Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Publisher: St. Martins
Pub Date: July 2010
332 pages
ISBN: 9780312605391
Format: Mass Market Paperback

I am rarely moved by a historical romance anymore. Most are either too light and superficial or too dark and depressing. But Kleypas's Love in the Afternoon was funny, moving, poignant and best of all, memorable.

Beatrix Hathaway is considered a bit of an odd duck. She gathers wounded animals around her that are shunned by others. She eschews the ton gatherings in favor of staying in the country, and while admired by many men, she has yet to meet one she would consider marrying.

When Beatrix Hathaway discovers that her friend, Prudence, is not going to write to one of her suitors (Christopher Phelan, a soldier at war who had written begging for words of encouragement) Beatrix asks that she be allowed to pose as Prudence and write the letters herself. Despite the fact that Christopher had once called her "peculiar" for bringing a hedgehog to a picnic and said she belonged in the stables.

Through their letters, Christopher and Beatrix fall in love. But things become much more complicated when Christoper returns home, eager to find Prudence, only to discover that she was not the person her letters made her appear.

Hump Day Summer Movie: The Lady and the Highwayman (1989)

Today's Hump Day Summer Movie is a made for British TV movie: The Lady and the Highwayman. Based on a romance novel by Dame Barbara Cartland, this movie is the height of cheesy romance cliches filled with bad lighting, bad dialogue, bad music, and downright awful hair.

It stars Hugh Grant with his worst hair ever. Some kind of Billy Cyrus meets Prince Valiant mullet. And Lysette Anthony as Panthea Vyne does her best doe-in the headlights immitation. Or mutant Shirley Temple. I'm not really sure.

Part of the daytime drama feel (aka soap operas) can be attributed to the snake like presence of Ms. Emma Samms--veteran actress of not one but two melodramatic series.

I loathe the heroine's name: Panthea.  It's just that funky. I found myself doing a Bugs Bunny Hansel and Gretel imitation. Hansel? Hansel. Hansel? (Panthea? Panthea. Panthea? )

She's not much of a panther. But she is a panter. Which I guess makes that name apropos. (It really refers to being 'of the gods' but still. Horrible name.)

Much of the movie features Hugh Grant riding around on horseback. Or punching someone. And he really doesn't look good doing it. I didn't think anyone could look bad wearing a highwayman mask, but he managed it. The man has no nose. Or at least not enough of one to pull this look off.

So why is this movie, so patently bad, a summer movie rec? Because there aren't that many romances that are this bad. It's almost a rite of passage to watch this thing. And because there's nothing more fun that watching a so-bad-it's-funny film and supplying your own dialogue. Make extra popcorn, because you just may find yourself throwing some at the screen.

On the plus side, though, there are some beautiful costumes and some lovely scenery. But honestly, muting the tv and making up your own lines might be better.

For those too scared to actually watch the film, here are my real time notes as I recently rewatched this. Warning: Spoilers contained below!!


Hump Day Summer Movie: Earth Girls are Easy (1988)

The 1980s was a decade filled with wonderful B movies, and Earth Girls are Easy is no exception. Starring Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, and Damon Wayans, this extremely silly movie features a lot of slapstick and obvious humor--and extremely hairy, colorful aliens.

But mostly, I just love this movie because of Julie Brown's songs "'Cause I'm a Blond" and "I Like 'Em Big and Stupid."

Available from Amazon, Best Buy, or get it from Netflix!


Review: Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe (audiobook)

Publisher: Listening Library
Narrator:Victor Garber
Run Time: 6 hrs 48 min
Includes: Bunnicula, Howliday Inn, Celery Stalks at Midnight

Bunnicula is perhaps the favorite book from my childhood. I grew up reading about Chester, the bibliophile cat, and Harold, the dog and their adventures. I was delighted to find the first three Bunnicula books as an audio bundle on Audible.

The narrator does a terrific job differentiating between characters. There are also quite a lot of dialogue tags as the reading level is about 2nd or 3rd grade.

My sons and I recently listened to this collection on a long road trip. The youngest, age 4, ignored it completely. The oldest, age 7, adored it.  It is broken into 3 books, which makes it easier for younger listeners to stay involved. And having the same narrator do all 3 stories means there is continuity for the kids as well.

These are thriller/mysteries, but I don’t think they are too scary for most children. The first book, Bunnicula, involves a suspected vampire bunny. And the only ones harmed are vegetables.  The second story has a bit more peril--with animals disappearing from a pet boarding facility.

I found these books just as charming, funny, and entertaining as I remembered. These are definitely classics, and I’m so happy they are available in audio format.

