31 July 2011

Thinking

I have a number of posts rattling around inside my head ATM, but...I need to work out exactly what I want to write - it has been one of those weeks!

In the interim, I thought you might like a bit of a walk down memory lane. While I was out and about yesterday the theme song from Beverly Hills Cop 1 - The Heat Is On - came on the radio. That led me to rattling around by boxes (the vast majority of my belongings are still in boxes for reasons unknown) until I pulled out my Eighties Complete CDs. Unfortunately, The Heat Is One wasn't listed, but this beauty was:



Let's just say that my new toy has had some musical additions to assist me in pounding the pavement *grin*

So, what blast from the past has hit you lately?

28 July 2011

Just One Word

I'm curious - when you decide to read a book, what do you base your decision on? The summary? The cover art? The rating? The reviews? All of the above?And...are there certain words in the summary that tip the balance either for or against? For example, I have an historical romance on my library hold list. I hope to read it at some point next month. It's the first in a series of books by the author - I have read one series by this author and the first book of another series (I then didn't go any further). So, being a 'completist) [read OCD] and realizing the second book had been published, I went to read the summary. And there I read the word 'beautiful'. Just one word to describe the heroine. And that one word has decided me against the book. (I'm sure you all know my views on heroines, so I won't bore you by getting on my soapbox.) But...that one word would decide me against a book... I guess I'm feeling overly judgemental and not in a good way (if one can be overly judgemental in a good way?) and that has rather horrified me. Am I the only one who does this?

Edited to add: I've amended the Settings, so hopefully those of you who have had issues in the past posting comments here won't have them any more :)

26 July 2011

Just Add Noodles

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to authors or readers, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

Whether reading m/f or m/m (or any variation thereof), the trope of instant love or 'insta-love' invariably makes an appearance. I'm not sure exactly how one would define insta-love, but I suppose one could view it as the 'just add noodles' of the romance novel *grin*

At the end of last week I finished reading a paranormal romance that used just this trope. TBH I'm not a fan of it - the trope that is, not the book :) I like any relationship between characters to develop slowly, so I can see the...why of their relationship (if that makes sense). I discussed my thoughts with the lovely Kerry from Too Many Books and loved her response so much I asked her if I could post it here - thank you Kerry!
I think that part of the problem is fitting the actual plot and the romance into the same time frame. Often the first needs to happen rather quickly, the latter more slowly. So one gets slowed down and the other gets sped up so they both end at the same time.
Now, to be fair, as much as I love that explanation, it isn't always the case. So it is then up to the author to convince the reader (and I need a lot of convincing) that there is more to the relationship that just...noodles :)

So, what are your thoughts on insta-love?

24 July 2011

Almost Heaven

Now, normally, I'm not a huge fan of remakes, particularly musical remakes...and that goes triple for a U2 song. Up until Adam Lambert sang One (on American Idol) I hadn't heard a U2 remake I could tolerate. (And yes that includes the Glee version of One.) But, when checking Jared Leto's Twitter (as I am wont to do) I discovered that 30 Seconds to Mars had covered Where The Streets Have No Name for MTV Unplugged. And my heart almost stopped. One of my favourite bands covering a song by my other favourite band. And the result? Blew. My. Mind. See for yourself:


Found on: Where The Streets Have No Name (30 Seconds To Mars) [U2 cover] from Grazzia on Vimeo.

Now I just have to cross my fingers in the hope that I can see 30 Seconds to Mars and U2 (together) live. That would be heaven.

So, what's your favourite (musical) cover?

21 July 2011

Books One Loves To Rant About

On the way back from the Nalini Singh 'meet and greet' last week, the lovely Kerry from Too Many Books and I fell into discussing the BDB (Black Dagger Brotherhood for those of you who have been living under a rock [or who don't read paranormal romance] and thus have not heard of this series :) The next book to be released (on 27 March 2012) is Lover Reborn.

Lover Reborn appeared on my library's catalogue last week so I promptly placed a hold. When Kerry asked me why (I had placed the hold) I said I wanted to know what would happen (overall) in the series...and then I realized the other reason why I want to read it. You see, for the last few releases I've read the book and then jumped online and ranted...here, here, here, here and here. (OK, that is an awful lot of ranting *blushes*) And it struck me then...I quite like ranting about this series. It's...fun. And this has kind of me worried. Is ranting about a book....wrong? Am I being disrespectful? Am I the only person who does this? (Although thinking about the number of people who rant about the Anita Blake series, perhaps not.) Should one just chose not to read the book...or to read the book and not comment? Thoughts?

BTW, has anyone see the cover? I've heard rumours...

