Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TBR Challenge 2011

Sleepless at Midnight - Jaquie D'Alessandro

When did I buy it? Aug 1, 2007 (yes that's three + years ago and that's from the middle of the pile - I have a book buying problem)

Why? Cause I read The Bride Thief back in May of 2007, quite enjoyed it and promptly bought up most of D'Alessandro's backlist.

The Blurb

 The ladies in London are abuzz over Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, especially Miss Sarah Moorehouse.  Her imagination is fired up, so when she spies Matthew Devenport, Lord Langston, mysteriously sneaking home in the wee hours clutching a shovel, she simply must investigate.  Impelled by curiosity, the adventurous lass steals into his bedchamber—only to be caught red-handed by the impossibly handsome and totally naked nobleman.

Lord Langston has more important things to worry about than a group of literature-loving ladies.  But Matthew’s grand plan to rescue the family from ruin could be lost when he discovers Sarah hiding behind his bedroom curtain.  What is this meddlesome woman up to?  And why are his desires inflamed by a chit who is too inquisitive for her own good?  Well, two can play at this game…and when Matthew captures the beguiling Sarah in all her naked glory, the night of mischief has only just begun.

My Review

I know technically the category for January was Category and I was sure I purchased "The Mysterious Miss M" quite some time ago but darned if I can find it now.  So I read Sleepless at Midnight.

I knew there was a reason I bought up every Jacquie D'Alessandro book I could find back in 2007.  I have to say I absolutely adore her characters.  The plot could be a complete pile of garbage and I think I would still enjoy the book because I love her characters so much.  Are there actions historically accurate?  I don't know and in this case I don't really care.  Matthew and Sarah are both very fleshed out characters and are completely believable.  

I loved the premise of this book when I read it on the back cover and it was not disappointing in the least. It seemed very original to me (I do try and stay away from European historicals so I'm not sure how original it actually is) and I found the interactions between Sarah and Matthew sweet and funny.

I'm not usually a fan of the bespectacled blue stocking but Sarah turned out to be one I quite enjoyed spending time with.  D'Alessandro does a wonderful job of showing you exactly why the dashing Lord Langston would fall for someone who wasn't described as particularly beautiful in the book (and no she doesn't all the sudden become a knock-out when she takes her glasses off).  

This was over-all a delightful book - there is a bit of a mystery surrounding Matthew and it was quite well done and the author did a good job throwing a red herring in there that completely led me off course.

The ending seemed a tad rushed and tied up a little too easily for me but that's only a minor quibble and one I have quite often (maybe I just don't like to see good books end).  Either way I'm very excited about reading the rest of the series.

Friday, January 7, 2011

2010 - The Year in Review

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has died down I actually have a little bit of spare time to myself and I can sum up my 2010 reading year.

Total Number of Books Read - 58 - Woohoo!! That's the most I've managed to read in a year since I moved out of my parents house in 2006 and I made a point of not paying attention to how many I was reading throughout the year.

Total Number of Pages Read in 2010 - 23,710


5 Star - 13
4 Star - 24
3 Star - 19
2 Star -  2
1 Star -  0

DNF's - 1 (The Silent Rose - Kat Martin) I'm pretty sure that was last year and not 2009.  I don't keep track of dates on books I don't finish so I'm not sure.

Genre Breakdown

Mystery - 11
Historical Romance - 11
Fantasy - 6
Contemporary Romance - 5
Romantic Suspense - 4
Paranormal Romance - 4
General Fiction - 3
Young Adult - 3
Romantic Fantasy - 2
Suspense - 2
Historical Fiction - 2
Futuristic Romance - 2
Thriller - 1
Paranormal Mystery - 1
Sports - Non Fiction - 1
Urban Fantasy - 1

So which were the best?

This was by far the best book I read this year.  I think this is one of the first years I can remember my favourite book not being a romance.  I loved this book to bits.  I honestly did not want it to end.  It's one of the funniest bits of fiction I've ever had the pleasure to read and got me kicked out of my bedroom a couple of nights in a row because I was laughing so hard. 

I always love Catherine Anderson and Annie's Song was no exception.  It really was a beautiful story.

Oh my God I loved the hero and heroine in this book.  What a great love story.  Thanks again to Kristie J. for bringing it to my attention.

Loved this entire series.  Even when Jake was acting like an asshole.  

Definitely my favourite of Armstrong's women of the otherworld stories. Which surprised me because I didn't care for Paige in the previous books.

