Friday, February 25, 2011

My Favorite Darcy

Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice has been turned into a film numerous times, but I think the best is the A&E adaptation made in the 1990's. That production, as much as the novel on which it is based, served as inspiration for Helen Fielding's novel Bridget Jones's Diary, also made into a movie. I am sure that I am not alone in feeling that one of the best things about both films was the casting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy -- Fitzwilliam Darcy in the former, Mark Darcy in the latter. Rumor has it that it was Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the A&E production that shaped the character of Mark Darcy in Fielding's novel, and led to him being cast in the film adaptation. Now that the Academy Awards are upon us, Mr. Darcy, er -- I mean Mr. Firth, is back in the news, as he has been nominated as Best Actor for an outstanding performance in The King's Speech. However, for many of us he will always be our beloved one and only Fitzwilliam Darcy, and this little clip from YouTube is just one of the reasons why:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Authors from the A's

I have not had time to read anything lately. This makes for dull - or worse, no - blog entries. So I've decided to start pulling some random books off the shelves. Hopefully, starting with the A authors will allow me to work my way through the alphabet and make for some interesting posts. My goals are self-serving but fun: to have a valid excuse to browse the shelves looking at racy book covers and to peruse romances at the Reference Desk... Oh, and I also hope to introduce you to a new author or two along the way.

Deadly Little Secrets by Jeanne Adams
The sleek, sensual cover doesn't begin to portray the complex story within this romantic suspense novel. Ana is a CIA agent who has recently been put on a cold case involving stolen art as a disciplinary measure. Gates is a security expert and bodyguard for a powerful man, one of the victims of theft. They work together to uncover a dangerous theft ring. Plenty of hot, romantic interludes are interspersed within some really clever plot twists. It reminded me a bit of Cherry Adair.

Our Little Secret by Starr Ambrose
The cover of this one is flirty and sexy but somewhat misleading. The main character, Lauren, is "the good twin". Flirty and sexy is Meg, the sister who is also irresponsible (of course) and recently eloped with her much older Congressman boss. Responsible, careful, somewhat repressed Lauren has come to rescue Meg, again, and save her from herself. Enter Drew, sexy son of the Congressman who has also come to town to save his father from the grasping clutches of his new bride and (of course) finds Lauren instead. Sparks fly between the two as they search for the missing bride and groom and find that not all is what it seems. It is a typical mistaken twin storyline a la Harlequin, but it works. The writing is funny and story engaging.

I hope you enjoy them. Let me know what you think.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On the Book Cart

Kim Gruenenfelder There's Cake in My Future

Jack Caldwell Pemberly Ranch
Tiffany Clare The Seduction of His Wife
Fern Michaels To Taste the Wine

Stella Cameron Out of Mind
Lucy Weston The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

YA Crossover: Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers

Just when I thought I couldn't stand another thing paranormal -- romance, mystery, chick lit, whatever -- I came across My Soul to Lose while cruising around Amazon one afternoon. This novella by Rachel Vincent is the prequel to the rest of her Soul Screamers series. The premise sounded interesting and unusual, and it was only a couple of dollars, so I decided to give it a go and I'm really glad I did. The story features high school student Kaylee Cavanaugh, who lives with her aunt and uncle due to the early death of her mother and her father's inability to cope with his grief and a small child. Kaylee's life is essentially normal otherwise, other than a few incidents she has been told are simply panic attacks. Then one day Kaylee is at the mall with her best friend, and suddenly starts seeing shadows forming around a young man in a wheelchair. The next thing you know, Kaylee is screaming uncontrollably, and she finally ends up in a psych ward. Eventually she is sprung, but doesn't leave with a lot of answers. We don't find out until part way through the first full length book in the series, My Soul To Take, that Kaylee screams and sees shadows not because she is having panic attacks or some kind of psychotic episoe, but because she is a banshee. The myths surrounding these creatures who wail over the dead are correct in some of the basics, but off in the details, as Kaylee learns. Vincent's twist on the banshee legends and her use of folklore combined with a modern day setting creates an interesting story. The paranormal elements are consistent and the response they elicit in the unsuspecting humans who encounter them is very believable.
Though the heroine is a teenager this is a series that adult fans of paranormal stories will enjoy, as Kaylee's experiences go well beyond study hall and proms. There is a romantic element, as well. Anyone who has not completely blocked out the memories of their teenage years will be able to relate to Kaylee. Overall, this series is a nice change from vampires, and is well paced and populated with likeable (or hateable!) characters.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Still Waiting to Like This Heroine

Provocative in Pearls
By Madeline Hunter

Really, where to begin?

Basic plot premise: Arranged marriage between penniless earl and ironworks heiress. Heiress has evil, greedy guardian with social-climbing wife; both earl and heiress wronged. Heiress runs away. Earl finds her two years later. Heiress wants to return to hometown and ironworks and right some wrongs; earl needs her money to take care of his estates and starving tenants. Passion ensues. After much tedium, so does teamwork, so wrongs are righted and all live happily ever after, with the exception of the evil guardian and wife.

