30 April 2011

Do You Ever...

Note: I know I've used this post title recently - I was originally thinking of calling this post 'Latitude' - but...I kind of like how 'Do You Ever' rolls off the tongue *grin*

Do you ever give certain characters more latitude and others less? For example, do you ever hold one character to a different (not necessarily higher) standard than another because of circumstance, history, etc.?

27 April 2011

More...

This morning I finished reading Finding Zach (Rowan Speedwell). It took me until almost halfway through the book to...categorize (for want of a better word) it. It's not what I would call a typical romance - it's so much more (I hate putting those two words together) than that. I think I would describe it as a journey of self. At its heart, this book is Zach's story, Zach's journey, and the role those people who love him play in it. It's...I think the lovely Mariana from Hips like Mine said it best:
...it really is a[bout] discovering and recovering self. I loved that it was a hopeful book.
And it's exactly that. It's a book brimming with hope.

And that got me to thinking...about books I have read previously and how much more than just a romance they are. Brooke McKinley's Shades of Gray (I must stop trying to replace the 'a' in Gray with an 'e'), JB MacDonald's By Degrees, Amy Lane's Keeping Promise Rock, Talker, Talker's Redemption (Amy Lane has written a lot of 'more' books IMHO) are just a few example. But...these books all fall into the m/m subgenre. And...maybe it's me, but I can't seem to find as many m/f books that I would classify as being 'more' (although I would include Lisa Kleypas' Blue-Eyed Devil). Some skirt the boundaries, but...are still more romance than anything else. And....they often have what I like to call the 'magical penis fix'. Yes, one person can have an impact, play an integral role, but...more than just that is needed. In Finding Zach, while David was integral to Zach's recovery he wasn't the only factor. There were Zach's parents, his friends, both old and new, and countless hours of therapy. And there were no quick fixes. Even at the end of the book Zach's journey was continuing, his recovery was still in progress. But that's how it should be and I applaud the author for not taking the easy/quick route.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I prefer those books in which the struggle for self determination is noticeable. And where change and growth can occur not just because of the impact of one person. Because that gives me something to believe in, gives me that hope that Mariana mentioned...that I'm not simply waiting for that elusive someone to appear, to wave their magic wand and fix everything. Because, in reality, that just doesn't happen. In reality, it is the individual that takes all those steps...with help along the way :)

So, what are you thoughts on the magical penis fix...and do you like books that are 'more' than a romance? If so, what are your favourites (whether m/m or m/f)?

24 April 2011

Push Me Pull Me

So, I'm currently reading Shades of Gray (Brooke McKinley). Apart from a slow start (and the fact I keep wanting to replace the 'a' in Gray with an 'e' *grin*) I'm gripped. But...that's kind of the problem. You see, the tension in the book (and in me) is winding tighter and tighter and tighter. And so part of me wants to keep reading, and part of me wants to put the book down because I'm petrified the bad guy (and he's really bad) is going to get the upper hand and everything is going to go pear-shaped! (Hence the title :) I read a book last year with a similar premise, but there was never any 'bad guy' POV and the danger was there, but...kind of distant. In this one it's front and centre! But, weirdly, unlike Amy Lane's Keeping Promise Rock I don't want to jump to the end - I'm in a weird head space ATM. I'm on annual leave and I just feel...drained. (That's one of the reasons why I haven't been out and about online of late - sorry.)

So, can someone who has read this book please put me out of my misery and tell me whether this book has a HEA? And...I'm curious, have you ever felt push-me-pull-me about a book?

20 April 2011

The Dark Side

So...I'm planning a trip over to the dark side this weekend. Yes. The Dark Side. See, I picked up a non-fiction book from the library earlier this week. I did mention I was going over to the Dark Side, didn't I? So...non-fiction....scary. Not very escapist IMHO. But, the unnamed expert recommended this book - Trapped In The Mirror (Elan Golomb) - after our fraud discussion so I figured it was worth a look. I'll be interested to see what it says.

So, do you ever venture over to the dark side?

17 April 2011

Do You Ever...

Do you ever add a book to your TBR list, thinking you can't wait to read it, but then it gets lost amongst all those other books you're absolutely determined to read...so that when you finally locate it again you wonder why it was on there in the first place?

15 April 2011

Fraud

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Fraud • noun 1 wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain: he was convicted of fraud [mass noun]; prosecutions for social security frauds [count noun]. 2 a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities: mediums exposed as tricksters and frauds [count noun]. Origin: Middle English: from Old French fraude, from Latin fraus, fraud - 'deceit, injury.

