Thursday, June 30, 2011

With a Little Help From my Friends


Yesterday I wrote about the A-Z reading Challenge that I'm doing at the moment. As part of that I'm choosing books which have been on my TBR pile for a long time, sometimes over 2 years.  I thought it would be fun to put a little bit in my A-Z Challenge reviews about why I bought the books.  This hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be because sometimes it's difficult to remember what made you click that 'add to basket' button.  However, after much wracking of brains I could pretty much come up with what drew me to that book in the first place.

Now there have been various reasons why I bought these books.  Sometimes it's been because I read an author interview, or met the author; sometimes it's been because I just saw the blurb and thought it sounded great; sometimes it's been because the book was free in a give-away or publisher promotion.  However, the single biggest reason for me buying one of these books seems to be because it was recommended by another blogger, either in a review, or a post like this one, or in general discussion in comments, or at Good Reads or on Twitter.

It made me realise how much I depend on my blogging friends who run review sites or comment on blogs for my book recommendations.  What would I do without you guys, huh?  Well, apart from having fewer books and a lighter purse!  If it wasn't for my friends who share my love of m/m romance I would be floundering in the dark when it came to book buying.

So today I just want to give you all a big hug and thank you for being such great enablers!  For reading books, sharing your views and providing me with great recommendations. I feel all teary-eyed just thinking about you all.  Sometimes I feel that reviewers are a bit of an under-appreciated bunch of people, unless of course we're giving out 5 stars :), but I appreciate the work that you do and the time spent doing it.  After all, the 300+ books on my TBR pile says you must be doing something right!

Reading Challenges


Up until recently I've never taken part in one of the myriad of reading challenges that there are around and about in blogworld.  I have a few reasons for this but the main one is that my life is already crazy-busy as it is with many demands on my time. I run my own blog at Well Read, another review site with Tam, Brief Encounters reviews where we review m/m romance short stories and I also guest review at Reviews by Jessewave and Three Dollar Bill Reviews.  This means I've always got at least two books and 5 short stories a week which I HAVE to read if I'm going to keep up with my blogging commitments.  Crazy, huh?  Just as crazy as some of you out there who run blogs, I expect.  So after all that why would anyone want to then impose further on their reading by taking part in reading challenges? It certainly left me scratching my head.

Until recently.

Something odd happened to me a few weeks ago, which links a little with what Lesley blogged about on Monday. I got bored with reading.  I still kept up my reviewing commitments but when I did get the opportunity to choose something from my own personal TBR pile, all I got was a case of the blahs.  Nothing appealed.  I've got about 300 ebooks on my TBR pile and I didn't fancy reading any of them.  I still wanted to read m/m romance but I think I was just so overwhelmed by the size of the TBR pile, I didn't know where to start.

It was at that point that I noticed my blogging mates Lily and Tam were doing a challenge that Lily had made up called the A-Z Challenge.  This basically entails choosing a book from your TBR pile beginning with A, reading it and posting a short review on your blog, then you move onto B etc.  For some reason this challenge appealed to me - maybe because it's so systematic - and so I decided to give it a go with the added twist that I would choose the book which has been on my TBR pile the longest that began with the right letter.  I began with After Anna by Theda Black and haven't looked back since.

The main benefit for me of taking part in the challenge it that it has rejuvenated my reading. I now look forward to choosing the next book in the challenge and I get a little frustrated when I have all my pesky reviewing reading to do first!  I'm currently up to N - Nikolai by Angelia Sparrow - and really enjoying it.  Another benefit is that I'm shifting the older books from my TBR pile and remembering why I bought them in the first place.  It's all been great fun!

I don't think this means I'm going to start taking part in all the reading challenges out there, but this one certainly worked for me.  How about you? Have you been taking part in a challenge that revitalised your reading, or have you found them to be just another chore or commitment you wish you hadn't decided to take part in?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And the Winner is....

Just before I announce who won the copy of Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews. I wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented on my posts over the last couple of days. I really am stuck in a reading rut and was getting a tad disheartened (as reading is something I love) so I'm glad I a)am not alone in feeling this way every so often and b) now have some ideas on how to change my reading habits.

The winner of the book is

SidneyKay

who was the 8th poster who (hopefully) wanted to join in the giveaway and who wasn't me. The number chosen by random.org was 8 from 13. I've sent you an e-mail so please check your spam if it doesn't show up.

And fingers crossed, the next time it's my turn to post on the blog I'll have much more fun-filled book themed posts to share with you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Change of Genre

So yesterday, I posted that a change of genre might be in order.

But which genre to change to?

In my reading life I have tried - category romance, historical romance, horror, science fiction, m/m romance, urban fantasy, crime, suspense.

Maybe the reason I'm suffering from reading fatigue now is because I have a tendency to glom*, and glom big. Not just authors but genres too. Maybe I've just overindulged to the point where I've made myself sick.

If I wanted to change to a new genre which would I pick?

True Crime - I find about as appealing as the prospect of having bamboo splinters pushed under my fingernails.

Chick Lit - (see comment next to True Crime).

Fantasy - Feels like too big of a commitment. I mean, there are some long series in urban fantasy but at least they're made up of normal sized books and not doorstops. (Though I have a little confession to make here, I have just bought Game of Thrones, but only after I started to go into withdrawal after the series ended. This may be the start of something.)

Steam Punk - I admit I do find this genre quite appealing. Anyone have recommendations?

Surely there are lots of other genres out there for me to try? And failing that aren't there any brilliant new urban fantasy authors for me to discover?

However, having seriously thought about the main cause of my reading fatigue. I fear that actually the fact is that I've just let my TBR pile get far too big to cope with. And I'm more than a little bit overwhelmed at the prospect of the number of books I need to read to get it under control. So any tips on that would be most welcome - as I'm sure I'm not the only one in that boat.

Don't forget if you make a comment on this thread, your name will go into the draw for a copy of Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews. Winner to be chosen by random number at random.org and announced on Wednesday.

* - as an aside, does anyone have a definition of glom, as it refers to reading? The ones at dictionary.com don't seem to, so I'm assuming it's a new use of the word or else I'm using completely the wrong word.

Monday, June 27, 2011

When Addiction Fades...

My 'About Me' on my blog says - I am a voracious reader and book addict.

However, recently I'm starting to feel that might no longer be the case. I have a horrifying confession to make.

Hello, my name's Lesley and I'm a former book addict. :(

It used to be the thing that as soon as I finished one book I had to start reading the next immediately. Now I can sometimes go for days at a time without reading a page.

I hope they don't kick me off the Island.

This is an addiction that I don't want to break...so what to do? In the case of any other addiction I'd be looking for something stronger or taking more of what I'm addicted to. But that doesn't really apply in this situation.

