave to Sensation from it’s pedestal. I mean did you read my review about how it changed my reading life? I made an MS Paint picture about it for cryin out loud!

 

Savannah Blues, by Mary Kay Andrews (Contemporary Lit Fic, 2003)

Why don’t people talk more about this author? She is awesome! I discovered her on accident but am so happy I did! Check out all my thoughts on this book here, but I highly recommend this lit fic/chick lit book. It’s so super fun, will make you RL LOL, and is injected full of Southern charm.

My Lord and Spymaster, Joanna Bourne (Historical Romance, 2008)

I’ve run into (online) many a squeeing Bourne fan, and for good reason. 99% of My Lord and Spymaster was an A+++ for me, but although there was one tiny little thing that didn’t work I greatly respect and admire this debut novel for it’s beautiful language and prose, unique H/H, and heart pounding intrigue and action that barely detracted from the romance storyline. This only slightly edged out Ms. Bourne’s connected second novel Spymaster’s Lady which was maybe 90% an A+ but the happily ever after ending was a little too hard for me to fully buy to get a top spot.

Pleasure for Pleasure (#4 in series), by Eloisa James (Historical Romance, 2006)

I read about 7 books by the esteemed Ms. James this year and had my ups and downs with them, some good, great, or not so good. But Pleasure for Pleasure really struck a chord with me. Luckily you don’t have to read the first 3 books in the Essex Sisters series to enjoy this last one about the youngest Josie in her quest to launch her rounded figure into society, living down ridicule for her very curvy frame and finding her true love who’s been under her nose the whole time!

A Summer to Remember, by Mary Balogh (Historical Romance, 2002)

Yes yes, I know, how could I not have read this one before! Here is my blog post from earlier this year where you can read alllll my thoughts on it. I am a huuuuuge Balogh fan but somehow never picked this one up. I already have a few of her books on the keeper shelf and this new-to-me read will be one more!

– 

And there you have it folks! Some others came close, but when looking back at my list these were the ones that really gave me the warm fuzzies.

Phew, it’s like 1000 lbs have been lifted from my shoulders. *sigh* I have to admit though, that next year I hope to have fancy stats on how many historical vs. paranormal vs. YA vs… books I read, how many new authors I tried, etc. Now that I’m blogging its so fun to keep track of things to better understand my reading habits, likes and dislikes. I have to admit that after a year of book blogging the landscape of my reading has forever changed…for the better mostly. I am absolutely choosing books that I will more regularly enjoy whereas before it was just such a slap-dash guessing game. IF I can find the willpower to keep better notes I’m sure it will only continue to improve.

Belated happy reading for the new year to everyone!

 

Apocalypse and dystopian stories now less appealing

The dramatic “what if” possibilities for apocalypse and dystopian story lines are utterly fascinating. How did the world end? What does the landscape look like now? What does society/culture look like? How will people survive? These plots are immensely popular these days, personally I think they’re more popular now due to a number of real life things happening: between the world supposedly ending according to the Mayan calendar in 2012, difficult times in the economy with the recession making us all think a little bit harder about survival, natural disasters and the possibility of global warming, and the threats of terrorism and war.

This is all especially on my mind since I just read The Road and all the commercials for that movie, and The Book of Eli, and 2012 was out a little bit ago, I still have nightmares about my emergency plans if The Day After Tomorrow happens, there are a hundred new and old books with this theme that I keep thinking about due to the Book Smugglers constant pimpage and lastly I’m always reminded because my most googled and most read blog posts are on a YA dystopian series.

One of the issues in these storylines that really revs my engine is the survival part, I love how authors or filmmakers detail what the characters can carry, assessing how much they can fit in a backpack, or shopping cart, or the secret-hideaway-broken-shed. How the hero learns to scrounge from the land and make “something” out of nothing, taking everyday items or trash from the pre-apocalypse world and building something to survive, or getting creative with finding food. (barely related side note: i also love this in time travels. can the character bring anything with them when they time travel? if you were going back in time, what would you bring? medicine, text books, tampons? would you be able to speak Olde English or 14th century French?)

