Monday, March 31, 2008


Well, in honor of PBS and the ongoing Masterpiece Theater series, I present tonight's hottie from Northanger Abbey: J J Field.
Yes, he's a dapper one. Also, the internet confused me (I'm tired, okay?) and there seems to be two JJ Fields in the world, one of who I think is an elf. It's all in the ears....

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I have been reading all week...but it's been a busy week and the book I've been reading (Young Miles) is actually three books in one, so take that. Maybe I'll finish it this week....just like I finished Firefly last week. And now I'm sad it's over. That show definitely gets a 10.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

21st century perks

One of the coolest aspects (at least regarding books and authors) of living in the 21st century is the access we have to the authors themselves--via blogs and websites.

Stephenie Meyer, who wrote the incredible Twilight series, keeps her site amazingly up-to-date. I just read that Twilight is going to be a movie--and it's already in production. How cool!

I've already put my name on the list for The Host, which sounds a bit more sci-fi than I'm normally into, but I'll discuss that another time...

What a gorgeous cover!

Monday, March 24, 2008

More like adorable day

Lee Pace is absolutely adorable as the star of Pushing Daisies (which is such a cute show--check it out on ABC's website; you can watch full episodes. That's how I got addicted!).

And he's got a new movie out, too! Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which is based on a book by Winifred Watson, also sounds very cute: "Guinevere Pettigrew, a middle-aged London governess, finds herself unfairly dismissed from her job. An attempt to gain new employment catapults her into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse."


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Opals, opals, opals

Sometimes I just crave a cheesy novel. Victoria Holt does the job nicely. I picked up The Pride of the Peacock because it was set in the 1800s and had an interesting enough plot.

The book really should have been called: Opals: A book about a girl named Opal who finds adventure and romance and oh yes, opals. Yes, opals were the driving force of this book.

The plot was slightly campy: Jessica (who you find out is actually named Opal) feels unloved by her family--and for good reason, as you'll find out. She befriends an old opal miner, Ben, who convinces her to marry his son. She ends up in an arranged marriage with his son Joss (the peacock; yes, he's a bit arrogant), due to certain inheritence requirements that Ben sets up. They has a love/hate relationship. He's also an opal mine owner and the couple move to Australia where Joss runs his company. Jessica finds mystery, adventure and love in the "wild land."

I enjoyed reading it. The book was fun, educational (seriously, you learn a lot about opals) and had a nice twisty mystery. It had nice gothic elements but it's never scary. I wouldn't have minded more romance, but oh well, it was still a good book.

Rating: 8/10

On another note, I just reread Silent in the Grave and it was just as good as I remember! I think I'd even rate it a 9.5. I can't wait until the third book in the series is published.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

How awesome is this!

I read about's post-order price guarantee somewhere online and then checked out, which automatically tracks price drops on Amazon products that you request.

My old mp3 player broke and I was kind of excited. I could finally buy the iPod I've always wanted (so I can be emo like my sister). Amazon had the cheapest price on iPods, so I bought a nano about a week ago. Today I checked the price and it had gone down by $15! It's only $15, but still......that could buy me a meal at Chili's!

I called Amazon and requested a price refund....and they did, with no hassles! How cool is that? So if you buy a lot of books and such from Amazon, give a try.

It's hidden away on Amazon's website, but here's what they offer:

Post-Order Price Guarantee's prices for released items will change from time to time based on a variety of factors. If's price for an already-released item decreases within 30 days after we ship the item to you, we'll be glad to refund the difference in price if you contact us. Please click the Customer Service button on the right side of this page, and be sure to have your order number handy so we can assist you.
This Post-Order Price Guarantee is subject to the following restrictions:
*Applies only to products that have already been released. Products that have not yet been released but that are available for pre-order from are not covered by this guarantee, but do benefit from our Pre-Order Price Protection program (see section above).
*Applies only to items sold by, and not to items (or prices) offered by other sellers on our site.
*Item prices that are affected by a promotion such as "Buy one, get one free" are not eligible, unless the same promotion is also offered at the lower price.
*The price of an item after rebate is not considered to be the price.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I was afraid

So Anna Karenina may have put me off Russian novels for quite awhile. Therefore, I was a bit hesitant to read Eva Ibbotson's A Company of Swans. However, it only featured a few Russians, so no worries! When I opened the first page, I saw it was dedicated to Patricia Veryan, a fun Regency/Jacobian romance and mystery writer. I figured if they were friends, the book had to be good.