Maybe it's a case of genre fatigue? I have been reading urban fantasy for a very long time, it's probably the genre to which I have been most faithful. But I think that's for a very good reason - when it's written well, I think it's the best genre there is (IMO of course).

Maybe it's the case that the books in my TBR pile have started to feel a little interchangeable - whether it's a persecuted band of vampires, or a persecuted pack of werewolves, or a persecuted coven of witches...yawn. There doesn't feel like there's an incentive to pick up anything off the shelf.

(I'm not saying that I haven't got original stuff on my TBR pile - there is some really good stuff there - Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts, Seanan McGuire's October Daye - but it feels like such a small amount of it).

Maybe it's the case that I need to take a break from reading for a while? And come back to it, fresh and eager. To be honest it could just be a lack of enthusiasm. But if that's the case - Why do I feel like this? Why isn't there something out there to inspire me to read and read a lot?

Am I the only person who feels like this, or just the only person who feels like this at the moment? Does anyone have any suggestions for breaking out of this reading fatigue? Have you gone through it yourself? Do you think it's on the increase, and if so why?

I have a copy of Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews to give to one commenter who posts either on this thread or my Tuesday thread. Winner to be chosen by random number at random.org and announced on Wednesday.

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 28 New Releases

These are a few of the June 28 book releases I have been waiting on. I'm horrible at formatting pictures in Blogger, so I am providing links instead of covers. All the links go to Amazon.

Never Cry Wolf by Cynthia Eden I've never read this author before, but I thought this looked really interesting.

Chasin' Eight (Rough Riders, book 11) by Lorelei James Lord, I think I have read every single one of this series and I love them. This is Chase McKay's book.

Waking Up With the Duke (London's Greatest Lovers) by Lorraine Heath I went on a backlist frenzy with this author about a month ago. I love her historicals.

Silk Is For Seduction ( The Dressmakers) by Loretta Chase This is the first book in a new series and I can't wait. Loretta Chase is an auto-buy for me.

Deeper Than Midnight ( The Midnight Breed, Book 9) by Lara Adrian I haven't kept up with this series but I loved the first 3 books so when I saw this one I thought I would get back in the saddle again.

So does anyone have any other suggestions of new releases for June 28? What am I missing? Go ahead and pimp your favorite authors new releases!

July looks like another big month of releases and more credit card abuse for me as well with releases from Julie Garwood - ebook release of The Prize, Elizabeth Jennings, Lydia Dare, Jennifer Estep & Jenna Black.

The last two authors listed above are releasing YA novels. I think Jennifer Estep's is the first in a new series, Touch of Frost, and Jenna Black's release, Sirensong, is the 3rd book in her YA series.

As of July, all of Julie Garwood's backlist of medievals will be out in ebook format and she has a new contemp out August 9, The Ideal Man, that looks really good. I read the excerpt of it when I bought the Kindle edition of Saving Grace.

So yeah...August looks busy too!

What are you looking forward to?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Howdy London!

The hub and I are taking a trip to London in August and I'm so excited. I'm a big history geek and I will finally get to see all those places I've read about in my favorite books!

We started planning this trip last summer intending to go in April. Then they announced the royal wedding and there went all our plans. Because we didn't really want to fight those crowds. So then we decided to go in May and a co-worker of my husband, who lives in England, told us to wait til August so the kids will be back in school and the tourist spots won't be so crowded.

BUT. You guys. There are so many, many decisions.

Like, what will we do? Where will we stay? Where will we eat? Will our magnetic-stripe credit cards work over there? Will my cell phone work over there? Will my ATM card work over there? Should we get a Oyster Card or a Travelcard? Should we stay in London the whole week or take a day trip somewhere? If so, where? How the freakin hell do we get from the airport to our hotel?

That last one has been my biggest pain in the ass. Everywhere I've stayed before, the hotel has a free shuttle service to and from the airport. But for the life of me, I can't find one in London that offers this service.

Everyone on the travel message boards all say "Oh, it's so easy. Just take the Tube. Then take a taxi to your hotel." What? That's easy???? No. That is not easy. Easy is getting on the shuttle bus at the airport that has your hotel name on it and it drops you off at the front doors of your hotel. For free. THAT. That's easy.

I've never been in a subway but I've seen pictures and that is what I assume the Tube looks like. Full of people and not a lot of space. So I can just imagine the glee all the Tube riders will feel when we come gamboling aboard with our luggage. I'm afraid that they will all give us the universal Bitchface. You know the face of which I speak. The one people give you when they think you're a moron and you're upsetting their life by being a moron. Yes. That face. I hate that face. I really don't want to see that face.

Especially after 10 hours on a plane.

If I get the Bitchface aimed at me after 10 exhausting & uncomfortable hours on a plane, you can expect me to react in 1 of 3 ways:

1) Cranky- Which means I will probably run over your toes with my rolling luggage wheels just for giving me grief.

2) Giddy- When I see you give me said Bitchface, I will giggle hysterically in your face.

3) Traumatized- I will burst into tears, because I will have forgotten that good things exist in the world.

Who knows which one it will be? I'm unpredictable.

I've already warned my husband and he's decided to travel with me anyway. He's a brave man.

So I need your help. What are your recommendations for hotels, restaurants, bookstores, site seeing, types of clothes to wear in August in London, any advice you've got will be most appreciated!

Including how to get to and from the hotel and airport please, without getting the Bitchface.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eye-catching Actresses

Sidney Kay from Kay's Blog again. When I was here in the winter (February 28, 2011) I shared my Titillating Villains with you. Now we are going to journey to the other end of the spectrum - eye-catching actresses! We are going into stunning, striking, lovely, sexy land. Now, I'm not talking about all those pretty actresses that inhabit current Movieville, because let's be honest here - those people are not of this world. What I'm talking about are the vamps, sirens, sex-goddesses of their time, actresses who have a quality that suggests they're gorgeous or sexy or sensual, and sometimes they are - some of them are beyond what a normal person should be and I'm just glad those particular glitterers are not my sister or my neighbor and that I, a mere mortal, do not have to compete with them. Well, here is my list of actresses that I feel have a captivating presence and none of them were born after 1940.

1. Theda Bara - 1885-1955. To have a list of sexy/sensual actresses and not include Theda Bara would be a shame. She started it all! She was the vamp, the villainess, using her sexual aura to enslave weak men and destroy them. She must have appeared to be quite an object of fascination when projected on the big screen. And, sadly most of her films were destroyed in a fire.