HOWEVER these storylines are much less attractive now. The pictures and news of the earthquake in Haiti is a true post-apocalyptic world. As I scrolled through these images were burned in my brain and merged with all the imaginary images from the books I had been reading. The ash that the characters in The Road had to breathe through and that covered the land is too eerily similar to the concrete dust that coats the faces and streets of Port-au-Prince.

Looking at all those pictures of  mass graves and the devastation and complete destruction of Haiti’s cathedrals, government buildings, port, homes, and water supply – just EVERYTHING – it’s all gone. So now they LITERALLY are living out of what they can carry. Suddenly it’s not an author’s imagination that designates what people save from their home or what they carry to survive, they have plastic bags of any personal items they could salvage, what wasn’t too heavy to carry, and any food or water they could find.

In The Road the man and boy found water in underground cisterns or dipped cans on super long strings underneath old gas stations for fuel for their lamp and I was obsessed with these ingenious survival methods. But seeing the pictures of the people in Haiti fighting over water, machete weilding gangs, or waiting in days long lines for gas has ruined apocalypse story lines for me.

Sorry for the depressing post, but it has been on my mind a whole lot. I just don’t see how Haiti can recover from this. Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere the thought of rebuilding after the destruction seems an insurmountable task coupled with the fact that it’s so hard to get supplies in.

In conclusion, I am taking a break from fictional post-apocalyptic worlds and focusing on the one unfolding in real life. Check out the Charity Navigator if you’d like to donate.

Friday Finds Jan 15

What great books did you hear about or discover this week? Share with us your Friday Finds! Hosted by Ms. B at Should Be Reading. 

Wow I haven’t participated in this meme since November, so this is a mix of new and old releases that have caught my lusty reading eye recently. They are all historicals, whether YA or romance, no surprise there as it remains by favorite genre! 

 

1. Everlasting, by Angie Frazier: I am a sucker for any high seas adventures and this YA novel begins with one, beginning Cassie’s quest in 1855 involving a family secret, a fabled map, and an ancient magic stone. As soon as I saw this as part of Kmont’s YA spotlight blog post I knew I had to read it! 

– 

 

2. The Bride and the Buccaneer, by Darlene Marshall: now this is a more grown up high seas story, with Jack and Sophia on a treasure hunt in 1817 Florida. Oh la la I just adore pirate/privateer romances! Joanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue is my favorite romance novel of all time after all. Check out the excellent review on Dear Author, it’s what convinced me! 

– 

3. The Tigress Series, by Jade Lee: I’ve been sitting on this one a while after Heidenkind’s November post clued me into this awesome sounding erotic historical romance series set in China. The 6 book series follows different H/H couples finding love, solving mysteries (both spiritual and real life), and political intrigue, all with the super interesting backdrop of historical China which we don’t usually get to see much of in romances. 

Obsession with the internet and iPhoto Booth

Have you ever noticed that when actors are using computers on TV, especially in commercials, they make them look all into it and all active and all expressive about it? Like look, I know it’s boring to watch someone scroll down and down, but no ones eyes shift that much or waggle their eyebrows when reading a computer screen about some pharmaceutical shit. It looks fake to me and bothers me. It’s the little things, the really little things, that get to me in life. Stop looking all expressive when reading page after page of the internet!

*ahem*

Like seriously, no one REALLY lol’s (well maybe if you’re reading lilu, or becky of SMUK). In fact as I spent the last week or so catching up on my MONSTROUSLY out of date google reader (i could not click mark all as read *whimper* i just couldn’t!) I found out two things:

1. i am obsessed with the internet, awesome links i found to follow

2. i found the photo booth feature on our Mac and had WAY too much fun taking pictures. the first of which was accidental so i know EXACTLY what i look like while scrolling webpages:

Now this <—- is what they should make people look like when they’re perusing the interwebz! I will seriously sit in the same position, finger poised over the mouse, scrolling, and clicking, and x-ing out, and opening new tabs in the same hunched over pose until both legs fall asleep and I have a hand mark on my cheek from holding my head up. That’s what happens when you have over 300 unread posts in google reader and people include lots of great hyperlinks that are just begging to be clicked.

