desertvixen: (thorny)
One of the benefits of night shift is that I've just spent that last four hours (pretty much) reading the latest Eve Dallas novel.

Verdict: It's good.  I was starting to get worried in the middle of the book, but the climax has power.

They've also redone the cover again, and I wonder if there's some reason for ditching Nora Roberts' picture on the back of the cover.  The title's also a change.

Spoilery verdict:  This is in the form of notes as I read the book, bear with the format please!

Spoilers Inside... )
I still wouldn't say it's the best one ever, but it's pretty well up the list.

DV
desertvixen: (sexism)

 I finished the book - Equal: Women Reshape American Law which was good, because of the women lawyers fighting to make the laws more equal in how they treat women, and depressing, because this book is not talking about the damn Stone Age, it only really goes back to the 1960s.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act which actually made it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women (because earlier laws were deemed not to discriminate against women, but against pregnant persons, which is totally different) is only a year older than me.

 What struck me somewhat was not that there was some Evil Male Conspiracy to Keep Women Down (yes, there are some men who subscribe to that idea,I know) but just that men didn't realize anything was wrong.  It wasn't a problem.  It didn't affect them, so why should they care, or try to stop it?  The system was working out just fine for them.

 Only part of the book is actually applicable to my class - mostly the fight to get pregnancy recognized as a legit disability (in terms of employment disability coverage only), and the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace.

 It also showcases a verbal trick that still gets a lot of mileage.  The author describes an incident in 1985 when Strom Thurmond met with a delegation of women judges:  The room was a "bachelor's paradise,"  he announced.  "I want to congratulate you lady judges," he said, according to the Washington Post.  "You really don't look like judges, you look like young ladies."
 
Old Strom had pulled an old trick: say something that sounds flattering, and if women complain, they sound bitchy.

 It's 450 pages of not light reading, but worthwhile if you're interested in the subject.

 DV
desertvixen: (schroedingers cat)

Unspoilered reaction: WOW.  Talk about being worth the wait.  This book seems a little like a return to some of the earlier days.  For one thing, it's only 583 pages in hardcover.  It was a pretty tight read, and towards the last third, I had a really hard time tearing myself away from it to do other stuff.  There's a lot of tech stuff that I probably could have lived without knowing.  He's done a much better job of writing Honor/Hamish (there are no naked tickle fights in this one, for example).  And of course, it wouldn't be a David Weber book if he didn't kill people off.

 Spoilers:

Spoilers (including Major Character Death) )

 I'm looking forward to seeing where things go from here, and I really need to check out Honor Harrington fanfic.  Because if there was ever a universe that would be ripe for fanfic, I think this would be it.  There's not much focus on the interaction of people, and ... yeah, like I need another fandom.
desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

 I was in the book store today, browsing, when I spotted a book entitled Jane Bites BackI had to buy it.  It isn't quite a parody, but it is an absolute scream to read - especially if you're a Jane Austen fan.

 The premise?  Jane Austen is a vampire, and runs a bookstore in upstate New York.  She has a manuscript that has been rejected 116 times.  It sounds crazy, and stupid, but it is SO not.  It is laugh-out-loud funny without being stupid, and there were several moments where I couldn't believe the author went for the joke.  It works though - it is a book that is funny, and knows it, and isn't afraid of being funny.

 The book opens with Jane hosting a book signing event by an author who has written a Pride and Prejudice-based book called Waiting for Mr. Darcy.  It's a purity/abstinence sort of deal, based on P&P.  The author admits to Jane after the signing that she thinks the book idea is full of crap, but she just keeps thinking of the money.  It's her "piece of the Austen pie".  It also has the first mention of crazy spin-off type books - Sense and Sensuality,a Jane Austen massage book.  Jane, meanwhile, can't stop thinking about two hundred years of no royalty checks - ever.  Then she admits that she doesn't even like the books.  Jane's assistant in the shop, Lucy, defends the books.  Jane later really sinks her teeth into the reviewer.

 It's hilarious.  If you're sick of bad Austen spin-offs (aren't most of us?), then you should read this.  You'll enjoy it.  There's a tip to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as well as a hilarious list of Austen spinoffs:

 1. Jane Austen paper dolls (these actually exist, see Amazon)
 2. Jane Austen action figure (also actually exists)
 3. Jane Austen workout book
 4. Jane Austen cookbook

 It's not just Austen that gets sent up, though.  There's a darkly brooding poetic vampire who hails from roughly Jane's original time period (you get three guesses) that plays a major role in the story, and if you love Jane Austen and couldn't stand Jane Eyre, this book has a subplot for you!  There's a cute line about how Mr. Darcy has ruined it for other men.

 There's also a seriously hilarious parody of Oprah and the View (especially Elisabeth Hasselback), and a sexy male book editor who loves Jane Austen books... who Jane thinks is very sexy... who turns out to be gay.  And what I assume is supposed to be a joke on Sweet Valley High and Gossip Girl, as well as a stab at the paranormal/urban fantasy stuff with a book series about a monster hunter who is a lingerie designer by day who dispatches a demon with a corset stay.

 It was definitely worth the fourteen bucks at Hastings.

 DV
desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
I've been trying to make a dent in my to-read pile, and may not buy any new books until Christmas. Of course, for Christmas, I plan on getting more books.

Some stuff that I've read that has been deemed share-worthy:

1. Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal - One of the books looking at the increasing influence of the Christian hard-right on the Republican Party, and the effect it has had on the policies of the party. This one isn't so much a systematic look at the issue as a series of shared stories about the personalities and events involved. This is the first book by him I have read, but I quite enjoyed it.

On the Larry Craig situation: "With or without Craig, the Republican Party had, through its descent into paranoid homophobia, transformed itself into the country's biggest walk-in closet." It comes in the section of the book where he discusses the scandals surrounding David Vitter, Larry Craig, and Ted Haggard, and the various differences in how they were treated.

2. The Murder Business by Mark Fuhrman (yes, that Mark Fuhrman) - It looked like it would be interesting, and it was - in pieces. It was very uneven, and for every moment that he wrote something worth reading , there was another where he wrote something that made me go "Idiot". One of the subjects he discusses is the "missing white female syndrome", and that's treated fairly well, but then he sort of goes downhill when he gets on the OJ trial. I'm keeping it for now, but more as a bad example than anything else.

DV
desertvixen: (ponder times 3)
So, back in 1981, someone involved in the publishing of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys titles decided it would a good idea to put the trio together in books. This was before the Super Mysteries, and was aimed at a lower age level for the readers. There is no romantic element, just the whole "good friends vibe" combined with the trio either going on a case together or one element visiting the other.

I found it at Nine Lives Books in San Antonio and snapped it up. I have #2 in my boxes somewhere, and I'll have to share from that one as well.

There's not much in the stories worth relating, but some of the art is on my must-share list.


Just had to share the fun!

DV
desertvixen: (cactus blossom)
Since we're talking about them a little in [livejournal.com profile] 1bruce1 , I thought I'd repost them all in one place.

Here's the links to my reviews of the Sweet Valley High reissues - I'm wondering if they've stopped because it's been almost a year since the last one came out.

But Liz is in a coma - WILL SHE EVER WAKE UP??

SVH 1: http://desert-vixen.livejournal.com/440689.html

SVH 2: http://desert-vixen.livejournal.com/442621.html

SVH 3 and 4: http://desert-vixen.livejournal.com/485528.html

SVH 5 and 6: http://desert-vixen.livejournal.com/511899.html

DV
desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

 Am I the only person who finished Laura Joh Rowland's book The Snow Empress and said WTF was that?

 I think the series might be succumbing to the same thing that killed the Karp/Ciampi books for me - the series plot has just gotten a little too out there.  Also, the whole bit with the spirit possession just... didn't work for me.

 There were still moments I enjoyed, but overall my impression of the book wasn't positive.  One, it's short but rambles.  Two, the characters seem off in a way the plot doesn't justify.  Three, Hirata needs to get his head out of his ass.  Four, there's a couple of points where characters seem a little too modern.

 Maybe it's just me...

desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

 Lest anyone think I have spent my whole day off looking at the Internet, I also finished The Grand Sophy this morning.  It's not one of my absolute favorite Heyer books - it has to get in line behind Cotillion, The Nonesuch, and The Unknown Ajax - but it is high up on the list. 

The heroine, Sophia Stanton-Lacy, is nothing short of a force of nature.  She reminds me somewhat of Cordelia Vorkosigan - not exactly, mind you - but they both seem to share that quality of convincing people that their idea is the right one, at least while they're talking to you.

The hero, the Honourable Charles Rivenhall, is one of the people who takes care of everyone else, even if his methods aren't always the most appreciated.  He's a little stern, a little bent on doing things his way, and he intends to shoulder the load on his own.

The thing I most enjoy about the book is that it really characterizes one of Heyer's strengths, which is making heros and heroines who go together.  Charles and Sophy will do fine together, because both of them have that need to take care of other people's problems.  She'll keep him from getting too distant and stuffy - he'll keep her from going too far.

The best "romantic scene" in the book is not the rather enthusiastic kiss at the end, but the scene in the sick room where you can feel the change between them. 

The book features two rather "managing" female characters - Sophy, the heroine, and Eugenia, who is initially engaged to Charles - and nicely contrasts the difference between them.  Eugenia is cast as a moralizing, judgemental woman who wants everyone to be the way she thinks is right.  Sophy's managing is more pragmatic - her plan to deal with her cousin Cecelia's infatuation with the unsuitable and unreliable poet Augustus is to let Cecelia spend more time with him, knowing that it will give Cecelia a chance to realize that he's not suitable husband material - or to decide that she really does love him.  if she really does love him, Sophy doesn't want to ostracize Cecelia, but to find a suitable position for him to support a wife.  In short, Eugenia wants everyone to be proper.  Sophy wants people to be happy.

There is a section of the book that has been criticized in some places, and that is the Jewish moneylender, Goldhanger, who is portrayed as somewhat of a collection of negative stereotypes.  For the curious, apparently in some editions of The Grand Sophy, including I believe the last last Harlequin mass-market paperback (which I have at home, and how I first read the book), the reference to Goldhanger's "semitic nose" was omitted.  I'm not sure that really changes anything about the portrayal, since just before that, Hubert explains that he was "forced to go to the Jews".  I didn't notice it when I originally read the book, about five years ago.  This time, I knew it was coming, but I can't say it destroys my pleasure in the rest of the book.  It does fit with the period the book was written about, and doesn't bother me in a way something more contemporary would.  Georgette Heyer didn't make up the anti-Jewish prejudice, it was something that was very real in history, and would remain very real until well into the Victorian era.

 DV

desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

 The review is up at my Dreamwidth : Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

 It was pretty much what it was advertised as: a spoof of Pride and Prejudice with added zombie mayhem.  There's some effort to maintain an internally consistent storyline.  It capitalizes on some of the best-known scenes, and has some entertaining jokes. 

 There's also one plot aspect I found downright depressing, and some of the humor went into the zone of disgusting-not-amusing.

 Still we've probably all read worse.  I enjoyed it, but I'm not hanging onto it.

 DV

desertvixen: (lady catherine de burgh)

 This is posted over at my Dreamwidth journal, but I wanted to share with the wider audience as well.

 When Pride and Prejudice Sequels attack

It's Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy - Two Shall Become One and covers roughly the first six months of their marriage,

Now my only question is what to do with the book, because I don't want to leave it out where some unwary soul might read it and be scarred for life - neither do I want to ship it home.

 Now, I'm going to need to read Frederica just to get that out of my head.

 DV



desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

 So, I read it today.  It's a pretty good read, although it sort of drags in the beginning.  If you've been getting annoyed with LKH's writing lately, you might want to try check this one out.  For one, it's not overwhelmed with sex or violence.

 I think it could also be the last one.  The ending's kind of ambiguous, but if she didn't write another one, it wouldn't be a huge issue for fans of the serious.

 That said, into the spoilers:
Meredith Gentry )

 DV
 

desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

 So, I've been reviewing the reissues as they come out.  Nothing great, but nothing too horrible either. 

 SVH #5: All Night Long (the one where Jessica sneaks off with the college junior)

 The tone of this book was annoying.  Of the reissues so far, this has been the least good.  I don't really like anyone in it.  The word "slut" gets thrown around a lot. 
 
More specifically:
All Night Long )

SVH #6: Dangerous Love (Liz gets in a motorcycle accident riding with Todd)

This is one of the stronger ones, better all over.  They didn't have to do much to change the storyline.  And now we're all waiting until they get the next two.

 More specifically:
Dangerous Love )

 DV
 

desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

Books 1 and 2 were reviewed on 5/11/08 and 5/14/08, if you're curious.

 My short, unspoilered version remains pretty much the same: they're about as good as the originals.  My only caveat is that Jessica seems more malicious, and Elizabeth seems a little less goody-goody.  (Yes, I identified more with Elizabeth as a teenager, go figure.)  This one is fairly shallow, and more prone to being dated than, say, Nancy Drew, but other books in the series did handle tougher teenage subjects without necessarily getting all Afterschool Special on us.  The third book has some language use that deserves a higher rating than the originals.  The fourth book has somewhat of a “moral” at the ending – almost Elizabeth Wakefield doing a PSA.  There’s definitely a slightly harder edge on these, and this series is definitely aimed at teens, not tweens

Getting into the spoilers:

SVH #3: Playing With Fire (the book where Jessica Wakefield gets her wish to be Bruce Patman’s girlfriend, then finds out the truth in the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for”…)

 

Jess is still Jess, and Bruce is still Bruce )

 

SVH #4: Power Play (the book where Liz and Jess square off, over Jess’s treatment of Robin Wilson).  This is one I really enjoyed in the original, and it’s still pretty well-done.

Wakefield vs Wakefield )


 Worth buying if you enjoy YA, waiting for the next 2 in December.  Except for the part where they're going to leave us with the cliffhanger of #6 for probably 3-4 months, I'm looking forward to seeing more.

 DV



desertvixen: (Flanders Field)

 In lieu of a Memorial Day post, I offer pictures from Arlington. (Visit was the week before Memorial Day)

Arlington )


DV
desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
So, I picked up the second one, Secrets.  This one originally dealt with how ,secrets from the past can cause trouble.  Enid Rollins, Elizabeth's best friend, has a past record of doing drugs and being delinquent, but has cleaned up her act.  No one at SVH knows until she confides in Liz.  Now that the world has been re-established, this one goes more into people.



Still readable, but definitely oriented at teens, not tweens, I would say.
desertvixen: (schroedingers cat)

 [profile] carbonelle asked me awhile ago (in one of the book update posts) if I had seen the reissued, rewritten Sweet Valley High (#1 and #2 are out now, #3 and #4 in August).

 I picked up #1 for my birthday, and sat down to read it today.  I wanted to to be able to flip back through the original when I was done for compare/contrast.

 Short, unspoilered version: they're about as good as the originals.  My only caveat is that Jessica seems more malicious, and Elizabeth seems a little less goody-goody.  (Yes, I identified more with Elizabeth as a teenager, go figure.)  This one is fairly shallow, and more prone to being dated than, say, Nancy Drew, but other books in the series did handle tougher teenage subjects without necessarily getting all Afterschool Special on us.

 More in-depth stuff:


They're still fairly shallow... and they're still fun.  I will have to pick up the next one and see how it goes.

 DV
desertvixen: (sexism)


 He's a Stud, She's a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti of Feministing.com.

 Go forth and read it.  None of it is really new, which is the point.  Women deal with this stuff every damn day.  Some of the topics are small, and some aren't.  But most of them are going to sound really familiar...

 Men who have lots of sex, who score, are studs.  They're envied.  They have achieved something,
 Women who have lots of sex, are sluts.  They're dirty.  They lose something.  

 Women in charge are bitches.  Women who speak up are loud, we're shrill, we're grating.
 Men who are in charge are leaders.  Men who speak up are respected, are listened to.

 Women who are angry are too angry.

 Women who don't conform to a certain standard of beauty are sloppy - but women who put a lot of time into grooming are vain.
 
 And how often do men get stopped on the street and asked why they're not smiling?

 There's a few annoying typos, including Gem when it clearly should have been Jem (outrageous, I know), and I find the use of pet terms for the vagina a little annoying, but it's definitely worth reading.

 DV

desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

The Destruction of Lord Raglan by Christopher Hibbert was a pretty good look at the Crimean War. There were a lot of small details to let you really feel what the war was like, and to give you a feel of the English soldiers. The Charge of the Light Brigade is covered, of course, as are the negative relationships between some of the British senior officers. It’s a relatively short read, although somewhat depressing.
 
The Madcap Heiress by Emily Hendrickson was a good Regency, part of her latest series about a set of siblings. Nothing major to write home about, except for the totally creepy suitor. My only real complaint about the book is that it wraps up and ends far too abruptly, when I would have liked to see a little more. 
 
Seduced By A Spy by Andrea Pickens was also a Regency, although Pickens has graduated to the ‘big Regency’ (a standard size paperback, as opposed to the smaller Zebra/Signet Regencies). It’s pretty entertaining, although none of the plot turns are too unexpected, with the exception of who the culprit is. The series idea (Regency-era James Bond female types) is pretty entertaining, and well-executed in this one.
 
Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts – I usually am not too interested in the modern romances, but despite the fact that they’re like popcorn, Nora Roberts is hard to turn down. One of the things I really enjoy about the books is how she handles characterizations, even for fairly minor characters. It’s very evident in the Eve Dallas series, with the rather large revolving cast, but well-done in this book as well. If you like her stuff, you’ll probably like this, and the heroine does kick some ass. My only real quibble is that the bad guy is VERY obvious. I was expecting some sort of weird twist, but did end up being who I thought it was all along. Still definitely worth the read.
 
An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley is the first book in the Company of Rogues series. I already knew what had to happen as far as the larger story, but it was worth the read.
 
Big Green Purse by Diane MacEachern is a pretty informative book about how women can shop smartly to have an impact on the environment. It’s well worth reading to see how you can make a difference with what you have to buy, by choosing to spend your money on products that aren’t too harmful – for the environment or your pocketbook. I’m trying some of the suggestions out.
 
Vienna 1814 by David King was a fascinating read, full of personal and historical details about the Congress of Vienna. Dishy, but gives the historical details you need to make sense of things. The quotes that open each chapter are a nice choice as well. I particularly liked Napoleon’s quote concerning his mistakes with Talleyrand – not listening to him, and not having him hanged. He also weaves in the events around Napoleon’s escape from Elba. This should be on the to-read list for Regency fans, since the Congress of Vienna and the Napoleonic Wars provide major backdrops for that genre. Definitely worth buying in hardcover.
 
Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts is the first book of a trilogy, and I think it rocked, despite not really being into the moderns. Her modern books are about the only ones I really enjoy. It’s a little unusual for a romance trilogy in that the trilogy’s couples are all 3 paired off in this book, although the bulk of the book is devoted to Couple #1. Usually romance series don’t introduce all the couples in one book. It seems to be her attempt to benefit from the rise of the paranormal romances, but it’s better than a lot of the stuff out there. The next one is out now, I think, but I’m saving it for my deployment. I trust her not to disappoint me.
 
Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America by Charlotte Waismann and Jill Tietjen is informative and gorgeous. It’s a chronology with a decent amount of information, but the pictures that accompany the text are wonderful for giving the reader a sense of connection to the facts. I would say it’s a great idea for a Mother’s Day gift, especially if the mom in question likes history. I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to share these kind of things with her.
 
Great American Hypocrites by Glenn Greenwald was very good. It points out hypocrisy on the right, the sort of IOKIYAR attitude that irritates me (It’s OK If You’re A Republican), the idea that the men who represent “family values” have had more than one spouse, several of them have had nasty divorces, very few of them have served in the military – yet they blather on about defending the sanctity of marriage from same-sex marriage and get us involved in more wars. If you’re of a liberal bent, you’ll probably enjoy it – if you think Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are great guys, you probably won’t.
 
I read a couple of YA books this weekend to clear out both the to-read pile and my brain.
 
Lastly, I read two delightful Georgette Heyer romances: Black Sheep and Lady of Quality. Both were very, very good, but Lady of Quality edged out Black Sheep slightly. Both books take place in Bath, rather than London, and show that smaller society. Both also deal with women of independent means who have their own establishments, and both have young female side characters who provide a lot of entertainment. Black Sheep’s only flaw is that it seems as if it ends very abruptly. Lady of Quality’s hero, Oliver Carleton, was fantastic.  He doesn't get all tripped up in flummery, but is plain-spoken to the point of rudeness.  Of course, he has tons of money, which lets him be this way.  He's honest, and a good match for the heroine.
 
I loved the words that Heyer put in his mouth about marriage, declaring that he could not promise they would always have a happy marriage, but that he could promise he wanted to marry no one but the heroine. Maybe not flowery and romantic, but true. Every time I see someone bash romance novels (and yes, there are a lot that do deserve bashing and mocking), I want to hand them a Heyer novel and change their mind. 
 
DV
desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)

 I just finished the new Amanda Quick book, The Third Circle, and wanted to review it while things were still fresh.

 There was a somewhat unfavorable review of it on Amazon (not bad, but not the sort of thing you'd want to try and convert someone with, or waste money on in hardcover if you're not a confirmed Quick fan), where the major complaint was that the main characters seemed forced and wooden.

 I disagree. 

 It's not her best book, nor is it as good as the last one, The River Knows.  But it's not bad.  It moves pretty quickly.

 My only complaint was that she got a little heavy on the aura woo-woo stuff, but the set of novels is about the Arcane Society, so you have to expect some.

 Spoilers:

 Overall, worth reading, although wait for paperback if you're not a diehard fan.

 DV

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