Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Book 40: Fire Me Up

TITLE: Fire Me Up
AUTHOR: Katie MacAlister
STARTED: May 31, 2005
FINISHED: June 2, 2005
PAGES: 352
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: "You'd think that Hungary would see the light as far as second-hand smoke is concerned, wouldn't you?["]

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] In her day job as a courier, Aisling goes to Hungary to deliver a priceless amulet, but her real intent is to attend the 128th International Conference of Guardians, Oracles, and Diviners - and to find a mentor. Accompanied by her smart-mouthed demon companion, Jim, who poses as a Newfoundland, Aisling encounters her destiny once again: Drake Vireo, a seriously handsome dragon in human form, who broke her heart in Paris. Forget about sparks: Their sexual encounters literally start fires, leaving burned doors and singed sheets in their wake. Aisling's search for a mentor coincides with the mysterious murders of two Guardians. As she tries to solve the murder, Aisling is abetted by an outrageous cast of characters, including the helpful cabdriver from You Slay Me, a professional virgin, a lost hermit, naked male incubi, and many quarreling dragons.

REASON FOR READING: It was a sequel and I can never not read a sequel.

THOUGHTS: Once again, Katie MacAlister manages to break the mold of the typical modern-day, paranormal romance. Her writing is witty and enjoyable. Her characters have depth and stand on their own. And dear lord did this book have me cackling. Some of the visual scenarios MacAlister paints are almost to funny for their own good. The one downside... the third book in this series is not due out any time soon and MacAlister wrote yet another cliffhanger ending. Grr.

MISCELLANEOUS: Is it warm in here is or is just me?

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Lady of Desire by Gaelen Foley
RN: So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson

Monday, May 30, 2005

Book 39: I Am Charlotte Simmons

TITLE: I Am Charlotte Simmons
AUTHOR: Tom Wolfe
STARTED: May 26, 2005
FINISHED: May 30, 2005
PAGES: 676
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Everytime the men's-room door opened, the amped-up onslaught of Swarm, the band banging out the concert in the theater overhead came crashing in, richocheting of all the mirrors and ceramic surfaces until it seemed twice as loud.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Dupont University - the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition... Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a wide-eyed, bookish freshman from a strict, devout, poor and poorly educated family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. But Charlotte soon learns, to her mounting dismay, that for the uppercrust coeds of Dupont, sex, Cool, and kegs trump her towering academic achievement every time. As Charlotte encounters the paragons of Dupont's privileged elite - her roommate, Beverly, a Groton-educated Brahmin in lusty pursuit of lacrosse players; Jojo Johanssen, the only white starting player on Dupont's godlike basketball team, whose position is threatened by a hotshot black freshman from the projects; the Young Turk of Saint Ray fraternity, Hoyt Thorpe, whose sense of entitlement and social domination is clinched by his accidental brawl with a bodyguard for the governor of California; and Adam Gellin, one of the Millennial Mutants who run the university's "independent" newspaper and who consider themselves the last bastion of intellectual endeavor on the sex-crazed, jock-obsessed campus - she is seduced by the heady glamour of acceptance, betraying her values and upbringing before she grasps the power of being different and the exotic allure of her innocence.

REASON FOR READING: I've heard so much about it, I just had to see what the rave was about.

THOUGHTS:This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. As a current college student I was drawn into the story. I did not just read this book... I lived its story. I was seduced, just like Charlotte, by the characters, the setting, and the plot. This book is so true to life that it made me really think about and analyze my own college experience.

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was that I am very much like Charlotte. Aside from her utter naivete, I am Charlotte Simmons. The nerdiness, the need to impress those I love, and even - at times - the loneliness. Wolfe did a fantastic job of bringing her character to life for me. He allowed me to get inside of her head. Few writers can truly do this.

While I was basically able to foresee the plot ("twists" and all) after the first 50 pages or so, I was still enthralled by this book. I did not just read it, I devoured it. It may have helped that I know the Jojos, Hoyts, and Adams in real life but Wolfe's attention to detail was inspiring. He got every little detail, right down to the "Trolls" who sit in the hall leaching off of everyone else's lives.

