Sort of 2013 TBR Challenge - March Series Catch-Up

Ok, I didn't do an update for Wendy the Super Librarian’s March TBR Challenge 2013 last week (Pick a book from a series you’re behind on) because I can’t write a review for this one (at the moment). However, it's the one series I’m most looking forward to catch-up on... J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Lover at Last is coming out tomorrow, Tuesday (3/26). Oh, who am I kidding, it really comes out tonight at midnight, right? And I can’t WAIT. Romancelandia’s paranormal community (and it’s twittersphere) has fangrrrl’d HARD for this one. Qhuay’s story. M/M romangst. It’s happening.

I’m predicting that I’m going to need some recuperating after this one... so much angst and action. 
(Does anyone else ever feel that way? I feel like that’s just me. Such a wuss.)

Perfect timing for me to return to another series I need to finish - Nora Roberts’ Savor the Moment (#3 in the Bridal Quartet series). I put this in DNF on Goodreads (on a shelf I labelled "I just can't") because there is almost zero conflict, and even though I’m over halfway done with the story, I still pass out after three pages. Every time. No joke. 

And it’s about food. Foodie food food! One of my favorite topics. (Shit, the entire first-world's favorite topic!

I liked the first two in the series, and I was looking forward to this one the most. I wanted to like it so badly. But it was just meh. Teppid porridge. Maybe I can tolerate it a bit more after Lover at Last - similar to how some super fancy Michelin star restaurants give you a tiny spoonful of light sorbet to cleanse your palate between meals/tastings... yeah, maybe Savor the Moment can cool me down and bring some balance to the romance feast.


Top Ten Tuesday! - "must buys" now collecting dust

My Top Ten books that I just *had* to buy,
but haven't read (yet)...

1.) Once a Princess & Silver Angel - by Johanna Lindsey

2.) Knight in Shining Armor - by Jude Deveraux

3.) Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake - by Sarah MacLean
(Picked this one up for Felicia Day's Vaginal Fantasy book club - then left said bookclub due to headache of being in bookclub with 100+ readers in one chat.)

4.) First Lady - by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
(Wanted to read this for the election year. Then I remembered how insanely busy election years in D.C. are.)

5.) Bitten - by Kelley Armstrong
(Strongly recommended by my cousin's super-cool girlfriend, who I am convinced is this author's #1 fangirl.)

6.) Perfect - by Judith McNaught

7.) Goddess of the Hunt & A Night to Surrender - by Tessa Dare

8.) The Duchess War - by Courtney Milan
(The Brother's Sinister series went on my auto-buy after reading The Governess Affair.)

9.) The Shadow and The Star - by Laura Kinsale

10.) Her Best Worst Mistake - by Sarah Mayberry

Doing these Top Ten lists (if only once per week) forces me reflect on my own romance collection and reading habits. While some of these can arguably be considered "classics" or "must-reads" (core curriculum of Romance 101) - others were strongly recommended or impulse-buys.

Looking at all the unread books in my possession is forcing me to buckle down on one issue:  The DNF

If a book is sucking (not just sucking time - but the plot and pacing really suck), I need to declare it a "DNF" for "DID NOT FINISH". No more wasting time on sucky books.

- If I attempt to read it multiple times, and I still feel like passing out after three pages - DNF.

- If it's not holding my interest after 50 pages - DNF.

- If a character (hero/heroine/supporting-character) says/does something severely offensive to me to the point of no redemption (which is rare) - DNF.

Too much precious time is being wasted, and more DNF'ing will allow me to finish other series and books that I've already paid for... (which stem from the previous Top Tens).


Top Ten Tuesday! - Spring 2013 TBRs

The Broke and the Bookish has a Top Ten Tuesday Meme - every Tuesday is a different Top Ten List, and this Tuesday it's:

My Top 10 To-Be-Read books for Spring 2013 

1.) Lost in Italy - by Stacey Joy Netzel - LONG overdue TBR, and currently reading this one (so far, so good) - tourist heroine in Milan is saved by action-star hero.

2.) The Things She Says - by Kat Cantrell - "Her Knight in a Shining Yellow Ferrari" - tow-trucker heroine gets the road-trip of a lifetime when the Greek director hero's Ferrari breaks down in small-town Texas.

3.) Highlander Most Wanted - by Maya Banks - Highlander warrior hero with captive heroine.

4.) Decadent Dreams - by A.C. Arthur - Baker heroine in Chicago falls in love with coworker hero.

5.) At the Highlander's Mercy - by Terri Brisbin - Highlander warrior hero with captive heroine (v2.0).

6.) Family Pictures - by Jane Green (Women's Ficiton - since we're not calling it Chick Lit anymore?)  A startling drama of double-identity and two women trying to put the pieces of their lives back together.

7.) Secret of Ella and Micha - by Jessica Sorensen (New Adult? / Romance) - "Friends to lovers" with bad secrets from the past popping up.  (Goodreads is telling me that this is also "New Adult" - so it's a steamy YA?)  There's a 17+ recommendation warning which gave me a good laugh.

8.) Too Hot to Handle - by Victoria Dahl - "Good girl goes bad"; museum curator heroine gets a dream job in Wyoming, and then decides to go after her hero.