2. Marilyn Monroe - 1926-1962. One of the few on my list whose body of work is mostly in color. And, hey, I can't have a list about actresses who are sensual without one of my all-time favorites. Even though I would not call Monroe knock down dead gorgeous, there's no denying her sex appeal and Marilyn just glows in her early films. Plus, her comedic timing is a wonder to behold. If you want to see her in a serious role, take a gander at Don't Bother to Knock, a very disturbing, poignant performance. My all-time favorite Marilyn guilty pleasure is Niagara. She is so over-the-top sexual in this film and the moment she slinks out in that red dress and sings off-key is truly a campy Hollywood moment. And, for a sexy-campy moment watch for the wiggle-waddle walk down the street in Niagara.

3. Ava Gardner - 1922-1990. Gorgeous. In my opinion Gardner was one of the most beautiful actresses to ever hit the big screen. Take a look at this photo of her at 16 - amazing! And, as with Elizabeth Taylor, how would you ever compete with that? I've always wondered how being that beautiful would affect someone... would things come too easy... would you want to get away from it all? And what happens as you age, when what was admired fades away? From what I've read about her, she didn't suffer fools lightly; she meant what she said, she lived hard and enjoyed almost every minute of it. My favorite Gardner movies are The Killers and Barefoot Contessa.

4. Mae West 1893-1980. Ah, what a broad. Is there anyone out there that doesn't know one of her quotes? And, here's another example of a woman who didn't put up with fools. She was ahead of her time - bigger than life - ballsy. She was the master of the double entendre. A number of her films (with her screenplays) were before the heavy hand of Hollywood production codes. She was not necessarily pretty... but totally mesmerizing. And if you want to see her in action, check out I'm No Angel and watch the I Wonder Where my Easy Rider's Gone song - remarkable!

5. Marlene Dietrich 1901-1992. Glamourous... never had a face lift, but used tons of tape to keep her sagging skin tight. Here is a great example of how lighting effects make an actress luminescent. Now, I liked to watch Marlene on the screen, but I always thought she was a bit of an over-actor - she had a bit of that silent acting emoting feel about her - but nonetheless she's still sexy and she is one of the best examples of androgynous image on the screen, ever. Favorite movies: Morrocco, Shanghai Express. Guilty pleasure: Foreign Affair.

6. Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011. When watching her on screen one has to be careful, because we have a tendency to notice only her beauty and ignore her acting. And she did some dandy acting in her day, the best of which would probably be Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (oddly enough in this movie one isn't distracted by her looks - maybe because she put on weight and uglied herself up for the role). However, one of the best examples of being spellbound by her image on screen is her close-up, her "tell momma all" moment in A Place in the Sun - if you haven't seen that movie, you really should - mesmerizing.

7. Greta Garbo - 1905-1990. Great lighting and great make-up - look at the line drawn to emphasize her heavy eyelids. I've always been a big fan of Ms. Garbo - not only did she look great but she sounded great also. "Give me a vhiskey, ginger-ale on the side." And, yes you may have heard about the ending scene from Queen Christina and how it was one of her best moments, but for me one of my favorite performances was from Anna Karenina. Just watch her as she descends those steps, with a creepy Basil Rathbone yelling at her that she will never see her son again. Favorite movie: Ninotchka.

8. Anna Magnani - 1908-1973. I can hear you now... how did she get on the list of glamorous, sexy women? Well, I did say that some of these women were not what one would consider beautiful, but they had an inner quality that made them appear striking and sensual. And Ms. Magnani had these qualities big time - oodles. If any woman could be called earthy, it was Ms. Magnani. I remember my mother covering my eyes when she took me to see The Rose Tattoo. (My mother was always choosing the wrong kind of movies for a young child - I guess she never read the reviews.) My guilty pleasure: The Secret of Santa Vittoria.

9. Silvano Mangano - 1930-1989. Mangano, was a wonderful Italian actress who doesn't quite get the recognition she deserved. She wasn't quite as earthy as Magnani or Loren, but she was absolutely gorgeous, almost fragile. Watch her in Bitter Rice, Death in Venice...but my favorite gem that she's in is Gold of Naples. Don't ever pass up a chance to see this movie. It has 5 short stories in it, one of which stars Mangano with a horrible husband and another of the stories has a very young...

10. Sophia Loren - 1934-? - What can I say? It must be those big lips. Back to Gold of Naples, beside Mangano we have Loren. And, she steals the show as the happy adulterous pizza maker... great movie. While Sophia Loren excels in comedy, don't miss her Oscar-winning performance in Two Women. My guilty pleasure: Houseboat with Cary Grant

11. Ingrid Bergman 1915-1982 - What I call a natural beauty. This is one of those occasions when beauty matches the acting ability. And, she even looks great with short hair. She had it all: sensuality, humor, great acting... and no one can cry better than Ingrid Bergman. My favorite film is, of course, Casablanca, but don't forget her wonderful performances in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Gaslight. Versatile actress.

12. Carole Lombard 1908-1942. Who said funny wasn't sexy? Not me. Carole Lombard was one of the best comedic actresses around and she did it all with a sensual quality. She was a master of the screwball comedy, and played ditzy to the hilt. She held her own against some top actors of the day. She was also another very strong woman, and had a reputation for speaking her mind, employing some salty language in the process. If you've never seen any of her films there are three that are a must: Nothing Sacred, Twentieth Century and My Man Godfrey. My Man Godfrey is one of my all-time favorite movies, though Twentieth Century is fascinating to watch as John Barrymore and Carole attempt to out-ham each other.

13. Machiko Kyo, 1924-? . Now, we have an example of an actress I haven't seen much of, but in the first movie I saw her in, Rashomon, she was spellbinding. (Ignore her hysterical laughter.) When this movie begins, there's sort of a slow moving, sensual feel about it and then she appears riding on the horse and a breeze blows that veil away... and the thief's sword rises... this moment is probably one of the most breathtakingly photographed scenes in a movie. It's simply beautiful. And, that's why she's on my list.

14. Jean Harlow, 1911-1937. Jean Harlow happens to be one of those actresses whose personality is what draws the eye to her. She has a reputation for being beautiful, but she's not really - she has a funny nose, deep cleft chin, and sometimes dark circles under her eyes. She is sexy in a bombastic sort of way - her sexuality is at times way over the top. I much prefer her comedic moments to her blatant sexual films. She holds her own with Wallace Beery in Dinner at Eight, a real gem. My favorite Harlow movie is Libeled Lady - the scenes between her and William Powell are a hoot. One of her best roles.

15. Dorothy Dandridge, 1922-1965. What a great combination, of beauty, innocence and sex appeal - and an example of too little on the screen, studio type-casting and racism. The role she's best remembered for is Carmen Jones and she is fantastic in it; however, there are some shorts out there when she was pretty young and what I'd call spunky. And there is a short clip of her with the Nicholas Brothers from Sun Valley Serenade, a forgettable movie except for the moment she's on the screen with the brothers singing and dancing. A lot of talent that never saw its full potential.

