Tuesday, May 31, 2016

seriously romantic: marrying winterborne by lisa kleypas

i'm not kidding when i tell you that i've read the opening chapter of this book 50 times. i've been dying to read this book since i finished cold-hearted rake. i liked the first book in the ravenel series just fine, but the characters of rhys and helen hooked me then. so i was thrilled to get a hold of marrying winterborne today.

as soon as i had it in my hands i read the first chapter for the 51st time and then kept on reading until i was done. and oh, i just loved this book. helen and rhys are made for each other. i loved the contrast between the self-assured, independent welshman and the gentle, strong lady. they are two people who you wouldn't think could have any way of understanding each other. except they both ache for exactly what the other has to give. reading this book you could just feel the pull between these two characters. it was there in cold-hearted rake, but the magnetic attraction between helen and rhys intensifies in marrying winterborne. i can't say this enough, but i just love helen and rhys, i loved every second of their story. i am happy to spend as much time with them as i can. this is another one that is going on the re-read pile. i may re-read it again now.

lisa kleypas has written some of my favorite romance novels.  i'm not sure how many books are intended to be written for the ravenels, but hopefully beyond twins, pandora and cassandra, we'll also get west's story and tom severin's, and maybe ransom and garrett's as well. kleypas is good at developing secondary characters that you want to know more of. and seeing more of this world can't be a bad thing. the next book in the series is devil in spring, which is awesomely related to devil in winter as it is about sebastian and evie's son and pandora. and since devil in winter happens to be one of my favorite romance novels ever i can't tell you how excited i am for the next book in the series.

what a problem it is to have to wait!

Monday, May 30, 2016

simply enjoying the cold war

one of my favorite shows to binge watch is the americans. i probably would have watched it regardless of the plot because i love keri russell so much. one of my all time favorite shows is felicity [#teamben] and besides all the angsty love triangles, it was because felicity was experiencing college the same time i was. and even though there are many, many differences in our college experiences, there is something to be said for a television show that captures a seminal time period of your life. i will always associate felicity with my college years, and that love extends to pretty much anyone who took part in that show, but especially keri.

when i first heard about the americans i was so excited for it. not only was felicity in it, but it was a show about the cold war and the leads were russian spies masquerading as american citizens. this was basically the made up game i played my entire childhood. [i am obviously a child of the 80s. i grew up during the cold war. which is such a weird era, because it was all about the threat of war without any actual war happening. and all we knew was that there was always the danger of being spied on by the russians and an atomic bomb could destroy the world. pretty dark, right?]

anyway. because we are at war with time warner cable we do not get fx. so i have to wait until the most recent season has started to watch the show on amazon prime. i suppose i could pay more to watch it, but i don't really mind the wait, it just means i'm a season behind everyone else in the world. i think that this also turns out to be a good thing, because i can just binge-watch the episodes. not having to wait a week to watch the next show. i think the ability to binge-watch makes the television viewing experience better than before. but i'm an instant gratification kind of girl. i hate to deny myself things, i don't see the point of that. so binge-watching the americans is totally the way to go.

one of my favorite things about this show is that it's not just this intense spy drama, it's also the story of a marriage. and the way elizabeth/nadezhda and philip/mischa interact, the push and pull between them, it's fascinating to watch. these are two people who are so dedicated to their country that they have created a family all to further the cause, and they can't question their cause, because then they'd have to question everything they've done in its name. and it's all so complicated. it's not just about patriotism, it's about marriage and family, it's about love. and keri russell and matthew rhys play all these layers so beautifully.

and i'll be honest, i kind of love that they fell in love while portraying these characters. and now they just had a kid and it's totally the best. those two people definitely needed to procreate. they are beautiful and the chemistry they share is just amazing.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

seriously romantic: wicked intentions by elizabeth hoyt

wicked intentions is the first book in elizabeth hoyt's maiden lane series. as of now there are 9 novels, with the 10th (duke of sin) publishing on tuesday, may 31st. i had read her previous series, the legend of the four soldiers, and liked the books a lot. so i'm not sure why i didn't read wicked intentions until now. i remember reading the excerpt, but i'm 85% positive i hadn't read the whole book. amazon reassures me that it has no record of me buying the book previously and i did go through a phase where i needed a break from historical romances, which probably explains why i hadn't picked up this series until now.

anyway, netgalley offered this book as a "read now" option, likely to drum up interest in the latest release. and guess what, the marketing worked! now i want to read the rest of the series, including the latest novel. wicked intentions takes place in the 18th century england, in the st. giles area of london, which during that time period was one of the poorest sectors of london and was riddled with crime and depravity. because this novel is the first of a series, a lot of time is spent not only establishing the area of st. giles known as maiden lane, but also a lot of groundwork is laid in getting to know secondary characters that will no doubt end up with starring roles in later novels. for the most part this is done somewhat organically, but the time spent establishing certain events that befall other characters takes away time from our two leads. both of whom have somewhat tortured backstories.

i do wonder if some of lord caire's back story was left out after editing? there are hints that he suffered some severe abuse, but the worst that is revealed is that he suffered extreme neglect. There is a hint that perhaps one of his early caregivers abused him, but it's never overtly stated in the manuscript and so remains a mystery even by the end of the novel. but wanting to know more about your characters isn't the worst thing in the world. it's certainly something that will keep me coming back for more in this series. temperance and lazarus are well matched, even up to their ridiculous names.