My Grade: A-



Hump Day Summer Movie: Ice Pirates (1984)

Oh yeah. Back to the 'so awful it's funny' category. I loved Robert Urich in Spenser for Hire, but this movie holds a special place in my heart. It's campy. It's sci fi. It's comedy. And Robert Urich was at his most charming.

Plus it also stars Mary Crosby (Daughter of Bing), Anjelica Huston, and Ron Perlman.

This is not a movie to take seriously. It is a spoof. It is making fun of the genre at a whole. But in doing so it made itself a cult classic.


Review: Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

The Blurb:

Ten Things You Should Know About This Book
1. Sebastian Grey is a devilishly handsome rogue with a secret.
2. Annabel Winslow's family voted her The Winslow Most Likely to Speak Her Mind and The Winslow Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Church.
3. Sebastian's uncle is the Earl of Newbury, and if he dies without siring an heir, Sebastian inherits everything.
4. Lord Newbury detests Sebastian and will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.
5. Lord Newbury has decided that Annabel is the answer to all of his problems.
6. Annabel does not want to marry Lord Newbury, especially when she finds out he once romanced her grandmother.
7 is shocking, 8 is delicious, and 9 is downright wicked, all of which lead the way to
10. Happily. Ever. After. 

This book felt like it was trying just a little bit too hard to be cute. I like Julia Quinn's writing because it is light, but it used to be moving as well. I know my romance tastes have changed in the eight years since I first read her books, but I am finding more and more books by this author to be disappointing. That's not to say they are "bad" in the sense that others won't like them. But they fail to live up to my expectations in a pretty big way.

Lynsay Sands: Book Watch

Born to Bite, another in Lynsay Sands's fabulous Argeneau series, is scheduled to be released August 31, 2010!

The Blurb:
Legend has it that Armand Argeneau is a killer in the bedroom . . .
But with all three of his late wives meeting unfortunate and untimely ends, is this sexy immortal a lover or a murderer? That's what Eshe d'Aureus intends to find out. As an enforcer, it's her job to bring rogue vampires to justice, even if the rogue in question makes her blood race red hot.
Armand knew she was trouble the moment Eshe roared into town on her motorcycle, clad in tight black leather. She claims she's hiding from dangerous fiends, though he suspects something more. But after three wives who've all had trouble remaining, well, undead, Armand is reluctant to open his heart again. Then strange accidents start to happen, each deadlier than the last, and Armand realizes he may not have much time to prove he's a lover, not a slayer. 

The book is available for pre-order at BN.com, Amazon.com, Book Depository, Books-a-million, Borders and through your local independent bookstore.

According to Ms. Sands, another Argeneau will be released in November! That one is called Hungry for You.

Also, Avon's purchase of the pub rights to Lynsay Sands's backlist means that quite a lot of older titles originally published with Dorchester are now available in ebook format! So if you're strictly an ereader, make sure to check out some of the oldies but goodies she wrote: both historical and paranormal.  The bad news is that Avon is a division of Harper Collins--one of the agency five.


Book Blogger Hop: July 9-12, 2010

Crazy for Books hosts a Book Blog Hop every weekend. A recent "twist" has been added, where each weekend, bloggers answer a question about themselves or their blogs.

This week's question:  Tell us about some of your favorite authors and why they are your favorites!

I don't really have a favorite author. But one of my favorites has to be Elizabeth Peters aka Barbara Michaels. Under the Peters name, she writes a fabulous historical mystery series called Amelia Peabody. Set mostly in Egypt during the 1880s-1920s, the series features terrific characters,  Egyptology, adventure, and quite a lot of excellent scholarship. 

The time period chosen is the "golden age" of Egyptology, so we see frequent cameos from real life historical figures: including Howard Carter, Wallis Budge, and William Flinders Petrie. And the story is told mostly via the first person voice of Amelia Peabody Emerson--who is probably my favorite fictional character ever.

Not only is this a long running series--the audio version is perhaps even better than the print. Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, the Amelia Peabody series IS my favorite audiobook series. The first book in the series is called Crocodile in the Sandbank.

Favorite Quotes:

"Abstinence, as I have often observed, has a deleterious effect on the disposition."

"A lady cannot be blamed if a master criminal takes a fancy to her."

"I do not scruple to employ mendacity and a fictitious appearance of female incompetence when the occasion demands it."

If you found me through the Hop, Welcome!! Please leave a comment below to let me know you've visited.


Review: Something about You by Julie James

Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pub Date: March 2010
307 pages
ISBN: 9780425233382

The Blurb:
Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career…

I admit it. I'm not a big fan of lawyer romances. Just not my thing. But after hearing from multiple sources about how great Julie James was, I decided to give Something About You a try. To my surprise, the legal aspects of this book turned out to be some of my favorite parts.

