Thursday, October 30, 2008

In which Jane develops a romance novel heroine complex

In a nod to my fondness for pioneer novels, I reviewed Jennifer L. Holm's Boston Jane: An Adventure back in September. My new library in my new town has book two in the series, Boston Jane: Wilderness Days, so of course I had to immediately check it out.

Book two didn't spark my fancy quite as much--mostly because Jane developed several romance novel heroine complexes. She and the male lead had a Big Misunderstanding, which seriously, if they just communicated a teeny, tiny bit, would be resolved within seconds. This book alone shows the importance of good communication to create a healthy relationship. (True, this book is geared to the YA audience, but still, Jane and Jehu, the male lead, had the dumbest misunderstandings. Just freakin' TALK to each, Jane and Jehu!) As it is a middle school YA novel, there isn't much romantic action at all. There's just more talk and no action.

The plot was a bit scattered and a large part of it was based on Jane's feelings--more character than plot driven. Still, there was plenty of pioneer grit and gristle in the book, with the promise of more to come in the third one. from reading this entry you may think I didn't like this book. I did like it; Jane just annoyed me with her HUGE assumptions and failure to listen/talk/be reasonable--which, hey, we've all encountered those heroines in various romance novels. I just hope the third book, Boston Jane: The Claim, has a more consistent and likeable Jane in it.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another plot line that I love

Confession: I love switched-identity plotlines. Maybe it's my desire to have a twin/doppelganger, but I just like twins-switching-identities plots. Is it any wonder that I like Georgette Heyer's False Colours? (And yes, you must use the British spelling because it's so much more awesome.)

This is a re-read for me. I wanted a comfort read and this is definitely one. It's a caper with a happy ending for everyone.

Here's the plot: Kit and Evelyn are (male) twins. Kit, who serves on diplomatic missions, comes home to England because he senses his twin is in trouble. He's right; Evelyn is missing--and moreover, Evelyn is supposed to meet his soon-to-be-fiancee's family. Kit's mother convinces Kit to fill in just for that one night--the marriage is a society marriage and the couple barely know each other.

Basically, Kit get thrown in a masquerade and must spend oodles of time with his twin's fiancee. And you can guess what happens then...

It's a classic Heyer novel; you won't be disappointed if you pick it up. It's funny, a delight to read and one of her lighter works.

Rating: 9/10

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No New

I haven't posted anything this week because sadly, I haven't been able to get to a library. Also, I've just moved into a new apartment, so all my books were packed away. Needless to say, I was going a little crazy without something to read.

The good news is that I'm heading to my new town's library tomorrow to get a library card. Yay! My other card is 19 years old...and it still works, which is actually pretty freakin' amazing. I love that card. I still remember going to the library and carefully scratching out my name. I should've known then that books were going to be a bit part of my future.

Tonight's plan is to snuggle in bed with an old favorite and plan for tomorrow. Sweet dreams.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Actually really fun

Every now and then I'm surprised by what I actually like. For instance, I've realized I don't mind sci-fi/fantasy--as long as there's romance and adventure. Grimspace by Ann Aguirre is the perfect example of this.

Note: I apologize for any bits of wrong info in my review...I don't have the book handy, so I'm working off of my faulty memory.

The plot is this: Sirantha Jax is a jumper (a certain type of pilot that can jump time/long distances/something in space... That's the thing about sci-fi; it doesn't have to totally be understandable or make sense and you don't really have to care). She's been blamed for a major crash that killed everyone onboard--including her co-pilot (who was also her lover). Jax can't remember the crash and the crazy control-freak government is blaming her for it. She's being tortured by the gov't in hopes that she'll remember and acknowledge her fault.

She's offered an escape from certain death by a mysterious man named March who breaks into her jail cell. His offer doesn't come without risk...but also possible reward. Jax accepts and adventure and romance follows.

The book was just fun--plenty of action and enough romance to keep it spicy. I like how fast-paced it was, which kept my interest. It was actually a book I thought about and wanted to get back to when I wasn't reading it. One negative note: there was a lot of swearing, which was distracting. Still, it was a fun read. I'd definitely pick up another Aguirre book.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Heavy Historical

I started reading Diana Norman's A Catch of Consequence. And then I stopped...and I doubt I'll pick it back up again.

In the book's defense, it's actually well-written. It's set in time of the American Revolution and the style and tone of the book is historically accurate, which took more concentration to read, but again, is well-done. Although it did bother me when sentences weren't actually complete--you know, lacking verbs and such. I suppose it was a stylistic thing.

The plot: A female tavern keeper, sympathetic to the Sons of Liberty, saves a drowning man, who turns out to be British aristocracy. This action ends up putting her life at risk and the drowning man whisks her away to safety. They might also fall in love. And that's where I stopped.

The book isn't a romance--it's historical fiction. The time of the Revolution was seething with emotions and politics; Norman explores these. Honestly, I was in the mood for something lighter and this was just too much. After someone gets tarred and feathered--and you read about how painful that was (seriously, ouch!)--I had to pick up something else to read. (My motto: no pain = happy reading time)

I'm enjoying my current read, Grimspace, and will post on that once I'm finished.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I found an apartment! Actually, I shouldn't use the word "finally" because I literally visited my first apartment last Saturday and today I signed the lease for mine. Perhaps that sentence should read: "After visiting nine or so apartments in four days, I found one that I love--screw looking around for a better deal! I like it, I want it and I've given up any hope of finding an apartment with a dishwasher." Yay! Now comes moving time--so my reading time may be dampered for awhile.