The plot certainly has potential. The hero, though rather high-handed, at least shows some degree of introspection and willingness to compromise. The heroine is a sef-righteous twit with the maturity and single-mindedness of a tweenybopper trying to get to a Justin Bieber concert. Granted, she's been very badly treated, but the fact that I didn't feel more sympathy for her (and I wanted to, just as I wanted to actually like her) makes it clear that the character was just too wooden to engage me. By the time her full back story came out, I really didn't care.

This book does have some things going for it though. The relationship between the male characters was both realistic and entertaining. I would actually pick up another book in this series of it featured one of the secondary characters here.

And therein lies the problem: when the best thing about a romance novel is the male bonding, something is very, very wrong.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New website for Romance Lovers

Debuting this week is Heroes and Heartbreakers, a site for all things romantic. This looks like a lot of fun, as there is quite a variety of content. One of my favorite elements is the section of original short stories. Currently featured is The Matchmaker by Linda Francis Lee. There are also book excerpts, teasers and trailers, blog postings, and contests. I've really enjoyed the posts and features I've read; there's something for every fan of the genre. Highly recommended -- I'll be putting on my regular reading list.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Quick Looks at Some Ongoing Series

I've been catching up on some favorite authors lately, trying to get up to date on new entries in various series. I have to say, my reactions have ranged from somewhat disappointed to distinctly underwhelmed. Here's the scoop:

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
This is the third book in the Bride Quartet. I enjoyed the first one quite a bit, liked the second one well enough, realized the fourth one had just come out, and thought I better get busy. I figured I would enjoy the story of Laurel, the pastry chef. I like Nora Roberts, I like the whole wedding planning business storyline, and I like cake, so what's not to love? Unfortunately, while I loved Laurel's cakes, and would happily sit down to a tasting, I just never warmed to Laurel. She's okay, and the hero is okay, but I just never really got into the whole relationship. Laurel has always seemed to have a chip on her shoulder, so that could be part of the problem. All in all -- it was okay. Worth reading if you are a fan of the series, and with a few really entertaining scenes, such as the knock down fight between a bride's mother and stepmother minutes before the ceremony. Roberts always includes a bridezilla/wedding party behaving badly scene, and they always make me laugh. Other than that -- not a standout.

In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz
I have always been a big fan of Krentz (a former librarian) and of the Arcane Society series. I found things getting a little hard to follow in the Burning Lamp trilogy, but since I had read all the previous books it wasn't too bad.
I had really been looking forward to reading Fallon Jones' story, since he has always been one of my favorite characters. In Too Deep, the first book of the Looking Glass trilogy, features Fallon and a new character named Isabella Valdez. I truly enjoyed the book, as it contained all of Krentz's trademark elements: fast pace, great secondary characters, and dry humor. My complaint is that there is a lot of explaining of various elements of the backstory. Given that this is book 10 in the series, there IS a lot of backstory to explain, but even with that I still think it would be hard for someone not familiar with the series to pick this up and really enjoy it. It's just not a great stand alone book. So, a little less explanation and a little more development of the relationship would have worked better for me. But overall, I'm glad I read it, and look forward to the next installment. If you are new to the Arcane Society though, better start elsewhere.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the Book Cart

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries
The Ranger by Monica McCarty
Chasing the Sun by Kaki Warner

Against the Wind by Kat Martin
Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce

Black Wings by Christina Henry

Ruthless Game by Christine Feehan

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New RT Book Reviews on the Shelf

The March RT Book Reviews has arrived, with 273 new books reviewed. The cover story discusses Sabrina Jeffries and her Regency series featuring the Sharpe family. Author CJ Lyons interviews Erin Brockovich (yes, THAT Erin Brockovich!)about the new series that the two are co-authoring. Other feature stories include a discussion of gender-neutral pen names, the plight of independent booksellers in the age of the ebook, and a profile of author Julie James. The Teen Scene features authors Judy Blundell, Carrie Ryan and Carol Lynch Williams. The Pros on Prose and Fan Forum columns round out the issue. If you want to stock up on good books to get through the rest of the winter, this is the place to start!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Winter Reading, Because Otherwise I'd Just be Staring at the Snow

Give that a) I have an old, rear wheel drive car and b) there's something like seven feet of snow on the ground, I've spent a lot of time reading this winter. I've also been investigating OverDrive, the library system's digital book resource (more on that later this week) in order to expand my reading options. I've been all over the map in terms of genre, but have gotten through a few romances and a couple of mysteries that had romantic elements. So in the next few weeks I will be blogging about, in no particular order, Nora Robert's Savor the Moment, Shayla Black's Delicious, using OverDrive on my Droid, What Angels Fear, the first Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, the difference between Adobe EPub books and Adobe PDF EPub books, and why you need to know such things, and An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd, an historical mystery that will appeal to fans of Maisie Dobbs. I'll probably throw in a few more things, now that my TBR has expanded from a pile on the nightstand into (virtual) piles on not one but two electronic devices. If you have been working your way through your own piles of books in order to avoid working your way through your own piles of snow, be sure to submit some reviews to the Winter Reading Club, which continues until the end of February.