Saturday, June 28, 2008

Card for today

I stopped by Annie Kelleher's blog, Writer's and Witches and Words, oh my, and took the little quiz & below is the card I got. My dad has read tarot cards for over forty years, I grew up watching him do readings. When the Universe has something to say to you, there are many opportunities for you to listen.

It's still a little eerie, though. The thought that even through the randomness of someone's little software program, one can receive a relevant message. A "Hey, pay attention here Lady!"

Our family is in transition this summer, all of us are changing roles a little. Walking a little further down the road.

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Kushiel's Mercy; Jacqueline Carey

Third in the Imriel trilogy, Kushiel’s Mercy was released in June of this year by Grand Central Publishing. The first and second titles in this group are: Kushiel’s Justice and Kushiel’s Scion, both of which I’ve posted about. I don’t recommend reading this one without reading the first two, but to refresh our memory here’s a brief summary.

In Terre d’Ange there is one great traitoress, Melisande Shahrizai. Twice she’s come disturbingly close to overthrowing the rightful monarch, and twice she’s failed. To Phedre Delaunay has fallen the burden and the joy of raising Melisande’s tortured young son, Imriel de la Courcel. Unfortunately for Imriel, he’s also third in line for the throne so suspicion, mistrust and conspiracy theories dog him wherever he goes. In this book Imriel and Sidonie have decided to be lovers openly. However, Sidonie’s mother, Queen Ysandre, has strong opinions regarding Melisande’s son and her heir and their relationship. For Sidonie is her mother’s heir and Imriel can never escape his mother’s legacy. But Elua’s precept is strong in Terre d’Ange and even the monarch thinks twice about interfering between those deemed to love one another truly.

I must say, for me the strongest part of this novel was seeing Melisande from a whole new viewpoint- from that of her wounded and suspicious son. It was not delved into in any emotional depth, yet I enjoyed watching the mother-son interaction anyway. Melisande was rounded and humanized more than in the past. Imriel’s interactions with her had a tentative, “tread carefully” feel to them. The other section I really enjoyed was Leander and Sidonie. It gives away too much plot to explain, but let us say that a nefarious political plot has resulted in Sidonie sailing far away from Terre d’Ange. Over the series my impression of Imriel is that he’s young and had a long road ahead of him to establish his identity and his name separate from his mother. It is a tint unique to this trilogy, I think. Phedre’s trilogy is not touched with light tones and joy and growth in the same way.

The intimate scenes don’t have the same honey-sweet thick sensuality and dread of Phedre’s trilogy, and yet they are bound in joy and limned in love and the fierce (and frequent!) desire of two who are fated to be together. In the end third it seemed to me that one obstacle after another was thrown before them, one more barrier. One more problem. And yet, as frustrating and annoying as that was, the end made it all worth it. Not the wedding. The whispers between Leander (what a lovely Shakespearean name!) and Phedre. Melisande’s message. The intimation that all is not necessarily over yet.

The shift in tone and perspective to this trilogy from the first has been difficult. Essentially this is yet another coming of age book. Imriel is of a similar age to Phedre (in her first two books), yet he is lighter and younger in outlook than she ever was. A gift from her to him, I suppose. The gift of a childhood that otherwise he might never have had. One that she herself was denied. The other major problem I had was the device used to push Sidonie and Imriel apart and send Imriel on yet another quest. Not only was it unbelievable, but the reader is asked to believe it was effective over the entire population of the capitol city. Ysandre, Drustan, Joscelin, Phedre. Everyone. Except Imriel. I had to give that one a bye. It was simply too much. I sort of set it aside in my mind and kept on with the road adventure aspects of this last book.

Even with these issues Imriel’s adventures and attempts to thwart the will of the Gods have been fun to watch. Jacqueline Carey is a wonderful, lyrical writer, and her gifts are on display here. I found it well worth all of my anticipation.

Monday, June 09, 2008

May Synopsis

Wellllll..not the best month, but a whole sight better than previous work soaked months. Below is a linked list of books read during the month of May, in no particular order. All books should be listed in the archive on the sidebar.