I've read plenty of "lawyer" books. Lots and lots of them. But I can't remember ever reading one that dealt with the political and legal aspects of being part of the US Attorney's office. That lent this book a fresh feel for me. I liked the fact that this was actually more of a political thriller than a legal one.


Hump Day Summer Movie: Men at Work (1990)

Men at Work stars real life brothers Charlie Sheen and Emelio Estevez. Estevez also wrote and directed the film. It's a little bit romance, a little bit suspense, and a whole lot of funny buddy comedy.

Another funny movie from my adolescence, Men at Work holds a special place in my heart. Not the least of which is because my husband, back when he was a teen, worked for the local garbage company along with his best friend. And  watching this movie brings back stories of some of their antics while working the garbage route.

It's low brow humor without a lot of substance, but I love it just the same.


Independent Bookstores’ Decline: The Price of Biblio-elitism

Independent bookstores are a rare and dying breed. They are often small, local bookstores. And one thing they all have in common, it seems, is the belief that superstores, chain bookstores and the internet are the reasons it is difficult to survive.

After all, those discounts are hard to beat when you deal in low volume. Amazon.com doesn’t collect sales tax. That’s a disadvantage, right? And don’t even get them started on the new ebook phenomenon that excludes them from the sales loop.

But, at least for me, the reason I don’t shop at most independent bookstores has nothing whatsoever to do with price. It’s because the majority of independent bookstores ignore genre fiction and its readers. And this, more than anything, has cost them business. BIG business.  Genre fiction readers: mystery, science fiction and romance comprise the largest group of book buyers. They spend more per person, buy more frequently, and are often far more loyal than buyers of other types of books. [This is not to say genre fiction readers are not also literary fiction readers. They can be.]

By contrast, independent bookstores seem to focus almost exclusively on literary fiction and non-fiction. And while literary fiction may be published at a happier price point--most lit fic is published in hardcover or trade paperback format--its readership is only a fraction of mystery, romance or science fiction. It has been argued that without those three genres, literary fiction would not be published because the publishers use the cash from genre sales to finance the publication of literary fiction. Because, quite frankly, there’s not a lot of money in it. In 2008, romance fiction alone generated $1.37 billion in revenue. Literary fiction brought in $446 million. (source: rwanational.org)

I spend quite a lot of money on books. It’s my primary method of entertainment. And I do not read literary fiction. Ever.  I read fantasy, science fiction, romance, mystery, and non-fiction.  [I blame Oprah’s first book club and my dozens of lit classes in college for my lit fic aversion.] So, the question for me is why do independent bookstores have such a love affair with literary fiction? And why do they ignore genre readers when they clearly are the ones who buy  most of the books?


Wilder Brothers Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to the very handy Random.org

The Wilder Brothers Giveaway Winner is:

Darlene (post #10)

Congratulations! You get to pick YOUR CHOICE of  any one Wilder brothers book.
Please email me at buriedbybooks (at) sbcglobal.net with your mailing information.

A big thank you to everyone who entered!

Happy Independence Day!

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy 4th of July!

Here in the mountains, at-home fireworks are a very big no-no. Wildfire is an ever present danger, so we have the public shows over the mill ponds or lakes in the area. But I miss the sparklers, the little ash snakes, the piccolo petes. There's something much more personal about those at-home fireworks--even if they are sometimes dangerous--than the big, distant explosions in the sky for me.

But even more special to me are the parades. I love parades. I love the silliness of the floats. The sense of community as the various organizations tromp by. I love how teary eyed I get watching the veterans slowly march past. And I love how happy and friendly everyone is because they are celebrating our nation's birthday.


Review: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris [Audiobook]

Format: Download via Audible
Pub Date: 2001
Audio Pub Date: 2007
Narrator: Johanna Parker
Run Time: 9 hrs 27 minutes
Publisher: Recorded Books

Sookie Stackhouse is small town bar maid living in the rural Louisiana town of Bon Temps. And she has a disability: she can read people's minds, hear their thoughts in her head.

Vampires have recently come "out of the coffin" to the general public, but Sookie has yet to see one. Until Bill, the Vampire, walks into Merlott's Bar. She's fascinated by him. And especially happy to learn that unlike regular humans, Bill's mind is a closed door.
Sookie's burgeoning romance with Bill the Vampire isn't the only thing on her mind, however, when a group of grisly murders occurs in Bon Temps--and her brother is accused of the crime.


Review: Cry Sanctuary by Moira Rogers

Format: ebook

Once again, late to the party. Sigh.

I've followed Moira Rogers (well, half of her*) on Twitter for quite some time. I've heard great things about the Red Rock Pass series, but it wasn't until Amazon offered Cry Sanctuary for free in the Kindle store that I gave it a try.