19 July 2011

Yakuza Pride (HJ Brues)

Warning: the discussion of certain topics in this review may be upsetting - I apologise.

I have to admit to being at a complete loss as to how to rate Yakuza Pride (HJ Brues)... In fact, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to think of this book. I feel the positives outweigh the negatives, but the negatives will be, for some, deal breakers. Where to start? I loved the setting. I very rarely read books set outside of North America, and to read a book set in Japan was refreshing to say the least as I know next to nothing about Japan and less that nothing about its culture and society. Luckily, the author avoided the pitfall of dumping information on both Japanese caste and manners, but instead embedded it seamlessly. The characters themselves are also interesting, and not just the primary characters - there were definitely secondary characters who had page space and who used it to present themselves in a three-dimensional way. I liked how...human they were, with all the foibles humanity brings. On the other hand, the two main characters kind of remind me of the characters in a yaoi manga. I'm not sure exactly why. Perhaps because they fall into some clearly defined roles (in some respects). What I found interesting is how the author portrayed Kenneth (or Kenshin-san as he is known for most of the book). It's like the author wrote him as a foreigner (and thus less 'acceptable' to the Japanese), but gave him many qualities that the Japanese would admire - his fluency with the language and his understanding of Japanese culture and customs, his mastery of kendo, and his strength and honour. Both Kenshin-san and Shigure-san (the other primary character) represent one of the themes of the book, that nationality and/or caste is a label, and that it is who the person is that reflects their honour and their worth.

Anyway, I digress... This book feels like a book of many parts. And not in a beginning and an end kind of way, but more in an intimacy and action kind of way. Unfortunately, I felt both the intimacy and the action were...stretched (as in too long and too detailed), often too far. Which meant the pacing was...uneven. Plus, at least initially, the author had a tendency to use very long (80-90 words long) sentences during the sex scenes. And this led me (invariably) to re-writing the sentences (in my head) to add in a full-stop (or two). Not good. Especially considering the scene. So, I began to look forward to the sex scenes (not that there were many, but they were...out in the open on occasion) finishing and..the plot moving forward. And then we hit the middle of the book and where the suspense plot kicked in. One of the characters is kidnapped. Yes, huge spoiler, but I wanted to mention it because of what happens during the kidnapping. Torture. And it is described. In detail. And it's not easy to read. And there are escape attempts, more than one, which fail, until you are about to give up hope entirely, and then...success! Did I mention that things felt stretched? And that fact that Shigure spent a lot of time not working out who the villian was, when I (of all people) did, meant I thought less of him. At one point I was hoping that I had got it wrong, but I didn't.

And then I got to the scene I STILL can't get my head around. I'm not sure about the exact time line (as in how soon post-rescue this sex scene occurred, but bandages were present so I'm guessing a day or two?) Remember me mentioning the torture? Well, the result of that torture (physically) was wounds, burns and tears.... And then this happened:
Shigure's mouth followed the same path down that his hands had taken on their way up, his tongue probing mercilessly into and around the open cuts, Ken squirming wildly under the torture, noises pouring out of him without control.
Yes, you read that right. INTO the open cuts! No. Just, no. The human mouth has millions of bacteria in it, bacteria that would probably love to make a home in a warm, nutrient-rich environment. But wait, it gets worse. There is a rimming scene.That in and of itself isn't the problem. The problem is that there are tears in that area, which led me straight back to the pain and risk-of-infection issues. All of this to someone who has just been tortured? And then to go from rimming straight to another area, which has burns. *heads desk* I mean, maybe it's me, but...the whole scene didn't work because I spent the whole time thinking about the pain and the risk of infection. I can understand why the author included a sex scene at this particular point in the story. My issue is with what the scene consisted of.

So, you're no doubt asking yourself why I rated this book three and three-quarter stars. I think the author has a lot of talent.I think the book is for the most part well written, with an interesting setting and premise. I think if the stretching of both scenes and sentences was...lessened, it would help immensely. And maybe my issues with that one particular sex scene is just a me thing as I haven't seen any one else mention it. But I do think that anyone that reads it should be warned that it is, in a number of places, very disturbing. The cover is, however, gorgeous!

17 July 2011

Here's Looking At You

I meant to post this last night, but the temperature (or lack thereof) got the better of me :) Normally when I mention my lovely friend Kerry it is in association with her (original) blog Saving My Sanity. But, Kerry has started a new blog! It's called Too Many Books - something I think we can all relate to! And as to what this new blog is about? Well, I think part of Kerry's first post said it beautifully:
The key phrase above is “toss out a post”. That’s what I want to be able to do. A quote, a thought, a pretty cover, an upcoming release, anything book related like that. Short, quick stuff rather than trying to do in depth reviews or analysis (although if I am so inspired, I’ll “toss” one of those up here as well).

