Saturday, June 30, 2007

A few more won't hurt, right?

I'm getting down to crunch time here. Only a week till the move! Busy with packing and doing all the annoying tasks associated with moving all your belongings a couple hundred miles. And trying to fit in all the "New York" things I want to do one last time.

I don't have much to blog about because I haven't been doing much reading except for Harry Potter. But the fact that I don't have time to read hasn't stopped me from buying lots of books lately. I've been around to my favorite UBSs here and bought:

That's Anya Seton's Katherine (never read her before); The Masqueraders by Heyer (I'm always on the lookout for pretty hardcover Heyers); The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Lymond Chronicles #3---I read the first two a few years ago and want to finish the series at some point); Bride of the MacHugh by Jan Cox Speas (this is a bit of a classic, isn't it?); Haunted Ground and Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart (fabulous archaeological mysteries); Second Chances by Sharon Sala (never read her either and someone was saying she was good---Nath, was it you?); Karen Rose's Count to Ten (because I've heard such good things about it); and The Templar's Seduction by Mary Reed McCall (I'm hesitant about this one because the Templars, they bore me, but people are saying it is good).

And then there have been a lot of new books on sale lately that I've had to buy:
Unfortunate Miss Fortunes by Crusie/Dreyer/Stuart, Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Quinn, The Roman's Virgin Mistress by Michelle Styles (oh that title hurts, but I liked her last book and it's ROMAN, so I can't pass it up), Bujold's Legacy (woot!), and Kelley Armstrong's Exit Strategy. I've got some good reading ahead of me.

Um, I think that's it. Because the poor movers really are not going to be happy when they see the huge pile of book boxes.

Oh, and these are the new Tevas I bought yesterday. I was trying to describe them to Twin on the phone last night and she was not understanding what they were like. So here they are. Are they ugly? I like them and they are soooo comfortable. They stay on much better than most flip-flops.

And now I am going to bike to Coney Island and see all of its tacky glory for the last time. ;)

Friday, June 29, 2007


Mini going-away party with friends from work tonight:

Fun Jennie: Woot! Drinks! Friends! Yay!
Sensible Jennie: You're going to feel like shit tomorrow.
Fun Jennie: Whgo cares! Fun! Wheee!
Sensible Jennie: Don't order anoter round.
Fun Jennie: Hee, ou're fungy. I mean funny.

Fun Jennie: Oh, these people are so cool, why are you leaving NY?? There won't be people this cool in NC!
Sensible Jennie: Yes, you loser, there will be plenty of cool people in NC too. And please stop with the exclamation points, you're being silly.

Fun Jennie: Heee, I can't relaly type right now. Hee hee. I'm having to edit almost every single world. Word. You kow what I menat.
Sensible Jennie: No, actually, you're quite hard to understand right now.
Fun Jennie: No, Im not, you just haven't had enough of this here drinks, they're fvery gasty, I mean tasty.
Sensible: Go to bed, you silly slittle girl.

Ok, nighty night.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Meme-ing Lippi

Rosina Lippi is having a contest to celebrate the paperback release of her book Tied to the Tracks. I can recommend it as I liked it quite a lot. And apparently I can't say no to a contest.

5 reasons the best readers come from the south:

1. The summer's so hot that movement becomes impossible. Reading is good stationary fun.
2. Southerners understand the joys of life at a slower pace. Makes for even more reading time.
3. We're more polite. Good for authors because we're less likely to post nasty reviews on our blogs.
4. We're good at putting off the things we should be doing in favor of reading because "tomorrow is another day."
5. Speaking takes too long. Better read instead.

Heh, any of you Yanks have any? Bring it on! You could win a $100 Amazon gift cert!

