Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Break!

It has been three weeks since my last post! Yikes! I'd love to tell you that I've been busy doing something amazing like traveling the world... or something extremely productive like painting my house, cleaning out the basement or doing my taxes (Ouch!...), but sadly that's not the case. I think I'm just a lot better at visiting everyone else's blog than posting my own stuff. But I have read some really fantastic books since my last post, and really need to write some reviews. I hope to crank them out over the next few days, but don't hold you're breath! I'm an expert procrastinator. EXPERT. E.X.P.E.R.T. 

Anyway, I saw something like this a few weeks ago on someone's blog and thought it was so creative. I forgot who it was, or I'd give them credit. 

See if you can figure out what I'm doing tomorrow afternoon: 

732 So what's your exit? um... its a Jersey thing. ;o)

awww... she's so cute! 

starbucks Mmmm... coffee, WIFI, and........ 


Friday, March 7, 2008

How my votes matched the AAR 2008 Reader Poll Results

I was inspired by Rosario at Rosario's Reading Journal to post how my votes matched up to the results of the AAR Reader Poll that took place earlier this year. I'm sure those of you who voted in the AAR 2008 Annual Reader Poll have already checked out the results. If not, you can find them here. Its a fun way to check out which books are most popular (or unpopular) in different romance categories. I do take this poll lightly, though, because I'm not terribly confident in the scientific methods used to collect the data. But then again, since seven of my votes actually contributed to some wins, there's got to be some validity to it all! ;o) 

Here are the seven categories for which my votes counted toward a win:

1. Strongest Heroine: Eve Dallas, Creation In Death, by JD Robb

The funny thing about this vote is that I have only read the first three books in this series (A fabulous gift from my dear friends Samantha and Denise! Thank you! ) and just this winter, too! LOL But I knew right away that Eve is the strongest heroine I've read and that her character would grow throughout the umpteen books ahead of me, but deep down she'll always be strong woman she is... that would never change. So I voted for her! And she won! :) 

2. Best Cabin or Road Romance: Driven by Eve Kenin

3. Best SF/Futuristic Romance: Driven by Eve Kenin and Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair. 

I voted for Driven... haven't yet read Linnea's work yet. But I will! :) ... and I already predict that Grimspace by Ann Aguirre will win this category for 2008. ;)

4. Best Romance Short Story: "Beat of Temptation" by Nalini Singh, Enchanted Seasons

5. Romance Author You Gave Up On in 2007: Sherrilyn Kenyon

I will read and buy her books up until Ash's book this August. After that, I'm not so sure I'll continue with her Dark Hunter series. The Dream Hunter and Once Upon a Midnight Clear were so hugely disappointing for me. Especially the latter.  And I have Dream Chaser on my shelf, but am too scared to read it.  Anyone read it yet? 

6. Least Believable HEA in a 2007 Romance: Vishous & Jane, Lover Unbound, J.R. Ward. 

I mean, really... that HEA was bad. I think this category was invented *just* so there would be a category for Lover Unbound. Seriously. 

7. Purplest Prose: Gideon by Jacquelyn Frank. 

Thank goodness Elijah had a better plot, better sexual tension, more sex, a couple of good fight scenes and some decent suspense. Otherwise I might have given up on the Nightwalkers altogether. I will probably read the next two books, Damien (just because I think he's the most powerful character of this series) and Noah (because I've wanted to see him with an HEA since the first book.). But after those two books, Frank will have to come up with something powerful to move me to read more of her work. 

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas, which I really loved, won for Best Chick Lit /Women's Fiction. I actually voted Sugar Daddy for best Contemporary Romance. This is a perfect example of why I take this poll with a grain of salt. What exactly is the difference between these two categories? Perhaps some reader votes were categorized and then not counted because of similar misinterpretations between categories. 

Two authors I would have loved seeing placed in this poll are Meljean Brook and C.L. Wilson. 

I mean.... Lilith people! How could Lilith not have gotten an award? LILITH! Sheesh. Well, I'm going to give her an honorary award. 