I'm not talking about the former definition, but the latter. I'm... *deep breath* a fraud. And that's exactly what came out of my mouth yesterday. (Foot in mouth disease in motion) As I said it, I realized just how strongly (read completely) it resonated with me. I think...on some level I've always felt like a fraud. I felt like one at school, when I kept wondering how I ended up in the classes that I did. I felt it at university, attempting and eventually succeeding to enter a highly specialized field. I felt it all the way through training in that field... I felt lost many times during that training, but...it's like I was too scared to admit just how lost I was, because then I would be exposed for the fraud that I was. And I still feel this way - at work, online...everywhere.

I had a planned appointment with the unnamed expert yesterday and so voiced my...statement to her. And then I added a further sentence: 'I'm just waiting for someone...anyone...to discover that I'm actually completely worthless'. And to all this the unnamed expert uttered one sentence...(and I'm paraphrasing) - that considering oneself worthless was...characteristic of a child of a narcissistic parent. And I'm just that. Perhaps that is why Blue-Eyed Devil (Lisa Kleypas) resonated so much with me.

So, where does this leave me? Well...a little wiser I guess. And...less alone. Sometimes it's hard when you think you're an outlier. And I suppose any journey (or walkabout) requires one to stop occasionally and...position oneself...decide where to go to next. This is obviously one of those times.

And on a complete different note. Has anyone else upgraded to IE9? From where I sit IE9 and Blogger are incompatible! I have to publish posts via my iPhone! *heads desk*

Edited to add: I've uninstalled IE9, so now I have control of my Publish Post button again - YAH!

12 April 2011

The List

Next Friday is Easter Friday...and as of Easter Friday I will be on annual leave for 10 days. Yes, TEN! Because I have had my nose to the grindstone finishing the War of Light and Shadow (fantasy) series (Janny Wurts) [FYI - I am aiming to finish it by Easter Friday] and, thus, other genres have all by fallen by the wayside, I have decided to reward myself. While I may read one library book (since the signs of a traffic jam of library books in May and June is readily apparent even to me, who is oblivious to pretty much everything :) during my annual leave, the majority of books passing under my eyes are going to be m/m.

You've no doubt noticed my (very annoying) habit of commenting on GoodReads reviews and status updates with 'Oh, that sounds fantastic, I so want to read it' or something similar. And if I do (make such a comment) I so take note of the title and author of the book in question. But, that leaves me with a huge list of books. So, I thought I'd be smart and try and winnow out the top...five (or ten...one book per day in a nice round number *grin*), and focus on reading them while on annual leave. But...what are these top [insert number here]? So, here's where I need your help. If you remember me commenting that I simply had to read X, can you please remind me what X is. I'll then make a list of the books and start working my way through those next Friday. From my very poor memory I've got (in no particular order):

* Finding Zach (Rowan Speedwell)

* Paris A to Z (Marie Sexton)

* Regularly Scheduled Life (KA Mitchell) [A Christmas gift from a lovely friend - thank you ShellBell!]

* Shade of Grey (Brooke McKinley)

* The Good Thief (James Buchanan)

* Servants of the Crossed Arrows (The Rifter Part II) [Ginn Hale] (And I have my greedly little hands on it. The question is, how long will I last before reading it?)

What else should I read while on annual leave?

10 April 2011

Tipping Point

Warning: snark ahead! (But no, I didn't hunt the snark [LOL] - it found me!)

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

Note: spoilers for Lover Unleashed ahead.

So, you may have noticed that I'm currently reading Lover Unleashed (JR Ward). It is...to put it mildly...doing my head in. (Although any of you reading my status updates on GoodReads will have noticed that already :) The thing is, I'm seriously beginning to question why I am reading it. Where to start?

All of the issues that have annoyed me in previous books (To Brand Or Not To Brand, Evolution, Rant and Wanted - I've got a lot of issues, haven't I? *grin*) are front and centre in Lover Unleashed. There is the word shortening (binocs for binoculars and photog for photographer), the product placement (for clothes [e.g. Jackie O. and Gucci] and cars [e.g. Porsche...I keep wanting to direct the characters to Top Gear's cool wall] and...just about everything you can think of) and the slang (e.g. piehole and coffin nails). There is the constant referral to humans as weaker or 'less than'... Every human that makes an appearance on the page appears to be a drug dealer (or their employee), a prostitute, a mindless drone looking for their next high (be it alcohol, drugs or sex) and/or incompetent [well, except for Jose, who I like, and Veck, who knowing my luck with be 'special' in some way, shape or form!]). Oh, and all of them are completely oblivious! And anyone who does not fall into one of the above categories, who is 'special', you just know is going to end up enveloped into the BDB world. Just for once I would like a human character to be shown some respect. The thing is, I've come to the realization that the word shortening, the product placement and the slang...it's not there to position the vampire characters, it's there because the author likes it. Which means it is here to stay.