In the end, I loved how Wolfe was able to turn the title of his book into the "moral" of the story. It wasn't until the very last page that I truly realized how much people give up, change, or remain the same in college.

This was a phenomenal novel that I will gladly read and recommend.

MISCELLANEOUS: Is it really possible for a book to make you hermit while, at the same time, making you want to go out?

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Sadly, this belongs to the library, but I will purchase my own copy one day.
RATING: 9/10 [Excellent! Couldn't put it down]

CR: Fire Me Up by Kate MacAlister
RN: Hopefully something for my thesis

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Book 38: Highlander Unbound

TITLE: Highlander Unbound
AUTHOR: Julia London
STARTED: May 22, 2005
FINISHED: May 25, 2005
PAGES: 390
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: In and around Loch Chon, they would talk for many years of how the fair Lady of Lockhart laughed like a mad-woman when her husband hanged her lover - on the very eve of her date with the executioner's axe.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] On leave from his Highland regiment, Captain Liam Lockhart comes to London on an urgent mission: to repossess the stolen family heirloom that could save his ancestral estate. He never dreamed it would involve surrendering his heart. But the beautiful and scandalous socialite Ellen Farnsworth sets his Highland blood aflame with a will as strong and reckless as his own. Though bound to Liam by a soul-searing passion, duty impels Ellen to commit a terrible betrayal.

Now, driven by passion, pride, and vengeance that know no bounds, this fearsome Highlander will reclaim not only his family's ancient treasure, but the one daring woman he was meant to love for all time.

REASON FOR READING: The book was the first in the series... I've already read the second and needed to backtrack a bit.

THOUGHTS: Not as good as the second book (Highlander In Disguise) but still pretty good. The plot and storyline were inventive, but I felt as if something was missing. The characters had chemistry but they way they were written just seemed "off" (for lack of a better word).

It was nice to see a woman in a romance novel actually take control of her own fate for once.

MISCELLANEOUS: The cover made the book a bit to steamy to read while on guard desk duty at the library... but I read it anyway.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): I'll probably keep it.
RATING: 6/10 [Very Good]

CR: I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
RN: No clue yet.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Book 37: Highlander in Disguise

TITLE: Highlander In Disguise
AUTHOR: Julia London
STARTED: May 17, 2005
FINISHED: May 21, 2005
PAGES: 374
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: They needed money.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] After Liam Lockhart failed to regain the beastie, he married the woman who stole the valuable artifact back from him. The quest falls to his younger brother, Griffin. However, Griff lacks funding to spend any time in London even with his using the home of his best friend's grandmother while she vacations in France. He borrows heavily from his neighbor whose usury interest will cripple the lad if he fails to remit within a year to fund his search for an unknown Amelia, who allegedly bought the beastie from Lady Battenkirk who had purchased it from Liam's wife.

Anna Whittington hopes that Drake Lockhart will ask for her hand in marriage, but he seems more interested in her beautiful younger sister. Meanwhile she wonders about this so-called wealthy Scot who asks questions about her cousin, Lady Battenkirk and anyone named Amelia especially since he looks so much like last year's wealthy Scot Laird. Anna investigates and learns that Griff is an impoverished fake. She blackmails him into teaching her how to seduce Drake, but soon desires her mentor instead; he finds the beastie means little now that he is deeply in love with his troublesome student

REASON FOR READING: I can't stay away from the romance novels for long.

THOUGHTS: I wish I had known this was a second in a series before I started reading it. Aside from that, this book was quite enjoyable. One reason I like this book is because Anna reminded me so much of myself. Grif was also a great character. A charmer who's not a skeeze. A man who's not afraid to have feelings. Gotta love it.

The side characters add dimensions that make the book even more complete.

Well rounded and well written, this is one author I will read again.


KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Keep (even though it's Beth's)
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Highlander Unbound by Julia London
RN: I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Book 36: Sense and Sensibility

TITLE: Sense And Sensibility
AUTHOR: Jane Austen
STARTED: May 9, 2005
FINISHED: May 17, 2005
PAGES: 315
GENRE: Literature

FIRST SENTENCE: The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Two sisters of opposing temperaments but who share the pangs of tragic love provide the subjects for Sense and Sensibility. Elinor, practical and conventional, is the epitome of sense; Marianne, emotional and sentimental, the embodiment of sensibility. To each comes the sorrow of unhappy love: Elinor desires a man who is promised to another while Marianne loses her heart to a scoundrel who jilts her. Their mutual suffering brings a closer understanding between the two sisters — and true love finally triumphs when sense gives way to sensibility and sensibility gives way to sense.

