Friday, December 11, 2009

Ann Patchett: Bel Canto

Bel Canto: A
fiction, love story

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening — until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.

Have you ever read a book where your heart gets so involved, you're a little heartbroken when you finish reading the book?

That's kind of what this read was for me.

It was beautiful. The writing was lyrical, the characters were so real and so wonderful.

I really loved this story. I loved, loved Gen (the multilingual, genius translator) and I loved his love, Carmen, I loved Mr. Hosokawa and Roxane. I loved the terrorist group who attacked the group of special, important people in the rich estate in an unmentioned South American country.

You'd think that the story would get boring after the people have been trapped inside said rich estate for months, but it gets more intricate. Ms. Patchett is able to delve into the human consciousness so brilliantly, I forgive her for having two whole pages of writing without indenting for paragraphs.

However, the book wasn't perfect.

I was unsatisfied with the ending (which is why I wouldn't give the book an A+). It was very bittersweet and very... haunting. I couldn't get over the ending of the book, as in, I kept on thinking about it over and over again. In fact, I couldn't think about anything else for the next couple of days.

I believe I scared some of my co-workers by groaning (out of the middle of nowhere), smacking my head, and going, "Augh, I cannot believe it ended like that!"

Readers, it was a great work of fiction and you must read it.

In fact, read it and let me know so that we can discuss the book *cough*theending*cough* together.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, November 19 2009

I cannot believe November is almost over!! There are Christmas decorations everywhere... I would know, I helped set up for it at work a couple days ago. I don't mind the festive mood; at least not until the Holiday music starts to play. Christmas music is okay two, three weeks before the special day. Playing it before Thanksgiving means the Holidays change into HELLidays.

I've also just committed myself to the fact that my desk will always, always be skanklike. How I get any work done on it is a mystery to me (and to the rest of humanity).

Lately, I've been watching online episodes of How I Met Your Mother and I love it. I realize how much I've been missing out on wonderful shows.

Now, book lovers, it might come to you as a surprise that I've been a very deprived child and growing individual. I'm not familiar with hit bands like The Beatles or singers such as Frank Sinatra, and I am not remotely familiar to any of the classic movie stars: Audrey Hepburn (though I have seen some stuff - and have loved!), Gregory Peck, Katherine something or another...

Heck, I didn't even know Jimi Hendrix was black until... well.. that's really a story for another day. (LOL!)

But in order to culture myself, I've signed up for this really wonderful thing called NETFLIX.

Really, the moral of that random tidbit about myself was to ask you for your recommendations (and you know how much I love recs!).

What are movies that you think I must see?

So far on my Queue list, I have:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fight Club
Little Miss Sunshine
La Femme Nikita Season 1
Mad Men season 1
Julie & Julia (when it comes out)

and classics like:
An Affair to Remember
Singin' in the Rain
West Side Story
It's a Wonderful life
The Godfather

and wonderful things like:
I love Lucy Season 1 (love love love!)

What other movies must I watch?

Elizabeth Hoyt; To Desire a Devil

To Desire a Devil: B-
Beatrice Corning & Reynaud St. Aubyn
Legend of Four Soldiers, book 4 (last)


Reynaud St. Aubyn has spent the last seven years in hellish captivity. Now half mad with fever he bursts into his ancestral home and demands his due. Can this wild-looking man truly be the last earl’s heir, thought murdered by Indians years ago?


Beatrice Corning, the niece of the present earl, is a proper English miss. But she has a secret: No real man has ever excited her more than the handsome youth in the portrait in her uncle’s home. Suddenly, that very man is here, in the flesh—and luring her into his bed.


Only Beatrice can see past Reynaud’s savagery to the noble man inside. For his part, Reynaud is drawn to this lovely lady, even as he is suspicious of her loyalty to her uncle. But can Beatrice’s love tame a man who will stop at nothing to regain his title—even if it means sacrificing her innocence? (author's website)

To Desire a Devil is the last of Ms. Hoyt's Legend of the Four Soldiers series. Appropriately, the mystery as to who betrayed the English soldiers is finally solved in an anti-climactic end. At the end of book 3 (To Beguile a Beast), the former soldiers (and the men who were betrayed) had a very telling clue to the identity of the traitor. *HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER* We discover that the traitor is a man with a French mother.

Fingers are pointed at Reynaud St. Aubyn, but that doesn't make much of a difference since Reynaud had died in the battle.

Much to everyone's surprise (and horror?), a wild, dangerous man bursts into Beatrice Corning and her Uncle Reggie's (now, the Earl of Blanchard) room. This man claims to be Reynaud and the true Earl of Blanchard.

Beatrice, who has admired Reynaud (from a painted picture of him) for years, is strangely attracted to him, knowing that if what "Reynaud" claims is true, then her Uncle would be stripped of his title and home. Uncle Reggie has cared for her since she was young and she cannot help but to be loyal to him, however, she cannot resist Reynaud...

Readers, I'm not going to lie: I was hoping for more from this book. I was a little annoyed at Beatrice and Reynaud, a little bored by the mystery (though I had started the book really wanting to know who the traitor was), and overall, a little unsatisfied.

Beatrice is a lovely, proper English lady with a romantic nature. The kind of English girl who wants a boy to love her - to really, passionately love her. She imagines Reynaud St. Aubyn is this type of a man. When she meets him, she's intrigued and vexed by his stubbornness and his change in ...everything. Reynaud is no longer the mischievous carefree boy; instead, he is war-torn, has been tortured, and has come to know one of the harsher realities of life.

The problem I had with Beatrice was her lack of conviction in what she wanted, or needed. Or maybe it was just the way Ms. Hoyt wrote about Beatrice and her actions.

Sexual tension has been leading up.... something bad happens and Beatrice is shattered. She is mourning, and right then!, Reynaud decides he wants her. You know, wanting in the bedroom-tango, hanky-panky type of way. (Jerk!)

Beatrice, while she is grieving, realizes life is short and she needs to grab it for all its worth... and even though she is saddened by the fact that Reynaud doesn't love her (she doesn't even know if he likes her much), she goes, YES! Sleep with me because I'm sad and lonely and emotionally overwhelmed. It doesn't matter that I've been wanting to do this with a really special person, one who loves me because Reynaud, I think you're smokin' hot!


Okay, let's, for the sake of well... giving Beatrice a chance, let's say she really needed to feel alive that night and being with Reynaud was the only way she was going to feel this. Fine.

She does it again the next night.

Have you no dignity?!

More than anything, it comes down to control. Beatrice couldn't control herself, couldn't say no to Reynaud (didn't want to say no to Reynaud even though she did. You know what I mean..) despite all else.

I hate that.
I hate it when men or women are portrayed to have no control over one's actions. You can control yourself, no matter how hot and Brad Pitty he is. It's a good thing Reynaud ended up loving her by the end of the book (LOL, though did we ever doubt it...?).