Gorgeous cover! I love tulle and ballet. It's so fluffy.

The story follows Harriet Morton, who grows up in a bleak home with her academic father and nasty old maid aunt. Her only bright point is her ballet class, which she thrives in. One day, a Russian choreographer (I think? maybe he's a manager?) offers her a position in his ballet corp. The company is going to travel to Brazil and the Amazon and offer ballet for the rich rubber barons. Harriet sneaks away and joins the company (and you cheer for her--Ibbotson does a great job at describing an ordinary--yet so bleak--life). Harriet ends up meeting (and falling in love with) Rom Verney, who just may have a connection to her old life. People chase after Harriet and there's drama. The book ends happily, though.

The book is so full of Nature--but in a good way! (See, I'm not totally against "Nature" books!) The descriptions are so vivid of the Amazon. It's fabulous. A Company of Swans had its funny moments, too. The secondary characters are great and actually add to the story.

One of my favorite aspects is the clever weaving Ibbotson does. Earlier, Harriet and Rom discuss someone else's opinion of Romeo and Juliet. Their conversation ties in beautifully at the end--and it involves a chicken feather. I like crafting in a story and there's definitely craftsmanship in her writing. Incidents aren't just random, but hold meaning. That's a sign of a good book.

On a side note, the book is generally labeled YA, but adults will definitely enjoy it, too.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, March 17, 2008


It's Monday night, which besides Jay Leno's headlines which crack me up, it's also time for my hottie pick of the week.Jeffrey Donovan, star of my favorite TV show Burn Notice, you are my hottie of the week. You also have the best sunglasses in the world.

Also, because of this show, I now say the word "Miami" with an Irish accent. Watch the first season encore on USA, starting on April 17 at 11 p.m., and you'll see why.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Excellently plotted mystery

So I've heard that Kate Ross' Julian Kestrel mystery is excellent. Since my library had it, I started it. Cut to the Quick features Julian Kestrel, a Regency dandy who reluctantly becomes a sleuth after a dead woman is found in his bed.

After reading just the first two chapters, I knew it'd be a good read. It's a top-notch mystery, with numerous twists and excellent red herrings. I love Julian; he's reminiscent of a few of my favorite Georgette Heyer heroes.

The side characters--especially Hugo and Maud--were well-developed and offered a nice subplot.

If you're in the mood for a mystery, give this book a try.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Highland indeed

Some people really enjoy exotic or unique settings in books. I generally don't get too swept away by setting. I have favorite time periods (mid-19th century, early 20th century) and settings (America, Russia, India) within those time periods that I like, but that doesn't mean I'll read anything because of it.

However, after I finished Highland Masquerade by Mary Elgin, my first thought was, "Anyone who loves a Scottish setting will eat this book up like chocolate."

Me? Not so much. Aillie Rannoch (who I just realized isn't "Allie" as I've thought all along) left her Scottish home after her father was somehow driven to suicide. She puts a curse on the town and leaves. Fast forward 10 years and Aillie is returning home. She's had a successful career as an actress but some shadowy accident (I still don't really know what happened; I think she hurt her legs?) and a chance job offer has brought her home. She puts her acting skills to good use and dresses up like an old maid. But then three strangers in a train car derail her plans...

Yeah, so this book is DRAMATIC. Aillie is just a more mature version of a wild teenager who put a Gaelic curse on everyone who attended her father's funeral. She sounds a bit uncontrollable, for sure.

Half of the time I couldn't even understand what she was saying or why--and that's only throwing in a wee bit of confusion about the Scottish brogue they all used.

