Showing posts from January, 2009

Mail Delivery Dilemma

The USPS is hemorrhaging money. To the point that they were $2.6 billion in the red last year, when pieces of mail handled went down 9 billion from the previous year. They expect to be $6 billion or more in the hole this year, even after what will likely be a 2-cent increase in First Class stamps in May.As a result, the Postmaster General is requesting approval to remove the requirement for six-day delivery. And, sigh, I think the best decision is to move ahead with five-day delivery. They would likely keep Saturday delivery and eliminate something like Tuesday, which is a slow mail day. As much as the idea of losing a day of mail delivery pains me, these are tough times. We have to do what we have to do.Might I also respectfully suggest making the salary and pension for postal workers fall more in line with real-world pay, too, though? That could make an even more significant impact.

13 Romance Novels I Love

(No particular order.) A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen Dark Lover by J.R. Ward A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Dark Desire by Christine Feehan Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter Stay the Night: A Novel of the Darkyn by Lynn Viehl Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide by J.R. Ward

Unless you plan to read the entire J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood series, there's certainly no point in reading this guide. You also don't have to read the guide to follow along with the series. However, if you want a snippet of the way I wish that the book about Zsadist and Bella had been written, the novella about them contained in this guide provides exactly that. I would have been so, so happy with the third book if the writing had been done in this style. And, if you're a fan of the series, you definitely don't want to miss reading the novella, regardless of how you felt about the third book. If you're a loyal follower of the series, of which Ward has plenty, you'll probably want the guide for your collection, in general.My personal rating of The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide by J.R. Ward is a B.

Famous Men who Qualify as Sex on a Stick

As a part of our ongoing conversation about the merits of Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie, my husband asked me last night to put together a list of famous men, dead or alive, I think are sexy.

Okay, he may be a little suprised at the length of the list that I'm going to share with you as insight about who I consider as the male lead type for romance novels.

There's no real order here:

James Dean (East of Eden)
Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire, The Godfather, and a Nebraska native.)
Colin Firth (He is Mr. Darcy.)
Kilian Hennessy
Richard Gere
Tommy Lee Jones
Vin Diesel
Jude Law
Johnny Depp (21 Jump Street)
Mickey Rourke (9 1/2 Weeks)
Aidan Quinn (Reckless)
Al Pacino
Gary Oldman
Jason Statham
Benicio del Toro (His Doberman is named Bebe.)
Michael Sheen (Maybe I do like werewolves just as much as vampires.)
Matt Dillon
Charles Bronson (Listen to one interview where Jill Ireland talked about her Charlie.)
Christian Bale ("I've never been afraid of a little blood.")

Who is …

2009 Young Adult Book Challenge

One more book challenge for me for this year. . . .

I couldn't resist this reading challenge since I think YA books are the hottest fiction items in the market right now. The quality is fantastic.

Here's the information from the site:

"Guidelines for 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

2. Read 12 Young Adult novels. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

3. Challenge begins January thru December, 2009.

4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009."

To join, use the link below or click on the gadget on the sidebar.

J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood Series

That's it. I'm done with J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, something I thought I would never say while reading the first two selections in the series. Those first two novels are two of my all-time favorite books. Period. Always will be.

For me, the books after the first two focus more on the science fiction/paranormal/vampire and less on the romance/sex. There also seems to be less about the central couple and more in terms of sub-plots in the later books, which I didn't like at all.

Keep in mind that, with all of the sub-plots involving characters like the students at the school established by the Brotherhood and the Lessening Society (fighting to eradicate the vampires), the books have to be read in order. If you just jump in during the middle of the series, you'll miss a lot.

Here's my personal take on the series so far:
The series starts with Dark Lover, the story of almost-blind, pure-blood Wrath and Beth, the half-vampire, half-human woman, unaware…

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Part 3

I promised an entry about the questions and thoughts The Reader generated for me. Let me just say that I still don't have a firm grasp on exactly what my thoughts are in regards to the subject matter of the book. I believe that a book that stays with you after reading and makes you wonder how you might react in the same sort of situation is the best kind of book, though.
While initially very disturbed by Hanna Schmitz's decision to become involved with a teenager, even one she assumes to be 17 and not his actual 15, I decided that, in many ways, she was actually more on a par with Michael than she would have been with someone her own age. At least as portrayed through his eyes in the book, she is working-class poor and very isolated, and, as he realizes during the trial, she's illiterate. By comparison, he comes from a background of relative wealth and education, and he has a strong family support system.
Even more horrifying is the discovery of her activities as a guard du…

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Part 2

Notice the movie-themed cover with an always lovely Kate Winslet. Part of my motivation for reading the book was seeing the movie ads and hearing about Winslet's Golden Globe for her role.

I have yet to see the movie, though I always appreciate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. I'm wondering if the movie can be as wonderful as the novel in this case, though.

Based on the viewpoint of post-WWII German Michael Berg, the book covers three periods in his relationship with Hanna. The first period is when an ill 15-year-old Berg has an affair with the 30-something Hanna. The affair abruptly ends with Hanna's disappearance. The second period is when Berg, now a law student, discovers Hanna is a defendant in a Nazi war crimes trial he's viewing as part of his classwork. The third, brief period is set 18 years after the trial ends.

