28 March 2010

Together Or Apart?

As I mentioned in my previous post (Character Versus Plot), I started reading The Hell You Say, the third book in Josh Lanyon's Adrien English series, at the beginning of last week. I have a confession (I seem to have a lot of those, don't I?) ...I've fallen in love - with Josh Lanyon's writing and...with Jake & Adrien *ducks* Yes, I know there are those of you who think Jake is...not good (to put it mildly) but...I can't deny the connection that exists between Jake & Adrien. Jake cares for Adrien. His feelings pour off the page in a wave. It isn't what he says, but what he doesn't say....and what he subconsciously does - how he touches Adrian, how he worries about Adrian *SIGH* Consciously, I think Jake is trying not to fall for Adrien...but he can't help himself, because deep down (subconsciously) he wants too. Which had me worried once I came to that realization, because I thought Jake might do something very stupid to prove to himself that what he feels...isn't what he feels. And he did.

But in spite of said stupid action (which I admit was a doozy), I'm cheering for them...because I believe they are meant to be together. And all of this got me to thinking...about other characters who are just meant to be together. Remember Moonlighting? Madeline 'Maddie' Hayes and David Addison? Or what about Bones? FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth and Dr Temperance 'Bones' Brennan? Hmmm....not so much. I don't read Charlene Harris, but what about Sookie & Bill? Should they be together? Or, how about (my personal favourite) Jacob & Bella? Hmmm, even though I'd like them to be together, I don't know if I get that impression from the writing...whereas the connection between Jake & Adrien fairly leaps of the page. Surreal from Anne Bishop's Black Jewel trilogy and...well...someone. Daemon is happy, Lucivar is happy. I want Surreal to be happy. (OK, I've gone slightly off topic). So, which characters do feel are just meant to be together?

24 March 2010

Character Versus Plot

Which do you prefer? Character development? Plot? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the middle?

Last weekend I was attempting to read The Adamantine Palace (Stephen Deas), attempting being the operative word because I kept getting....well, stuck. I discussed this issue with the lovely and talented Meredith (Shayne), who is currently reading the same book, and came to the realization that the book was, for me, lacking...lacking in the in depth characterization and introspection that I had come to know and love from reading Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths series (yes, that series again *grin)*. The plot was present, yes, but....in the grand scheme of things it didn't matter to me. I wanted 3D characters. I wanted to get inside their heads and, well, wallow in their thoughts and feelings. (The phrase 'happy as a pig in mud' springs to mind :) So, in order to keep my sanity (because me not reading is a very bad thing) I gave up on The Adamantine Palace and picked up Josh Lanyon's The Hell You Say...and I'm currently wallowing in the characters! *sings* 'Oh Happy Day!'.

I think the plot versus character issue raised its head earlier this month when I was reading Lynn Flewelling's Luck in the Shadows. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book and I will definitely be reading the second book in the Nightrunner series - Stalking Darkness. But...I couldn't put my finger on what it was that was lacking while I was reading Luck in the Shadows...and now I can. I wanted to crawl inside the two main character's heads and I felt like I couldn't. I didn't feel connected to them...and I need that when I'm reading.

I was chatting about this with the lovely Kerry from Saving My Sanity yesterday. Kerry made the very good point that it does depend upon your frame of mind as to whether the lack of character or plot is...bearable. And she's right. If I'm in a...calm place, then I can usually accept less character development. But if I'm stressed I need that connection. Because...because it's that connection that allows me to escape from here and go...there *grin*

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that attempting to read The Adamantine Palace made me realize how much I love character-based books and how...uninterested I find plot-based books IF they don't have 3D characters. And I'm curious, where do you sit in the character versus plot debate?

23 March 2010

Trapped In A Restaurant Meme



Today, 23 March 2010, marks the release of Mind Games, the debut urban fantasy novel by the lovely and very talented Carolyn Crane from The Thrillonth Page. For those of you who like to 'taste' of a novel before you read it, you can find an excerpt here!

To celebrate the release, and the fact that one of the characters in Mind Games (Sterling Packard) hasn't set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for 8 years, Carolyn has created the Trapped In A Restaurant Meme:

First Prize: One randomly chosen player will get $100 toward a fancy dinner at a restaurant of their choice! (Any restaurant anywhere that accepts plastic or sells gift certificates. You don’t have to choose until you win.) Second prize: $50 toward a dinner.

How to play: Just post the questions, your answers, meme icon and meme game line on social media site (e.g. blog, Facebook, LiveJournal, etc.).