Tied to the Tracks
by Rosina Lippi. July 3, 2007. ISBN: 0425215326

"[This] is a hilarious, smart, sexy novel with a heart of gold." -- Susan Wiggs

"[Lippi] turns her buoyant creative talents to the romantic comedy genre with an effervescent tale of a trio of offbeat Yankee filmmakers plunked down deep in the heart of Dixie." -- Booklist

Read an excerpt. (Adobe Reader required)| Watch the book trailer

You can find Tied to the Tracks at Amazon , Barnes & Nobel, Borders, Powells, or at your local independent bookseller.

This meme has been entered in the Tied to the Tracks contest, originating on Rosina Lippi's Storytelling2 weblog. If you'd like to enter the BUCKS & BOOKS meme contest, get the rules here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

High Noon, Nora Roberts

Title: High Noon
Author: Nora Roberts
Published: 2007, Putnam
Category: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 8/10

My summer Nora Roberts fix. Woo hoo! I got to read it a little early, but it’s on sale soon---July 10, I think.

Phoebe MacNamara is the top hostage negotiator with the Savannah police. She’s called in to talk down a suicide jumper on St. Patrick’s Day and meets the jumper’s boss, Duncan Swift (who had just fired the poor schmuck and now feels terrible about it). Duncan is so impressed with Phoebe that he sets about persuading her to go out with him, even though she’s resistant because she’s trying to manage a demanding career and rather screwed-up family (she’s a single mom with an agoraphobic mother). Soon, Phoebe clashes with an idiot cop and makes a serious enemy. Then she’s the victim of an assault in her own station house and soon she realizes that someone is stalking her---a man from her past is determined to destroy her.

I don’t know exactly why, but the instant I start reading a Nora Roberts book I fall immediately into the story. Often with books you just push through the first 20 or 30 pages because you just know it’s going to get good soon. There’s none of that here; I’m sucked in the NR vortex from the very start. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to her writing style (I have read a lot of Roberts books) or maybe it’s just because she’s a good writer. I started reading on a Friday afternoon and didn’t really want to do anything at all until I’d finished it. It’s nice and long and meaty, chock-full of interesting characters, all with involved backstories. Not just the two protagonists, but a wide cast of friends and family. The action is good and pretty nonstop---the pages just melted away as I was reading.

Phoebe is one tough chick, a real no-nonsense kind of heroine. I loved this bit---Phoebe's daughter, Carly, is asking if Duncan is Phoebe's boyfriend:
"'Cause Sherrilynn's big sister has a boyfriend, and he makes her cry all the time. She lays across the bed in her room and cries all the time, Sherrilynn says."
"And I bet Sherilynn's big sister enjoys every minute of it." Phoebe reached down to cup Carly's face. "I'm not much of a crier myself."
Hee! Love it. Phoebe's also really good at telling people off---she's professional and intelligent, but when someone pisses her off, they know it. ;)

And Duncan was fabulous! There’s a blurb on a lot of NR books about her “fueling the dreams of millions of readers” or something (I’m paraphrasing) and it’s so true. All of Roberts’s heroes are pretty damn perfect. Duncan won the lottery, so he’s a multi-millionaire but he hasn’t let the money go to his head. He’s a smart businessman, but doesn’t get too caught up in the greedy business world. He’s just a lot of fun and I ate him up like a giant Hershey bar. There was a while there where he disappeared and I was like, “Commmme back, Duncan!”

So this may not make it onto my list of absolute favorite NRs. But it’s a damn good read. I loved the Savannah setting---especially good for a hot summer weekend.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Desperate Duchesses, Eloisa James

Title: Desperate Duchesses
Author: Eloisa James
Published: 2007, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7/10

This is only my second Eloisa James. I read one of the books in her last series (about the four sisters, right?) and I liked it pretty well. Enough for me to buy a couple more of her books for the TBR, but not enough to actually read them. ;) But this one is the start of a new series, so I gave it a shot. And I was really impressed!

