seimaisin: (jack kills things)
Some plus/minus Monday thoughts.

+ I took my therapist's advice, and got some melatonin supplements to at least help my Sunday night sleep schedule. And it worked, at least for last night! I'd almost forgotten what it was like to not wake up at least four times during the night.

- [redacted extended family stuff] :((((((

+ If you like your erotic romance to include threesomes and moresomes of a variety of gender configurations, as well as sex for fun and affection as well as for True Love, I highly recommend Kit Rocha's Beyond series. I've sped through all the full-length books, and now have to go back and get the novellas.

- Still doubting every idea I have for my Yuletide story. I need to do a canon review, and hope desperately that the canon doesn't joss whatever I decide to write before reveals. Ugh. Why did I decide to offer something so narratively dense again?

- Actually, I'm doubting every story idea I have in any context, not just Yuletide. It's a huge problem. I'm not doubting my actual writing ability, just my ability to come up with a story that's worth telling. It's paralyzing me. I'm unsure what steps I need to take to eradicate it, because at this point, 'just start writing' hasn't worked.

+ But hey, at least I managed to dye my hair yesterday, and get a couple of other tasks completed. I need to recognize small victories where I can get them right now.
seimaisin: (Default)
::waves:: I'm home. With an upset stomach, because airports aren't conducive to eating well. Ah, well.

Vacation book count: four. Short reviews below!

1) Kushiel's Scion, by Jacqueline Carey. The last third of the book was AMAZING, luckily worth slogging through the first two-thirds. Not that it was a bad book up until then, but it just moved very, very slowly through Imriel's teenage angst. Once the whole thing moved to Lucca, it was awesome, and I was riveted. I don't know that I'll buy the second book in hardcover, but I'll read it as soon as I can get it in paperback!

2) The Sharing Knife, Vol. 1: Beguilement, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Not quite as good as her previous fantasy series, but a diverting read nonetheless. Good characters, rather fluffy, very romance novel. The world is interesting, though, and I'm a bit sad that she only intends it to be two books.

3) Sebastian, by Anne Bishop. She's a master of erotic, dramatic fantasy, but I have to say, the relationship between Sebastian and Lynnea is similar enough to the one between Daemon and Jaenelle in the Black Jewels books as to nearly be indistinguishable, just moved along faster. It's obvious that Bishop enjoys the dynamic of seductive, sex-driven male and innocent unflowered female, and she's really good at writing it, but I kind of wish she'd gone elsewhere for this series. I found myself skipping over a lot of their scenes to get to other ones, ones that featured Belladonna, or Nadia, or Teaser, or others. Good book, though, and I'm interested to see where it goes next!

4) Moonshine, by Rob Thurman. [livejournal.com profile] dragonsinger described this series as "the Winchester brothers go demon hunting with Jack Harkness", and that's fairly accurate for the character dynamics. Heh. I kinda want to bash Cal's head in for being stupid every once in a while, but he's a really entertaining narrator, so I can forgive him. Everything except the ending. Gah. There'd better be another book coming.

I also brought Sherrilyn Kenyon's The Dream-Hunter with me, but I couldn't bring myself to read it. I've been doing that for about three months now, which makes me think I've reached my tolerance limit for Sherrilyn's books. Really, I just want her to write Ash's book so I can see if my guess for his partner is right, and then I'm done. She writes the same book over and over again, and I've read it enough times, thanks.
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
Read two books this weekend ...

Dangerous Games, by Keri Arthur. This series just goes to show how a writer's voice really makes the story. Riley could be approaching that dreaded place where a heroine begins to get really annoying, because every man loves her and she keeps acquiring more and more strange powers. But, somehow, I'm still completely into this series. A lot of the credit goes to the easy narration, first-person in Riley's voice. The thing that separates Riley from, say, Anita Blake is that she doesn't apologize for who she is and what she wants. She doesn't angst overly much about the path she's going down - she occasionally reminds us that she doesn't want the life of a guardian, not really, but she knows that her own curiosity and sense of justice is pushing her down that road just as much as anyone external, so she doesn't mope about it. She also makes good decisions, in the end - the end of this book made me want to cheer for her, because I was really afraid she was going to go down a different path. I think Riley continues to be a really fun heroine, and I can't wait to read the next book!

