28 June 2009

To Brand Or Not To Brand (Part II)

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to either the author or her work. However, I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

Last month I ranted commented on the IMO startling amount of product placement in Lover Avenged. I thought it was an anomaly, until I started reading Gale Force (Rachel Caine). Now, to be fair, Gale Force has nowhere near the level of product placement that Lover Avenged has. However, it does seem to have IMO an obsession with fashion...

No dyed generic pumps for Cherise; she's scoured the stores and come up with a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes that made me pray to the fashion gods for something half as great to appear in my closet.
Now, I can understand that there is a certain amount of information that we require in order to fully understand a character - who they are, how they think, etc. And that these things vary depending on the character and sometimes include...the little things. But is it integral to the plot (or our understanding of the character) to know their taste in shoes? I know I'm not fashionable, by any stretch of the imagination, but I can't see the relevance? Can someone please enlighten me?

Oh man. This was looking less like a good plan all the time. I had not worn the right shoes for tramping through sewer water. In fact, I didn't own the right shoes for that and I hoped I never would.
*scratches head* Ah, last time I looked I was reading urban fantasy, with a heroine who hasn't had a breather between books one and seven - everyone is after this heroine, for a myriad of reasons, mostly because they want to kill her. You have no idea how many assassination attemps this heroine has survived! (At halfway through this book I've already counted three...or is that four? [I've lost count.]) And so, shouldn't she be expecting the unexpected and dressing appropriately?

At least I'd dressed for it. If I couldn't be self-confident wearing a kicky Carmen Marc Valvo dress and a pair of honest-to-God Manolo Blahniks in matching tangerine, I needed to turn in my fashion police badge.
*light bulb switches on* Ah, that explains everything. I'm not reading urban fantasy. Well, I am, but the heroine is actually a member of the fashion police not a paranormal guardian of some sort. And that explains why there are so many references to fashion, brands, etc.

So, have you ever read a book that you are sure has been incorrectly labelled?

27 June 2009

Sometimes

Sometimes there are days when I wish I didn't exist. Not that I was dead, but that all trace of me would be wiped from the fabric of existence. Because sometimes I can't do anything right. And maybe I'm paranoid, but sometimes I wonder if I'm a pawn in a chess game...or chained, given just enough space to feel free before I am yanked back into servitude. Because sometimes I feel like everyone is out to get me...and they are winning...

And sometimes I wonder why I even read romance novels. Happily Ever After? Not in my world. What is happy anyway? Sometimes I think I'm fooling myself into believing that there is a happily ever after somewhere for me. And since it's really the only ray of hope left, the only thing that gets me up in the morning, I'm not sure where that leaves me. Nowhere I guess. No white knight is going to ride in on his horse and rescue me. Why would he? I'm not deserving enough...nothing I do is right. And no matter how hard I try, how hard I fight, there is always one more mountain ahead of me that I have to scale. And it's never easy. It's never a little mountain, a foothill. It's Everest...endlessly. And the funny thing is...people keep telling me that there is an end in sight, that things will get better. But they never do.

And yet somehow I keep on putting one foot in front of the other. Because when I'm alone, in the dark, if I don't cling to hope I have nothing...

22 June 2009

Pitch Black

As I arrived home on Friday night (6 PM) everything (the street lights, the houses) was black - pitch black! Since I didn't think it likely that I was receiving a visit from Professor Dumbledore I assumed there was a power cut. What was most disconcerting is that the street next to mine had electricity...I wonder what it looked like from the air?