Well...strategic marketing strikes again because I am hooked. My Ipod Touch is likely still steaming from the heat this book had. I could slap myself for not caving to peer pressure sooner. This book rocked.

The Blurb:

He is tired of fighting. She has nowhere to run.

Keith Winston is tired of fighting. The war between werewolves and wizards rages on in Europe, but he's come home to Red Rock, Montana in hopes of finding a bit of peace. Instead he finds more strife as he struggles against the pack's dictates that he resume his place as the alpha's right-hand man.

When he rescues a new wolf on the run, he knows his instant attraction to her could cause trouble. What he doesn't expect is to find himself embroiled in another battle that goes against all his instincts-and his heart.

Abigail Adler learned about the existence of werewolves only when she became one. With her life threatened by a corrupt alpha, she flees to the only sanctuary she knows: Red Rock. While she's grateful for the pack's protection, she chafes under its unbreakable rules of conduct-except when it comes to submitting to the passion Keith stirs in her.

Then her tormentor kidnaps her sister in an attempt to lure her out of hiding. To save her, Abby and Keith must be willing to do the very thing that could get them all killed-break all of the rules.

I'm kind of apathetic about werewolf romances in general. I don't hate them, but they aren't my favorite type of paranormal romance.  But I really enjoyed both the set up of this novel and the way that the werewolf part of the story focused more on the politics and social dynamics than on the paranormal aspect.

What surprised me was the way the characters in this novel jumped out at me. As many of you know, I'm a character reader first. And I don't mind if it takes a bit to develop characters in a book enough so that I am invested in them. But I didn't have to wait with this one. The main characters (Abby and Keith) and virtually every single secondary character connected with me immediately. I'm going to have to reread this one just to see how the authors pulled it off, but considering the somewhat shorter length of the book, they packed a lot of characterization in--without skimping on the relationships, the setting, the action, or the world building.

The only thing that bugged me was the nearly instant attraction trope between the two main leads. I know it's a common thing in werewolf romances, but I like my characters to spend some time getting to know each other first before hopping into a physical relationship. Especially if we're supposed to believe that relationship deepens into love.

*Moira Rogers is a two person writing team, Bree and Donna.

My Grade: A-


Book Blogger Hop

Crazy for Books organizes a book blog hop every weekend so that we can all meet someone new, discover new blogs, and visit with book blogger friends. It's a wonderful event!

My name is Amber and I started blogging originally as a marketing tool for my online used bookstore. Although the store is gone, I kept blogging  because I found out how much fun it is to share my favorite (and sometimes not so favorite) books with everyone.

If you found me through the hop, Welcome! Please leave me a comment to let me know you've visited.

June Recap

I read quite a few books this month. Far more than I thought I would considering school is out.  18 in all!

Here's how they broke down:

Audiobooks: 4
Ebooks or digital galley: 7
Print: 7 (2 Trade paperbacks, 4 mass markets, 1 hardcover)

And the grades:

Definitely Dead C-
Men of Smithfield series 1-4 A-B Reviews coming soon!
Dead as a Doornail B-
Something about You by Julie James B+ Review coming soon!
Dead to the World B+
Club Dead B-/C+
Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas B+ Review coming soon!
Cry Sanctuary by Moira Rogers A- Review coming soon!
Summer in Sonoma C+
Laid Bare by Lauren Dane B-/C+
The Naked Viscount by Sally MacKenzie A
One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare A-
The Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick C+
Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis A-
Instant Temptation by Jill Shalvis A-

LB Gregg: Men of Smithfield series 1-4 First Impressions of M/M Romance

Other than the few, skimpy scenes scattered throughout the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Suzanne Brockmann's All Through the Night (which I'm not sure really counts), I've never read any m/m romance. Certainly not one with explicit scenes that are comparable to a traditional m/f romance. But the Twitterverse is filled with recommendations for this subgenre. I'm not knowledgeable enough to outline the difference between the m/m romance written for women and the m/m romance written for men. Nor am I really all that aware of the differences between m/m romance written by women. But, thanks to recommendations by Book Binge and Smokinhotbooks, I decided to give L.B. Gregg a try.

Wow. I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't to find an author with such a unique (and funny) writing style.  After reading 4 of her books, I have no doubt I'd recognize her work anywhere. I'm talking about the L.B. Gregg moment. Each book in the Men of Smithfield series has a moment where you stop and think "This right here is the reason I am reading this book. This bit of hilarity will stay with me forever." It's the toaster costume. It's the Bible whacking attack. It's the massage table orgasm. Little episodes with nearly slapstick humor, but I loved them.