Happy Hour At Casa Dracula, by Marta Acosta. This was a complete fluff read, much in the same vein as MaryJanice Davidson's books. Slightly ditzy and self-centered twentysomething gets sucked into the world of vampires, hilarity ensues. I enjoyed it, and will read the sequel that's sitting on my shelf, but I can definitely see Milagro, her heroine, getting really annoying in the way that MJD's Betsy has gotten the longer that series goes on. For me, there's only so long I can read plots that revolve around a secret that the main character doesn't get because she's too focused on her own misery and problems. But, as a one-off, this book is entertaining. Think beach read.
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
First of all - happy happy happy birthday [livejournal.com profile] divachickie! Hope it is, as always, as fabulous as you are. :)

I read a lot of books last week. Five and a half, to be exact. (I'm currently in the middle of [livejournal.com profile] jhetley's Dragon's Eye.) Brief, mostly non-spoilery commentary on the five I finished ...

L.A. Banks - The Wicked: Okay, this is more like it. The last book in this series underwhelmed me, mostly because it read more like a straight romance novel that had a little supernatural content, and that's not what I'm in this for. But, this book dealt really well with the fallout from the romantic weirdness of the previous book, and came back around to the excellent supernatural adventure I love. I cried on three or four different occasions, too. Good stuff.

J.D. Robb - Innocent in Death: Probably middle of the pack in terms of quality for this series, but that still means it's more enjoyable than half to three-quarters of other books I read. The romantic conflict between Eve and Roarke was a little ridiculous, because at this point, they haven't given anyone any reason to believe one could conceivably doubt the other, but the case was interesting, and the character interactions were, as always, entertaining.

Patricia Briggs - Moon Called: A re-read, so I could remember the characters before I read ...

Patricia Briggs - Blood Bound: I like this series. The adventure is good, and Mercy is a good narrator. I worry a little bit, though, about Mercy becoming one of those women that every supernatural-type man in seven zip codes desires. Briggs is currently balancing that nicely, but it could devolve quickly into LKH territory if she's not careful. For the moment, though, I'm enjoying it - good mind candy.

Laura Anne Gilman - Bring It On: Okay, this series has officially become one of my favorites. Looks like the next one comes out in June, yay! I love Wren, I love Sergei, I love the world they live in. I love that Wren's strength is also her problem - being unnoticeable makes her an excellent thief, but sucks when she's trying to navigate politics and save her friends' asses. I love the fact that Wren and Sergei are still trying to navigate the weirdness of being business partners, friends, and lovers, and that Wren is still itchy about spending too much time together. Just, love, and a lot of it. Can't wait to read the next one!

I distracted myself for a bit this week by noticing that three of these four series have very similar heroes - Carlos, Roarke, and Sergei are all similar men, businessmen by trade, known for being smart and controlled, a thin veneer of society covering something more primal. In fact, I think you can probably connect the Patricia Briggs series here, too - my favorite of Mercy's potential suitors is Adam, who follows the same sort of archetype. Does that say something about what I'm attracted to? Perhaps. ;)

Heading to the mall today, mostly to just get out of the house and distract myself a bit. Otherwise, I think I'd sit here and stare at the same three entries on my friends list all day.
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
Or, at least, one book. [livejournal.com profile] jdfskpoi lent me Colleen Gleason's The Rest Falls Away, and the premise intrigued me enough that I had to read it right away. The premise - as stated by the author over on the Smart Bitches site - is "what if Buffy had been born in Regency England?" While that's a fair description in certain ways, it doesn't really speak to the very well-plotted world Gleason has created, which stands on its own without any comparisions. Victoria shares some very basic characteristics with Buffy - she's a beautiful girl, ready and eager to live the kind of life a girl her age normally lives, when she's faced with the idea that she has a destiny, a family heritage that gives her unusual strength and instincts to kill vampires. This book - the first in a series of five - shows her attempting to balance her normal life (ie, attempting to find a husband) with her life as a vampire slayer.