Besides from that major beef, I'd say that the ending was a little lackluster. Not that the book was really read for the mystery, but since the mystery spanned four books, it should have ended with a bigger pizzazz...

Bottom line: read but don't be expecting to experience the greatest love story.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

cover complaint

I've made my way through the Julia Grey Mystery series by Deanna Raybourn. Though these books are thoroughly enjoyable, I have a gripe I'd like to share:

Who in the world decided it was all right for the covers to go from awesome to skanktastic? (By skanktastic I mean "lame." Why I don't simply write "lame".. that, readers, is a question for another day.)

Look below for references.

Books 1 & 2 are awesome. Classy and interesting.

And the third... is... what? Some dude (Brisbane?) clutching some dudette (Julia Grey??).
It might be because the third book came out not as a mass paperback but as a Trade Paperback, those blasted books with the awkward heights. But why, oh why, did the publishers condone such monstrosity on the covers?

These books are shelved in the MYSTERY section of the bookstores, not in the romance section, though there is a continuous love story in the books. So why is there a bosom-clutching cover on the last book? It doesn't even match the first two covers!


Dumb marketers trying to target the romance-reading audience, I curse you!

Grumbling unhappily,

Readers, I've figured out how to follow blogs! Hooray! I know, it only took me two years and something...

Furthermore, Sally, I'm feeling a little left out that I'm not invited to your blog. *ahem*..*nudge*... *cough*

Also, my little CURRENTLY READING widget is working thanks to Namoi and Princess April. Hooray for DNs!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elizabeth Hoyt: To Beguile a Beast

Happy Wednesday and Happy Veterans' Day, readers!

good morning kitty by luciana on WeGIF

I don't like cats or kittens much, but the one above is so darling... I just had to share!

With that, I shall proceed to Ms. Hoyt's third book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series,

To Beguile a Beast: B+
Helen Fitzwilliam & Sir Alistair Munroe
Legend of the Four Soldiers #3


Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he's kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.


Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won't let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away.


Beneath Helen's beautiful façade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn't back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen's secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find--a happy ever after. (back of book)

This novel was unique in several aspects, which I greatly appreciated.

I like to think this novel is one of a higher level than the regular mass romances on the bookshelves, mainly because the both the hero and the heroine are not squeaky clean. Helen Fitzwilliam is a great beauty and surprise, paramour to a high-standing someone in the London ton. She has been with this man for so long, she has two children fathered by this less than spectacular gentleman.

Alistair Munroe, on the other hand, has holed himself up in his castle since returning from fighting in the Colonies. It was there that he was severely tortured. Not a whipped-back has-knife-wound kind of tortured, Munroe is missing an eye and two fingers from one hand, among other "disfigurements." If this story were to be paralleled to the story of Beauty & the Beast, I am fairly certain Alistair would fall under the Beast category (not the Beauty. I think that would be Ms. Helen Fitzwilliam).

Helen finds herself running for her life. She and her children end up on Munroe's doorstep (er.. castlestep) and announces herself his new housekeeper.

He, undoubtedly, is appalled by her bravado and is stunned by her beauty.
She is intimidated by his scars.

And there starts the story of how these two characters fall in love. Why is Helen running for her life? Glad you asked. Something about an overpossessive certain-somebody...

You also get to find out more about the mystery as to who betrayed the British during that war. It wasn't Alistair, as he was tortured the way he was... so who...?!

I felt the characters came to life in this story. While the whole Helen-in-grave-danger part wasn't particularly exciting nor interesting, seeing Alistair and Helen interact was fun. And... I don't see how a hero can be more tortured or "wounded" (physically and mentally) than our very own Alistair Munroe.

Bottom line: Recommended reading.

Side Question: So... does it make anyone else laugh that the men's woohoo is referred to as a "prick?" I understand that this might be culturally and historically accurate from the Regency era, but a prick? I almost prefer "throbbing manhood" to it... okay, not so much, but you get what I'm saying.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Your reviewer, Alice

This is a late post, but believe me, I have a good reason for posting late.

Today's my birthday!

Yes, readers, twenty-something years ago, this exact day, my mother suffered to bring me into this world... most likely for the sole reason of reading romance (and other) novels.

So, I'm going to be vain and share stuffs about me. Awesome, yes.

Alice; 5'1.5", brown eyes, black hair, shoe size - 6,

Occupation: In addition to being a superstar, a tutor, part-time barista, a student (in an abstract sense), closet dancer, and a book reviewer!


Movies - Anastasia, Beauty and the Beast, Sweet Home Alabama, The Matrix, Mulan, Legally Blonde,

Books - this list will take forever, but Paradise, Almost Heaven, Again the Magic, Scandalous, Bel Canto, The Alchemist, The Time Traveler's Wife, Wuthering Heights, Like Water For Chocolate

Food - butter and fried goodness... and fries, sushi, great salads, paininis, pineapples, pastas, Korean ramen..

Dessert - Creme Brulee and ice cream.

Curse word of preference: shit.

Makeup must haves: Shu Uemura eyelash curler, Maybelline turbo boost waterproof mascara in very black,

Perfume: Bright Crystal by Versace

All right, good readers, I'm going to have a cup of coffee with my sister.

Your dutiful reviewer,


Monday, November 9, 2009

Julia Quinn: What Happens in London

What Happens in London: C
Olivia Bevelstoke & Hero (Harry Valentine)
sequel to The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancee, she doesn't believe it for a second, but, still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure? So she stakes out a spot near her bedroom window, cleverly concealed by curtains, watches, and waits . . . and discovers a most intriguing man, who is definitely up to something.

Sir Harry Valentine works for the boring branch of the War Office, translating documents vital to national security. He's not a spy, but he's had all the training, and when a gorgeous blonde begins to watch him from her window, he is instantly suspicious. But just when he decides that she's nothing more than an annoyingly nosy debutante, he discovers that she might be engaged to a foreign prince, who might be plotting against England. And when Harry is roped into spying on Olivia, he discovers that he might be falling for her himself . . .

I happen to think What Happens in London is a very average book. It has average characters with average writing, with an average... well, average everything. The characters are so forgettable, I've actually forgotten the hero's name. This almost never happens... well, unless the characters are forgettable.

I do remember Olivia Bevelstoke as the heroine. She's pretty and as as a pretty girl in London during the regency times, she has to hide the fact that she has a brain. But she meets the unnamed hero (all right, I'll look up his name for you..!) in a very unsmart, albeit funny, manner: hearing rumors that hero might be a psychopathic killer prompts her to spy on him when he moves in next to her.

He catches her spying on him, they are acquainted, and then somehow, he ends up being her bodyguard. The details are failing me, but something about one of Olivia's suitors (a Russian prince!) being suspicious... in any case, they're around each other all the time and the flames of passion ignite!