I only read this book because I am a total sucker for Listmania! lists on Amazon. I stumbled across one titled "Vintage Romantic Suspense" and since Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, Victoria Holt and M. M. Kaye were all listed, I decided to trust the creator of the list. Highland Masquerade definitely fits this mold; it just wasn't quite up my alley.

The plot had such potential! A girl returning home in disguise! She used to be an actress! Oh well...if you like drama and vintage romantic suspense books, give Mary Elgin a try.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I am not alone!

My favorite blogs is Go Fug Yourself. (Fug is "fantastically ugly.") They Fug Girls make fun of celebrities' horrible clothing. It's hilarious.

Anyway, today they had a post about Isla Fisher, who is starring in Confessions of a Shopoholic. We all know that I can't stand the heroine of that series....and it appears I'm not alone! The Fug Girls had a great post about it:
"For those who haven't read it, Confessions of a Shopaholic is the first in a series of increasingly annoying books about a pretty darn irritatingly stupid girl for whom things seem to work out beautifully despite the fact that she never learns her damn lesson in a lasting way. It'd be sort of like if Helen Fielding had kept writing Bridget Jones books, where she kept finding new and maddeningly idiotic ways to screw up her relationship with Mark Darcy over and over again, and then got him back again no matter what. Makes it kind of hard to root for the heroines long-term, because all you want to do is smack them upside the head and be all, "STOP IT! AAAAAAARRRRGH." Emphasis on the aaaaaaarrrrgh."

My emotions exactly! Click here to read the rest of the post.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yay for vaccines

I just finished Trade Wind by M. M. Kaye, whose mysteries I love. Let me just say I'm glad that cholera isn't a really big threat in the U.S. anymore.

This is not a romance; it is historical fiction. Trade Wind is about Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Africa. Kaye traces the slave trade, political uprisings and a cholera epidemic in the 1850s and 1860s. The story centers around Hero Hollis, a girl who steadfastly (and arrogantly) believes she can change the people and the country of Zanzibar. She's contrasted with Rory Frost, an arrogant (and kind of immoral) slave trader. It's a study of right and wrong and how life is actually not always as it appears.

I really enjoyed the story. It's sprawling, but gives a really good taste of what life was like in Africa. Kaye did her research and it shows.

My only complaint was a lack of insight into some of the character's emotions. Other than that, I recommend this book.

Rating: 9/10

How could I forget?

How could I have forgotten about Hottie Monday? Especially since I chose this hottie days in advance?

It's Dave Lieberman from The Food Network! He's even an author--two books! (Although, to be honest, most of his recipes are too bizarre for me, but whatever, I still like to watch him cook.)

My best friend saw him in Pittsburgh at a cooking demonstration and had him sign a book for me. :) That made me happy. Now if only I could meet him...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I'd rather watch Dave Lieberman any day

In honor of the five to six-foot snow drifts outside my Ohio home, I decided to read a southern novel. I really liked Mary Kay Andrews' Hissy Fit and Savannah Blues, so when I saw she just released a new novel about cooking, Deep Dish, well, I couldn't resist. It's about food and set in the South. Count me in.

The novel is basically a rip-off about the Food Network--but not that I minded that. Gina, star of a fresh cooking show, is pitted against Tate, the show of a Southern Outdoor Network cooking show named "Vittles." (Seriously, Vittles? Do people still use that word?) They end up battling on "The Cooking Channel" for their own show. Oh, and we're supposed to believe that they fall in love, too.

The book just didn't work for me for numerous reasons.

1. The point of view changed constantly! Sometimes I had no idea who's point of view I was reading. But it wasn't as if the POV was omniscient, either. The constant shifts were distracting.

2. And speaking of shifting, Gina's real name is Regina. It's always a problem in books when the main character has numerous names and this book was a fine example of it. Gina would be called Gina, then suddenly the book would refer to her as Regina....through a different character's POV.