I know I really liked this because I gave it five stars but I'm having trouble remember much more than the grovel scene at the end (which was awesome)

Another awesome romance I let sit on my shelves for far too long.  

Ditto to what I wrote for this series above.

Loved the plotting and the way this book was done.  

Perfect ending for the series.  Loved it.

I don't know if this deserves 5 stars.  I read this when I was 18 and loved it to pieces and tried to re-read the series this year.  I managed up to book four (above) then couldn't continue after starting book 5.  I think my rating for this one had more to do with sentimentality that actual enjoyment.

If you like mysteries even a little bit and you haven't read this yet - you must go out and find it and remedy this immediately.  A more delightful amateur sleuth I have yet to read.

This book is exactly why I read Westerns.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Totally Off Topic - Hallelujah

I'm going to go off on a tagent now about something that has been consuming most of my time over the last few days.

It's the song "Hallelujah".  I Love It.  Love it. Love it.  It gives me goosebumps.

I know it's been getting a ridiculous amount of attention recently on T.V. and movies etc. etc. but thank God for that because otherwise I doubt I ever would have heard this song. Even so I'd only heard little bits and pieces of it and thought to myself - I should really download it.

So finally - the other day I actually remembered I wanted to download it while sitting at my computer and went into ITunes - only to find a million different versions of the song.  According to Wikipedia there are 200 different versions of the song.  200!!!

So I tried listening to previews of the songs on ITunes which is hardly helpful since it's only 30 seconds of a random section of the song so how can you possibly compare them.  Then I went to youtube and listened to the full songs there (and finally realized the incredible awesomeness that is this song) and eventually narrowed it down to 3.  So I just downloaded all three but I think I may end up downloading more.

So for your listening enjoyment here are the three I chose.

First - Jeff Buckley because it's beautiful and soulful and I could listen to it for hours.

Second was by the Canadian Tenors because they sound great and they're Canadian yea!!!  It comes across a little different because it's more powerfully sung.

And the third - which actaually surprised me was Susan Boyle's Version.  I'm not really a fan of hers but a female sung version was different enough from the other two that I thought it would be less overkill for me plus her voice really does sound lovely.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crystal Passion - Jo Goodman


As you probably already know - Wendy has a weekly feature known as Random Romance Sunday where she randomly selects a romance novel and posts it up on her blog.  A week ago sunday that random romance novel was Crystal Passion by Jo Goodman.  I picked this book up at a used book store along with 8 other Jo Goodman books without even glancing at the back cover blurb - it's Jo Goodman - she's an autobuy so why would I bother.

Well last week when I saw Wendy's post and read the blurb...

When Ashley awoke from her drugged sleep, she found herself in the bedchamber of a dark-haired, steel-eyed stranger. Before she could escape, his powerful hands had pinned her to the bed--before she could scream, his lips had captured hers. Before she could explain that her guardian had tricked them both with a vile and ruthless scheme, the rapture of his searing, searching caresses drove all thought from her mind. All she could feel was hunger for his touch, thirst for his kiss, and yearning for ecstasy's endless pleasures...

Captain Salem McClellan was amused to discover that the Duke of Linfield's hospitality included a lithe young beauty to warm his bed. Tangling his fingers in her ebony hair, exploring the creamy satin of her flesh with burning lips, he felt the fire of Ashley's response beneath him. Too late, he realized her innocence and knew he could never leave her to the Duke's mercy. For he was enchanted by her fierce pride, ensnared by her rare beauty, and enthralled by the night of shimmering CRYSTAL PASSION

I couldn't believe it - this isn't the same Jo Goodman I've read and loved before it can't be!  Then I was afraid to ever read and just thought I would keep it so I would have the full collection on my shelves but then I thought No.  There is a whole pile of Jo Goodman books with ridiculous titles and over the top blurbs and if I don't read this one I'm not going to read any of them.

So I read it.


Thank God.  The blurb is way off.  That scene doesn't happen like that at all.  There are no forced seductions.  Although there is a non-consensual sex scene it is well after the scene that is noted in the blurb above and doesn't make the hero a domineering asshole (trust me on this).  I wouldn't call the prose purple - there were no turgid members to be found anywhere (although there was some sipping and laving going on).  It was kinda lavender I guess you would say - all flowery language used to get around saying what was actually happening.  It was quite boring actually and I ended up skipping most of the sex scenes.