16. Loretta Young, 1913-2000. Now for some reason I've never been able to fathom, Loretta Young never makes any list. Well, we are taking care of that right now! By the way, there were three Young sisters, and they were all stunners. She had those really high cheekbones, and the gigantic humongous eyes. This photo of her is of a very young, gorgeous woman who just happens to be a dandy actress - yes, she also won an Oscar. However, my favorite movie of hers is The Stranger with Orson Welles. Watch her as she slowly starts to unravel. Under-appreciated, almost forgotten, lovely Loretta Young.

17. Anna Mae Wong, 1905-1961. There's a movie out there called Shanghai Express, starring the beautiful Marlene Dietrich. But stealing the scenes from her is another forgotten actresses, Anna Mae Wong. She was a Chinese-American actress who started out in the silent movies. She never made it into the land of leading ladies because she was never allowed to kiss on screen and we all know that is one thing a leading lady must do. She was typecast in numerous roles, asked to speak in broken English and eventually became fed up with the Hollywood system. Anna Mae was an exotic woman who should have had a bigger screen presence.

18. Joan Crawford, 1905-1977. Before the eyebrows and shoulder pads, Crawford was luminous and another example of great lighting. I also think if ever an American actress had the ability to be earthy, she could have been. Just look at Rain. Crawford never took prisoners, and had a smoldering way of looking at men. She was no shrinking violet, she knew what they wanted and she wasn't afraid to give it to them, even if they had a wife. One of her best lines: "Thanks for the tip. But when anything I wear doesn't please Stephen, I take it off." Guilty pleasures are: The Women and When Ladies Meet. Also, just because we like campy movies, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Talk about eyebrows!

19. Gene Tierney, 1920-1991. What I'd call stunning, with just a little vulnerable, a pinch of mystery and a dab of sensuality. (With an occasional mad streak thrown in just for laughs.) I'm sure everyone remembers her from Laura, the mysterious murder victim that the uncouth hard-drinking detective falls for, but I'm fond of her sweet-sexy portrayal of Mrs. Muir in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. However, I think my favorite Tierney movie is Leave Her to Heaven... nothing better than a stunning woman being so creepy!

20. Hedy Lamarr, 1913-2000. Stunning, exotic, sexy... but can she act? Not really, but when she's up on the screen you really don't notice the bad acting, and she had a second career as an inventor and scientist! She first became noticed after appearing in a Czechoslovakian movie called Ecstasy, swimming in the nude. She is mesmerizing in Algiers, if you can get past the over-dramatic Charles Boyer (what is he saying?). And the cheesiest movie she was in was the horribly hammy Samson and Delilah, and in technicolor no less! My favorite Lamarr guilty pleasure is My Favorite Spy with Bob Hope.

Honorourable mentions: Clara Bow, Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Merle Oberon, Dorothy Lamour, Constance Bennett, Joan Bennett, Kay Francis, Catherine Deneuve, Monica Vitti, Nina Mae McKinney, Anouk Aimee. I'm sure you noticed that Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis didn't make my list. While I may think high cheekbones are sexy, I draw the line at protruding collar bones. And Bette Davis...I'll save her for my great actress list. What are some of your siren, vamp, sexy actresses? Are there current actresses that could compete with some of the classics? When you read books, do you ever picture an actress as the heroine?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adventures with Pirates or The Windflower by Laura London aka Sharon and Tom Curtis

Ahoy, Matey!!! Shiver me timbers, a scurvy pirate story!!!

SidneyKay again from Kay's Blog and as I've said a kazillion times, I've never been a big fan of pirate stories; however, w-a-y back in 1984 there was a wonderful gem of a pirate romance written called The Windflower. Written by the husband and wife team Tom and Sharon Curtis under the nom de plume of Laura London, it has long since been considered a classic in Romanceland circles. Now, whenever I reread a much loved book, I always cross my fingers. Some book hold up over time, but others have me scratching my head over how much my taste has changed over the years. So, crossing my fingers I opened The Windflower. Drum roll please...

Right away, I was struck with a difference in language. It's amazing how much romance language has changed in 27 years, and yes, that is a short period of time if you consider the whole history of romance books. The very first sentence, "Merry Patricia Wilding was sitting on a cobblestone wall, sketching three rutabagas and daydreaming about the unicorn," had me grinning and rubbing my hands together in anticipation. It was the rutabagas that grabbed me right away. This book is filled with wonderful prose, delightful plot-lines and fantastic characters.

Let's talk about the prose. I think over the years, I have become lazy while reading my books. I am used to historical books that make clear statements in almost modern language, and every once in a while a lovely poetic line is thrown in for our edification. The Windflower, on the other hand, is filled with wonderful lyrical words and I loved every minute of reading them. Now, this was not the flowery words that one might run into if one were reading, say, a Katherine Woodiwiss. And granted there were some phrases that if they were said to me by a real man might elicit a giggle. However, in the context of the book they brought on Ahhh moments. For instance our hero, Devon, whispers to Merry, "Love, together we can find where clouds are born." See, husband=giggle, Devon=Ahhhh. Wonderful language!

Now the plot-line/s. We have the standard aristocrat-turned-pirate-but-he's-really-a-good-guy-because-he-is-spying-for-his-country meets the kidnapped-innocent-mistaken-for-a-whore-virgin heroine. Nothing new here and let me tell you, it wasn't new in 1984. However, in the hands of Sharon and Tom, the plot-line turns into a magical adventure. Even with scurvy soft-hearted pirates who all fall in love with Merry.

Characters! What a bunch of well-written personalities on board this ship. These are not flat cardboard people inhabiting the pages of this book. And, for those of you who have read this book, I know you can all empathize with me when I sniffle over the wonderful sequels that should have been, but never were. From the enigmatic Rand Morgan to the handsome Raven and finally the mysterious, cold-blooded Cat. Never was there a character in a romance novel that screamed sequel more than Cat! Love Cat! And then there's Merry. What a young, young, heroine. She's almost irritating in the beginning, so innocent, so naive and constantly crying. But, then she's 18 and she's just been kidnapped and deposited on a boatload of pirates, so who wouldn't cry. Throughout the book we watch her grow and we fall in love with her at the same time the pirate crew does. Her relationship with Cat is touching and at times humorous. I chuckled when he was whining about the manner in which she told him she was having her period. She left a note on the table for him and while he was reading it, she hid under a nearby blanket.

Even though I enjoyed reading The Windflower again, this is not to say I didn't have a problem with some things. In one word, Devon. Don't get me wrong, Devon made a great hero. But there were times when he was too silent, too obscure, too mysterious and too brutal in his treatment of Merry. However, he was just a minor hiccup.