Still, I managed to finish Elizabeth Peters' Legend in Green Velvet. I read somewhere it was first published as Ghost in Green Velvet, which actually is a better title.

Again, I hate this cover. There were NO dogs in the book--only cats--so why is there a dog on the cover? I suppose because it's a Scottie and the book is set in Scotland. I really don't like these modern covers of Peters' books.

Anyway, classic Peters' story: girl accidently falls in adventure/mystery (this time, in a foreign setting). Guy becomes involved in the story--they fall in love. Humor abounds. This may be bad, but I don't get stressed about really following the plotline--how the characters arrive at certain conclusions and figure out the bad guys is a bit farfetched and oddly complex, so I just let it roll over me. Her books are just pleasure reading for me.

There was quite a bit of Scottish history thrown about (think Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlies, etc.) and a bit of modern history. The main guy evidently looked like a certain royal figure--but Peters was being so coy about who it was that it completely went over my head. Sorry, but I have no idea who was hott young royalty back then!

All in all, another satisying work by Elizabeth Peters.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, October 9, 2008


After reading only positive reviews about Maureen Johnson's Suite Scarlett, I had to check it out for myself. The conclusion? It was really cute and just plain nice.

I love this cover--and for once, this is sooo close to how I actually picture Scarlett in my head--right down to her awesome lipstick.

The story has a nice, old-fashioned feel to it. Scarlett Martin and her family live in a New York hotel. The hotel has slowly been going downhill, with just an occassional guest or two nowadays. Scarlett and her siblings--Spencer, Lola and Marlene--know that the hotel is in trouble. But when an eccentric guest, Mrs. Amy Amberson, checks in, the hotel just might have a future again. Mrs. A. becomes involved in Spencer's acting career, Scarlett's love life and yeah, even saving the hotel. It's just a nice, funny, good story.

Scarlett and Spencer's relationship is such a good example of how close siblings could be. (I'm jealous. And I always wanted an older brother so I could meet his friends. Sigh.) I also really liked how Scarlett's love interest, Eric, was approached. Scarlett describes him as "ordinary plus," meaning he's not gorgeous but for some reason, he just attracts her. Let's be real; most of us will end up with ordinary people--I love that Johnson embraces that in her concept of "ordinary plus."

Did I mention the book was funny, too? Maureen Johnson's style of writing is clever and witty. I even re-read certain lines--they were just that amusing.

All in all, I recommend it!

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A postponing

So I've been thinking about not doing a Hottie Monday anymore, mainly because it's so superficial. A guy may be hott but so what? If his character is ugly, then he's not even worth considering. (And sadly, doesn't there seem to be many good-looking guys that are so vain, shallow and just not quality? The same goes for girls, too.) Paul Newman's post kind of sparked this thought in me. So I'm taking a break for now. I may post random Hottie Mondays in the future but for now, I'm going to hold off.

On a side note, Angie over at Angieville gave me a shout out the other day. Thanks! As you can see from my blogroll, your blog is one of my faves.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekend did not equal reading

Sadly, my reading time this weekend was too short--I've been apartment searching. Someday, when I finally find a place I like, I'll be able to sit on my wonderfully-comfortable-sleep-inducing couch and read. I just hope it's sometime soon--I really don't enjoy the process of finding an apartment. The bargain hunter in me is determined to find the perfect place: utilities included, free parking and a dishwater. I just hope I can find that place at a reasonable rate...

In book talk, I'm re-reading Mary Stewart's The Gabriel Hounds.

It's a fun adventure set in the Middle East. Parts of it are a bit slow moving but the atmosphere is fabulous. It's one of those books where I can easily imagine whole scenes in my head, thanks to the descriptions.

The plot is a bit light on the romance, heavy on drugs (personally I find it fascinating to read other era's views of drug use and abuse and how they've changed--for example, one novel I read from the 1950s featured a pregnant woman smoking) and overall an enjoyable read.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I re-read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight this week. I'm not going to rehash it; if you're curious about it, just google it. You will find more than you can handle. However, I did have a thought about why Twilight is so successful. (I may have also been inspired to write a piece for a literary journal on my idea, but that lasted for about five minutes. Literary criticism is a lot of work--especially when you're out of college.)

I think Twilight has been so successful because it's actually fairly simple and has classic archetypal story: Character moves to a new situation; character meets mysterious stranger. Character falls in love with mysterious stranger and adventure follows. In good archetypal storytelling, there is also magic.

Aren't some of the most successful stories retellings of a familiar plot? And this book surely has a familiar plot--but unlike others, I literally could not put this book down the first time I read it. It blew me away. That in itself makes the book a 10 for me--I couldn't get it out of my head for days. Plus, I really enjoyed the story. (Unlike The Lace Reader, which I still randomly think about--but mostly how I still can't believe the freakin' twist in that book. Has anyone else out there read it and can sympathize with me?)

So that's my literary thought for the day. Happy (almost) weekend!