There are moments that this book spends too much time straddling between the fantasy genre and the Regency genre, and I think that, at certain points, a reader will tire of one or the other, depending on which genre you normally read. For me, that means I was occasionally impatient with the Regency courting scenes. But, overall, this was a fantastic book, a great setup for the series. I can't wait to read the next one!
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
Two books read this week ...

1) Glass Houses, by Rachel Caine. A young adult novel, but a pretty dark and complex one. Lots and lots of the nonstop action and spiraling danger that I've come to think of as Rachel's signature - the heroines of her books never catch any breaks, never get a chance to breathe! Definitely makes reading them an active event, and you don't stop turning the pages until there are no more to turn ... and then you curse because there are no more to turn. :) This is probably a young adult novel simply because of the age of the heroine - 16 - because it's no less complex, story-wise, than the Weather Warden series. Highly enjoyable, as always ... can't wait for the next one in the series!

2) Working With the Devil, by Lilith Saintcrow. I'm not sure what I expected when I started this book. Several people I know had read it before me, and all had made comments on how, while they enjoyed the book, the main character frustrated them in some way or another. So, I read it with a little trepidation ... but, man, I think I loved the whole thing. The heroine is tough, but really flawed; her flaws worked for me because they remained consistant through the whole story. This was another page-turner, an action-adventure where the action never stopped. I liked the world it took place in - I don't know if it's supposed to be an alternate universe, futuristic, or both, but I was impressed with her ability to paint the picture without stopping for an info-dump. I was confused by some things at first, but they played out in a logical manner, until I was completely immersed in the entire universe by the end. Another book that ended on a cliffhanger - I'm just glad the second book is already available! :)

So, if you're in the mood for a little paranormal action-adventure, I highly recommend either book!
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
Read two books in the past two days, and let me tell you, I hit both extremes on the fluff scale.

1) Only Human, by Gareth Roberts. Doctor Who tie in novel, Nine and Rose and Jack era. I was entertained - the writing style was ATROCIOUS, but the plot was fun and the characters all behaved like they should. It read like it could have been an episode, if they had enough budget to do it. So, while I spent parts of the books wondering precisely how one gets a book contract with the BBC, because the standards can't be that rigorous, I enjoyed it enough to possibly pick up another tie-in novel. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't already madly obsessed with DW, though.

But, like I said, everyone was in character, which goes a long way. In the current Torchwood mode, I was struck by a bit at the end, from Jack's data-record. (He's been stuck in 21st century London without the Doctor and Rose for a while.) "Peacetime is a bit freaky. Everyone here ... has that deadly combination of contentment and ennui. Without the flavour of danger, without the constant lurking threat of death, life's one, long slow afternoon watching VH1 Smooth." If that doesn't explain just about everything about Jack in Torchwood, I don't know what does.

2) Singer of Souls, by Adam Stemple. Very good book. A real page-turner - I picked it up at dinner last night, intending to read a chapter or two before getting back to writing, but didn't put it back down until it was done. If dark stories about Faerie are your thing, I highly recommend it. But, as a warning, there's a bit in the story that refers to Scottish faerie tales never ending well, and that's foreshadowing. Dark ending, dark dark ending, the darkest I've read recently. Make sure you're in the proper frame of mind before reading it, because it hits hard. In a good way, though, one that makes you think.

So, yes, slowly working my way through my gigantic TBR pile. Not sure what to go to next! So, because I'm bored, maybe I'll create a poll ... behind the cut, tell me what I should read next!

jaime's reading pile )
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
I finally read Valley of Silence tonight - it will tell you something that I've had it in my purse since Tuesday, but didn't feel compelled to start it until we got home. Normally, any Nora Roberts book is devoured within hours of purchase.

Actually, this one was the strongest of the trilogy - Moira and Cian were, as I suspected, the most compelling pairing in the trilogy. They had the most conflict; not much of it was in this book, true, but the setup in the previous two books made this one resonate more. Overall, the trilogy ended predictably, but the final battle scene was satisfying. A lot of times, a pure battle scene will make me skim pages until it's over - this one, I read every word of.