This book has an advantage over books that are written now - it's over 500 pages in length, so the authors had time to develop their tale. There isn't the mad rush to tie up loose ends. I wish that books written now could be the same length, because it does make a difference. Of course, there is also the fact that Sharon and Tom Curtis were great writers. I said were because they seem to have retired around 1996. They are published under Laura London, Robin James and Sharon and Tom Curtis. I wish they were still writing and I dream of the day when Cat's sequel will hit the bookstores. However, I know how hard it would be for them to pick up the cadence of writing after an absence of 15 years, but a person can wish, can't they?

So, for those of you who have never read this book, you really should. The Windflower has stood up to the passage of time pretty well. This is the Curtis' crowning achievement and I found it to be a delightful, beautifully told story. And, I loved the words!

Time/Place: Regency Pirate Ship
Rating:
Sensuality Rating: Almost Hot

Monday, June 20, 2011

Distractions, Miscellaneous Ponderings, Puleese Moments, Eye-brows up and Bedroom Icks

Sidney Kay here from Kay's Blog. Just recently I was reading a romance novel and I had one of those moments…yes, I was distracted, I confess. I know that I'm not alone in this, but before I get too far into my story, let me set the stage.

It was a story similar to others and up to the distracting moment I was enjoying the book immensely. We had our spunky, stubborn, pretty-but-doesn't-know-it heroine - let's call her Daphne Minx-Tart. As some of our heroines oft times do, the virgin Daphne was riding in the park in the morning without a chaperon. So, you see historical accuracy was not the strong point of this book; however, I digress. Now, for some reason I don't remember, our heroine Daphne had dismounted and was leading her horse through the foggy park. Did I forget to say it was foggy? Anyway, as luck would have it our hero - let's call him Damien Gabriel Adrian Hawkeshunghuge, or as his friends call him, Hawk. Anyway, Hawk was galloping through the foggy park, almost running over our heroine. In the process his big old horse startles Daphne's big old horse and her big old horse steps on her dainty heroine feet - ouchy! Well, we do not call Hawk a hero for nothing, no sir. He jumps from his horse, in manly fashion, for he must rescue our fair damsel. Swinging her up into his manly studly arms, for he must inspect her foot from the giant horse crunch… it might be bruised, crushed, broken, or ye gads, squished! So, after picking her up in his muscle-bound arms (he must work out at Jackson's) he deposits her under a nearby tree and proceeds to remove her boot. Now, if it were me, even through all of the intense pain that would be caused by a large animal with hooves stepping on my foot, one of the first thoughts that would have passed through my pain-inflicted mind would be, "Don't take off my boots, my feet have been in them all morning and they are sweaty and smelly!" But, then I'm not the heroine. Heroines don't have smelly feet and, besides, our heroine is entranced by his silver eyes, chestnut-highlighted raven hair and cat-like movements as he slowly lifts her skirt, running his hands sensually up her leg to her garter. He languidly pulls the ribbon from the garter and slowly rolls her stockings down her smooth leg. Um, smooth leg? It was at this point my mind started to wander, and I became distracted by my own thoughts. Smooth legs, my eye - she'd have hairy legs. Oh sure, they'd be soft hairy legs, but hairy nonetheless! Wouldn't those hairy legs be glistening in the sun? Oh, I forgot, it's foggy. But wouldn't the hero see them? Would the hero be Ickified? Why aren't hairy legs ever mentioned in romance books? I'm pretty sure it isn't the sensibility of the hero that the author is concerned with, but us, the squeamish readers.

Yes, us we are squeamish, we are delicate, and as I reflect on the books I've read, I must admit that there have been tons of those moments - some are of my own making; however there have been plenty of authors that have chosen to include some squirm-inducing moments in their books. Some of them are mild; I call them my Puleese moments. But sometimes there are truly moments that classify as Ick. And I do recognize that my Ick moment may be your Puleese moment or maybe only an eyebrow raise moment, however - we've all read scenarios that stretch our personal boundaries and I've decided to share some more of mine with you.

First of all, there are some plot lines that just naturally lend themselves to a squirm fest. One of my big squirms is age difference. Nothing makes my stomach churn faster then a 35-year-old man caressing an 18-year-old girl. And, I don't care if it is supposedly historically accurate - be careful when you yell accuracy. Check those old bible records. A lot of younger men married in the olden golden days.

Dead bodies. Nothing says romance like being in a room with a dead body or trying to hide it or sitting it up or dragging it around. Now, I will admit to finding some shenanigans with dead bodies to be pretty funny... I like dark humor. But, I think the trick is to limit the exposure to the body, not have it there constantly. Because, really, how dumb do you have to be to not know that it's a dead body standing/laying/sitting there? And, authors, having sex anywhere close, on top of, or beside a dead body is downright disgusting!

Plot lines with pirates. All those smelly, scurvy, disease-laden men scampering around an enclosed space for months. Just the thought of those aromas lends itself to an Eeuuwww moment. How pirates made their way into romance novels, I'll never understand. It's been a long time since I read Windflower by Laura London, but I vaguely remember an almost idyllic cruise learning to mend sails and climb ropes. Nothing about smelly, stinky, dirty men with yellow teeth living in a confined dark space for hours on time. To say nothing of the food that must have been on those ships, there's a reason they are called "scurvy men." Let me set a scene for you - have you ever ridden in an elevator with someone who forgot their underarm deodorant? Just think about being in that elevator with 40 smelly underarm hairy guys. Pirate stories may not be written with ick/puleese/eeuuwww moments, but my mind just can't help creating them. And, I forgot the rats... let us not forget the germ-infested rats who accompany us on our journey.

And speaking of smells in elevators - you know what's as bad as arm-pit bouquet? Perfume. I know, I know, some of you have some wonderful perfume, but have you ever been trapped at a concert with a bunch of competing scents? And, the odor is usually strong because the fair lady just dumped a gallon of that beloved Christmas present all over herself or she's sprayed it in the air and walked through it or maybe just dabbed a little behind the ear, knee, elbow, tongue - whatever. I usually leave the theater with a raging headache from all the pungent odors. And, thanks to mother nature, the ability to smell things only increases with age. So, when I read a book in which the heroine is taking a bath in Lilac or Lily of the Valley or Lavender or Rose Water, my gag button goes off and I have an Eeuuwww moment. (I have no problems with lemon...)

