30 January 2011

There Are Days...

...when all I want to do is ignore the whole world and curl up in my bed or on a chair and read.

Saturday was one of those days. Why? Well, I was cleaning the house. (Yes, anything is better than cleaning the house, especially reading, but...unfortunately it [the cleaning] has to be done.) And, when cleaning, the one thing you don't want to do is make more of a mess. Except, that was what I kept doing. First, I dropped a can of Coca Cola, which exploded and went...everywhere. Everywhere being over the fridge and pantry doors, across the kitchen floor, across the dining room carpet and all over the table (over and under it) and chairs. Second, I dropped the bucket of soapy water, luckily onto a wooden floor and not carpet. Third, I managed to spill the water I was pouring. And fourth, my ice-cream scoop (lime) decided to escape my bowl and slide across the clean kitchen floor.

OK, so the escape of the ice-cream scoop (potential movie title perhaps?) is sort of funny, but at that point I felt defeated. Overwhelmed. Like everything has to take the complicated route...like nothing is ever easy. And that's how I feel today. I just have this endless list of things that have to be done, and I can't seem to catch up. I've been enjoying my Amy Lane Weekend, which has morphed into a Marie Sexton Weekend as well, but...now I feel...not guilty, but anxious about all I still have to do before I go to bed (and can read some more). So...even after a long weekend I don't feel relaxed. How does one relax? Perhaps a question for the unnamed expert this week?


So, what was the last thing you dropped? And...how do you balance everything?

26 January 2011

Amy Lane Weekend

Amy Lane is fast becoming one of my favourite m/m authors. The first book by her that I ever read was Keeping Promise Rock.

This book gripped me from the opening page and didn't let up until the end. In fact, I was loathe to let these characters, who had stolen into my heart, go. There were points in the book when I cried, points when I was so worried about the characters I was tempted to peek ahead just to reassure myself that all would be well :) Sounds like a rollarcoaster of emotion, doesn't it? It was...but it was so worth it! Why? Because Amy Lane writes...honestly. What I mean is, she doesn't shy away from raw emotion nor are her characters perfect. They are...imperfectly human and thus emmentely relatable. At their heart, her books are about finding those souls that complete you, whether they be family, friends or lovers...or even all three. The best description of Amy Lane's books IMHO was written by the author herself, as part of a recent post on GoodReads entitled Redemption:
Chemistry may be a bolt from the blue, friendships may spring up in an instant, but love, real love, comes from existing side by side, seeing the best and the worst and maintaining that slow, strong burn that can sustain both parties if one of you is brought low.

Dating is always the best of things, putting on your best clothes, leaving behind the unpleasant realities in order to make a good impression.What happens in Talker and Talker's Redemption is sort of the exact opposite. It's loving each other through the worst of things. It's finding the best of yourself for your lover when you couldn't find it for yourself. It's courage where you didn't think you'd find any, and humor when you have very little to laugh at and optimism when the only thing you have to wake up to is your lover, and that's more than enough.
As this coming weekend will be a long one, I thought I would have an Amy Lane weekend and read some of her books that have been tantilizing me for so long :) Talker is definitely on the list, as is Truth in the Dark.

So, have you read an Amy Lane book and, if so, which one was your favourite? And please feel free to join me in reading one of Amy Lane's marvellous books this weekend!

24 January 2011

Alive And Kicking

I am. Alive and kicking that is. In case you have been wondering why my online visits have been...infrequent over the past 10 days, I somehow managed to sprain my shoulder joint earlier this month. (The physio seems to think I did it while sleeping on my stomach, but since I've been sleeping on my stomach for...more years than I want to think about I'm going to go with 'cause unknown' :)

Anyway, it wasn't the spraining of said shoulder joint that directly led to me being offline. See, all my neck and shoulder muscles reacted to the sprain by tensing...to try and stabilize my neck. But they went right past tensing and into spasm! And OMG was it painful! Excruciatingly painful! I have endless sympathy for those with any form of back pain. So, after two days of watching my normal strength antiinflammatory agents work less and less, I toddled (literally - I didn't want to move my neck...actually, by that point I had pretty much no range of motion) along to see the physio, a new physio, as my usual physio was on annual leave. Among the many things I was asked to do, spending less time on the computer was one. Mainly because I would be in one position for too long. (And if I thought he was joking, which I didn't, being at work completely proved him right.) Hence the infrequent visits.