REASON FOR READING: Needed a book for the plane ride back to DC... and one that wasn't a romance novel.

THOUGHTS: I'm not gonna lie. I didn't love it. I also did not hate it. I would have like the story more had I been able to follow it. The names and the usage of Mr./Mrs./Ms./Etc. confused me. Part of that has to do with the fact that I was so busy in real life I couldn't just sit down and read. The points were I was able to immerse myself in the text I enjoyed the story and writing. I just wish there were more points like that.

I will give Austen this point, she has a knack for making selfish characters likable.

MISCELLANEOUS: This is the one book that I've ever read with a British accent in my head.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Keep (I'm going to read this one again when I'm not so distracted.)
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Highlander in Disguise by Julia London
RN: Highlander Unbound by Julia London

Monday, May 09, 2005

Book 35: Ravished

TITLE: Ravished
AUTHOR: Virginia Henley
STARTED: May 7, 2005
FINISHED: May 9, 2005
PAGES: 397
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: "Lord Hatton's heir shall not make his way into the world arse-first, if I have any say in the matter!"

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] All her life, Alexandra Sheffield has longed for passion and adventure — anything but marriage to the wealthy Lord Christopher Hatton. Instead, her body is weak with desire for another man — Lord Hatton's devastatingly dangerous twin brother, Nicholas.

All his life, Nick Hatton has had his pick of beautiful women, but he's never risked his heart — until his brother plans to refill his pockets by marrying the spirited young Alex. Driven by a fierce need to protect her, Nick will risk anything to prevent his brother's scheming seduction. But when the girl he sets out to save becomes the glorious woman he longs to ravish, he must will himself to resist her wild beauty and reckless flirtation — before his desires erupt in a single, scorching moment that can never be undone.

REASON FOR READING: I needed a book for the plane ride home.

THOUGHTS: This book had a lot of plot for a romance novel. At least it was good plot. I've read too many romance novels that try to masquerade with a plot and fail. This one does not. The "twins switching places" idea has been used so many times, but this book doesn't fall down because of it. The characters are likable and believable. Even the characters you hate... you like them because you hate them.

The one thing I couldn't wrap my head around is that the characters are 22ish in the book. I have a hard time believing that early twenty-somethings act like that in any era.

Bonus points for the interesting use of a brothel.

Double bonus points for including the down and dirty, poor parts of regency London.

MISCELLANEOUS: For a book with this title... there was very little ravishment.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
RN: Highlander in Disguise by Julia London

Friday, May 06, 2005

Book 34: A Girl's Guide to Vampires

TITLE: A Girl's Guide To Vampires
AUTHOR: Katie MacAlister
STARTED: May 5, 2005
FINISHED: May 6, 2005
PAGES: 374
GENRE: Romance


SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] All Joy Randall wants is a little old-fashioned romance, but when she participates in a "Goddess evoking" ceremony with her friend, Roxy, Joy finds out her future true love is a man with the potential to put her immortal soul in danger. At first the ever-practical Joy is ready to dismiss her vision as a product of too much gin and too many vampire romances, but while traveling through the Czech Republic with Roxy, Joy begins to have some second thoughts about her mystery lover because she is suddenly plagued by visions of a lethally handsome stranger. Then, when she and Roxy attend a local GothFaire, Joy meets Raphael Griffin St. John, head of security, and she becomes even more bewildered because the dark and dangerous Raphael seems too close to her dreams for comfort.

REASON FOR READING: The roomie has all the good books.

THOUGHTS: If I had known this book came before Sex And The Single Vampire I would have read it first. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it immensely. Who ever heard of a love-sick vampire? Anyway, I love how the male lead never comes out and explicitly says what's up. That makes the story have more tension. It also leaves the reader wanting more. MacAlister is very good at keeping the reader guessing. Once again, her descriptions of scenes and plots were enough to keep the reader drawn in, while still allowing their imagination to flow freely.