In the end, though, I consider this trilogy one of Nora's very rare missteps. The worldbuilding necessary for this kind of story isn't her strength - her strength is, and always will be, the characters. Details, nuances, relationships, conflicts; that's where she shines. Her attempt to create an entire fantasy mythology and communicate it to readers shoved her greatest strength onto the backburner. I couldn't lose myself in the romances - she didn't have enough time to make me love them like real people - and I couldn't lose myself in the world, because she kept having to break off immersion into the setting to deal with the romances. She tried to do too much, and the whole thing fell flat.

Anyway. I spent the whole night reading, and not writing. Whoops. The group will be getting my submission WAY late.
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
First, apropos of nothing, I managed to take a spill when I went out for a walk this afternoon, and now my entire right side feels like it was beaten. Ouch. I'm so very graceful, yo.

Book of the day was Nora Roberts' Dance of the Gods - the second in the new trilogy. You'll recall, possibly, that I wasn't overly impressed with Morrigan's Cross. I'm happy to report that I like this one much better. It's still not the best of Nora's work, not by a long shot, but this was a much more engaging book. Possibly because Blair and Larkin somehow ended up being much more engaging characters than Glenna and Hoyt were. Well, Blair was, anyway. Larkin seemed a cipher in a lot of parts - a fantasy man, or a Gary Stu if you're feeling uncharitable. But, he was a well-written fantasy man; Nora made him very sexy and appealing, which always goes a long way in a romance novel. ;) So, that worked for me!

Blair, though - she makes me laugh, because I had the thought while I was reading (not an original one, I realized, as [livejournal.com profile] northatlantic pointed it out after reading the first book) that I've seen her character before, very recently. Vampire/demon hunter, uber tough and stoic, quick tongue and even quicker trigger finger, issues with a father that doesn't appreciate her, with a brother who happily escaped the hunting life for a normal one? You want your gender-bent Dean Winchester, Nora's got her right here. Heh.

But, anyway. Very happy that this book is better than the last - makes it worth holding on to read the last one. I think the last one has the potential to be the best, to me, anyway - Moira and Cian have been the most interesting interpersonal dynamic all along. So, it'll be worth my $7 come November!

Edited to add, as long as I'm doing mini-reviews, a recommendation for P.C. Cast's Goddess of the Rose. I read that one on the plane to San Diego, and was highly entertained. Her dedication is to everyone else who was disappointed when the Beast turned into a handsome prince, and sure enough, this is a sexy, cool modern retelling of Beauty & the Beast, where the Beast doesn't necessarily have to be fully human for the heroine to have her happily ever after. I'm definitely interested in checking out Cast's other Goddess books now. If fairy tales are your thing, you could do much, much worse!
seimaisin: (jensen on the bed)
So, I made a pledge on our way home from work - "god," I said, "I have GOT to be productive tonight."

Right. That's working out.

What I did do tonight, though, was finally finish reading Laura Anne Gilman's Staying Dead. It took me a while to pick it up, for a petty reason - the font they printed the book in annoys the crap out of me! I'm a traditionalist, I guess, when it comes to typesetting. Anything other than the usual makes it look unprofessional to me, somehow. So, I let this book sit on the shelf for a couple of months.

... which, in retrospect, I shouldn't have done, because this one is good. Well, well played on the characters and the relationship between them. Wren is an engaging heroine - smart and tough, but far from perfect, with a really snappy voice both in dialogue and thought. And Sergei? Is HOT. The polished-businessman and rough-and-tumble-girl thing has been played before, obviously, but this is a great spin on it. They aren't even romantically involved in this book, not really, but the connection between them sizzles. There's something about the relationship, both romantic and professional, that reminds me a bit of Nikita and Michael, only a little more functional ... he's her handler and protector, even when she doesn't need it, and they dance around these tangles of espionage with only their wits and trust in each other to assure them a safe exit. Add in all the supernatural touches - Gilman's magical world feels archetypal, but at the same time different than everything else that's being produced by the urban fantasy world right now - and you've got a book I'll recommend highly to anyone who reads the genre. I don't have any business buying anything else before payday, but I may have to take a detour to B&N tomorrow to buy the sequel anyway.