But...I'm currently allowed to be online for 30 minutes at a time and I'm hoping by Wednesday that limitation will have been lifted *fingers crossed* In the interim I've been...not doing much. I did go and see Unstoppable. It was...good. Not really much of a plot...at all, but lots of action. And Chris Pine was rather nice eye candy :)

Oh, and since the title of my post has led to this song whirling around my head, here is a little taste of Simple Minds:



So, what have you been up to lately?

12 January 2011

The Reflex

OK, this is probably going to sound weird, even for me, but...do you ever succumb to The......Reflex? (And I'll forgive those of you who immediately think of Duran Duran, because I did when I named this phenomenon, hence the video [she says hopefully] for your viewing pleasure).



It's like this....your TBR list/pile/tower is groaning under its own weight, your eyes are starting to look like those of a deer in headlights and you've developed this twitch and starting looking anywhere but at your TBR list/pile/tower. It's there...you know it's there....but you just can't look at it because then you'd have to face the fact that it is a...MONSTER! And that's when The Reflex (yes, it needs capitals :) kicks in. You have to trim it. You just have to! It's a compulsion. So you do...and the trickle becomes a flood!

It happened to me today. I was staring at my library hold list, which totalled 95...and I started sweating. (Or should woman dew? I can never remember.) Anyway, I've been fighting this anti-obsession (I'm not sure what else to call it exactly) with paranormal romance/urban fantasy for a month or two. Plus...I'm also losing the will to live over fantasy, perhaps because the weight of the fantasy series I am currently reading (I'm about to start the fifth book) is starting to wear me down. (In all honesty, even though I've been massively indulging over the Christmas-New Year period, all I feel like reading is m/m romance :) All of this came to a head earlier today, I snapped and The Reflex kicked in...and I began trimming (or should that be hacking?) the library hold list. I started with 95 books...and ended up with 70 books. I snipped off 25 books! Yes, 23! Am I mad? YES! Do I feel relief at submitting to The Reflex? Well, yes? Do I feel guilty for not reading those books? No! (See, I'm learning :) And in reality that 70 is actually 68 as two of my library holds are DVDs. Am I worried about missing out on good books, or regretting my decision. Well, yes. But...those books exist and I can always go back, but as I keep repeating to myself....I should read what I want to read :)

So, have you ever succumbed to The Reflex?

Edited to add: Magic Slays is still on the library hold list, as in Archangel's Consort! I'm insane, not an idiot *grin*

10 January 2011

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Challenge

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Challenge is being hosted by Home Girl's Book Blog. The guidelines are as follows:

1. The goal is to read 12, 25, 50, or 100 books from your local library. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the Post Your Reviews post.

2. Any book from your local library counts.

3. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

4. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

5. Challenge begins January 1st and continues through the end of December 2011.

6. When you sign up under Mr Linky, put the direct link to your post where your books will be listed. Include the URL to the original post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

I have decided to sign up to read 25 library books (which is less than last year, but then we all know what happened last year *grin*).

To date, I have read the following library books:
1. Fantasy in Death (JD Robb)
2. Peril's Gate (Janny Wurts)
3. Bound By Your Touch (Meredith Duran)
4. Traitor's Knot (Janny Wurts)
5. Cast in Chaos (Michelle Sagara)
6. Lover Unleashed (JR Ward)
7. Stormed Fortress (Janny Wurts)
8. Cold Magic (Kate Elliot)
9. Radiant Shadows (Melissa Marr)
10. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (NK Jemisin)
11. One Was a Soldier (Julia Spencer-Fleming)
12. Dark Road to Darjeeling (Deanna Raybourn)
13. City of Night (Michelle West)
14. Where Shadows Dance (CS Harris)
15. House Name (Michelle West)
16. Bonds of Justice (Nalini Singh)
17. Tempt Me at Twilight (Lisa Kleypas)
18. Magic Slays (Ilona Andrews)
19. Play of Passion (Nalini Singh)
20. Love in the Afternoon (Lisa Kleypas)
21. Shadows Return (Lynn Flewelling)
22. The White Road (Lynn Flewelling)
23. Darkest Mercy (Melissa Marr)
24. Labyrinth (Kat Richardson)
25. Dragon Soul (Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett) COMPLETE!
26. Unperfect Souls (Mark del Franco)
27. Cast in Ruin (Michelle Sagara)
28. Of Blood and Honey (Stina Leicht)
29. Uncertain Allies (Mark del Franco)

08 January 2011

(Un)Comfortable

At the end of last year I picked up and read Special Delivery (Heidi Cullinan). While I rated this book highly (five stars), it did make me feel...uncomfortable in places.
 