Other than the entertaining way in which she spies on hero, I can't remember any significant things about the story... other than the fact that Olivia and hero's sex scene (you know, that ultimate, cataclysmic scene in which both realize they've found the love of each others' lives because of the amazing sex and etc) is the worst sex scene I've ever read. It's worse than an unwritten sex scene (in which you imagine hero and heroine has a soul-shattering moment) and this scene, readers, was so laughable and uncool, I promptly forgot why I found it so horrible; I'm only left with the thought of, 'Worst sex scene ever!!'

I think this is a good place to say that I'm not a huge fan of Ms. Quinn's writing style.
She aims for the cutesy, witty, intelligent style that is lacking in details (of all kinds, including characters, plot, setting...) and fails to be humorous. It just... tries too hard? is unfunny? witty but not really witty? If paired with a decent plot (I did enjoy her The Lost Duke of Wyndham and Mr. Cavendish, I Presume though it had the same unfunny writing style) I think the book is enjoyable enough, but without it, the book is just an average read.

With that, I'll end this very average book review.

Oh! While searching for the book's synopsis, Amazon tells me hero's name is Mr. Harry Valentine. Ah yes... Harry Valentine...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Deanna Raybourn: Silent In the Grave

Silent in the Grave: A
Lady Julia Grey & Nicholas Brisbane
Victorian-era mystery, romance

"Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."

These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a longstanding physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

I've decided to start off on a happy note and decided to have my first review from my (slackingness) vacation be a read I enjoyed immensely. I cannot take credit for having "found" the book since I heard of it through a fellow reader friend in Book Club (thanks MeganB!).

Having only mediocre thoughts of the book from last month's Book Club (What Happens in London by Julia Quinn), I wasn't particularly desperate to read Silent in the Grave. My only consolation was that I was told it was a mystery, a genre I am also a fan of.

It's a good thing I'm so open-minded about bookstuffs (LOL) because this one was wonderful to read.

Julia Grey's husband convulses and dies before Julia and a dark, mysterious stranger (hehe!). Later, it is suggested to her that husband's death is not a natural death as they all presumed and suddenly, Nicholas Brisbane is talking of murder and dark motives. He is dismissed, but then Julia finds reason to suspect Brisbane is in fact, telling the truth. Soon enough, Julia and Brisbane are working to discover the truth of the matter.

I loved this book for several reasons, the first being Ms. Raybourn's writing style. The book is written in the first person - Julia's - but unlike other horrible, poorly written, undeserving first person POV books *cough*theTWILIGHTseries*cough*, this one is beautifully crafted with wit and descriptive observations. Though you only get Julia's thoughts, you pretty much get to know all of the other characters in-depth (including her nine brothers and sisters). You do not get Brisbane's anything at all... that man is an enigma.. which brings me to my second point...

The chemistry between Julia and Brisbane is delicious. Unlike regular mass market paperbacks where the hero and heroine must end up together at the end of the short three-hundred pages, this story is the first of the Julia Grey mystery series. This means interactions between Julia and Brisbane are spread out and realistic, doing wonders to build tension between the two characters. The romance is there, but it is budding and in the baby stages, unlike a fast track meet-love-have sex-be happy romance. Granted, there were times when I wanted to throttle Brisbane for not being cliched like the other heroes ("JUST KISS HER, you dolt!), but you will come to appreciate their relationship.

Third, the characters. Julia's family - the March family - is. so. weird. !! In the most amusing and insightful way, that is.
The characters are real characters, from her batty aunts and uncles, to her Shakespeare-quoting father; from her once-married-turned-lesbian older sister to her gypsy laundress... it's so much fun to read about all of them and get to know their stories.

And, of course, the mystery is compelling to read. Very twisty and turny.
Think In Death series by JD Robb (Nora Roberts) ... and actually, most mass paperback "suspense" novels but 100x better.

Verdict: Read! Read! Then tell me about it. I don't bite.
Well, for the most part... (unless you have H1N1. Then I definitely won't bite.)

Naturally, you shouldn't be surprised to discover that I read this book in practically one sitting - despite having had to work all Thursday morning. When I finished two nights ago, I went to the library ten minutes before closing time to borrow the sequel, Silent in the Sanctuary.

I'm happy to say that I had the sequel in my grubby, little hands and after reading it all day (minus the working thing again), I've finished it. No hoorays for me yet: I am trying to get a hold of the third, Silent in the Moor... SILM, donde estas?? Public library of my city, why are you failing me so?!

Read an excerpt of Silent in the Grave here or below:
(I hope I'm not infringing on copyright laws by posting here for your convenience. Retrieved from Deanna Raybourn's website.)

La~ enjoy!

To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.

I stared at him, not quite taking in the fact that he had just collapsed at my feet. He lay, curled like a question mark, his evening suit ink-black against the white marble of the floor. He was writhing; his fingers knotted.

I leaned as close to him as my corset would permit.

“Edward, we have guests. Do get up. If this is some sort of silly prank—”

“He is not jesting, my lady. He is convulsing.”

An impatient figure in black pushed past me to kneel at Edward’s side. He busied himself for a few brisk moments, palpating and pulse-taking, while I bobbed a bit, trying to see over his shoulder. Behind me the guests were murmuring, buzzing, pushing closer to get a look of their own. There was a little thrill of excitement in the air. After all, it was not every evening that a baronet collapsed senseless in his own music room. And Edward was proving rather better entertainment than the soprano we had engaged.

Through the press, Aquinas, our butler, managed to squeeze in next to my elbow.

“My lady?”

I looked at him, grateful to have an excuse to turn away from the spectacle on the floor.

“Aquinas, Sir Edward has had an attack.”

“And would be better served in his own bed,” said the gentleman from the floor. He rose, lifting Edward into his arms with a good deal of care and very little effort, it seemed. But Edward had grown thin in the past months. I doubted he weighed much more than I.

“Follow me,” I instructed; although, Aquinas actually led the way out of the music room. People moved slowly out of our path, as though they regretted the little drama ending so quickly. There were some polite murmurs, some mournful clucking. I heard snatches as I passed through them.

“The curse of the Greys, it is—”

“So young. But of course his father never saw thirty-five.”

“Never make old bones—”

“Feeble heart. Pity, he was always such a pleasant fellow.” I moved faster, staring straight ahead so that I did not have to meet their eyes. I kept my gaze fixed on Aquinas’ broad, black-wool back, but all the time I was conscious of those voices and the sound of footsteps behind me, the footsteps of the gentleman who was carrying my husband. Edward groaned softly as we reached the stairs, and I turned. The gentleman’s face was grim.

“Aquinas, help the gentleman—”

“I have him,” he interrupted, brushing past me. Aquinas obediently led him to Edward’s bedchamber. Together they settled Edward onto the bed, and the gentleman began to loosen his clothes. He flicked a glance toward Aquinas.