Do you know what theme really makes tremendous Puleese and Ick moments! A road trip! Yep, nothing better! Now, be warned, road trips are not for the faint of heart - no baths, no underarm deodorant, no toothpaste, just two stinky, smelly lovers with bad breath trekking all over the countryside escaping our equally disgusting villain. (Not to mention no plumbing - just the thought of mother natures call in the woods makes me shudder.) It is on these road trips that we find out how truly heroic our hero is. Yes, all those manly Hawks are amazing - not only does the road trip not faze them, but it doesn't seem to slow down their sexual urges one iota. Of course, as a woman, I have always been aware of the ability of men to pee anywhere, anytime, in any position; but it wasn't until romance books that I became aware that they can have sex anywhere, anytime, in any position: riding a horse, riding in a carriage, in the front seat with a steering wheel, in the sand, in the water, under a waterfall, against a tree. And, why should having sex against a tree stop any man? They are not the ones having their back shredded by bark or having their feet caught in the steering wheel or sand in their orifices…

And, something else you should know about our heroes... evidently they don't sneeze, itch or have runny eyes or any reaction when hiding out in a barn. Let me tell you, hay/straw isn't soft. It scratches, it sticks to you, it somehow finds its way underneath your clothes, to say nothing of the dust motes floating in the air, especially if there has been any humping and bumping during the night. Imagine all those particles invading your nose. Sneezing, Coughing, Hacking… and Hot Sex! Puleese. And then the morning arrives, along with that wonderful, never-find-it-in-a-romance-book, morning breath yuckery moment.

Ahh, bad breath. I guess you do find it in romance books, but only the villain has it, never the hero, never Damien Gabriel Adrian Hawkeshunghuge or his lovely heroine with the liquid aquamarine eyes. (And do you know why they're liquid? Because she's been rolling around in the straw/hay with a kazillion dust particles.)

Now, what about those heroines who don't get to have road trips? Well, I'm here to tell you that even in a relatively clean environment we can have a few Icks. Imagine this, if you will: at last our hero, Hawk, has the vicar's daughter with the aquamarine eyes just where he wants her. After all, it may be her last chance to ever know what sex is really like before she disappears wherever it is she's going to disappear. So, our hero obliges and we are given some hot sweaty mind-gastic sex over and over- the best ever! Satiated they fall asleep in each others arms - regrets are for later. Morning dawns - our heroine is awakened by a strange sensation. Her body is awake with sensual fire! What's going on? What's causing this feeling? Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Wait! What's our hero up to? Well, he's up to about his ears - he's got his head buried in the valley of whankey-woo, gnawing away. Didn't this couple just boink the night away? Did at anytime during the night, either one of them get up to bathe? No! Wouldn't there be all kinds of love smeared all over? Starting to squirm! OMG! Ick! Ick and Ick! Someone take a bath Puleese! Authors: water = clean. Water is our friend and water can be sensual. Have them bathe one another before they start brunching.

Oh, and by the way all you wary Romanceland virgins, remember - when you decide to take the plunge do it on his side of the bed and let him sleep on the wet spot!

Butt-her-up. And, now for a Last Tango in Paris historical moment. Once upon a time, long long ago, a time when Erotica novels were beginning to dip their toes in the water, there was a book called Gabriel's Woman by Robin Schone. And, if you've read this book, you know where this is going. Now, let me tell you, fellow romance readers, there is a reason for twilight sleep when one has a colonoscopy - it's called pain! Imagine the trauma when the heroine in this book is rear-ended by Gabriel, our hero. (By the way, it was my trauma, the heroine loved it!) Now, the problem I had wasn't necessary the act itself but the size of our hero's Mr. Toad. This is not a normal sized kind of guy… no siree, not our hero. Why, his Mr. Toad could probably have touched his chin, to say nothing of the gigantic circumference, at least a 300 foot girth. OMG! Wouldn't something that big be extremely painful? Gabriel's Woman has the unique place in my Romanceland reading history for my biggest (and I do mean biggest) eye-opening Ick moment. (I may have exaggerated some points.)

Ahhh, I feel so much better now.

So, there you have it - some of my squirmy, squeamish, puleese, ick moments. What does this mean to the grand scheme of life? Probably nothing. Do these moments keep me from reading romance stories? Absolutely not! Love Romance stories! Oh sure, I've had moments that have thrown me out of the story and moments where I've actually not been able to finish the book. I will admit that a lot of times it is the mood I'm in that effects my reaction to particular passages in books. And, let's not forget, there are some authors who can seamlessly blend these squeamish moments into a great read. After all, one person's Ick is another person's Delectable. So, do you have something that distracts you every time you read it? Do you have something that makes you go yuck? Is there a book that you will remember always for having an incredibly eye-opening moment, whether it is good or bad?

And special thanks to George Cruikshank, James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Slave to Sensation Winner

Smexy's time at the island is over. I shall go lay on the beach and day dream about Khal with my big stack of books :) Can I say moob one last time? Ok, now I'm really going :)


The winner of the signed copy of Slave to Sensation is:

Danielle Gorman

Congrats! I've sent you an email.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Signed Copy of Slave to Sensation Up For Grabs

Hey - Smexy is back again today :)

I won’t talk about moobs today. I swear. *dreamy eyes* Just give me a minute.

*ahem* Okay I’m ready.

I was fortunate enough to meet Nalini Singh a few weeks ago at the Lori Foster Author/Reader Get Together. So much fun! When I got to talking to people about her books, I ran into many who said – oh I love her Guild Hunter books but have never read her Psy/Changeling series. Or vice versa. Smexy does not like to hear this! Her Psy/Changeling series is soooo sensual. I always make a note in my reviews about how she writes the most sexy shifters out there today. The tenth book in the series, Kiss of Snow just came out and it might just be the best one yet.

Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter, #4)Her Guild Hunter series is dark and intense – and the hero, Raphael is one bad ass. He doesn’t really soften up in the series, even though he is in love. I think that is so cool. And the heroine Elena is awesome, smart and has been put to the test. And she is definitely holding her own! The very naughty Dmitri is up next and I can’t wait.

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)I had Nalini sign a brand new copy of Slave to Sensation (Psy/Changeling #1) at Lori Foster’s and I would love to give it away today.

To enter, just tell me if you read either of her series, or if she is a new author to you. Open to everyone through today. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Smexy Has Found True Love

I have a small obsession with the television series, Game of Thrones. I have talked about it numerous times at Smexy Books and on Twitter – basically to anyone who will listen to me. So of course I must drag my obsession over to the island!


There is a character on the show, Khal Drogo who has basically become my husband fictional lover. He is a fierce, savage warrior (he likes to ravage women, but we are going to look past that). He has epic man-boobs, or “moobs” (and not the floppy, pasty white kind) and he is an all around smexy beast. The actor that plays him is Jason Momoa.

Just so happens, Jason Momoa has landed the part of Conan the Barbarian in the upcoming movie out this summer. And…it just so happens that Penguin is releasing, Conan the Barbarian by Michael Stackpole July 5th – a book based on the movie.