3. Tate and Gina never seemed to really connect. He's hot, she's hot, they both like cooking...they "fight" but then end up in love? And Gina gets over her cheating ex-boyfriend incredibly fast and with no hang-up. Whatever. Also, Gina is never directly called out as an anoxeric, but she never eats--and when she does, it's horrible, fattening food! It really bothered me.

4. Call me shallow, but the's so cartoony!

5. Andrews makes a comment that a certain cheap tackle box that Gina is forced to use is something like a Yankee would buy. Um, Yankees can fish, ok? I don't like to fish, but I was a bit offended by that comment. Maybe it's the fact that I live on a great lake and therefore fishing is huge up here, but I didn't like that sweeping characterization.

On a positive note, I enjoyed all the cooking. Andrews does give a good job of what the real world of cookings shows are probably like. I just didn't like the book.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Great story

Last night I finished a really good book, one that actually felt like I was reading a great story with interesting characters, a good setting and a twisty plot: The Shadowy Horses.

Here's a great review of the book from The Romance Reader. As this reviewer and others have pointed out, Kearsley reads like Mary Stewart...which I love.

The story educated me (archeology!); the characters were likeable, distinct and interesting; there was some romance, but more of a subplot; and yes, I just liked this story. Kearsley's just a good writer and the book reflects that.

Rating: 9/10

Monday, March 3, 2008

No mustache

I know Brandon Flowers from The Killers did (maybe still does) have a mustache--which is a major no-no in my book--but he's still the Hottie of the week!

Yeah, I'd marry him.

Two in one

I had a busy reading weekend: Thunder on the Right and Still Life with Murder. First, let's talk about Thunder on the Right.

It's by Mary Stewart, so of course, great atmosphere--this time in France! Jennifer travels to France to join up with her cousin Gillian. When she gets to the convent where Gillian is supposedly staying for awhile, she's told that Gillian is dead. For several reasons, which I won't go into here, Jennifer is convinced Gillian is still alive. Throw in an old friend-who-wants-to-be-a-flame and it's a classic.

Best of all it featured someone with AMNESIA! Two books in a row...that made me happy.

Rating: 7/10

The next book, Still Life with Murder, wasn't nearly as enjoyable.

The front cover says it's a "thoroughly charming book"......if you find opium addicts, murder, whoring and prison charming. Set in the late 1860s, Nell, an Irish governess for a rich family, is asked to become a sort of detective for the family after their "dead" son pops up wanted for murder. So she starts investigating and meets Will, the son. Will is an opium addict due to an old war injury (or is it actually due to an internal injury...aka guilt, blah blah blah). He appears to be guilty, but Nell (kind of somehow) figures out he's not. There's some attraction between the two, but seriously, he's high so much, what really could develop?

I just couldn't like Will. He's a bit of a slut and his main topic of conversation was opium. Eh, not my cup of tea. Nell was fine, although "mysterious" (the author would throw in bits of the fact she has a 9-inch scar...and then not tell you anything else. Pssssh). I like happy mysteries. This one was too serious and aspects were just too unbelievable--but some parts were so realistic. I couldn't handle the mix.

Rating: 5/10

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fluff is fun

I like Sophie Kinsella's stand alone novels. I never got into her Shopaholic series, mainly because I'm a miser and I couldn't handle reading about such a spender without wanting to step in and help her save money. Anyway, I must have been first in line for my library's copy of Remember Me? because I got it this week.

It's total fluff, but it's funny. I laughed out loud reading this book. The set up: Lexi has amnesia and can't remember the last three years of her life--three years where she evidently totally changed her life. When she wakes up, she has a new body, a new job and a new husband. And, evidently, a new personality. So she struggles to figure out why she became a nasty person and why a lot of things have happened.

The only thing I didn't like is the fact that she's a cheater. I don't care if her husband's a louse, you still don't cheat. If she was so unhappy with Eric and so happy with Jon, why didn't she get divorced months ago? It worked as a plot device but still....

As for the cover, it's actually quite perfect for the book, especially once you learn what the sunflowers mean (which by the way, was very sweet, the whole adultry thing aside).

So, all in all, I liked the book. It's a great fun read.

Rating: 7/10