Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sookie and the Trouble Shooters

Well last week I read two more installments of series I have on the go.  The first one I read was All Through the Night A Trouble Shooters Christmas by Suzanne Brockmann and the second was Living Dead in Dallas by Charlene Harris.  I had mixed feelings about each of them.

Lets start with the Trouble Shooters.  While I did enjoy reading more about Jules and Robin  I was a little dissappointed to reach the middle of the book and realize this really wasn't a romantic suspense at all.  It was very much a contemporary romance with a bit of drama thrown in at the end.  Which is fine.  If I'm in the mood for a contemporary romance.  Which I wasn't.  I'm sure if I'd done a little digging around I would have realized this prior to starting but when I see Brockmann and Troubleshooters on the cover of a book I tend to assume things.  Otherwise I did quite enjoy the story.  I wish Will and Dolphina's story was a little more fleshed out since I really like Will from the previous book he was in but it is a novella so I can see why it was a tad abbreivated.

Now on to Sookie.  After I read the first book I mentioned that I had trouble warming up to Sookie.  I found I liked her quite a bit more in this book and I found the action/mystery was able to hold my attention more in this book as well.  My only problem this time is Bill.  He just seems so blah - like there isn't a whole lot of personality in there.  Eric on the other hand seems far more developed as a character and I find I enjoy the scenes with him far more than those with Bill but maybe that's intentional.  I haven't read a whole lot about this series other than that lots of people seem to like it so perhaps Sookie is going to go in a different direction.  I don't know but I don't really see whats so great about Bill.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Clubs

A few months ago I joined a book club with my cousin.  I'd been wanting to join a book club for quite sometime but I was never able to find one in my area.  My cousin won't read "those" books so we joined a general fiction club and since then I've discovered two things.

1. I enjoy general/literary fiction less than any other genre


2.  I seem to be a very different type of reader than readers of general fiction

I've never been a big fan of general fiction but every now and then I will pick one up that sounds interesting or that I've heard a lot of buzz about - 9 times out of 10  I don't get what all the fuss was about.  Well as I go to these meetings I'm realizing that the other people in the group seem to take away a lot more from these books than I ever do.  They find all kinds of hidden meanings and parallels to their own lives, life lessons, things that change their perspective on this or the next thing.  Meanwhile I'm sitting there and my biggest contribution is "I thought _________ was a jack ass."

Okay - so there's a little bit more to my comments than just that but I don't notice all those other things in the book and I've been really trying.  I notice the characters and their growth, the authors storytelling ability, the plot, the actual story, writing style which the others may note in their observations but there certainly isn't a lot of discussion on it.

There is a certain amount of book snobbery going on as well.  It's not blatant "genre fiction is trash" snobbery but when last months women's fiction choice was originally announced there was a certain amount of eye rolling that went along with it and although most of the members did enjoy it they were certain to say "even though it had no substance" or something along those lines.   Also someone mentioned that there were a few other book clubs at the store and one of them happened to be a paranormal romance book club.  When one of the older ladies questioned what a paranormal romance was the general answer was "Oh it's basically sex with vampires".  Well no it's not and I find it irritating that someone who works in a bookstore can have that opinion.  There is an employee there who is always sticking her ______ recommends sticker on paranormal romances and she has enjoyed some very good ones.  I would think that you could at least maybe say "Hey ______".  "I don't get this genre but since a lot of customers seem to enjoy it maybe you could recommend a good one to me so I have a better understanding of it".  

Oh well.  What can you do?  I've thought about joining the paranormal romance book club but they seem to be reading a lot of book 2's, 3's, 4's etc.  which would mean having to read 2 or 3 books prior to the book club book and that would be a bit of a paranormal over dose for me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What I've been reading

So like I mentioned earlier I have still been reading I just have not been all that excited about it.  Here are the books I've read since my last posting waaaaaaaaaaay back in April.  This may be tough since it doesn't look like I've updated the books I've read on my Shelfari account since April and I don't have access to bookpedia at work but here it goes.

Night Keepers - Jessica Anderson

I don't remember a whole lot about this book other than a general feeling of Meh.  I seem to recall the hero being a ridiculous wuss who moaned and groaned and tried to avoid his responsiblity to save the world for the majority of the book.  I know, I know anyone would probably have to wrestle with the whole saving the world thing but that's not how I want my god-like heros.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley

Oh how I loved this book.  Flavia de Luce is the wonderfully precocious 11 year old amatuer sluth in this mystery series which surprisingly is aimed at adults.  Flavia is awesome.  That's all I have to say.  I love this girl.  If you have any interest in mystery series I strongly suggest you these ones a try.

The Shack - William Paul Young

I had to read this one for a book club.  For me quite frankly it was awful.  Although I was raised catholic 12 years of catholic education has made sure I'm not practicing.  Anyhoo, didn't like it and wish I could get back the time I spent reading it.  In a nutshell the narrators daughter is horrifically murdered and the narrator loses his faith in God.  God invites him to meet him at the shack where she was murdered.  God is there in the form of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and they continue to patronize the narrator (I forget his name) and talk about how much they love everyone for the rest of the book.  Blech.

