30 June 2012

Books 2012: May Update

Total: 54 books (13 books in May: m/m [13 books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 47 books (13 books in April)

The The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: 4 books

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

Favourite books in May? (There were a few)

* Armed & Dangerous (Abigail Roux) [Ty & Zane? *swoon*]

* Dr Fell series (Syd McGinley) [May was also Syd McGinley month *grin*]

* The Gillibran Brown series (Gillibran Brown) [What can I say? I'm on a domestic discipline genre glom]

Currently reading:

* Silver Bullet (Rolf & Ranger) [I *heart this series*]

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in June:

* Reality Check [An online domestic discipline series]

I'm not going to ask you what you read in May, because, like me, you probably can't remember. So, what did you just finish reading?

17 June 2012

Falls Chance Ranch

Note: this 'review' contains spoilers.

I'm not the world's best reviewer by any means. I ramble, I get sidetracked and I have pet peeves that can taint my response to a book. Plot? Well...kind of. I'm a character-based reader; if the characters hold my interest (in other words, if I can identify with them) then I happily give the author(s) a lot of leeway when it comes to plot. TBH I prefer a story that is solely based on the characters, no pesky suspense plots with a serial killer entering stage right with frequent abandon to distract me from what's truly important - the characters. And that's one of the (many) things I loved about Rolf & Ranger's Falls Chance Ranch. It was all about the characters. At its heart, it was Dale's story, Dale's...journey. I would say Dale's journey back to himself, except he had never really learnt who he was. Dale was...in his own words...a fake. A perfectionist obsessed with trying to stave off the discovery that he was always one step away from failure. And being obsessed with always presenting a competent front, he internalized his emotions...because emotions meant a loss of control. But you can't bottle up your emotions indefinitely. Something has to give...as it did for Dale. Which led his employer to taking extreme measures...sending Dale to Falls Chance Ranch...and to Flynn, Jasper, Paul and Riley.

This book is unusual for a number of reasons:

1) It's written by two authors, something I'm not completely familiar with (the Cut & Run series being a recent exception).

2) It doesn't have the aforementioned suspense plot - it's a character-based book.

3) If you want a fast read, this book isn't for you. It's pacing is...slow and steady, not to mention it is approximately 205,000 words long. The pace works perfectly in that it matches not only Dale's journey (no easy fixes), but the pace of life on the ranch, which follows the seasons.

4) It is available online. Yes there are editing issues and occasionally the POV was confusing, but I was so engrossed that while I noted them in passing I just moved on - the characters and story had me so gripped. Yes, I know, shocking for me! I honestly can't understand why this book isn't published -  I would more than happily pay for it!

5) It encompasses domestic discipline. How I ended up reading this subgenre is definitely a topic for another day. I know the discipline aspect won't be for some, but the wonderful thing about this book is how seamlessly the authors have integrated it into the story. It doesn't feel...out of place, or heavy handed (sorry, I couldn't resist), but instead something that works within the context of the book. The reader experiences Dale's initial reaction to the discipline and his gradual and growing understanding of his...instinctive and unconditional surrender to it. The boundaries imposed on Dale by Flynn, Jasper and Paul, initially with respect to his role as their client and then, as the relationships between all five characters develop, as a member of their unusual family, don't chafe, but instead provide Dale with a sense of calm...of belonging and of safety. And the authors express that so well.

6) And that brings me to the character of Dale. While I...need to be able to relate to a character (or characters) in a book to be touched on a emotional level, it is really hard to read a book when you can see so much of yourself in a character. Meeting Dale felt like looking in a mirror. His obsessive perfectionism, his fear of failure, his hypervigilance, his bouts of dissociation, his avoidance of touch and his...lack of understanding at the easy affection the other characters shared...with each other and him. So I loved that there was no quick fix for Dale. So many books have lost me with their miraculous fixes in the dying pages. But given the way the authors had obviously researched perfectionism, I had faith that they wouldn't fix Dale. And they didn't. Because there is no quick fix. Dale still has such a long journey. But he has Flynn, Jasper, Paul and Riley with him on that journey. Which brings me to:

7) This book hints at a polyamorous relationship between the characters. I say hints because there is no sex in this book. And not really a HEA...because the relationships the characters have with each other are not fixed entities. But it all works within the context of the book. Which is incredibly unhelpful, but the truth from where I sit :)

As is always the way, finishing a book that has touched me so much on so many levels fills me with despondency. Which is why I was so thrilled to find that there is four books in this series (and I believe some short stories). If you'd like to try the first chapter, you can find it here.

10 June 2012

AWOL...Again

This blog post has totally morphed...they do that, don't they? It was going to be about my very poor blogging of late. And it is. Kind of. But I realized while typing that my potential solution (scheduling a set amount of blogging time every second night) is yet another way of breaking my day down into set periods of time. I'm obsessed about getting things done. So I schedule everything. For instance, when I woke up this morning I lay in bed working out the order in which I would complete various chores today. Today is Sunday!

Where has all this introspection come from? I'm currently reading (and raving about if you follow me on GoodReads) Rolf & Ranger's Falls Chance Ranch. More about the book itself in another post (because to write about the book I need to explain the subgenre it falls into, and how I feel about it, which will lead me to a series I glomed with abandon last month [in other words a whole other post]), but one of the characters... Let's just say that this character and I share many character traits, one of which is obsessing. Another is perfectionism. Reading about his struggles to find a healthy balance has made me look at myself a little more closely. If I'm doing then I'm not thinking, so the more I do the less I have to think. About anything and everything. But living that way is not sustainable and it's not healthy, just like Dale found. So...something to talk about with the unnamed expert this week.

None of which really explains my lack of blogging. I could blame it on my low iron levels - and the ensuing lethargy and poor concentration and memory - but those are back to normal (and yes I'm keeping an eye on them). I could blame it on the weather - if I heat the 'office', where my computer resides, I don't heat the bedroom end of the house. So on cold nights I have fallen into the habit of not turning the computer on. And then there is my blogging obsession. Have I checked everyone's blogs? Have I commented? Sometimes the thought of turning the computer on fills me with dread as I don't ever seem to be able to catch up with all the new blog posts. Moderation I hear you ask? Something else I need to talk to the unnamed expert about :)

So, in the interim, this is me promising to try and blog more, visit more. Because I want to. I miss you all and love knowing what you're up to. But I think I need to learn how to be realistic about blogging. How to find a happy medium.

So, how do you balance RL and blogging? Or don't you?