Conan the Barbarian
They even include photos from the movie in the middle of the book. My husband asked me if Conan was even a romance book. Pffffft hubs! Any book with Jason Momoa walking around in tattered clothing, with his moobs proudly displayed to the world is a romance book!


I hope Jason Momoa continues being typecast into these barbaric roles because apparently I was missing a savage warrior in my life. Have I asked hubs to grow out his hair, add 100 pounds of muscle weight, and slaughter something for me? Maybe I have.

So tell me what books I need to read, to experience more of these warrior-type men. I need recommendations because Game of Thrones is ending this weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Comfort Reads - 3

Today has been a long day. I think I've got to the point where I'm making those huffing sigh noises. *sigh* This is a sure sign of feeling drained.

Lucky I have the best partner in the world who took me to the movie's tonight. It was bliss. I know there are conflicting reviews, but for me Super 8 was pure magic. Made me laugh, jump out of my seat and almost shed a tear at the end. I loved it almost as much as I love the Goonies (which is surely the greatest movie ever!!). So, this last post is a bit more comfort movies than reads.
16 Candles.
The Goonies.
Disturbia.
Easy A.
Anything Miss Marple related.
and now Super 8. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Comfort Reads 2.

My next comfort reads on the list are Ginn Hale's Lord of the White Hell series. The 2nd book was one of the last reviews I did for my blog. After this review I think I suffered from reviewer burnout. I kinda lost the will to live regarding reviewing and ran out of words. I mean seriously, how many ways can one think of to say, ur book is made of awesomesauce. Now I just stick to stars on GR.

I've been wondering if the author will write more in this series. I don't think it needs to be done, the story is very much contained in the books, but I wish she would! I am enjoying her new series of books, but I would prefer something complete. I'm too impatient to wait each month for a new installment!

Lord of the White Hell is gorgeous romantic fantasy. There's just enough angst to make me a little maudlin and moochy. Plus there is some nicely smokin exploratory 1st time sex. The world building is exquisite and sitting in front of the fire reading them is pure pleasure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Comfort Reads 1.

Reading is one thing at the moment that I find comfort in. When work and family problems mean I'm lacking sleep and feeling petty crabby, reading seems to keep me from climbing the clock tower. In the last couple of weeks I've turned to my comfort reads. Books that I've read a gazillion times and that I can just curl up with in front of the fire. It's freezing at the moment!

My most recent comfort reads have been the Chicago Stars series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It seems silly to just mention one book when I've devoured two in the last 24 hours! Nobody's Baby But Mine and It Had To Be You. I just adore the whole series.

I think what appeals most is her unabashedly masculine characters who act like jerks. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's the big muscles or possibly it's the whole football thing. I am such a sucker for sports romance, even when they behave badly. Crazy, I know. But they make me smile just a bit with all their posturing and grumbling.

They've made me laugh, forget my troubles and escape for just a little while. Does anyone else have a favourite Chicago Stars novel??

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: The Rifter Part 4: Witches' Blood by Ginn Hale

Part four of The Rifter takes on a different structure to the previous two parts.  Instead of an equal focus between John and Kahlil, the book concentrates solely on John and his time in the monestary at Rathal'pesha.  This part of the story follows John for about 18 months as he tries to devote his time to helping out in the infirmary by 'taking on' the injuries of the ushiri'im when they attempt to travel through gray space, and by aiding Hann'yu in the day to day tasks in the infirmary.

There are several plot threads which we follow during these 140 odd pages.  The first thread is that of John's relationship with Ravishan.  Their forbidden feelings for each other grow despite both of them knowing the consequences should they be caught.  The moments they get with each other are snatched and furtive which lends a sadness to the romance, whilst also allowing the reader to see just how erotic a forbidden brush of fingers can be or a stolen hug.  It is in this theme where we see all of John's frustrations over his time in Basawar as compared to his previous life on Earth, and this frustration spills into other aspects of this part too.

Another theme is that of John's powers and their slow discovery by those around him.  Sometimes this is for good effect, such as when Ravishan discovers that John's 'gift' can aid him with gray space, but most of the time there is danger for John every time something new is discovered about him.  This theme is intertwined with that of John's growing horror of the way that witches are treated in Basawar, especially in the North where religion has such a grip on the populace.  This makes it even more imperative that John hide his powers in case he too is outed as a witch.  The way that John has to tread carefully with everything he says and does meant that the atmosphere in this part was tense and sombre.  There were several fraught filled moments, such as when John discovers he had a bad reaction to poison known to particularly affect witches, or the way that he can manipulate gray space, which brought me to the edge of my seat as I read on to see how this would be viewed by others.

One final theme which is explored in part four is John's growing animosity towards Ushman Dayyid, the man in charge of the ushiri'im.  Dayyid is suspicious of John and treats him with a malicious intent at all times.  Meanwhile, John's feelings for Dayyid are growing from a sullen annoyance to all out hatred.  This animosity between them is growing in intensity to the extent that it will go one of two ways: Either Dayyid will push John too far and he will end up doing something he later regrets; or the pair will end up having to set aside their differences and work together during a crisis.  I strongly suspect the former, but this author is nothing but surprising so we'll see!

I have to say that, apart from the first part of the series, this has to be my favourite part so far.  There's a sense of impending doom slowly filtering through the narrative which sends a shiver down my spine and made me very frustrated when I got the end of the part because I wanted to read on and find out more!  John's complexity as a character constantly develops and he is already a very changed man from the college student we meet in part one.  The descriptions of the city combine bleakness at the povety and the irrational religious fervour of the residents with the opulence of the richer aristocracy and the more temperant views of the intellectual Hann'yu.  This is not an easy read with some gruesome and macabre descriptions but I was hooked through the whole of part four and can't wait to read part five.

You can either buy this fourth part - and then any of the other parts - separately for $3.99 each, or buy the whole book at $29.95 and each month the new part will be sent to you via email. More information about this and the buy now page can be found HERE.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Oh PLOTbunny!

By Amy Lane

Where do I get my inspiration? Well, uhm, anywhere really…

So, I’m getting on an airplane, and the guy next to me is slightly built, with battered blue jeans, truly amazing brown and white saddle shoes, ginger hair, hazel eyes, freckled cheeks, and a sweet smile. Then he opens his mouth to tell me that I’ll never get my carry-on stashed overhead, and holy-crap-what-the-hell… his voice! It’s a knee-melting, panty-wetting amalgam of two of the world’s sexiest accents in the bottom octave, and I have to ask him where he’s from.

“Well, I came from Russia when I was eighteen, and then I lived in North Carolina for ten years, and I’ve been in Orlando for the last eight.”

Oh holy shit. There has got to be a story here. Oh geez, I so want to know how all that happened and Goddess I want to hear this kid talk some more and…

Oh PLOT-bunny!