Now the following links were things I stumbled across that definitely brought some expression to my droopy face!!! Hopefully they will entice you to do the same!!!

Some Link Love:

1. NYT stalks netflix users: I love dorky statistics and I love movies so this NYT article with maps of most popular netflix rentals BY ZIPCODE of several large cities including DC, Chicago (what-what Chitown!), and Dallas is perfect for my geeked-out, voyeuristic style.

2. WTFckery: These are some of my fave posts by KB, the first one in her most recent WTFckery post about an*l sex just kills me, I promise I RL LOL’ed at that one.

3. Old timey stuff and names: More than dorky statistics I ADORE names, the history of them, family traditions, meanings, and odd ones, and the really good finds. Couple that with old timey stuff (yummm i love historical books and movies!) and you get this awesome post about names and old timey London stuff from a great old book find by Carolyn Jewel on Risky Regencies. T.R. Wardleworth was one of my faves.

4. CBS show “I Get That A Lot”: In case you missed this on TV you can watch ENTIRE episodes online, but the one with Heidi Klum disguised as a pizza waitress and denying her true identity to anyone who thinks they recognize her is the bestest.

5. Shaddap You Face: Hubby and I discovered this new (to us) song with the greatest lyrics and keep telling each other to “shut uppa you face, this-a nice-a place!” and our friends think we are being rude to each other, but we dissolve into giggles every time. Ever heard of Joe Dolce? We wikapedia-ed the shit out of him after hearing his awesome song Shaddap You Face that came out in the 80s. Pleeeease listen to the whole song, it is teh awe.some.

And now…drumroll please…the blog post that made my face look like this (combination shock and awe, i told you had too much fun with the photo booth feature!):

5. True Book Pr0n: While this Book Pr0n in pictures blog post by author Meljean Brook is safe for work…the dog-eared vs. doggy style and double penetration had me cracking up like no other

Please click away, I hope you enjoy my link love and it brings some expression to your internet-perusing-face.

Three Days to Dead, by Kelly Meding

  • Title: Three Days to Dead
  • Author: Kelly Meding
  • Published: November 2009
  • Pages: 416 mass market paperback
  • Standalone or series: Debut novel and first book in Dreg City series. Next book As Lie the Dead will be released in July 2010.
  • Why I read it:  I can’t remember where I saw the first reviews but after several super positive ones popped up, and I lost several contests to win it, I had to go out and buy it.
  • Two things that I feel MUST be mentioned right away:

    1. If you like: Get this book into your little mitts IMMEDIATELY if you like Charlaine Harris or Anne Aguirre. Any fans of Sookie Stackhouse or Corine Solomon will just adore Meding’s Evy Stone and her supernatural adventures.
    2. Romance: this is not a romance novel. this is not a paranormal romance. just fyi. i saw it reviewed on a lot of romancelandia book blogs and had different expectation. it is straight urban fantasy.

    The premise of this book got me hook, line, and sinker. Seriously you could probably see a scar on my upper lip from where I was reeled in straight to the bookstore to buy it. The countdown to death, waking up in a new body, and solving a supernatural conspiracy just reached out and grabbed me.

    Here is the official summary:

    She’s young, deadly, and hunted—with only three days to solve her own murder…

    When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue – in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there – her troubles are only just beginning.  Before that night, she and the other two members of her Triad were star bounty hunters — mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures living in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three of them their lives, but also convinced the city’s other Hunters that Evy was a traitor . . . and she can’t even remember what it was.