9.) Lover Reborn & 10) Lover At Last - by J.R. Ward (these will be crammed back-to-back and I will be brain-dead for those few days) - This also collides with Super Wendy's TBR 2013 Challenge for March 20th - Series Catch-Up: pick a book from a series you're behind on.  (Black Dagger Brotherhood!)


Painted Faces (by L.H. Cosway)

"...his voice sounds like a dark prison that I desperately want to get inside."

Painted Faces (by L.H. Cosway)

Conflict: past baggage issues (abuse, death of parent), friends to lovers
Nicholas (stage name - "Vivica Blue" or "Viv" for short) started cross-dressing at a young age, after his mother died.  After years of soul-searching, cabaret performances, travel, and alcohol abuse, he moves to Dublin, Ireland - right next to Freda.  What starts as a flirty friendship (and striking a deal for Freda to be Viv's special assistant) very quickly escalates into a SUPER heavy-petting passionate let's-torture-eachother-because-we-both-want-it-SO-badly "friendship".  You're asking, "But why don't they just bone and get it over with?" - Because they genuinely DO love each other; however, Freda doesn't want to have her heart broken by Nicholas, and while Nicholas doesn't want to loose Freda, he also needs to reconcile with his past.

Lori told me about this one blowing up on Goodreads, and all the warnings are right: You'll think of staying up all night to finish it, but at 350+ pages (that you can't skim through) it'll easily wear you out for work the next day.

Then you'll be hungover - unable to think of anything else - only because it's such a stand-alone.  It didn't remind me of, or feel like, any other romance.  It's beautiful for all it's heart-breaking honesty and character insecurities.

Why do I empathize with this heroine:  First off, Freda wakes up at 5 a.m. to bake cupcakes four days a week.  Oh, hell no.  (Granted, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. five days a week, but at least I'm showering and dragging my ass and drinking coffee and then reading on the Metro.)  But most of all, the first-person POV makes this one read like a heart-to-heart between the narrator and reader.  She's snarky at times, and she knows her faults and worries.  Painted Faces has one of the best lessons we learn from romances - and Freda nails it right on the head in chapter six:  "You know what it's like when a man says he wants you, you want him to have never liked any girl as much as he likes you."  <-- Exactly this.  And L.H. Cosway writes this as Freda's concern, and it's so crucial that the reader sees this.  If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you're with a guy who likes (or has liked) another girl more than he likes/loves/respects you - you dump his sorry ass (quickly).  Of course we know better, that Freda will have her HEA, but damn if watching Freda's torment/obsession over Nick/Viv's feelings for her doesn't keep us on the edge of our seats!

Things I loved:

  • Songs: this wins the story over - hands down (and btw those are all mandatory listening if you haven't heard them yet...) - even that Irish Sean-nós song that Nicholas sings, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.   

Overall:  Superbly well-written indie romance!  Tone, POV, mood, and style are consistent throughout the pages.  I highly recommend this for open-minded "cool" and hip readers.  Side effects include: desire to put on make-up (and get mah hurr did), listening to Elton John and eating cupcakes, mojitos and vodka oranges, Google image searching "hot guys in drag" - then appreciating and imagining that Vivica Blue probably looked like Alexander Skarsgård  and/or James Franco - in drag.


Top Ten Tuesday! - (or how to drown yourself in books)

The Broke and the Bookish has a Top Ten Tuesday Meme - every Tuesday is a different Top Ten List, and this Tuesday it's:

Top 10 Series I'd like to start, but haven't yet...
(*or series I need to finish*)

  • Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series - My friend Alicia's (current?) favorite series.

  • Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series - It's going to happen.  I already have the first two books.
    (RITA Award 2012! w00t w00t!)

  • Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green series - I've only read What I Did for a Duke (#5) and A Notorious Countess Confesses (#7), (both are *frickin'mazing* btw!) but The Perils of Pleasure (#1) is waiting on my e-reader... (Full Disclosure:  I'm scared for starting this one, because it will take over my mind until I'm done, and then I'll be clawing at my face waiting for Olivia's story...)

  • Kate Noble's Blue Raven series - One of Lori's favorites, which she recommended to me the first day I met her reading Revealed (#1) on the Metro.

  • Celeste Bradley's Runaway Brides series AND Heiress Brides series - her Liar's Club and Worthington series are my crack.

  • Courtney Milan's Brothers Sinister series - The Governess Affair made me cry, and I couldn't think about hair pins the same way... *swoon* 

  • Nina Rowan's Daring Hearts series - Another one that going to happen because I already have the first two books.

Yes, this is NOT IN RANK-ORDER  (so I know it's not a "true" top ten - but honestly, rank-order this?!  Bish, be serious!  Whittling this down to ONLY 10 was difficult enough.)

How to drown yourself in romance novels:  Buy a bunch of really amazing books for great deals (and also impulsively blast through use gift cards) resulting in a monstrous TBR pile.  This is like going to the grocery store (or worse yet, Costco) when you're hungry.  Damn.

(I love how I started this post like, "Oh! A Top Ten list.  Neat!  This will be five minutes...
but after looking at my actual TBR list on Goodreads, and the books already in my e-readers,
and on top of seeing everything I *want* to read that's not already published...)

If you find Hermione's Time-Turner necklace thing - just let me know.