Luckily, I carry around a penlight torch (obviously the Girl Guide motto 'Be Prepared' has stuck with me, even 20 years later *grin*), so I used that to get me, myself and I (and the cat) inside the house. Once in the house I found a bigger torch (in this case, as with books, size really does matter) and managed to light the wood burner. (I can't imagine how cold four degrees Celsius would have been without heat!) I ate my dinner by candlelight (yes, it sounds romantic, but it is really hard to see by, and decided to wile away the evening by the fire reading Broken Wing. That was when disaster struck. My cat managed (as cats do) to get up close and personal with the candle...so up close that his tail caught fire! It just went whoosh! I manged to put the flames out - with my hands (yes, I know, not sensible, but they actually weren't that hot) and bathed his tail with a wet paper towel. (He appeared completely unconcerned about the whole thing BTW.) I then closely inspected his tail, which is not easy by torchlight (the candle was blown out ASAP!) and to which he was not the most willing participant. (It looked like he had just singed his fur, but he went to the vet the next day [how popular was I?] for confirmation. Me, paranoid? *nods*) After watching the cat hawkishly for about an hour, I gave up waiting for the electricity to be restored and went to bed. Power was eventually restored about 11 PM! All of this has taught me that I really need to complete my 'emergency box'!

So, have you ever been caught in a power cut and if so, how did you cope?

18 June 2009

Branching Out

The lovely Kris from Kris 'N' Good Books and the lovely Tam have each just sent me a yaoi manga book to try. I've never read manga before so I thought I would 'branch out' (hence the title of this post *grin*). Luckily, Kris very kindly marked the page that tells me how to read the book - thank you Kris! I did know I had to read right to left, but within the page - no clue!
 
So, have you branched out recently? Read a genre or a format (e.g. audiobooks) that is different from your norm?

Updated to add: My copy of The Virtu (hardback format) arrived from the UK this week. It's so pretty! I can't stop looking at it...how disturbing is that?

15 June 2009

U2

I ended up in a music store on the weekend. Not for me, but for a family member. I haven't bought a CD in....I can't remember when. Years I think *ducks* (And before you ask, no downloading either - my computer and internet connection are [currently] too slow.) However, while in the music store I was impulsive, which for me is very unusual, and bought U2's latest album - No Line On The Horizon.

I'm a huge U2 fan. I've been lucky enough to see them in concert three times, and each time I have left hoarse but absolutely blow away. If I had to pick my favourite song I could (just) narrow it down to three:

- Bad

- One Tree Hill

- Running to Stand Still

You've got to cry without weeping, talk without speaking, scream without raising your voice. You know I took the poison from the poison stream. Then I floated out of here ...She will suffer the needle chill. She is running to stand still.
The lyrics are always so evocative. So, what was the last album you bought/downloaded and/or the last concert you were to?

13 June 2009

Looky Looky!

Yes, I'm speaking Gungan. For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, you need to visit Wookieepedia *grin*

But there is method to my madness. I wanted to direct your attention to what I am currently reading! Yes, it's Broken Wing time! *happy dance* And for those of you who were dragged into joined the Broken Wing Challenge - how is it going? Have you started yet?

12 June 2009

Progress?

Last month I finished reading When Gods Die (CS Harris), the second book in the Sebastian St Cyr (historical suspense) series. For those of you who have not read this (IMO amazing) series, it is set in London circa 1811-1812. This is a series that does not pull its punches. The 'hero' (main male character) - Sebastian - may be a nobleman (a Viscount), but his efforts to solve the various crimes he observes/is drawn into takes him from the ballrooms to the back alleys, from the silk and satin to the sewers, and everything...EVERYTHING...is exposed in all its glory and horror - there is no sugarcoating:
The larger houses themselves had long since been broken up into lodgings, their gardens disappearing beneath a warren of shanties and hovels threaded by a narrow byway half-filled with heaps of ashes and steaming rubbish piles.
And then there were the screams.The screams of the despairing, the mad, the sick and the dying, mingled with the plaintive cries of women being taken by force.

I was discussing the book with a friend of mine who has recently read it and one of the things we both commented on was the fate of women in this era.
Sebastian found himself thinking about two other children, one named Huey, the other Tom. And about their mother, a simple but devout widow, out of work and thrown onto the streets with two children to feed. For her as for untold thousands of women in such a situation, the choices were simple but stark: starvation, theft or prostitution. Tom's mother had chosen theft and earned herself a one-way voyage to Botany Bay. Prostitution might have brought her disease and an early death, but it wasn't a capital crime. Stealing to feed your starving children was.
A woman could scrub clothes until her hands bled, and still she wouldn't be able to earn enough to feed a family of ten.