Plus, maybe it's me, but the introduction of yet more characters? (I must confess to liking what I have seen so far of Throe, but any characters that seem to have no problem with rape - and that would be the rest of Xcor's merry men [although I read last night that Xcor himself does not (I can't find the right word)...commit such acts] - has me wanting to go all Z on them!) There are so many characters now that the others get barely a mention and, including the lessers, have exited stage right! Phury has completely vanished. So has Z and Rhage...and all their mates. And I'm confused as to why Ehlena has been in scenes in Lover Unleashed and yet never says anything!

And so far, Lover Unleashed doesn't feel like it's furthering the main storyline. And perhaps it's because I love the whole estate rehabilitation trope, but...I'm beginning to wonder if Safe Place is making a difference and if perhaps Jane (and eventually Manny, because I know he's going to end up in the BDB compound) are taking their skills out into the community. And Iron Mask is mentioned, but what about Rhevenge's two colleagues...who IIRC are a whole different species. And wolfen? Another new species? *heads desk*

And I'm sure that the vast majority of you are now wondering why I am still reading? After all, if all these things are annoying me I should just stop, right? Well...yes. But, the thing is, ATM the moment wanting to know how the story ends, wanting to know what happens to certain characters (specifically Qhuinn, Blay and Saxton) [yes, I agree Qhuinn & Blay should end up together, but I really like Saxton and I want him to have his HEA and not end up dead!] is outweighing my annoyance. Just! With the Anita Blake series I came to the realization that I no longer cared about the story or the characters enough to keep reading. (And I honestly think the author will never finish the story/tie up the multitude of loose ends.) With the BDB books...well, I'm still holding out hope. Although Lover Unleashed is seriously causing me to question that belief.

So, what is your tipping point when deciding whether to continue with a series?

Edited to add: I do love to rant about this series, don't I?

07 April 2011

Books 2011: March Update

Total to date: 30 books (five books this month: fantasy [one book]; historical romance [one book]; m/m [three books])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: four books (one book this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 25 books (three books this month)

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

Favourite book of the month?

* Rescue Me (Scarlet Blackwell) [It ripped my heart out (to put it mildly)]

Currently reading:

* Stormed Fortress (Janny Wurts)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Finding Zach (Rowan Speedwell)

* Servant of the Crossed Arrows (Ginn Hale) [The Rifter Part II]

So, what did you read last month?

05 April 2011

Loss

With life comes loss. It is...inevitable. But, no matter how much you know that it is inevitable, you still try to stave it off. Still try to hold on...until you can't.

I don't think there are words for how I feel ATM. Well...perhaps there are, but none seem to fit. When you accept responsibility for something you do so with the understanding that there will be a price, and you can't flinch when it comes due. And when you receive unconditional love you do so with the understanding that you have it for as long as it lasts...and no more.

Today I had to make a decision I have been dreading. It was the right decision and I am holding on to that thought with everything that I am. But..it was beyond hard. I feel like I betrayed the one thing in this world that loved and trusted me unconditionally. (I feel like I let him down.) But it was because of that love, that trust, that I had to make the decision I did. I had to do what was right for him regardless of how I felt. I owed him that. But there are so many things that I will miss. Being greeted when I come home. The way he used to fling himself on the bed with complete abandon. The way he would herd me to bed when he wanted to go (to bed)..and wanted the cat version of a hot water bottle present. The way he would not to subtly hint that it was time for me to light the fire...and the way he would watch me light the paper and kindling. (He was so a closet pyromaniac.) And the way he would lie in front of that fire all day (I will confess to lighting it early on the weekends just for him.) But what I will miss most of all...is him not being here. I'll miss knowing I have something to come home to...because he made this house a home, and without him it feels empty. He loved me...exactly as I am. It didn't matter what I said, or didn't say, whether I was perfect. Because to him I was....exactly right.


I will miss him more than I can say...