1. In MIND GAMES, hypochondriac heroine Justine Jones can’t figure out why tortured mastermind Sterling Packard never sets foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant. What if you were somehow trapped in a restaurant, what sort of restaurant would you prefer?
I think I would chose Chinese...the possibilities are endless *grin*

2. What if you won the fancy $100 dinner to a restaurant of your choice, and you could dine with any character from any book, movie, or history. Who would you choose?
Decisions, decisions. I think I it would have to be Daemon Sadi, from Anne Bishop's Black Jewel trilogy.

3. Choose three characters to dine with for a lively dinner party (you can define lively however you want).
Now, this is easier that Question 2 (because I get three choices):
- Daemon Sadi (what a surprise)
- Felix from Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths series
- Leslie from Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series.
No doubt I'd spend all night drooling over Daemon & Felix, but the conversation would be fascinating!

Send the link by 8 April 2010 to meme@authorcarolyncrane.com to enter. Anyone can play. Details at Carolyn Crane's website!

So, if you could pick three characters to have dinner with, who would you pick and why? Carolyn - all the best for the release of Mind Games! I can't wait to read it!

21 March 2010

Sinkhole

I've discovered a sinkhole. One of my own making...and it's on my computer. You see, whenever I think of a post idea I type it out and store in a folder on my computer. If I'm not 'plugged in' at the time this 'great' idea appears, then said idea is scribbled on a post-it note...and stuck next to my computer. I looked in the folder yesterday - and at all the post-it notes - and realized that I've never actioned some of these ideas...and that some of them have been there...well...since Adam was a schoolboy *grin*

So, I'm curious (aren't I always) - how many half-written posts do you have lurking around?

19 March 2010

De Trope

Earlier this week I finished reading Miss Winthorpe's Elopement (Christine Merrill). It contained one of my favourite historical romance tropes - the marriage of convenience. I thought it was also going to contain another of my favourite tropes - estate rehabilitation. I'm not sure if that is the correct term for this trope, but you know what I mean, yes? When the estate is disrepair and the hero and/or heroine must set it to rights? As seen in The Two Farms (Mary Pearce), The Marriage Bargain (Diane Perkins) and to a certain extent Mary Jo Putney's The Bargain and The Rake. There's something about turning the chaos into order, the nonproductive into the productive that appeals to me...

So, even though this question is almost as old as time itself *grin* I was wondering...what are your favourite tropes (any genre)? And...this is rather cheeky, but...any suggestions on suitable books containing the 'estate rehabilitation' trope would be more that welcome *cheeky grin*

Edited to change 'estate planning' to 'estate rehabilitation' at Chris' suggestion!

16 March 2010

Keeping Up

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by the online world. Keeping up not only with my blog but also with the various blogs that I visit can be...a struggle on occasion. But I like to keep up. I want to keep up. But...when RL goes crazy (which it seems to be doing more frequently this year) I forget in the panic that rushing from A to B isn't the be all and end all. I forget that it's not about where I arrive at but how I got there that is important. Which is why an opinion piece in a recent issue of the British Medical Journal entitled 'In Praise of Cows' was perfectly timed. It reminded me that it is good to stop and smell the roses...or the silage (because well made silage does smell very good!)

So, I'm curious, does the online world every overwhelm you?

12 March 2010

Almost...

Late last November I updated you all on my progress towards a more healthy me. I'm still on the healthy eating plan and this afternoon I visited the nutritionist to see if I had reached the goal of 57.5 kg (126.5 lb) I had set myself last year.... I fell 0.7 kg (~1.5 lb) short *sad* On the bright side (because my maternal grandmother always told me to look for a silver lining), I have lost a total of 15.6 kg (34.3 lb) in *counts* 7 1/2 months. So, not too bad. I have one month until I see the nutritionist again; one month to lose 0.7 kg (as while the nutritionist is happy for me to reach my goal weight, she doesn't want me to get any lighter, which I'm fine with). I'm so not aiming to be a size zero. So, the battle of Coca Cola (because that's my vice and I've been overindulging in the last month :) is on again! However, my best friend - the amazing Starfire from Songs and Spinnings - and I are going to meet for lunch and a movie (Mao's Last Dancer) tomorrow, so I may indulge again, just because it's been a while since we've caught up...

And in case you're wondering why I originally included a photo of the utterly gorgeous Jessica Alba in this post, well...that particular photo of Jessica is on my bedroom wall. I kind of consider it my inspiration. I know, I'll never look like Jessica Alba (even though we are the same height), but...she's pretty. And, to borrow a phrase from the lovely Kati of Katidom, she's my plus one *grin*

So, I'm curious...what's your vice and...do you have a plus one?