**i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/forever/grand central publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

seriously romantic: how not to fall by emily foster

i read how not to fall in one sitting it feels like, it was a quick, enjoyable read with lots and lots of sex. i'm putting that out there first, because if you don't like books with explicit and lots and lots of sex, then this is probably not the book for you. i am also going to advance warn you that this book is part 1 of a duology. so it totally ends on a cliffhanger and since i did not know that in advance i was a little bit frustrated and a little bit like "oh my god, how long do i have to wait for book 2?!" [the answer to that is not terribly long, just 7 months since it appears to be scheduled to publish in december 2016.]

this might seem weird, but i also researched the author a little bit after i read the book. the characters are super science nerds and what i learned about the author is that she has a phd and her area of study is human sexuality. and this all made so much sense to me. her background really does inform the book. i work in an academic setting and she described working in an academic research lab perfectly, which happens to be something that so rarely happens that i knew she had to have a background in what she was writing.

the other cool thing i learned is that part of her impetus for writing this book is that she read the 50 shades of grey books and was so frustrated and horrified by them that she felt obligated to write a sex-positive, feminist romance about characters in similar circumstances to anastasia and christian. full disclosure: i haven't ever read the shades of grey trilogy, i read an excerpt once and was horrified by how bad the writing was that i didn't even try to read the allegedly sexy parts. one thing i appreciate about those novels though is that they did seem to bring out into the open that reading erotica is normal thing to do.

and one thing that i liked about how not to fall is how the characters talk about and describe sex. one thing about romance novels is that they tend to use flowery prose to describe genitals and i always appreciate the novels that name body parts using their actual names. using the word penis or vagina shouldn't be unsexy. it should be normal, they happen to be generally the organs involved in sex. at least they are generally the main players, right. other things get involved but the penis and vagina get to be the stars of the show.

anyway, so like i said there is a lot of sex in this book. annabelle and charles are the ones having it. and they are hot together. annabelle is a super smart senior at indiana university who is moving to boston to get her md-phd at harvard. so she's brilliant. charles is a postdoc at the lab where annabelle works/studies at. she's in love-lust with him and propositions him during her last semester, but charles is an honorable guy and won't touch her until she's graduated. no matter how much he wants to. [an aside i just noticed that the character names begin with an/ch just like the ones from the e.l. james book, an homage perhaps? an acknowledgement that these novels may have sprung from the shades of grey books even though they are 100% better--at least as far as the writing goes.]

charles is a guy who likes to be in control. this isn't a bdsm novel, but the characters do fall into some sort of D/s roles. i actually read an interview with the author who describes charles as a service top, which is probably the best way to describe him. he likes to hold his pleasure back until annabelle has taken and received all the pleasure she possibly can. it's an interesting dynamic to read about. a lot of the science and psychology behind the story and the characters are really interesting. how not to fall is told entirely from annabelle's perspective, so at times charles can be frustrating as a character because we can't see his inner thoughts the way we do annabelle's. from the excerpt from how not to let go [book 2 of the series] i noticed that we did finally get a chapter from charles' pov and that will be an interesting addition to the story for book 2.

there is more than just sex here too. there's science and a story, and all of it is really good. i liked the characters, i was rooting for them, and given the way the story ended, i want more of them!

**how not to fall is scheduled to publish on june 28, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books. i received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, May 27, 2016

simply no, thank you

i so badly wanted to like amy poehler's memoir, yes please. because i love amy. i loved her on snl. i loved her on parks & recreation. i loved her when she hosted the golden globes. i loved her bits during the emmys. i think she is funny and smart and she has a lot of smart and funny friends. and she's been a comedy writer her whole career. you'd think that she would have written a very funny book, but she didn't. and for someone who talks about how badly she feels when a joke falls flat it's so disappointing that this was her best effort. it's like someone told amy, here's some money, write a book. but she had no idea what she wanted to write about and many ideas about what she didn't want to write about. for someone who seems to be open and committed to taking a bit as far as it can go, she does not do that here. the glimpses she gives us into amy poehler the person are too slight. and the stories she tells about the people she's met and how she got to where she is are too unfocussed and lack depth. one of the best chapters in the book is when she talks about the development of parks & rec. she gets michael schur to add footnotes to her memories of that time and the back and forth provides a light touch that the book desperately needed. she has so much affection for the series and yet it feels like she barely shares anything about it. for a memoir it's very strange because in many ways you feel like you know less about the person who wrote it after reading it than you did before you started.

instead it's probably best to think about moments like this on parks & rec. this moment felt more real than anything in the book. and that's saying something.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

something from the archives: after vegas - part 8

one last look at things from liz's point of view. the next chapter is more of an epilogue where everything gets tied up in a neat little package--or something like that. but before things end for good, there's just a little more to resolve after the jump. if you need to catch up here are links to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

simply unreal

so it's no big secret that i'm a huge fan of shiri appleby's. i loved her on roswell. and i've watched terrible shows like life unexpected just because she was on them. last summer she starred on this surprisingly amazing show called unreal. surprisingly amazing because this show airs on lifetime, a channel better known for it's cheesy movies of the week instead of cutting edge black comedies.

unreal takes on the reality dating television genre and exposes the manipulative, overproduced underbellies of shows like the bachelor. it is totally awesome. shiri appelby plays a girl named rachel. rachel is a total mess. she keeps meaning to improve her life and do worthier things with it, but keeps getting sucked into the game by her frenemy and boss quinn, played by the always amazing constance zimmer. the first season was spectacular and i am so excited for season 2. because i know it will be totally amazing. there is so much juicy stuff to be had. 

especially since this season there is a new bachelor--which makes me a little sad because i loved freddie stroma and his incredible chemistry with shiri and i have heard rumors he might be back, but he will probably not be a lead and i just loved his character in season 1 even though he was a total douche. but this season's new bachelor is black, which is kind of rad considering that the real bachelor franchise has never had a black lead bachelor/bachelorette in its 20+ seasons on television. sometimes while watching unreal i wish that it were real. even though i haven't watched the bachelor in fifteen years. season 2 premieres on june 6th, and i, for one, can't wait.