Monday, October 13, 2008

Jen's First Day

*waves* Howdy! I hope y'all had a good weekend. Wow, when we started this blog I thought my turn seemed like an eternity away, and now I'm freaking out, trying to figure out what to write. How the heck did the time get away from me?

It's Monday morning and I'm having a hard time coming up with a cute and clever intro, so I'll just jump right in if that's all right. Let's see...books. I have a horrible fear of commitment, so my favorites change every day. But I still managed to pick out six books that are special to me for one reason or another, and that I'd like to have with me if I were stranded on a deserted island. So, in no particular order, here are six of my Desert Island Keepers:

Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon: This is book 6 in Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. I've since given up on the series, but Night Play really stuck with me. The heroine, Bride, is unconventional. She's a plus-size woman with normal insecurities, but she's also strong and able to take care of herself. She may be insecure at times, but she doesn't sit back and whine. She lives her life. She falls in love with a wonderful man, and she even has a hand in taking out one of the villains. The hero, Vane, is a powerful wolf shifter. He's gorgeous and strong, and he thinks Bride is the most beautiful woman in the world. He embraces her flaws and loves her more because of them. He cherishes her and makes her feel special. Most women can relate to the fantasy of being cherished by a wonderful man, and Kenyon really makes this fantasy believable without being cheesy. Vane and Bride are one of my all-time favorite romance couples.

The Demon You Know by Christine Warren: This is book 3 in Warren's Others series. Rule is a powerful demon from the Underworld. He's a warrior that helps keep the peace between the Underworld and Earth. Abby is a good Catholic girl that has only recently learned of the existence of vampires and werewolves, and suddenly she's faced with the realization that there are far more otherworldly creatures out there than she could have imagined. When she meets Rule, she's struck by his dangerous power and his gentle strength. When she realizes the man of her dreams is actually a demon from the Underworld, she's forced to reconsider her beliefs. Rule's inner goodness challenges Abby's faith and everything she's ever been told about the "evil" demons of hell. This is a great book about learning to accept and embrace differences, and opening one's heart to others. Oh, and Rule is super hot. ;)

Without Reservations by J. L. Langley (M/M): This ties with The Tin Star (also by J.L. Langley) as being my favorite M/M romance, but if I could only pick one of the two, I'd pick Without Reservations. Chay and Keaton are werewolves. Chay is a veterinarian, and one day someone brings in an injured dog. Right away, Chay sees that the pretty dog is actually another werewolf, and he recognizes that the werewolf is his pre-destined mate. Chay--a straight man--doesn't quite know what to think about the fact that his life mate is a male, but he makes the best of it. Chay decides that he'll honor the mate bond and he'll be with Keaton no matter what. Chay and Keaton build a beautiful relationship together (with HOT sex, I might add), and they learn to make their relationship together work within the pack and their families. JL's werewolf mythology is unique and interesting, and she writes wonderful characters. Chay is strong, smart, and sexy, and Keaton is adorable but also very powerful. The supporting characters in this book are fantastic, and by the end of Without Reservations I couldn't wait to see what happened in the next book.

This is a good introductory book for readers that haven't read much M/M romance. It's hot enough to satisfy fans of the harder stuff (like me), but sweet and romantic enough to make a great transition point from mainstream M/F romance. I'd even recommend it for readers that don't care much for paranormals. It's very earthy and real, and the supernatural aspects are integrated so smoothly into the story that it's easy to forget there's really no such thing as werewolves. JL is incapable of writing a bad book. Grab anything with her name on it (or her alter ego Jeigh Lynn) and you're guaranteed a satisfying and sexy read.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie: Calvin Morissey. *sigh* A man that doesn't care if his girlfriend can't fit into a size 6 (or 14), and would rather share a box of donuts with her than watch her pick daintily at a salad. Do I really need to explain my love for this book beyond that?

Min Dobbs' sleazy excuse for a boyfriend dumps her for no good reason, and then she meets Calvin Morissey. Cal gets suckered into accepting a bet that he can get Min into bed in less than a month. Cal and Min start spending time with each other and inevitably fall in love. This book is cotton candy. It's sweet, fluffy, and absolutely delicious. This is a comfort read deluxe. A gorgeous man, a smart and funny heroine, toe-curling sexual tension, fabulous shoes, and Krispy Kreme donuts. Read this.

BTW, Cal is mine. Keep yer grubby mitts off my man. More details tomorrow.

Soul Mates: Bound by Blood by Jourdan Lane (M/M): Vampires. Werewolves. Angels. Demons. Sex. Blood. Gore. Sex. Violence. More sex. I'm gonna cheat here. I can't come up with a blurb here that really does this book (or this series) justice, so instead I'm going to send you to the review (<-- link) I wrote back in May on my own blog. This book is amazing. I'd have picked the entire series if I could. Read it. You won't be sorry. Your comfort zones will be stretched and your boundaries will be tested, but you won't be sorry. O.M.G. Amazing.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin: The Awakening is my favorite book of all time. It's one of a handful of school books that I can say I actually liked. I love The Awakening. I'm obsessed with The Awakening. I've read it at least six times, I own multiple copies of the book (along with a couple of commentaries and companion books), and I was even invited back to my high school to give a lecture on the book. The Awakening is considered classic literature among academics and feminists. I know, I know...classic literature and feminism--two things that interest me the least in my reading. But this book is just so good! I think what I love the most about this book is the gorgeous prose. Kate Chopin with language that is so beautiful and so evocative it's impossible not to feel deep emotions while reading her books. The Awakening is the most emotional of all her stories. It's a rather short book--under 250 pages if I remember correctly (I haven't read it in a couple of years)--but it's jam-packed with feeling.

