Thursday, February 28, 2008


Will someone tell me why Sophie Kinsella is wearing a ladybug shirt?

That's a lot of ladybugs!

And is she pregnant? It kind of looks like she's hiding a bump!

A (Sebastian) of hope

As we all know, I trust Amazon's recommendations. Well, they've been recommending C. S. Harris' Sty. Cyr series for years now (okay, two years). I've been interested in the series, but it's one of those backburner ones for me.

Pretty cover...almost gothic. Love the blue/red contrast.

The book itself was good; interesting mystery, interesting characters, great mystery (totally fooled me!) and a fascinating hero. I'm planning on continuing the series.

I really enjoyed the main hero, Sebastian St. Cyr--has demons from his past, is smart, was involved in military intelligence and yeah, overall I liked him. He has been falsely accused of murder(s) and works to clear his name. However, his first name made me laugh and here's why:

I worked for a newspaper for a year. I was in charge of letters to the editor. One day, some man mailed us a passionate letter about something that needed change (I can't remember what). He wrote, blah blah blah "is a Sebastian of hope." Ha! He meant bastion but wrote Sebastian instead. We in the newsroom had a nice laugh at him. Anyway, that name has had special meaning for me ever's been a Sebastian of hope for me.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Winter in Russia

I finished Anna Karenina. Yay! I feel as if I've been reading this book for at least two weeks. And, well, I'm not sure it was exactly worth it. However, Time calls it the greatest book of all time, so evidently I'm a good girl to have read it.

I wish I had done a bit of research into the best translation of this book. I chose this version because I liked the cover. (Aren't those flowers pretty? And so purple--and we know how I like that color purple!) I felt as if I was reading a really modern translation of the book, one that skimmed over some of the depth of the book.

Also, I thought the book would be about Anna. Yeah, it wasn't just about her. It's actually about seven people, with a fair amount dedicated to each one. So be prepared for that, ok?

Here's the main characters and my quick commentary:

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina – The title character, sister to Stepan and lover of Vronsky
*"Vronsky, you're hott, I'm leaving my husband, oh wait, that means I have to leave my poor son behind, oh well, Vronsky, let's have a baby. Wait, now you're ignoring me and sick of me? I'm going to kill myself!"
Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky – Lover of Anna
*"Anna, you're hott, leave your husband, oh, but wow, you can be tiresome. Okay, you're dead, I'm going to war."
Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky ("Stiva") – a civil servant
*"I may be man-whore, but at least I'm nice---and yikes, really in debt!"
Darya Alexandrovna Oblonskaya ("Dolly") – Stepan's wife
*"My husband's a cheater and my life is dedicated to my babies. Yet I'm not that annoying and a nice contrast to other characters."
Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin – Anna's husband
*"Anna's leaving me, I'm a wreck, my job is stalled--yet I will find happiness in mysticism and in the platonic friendship of a nice countess."
Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin – Kitty's suitor and the novel's other protagonist
*"Wow, I have a lot of emotional issues. Good thing Kitty finally agrees to marry me; she's a good influence on me and our marriage makes an excellent comparison to Anna and Vronsky's relationship."
Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya ("Kitty") – Darya's younger sister
*"When you're young, you make mistakes in love, but hey, you grow up and it turns out okay! Yay babies and husbands!"

I actually liked Levin and Kitty the best. Their marriage has issues, but they work them out. I like that--it's realism.

So, anyway, go read Cliff Notes or something if you want more on this book. But in closing I will leave you with two bits of "Trivia" from Wikipedia about Anna Karenina:

*Jennifer Lopez is reading Anna Karenina on the subway in the Will and Grace episode "FYI: I Hurt Too" (Season 7, Episode 1).
*Karenna Gore Schiff, daughter of Tipper and Al Gore, is named for the main character; Tipper read the book during her pregnancy.

Rating: 7/10

I won!

One of the blogs that I check out weekly is Jennie's B(ook)log. I was excited to see that Jennie was hosting a "Meet Cute" contest, which I definitely entered...and won!

I am very happy. :) It just so happens that I've read most of the books that were in the contest were ones I've read and liked. So here's my little commentary on the books, with my correct guesses in bold.

1. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart......Mary Stewart, enough said.
2. Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer......One spring I read all of Heyer's books (except the "historical" ones. They looked kind of boring; however, I adore most of Heyer's books).
3. Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers....I had a professor in college who LOVED Dorothy Sayers. Therefore, we read her books. I actually read Gaudy Night for her class, but read Strong Poison later on my own just because I wanted to see how the relationship between the Peter and Harriet began.
4. Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase......Mmm, I'm neutral about Chase. I keep on wanting and expecting her to be funnier than she really is.
5. Faking It by Jennifer Crusie....Now Cruise is a funny writer!
6. High Noon by Nora Roberts.....I've never read Roberts.
7. Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly.....It's about a widow and we all know about my "no reading about widows" rules. But I am good at figuring out context, which is how I got this one right.
8. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye.....I haven't read this one but I just bought Trade Wind by Kaye.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ah. love

In honor of PBS showcasing Pride and Prejudice, which ended last night, Colin Firth is a natural choice for Hottie Monday!