Lady Roberta St. Giles is cursed with a rather embarrassing father. He's a poet and has the usual accompanying temperament---he's prone to making emotional scenes and then being made fun of in the gossip columns. When Roberta first sees the Duke of Villiers at a ball, she notes his cool imperturbability and realizes that he would never make a scene or embarrass her. So she decides she must marry him. Roberta travels to London and presents herself to her cousin, Jemma, the Duchess of Beaumont, and asks Jemma to help her ensnare Villiers. Also staying at Beaumont House is Jemma's brother Damon, who turns out to be so much fun to be around that Roberta is a bit torn---does she really want to marry the Duke?

This is a very abbreviated summary as there is a really big cast of characters, all with their own little stories. It is a testament to how well written this book is that even though I didn't really like any of the characters for the first hundred pages or so, I still couldn't put it down. Roberta's desire to marry Villiers seems so idiotic and Jemma comes off as cold and a bit manipulative. But both characters grew on me after a while.

Damon was the other reason I kept reading; he is wonderful, a sort of happy-go-lucky kind of guy whose off-handedness and humility do little to hide his obvious intelligence and kindness. And his son was hilarious---not your usual romanticized little angel at all.

The historical details here are very interesting, though I could have done without some of the chess (Jemma is a chess master and challenges both Villiers and her husband to matches---overly long matches, imo). But this book also was surprisingly funny. Cleverly witty in a very good way. The dialogue overall was so well done.

I adored the last three paragraphs! I often cringe at the very end of romance novels, because while I love the HEA, there are only so many ways of saying "they lived happily ever after" without sounding like a cheeseball. This one is lovely.

This book has me thinking I should really pull those other James books out of the TBR. :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

My TBR's been on a diet

Twin made me pack up my books! She was a packing maniac. We did all the bookcases, and then she turned her eyes on my TBR.

Me: "Noooo! We don't move for three more weeks!"
Twin: "You're going to read all those books before we move?"
Me: "Of course not. But I might want to read any one of them. I need options."
Twin: "You don't need that many options."

So here is our compromise. Look at the tiny TBR now!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J. K. Rowling
Published: 1999, Scholastic
Category: YA/Fantasy
Rating: 9/10

Harry Potter #2. Still ramping up for #7, which is on sale a month from tomorrow! Woo hoo!

I have always thought of this as one of my less favorite of the Harry Potter books, but I think this re-read has changed my mind! Like Marianne McA said in the comments on my SS post, the plot of this book always seemed like an unconnected adventure, almost like a side story that didn't really contribute to the plot arc of the series. I think this is why its importance faded for me as I got further along. For people desperate to know the whys and wherefores of the great Harry vs. Voldemort plot, this book doesn't seem to answer many questions.

Now that we know the diary was a horcrux, this is somewhat not the case. But I do think that it stands alone better than any of the others. The plot is so, so clever---it is really a complete mystery all on its own in a way that the other books fail to accomplish. The clues that fall and the way all the pieces eventually fit together form a mystery that is supremely satisfying.

Another thing that struck me on this re-read *SPOILER ALERT* is that it really does make sense why Dumbledore had to die. In both SS and CoS, there is a sort of awkward point at which Dumbledore must be got out of the way so that Harry can be the one to face Voldemort. In SS Dumbledore is sent rushing off to the Ministry of Magic by a fake message, and in CoS the school governors suspend him briefly. Circumstances in GoF work out so that Harry is alone. The next time Harry comes in direct contact with Voldemort is in OotP, when Dumbledore is there to protect Harry and engage Voldemort in battle, and this creates a sort of anticlimactic moment for us. We want Harry to be the hero, but how is he to be when the amazingly powerful Dumbledore is around?

Prisoner of Azkaban is next, and it's my favorite! Yippee.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Simply Love, Mary Balogh

Title: Simply Love
Author: Mary Balogh
Published: 2006, Dell
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 8/10

This is the second book in Balogh’s “Simply” series. I almost didn’t buy it because I thought the first one (Simply Unforgettable) was kind of meh, but then this mass market edition came out and it was just so pretty I had to buy.

The series centers on the four teachers of Miss Martin’s School for Girls in Bath. Anne Jewell has been working there for several years---she was of noble birth, but her respectability was ruined when she became an unwed mother. Her family gave her no support at all, and so she has raised her son, David, all by herself. Joshua, Marquess of Hallmere (who was the hero of one of the Bedwyn prequels, but don’t ask me which because I can never remember), feels some responsibility for Anne and David because he was the cousin of David’s rat of a father (who is now dead). Joshua invites Anne and David to spend a month in Wales with all the rest of the Bedwyn family, and Anne decides that David needs some male role models, so she agrees to go even though she feels like it must be an imposition.

Sydnam Butler is also not looking forward to that month. Sydnam is the Duke of Bewcastle’s steward at Glandwr, where the reunion is to take place. He was captured and tortured during the Napoleonic wars and is now horribly disfigured---scarring covers the entire right side of his face and body, and he is missing his right arm. Anne and Sydnam are the only two unmarried people included in the house party, so they end up spending quite a bit of time together. They find it amazingly easy to talk to each other, they become friends, and after admitting that they are both lonely, they decide to consummate their friendship even though they have no plans to pursue a long-term relationship. Anne leaves Wales thinking that she will never see Sydnam again.

Okay, as I recall, a lot of people were bored to tears by this book, but I LOVED IT. Mary Balogh has become an author I can depend on to give me a comfort read, and this is one of the most comforting yet. It was so lovely and sweet, a little sad, but then completely happy. And it made me so cozy. It was just nice. Nice, nice, nice and exactly what I needed last week.

Anne and Sydnam’s relationship is so wonderfully complex and mature. They are both “untouchables”---Anne not only because she is an unwed mother, but also because she was raped, and Sydnam because his disabilities. And it is real deformity; so often romance writers do a disfigured hero but don’t actually want him to be repulsive, so they make him “strangely” attractive or something. Sydnam is horribly deformed; Anne actually runs from him when they first meet because she is startled and frightened by him. He’s pretty much given up on the idea that any woman would ever want to be intimate with him. And when he and Anne sleep together, she cringes from the act because she is remembering her rape, but he thinks that she is cringing because he is ugly. SOB!! I adored it. They are friends first, and their early conversations I found completely delightful.

Another problem people had with this book is all the Bedwyn cameos, and I can see their point. It was constant barrage Lord Whosit, Earl of Whatever and his wife Whatshername. I’ve read (and liked) all the Bedwyn books and I still can’t keep it all straight. But I just let the names roll over me, so it didn’t really bother me.

This is sort of long, but I have to mention the Welsh setting---so lovely! Balogh grew up in Wales, and her love of the area certainly shows here.

The third book in the series, Simply Magic, is out but I WILL NOT buy it. NO! (I’m trying to convince myself here.) It’s in hardcover, and I’ve been spending way too much on books lately. I will get it from the library. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Came, I Saw, I Conquered...and now I'm getting the hell out.

Big news! All about me, me, me. (So if you don't know me, or care about my personal life, click away, click away!)

I'm leaving New York! Gak!

Basically, I can't take living here anymore. I think all New Yorkers have a love/hate relationship with the city, but I've been feeling the hate way too often lately. I moved here after college for one reason and one reason only: to work in book publishing. And it is great and exciting (though not as glamorous as it may sound), but it's not enough to keep me here. If the center of book publishing were in some small city (preferably in the south), I would stay there forever and be as happy as a clam. Alas. There are many things I will really miss about my life here, but it is time to move on.

Now you are probably asking what I am moving on to. Well, I'm not exactly sure. Probably life as a librarian. (Where else can I be surrounded by books all day?!) I actually applied to a lot of masters programs and got very favorable results (I was rather proud of myself), but then I panicked and decided I wasn't quite ready for grad school yet. I've never really worked in a library, so life as a librarian is still kind of an abstract idea to me. What kind of librarian do I want to be? And do I want to spend two years of my life in grad school to be one? This is what I need to figure out. :)

So I am moving to Chapel Hill, NC. (EEEE! It's in the south, where it's sunny and warm and beautiful! And nearer my family too.) Twin is coming too---she's actually already gotten a fabulous job down there and everything. I'm applying to library positions and hoping that something comes through because I'm really excited about it. But if I have to take a few months and rely on the freelance editing I do, that would be pretty cool too. I've been working my butt off; I deserve a little break.

I have three more weeks of work here and then I'm outta here. I am sometimes sad and worried, but mostly excited and happy . . . and a bit relieved. New York really isn't the easiest place to live (at least for me). I don't like change, but after moving to NY as a little 23-year-old, knowing not a soul and having no job or money, well, this transition is going to be a piece of cake. ;)

Now for the important question: Anyone know of any good bookshops in the Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham area?

And listen to the great James Taylor. Is it any wonder I want to move there?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Two mini-mini-reviews

I've been neglecting the poor little blog. Busy week, but yay for the weekend. :) I have been reading a lot, but I can't quite summon up the energy even for my usual short review format. So here are some mini-mini-reviews. These are also my first two categories! I've been feeling like I really can't call myself a romance reader unless I give them a shot. So far, so good. :)

Title: Shadow Hawk
Author: Jill Shalvis
Published: 2007, Harelquin Blaze
Category: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 6.5/10

I got this one because it was a featured title on Romantic Advances.
When his latest mission turns into a bloodbath, ATF officer JT Hawk realizes he's been set up by someone at the top. Wounded and on the run, he has no choice but to take beautiful Abby Wells hostage. After all, she's in danger, too. And if the only way to keep the fiercely independent communications expert safe is to cuff her and bring her along for the ride, he'll do it. With pleasure, even.

Only, given their close contact, it's not long before Hawk's thinking about a totally different kind of pleasure...

I really think that this is just what a category should be (though obviously I don't have much to compare it to). Fast, fun, and sexy. There's a slightly ridiculous action plot with lots of running around and shootouts, and an eeee-vil villain, but it was all in good fun. Satisfying romance--hero: sexy, strong, but sensitive; heroine: victimized but tough. I had a really good time reading this book. And that cover is, um . . . hot. :)

Title: Her Sister's Child
Author: Cynthia Thomason
Published: 2007, Harlequin SuperRomance
Category: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5.5/10

I decided to buy this SuperRomance because Wendy said that they are really one of the last places you can get a love story between regular people. No vampires, no spies, no millionaires. This sounded appealing to me.
"Actually, we've met before..."

Ten years ago, to be exact. Then, Julia Sommerville was just an awestruck student in love with a dashing young professor. Now, after she has saved his life, Cameron Birch sees her for the attractive, alluring woman she's become. A woman who proves she has the courage to make extreme decisions by taking in her sister's eight-year-old daughter.

However, when Julia finds out Cameron is the unwitting father of little Katie, she faces the hardest choice she's ever had to make: tell him and lose the child she has come to love, or lie and lose the man of her dreams for the second time...

I really liked the first 2/3 of this book. It's very sweet and nice (in a good way). I love professor heroes. I also loved the rural setting (the mountains of North Carolina). My problem came when Julia finds out that Cameron is the father of her niece, and she lies to everyone about it for completely selfish reasons. I was really annoyed by that. It appears to be part of a series---"A Little Secret" book. Well, the secret bit felt odd and tacked on, and the way Julia lied felt out of character. It left me disliking the book, even though I really enjoyed the beginning.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Published: 1998, Scholastic
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
Rating: 9/10

I'd planned to do a complete re-read of the Harry Potter series before the last one releases, but I'm afraid I'm not going to have time! 7/21 is coming up here and there are about five other books going on sale before then that I really want to read. I'm going to try though. I'm guessing I'll get completely sucked in once I get into #3.

I don't really have to give a synopsis, do I? Unless you've been on Mars for the last decade, you know the story. :)

So, what struck me on this re-read? I enjoyed reading all the descriptions of setting---Privet Drive, Howarts Express, Howarts itself---we know these settings so well by now that it's fun to go back and see Harry's first impressions of them. And I love seeing the three kids first meet and become friends.

I am on the lookout for clues for what's going to happen in book 7, but I had no epiphanies in this one. One scene I didn't remember was when Harry has a nightmare early on in which Quirrell's turban is talking to him and trying to get him to switch out of Gryffindor and into Slytherin. This is obviously foreshadowing for the climax of this book, but it also hints at the strange mental connection between Harry and Voldemort. I'm always wondering just how thought-out the whole story arc was when Rowling started these books. She does such a good job of going back and picking seemingly unimportant details from earlier books and making them vital to later plotlines. It's one of the reasons her books are so eagerly anticipated, I think, because we love to try to figure out what we know that we don't know we know, if you know what I mean. (Maybe not. LOL)

I remember when I first read this book, I thought, well that's very nice. Cute, clever, funny, really charming---but WTF? What's the big deal? Why are all these people such crazy rabid fans? Because this book is lovely, but I was not the hard-core fan I am today until I'd finished the third book. By that time, the whole complex world had sucked me in with a force that is just magical. Ack! I want to go to Hogwarts.

Now I've gotten myself all excited again. I need to go hunt up Chamber of Secrets. LOL.

Crusie news

Agnes and the Hitman got a great review at Smart Bitches. Woo hoo! I didn't love Don't Look Down, but I didn't not like it. Maybe the Crusie/Mayer collaboration has hit its stride now. On sale in late August, I think. I want!

And apparently she is doing ANOTHER collaboration, this time with Lani Diane Rich (yay!) and again with Anne Stuart (only slightly less enthusiastic yay!---I've only read one of her books, which I thought was fantastic and reminds me that I need to read the others of hers I have TBR). It's about ancient Mesopotamian goddesses reincarnated. (yay!) It sounds completely oddball and wonderful. They seem to be working on it slowly as other projects allow and don't have a contract for it yet (though I doubt this would be a problem, especially if Unfortunate Miss Fortunes does well).

As excited as I am by all this, I am a little worried I'm never going to have another solo Crusie to read. But she does have three solo books listed on her W.I.P. page. So surely it will happen. ;)

Edited to add: A new website is up for The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes. It's so pretty.

Book CoverBook CoverBook Cover

Friday, June 08, 2007

Boarding the L.U.R.V.E train

Has everyone seen Meljean Brook's nifty contest? She's giving away books and gift certs! Go check it out.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Demon Moon is awesome! And even if you think I have crappy taste in books, you should still get it because it's getting fab reviews all over the place.

The Duke and I, Julia Quinn

Title: The Duke and I
Author: Julia Quinn
Published: 2000, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7.5/10

I thought that I had read all the Bridgerton books, but then I saw someone blog about this and realized that I somehow missed this one. And it's the first one in the series! Don't know quite how I managed that.
Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, has hatched a plan to keep himself free from the town's marriage-minded society mothers. He pretends to be engaged to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. After all, it isn't as if the brooding rogue has any real plans to marry - though there is something about the alluring Miss Bridgerton that sets Simon's heart beating a bit faster. And as for Daphne, surely the clever debutante will attract some very worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable. But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, she soon forgets that their courtship is a complete sham. And now she has to do the impossible and keep herself from losing her heart and soul completely to the handsome hell-raiser who has sworn off marriage forever!
When I first discovered Julia Quinn I thought she was just fabulous, maybe because her writing seemed very different from most romances. Her books are so bright and frothy, while at the same time being quite sweet and surprisingly touching. I gobbled up a lot of them all at once. Nowadays I seem to be able to take her only in small doses. I'm not sure exactly why. They're not getting worse or anything, I think it's a personal thing. But sometimes all that froth becomes tedious to me.

Anyway, this one is quite delightful. You get to meet the boisterous Bridgerton family--all eight siblings, who fight and bicker and get on each others' nerves, but really are close-knit and loving. The family dynamic is definitely one of the things people like most about the Bridgerton books. They sound like such a fun family, everyone wants to be a part of it. :)

The romance in this didn't particularly grab me, but the characters are really nice. Daphne is just a nice girl. And you don't see too many nice girls in romance novels! It was refreshing. And Simon is a bit angsty, but his stutter is so endearing that I could easily forgive his thick-headedness.

Quinn has a new book out next month, The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, which I believe is the beginning of a new series. I should be about ready for another Quinn by then, so I'll definitely check it out. :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Categories: Addictive little gems? Or not worth my time?

I'm blathering on about category romances at Romancing the Blog today. I wrote the column and then realized that a lot of the people who frequent RtB are category writers. I hope no one takes it the wrong way. I think I was tactful.

So come tell us why you read categories. Or not.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Mariana, Susanna Kearsley

Title: Mariana
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: 1994, Corgi
Category: General Fiction
Rating: 8/10

I’ve been working my way through Susanna Kearsley’s books since I read (and looooved) her The Shadowy Horses. Her books are gothic romantic suspense, beautifully written and just lovely stories. I asked for Mariana for Christmas and when I opened it up there was a bookmark sticking out halfway through. My mom was reading my Christmas presents before wrapping them up! I mean, really, how rude. ;) I had to let her “borrow” it until she’d finished it.

Throughout Julia Beckett’s life she’s been drawn to a particular, very old house named Greywethers in a small town in Wiltshire, England. She can’t explain the connection but when she visits again and finds that the house is for sale, she just knows that she has to buy it. As she moves in, she begins having odd flashbacks, and soon it becomes clear that she is being transported back in time to the 1660s and living moments out of the life of a young woman named Mariana. Mariana had come to live in Greywethers after her family was killed by the plague in London, and she soon falls in love with the dashing local lord, Richard de Mornay. While not experiencing Mariana’s life, Julia is getting to know the present-day inhabitants of the little village, including Richard de Mornay’s descendant, Geoffrey. As she is drawn more and more into the past and the dramatic life of Mariana, Julia finds out why she must “exorcise the past before she could find love and happiness in the present.” [That’s from the cover blurb, which is quite nice.]

I have to say that I love good time-travel stories. And this one is done so interestingly, very different from most. When Julia “is” Mariana, she’s not aware of her modern-day self, but rather knows and feels everything that Mariana did. But when she snaps back to the present, she remembers all that happened to her as Mariana. The mystery is figuring out why this is happening to her, and what impact it will have on her own life.

This book won a Canadian book prize that is awarded for especially good storytelling, and I can completely see why. The story is very original and very clever. Kearsley does wonderful job of describing setting and establishing the mood of both the present and the past in this book. The writing is beautiful.

I did wish we'd seen a little more development in the love story (though this may be because I am such a crazed romance reader). It’s a very dramatic story, heartbreaking at times, and I just didn’t feel as though I got to see the relationships unfold enough for me to be properly invested in their resolutions. Though I did love the way it all worked out. And I can’t say anything more about that without ruining the ending for people. But trust me, it's a really good ending. :)

I have two more Kearsleys in my TBR, so I'm going to have to get to them soon. I got The Splendour Falls for Christmas (Mom read that one too) and I found Named of the Dragon at a UBS recently. Soon my collection will be complete. Mee hee hee!

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Fortune Quilt, Lani Diane Rich

Title: The Fortune Quilt
Author: Lani Diane Rich
Published: 2007, NAL
Category: Women's Fiction/ChickLit
Rating: 7/10

I discovered Lani Diane Rich through Wendy’s blog, I think. I am rarely in the mood for ChickLit, but when I am Rich always seems to work for me. I think because I find her sense of humor very much in tune with my own. Though I was hoping this book had more to do with actually quilting. (I quilt, you know. It’s the new knitting. Not just for little old ladies.)