While my Sister Sleeps - Barbara Delinsky

This was another book club read.  I also didn't particularly enjoy it.  I disliked most of the characters and I didn't particularly care about "What Robin would have wanted"

The last Three Adrien English Mysteries - Josh Lanyon

I thourougly enjoyed all this entire series - even when Jake was being a total dick.  At least he stayed true to his character.  I am very sad there will be no more of them though.  I sense a Josh Lanyon spending spree in my near future.

Annie's Song - Catherine Anderson

I read this back in April and although I admit that I don't remember a whole lot about it, I do remember that I loved it while I read it.  I believe I gave it a 9/10 in my log.

Industrial Magic - Kelley Armstrong

I didn't enjoy this one as much as Dime Store Magic.  I liked the story but I wish there had been more Paige and Lucas relationship to the story.

Dead Beat - Jim Butcher

Another solid installment of the Harry Dresden series.  Man I love Harry and all his sarcastic hilariousness.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

I had high hopes for this one but about halfway through I realized I really didn't like it.  I still finished it but my main problem was the detached way the author wrote.  I never understood why some people didn't like first person narratives.  Now I do - when it's done like this it's extremely difficult to care at all about any of the characters.

I also re-read the first four books of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth Series in anticipation of finally buying the last three books and then finishing the series - which now I probably won't be doing.  I started reading the Count of Monte-Cristo (which is gigantic) and I was enjoying it but it's one of those books you have to work at reading because it was written so long ago and translated and I really needed a break.  One day I'll go back to it though.  Otherwise I really can't remember what else I read.  I know there is more but I'll be damned if I can think of them now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wildest Dreams - Rosanne Bittner

As you may have realized from my last post.  I loved this book.  It was a 10/10 for me.  I can't think of one thing that bothered me about it.  It also had the wonderful intangible quality that some books have that just grab you right from the beginning and don't let you go.

Blurb from Fiction Database

Lettie MacBride knew that joining a wagon train heading west was her only chance to begin anew, far from the devastating memories of the night that had changed her forever. But though she might leave the past behind, she never believed she would escape the pain of innocence lost, nor feel stirrings of desire for any man .... until she met Luke Fontaine.

Haunted by his own secrets, Luke could never blame Lettie for what had happened in the past. One glance at the pretty red-haired lass was enough to fill the handsome, harddriving pioneer with a savage hunger. This was the woman he wanted by his side as he fought to build an empire -- to tame a land that only the strong could take and only the courageous could keep.
Against relentless snows, murderous desperadoes, and raiding Sioux, Luke and Lettie would stand together, bound by a passion that ran deep. But violence and tragedy would stalk them, and in this time of endless tears and brutal challenges, they would face a heartrending choice -- to abandon a lawless land before it destroyed them, or to fight for their ... Wildest Dreams.

When I first started this book I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  Bittner does something a little different at the beginning and has Lettie and Luke meet then skips forward 7 weeks to a point where the two are already in love with one another and just haven't let the other know.  At that point I thought to myself - I'll give it a hundred pages - if I'm not buying this relationship by then I'm out.  Ha!  I don't even know when I hit the 100 page mark because by the time I came up for air the first time I was already almost 250 pages in.  Luke and Lettie still have so much more to learn about one another and so much to go through you see them fall in love again and again over the course of the novel.  
On to Luke and Lettie.  Luke is Alpha in all the right ways and Beta when it comes to how he treats Lettie.  And even with all that being said Bittner still manages to give Luke flaws that make him real and all the more likable for it.  Lettie is a wonderful heroine and so very strong.  From being able to overcome her traumatic past and love her son to being there every step of the way to support Luke even if it means having to shoot someone.
These two don't have it easy.  There are some terribly heart wrenching moments in this book and there are also some really touching happy moments.  It is definitely a roller coaster but it is so worth it to get to the ending.  In my opinion this book  was everything a good western romance should be.

I was stuck in Limbo...

...and now I'm back!  I hope.

I'm not sure what happened but I seemed to get stuck in this bizarre slump.  I was still reading and still enjoying reading but I just couldn't get excited about it.  I didn't want to write about what I was reading, I barely kept up my book log with dates and ratings, I stopped visiting the reading blogs/message boards and I wasn't even particularly interested in buying books. 

It was weird.

Thank God for Rosanne Bittner.  I needed a really good, angsty, great big thick western saga to pull me out of it and Wildest Dreams definetely fit the bill.  I can't remeber the last time I was this sucked into a book - to the point where I was cancelling plans with friends just so I could read more of it.   I finished all 600+ pages in two days and would have been shorter if I could have gotten around a few of the inconveniences of real life.

This book reminded me of why I love westerns so much.  I love how so much of the conflict comes from the dangers of living during that time and not foolishness from the hero/heroine.  The women had to be tough to survive back then so you are almost guaranteed a wonderful strong heroine (not fiesty - strong).  The men were not always rich and had to work to feed and protect their families. 

I'm so happy that the last time I was at the UBS there was an entire shelf of Rosanne Bittner novels.  As soon as I've saved up my money I'm heading off to scoop them all up.