Clearly I like my Regency boys. (Or is P&P too early for Regency? Okay, I just looked it up. Regency in England is from 1811-1820. Pride and Prejudice was written in 1813; therefore, perfect Regency-era story.)
If you like Pride and Prejudice, give Bridget Jones' Diary a try. There's a wonderful connection between this miniseries, Colin Firth, Mark Darcy and the BJ movies. I tried to find a story about it but I need to go to work now. :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I'm still slogging away at Anna Karenina. And since I'm heading out of state this weekend, it looks as if next week will be dedicated to the Russians as well.

My Relevant magazine came in the mail today. This magazine is one of the best put-together and designed magazines I've ever seen. Click here to read about the current issue and to get a peek at the awesome layout.

From indie rock bands to politics to amazingly relevant stories about our culture, Relevant always makes me think--and then makes me want to be a better person. And yet it's entertaining, too. It's a magazine worth checking out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

perk me up

Chasing Liberty was an awful movie. Although I loved the European setting, Mandy Moore ruined that movie for me. She runs like a colt, is freakishly annoying (or at least her character is) and yet somehow manages to snag a hot guy with a hot British accent.

Actor Matthew Goode make that movie VERY bearable. In homage to him, it's my first installment of "Hottie Monday." (However, my Friday installment of Blake Ritson is still special to me...and so's his hair.)


So I re-read Silent in the Sanctuary on Saturday. I wanted something comfy and nice. I can't take a bubble bath and comfortably read (and hold out of the water) my huge Anna Karenina, now can I?

It was good the second time around, too. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Long, cold winter

I've started Anna Karenina, in honor of winter. I firmly believe Russian novels need to be read in the dead of winter, so I'm doing my part.

I'm only about 100 pages through it so far. It's slow going, although surprisingly easy to read. (I think it's a modern translation.)

Happy winter!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Once, twice, three times a lady

I really liked Hester Browne's The Little Lady Agency. The main character, brunette Melissa, is kind of a pushover but she starts her own business where she helps "manage" men. She provides all sorts of advice--clothing, gifts, how to start a conversation, etc.,--makeover help, breaks bad habits and more. She helps out men who need a little lady's touch.

Did I mention she also dresses up? She becomes "Honey," a sexy blonde bombshell who somehow drips with the confidence Melissa lacks. Unfortunately (at least in my opinion), Melissa/Honey ends up falling for one of her clients, a brash American named Jonathan. Melissa/Honey and Jonathan fall in love and Melissa doesn't end up with her wonderful flatmate Nelson. Boo.

In book two, Melissa and Jonathan take off to New York, where Jonathan is manipulating and controlling and has red hair and I don't like red hair on guys. Yes, I spent most of Little Lady, Big Apple mad at how Jonathan was treating Melissa. And it was very hard to tell whether Browne wanted us to like him or not...I still don't know. I didn't like how he tried to run her business but Melissa didn't seem too upset by it. Whatever; I still don't like Jonathan.

So, with all that in mind (namely that I hate the fun, nice, sweet main character's love interest), I was a bit hesitant about The Little Agency and the Prince.

First things first: gorgeous cover! I love that purple shade. It's elegant and classy. Pretty, pretty, pretty. Because it was so pretty, I decided to read it. However, I broke one of my reading rules: I peeked. I had to know if Melissa ended up with Jonathan. I did finish reading the book, so maybe that'll tell you that I was happy with the answer.

****Spoiler alert***
I just wish that she had broken up with that loser sooner and not wasted the first two books on him! Booo Jonathan. I was very happy who she did end up with, though! Yay Nelson!

Anyway, the book was fine, but I think I just liked the idea of the first one the most. I don't care about Melissa's annoying dad, vague sister, drug mule sister or various manipulators in her life; I want to hear about the Little Lady Agency. And her good love interest.

True, a good part of the book is about Melissa helping Prince Nicolas become a true prince and less Euro-trash, but there was still too much Jonathan in the book for me.

So, all in all, I'm glad there was a nice ending; I just wish Jonathan hadn't been in the series at all.

Rating: 6/10

And on a side note, Euro-trash is such a fun insult! I'm totally going to try to use it tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I was really looking forward to Deanna Raybourn's second book, Silent in the Sanctuary. Of course, I was also a bit nervous because "sophomore" books can be good...or disappointing. But Raybourn didn't fail me; I'm happy!

First of all, GORGEOUS cover! It definitely sets the mood for the book. It's a Victorian mystery, with gothic elements, and romance.

Lady Julia Grey, at the end of Silent in the Grave, was off to Italy with her brothers Plum and Lysander. The siblings receive a summons from their eccentric father, demanding they come home for Christmas. They do, bringing home a hot Italian who just may be in love with Julia. Then, suprise, Nicholas Brisbane is there for the holidays, too--with a fiancée! A murder disrupts the family's Christmas and Brisbane and Julia work together again to solve it.