So, I've read Staying Dead, and watched Without A Trace, and ... that's about it for the night. Productive, yes?
seimaisin: (sam has deep thoughts)
Happy album release day for, well, the entire flipping world! New music from Carbon Leaf, Chris Thile, and the Duhks to be had! Well, as soon as Amazon coughs up the goods. They did ship the Carbon Leaf album yesterday, though, so maybe I'll have it by the end of the week? Because I'm far too cheap to pay for the nice shipping. The other two shipped Friday, though, so I'm hopeful they'll arrive today or tomorrow. Maybe. If I wish hard enough.

I finished the second book in my historical romance experiment yesterday ... Black Silk, by Judith Ivory. I'm still kinda processing what I thought of it. It's excellently written, and draws a vivid portrait of three very interesting, very flawed individuals, all of whom feel incredibly realistic for the time period. As a romance, however? I'm not sure. The end didn't feel entirely satisfying to me - it didn't feel like the two main characters had built up enough trust and respect to really warrant the happy ending. Like I said, it felt very realistic, but I don't really go to romance novels for realism. So ... I think I'd recommend this book, because it held me captivated for three days. Just don't expect anyone between the pages to be entirely heroic!

So ... after visiting with [livejournal.com profile] slicklizard41 last night, I find myself randomly in the mood to play video games. Unfortunately, the only games I have for my PS2 are DDR Extreme and the random copy of Sims 2 that was abandoned in the console when I took it. I never have been able to figure out how to play Sims ... so, can anyone recommend any good games for PS2? Adventure-ish games, preferrably, or puzzle games. I'm not much for racing cars or shooting people or anything like that. Alternately, a Sims tutorial might be nice, too, if I can find the damned game now. ;)

It's going to be in the 60s today! Who would have thought that, in the beginning of September, that'd be a warming trend?
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
So, like I mentioned in the last entry, I blew my B&N gift cards on a bunch of romance novels that I've never read - many of them historicals, which is usually not my genre - because I was curious about those hyped over on the Smart Bitches site. Came away with seven books, and read the first one between breakfast and the salon. Lisa Kleypas - Dreaming of You; apparently, I'm one for one so far, because I really enjoyed this one! It hit most of my kinks for historical romances - the bookish but spirited heroine, the shameful rogue hero, a romantic connection that didn't suffer through too many twists and turns and misunderstandings. That last is a hard balance for me, in any romance novel - you have to have enough sources of tension to make it interesting, but I'm also not interested in a book that keeps the pair at odds with each other until the last possible second, because I enjoy the resolution of the tension far too much. If I have any complaint about this book, it's that the villainess was so one-dimensional as to be a cardboard cutout, but the rest of the book was so excellent that I can't spare her much thought at all. Mostly, it was a fast-paced, sexy book, and I'd recommend it!

I'm off to start another book, as the television won't offer me anything better than college football and an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen that features fake Egyptian guards and a snake. I'll pass.
seimaisin: (book faerie)
A rundown on the reading material from the weekend ...

Nora Roberts - Morrigan's Cross - first in the new trilogy, which is VERY different from most everything she's written before. I liked it, I think. maybe a teeny tiny bit spoilery )

Nora Roberts - Angels Fall - another strong entry in her single-title line. Not up to the standard of Northern Lights, which is the best of the best, but better than the last offering, Blue Smoke. I liked Reece and Brody, I liked the town, I liked the setting. The mystery was paint-by-numbers; I figured out who the murderer was within a chapter of it happening. But, mostly, it was an excuse to lose myself in a vividly realized fictional town, which is what I like most about her single-titles. I might not recommend spending the money on the hardcover, but definitely pick this up from the library or in paperback.

Rachel Caine - Firestorm - I keep saying that I'm going to go back and reread all of these books, but there's also a part of me that doesn't want to. Because I always come out of these books feeling vaguely like I do when I break down and buy a bunch of Dove chocolate. I'm pretty damned sure it's not very good for me, but god damn if it doesn't taste good! The action never stops, never gives you a chance to breathe and figure out if anything that just happened made sense ... which is all right, because she keeps taking it to breathtaking new highs (or lows, as the case may be), and by the end, you're just left wanting to know what the &*^%&^ happens next. It's a great action adventure, light on in-depth character development, the literary equivalent of a roller coaster. Perfect mind candy!