1. A Kiss of Crimson; Lara Adrian

2.The Queen in Winter, Kurland, Delacroix, Shinn & Monette

3.Dragon's Kin; Anne & Todd McCaffrey

4.The Duel; Barbara Metzger

5.An Invitation to Sin; Suzanne Enoch

6.To Love A Princess; Patricia Grasso"

7.Just in Time; Judith Lansdowne

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Force of Nature and All Through the Night; Suzanne Brockmann

Part of the Troubleshooters Inc. series, both of these were published in 2007 by Ballantine. Click link in title above to go to Ms. Brockmann's webpage for FON. Force of Nature is a full length novel and All Through the Night is a Christmas novella. Suzanne Brockmann has given all the rights for ATTN to a gay rights group called MassEquality, just in case any readers out there would be interested to know that. For many reasons, it has been a long long time since I’d read any of Ms. Brockmann’s work, all of which had to do with my reader’s baggage, as it’s commonly called. I’ve looked forward to Jules’ book for years, though, and I eagerly snapped up both of these titles when I saw them on the new books cart at my tiny little neighborhood library.

Force of Nature is set in Florida and is supposed to be the story of Enrique Alvarado and Annie Dugan and how they get together. Ric was a cop until burnout pushes him into the private investigations career track. Annie is Ric’s high school best friend’s little sister. They have one of these push me pull you type relationships, which kinda got on my nerves a little. Together, Ric and Annie get entangled in an FBI investigation into a local businessman. This is where Jules comes in. One of his agents has disappeared while undercover at the businessman’s home.

Sort of by chance Jules meets Robin Chadwick, the guy Jules has had a serious jones for, but for various reasons never hooked up with. One of these reasons being Robin’s world class drinking problem and the fact that Robin wants to stay in the closet because of his budding movie career. Um, not to mention the fact that Jules and Robin had a lover in common. Then again, Jules has Ben. But Ben’s in Iraq. He’s a Marine Corps officer. Talk about being in the closet!

I was disappointed a little because Ric is supposed to be a second generation Cuban American, but this vibrant and colorful community gets scant coverage. Much of the time I thought Ric could’ve simply been any Joe American, not a Cuban American. OTOH, Robin’s drinking issues and the ripples it causes and Jules’ conflicted feelings about what he wants in a relationship are delved into pretty thoroughly. I enjoyed looking at Jules from another character’s perspective quite a bit, I must say.

All Through the Night is Ms. Brockmann’s Christmas gift to Jules’ fans. Jules and Robin have an East Coast commuter relationship. Jules is based in DC and, after finishing rehab, Robin is filming a tv series in Boston. Neither is happy with the situation, but the implication is that they’ll be based out of Boston because they want to get married, and Massachusetts is the only place they can do it. Add in nosy, ethically challenged reporters, former team members who are on the no fly list but whom Jules wants at the wedding, a disgruntled former lover, never ending home repairs and the jitters and bumps of any new relationship. Toss liberally with love and humor and spice and you have a heartwarming romance. Fittingly for someone just out rehab, Robin seems to be the vulnerable one while Jules provides steadiness. It’s an action packed little book, but one I found to be very satisfying.

For anyone who's interested, below are the lyrics to the Cole Porter song All Through the Night, best version, IMO, by Ella Fitzgerald:

The day is my enemy, the night my friend,
For I'm always so alone
Till the day draws to an end.
But when the sun goes down
And the moon comes through,
To the monotone of the evening's drone
I'm all alone with you.

All through the night,
I delight in your love,
All through the night, you're so close to me.
All through the night, from a height far above,
You and your love brings me ecstasy.

When dawn comes to waken me
You're never there at all.
I know you've forsaken me,
Till the shadows fall.
But then once again
I can dream,
I've the right
To be close to you
All through the night.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thorne Family Trilogy; Judith Lansdowne

The titles in this group are: Just in Time, Just Perfect, and Just Impossible. I love Ms. Lansdowne's books, I've three on my keeper shelves already. I hemmed and hawed about the first one, bypassing it several times at the store. I'm nothing if not indecisive, so the longer I hesitated the scarcer traditional Regencies became. These are all longer than most TRs, though.