Special Delivery is the story of Sam...and Mitch, but mostly Sam :) It covers a lot of ground, not just in terms of distance but also in emotional development of the individual characters and their relationship. It was not...an easy book to read. Not with respect to the author's writing style, which was effortless, but in terms of certain choices Sam made throughout the book. Those choices had me in fear of Sam's well-being, both emotional and physical, and left me...uncomfortable. I guess what I'm trying to say is...what works for some people (sexually) doesn't work for others. And what works for Sam, doesn't work for me. But this book allowed me to realize that.
However, saying all of the above doesn't mean that I can't...accept (I'm not sure I'll ever be able to understand as...I'm just not wired that way :) that it works for Sam..and I'm sure for others. Hmmm. I watched a news item earlier this evening on the...'amendment' (if one can call it that) of one particular word in the Mark Twain classic Huckleberry Finn. One person interviewed said that the word should remain because it made people uncomfortable, and without disturbing the the equilibrium there will be no growth. And I think that's how I view Special Delivery.
Finding a book uncomfortable can be a good thing as it allow me to...fill in part of the map that is me. A part of me that was...previously unknown. As in, what I like or don't like. What works for me. If that makes sense? The bottom line is that Special Delivery was a book that really made me think. And I think everyone once in a while it's good to read such books. So, will I be reading the indirect sequel to Special Delivery - Double-Blind? Why yes, I think I will *grin*

So, what was the last book that you read that made you...uncomfortable?

05 January 2011

The 2011 Big Book Challenge

This challenge was inspired by the lovely Heidenkind from Heidenkind's Hideaway and a discussion I had at some point....somewhere.

No, I didn't get enough of it last year...probably because I didn't actually complete it last year, so I have decided to resurrect The Big Book Challenge! And when I say big I mean really big, because in this challenge, size really does matter. You see, even after reading a number of 'big' books last year, I still panic when I see them... They are so big I'm afraid they will eat my alive! *hides under bed* So, this challenge it to help me tackle those big books that scare me. The challenge rules are simple:

1) Read a big book, and by a big book I mean a book with more than 500 pages, before the end of 2010.

2) The book can be in any format as long as its length is equivalent to more than 500 pages in print format.
 
3) The big book can be from any fiction genre (e.g. fantasy, romance, science fiction). It can even be non-fiction.

4) A review is not required (although I'm going to attempt a post detailing my thoughts on the book, or the reasons why I didn't finish it *grin*).

5) No penalties if the book isn't read by the end of 2011 (because this is meant to be fun and I'm sure we'll put enough pressure on ourselves without this challenge being the last straw).

6) The book can be changed at any time! (Flexibility is important IMO :)

7) You can join at any time throughout the year!

Please sign-up below and let me know in the comments what big book you have been avoiding! For me, it's Astrid Amara's The Archer's Heart!

04 January 2011

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011

Anesthezea of I Heart Paperbacks is hosting The M/M Romance Challenge 2011. The rules are as follows:

1. Details: This challenge is for those who enjoy reading gay romances (also known as m/m or male/male romances) or those who are interested in starting. If you aren't familiar with this genre, it consists of novels and stories where the main focus is the romantic relationship between the male protagonists.

2. You don’t have to select your books ahead of time. Even if you do, you can change your books as you go. Your books can crossover with other challenges.

3. You don’t need a blog to participate and you can join at any time between now and the latter part of 2011.

4. eBooks, hardbacks, paperbacks, audio books, and re-reads are welcome. Comics and manga count as well.

5. You can post the links to your reviews, if you write any, on the Review Post at I Heart Paperbacks (link to follow).

6. There are 5 reading levels to choose from:
- Read 5 M/M Romances
- Read 10 M/M Romances
- Read 15 M/M Romances
- Read 20 M/M Romances
- Read 20+ M/M Romances

7. If you’d like to make your challenge a little more challenging, try any or all of these optional add-ons:
- Read 3 or more books in the same series
- Read 3 or more books with the same theme (Firefighters, Pirates, Friends-to-Lovers, etc)
- Read 1 book that isn't your usual type of read (Cheating Hero, BDSM, Menage, etc)
- If you’re not new to reading m/m romances, go back and re-read the first title you ever read. Do you feel differently about the book now than you did when you first read it?

8. Prizes: Everyone who signs up for the challenge between now and March 31st will be eligible to win a $25 gift card from either Amazon.com or All Romance eBooks/OmniLit. The winner will be randomly chosen using random.org.

Last year (it feels very weird saying that :) I decided to start small, and aimed to read 5 M/M romance novels. I ended up reading 30 novels/novellas! *blushes* Me, a fan of the genre? I think so! So, this year I think I will aim a little....higher *grin* and aim to read 20+ M/M books in 2011! I am also going to consider reading the first m/m book I ever read - Mind F*ck (Manna Francis).

To date I have read the following:
1. Somebody Killed His Editor (Josh Lanyon)
2. All She Wrote (Josh Lanyon)
3. Lord of the White Hell Book II (Ginn Hale)
4. Life After Joe (Harper Fox)
5. Promises (Marie Sexton)
6. Caught Running (Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux)
7. Out of My Mind (ML Rhodes)
8. A Helping Hand (Shayla Kersten)
9. Angel: 1089 (CC Bridges)
10. Boys of Summer (Cooper Davis)
11. One Real Thing (Anah Crow & Dianne Fox)
12. Anchored: Belonging (Rachel Haimowitz)
13. Talker (Amy Lane)
14. Talker's Redemption (Amy Lane)
15. Truth in the Dark (Amy Lane)
16. A to Z (Marie Sexton)
17. The Letter Z (Marie Sexton)
18. Strawberries for Dessert (Marie Sexton)
19. Geography of Murder (PA Brown)
20. The Dark Horse (Josh Lanyon) COMPLETED!
21. Putting Out Fires (Marie Sexton)
22. Lessons in Love (Charlie Cochrane)
23. Rescue Me (Scarlet Blackwell)
24. The Shattered Gate (Ginn Hale)
25. GhosTV (Jordan Castillo Price)
26. Servants of the Crossed Arrows (Ginn Hale)
27. Shades of Gray (Brooke McKinley)
28. Paris A to Z (Marie Sexton)
29. Finding Zach (Rowan Speedwell)
30. Gobsmacked (LB Gregg)
31. Snow Angel (Sharon Maria Bidwell)
32. And So Is Love (Scarlet Blackwell)
33. Snowball in Hell (Josh Lanyon)
34. Carbon & Ash (Chris Owen)
35. Force of Law (Jez Morrow)
36. Black Blades (Ginn Hale)
37. Cut & Run (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)
38. Witches' Blood (Ginn Hale)
39. The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara)
40. Static (LA Witt) [I can't believe I made it to 40!]
41. The Elegant Corpse (AM Riley)
42. Living Promises (Amy Lane)
43. Yearning (Amy Lane)
44. The Alpha Bet (Cassidy Ryan)
45. Bad Company (KA Mitchell)
46. The Holy Road (Ginn Hale)
47. Yakuza Pride (HJ Brues)
48. Bound by Deception (Ava March)
49. Bound to Him (Ava March)
50. Change of Heart (Mary Calmes) [OMG I've reached 50!]
51. Spin Out (James Buchanan)
52. Broken Fortress (Ginn Hale)
53. Come Unto These Yellow Sands (Josh Lanyon)
54. Concubine (Jill Knowles)
55. Sticks & Stones (Madeline Urban)
56. Wanting (Piper Vaughn)
57. Clear Water (Amy Lane)
58. Enemies & Shadows (Ginn Hale)
59. St Nacho's (ZA Maxfield)
60. Gathering Storm (Lyn Gala)
61. Physical Therapy (ZA Maxfield)
62. Urban Shaman (Lyn Gala)
63. In and Out (LB Gregg)
64. Talker's Graduation (Amy Lane)
65. The Silent City (Ginn Hale)
66. Fish & Chips (Madeline Urban)
67. Zero at the Bone (Jane Seville)
68. Trusted Bond (Mary Calmes)
69. The Bastard Prince (Megan Derr)
70. Faith & Fidelity (Tere Michaels)
71. Just Desserts (Scarlet Blackwell)
72. Duty & Devotion (Tere Michaels)
73. Love & Loyalty (Tere Michaels)
74. Crown Jewel (Megan Derr)
75. Camwolf (JL Merrow)
76. Second Helpings (Scarlet Blackwell)
77. The Last Supper (Scarlet Blackwell)
78. The Iron Temple (Ginn Hale)
79. More Than Anything (Shawn Lane)
80. Boats in the Night (Josephine Myles)
81. Renovations 1-3 (Anah Crow)
82. Renovations 4-6 (Anah Crow)
83. Cop Out (KC Burn)
84. Bad Boyfriend (KA Mitchell)
85. Hope & Fears (Rowan Speedwell)
86. His Holy Bones (Ginn Hale)
87. Collared (Kari Gregg)
88. Simple Gifts (LB Gregg)
89. Men Under The Mistletoe (Anthology)
90. More Than Enough (Shawn Lane)
91. Divide & Conquer (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)
92. Light Me Up (James Buchanan)
93. Seedy Business (Damon Suede)
94. Grown Men (Damon Suede)