“Has he a doctor?”

“Yes, sir. Doctor Griggs, Golden Square.”

“Send for him. Although, I dare say it will be too late.”

Aquinas turned to me where I stood, hovering on the threshold. I never went into Edward’s room. I did not like to do so now. It felt like an intrusion, a trespass on his privacy.

“Shall I send for Lord March as well, my lady?”

I blinked at Aquinas. “Why should Father come? He is no doctor.”

But Aquinas was quicker than I. I had thought the gentleman meant that Edward would have recovered from his attack by the time Doctor Griggs arrived. Aquinas, who had seen more of the world than I, knew better.

He looked at me, his eyes carefully correct, and then I understood why he wanted to send for Father. As head of the family he would have certain responsibilities.

I nodded slowly. “Yes, send for him.” I moved into the room on reluctant legs. I knew I should be there, doing whatever little bit that I could for Edward. But I stopped at the side of the bed. I did not touch him.

“And Lord Bellmont?” Aquinas queried.

I thought for a moment. “No, it is Friday. Parliament is sitting late.”

That much was a mercy. Father I could cope with, but not my eldest brother as well. “And I suppose you ought to call for the carriages. Send everyone home. Make my apologies.”

He left us alone then, the stranger and I. We stood on opposite sides of the bed, Edward convulsing between us. He stopped after a moment, and the gentleman placed a finger at his throat.

“His pulse is very weak,” he said finally. “You should prepare yourself.”

I did not look at him. I kept my eyes fixed on Edward’s pale face. It shone with sweat, its surface etched with lines of pain. This was not how I wanted to remember him.

“I have known him for more than twenty years,” I said finally, my voice tight and strange. “We were children together. We used to play pirates and knights of the Round Table. Even then, I knew his heart was not sound. He used to go quite blue sometimes when he was overtired. This is not unexpected.”

I looked up then to find the stranger’s eyes on me. They were the darkest eyes I had ever seen, witch-black and watchful. His gaze was not friendly. He was regarding me coldly, as a merchant will appraise a piece of goods to determine its worth. I dropped my eyes at once.

“Thank you for your concern for my husband’s health, sir. You have been most helpful. Are you a friend of Edward’s?”

He did not reply at once. Edward made a noise in the back of his throat, and the stranger moved swiftly, rolling him onto his side and thrusting a basin beneath his mouth. Edward retched, horribly, groaning. When he finished, the gentleman put the basin to the side and wiped his mouth with his handkerchief. Edward gave a little whimper and began to shiver. The gentleman watched him closely.

“Not a friend, no. A business associate,” he said finally. “My name is Nicholas Brisbane.”

“I am—”

“I know who you are, my lady.”

Startled at his rudeness, I looked up, only to find those eyes again, fixed on me with naked hostility. I opened my mouth to reproach him, but Aquinas appeared then. I turned to him, relieved.


“The carriages are being brought round now, my lady. I have sent Henry for Doctor Griggs and Desmond for his lordship. Lady Otterbourne and Mr. Phillips both asked me to convey their concern and their willingness to help should you have need of them.”

“Lady Otterbourne is a meddlesome old gossip and Mr. Phillips would be no use whatsoever. Send them home.”

I was conscious of Mr. Brisbane behind me, listening to every word. I did not care. For some unaccountable reason, the man thought ill of me already. I did not mind if he thought worse.

Aquinas left again, but I did not resume my post by the bed. I took a chair next to the door and remained there, saying nothing and wondering what was going to happen to all of the food. We had ordered far too much in any event. Edward never liked to run short. I could always tell Cook to serve it in the servants’ hall, but after a few days even the staff would tire of it. Before I could decide what to do with the lobster patties and salad molds, Aquinas entered again, leading Doctor Griggs. The elderly man was perspiring freely, patting his ruddy face with a handkerchief and gasping. He had taken the stairs too quickly. I rose and he took my hand.

“I was afraid of this,” he murmured. “The curse of the Greys, it is. All snatched before their time. My poor girl.” I smiled feebly at him. Doctor Griggs had attended my mother at my birth, as well as her nine other confinements. We had known each other too long to stand on ceremony. He patted my hand and moved to the bed. He felt for Edward's pulse, shaking his head as he did so. Edward vomited again, and Doctor Griggs watched him carefully, examining the contents of the basin. I turned away.

I tried not to hear the sounds coming from the bed, the groans and the rattling breaths. I would have stopped my ears with my hands, but I knew it would look childish and cowardly. Griggs continued his examination, but before he finished Aquinas stepped into the room.

“Lord March, my lady.” He moved aside and Father entered.

“Julia,” he said, opening his arms. I went into them, burying my face against his waistcoat. He smelled of tobacco and book leather. He kept one arm tucked firmly around me as he looked over my head.

“Griggs, you damned fool. Julia should have been sent away.”

The doctor made some reply, but I did not hear it. My father was pushing me gently out the door. I tried to look past him, to see what they were doing to Edward, but Father moved his body and prevented me. He gave me a sad, gentle smile. Anyone else might have mistaken that smile, but I did not. I knew he expected obedience. I nodded.

“I shall wait in my room.”

“That would be best. I will come when there is something to tell.”

My maid, Morag, was waiting for me. She helped me out of my silk gown and into something more suitable. She offered me warm milk or brandy, but I knew I would never be able to hold anything down. I only wanted to sit, watching the clock on the mantel as it ticked away the minutes left.

Morag continued to fuss, poking at the fire and muttering complaints about the work to come. She was right about that. There would be much work for her when I put on widow’s weeds. It was unlucky to keep crepe in the house, I reminded myself. It would have to be sent for after Edward passed. I thought about such things—crepe for the mirrors, black plumes for the horses—because then I did not have to think about what was happening in Edward’s room. It was rather like waiting for a birth, these long, tense minutes of sitting, straining one’s ears on tiptoe for the slightest sound. I expected to hear something, but the walls were thick and I heard nothing. Even when the clock struck midnight, the little voice on my mantel chiming twelve times, I could not hear the tall case clock in the hall. I started to mention the peculiarity of it to Morag, because one could always hear the case clock from any room in the house, when I realized what it meant.

“Morag, the clocks have stopped.”

She looked at me, her lips parted to speak, but she said nothing. Instead she bowed her head and began to pray. A moment later, the door opened. It was Father. He said nothing. I went to him and his hand cradled my head like a benediction. He held me for a very long time, as he had not done since . . .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

back from the dead

I am back from the dead! This blog seems to reveal the worst in me. Really, I am not this horrible in real life.

But good news is that I have a little more time to read... which means, more stuffs to base my mean reviews on.

Though I'm not reading nearly as much romance as I did, I'm reading a little of it, with genuine and earnest efforts in breaking out into the non-romance fiction world.