Secondly, I have several authors where I dream of slowly reading my way through their series and/or standalone books, often in an order of my own devising rather than ones readily available on other sites. This will also be a place to store those orders and my progress through the books.

Lastly (for now), some older favourite series/authors are beginning to be reprinted in lovely, matching editions (and in hardcover or trade which I prefer these days) where I drool over them and dream about buying them if I had the money. My books were often either purchased as they came out, or bought later and mostly second hand. Both those things tend to mean my collections are in multiple formats and with differing cover art. And in the case of those second hand purchases, old, ratty and sometimes musty and falling apart. The very thought of a lovely new set of books, all matching size and matching covers makes me happy. So I’ll also be using this blog to imagine my own dream library.

*drools over dream library*

*coughs*

And since I've been talking about new blogs, I wanted to mention Meoskop's It's My Genre, Baby. IIRC, I think I met Meoskop over a Dear Author review. Something in her comment sparked my interest, so me being me I wembled over to her blog. And I'm so glad I did! Meoskop reviews...all sorts of books, across a number of genres, including contemporary romance, historial romance, paranormal romance, not to mention autobiographies and...eBook readers! And there was a post about the BBC History Magazine the other week. *drools over BBC History Magazine* Apart from being very amuzing, Meoskop's posts invariably make me look at things from a different angle.

So, what new blogs have you discovered lately?

13 July 2011

Nalini Singh

Warning: Parts of this post may contain information that certain individuals (looking at no one in particular *cough* KatiBabs *cough*) may find...disturbing (as in result in a spontaneous case of self-combustion). It may also contain spoiler information!

Last night the lovely Kerry from Too Many Books - Too Hard to Choose and I were very lucky to attend a 'meet and greet' with the exceptionally lovely and uber talented Nalini Singh!

Now, before I dive into all the juicy gossip, I just wanted to say that Nalini is an amazing speaker. Vivacious, engaging and warm. It was also fascinating to note the demographics in the room - also many and varied. Nalini's books are loved across a spectrum :) Now, on to what Nalini said:

* There is likely to be another three or four Psy-Changeling books before the story arc is complete. That's not to say there won't be further books, but they will be tangential to the story arc. Maybe one about the Falcons? *crossing fingers for an Adam book*

* Kit's story won't be one of those three or four books - Nalini reckons he's still a bit young yet :)

* Nalini is currently working on the 11th Psy-Changeling book. It has no title as yet, but will be about Riaz (one of the SnowDancer Lieutenants) and Adria (Indigo's aunt). And both the Arrows and Kaleb *waits for screaming* will play a role!

* There will be further books about Elena & Raphael

* The Guild Hunter series is likely to be smaller than the Psy-Changeling series as the books will be limited to the core characters

I hope I got that all right Nalini? Did I miss anything?

And on the way home, driving over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, lightning lit up the sky right in front of me. It was....WOW! And then I got stopped by the police and breathalyzed :) So, all in all a very exciting evening!

Edited to add: Please make sure to read the first comment, because there are quite a few (juicy) titbits I missed, but that Kerry didn't :)

06 July 2011

Time Out

I've been rather...absent from the blogosphere of late. I'm sorry. I'm just all...sixes and sevens ATM. Anxious about...anything and everything, including keeping up with everyone's blogs (and my own). I know I don't have too, but...I want too, and the pressure is driving me crazy. That and it's been very cold here over the last couple of weeks and...where my computer is situated is in the opposite direction to that in which the heat from my fire travels. (So, it's cold in front of the 'puter ATM.) And I can hear all those people who suggested that I purchase a laptop (which could be easily re-situated to the kitchen table) instead of a desktop saying (silently, because they are, after all, lovely people :) 'I told you so'. I hear you *grin*

I'm hoping a few days 'away' will have me back and bouncing, and I look forward to catching up with you all at that point. But, until then, I thought you all might like another (yes, another) photo of Jared, bought to you via the lovely Kris from Kris 'n' Good Books. Thank you sweetie for enabling my obsession...ahhh...addiction....ahh...thing *grin*

03 July 2011

Books 2011: June Update

Total to date: 54 books (five books this month: fantasy [two books]; historical suspense [one book]; m/m [two books])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 15 books (three books this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 38 books (two books this month)

The 2011 Big Book Challenge: The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara) [In progress!]

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?

* Cut & Run (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)

* City of Night (Michelle Sagara)

Currently reading:

* The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Living Promises (Amy Lane)

* The Holy Road (Ginn Hale) [The Rifter Part V]

So, what did you read last month?