I also loved the fact that the two female leads were book-loving, romance-novel-reading, librarians. They were me! (Well... what I will be... after I get my MLS in 3 years.)

MISCELLANEOUS: I've never heard of a GothFaire.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Me want my own copy.
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: Ravished by Virginia Henley
RN: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Book 33: You Slay Me

TITLE: You Slay Me
AUTHOR: Katie MacAlister
STARTED: May 4, 2005
FINISHED: May 5, 2005
PAGES: 334
GENRE: Romance


SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Aisling Grey is a courier enjoying a free, work-related trip to Paris when she learns she's a Guardian. That's a keeper of the Gates of Hell, for those who don't know. She finds this out from Drake Vireo, who's scrumptiously sexy-at least in his human form. Now Drake has stolen the package Aisling was sent to deliver, and she must track him down, get the package, and try to resist the passion boiling inside her.

REASON FOR READING: The roomie is being evil and taking her books home.

THOUGHTS: I like dragons. Dragons who masquerade as hot, spy-like men are better. The tension was great, the mystery was titillating, and the characters had spunk. This book was good. It was not the best MacAlister has done, but I think there is a reason for that. It's the first in her new series. The end of this book left me wanting more. I would say why it does, but that would give away the oh-so-not-traditional-romance-novel-endi


MISCELLANEOUS: The sequel just came in from B&N.com. Yippee!

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Not mine... but I will get my own.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: A Girl's Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister
RN: Ravished by Virginia Henley

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Book 32: Sex and the Single Vampire

TITLE: Sex And The Single Vampire
AUTHOR: Katie MacAlister
STARTED: May 3, 2005
FINISHED: May 4, 2005
PAGES: 371
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: The message waiting for me at the hotel desk was short and concise: "Either you come "back from England with bona fide proof of a spiritual entity, or you needn't bother returning to the office.["]

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Dark One n. [Origin Czech, also known as vampires.] A Moravian Dark One is doomed to spend his lifetime cruising the singles' scene in search of the one woman who can redeem his soul. You think dating is hard? Try it when you're nine hundred years old and you've used every pick-up line in the book. Forming a lasting relationship is even more difficult when the woman who makes your heart sing sees dead people and likes to play with demons.

Summoner n. [Origin English.] Someone who summons ghosts, poltergeists, and demon lords. Summoners tend to hang around cities like London that are filled with portals to Hell, haunted inns, and other locations dishy vampires might be found lurking. Most Summoners are female, which makes for difficulties when it comes to explaining to the man who haunts your dreams and fills your soul with love why your pet ghosts can be found hovering around even in the most romantic of circumstances.

REASON FOR READING: Beth was going to take them home with her for the summer. I had to devour them before they left me.

THOUGHTS: I have not read that many vampire romances, but this one is the best. It has set the standard I will now hold future vampire romances to. The characters were complete, well rounded, and actually had flaws. I love it when an author makes her characters more perfect. It makes them seem more human... even when they're not. (Ha! Worse pun-type joke ever!) The plot was well written with the appropriate amount of detail and description. One of the scenes at the beginning is about this creepy old house. I was scared reading it. Well done.

And the male lead... oh my. Is it warm in here?


KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Sadly not mine, but I shall buy my own one day.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
RN: A Girl's Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Book 31: Prince of Thieves

TITLE: Prince of Thieves
AUTHOR: Saranne Dawson
STARTED: April 28, 2005
FINISHED: May 2, 2005
PAGES: 358
GENRE: Romance

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] From the bestselling author of "Secrets of the Wolf" comes this enchantingly romantic retelling of "Robin Hood", in which a beautiful noblewoman finds love with a rogue thief.


THOUGHTS: I bought this at CVS one day thinking, "Hmm... I like the Robin Hood genre." Yeah. This book did not live up to the standard. I disliked it from the first few pages. Sadly, unlike other books, it did not get better as I read. The characters were flat and there was absolutely no chemistry. The plot had potential, but the author did not build on it.


KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Cringe the cringest cringe.
RATING: 2/10 [Awful]

CR: Sex and the Single Vampire by Katie MacAlister
RN: You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister