Monday, August 03, 2009

Recent Reads

Four Books And A Movie

I’ve been a bit scarce lately and I haven’t really meant to be but I’ve been reading some great books lately and since it’s been quite a while since my reading mojo has been this strong, I’ve just been going with it. Normally my ‘thought’s are longer then these, but I’m behind so I’m going to have to do my best to be succinct – and I’m sure failing miserably!

Book #1

Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh

Why this one: I’ve really enjoyed this series and it was a given that I would read the next book when it came out

Steam Level: Best have a glass of COLD water with you when you read this one!

Blurb: When a brilliant changeling researcher is kidnapped, DarkRiver sentinel Mercy, a cat, and SnowDancer lieutenant Riley, a wolf, must work together to track the young man—before his shadowy captors decide he’s no longer useful. Along the way, the two dominants may find that submitting to one another uncovers not just a deadly conspiracy, but a passion so raw that it’ll leave them both branded by fire.

My Thoughts: You can tell a book has hold of me when I go to the lengths I went to, to read Branded by Fire. I took it to Washington DC with me. I was hoping it would keep my mind busy during the terror of flying. It didn’t work during the take off and landing; I don’t think anything can do that. But I was quite content during the flight while reading it. I kept it in my purse at all times and took it out whenever I had a spare moment to read. I was reading it when a rather nice man came up to me while I was sitting outside the hotel and only reluctantly put it down. And this for a guy – talking to me!! I had it with me when Wendy, Rosie and I finally made it to the Library of Congress after a very long walk *g* and decided I would rather sit outside – where it was hot – and I don’t like hot – and read Branded by Fire then walk even more whilst touring the Library. I read it while waiting for the airbus at the airport and was almost disappointed when the bus showed up. And I finished it that night despite wanting to do nothing more then head for bed.

What I enjoyed about this one is it’s a changeling/changeling match so we didn’t get too much into the Phys net storyline. I still find that confusing even after all these books. I really liked the fact that Mercy was such a strong heroine. While I still enjoyed them quite a bit, in a couple of the previous books the somewhat physical helplessness of the heroines got to me a bit. But in this one Mercy is more then capable of holding her own against Riley.

I’m loving this series and this one is no exception. I think it’s my favourite so far!!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Book #2

Bound By Your Touch by Meredith Duran

Why this one: I adored her first book, The Duke of Shadows. When I read it, I knew it was special and this is an author who I want to read more of. She was on my list of books to get in DC and get it I did!

Blurb: Silver-tongued Viscount Sanburne is London’s favorite scapegrace. Alas, Lydia Boyce has no interest in being charmed. When his latest escapade exposes a plot to ruin her family, she vows to handle it herself. Certainly she requires no help from a too-handsome dilettante whose main achievement is being scandalous.

But Sanburne’s golden charisma masks a sharper mind and darker history than she realizes. He shocks Lydia by breaking past her prim facade to the woman beneath .
. . and the hidden fire no man has ever recognized. But as she follows him into a world of intrigue, she will learn that the greatest danger

Steam Level: *blinks eyes* I can’t remember – how can that be? But I do know the whole book was very satisfying so it must have been a good temperature

My Thoughts: It took me a while to get to her first book, The Duke of Shadows. I’d had it on the TBR pile and when I finally read it, wondered why I took so long!

I didn’t wait with this one.

Though Bound By Your Touch didn’t have quite the angst level of Duke of Shadows, I still enjoyed it immensely. Lydia was a prickly kind of heroine and as long as they aren’t overdone, I really enjoy a bristly heroine. After a brief and aborted shot at love when the man she had loved asked her for her sisters hand in marriage, Lydia pretty much dedicated herself to her father’s work. He was an Egyptologist who spent most of his time abroad while Lydia managed his affairs at home. However this is all threatened when she is giving a lecture of his work and is rudely interrupted when Sanburne breaks into the meeting and takes over with his own agenda. He has, to put it mildly, a strained relationship with his father. These two are brought together when he lords it over his father that he has a true piece of history and Lydia exposes it as a fake.

I love the relationship between these two characters. Sanburne is almost an Adonis and Lydia is described as only fair in looks, especially next to her more beautiful sisters, but to Sanburne, looks are unimportant. He finds her beautiful and that’s that.

They are a case of opposites attract. Lydia refuses to hear anything bad about her father, even when the evidences starts coming in that he might not be the ethical person she’s always believed him to be. Sanburne, on the other hand, hates his father and has made it his life’s work to become an embarrassment to the family name. If he had a few too many ‘woe is me’ moments, well, that just made him more interesting and one of the final scenes more interesting.

The dialogue between them is wonderful; I love a book with well written banter between hero and heroine and if you do too, this is one to get!

What stands out for me about Ms. Duran’s books is her writing. It’s almost lyrical in nature and follows in the mode of some of my favourite authors, Laura Kinsale, Jo Goodman. I don’t know how to put it other then she writes ‘rich’. And richly written books are too far and few between these days! I had barely finished when I knew I’d have to add her next one, Written on Your Skin to my pile and read it soon!

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Book #3

The Fire King by Marjorie M Liu

Why this one: I received an ARC and it just ‘called’ to me. After the success of Branded by Fire, I was in the mood for another Paranormal.

Steam Level: Can a book be considered steamy when there is no “love” scene? Why, in this case I think it can.

Blurb: Long ago, shape-shifters were plentiful, soaring through the sky as crows, racing across African veldts as cheetahs, raging furious as dragons atop the Himalayas. Like gods, they reigned supreme. But even gods have laws, and those laws, when broken, destroy.

Zoufalstv. Eptoivo. Asa. Three words in three very different languages, and yet Soria understands. Like all members of Dirk & Steele, she has a gift, and hers is commun
ication: That was why she was chosen to address the stranger. Strong as a lion, quick as a serpent, Karr is his name, and in his day he was king. But he is a son of strife, a creature of tragedy. As fire consumed all he loved, so an icy sleep has been his atonement. Now, against his will, he has awoken. Zoufalstv. Eptoivo. Asa. In English, the word is despair. But Soria knows the words for love.

My Thoughts: I read the first book in Marjorie M Liu’s Dirk and Steel series, Tiger Eye and loved it and didn’t read any more of the series. Now I’m wondering why on earth not???

I was curious going into this book how it would work since it’s book 7 in the series and the only previous one I had read was the first. I have a few minor questions, but overall, I had no trouble following the story.

Karr was a creature from thousands of years ago. A Chimera, a result of two different kinds of shape shifters whose kind had been hunted and killed. But they fought back and Karr was a Warlord of the Chimera who had asked to be killed when he did something unforgiveable. But instead of dying, he was in some kind of suspended animation, coming back to life when his tomb was uncovered. The leader of Dirk and Steele sends our heroine, Soria, to where he is being held as she has a knack of speaking every language out there and is probably the only one who can communicate with this person from centuries past. But it seems that while there might be any Chimera left on earth, there are still shape shifters and they have more then a passing interest in Karr. He and Soria must outrun them to hope to keep Karr alive.

I really enjoyed this book! It didn’t bother me not having read the intervening books. I do have some of them and you can bet I’ll be tracking them down.

Karr is my favourite kind of hero. Tortured, noble, alone; he has awakened in a time he knows nothing about and is truly a lost soul. But as a Warlord of his former tribe, he is strong and nicely alpha/

And I found the character of Sonia to be quite interesting. She had wounds of her own – physically as well as emotionally. She is still adjusting to the fact that she lost her arm from almost the shoulder down. I don’t know if this was brought up in a previous novel or not, but it’s finally explained how she lost it. She is still feeling quite a few phantom pains from it and dealing with everyone reactions to her. But Karr is probably the only person she feels safe with.

I mentioned earlier that there is no real love scenes between these two but there is A Lot of chemistry and I didn’t feel the lack of a consummated love scene. They came pretty close a few times and it was still pretty steamy.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Book #4

Don't Tempt Me by Loretta Chase

Why this one: I read Nath's review and it intrigued me enough and it's been while since I've read Loretta Chase and she is one of my auto buy authors that I moved this one up.

Blurb: Spunky English girl overcomes impossible odds and outsmarts heathen villains.

That's the headline when Zoe Lexham returns to England. After twelve years in the exotic east, she's shockingly adept in the sensual arts. She knows everything a young lady shouldn't and nothing she ought to know. She's a walking scandal, with no hope of a future . . . unless someone can civilize her.

Lucien de Grey, the Duke of Marchmont, is no knight in shining armor. He's cynical, easily bored, and dangerous to women. He charms, seduces, and leaves them--with parting gifts of expensive jewelry to dry their tears. But good looks, combined with money and rank, makes him welcome everywhere. The most popular bachelor in the Beau Monde can easily save Zoe's risque reputation . . . if the wayward beauty doesn't lead him into temptation, and a passion that could ruin them both.

My Thoughts: Oh My Goodness!! I LOVED this book. I thought I'd come out right off the bat and let everyone know this. This book has it all!

Lucien, after seeing everyone he loved die in his youth, the final straw being Zoe's disappearance, has decided that he won't feel anything. He's lost too much and as a result has become cold and aloof, a master of whit and everything one would detest in a hero. But the reader knows that's not his real character. He is dragged kicking back into feeling when Zoe returns to the bosom of her family and needs help in becoming a part of society again. He's wildly attracted to her and her innocent yet very seductive ways.

And Zoe - what a wonderful character she is!! She's a mix of innocence and sensuality. She knows what she wants - Lucien - and goes after him even though she's not quite sure she is ready to head back into a cage of 'marriage' after living so long in a harem.

There were many moments in this book that had me smiling and chuckling and when I close the cover, I couldn't help but think "Well Done Ms. Chase!!" While not quite up to the same level as my all time favourite by her, Lord of Scoundrels, this one comes very, very close! This one gets a real thumbs up from this satisfied reader!

Grade: 5 out of 5

And A Movie

I ordered a number of old movies from Amazon (real old *g*). I watched the first of the list just the other day.

Lady Chatterley with Jolie Richardson and Sean Bean

Why this one: I've been curious to see it for a while now

Steam Level: OK - *right, gulp* yup!!

Blurb: Those who believe British miniseries to be too proper and corseted may want to make an exception for Ken Russell's 1992, four-hour BBC adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's scandalous novel. Between the full frontal female nudity and empowering shed-rocking sex scenes, this is something for everyone to have a randy good time. To save you the bother of fast-forwarding, episodes two and three contain the very naughtiest bits involving the illicit affair between "loyal wife, good companion" Constance Chatterly (Joely Richardson) and Oliver Mellors (Sean Bean), gamekeeper to Constance's embittered, paralyzed husband (James Wilby). When he insists his wife take a lover and produce an heir to his fortune, he didn't have the lowly "wild man of the woods" in mind. Neither did Constance, but soon enough the woods are alive with the sound of heavy panting and frantic gropings up against trees. The production is impeccably mounted--no pun intended--and the performances (particularly by the daring Ms. Richardson) impassioned. Save for one dream sequence involving a black horse (a symbol of passion, one character helpfully explains), and the, at times, overheated musical score that threatens to overwhelm the lovers, Russell (Tommy, Altered States) holds his tendencies toward excess in check.

My Thoughts: First off - I didn't realize it was a four part mini-series from BBC so it was four hours long. I had a girlfriend from work over watching it with me and after the first love scene we looked at each other and thought his technique needed a bit of work - it was rather 'slam bang, thank you mam'ish. And then the second one - against a tree - well my girlfriend didn't think she'd ever want to try that. As for me - I'll keep it under consideration.

But he did seem to improve with time. And the frolicking in the rain scene was everything I promised her to entice her to come watch it with me.

All jocularity aside - it was a pretty good movie - mind you - no North and South - but I think I'll watch it again - only to further study the 'against the tree' scene (damn it - I couldn't put jocularity aside after all)

I thought Sean Bean did a good job of portraying the somewhat rough hewn Mellors and Jolie Richardson did a wonderful job of playing the sexually frustrated Lady Chatterley.

There was one scene that really 'got' to me - when Chatterley was describing how the lower class were - lower - and their soul purpose was to be on hand for the 'upper' class. He went on and on, meanwhile the servants were standing right there as if they didn't have any feelings of their own. He really was a grade A jerk and it made the ending even better after that.

I've only read the 'naughty' bits of the novel by D.H. Lawrence and that was when I was a very young and impressionable and 'exploring' the stuff that goes on between men and women.

And let’s face it – a movie with Sean Bean running nekkid through a field just has to get good marks for that alone!

One thing that kept it from getting higher marks - the music!! Normally I like the musical scores in movies, but in this one, the music was too loud and to overly dramatic and too distracting!

Grade: 4 out of 5


azteclady said...

Wow, you've been busy, m'lady!

(check your mailbox!)

orannia said...

Go the reading mojo :) I'm glad it's back in spades! And thank you so much for the reviews. The more I read about Bound By Your Touch the more I want to read it! *looks at TBR list and tries not to cry* I have so many good books I want to read - I need to just sit and read and read and read :)

And I quite like the sound of Lady Chatterly's Lover. I've never seen the movie or read the book *ducks*

orannia said...

Oh, and I forgot to say I've got the fifth Marjorie Liu book somewhere in my TBR's been there a while :( I think the second book is my favourite to date.

Kristie (J) said...

Orannia: I have the second book around somewhere - and a couple more besides. I'll have to hunt them down as I was quite impressed with The Fire King and loved the first one.

And *laughing* no need to duck. I hadn't seen it either and only read the 'naughty' parts of the book. Now that I'm older and more mature *snort* I'd like to read the whole book - though if memory serves me - there is more then one.

AL: It's been a while since the reading mojo has been this strong - and I like it! It helps when you have the number of books I have to read!!

nath said...

Enjoy your reading mojo if you have it now!! Enjoy it to its limits! LOL :)

So glad that you loved Branded By Fire. I thought it was a great book :) I don't think I've seen anyone not liking it. I think that what makes it stand apart is like you said, the changeling/changeling relationship. It's just sooo intense :D

Need to read the Meredith Duran. I picked it up and put it back down. I'm afraid I guess. Read so many good things, don't know if it'll live up to it.

Now, because of you, I'm going to need to get the Marjorie Liu! LOL :) I've read quite a couple and thought it was okay. I liked the 2 first ones and then, it went a little downhill... but this one sounds good! :) Thanks Kristie!

Ahhhh, Don't Tempt Me!! So glad you loved it, Kristie!! Wasn't it a great book? and aren't you glad that you bumped it up? :P Just a highly enjoyable book :)

I have no comment about the movie :P Except, isn't that the one you received while I was there?!?

~ames~ said...

I just finished Branded by Fire. I really enjoyed it too.

I need to hurry up and read the new Chase. Especially now after reading your thoughts. :P

Mandi said...

I loved Branded by Fire! Mercy and Riley were so hot together.
I have both of Meredith Duran's new ones..just haven't read them yet. I have heard nothing but good things! On the other hand,I also have Don't Tempt Me but it is either a DNF for people or they love it. I might have to start it soon to see what what it will be for me:)

Kristie (J) said...

Nath: It very well could be *g*. Watching movies by myself just isn't fun so I asked a friend at work if she wanted to see Sean Bean run naked through a field. She thought that sounded like an interesting way to spend a Friday night - heh heh heh heh
And I AM glad I moved Tempted by You up. I adored it.

Ames: Well - with both Nath and I loving it - you'll have to read it too so you can join the party!!

sula said...

ooh, i really want the Duran and Chase books. They sound great! I hadn't read anything about the Chase book, so thanks for the heads up on that.

I don't do the Singh series and after trying the Dirk and Steele books a few times, I have decided that there is something too dark and disturbing about the villains for me. But oh well. More fish in the sea and all that.

omg, Sean Bean in Lady Chatterly was so damn sexay. In that brooding growly sort of way. The nekkid field running scene...classic. :)

Anonymous said...

ahhhahaha Kristie, I adore your reaction to the Loretta Chase. "I thought I'd come out right out the bat and let everyone know" I feel that way about so many books too, like why wait till the end of a measured review?? If you loved it, shout it from the tree tops!

Kristie (J) said...

Mandi: *g* we must have been posting at the same time - then I went and read 'cause I still have my mojo on.
Mercy and Riley sure were hot together weren't they? What I liked so much about this one is they were more equal in terms of strength. One of the (very small) issues I have with some of the other ones, is the heroine wasn't as strong as the hero - and the hero ended up carrying her around. But I could just imagine Riley trying to carry Mercy - *g*. I LIKED that she could kick his butt!

I was reading some thoughts on DTM by Loretta Chase and was kind of surprised that a number of readers didn't care for it. I thought it a most excellent book!

Sula: It was funny - as I said, I hadn't seen the whole movie and I'd only HEARD there was a scene where he and Connie romped through the fields au naturel. But when it actually happened *g* I said to Michelle - 'see - told you so!' And he was sexay! That's why I didn't rule out the 'gainst the tree' scene - that one was pretty hawt.
And you really do need to read the Chase and Duran books. For those who love historicals, they are very darned good!!

Lustyreader: *chuckle* I've been known to, a time or two, shout it from the rooftops when I've REALLY enjoyed a book. And I really enjoyed this one. Some of her books I like better then others and this is one of them.

Kaetrin said...

I'm so glad you liked the Loretta Chase book. I have it on my Sony all ready to go but I read a couple of reviews that were a bit "meh" (Jessica over at RRR did a whole post on mysogeny and this book) and I started to get a bit scared (that I'd be disappointed) so I put it off.

I have both the Duran's too - it's ridiculous the number of excellent books I have in my TBR - I have so much trouble deciding what to read next.

I have read the first 2 Nalini Singh's and I have the next 2 but haven't read them. I read a post by Jane at DA (I think it was about a Penelope Ann Long (I may have got the name wrong) book) where she said that the problem when you stop reading a writer's work is that you look back and think there must have been a good reason so you hesitate to go back - but when you do it's worth it. I think the same likely holds true here. When I'm next in the mood for a paranormal I'll have to revisit this series.

OMG - so many books, so little time!

Hilcia said...

Yay, KristieJ, I'm so glad you enjoyed the Chase! Loved that Zoe Octavia.

On Branded by Fire -- wasn't it lovely that Mercy was an alpha female to the end? I loved that! No cutting Mercy down to size to fit Reily... I really liked this one, too.

Hmmmm... Sean Bean running nekkid and Lady Chatterly's Lover... two things I think I'll just looove. Thanks for the heads up!

Zeek said...

I saw that they did a new Chatterly "movie" but was so turned off by the book- I wasn't sure I wanted to see it. (In the book, I thought Lady C was a spoiled brat, Lord C a whiney prig, and the endless prattle about industrialization's effect on the classes too tedious to be born- but I did like Mellors!)

Now I think I will have to seek it out!

Casee said...

There is no love scene in The Fire King??? How's that even possible?

Kristie (J) said...

Casee: There are a couple of love scenes - just no real fully consumated ones if you know what I mean. There was the old coitus interuptus a couple of times and one where they came real close - she came away smiling. But it was still quite steamy.

Zeke: so you didn't like the book? Sounds like maybe the miniseries was better. I know they've done a few remakes of it, but so far this is the only one I've seen. It would be interesting to see a couple more - for comparison's sake mind you.

Hilcia: I really did like Mercy and Riley together. Although I've enjoyed all the different pairings in this series, so far this one is the one I like the best - they are more equal. And yes - I did love Zoe!
And *wicked grin* I do recommend Lady Chatterly with Sean Bean.

Kaetrin: I did read Jessica's post and she made some excellent and valid points. I can't say though that I noticed what bothered her as much as she did - maybe because Zoe was vivid and larger then life character and I did really like Lucien. The other characters were secondary and didn't stand out that much to me.
And I know what you mean about the numbers of really good books in the TBR pile. I have way too many too!

Kaetrin said...

...just because I am anal... the post I referred to was a review of a JULIE Ann Long's new book (who knows where I got Penelope from....)

And, as for Don't Tempt Me - I think that the things which bothered Jessica at RRR are probably (like you) not going to bother me, although I did get what she was saying.

nath said...

Argh!! I made a list of books to buy and forgot it at work!! Ugh, I forgot to buy Fire King! Shoot, must go back tomorrow ^_^;

Aymless said...

*wow* you were busy!

I heart Hari! (his in my cabana if you feel the need to visit).