Next on the list, the rock & roll fairy tales by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple, which Amy gifted me with. I've been wanting to read them, but I always forget to look for them when I'm at the book store! So, yay!
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
Just finished reading Adios to My Old Life, by Caridad Ferrer - this is a book in MTV's relatively new-ish fiction line, which I hadn't ventured into yet. The story follows a 17-year-old girl as she competes in a fictional Latin American version of American Idol. It's a very fast read, a fairly short book, very fast paced. I enjoyed it - it reads very much like a VH1 or ABC Family movie, with the impossibly good heroine (both in talent and personality) overcoming nerves and politics and her very own wicked witch in order to become everyone's sweetheart. Not the deepest plot on the plane, that's for sure, but that's okay. If what you're looking for is a fun look at the performance reality show culture and a cute drama to pay attention to for a while, it's a good read.

I'm sure there was something I should have done tonight aside from read, but damned if I can remember what it was. Oh, well.
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
I've fallen out of the habit of cataloging the books I read. But, still, good to have an occasional reminder of what I thought!

Recently:

Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop. A collection of stories set in the Black Jewels universe, from the origin story of the Jewels to the story that tells of what happens after the events of Queen of the Darkness. Not too bad - mostly had the same strengths and weaknesses as the original trilogy. My favorite story, though, was the one about Lucivar and Marian - a completely enjoyable romantic fantasy story, with just the right balance between tension and the interactions between the characters we already love. I was left slightly disappointed, however, by the final story, which seems to draw the story of Jaenelle and her followers to a close. It wasn't bad - I think she did the characters justice - but she muddied it with too much peripheral story. I would have been happier with less intrigue from outside. But, all in all, a good anthology, good additions to a rich universe.

Sherwood by Parke Godwin. I'm always a sucker for Robin Hood stories, and I couldn't believe I'd never gotten to this one when I found it at the used book store. I really liked it - I was intrigued by the decision to relocate Robin from the time of Richard the Lionheart to the time of William the Conqueror. It makes sense, gives the rebellion a believable cause. What I liked more, though, was the incredibly complex character of Ralf Fitz-Gerald, Sheriff of Nottingham, who really went through more of a profound hero's transformation throughout the story than Robin did. Good stuff, recommended if historical(ish) fiction is your thing.

On the TBR shelf, Laura Anne Gilman's Staying Dead, an MTV book that Karen lent me, a Jennifer Crusie book that Karen also lent me, and Nora Roberts' Angels Fall. No idea what I'm in the mood for. Actually, that's not true, I'm in the mood for [livejournal.com profile] rachelcaine's new book, but I don't have that one yet. Boo, hiss. ;)
seimaisin: (books are how i escape)
I finally finished my reread of all the L.A. Banks books, and read the latest one, The Forsaken. Not really impressed. See, I picked these books up out of the sci-fi/fantasy section. I look for them either there or in the African-American Lit section. Not once have I seen them shelved in romance or chick-lit, so I'm not looking for a "girl gets mad at boyfriend for screwing around, makes a rash wish, suddenly gets a too-good-to-be-true prospect, and hijinks ensue" plot from these - but, that's what I got. Yeah, yeah, they weren't romantic comedy hijinks - not when you involve Homeland Security, biblical figures, and a looming Armageddon - but, still. These characters have far too much serious shit to be doing to waste an entire book dancing around romantic misunderstandings. Less sexual angst, more saving the world, please.

Anyway, now I'm rereading Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy. Which indeed promotes every fantasy cliche that people are currently posting about, vowing to never do again, but you know what? Any author who wants to can adopt every single cliche they want if they can make me believe it, and Bishop does. I'm rereading these because it's been several years, and there are new books out there that I haven't read! I want to remember everything before picking up the new stuff.

I'm rereading everything right now because, at the moment, I find myself feeling bored when I look at the new books on the bookshelf. Nothing's striking me - except maybe the new Nora Roberts, but I don't have the cash to buy a hardcover. I'm going to need reading material for next week's trip, though, so I'm gonna have to go searching things out. Any recommendations from the peanut gallery? You know what I like. Tell me what I should be reading!

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