Book suggestions are always welcome, though if you recommend me your favorite book and I bash it via blog, don't hate. Books are not necessarily a reflection of us... and our intelligence.... most of the time. LOL =D

Viva los libros!
(erm, did that make any sense? I definitely "made it up." hehe)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kicking the bandwagon

Not that I like to stir up trouble, but I always feel compelled to dislike the things that everyone else likes. Like the "totally in" huge necklaces and gaudy baubles, or the huge rings (the ones that come up to my knuckles) worn on the index finger. Or the trendy, new haircuts. I feel morally opposed to the new and the trendy. Why should I like something because the girl next door likes it? And why should I follow the dictates and whims of society?

I find that the same happens with books, but on a deeper level. I don't hate books because everyone else loves it; I am more critical of books that everyone else loves, and usually don't feel the "oh-my-gawd-you-totally-need-to-read" compulsions.

And then come the books that everyone else loves... and for the love of pearl, I just don't see why.

Here are some of those books:

Janet Evanovich's Plum series - all of them. Bad books, uninteresting characters. Maybe it's because I think Stephanie Plum is a bit of a dipwad.

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series - I got through 4.5 and called it quits. Maybe it was because of the book I was reading. I didn't like Night Embrace - I didn't even want to finish it.

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series - I can say that this one is the worst pseudo-romance I've read in a long time, and Bella to be the most idiotic "heroine" - ever. Twilight wasn't so bad (I'd give it a C), but New Moon - mother of pearl - was so bad, I am aghast at the fact that it was published - and then devoured by so many. !?!! Bottom line is: Meyer is not a good writer. The writing itself sucks! And Bela is an idiot. The cons outweigh the single pro: Edward Cullen.

Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - I'm surprised I didn't like this one since I love fantasies, but I might be a little ahead of myself: I've only actually tried to read The Hobbit which is the prequel to the LOTR series, but The Hobbit was so boring, I gave up after 50 pages, and since that fated day eight years ago, I haven't been able to tell myself to give the actual trilogy a chance. Maybe I will....................

J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood vampire series: I read the first four, until Vishous's story. The first two aren't particularly stimulating and the fourth (V's book) was just awful. (However, Zsadist's was enjoyable.) After that, I had no desire whatsoever to invest any more of my time into Phury's story (which sounded dumb) or Rehvenge's story... or Xhex + John Matthew's story (if it ever comes to be that they are together). Goodness, I think I just gave myself nightmares by thinking of Xhex and John Matthew. (insert shudder here)

Other honorable mentions:
books that aren't ghastly but are, in this lady's opinion, overrated.

Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series: I read all eight and it wasn't horrendous. But it also wasn't great. It's a bit like the same story being retold eight times. They're books that are entertaining to read (no intense plot, no intense characters, no intense love stories..) but after you've read it, you immediately forget the characters' names and what the story was about.

Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels: It was a good read, but not fabulous, as everyone else cried. Definitely not a must-read.

Lee Harper's To Kill a Mockingbird: What is all the fuss about? Sure, it's a good book, but it was s-l-o-w and meaningless until the last 1/4th of the novel.

Kim Edward's The Memory Keeper's Daughter: The ending felt so unsatisfactory.

Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada: Funny, but not hysterical. Enjoyable but not read-or-die.

Lisa Kleypas's Smooth Talking Stranger: This won't go on the "what's all the hype about - kicking the bandwagon" list... yet. If the fourth novel is as bad as this, I will cry sad tears and put it there. LK, I have faith in you..!

Agree to disagree?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Emily Giffin: Something Blue

Something Blue: C+
Darcy Rhone
chick-lit, women's fiction

Giffin's sophomore effort-which tells the story that her bestselling Something Borrowed did from a different character's point of view-stars such an unsympathetic narrator that it's a little like reading a Cinderella story featuring one of the wicked stepsisters. Perhaps beautiful Darcy Rhone isn't really wicked, but she is one of the most shallow, materialistic, self-centered and naïve 29-year-olds around. Ostensibly a high-powered PR person in Manhattan (though she never seems to work), Darcy spends most of her time shopping, partying and getting ready for her wedding to perfect guy Dex. But an alcohol-fueled Hamptons fling with one of Dex's pals, Marcus, starts to break Darcy's perfect life down; and discovering Dex hiding in her best friend Rachel's closet really shatters it. Pregnant with Marcus's baby, Darcy decamps for London, where she crashes in high school pal Ethan's flat and annoys the heck out of him with her endless shopping and complete disregard for her impending motherhood. But after a good lecture from Ethan, whom Darcy has started to fall for a little, Darcy embarks on a self-improvement plan, thereby demonstrating she can think about someone besides herself...
(publisher's weekly)

The funny thing about this book is that I actually read it. Considering all things, I was sure I would fling it to my wall and have it be a thing of the past... and yet, there I sat, on my family cruise, flipping through the pages.

As you know from my (scathing? unpleasant? hate-love-hate?) relationship with the first novel in the series, Something Borrowed, that I pretty much hated all of the characters in this (and that) story. Rachel for being a vile home-wrecker (though the home was on its way to being wrecked), Dex for being a nimwad (who proposes to a loved one if the loved one isn't really loved?), and Darcy for being a superficial, callow bee-atch.

Something Borrowed ends with the calling off of Darcy and Dex's wedding, Darcy pregnant with Marcu's child (Marcus, as you know, was Dex's best man and the one she had been cheating with while Dex was with Rachel. Egh...), and with Rachel and Darcy's friendship in the pooper.

Something Blue starts out with Darcy still being her usual, selfish, spoiled (but beautiful!) self. In reality, 3/4 of the book is about her, her selfishness, and her spoiledness. Realistic, I suppose. Though I would expect any normal human being - after having experienced the kind of drama (and trauma?) she went through to critically analyze herself and to examine why things happened the way they did... Darcy doesn't.

She proves to be an insecure individual who thrives on the attention of others to feed her "ego." She fools herself in thinking she's in love with Marcus, so that her child will have a father, and so she will have someone to lean on.

Eventually, Darcy's idiocy drives Marcus away (and let's be honest here, Marcus was no fine catch to begin with..). He tells her, in no short words, that he wants out of the relationship, and that he can care less about the child whose DNA he's supplied half of.

Panicked, she decides to go to London and stay with her (and Rachel's) friend, Ethan. She packs her bag with the largest misconceptions of London and of motherhood and jets on over to Ethan, who is less than pleased to see her; Ethan (correctly) remembers Darcy as the selfish, spoiled, likes-to-party, center-of-attention (but beautiful!) girl.

Once in London, she spends most of her savings buying designer outfits, trying to fit in, assuring herself of her beauty, despite the ever increasing baby bump.

It's not until 3/4 of the way through the novel that Darcy miraculously comes to her senses, with the help of patient Ethan... and a little bit of blossoming love..