The first one Just in Time tells the story of Veronica Thorne, Dowager Duchess of Berinwick, and the new rector of the village church, Richard Dempsey. They were childhood friends decades ago, suddenly and unexpectedly reunited by her grace's now deceased husband. Veronica is plagued with guilt and sorrow concerning an episode long in her past, but one that has had profound impact on the lives of her family members. Richard proves to be a most unique vicar, but well up to the difficult task of wooing Veronica, rebuilding the local church and hunting antiquities, all simultaneously. Veronica is older than Richard, and both are in their forties. I also liked the fact that the little Berinwick family is close and loving and that they take their responsibilities to their villagers very seriously. Not only that but the servants are protective of the family as well.

Just Perfect takes place nine years later when young Hannah Thorne is twenty three and is spending the Season at Berinwick rather than in London. It seems his Grace's carefully cultivated fearsome reputation scares off all but one of Hannah's potential suitors. Deciding to quit the field, Hannah is spending the Season at home. First though, she must rescue a traveller lost in the middle of the moor, fend off well meaning matchmakers and figure out who murdered a long lost young woman who returned to the village unexpectedly and was murdered before anyone knew she was back. Ian Denham, Marquis of Kearny and Mallory is also in the village because the Squire is auctioning off some prime horseflesh and every red blooded aristocrat with the slightest inclination to breeding racehorses is in the area. Ian also happens to have an odd 'gift' that can put people off and is afraid of the dark. But Anne Gazenby thinks Hannah and Mal would be perfect if only she can get them together in the right circumstances..The loving relationship between the siblings was nicely done. Richard and Veronica make an appearance as well. For those who are interested in such things, Ian is a beta hero.

The last one in the family group is Just Impossible and is, at long last, the story of the bad, evil, audacious Duke of Berinwick himself, William Thorne. Julia Delacroix has something she hopes his Grace will want enough to pay her a princely sum. Enough so Julia give her young cousin Emma one gilded Season before Julia's bigger plan unfolds. One she has carefully nurtured for nearly twenty years. William and his young ward Elf are determined to help Julia- even if she doesn't particularly want them to. There are several very funny scenes with the dog, which leavened the over the top drama at the end. Still and all with the one overdone scene, this is one of those romances where I was really glad the hero found someone to love him. Like the other two books in the series, strong healthy family relationships were deftly done. According to the story, Julia is twenty nine, nearly thirty and William is thirty nine, pushing forty. Again there are glimpses of life behind the green baize door separating the Family from the servants.

All of these books are put out by Zebra, 2003 and 2004 respectively. Keepers all, because the Thornes are one of my favorite family groups.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Partial Reading List May

Read in May, listed in the order in which they are piled beside the computer.

1.Just in Time- Judith Lansdowne, Kensington 2003. Romance. Childhood friends are reunited in their 40’s and must find a murder among the local villagers. 1795 gothic.

2.To Love a Princess- Patricia Grasso, Zebra 2004. Romance. Illegitimate by blow of the Russian czar escapes potential slavery by running to England and marrying the first aristocrat who will have her. Beauty and the Beast theme. Set in 1820.

3.Dragon’s Kin- Anne and Todd McCaffrey, Del Rey, 2003. Fantasy. Their new collaboration is set in a mining village on Pern. Young Kindan and his friends must save the village and the mine by hook or by crook. Could be categorized as a young adult as well as straight fantasy.

4.The Duel- Barbara Metzger, Signet, 2005. Romance. Layabout young aristocrat shoots innocent bystander in the aftermath of an illicit duel. Marred, IMO, by the wife’s withholding of sex to “bring her husband around” so to speak. Regency.

5.An Invitation to Sin- Suzanne Enoch, Avon, 2005. Part of the Griffin family series. Young Zachary Griffin must prove to all and sundry he’s finally found his life’s purpose, most especially Miss Caroline Witfield. Regency.