Carly McKay is a television producer, and she’s assigned to do a spot about a psychic quiltmaker who sells quilts that tell people’s futures. Carly, of course, thinks it’s a scam until the woman pushes one on her and all the enigmatic clues given begin to come true. Her life swirls out of control: she loses her job, her best friend declares that he loves her, and her mother, who abandoned them 17 years ago, shows up again wanting to take her place in the family. Carly blames it all on the wretched quilt and rushes to make the woman take it back. She ends up staying in the little artists’ community where the quiltmaker lives while dealing with all her issues.

This was a really fun, fast read. It’s pretty short and the action moves fast---I was sort of torn between thinking the plot winded up much too quickly and admiring the fast pacing that kept the novel from getting bogged down in the emotional blah, blah, blah that turns me off so many ChickLit books. While it is short, the characters are well fleshed out and certain scenes pack a real emotional punch (Carly's anger at her mother is done very well, with a delicacy that I appreciated).

And it is funny, full of quirky, really likable characters. It would make a great beach read.

2's and 4's Meme

Nath tagged me for this here meme.

Two names you go by:
1. Jennie (My real name is Jennifer, like about a zillion other girls in my generation, but no one ever calls me that.)
2. I'm sadly lacking in nicknames. Though Twin calls me all sorts of things: Pookie, Poopy, Squishy, Cherie-bear, Coo-coo pig. (Awww, aren't we cute.)

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. My "Virginia Is for Lovers" T-shirt
2. Red sneakers

Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship:
1. Mutual respect
2. Dude better have some money. (Okay, I'm kidding. I just feel tired today.)

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. Reading
2. Eating chocolate. (Both at once is best.)

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. A complete set of UK edition Harry Potter
2. Milano cookies

Two pets you had/have:
1. A wire-haired terrier named Jake was our childhood pet. He was a little monster.
2. We killed some goldfish once.

Two things you did last night:
1. Proofread

Two things you ate today:
1. Turkey sandwich.
2. Kashi's Tasty Little Crackers in cheddar flavor. I just discovered them and I LOVE them. They're even better than Goldfish and I didn't think that was possible.

Two people you last talked to:
1. Boss
2. Man at the deli

Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. Sleeping A LOT.
2. Going to a book sale.

Two longest car rides:
1. My parent's house in SE Virginia to Chicago. On a family camping trip when I was 10 or so. We got to Chicago at 2 AM and the pop-up trailer wouldn't pop up so we had to sleep in the van. That was fun.
2. SE Virginia to Daytona Beach. On a bus with my high school band. Yes, I was a band dork and proud of it.

Two favorite holidays:
1.Christmas (by far and away my favorite holiday)
2. My birthday. Because I get to be all special.

Two favorite beverages:
1. Diet Coke. Loooves the diet coke.
2. Crystal Light lemonade mixed half and half with green tea. Hmmm. So summery.

Four things About ME!

Things you may not have known about me:
1. Summer is my favorite season.
2. I am so happy it's finally warm.
3. Anything below 80 degrees is TOO COLD.
4. If I never get married and have kids, I'm going to retire at the age of 50 and travel the world.

***And I've answered the rest of these before. So you can see my real answers here. Following is what I WISH I could answer.***

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Travel writer
2. Owner of an independent bookstore. Like this fabulous one in Corolla, NC. (It's so cute, and I would kill to live on the Outer Banks.)
3. Artist of some sort (if only I had the talent)
4. Professional book reader. (This would be someone paying me to just read books--no review to write, no editing to worry about. Just read whatever I want.)

Four places I have lived:
1. Southern Italy
2. Charleston, SC
3. P.E.I., Canada (but only in the summer)
4. Caribbean island