As with Something Borrowed, Something Blue is a book that uncovers human nature to its dirtiest and grittiest, and is shows, perhaps, the most honest part of ourselves. It makes you think and it exasperates you.. and shows you the consequences of reality.

Read with caution!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BBC's Big Read

I am marking the pitiful low numbers of books (classics? semi-classics? popular novels?) that I've read. It is my goal to read every single book on this list before I die... even if it kills me. Which, in retrospect, it probably will since I don't even want to touch Tolkien's books. Bleh!

BBC's Big Read (2003)

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie


Monday, May 25, 2009

Sophocles: Antigone


Let's awkwardly turn to another book that I read last month.

It's not a romance, not a fiction (well, not really), not a non-fiction, not a contemporary, not... many things, it is not, however, it is a book from my 101 books in 1001 days challenge. Hooray! (point for Alice.)

A brief background of the story (this is going to get even more awkward), starting with Oedipus.

Antigone is the daughter and sister of Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother. It goes like this - Oedipus was fated to kill his father and marry his mother. His father, King Laius, heard and was horrified (rightfully so) and ordered for him to be left to die. His mother, Jocasta, gave him to a servant because she couldn't bear to kill her son, and the servant carried Oedipus to the next county, or kingdom, (or what-not) where he became the adopted son of the king and queen there.

Oedipus is unaware that the parents who raised him are not his biological parents and when he hears of his own fate, he is horrified (rightfully so) and runs away from "home."

While running away, he comes across an old man at a crossroads. They get into a fight and Oedipus kills the old man (aka Laius).

Times passes, and he solves a riddle from the sphinx that has been tormenting his homeland. It's solved, the sphinx is gone, and he wins the prize, which is the hand of the queen of the land, Jocasta.

They marry (ew!) and have four kids (double ew!): Eteocles, Polyneices, Ismene, and our star, Antigone.

Oedipus finds out what he's done, is horrified (duh) and flees the country. He later gouges out his eyes. Jocasta hangs herself.

And Eteocles and Polyneices fight - and kill - each other. Ismene and Antigone are horrified and unhappy (once again, this isn't rocket science).

In Antigone, Jocasta's brother, Creon, is king of the land. He orders Polyneices' body to remained unburied because he was a traitor to the country, however, Antigone desires a proper burial her brother.

Creon has declared anyone who buries Polyneices to be a traitor, a crime that will be harshly punished, but Antigone does it anyway. She is taken before Creon where she argues her point of view and her loyalty to the law of the gods, not to Creon.

She later hangs himself and Haemon, fiance of Antigone and Creon's son, argues with dad. Then he stabs himself. Creon's wife, upon hearing of Haemon's suicide, kills herself as well.

Creon is left, "humbled" and horrified by what has happened (rightfully so).

Not the happiest of stories, this Greek Tragedy was great in that Antigone, who previously seemed an unlikely candidate to be a heroine, proves herself worthy. She is aware of what she does and does not believe in, and most importantly, is able to act in a manner that reflects her beliefs. She is willing to take the consequences of her actions - not shying away from Creon when she is brought before him - and she argues with him (you go girl!).

The cons of this story: written in play form (kind of a pain), almost everyone commits suicide (did someone say Hamlet?), it is full of negativity, and I still don't understand the role of the chorus. I feel like they have more purpose than to provide with background info and current mood. (What's an antistrophe and strophe?)

It was fun to read something besides romance and I enjoyed the story.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lisa Kleypas: Smooth Talking Stranger

Smooth Talking Stranger: B-
Ella Varner & Jack Travis

Ella Varner grew up with a troublesome mother and an insecure sister, but she has managed to come out of it reasonably sane, with a good (if vegan) boyfriend, Dane, and a job as an advice columnist. All of this gets turned upside down when her sister disappears and sticks Ella with her newborn, Luke. Determined to find Luke's father, Ella tracks down a likely suspect—millionaire playboy Jack Travis. The encounter results in Travis and Ella unexpectedly engaged in an irrepressible attraction. Meanwhile, Ella grows fond of baby Luke and fears what will happen when Tara returns. As Ella grapples with conflicting desires, she learns some important lessons about love and trust... (amazon)

Here is another installment of a Travis man, Jack Travis, and though the book had great potential, as do all the Travis men, it fell short of the greatness I was expecting.

I normally love love Lisa Kleypas' books because she is able to develop the characters and really portray the growth of the hero and heroine's relationship. The journey is as wonderful as the end, since we all know endings to romance novels are happy. Even knowing that the hero and heroine will end up together, LK makes it exciting.

This one, however, was a combination of unpleasantness, on several different levels.

1, the hero and heroine have chemistry (as Jack is hot hot!) but they don't really develop their relationship because...

2, Ella is taking care of the damned baby. I have nothing against babies, however, the fact that LK is sticking babies into romance stories left and right is starting to irritate me. Taking care of a child is a HUGE responsibiilty and needs to be of the utmost priority. But in this story, Ella is thrown into her new role as a mother around the same time she meets Jack. Things are crazy, no doubt about it, but with duties as a new mother, where is the time for romance? For love? I'm sure it happens in reality, but not in the way LK portrayed it. There needed to be more details, more development, especially because the story is not only handling a love story, it's handling a story about a mother and child. She did neither story justice.

3, Um, the ending? What was that? It was rushed and lame. And rushed.
Kind of like: "Ohhh, we have twenty pages left, so I love you Jack!"
"Oh yea, I forgot to tell you that I love you, too."

4, Lack of development of Ella. She obviously grows up in a very dysfunctional family. So... I can kind of assume how she became the woman she is, but I don't want to assume. I want you write your beautiful prose, LK, and tell me, dang it!

5, Excess sex scenes. ...which, for me, without relationship development, is like too much icing. Unsatisfying and uncool to swallow.

It was decently fun to read and Jack is hot hot, but don't expect a stunner out of this one.

hi bloggers!

Greetings, earthlings!

I know, I know. I'm sucking at updating. I don't know what's wrong with me... wait, there are many reasons, but we are not going to get into that now.

What's been going on in my life?


I'm almost done with higher education. HOORAY!
I'm starting to read more - the past five months have been reading suicide. (I think I read four books, total.)
I read Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.... andohgoshIdon'twanttosaythisandadmitit but I was disappointed. Yes, disappointed. Not up-to-par to her other works. Sadness!

The other books I'm waiting for:
LK's third (fourth?) book in the Hathaways series with Poppy and the *mysterious* Harry (?) Rutledge; Elizabeth Hoyt's fourth and last in the "Legend of the Four (?) Soldiers" series, To Beguile a Beast (talk about tortured hero!)... and that's it.

First, I realize that I SUCK at remembering stuff. I used to be so good, especially with my beloved romance novels. What happened?! (I think it's my age. Sigh! LOL)

Second, I know I said I wouldn't read any more romances, but after these two, I'm done! Well, I bet I'll keep reading LK's... dang it, it's like an addiction.