There he is. A character. I’ll put him on file, because someday, somewhere, his perfect mate has yet to be created. And I don’t care if the living breathing human next to me wants to jump into the sack with another (tall, tanned, handsome, broad-chested, dark-haired, rugged-Canadian-wilderness) man or not. I just care that somewhere over New Mexico, he ceased to be merely the guy sleeping next to the window in the airplane and became one of my favoritest mammals ever.

The plotbunny.

Plotbunnies are funny critters. Although I write m/m, I find that little m/m plotbunnies humping in the recesses of my brain still procreate. There is no reason for it biologically—it must be some creative evolution thing, because I swear it’s true. The more I write, the more ideas I have, and just when I’m chin deep in soft, fuzzy, furry, humping plotbunnies, there’s suddenly a population explosion and I lose the battle to keep my head above plotbunny ass and just go down with the computer. Then it’s official.

I’m now the plotbunnies’ bitch.

They have me. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing—housework (don’t laugh, it happens!), shuttling children, watching soccer/dance/gymnastics oh my!—the plotbunnies have free reign and are going at it in free-for-all plotbunny sex, and I’m on permanent distraction!

This is not always a good thing.

Recently, I lost my car keys—they were later found in the world’s simplest place (don’t ask me to reveal the location to you—it would be the final humiliation) and my long-suffering husband tried very very hard not to just lose his nut and scream at me for the $300 bill to have the car towed so the electronic key could be programmed.

“I’m sorry,” I whimpered, guilt-ridden. “I think the little people made me lose it. I get so confused, you know?”

“The little people in the house?” he snapped. “Or the little people in your head?”

Well, he had me there.

But plotbunnies have their uses—it’s a good thing that they procreate so well, really, because they’re the writing dragon’s favorite food. The writing dragon—that terrible, unstoppable force that drags me to my computer in the wee hours of the morning, forcing me to write, to edit, to bring the things in my brain to painful life—he eats plotbunnies by the dozens. They give him strength to roar in my head, distract me further, drag me kicking and screaming into that twilight land where the voices in my head are the only voices that matter, and reality becomes a distant memory, like the memory of the ground under your feet in flight. By the time he’s done with me, I feel light and empty, free of plotbunnies, a shell of a writer, waiting to be filled.

And then it happens.

I’m driving down the road in the rain and my windshield wipers are making weird scratching sounds on the front window and I pull over at the gas station, trying to keep my five-year-old from asking too many questions I can’t answer. Suddenly, there he is. Five-foot-ten, sandy, shoulder-length blond hair, bright blue eyes, a round, appealing chin and cheekbones to die for, and he’s helping fat-ol-middle-aged me with my windshield wipers and he’s so sweet, and so kind, and such a nice boy and he gets into a battered Honda and waves and smiles and…

HelLO plotbunny!


You can find Amy at:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Keeper Cave

Ross: What is Rachel’s favorite movie?

Chandler: Dangerous Liaisons

Ross: What is her real favorite movie?

Joey: Weekend at Bernie’s!

Welcome to the Keeper Cave

By Amy Lane

We all do it—we do! If a professional from my old job asked me what my favorite book was? I’d tell him 1984, or maybe Emma, or Pride and Prejudice. If a friend or a relative asks me, I’ll fall back to sci-fi or fantasy, with maybe C.J. Cherryh or Melanie Rawn, or maybe Patricia McKillip as my favorite authors. If I’m with my UCF friends, I’ll spit out Kim Harrison, Illona Andrews and Patricia Briggs. My romance friends know I love Karen Marie Moning and Amanda Quick.

But it’s my m/m friends who know the truth.

It’s not that I don’t mention all of the above authors to my m/m friends. They know. We talk about our influences and which books or authors we loved when we were kids, and sure, these names will show up, because quality is quality. But there is some quality we keep to ourselves.

It is my m/m friends who know I’ve re-read Cut & Run, Sticks & Stones, and Fish & Chips about three times a piece. It’s my m/m friends who know that I’ve gone back and read the end of Change of Heart more times that I can count, or that Sinners and Saints made me cry or that even though it was a little past my comfort zone, I still found the eroticism of Nowhere Ranch incredibly hot.

In some ways, it’s my m/m friends who know the real me.

I love that clip from Friends at the top—because to me, that there is real friendship. It is not just knowing the person who watched the erudite movie and appreciated it on an intellectual level. Friendship is knowing the deepest, darkest secrets on a person’s keeper shelf and not drawing any judgments.

Think about it—do you have some of your favorite books in the ‘keeper cave’? Is there a special place in your Kindle for books you don’t want your work friends to know about? What are we afraid these shadow books are going to say about us?

Now I can be, in some cases, the world’s LEAST discreet person on the planet—I find compartmentalization to be incredibly hard. The person I am when I wake up, trip over the cat and run into the bathroom door in the morning is the same person who talks to the dog, gets pantsed by the same cat in the hallway, and asks the kid to please stop putting temporary tattoos on the wall in the afternoon. I’ve kept a blog for five years, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve become adept at spilling stuff my family really wishes wouldn’t be immortalized in cyberspace. Humiliating my nearest and dearest—and myself with TMI? Oh baby, there should be an award for it—I’d win hands down!

But I have a keeper cave—and not the one in the porn drawer, either. I have guilty pleasures that are guilty enough to only tell the select few whom I know will understand.

And it’s the ‘will understand’ part that’s the hardest. Literature is something incredibly personal to us, isn’t it? Reading a book is an act of extraordinary intimacy, a personal tryst with another human’s imagination, and quite frankly, we don’t want anyone who doesn’t understand that relationship to be able to comment. In a way, it’s almost like sex itself. We don’t want to have it with someone who’s going to laugh at our scars and our imperfect bodies and then go tell people what a horrible experience we were in bed, and we don’t want to share a book with someone who’s going to tell us that our choice of brain-partners is not stimulating enough or who goes and gossips about us to their friends and to revel in their superiority of literary choices. We really only trust people who will understand us—and those are the people we let into the keeper cave.

And it’s an honor—it’s an honor to be invited to view someone’s keeper cave, it’s an honor to be on the shelves of a keeper cave. That entire, shyly hidden part of a friend’s personality is an honor to visit and an honor to see. Thank the Goddess for those friends who’ve been invited, who have issued the invites, who shyly give us a glimpse of who they really are with the faith that we will love that part of them too. And really thank her for those who visit our own keeper caves, and do nothing more than ask to browse—or sometimes, to dust.

I often wish I were a graphic artist—I think I could make some awesome greeting cards. I would love, for instance, to make thank you cards to be sold at bookstores that say “Welcome to the Keeper Cave. I know you’ll be at home.” Those of us who have that keeper cave will know exactly what that means!


You can find Amy at:
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