08 March 2010

Tick Tock

I'm about to commit an unspeakable sin - returning a library book...unread! Oh the shame... *swoons* Some background: I am not reading my current book (how does one refer to the book one is currently reading BTW - as a BIP [book in progress?]) - Luck in the Shadows - at a very fast pace. Note: I'm not bored by this book - it's interesting, but very detailed, and I'm just not moving through it very quickly. This may be that I am tired and am therefore not reading as quickly as usual...or I am busy and thus have less time to read. Or I'm just plain slow *grin*

All I know is that I have been reading Luck in the Shadows for *gasp* approximately 12 days, which means that others books are piling up behind it. The downside of borrowing your books from the library is that 1) your library holds expire within a certain time frame if you do not request the book and 2) you can only borrow a book for a certain length of time (in the case of my local library that would be 4 weeks) and only renew it once (for 2 weeks), and that's only if no one else has requested it.

So, in order to avoid another Traffic Jam, I have decided to return one of the books languishing by the bed and add the title to the end of my TBR list. *hangs head* I know, that's cheating. But time is racing by and I'm reading v e r y slowly...it's a nightmare! Do you ever feel like you don't read fast enough, that you're spending too much time reading one book and that you have to read faster? And can you hear the clock ticking while you read?

06 March 2010

Baggage

I've been dithering over writing this post, partly because I don't want to prejudice the book I am about to discuss in any way (because I've come to the realization that my issue with the book is 'just me') and partly because...because this post exposes me...and it's very hard not to think like prey.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Expectation • noun 1 belief that something will happen or be the case. 2 a thing that is expected to happen.

Relatively straightforward, yes? No. Because one may have expectation without fulfilment. And in case you are wondering where this is going, there is method to my madness...well, according to me there is *grin*

Earlier this year I read a book *shock horror* The basic premise of this book is this: the heroine (who as a child was sexually abused, developed a drug addiction and spent almost a year living on the streets) meets the hero. As a result of the abuse the heroine experienced, she avoids touch (and sex). Hero recognizes that there is an issue and tries to move slowly. Then, out of what seems (to me) like the blue, the heroine points out that's she not weak, and sex ensues. We move from just kissing to sex...and there are NO PROBLEMS as a result of the abuse? No flashbacks, no psychological issues that manifest physically (yes, I am referring to sexual dysfunction disorders), NOTHING? All the foreshadowing - the fear in the heroine's eyes when the hero first touched her, the issues that arose in previous relationships - went NOWHERE! WTF?

Honestly...I feel cheated. Cheated on behalf of the heroine...because it's like - find hero, trust hero, HEA (apart from the external conflict, but more on that later). We never get to experience the heroine's journey...her struggle. I also feel cheated on behalf of me. *deep breath* I have a sexual dysfunction disorder. I know that even if I find my other half [insert equivalent term here] (and considering said disorder it will need to be the right one and not just 'someone') it will take time and patience. (And no, that's not my opinion but the opinion of two experts.) It won't suddenly BE GONE! No miracles (unfortunately). I picked up the book, noted the foreshadowing and started feeling...hopeful. Hopeful that for once I would be able to relate to a heroine on a more intimate level. Hopeful that...others would read the book and realize that sexual dysfunction disorders exist and that they can't be fixed with the wave of a wand. I've only ever found one romance novel that discusses a sexual function disorder and only one that discusses anorgasmia - that's it! So yes, I was hopeful....I was expectant! I really thought the author was going to allow us to experience what it is like to have your body react anathema to what it is supposed too. But...no. Instead, the heroine is miraculously cured and we get not one but two stalkers. What is it with stalkers anyway? Why do we have to have extraneous conflict?

To be fair, maybe I read more into the foreshadowing than the author intended...and more than others not sitting where I am noted. And maybe it wasn't the author's intention to follow through with the foreshadowing. After all, it's a romance novel. Who wants to read about a heroine who can't have sex? Apart from me that is.

So, yes, I feel cheated. Not angry...but disappointed. And yes, in case you were wondering, the book was a DNF. And yes, I deliberately haven't mentioned the name of the book, although I am sure most of you know which book I am referring too (or can work it out). Do I want to read another book by this author? Yes. Because I am very sure that my issue with the book is due to who I am...and what baggage I bring with me when I travel into the realm created by the author.

So, have you ever found yourself unable to finish a book not because of the characters, the author's execution of the plot or his/her writing style but because of the baggage you brought with you?

03 March 2010

Books 2010: February Update

Total to date: 14 books (six books this month: fantasy [one book]; manga [one book]; m/m romantic suspense [two books]; medieval suspense [one book]; young adult fantasy [one book])

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: six books (three books this month)

The 2010 Big Book Challenge total to date: one book

The M/M Romance Challenge 2010 total to date: two books (two books this month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* Corambis (Sarah Monette)

* Fatal Shadows (Josh Lanyon)

Currently reading: Luck in the Shadows (Lynn Flewelling)

And the book I'm most looking forward to reading next month: I'm ashamed to admit my TBR list is so huge that I have no idea what is coming up next *hides*

So, what did you read last month?