*insert drum roll here* 

Most KickAss and Entertaining Heroine: 
Lilith Milton, Demon Angel, Meljean Brook  

One more thing. If His Kiss Is Wicked by Jo Goodman won for Best Romance for 2007 and Best Buried Treasure for 2007. So for those of you who have read it... what am I missing?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

REVIEW: Tempted by Megan Hart

Tempted is Megan Hart's most recently published novel with Spice publishing. It is marketed as an erotic novel, and while it does have erotic elements, Tempted is more a novel of romantic realism. It is a realistic novel about strongly intertwined relationships brought about by real life actions, reactions, and consequences. It is the bittersweet emotional story, told from Anne's perspective, of what transpired over the course of one summer between Anne, her husband James, and his best friend Alex when the three became lovers.

Anne has everything a woman could want. Her husband James is handsome, loving and attentive and they live a happy and comfortable life together in their charming lake house. But things aren't exactly picture perfect. Anne is stressed out from dealing with her critical and impossible to please mother-in-law, and the ever present consequences of her father's alcoholism. In addition, each of Anne's three younger sisters are dealing with some serious problems of their own. Then a call comes from Alex, James' best friend from his youth, and everything in Anne's world changes.

James and Alex were inseparable childhood friends until they had a huge falling out the night before Alex left for Singapore on a business venture ten years ago. No one talks about the mysterious falling out, not even James, and it must have been intense if they dropped from each other's lives for ten years in a heartbeat. Now Alex has sold his company and is returning to the States to stay with James and Anne for the summer. Anne has never met Alex until he arrives at their home, and she is instantly overwhelmed by his sensuality and the mysteries of his past with her husband. She immediately senses a deep bond between James and the enigmatic Alex that is complicated, yet clearly depicts love and possibly even sexual attraction. Inevitably, Alex joins Anne and James in their bed and it isn't long before their relationships transcend fun and games and the boundaries of friendship, sex, and love are tested. Emotions develop in complex tangents between the three of them, and Anne and James' marriage is put on the line. The consequences of the threesome are engaging and a also a bit disturbing, forcing the characters to make decisions that may forever change their lives. Ms. Hart's characters are real and complex. They have flaws, they make mistakes, and are forced to deal with the consequences of their actions. They address things about themselves that they may not have otherwise, had this affair not happened. And in the end, each have to make important decisions about the love they choose to embrace.

Tempted is not a typical erotic romance novel. While there are indeed erotic sex scenes, including several menages a trois scenes, it isn't the eroticism that gives this novel its power. The power behind this novel is the intense emotions and complicated relationships that drive the plot. Anne's personal struggle to understand her own emotions and desires, as well as those of James and Alex, and how it all affects her life, her loves, and her family is what makes this novel what it is: intense, honest, engaging, and thought provoking.

The ending of Tempted is not the kind of happily ever after ending I have come to expect and love from reading romance, but since this novel is not a lighthearted romance or erotic novel, the bittersweet ending is true to the complexity of real life. Initially, I had some issues with the circumstances surrounding the ending because it went against the resolution that already took root between the characters and didn't provide any closure. But after I thought about it for quite some time, I decided that the ending that Ms. Hart wrote is actually the only possible ending that would give Anne, James, and Alex the closure they each needed to move on with their lives, which is a good thing, even if it was disconcerting.

I had a really hard time coming up with a grade for Tempted. There are a few decisions that the characters make that I thought were inconsistent with the circumstances. I also felt that the story could have been even more interesting and compelling if James' character, and his relationship with Alex were more deeply developed. Then the fact that the ending threw me for a loop and I kept analyzing it gave me doubts about the book. However, I enjoyed reading Tempted because the relationships were so compelling and I couldn't help but examine and reexamine the characters and their actions for days after finishing the novel and that is what moved me the most. Perhaps that was Ms. Hart's intention after all - to write a powerful and thought provoking novel that left a profound impression on the reader. If so, her mission was accomplished with me.


I also now plan on reading Ms. Hart's previously released Spice novels, Dirty and Broken.

December 26, 2008

Edited to Add: I'm sure this is completely untraditional in the world of book reviewing, but ten months later, the characters and their stories as portrayed in Megan Hart's novel Tempted still linger with me, which I think is a testament to the strength of the author's story telling and the impact of her writing on the reader. Therefore, ten months later, I am changing my grade for this novel from a B+ to an A.