Third, I will try my very, very best to update at least three times a week. (we're starting out small and working to greatness.) I'm thinking Mon-Wed-Fri. And, if you haven't noticed, I time-stamp so that all my entries are at 10:02 am. 10:02 is a good time, I say.

Fourth, I have followers! (What does that mean? I'm still not familiar with eblogger....) But HOORAY! Someone kind of wants to read all of the douchebaggy and jerkish things I have to say! Thanks, you guys :)

Fifth, I need to erase my nail polish. It's cracking. Goshdarnit.

With that, I bid you a wonderful Friday and a book review, which will, amazingly, be in exactly an hour. Hooray!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Emily Giffin: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed: C+
Chick-lit, women's fiction

An unexpected love affair threatens a long-lived friendship in this soap opera–like debut from Atlanta ex-lawyer Giffin. Since elementary school, Rachel and Darcy have been best friends, with Darcy always outshining Rachel. While single Rachel is the self-confessed good girl, an attorney trapped at a suffocating New York law firm, Darcy is the complete opposite, a stereotypical outgoing publicist, planning a wedding with the handsome Dex. After Rachel's 30th birthday party, she knocks back one drink too many and winds up in bed with Dex. Instead of feeling guilty about sleeping with her best friend's fiancé, Rachel realizes that Dex is the only man she's really loved, and that she's always resented manipulative Darcy. Rachel and Dex spend a few weekends in the city together "working" while Darcy's off with friends at a Hamptons beach share, but finally Rachel realizes she'll have to give Dex an ultimatum... (Publisher's Weekly)

Here is a book that I loathed to read. Really, really loathed. There are many reasons as to why I would have never even touched this novel.

1. I hate reading about cheaters
2. Rachel, the heroine, cheats with her best friend's fiance.
3. I hate cheaters.

"But Alice," my book buddy Nancy said to me, "just try it."

And so, I did, with mixed feelings. And all through the book, I read with mixed feelings.

This book is not a romance. It, however, is a book about friendship, about relationships, and about self and on discovering who you are.

The gist of the story is this: Rachel turns thirty. She has a party, with of course, her best friend, Darcy, who is gorgeous and everything Rachel is not. Rachel is smart and intelligent, but more Plain Jane than anything else.

So she turns thirty. She gets pretty drunk. She and Darcy's fiance, Dex, are on their way home when step after another, they get to her place, and they do the unthinkable.

What was so hard for me to read about this book was not that they cheat once and own up to their mistakes.

It's that they repeatedly sleep with each other - and the "mistake" turns into a full-fledged affair. A secret affair. It's the fact that they both knew what they were doing, and yet they did the wrong thing.. over and over and over again.

Gritty. Dirty. Ugly.



Griffin explains why the affair happens: that Rachel had always had feelings for Dex but never felt she was good enough, how Dex really loved Rachel, too, but got caught up with Darcy, how Darcy is selfish and pretty-much spoiled...

..and it's through this affair that Rachel is finally able to say, "Darcy, I love you because you're my best friend, but I love myself and I care about what I want, too." - and hence the affair. Rachel wants it and she wants Dex.

But, good citizens of the earth, we cannot all have what we want. And no matter what anyone tells me, getting involved with a man who is already in a relationship is wrong on so many different levels. Have more respect for yourself: if I was Rachel and Dex claims to love me, why can't he love me enough to leave Darcy? Why does our relationship - our love - have to be something clandestine?

It's not a healthy way to start - or be in a relationship, and I don't care what your heart tells you. Listen to your rational brain!

However, I will give Emily Giffin credit in that... the book sucks you in. I read it, partially cringing, partially intrigued - in the same way a fatal car accident is (minus someone dying). And it did give me much to think about.

What would I have done if I was in Rachel's position?
What would I do if I was in love with my sister's (with whom I'm very close with) or best friend's fiance?

As much as I would love to jump up and yell, NO, I WOULD NEVER DO WHAT RACHEL DID!, I cannot be 100% sure.

All I can hope is that I wouldn't do what Rachel did: I hope I would be woman enough to find myself - and respect myself - to walk away and do what is right to myself, no matter how delectable the boy is.

In conclusion: read if you want to think about these issues. But don't read if you want a snuggle, feel-good romance. It's definitely not that.

A B+ for writing style - she really is marvelous at telling the story, but D for the overall content of story.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tess Gerritsen: The Keepsake

The Keepsake: B+
Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles series, book 7

Y'all know how much I love Tess Gerritsen and her lovely writing. I got my grubby little hands on her latest novel, The Keepsake, and read the day away - finishing it in something like five hours.

And, of course, I liked it, though her descriptions of psychopaths and sociopaths really scare me. This might be a good place to state that if you're the owner of a weak heart, this is not a read for you.

A mummy is found in the basement of an eclectic museum in Boston. Dr. Maura Isles, semi-reclusive medical examiner, is present at the CT scan to determine more specifics of the mummy. When they discover that the mummified body dubbed Madam X is not 2,000 years old and instead is a modern-day murder victim, the Boston PD step in.

Tough woman and Boston PD homicide expert, Jane Rizzoli steps in with her team to investigate when they find yet another victim, a keepsake of another sort. It's discovered that the killer, the "Archaeology Killer," is obsessed with preserving its victim. It's when a third body is found, along with the disappearance of a beautiful but suspicious Egyptologist that the situation intensifies.

I was engrossed in my novel - the dark scene where Rizzoli is investigating when my sister knocked on my door. My heart tripped. "I'm reading a murder thriller... leave me alone!" (LOL)

I'm a huge fan of archaeology (I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was younger.) The digging, the discovery... Egypt with its pyramids and hieroglyphics - awesome! (Plus, the whole sexy-swagger-of-Indiana-Jones didn't hurt.) It's no surprise that I was entranced by The Keepsake from the very beginning.

...and now, I really want to be an archaeologist! (Similar to how I wanted to be a doctor when I was watching Grey's Anatomy. Me persuaded by media? No way Jose!)

The story moves fast, the characters are complex, and the thrill is disturbing, but enticing.

The further development of Daniel and Maura's illicit and forbidden relationship had me gripping the book even tighter. Dang it, I want to know what happens! Dang it! Dang it! And, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more interaction between Gabriel and Jane, but that's just me being selfish.

The ending was a little predictable, but good, regardless. If you can stand the blood and gore - and you are thirsting for some good 'ol action, read this one. It's fun, I tell ya!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lisa Kleypas's SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER excerpt

From the wonderful ladies at the Judith McNaught Bulletin Board, here is an excerpt of Lisa Kleypas's new book, Smooth Talking Stranger, that was printed in the Romantic Times Magazine.

Only twenty-seven more days! Hooray!!