And just to fill everyone in on the synopsis of the story since the blurb tells you a whole lot of nothing. The book takes place during the American Revolution and Salem (Jerusalem) McKlellen is a colonial captain who is in England looking to purchase one of the Duke of Linfields horses for his father. The Duke of Linfield is a seriously disturbed individual who happens to be the guardian of the heroine Ashley Lynne.  The duke is marrying her off to an impotent 80 year old man and just for his own enjoyment plans on having Ashley raped by the next man who stays at the Linfield residence.  Lucky for Ashley this is Salem and he's not interested in forced sexual encounters (despite what the blurb wants you to believe)  Anyhoo, once he realizes what a sicko the Duke is Salem decides that he wants to marry Ashley and get her away from her guardian and the two have to escape the Duke and try to make it back to America together. Oh and as a mini-spoiler there is a portion of the book where Ashley believes that Salem is her brother (although Salem is pretty certain it's a lie) and that was kinda icky for me.

I enjoyed both the hero and heroine.  The heroine was able to be naive without being TSTL and the hero was an all around great guy.  My only problem with the book was that it seemed to stall at about the half way point and never really picked back up again.  I found myself skimming over much of the last half of the book and I'm having trouble even remembering much about it other than the fact that I was ready for it to be over a good 100 pages before it was.

This was one of her first books though and I know how good she can be so I'm not going to have a problem picking up the rest of her books regardless of the ludicrous titles, cover art and blurbs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gold Coin - Andrea Kane

This is the first book I've read for the winter 2011 challenge.

Back Cover Blurb
As children, identical cousins Anastasia and Breanna Colby swore always to protect each other. Now that Anastasia's beloved parents have died, she has come to live with Breanna...and Breanna's father, whose raging temper has locked his daughter into a life of fear. What is more, Anastasia soon realizes that her uncle is involved in a sinister scheme that places both young women in deadly danger. Fearing most of all for her cousin, Anastasia turns to the only help she can think of, the man who holds the reins to her considerable fortune-the fascinating, enigmatic Damen Lockewood, Marquess of Sheldrake.
From the moment Anastasia and Damen meet, blazing passion flares between them. But in the face of overwhelming peril-and threats on Anastasia's life-thoughts of love cannot be indulged. Not unless the mystery that entraps them is solved will they at last be able to pursue the future their feelings command them to share. But is the danger stalking them really gone?
My Thoughts
I liked somethings about the book (plot) and disliked other things (characters).   First my dislikes,
1. Identical cousins? Really?  I know their fathers were twins and their mothers sisters but to be alike enough that their parents can't even tell the two apart?  Come on.  Only a minor qiuibble I know but annoying enough to jerk me out of the story anytime it was mentioned.
2. Too perfect characters.  There were no shades of grey in this book.  You had the good guys (where you could all but see the glowing halo's over there heads) and the bad guys who you could imagine walking about in a cloud of their own toxic miasma they were so evil.
3. Romance? What romance?  Yes there was a  couple in the story but that was it.  This is the amount of time devoted to the romance. 
Anastasia: Hi, I'm Anastasia I'm incredibly smart, business minded and I won't let you boss me around.
Damen: Hi, I'm Damen.  I find your intelligence and business-sense incredibly attractive.
Anastasia: I love you.
Damen: I love you.
Breanna:  Thank God you showed up Anastasia to take this rich, charming and incredibly handsome gentleman off my hands.  Too think I almost had to marry him - the horror!  
And that's it.  Yes for awhile Anastasia had to pretend to be Breanna so Breanna's father wouldn't find out but that's it.  And there was no conflict in the relationship since they were both perfect.  How can there be?
4. Wallpaper Historical - while I don't consider my self an expert on  history by any stretch of the imagination I find it incredibly hard to believe any of the characters in this story acted true to the time period.  Viscount's and Marquieses as business men.  The girls had entirely too much freedom with zero consequences.
After all this what did I like?
The plot moved along quite well.  It was actually quite a good suspense plot although I'd consider it suspense light since you always knew what the bad guy was planning and so did the good guys so you could be pretty certain it was going to work out well for the good guys.  Even so it kept me turning the pages and was left on a bit of a cliffhanger so although I'm luke warm about the characters I'll be reading the second book.   I'm hoping to enjoy the next one a little more as Breanna didn't appear to be the "fiesty" heroine stereotype that Anastasia was.  I also hope her hero has some flaws and they have a few internal challenges to work out.