I was thoroughly satisfied by the developments between Brisbane and Julia. Raybourne does a great job with secondary characters and overall plot action. I'm not sure if the mystery aspect itself is her strongest point, since I almost figured it out, but it was still very good, with twists and shocks.

My only complaint is that is was too short--write more next time, Raybourne! I'm not sure when the third book will come out, but I'm looking forward to it already.

Rating: 10/10

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mmmm, spies

I finally got The Seduction of the Crimson Rose last night and immediately started reading it.

I was almost embarrassed to tell people the title of this book (like my boss, who asked what I was, yeah, wasn't about to actually tell him the title!) and until about five seconds ago, I didn't even realize what the title meant. Let's just say the "Crimson Rose" doesn't have anything to do with romance and that it has a lot more to do with the reasoning behind the Black Tulip's endeavours.

First of all, Crimson Rose is the fourth book in a series about the French Revolution and a band of spies--and yes, the flower theme dominates the book. You need to read them in order or else you will be hopelessly confused.

This one follows Mary Alsworthy and Lord Vaughn--significant characters in book three (and Vaughn was in book two). Mary agrees to be bait for the Black Tulip, one of France's nastiest (and deadliest) spies.

This book took a different flavor than the past ones. It wasn't as funny, because Mary and Vaughn aren't funny. Both are a bit bitter, cynical and perfect for each other. I wasn't so sure of the pairing when I read the cover copy, but Willig makes it work. Both are realistic and yet the ending is satisfying. ****Spoiler (highlight to read): Was it bad that I hoped Anne would die? Oh well, I did. And I was glad when she did die. I mean, the hero and heroine have to be able to get married, after all!

So I'm gushing a bit but Willig is such a great writer--she definitely has a strong, distinctive voice. I highly recommend her books! I'm probably going to re-read this one within the month.

Rating: 9.5/10

And on a completely different note, she makes a reference to Cold Comfort Farm and Reuben and farm boys! I was thrilled...after all, I only read that book on Willig's suggestion.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

SOOO Excited!

I adore Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series. And I have to thank for getting me started.

I first started really using Amazon in college, maybe four or five years ago. I had started rating books, etc., when one day I noticed I could see what Amazon recommended for me. Amazon recommended Lauren Willig's The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, which is in my top 10 books. Ever since that day, I've (mostly) trusted Amazon's judgment.

My little tale reminds me of an article I read in The Onion about a woman who says Amazon always picks out better gifts for her than her own husband. Read it here. Also, I just noticed that the byline is for Sandusky, OH--how random is that (I live right next to Sandusky).

Anyway, so I love the whole idea of the series...spies, history and romance all mixed up. The newest book just came out and I preordered it. So I'm thrilled that my Amazon order for The Seduction of the Crimson Rose has shipped! Yay!

Get here quickly, book!

I may have talked

In a change of pace, I just finished Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart.

It was delightful, suspenseful and descriptive. Like many of Stewart's book, it features a heroine on vacation in a beautiful location (this time in France), where she stumbles upon mystery/adventure/romance. The heroine, Charity Selbourne, starts by helping a lonely boy and gets drawn into a mystery surrounding his rather hot father. Good times.

And on a random note, it sometimes bothers me in older books when the women don't know how to drive. That's not the case in this book! There's a few great car chase scenes where Charity mans the helm. She's not annoyingly plucky and definitely not stupid. She's a realistic and enjoyable character.

Confession: by reading this book, I wrote one of my rules. Madam, Will You Talk? features a widow, which I generally tend to avoid like the plague. I can't stand all the typical situations: either the widow (or widower) can't handle the grief or guilt associated with falling in love with someone else, or her marriage was awful and she's never truly experienced LOVE. But I broke my rule for Mary Stewart and was rewarded. Since this isn't a character-driven novel, but rather a plot-driven one, we don't get hung up on her former life. The widow's first marriage was fine but she didn't suffer from all the heartrending grief of falling in love a second time with the hero of this book (who I shan't reveal) and therefore being unfaithful to her dead husband, etc.

Okay, enough ranting. This is a good book when you need to be distracted and fall into another era. It even earns a re-read rating!

Rating: 8.5/10

Friday, February 1, 2008

hottie alert

I just finished Masterpiece Theater's Mansfield Park, which honestly isn't my favorite Jane Austen novel. But I didn't mind this version and I really enjoyed watching English actor Blake Ritson, who played Edmund, Fanny's love interest.

Yummy, eh? But my favorite part about him is his hair. He totally had emo hair throughout the movie! Check out those bangs....
It reminds me of Spiderman 3 and Peter Parker's emo side (which, incidentally, I loved...I may be a bit of a sucker for emo guys...). Anyway, I thought it was funny and I may have stared at his hair the entire hour and a half.