Jack Travis kissed me until the sensations flowed in directions I couldn't go, spilling and sliding darkly. As I felt a desperate ache cambering low in my body, I finally understood that if I slept with this man, he would take everything. All the defenses I had built would be destroyed.

Shaking, I pushed at him and managed to turn my head long enough to gasp, "I can't. No. That's enough, Jack."

He stopped at once. But he kept me against him, his chest moving hard and fast.

I couldn't look at him. My voice was hoarse as I said, "That shouldn't have happened."

"I've wanted this since the first second I saw you. His arms tightened, and he bent over me until his mouth was close to my ear. Gently he whispered, "You did too."

"I didn't. I don't."

"You need some fun, Ella."

I let out an incredulous laugh. "Believe me, I don't need fun, I need--" I broke off with a gasp as he pressed my hips closer to his. The feel of him was more than my dazzled senses could handle. To my mortification, I hitched up against him before I could stop myself, heat and instinct winning out over sanity.

Feeling the reflexive response, Jack smiled against my scarlet cheek. "You should take me on. I'd be good for you."

"You are so full of yourself . . . and you would not be good for me, with your steaks and power tools and your attention-deficit libido, and . . . I'll bet you're a card-carrying member of the NRA. Admit it, you are." I couldn't seem to shut up. I was talking too much, breathing too fast, jittering like a wind-up toy that had been wound to the limits of its mechanism.

Jack nuzzled into a sensitive place behind my ear. "Why does that matter?"

"Is that a yes? It must be. God. It matters because--stop that. It matters because I would only go to bed with a man who respected me and my views. My--" I broke off with an inarticulate sound as he nibbled lightly at my skin.

"I respect you," he murmured. "And your views. I think of you as an equal. I respect your brains, and all those big words you like to use. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream and cry and see God." His mouth dragged gently along my throat. I jerked helplessly, muscles jolting with pleasure, and his hands gripped my hips, keeping me in place. "I'm gonna show you a good time, Ella. Starting with some take-no-prisoners sex. The kind when you can't remember your own name after."

"I've been with Dane for four years," I managed to say. "He understands me in a way you don't."

"I can learn you."

It seemed as if something inside me had started to unravel, weakness spreading, all my body tightening against it. I closed my eyes and bit back a whimper. "When you offered me the apartment," I said weakly, "you implied you had no ulterior motives. I don't appreciate the position this puts me in, Jack."

His head lifted, and his lips brushed the tip of my nose. "What position would you prefer?"

It's gonna be good... I can feel it in my bones. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Siri Mitchell: A Constant Heart

A Constant Heart: DNF
Some girl and some guy

Y'all know how hard I try not to be a hater.
I try hard.
Really hard.

Well, actually, that's a lie. I don't try hard when the writer writes something that is complete monkey poop.

In most cases, I force myself to read half the book before I toss it out the window. I got about twenty pages in when, in exasperation, I banged my head on the desk several times. So not only did I have a bitter mental experience from reading this book, I had a large forehead-bruise to show for it.

A Constant Heart takes place in the medieval times, when ladies and gentlemen paid their respects to the King or Queen by going to court.

Some Girl, with the face of an angel, is to marry Some Guy... an earl, if I'm remembering correctly. She is well prepared for the task, but is still scared, reasonably so.

Some Guy is some earl who has had a very bad experience of marriage because of the cheating ways of his first wife. He is determined to hate everything about Some Girl and Some Girl's business, and every aspect of married life.. better yet, he doesn't even want to marry her. He just needs her dowry to buy back his family's estate.

So off starts their brilliant and very charming marriage. Then they go to court. Some Girl is scared and she discovers that the Queen hates her. We don't know why. (Actually, it's just me since I didn't finish..)

Not so bad of a start to a medieval romance, you might be thinking.

Do not be fooled!

It was the writing style of the book that threatened to eat my soul. It is a book written in the first person POV, which normally doesn't bother me at all.

However, it switches off between Some Guy and Some Girl's point of view... indistinguishably! It would switch off between the Some Girl's first person POV and then Some Guy's.

This is an example and interpretation of a scene from the book and what Alice was thinking as she read through this jungle of point-of-views.

I was unhappy.
I was unhappy at the world and everything that was happening. Did I do something wrong? What was I doing wrong? I needed to talk to someone... I knew this wasn't a good idea.
Alice: who is talking?


I was unhappy. Was this supposed to be happening? Unfortunately for the both of us, we were in this situation whether we liked it or not. It would be in our interest to make the best of everything.
Alice: Right. Unhappy. Who??


Unhappy. I'm unhappy.

Alice: I'm unhappy too. Who are you?


I wished I had never married. I wanted to talk to my best friend (insert Another Girl's name).
Alice: We know that both of them are unhappy, damn it! Who the he--... oh.... *reads Another Girl's name)... this is Some Girl!

*Goes back up to the very front of the page to reread, keeping in mind that the first person who talked had been Some Girl.*

Now imagine doing this every two or three pages. The little dotted line (---) indicated a change in the perspective, but never revealed who was talking. The font was the same. The color of the font was the same. The I's and you's were the same.

And when a new chapter began (every two or three pages), sometimes it was the POV of the person who had been talking/ thinking at the end of the previous chapter... or it was the start of the other person's POV.

You had to read in order to figure out who was talking, and then go back to re-read everything in context.

How aggravating!!!!

It not only took me twice as long to read everything, I was tired of reading the same scene twice - once in Some Girl's POV and the other time in Some Guy's POV. For the love of mother earth, I don't need to know both character's thoughts for each. and. every. single. action they commit.

It's dreary. And boring. And dull. And uninteresting.

Moral of review:
If you're an author, don't write like this. It sucks.
If you're a reader, don't read this. It sucks.

Monday, January 26, 2009

not in any way book related

...but I practically peed in my pants reading this.

Happy end-of-Monday!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

kind-of sad news

I wish you had a wonderful New Year and that you kept warm during your holidays.

I've decided, after much thinking, to not (really) read category romances this year and instead, focus on the books I've listed on my '101 books in 1,001 days' challenge - which are (sadly) littered with classics and other "noteworthy" books of literature.

I'm also very busy this semester with my five (!!) classes... which means Alice's time for reading has gone from <----------------> to <-->.

I will try to update this blog with useful tidbits and reviews of books that I've read last year, but I will not be focusing on romance new releases (minus the new Elizabeth Hoyt and Lisa Kleypas that I've been selling my soul for).

My sincere apologies. I'm sure you'll now go home and cry into your pillow, but fear not... I shall remain being my extremely interesting self and I will continue to blog about bookish stuff. What can I say?

I'm a booknerd.

With that said, I'm almost done with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Um. Well. It's different... and hilarious. I laughed a lot - not that it really takes a to get me to laugh - but I did.

Review will come. Shortly.