03 January 2011

(In)Complete

So, another year has ended. In the world of reading and challenges, how did I do? I read a total of 125 books in 2010. That seems like a lot, but as a large number of them were yaoi or yaoi manga (and thus short) I think my total is slightly inflated *grin* Unfortunately reviews were few and far between. I still have review notes for Corambis (Sarah Monette) and I am going to try and write that...this month. (I was going to say this week, but...such a time frame might be asking for trouble :)

At the beginning of the year I signed up for I Heart Paperbacks' M/M Romance Challenge 2010 and since I was new to both my iPhone and reading m/m novels in eBook form I went for the chicken easy restrained option of reading five m/m romances in 2010. I read....30 novels/novellas! *blushes* What can I say, I love the genre! There is so much variety...and so many talented authors, including Amy Lane, James Buchanan, JB MacDonald, Josh Lanyon and Jordan Castillo Price (to name but a few). [Maybe it's me, but a lot of them seem to have first names beginning with 'J'...]

I also instigated the 2010 Big Book Challenge in an effort to stop avoiding those large tombs books...you know, the ones with more than 500 pages that can be used as a paperweight? I have to say I was rapt at the number of people who signed up! But...I couldn't complete my own challenge :( I read a lot of books in 2010 that were more than 500 pages,but not my designated book - Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey). I've come to the conclusion that...I don't want to read it at the moment. I'm sure I'm giving some of you heart palpitations with that comment, but...the premise of the book just doesn't interest me ATM. But, there is another book, so I thought I would issue the Big Book Challenge once again! Post to follow!

The last challenge I signed up for in 2010 was J Kaye's 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge. In 2009 I read over 50 library books so I accepted the challenge to read 50 library in 2010. However, I only managed to read 40 :( Why? I could roll our any number of reasons, but...I just didn't. I'd like to take this challenge on for 2011, but I might reduce the number of books to 25...be a little more realistic considering the number of eBooks on my TBR list :)

And finally I come to my favourite books for 2010. I read a number of five star books this year, but...these were the books that spoke to me. So...in no particular order:

* Adrien English series (Josh Lanyon)

* Banana Fish (Akimi Yoshida)

* By Degrees (JB MacDonald)

* Corambis (Sarah Monette)

* Flesh & Spirit/Breath & Bone (Carol Berg)

* Keeping Promise Rock (Amy Lane)

* Tigers and Devils (Sean Kennedy)

I don't think I've missed any...

And no, I haven't listed any New Year's resolutions. I'm not a fan of resolutions...I feel you should be able to set goals whenever :) Well....that's the PC version. The non-PC version is that I'm just not in the right frame of mind for resolutions ATM. I don't think I have the strength to face family and work next week, let alone some resolutions I am bound to fail within a day :)

So, what challenges (reading or otherwise) are you thinking about accepting for 2011?

02 January 2011

Books 2010: December Update

Total: 125 books (12 books this month: fantasy [one book]; medieval suspense [one book]; m/m romance [nine books]; young adult [one book])

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total: 40 books (three books this month) [INCOMPLETE]

The 2010 Big Book Challenge: INCOMPLETE

The M/M Romance Challenge 2010 total: 30 books (nine books this month) [COMPLETED!]

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* His for the Holidays (Anthology)

* PsyCop I-V (Jordan Castillo Price) [What can I say, I adore Vic!]

Currently reading:

* Lord of the White Hell Volume II (Ginn Hale)
So, what did you read last month?