The Awakening is about Edna Pontellier, a New Orleans woman that struggles with her own desires and the responsibilities of an upper-class wife and mother. Her husband treats her like property and she doesn't feel attached to her children. While vacationing on Grand Isle, she becomes romantically involved with a younger man. When she gets back home to New Orleans, she decides to make drastic changes in her life. This book is set in the early 1900's, but it feels so much like a modern story it's almost scary.

I first read this ten years ago when I was a senior in high school, and it really spoke to me. The Awakening has had a big impact on my life. I related to Edna even as a nice little virgin church girl of 17 (yes, at one time in my life I was pure :P). The book does not have a happy ending, but I think the ending works well for the story. I don't recommend reading this book during dark or difficult times because it evokes such powerful emotions, but it is a book that I think every woman should read once in her lifetime. The romance is sweet, the writing is gorgeous, and Edna's story is emotional and thought provoking. If I could only take one book with me to a deserted island, I'd take The Awakening.

I also recommend Kate Chopin's short stories. Most of them were banned when they were first written because they were considered too erotic and controversial for their time, and they do not adhere to conventional views of a woman's place in society. Kate Chopin models her writing after that of Guy de Maupassant, a French author known for his steamy short stories.

That's all for now, kids. Tune in tomorrow for my hero picks...and pics. ;)


Anonymous said...

Hey Jen, thanks for the list. I think I'll check out J.L. Langley but wasn't sure about the whole werewolf thingy. Thanks for the pics too. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great list! I'll have to check out these books. The Tin Star is on of my favs. Those pics made my day . . . fanning myself!

Carolyn Crane said...

Whoa! You have really heated up the island here! Thanks for your thoughts and recommendations - I need to get reading. Also, I never noticed your cowboy avatar has tattoos. DiK: so informative!

JenB said...

peanutka - It's a great book. Sometimes I even forget that the characters are werewolves. The world JL builds just feels so normal and real.

eyre - I love The Tin Star. Just re-read it last week, in fact. It was hard to pick between that and WR.

Carolyn - Hehehe...there was a lot of pressure on me to post pics, so I delivered. Gotta give the people what they want. ;) I love my tattooed cowboy. He's soooo yummy.

lisabea said...

We'll so be swappin some books.

My fave with book is With Caution, and Jen Crusie is...Welcome to Temptation. Oh man. Phineas Tucker.

JenB said...

LB - I liked With Caution, but I wanted more romance and less action. Plus there was some really heavy stuff in WC and I don't think I'd want to read about those topics if I were stranded. Tough choice though. JL's a goddess.

Welcome to Temptation is another of my Crusie faves, along with Getting Rid of Bradley and Crazy for You. Tried to read Fast Women last week but couldn't get through it. I'll pick it back up later. Maybe.

Mary M. said...

Interesting choices Jen! I'll have to give Kate Chopin a try. Never heard about her before you. I still need to read Without Reservations...I bought it months ago (mostly your fault :-D) and it's been sitting in my e-book file ever since. PDFs makes me eyes cross and Tin Star was only a 3.5 for me, so I never felt an urge to read Langley other books RIGHT NOW, you know? But I will read it. Promise. And Night Play is one of my favorite DH too. I'd be hard place to choose between it, Zarek's and Valerius though. And OMG, I so need to read Ash! And I have both Welcome to Temptation and Bet Me, and both are still on the PTB pile...

OK, I'll stop there or I'm going to freak out again at all the books I need to read :-D.

Christine said...

Oh, I'm sorry. . . was there talk of books in that post? ;)

I'll be borrowing quite a few books from you on the island, Jen. I've only read Night Play out of that whole lot.

Mary M. :: Zarek and Valerius are my favorites, too! Along with Ash. OMG, you HAVE to read Acheron!!! It was so so good.

JenB said...

Mary - Tin Star was only a 3.5 for you, huh? That's odd...we're usually pretty in-sync on m/m romance. I think in a lot of ways Without Reservations is a much better book...I just love those Tin Star boys so much I have a hard time choosing between the two.

I liked Zarek pretty well, but you know how I feel about the tortured heroes. And Ash...I got so tired of being strung along that I lost interest in his story. There's only so much shit a dude can go through before he's permanently ruined, y'know? Ash is waaaay too tortured for me. Hello, BAGGAGE!

Kate Chopin is an incredible author. Guy de Maupassant is also great. Their styles are so similar it's easy to mix them up. You should be able to find Maupassant's work in the original French. I don't think either of those authors has a story over 200 pages. Very good reading.