    Now she’s a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice – and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days, Evy will die again – but this time, there’s no second chance…

    I loved Three Days to Dead. I love the Sookie Stackhouse series and saw some of the same cleverness, detailed characterizations, and action packed adventure in this great debut novel. I think this is a new author to watch.

    Told in first person narrative by Evy Stone I enjoyed the rhythm of her thoughts, her spunkiness, and was happy to go along with her for the ride of why she died, why she woke up in a stranger’s body, and how she dealt with her new life…even though it was only going to last for three days. Set in an urban fantasy world we are introduced to the supernatural world of Dreg City filled with goblins who bleed fuchsia, bridge trolls who can sink into concrete, vampires with purple eyes, gargoyles who turn to stone in the sunlight, and an underground fairy paradise. The way we learn of the backstories of all the creatures in this fantasy world is injected subtly into memories, conversations, and observations by Evy. Every time she went to visit a new creature I got excited to find out what the story behind their mythology would be!

    As I mentioned at the top this is straight urban fantasy and as the Evy Stone series continues you can guess (SPOILER) that she doesn’t die after three days. But other than that you should be prepared for some sad scenes, people close to Evy dying and some pretty brutal violence and torture.

    I did think there was a lot of potential in the world building, in fact this book gets a A+ for potential, but B-ish for execution. I will readily admit that I am a speed reader, and sometimes miss out on details in my haste to get to the next page. However I had a hard time visualizing the city this is set in, I’m not even really sure what the name of the city was. I also had no idea what season it was, while great detail was given to the fight scenes, imagery of characters, and the legends of this supernatural world I felt that some detail was lacking in the physical surroundings. Something as simple as the weather or the season seemed to be missing for me which again made it hard for me to visualize everything and get totally into it. And then very last thing, supposedly the humans in [insert city name here] didn’t know about the supernatural world. But anything about humans was hardly touched on and the goblins and other “dregs” always seemed to be out in plain sight, I didn’t think enough detail was given to this part of the world building either.

    But like I said, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and loved Evy’s character. I would recommend this to any paranormal or fantasy fans and I will absolutely be buying the next book in the series! B grade for me.

    Library Loot: eclectic as usual

    My little sister is all into yoga and that type of stuff, for example her “Religion” on facebook is listed as “Peace, Love and Happiness,” and I’ve been to a few yoga classes with her. One particular instructor was all about “balance” and “chakras” and “finding your third eye.” I can barely balance on one foot so balancing my energy, soul, or chakras is nigh on impossible.

    And although my reading choices are decidedly tilted towards anything with a happy ending (namely romance) I try to have a little bit of balance there too. I’m still working on the balancing on one leg thing though…

    This week’s Library Loot needed some distinct balancing – following my self-imposed rule of having to read a book before going to see a movie it’s based upon I have been super intrigued by The Road commercials. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had a thing for Viggo Mortensen since LOtR. I put myself on the wait list of my library for it and received dire warnings from friends to read it privately with a box of tissues handy, *not* a good read in public on the metro in 20 minute pieces.

    Knowing I was getting myself into a dreary apocalyptic world with a father and son fighting death, and possibly succumbing to it, I had to add some sweetness, light, and happiness to my library loot pile.

    Here is the math in my mind: Any depression from The Road will be equalized by no less than three (3) Romance Novels…

    1. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (never read anything by him before, but hubby loved the movie No Country For Old Men)
    2. Untouched, by Anna Campbell (never read anything by her before either, but heard her first book Claiming the Courtesan is awesome)
    3. The Confessions of a Duchess, by Nicola Cornick
    4. A Duke of Her Own, by Eloisa James (I’ve had my ups and downs with this series but overall *adore* this author and am excited for the Duke of Villiers to find his match in this final book of the series)

    Now let’s just hope my math was right and when I finish reading this stack my reading chakras are all balanced and I’m not still depressed from The Road.

    Library Loot is a weekly meme hosted by Marg and Eva