Which in turn reminded me of the scene in Pride & Prejudice (the movie version) in which Chalotte is explaining to Lizzie why she accepted Mr Collins' hand in marriage:
Not all of us can afford to be romantic. I've been offered a comfortable home, and protection. There's a lot to be thankful for...I'm 27 years old; I've no money, no prospects. I'm already a burden to my parents, and I'm frightened.

It is scary to think, regardless of status, how truly dependent women have been, throughout history, on men...and how limited their options were. Last month I read a historical romance - The Dangers of Deceiving a Viscount (Julia London) - and what struck me the most was not the actual romance but the off-screen attempt by two heroes from the earlier books in the trilogy to pass a law in the House of Lords allowing women to work...and the response of other characters to their attempt. (I'm sorry, I would have included a quote for completeness, but all the copies are currently out) at my local library, which I guess is the downside of borrowing not buying your books.)

I know I've barely scratched the surface of the topic, but it has made me think about how far women's rights have come...and how lucky I am to be living in the era that I do and the country that I do...

10 June 2009

Plot Twists

Before you ask, this is so not the post I was planning on...um...posting today, but as some wise people commented earlier this week, randomness is good *grin*

I was reading Scandal (Carolyn Jewel) last night and reached Page 200...and the plot went in a direction I was so not expecting! (FYI - for those of you who have not read the book I will try VERY hard not to include spoilers.) Those of you who have read the book will (hopefully) know what plot twist I am referring too. I am sure that the author has her reasons for doing what she did but...all I want to do is ask her why...why, why, why, why, why? The twist just has me feeling so...flat...and I'm now honestly doubting whether there will actually be a HEA. Will there be a HEA? *looks beseechingly at those who have read the book*

Have you ever read a book in which the plot has unexpectedly twisted to such an extent that you are left feeling bewildered...and/or mad (which is how I'm currently feeling at present). And did you continue reading the book?

08 June 2009

Writer's Block

I've got writer's block...or at least it feels that way. I have ideas for various posts, but they are whirring around in my head and I can't seem to grasp the threads long enough to write them down. (Actually, come to think of it, that sentence pretty much explains exactly how I am feeling about...well...everything at present.) And when I do manage to grasp these threads I'm in the car or in the shower...neither of which is very conducive to writing. It's so frustrating! And then there are the multitude of posts that I have started....and stopped, thinking they were idiotic. I think I know why I'm this...lost, I just need to organize my thoughts into some form of coherence *grin*

For those of you with blogs, or those of you who write, have you ever had writer's block? And if so, how do you get past it?

04 June 2009

Confession

I am now going to admit to the most unbelievable faux pas imaginable and will probably be ostracized for life but....I've never read ANY of Georgette Heyer's books *ducks* I know that she is considered one of the forefathers (or should that be foremothers?) of romance but... *hangs head*

Why have I confessed to such a heinous crime? Well....the lovely Ana of The Book Smugglers recently reviewed Frederica and it got me to thinking. As a romance reader (among other things *grin*), should I not have read at least one? (BTW, before you throw up your hands in abject horror, I have read Pride & Prejudice and so am not completely beyond the pale.) Georgette Heyer has written quite a few books (understatement of the century), so...as someone who has absolutely no idea where I should start, which of the author's many novels should I read first? Or, if you have never read a Georgette Heyer book (I can't be the only one, can I?) have you ever been tempted to try one?

And I'm also extremely honoured to have been awarded the The Literary Blogger Award by Stacy! Thank you Stacy! (((Stacy)))

02 June 2009

Books 2009: May Update

Total to date: 33 books (6 books this month)

The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge total to date: 28 books (5 books this month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2008) can be found at Library Thing.

Favourite books of the month?

* When Gods Die (CS Harris)

Currently reading: Storm Glass (Maria V Snyder)

And the book I'm most looking forward too next month is:

* Broken Wing (Judith James)