Christine - If you like paranormal romance, I recommend Christine Warren's books. Start with Wolf at the Door. Sooo good. Kinda fluffy, kinda sexy, very fun.

Mary M. said...

Christine, I know I have to read Ash!! I was away this summer so all the pre-orders I received during that time are piled up on my bedside table - the last Brockmann, the last Karen Marie Moning, etc. And for Ash, I need to re-read at least the 3 books that came before, since I don't remember much about them and I haven't read Dream Chaser at all. But I had a quick peek at Acheron's reviews on Amazon a few weeks ago and I was so glad to see Kenyon seemed to be back on track, after a few rather meh books. :-D. It would have killed me (metaphorically) if Acheron hadn't met expectations after all the time people waited for him.

KT Grant said...

You have a lot of nekkid ass shots here. Both waxed and not waxed. There you go, I just gave you a post for Wednesday! Men who are hairy, love em or leave em?
I remember reading The Awakening in HS and the scene at the end always gets to me. So enlightening!

Sarah said...

I do so like your cowboy!

I think one of my favs is Night Play and I believe I'll 2nd you on the whole giving up thing. They all ran together after a while for me and I cannot remember their names. (ducking now)

I don't know if I am just totally biased on the whole JL thing, cause I love everything she writes!

My fav Cruise, is Drive me crazy. I just liked it!

Wicked post babe!

JenB said...

KB - I think Lisabea has done enough hairy man posts for all of us. :D I really have no idea what I'll do Wednesday. I was thinking about doing a "WTF Wednesday", but I dunno what on. I'm taking ideas.

Sarah - I want to lick every inch of that cowboy. I wonder if those tattoos are flavored. ;) Night Play was probably the last Dark Hunter book that I truly loved. After that I got bored and confused. I quit after Seize the Night, Valerius' story.

Mary M. said...

Jen - synch? Depends. Don't you remember Aquamarine, or Tory Temple, or Pepper Espinoza??? ;-D But TS was still a good read, there was just a little something missing that didn't make it resonate enough for me to put it in the keeper category. I do remember thinking too that WR sounded like it might work better for me... I just haven't have time to read it, same as a hundred other books I have that look good. *sigh*

And yeah, I know you're not into tortured heroes :). I remembered it when I was listing my other DH favs, and I thought yeah, makes sense Night Play would be her favorite :-D. And what, not a single BDB on that list?? I wouldn't go on a desert island without my LR. I'm currently re-reading my fav BV parts, for the 20th time or more. Lol.

I have one or two of Maupassant's anthologies - at least I know that Boule de Suif is still somewhere in my French classics section (main bookcase, fourth row from the top, behind double rows of English romances):-D. That antholgy was good. If Chopin is anything like him, yes, I'm probably going to love her :).

Have you checked out the BDB Insider's Guide yet?

Tracy said...

Oh I always love your pictures. Great man candy.

I love Night Play, The Demon You Know and Bet Me - all great books. And I'm stealing Cal! neener, neener!

Haven't read Without Reservation yet - LB told me to and I just haven't done it. I suck. :) But it sounds good - along with the rest of the series.
Haven't read Soul Mates or The Awakening either - but they sound interesting.

JenB said...

Mary - I liked Tory Temple's books. I just thought her guys were assholes. I had completely forgotten about Aquamarine. Ugh! LOL

I can't re-read B/V scenes even though I really want to. Hurts my heart. Damn that WARDen biatch! *shakes fist*

Maupassant and Chopin are nearly indistinguishable in their style. So yummy. Completely uncharacteristic reads for me, but I love them. I need to drag my Chopin and Maupassant anthologies out.

Tracy - Tell ya what...I'll trade you Cal for a night if you'll let me borrow Wrath. Deal? ;)

Sayuri said...

Fab picks. I love Cal too, but I will keep my hands off him. Srsly him and heroes. ever.

I have Bound By Blood, going to make a start on it this weekend. Eek!

JenB said...

Sayuri - If you're nice I might let you borrow Cal for a night too. :D I love Vane. Almost enough to re-read NP.

Bound by Blood is THE BEST vampire series ever in the whole wide world. Amen. I hope you like it. *anxious*

Amy Lane said...

You love Bet Me AND M/M romance-- no wonder we get along!

Excellent list, Jen--and, as always, the reviews are thoughtful and spot-on!

I'll hang out on your desert island any day. (You can have Cal-- I want the mayor from Temptation:-)

JenB said...

Amy - I'd say that makes us kindred spirits. Plus we're both crazy redheads! :)

Phin is a great hero, but Cal...*sigh*

jessewave said...

Hi Jen
I'm late as usual but I had a great excuse - I was away for part of the long weekend and am now catching up.

So your books - unfortunately I only know two of them which I LOVE - Soul Mates: Bound by Blood and Without Reservations which I also heart.

Wonderful choices. Let's see what you come up with tomorrow - can't wait *g*

JenB said...

Hey Wave! Aren't those two books amazing? J. L. and Jourdan are insanely talented.

I doubt you'll recognize many of my heroes tomorrow, but you should at least appreciate the pictures. :)

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