This is the story, not so much of Hanna, as of Hanna's impact on Michael Berg and his life. From the beginning, Hanna is seen as she relates to Be…

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (Translated by Carol Brown Janeway), Part 1

For this first posting on The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, I just want to include some quotes from the book. In a second, later posting, I'll give my review of the book. In a third posting, I want to talk about what thoughts and questions this book created for me.

In case you haven't guessed already, I love The Reader.

"As the days went on, I discovered that I couldn't stop thinking sinful thoughts. In which case I also wanted the sin itself." (p.19)

"Did I fall in love with her as the price for her having gone to bed with me?" (p.27)

"Sometimes I had the feeling that all of us in his family were like pets to him." (p.30)

"Why? Why does what was beautiful suddenly shatter in hindsight because it concealed dark truths?" (p.37)

"Because she always had to dissimulate somewhat, and could never be completely candid, it was a pitiful truth and a pitiful justice, but it was hers, and the struggle for it was her struggle." (p.134)


Blog Award!!

I received my first ever blog award, the Premio Dardos Award, from Dani at Confessions of a Romance Book Addict and a fellow Book Lovin' Penpals member. Can you say "beyond excited" along with me?? This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.
The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to other 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award. Here is my list, in alphabetical order, of blogs I follow and love: Alpha Heroes

Cat in the Gulf

The Certifiable Dieter

Confessions of a Book Addict

Vampire Challenge

A third challenge for me to join! Since the stated goal is 2+ books and I absolutely love vampire books, I'm going to add a zero for myself and make reading 20 vampire books in 2009 my personal goal.

From the challenge site:

For the Vampire Challenge you will read books with vampires - romance, YA, paranormal, mysteries - anything, as long as there's a or two (or more) vampire in it.
The challenge will start January 1, 2009 and end December 31, 2009.
The goal is to read 2+ books with vampires in 2009, that's it. It's fairly easy, I think. "

If you're interested in taking the challenge, follow the link below:

The Year of Readers

I'm joining my second book challenge, called The Year of Readers, which is a lovely concept for combining personal reading with charitable giving.

From the site:

"I love to read. Countries and people open up when I start a book and a story begins. It’s easy for me to pull a new book out of my crowded bookshelves every time I want one but not everyone can just grab books by the handful and choose their next read. For someone who hates to have to wait for books it’s sad to think of someone unable to get a novel when they want to. I feel even worse when I think of people who can’t read or have never had the opportunity to learn how much fun reading can be. Books are one of the simplest luxuries in the world and should be accessible to everyone.

In 2009 I want to spread my love of reading throughout the world. The Year of Readers aims to bring people who enjoy books together to have fun bringing literature into the lives of others. From the 1st January 2009 until 31st of December 20…

Book Lovin' Penpals Group

I want to put a plug in here for the brand new Book Lovin' Penpals group on Yahoo. If you have any interest in books and writing letters, this might be the group for you. We're starting a virtual book club in February and currently voting on the book selection. We're also planning a Secret Admirer Exchange in honor of Valentine's Day.
So, feel free to check out the group at: or by clicking on the widget on my sidebar.
Tracee, the founder, and Dani, another member, have already put a lot of thought and time into getting the group rolling. Now, we just need more members!

Dowload Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan

Until 11:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, January 15, you can download a copy of Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan for free. Just go to this spot on Oprah's site:
The download is available in English or Spanish. Then there's also the opportunity to participate in a webcast at 8:00 p.m. CT on January 15 (same date, so no excuse for confusion!).
I happened to watch the Oprah episode and Orman's spot on Larry King Live last night, and I definitely plan to download the book. I really enjoy Suze Orman.

My Year of Reading Dangerously, 2009

I'm joining my first reading challenge!

The goal is as follows:

"Your job: Read 12 books you deem "dangerous." between January 1st and December 31st 2009. They may be banned or challenged books, new-to-you genres, books that seem to inhabit a permanent space on your stacks, or authors you're afraid of. The possibilities are endless! If it's dangerous to you, it's challenge-worthy to us!"

I'm very into banned/challenged books because what's librarianship without supporting the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech, and so on? I'll probably choose twelve entries from the ALA list of most frequently challenged books. I'll let you know as I post reviews that the book is part of this challenge.

I may need to find another challenge or two to join because this is fun.

The Joy of Funerals by Alix Strauss

For some unknown reason, possibly just stupidity, I translated the "joy" in The Joy of Funerals by Alix Strauss in my mind into the term "humor." As though "making a joyful noise" means laughing. I think a quoted critic's reference to "Six Feet Under" maybe added to my confusion.

Unfortunately, I didn't find the slightest bit of humor in this book. I actually ended the book feeling very down, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Obviously, the characters spoke to me in certain ways, just not in terms of humor.

This book is about grief and other forms of dysfunction in various manifestations in related short stories. I was a little put off by the way the book started, with a story about a woman who, as part of her grief, sleeps with every willing man who comes to the cemetery where her husband is buried. Another character, in therapy for compulsive shopping/overspending, steals the ashes of said therapist, with whom she has been having…